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Category Archives: Books

On The Wings Of Karl Friedrich, And History

Living in the city means hearing it all day and all night, urban voices from every cement jungle in history.

You hear voices from the sidewalk, inside the trolley.

Voices outside your apartment window wake you up.

It’s the charm of who’s who in the neighborhood.

Moving to the suburbs only changes the voice, from the actual words that sometimes annoy, to a distant buzz of a freeway that always annoys.

You hear airplanes buzzing overhead because you forgot to check if your new neighborhood lies under a flight path.

A human voice makes a difference.

We hear things as youths that stick a lifetime. That’s what happened to Karl Friedrich.

His mother told about women pilots in WWII. Like a good writer, it stuck with him.

Like a dedicated writer, he did something with it.

Karl Friedrich was the second writer I met while I was downtown for a Willamette Writers meeting; the first didn’t know he was a writer. Read the rest of this entry

OREGON MAGIC

What’s In A Name

Two books earn their ride in every car driving Oregon roads:

     – Oregon Geographical Names.

     – Oregon Roadside Geology.

OGN puts names and places together. 

ORG travels time.

For example, does it matter that the majestic Cascades are so new that the ancient ruins of an earlier range lay buried under your car when you drive the Santiam? 

 Don’t worry, they won’t erupt.

With ORG you will notice every road-cut, every scraped hillside exposing rock layers for your enjoyment, in a whole new light.  The uninitiated will tire of your narrative, but press on.  They’ll get it. 

Will it matter more if you know the date the post office first opened in the next town you drive through?  Maybe, but OGN is more than that. Read the rest of this entry

Are We There Yet

When Is The End Really The End

President Kennedy asked for a man on the moon.

When American Presidents demand bold action, they get bold results.    

You hope he checked with his engineers.

Apollo 11 happened early on President Nixon’s watch, followed by Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. 

Each one had a moon-walker.

With a similar request, President Thomas Jefferson told Lewis and Clark to find a waterway to the west.

Done. 

Or was it?

From a distant perspective we seem we know enough about Lewis and Clark, that all the scholarship on their journey of discovery is complete. 

It’s not.

Rex Ziak says it’s not.

Maybe you want to listen to him, or read his books.

Who asked the most of their countrymen, Jefferson or Kennedy?  Which journey would you rather take, a walk into the wild, or a flight into darkness? Read the rest of this entry

ASTORIA KICKER

Or Why Astoria Matters So Much

Through a lens of cinema style digressions, the story of John Jacob Astor played across a super-sized world map on a Portland church stage.

Colored sticky notes marked the way.

It wasn’t high-tech, or low-tech.  It was visually engaging correct-tech, something you don’t often see.

A story as grand as Astor’s doesn’t need much help.  Most presenters fail when they won’t exit the frame. 

How often do you hear a narrative where the medium outshines the message; where you get a ‘why did they do that’ moment, instead of the ‘ah ha’ moment you expected?

Like a blackjack dealer on a high-end table, historian Rex Ziak flipped a paper trail of the Astor lineage from Waldorf, Germany, to New York City, to Oregon.  In turquoise, fuchsia, and blue squares, Mr. Ziak tracked the routes of the richest man in America across the stretched map.

John Jacob Astoria was in the house. Read the rest of this entry