Blog history

the sights of sandy

sandy-streetSandy isn’t just a road in Portland. It is a lifestyle, one that hearkens back to the days when the Pacific Northwest was a bit wilder, a bit less gentrified. There are things on Sandy that just couldn’t exist anywhere else in the city. Now that Isis and I have the great fortune of living on this historic street, I can report on the many gifts Sandy imparts on its people.

Fountain.decorative-fountainFountains similar to this can be found in the older parts of the city. They are constantly running through the spring and summer. When it isn’t raining they can really come in handy. This is by far the fanciest of these fountains. Clearly it belongs next to a statue of George have we decided to immortalize the first president of the United States? He never came to Portland. I don’t think he ever tried a microbrew (well, maybe. Were they all microbrews back then?). In any case, George looks stoically northeast, as if towards the hated England.

Sandy boasts a thriving entertainment center. One of the local television stations is stationed here.katuAs is the historic Hollywood Theater. Why Hollywood? Portland has been the filming site for a number of huge movies. At least two of them starred Harrison Ford.hollywood-theaterNearer to us is the beautiful one-screen theater, the Roseway. Highly recommended.roseway-theaterAfter a late show, why not head down the street for some live nude girls? Pirate’s Cove is easily spotted due to its shape (a jug) and its inventive message board.
Today’s message? “No Comment.” pirates-coveNo important street is complete without a branch of the public library. Sandy hosts the Gregory Heights branch of the Multnomah County Library.library1By far the most lovely storefront on Sandy is Ed’s House of Gems. It is a rock shop. It is also really big, which leads me to assume Portland is chock full of rock hounds. eds-house-of-gems2eds-house-of-gems1Quality Tires is as advertized, I guess. It used to be a gas station, by the looks of things, but is now a gigantic pile of tires. They lock the tires up after hours behind a chain link fence, so don’t even think of trying to sneak in at night and stealing all these beautiful, precious tires.tires5tires3tires2tires1Only two blocks away from the pile of tires is The Grotto, a Place of Solitude, Peace, and Prayer.
Really, it is a lovely place, tucked into the side of a hill, with space for a service as well as paths for wandering.grotto1grotto2Near the 205, Sandy leaves Portland for the eastern suburbs of Gresham and Troutdale. At this transitional place, there is a tiny hidden cemetery. Some of Portland’s oldest residents are buried here. Someday I’d love to look up a bit more about this place and the people who are buried here. I’m sure there is some major Portland history in this place. Fitting that it resides on Sandy.

pioneer-cemetery1My journey along Sandy ended at the 205. This traveler, looking east, presumably laughing at all the terrible weather he’s leaving behind for the bucolic Pacific Northwest, will be my end mark. Thanks for traveling along Sandy with me.


Blog fiction history

daniel webster: boogeyman

Longtime readers of this here blog will remember that John McLoughlin, Father of Oregon, was an infamous boogeyman. McLoughlin was not the only man of historical note to be a boogeyman.

Daniel Webster served in both the US Congress and Senate. He was Secretary of State. He was known by political allies and opponents alike as being the best speaker to ever grace the hallowed Capitol halls. Daniel Webster was also a boogeyman.
daniel websterWebster would finish a long day in the House with a quick trip to the pub, where he’d rehash the news of the day with his colleagues. Then he would discreetly adjourn, citing husbandly obligations, sneak to the nearest orphanage, and devour a few children.

Daniel Webster, boogeyman, did not need rest. Boogeymen get their energy from the blood of the young. They snatch children from their beds -straight from their beds! – and tear them apart in the bushes outside the family’s house. The parents have no idea that their precious little angel is becoming the next meal for the esteemed Congressman from Massachusetts.

Everybody seems concerned with “boogeymen” like nuclear war, global warming, Obama taking away their guns. Nobody is talking about the real Boogeyman who is lurking outside their bedroom window. The real Boogeyman is most likely laughing so hard drool is falling from his accursed jaws while the distracted parents are watching PBS Newshour.

Webster protected himself and his kind by surreptitiously enacting pro-Boogeyman laws and including favorable language into totally unrelated bills. He was such a skilled hand that the bedrock of this country, the Constitution itself, is a Boogeyman protection document. A Boogeyman can steal your children and devour them at will, and the Supreme Court can do nothing but sit back and watch the spectacle. Chief Justice John Roberts (himself a known swamp monster) has been quoted as saying, “when the United States of America is rid of all Boogeymen, there can be no United States of America.” That’s how intertwined we are.

Is there nothing you and I can do to save our children from these clawed monsters of the night? Unfortunately, no. We must come to terms with the cold hard truth: this is a country run by Boogeymen, for Boogeymen.

As you tuck your loved ones into bed tonight, remember this: Daniel Webster the statesman might have died 161 years ago when the country was on the brink of Civil War. But Daniel Webster the boogeyman is still alive, keeping to back roads and taking shelter in abandoned housing developments. He is hungry. He is coming.
old daniel webster

Blog history

dinosaur hunting license for sale

I found this unclaimed dinosaur hunting license. It is signed and sealed in Vernal, Utah, home to many, many dinosaurs. Since I don’t think I’ll be using it this season, I’m going to sell it to the highest bidder. Ever wanted to hunt a T-Rex? Here’s your chance! Biding starts at ten million dollars. Time machine sold separately.

autobiography Blog history

tom & katie, kid shay & isis

This weekend marked an important passage for my marriage.  In 2006, I married Isis (not on the fifth day of May).  We were married in a tiny mountain town in Colorado, which, as fate had it, was the very same tiny mountain town Tom Cruise and his blushing finance Katie Holmes had recently purchased a house.  Later that year Tom and Katie had their very own shotgun wedding.

As most of the world knows by now, Katie opted out of her marriage on Friday, sending Tom Cruise into intensive auditing for the remainder of the year.

This means we are officially a more successful couple than Tom and Katie.  I never expected to win any awards for my marriage, but I carry this trophy in my heart for the rest of my days.  When things are looking grim and life keeps handing me lemons, I’ll know deep down that I am a better husband than Tom Cruise.

I bear no ill will to either Tom or Katie (or the ghost of L. Ron Hubbard).  I wish them only the best in their future endeavors, be that more Mission: Impossible movies or another Michael Chabon adaptation.  I just hope that, the next time I run into Katie Holmes, she doesn’t think I stole all her good marriage mojo.

Blog history

mr. president, tear down this wall

Far be it from me to agree with Ronald Reagan.  Yet I can’t help but repurpose his entreaty to Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin wall.  Secretary Salazar, tear down these walls!
Glen Canyon Dam

Hetch Hetchy

As a man hailing from the great state of Colorado, you understand the need for the water the Colorado River provides.  Yet the Glen Canyon dam is totally redundant, only serving to block up the water so that it evaporates from the steadily lowering banks of Fake Lake Powell.

Hetch Hetchy was once a beautiful valley, now it only serves as a reservoir for greedy San Franciscans who can’t even be bothered to recycle their precious water.

Let’s usher in a new era of environmental stewardship and add another bullet point to President Obama’s list of accomplishments.

Blog history

the legacy of president w bush

The man who shot and killed a park ranger in Mount Rainier National Park turns out to be a suicidal Iraq War veteran.  He is dead too, though it was due to freezing to death and not another gun.

Go ahead, W.  Take a good long look at your legacy:
I’m not just talking about the fact that people are allowed to bring guns into national parks, although that in itself is pretty heinous.  I’m talking about the unnecessary Iraq War, the Iraqi lives it ended, and the American veterans who came home damaged beyond repair.

So, to sum it up:
1. Guns are bad.
2. War is worse.

President W. Bush pushed for both of these things, and this is the result.  A legacy?  A tragedy maybe; certainly not what I’d want as a token of my presidency.

On a completely related note: President Obama ended the Iraq War in 2011.  I just thought I’d mention that, as it didn’t get much press at the time.

Blog history reviews

steve jobs, 1955-2011

It is unlike me to mourn the loss of a CEO, but I find myself thinking about Steve Jobs tonight as I work on my iMac.

Perhaps it is because Steve was not some cutthroat billionaire, a rich man’s son who couldn’t see an original idea if it snuck its way onto his manicured garden.  He was a creative man as well as a technical-minded one.  He revolutionized the way we think of computers.  Heck, who would’ve thought it would be fun to use a computer?  Most people would say never.  But Steve Jobs reworked the way computers look and act, and forever changed the way we use them.

He also funded a start-up called Pixar.  Remember them?

Among machines, Steve Jobs was a human being.  Let his legacy be the relationship we have with our beloved (and sometimes hated) computers, be they the size of a wristwatch or the shape of a rocketship.  He made his statement on the human condition, on how we behave and what we want.  Really, what more can any of us hope to achieve?

Blog history

medieval penitential sex flowchart

I tend to keep papers. Receipts, movie stubs, photos and illustrations from magazines, and of course funny things I’ve photocopied from books. Which makes sense: if you’re going to keep things, why not keep lightweight and information-packed things? At least, that’s what I say to myself when I look at my files full of random bits of paper. Someday they’ll all come in useful.

Today, one of those scraps of paper has indeed made itself useful. It is a penitential flowchart on when you can and, more importantly, when you can’t have sex with your partner.penitentials-guide-to-sex

I couldn’t remember exactly where I got this; fortunately the internet exists to answer exactly these type of questions. First of all, penitents are lists of sins and the penances prescribed for them. Penitents were used in Medieval times first in Ireland, where sin is everywhere, then spread to England because they’re a bunch of sinners as well. In this particular case, the flowchart doesn’t list the specific penance, but it would have been either prayer or cash payment to the Church. Or both!

As a Jew I find this chart silly and hilarious, but back in the day Christians hung this in their homes, right above the bed. Which just goes to show, one man’s religion is another man’s laugh riot.*

*Don’t even get me started on the weird things about Judaism. See: any Woody Allen movie.

Blog history reviews

my jack johnson documentary

2010-02-26-falling-rock-national-park  Ken Burns made a documentary on Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight boxing champion.johnson4248
Ken, I love your work, but I’m calling dibs on the other Jack Johnson.jack-johnson-on-stage
The thing about Jack Johnson is, you can’t put him in a box. You can call him a free spirit, if you’re so intent on putting labels on every freaking thing, but I prefer to think of him as just a guy with a song to sing. A song and dance man. A man with a song in his heart and a gift for writing passionate lyrics about banana pancakes.

What makes white Jack Johnson as good a documentary subject as black Jack Johnson? It’s his internal contradictions. His poetry. His album of songs about Curious George. His life as a surfer, then a filmmaker, then a musician. It’s a life filled with twists and turns, trials and tribulations, all of it permeated by the intoxicating odor of those funny-smelling cigarettes.

My documentary will include details such as:
Jack Johnson’s home life in Hawai’i
Jack Johnson’s favorite flavor of shave ice
Jack Johnson’s favorite kind of music (mellow)
Jack Johnson’s favorite place to relax
Jack Johnson’s friends telling us what an awesome, chill guy Jack is
Footage of Jack Johnson surfing, playing the guitar, smoking doobies
A plea to make Jack Johnson’s childhood home into a National Historic Site

My Jack Johnson documentary would also focus on his protege, Mason Jennings. Though not as laid back as Jack, Mason is still awesome. He’s made some of my favorite albums that are not Jack Johnson albums.

So look out, Ken Burns, because I have a feeling my Jack Johnson documentary will rival your Jack Johnson documentary in terms of showing everybody a true American icon. Mine will also have color photos, which yours did not.

Blog history

LS Fred Wunpound

fred-wunpound_01I found this article in the August 2007 issue of Navy News while looking for something else. (I can’t remember what – it doesn’t even matter.) The point is, LS (Leading Seacat) Fred Wunpound traveled the world for almost a full decade aboard the ship HMS Hecate. According to the article, he died in his sleep in 1976, but not before receiving two good conduct badges and one disgraceful conduct badge. Just look at him. He’s a sailor through and through.

If I find any more information on Mr. Wunpound you can rest assured I will pass it along.

This post is dedicated to all the cats who have sailed the open seas, be they aboard Viking ships, Spanish galleons, Chinese junks, or Royal Caribbean cruise liners.