Wednesday, January 21, 2009

another Sunday...


“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

aaah... sunshine. It has been a rare commodity these days. Foggy and cold is what it has been. Up in the hills and over on the coast the weather has been sunny and (winter)warm. Some days it is like living in the San Joaquin Valley again. If you have never experienced the Valley's tule fog... well... you are only missing impenetrable gray. In fact I remember days when the temperature would get below 32ยบ and the fog would be a frozen mist. When you step outside on the worst of those days it is essential to carry an ice-pick just so you can chisel a tunnel through the fog. I swear...

I took the kids up to their mom's place in Portland last weekend. When I went back on Sunday to pick them up I took my camera and drove up Hiway 99E which , when heading north from Eugene goes through Junction City, Harrisburg, Halsey, Shedd and Tangent before getting to Albany (which is where I jump over to I-5). I love the drive. It is a 55 MPH speed limit and runs through the rural part of the Willamette (Will-am-ette dammit) Valley.

So as I was driving I would come to spots I've noted before and just aim my camera out the window and shoot. Here are a few of those photos:


BTW... I've added a link to my friend Bill Moore's blog on my list in the left hand column. Bill and I are political opposites but we find common ground in our photography. Check it out: Looking through my eyes ~ ~ photos by Bmoore3


And speaking of photography...

I went over to the coast Monday. I responded to a Craig'sList ad looking for folks to display their photography in a new restaurant in Mapleton. I didn't get the first shot at displaying but I am #2! My photos will be there until about the middle of March. Stop in, say "hi" to Jesse and Marcy, and buy a cup of coffee. Oh yeah... and buy a photo.

So... if you happen to be in Oregon, along the coast anywhere near Florence or Mapleton stop in and see what I do in a larger format than I display here. Framed and matted even!

The photos are hanging in the Mapleton Caffeination Station, located in Mapleton, along Hwy 126 and sits between Frank's and the Alpha Bit Restaurant. The owners, Jesse and Marcy serve Cafe Mam, an organic, fair trade, shade grown coffee from Chiapas, Mexico. They serve fresh homemade baked goods, have comfortable seating and a deck out back. Tell 'em Allan sent you!

Caffeination Station

Jesse (the owner) and Marty


and the back deck


“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.”

~ Edward Steichen


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dear President-elect Obama...


“We always want the best man to win an election. Unfortunately, he never runs.”

~ Will Rogers

Dear President-elect Obama...

Congratulations. You have accomplished a milestone that is among the most significant in our nation's history. Becoming the first black male to be elected to the office of President of the United States is not something I thought I would ever see in my lifetime. I am sure Martin Luther King was doing beyond-the-grave handstands and backflips. He probably also smiled a whole bunch...

I thought I might see a woman President but dude, you turned the world on its ear.

Now understand, please, that I am a cynic when it comes to politics. With all my heart I hope you are that person so many of us are hoping you are... a free man, beholding to no man or group of men. My cynicism is no rarity these days. There are plenty like me. But on election night when that point was reached where it was certain you were our next President and TV news cameras turned to the faces of black America... I loved our country and our citizens like I never had. The tears and smiles, the pride... which was the point of Rev Wright's much maligned sermon... well, sir, you have inherited a heavy load with a lot of people counting on you. You also received a great gift in the opportunity to be in a position where you not only can make a difference but will -- for good or bad -- make a difference. At this point in humanity's existence we truly need for the difference you make to be for good and what is right for the people...

... not for the corporations...

... not for the lords of war...

... but for the billions of human beings teeming our world who see their leaders squandering the finite resources of a planet that is held in common by us all. We can no longer allow tens of thousands of human beings anywhere in the world to die each day from starvation and malnutrition. There is no excuse for there to be any community, anywhere, that does not have access to potable water. In an age when we can send vehicles to Mars and are a culture that worships and flaunts opulence, how do we allow children to die slow, painful deaths for lack of even minimal nutrition? Certainly sir, if we can afford to manufacture weapons that are great destroyers of life, we can afford to feed a hungry babe and save a life? Feed all the hungry babes? Perhaps the time has come when we shall spend as much on food as we do for bombs and bullets?

Even here in the United States we allow too many to do with too little. While we don't have starvation we do have too many who are hungry, who are cold, who live with no roof, no medical services...

There is a need for not just retooling the automakers and "bailing out" the self-anointed lords of finance, but for refitting our thinking. It is inexcusable that the people living in the areas of the south so ravaged by Hurricane Katrina's destruction still have not seen the assistance and comprehensive rebuilding necessary for them to resume life as whole and vital communities. When nature breaks our communities down, we need to rebuild them better than they were. Surely Mr. Obama, a mobile home venting formaldehyde gas and poisoning its inhabitants is not a suitable substitute for the solid, earth-as-foundation, framed homes with yards and gardens and neighbors that so many of our fellow Gulf Coast citizens had to flee because of Hurricane Katrina? Surely sir, when fires scorch the arid west, when floods inundate low lying communities along our great rivers in the Midwest, our National Guard citizen-soldiers should be home defending against flood, fire and then aiding those in need after disaster's devastation?

In fact sir, many of us here on the streets, here in our communities, believe - and rightly so - that our government representatives have become part of our collective woes! With billion dollar earmarks attached like blowflies to essential legislation and elected representatives voting themselves a raise when so many of us here on the streets are losing jobs and homes, how can those we elect be so stupidly greedy? We have eyes! We know many among the elected are good people eager to serve effectively and efficiently and whose time in government is marked by honesty and integrity. But we are so very aware that Mammon has far too many followers in the halls of Congress directing the disbursements from our collective purse.

Mr. Obama, yours is an unique opportunity. Your election has drawn on not just loyal Democrats, but has also drawn greatly from that 15 - 20% of us who are staunch independents. Making you our choice was a cooperative plea for a real man, not a politician, but someone who has grown up without a silver spoon, to represent us.

Please, Mr. Obama, listen to those working class citizens around you who worked with you in Illinois. Listen to our voices. Voices like that of our dear and late mutual friend, nurse, mother, wife and grandmother, Beth Wehrman, who are desperately seeking an ear that will hear our pleas for an end to the drug wars -- Prohibition II -- which do nothing to solve the crisis Prohibition is wreaking a second time upon our cities. None of us who advocate for drug legalization and (or at least) a critical investigation of our failing drug policies denies drugs can and do cause harm. What we are saying (and it is a point supported by history's examples) is that Prohibition ends none of those woes, but makes them all exponentially worse.

Please, Mr. Obama, hear us when we say our children need quality education. Education that prepares them with the skills they will need when they are ready to set out upon their own adult lives. We cannot recover from our current plight with a population increasingly illiterate. If we can read with comprehension our understanding of any field we study grows. If we can read with understanding all other skills follow.

I too shed tears that evening of your election. Knowing that Black America's head now rose proudly, saying to all "yes, by god, we can, we now have" gained an equal seat at the table, was a crowning moment for us as a nation.

Please sir, be real. Of all the elements that make a man a leader, the one that now matters most is that you be real. A real human being, being human.

Thank you, Mr. President-elect.


Allan Erickson
Eugene, Oregon