Off Piste | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
Search
Settings

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Green Goes Kinky

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 5:30 PM

For one reason or another, my name and e-mail address are on about 250 public relations firm's e-mail lists. So daily I get a batch of e-mails extolling some new book, travel opportunity, gear, and more recently more hype about "green" products and services.
And while most of the press releases I get aren't of much interest, every so often one comes along that either gets my attention or makes me howl with laughter.

The release that follows got both my attention and cracked me up. I swear I didn't make this one up. So here goes.

"Green Sex Toy Parties Educate and Entertain the Environmentally Arouse" Northwest-based retailer of environmentally friendly adult toys announces the launch of the world's first "eco-chic" in-home toy demonstration parties. Earth Erotics' parties put a sustainable twist on the traditional sex toy party by showcasing green vibrators, phthalate-free dildos, natural lubricants, recycled whips and other ecologically and non toxic adult paraphernalia. "Adult toys are a sexual staple in millions of bedrooms across the country. I think it's about time we start considering their effects on our bodies and the environment. Erotics' in home toy demonstrations provide an intimate setting for consultants to share information about toxins while party goers investigate natural and earth friendly sex toy alternatives," says Jasmine, Earth Erotics Owner."

Wow, I never knew there were Tupperware-like parties for consenting adults. They sound like just what's we need to spark things up in the upcoming dark days of winter.

And since we're talking about green sex toys,they should make a lot of people feel much better for using them.

However, I have some questions. Are the "consultants" who put on these parties on commission a la Mary Kay cosmetics party saleswomen? And if so, do they get a hot pink Cadillac, or similarly garish car, to drive if they reach a certain sales goal?

There's much to be learned here as the greening of the boudoir begins.


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Monday, September 28, 2009

Responses Answered

Posted By on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Easily the most enjoyable part of blogging (I'm new at this, or is that stating the obvious?) has been some of the responses I've received. There have been the truly creative and the not so creative, and, unfortunately, the way predictable.

Going into the blog writing game I suspected that there were dozens, hey maybe hundreds, of angry males out there just waiting for me, or any blogger for that matter, to appear the least bit liberal. Once these males get the liberal scent they were ready to let loose with a load of vitriol

So far not too much vitriol. That noted, one reader asked why I felt it necessary to call a printed tract that was dropped into my car at Costco, "a right wing rant. "Why didn't you just call it a rant?"

Well if it reads like a right wing rant and has all the classic fear mongering right wing hooey, it's right wing rant as in two pages full of "they're-coming-to-get-us" fantasies.

For the record, for all you waiting to spew venom and treacle after reading one of my blogs, I'm pretty much a political wuss, i.e. middle-of-the-roader. That noted, I believe in all sorts of liberal ideas. So typecast if you like as one of the liberal media.

Aside from anything remotely political, thanks to the person who responded to my blog about the local paper's fascination with Bend's "jocktocracy" (you know elite athletes who seem to train 20 hours day while juggling family life and some high-paid on-line job) with a note complaining that culture and cultural events seldom get much, if any, press.

I agree with the writer's statement if they're talking about culture versus pop culture. The latter gets plenty of coverage; the former, not much.

The problem as I see it is that Bend has yet to find its cultural identity. Those who drive the local art and culture scene seem best at stealing ideas form other cities with the hope that they'll take root here. Bottom line-when it comes to culture, Bend is still years away from being the next Santa Fe.

Moving on to the outdoors, I got this comment on the demise of the McKenzie River due to over-use.

"I agree this is a bit of a tragedy, but aren't the terms 'singletrack' and 'overuse' pretty much synonymous anyway? Since the growth of mountain biking, deep ruts have become the landscape."

And while I don't agree that singletrack and overuse are necessarily synonymous, I agree with the writer that deep ruts, deep moon-dust and erosion have increased dramatically on trails everywhere with the popularity of mountain biking.

My whine about trying to find a good place to drink coffee brought this brilliant response.

"I believe that the options are to either get comfortable with the current milieu or embrace your inner curmudgeon, give up on these darn kids these days, and become the old guy with plaid shirt and suspenders drinking Farmer Brothers coffee made in a Bunn coffee maker (ick) at Mae's Cafe, flirting with Rose -the waitress in her orthopedic shoes - while watching the Budweiser clock going 'round and 'round.

Whoever wrote that gets two A's, one for such a cleverly crafted response, and another one for making my day, in fact week.

Another response to the "java love" blog came from a good pal in Wisconsin (that's right they read Source blogs in the Badger State)

He talked about his dad's daily coffee gatherings with friends.

"My dad and his buddies had a long standing tradition of getting together for coffee. They met twice a day, 9:00 and 2:00. They had a helluva time and mixed great camaraderie with sotto voce talk of who and what was happening in town.

The first gatherings were at the Midget Cafe, a true greasy spoon. They moved from restaurant to restaurant over the years. Funny thing is that I was cleaning old files at work and came across a letter one of my dad's buddies had written when dad died. The letter, in part, was about the great times at coffee. So there you have it: a summary of two good friends at the end of one's life and coffee is one of the key elements. You're on to something."

And speaking of the more social aspect to drinking coffee, an Associated Press story by Kathy Matheson (www.Ap.org) cites a Temple University professor's new study that claims that Starbucks doesn't promote a sense of community.

The professor, Bryant Simon, visited 425 Starbucks locations nationwide spending up to 15 hours on week on his study. He claims, according to writer Matheson, "that sense of community is what's missing from Starbucks." And if Simon owned a coffee shop, "it would not have conversation-killing WiFi, wouldn't offer to-go cups but would have a big round table strewn with newspapers to stimulate conversation.

I think Professor Simon is on to something.


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cruiser's Paradise

Posted By on Sat, Sep 26, 2009 at 5:40 PM



    Balloon tires, wide comfortable saddles, cool paint jobs-what's not to like about contemporary cruiser bikes that have become popular get-around-Bend vehicles during the warm months. Given the fact that most of our fair city is relatively flat, it's ideally suited for cruising. Except, that is, if you happen to live on Awbrey Butte and face pushing your bike uphill to get home, or you live way out in sagebrush country and riding to and from town might prove overly taxing astride a forty-pound bike.
    Cruiser rider is supposed to be neither taxing nor about pushing. It's supposed to be about going slow, checking out the scene and being social. Which brings me to the roots of social fat tire riding in Bend.
    Cruiser and fat tire bike riding in general got its start in Bend in the late 1970s. That's when now Sunnyside Sports co-owner Gary Bonacker, Bend Bulletin photographer Don Ipock and local teenage stud athlete Tim Boyle added gears and handbrakes to old single-speed fat tire newsboy bikes and began making off-road forays on them. Thus was the local mountain bike scene born.
    At the same time, a group of recreational road cyclists led by Chicago transplant Ted Eugenis started scouring junk shops and garage sales in search of old single-speed fat tire bikes.
 Eugenis and his friends preached the gospel of keeping old bikes stock, i.e. coaster brakes and one speed. He reckoned that a one-speed, coaster brake, fat tire stock bike would work for the occasional off-road ride and be great for around town trolls in search of coffee, beer and food.
    Eugenis' idea ended up gaining more immediate currency than the mountain bike idea and soon there were a dozens of locals riding old Schwinns, Roadmasters and Huffys.
    As the summer of 1979 unfolded, the burgeoning cruiser crowd would gather from time to time to ride en mass to a bar. Eventually, this led to plans for a major bar-to-bar cruise.
One hot July Saturday night the big ride took place. Over a dozen cruiser riders gathered in Mirror Pond Park and peddled two blocks to their first stop at the D and D on Bond Street.
    After libations at the D and D, they walked their bikes across the street to the now long gone Smoke Shop. From the Smoke Shop, it was a ride of some four blocks to the M and J Tavern on Greenwood.
    Arriving at the M and J, a decision was made to honor the motorcycling tradition of parking bikes in a neat row with their front tires pointing in the same sideways direction.     Bikes and front wheels aligned, the cruiser riders strolled into stares of disbelief from the bar's regulars.  A few regulars cleared some space at the bar to allow the cyclists to belly up just as the bartender excused himself to take a look at the bikes lined up out front.
    On returning to his post behind the bar, the bartender leaned asked the cruiser riders in a concerned: "You folks aren't here for trouble are you?"    "Nah, "came a snappy reply," just for a beer and to see if you happen to have a spare tire pump laying around."
    That night riding home several cruisers hatched a drunken plan to ride the 100-mile Sunnyside Century just to prove that it could be done. Come September, I was the only cruiser to show up completing the ride on a forty-plus pound Schwinn Typhoon. It took me 7 hours and 28 minutes, or a dazzling 13.7 miles per hour. All I recall is the torture of climbing the Sparks Lake grade in the blazing sun and later then riding in a dreamlike trance the final miles before passing out on the grass in Mirror Pond Park at ride's end.
As the early eighties, local mountain bike explorer sans peer, Dennis Heater, got into cruiser bikes and started the annual Cruiser Crawl. The Crawl incorporated skill events (a bike toss/slalom/2 x 4 riding) with a police escorted group ride through downtown Bend to a gathering place where prizes were awarded for the best vintage bikes, the best decorated bikes and the heaviest bikes.
As the eighties rolled on, the Cruise Crawl went the way of a lot of old Bend traditions and died. It's an event worth reviving.
 


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Tarnished Treasure?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 4:58 PM

It’s one of life’s great truisms. Something very unique is cherished by a few, becomes a cult classic, and then, as more people find out about it, becomes more of a classic trashed. And so it is with the famed McKenzie River Trail. Once considered America’s definitive singletrack mountain bike trail, the McKenzie River Trail is suffering from overuse.

It's too bad but that's the price the trail is paying for its fame spurred on in part by constant "top trails to ride" stories about the trail in mountain bike and outdoor magazines.  On any given weekend, like last this past one, the trail is now packed with mountain bike riders ranging from raw beginners to body armor clad freeriders and every description in between. Riding the trail has become a much sought after mountain biking merit badge worthy of a tee-shirt emblazoned with the words-"I rode the McKenzie River Trail and survived."

The problems with popularity and so much use is the trail has become overly eroded in many places, full of stutter (aka "tourist") bumps, more places where the trail is rim deep in loose dirt and other maladies great trails suffered when abused. The McKenzie River trail is still a great ride if, and I agree with Phill of Phill's trail fame on this, you ride it up-river. Then you don't notice the wear and damage as much.

So what to do? Restrict the number of riders that can use the trail on weekend? That would be nearly impossible and too expensive to monitor. Hope for a group like COTA to work their maintenance magic on the trail? That would be wonderful as COTA has a well-deserved reputation nationwide for keeping trails in shape. Maybe a moratorium on riding the trail for one of the summer months is in order? Ah, forget that, I can hear the whining now.

The bottom line is a group called "Friends of The McKenzie River Trail" or something like that needs to be formed to get riders involved in keeping the trail in good shape. Until that happens, the wear and tear is making an Oregon treasure lose much of its luster.


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Looking For Java Love

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 3:03 PM


    I'm giving up coffee. Not because of some medical reason but for the simple reason that I can't find a coffee shop that I like to drink my morning cup.
    Let me explain. Every morning I like to get out of the house for a cup of coffee, Hopefully that will be at place that's comfortable, unpretentious and serves good coffee.     Put another way, I want my chosen coffee shop to be much like, in atmosphere, my chosen place to drink beer. That place is Silver Moon. Why? Because the Moon offers a low key atmosphere with zero pretentiousness, plenty of normal working people patronizing the joint, a staff  that’s friendly and they serve good beer. In short, a place I can go and drink alone while reading something or meet old friends to enjoy their company.
    Now when it comes to coffee, I thought I'd found my place. It was on Newport Avenue. The vibe was mellow, decent music playing in the background, there were two easy chairs and a comfortable sofa to relax on inside, daily papers to read, a pleasant staff, a nice outdoor patio and tasty coffee.
    I started going there daily only to arrive one morning to a sign thanking patrons for their business but, sad to say, " we're closing down."
    So I embarked on a quest for a replacement coffee shop. Corporate coffee shops were ruled out from the start. So first on my list was a visit to what appeared to be a likely new hangout. All was going pretty well until a man at the next table started to loudly quote Biblical verses to another person at his table. Soon the two were praying together loudly.
    There's a time and place for everything and it wasn't my time for a religious interlude. I was there simply to wake up with a good cup of coffee and scan of the morning papers.
    So I moved on. Next stop was a coffee shop where I felt totally ill at ease since I sported neither an all black hip clothing ensemble nor multiple tats.     At my next stop and I felt naked sitting there without my laptop creating a Twit, updating my Facebook page or writing in my journal which, by the way, will be the basis for the next great American autobiography.
    There were fewer computers at the next place on my list plus the coffee was good and the barista (see I'm betting more coffee lingo hip during my quest) didn't look at me like I was from a strange land when I asked for a simple cup of coffee.
    All was going well here until a woman sat down close by. pulled out her laptop and got on Skype. Then she preceded to air her dirty laundry and most of her personal life to the person on the other end of her call as well as to everyone within hearing distance (meaning the whole coffee shop).
    Rebuffed and not willing to get a tat, buy hipper clothes, get on Skype, pray loudly, Twit, or write the great American novel while sipping a plain old cup of coffee, I tried one more place.
    As it turned out, this place was it. Well at least for a while until it got discovered and overrun by thirty-something moms. Obviously they feel comfortable there which is wonderful for them but not so for a curmudgeon in training.
    Frustrated, I've decided to take out an ad on Craigs List. It'll read: "man of a certain age, and growing more grumpy by the day, seeks a not-so-hip, laid back, unpretentious place to have a morning cup of coffee. Reply to Looking For Hot Java Love."
 


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Job Well Done

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 5:02 PM


    Every so often a Bend citizen comes up with an idea that he or she feels will benefit the community and sets about their task quietly and effectively. They work the system the right way not making demands or braying in the press but with civility, working in an organized fashion making sure that the most minor details are taken care of properly. Too often when these individual's work is done their goal accomplished, they are forgotten. Such, I hope, won't be the case with Dick Tobiason.     Tobiason's has long had the dream of veteran's memorial in Bend. As he's pointed out often, Bend lost a great number of men particularly in World War II. The town has also lost servicemen in every conflict from World War I to the present day engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Over the past several years, Tobiason worked with the City of Bend on getting the Newport Avenue Bridge dedicated as the Veteran's Memorial Bridge. The dedication took place on Veteran's Day November 11, 2007. That would be Tobiason, his wife and fellow vets who put the flags up along the bridge on all major holidays.
    The Veteran's Bridge was just step one, an important one to be sure, in Tobiason's on his way to his ultimate goal.  Diligently working the back channels, he built support for the memorial project speaking to service clubs and organizations, to individuals, and in fact anyone who would listen to his pitch. A pitch that was as sincere as was Tobiason’s enthusiasm for his project. It was, as people and groups soon found out, hard to turn Tobiason down.
    Getting the veteran's memorial situated near that Veterans Bridge took time and months of work with the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District. Along the way, the project also gained scope as the names of first responders killed in the line of duty would also be added to the plaques that will form part of the memorial,
This past spring, Tobiason's tireless work led to Parks approving the construction of a veteran’s memorial in Brooks Park pending public input. Public meetings completed, work on the memorial started in earnest two weeks ago. Every day, Tobiason is out checking on its progress.
 Bend’s Veterans memorial will be dedicated on Veterans Day November 11. The cost to create it will be covered by both cash and in-kind donations.   And while I'm sure that during the dedication ceremonies that Dick Tobiason will come in for much praise, my hope is he wont be forgotten in the future for his unceasing work on this project. It’s a job well done.
Ironically Tobiason's work is not done. He's already at work trying to get sections of Oregon's State Highways dedicated as veteran's memorial highways. Knowing him as I have come to over the past four years and knowing how he works, he'll achieve that goal as well.                  


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Monday, September 21, 2009

Stupid Tricks Season Winds Down

Posted By on Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 3:36 PM


    Now that the summer tourist season has passed, we head into what the tourism people like to call the "shoulder season". That's shoulder, apparently, as in the link between the big summer and winter arms of tourism.
    Back when I worked in the tourism business they called it "slack" season. Slack gives the impression that business really goes to pot, which it did back then, for a few months, something local tourism officials never want to imply.
    So shoulder season it is. And with its arrival it's time to highlight some of this year's best examples of stupid tourist tricks.
    Let's be clear, tourists do dumb things. They don’t do them purposefully but, as an executive from the Marriott Corporation once explained at a tourism conference, "they do so because once they go on vacation, they tend to shut their minds off."
    One of the example the Marriott exec used to illustrate his remark was that of a CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation who on arriving at a resort hotel locked his keys in his car. To make matters worse he' also locked his two-year old son in the car and it was a scorching 100-degree day.     There are probably hundreds of examples of local stupid tourist tricks. But before I get to a few, a disclaimer is in order. That's because as sure as the sun rises, someone from COVA (Central Oregon Visitors Association), VisitBend or the Downtowners will read this blog and immediately go into an apoplectic state. In said state, they'll reason that someone in San Jose, Anaheim, Boulder, Albuquerque, or wherever just might also read the blog and decide to never ever visit Bend again. Sure.
My advice to the our sometimes hyper thin-skinned tourism folks is to relax and concentrate your efforts on countering all the bad press Bend has been receiving nationally and internationally as boomtown gone bust.
    And by the way, I'm as guilty as anyone of doing stupid tourist tricks. Several years ago on a business trip to Salt Lake City I was driving down one of that city's wide main streets when I realized I was headed west instead of east. In full stupid tourist mode, I simply made a U-turn causing cars in the eastbound lane to come to screeching halts to avoid hitting me.
    Undaunted I drove on when a car pulled up alongside me and a very upset guy in the passenger seat screamed out his window: "what the f_ _ _ did you do that for?
    "I did it, because I'm a stupid freaking tourist," I replied.
    The guy gave me a quizzical look and then smiled and shouted back: "right on."
    Good attitude that and I wish I'd had some of it in August when a jumbo SUV came barreling the wrong way down Bond Street seemingly oblivious to the fact that the light at Bond and Franklin had changed and a herd of cars were headed his way.
    Things were about to get a bit dicey, when the driver of the SUV awoke from his daydreaming and made a quick turn onto Minnesota Street. Major accident narrowly avoided.
    Speaking of Bond Street a repeated stupid tourist trick (usually done by large groups of same) this past summer was crossing Bond Street at Louisiana on their way to McMenamins without checking for on-coming traffic.     It must be the smell of the food or beer in the air that dulls their senses because they often just wander aimlessly across the street as if protected by an invisible shield.
    The same shield that out-of-town kayakers, canoeists, rafter and tubers must feel they have protecting them when they put-in on the Deschutes River. This summer saw more than a few "they (the tourism brochures we assume) never told us the river was that difficult" and "we don’t own life preservers" moments plus Alder Creek employees pulling three people out of the Colorado Street dam. Thankfully there were no deaths or permanent injuries.
    Not being prepared, not looking and driving the wrong way on downtown streets are some of more visible stupid tourist tricks. The less visible are more fun.
    My favorite this summer began with an encounter with a runner on an old logging road near Shevlin Park. Resplendent in a tee-shirt emblazoned with the name of his California hometown, he waved me down frantically as I approached on my mountain bike.
    "How, "he inquired, "do I get back to Bend?"
    I inquired where he thought he was. He gave a long response full of road and place names I'd never heard before.
    After explaining three times how he could eventually connect to Skyliners Road and head back into town he jogged off.
    Getting lost is something we all do away from home. But in one of those irony of ironies situations, the next day I was sitting in the locker room at the Juniper Swim and Fitness Center after a morning swim wondering to myself if the runner had made it safely back to Bend, when voice disturbed my reverie.
    I looked up to find my lost runner asking: "could you tell me how to get to the pool from here."
    I guess he just gets lost no matter where he is.
    Moving from stupid tourist tricks to stupid tourism tricks, let's discuss the whole "dollar value" thing now associated with everything that's printed about our fair city. Let's say Outside Magazine mentions that Bend is a cool place to live if you're young, some sort of world champion in some sport and have a trust fund. Immediately a local tourism flack will claim that the exposure is worth say $40,000 in equivalent advertising dollars.
    It's publicity money can't buy, but I'll attach a dollar figure to it anyway must be the flack's logic. So every time Bend gets some ink, we get the whole "dollar value" rationale.     I'm curious as to what a bend-related story in "Knitting Monthly", "Llama Breader" and "Survivalist" magazine worth?
    And does the flack who comes up with all these dollar values have a negative dollar value for all those stories that lambaste Bend for its rise and fall during the past several years? How about that one in New York Times having a negative dollar value of say, $100,000?
    Tourism is a tricky business. It's a lot about making nice. And that's why the French actress Brigette Bardot will never make it as a tourism flack after stating about her hometown village in the south of France: "I am leaving the town to the invaders; increasingly numerous, mediocre, dirty, badly behaved, shameless tourists"


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Fall Folkie Favorite

Posted By on Sat, Sep 19, 2009 at 1:16 PM


    There's something comforting knowing that every year on the second weekend in September the Sisters Folk Festival (SFF) will take place. SFF is more than a music festival for many regulars. To them, it's also a time to catch up with and spend quality time with old friends and to relax as the fall season starts to unfold.
    On the hype/price value scale, SFF scores well. That’s  well as in low in excessive hype and high in the value you get for your money. This is a festival tilted in favor of the audience allowing them a chance to hear a wide variety of acts, learn in numerous in workshop sessions and have unfettered access to the artists.     There are always surprises at SFF. Just prior to this year's Festival Bend jazz vocalists Lori Fletcher send out an e-mail to friends urging them to attend the Festival as, "you'll be surprised at what you'll find." True, there's more to folk in the Festival these days.
    That was evident from the get-go with multi-talented and dimensional Susan Werner opening the event at the Festival's Village Green main stage. Werner defies classification and in so challenges her audiences to pay attention.
    Yes she can sing and play folk as she did, but she’s also very much at home in gospel and blues, both of which she played brilliantly on the electric piano. She's also well versed in Broadway show tunes and after claiming to having had fantasies of being "Cole Porter's witty little sister, " belted out a Tin-Pan Alley-esque creation of her own writing.
    She also went into her jazz bag accompanying herself on a guitar with a ballad that reminded me of some of the work the late Carmen McRae did with guitarist Joe Pass.     Another example of the diversity of the evening's program was the hot fiddle playing Quebe sisters from Texas who offered up a set of Texas swing a la Bob Wills. Then came the off-kilter ramblings and playing of folk artist Todd Snider. Snider carries on the Woody and Arlo, Dylan and Rambling Jack tradition of talking and playing taking it to quirky heights.
    After the Village Green main stage and the Sisters Art Works stage close for the evening, a crowd gathered at Bronco Billy's Ranch Grill and saloon for a jam session that went on until 1 a.m.
    Saturday morning was given over to the workshops at smaller venues within easy walk or bike ride from each other. At his workshop, bluegrass and folk legend Peter Rowan was asked what the secret was to song writing. He replied: "I don't know," adding, "I just go for a walk and if some words come to me I write them down on the right hand side of a notebook page as soon as I get home. Later I come back and try to fit the words to music which I note down on the left hand page across from the words."
    Rowan headlined the Saturday night show at the Village Green main stage sandwiched between and indy band and an all-over-the map (swing to quasi rock to you name it) band.     Led by Susan Werner, Sunday's traditional gospel hour featured numerous Festival artists in what is always a pleasing and uplifiting experience.     A few more acts to catch on Sunday and the respite of music and relaxing in Sisters came to an end. An end with a question-should the word "folk" be stricken from the Festival's name?
A sub head to a Sisters Folk Festival newspaper headline reads: "featuring blues, bluegrass, folk and soul music." There was some blues, very little if any bluegrass, a good amount of folk and no true soul except for a couple of Susan Werner offerings. There was, in the minds of some people I spoke with, too much emphasis on "indy" bands and too much emphasis on cranking said band's music up to almost the AC/DC heavy metal ear splitting level. And then there was that one band that while billed as a soulful southern band was, in reality, a Monday through Friday bar band that plays frat gigs on weekends.
That noted, the Festival planners are trying to bring a younger demographic to the event which tends to be attended mostly by Boomers and beyond.
So maybe a name change is in order. I'd offer the Sisters Festival of Americana Music but have no idea of what Americana means. If it means folk music derived from the English, Scottish and Irish folk music roots, jazz, blues, soul, swing and even rap then it opens the doors to all sorts of musical possibilties.
Pure folk, the Festival is no longer. A music festival in transition, absolutely. A festival worth attending and supporting, by all means. That's because at SFF there will always be some transcending musical moments, moments of amazing musical grace and moments of pure musical pleasure.
             



           


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

A Fall Flokie Favorite

Posted By on Sat, Sep 19, 2009 at 1:13 PM


    There's something comforting knowing that every year on the second weekend in September the Sisters Folk Festival (SFF) will take place. SFF is more than a music festival for many regulars. To them, it's also a time to catch up with and spend quality time with old friends and to relax as the fall season starts to unfold.
    On the hype/price value scale, SFF scores well. That’s  well as in low in excessive hype and high in the value you get for your money. This is a festival tilted in favor of the audience allowing them a chance to hear a wide variety of acts, learn in numerous in workshop sessions and have unfettered access to the artists.     There are always surprises at SFF. Just prior to this year's Festival Bend jazz vocalists Lori Fletcher send out an e-mail to friends urging them to attend the Festival as, "you'll be surprised at what you'll find." True, there's more to folk in the Festival these days.
    That was evident from the get-go with multi-talented and dimensional Susan Werner opening the event at the Festival's Village Green main stage. Werner defies classification and in so challenges her audiences to pay attention.
    Yes she can sing and play folk as she did, but she’s also very much at home in gospel and blues, both of which she played brilliantly on the electric piano. She's also well versed in Broadway show tunes and after claiming to having had fantasies of being "Cole Porter's witty little sister, " belted out a Tin-Pan Alley-esque creation of her own writing.
    She also went into her jazz bag accompanying herself on a guitar with a ballad that reminded me of some of the work the late Carmen McRae did with guitarist Joe Pass.     Another example of the diversity of the evening's program was the hot fiddle playing Quebe sisters from Texas who offered up a set of Texas swing a la Bob Wills. Then came the off-kilter ramblings and playing of folk artist Todd Snider. Snider carries on the Woody and Arlo, Dylan and Rambling Jack tradition of talking and playing taking it to quirky heights.
    After the Village Green main stage and the Sisters Art Works stage close for the evening, a crowd gathered at Bronco Billy's Ranch Grill and saloon for a jam session that went on until 1 a.m.
    Saturday morning was given over to the workshops at smaller venues within easy walk or bike ride from each other. At his workshop, bluegrass and folk legend Peter Rowan was asked what the secret was to song writing. He replied: "I don't know," adding, "I just go for a walk and if some words come to me I write them down on the right hand side of a notebook page as soon as I get home. Later I come back and try to fit the words to music which I note down on the left hand page across from the words."
    Rowan headlined the Saturday night show at the Village Green main stage sandwiched between and indy band and an all-over-the map (swing to quasi rock to you name it) band.     Led by Susan Werner, Sunday's traditional gospel hour featured numerous Festival artists in what is always a pleasing and uplifiting experience.     A few more acts to catch on Sunday and the respite of music and relaxing in Sisters came to an end. An end with a question-should the word "folk" be stricken from the Festival's name?
A sub head to a Sisters Folk Festival newspaper headline reads: "featuring blues, bluegrass, folk and soul music." There was some blues, very little if any bluegrass, a good amount of folk and no true soul except for a couple of Susan Werner offerings. There was, in the minds of some people I spoke with, too much emphasis on "indy" bands and too much emphasis on cranking said band's music up to almost the AC/DC heavy metal ear splitting level. And then there was that one band that while billed as a soulful southern band was, in reality, a Monday through Friday bar band that plays frat gigs on weekends.
That noted, the Festival planners are trying to bring a younger demographic to the event which tends to be attended mostly by Boomers and beyond.
So maybe a name change is in order. I'd offer the Sisters Festival of Americana Music but have no idea of what Americana means. If it means folk music derived from the English, Scottish and Irish folk music roots, jazz, blues, soul, swing and even rap then it opens the doors to all sorts of musical possibilties.
Pure folk, the Festival is no longer. A music festival in transition, absolutely. A festival worth attending and supporting, by all means. That's because at SFF there will always be some transcending musical moments, moments of amazing musical grace and moments of pure musical pleasure.
             



           


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Sports Icon Fondly Remembered

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 7:30 PM


    Years ago when I aspired to become a professional tennis player, I worked at a Colorado resort hotel's tennis facility. My job included cleaning the place, gathering balls for the pro during his lessons, playing with resort guests who needed a partner and stringing rackets. In my off-hours I devoured everything I could read about the game.
    The player I most admired at that time was Jack Kramer. Kramer who died this past week at age 88, was a Wimbledon and U.S National (now U.S. Open) singles champion in the late 40s and won dozens of national and international doubles titles. Plagued by an arthritic back, Kramer retired from amateur tennis in 1954 and started a successful pro tennis tour that traveled the country giving exhibitions.
    Like a lot of aspiring players of the time I played with a Jack Kramer autograph model Wilson racket which was the best selling racket worldwide for close to three decades. I went a step further salting away a portion of my monthly earnings to buy a pair of white Jack Kramer signature tennis shorts.
    So when my boss the tennis pro walked in one day and announced that Jack Kramer and part of his touring company would be staging an exhibition at the resort, I was ecstatic.
    Two months later four of tennis' greatest players arrived early one morning to check out the courts and the facility. Besides Kramer, there was his longtime doubles partner Ted Schroeder and the two Panchos- Gonzalez and Segura.
    Pancho Gonzalez was known not only for his incredible service speed (100mph-a marvel in the wood racket era) but also as one of the first young American players to rise to prominence from public tennis courts (in this case in L.A.) in the then very much country club player-centric world of tournament tennis.
Ecuadorian Panco Segura was known for his tireless energy, charisma on the court and finesse at doubles.
After a short tour around the tennis facility, Kramer gathered all the young wannabes like me who had volunteered to be ballboys during the exhibitions for a short course on how to do our job properly. He did so with the tone of a caring parent rather than that of a big time tennis star. He inspired us all to do the best job possible. On the second day of the exhibitions, Kramer opened with a clinic. After discussing some of the finer points of the game Kramer he looked around for a young player to hit with him. I was chosen and almost threw up I was so nervous. Kramer immediately put me at ease and after several long rallies we played two games. In the second game I aced him. He roared with laughter and swore he'd ace me back. He did, twice.
I slept little that night being so keyed up by not only playing my idol but also doing it in front of several thousand people. By the end of the three-days of exhibitions, Kramer was calling me by name.
The following year, Kramer and the same group of players returned to the resort. This time he singled me out to prep the ball boy crew and also employed me as a babysitter for his two young children so he and his wife could have some evenings to themselves.
As the three-day exhibitions unfolded, Kramer spent a great deal more time with the young players than he had the previous year. He also invited several of them to be on the court with him during his clinic session. Each kid that got a few minutes on the court with Kramer seemed to grow not only as a player but as a person in those precious few minutes hitting with the master.
My only claim to fame that year was getting hit in the stomach by a 100 MPH Pancho Gonzalez serve and passing out. In ensuing years, I got better paying summer jobs that relegated my tennis practice to after work hours and weekends. With Kramer as my role model I was still determined to make tennis a career.
Those plans seemed t less of a reality when my family moved from Colorado the San Francisco Bay Area. I questioned my future prospects in the game because that the caliber of talent in California was so much higher than I'd ever experienced. I went from winning a lot to struggling a lot and as a result was having trouble working my way into the Northern California tennis community.
Just when I was starting to feel most adrift from tennis, I read that Kramer was playing a charity exhibition match at the famed Jack Gardiner Tennis Ranch in Monterey.
I drove down a watched entertaining match pitting Kramer against a up-and-coming collegiate star half his age.
At match end, Kramer caught my eye and made his way over to me. Shaking my hand, he said, "Woody, it's great to see you. What are you doing out here in California?"
From that moment on, I never had a problem getting a match in Northern California.
So thanks Jack Kramer for being a classy athlete through and through and such positive role model to all of us who looked up to you.


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Sports Icon Fondly Remembered

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 at 10:02 PM

Years ago when I aspired to become a professional tennis player, I worked at a Colorado resort hotel's tennis facility. My job included cleaning the place, gathering balls for the pro during his lessons, playing with resort guests who needed a partner and stringing rackets. In my off-hours I devoured everything I could read about the game.

The player I most admired at that time was Jack Kramer. Kramer who died this past week at age 88, was a Wimbledon and U.S National (now U.S. Open) singles champion in the late 40s and won dozens of national and international doubles titles. Plagued by an arthritic back, Kramer retired from amateur tennis in 1954 and started a successful pro tennis tour that traveled the country giving exhibitions.

Like a lot of aspiring players of the time I played with a Jack Kramer autograph model Wilson racket, which was the best selling racket worldwide for close to three decades. I went a step further salting away a portion of my monthly earnings to buy a pair of white Jack Kramer signature tennis shorts.

So when my boss the tennis pro walked in one day and announced that Jack Kramer and part of his touring company would be staging an exhibition at the resort, I was ecstatic.

Two months later four of tennis' greatest players arrived early one morning to check out the courts and the facility. Besides Kramer, there was his longtime doubles partner Ted Schroeder and the two Panchos- Gonzalez and Segura.

Pancho Gonzalez was known not only for his incredible service speed (100mph - a marvel in the wood racket era) but also as one of the first young American players to rise to prominence from public tennis courts (in this case in L.A.) in the then very much country club player-centric world of tournament tennis.

Ecuadorian Pancho Segura was known for his tireless energy, charisma on the court and finesse at doubles.

After a short tour around the tennis facility, Kramer gathered all the young wannabes like me who had volunteered to be ballboys during the exhibitions for a short course on how to do our job properly. He did so with the tone of a caring parent rather than that of a big time tennis star. He inspired us all to do the best job possible.

On the second day of the exhibitions, Kramer opened with a clinic. After discussing some of the finer points of the game Kramer looked around for a young player to hit with him. I was chosen and almost threw up I was so nervous.

Kramer immediately put me at ease and after several long rallies we played two games. In the second game I aced him. He roared with laughter and swore he'd ace me back. He did, twice.

I slept little that night being so keyed up by not only playing my idol but also doing it in front of several thousand people. By the end of the three-days of exhibitions, Kramer was calling me by name.

The following year, Kramer and the same group of players returned to the resort. This time he singled me out to prep the ball boy crew and also employed me as a babysitter for his two young children so he and his wife could have some evenings to themselves.

As the three-day exhibitions unfolded, Kramer spent a great deal more time with the young players than he had the previous year. He also invited several of them to be on the court with him during his clinic session. Each kid that got a few minutes on the court with Kramer seemed to grow not only as a player but as a person in those precious few minutes hitting with the master.

My only claim to fame that year was getting hit in the stomach by a 100-mph Pancho Gonzalez serve and passing out.

In ensuing years, I got better paying summer jobs that relegated my tennis practice to after work hours and weekends. With Kramer as my role model, I was still determined to make tennis a career.

Those plans seemed less of a reality when my family moved from Colorado the San Francisco Bay Area. I questioned my future prospects in the game because the caliber of talent in California was so much higher than I'd ever experienced. I went from winning a lot to struggling a lot and as a result was having trouble working my way into the Northern California tennis community.

Just when I was starting to feel most adrift from tennis, I read that Kramer was playing a charity exhibition match at the famed Jack Gardiner Tennis Ranch in Monterey.

I drove down and watched an entertaining match pitting Kramer against a up-and-coming collegiate star half his age.

At match end, Kramer caught my eye and made his way over to me. Shaking my hand, he said, "Woody, it's great to see you. What are you doing out here in California?"

From that moment on, I never had a problem getting a match in Northern California.

So thanks Jack Kramer for being a classy athlete through and through and such positive role model to all of us who looked up to you.


  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

At Least Someone Has A Sense of Humor

For months I've held out hope that somebody someplace would retain a sense of humor in the wake of the on-going battle over health care.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 8:44 PM

 
    For months I've held out hope that somebody someplace would retain a sense of humor in the wake of the on-going battle over health care. There had to be a person who fell midway between the mentally unbalanced Glen Beck and his followers and uber righteous liberals. A person who looked at the health care debate debacle and poke fun at it.
    That person exists in the form of W.W. Clyde Reid of Glendenen Beach, Oregon who wrote the following letter to the editor of the Oregonian.(www.oregonlive.com)
    "I've heard that under the Obama health care plan, the government will send out teams of Nazi scientists to abduct our children from their homes and schools, drill holes in their skulls, extract their brains and feed them to squirrels.
    " And not to just any squirrels, but to Socialist squirrels. The plan is unAmerican and must be stopped. I know this is true because it was on FOX News. Thank you for allowing me to participate in this civilized, intelligent discussion of one of the leading social issues of the day."
    Thanks Mr.Reid for your cogent comments. I'll be on the lookout for Socialist squirrels. Aren't they the ones with the red tails?

  • Pin It
  • Email
  • Favorite

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

© 2020 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation