Beaver Archivist

life and work on the left coast

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 »

Meet my bosses, or at least some of them, and learn new things about the old beaver!


I’ve worked for Mother Multco for over 14 years now. Almost as much as I love  being an archivist, I love being a public servant. Multnomah County serves the most vulnerable citizens in our area and being part of that mission gets the old beaver all misty, kids. Having worked under a variety of Boards of County Commissioners, I can say that this one works together, respects both the citizens and the people that work to serve them, and they get stuff done — they know how to grind!

Last Thursday, three of the commissioners –Deborah Kafoury, Diane McKeel, and  Judy Shiprack — all re-upped for another term. I am linking to, and stealing their Q and A’s. It’s always fun to learn something new about people. What’s not in their stories is that commissioner Kafoury, while getting her degree as a “Fighting Missionary” at Whitman College, worked in the archives! Semper fi, kid!

My take on their fun and informative Q&A’s follows. Read the rest of this entry »

Culture, Climate, and Craziness (Act II: The Tempest)

How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in it!

Sandy looked like a tempest in a teapot at first. Some rain, a little breeziness, endless newscast tracking its eventual landfall. It had been nicknamed Frankenstorm as a tribute to Halloween and its rare merging of a hurricane and a nor’easter. By Sunday evening it was living up to its hype. High howling winds and heavy rain.

By Monday night, the winds had gusted over 60 mph, 7 inches of rain had fallen, my flight back to Portland had been cancelled and news coverage made it clear that Dover and Delaware had gotten off much luckier than their sister states to the north. The luck of the draw was never more evident than when Tim and I furiously bailed water out of his pool cover to release pressure on it while lower Manhattan flooded.

Social media and MNF helped relieve the tension. Among twitter, facebook, and texting I kept track of friends in the storm zone. It was calming to commiserate in real time, over virtual drinks, while Sandy pounded through. I went to bed that night wondering if more was headed our way.

Tuesday broke drizzly and calm. I got up and made a cup of coffee. Tim asked if I wanted to help survey damage at historic sites. Absolutely! “We’re leaving in 15 minutes.” I put on some shorts and a rain coat and left with him and Manny to do some work. Tim is the head of Delaware’s Historic Preservation Office. He has responsibility for all sites in the state but his office split the work up.

No sites had significant damage. We inspected roofs, basements, grounds, windows, gutters, drains. It was like getting a behind the scenes tour of all of these historic sites. There were mostly floor leaks, a few wall leaks, and one ceiling leak. All the while reports — mostly email and video recordings — from the other sites in the state rolled in to Tim’s iphone. The most troublesome was one site with a drain that had turned into a fountain. What surprised me was the lack of downed trees. Gusts like that would have brought down some Oregon Doug Firs.

It was awesome seeing how methodical, dedicated and concerned these professionals were. And how fast problems could get solved with a simple network of  smart phones. Once a problem was evaluated, cleanup resources were triaged and crews began cleaning up. Several sites were documented on the spot with video and photographs as evidence for claims  and as support for resources.

It was sobering to see the news though and realize how much more severe the damage was in other places. I left New Orleans the day before Katrina hit in 2005. I’d gone with Julie to the Jefferson Davis Library just a week before it was blown all over Biloxi. There’s no telling how deep the damage to cultural resources in New York and New Jersey is. But it warms the old beaver’s heart to see the way people have chipped in already to help each other eat, drink, keep warm, and stay powered. While heritage preservation is important, too, this kind of humanity endures as well.


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