Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holidays, holy days and everyday days...



“For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life”

- William Blake

For those of us in poverty, Christmas is not an easy time. Expectations and pressures to produce gifts can and do depress many.

This season has many faces. One of those faces was found dead on the street here in Eugene last December: Major Egan... why'd you do it? There are around 250,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. Many suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Deaths like that of Egan's touch me, they infuriate me and they help to feed my skepticism that humanity is salvageable as a specie.

On the other hand there are those who do act humanely, who give and share and make these winter holidays special. There are those who go about their lives and share Christmas with friends and family, give gifts to the kids and make the holidays special for those around them.

Whatever your perception and level of participation during this season's activities, remember that every day around our solitary blue water planet 10s of thousands of our fellow humans - our family of man - starve to death. We neglect those with the least and too often celebrate those whose riches are beyond boorish. We need a serious reprioritization of where our efforts and resources are aimed. We need to care and this time of year especially is the season to show that care. If you can, give. If you are needy, accept help. If you are just folk, celebrate and love your family and friends. Enjoy life. But always keep those with lives of tragedy in mind and maybe this year... leave an open seat and setting at your Christmas table as a reminder that there are far too many Major Egans falling asleep on our streets and back alleys, cold and often drunk, never waking again.


My daughter Robin's choirs have been performing a lot this fall/winter. It's enjoyable doing my photographic thing for them. I know the choir director, Mike McCornack, appreciates it. One of my pleasures is watching the interactions between the teachers and the kids. Truly the best teachers love their students and in turn are loved in return. Teachers are a big part of our children's lives and should be a positive influence on them. Which is what I see watching Mike and Willamette HS' band director Bart Ellis direct their students. The kids smile, they enjoy (although you know what? there are young curmudgeons! I was shocked...) producing their music and they become better people for the doing. They work hard and it shows.

These images are from their performance last week of the WHS Winter Festival, a combined effort of the schools bands and choirs.

(this image is all bands, all choirs - and a few alumni who came on stage and joined the group for a great and wonderful performance of Handel's The Hallelujah Chorus, directed by Bart Ellis)


Many years ago when I lived in California near the coast I used to spend a lot of time at the Guadalupe Dunes and Perfix Beach (I've blogged about that special place here. Why I mention it now is because during one of my camping trips to the Dunes and Perfix Beach (full moon, great weather) as I was walking at night along the beach I wanted some music other than (or to go with) the rythmic roar of the ocean's waves. At certain times of year the Bull Kelp "whips" that wash up on the beach dry out with the air bladder drying round and gourd-like. There are plenty of driftwood sticks and lots of small pebbles - the basic ingredients for a handmade rattle.

So that night, under the full moon and alone on a beach miles from anyone I created music with only the natural items in my local environment. Later on, after the trip, I was telling Grampa Semu about the rattle making experience. He told me the kelp rattles are indeed old style, once used by California's coastal tribes.

Under the coaxing of a dear friend I am going to begin making rattles again. I really am an artist. It's what floats my boat... I'd rather be creating than almost any other activity. So, I will be offering for sale these handmade rattles, roughly a foot long or so, made with supplies gathered on the coast in Central California, each one a distinct creation, unlike any other. The handles are leather wrapped and small shells are used as decoration. These are true Chumash style creations, based on my experience that full moon eve so many years ago.

They will be priced in the $50 - $75 range. If you want one made for you, contact me at Here is one made for my friend Patricia way back in the '80s:


While I'm dealing with art and being creative and offering you my artwork I want to show what the photo products from RedBubble (where some of my galleries are) look like. The galleries are here: welcome to the world I see...

I've set the prices so I have a decent margin. If you want tomething different than what is offered there, contact me and let's figure out how to meet your wants. I was real pleased with my RedBubble calendar and so were those I heard from who had purchased one. The prices for these prints framed is about $110. Print size is approximately 8" x 12".

Cards can be made from any of the photos in the galleries and run about $5

And of course I do portraiture:

And just because there is already so much photography on here today... why not a few more. Enjoy (and thanks for stopping by)!


And this year... remember that extra setting at your Christmas dinner table. For the Major Egans among us. They may go unseen, but they are here.


“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

- Elie Wiesel


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stupid, stupid, stupid...


“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.”

- Harlan Ellison

Ok... a bunch of stuff to cover! Let's get this gig started...

Stupid, stupid, stupid... I wouldn't want the karmic debt this dumb-ass just inherited. Criminy... I've included some relevant news articles below. The fact that these spend-my-way-to-enlightenment folks also fasted, including no water, shows how incredibly ignorant those who ran this were.

Kansas City Star:

Sweat lodge deaths cast negative spotlight on guru

James Arthur Ray led a group of more than 50 followers into a cramped, sauna-like sweat lodge in Arizona recently by convincing them that his words would lead them to spiritual and financial wealth.

The mantra has made him a millionaire. People routinely pack Ray’s seminars and follow the motivational guru to weeklong retreats that can cost more than $9,000 per person.


50 people at $9,000 = $450,000

From Indian Country Today
Concerning the deaths in Sedona

Arvol Looking Horse (Chief Arvol Looking Horse is the 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle.)


Our ceremonies are about life and healing. From the time this ancient ceremonial rite was given to our people, never has death been a part of our inikaga (life within) when conducted properly. Today, the rite is interpreted as a sweat lodge. It is much more than that. The term does not fit our real meaning of purification.

Inikaga is the oldest ceremony brought to us by Wakan Tanka (Great Spirit). Nineteen generations ago, the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota oyate (people) were given seven sacred rites of healing by a Spirit Woman, Pte San Win (White Buffalo Calf Woman).


What has happened in the news with the makeshift sauna called the “sweat lodge” is not our ceremonial way of life.

When you do ceremony, you can not have money on your mind. We deal with the pure sincere energy to create healing that comes from everyone in that circle of ceremony. The heart and mind must be connected. When you involve money, it changes the energy of healing.


At Huffington Post:

What good are the ceremonies if they cannot save a people?

Tim Giago (Lakota)
Founder, Native American Journalists Association


I am not going to dance around the consequences of Arthur Ray's stupidity because he was blatantly using a religious ceremony of the Native Americans to enrich himself and what is worse, he didn't know any of the sacred rites that accompany the inipi nor did he know the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota language, an intricate part of the ceremony.

According to the recognized and respected wicasa wakan (holy men) of the Sioux Nation, the Tunka Oyate (Spiritual Grandfathers) know and understand the Native tongues of the Sioux people and any inipi ceremony without this ingredient is no ceremony at all. That should have been the first clue to the new agers attempting to usurp the rituals of the Sioux, rituals that are much older than the Holy Bible.


And finally, the NY Times:

Deaths at Sweat Lodge Bring Soul-Searching


At least seven other people have died in ceremonial sweat lodges since 1993 in the United States, England and Australia, according to news accounts compiled by Alton Carroll, an adjunct professor of history at San Antonio College who also moderates the Web site

James Arthur Ray, a self-help expert from Carlsbad, Calif., led what was billed as five-day “spiritual warrior” experience at Angel Valley, which concluded with a tightly packed sweat lodge ceremony. Participants paid about $9,000 each for the weeklong retreat, which included seminars, a 36-hour fast and solo experiences in the forest.

The authorities say that at any one time 55 to 65 people were packed for a two-hour period into a 415-square foot structure that was 53 inches high at the center and 30 inches high on the perimeter. Mr. Ray’s employees built the wood-frame lodge, which was wrapped in blankets and plastic tarps. Hot rocks were brought into the lodge and doused with water. Mr. Ray, who conducted the ceremony, left the area on Thursday after declining to give a statement to the police.


Dr. Carroll, who is partly of Mescalero Apache descent, said the Angel Valley sweat lodge was the “best example I have seen, sadly, in a long time of why it is extremely dangerous to conduct sweat lodge ceremonies without proper training.”

OK, I put those together soon after this incident occurred. What has our most recent enlightened ego guide encountered in the weeks since this sad, sad (did I mention stupid?) incident?

Well, let's see...

Hmmm... it seems the lawsuits are piling up. No surprise there, he deserves his day (or days) in court. I also know some Lakota fellers that would love to have some time with him, perhaps in one of their "warrior sweats" where they really crank up the heat.

I've participated in big lodges, small lodges, hot ones, warm ones, family sweats and men only sweatlodge ceremonies. The only injury I've ever seen came when someone (non-Indian) used the wrong kind of rocks and they exploded in the fire. As karma goes this was pretty instant because it was the one who picked the rocks that got zapped by flying shards. I think they hurt.

I've written here about the sweatlodge before, so I'm gonna repeat myself (I once was head of the Department of Redundancy Department) a bit.

The sweatlodge ceremony is really, really old. Native American traditions pretty uniformly agree the ceremony is so old know no one knows how old it is and often it is a tribe/nation's oldest ceremony. But sweating is, after all, an international affair. For some it was hot baths in hot springs, for others - like my kin in Scandinavia (hello Lillkrokvik!) - the sweat practice is conducted in the sauna.

The problem Mr. Ray encountered is that he copied the sacred ceremony of the sweat and then ran it as a means to make money. Wrong wrong wrong. The sweat is the most humble of ceremonies and often the most humbling. You sit on the ground in a structure made from sticks and covered with whatever. Again unfortunately, Ray's folks at Angel Valley covered theirs with plastic tarps. Wrong wrong wrong. But in the lodge there is nothing but water, earth, fire and air... on the ground in a dome of sticks... no choirs, no fancy stained glass, maybe some sweetgrass, maybe some sage, cedar... maybe even someone will sing who has a good voice. Even the prayers are humble and pretty generally never for one's self but directed towards those in need - food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, blankets for the cold ones... protection for the voiceless...

Ray's instructions also called for fasting prior to the ceremony, including a fast from water. Duh... hello? A sweat lodge can drain a body, sweat can just pour off a body to the point that the body's sweat is no longer salty. Of course that's one of the health benefits of sweatlodge, a complete flush of the body's water supply.

Your skin is your body's largest organ and holds toxins that can accumulate. A sweatlodge heats your entire body - in a sense it is an oven - and one's body gets hot all the way thru. It sweats! Lots... and lots. If you don't have water in you, your body will revolt, kind of like a collective "oh no you don't!" from your organs. Add to it the possibility of the wrong rocks or the addition of some "special herb mixture" and you have a recipe for disaster. And of course the proof is in the pudding... 3 dead, dozens injured.

Native people are glad to share, they'll give 'til it hurts. But when you desecrate their sacred things, you've gained a whole lotta people not liking you so much. I've never been chased away from a sweat, never been criticized by indigenous folks for doing my own sweats... but I have been trained, I've participated in hundreds of sweats and every one is a learning experience. I also respect my own indigeneity...

We ALL are indigenous. There is no escaping that little truth. Everything we have (except for those moon rock samples) has come from the earth. We are earth...

James Ray... I most certainly hope you get all you deserve and that no one ever gives you another dime again.

How sad... can you say "cheese"


And some photographs... I've been away from the blog for over a month, been working on some changes. Here's one of the biggies:

Gone, the moustache I've had for about 15 years since last I didn't have it. Gone, the hair...

I've had my long hair for 35 years. When I got my last haircut in October of 1974 it was my last one because, 1) I was wanting to become a hippie, 2) I had people telling me to get my haircut for 24 years, and 3) I decided I was going to go 24 yers w/o getting a haircut. I've adapted my life, my social/cultural relationships around being a man with long hair. And yeah, I ran into plenty of cultural bigots. Idiots I prefer to call them. But I've always had the option of NOT having long hair. Skin color can't be changed. And if that's what you've got for an excuse to hate... how sad for you...

Bigots suck. We're all bigoted to a point, but most of us work on growing up and acting like adults who live in a world we have to share with a variety of folks. I mean really? I don't like a whole lot of people and am a pretty private person, but I'll be damned if humanity doesn't keep shining through our patina of collective stupidity, displaying wonderful, loving and good hearted acts of grace. And those moments are almost worth all the other shit we put each other through and keeps me from just writing humanity's sorry ass off. Hate is just bad form... and we all benefit the less there is of it.

So... the hair is gone, the 'stache is gone. Why? It was time. Things in my life are changing. I have stuff I need to accomplish in this last decade or maybe two left to me here. My photography is at a level that I have to get out there and sell myself. I can't keep climbing ladders and scrambling on rooftops for too much longer. And I certainly can't make as much money in the building maintenance biz as I can looking through my camera.

So, for a bit, my posts may be spread out a ways. I'll try and get images posted if I don't have time to write.

AND BY THE WAY! Thanks to those who have purchased my calendar. I could stand to sell a few more though, so please, support the arts, support your local artists... buy one of my beautiful, all Oregon images calendars: Allan Erickson's Oregon

My daughter's choir joined with the high school's Jazz Band to hold a PieFest as a way to raise money for a trip the band plans to make. As always, it was a fun show and I took the camera to provide images to both groups (a funny sidenote here, at 58 I finally get my photographs into the high school yearbook!):


Went up to Washington for Thanksgiving dinner with my little sis and her family. The trip began with this moment of terror:

my son Alex, has his driver's permit. After some heavy pre-trip trepidation it was the realization that my dad had to teach me freeway driving in L.A. that helped eased my nervous hesitation. He did real well... he even drove thru some fairly heavy rain:

(I even sat in the backseat, thus the, uh, backseat view)

We had a wonderful dinner, some good family time. My grand niece Keira provided a great target for my camera:

I love my rural NorthWest... I-5 may be handy but it's not pleasant for me to drive it. Which is just my distaste for BIG showing through I guess. Once I get a chance to get off the freeway, I do. We caught this scene as we crossed the Chehalis River at Porter after leaving my sister's on our way back to Eugene:

I also have to admit a prejudice for liking Portland. I love its skyline and passing through at dawn or dusk is always a treat. This shot taken from my perch in the backseat:


And here are a few more just 'cause:


- “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

- Albert Einstein


Wednesday, October 21, 2009



“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul”

- Plato

When I first came to Eugene one of my great "discoveries" (think Chris Columbus) was finding a local commercial free radio station. A station that plays Rock and Roll, Blues, Bluegrass, Reggae, World, Classical, Swing, Country...

The station? KRVM... "A high powered mega-corporate owned station where the music is mainsteam and the DJs without personality?" you may ask... "No," I respond, "a station run 99 % by volunteers, housed in a local High School and operating at 1100 Watts." That, dear friends, is (or was) KRVM, 91.9 FM .

These days things are - like the rest of life - the same, but different. KRVM is still housed in Sheldon High School, here in Eugene. During the school year student DJs are still spinnin' the wax in the daytime.

You see, KRVM has a mission:

"To provide quality community radio while educating area high school students and volunteers in the techniques of broadcasting."

Really. This station TEACHES people! Really... and they entertain. Evenings and weekends have programs tailored to specific musical genres. Here is their program guide. Personally... I have my favorites but you should go see what programs they have that fit your tastes. After all, you don't have to be in Eugene to listen to KRVM. And you don't have to listen to 1100 Watts. These days the station is scorching the ether with 15,000 Watts of listening power - ONLINE as well as on the FM dial of your radio! Yes... this little slice of that something-is-right-in-the-world pie can be heard anywhere that has internet. To listen online go HERE. Also... not only is KRVM now broadcasting at 15,000 Watts, they're broadcasting in HD. That rocks.

The folks who host KRVM's programs are knowledgeable and personable and they don't play commercials! They may have short blurbs about the businesses that underwrite much of the station's costs but they also read the names on-air of those listeners who donate, even if you're a supporting listener in Dublin, or Cincinatti, or Morocco!

I really have only a few shows I make it a point to listen to. Otherwise I'm content with whatever is on. On Wednesday, between 5 and 7 p.m. is Professor Pete with "the Bump School - the best in funk - new skool, old skool & nothin' but funk." And of course, where would I be without the native tunes Nick Sixkiller lays down on Thursday nights at 7. Indian Time plays a lot of powwow music, but Nick mixes in rock (Indigenous!), folk (Joanne Shenandoah) and the razor sharp tomes of John Trudell. Nick starts each show with Jake Swamp's "Giving Thanks" from Joanne Shenadoah's wonderful Covenant album.

Nick Sixkiller

Of course... being the old '60s and '70s era fan that I am, my favoritest show is on Saturday's at noon... Magical Mystery Tour, hosted by Ed K and TC. Of course you may also find Nick Sixkiller sitting in as host, or the Professor himself, Jivin' Johny Etheridge. That's the way this station is... you just can't lose! I mean heck, you can even listen in on Sunday evenings to Rockin' Rome dancing in his underwear...

Oh, and by the way... KRVM is in the midst of a pledge drive right now. If you go HERE, you can donate and maybe receive a gift from KRVM. Support radio that supports us, the listeners! And without the support of the listeners, KRVM would not exist!

Many thanks to Ken Martin and Nick Sixkiller for giving me the ok to come down and shoot the station during Indian Time (Thursday nights at 7pm!). So folks, here is an inside (and outside, but not so much) look at the greatest radio station ever... Welcome to KRVM:

Karen Proden. host of Thursday Free 4 All (a variety of acoustic, rock, world and electronic music - plus occasional studio interviews.)

Karen and Nick

Jivin' Johny Etheridge

Two minutes to airtime!

Look at Nick go! 1 minute to airtime!

Nick talks to a listener... with only 30 seconds to go! Will he make it?!?!

Headphones on, Chief Jake Swamp cued up... it's 7 o'clock and Nick's on the air.

And the stacks of CDs:

KRVM is a classic and wonderful slice of what is best about Eugene. And a slice of what I like best about people...

Oh, and when you join KRVM, tell 'em "that Donut guy sent me."

A few items I should have added when I did the original blogpost:

Friends of KRVM
KRVM-FM - Wikipedia
KRVM 91.9 FM on MySpace
KRVM 91.9 FM - Facebook
KRVM (KRVM) on Twitter

And "Oh" #2... don't forget to buy one of my all new, first ever, awesomely beautiful 2010 calendars!

Until next time...

“It's not true I had nothing on, I had the radio on.”

- Marilyn Monroe