Monday, July 29, 2013

Weird days (Olyblogosphere for July 29, 2013)

From stevenl at Olyblog:



Blogs (and such) by date. All from the weird days that stretched between Monday, July 15 to Friday, July 19. Coincidentally, it was also the start of Lakefair week.

Starts out with me on Monday, July 15 and a white powdery substance was found in a state office in Tumwater. Cops were called, big vehicles were in the parking lot. Anything else? It is a mystery.

Then on Tuesday, July 16: Stab and blood downtown. At least this day had a beautiful sunset.

Wednesday, July 17: Fetid Lake of Doom Fair!

Thursday, July 18: Two more knife related incidents. One was a domestic violence stabbing between two folks that literally showed up the day before. The second was a robbery of a downtown bank. I don't have any links for these, but the attitude was literally "Knives? What's going on with knives??"

Friday, July 19: Oyster House Burns. Holy.

This guy was literally the last customer out the door before the fire took the place down.

And, after that, it all calmed down again. Lakefair parade and fireworks happened, the Oyster House still smells like a left over fire.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Which creek contains Kurt Cobain's ashes? (Certainly wasn't Mima Creek)



Update:

Well, based on a comment from Edward Echtle (@Tenalquot) earlier this morning, it turns out it is McClane Creek. Couldn't be anywhere else. The reason is Courtney Love still owns a place out on Delphi Road that contains a significant portion of the creek.

And, from the history of the property on Redfin, the house has been for sale in the recent past. It was listed three times since 2010 and had a pending sale in 2012. But, that apparently never came through and the property was delisted again earlier this year.


Original Post:

A few weeks ago when I went down to our own little ghost town of Bordeaux, I remembered in the back of my head something about Kurt Cobain's mom's house being somewhere in the neighborhood. It turns out Wendy O'Connor (Cobain's mom) lived just across the road from what remains of the old town site for years. In fact, she lived in the house of the town founder:
The Bordeaux House is one of the few extant buildings of the town of Bordeaux which was headquarters to the Mumby Shingle and Lumber Company, one of the most important lumbering operations in Thurston County. The firm opened up the harvesting of timber in the Black Hills while pioneering new methods of logging and manufacturing. After cutting and processing billions of board feet of lumber from 1902 to 1941, the operation closed and the town was abandoned. Only this house, home of Thomas Bordeaux, the firm’s founder, featuring fine uses of wood from the mill and two other structures and a safe from the former hotel remain from the town which has excellent integrity are a small mobile logger’s residence and a deteriorated school.
It also turns out that in the years following Cobain's suicide, that the house was the site of his last memorial service:
One unique feature: The house is one of about a dozen of Cobain's final resting places.

On Memorial Day 1999, O'Connor organized a ceremony during which Cobain and Love's then 6-year-old daughter, Frances Bean, tossed some of his ashes into McLane Creek, which runs behind the house.

The ceremony was recounted in "Heavier Than Heaven," a biography of Cobain written by Charles Cross.
The problem in that passage (and in the similar passage towards the end of Cross's book) name a curious local stream for the receiving Cobain's ashes. McLane Creek is a creek on the western edge of Thurston County, but it is miles from the house on Bordeaux Road. McLane and Mima (the creek closest to the Bordeaux hosue) creeks don't connect and flow in opposite directions.

According to Thurston County records, the Bordeaux house was owned by Courtney Love for almost ten years.

There also isn't a creek that runs behind the house at all. There are two intermittent streams that run near the house, but nothing that I'd call "near." The only actual creek -- Mima Creek -- near the house is through some woods and across a road. Hardly an easy thing to include into a memorial service.

It is possible that the memorial service wasn't in fact held at the Bordeaux house, but rather at a nearby house that fronted the actual McLane Creek. Or, the ash scattering during the ceremony didn't happen. Or it did, the ceremony was a the Bordeaux house and they just hiked a bit.

In one symbolic way, it does matter whether his family scattered Cobain's ashes in McLane or Mima Creek.

McLane Creek and Mima are parts of different watersheds and flow in different directions. Literally in geography and figuratively in time.

McLane Creek, according to Cross:
In many ways, this too was a fitting resting place. Kurt had found his true artistic muse in Olympia, and less than five miles away he sat in a shitty little apartment that smelled of rabbit pee and wrote songs all day. Those songs would outlive Kurt and even his darkest demons.
 McLane Creek also flows north into Puget Sound, where the water meets Olympia and later Seattle. This is towards the future of Kurt Cobain, his adult life and eventually his tragic death.

Mima Creek, on the other hand, flows south into the Black River and then west into the Chehalis. It leads backwards into Kurt Cobain's life back to the Harbor and where he was born.

One creek flows towards artistic creation and death, the other backwards toward tortured youth and birth.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Thoughts about loss and oysters

A few weeks back I put up a selection of a longer piece about E.N. Steele I've been polishing. Here's another portion of that longer piece, this one dealing with the idea of the lost aspects of his life. I was thinking about the portion when I heard about the Oyster House burning down this week.

E.N. Steele became president and director of the chamber of commerce in the early 20s, and in 1925 he was elected as one of Olympia's first city commissioners on a reform ticket. He served as one of Olympia's inaugural planning commissioners and later as mayor. He was elected to the state legislature, and at least for awhile, served on a joint conference committee with young Warren Magnuson.

Of course, his most notable contributions was in the field of oysters. Owner and manager Oyster Company, Olympia 1907-1950; Rockpoint Oyster Company, Samish Bay, Washington 1922-1950; past president Pacific Coast Oyster Growers Association; past executive secretary Olympia Oyster Growers Association.

Steele also literally wrote the books on the shellfish industry through his life in "The Rise and Decline of the Olympia Oyster" and "The Immigrant (Pacific) Oyster."

Here is the most significant lesson I take from my survey of E.N. Steele’s life:

Like his time as a lawyer defending Indians in treaty rights cases, Steele's most significant and intimate details of his life are examples of how marks on history erodes. The craters in Washington State and Olympia of Steele's time are practically gone for us.

For example, Steele's largest contribution to our lives was writing the 1934 "Steele Act." Until recently that law would rule how liquor was regulated in Washington State. As Washington State looked for a system to manage alcohol following the end of Prohibition, Steele worked with a University of Washington professor to create the system of laws that would remain on the books for almost 80 years. The system of state run stores and a Liquor Control Board was in force until 2010 when it was overturned by initiative.

Second, the Olympia neighborhood where the Steele family lived for years does not exist. The city blocks that now make up the east capitol campus were drawn off the map in the early 1960s. The corner of 14th and Franklin where the Steeles lived is somewhere north of the Department of Transportation Building and above a massive parking garage in the east capitol campus.

The street Steele looked out every morning now runs underground before joining Capitol Way. Evidence of the middle class neighborhood, which featured the city's second high school and small lots with craftsmen homes can't be found.

Even though we still have an Oyster House restaurant in Olympia on the site of an old shucking plant, the Olympia oyster is probably the faintest memory that made up Steele's life. The shellfish that was so plentiful in our city that it was named after our city is practically gone from our bay. It barely even exists anywhere naturally in our local area.

In the "Rise and Decline of the Olympia Oyster," Steele tracks the eventual death of the Olympia oyster industry and with it the last major sets of the species. The main causes of decline were Industrial pollution and development overtaking the oyster's natural habitat. And, as evidenced by "Immigrant Oyster," Steele's book about the more resilient and foreign Pacific oysters, the shellfish industry simply moved on.

But, in Olympia, it was deliberate changes to our shoreline that erased the Oyster that was named for our city from our history. From Steele’s history of the Olympia oyster:

In Southern Puget Sound in the vicinity of Olympia. where they were most abundant.

In those days a wooden bridge crossed Budd Inlet near the location of the present concrete bridge to the Westside district. In honor of an early pioneer, it was called the "Marshfield" bridge. Chinatown was located south of this bridge, along the east shore. So, in territorial days the Chinamen took over possession of the oysters south of the bridge. North of the bridge and on both sides of the bay, the oyster beds were claimed by the Indians who had a village on the west side, just north of the bridge. The natural oyster beds south of the bridge are now covered by water due to the dam recently constructed to create a lake for capital beautification.
I’m not exactly sure why I focus on the things that are gone now when I look around Steele’s life. I was first drawn in because of the small details I picked up about him being a treaty rights lawyer. But, the Steele Act, his neighborhood and the Olympia oyster are there too for me.

Maybe its how we don’t write failure into our histories. We only focus on the things that ended up having an impact.

...

His book I cited earlier, “Letters from Grandpa,” is literally a series of letters from Steele to his grandchildren. Each chapter is a letter that tells a story about an episode in his life. The letters are peppered with “with love to you all” and “I love you all very much.” These aren’t words of a grandfather laying down regrets, but stories of a life well-lived.

But, we don’t think about the neighborhood we lost. We think about the natural growth of the campus, the modern office buildings naturally counterbalancing the traditional stone buildings across Capitol.

We also don’t think much about Olys at one point being picked where Capitol Lake is now. We can still buy little Olys from the Oyster House, though you aren’t sure where they’re picked from unless you ask.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Towards Cascadian Food (Cascadia exists #3)

Some people are thinking about what food makes Cascadia:
The northwest corner of the USA/southwest corner of Canada region has a lot of wonderful food and drink but it’s difficult for people outside this region to articulate what the region’s food and drink actually are. Many simply don’t know. The term “Pacific Northwest” doesn’t mean a lot in the food world, and it’s also geographically incorrect when you consider southwestern Canada.
A lot of this does ring true for me. Cascadia (including parts of Canada, but maybe not as far east as Idaho) really does have a regional food culture. Like a lot of aspects of Cascadia (politics, literature), we need to do a better job putting focus on this portion of our culture.

From there, we can take two directions to take this, I think. Either we have a regional food identity (we just have to recognize it) or we have yet to develop a real one.

For the simpler later position, you have delano's comment on a reddit thread on Cascadian food:

But it's still the early days. It takes a long time to develop strong, regional identities. If you look at the older parts of North America, you can get an idea of the various stages of food identity. From cajun to creole in the south to the several specific types of BBQ sauce from the Carolinas to the eponymous hot wings from Buffalo).
For the former, Cascadia may seem very new compared to Dixie or New England, but in a lot of ways, it is very very old. Take one of the common threads in the regional food discussion on reddit linked above. A lot of people mentioned salmon or a particular species of salmon as a regional food.

But, when you take a look around, it just isn't salmon as a food that we have available. Another regional food someone mentioned was the geoduck clam.

But, if you take a look at the work of Elise Krohn and Valerie Segrest, you can see really how deep our food culture can go. Both Krohn and Segrest recently took on nettles, for example.

Krohn:

This year my hunger for nettles is acute.  After having been sick for weeks with the sinus and lung crud, I need some lively plant medicine to help rebuild my strength.  An elder once told me that if you drink about 3 cups of nettle tea per day for two weeks it will change your blood chemistry.  I believe it.  Spinach is considered the most nutritious green on the market – but pales in comparison to nettles.   Nettles are 29 times higher in calcium, 8 times higher in magnesium, 3 times higher in potassium, and almost double in their potassium content!  Nettles are also exceptionally high in the trace minerals chromium, cobalt, zinc, and manganese.  They are a super food and a potent medicine.  Nettles support our liver and kidneys so they can flush waste products and function at an optimal level.

Segrest:

I began to visit nettle in the woods near my house, at school, in the park.  I read everything I could on the plant, I drew it, I sat with it, I stung myself with it, I harvested and ate it, bathed and washed my hair with its juices.  I had never felt so strong, energized, and healthy.  And then I thought of all the other plants right outside the door and wondered what edifying teachings they had to offer.  Once again, I was hungry for more.  My work is now guided by the plants.  They are my teachers, companions, friends and all due to this enlightening experience.
Nettles are almost a perfect metaphor for this sort of Cascadian food thought. They are very simple to find this time of year, literally everywhere. They're so easy to find that in fact they're easy to miss. And, in turn, you miss their application in a regional diet or food. It may feel like someone is suggesting you eat a weed, but they are as crucial to our regional food thinking as steelhead or geoduck.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Olyblogosphere for July 15, 2013 (Summertime, and the complaints are typical)

1. Alex, the question is "What is homelessness?" And the discussion you thought you'd have follows after that.

2. Marcus, who just moved here just a bit ago, complains that his house doesn't have AC. Even in the few days a year when it actually gets hot. Well, do you want to be the one to tell him we don't really plow the streets either?

3. This is a very old post, but it is from a Christian who wrote a pretty interesting piece about the Occupy camp down on the FLOD two years ago. So, it is a very unique post and then worth pointing at. Her old blog (where I found the post) is here, she's now blogging over here.

For the record, I like the old blog's title way better.

4. Party in Brandee and Eric's Driveway for the Capitol City Marathon. It's a thing!

5. Mojourner is saying turn off this blog and go outside.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Andrew Mickel, still out there

Just over ten years ago Andrew Mickel shot a police officer in Red Bluff, California. Almost right up to that point Mickel had been a resident of Olympia and a student out at Evergreen. And, for the time being, his is still a resident of California's death row.

Since those years, soon after I had finished up my own education at Evergreen, Mickel had held an interest for me, especially after Rachel Corrie was killed the next fall. Mickel and Corrie seemed to the poles of Evergreen and that part of Olympia culture that revolves around Evergreen.

While Mickel was obviously criminal and reprehensible, his beliefs where parroted from anti-government, anti-government, and especially anti-police political culture that is still part of Olympia.

I've wondered about Mickel's time in Olympia. I lived here at the time, I wonder if I ever saw him (maybe on campus) and not remembered him later when his face became news.

From one of the stories that reference his time here:
Mickel chose this school, with its main gathering area called "Red Square." He ostensibly came to study creative writing. The college was not as academically rigorous as his parents would have liked and, in his freshman year - when many new college students are confined to large lecture halls and tackling basic requirements - he was allowed to do independent study.
I actually take offense to this passage, that Evegreen isn't as "rigourous" as other, more traditional schools. While Evergreen doesn't have the same set-up as large lecture hall schools, it is just as hard (or harder) to get by as a geoduck, especially for someone expecting a more traditional set-up. Evergreen is essentially sink or swim
It was during this time that Mickel's personal politics got increasingly intense.

In December 2001, he went to Israel with a pro-Palestinian activist group pushing for an end to Israeli "occupation." The following summer, he went to Colombia, South America, to study nonviolent resistance, and to Northern Ireland, another global hot spot. In the Pacific Northwest, he joined protests against the World Trade Organization and was arrested in Seattle in April 2002 for interfering with a police officer.

Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen would later say in court that Mickel had reached for an officer's gun during the Seattle arrest, though Mickel would staunchly deny that in his jailhouse interview with The Bee three days before his sentencing.

But there is no denying that Andy Mickel became more political at college. He began railing about social injustice and corporate irresponsibility and capitalism run amok.

Scott Dixon, his old tutor back in Springfield, saw Mickel on a Thanksgiving visit home and heard him talk about politics - about corporations, environmentalism and the like. To him, Mickel seemed no more strident than many politically minded college students.
Late 2002 was not too late after 1999 in Puget Sound. As Fred Moody in Seattle and the Demons of Ambition, 1999 was a reckoning for the region, coming up against the limits of our self regard and economic growth. Young men like Mickel who protested violently in the streets in 1999 were the physical representation of this.

Olympia then had our own May Day protests in 2000 and 2001 and then 9/11 seems to sharpen everything.

This particular passage in the Chico News-Review feature on Mickel (in which the writer constantly refers to him by his pseudonym McCrae) is interesting in terms of his time in Olympia:

Evergreen’s reputation was again questioned after May Day protests in each of the past two years. Two years ago demonstrators—including a large contingent of Evergreen students—snarled traffic in Olympia during protests.

Coincidentally, (Mickel) who was arrested at a protest last April for obstructing a sidewalk, lived less than a half-mile from the Bayview Thriftway supermarket, where a 59-year-old man died Nov. 8 after he was subdued with a Taser stun gun following an alleged shoplifting attempt.

Activists in Olympia have charged police brutality in the case.

A spokeswoman for the Olympia Police Department said the department had no contact with  (Mickel) in the past and would be assisting California authorities in their investigation. The department would not be conducting an investigation of its own.
The incident the paper references is the death of Steven Edwards in the Bayview parking lot in early November 2002. Edwards had drawn a gun and was wrestling with a security guard who had accused him of shop lifting. After being stunned twice by the taser and handcuffed, Edwards stopped breathing and died. It might have been a coincidence, or the death of Edwards may have pushed Mickel out of Olympia to murder.

Just like Mickel, people continue to reference Edwards in Olympia, as he was the topic of a memorial protest just last year.

Currently, for Mickel, he's on California's death row. Voters rejected an initiative to ban the death penalty last year, so he's currently working his way through an automatic appeal process.

Mickel represented himself when he was convicted and sentenced to death, but he was appointed a lawyer who was as late as this spring filing briefs with the state supreme court.

Today, on one fringe Mickel is remembered and described as "profoundly moving and inspiring."

And, in Olympia he is largely forgotten, which really isn't all that surprising. He really had no roots here, made little impact beyond his circle. He more or less represents a certain type of transient Olympian who attends Evergreen, comes by himself in his early 20s  and then moves on. Usually not in such a tragic fashion though.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Cascadia's Appalachian Roots (Cascadia Exists Post #2)

Hey, Kari, you don't know how right you are: Appalachia in Oregon. Of course, he's making the point that rural counties in Oregon are doing so poorly, they risk becoming like poor and poorly governed communities in Appalachia. 

The funny thing is though, that these Cascadian communities share a heritage with our Appalachian cousins. In fact, Cascadia is a direct descendant of Appalachia, along with some New England Puritanism. In American Nations, Colin Woodward describes this way:
The coast blended the moral, intellectual, and utopian impulses of a Yankee elite with the self-sufficient individualism of its Appalachian and immigrant majority. The culture that formed—idealistic but individualistic—was unlike that of the gold-digging lands in the interior but very similar to those in western Oregon and Washington. It would take nearly a century for its people to recognize it, but it was a new regional culture, one that would ally with Yankeedom to change the federation.
In Olympia and Thurston County Washington (where I am most familiar) this molding together of two extremely divergent cultural traditions is seen early on. Arguably, the two most significant families in Tumwater (the first permanent non-tribal community on Puget Sound) represented both New England -- the family of Clanrick Crosby -- and greater Appalachia -- Michael Troutman Simmons.

A quick examination of the birth states named in the 1870 Thurston County census illustrates the strong mix between Appalachia and New Englanders.

New Englanders came to the Northwest with business on their mind, but came with traditions of religion, universal education and a general "for the good of all of us" attitude. Appalachians, as Woodward describes them, were nearly the opposite. While they also meant business, their social code was individualistic.

For example, while Simmons was one of the first to lay down roots in Tumwater, he moved on by the mid 1850s. It was up to the Crosby family to plat early Tumwater and incorporate the city. The Crosby clan would build Tumwater and Thurston County in a very real sense. Simmons would continue jumping from venture to venture. His most significant contribution to our heritage would end up being the secession from the Oregon Territory and a quixotic run for Congressional delegate as an independent in 1854.

How does this mix of New England organized capitalism mesh with Appalachian libertarianism in Cascadia? For one thing, as Woodward points out, eventually the religious portion of New Englandism is stripped out and replaced with another moral code. This time it is more humanistic, and comes in the form of environmentalism, human justice and peace movements.

Jarrett Walker's recent look-back piece on Ecotopia actually gives a good explanation of how this mix occurs. Even though Ecotopia is fantasy, it draws from some very real considerations of Cascadian politics and culture:
The most profound Ecotopian innovation, however, is the rule of the local. Taxes are paid to your town or region, which then forwards some of the revenue to the nation. Decisions are made as locally as possible, and all things giant – both corporations and governments – have been banned or minimized. The national government is small: a coordinator and inspirer rather than a ruler, making decisions only on the few things that must be done at national scale. National defense seems to be based mostly on bluffing, but the Second Amendment's "well-regulated militias" are a key part of it; people own guns for that purpose as well as for hunting. There are ideas here to excite a Tea Partier, not just an ecologist.
Ecotopians love competition but they want all companies to be worker-owned and no bigger than 300 employees. Government should not do anything that the private sector can do better with correct incentives, but they reach surprising conclusions about which functions are which. Mass transit, intercity and urban, is a government function because of the efficiency that arises from integrated networks and the need to manage big environmental impacts. Education, on the other hand, has been fully privatized into teacher-owned cooperative schools with tuition grants for low-income kids. Local schools compete vigorously for the parental dollar, with outcomes controlled by just a few standardized tests. Ecotopians figure out what works regardless of whether we would call their solution "liberal" or "conservative." Buzzwords rarely constrain their thinking, perhaps the most utopian of all their ideals.
"There are ideas here to excite a Tea Partier, not just an ecologist." In Ecotopia you find a drastic description of how the two divergent cultures come up with consistent political philosopy. Yet, not one that conforms with the right-left duopoly of the rest of the country.

Which is how you can explain the map below and these election results.

Marijuana legalization passes in Washington State, but not in the typical "win Puget Sound" way. It won in some odd places, such as Ferry and Mason counties. This counties drew from their libertarian Appalachian roots to vote for a law that would arguably be good for personal liberty

It is also why a state that consistently elects Democrats to statewide office also votes consistently to constrain taxes. And, we voted broadly to liberalize liquor sales.

At least two of these measures (marijuana and alcohol) find the sweet spot between liberalism that New England has become and libertarianism that we've important to Cascadia. While these results aren't a tidy political ruling philosophy written out in Ecotopia, they are at least tentpoles to show us where exactly our political heritage came from.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Remembering Northern Oregon's Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1852 Daniel Bigelow stood up at an Independence Day gathering in Olympia and gave a speech that would spur a division in what was then the massive Oregon Territory. While Bigelow's speech doesn't mention a split with the Willamette Valley dominated southern portion of the territory, the speech is rife with references of a natural love of liberty.

Bigelow's was the second speech in two years on the topic. John B. Chapman gave a speech on the same day in 1851. But, because Chapman himself didn't play nice with the Democratic machine in greater Oregon, his secession effort ended dead in its tracks. Chapman left the territory by the time a Bigelow inspired convention happened in November 1852 at Monticello (where Longview is now).

The Northern Oregonians along Puget Sound argued that the Oregon Territory eas too big. So, it makes sense to split it. And, if you're going to split it, you should split it into a northern and southern territory that would both have seaports. Also, evenly divided territories would be competitive, and through competition, would improve each other.

Also, and we hesitate to bring this up, but Northern Oregonians haven't gotten much from the Willamette centered government. Makes sense, you know, vote in your own interest and all that. But, if we could be separate, would could take care of our own.

Iit was a possibility that certain parts of what are now Washington State were seriously considering not joining the territorial secessionists. From the Columbia (Olympia) newspaper in November 1851:
Living, as they do, on the boundary line between the two divisions of Oregon -- in constant intercourse with the southern portion, with whose citizens they transact a large proportion of their every day mercantile and commercial business, it is but natural to suppose that their sympathies are pretty equally divided between north and south.
Today the folks along the southwest border in Longview and Vancouver still seem to face further towards the south than north to Seattle.

Even the location of the convention in 1852 was chosen to be in the heart of these just north of the river communities so as to convince their representatives to attend. If the location had been chosen in Olympia (writes the Columbian editor), the lack of enthusiasm from Columbia River residents would've prevented them from attending at all.

So, what would have happened to our territorial independence if the meeting was held in Olympia and not in Monticello? Would we have ended up with a new Puget Sound centric territory (and then state)?

While the population of Puget Sound was certainly growing, the balance of people still lived along the Columbia. It is possible that the Puget Sounders needed Columbia River folks to reach the necessary population for a new territory.

Also, it is possible I imagine that a Puget Sound territory would not have included any east of the mountains territory if not for the lower Columbia.

In the end, I think the deciding factor of our state's separation from Oregon was the Columbia newspaper, founded as Olympia's first newpaper just months before the November convention. It is no coincidence that Bigelow's Independence Day Speech was published in the paper's first edition. In that edition, the paper was also advertised as being neutral in politics, for Oregon in general, but specifically for the interests of Northern Oregon.

It also never advertized itself as being from "Olympia, Oregon Territory." Rather (as Dennis Weber points out), in its early editions, the location of the Columbia newspaper was labeled as being, "Olympia, Puget Sound."

Monday, July 01, 2013

All things about Dixie (Olyblogosphere for July 1, 2013)

1. Local play performed, written by locals, about John Brown, who fought Dixie.

2. Joe Illing writes about his time in Dixie learning to be a soldier back in the day. My favorite part:
The “private” nightclubs of Charleston, Augusta and the other cities I visited helped to pass the time. They were private only in the sense that they had a “private club” sign hung over their entry doors. When patronizing one of these establishments you’d ring a doorbell, a peephole would open, and if you weren’t black you passed their one membership criterion.

Like these private clubs, remnants of the old segregated south were still to be found all around. Restrooms with signs reading “Whites Only,” or drinking fountains marked “Colored” were old and faded, and largely ignored, but not yet replaced.

I found this absolutely alien to the integrated California of my childhood. But as my mandate was to protect the civilized world, I figured it was in my nation’s best interests that I visit as many of the private clubs as I possible in order to understand the social milieu I found myself forced to protect. After all, in my capacity as guardian of the Western World, I had to consider the civil liberties of the girls who visited them in order to dance, drink and meet guys.
 One of Joe's granchildren is named "Olympia." I kid you not. I love that.

3. Merwyn lost his Myspace blog, so let this be a warning to you. If it is important, and you don't have a local copy, make yourself a local copy. Or pray the Internet Archive grabbed one for you.

4. Camp Quixote has been around for going on seven years. Damn Rob Richards, nice personal perspective.

5. Merwyn writes a lot of good stuff (see the link above), but this piece where he parses out his feelings on choice versus life is particularly good:

I am Pro-Life. I believe abortion kills the beating heart of a sentient human. But I sometimes appear to be Pro-Choice because I know there’s a difference between contraception and abortion.
And because I believe your right to medical privacy trumps my opinion. Including the right of a teenager’s privacy against her parents.

...


And because I agree the lawmakers and activists screaming most loudly against Roe vs. Wade don’t give a shit about the starving, the working poor, the disabled, the sick – that they are most likely to support (and celebrate) executions, the death of foreigners, the denial of immigrants.
And because I know the mythical fertile promiscuous woman who uses abortion as birth control is as fictional as the Cadillac driving welfare queen with crates of lobsters bought with her SNAP card.
...

So I believe what I believe. But I know, beyond belief, that if those working hard to overturn Roe vs. Wade focused instead on creating jobs, providing affordable healthcare and affordable childcare, gave school and daycare teachers a respectable income for the hours they put in, gave equal pay for equal work, focused on eliminating the attitude that allows rape culture to flourish – and, finding that those on the left would actually work with them to achieve these goals – then I believe that the number of times a woman finds herself having to consider that choice would drop. It wouldn’t disappear entirely, I don’t think that can happen. As soon as one’s sure they know the Absolutes, something new and complex enters.

The world is complicated. Read his entire piece.

5. And, there's a new park taking shape on the westside. I drove by it last night with a buddy on our way to get a beer. He said it was  a pretty bad place for a park, there on that busy street. How could anyone enjoy it?

I replied it had been left empty for years since a log yard closed down and that it seemed like ever since then, people had been fighting over what was going on there.