The last few weeks have been a blur. Here's my attempt at recapping a few highlights:
Last week we caught tap virtuoso Savion Glover at Portland’s Schnitzer Hall for a performance called ‘Classical Savion’. The show’s first half, as the title indicates, had Glover tap dancing to various famous classical themes. More so than previous times we’ve seen him in years past, this time Glover’s dancing really seemed to act as a rhythm section to the music. Sometimes his feet would follow the natural rhythm of the Bach or Dvorjak piece being played by the accompanying string section, but other times he would tap or shuffle his feet into a beat that completely changed the nature of the music, such as a hip-hop-like dance rhythm. Just through a guy’s two feet, these musical works would often change feel and emotion mid-song. Glover really picked up the most, though, when he was joined onstage by a drummer and pianist for a self-composed jazz-classical hybrid rendition of the Sousa march ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’. Best working of a patriotic song I’ve ever heard, although it was about a half-hour long, so I don’t see it being performed at any sporting events.
Last night brought the opening of The Affair @ The Jupiter, Portland’s annual art fair. Now in its third year, the fair has a nice mix of serious artwork and slapdash young efforts, rich collectors with their cleavage and perfume, but also hipsters with beards and tattoos. In recent weeks I’ve seen articles in both USA Today and Business Week about how Portland is becoming a magnet for young creative people from all over the nation, and you feel at an event like The Affair a sense of the special moment happening here. I’ve got to write a wrapup for The Oregonian by tomorrow morning, so hopefully I’ll be able to cast it in the proper light.
For the last several weeks I’ve been putting in lots of late-night and weeekend time working on my first book, Tales From the Oregon Ducks Sideline, a history of my beloved college football team. I went to my first Ducks game in 1980, age eight, and as most all friends and family know have been hopelessly obsessed with the Ducks my entire life. So while art, film and architecture are more my usual beat as a journalist, this book is such a labor of love. (Which is good, because the pay is shit.) So far I’ve been able to interview some of my biggest heroes: Joey Harrington, Rich Brooks, Danny O’Neil, even Kenny Wheaton, the hero of Oregon’s most famous play: the 97-yard interception and touchdown in 1994 that saved the game against Washington and propelled the Ducks to their first Rose Bowl in 37 years.
Speaking of the Ducks, two weeks ago today Oregon enjoyed one of its greatest victories in the 112 year history of the team: a 34-33 victory over perennial college football powerhouse Oklahoma. The game has been mired in controversy because the Ducks’ comeback from 13 points down in the 4th quarter was aided by an onsides kick recovery that many now believe should have gone to Oklahoma. After the game, the Sooner fans and even OU president David Boren (a former Republican senator I thought we were finally rid of) have been extraordinarily self righteous, but anyone and everyone knows questionable calls are part of any game. Like, for example, the fumble by Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart that was awarded to Oklahoma even though he seemed to be down. Hopefully Oklahoma will get some class and self respect Sooner or later. But I don’t have to wait for that as the author of Oregon’s official history. In my chapter on the game in Tales From the Oregon Ducks Sidelines, the onsides kick controversy will definitely be minimized and the Ducks’ heroic comeback given the greatest attention.
I’m also in the process of arranging a trip to Japan for late October. There’s a design conference in Kyoto I’ll be going to, and hopefully a tour of some historic architecture there. Kyoto is the ancient capital, and the only major Japanese city whose ancient architectural treasures weren’t destroyed during World War II. I’ve always found it fascinating how the Americans reduced the whole country to ashes - not just in Hiroshima and Nagasaki but Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya. Yet they deliberately left Kyoto largely alone out of respect for history. I’ll also be traveling to Tokyo on this trip, of course, and seem to have some meetings planned with Portland advertising/design companies situated there like Wieden + Kennedy and Ziba Design.
Meanwhile, though, the latest Ducks game is about to start, so I’d better go find a video tape.