Month: November 2016

Sidney Street, in St. Louis

During my last trip to St. Louis in October, I visited the Benton Park neighborhood of south St. Louis. To the east, the area is severed by Highway 55 , which runs south and north, cutting off neighborhoods from the industrial waterfront, where factories, power plants, and shipping firms dominate the landscape. Not too far to the west, you cross Gravois Avenue and hit the great Tower Grove Park, one of the nation’s best public parks. If you wander the streets, you might find a beautiful old church, classic row homes, and other architectural gems that make St. Louis a hidden treasure, still unknown to most of the country. Here are a few of the pictures I took on the 2000 block of Sidney Street, not far from the Anheuser-Busch factory and Highway 55.

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Family and the holidays

I have not shared Thanksgiving with my family now for nearly  30 years. Living at opposite ends of the continent, and in my case Alaska for a half-dozen years, makes travel on the busiest travel time of the year just about impossible. We may not be able to share another one together like we did when we were a unit, when I was younger. This makes me think of them even more this year. So, enjoy the time you spend with family. You might never know if it is the last time you do. (Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

 

 

Travels through Trump country in 2015

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.

In September 2015, I travelled through the heart of the country that swung the Electoral College vote to Republican Donald Trump, giving him the presidency without a 50 percent majority and even behind Democrat Hillary Clinton. My trip had nothing to do with politics. It was about my past and my history, not the future of the country. But the trip was illuminating. I drove through some cities that once formed the bedrock of our industrial economy: Detroit, Toledo, the Ohio River petrochemical corridor, Canton, Akron, Cleveland, and Sandusky.

Even thought I didn’t spend time to explore all of those communities, it was easy to spot the remnants of the industrial past that has dramatically downsized in the last 30 years from globalization, mechanization, and trade policies. These have lead 4.5 million manufacturing jobs to leave the United States since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994. Detroit, of course, stood out, as the nation’s great symbol of industrial dislocation, which began long before NAFTA was signed by the United States, Canada, and Mexico. I could not believe how far this area had fallen, and all without any meaningful attention from our two major parties and the nation. The new economy means these were the losers, and nobody in power likes losers.

So when the Trump tornado rolled onto the national stage in 2015, and promised to make them winners, I knew that he would find fertile ground in Ohio and Michigan. I knew that instinctively, simply because I had done a drive by. Why was I, as an outsider, able to see this and those in power and leading a national campaign not aware of what would happen on election day. (See my essay on that topic.)

Where I live in Portland, the Multnomah County Library twice rejected my proposal to host a presentation I offered on these issues through the prism of Detroit. I think the Library failed to do its job as the place for civic discourse because my show would make Detroit look bad (news flash, it is in crisis and has been for decades) and because economic dislocation in the Midwest means little to the nation and especially to those on the West Coast. There is a progressive bubble out on the West Coast that is completely disconnected from the gritty, nasty world that exists in the rest of the country, and even in rural counties in the Northwest.

One of the most chilling takeaways from me was the poverty I saw everywhere in Appalachia in southern Ohio, from Chilicothe, to Waverly, to New Boston –areas that are both economically distressed and hard hit by opioid addiction.  On the Ohio side of the river, I saw more than a handful of Confederate flags hanging in windows of homes and on the back of vehicles. This was an area ready and ripe for a messenger, who claimed he would make America great again and bring back jobs. On election day, when I saw the results come in, I already knew how Ohio and Michigan would fall in the Trump column for electoral votes. I had seen the vote outcome with my own eyes a year earlier.

Veterans Day 2016, how the United States remembers

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page. These photos were taken at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in April 2005.

It’s Veterans Day, the holiday created after one of the greatest human tragedies that took the lives of millions of people around the world for no great or noble purpose in World War I. The holiday, honoring the sacrifice of the fallen and those who served, was called Armistice Day, falling on the day hostilities ended on Nov. 11, 1918, between the Allied Powers and Germany. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the holiday a year later, on Nov. 11, 1919. The proclamation noted: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself one of the most celebrated commanders in U.S. history, signed the Veterans Day proclamation on June  1, 1954, officially changing the name to Veterans Day. It was not until 1968 when Veterans Day had become an official federal government holiday.

Veterans Day is a day many around the country honor the service of America’s veterans and active service members. This week, I saw many tweets honoring the 241st birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. I recalled the writing of With The Old Breed in Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene Sledge. It is one of the finest books I have ever read about the sacrifice the Marines made to win the bloody war in the Pacific.

I may not always agree with what our government asks our service men and women to do, but I do honor so many of the great things they have done. For starters, they helped to save the world from fascism and totalitarianism in World War II–something I am thinking about a lot since Donald Trump won in the Electoral College, though lost in the popular vote on Nov. 8, 2016. I am deeply worried knowing he is now the commander and chief of our armed forces. I trust in the leadership of our services to provide needed ballast and a steady hand, even with a leader who may care little about what men like Sledge and his buddies accomplished in far off places like Peleliu. I have hope our current men and women in uniform can be calm in these unsteady times. We need their professionalism now more than ever.

Fleeting fall colors as the last leaves float to the ground

In Portland, Oregon, the maples were sharp as usual this fall, from yellow to red. I found some lovely displays of random leaves on my car. I also saw other lovely colors, in hues of red, orange, yellow, and a rusty brown over the past week. Here are some shots I took with my point and shoot Canon and GoPro. Enjoy the autumn, if you have that where you are.

(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture of a separate picture page.)

Forest Park, when the last leaves fall

I was unable to run last weekend, so I took a walk instead in my favorite place to enjoy trails: Portland’s Forest Park. Most of the seasonal color was already gone. A few remaining maples and other trees had some remaining leaves hanging, like forlorn orphans. The place looks more wide open now. You can see through the canopy. Today, when I did a run, nearly all of the leaves had fallen. It is a nice time of year and a great time to be in this park.

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.