Tuesday, April 25, 2006

six stills from portland

just back from a long weekend in oregon, where I attended the NFCB conference, in portland, along with more than 500 other community station and independent radio producers. while there I presented a session about ‘the sound of place’ and played lots of excerpts from radio stories that are especially effective in evoking the ‘where’ of the story – through writing, or structure, or the creative used of sound/music or both.

the audience was great and kept a lively dialogue going between clips. the ever-provocative ‘does it have to be true to be documentary?’ question even made an appearance - one of my personal favorites for provoking an emotional response from producers. [a little heartfelt debate does wonders for a long conference session]

I actually lived in portland ten (is this possible?) years ago. and while the city looks very very different, it still rang true and clear to me, with friendly ghosts hovering all over the place. and there were a handful of things still deeply familiar.

1. the montage still serves five kinds of mac’n’cheese and the waiters still yell at the top of their lungs back to the kitchen whenever someone orders oyster shooters. (and I still don’t know what oyster shooters are)

2. it’s still astonishing, despite the fact that it’s been there for thousands of years, to scan the horizon on a clear day and see mt. hood rising up and looking so very textbook-mountainy.
chicago is one flat city.

3. you’ll still probably see someone wearing one of your favorite band’s tshirts on any given day. (eluvium in this case, while sitting outside the rad half & half cafĂ© relatively early on a sunday morning.)

3b.It still somehow feels ok to use the adjective ‘rad’ when describing something in or about

4. still felt the desperate hope The Rock Band would play That Song I Loved the Most from their second record. I still sort of love that song / no, they didn’t play it.

5. it’s still inexplicably thrilling to walk over any bridge from the west to east side of the city, especially late at night. or from the east to west side, in the earliest morning hours.

6. i once wrote a short story about a funny little neglected water fountain on the corner opposite one of several addresses i lived at in
portland. despite the fact that the rest of the street is practically unrecognizable the fountain is still there. and i noticed this model horse (pictured above) sitting quietly right next to the fountain.

I’m writing this post from high above the clouds, while heading home. listening to sufjan steven’s illinois record, trying to coax a chicago mindset. but it still makes me sad to leave portland.

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