Bend, the Bubble-and-Bust Capital of America, is about to get some really big-time recognition: The Eye has it on excellent authority that the New York Times is working on a story about our current economic calamity.
Stories about the meteoric rise and spectacular crash-and-burn of Bend have become a staple of publications all over the country, of course - most recently in Business Week. But having it printed in the pages of America's Newspaper of Record would kind of make it official.
It's sobering to remember that less than three and a half years ago the Times ran a nice fluffy piece extolling the delights of Bend living. "When you own a home in the sixth-fastest-growing region in the country, you worry about letting the cat out at night because of the coyotes howling in the forest," it began. "You scribe fresh powder turns down 9,000-foot-high bowls and muscle bicycles through high-desert hills."
It went on to tell the story of a developer named Albert Angelo Jr., who "bought in Bend for its 300 annual days of sunshine" - the Times should be embarrassed to have swallowed that shameless old lie - "and the 4.3 million acres of public land just beyond his floor-to-ceiling windows. He plans to divide his time between his houses in Vancouver, Wash., and Palm Desert, Calif., and his new $3 million, 5,100-square-foot single-story house in Pronghorn, a resort on the outskirts of town.
"'When I look out my Pronghorn house facing north, I see a covered patio with a 10-foot-diameter barbecue pit, a pop-up plasma TV and a view of the golf course -- but of a putting green, so my house won't get hit by golf balls,' Mr. Angelo, 59, said. 'You have a good lifestyle down there.'"
We wonder how Mr. Angelo feels about his lifestyle - and his $3 million real estate investment - now. He apparently still lives in Pronghorn (he's in the phone book) but he hasn't returned our call yet. Maybe he's down in Palm Desert - we would be too if we could.
The 2005 Times story also mentioned that development was underway in the Old Mill District "for 37 luxury townhouses of 1,800 to 2,200 square feet, for $700,000 to $1.6 million," and that "about 300 people are on a waiting list to purchase another dozen town houses at the Bluffs at the Old Mill." We have a hunch that waiting list is a lot shorter now.
It's pretty ironic that post-bubble Bend has garnered more negative publicity as the national icon of wretched speculative excess than it ever was able to generate on the positive side with all its marketing and promotion efforts.
But we're sure the local boosters and boomers will find some way to put a positive spin on this. Hey, it'll let people all over the country know that this is the best buyer's market in 20 years!