Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Werewolf Grieving

Winter 2015 - Spring 2016

By Maggie Mascal

I.  Denial

“The witch [­sic] was so proud of her beautiful breasts that she retained these in human form and shifted the rest of her body into the usual shaggy wolf shape.”  Marika Kriss

They hung from her like gold-tortured lobes—those
of actresses or tribes that point from brain
to heart.  Her heart was smart: swallowed
and valved to bring in tides, send tides away.

She had the things she wanted; these two she
would not share with the moon (that sick, scabbed sore
who, relentless, grates herself to a sliver and fills
herself full with blood my teeth steal.)  Transformed
she’d pray—I’m perfect.  I am sound and still

scraping this ground with better than your mouth—sing
with slicks and strokes.  I stretch out to down—feel
what feeds pressed flat in filth.  Alive.  Alive
I sing.  To me.  To me.  To me.  To me
and no one can say I’m not human.

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Winterkill: Wolves and Buffalo Share Common Ground in Yellowstone National Park

Winter 2015 - Spring 2016

an interview with Mike Meese

Mike Meese, co-founder and current campaign coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign, has a singular focus: protection of the world’s largest wild buffalo herd, roaming throughout Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone Buffalo enjoy protection while in the park itself, but as they migrate outside the park during the winter months, the buffalo are either slaughtered or hazed back into the park, for fear that the wild buffalo will transfer the brucellosis virus to Montana livestock, though, according to the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), no single such transfer has ever been documented.

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Toward One Oregon: Rural-Urban Interdependence and the Evolution of a State

Edited by: Michael Hibbard, Ethan Seltzer, Bruce Weber and Beth Emshoff; Oregon State University (2011) $22.95

Review by Casey Bush

The state of Oregon is bound by water and desert. The Cascade Mountains not only holds back the Pacific moisture but also provide the major political dividing line that is the subject of Toward One Oregon. This scholarly book was born out of a 2008 academic symposium of the same name, held in the Salem Convention Center and attended by participants from all the major Oregon universities.

Not unlike other western states, the story of Oregon is told through the evolving relationship between rural resource dependent communities and urban industrial and transportation centers.   In his chapter, PSU professor Carl Abbott sets the table by dividing Oregon’s history into three periods, which underlies the thesis of the book. He defines the first epoch beginning in 1870 as being dominated by Portland, which he describes as a “primate city” controlling the rest of the state through river and rail travel.   The second era extends from 1920 through the 1970s and is characterized by the decline of the primate’s power and replaced by the economic stability of a resource dependent commercial backbone that extended throughout the state. Abbott leads the reader up to the present following the decline of the timber industry and the rise of the information based technologies. Like many parts of the country, it is not just urban Democrats and rural Republicans, but more “us” and “them”,  a chasm whose growth is based on allegedly irreconcilable differences. The modern era is dominated by land management issues that were defined by Tom McCall’s landmark legislative accomplishment that created urban growth boundaries for all of the major cities. The struggle between livable urban landscapes with the cowboy ethos of land developers has been the defining issue of many Oregon ballot measures over the past 40 years.   Recognizing how we got here is the first step to planning a desirable future.   In an age of rapid globalization, the current economic opportunities for Oregon are not just based on information technologies, but continued thoughtful exploitation of natural resources based as well as properly marketing and preserving the recreational opportunities provided by a scenery burdened state.

Building on Abbott’s historical perspective, the other authors provide argument and evidence that the future of Oregon holds great promise as the “new economic geography” draws the urban and rural areas together based on common needs. The optimism expressed by Toward One Oregon is infectious although it doesn‘t provide a detailed roadmap as how to negotiate the ongoing clash of cultures and economies.  The final essay ends: “It is very exciting and promising to know that we can make our interdependence in Oregon the basis for stronger and more strategic relationships among our communities.  It is equally daunting to consider the thoughtfulness, commitment, and perseverance this will require.”  Good night dear reader and good luck.

Truth Like the Sun

By Jim Lynch; Knopf (2012) $25.95

Review by Dan Raphael

Jim Lynch book coverWhat makes a city a thriving environment is one of the central questions in Jim Lynch’s new novel, Truth Like the Sun.  Another is “What makes a person whole?”  In Lynch’s  previous novels the characters are reacting to the natural forces around them; in Truth, the characters act upon the environment for their own success in the name of urban pride.

Roger Morgan is the 30 year old PR wunderkind who runs the daily operations and serves as the public face of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. 1962 Seattle is a small city–with Boeing but without Microsoft—with traces of its frontier past and few tall buildings. The fair is Seattle’s coming out party, with great opportunities for developers, politicians & purveyors of illegal pleasures like poker and prostitutes.

Alternate chapters take place 40 years later, in a Seattle coming off the dot.com crash. Roger decides to rescue his city by running for mayor, wanting to, again, propel the city into a shining future. Read more »

Rain Dragon

By Jon Raymond; Bloomsbury (2012) $16

Review by Casey Bush

Rain dragon book coverAmy wants to get back to the land while Damon is willing to follow Amy to the ends of the Earth.  So they pack the car, abandon Los Angeles, move to Oregon and find employment on a yogurt farm. Amy becomes a bee keeper while Damon gets involved in marketing both falling under the spell of Rain Dragon owner, Peter Hawk, part Ken Kesey, part Zig Zigler, who aids the couple in their personal  and professional transformations.

Jon Raymond’s second novel is told from Damon’s detached point of view as though his world is passing by the lens of a camera. The story is divided into four unequal seasons and portrays a common modern quest, abandoning the city for the country. Rain Dragon depicts the dilemma of individuals trying to maintain their sense of identity while becoming a cog in the wheels of business and slowly morphs into a morality tale as agricultural products march to an inevitable market. The story turns upon Hawk’s interest in selling his management methods rather than yogurt. Raymond’s naturalist prose takes on an ironic sensibility as the Rain Dragon staff try their hand at increasing the productivity of a paper mill. Read more »

The Quiet Held the Crocuses (Winner: 2012-13 Doug Fir Fiction Award)

Portland, Oregon; Winter 2013-14

by David M. Armstrong  |  illustrations by Jeff Versoi

Illustration by Jeff Versoi

She emerged from the car and rounded the old house to look across the yard, the ground rampant with weeds. Beyond it a swath of brilliant green cut a kind of fairy path through the woods, and near the trailhead lay an ancient plow and a skeletal tractor, their paint faded to a sun-sapped rose that still clung to the iron of the wheel wells. Patrick made a sound from inside the house as if trying to draw her attention. He’d been moody most of the afternoon, flipping unwanted french fries out of the car as they drove, until he’d eaten so little he begged her to stop again, then got picky with a chicken sandwich and fell asleep. In Patrick’s defense, the trip had been unexpected. She hadn’t intended to take him from Dale’s driveway. That much had just happened. But in her own defense, her actions were planless as osmosis, a current of biological imperatives sliding beneath her and buoying her weight: a mother needs her son.

She turned back to the house. Most of the windows had been broken.

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Proximal Qualities: An Interview with Author Jonathan Raymond

Interview by Casey Bush and Tom Webb

Note: This interview is reprinted from issue #29 of The Bear Deluxe Magazine (spring 2009).

Jonathan Raymond doesn’t live alone. He has a new daughter, a “girlfriend/baby mama” and numerous creative colleagues around the country. But more so, Raymond lives in a world of common experience and imagination, where your stories are his stories, your friends are his friends, and people struggle collectively to find meaning and subsistence. Through his writings and other pursuits, Raymond Parallels historical trends with modern experiences, often wrapping them within natural, yet constructed, landscapes–be they an ad hoc dumpsite in a national forest or a parking lot in a rural community. Place is as much mental as physical for this mid-career artist out of Portland, Oregon. His recent credits include the short story collection Livability (Bloomsbury, 2008), co-writing the films Wendy and Lucy and Old Joy (both based on his stories), and the novel The Half-Life (Bloomsbury, 2004). He is an editor at Plazm and Tin House, and his art writing has appeared in Art Forum and American Painters. He received his B.A. in art history from Swarthmore College and an M.F.A. from The New School. The Bear Deluxe caught up with Raymond at a park on Northeast Portland this past spring.

TW So here we are at Irving Park; can you talk a little bit about your relationship to this park and the neighborhood?

JR I have a few nodes. I feel like I’m right in the middle of a web of different things. Down the street over there there was a house I used to spend a lot of time at. It was the Bugskull back in the early to mid-’90s. It was a very important site of just hanging out and being with other interesting people. Then I have an ex-girlfriend who lived over there, so I spent a lot of time over on Failing Street. And actually I love that that street right there is Klickatat Street, which to me has that Beverly Cleary kind of valence to it. So there is stuff in every direction.

TW So what’s on the front burner these days?

JR Well, there are a few front burners. A couple of screenplay projects are moving along. I wrote a screenplay for Kelly Reichardt, who is the director who adapted stories out of Livability. In this case I just wrote a straight screenplay for her that is also Oregon based, but it is more of period thing. It is about a lost wagon train in the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, based loosely on an actual story of a wagon train that tried to take a shortcut across the Eastern Oregon desert and ended up getting lost out near Bend and Burns. Hopefully that will shoot this fall. And then I am also helping Todd Haines, the filmmaker, adapt the novel Mildred Pierce into a miniseries. And then I have a novel I’ve been nursing along for awhile.

CB Can you describe what that’s about? You don’t have to give out trade secrets.

JR If only I knew any. It’s about a couple who moves to the general Portland area in the early ’80s to work on an organic yogurt farm and end up getting involved in corporate management training processes. They become instructors. It is about trying to find satisfying work for the main character and at the same time a romance story.

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Cultural Memory: An Interview with Carolyn Finney

Berkeley, California; Spring-Summer, 2012

by Casey Bush and Tom Webb

Carolyn Finney is a geographer who has discarded maps in favor of storytelling. The UC Berkeley assistant professor has abandoned cartography for cultural narrative. She looks to expand our green horizons with a populated landscape including people like former slave Israel Parson Jones, whose family lived for generations in the lowland that is now Biscayne National Park, and who died as one of the first African-American millionaires. Finney’s forthcoming book, Black Faces, White Places: African-Americans in the Great Outdoors (University of Georgia Press), expands the color palate that is the history and the face of modern environmentalism.

Finney’s unusual career route included 12 years pursuing acting in New York before trekking in Africa and Asia led her to re-enter academia and attempt to redefine the “white wilderness” that has led to a racialization of envi­ronmental concerns. As part of that work, she counted the faces of color in 10 years of Outside magazine, finding only 100 out of 4,000 that were not white. But Carolyn Finney is not an outsider herself and instead is working to change the place of African-Americans in the green movement as a member of the National Park Advisory Board and the Second Century National Parks Commission, among other appointments and awards. Finney earned her undergraduate degree from Western Washington University and her Ph.D. in geography from Clark University.

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Wheels Up in Rural Oregon

Oregon; Winter-Spring 2012-13

by Molly Esteve

They call it the $100 hamburger: Lift off in Newburg, Oregon; fly 67 nautical miles southwest over the Coast Range to the Pacific City airstrip, just kitty-corner from Fat Freddy’s burger joint; order the Fat Fred Deluxe; walk off lunch along the shore; then take back a few fresh-from-thepot Dungeness crab for dinner. It’s a different kind of takeout, certainly—and one that begins with a takeoff.

“Although these days, with the price of fuel, it’s more like a $200 hamburger,” says Dale Whitney, a third-generation Whitney to run Newberg’s privately owned Sportsman Airpark.

Sam Whitney, Dale’s grandfather, established the rural airport in 1946, after he returned from World War II as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. The Whitneys’ flying company made most of its profits from crop-dusting and seeding Cascade lakes with fish. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would drop shipments of fingerlings into the cargo pod of Whitney’s Piper Super Cub tractor plane.

Nowadays, trucks move the fish up dusty backroads, and the Whitneys stopped crop-dusting 10 years ago because of pesticide drift and the consequent fines.

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CSI: Special Forest Unit — Backroading artist documents clear-cuts with creative flare

By Tom Webb

Ryan Burns is not an everyday ambulance driver. He doesn’t scream down busy city streets, pick up accident victims and rush them away to the nearest hospital. He has no need for a siren, since his patients are, without exception, dead on arrival. He’s part Quincy, the county coroner, and part public provocateur, documenting the death of biodiversity in the backcountry of America’s national forests. You can call him a stump-rubber, or tree-impressionist, but you’d never be correct in describing him as an average landscape artist. Forest rangers can attest to that.

“They get real confused,” Burns says of the rangers who encounter him and his 1989 Ford ambulance as they travel the logging roads of the Pacific Northwest. “’Whatya’ doing? Did someone get hurt out here?’ they ask. And I’m like ‘No, I’m just looking for some clear-cuts.’”

A fresh cut mapped and found, Burns pulls out his materials—swaths of paper, a glue stick and a thick rubbing crayon—and gets to work on his latest patient. He finds the largest, freshest stump available. The papers are layered across the ringed behemoth and glued together to form a parent sheet. Sometimes he’ll have to saw off an errant snag so as to create a relatively clean, flat surface. Only then does the rubbing begin. As the pine pitch, bone-black pigment and of his crayon scurries across the stump, a new image is born from the recently department Douglas fir, Sitka spruce or Ponderosa pine. It’s like dusting for clues, and Burns knows that every stump has its own unique set of rings, its own fingerprint.

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