Floating Along…

It was a pleasant evening sitting on our porch last night when I noticed the falling sun was playing with an unusual set of clouds at the boundary of our country farm. I stared into the sky thinking back on all the fantasy worlds of cotton candy and angel harps I created as a young child and the inventive worlds of seahorses and skating snowmen my mind made from the various shapes. I was so lost in that world revisited, I got out of my chair, and took all of the shots I’m posting below within a five minute period, moving no more than about a 100 feet in any direction. It was a nice feeling to release my Willy Wonka imagination factory for just a few moments.

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A Little More Love

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Along with thousands of other spring breakers I chose to spend my time in Las Vegas this past March. I hiked in Death Valley, rolled down a 70 foot high zipline tower, and squeezed in to catch the early performance of Beatles Love at the Mirage Hotel and Casino. In spite of the fact the show was filled with dancing, rope twirling physically fit twenty somethings who never set eyes on the actual 60’s, the show truly evoked powerful emotions from the period as well as spotlighting the group that produced much of the soundtrack for that time; the Beatles.

I reached my own music consciousness in the 1970’s, a time when roller disco and punk rock bands intertwined in a somewhat bizarre plethora of light keyboard dance songs and guttural hard driving guitar riffs. By the time the 1980’s arrived, and the Age of Reagan came into being, the 60’s were out of favor, as conservative politicians insisted everything wrong with America came from a hippie cauldron of evil that promoted disobedience and excessive drug use. I still remember Alice Cooper saying in an interview that it was his music that put the “death knell” to the flower power generation, while director John Waters referred to the whole period as, “hippie love shit.”

So I wondered, if the Beatles were not from my formative period in music, and I was unconnected to the peace movement as a whole historically, why did I cry five times during the Beatles Love Show? Perhaps John Lennon himself answered it best when he said,

“The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.”  

As we all become lost running to underpaid jobs, suffering road rage, rudeness, increased violence, homelessness, and environmental degradation, can’t we all just admit we could all use a little hippie love shit right now?

No matter what role drugs played in the formation and execution of the anti-war movement, the sixties encouraged a phenomenal change of direction for our society that turned away from corporate power, racism, misogyny, and greed, while endorsing spiritual exploration, a clean environment, community, equality, and justice. Imagine if that vision would have come true:

I wouldn’t have to scan every coffee shop I go into wondering if someone is about to snap and shoot up the place, run a gauntlet of homeless people begging for my last dollar, endure a society obsessed with exclusivity based on wealth, or a government that works for the highest bidder.

No, my tears were not just those of a fan, but for a man who was shown with clarity the opportunity lost to history. We could have had the Starship Enterprise, or a shiney spiritual city on the hill based on ethics and morality if we didn’t get bogged down in such a self-destructive vision of glut and greed. For an hour and a half at least, Beatles Love created a pocket of that vision, a vision that would have had our grandkids cheering our memory over frowning upon it.

Oval Office Fantasy Disco Party

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I visited an exact replica of the oval office from 1974 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan a few weeks ago. Being a history buff, I’ve visited more than my share of oval office replicas at Presidential libraries and museums, so I was surprised to see a full size, to scale, complete version of Gerald R. Ford’s presidential oval office right in the middle of the second floor. As I stared into the room from behind a braided rope, my unusual mind began thinking how much fun it would be to throw a 1974 party with disco music and fat ties in character. I’d get the Ford suit as it was my idea, and I’d hire that guy Isaak from Love Boat to mix martinis while we danced. As I daydreamed, I really wondered how long it would it take me to actually pull such a party off. I mean, as a former history museum director, I’m sure I could volunteer to get my foot in the door, wait for a paid position to open and apply, then hopefully earn the trust of the board of directors. After working a year, I’d wait for the Directorship to open, and after a strained, multi-layered interview process I’d have the Master key in hand ready to party in under three years. I’d invite everyone I knew, and after a few drinks, sign some crazy bills as Ford, including turning Mondays into “Circus Day” requiring everyone to juggle at least one hour while wearing clown make-up. We’d have a blast until I figure we’d wake up about 10:00 a.m. the following morning strewn around Ford’s desk. Early museum arrivals would be staring open-mouthed  at the devastation until I was fired around 10:30 a.m. by the board president. So worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poet’s Consciousness

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I went deep into the city of Portland today to run a few errands and get some food when I felt that deep, orange vibe only cities can hold. Like most of the west, every spare foot of space was stuffed with overzealous tourists checking off sites from their guidebooks while posing for selfies, but something stubborn survives within Portland. A cultural residue sticking to the fingers, clinging to brain cells. Tattoo hippies sit smoking cigarettes on business steps, children excitedly looking through windows, as a poet’s heart settles like fog deep within those crumbling, sad streets. The random weirdness of the Doug Fir lounge, or the crowded coffee shops near Powell’s City of Books speak of the vibrant freaks who’ve held up within their Victorian homes like clams in a shell. Money continues to poor in fueling hammers and saws ringing from every third story window awaiting the next wave of young, rich kids searching for meaning in a new place. Then he appeared. A man sitting against the corner of a building crumpled like an old pile of clothes when he rose to scream defiantly:

“A man of 36…college educated…lost and broken. Portland…Portland!

My soul disintegrates into your mortar”

He returned to his seat. I drove home.

Beer, Hipness, and Stories

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So I’d been trying to attend one of the PBS sponsored story slams for quite some time when I learned the topic for the September 4th show was education. A story slam takes ten local storytellers, gives them a stage and five minutes to let fly with their best tales to impress some 100 people. And this show was going to be held in Portland, Oregon, which meant any combination of oddball characters might show as the city is known for its youthful, hip, artist types usually decked in black. The venue was a secret speak easy style bar located at the top of some old stairs at the side of an old brick building with a hastily assembled bar just inside the door.

Once inside, the event was an education for me in that I’ve never seen so many young, rich kids spend so much money trying to look poor. I’m guessing some of them kept their $300 shoes in their rose garden just to give them that lived in look. I don’t think I’ll ever get the knit cap thing hipster dudes are favoring these days as most of the young men wearing them insist on keeping them on even in 100+ degree weather. The hosts of  the show were mild by comparison, sticking with simple black t-shirts as they had kids at home and didn’t need to call up hip credentials once outside the venue.

When the show began, topics ranged from getting into snooty New York City prep schools to surviving a hike across a glacier without feminine products. The crowd remained enthusiastic throughout, but my favorite section came when the hosts read slips of paper from the audience telling about a time their useless skill saved the day. The topper was a woman who used her Irish dancing skills to stop a bar fight. Awesome.

To Kitsch, or Not to Kitsch

I discovered recently there exists a bathroom in Portland, Oregon that was up for best restaurant bathroom nationally.  It was a disco theme, so after driving 35 miles to have a waffle with goat cheese and an over easy egg on top, I entered to find the light switch labelled as follows: Light, No Light, Disco. Well, no question, I instantaneously hit Disco upon which “I will survive” by Gloria Gaynor kicked in along with a variety of colorful spinning disco lights as the room grew dark. I was there, so I distributed a few classic Deney Terrio dance moves before snapping a pic or two (pictured below) for my memory file. Now kitsch isn’t my main hobby in life, but perhaps my most unusual one. Armed with an idea for what is kitsch-able, I will not drive out of my way to see certain items, but rely on random chance alone. These have included, Harvey, the giant Muffler Rabbit in Aloha, Oregon, the world’s largest ball of twine in Kansas, and the world’s largest spoon in East Glacier, Montana. BUT, I will go out of my way for kitsch if it is creative, unusual, or thought provoking. Therefore, I have driven to see the Elvis Museum in Portland, walked a mile to see the Black Madonna in Prague, and gone out of my way to see Coral Castle in Florida. If you need a little more imagination in your world visit roadsideamerica.com 

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3’s Going Rogue

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Is anyone else sick and tired of these undisciplined 3’s floating randomly over our wheat fields? Enough is enough I say, it’s high time Congress acted to regulate this trouble maker back into the number line where it belongs! 1 + 2 , you should be ashamed of yourselves for not properly parenting your sum.

 

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