Michael

Old Florida returns

July 6, 2008

Unless you lived in the state before it was overrun with people, the term Old Florida means nothing. But when I grew up there with my two brothers, it meant uncrowded beaches and orange groves everywhere. But even Old Florida had its tourist attractions, such as Silver Springs. One day, long ago, my mother took […]

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Fury on the Fourth

July 5, 2008

In Portland, Fourth of July fireworks typically begin a day or two early and linger for a few days. I’m talking about unofficial fireworks, the kind I nearly maimed myself with as a kid. This evening on my front steps, I heard a firecracker explode up the street. At the sound, an Alfred Hitchcock flock […]

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Imagine a world in which our doctors treat us the way veterinarians treat our pets. This occurs to me as I stare at a three-by-two-inch can, the temporary resting place of Bok Choy Tong. The can is painted with red, orange, and blue flowers, not unlike our garden where her remains will be spread. Before […]

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Worse than 9/11?

July 2, 2008

Fox News calls the Obamas’ playful fist bump a “terrorist” handshake. An on-air guest says half-jokingly that Barack Obama needs to be assassinated. Fox refers to Michelle Obama as a “baby mama” (euphemism for unwed black mother). Now this on the fair and balanced network: digitally altered photos of two New York Times reporters to […]

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Scene, unseen

July 1, 2008

He’s back. The old man with caved-in cheeks, driving a faded blue car. I saw him today. Third time in a week, always morning. This time will he see me starring from my window across the street? Just sits there, eyes down, motor running. Drives off after a minute or two. I hadn’t seen him […]

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And God gave us words

June 30, 2008

Touchy, touchy some people are, especially zealots on the way-out-there religious right. The American Family Association’s news web site has a filter that automatically changes words it doesn’t like. So an Associated Press story from Eugene, Oregon, about track star Tyson Gay was “corrected.” The headline: “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.” The […]

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Poodle hip, not standard

June 30, 2008

Portland is dog crazy. Walk a dog through neighborhoods like mine (Irvington) and you’ll get more oohs and ahs from passersby than if pushing a cute baby in a stroller. The city reportedly has the country’s highest per capita of canines. Like many of their owners, some Portland dogs display individuality via bodily adornments. Take […]

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Summer stars greet the sun today — freshly opened blossoms in my Portland teardrop pond. I’ll wade in and reward my babies with fertilizer pellets. But I’ll be tempted to disappear beneath the lily pads into my past.

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We’re trashed

June 28, 2008

I couldn’t sleep recently and switched on the television. Up popped a PBS story about life on an Navy aircraft carrier, which at 2 a.m. I figured would bore me to slumber. I didn’t pay much attention until a sailor explained how much trash is dumped overboard from this floating city every day. Last year […]

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Of wisp and ashes

June 26, 2008

“Shawn is my name,” he says, holding out a small gnarled hand. Shawn shows no hint that he minds me, a stranger, flagging him down as he zips past my house on his electric cart. He answers personal questions with no hesitation, no suspicion. I ask to photograph him and the dog perched at his […]

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Nature in the city

June 25, 2008

Tufts of white fluff drift over my goldfish pond, on the way somewhere. Escapees from a cottonwood tree perhaps, fanning out on this cloudless and cool Portland morning. Another pastoral moment deep in the city. From my neighbors’ century-old linden tree comes an incessant chirp. Beneath the shroud of limbs, I can’t see the bird […]

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Really local locavores

June 25, 2008

A little publicity goes a long way. In May, I wrote a story for The Oregonian about two Portland men starting a new business, City Garden Farms. Their idea: grow vegetables in the urban yards of people willing to participate in return for a weekly supply of the harvest. Their entrepreneurial zeal impressed me. Their […]

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Brave new bike world

June 23, 2008

A modest wish for a better world popped in my head Sunday during Portland’s six miles and six hours without cars event (photo slideshow here). I was taking a break on a bench at Arbor Lodge Park, enjoying the people streaming past, many with kids in tow, headed for food or hula-hoop lessons. But I […]

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