Place impacts people in a deep way. It creates culture, which explains why I am forever fascinated with the things that make up place—things like geography, local customs, food and beverage, music, art and so on. Here’s a run down of the places (other than home) where I was fortunate to spend at least one […]

“People love to talk. They love to slander you if you have any substance.” -Mattie Ross Mike Kline, my friend since freshman year at F&M, was in Portland with his family last August. Over Italian food and later over coffee at Albina Press, we spoke of President Obama’s performance in the White House, Portland’s strange […]

“I spent the night in Utah in a cave up in the hills.” -Robert Hunter Last week, we celebrated David Keller’s life at gatherings in Rockville, Utah and again in Salt Lake City. Anne Decker, a close friend of David’s mom, Big J., made a touching speech last Wednesday night in Mill Creek Canyon. I […]

“Choose my bluest tape and unlock my car An honest tune with a lingering lead has taken me this far” – Houser/Bell Here’s a run down of the places (other than home) where I spent at least one night in 2013: Smithtown, NY Marco Island, FL Seattle, WA* Brownsville, OR* Takhlakh Lake, WA Yakima, WA […]

I recently pitched Travel & Leisure on a “three days in Oregon food and beverage experience,” and I can see how that article–and the trip it will require to write it–plays out. But more on that another day. Today, I want to detail a different route into the heart of south central Washington. Mt. Adams, […]

Since moving to Oregon in August 2008, I have had the extreme good fortune to spend my birthday celebrations with friends and family, mostly in pursuit of wine and food. This year, Darby and I motored to Seattle early on the 4th. After a morning business meeting and a light lunch on Capitol Hill, we […]

YACHT lights me up. Their grooves are infectious and the meaning in their work is at times profound. I know this is high praise for any artist, but it’s not everyday that a New New Wave band with deep philosophical underpinnings kicks ass like YACHT kicks ass. “The Earth, the Earth, the Earth is on […]

Oregon, as great as it is, is a long ways from a lot of people we love. Which means we must travel to our people, and the special places where they reside. Of course, we were not able to go everywhere and see everyone during 2012, but we did spend time with family and friends […]

Design is so much more than the look of things. Design is also the way things work, or conversely, don’t work. Portland, Oregon prides itself on being a place that does work, and the city has design and designers of every sort, throughout its history, to thank for that. Last night, as part of Design […]

I love American history and American culture. I love ‘merican people (especially our artists, writers and musicians) and ‘merican places. Therefore, it pains me to encounter geo-cultural ignorance. And sadly, I encounter it all too often in places populated by lots of “book smart” people. I just love when a native Portlander scoffs upon learning […]

As a writer, I am a knowledge worker and member of the Creative Class. Which is to say, I am busy developing not only words that make meaning, but dollars that make ends meet.

That’s the deal with the Creative Class. Creative people gather in special places, and through the power of our collective ingenuity we create wealth for ourselves and the communities we call home.

But not so fast. “The Rise of the Cre­ative Class is filled with self-indulgent forms of ama­teur microso­ci­ol­ogy and crass cel­e­bra­tions of hip­ster embour­geoise­ment,” argues Jamie Peck, a geography professor and vocal critic of Richard Florida’s theories.

Freelance writer Frank Bures of Minneapolis shared that gem in Thirty Two, a new bi-monthly magazine for the Twin Cities. Like me, Bures was seduced by the idea that we aren’t alone in a world where writers are not highly prized. No, we’re members of a club. No, not a club, a class. Yes, we are in a class where we’re always learning and striving, and the future is bright.

Bures suggests that Florida “took our anx­i­ety about place and turned it into a prod­uct. He found a way to cap­i­tal­ize on our nag­ging sense that there is always some­where out there more cre­ative, more fun, more diverse, more gay, and just plain bet­ter than the one where we hap­pen to be.” Given how dreamy writers and entrepreneurs can be, it was an easy sell.

Bures also recounts conversations with Brazen Careerist, Penelope Trunk, on the topic. Bures calls her an “apos­tle of Florid­ian doc­trine.” Nevertheless Trunk points out, “If you want to look at a city that’s best for your career, it’s New York, San Fran­cisco or Lon­don. If you’re not look­ing for your career, it doesn’t really mat­ter. There’s no dif­fer­ence. It’s split­ting hairs. The whole con­ver­sa­tion about where to live is bullshit.”

Of course, “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit,” notes Harry G. Frankfurt. Which makes me want to point to other popular tropes that are really just steaming piles of fecal matter.
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We took a marvelous land cruise to Northern California last month. The highlight of the trip wasn’t the Southern Oregon coast, the redwoods, Mendocino County, or Marin. Those were highlights, but the highlight was having dinner with friends in San Francisco on Friday the 13th. Our friend Andy made a reservation for five at Lot […]

“Instrumental in traveling is the participation in it, the belief in progress, the witnessing of passage.” – Dave Eggers Dave Eggers’ first novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity, is a travel journal with a lot of internal gyrations, a.k.a. dialogue from the narrator, whose mind “hovers and churns.” I just finished reading the 400-page book […]

Carlos Santana is one of my musical heros. He’s also a board member and part owner of premium spirits brand, Tequila Casa Noble. I don’t drink a lot of tequila, and I can’t say that I have ever tried Casa Noble, but now that I know Carlos’ role in the company, I will give the […]

I love when an environmental issue, or any issue, helps to melt the artificial construct of political lines between people and communities come together to face off against corporate agressors. Thankfully, that’s exactly what’s going on in Nebraska, Texas and other communities that would be directly impacted by the proposed Keystone Pipeline. According to Roll […]

For a Gentile, Scott Carrier knows a lot about Mormons, having lived most of his 50-plus years in Salt Lake City. Carrier’s new book is titled Prisoner of Zion, which interestingly is something he’s perfectly willing (and happy) to be. The place does have a magnetic pull, no question about it. His book of stories […]

At the end of 2006, I started doing yearly recaps of my travels. From 2006-08 I was traveling for work a lot, so the lists were rather lengthy. Since, migrating to Oregon in 2008 we’ve been keeping it much closer to home. In fact, in 2011 I flew to Boston and back and that’s it. […]

“Portland is where young people go to retire.” That’s the rap laid down by Portlandia, a funny send up of life in Oregon’s biggest city. However, the issue of few jobs and low wages is not very funny for the Oregon citizens searching for their first job or in the midst of a non-elective “career […]