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Monday, May 31, 2010

Down Beat: Jazz is alive and well in Bend

Posted By on Mon, May 31, 2010 at 12:05 AM

 

 

It’s Thursday night and Joe Rohrbacher of Just Joe’s Music  on south Highway 97 has turned his store into a makeshift nightclub. A club that will feature local jazz musicians Dillon Schneider (guitar), John Allen (bass) and and Stephen Tate (drums) backing Portland tenor sax player David Evans that evening in concert.

 

It’s an informal session giving the talented Evans his first chance to play with Bend muscians and a reward for patrons of Joe’s regular concerts with a free performance.

 

Rohrbacher started offering jazz  at his shop four years ago. Eventually the demand for tickets exceeded his seating capacity. So he contracted with the Cascades Theatrical Company on Greenwood Avenue and has been offering concerts there for the past two years.

 

The concerts have brought some of the Northwest’s best jazz players to Bend as well as featured local artists like vocalists Teresa Ross and Michelle Van Handle.

 

With out-of-town guest performers, Rohrbacher hosts a afternoon pre-performance instructional session for aspiring young musicians so they can work with the pros.

 

He also offers high school musicians free seats at all of his productions.

 

It’s refreshing to see not only jazz still being available to local audiences but also to see it at played such a high level of musicianship.

 

That noted, you would hardly know that jazz is alive and very well in Bend as the scene is hidden from view by the heavy local press emphasis on indie, alt, rock, bluegrass, country, raggae, folk, you name it.

 

But jazz is being played at several venues including The Decoy and Flatbread Community Oven. On Sundays, the Northside Pub features an afternoon of jazz.  It was also a regular feature at 38 until the place was sold and the future entertainment format of the place is in question.

 

Apart from these listening opportunities, Central Oregon's high schools have some first rate jazz instructional programs.

 

The most visible in terms of sending young musicians on to top-flight music schools is Jody Henderson’s program at Sisters High School. I’m completely knocked out by the dedication Henderson’s students pay to their playing, These kids have serious chops.

 

Bend High, Mountain View and Summit also produce some incredible music and musicians. Recently Summit, under the direction of Dan Judd, just took third in the State high school big band contest.

 

Open to students and adults, COCC jazz band program, under the capable guidance of tenor sax player, Andy Warr will be in concert Wednesday at the college at 7:30 pm.

 

Last year’s concert featured respected Portland-based drummer Carleton Jackson in a rousing big band performance.

 

For people of all ages, the Cascade School of Music offers a variety of jazz instructional classes covering aspect of the music from vocals to percussion.

 

This is all exciting to see and hear. And hearing the Pilot Butte Middle School's jazz ensemble under the direction of Warren Zaiger last week was an eye opener. Here were 6th 7th  and 8th graders playing some swinging big band music and playing it well, capturing all the nuances of the arrangements and blowing some very tasteful solos.

 

I walked out of that concert indebted to Mr. Zaiger as well as being hopefully that “America’s Music” will always be with us.

 


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Friday, May 28, 2010

Up The Creek: Reliving Bend's Hollywood heyday

Revisiting the buxom rafting movie that was filmed in Bend

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 5:46 PM

It was one of those nights. After spending much of the day in the dentist's chair I felt totally out of it. So, in an attempt to cheer myself up, I started exploring the mindless joys of cable television.

Suddenly everything got better.My funk lifted when I came to the Reelz channel and discovered they were showing a one-star rated film that is my absolute favorite worst movie ever made. And even better, it was made in Bend.

The film is, of course, "Up The Creek" that totally lame story about a raft race between a bunch of fictitious colleges and universities. Apart from the race, the film is about the getting and the not getting of sex, sexual innuendo, crazed boozing and some of the worst lines ever written in the English language.

The plot is simple. Good goofball (drinking or drunk most of the time) college guys from Lepetamene College want to win the annual raft race and beat the perennial champions from Ivy University.

Ivy's raft team is made up of snot-nosed blond hunko beach boy types all of whom look like they're from SoCal and not anywhere near the Eastern seaboard. Hey but who cares, they're all a bunch of preppy clones.

And of course there's a girl that one of the rich Ivy guys covets but who falls for the charms of Lapetemene's Bob McGraw who is, according to a press release for the film, "in his twelfth year of college."

Right then and there, you know this is going to be fun as McGraw (played by Tim Matheson) is one cool, easy going, fast talking dude. And handy with the ladies in case you hadn't figured that out.

A dude given to spouting lines like, "next time I see you, I hope I can jump you again, " as he crawls out of a sleeping bag tryst with the female lead who looks like, as do most of the women in the film, a Farrah Fawcett wannabe.

But let's forget the plot which is hysterical in it's beat-you-over-the-head simplicity and the by-the-numbers acting and get to why the hell this movie was even made and what happened when it was being made in Bend.

"Up The Creek" was made in 1984, six years after the wildly popular "Animal House." Whoever came up with the idea for "Up The Creek" must have figured that a film that looked even a little bit like "Animal House" with plenty of bumptious young women, booze and some sort of frat-rat inspired event would be a sure box office winner.

So the backers of the movie got a young Tim Matheson to star and played him off a hapless bunch of unknowns except for actor James Sikkin who plays the role of the evil raft race organizer ( he's an Ivy alum and in cahoots with those really mean spirited Ivy guys).

For Matheson, it was the start of a career that would arc upward. For Sikkin is was the start of a career heading downhill after his stellar work on television's long running "NYPD Blue" series.

So Matheson, Sikkin and the rest of the film people arrived in Bend. There was some local casting mostly of river guides and extras for crowd scenes. Filming was done primarily on the Deschutes River above town on the section between Aspen Camp and Lava Island Falls including hundreds of feet of film shot at Big Eddy.

Interior drunken barroom scenes were shot at the old Bend Woolen Mill then the local bar of choice for, well, heavy swilling and more than the occasional brawl. Today the Woolen Mill is the Shepherd's House homeless shelter.

Things got off to a bad start as the films' producers, director and others involved in the making of this masterpiece went around town treating people like they were essentially inferior. One downtown deli owner eventually banned the film's honchos from her shop because they were so arrogant and patronizing.

Not to worry the filming and bad vibes with many in the community went on.

Things on the set weren't much better. A few people, including myself, simply didn't show up for work after a few days of putting up with the endless hurry-up-and-wait filming proceedings.

"You'll ruin the continuity of the scene, "cried the casting director when I told her I'd had it, "you have to come back."

I didn't. I went to Steens Mountain to ski.

Finally, the movie, which started filming in April, wrapped up in late June. And that's when the fun really started.

To make amends to the community and show that they cared about Bend, the film's producers said that they would put on, at no expense to the City, the annual Fourth of July fireworks show on Pilot Butte.

They did and it was a colossal dud. That's dud as in an insipid, lackluster show that ended with some dynamite ka-boom and a huge fire breaking out on the butte.

Locals were not happy and letters to the editor expressed their dissatisfaction with what had always been one of Bend's biggest and best shows.

So the film company left town to put the finishing touches on their masterpiece. As they left, they sold off most of their rafts to Dennis Oliphant's Sun Country Tours.

That summer and for a few years after, raft trip customers would step onto boats bearing names like Texas State and Ivy in big letters on their sides.

Of course everyone on those Sun Country trips was required to wear a personal floatation device (PFDs). Not so in "Up The Creek" where all the male teams in the race wore PFDS while the female teams were PFD-less and, shall we say, more exposed.

Of course, looking at the film today, I try and see if I can pick out people who I knew were extras. The problem is everyone has eighties big hair (both men and women) and the guys all have Tom Selleck-like stashes.

Yet I think I see rivers guides of the time like Steve Stenkamp,Glen Asbury, Jim Bucciarelli, Roy Corpus ,and others if I look hard enough.

Apart from trying to see old, friends, seeing "Up The Creek" is so bad that it brightens even the most sodden spirits. And there's Cheap Trick doing the song "Up The Creek" over the opening credits.

Having enjoyed/endured "Up The Creek" one more time, I now have to see if I can get that 1981 classic "Saint Helens." It too was filmed in Bend and is a howler.


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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Voiceover: Sunday,Sunday, Sunday

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 9:19 PM

 

 

Back in my pre-Bend days, I thought I could make it as an  television commercial actor and movie extra. Being on camera would be cool but it would simply be a way to get to what I really wanted to do- voiceover work.

 

I got enough work as an actor to require me to join the Screen Actors Guild. With a Guild card in hand, I got more commercial gigs but none that played endlessly thereby earning me handsome monthly residual checks.

 

I did, however, get the starring role of a gas station attendant in a Standard Oil Company training film. A film that drew howls of derision from friends who worked for the company and were subjected to watching it.

 

The training film, the adwork and a few movie extra parts helped pay my bar tab.  But the work wasn’t steady not nearly as romantic as I’d envisioned it.

 

I stuck it out for a while going to auditions, working with a talent agent, and having glossy 8 x 10 photos taken to pass out to casting directors. But in the back of my mind this was still only preparp work for a voiceover career.

 

Eventually I cut a few voice tapes reading in my regular voice along bits featuring all sorts of accents. One of the demo reels was sent to cartoon maker Hanna-Barbera. Nothing came of it. But I still had dreams of becoming the next Bob Landers.

 

At that time, Landers was a true voiceover legend.  He was the Jimmy Stewart-esque voice behind the Smuckers ads on radio and television. “With a name like Smuckers, it’s got to be good” That was Landers stock line and he made a hefty annual income from saying just that and not too much more. 

 

What a life. You go into the studio and spend a couple of days recording one or two sentences and then go home and do what you want to do for months until you called back in again. And as the months roll by between tapings, fat residual checks keep rolling in.

 

Well there were only going to be so many Bob Landers, so I decided to shift to movie voiceover work. I got a couple of jobs and then after hearing Orson Welles do the voiceover for the film “Americans on Everest” (“higher and higher they went, to the summit, to the roof of the world”) I decided I was definitely minor league. I moved on to other career opportunities.

 

Over the years I’ve often thought about what living the life of a voiceover artist would have been like and have met several who have made a wonderful career in the business.

 

Recently my voiceover memories came back with the spate of ads on local cable television for the upcoming monster car event coming up at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds.

 

Now that’s a voiceover I’d love to do. It’s that blend of heavy metal screeching with psycho throat damaging rasp that is at once obnoxious but also memorable. I mean the monster truck event ads stick in your mind.

 

The voiceover artists (and I use the term here loosely) that make the monster truck ads have always had plenty of work from pro wrestling events to tractor pulls and heavy metal concerts.

 

I figure these guys get some electronic enhancement but even with it their vocal chords are only up to making a half-dozen commercials a year.

 

So maybe it’s time for me to cut a new voice demo CD. Hopefully it will lead me to doing a monster truck event commercial voiceover as my lasting contribution to American art.

 

 


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Voiceover: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 4:38 PM

Back in my pre-Bend days, I thought I could make it as a television commercial actor and movie extra. Being on camera would be cool enough but better it would help me get to what I really wanted to do and that was to become a voiceover person.

I got enough work as an actor so that I was required to join the Screen Actors Guild. With a Guild card in hand, I got more parts in commercials, none of which played forever earning me handsome residuals check every month.

I did, however, star as a gas station attendant in a Standard Oil Company training film which drew howls of derision from friends who worked for the company and were subjected to the film.

The training film, the ads and a few movie extra parts that helped pay my bar tab. But the work was spotty and not at all as romantic as I'd envisioned it.

I kept at it going to auditions, working through a talent agent, having glossy 8 x 10 photos taken to pass out to casting directors. But in the back of my mind this was still only preparation for a voiceover career.

I eventually did cut a few tapes of me reading in my regular voice and in bits featuring all sorts of accents. A demo reel was sent to cartoon maker Hanna-Barbera. Nothing came of it. But I still had hopes of becoming the next Bob Landers.

At that time, Landers was a true voiceover legend. His was the Jimmie Stewart-esque voice behind the Smuckers ads on radio and television. "If it's good, it's goit to be Smuckers" That was Landers stock line and he made a hefty annual income from saying just that and not too much more.

What a life. You go into the studio and spent a couple of days recording one or two sentences and then go home and do what you want to do for months until you get called back in again. And as the months roll by between tapings, residual checks keep rolling in.

Well there were only going to be so many Bob Landers , so I decided to shift to movie voiceover work. I got a couple of jobs and then after hearing Orson Welles do the voiceover for the "Americans on Everets" movie ("higher and higher they went, to the summit, to the roof of the world" ) I decided I was definitely minor league. I moved on to other employment possibilities.

Over the years I've often thought about the life of the voiceover artists and have met several who have made a wonderful careers in the business.

I hadn't though much about voiceover for years until the recent spate of ads on local cable television for the upcoming monster car event in Redmond.

Now that's a voiceover I'd love to be able to do. It's that blend of heavy metal screeching with psycho throat damaging rasp that is at once obnoxious but also memorable. I mean those monster truck event ads stick in your mind.

The voiceover artists (and I use the term loosely here) that make the monster truck ads have always had plenty of work from ads for wrestling events, tractor pulls and metal concerts.

I figure these guys are electronically enhanced but even with help their vocal chords are only up to making a half-dozen commercials a year.

So maybe it's time for me to cut a demo CD and leave a monster truck event commercial voiceover as my lasting contribution to American art.


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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nice MTB Ride: Praising Peterson Ridge

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 3:50 PM

A couple of years ago you would have had to really twist my arm or offer me a serious bribe to get me to ride the Peterson Ridge trail system in Sisters. That trail system was, as far as I was concerned, a mishmash of dusty fairly uninteresting singletrack.

Today, you don't have to ask me twice to ride Peterson. Yes, the original (lower) trails are still there but they've been enhanced and added to with an upper trail network that makes for some interesting loops that range in difficulty from super easy to technical.

This past Saturday while a number of Bend riders were off working on trails in the Wanoga Butte area during COTA's annual Spring Fling, the mountain bike, hike, run and equestrian communities of Sisters gathered to officially dedicate the Peterson Ridge Trail system.

On Sunday, I rode Peterson with a friend who lives in Tumalo and we put together yet another unique and fun loop that went from relaxed rolling terrain to steep climbs, fast swooping downhills and rocky singletrack. It was pure pleasure riding.

A lot of effort went into creating this trail system that is just now getting the attention of more Central Oregon riders. I suspect that after this weekend's race at Peterson, the trail system will see more rider action.

For those planning their first outing to ride Peterson, the main trailhead is just past the City Park on Elm Street. Elm becomes Three Creeks Road heading up into the Cascades just after the trailhead.

If you have any questions regarding the trail system, stop in at Eurosports on Hood Street. Hood runs due west off of Elm.

There are several ways to access the upper portion of the trail system. The easiest one is to take Peterson Ridge Road south off of Highway 20. Heading west towards Sisters, the turn is just before you come to the edge of Sisters Rodeo grounds.

Peterson Ridge Road is dirt. It crosses a paved road and then it goes back on dirt. After several climbs, the road levels out a bit and you can see trail off to either side of the roadway.

From here you can ride the upper loops linking them with lower loops to finish back at your car.

Anyway you ride it, Peterson is worth checking out. It's a tremendous addition to Central Oregon's growing stash of singletrack.

And don't forget there are brews at ride's end at the Three Creeks Brewery which is a short pedal or drive from the main trailhead.


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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spring Fling: giving back at its best

Posted By on Sun, May 23, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Every May for the past several years, the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA) has sponsored an event called The Spring Fling. It's a day devoted to volunteer work building or maintaining local trails. It's an event that shows Bend at its best with people giving back to the community.

This year despite the cold weather well over 100 people showed up to work. And work they did improving trails primarily in the Wanoga Butte area. In four hours, several weeks worth of trail improvements were accomplished.

Impressive on every Spring Fling day including the 2010 version, is the variety of people who show up to work. Boomers work next to kids barely into grade school and their parents along with dozens of twenty and thirty-somethings.

For me this year was the best Spring Fling ever because I got to work with three women in crafting berms that will make two tricky sections of trail much less intimidating and more enjoyable.

As one of my co-workers noted as we worked on a berm she and the other women dubbed "Betty's Bump", how, "it's makes me feel great when I ride a trail knowing I've had a hand in creating it."

How true.

Back in the dark ages of COTA, a handful of locals more or less rode trails in. Now creating a trail takes a lot of work from mapping to marking and then construction.

The results of COTA's work events and continued volunteer efforts is one of the best trail systems in the U.S. A trail system we can all be proud of, and even more so if we have some sweat equity into its creation.

So thanks to all who showed up and put in some significant work. Special props to REI for providing some eats and coffee before the work started and to Pine Mountain Sports for their front lawn space for the post-work celebratory BBQ.

And not to be forgotten Deschutes Brewing yet again providing kegs of Phil's Trail Ale that helped ease the pain of the rock moving, manzanita cutting, shoveling, raking performed during intermittent blizzard-like conditions.


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Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm Confessing: Floyd Landis comes clean and implicates others

Posted By on Fri, May 21, 2010 at 4:42 PM

Well, it took a few years filled with denial but pro cyclist Floyd Landis finally came clean this week and confessed to using Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and testosterone on his way to his to his winning and then losing his 2006 Tour de France title and being banned from cycling for several years.

According to news stories, Landis simply, "couldn't live with myself any longer."

In fessing up, Landis reportedly sent a string of e-mails to various cycle sports governing organizations implicating a number of fellow pros including, hold your breath, Lance Armstrong.

According to all manner of blogging cycling folk, calling out Armstrong is like saying motherhood, apple pie and the flag are bogus. I mean Lance is more than a mere mortal. A bulletproof, Teflon one for sure. And anytime anyone says something about him, Armstrong's legion of attack lawyers are quick to resolve the problem.

Yes, Armstrong has done great works for cancer research and has raised the level of awareness of the disease both here and abroad. But the question still lingers as to whether he's a clean rider or not.

Landis says Armstrong isn't. But Landis is hardly a creditable source. Also Landis says he doesn't have any proof of his claims.

So, this appears to be just another "Lance did it too" moment in history that will soon fade from the headlines.

According to an ESPN Sports Nation poll, 84% of those who participated in the poll thought Landis to still be a liar in their eyes. 16% said they he'd more respect for him for coming forward to tell the truth.

Meanwhile the TV and radio sports show talking heads were divided into three camps re Landis and his confession.

Camp one claimed that Landis is a louse and anything he says should be treated as tainted and his pointed the finger at other pro cyclists was nothing more than sour grapes at best.

Camp two said it was good that Landis came forward but dissed him for taking money from book royalties and from people who believed in him to fight to get his name cleared. Simply put this camp said: "he needs to give all that money back."

The third camp came down on Landis in general but when it came to his biggest finger pointing target, Armstrong, they noted: "where's there smoke, there's fire."

One on-line wag had a creative take on the situation, Tweeting: "Dear Floyd Landis: Lance Armstrong dated an Olsen Twin. There's no way you can further harm his reputation."

Apart from the clever riposte, this brouhaha will rage on right up to the start of this year's Tour de France in July. Already the cycling community is defending its pro riders like a she bear protects her cubs.

They seem unwilling to come to terms with the fact that despite all the feel good speech by international cycling's governing bodies, pro cycling remains the most drug-ridden sport on the planet. 19 pro riders have died from drug-induced problems in the last decade.

Landis, like so many before him, says he felt it necessary to dope because if he didn't he'd be an also ran and years of training to become the best would just be n othing more than wasted time.

The thing that caught my eye most was the fact that Landis was spending $90,000 per annum on HGH and other drugs.

Wow, I had no idea Landis had that kind of pocket change. Make that did have that kind of pocket change.

My take on the whole affair is that nothing will come of it and cycling will continue its dirty ride into the future.


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Technobabble: fading further out of the electronic age

Posted By on Fri, May 21, 2010 at 2:19 AM

 

 

This week I attended a gathering that further helped me realize that I am ill suited for the electronic age. Not only am I a luddite but also not the least bit interested in wasting my time trying to keep up with the latest electronic gadgets, gizmos and stuff. Shame on me.

 

The event that spurred these thoughts was a photographer’s gathering at which a presentation was made by one of the major camera manufacturer’s technical representative. In this case, a representative who wisely surmised that his audience the evening in question was less interested in photography than they were in camera gear technology.

 

The rep launched into a two and a half hour stream of technobabble which was greeted as if it were the sermon on the mount. I expected a few “amens” to come out of the mouths of the disciples or maybe  a  few “preach on” calls but none were forthcoming. The disciples of tech were just too awed.

 

As was I. I was awed by the fact that a good portion of the sermon/technobabble sailed way over my head and got me looking over my tech-bereft life.

 

Am I on pins a needles waiting to get my hands on an iPAD? No. Am I still using a seven-year old cell phone? Yes. Do I lust after an iPHONE? No. Do I think Facebook, as Betty White so elegantly put it on Saturday Night Live is, “a waste of time?” Yes. Do I Tweet? No. Do I have any desire to Tweet? No. Do I drive a stick shift vehicle totally void of electronics? Yes. Do I use about 1/10th of the potential of my laptop? Yes.

 

So there you have it. I am a lost soul in this brave new world. And to think I once sold large- scale computers to Fortune 500 companies.

 

I was hip then. Now I’m going the way of the Dodo.

 

As I head towards obsolescence, I plan to drive my stick shift Ford pickup down to buy a new battery so my cell phone will continue to work for another seven years. Then I plan to sell all my digital SLR camera gear and get a point and shoot, foolproof camera.

 

I’ll take some pictures and have (gasp)prints made at Costco.  I’ll post the prints with magnets on my refrigerator door or pop them in the mail to send to friends and relatives.

 

Then I’ll get out my old manual typewriter and write about this soul cleansing experience.


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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Printemps: sure signs that it's spring in Central Oregon

Posted By on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 10:37 PM

The first thing you have to remember when it comes to spring in Central Oregon is that it's always the season of weird weather. And while the international news services carried a piece earlier this week about it being the warmest spring worldwide in recorded history, the weather information gatherers must not have called Bob Shaw or asked any locals how things were weather-wise here this spring.

The up-and-down, ever-changing pattern of local weather continues leaves longtime residents saying, "so what's new?" and newcomers wondering, "does spring ever come to this part of the world?"

Lulled into complacency by the lovely PPP weekend, Bend residents now have wind, rain and a dash of snow thrown in for good measure.

As one old timer told me the other day: "As long as I can remember, we never have a had a true spring. We go from what I call the tag end of winter directly to summer in a day or two in early June."

I agree in part. After the mega-winter of 1992/93, we had a real spring. It got nice and warm by March 15 and stayed that way well into June.

Of course, come June 10 and the next two and a half months were cold and rainy. So we got a spring at the expense of not getting a summer.

But there are signs that spring is in the air. After a long hiatus from Bend streets, boombox cars have started appearing again. Some emit absolutely earthshaking noise and leave me always wondering if the drivers of said vehicles have hearing left.

One of my boombox favs of last week was a fancy 2009 Lexus blaring a rap song about life on urban mean streets. The impact of car and song was fraught with irony.

Not so ironic is the return of all the cruiser bikes to City streets. When the cruisers hit the asphalt, I know that spring or a semblance of same is near.

Another sure sign that spring is supposed to be here or is nearby waiting to get a chance to arrive, is people trying their hardest to drink and dine outdoors at local restaurants. Jackets and sweaters still are required wear but one has to hand it to all the people who basically say screw it and challenge the weather to ruin their outdoor experience.

So let it snow, we're ready for what the weather throws at us. After all, it's spring.


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Friday, May 14, 2010

Hellhound On His Tale: one hell of a read

Posted By on Fri, May 14, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Every so often a book comes along that lives up to being "a page turner." Such is the case with Hellhound On His Trail: The stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr and the international hunt for his assassin by Hampton Sides.

Sides renders history in such a way as to make it as exciting as a great novel. In "Hellhound", he cleverly weaves the lives of assassin James Earl Ray (aka Eric Galt and Ramon Sneyd) with that of Dr. King along with what was going on in Memphis, Tennessee in the months and days prior to King's murder at the Lorraine Motel. It becomes a fascinating insight into a pivotal moment in U.S. history.

As a Memphis native, Sides offers considerable local knowledge about the town's history, culture and its politics of late 1967 and early 1968. His research into Ray and Dr. King is exhaustive but never boring as in a simple cataloging of events. He brings life to even the most minute details.

Like many who recall Dr. King's assassination and the ensuing riots in cities across American and the very dark times for the country, I had little knowledge of James Earl Ray's background. For all I knew, he was simply a racist who, fueled by the anti-black sentiment of the day in the South in particular, took matters into his own hands.

Sides shows Ray as an almost invisible, nondescript man, a clever master criminal and escape artist.

Insights into Dr, King's life and work are very revealing.

The last two sections of the book concentrate on the manhunt for Ray and are worthy of adaptation for a feature film. Things start to fall into place for the FBI within hours of King's assassination yet Ray almost escapes only to be captured in England by Scotland Yard weeks later while trying to broad a plane bound for Belgium.

Everyone from ardent American history buffs to those who love true detective mysteries, in fact anyone who likes a masterfully written tale, will enjoy Hellhound. It is a must-read and it's at the Bend Public Library.


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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Planting Babies: releasing Steelhead fry in Wychus Creek

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Tuesday was one of those days that makes you feel alive and involved. The weather was nice for a change and along with that was the chance to be involved in the planting of 8,000 Steelhead fry in Wychus Creek.

The event's, put together by the Bend-based Deschutes Basin Land Trust, drew volunteers and representatives of the U.S. Forest Service, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Pacific Power. The goal was to plant the fry just upstream from Camp Polk Meadow and downstream as far as Alder Springs. A few years from now, the fish planted Tuesday will hopefully return as part of a renewed migration of steelhead to their home waters.

A dozen people took part in the planting effort. Four of us joined the Trust's Amanda Egertson to hike down a steep section of Wychus Canyon to plant 2,000 steelhead.

Time was of the essence. Once the fish were transferred from a holding tank on a truck to large plastic bags and the water in those bags oxygenated, we had about a half hour to get them into the stream.

That meant fast dash by car followed by a somewhat treacherous hike, fish bags in packs, down to the creek from the canyon's rim.

Once at the stream we let the fish rest in their jumbo baggies before slowly releasing them. Once released, the steelhead fry immediately swam into eddies and faced upstream.

Just seeing them alive and well was inspiring. As is the fact that more people are becoming involved in helping bring back Central Oregon's once fabled fish runs.


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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Return of The Native: back in the land of Oz

Posted By on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 1:23 AM

Days after I was born, my parents took me from a San Francisco hospital home to Marin County where I spent my first eight years. When I mention that I'm a Marin native to a Bend friend named Sam, he invariably goes into a rant about that county north of San Francisco being the home to nothing but arrogant yuppies and people with way too much money. It wasn't always so, I protest.

My parents moved to Marin County in 1930 before there was a Golden Gate Bridge connecting San Francisco to Marin and the rest of Northern California. It was a raw countryside marked with a few small towns.

My dad took a train to the Marin ferry terminal every day to catch a ferry to his job in San Francisco.

He claimed that those were the happiest days of his life. He'd read the paper going over and had a drink and played bridge on the way home. The ferry ride served as a pleasant interval leading into and out of the workday.

When we were kids, Marin was bucolic. I spent most of my waking hours when old enough playing in the woods behind our house. Woods that seemed to stretch forever towards and up the flanks of Mount Tamalpias.

These days when I take the current version of the ferry from Marin to San Francisco, I look at Mount Tamalpias and think of simpler times and my dad as a ferryboat commuter.

I go to Marin to see a son who proudly owns the smallest and least ostentatious house on the Marin property tax roles. It's all of 850 square feet.

Around him are all sorts of places that cost seven figures and people who hard charge at law and finance careers.

My son owns a small business where he works with his hands.

When my wife and I visit we come away with the feeling that Marin County has been virtually untouched by the downturn in the economy. Shops and restaurants are crowded, traffic is thick, new cars are all over the roadways. The perceived good life is going on at a feverish pace.

Ah well, I say to myself, at least the county has great bike paths and open spaces.

But just when I begin to think all is well in Marin something happens. Well make that two things happen that made us ready to get back in the car and head home.

The first came after a long and very pleasant bike ride when we went in search of someplace to eat.

Every sidewalk café was crowded but we finally spotted a café specializing in organic food. Whoopie -- wholesome, hearty, hipster food ahead.

It didn't turn out that way. After getting the once over several times from the café's owner (the cafe was located right next to a major yoga and healing center) we ordered soup.

What passed for soup was highly seasoned water and at wallet flattening prices.

As we spooned down the watery concoction we watched a table of five outside. They were showing each other things on their iPhones. But wait, one of the women in the group had not only one iPhone but two of them as well as one of those silly old "normal" cell phones. It is so un-cool to have an old cell phone and we both had one.

The next day, we rode en famille to have lunch. It was Mother's Day but it was also eleven o'clock and who eats at eleven?

The first sidewalk café we rolled up to had about twenty tables unoccupied but would not take us unless we had a reservation.

No problem, we'll try the café down the street. Here my wife asked the hostess if they had a table for five.

"Do you have reservations? the hostess asked.

"No," my wife replied.

"Well in that case, absolutely not."

And with those words barely out a woman in back of my wife started screaming: "I have reservations, I have reservations. Don't give that woman my table."

We rode on and finally found a place that had plenty of outdoor seating and some wonderful Japanese and Vietnamese offerings.

The waiter was nice; the manager was very helpful. The patrons on their way to fancier places walked by looking at us huddled under an umbrella that kept a slight drizzle at bay and must have wondered how we'd come to alight like aliens on Marin.

Thomas Wolfe was right: you can't go home again. "Things", as Duke Ellington noted, "Ain't the way they used to be."


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