Alien Boy...

...is the name of a documentary film being made here in Portland. Matt Davis is the writer and Brian Lindstrom is the director. (The picture to the right is James Chasse in 2004.)

From the Alien Boy site:

In September 2006 James Chasse was tackled by three law officers on a downtown street corner before a dozen eyewitnesses. James was not suspected of a crime, he had not committed a crime.

The officers beat him, kicked him, broke 17 ribs and his shoulder. They used a Taser on him repeatedly. He screamed for mercy. The officers thought James was a drug dealer, a homeless person, a non-person, a ghost. They were wrong. James was a poet, a musician, he had a family which loved him, friends, neighbors, dreams and hopes. He was an artist; a small, shy, gentle person. And he was a person with schizophrenia.

James was sent by paramedics to jail. Jail nurses refused to admit him. He died en route to a hospital in a police car driven by the same officers who had earlier beaten him.

A grand jury refused to indict those officers. The City and County refused to terminate or discipline them.

Alien Boy is a feature length documentary film about the life and death of James Chasse.

I'd like to encourage everyone who reads this to support the efforts of the filmmakers to get this project done. That, of course, means $$. Help them out. It's important. And read up on what happened to James Chasse. Whew.


Road trip: Anna, Illinois

After our night in Chattanooga, we drove to Paducah, Kentucky (a short trip, only 267 miles). The next morning, we decided that a side trip was in order, so we headed out early and took a county road instead of the freeway.

One of the coolest parts of a long road trip is not being in a hurry -- feeling that exploration is time well spent, especially in small towns. We chose Anna, Illinois. Just because.

A little research into the town of Anna tells us that it was a sundown town (non-whites were not allowed to live in or pass through the town after the sun went down) and that as of the 2000 census, Anna is 96.2% white. Anna is the name of the founder's wife, but there is a story that in 2005 a store clerk told James Loewen (the inventor of the neologism "sundown town") that Anna stood for "ain't no niggers allowed." Yuck. The town has a total area of 3.4 square miles and the area around it is primarily farm land, as it has been since it was founded in 1854. (If you want bigger pictures, click 'em.)

Of course we had to stop for breakfast on our way to Anna. Somewhere outside of town we found this little place and had us some greasy eggs and really bad coffee. Yum. At least the waitress was nice. The rest of the people looked at us like we were from Mars.

The first thing we saw when we got to Anna proper was this antique store. It turned out that inside was the very famous Anna Kirkpatrick Pottery Museum. The pottery itself is fascinating and the stories about the two brothers who created it are fabulous. If you're into old stuff and funny stuff, follow the link -- you'll love it.

After an hour of Mr. Isom's great storytelling, we wandered around the little town. It's mostly old buildings in various stages of decay, but it's got life and spirit and I'll wager their 4th of July celebrations offer up the best BBQ, apple pie and fireworks you'll find anywhere.

These are the kinds of pictures I like -- sort of for flavor, you know? Flowers, old bricks, windows, and so on. It's an interesting little town. I suspect it would be okay to live there, everybody knowing your business, hearing every detail of other people's lives. Hmmm, but not for me.

We wanted to follow a road along the Mississippi River up to St. Louis, but we never could quite find it, in fact, we got really lost. Oh well. We saw some beautiful countryside and we did get a glimpse of the Mighty River.

It was a long day. We drove over 500 miles that day. And the first town we got to outside of St. Louis happened to be hosting some gigantic soccer thing and every hotel/motel was booked. We got back on the road. Arghh. Gotta love it. That's a road trip at it's finest.


Slayde spends the summer in Juneau

Slayde and Ben have gone off to the far north for the summer. She is doing an internship with a law firm there. Have I mentioned that she's going to slay dragons for us? It's an environmental law law firm. Heh heh. Don't we love it?

Well, Slayde and Ben are both outdoor enthusiasts -- fishing, hiking, shooting Bambi, oh wait, that's not them. So here they are, out in some serious wilderness, right outside their front door.

Slayde writes:
"Here are some pictures from our first couple of weeks here. The first is the view down our street as I walk to work, with Mt. Juneau in the background. The day is characteristically overcast - its rained pretty much every day, and it's COLD.

Next is a wharf where Ben has gone fishing a few times, and a bald eagle that came to visit when someone (unfortunately not Ben) caught a salmon. The eagle came flying in really low - I wish I had been able to get a picture of it as it was swooping in.

Then there is one of Ben and my co-intern fishing off of Douglas Island, which is the island across the Strait from Juneau. They got stranded, as you can see, when the tide came in. We've done a fair amount of fishing (well, mostly Ben has - I just go out and read and stare at things and take pictures), but no salmon yet. We are going to try another fishing spot this weekend.
Then we have a few pictures from our epic hike. I think I told you about this one. We climbed Mt. Juneau (3,500 vertical feet), hiked the Juneau ridge (5-6 miles, maybe, and another 1000 vertical feet), tobogganed down into Glacier Valley on our butts (yay!) and then hiked another 6 miles out, mostly through snow. The whole thing took about eight hours. I should probably have started smaller for my first Juneau hike, and was too preoccupied with how much I hurt to take pictures, but Ben got a few. He was really quite amazing at coaxing me along, considering that I wasn't sure I had it in me for the last three quarters of the hike or so. The first picture is of my backside just as we were about to reach the top.

Then one of some of us plodding up the ridge. The first group picture from the hike was really just a test picture when Ben was setting up the camera, but I attached it because of the incredible color of the little snow lake behind us. It really is that brilliant color. Amazing. Everyone we went with is in incredible shape. They seem to do this sort of thing all year round, and the guy on the left in particular is one speedy hiker. My co worker was telling me he can do the hike in four hours (I think that would have to be at at least a jog), and that he doesn't really have a slower speed. So they all marched on ahead, then waited for Ben and I to catch up periodically."

I don't know about you, but personally I'm impressed as hell. I think I'm doing good to "hike" up to a little waterfall and it takes about 15 minutes to get to it. Huh.


Back Fence PDX

What's this? you ask. Well, it's a fabulous idea dreamt up by these two lovelies. And I'm very honored to be one of the inaugural speakers.

Yes, I am going to tell a $cientology story -- all about escaping from the evil cult's clutches...the first time.

You are all invited, please bring family and friends. The other storytellers are amazing.

(Click on that bad boy on the left so it gets big enough to read.)


Inspiration: Beautiful, ethereal photography

I found this today and thought you might enjoy a visit. Her photography is truly lovely and special. Be sure to read her artist statement.


Friends and blogs

I've been thinking about how having a blog affects me, even if only a tiny bit. One thing I discovered is that I've been expecting everyone I know to read the blog, check the blog, comment on the blog, et cetera ad nauseum. Then I figured out that there are people who are not the least bit interested in blogs, mine or anyone else's -- in the same way that I'm not interested in television programs, at all, none, forget about it. But I like blogs. I've learned a lot from other people's blogs and I've enjoyed some very, very funny writing. I enjoy blogs and I mostly enjoy blogging. But the moment I caught myself being annoyed because my friends were not reading my blog regularly, was the moment I seriously considered deleting it. When I don't have time to communicate directly and personally with my dearest friends, there is something very wrong. I imagine that all other bloggers figured this out ages ago and I'm just a little slow on the uptake. Whatever. Just my 2cents worth.

And, because I love to flaunt my photographs, here are some random old shots I thought you might enjoy.


Oregon stories: Oak Knoll Winery

Who knew there were hundreds of wineries in this area? Of course, if you're like me, and you had not made the connection between Willamette River and Willamette Valley (of the you-can-grow-anything-and-it-will-be-awesome fame), you would have been one of the ones who did NOT know. Okay, that's fine. Now I know and now I get that thing about Willamette Valley.

I went out to Oak Knoll Winery (that little red pin) (don't forget the part about clicking the picture so you can actually SEE what I'm talking about) to visit Haris. Occasionally she sings there and sometimes she runs the tasting room there.

It was incredibly fun driving around out in farm country. There are even alpaca ranches out there. And huge tree farms and wonderful nurseries with every conceivable kind of flowering thing. Oh. My. God. I really need my own yard. Now.

This was my first ever visit to a winery. I didn't even manage to visit a winery in Napa for crying out loud. It probably has to do with not particularly caring about wine. I went to Oak Knoll because Haris invited me and I love Haris.


Portland Exploring: Ladd's Addition

Ladd's Addition is one of the oldest residential districts in Portland. It's known for its peculiar diagonal street pattern relative to the rest of the area. It is roughly eight blocks (east-west) by ten blocks (north-south) in size (by reference to the external grid) and is bordered by SE Hawthorne, Division, 12th, and 20th. Locally, Ladd's Addition is known as the neighborhood to get "lost" in, since unsuspecting drivers who enter the development commonly find themselves disoriented as they drive around in circles trying to get out. (You can embiggen -- thanks to BloomingWriter for that wonderful word -- any image by clicking on it. Try it, you'll see.)

Last Saturday, Jeff and Kim and I were out rambling around, looking at houses, wandering down NW 23rd Ave. (very fun, kind of trendy) and we decided to "get lost" in Ladd's Addition. This is the central round-about and there's a lovely hidden space inside all these humongous bushes where you can have a little cocktail party or wedding reception.

We drove around trying to get lost, but Kim is actually a GPS device so we always knew where we were. It's a fantastic neighborhood, very well kept and unusual in that it has alleys. (I haven't seen that anywhere else in Portland -- that doesn't mean there aren't alleys anyplace else, I just haven't seen them.) I love alleys. You get to see parts of people's yards that ordinarily would be hidden. And sometimes you get to warp back to San Diego accidentally (when you stumble upon a killer whale, wtf?).