Poetry

My Mother’s First Winter in Germany

My mother never thought she’d survive the slave labor camps. She had no coat, no hat, no gloves, just what she was wearing when the Germans came to her house and killed my grandma and took my mom to the camps.

A German guard saved her life there. He saw her struggling to dig beats in the frozen earth with her hands, and he asked her if she could milk a cow.

She said, “Yes,” and he took her to the barn where the cows were kept and raped her there.

Later the cows kept her from freezing and gave her milk to drink.

 

A Story My Mother Heard in the Slave Labor Camp

They took me from my children, three little ones.

They said the children would be useless in the camps in Germany. They were too young to do anything but cry for food.

I begged the soldiers to let me take them with me. I said I’d care for them and do the work both. I even dropped to my knees and wept, clung to their boots, but they said no.

I asked them who would feed them, and they said surely a neighbor would.

I couldn’t stop weeping, and they said if I didn’t, they would shoot the children.

So I left them and Debno.

 

PROVISIONS                         With a black handled knife    she removed the core-
ovaries and eggs being harder to chew,
and everyone knows that if we didn’t have to chew so much
there would be more room for our brains.

The girl downs the majority of the apple slices before hesitating,
before feeding the rest to the garabage disposal, pondering how anorexia
could contribute to evolution.

NIETZCHE ONCE SAID
Nietzche once said that there are few of us brave enough       to face what we really know.

I took census of my bravery then, on my fingers listing    the things certain to me:

ONE: I know that I don’t really know anything.

TWO: Sometimes the fact that we love shouldn’t be relevant to how we proceed.

THREE: The above statement may not be true.

FOUR: Niezche went mad.

 

ONE ON ONE WITH MILITIAMAN SPOKESMAN AT THE BUNDY STRONGHOLD

One on One with Militiaman Spokesman at the Bundy Stronghold

Reviewer Magazine goes to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Standoff near Burns, Oregon.

By: Sarah Glass    @SASzilla

January 9, 2016  (6:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.)
It’s been a week since the militiamen gathered at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Armed with six-shooters on their hips and AK-47’s strapped over their shoulders, their refusal to leave the federally owned land has sparked a brush-fire of local opinion and national media spin. Some of this comes second-hand from reporters that have never been to Burns. Some of it comes from concerned citizens whose families have worked on the very land being disputed. Reviewer Magazine sits down for more than just soundbites with spokesman LaVoy Finicum, long time Arizona rancher and friend and supporter of the now notorious leader of the occupation, Ammon Bundy.

It was dark and snowing when I arrived at the at the scene. Most of the media had gone home, and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge appeared like any other defiantly warm and quiet structure you might see against the Burns, Oregon snowscape. LaVoy Finicum saw me through an office window and gestured me inside. He stood to shake my hand and offered me the chair opposite him, even though the chair was already full.

“Pardon me,” LaVoy said to the man in the chair, “I already promised this little lady that I would talk with her. I did promise her first if you don’t mind putting this on hold.”

The man moved without a word. Leaning over a tall filing cabinet, he quietly folded his arms in front of himself and propped his head up with his hands to listen for me to finish.

“Thank you for your time. I’m sure you’ve talked to a few people already today,” I said.

“Yes. One or two,” said Finicum.

“What do you think of how you’ve been portrayed in the media?”

“Honestly, we’ve been a little too busy here to really sit down in front of a TV,” Finicum said. “I didn’t have a chance to tell my family I was going to be here. I didn’t know until I came to leave some flowers for the Bundys, and I got the call from Ammon that we needed to do something. Someone mentioned that they did a skit of us on Saturday Night Live, ‘Y’all Qaeda,’ or something, but I haven’t seen it. Of course, my daughter saw me on the news and told everyone: ‘Dad took over a federal building!'”

“So you weren’t apart of a prior plan in place to take over the refuge?” I said.

“No. Most of us came here unprepared,” said Finicum, “One of the guys only had time to grab one change of clothes.”

“In the Federal Land and Policy Management Act, doesn’t it mandate that the federal government must consider ceding land back to the state if such an exchange would be in the better interest of the public?” I said.

LaVoy Finicum, an occupant at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Picture from:www.ooyuz.com/geturl?aid=9973294
LaVoy Finicum, an occupant at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Picture from:www.ooyuz.com/geturl?aid=9973294

Finicum said, “It’s more than that. They’re required. It’s mandatory. Now let’s look back to the history, all right. …Once a territory reached a population of I think sixty thousand people, at that point they would form it into a state. Now, I may be wrong on that number, so don’t quote me on that. So, at the moment that it became a state, the lands were to be ceded to the state to be disposed of. So the first states, for about the first four states right up until about Ohio, that’s what happened. But after awhile it became slow. They [the federal government] still ceded it to the states, but have you ever noticed, if you look at a map of federal land going from east to west. In the east there’s hardly any federal land. You get further and further west and there is more and more, till, like my county is ninety percent federal land. This county is fifty percent federal land… Governments tend to like to grow in power and size. They see the land and resources and they get slower and slower at ceding it back to the states. And pretty soon they say, ‘Oh, no, it’s ours, but you could have got some money off of the revenue had you been productive.’ Its called PILT, Payment in Lieu of Taxes… Really it’s Pennies in Lieu of Trillions. That’s really what it is. And so they at that point say, ‘No, the land is ours.’ And they have no constitutional authority to do that. And again, it has real impact on real people and we’ve seen it this week with the Hammond family.”

“We use to complain about taxation without representation, this is control without representation.”

“So how do you think turning the federal land here over to state authorities will help local Oregonians?” I said.

“That’s a good question,” said Finicum, “You have to ask yourself where does the wealth come from? Where did the materials come from? It comes from the resources of the earth. The wealth is generated from the resources of the land. So when you block off access to the land you seal seal the lands resources away for the people. Harney county used to be the wealthiest in the state of Oregon. Do you know where it is now? It’s the poorest. What happened? The Federal government came in. What did they do? They begin to grab and seize the resources of the land. The timber industry was seized and shut down. The ranchers have been suppressed. So when they grab the land and start to move the people off from it then the people can’t cultivate it or prune it to have resources come up. So the people become very poor. And so what happens, you need to realize is that the loyalty a lot of times flows from the direction that the money comes from. So, if people begin to get hooked on because there’s no jobs or land, no mining, or logging, or ranching then they look for what? Government jobs. Government benefits, or government welfare. When money begins to flow down from a federal agency or federal power to the people then their loyalties become this way. You see, getting a check without working is a horrible thing for a person. When a person is out there working his ranch, working his farm, working the forest as a lumberjack, or in the lumber mills, then there’s a sense of worth because he’s doing something of worth. And then he’s producing for the county and increasing the tax base. And then, guess what? Where’s the money flowing? It’s flowing from the people into the county. So now you have a relationship between the county and its citizens, and you have a good relationship instead of the money flowing down to the federal government. Where does the federal government get its money anyway? By taking it from the people or inflating the currency. So the wealth of the nation is increased. The welfare and the mental health of the people is increased. The other way, it all seems to do the opposite. I don’t know, is that an answer?”

“Do you believe that when the federal government charges people to use the land they’ve confiscated, that it is tantamount to taxation without representation?” I said.

Finicum said, “Well this is what we have, in Article 1, Section 8, in the United States constitution clearly defines what lands the federal government can own and control. Okay? Our founding fathers came from a country and under a rule where it was, what? The king’s forest, the king’s highway. You know, you don’t cut the king’s wood. They knew that if you did just what I said, that if you control the land and the resources, then you control the people… How much land does the federal government claim they control right now? One third of the land mass.”

Occupier Duane Ehmer rides his horse Hellboy at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
Occupier Duane Ehmer rides his horse Hellboy at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

“Now lets think about it even closer to home so you can better understand this,” he said, “On my ranch I have my cows and my grazing room. A bureaucrat behind a desk, a federal bureaucrat, who is not elected by me, is not under the power of recall, he can write a statute… He can just do that. He can just write that, okay? Now that has the force and effect of law. …Where does the power come from? Think about it, this is a little bit of a trick question. The power comes from the barrel of a gun. I have this huge pasture, about four thousand or five thousand acres, I’m not sure how big it is, but I’ve never grazed it off.   In 6 years I’ve never been able to put cows out there because the only water source out there is a reservoir that has to collect rain water. Well, when I had a great summer and the feed was tall and green and the water flowed over enough that I had water in the reservoir, I said, ‘I’m going to put my cows in early before that water is dry and I can’t graze it off.’ But the bureaucrat said no. He said, ‘You can’t go in there until October fifteenth.’ I said, ‘But there’s water there now and the grass is green.’ …They’ve got the BLM [Bureau of Land Management] ranger armed with all the military equipment necessary, and he’ll come out and say, ‘You can’t.’ And if I get contrary, they can force it by the barrel of a gun, and where will they haul me? Into a federal court. Neither that ranger, or that bureaucrat, nor malfeasance of the court are under the power of recall of the state or the country or me as a rancher. They aren’t accountable to me, I haven’t elected them, and they rule over the land, over my livelihood, and so, we use to complain about taxation without representation, this is control without representation.”

At this point I note that the static nature of such bureaucratic laws actually go against the purpose of The Federal Land and Policy Management Act. Specifically, Section 102, (2), where it clearly states: The national interest will be best realized if the public lands and their resources are periodical­ly and systematically inventoried and their present and future use is projected through a land use planning process coordinated with other Federal and State planning efforts.

I said, “What do you want to say to your supporters around the country, Mr. Finicum? What would you suggest that they do? Do you believe we should stop conceding to their will?”

Finicum said, “People are becoming disenfranchised fron the government. …Whether it’s on the right side of the spectrum or the left side of the spectrum, we’re on this side of the spectrum, occupying a federal building. We’re not burning things down. We’re trying to preserve and build. We want to be very careful so we can pass this resource center off to Harney County. So we’re trying to take good care of it. …Let me be very clear. I believe in government. I believe in the federal government. We need it. But we need it to be law abiding.”

“Well, I think that’s all I need. Thank you very much for your time, sir” I said. LaVoy shook my hand one last time, made sure he had my name and the name of my associate correct, and nodded farewell.

~SAS

January 9, 2016

Who Owns the West? Federal Land as a Percentage of Total State Land Area | Data source: US General Services Administration, Federal Real Property Profile 2004, excludes trust properties. (Source: http://www.frugal-cafe.com/)
Who Owns the West? Federal Land as a Percentage of Total State Land Area | Data source: US General Services Administration, Federal Real Property Profile 2004, excludes trust properties. Red represents federal owner land. (Source: http://www.frugal-cafe.com/)
Lavoy Finnicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
LaVoy Finicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
Lavoy Finnicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
LaVoy Finicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
Lavoy Finnicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
LaVoy Finicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
Lavoy Finnicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
LaVoy Finicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
Lavoy Finnicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
LaVoy Finicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
Lavoy Finnicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
LaVoy Finicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
Lavoy Finnicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.
LaVoy Finicum by Sarah Shafer for Reviewer Magazine.

THE OREGON MILITIA MOUNTS UP

The Oregon Militia Mounts Up

Friend Or Foe: On The Ground At The Bundy Stronghold

One cold January day Reviewer Magazine went to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff near Burns, Oregon.

By: Sarah Glass @SASzilla

January 9, 2016. With the arrival of another uninvited civilian armed force during the day and a closed meeting with state legislators after dark, Ammon Bundy deals with a shift change a week into his armed occupation of Federal property.

“No one else goes in, got that?,” said the man in a black ski mask and camouflage ensemble. The second guard at the entrance to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge shifts the AK-47 on his shoulder to get a handle on his walkie-talkie.

“No one else gets in but us and Jon Ritzheimer. What are they doing out there anyway? They’re suppose to be helping with the cease fire.”

The man in the ski mask listens to something gargle from his walkie-talkie.

“Listen,” he says to a young man strapped with the AK-47 (his name was Will, I remember from when I first entered the compound), “We’re going to go grab gas and a few supplies and go see what the hell they’re doing out there.”

It’s pitch black at this point. I know this conversation isn’t meant for me but this is the only way in and out, so it’s the way I’m going.

The guards finally see me emerge into the small area lit by their campfire beside the truck blocking the road. I don’t know it yet, but later I realize the guards are talking about the day’s new addition to the occupation. A few hours before my arrival, another group of armed civilians called the Pacific Patriot Network (PPN) and the Three-Percenters, barged onto the scene here in Burns adding to the confusion. According to a statement released by the group, while they don’t support Bundy’s occupation of Federal land, they do: “Wish to establish a safety perimeter of protection for the occupiers so as to prevent a Waco-style situation from unfolding during this peaceful occupation. The primary intention of this outer-ring is to bear witness to any aggressive action initiated by federal agencies or the occupiers, and to encourage an open dialogue towards a peaceful resolution. [They] will serve as a neutral third-party intermediary to prevent bloodshed.”

The group’s president may have stood up with Ammon Bundy’s friend and supporter, LaVoy Finicum, in front of the press earlier in the day. However, by the time the sun want down, it was obvious that communications were strained, and, at least for the time being, the PPN and Three-Percenters would not be welcome to return to the wildlife refuge serving as the Bundy compound.

Sent down unaccompanied by the front guard, I was told I could “talk to anyone that would talk” to me. Beyond that, there was no instruction. It was snowing, dark, and the men seemed more inclined toward trudging on with their work than speaking to the media. A lone cameraman and Julie Turkewitz of The New York Times stood with me unguarded and anxious between the building of the wildlife refuge compound as we awaited further instruction.

Ammon Bundy appeared from around a corner with three of his children clamoring around him. I stepped back before one long-haired little girl holding a blanket could run into me.

“Mr. Bundy,” I said, shaking the man’s hand.

“Who are you with?” he asked each of the three of us in turn.

“I’m from a local independent magazine called Reviewer Magazine,” I said.

“You’re local? Where are you from?”

“Eugene,” I said, “Nice to meet you.”

“You, too,” Bundy said, and looked at his son at his side. Both resorted to putting their hands in their pockets, it seemed, unconsciously. It appeared as if he had run into us unexpectedly.

“This is my boy,” Bundy said, “He hasn’t got to see his dad in a week, have you?”

The boy looks down at the ground so that his cowboy hat completely hides his face.

“How old are you?” says the reporter from The New York Times. The boy makes a start, stops, and stutters.

She says, “How many brothers and sisters do you have?”

“Well,” said Bundy, “how many of you are there?”

The little boy looks up at us from under the brim of his hat with a big smile that is missing teeth.

“Well, I’m twelve. There’s six of us,” he says

The lone cameraman moves off to record the smaller children swirling around the frozen yard.

“Who are you looking for?” Bundy looks from me to the New York Times reporter.

I say, “Are you available?”

Mr. Bundy shakes his head.

“I have a meeting with state legislators in a few minutes in the conference building.”

Lavoy Finicum, a member of Bundy's group who granted Sarah an interview.

Lavoy Finicum, a member of Bundy’s group who granted Sarah an interview.

“State legislators? Who do you mean?” I say. Immediately, I wonder if he could be meeting with local government to try and resolve their differences and his grievances.

“Is that a closed meeting?” Says the other reporter.

“Yes, it’s closed,” says Bundy, “It’s called The Coalition of Western States. They’re legislators from over eleven western states.”

Before I can ask Bundy a followup question about the role of the coalition in this occupation of Mahleur National Wildlife Refuge, and if he means to try to find a resolution to the situation with them, a pickup truck pulls up to him and rolls down their passenger window. He and the female passenger exchange a few words. Then Bundy starts giving out hand shakes all around as he says goodbye.

“Nice to meet you,” he says.

“You too, sir,” I say.

The gaggle of children walks behind their father as he follows the pickup truck towards one of the buildings down the way.

Online, the Coalition of Western States defines themselves as: “legislators, statesman and patriots united to stand against unconstitutional actions against United States citizens… formed after the Bundy Standoff in 2014.” I wouldn’t know until the next day about the nature of this closed meeting, and that in fact, Nevada and Oregon state representatives were personally meeting with Bundy there.

It’s at this point, after Bundy has walked away, thatLaVoy Finicum sees me through an office window and gestures me to join him inside.

“You ask about taxation without representation, this is control without representation,” says Finicum.

The 55-year-old rancher and I go on to talk for well over a half an hour. He tells me his beliefs on how he thinks turning Federal land over to the state authorities will help local Oregonians. He tells me also about the flood of uncontested, bureaucratic laws that he believes prevents men from using common sense to steward public lands, the static nature of these laws, and how restrictions could be regularly re-evaluated to be more effective instead of enforced “at the barrel of a gun.”

Check back for the full interview with LaVoy Finicum at the Bundy compound.

~SAS

Ammon Bundy on the day the second group of armed men came to offer "security". Photo by Sarah Shafer.

Ammon Bundy on the day the second group of armed men came to offer “security”. Photo by Sarah Shafer.

Lavoy Finicum.

LaVoy Finicum.

Truck blocking the entrance to the compound.

Truck blocking the entrance to the compound.

The setting near Burns, Oregon, for the wildlife refuge.

The setting near Burns, Oregon, for the wildlife refuge.

Sign at the center.

Sign at the center.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign...

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign…

January 2016

OREGON, THE BELLE OF THE BALL ON WORLD AIDS DAY

OREGON, THE BELLE OF THE BALL ON WORLD AIDS DAY

(Portland scientists continue their trend in vaccine development breakthoughs.)

 

By: Sarah Glass  @SASzilla

Portland Oregon is the epicenter of the world’s reseach on the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV. Dr. Louis J. Picker, head of the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), and his team have been the belle of the ball on World Aids Day since 2013, when the team cured SIV in a number of rhesus monkeys that are still disease-free today. “The vaccine stopped the infection from spreading and then cleared it from the bodies of half of the monkeys it was tested on,” Picker said in an OHSU press blog, “And we’re quite confident that this vaccine approach can work exactly the same way against HIV in humans.”

SIV, or simian immunodeficiency virus, is the equivalent of HIV in monkeys, making our cousins the perfect research subject surrogates in the search for a HIV cure. According to a report in Health News,”Picker also announced… trials to test a tuberculosis vaccine on monkeys, based on the design of the successful SIV one.”

December first marked the twenty-seventh annual World AIDS Day. Dr. Picker has re-set the bar for HIV research again this year, reinvigorating hope for a cure around the globe. While there are many reasons why HIV has been an elusive adversary, the Picker team has revealed an important strategy from the virus’s playbook. Their discovery has shed a new understanding on how the disease has been able to hide from the body’s security guard cells called CD8 “killer” T cells.  With this knowledge, researchers may be able to find a way to reach HIV wherever it goes, and proceed to destroy it.

Creating a vaccine is the process of stimulating the body’s defences.

One of Picker’s colleagues at OHSU, and leader of his own vaccine development team, Dr. Jonah B. Sacha, and healthcare professional and Africa traveler, Dan Sorenson, agree to speak with me on the subject. Their correspondence reveals the real face of HIV, as well as the science and difficulties that researchers face today from development to patent, production, and beyond.

Creating a vaccine is the process of stimulating the body’s defenses with a weakened or dead strain of the target virus. Once humans are infected with it, just as with any chemical reaction, the body tries to even out the equation by creating antibodies to destroy the virus as a response. Vaccines are developed for HIV all the time. The issue is the genetic variation of its progeny. By the time a vaccine can be manufactured to combat one HIV strain, the virus had already copied itself thousands of times. The vaccine will be able to destroy some of the copies, but others are different enough from the original that the it will have no effect. “One of the biggest stumbling blocks to a HIV vaccine is the sequence diversity of the virus,” says Dr. Sacha.

Experiments with animals, monkeys and mice in particular, presents another hurdle for scientists. “Is it hard to get results helpful to humans from your research on animals?” I ask Sacha.

“A rule of thumb in the field,” he says, “is that mice lie and monkeys exaggerate. With that said, a lot of big advancements have come from monkeys — Tenofovir, one of the biggest antiretrovirals, for instance. The humanized mouse model has a lot of issues and really isn’t a great model for HIV. Given how genetically and physiologically similar monkeys are to humans, they are the preferable model.”

I ask, “How will developing a cure for HIV be the same or different from what Dr. Picker has achieved with his vaccine?”

Says Sacha, “If creating a vaccine is scaling Mt. Everest on earth, a cure is scaling Mount Olympus on Mars. The field has been trying to create a HIV vaccine for thirty-five years. Curing HIV is even more daunting. Frankly, I am unsure it is even possible as it parallels cancer very closely. We can get people into remission, but never really say “cured of cancer.” It is the same issue with HIV. As the saying goes, absence of detection is not the same as detection of absence.”

“Can you expound on Dr. Picker’s latest discovery of what he calls a HIV ‘sanctuary’?”

“The B cell follicle is a region of the lymph node where you essentially need a key to enter. Infected CD4 helper T cells (Tfh) have the key and thus can enter the site. The problem is that the CD8 killer T cells do not have the key to enter. Thus, infected Tfh can enter the B follicle and remain safe from being killed by the killer CD8 T cells,” Dr. Sacha says.

AIDS demonstration by Philadelphia activist group, ACTUP. Photo by Bonnie Weller.

AIDS demonstration by Philadelphia activist group, ACTUP. Photo by Bonnie Weller.

Changing the subject to research politics, the infamous CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli in particular, I ask Dr. Sacha if scientists can help safeguard against people like Shkreli by choosing to work in publicly funded facilities instead of privately owned companies. Earlier this year, Shkreli realized his company held a monopoly on a drug meant to help HIV patients called Daraprim. Taking advantage of the situation, the CEO incited pubic outrage across the country by raising the price for the drug five-thousand percent.

“Sadly,” Dr. Sacha says, “once the patent is licensed, it is out of our [researcher’s] hands. That is just the way the system is set up. Martin Shkreli has no ethics.”

Dan Sorenson picks up the conversation just outside of the OHSU laboratory doors where Dr. Sacha bids adieu. As well as being an EMT and ER nurse for over fifteen years at Hamilton Montana’s Marcus Daily Hospital, Dan also spent time in the African province of Zimbabwe a few years after the first cases of HIV became known in the U.S.. “The differences in Africa versus here are most prominent when it comes to perception and approach to treatment. Here in the U.S., it’s a BIG deal,” Sorenson says, “It’s a death sentence and carries with it such a negative stigma. You are automatically considered a carrier of disease and questions always seem to swarm about your sexuality and your possible drug use and just how perverted are you if you have HIV.”

Most would agree that this paradigm has existed since the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) decided to note the “homosexual” orientation of the first reported case subjects to contract “cellular immune-dysfunction… acquired through sexual contact” in 1981.

The Top 5 Myths About HIV/AIDS (courtesy of: gladstonegala.ucsf.edu/hivmyths)

The Top 5 Myths About HIV/AIDS (courtesy of: gladstonegala.ucsf.edu/hivmyths)

Today, while American history can agree that HIV and AIDS have certainly effected the gay community, theCDC’s most recently available statistics for HIV in the U.S. claim that “homosexual and bisexual men represented only 54% of people living with HIV in 2011.”

One young woman shows it doesn’t take being homosexual, Charlie Sheen, Freddie Mercury, or in Africa to be affected by HIV. Going only by the handle Skinned on an online forum, she posted the following about her HIV diagnosis:

I got HIV at 17. Last year, actually. Last year, I also first lost my virginity. I got HIV from being ignorant and selfish. I just thought this carnival worker was cute and he thought I was cute and it turned out he had HIV. He called me a few months later and told me. I knew I had it. I got tested twice positive and now I am supposed to be taking these enormous pills but I CAN’T take them. I really am unable to… I’m also afraid the medications they give me have worse side effects than they do help. Liver damage? May lower your CD4 count? WTF? That’s like depression medication. ‘May cause suicidal thoughts.’ Anyway, I don’t want to die painfully. I want to die calm in my sleep beside my husband. I hope I die of old age before I die of AIDS.”

“Here we keep our HIV patients alive as long as possible,” Dan Sorenson says, “The medications are very expensive but have shown that they are quite effective in prolonging life. In Africa there does not exist the wealth. The most significant difference, in my opinion, is in how our cultures see HIV. Mind you I was in Africa in 1991, but I don’t believe it has changed much since. The attitude there seems to be ‘Well, we’re going to die anyway because Africa is a tough place.’ The people who put us up said their best guess was that one-hundred percent of the Zimbabwe military personnel were HIV positive. They don’t believe in prophylactics. The routine for the military person in Africa is to work during the day and at night go out and have multiple sexual partners without concern for the risk. Their culture is not the same as ours and concerns over the spread of disease do not prevail over the concerns for ‘pleasure while we are here.’ At one point I asked my host why the natives that lived on his property had so many kids (usually fifteen or more per family). He said that he had asked several the same question and the answer was always ‘That way if a bunch of them die it isn’t a big deal.”‘

Looking at the statistics, it can appear there will never be an indemnity against pain or loss. They span across cultural boundaries, sexual orientation, and race. World AIDS Day calls on us to remember the needless suffering of others and reconsider how to traverse the obstacles that separate the present from a disease-free future. While the road may end in Africa with a cure, the cutting edge research being done by the OHSU vaccine development teams here in Oregon is the real front line in the world’s battle against HIV. Until that time when this war is won, surely it will be here and against such as the works of Dr. Louis Picker and Dr. Jonah Sacha that the world will measure it’s progress.

(Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. Photo from www.portland.va.gov/ohsu.asp.)

 

 

 

December 2015

NOT AGAIN

NOT AGAIN

One Small Oregon Town Deals With America’s Growing Trend Of Gun Violence

(In the aftermath of the tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, the test every student needs to prepare for.)

 

By: Sarah Glass   @SASzilla

It’s something we all grew up with.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

The fire alarm would echo through the school hallways over the intercom. Depending on the class, there would either be a collective sigh throughout the room as we began our choreographed shuffle, or eyes would flutter to attention, scoping the room for a classmate with whom to pass this brief reprieve from monotony. Undoubtedly a teacher would tell everyone to leave their belongings and instruct the students where they were expected to meet outside the building. Once outside and corralled to the designated “safe zone,” roll call would be taken to make sure no one was left behind in the building. Simple, right?

Vigil at Stewart Park the day after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. (photo by Carrie Hilliker-Neet at imgur.com)

Vigil at Stewart Park the day after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. (photo at imgur.com/gallery/Ibw6rIy)

My high school participated in several versions of this kind of emergency protocol. We also rehearsed what to do should an earthquake or intruder threaten the school. How helpful these exercises can be is debatable.  Being inundated with the same kind of Pavlovian association our whole young lives, the fire alarm bell or the call for a lockdown, is it really necessary to repeat the same exercises as an adult in college? Surely these lessons transmigrated with the students to their higher institutions of learning, or is it possible they need to be continued, if not upgraded? College campuses have multiple buildings and a multitude of not only full, but part-time students to coordinate. The POP POP of a gun going off at school will certainly elicit a different response in them then the sound of the bell we were all raised with.

On October first of this year, nine people lost their lives, and more were injured by a single gunman on the grounds of the Umpqua Community College campus in Roseburg, Oregon.  This shooter, Chris Harper Mercer, 26, later took his own life after police arrived.

According to a thorough study done by the Strategic Management Department at the University of Quebec, in over 85% of school shootings, the attacker is affiliated with the school. Chris Harper Mercer, a student enrolled at UCC this term, adds himself to this ghastly statistic. Aspects of his personal life, as appropriated by an article in The New York Times, reveal that among his interests were the methods employed by the IRA, and a fervent belief, if not feeling of personal obligation, to exercise his Second Amendment rights, made evident by his personal arsenal of at least 13 firearms. Whatever fueled Mercer’s sudden violent break, it’s possible more may be revealed once his as-of-yet undisclosed manifesto is made public.

Until then, if sharing his collection of weaponry with his mother, getting discharged by the army before he could complete basic training, or too little tit as a baby was a predisposition for becoming a killer, no one can know sure.

What is obvious, is that school shootings have become a horrible trend recurring at an outstanding rate over the last 20 years.  Searching for solutions or something tangible to blame, I wonder why places of education everywhere shouldn’t review and instruct students about these horrible but possible scenarios. While a difficult notion to swallow, school shootings are no longer a nightmare experienced by an unlucky few, rather they are the reality for whole communities. Carrie Hilliker-Neet, a Roseburg resident, mother of a UCC student herself, Samarah Nichole Neet, and relative of the victim, Rebecka Carnes, writes to Reviewer Magazine, “Being such a small community, we know each other intimately. A fear of the unknown has overwhelmed many. On the surface we look strong but under it we are still screaming why.”

Facebook picture of Neet's cousins and UCC students Bethany Johnson and Rebecka Carnes (in glasses). Rebecka was one of the victims of the October 1st shooting.

Facebook picture of Neet’s cousins and UCC students Bethany Johnson and Rebecka Carnes (in glasses). Rebecka was one of the victims of the October 1st shooting.

I polled 31 students all currently enrolled at either Umpqua Community College, Lane Community College’s main or downtown campus, or the University of Oregon. When asked to recall how their schools prepared them to respond to emergencies on campus, nearly all the students shared similar responses.

The nine UCC students who participated in the poll were all were on campus the day of the shooting save Samarah Nichole Neet, her mother thankful that, “By the grace of God we both overslept.” Each of the students answered with an awe-stricking “No” when asked if their school had ever prepared them in any way for emergencies on campus. While most of the students requested I omit their names, one woman expanded on the subject, sharing, “It was a big issue after the shooting that no one was ever given any instruction on what to do in case of an emergency. Also the emergency procedures were never used. They [Umpqua Community College] have an emergency system at the school, but no one used it. I’m not sure if staff didn’t use it because they were not educated on it or because they just didn’t use it. It was a lock down system and it was not activated. I’m sure their thought was that nothing would ever happen here.”

Over at the University of Oregon, the story is much the same. Hailey Pratt-Stibich, a student in her junior year studying physics, both long in hair and long in legs, revealing, “I can’t remember any kind of instruction being given on the subject, but I had orientation three years ago,” and, “I’m not really the person to ask about what to do.”

I asked Haily if her school has at least reviewed safety strategy since the Roseburg shooting, “I haven’t heard anything like that,” she answers, “No.”

Andrea Cline, a full-time student studying at LCC’s main campus, answers the same questions I posed to the students before her: “Has what to do if there’s ever an emergency on campus ever come up in your classes at LCC, or been a part of any information you’ve received there?”

Andrea, who returned to school two years ago after a ten-year hiatus, strokes her yellow lab, Milo, and tells me what I’ve come to expect as a typical response to this poll. “No,” she tells me, “but I had orientation a few years ago.  I don’t know if things have changed since then. All I know is the school has everyone’s number, and we’re suppose to receive emergency text messages if anything happens.”

A second-year student at LCC’s downtown campus, Mark Luden, is the only student I talked to who had both received some kind of information on safe zones in his school building and who had participated in at least one kind of drill there. However, according to Luden, the drill performed was a simple fire drill practiced only last term, not when he started school two years ago, and the information on safe zones was to be found only in an information packet he had been given.

Apparently, safety education and preparation amnesia has found its way into U of O faculty as well. A professor at the university who wishes only to be referred to as F, retired just this summer.  He begins our telephone conversation listing his credentials for me, telling me of the 20 years he taught at the university and how in that time he rose to be the head of his own department.

“While you were at the U of O, how did the school prepare students and staff for emergencies that might break out on campus?” I inquire.

“It was not really clear,” he recalls, hesitantly searching his memory to ensure accuracy. “Only staff and student workers participated in any kind of drill I was a part of, and even then, there was no discussion of violent attacks.”

I let F continue, asking, “If students weren’t a part of the drills, what did the faculty do to prepare the students, or educate them on the matter?”

“I don’t think anything was conveyed to them. I taught classes and safety procedures were never something we went over on the first day of school. It was never a part of any of the information packets I went over with the students. There wasn’t even mention of natural disasters.”

F seems as surprised by the administrative oversights our conversation was revealing as I am. “As a faculty member, what were you trained to do in case of any kind of emergency?” I press on.

“We knew the emergency numbers to call, but it wasn’t clear how to react,” he replied. “That really wasn’t part of the training. Only if someone pulled the fire alarm would I know to do something, to evacuate. And then it was just assumed the staff would assist the students. Otherwise it would leave everyone for themselves.”

Further findings in their study of school shootings, the Strategic Management Department at the University of Quebec states that it’s this very thing: “In many of the school shooting events that were investigated, the root cause was somehow related to some ambiguities and or omissions in the hiring/firing/evaluation and promotion policies of the school involved. These policies – that were rather vague and lacked rigor – have contributed to creating frustration among the members of the organization and thus have induced in the organization a vulnerability to violence-related hazards.”

After my interview with F, I start to think this obvious patchwork of policy may be cause for alarm. With both part-time and full-time students falling through the cracks, and infrequently reminded of emergency procedures, if at all.

I sit down with Sergeant Glass of the Oregon State Police Department and Oregon SWAT team at a delicatessen in Springfield, The Lucky Lizard.

Crime scene tape limits access to Umpqua Community College on Oct. 2, 2015, in Roseburg, Oregon. (Credit: Getty Images / Scott Olson)

Crime scene tape limits access to Umpqua Community College on Oct. 2, 2015, in Roseburg, Oregon. (Credit: Getty Images / Scott Olson)

I shrug, trying to think where to begin. “What can the police really do to prevent these kind of events, especially when the students and faculty are the real first-responders?” I ask Sergeant Glass, in regards to the October first UCC shooting. With his shaved head and broad cop physique, Sergeant Glass starts numbering off counter-measures as concisely as a general would over a war-map discussing strategy.

“The first line of defense,” he begins, “in these situations has to be the students and staff. There has to be some kind of training. The police can only respond. A person’s morality or mental health, we can’t fix that. We can only respond and help prevent through education. I know the Oregon State Police or the Salem Police have been known to give presentations at schools upon request.”

I continue, “I know once you reach the scene, a lot of damage has already been done. What can students do while waiting for SWAT or campus police to protect themselves?”

“If you aren’t sure you can safely flee the scene then barricade yourself inside a room, preferably, or hide anywhere you can. If you’re in the room with the shooter then you have two options. If you are far away you can try to hide or escape depending on the situation, or even look for a way to defend yourself. If you are closer and being shot at, one tactic would be to have everyone in the room charge the shooter. A lot of people think this is a sure way to get shot, but then so does just standing there if you’re being shot at. Just look at what happened with the train shooting in France. Two guys, marines, as a matter of fact, rushed the shooter and subdued him before he could kill anyone (HERE). Everybody rushing the assailant at once has the possibility of startling him, for one, and it could also overload his senses so that he won’t be able to focus or find a target to shoot at.”

“I had no idea,” I interject, thinking myself how counter-intuitive the idea might sound to people at first, but ultimately understanding the logic.

The sergeant and SWAT veteran doesn’t hesitate in his answer. “In the state of Oregon you have to be 21 to get a concealed weapons permit. If, say, a teacher, has had the right training it’s possible firearms in the hands of the right people at a school could be a valid second line of defense. Some students have military backgrounds, like the men on the train in the France shooting, or Chris Mintz, the army vet at Umpqua, that tried to take down the shooter there. Another option is to allow students like Chris, that meet a certain criteria and have been through documented training with firearms, to be allowed to carry a concealed weapon on campus. But only those known and approved by the school and with the appropriate training.”

I thank Sergeant Glass for his time, realizing that school shootings have become a real threat, not just a few people’s nightmare. The needless loss of Sarena Moore, Rebecka Carnes, Kim Dietz, Lucas Eibel, Lucero Alcaraz, Quinn Cooper, Jason Johnson, Treven Anspach, and Lawrence Levine will not soon be forgotten by the Roseburg community. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to make sure school shootings never happen again. However, whether pro-gun control or not, all the students I polled agreed that they had yet to be thoroughly educated on the basic emergency procedures employed by their schools. While it’s appalling that a place of education should need to adapt such precautions, they might be worth their employ if it’s possible to have even one less name listed under the headline of a similar tragedy.

The entrance to Umqua Community College the Sunday before school reopens. (photo by Carrie Hilliker-Neet)

The entrance to Umpqua Community College the Sunday before school reopens. (photo by Toni Davis)

November 2015

BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE OREGON COAST AQUARIUM

Behind the Scenes at The Oregon Coast Aquarium

Big Business and Animal Rights 

(Sea World sucks and could learn a lot from The Oregon Coast Aquarium.)

 

By: Sarah Glass   @SASzilla

Since it’s release in 2013 the controversial documentary Blackfish has inflamed audiences, provoking a boycott of the amusement park and aquarium super giant SeaWorld. In it, the company’s own former trainers and employees relate tales of SeaWorld’s negligent animal rights practices, suppression of information to the public and employees alike. Recent attempts to obtain more wild caught whales from overseas are also revealed as well as how all of these elements contributed to the deaths of four people by captive orca whales, three of them by SeaWorld’s whale, Tilikum.

Photo above, of the underwater tube exhibit at The Oregon Aquarium called “Passages of the Deep” that used to be in Keiko’s the whale’s tank, by the author SAS.

Photo above, of the underwater tube exhibit at The Oregon Aquarium called “Passages of the Deep” that used to be in Keiko’s the whale’s tank, by the author SAS.

I recently went behind-the-scenes at The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon, once home of the famous killer whale, Keiko, known for his appearance in Free Willy, for another side of the story.

Somewhere amidst trying to untangle the gordian knot of acronyms representative of overseeing associations, information manuals, accreditation standards, survival plans, nationwide fisheries, let alone emailing every SeaWorld in the United States with no reply, and finally getting a personal tour of The Oregon Coast Aquarium, I finally got some answers.

Erin Paxton, The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s public relations officer, would be my personal tour-guide at the aquarium. She was already waiting for me at the front door when I arrived, a nice young woman in an earth-tone dress with loose long blond curls and tanned skin. I had e-mailed her only a few days prior with inquiries into their facility and how it worked, wanting to see how it was different from the SeaWorld portrayed in Blackfish, if at all, and get some answers about aquariums in general, public relations style.

The aquarium was busy on a Monday. I waited patiently for children on leashes to view the animals low to the floor before I maneuvered in for a quick look and moved on. I decided my mission was to remain objective before I decided one way or the other to swear off, not only SeaWorld, but zoos and aquariums everywhere.

It was before 1972 that some of the most brutal acts against killer whales took place, when high-speed boats and airplanes could chase pods down and corral calves away from their mothers to provide attractions for SeaWorld parks around America. Thankfully, things have changed since such practices were legal. 1972 marks the year when the United State’s Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was passed, and the capture of whales from the wild became forever forbidden in the United States. However, despite this, the import of wild caught whales from countries with less stringent laws is not entirely prohibited. According to an article from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) news at noaanews.noaa.gov HERE, The Georgia Aquarium, in Georgia, USA, petitioned to import 18 wild caught beluga whales, some of them so young they were likely still nursing, from Russia’s Utrish Marine Mammal Research Station as recently back as in 2012, the intent being to have them divided and distributed to the multiple SeaWorld facilities around the country. According to the NOAA’s reports, this petition was “the first application [in the U.S.] for a permit to import recently caught wild marine mammals in more then 20 years.”

Immediately inside the entrance doors to The Oregon Coast Aquarium, I asked their public relations officer, Erin Paxton, “How did your facility aquire all the marine mammals you have here, now?”

“Our only endangered marine mammal here is the sea otter,” she answered, “and all of our marine mammals brought here from the wild are rescue cases. Among them are a blind harbor seal, a few orphaned sea otters, and other injured animals that otherwise likely would not have survived much longer on their own.”

“The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California tried releasing Schuster, one of our sea otters, back into the wild seven times before he came here, but he kept coming up to people and being too friendly, so Monterey Bay finally gave him to us for  permanent home. ”

Some of the animals at the aquarium are more than past their prime, one harbor seal particularly named Skinny is the oldest animal at the aquarium at 40 years old.  “What would the aquarium do if all of the marine mammals from one exhibit grew old and eventually passed away?”  I asked, “Would they find some way to replenish the exhibit?”

Erin answered me very quickly and assuredly, “Then the aquarium would wait. Unless it was decided to take on a breeding program with another aquarium, then yes, we would wait for other injured or abandonment cases to take in.”

We continued navigating the seaside rock-like structures with tunnels weaving in and out showing above and underneath the water at each exhibit. Children waited their turn to press against the glass where seals swim only inches away from them. Parents waited for walkways to clear to take photos of their children in front of the glass.

When we reached what used to be Keiko’s home, between 1996 and 1998, now an underwater walk-through with sharks, eels, and other varieties gliding all around me, I had my preconceived notions at the ready.  Apparently, it was recounted to me, the Reino Adventura, an aquarium in Mexico, donated Keiko to  The Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, who in turn raised money to build a new home for Keiko and for the cost of his care, their intention being to rehabilitate the whale and release him again into the wild.  As a result, Keiko was brought to Oregon and not placed with other captive killer whales only as a precautionary measure in the case he happened to have any infections that might spread to other orca populations.  “We wouldn’t normally have orca here at the aquarium,” Erin assured me, “The aquarium only helped care for Keiko, in never owned him.”

Like SeaWorld’s Tilikum, Keiko too, was originally captured from the wild, his journey taking him from his home around Iceland in 1979 to facilities in Canada and Mexico, and then finally to The Oregon Coast Aquarium to be prepared for his hopeful return back to the wild. The Keiko-Free Willy Foundation supervised him there, and attempted to coach him at becoming a creature independent of the need and want for human interaction again. This proved unsuccessful as, at one point, it was reported that Keiko was seen allowing children to ride on his back. Unfortunately, Keiko never found a permanent home with any one pod, and eventually succumbed to pneumonia and died in 2003, free around the seas of Norway. A monument was built in his memory, and marking the site of his burial in Halsa, Norway.

So how do we decide what is right and wrong in the acquisition of whales today, not to mention how to treat them? The U.S. no longer allows for the capture of whales from the wild as it did before 1972, however, if facilities in the United States buy a whale second-hand from a country where such laws are absent, should this be allowed? How does the NOAA decide good buys from bad, buys that add to the practice of taking whales from the wild or buys that help whales already in the system that are too affected by human intervention?

Many facilities in the U.S., SeaWorld and The Oregon Coast Aquarium included, are what is called “AZA accredited,” AZA meaning the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This accreditation acts as a badge on display to the public, evidence the zoo or aquarium has gone beyond meeting the minimum standards demanded by U.S. law, and has agreed to abide by the higher quality of standards and regulations accorded them by the AZA.

According to the 2015 edition of the Accreditation Standards and Related Policies Handbook:

“1.5.2. All animals must be housed in enclosures and in appropriate groupings which meet their physical, psychological, and social needs. Whenever possible and appropriate, animals should be provided the opportunity to choose among a variety of conditions within their environment. Display of single animals should be avoided unless biologically correct for the species.”

Blackfish shows us repeated instances of SeaWorld’s whales being isolated, disciplined for poor performance, and other violations of these AZA requirements. It must be asked, what is an orca or beluga whale to SeaWorld? How do we decide if SeaWorld is the pure, unadulterated evil Blackfishmakes them out to be, or if all their donations, their giving aid to the environment, and their claims of “rescuing over 26,000 animals” negates the occasional or late-in-coming bad press?

The SeaWorld trainers interviewed in Blackfish were all in agreement about their former employer as an entity, that SeaWorld’s advertising and marketing of their whales appear to always come before the preservation of their nature.

As Erin and I continued to move through the end of Keiko’s old home, I remember coming here when I was eight years-old, utterly awestruck and filled with as much reverence as a child that age can be. I remember that during the multiple childhood visits I took here, that I never once saw Keiko being made to do any type of “show,” work for his food, or be punished for not performing a certain way like the whales at SeaWorld have reportedly been subjected to. The most I’ve seen the animals here at The Oregon Coast Aquarium do for the public’s benefit is eat at feeding time, display the few positions they are trained to do for husbandry or veterinary purposes, and possibly a few sea lions giving a kiss or two.

“We are not-for-profit and SeaWorld is for-profit,” Erin offered, definitively, “We want to represent the Oregon coast, only.”  While The Oregon Coast Aquarium has worked with SeaWorld in the past and they are both members of the AZA brotherhood, they remain separate entities with clearly separate missions and histories, one brought about by grassroots efforts and the other by a business giant.

Is it this title of “for-profit” or “not-for-profit” that determines the conditions of aquariums and zoos everywhere, how the animals are treated, or how they were obtained? Is that how we should decide which to visit or not to visit? Or should care be a side-note in this debate while we ask ourselves instead, how can we keep whales wild?

Undoubtedly, Blackfish will leave its viewers with a want for accountability for what they’ve seen. The dollar shouldn’t be the driving force behind animal conservation and law, but if there’s a niche to fill, businessmen will find it. Even though the film left me with more questions than answers, I know after watching it, for a fact, whether I will join the boycott on SeaWorld or contribute to keep their niche of business alive, and I’m sure anyone else who watches it will know, too.

Straight on medium shot of Keiko the killer whale and star of the film "Free Willy" as he swims around in his tank prior to being moved from Newport, Oregon to Westman Islands, Iceland. (From Wikipedia)

Straight on medium shot of Keiko the killer whale and star of the film “Free Willy” as he swims around in his tank prior to being moved from Newport, Oregon to Westman Islands, Iceland. (From Wikipedia)

September 2015

FETISH NIGHT, SPRINGFIELD OREGON

Fetish Night, Springfield Oregon

(Small town clubs may be where it’s at.)

 

By: Sarah Glass     @SASzilla

Turns out you can buy a tickle. Or, technically, the tickling is free, it’s just $15 cover at the door.

Fetish night at The Brickhouse in Springfield, Oregon immediately reminds me of a small town Halloween party I went to in grade school, hosted at the school auditorium, except instead of booths for bobbing for apples, face painting, or searching for pennies in piles of hay, these booths have caution tape around their perimeter, men and women in latex gloves at their entry, and waivers for employees and patrons to sign before participating.  It may not be the high-octane fetish expected from the European underground, but in the realm of gentleman’s clubs, Springfield might be “keeping it weirder” than its neighbor to the North in Portland, not to mention most of the West Coast.

Entertainer Audrey Scully gets tied up. Photograph by Marlena Zaragoza.

Model Audrey Scully gets tied up.  Photograph by Marlena Zaragoza.

Most out-of-staters and out-of-towners are surprised to find liquor and pastie-less women all in one place, and in Springfield, Oregon no less.  Larger cities like Seattle and L.A. usually allow one or the other, liquor or nudes, but not both.  In the meantime, Springfield is starting to be recognized for more interactive club scenes.  This DOES NOT mean, I want to clarify, that just because there are no 6-foot invisible bubbles surrounding the dancers that you should treat them like prostitutes or disrespect their boundaries.  The reason they seem like human beings is because they ARE human beings!

That said, fetish night at The Brickhouse is that special day that only comes once a year where both patrons and entertainers get to play, and like any other holiday gathering, some years go better than others.  This year the large bar with wraparound counter and stools shines an island of light and liquor at me as soon as I walk into the club.  As my eyes adjust, I see a booth immediately to my right, taped off and with a pressing crowd surrounding. One of the club’s dancers has volunteered herself for what I’m told is an “electric wand.” The blond, tattooed beauty squirms on a black leather massage table in only her g-string and 6-inch heels as another woman, the technician, instructs her to squeeze the ‘wand,’ in one fist.  This metal post has electricity running through it, and as the dancer grips it the technician moves her fingertips and long nails over the her as if she were a masseuse, and the dancer girl, her client.  She continues stroking chest and breasts with her palms as the low-volt electricity moves between her palms and the entertainer’s exposed skin, provoking the dancer girl’s mouth to part with pleasure as her thighs press in squeezing her crotch and spread out again at the knees.

To my left is a small stage donned with the club’s usual suspects, but for the day’s festivities, these entertainers have upped their game.  On stage they do striptease to sultry numbers as well as amazing acrobatics, dressed in leather or dressed in fur; one girl even does her set with a fresh corset piercing laced into her back just before at one of the booths.  A woman walks by in plain clothes, her slave in front of her on a chain, shirtless and in tight leather shorts, bound behind by handcuffs.

SAS plays fetish, too, sporting a new corset piercing. Photograph by Paul Brewer.

SAS plays fetish, too, sporting a new corset piercing. Photograph by Paul Brewer.

Beyond the bar is a second seating area and a large stage flanked with cages on each side. The crowd pressing in is a mixture of patrons and scantily clad women in heels.  It’s obvious a lot of the people here know each other, but even the new-comers don’t shy away from offering encouragement to the dancers on stage or the strangers participating at the booths.  A husky man that originally came to watch the show, and a brittle looking dancer who originally just came to work, both end up behind the flog on the main stage at some point for their enjoyment only.  The kink isn’t restricted to employees only tonight.  An unfamiliar lady from the crowd shows everyone up in a lesson of pain as she gets a circle of needles pierced ornamentally above each breast.  While some kind of grand finale might have been nice, the fact that it has little feeling of being a show here more than party isn’t discouraging.

As all this is going on, an older man in leather pants and bare chested underneath a leather vest starts weaving rope around a girl in black lingerie center stage.  I move around booth to booth, strangers to friends, White Russian to Vodka Redbull, until I notice the process center stage is finally completed and the man has fashioned a harness around his beautiful assistant, a delicate dame now attached to a T-bar which allows her to flip head over feet and back again all while being bound.  In this contraption, when the girl moves her arms in and her legs spread, and vice versa.  She flips and spreads and stretches, posing as if sitting mid-air, splayed, or upside-down and curving her feet back towards her head.

All and all, fetish night at The Brickhouse had the feeling of a campfire kumbaya but with cross-dressing, flogging, tasteful nudity, and leather.  All attending regulars, dancers, fetish vendors, and even the voiyer “just curious” category in their blue jeans and ironic T-shirts, all came together to forget social status and embrace their weird selves.  In lue of a real central show, it was the people who came out that ended up playing both observer and exhibit, audience and entertainer.  The club was alive with the sound of music, and, of course, consentual spanking.

September 2015

FAST GUYS, RICH GUYS, AND IDIOTS

Sam Moses, from his website.

Sam Moses, from his website.

FAST GUYS, RICH GUYS, AND IDIOTS

(Sam Moses and The Bandit hit the Portland International Raceway.)

 

By: Sarah Glass  @SASzilla

Sam Moses, author and racecar driver, has been an icon at Sports Illustrated for the last 17 years, from being involved in assignments that would rival any at National Geographic, to getting inside a racecar himself to compete with the rest of the country, it is easy to see how Sam Moses and his award-winning journalism has taken him all over the world.

Recently part of The Bandit’s team at the Portland International Raceway, I sit down with team engineer, Dave Wimsett, at The Busy Bee Restaurant in Springfield Oregon, for some vitals and insight into Sam’s remastered book and most recent races before Sam and I connect via telephone, from his home in Washington, where he fills me in on all exploits past, present, and yet to come.

 “Rule One of Racing: Race cars blow up,” Dave bellows, as-a-matter-of-fact, fork in hand, gesticulating as he talks over his plate, hands hovering, maybe coincidentally, or maybe as tale of his trade- around the ‘ten’ and ‘two’ o’clock position of an invisible racecar wheel. “Rule Two: There’s no way to alter Rule One.”

Sam Moses disagrees. Still in disdain over his failed race in Portland over the 4th of July, he declares – and quite tenaciously- “I won’t talk about it.” Mid-interview, the tale diverged, he admits one way to avoid Rule Number One is to maybe listen to your engineer.

“I didn’t know I was abusing the thing,” Sam insists , talking about his notorious vintage 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass and racecar, The Bandit. “Dave told me what the rules were. He told me ‘you can’t break the gearbox, Sam.’ I should have believed him.”

I ask Sam the obvious, which came first,racing or writing. In his book, Fast Guys, Rich Guys, and Idiots, it’s easy to tell Sam Moses wasn’t raised watching his dad picking at a typewriter, it was racing he watched his dad do, starting as far back as the summer of 1957, the year, Sam claims, “the speed in his [own] young blood was lit.”

Four years in the Navy, Sam took to writing his family about his exotic surroundings when he found he couldn’t sleep and there was nothing else to do. As a result, Sam took up journalism for a brief time at Penn State and The University of Miami before, given the first opportunity, he left to immediately become a nomadic journalist, following motorcycle circuits throughout the desert for the bi-weekly motorcycle magazine MotorCycle Weekly, where a measly $25 dollars covered both the expenses and wage for his first article.

“You have to get in wherever you can at first,” Sam advises me about writing, “Even if it doesn’t pay. If you’re any good at all, someone will notice you.”

Now Sam can say he’s brushed shoulders with them all, from motorcycle champion, Kenny Roberts to Dale Earnhardt. He’s witnessed over 40 years of motorsports culture and history, and Sports Illustrated has taken him all over the world. His remastered version of Fast Guys, Rich Guys, and Idiots, due to be released this September, is a compilation of stories taken from the best of over 200 of Sam’s own pre-1984 Sports Illustrated articles, as well as from a motley of personal racing experiences.

“I treated it like a vintage racecar,” he says, smoothly, of his pending new release, “I avoided calling it ‘revised’ or ‘edited.’Remastered is what musicians used to call their old albums made with new technology, and that’s what I did. …The original version was printed twenty years ago, before the internet, when… I had to have a hard copy of it sent away just to be turned into a word document. This version has more racing in it, and it’s written from the perspective of a veteran motorsports writer, not the self-involved kid I used to be. Also, it’s way better researched, and I know more now about the characters than back pre-1984.”

“I met Hunter S. Thompson, once, in Key West,” Sam reminisces, “My wife and I were driving a white, 1987 Z-28 Camaro across the whole of the U.S., from the furthermost point in the west to the furthermost point in the east. I asked her to marry me coming down the hill into Pueblo, Colorado at 90 miles-per-hour, during a thunder and lightning storm.”

“When we got to Key West, we went to the Sam Woody Creek Tavern. We were just having a good time, telling everyone there how we were planning to go to Nevada the next day for our marriage license, when there’s Hunter S. Thompson sitting right there in the corner. I didn’t really know him, or that he hung out there — I mean sometimes we covered the same events — but he must have overheard us because he stands up suddenly, says something like, ‘Oh!’ and runs out to his truck. He rummages around out there for, it seems like a while, and then he comes back in with this thing in his hands like a huge, million-watt spotlight, that I guess he had to spotlight things at night with.”

 “I said thank you.” Sam doesn’t forget to mention of the oddity, “Couldn’t tell you where it is now, though.”

Of course, Sam Moses never had to be bought with a red Ducati left in his driveway by such as Cycle World , as Hunter S. Thompson self-admittedly did. No, Sam needed no persuasion to indulge the speedster lifestyle and translate his experiences back to the world. That desire came on its own. He had the guts and the ability. It was only a matter of time beforeSports Illustrated  gave him the opportunity, and the keys.

Now, after over 40 years of observing motorsports history, and with a new chapter on the horizon, “The friendships endure,” Sam says, of his career with Sports Illustrated, racing in general, and of his time with The Bandit, Still, always the perfectionist, and never slowing down, Sam tells me he’ll race The Bandit at least once more time next year in September before passing on the torch. Still agonizing over the broken gearbox from his last race, he insists, “I can’t quit on this note.”

When I ask Sam what’s next, he admits, “My future is in Australia.” Maybe he will write another book out there, without a doubt he will continue kite-surfing, but the keys to The Bandit are to move on, as even now wheels are in motion for it to be auctioned off next year in Monterey.

Will this be the end of his partnership with The Bandit? Sure. Yes. Most probably, but it doesn’t mean the end of the Sam Moses legacy. As Sam so delicately puts it, “What does a guy really need with two race cars anyway?”

For more, check out Sam’s webpage and blog at http://papamadre.com/index/.

Sam Moses and The Skoal Bandit.

Sam Moses and The Skoal Bandit.

July 2015

OREGON NEVERLAND

Oregon Neverland

 

(An introduction.)

By: Sarah Glass  @SASzilla

Oregon. San Francisco North, they say. The Beaver state. But more on that later.

Here is green and Mother Earth. The streets are hemmed in by cherry trees that have been grafted to bloom pink and white flowers in the spring. And a city, it has to be, I thought when I first came here from Montana, it has a 24-hour Walmart after all; the nearest one is over an hour’s drive away from where I’m from.

Beauty, and a little more. Savagery, too. That’s Eugene, music, an unusual obsession with facial hair (male), and an underbelly to match any modern age Metropolis (and no, not the Metropolis from Superman, think a little further back).

Of course, the upper class here mostly consider themselves liberal (and they aren’t wrong). It makes me wonder, if the flower children of the 60’s and 70’s poured concrete over their gardens and own the futures of their children’s signatures in stocks and bonds, if ambition drove them to put away childish things (and body paint), and to accept the will of their fathers, who are these people here with their drum circles and city official jobs smoking spliffs at the steps of the city hall. Is it possible to have classes here but no warfare? Where are we?

Here there be gypsies. Here is Neverland, where some adults never grew up, and those that lose their marbles are sent to roam free since the state’s mental facilities shut down. Here steampunks play shows on street corners, hugging accordions in knee-high red leather docks while boasting daunting melodies. Here are lost boys drawn to wanderlust, vagrancy trends, the nomadic, bartering, bicycling, dirty, honest work and dishonest.

It’s the past, the futuristic, the forgotten, the involved, and, somehow the retrograde and evolved at once. It’s Oregon, and it is my home. I’d love to show you around.

Look for more installations to come from me, S.A.S.; behind-the-scenes with strippers, interviews from fast and furious novelists, what tweakers do when they think Santa Claus isn’t looking, the thoughtful and obscene, the artistic, and current events to come.

Entering Portland by car.

Entering Portland by car.

"Nowhere beach Oregon, with my dog Roxie." ~SAS

“Nowhere beach Oregon, with my dog Roxie.” ~SAS

Hello

Welcome to the Oregon Log. We cover anything Oregon related, or anything that is about, affects or involves the great state of Oregon.

Contact us at Editor@OregonLog.com.