Beaver Archivist

life and work on the left coast

Demi-Crawl 2015

melissa at our table

Melissa Laney at the county archives table

Archivists from the Portland area got together at the Portland Archives and Records Center this last Saturday to meet people and talk about their collections. While not officially the Oregon Archives Crawl, Feed Your Head was super successful. Brainchild of city archivist Diana Banning, the event bridged the 2014 Archives Crawl and a proposed crawl in 2016.

rally the troops

Portland city archivist Diana Banning firing up the archivists.

Over 160 people attended — chatting with archivists, making research connections, or just seeing what archives are and archivists do for the first time. Door prize drawings, a coloring station for kids to color their own archives box, and even a skull to hold were some of the attractions. But in reality is was the human connection that really come through. For many (maybe half by some unofficial rough counts) of the attendees this was their first impression of archivists. I can’t help but believe that the passion, desire for a better world, and deep love of people that my colleagues all seem to have shined out for them.

charlie's bracelt

Charlie McNabb’s super stylish archivist bracelet.

Can’t wait to do this again in 2016!


OHSU archivist Max Johnson explaining the future to a young crawler.

In Search of Lost Time

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”  Marcel Proust

What better way to get back into this blog than to answer the popular Proust Questionnaire. His confessions, recorded in his friend Antoinette’s “An Album to Record Thoughts, Feelings, etc.,” are charming and I cannot hope to equal them. I was interested to see that he and I see many things similarly. It’s a little long, so feel free to jump ship at any time!

Your favorite virtue: while I think Marcel speaks well to this, I’ll go with kindness. We all need to give and receive more kindness.
Your favorite qualities in a man: gentleness and humor
Your favorite qualities in a woman: gentleness and humor
Your chief characteristic: openness
What you appreciate the most in your friends: their unconditional love
Your main fault: hahaha. i really have too many to choose just one
Your favorite occupation: talking with friends
Your idea of happiness: i can be happy in most situations, but if a beach is involved +1
Your idea of misery: being alone
If not yourself, who would you be?: why would I not want to be myself?
Where would you like to live?: by the sea
Your favorite colour and flower: grey; native rhododendron
Your favorite prose authors: Dostoyevsky and Dillard
Your favorite poets: Gilbert and Gluck
Your favorite heroes in fiction: Jesus
Your favorite heroines in fiction: Sophie Zawistowska
Your favorite painters and composers: Thomas Hart Benson; I don’t really know much about classical music
Your favorite heroes in real life: my heroes are dead
Your favorite heroines in real life: ditto
What characters in history do you most dislike?: the cruel and stupid ones
Your heroines in World history: too many to choose from; Emma Goldman and Sojourner Truth are representative
Your favorite food and drink: oysters and bourbon
Your favorite names: secret ones
What I hate the most: the bad parts of my nature
World history characters I hate the most: the stupid and cruel ones
The military event I admire the most: the battle of greasy grass
The reform I admire the most: end of prohibition
The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with: again, Marcel kills it; so I’ll say dancing expertise and stamina
How I wish to die: in bed
What is your present state of mind?: shamelessly hopeful
For what fault have you most toleration?: most of them; especially if they mirror mine
Your favorite motto: rock and roll all day, party all night

What’s New, Pussycats?


What better way to get back into this blog than with a review of Bumbershoot 2014?! It was a pretty weekend in Seattle. Debbie and I managed to include a spectacular  happy hour at Toulouse Petit, a visit to the Queen Anne Mcmennamins, a couple old friends, and crab cocktail and shooters at Pike Place Market (well, the last was for me). As usual, the music at Bumbershoot was a mix. I was underwhelmed by bands I thought would be great but also found great bands I had no idea about. Without further ado, here’s my list, a little description, a link, and an arbitrary (but no less so than, say, the grammys) grade. This all refers to the actual shows I saw. (It’s like when I gave Bob Dylan an F a few years ago. He may be an icon but the show I saw was horrible.)  I saw other bands, but I had to listen to at least four songs for me to list them here.

  • Big Freedia. just one big ‘ol bounce party. Hard not to to move with Freedia’s crew. B
  • Gregory Porter. Great voice, band, and message of power and positivity. B+
  • Tomo Nakayama. Up and down show. The venue sucked up the nuance. C
  • G-Eazy. Smooth show and nice summer vibe. C+
  • Polica. This one really surprised me. The live show’s power and emotion contrast with more subdued recordings. A-
  • The Both. And this one disappointed. I love Aimee Mann, but The Both felt very rote and sleepy live. Would have loved to be in the NPR office for this little desk concert. C
  • Ra Scion. Cute moment in an intense show. Only saw them while waiting for Wu Tang. This show was so much better. B+
  • Wu-Tang Clan. I really wanted to love this show. And they worked hard. But I just wasn’t feeling it. At all. C-
  • The Afghan Whigs. I should have just skipped the Clan and seen this whole show. A
  • Hobosexual. It always amazes me what two guys, a guitar and a drum kit can do. Props for the duct tape, too. B+
  • Sandrider. Thrashy locals. No props for the Rainier, though. C
  • The Replacements. Loved this moment (in the video). First time seeing them for me and I was impressed. B+
  • Mission of Burma. I know they are important and shit. And this was fun. But the show seemed sort of by the numbers. C
  • Pickwick. These kids are fun. I like the singer and the brass. C+
  • Bootsy Collins. Awesome show. Loved the music, showmanship, and history. A
  • Hoba Hoba Spirit. Lucked into this show. You don’t see many Moroccan bands in the PNW. That should change! B+
  • DakhaBrakha. This show blew me away. Most surprising set of the weekend. Maybe best of show. A+
  • Valerie June. I expected this show to be special. And it did no disappoint. Great rapport with the audience and versatile, emotional music. A+
  • Twin Shadow. Hey look! The Joy Division resurfaces. But it was a fun show. B-
  • Bomba Estereo. Lively kid from Bogota that really got the crowd moving. C+
  • Nada Surf. Not bad. Not good. A pleasant way to enjoy dinner while watching the fountain. C
  • Neon Trees. It’s what all the kids are eating! The music might be ho-hum, but the show was fun and I had a little surprise at it. B-
  • Real Estate. These kids have put out some fabulous records. They were great live, but the mix was really bass heavy. B
  • Aer. Maybe I was tired by the last show. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. C-

That’s a lot of music! And it doesn’t even include the annual wonder of Flatstock or the art installations. I was very moved by Wendy Red Star’s Wild West & Congress of Rough Riders of the World exhibit.



can’t punch your way out of a paper bag

I’ve been a fan of the Miami Dolphins for 40 years. It started with reading about the 1973 exploits of Kiick, Csonka, Griese and Yepremium in Stars and Stripes. Living in a Penang made me want to connect with something very American and football fit the bill. So I latched onto the team with the hip colors, cool mascot, oddly-named players, and a recent super bowl win. I’ve been a loyal fan since — through the Killer Bees, Woodstrock, the Marino years, and the Age of Mediocrity.

But I am ready to pack that in if there isn’t a satisfactory resolution to the recent circumstances surrounding Jonathan Martin and Ritchie Incognito. For those of you who don’t follow sports stories, it involves the bullying of one very large professional athlete by another very large professional athlete. As the story has unfolded, the nature of the hazing, the levels of participation by other teammates, the blind eye turned by coaching and management, and the rabid defenses of both bully and victim have created an embarrassing tableaux. But that’s not my issue. I suffered through the 1-15 2007 season. I can deal with Dolphin embarrassment.

What I’m tired of is the sense that bullying, aggression, cruelty, and dominance are what men are about. I have heard Martin called a “fucking pussy” for leaving the team in frustration over bullying instead of “standing up for himself.” I have played some form of organized sports since I was in middle school. That view is not a minority one. Athletes, especially male athletes, are conditioned to see “solving your own problems,” often with violence, as valorous. Read the rest of this entry »


A friend of mine suggested blogging about music finds. I’m not sure of the impetus for the suggestion. Perhaps interest in new music. Maybe a subtle jab at my bubbly praise for new (to me) music. Possibly a little prod to get me back to writing. Regardless of the reason, I’m grateful for the interaction. My life has felt oddly disconnected at times recently — ch-ch-changes — and I long to feel resettled.

So here’s a simple start back into this blog.

I register with in Portland for concerts in their Bing Lounge. They are short (3-4 song) sets for an audience of maybe 200 people and usually coincide with the artists’ visits to Portland. I have no idea how they come up with the list of invitees, but I usually get an invite to 5-8 shows a month. Work and timing limit my attendance to maybe one or two a month.

As often as I know the band I am exposed to someone new. Such was the case with Lucius. I had the time. I like checking out new music. I like the Bing’s vibe. The four song set included: How Loud Your Heart Gets, Don’t Just Sit There, Go Home, and Turn it Around. I was hooked from the start. The five-person group has great live presence. The two lead vocalists harmonize perfectly with the three backgrounds. They used simple instrumentation and percussion for this show and it provided intimacy as well as highlighted the voices. My favorite is How Loud Your Heart Gets but all of their stuff is great. I’ve been locked into their Pandora station for weeks.

I wish I could have gone to their full show that night, but I had my Wednesday night Quizzissippi team, Stache Attack, to not let down. But the next time these Brooklyn kids visit Portland, I am all over that show. Check them out. Buy their stuff. See their shows.

Robert Marcus Reeves: 1918-2013

My grandpa died recently after a long battle with old age. It was congestive heart failure that will be listed on the death certificate, but in reality it was the multiple and multiplied indignities of aging that did the old guy in.

I’d been able to see him a few days before he died. He was weaker than I’d ever seen him. For the first time I could remember he was also confused. My sister and I just sat there and talked. We both knew what was coming.

My gramps has been the most influential and consistent male influence in my life. I’m not dogging my dad, who has been a good parent. It was just a bond with a guy who was always there and willing both to lift me up and to challenge me to improve. He was a master carpenter; a person whose livelihood relied on a mix of vision and precision. He believed I could find that in my own work and life

This isn’t an obituary. There is no way to adequately describe the many accomplishments and relationships he had built through his 95 years. All I really want to do is thank him for showing me that each of us can make a difference in this world, regardless of our many flaws, if we approach work and people with love and a desire to improve every day.

Thanks, gramps. I love you. You know I believe that this is it and we have spent all the time together we will ever have. It was a blast and I’ll see you every time I look in the mirror.

Using archives to break your heart

cracked heart

No, this is not another post on the vagaries of the Old Beaver’s love life. While that subject always contains suspense, intrigue, and often the odor of sanctity; it’s really a story for another time.

This story is about the ways we relate to each other. We live in an often callous and cynical world. Much of what we are fed by the media is deliberately intended to create division, to make us fear each other. We are told stories with little basis in truth and certainly with no sense of community — either immediate or through time. As a consequence we hide our hearts, building protective shells around them. And so grows a culture of mistrust, distance, and isolation.

So how do archives (and the archivists who keep them) figure into this? How can archives change the world?

Read the rest of this entry »


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