Category: salem writes

Behind the Beyond: Psychedelic Posters and Fashion in San Francisco, 1966-71

June 3 – August 27, 2017 Hallie Ford Museum of Art Willamette University Gary Westford – Organizer and Guest Curator By Steve Slemenda When the music’s over, don’t turn out the light; just paint it black to see behind the beyond. In the summer of 1967, when I was 15 years old, I bought Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for $2.98 (monaural—stereo was a buck more). It was a little store off Melrose in Hollywood crammed with boxes of vinyl LPs. One of the great “underground” FM stations was on—KMET with legendary disc jockey B.Mitchell Reed (“You gotta dig this new cut from Procol Harum called ‘Whiter Shade of Pale.’ Stop and listen to the lyrics; it’s poetry, man, and and it will send you”). Wedged between records in one of the boxes was a square of cardboard with the handwritten “Stealing is Bad Karma.” Behind a counter slouched a skinny kid with stringy spills of hair parted in the middle. Just the point of his nose peeked through as if from between curtains, catching the sweet pungent waft of patchouli oil from a browsing girl in a gypsy skirt. On the walls were posters promoting area rock concerts. These were singular  works of art—loud and colorful, outrageous and flamboyant expressions of a countercultural phenomenon called The 60s. In the cooler parts of town these posters were everywhere:...

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WHO’S AFRAID OF EDWARD ALBEE? A tribute and recollection

by R. S. Stewart   Broadway producers, directors, actors, fellow playwrights, and audiences, that’s who–at least during the early years of his success and fame, marked by the two-year run of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” in 1962. Three years earlier the unknown Edward Albee had to go to Berlin, Germany, to get his first play produced, the one-act “Zoo Story”, still an unnerving perennial classic of compression, character, narrative, and shock. After its European success, it returned to New York for a long run at the Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village, ushering in a new theatre movement called “Off-Broadway.”    Albee, who died on September 16th at the age of 88, was one of the most controversial of American playwrights, bringing new themes, stories, and language to the stage where Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, and Tennessee Williams dominated. His public and private quarrels with directors and actors are legend, as well as his anger over the changes made in the film version of “Virginia Woolf”, much of it shot outside the claustrophobic setting of the play and casting an Elizabeth Taylor 20 years too young for her role as Martha, although Albee praised her performance as her best ever. His increasingly bad reviews from theatre critics in the 70s led them to turn one of his own titles, “All Over”, into the watchword for his career.    A...

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The Way I Talk

By Sarah Rohrs    People who stutter are generally not known for being garrulous, and what so many don’t like to talk about is, in fact, stuttering. Take it from me. I’ve been stuttering since the second grade. I’ve spent nearly fifty years confounded by my speech, trying to keep my stutter a secret, and berating myself when it pushes its way to the surface. On particularly bad days when my voice seems to squeeze through a crack in my throat I despair. Those are the days I long to know what it’s like to speak without thinking first. Those are the days I really wish I didn’t stutter.    But those thoughts pass quickly now that I moved to Salem and opened the drapes onto my speech. That happened after I saw “The Way We Talk,” a documentary feature about stuttering by local filmmaker Michael Turner. As the lights dimmed and Turner’s stutter filled the Salem Cinema theatre on Broadway, something broke free in me. It felt and sounded so familiar. He spoke of feeling like something was wrong with him each time he opened his mouth. When he said his family never spoke about stuttering, I realized neither did mine.    Stuttering Awareness Week, the second week of May, gave me a chance to do just that. It was a great week for me, a time for...

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Somewhere Else Memories of Dad on his 100th

This is for my late father, on what would have been his 100th birthday, and for the many folks here in the valley who have childhood memories of somewhere else. My first memory of dad takes place in the cab of a truck at the grain elevator in Condon on a hot summer day in 1950 or ‘51.  Dougy and I sit restlessly on the slippery black passenger seat. The cab is superheated and smells like tar.  The windshield is streaked and the sun is so bright that it is hard to even see the building.  We wait awhile and then pull into the shade where dad has a jocose conversation with a man named Slim.  I can’t see well enough to know whether he really is slim.  With a haarooom! we go into the sun again and stop.  We pile out and dad boosts us into the back of the truck onto the load of wheat.  The wheat is warm on top and cool underneath.  We flail on the surface, like swimming.  The wheat promptly spills into the holes we dig. This folkloric kind of memory, related to weather and work life, sticks with me like the spindly roots of winter wheat in the clumped soil.  It is what I mean when I hear myself telling someone, Well, I am originally from eastern Oregon. Don’t eat the wheat,...

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How to Be Funny

by Michael Townsend Smith, book review by Vere McCarty    Before we start, I would like to opine that being named Michael Smith is funny.  Some people think it is not, but Michael thinks it is.  The Townsend fits in nicely, like a wagon road between home and work.  Maybe your name is funny too.  I know mine is.  The book is funny even before you start to read it.  To begin with, it starts on page one.  Starting on page seven can also be funny.  You see, I am already under the spell of “How to Be Funny”.    Smith, an active octogenarian, does not shy away from including himself in what can be funny. Self is an image. What you think other people see is not what you see. Old people trying to go fast are funny. Old people swimming are funny. Old people all by themselves are sometimes sad. Everyone is sometimes sad.                                      I was recently transfixed by Smith’s piano as he played a Debussy sonata. Funny the way music frees the mind to move. One part listens, another part dances, another part thinks. Time tangibly expands. The present breathes. Anything is possible.                             Imagination...

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