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Tag Archives: Rex Ziak

Oregon Historian History

OR, “YES, I KNOW.” (Thank you RICHARD ETULAIN )

The question: Where are the historians of Oregon and why don’t we hear more from them?

Blame confusion.

Oregon is not England.

There is no long and dramatic history of the King and Queen of Oregon, deciding battles in the Oregon Channel, or telling timelines of Oregon colonizing the rest of the world.

For some, Oregon is a cherished Eden far beyond the power of common words. The aching beauty of a beach at sunset; the ghostly drama of shadows dancing through the Columbia Gorge; the noble fierceness of the Cascades.

History happens somewhere between the natural environment of Oregon and a forgettable county commissioner meeting in Hillsboro, Coquille, or Vale.

Images of Oregon could fill a calendar a thousand months long, but it wouldn’t be history. Notes from county meetings fill archival storage all over the state, but that’s not history either.

What is history, then? Read the rest of this entry

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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