orlo

Stories / Art

Drone World

Winter 2013-14

by Paul Sheprow

Drone World imaginary illustration

In April 2013, a proposal for a project called “Drone Shield” was posted on Indiegogo, a crowd-funding website similar to Kickstarter. The project hoped to raise $3,500 to create “a low-cost, easy-to-use device that alerts you to nearby drones.”

The principles behind the project are simple: A continuously operating microphone passes everything it hears through the unit’s processor, which checks elements of the audio against a database of drone sound signatures. If a match is detected, the user is notified by text, email or flashing light.

Drone Shield’s creator, John Franklin, already had a prototype of the software functioning on his laptop. Franklin, an affable aerospace engineer who works in the Washington, D.C., area, says that the campaign’s object was to determine whether there would even be interest in such a device.

Just days after posting, Franklin issued a follow-up message on the Indiegogo page: “We’ve met over twice our initial funding goal with 32 days left in the campaign! This means we’re getting started a month ahead of schedule. Read more »

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.

Read more »

Bowing Down to Mystery: An Interview with Spalding Gray (1994)

Portland, Oregon; Issue #3

Interview conducted by Philip Krohn and Tom Webb
Note: This interview is reprinted from The Bear Deluxe Magazine #3 (1994). Magazine co-founders Krohn and Webb met with Gray before his evening performance at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon. Gray arrived over two hours late for the interview but eventually shared lunch on Tom McCall Waterfront Park, talking on tape for another two hours. For background on Spalding Gray, visit

Spalding Gray is the internationally acclaimed performing artist and writer responsible for such gems as “Swimming to Cambodia” and “Monster in a Box.” A story collector and wayfarer, he is propelled by an insatiable curiosity and pursued by the bizarre. In addition to being brutally honest and side-splittingly funny, he may also be one of America’s most complicated thinkers. Orlo is grateful to have had the opportunity to spend some time with Spalding Gray during his recent stay in Portland, OR.

Orlo  A couple of years ago you interviewed the Dalai Lama. What is the extent of your interest in Buddhism?
Spalding Gray  I’m not so interested in being a Buddhist, I’m interested in being an individual. I’m a New Englandian, I’m a Thoreauzian. You know, I’m for bowing down to the mystery.
Orlo  You started your interview with the Dalai Lama talking about being on the road all the time, both of you. And trying to get comfortable. It made me think of someone else who is interested in Buddhism, Gary Snyder. And he’s very interested in the discussion of homelessness in a broad sense and trying to find a sense of place, because to him that hasn’t happened in America.
Spalding Gray  Gary’s different than I in the sense that Gary has found a place. I like Gary Snyder, but I think that he’s coming from a preachy place. I can’t quote him, but his attitude is this: “Look at me, I was able to integrate myself with the environment. I now go and argue with Congress about the spotted owl. I’m an environmentalist, I’m Gary Snyder, I found a place. The rest of you are wandering idiots.” We did a Buddhist Conference some years back, and Gary said, “I can’t tolerate it any more, that these people on the road don’t know how to roll their rucksacks.” And I go, “Oh my God.” That’s why he couldn’t hang out with Jack Kerouac after a while. He was a little anal retentive for me.  Read more »

Toward Xenon

Madison, South Dakota; Issue #34

by Justin Blessinger

for my father

Clayton strikes the rod to steel;
a blinding arc of buzzing, wicked blue
lights the workshop,
fusing bolt to chalybeous plate to looping rod puddle.
His black glass face reflects the plasma bolt,
his hammer near to hand
shattering flux.

A Ford bidirectional tractor hunkers behind him,
its bucket bowed in submission
waiting for Clayton’s next endowment
never adornment;
its cerulean paint has washed.

Insulation, silver-backed, keeps Montana’s winter out,
the blue is much softer out there, on the drifts,
absorbing the cold moon
and colder stars
Someone’s old engine oil burns above him
in a red furnace he pulled from the county junkyard
and made it breathe again.

That cobalt night,
bounding in ruts of the dirt road,
a cottontail ignites
in the twinkle of his eye
and his Chevy pickup’s noble headlamps
when he turns toward the house
and thick sleep.

Declining Cities: Urban planning looks to flexibility, not growth

Fresno, California & Portland, Oregon; Winter-Spring 2012-13

by Molly Cooney-Mesker

In Fresno, California, a neighborhood of new stucco-walled houses is fenced off from an abandoned, run-down “parts” shop sitting in the middle of a dry grassy field. With worn board planks and unhinged doors, it looks like a prop on a Western ghost-town set. On the other side of the fence are shiny power-line towers leading to ghostly footprints of would-have-been stucco homes.

This scene in Fresno could just as easily describe any number of suburbs across the Sun Belt.

Read more »

Deer in Headlights: Whitetail Populations Soar Across the Midwest

Missouri and Midwest; Winter-Spring 2012-13

by Jason Tobin

Town and Country, Missouri, is the quintessential setting for wealthy suburban living. Situated about 12 miles west of St. Louis, the exclusive enclave has long been considered one of the premier locales for the upper class of St. Louis County. Strict residential zoning and few commercial zones have made intensive development impossible, which has led to Town and Country maintaining much of its pastoral vibe. Not to mention its elite status. According to the City Data website, as of 2009, the average home was worth $840,811 and 56.5 percent of Town and Country students attended private school.

Town and Country was first incorporated as a village in 1950 and was initially a farming community before transitioning to a high-end, low-density suburb. The farms have disappeared and been replaced with white picket fences, but over time the topographic make-up has remained unchanged. An abundance of open space still exists. All this room has created ideal grazing lands for whitetailed deer. Considering humans are the only natural predator left in the area, the deer population began to skyrocket in the 1980s.

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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.

Read more »

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