* On Monday, after 1,100 miles of swimming down the Columbia River, Christopher Swain finally cleared the last of the 14 dams (Bonneville) that stood between him and the Pacific. The faster current is expected to allow Swain to swim up to 25 miles a day for the rest of his trip, which is aimed at raising awareness about the plight of the once-pristine river. He'll pause Thursday for an 11:30 am gathering at Tomahawk Bay Marina on Tomahawk Island in North Portland before continuing downstream accompanied by a flotilla of small watercraft. He expects to reach Astoria on June 30, more than a year after he jumped into headwaters in Canal Flats, B.C. For more details, see www.columbia-swim.org.
* What local hunk will be gracing the pages of People magazine's "50 Most Eligible Bachelors" issue this Friday? Although Murmurs swore on a stack of Streisand CDs that it wouldn't divulge the name of the athletically built artist, let's just say this golden boy knows how to make heads spin.
* Portland's most famous "jarhead," author Anthony Swofford, will be leaving Portland and Lewis & Clark College for a Bay-area teaching gig this fall. The ex-Gulf War sniper will assume a tenure-track teaching position in the new nonfiction graduate program at St. Mary's College of California, in Moraga, just east of Berkeley.
* Our loss is Des Moines' gain. CM Hall, development director for the civil-rights-minded Basic Rights Oregon, has accepted a position as constituency director for the John Kerry campaign in Iowa.
* Plans are underway to turn one of East Burnside Street's funkier motels into an out-of-this-world boutique hotel. Word is that the Travel Inn is being completely renovated into the Jupiter Hotel by Skylab Design. Plans include 80 über-hip guestrooms and an underground nightclub space the size of a small gymnasium.
* Altruism meets amusement in Bowling for Baghdad, a fundraiser for Mercy Corps' humanitarian relief programs in Iraq. The event, originally held in Iraq, is now being promoted in several major U.S. cities. Portland bowlers can hit the lanes on Thursday, June 19, at Portland State University, from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. Interested individuals can also schedule similar fundraisers at their own convenience. See bowlingforbaghdad.com for details.
* James DePreist, who spent his career as Oregon Symphony conductor avoiding politics, had some choice parting words for the Bush administration at Portland State University's commencement address last weekend. Ignorance, DePreist told the 3,800 graduating students, is the biggest weapon of mass destruction. He spoke of education, health care, hunger, homelessness and the environment, wondering aloud, "Why can't we adopt a policy of pre-emption and attack these targets of opportunity?" DePreist's message was music to the audience's ears. "It really was moving," said Kara Kelley, 22, who earned a B.A. in English. "He was trying to provoke the graduating class to question things, to take things for what they are and not how they're packaged."