Anne Richardson

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Oregon Film History Invitational/May 5, 2017


Ken Kesey, camera. Bill Murray, sound. 

What is the history behind, and the meaning behind, Oregon’s regional strength in creating independent film artists? Where does this longstanding strength fit within the overall intellectual and cultural identity of the Pacific Northwest?

On Friday, May 5, 2017, Oregon Cartoon Institute presents the third annual one day Oregon film history conference.


James Blue shooting THE OLIVE TREES OF JUSTICE (1962) in Algiers

The conference is designed to showcase the complexity and diversity of Oregon film history for educators, historians, and museum professionals. It is small in size, and designed to encourage interdisciplinary engagement, open ended conversation,  and professional networking.

Here is the list of the 2017 presenters.


Ronald Kramer/KGW Hoot Owls (1923-1933)

Mel Blanc was a member of this wildly improvisational Jazz Age radio show, beloved by hundreds of thousands of listeners. In this (staged) publicity shot, the KGW Hoot Owls are being rounded up by the Portland police.


Ronald Kramer is the author of Pioneer Mikes: A History of Radio and Television in Oregon. He served as Executive Director of Jefferson Public Radio in Southern Oregon from 1974 to 2012 while also consulting for the Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other organizations.

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Elizabeth Peterson/Lester Beck, UO’30

In 1947, Lester Beck made HUMAN GROWTH, the best middle school sex education film the world had ever seen. From this unlikely beginning, he became the head of the film department at USC in 1950. He brought Andries Deinum (1918-1995), future founder of PSU’s Center For The Moving Image, to Portland in 1957.


Elizabeth Peterson is Humanities Librarian and Curator of Moving Images in University of Oregon’s Knight Library. With co-author Michael Aronson, she published “No Birds, No Bees, No Moralizing: Lester F. Beck, Progressive Educational Filmmaker” in The Moving Image 13.1 (2014).


Gretchen Harmon/William B. Gruber, inventor of Viewmaster

William B. Gruber arrived in Portland from Bavaria in 1924. In 1939, he invented a handheld stereoscopic viewer which sold by the millions. Both the viewers and the reels were manufactured in Portland, providing work for Norm Dimick‘s processing lab, among many other ripple effects, both economic and cultural.


Gretchen Harmon, the author of View Master: The Biography of William B. Gruber, is a Portland native and the youngest daughter of William B. Gruber.


David Chelsea/At the Scribe (1972-1978)

Matt Groening, Bill Plympton, Jim Blashfield, Will Vinton and Gus Van Sant read the Portland Scribe. David Chelsea illustrated it.


David Chelsea is the author of the graphic novels David Chelsea In Love and Welcome To The Zone, and the how-to books Perspective! For Comic Book Artists and Extreme Perspective! For Artists. He is one of the producers of 24 HOUR COMIC, a 2017 documentary in which he also appears.



Julie Perini/Using OHS Moving Image Archives

Lew Cook (1909-1983), one of Portland’s earliest film entrepreneurs, founded the Moving Image Archive at Oregon Historical Society. In 2015, co-directors Julie Perini, Erin Yanke and Jodi Darby used the OHS archive to source rare footage documenting Portland’s history of protest. “Utilizing meditative footage taken at sites of police violence, experimental filmmaking techniques, and archival newsreel, ARRESTING POWER creates a space for understanding the impacts of police violence and imagining a world without police.”


Julie Perini makes videos, films, installations, photographs and other objects, site-specific projects, essays and manifestoes, events and performances, and educational situations. She has an MFA from the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo, and teaches at PSU.


David Cress/MHCC film school

From 1988 to 1995, under the leadership of Jack Schommer, Mount Hood Community College offered what might have been the only college degree program focused on Public, Educational & Government/Community Television. As part of a Portland metro area franchise, MHCC received a large grant to set up and sustain a community television training curriculum centered around cable access television and community media. One of its graduates is David Cress.


David Cress is known for producing the hit comedy show Portlandia for which he was nominated for an Emmy in 2015. Other awards include work recognized by Peabody, Cannes, Clio, CA, and One Show, as well as Sundance Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival. He is the president of OMPA (Oregon Media Production Association).

We limit the length of each presentation to leave lots of time for Q & A and discussion.

Admission is by invitation. Seating is limited.

Contact me if you feel you have been left off the invitation list by mistake.

Oregon Cartoon Institute was founded to raise awareness of Oregon’s rich film, animation, and cartooning history. It has no brick and mortar presence, and always partners with organizations and institutions which do.

“Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say; This is my community, and it’s my responsibility to make it better.” Tom McCall

This year the Oregon Film History Invitational receives support from Oregon Film, aka the Governor’s Office of Film and Television. Thank you, Tim Williams!

This year the Oregon Film History Invitational receives support from Oregon Film Museum. Thank you, Mac Burns!

Video projector donated by Picture This Production Services & Stage. Thank you, Tom McFadden, for arranging this.

Thank you in advance to all our presenters!

Elmer Buehler with projector_WattsNewsMonthly_Vol1No1_Jan.1943.jpg

Elmer Buehler (1911-2010), the BPA employee who chauffeured Woody Guthrie during his month of commissioned songwriting, and who later rescued BPA films from destruction. Thank you, Libby Burke,  for the photo.


The third Oregon Film History Invitational was made a success by the following presenters and participants:

Carl Abbott, historian
Libby Burke, BPA
David Chelsea, artist
John Concillo, OCHC
David Cress, producer
John Dennis, photographer
Milan Erceg, filmmaker
Bill Failing, OHS
Larry Fong, curator/arts advocate
Gretchen Harmon, author
Kohel Haver, Swider Haver
David Hedberg, PSU
Michael Huntsberger, Linfield College
Brooke Jacobson, co-founder NWFC
Jody Jorgenson, filmmaker
Ronald Kramer, radio historian
Michele Kribs, OHS
Gary Lacher, film preservationist
Tom McFadden, Oregon Film Museum
Frann Michel, Willamette University
Dennis Nyback, film archivist
Julie Perini, PSU
Elizabeth Peterson, UO
Heather Petrocelli, film historian
Sheldon Renan, writer/theorist
Anne Richardson, OCI
Mike Richardson, Dark Horse
Brad Robison, systems designer
Joe Sacco, graphic journalist
Hunter Shobe, PSU
Janice Shokrian, OMPA
Eric Slade, OPB
Brad Studstrup, filmmaker
Larry Telles, Niles Film Museum
Ned Thanhauser, film preservationist
John Urang, Marylhurst University
Katherine Wilson, producer
Precious Yamaguchi, SOU

Thank you all!

Oregon Film History Invitational/May 13, 2016



Helen Gibson in Hazards Of Helen (1915-1917)

What is the history behind, and the meaning behind, Oregon’s regional strength in creating independent film artists? Where does this longstanding strength fit within the overall intellectual and cultural identity of the Pacific Northwest?

Three examples, among many others: Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson, twelve time Emmy award winner Matt Groening, and two time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton. All three artist-entrepreneurs move between film and print cartooning/comics, and are part of the history covered in Oregon Historical Society’s upcoming exhibit, Comics City, USA, in 2016.

On Friday, May 13, 2016, Oregon Movies, A to Z presents the second annual one day Oregon film history conference.

The conference is designed to showcase the complexity and diversity of Oregon film history for educators, historians, and museum professionals.

Here is the list of the 2016 presenters.


Larry Telles/Ranch Girl On A Rampage: Helen Gibson, Hollywood’s first professional stuntwoman, performs in the 1913 Pendleton Round Up.


Writer, producer and film historian, Larry is one of the founding members of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Niles, California. He is the author of Helen Gibson: Silent Serial Queen, and serves on the board of Film Alliance Northwest.


Dennis Nyback/B. F. Shearer & Portland’s Film Row: Hollywood’s distribution infrastructure on NW 19th, which supported an analog media empire, includes a perfectly miniaturized showcase theater designed by Seattle based B. F. Shearer.


Dennis Nyback advocated for the preservation of the Seattle Film Building in 1990. His chapter, Art and Grind in Seattle, appears in From The Arthouse To The Grindhouse: Highbrow And Lowbrow Transgression In Cinema’s First Century from Scarecrow Press. Master projectionist and film archivist, he is co-founder of Oregon Cartoon Institute.


Patrick Rosenkranz/Carl Barks: The Oregon comic book auteur who invented Uncle Scrooge McDuck and inspired Robert Crumb.


One of the premier scholars of the underground comics movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Patrick Rosenkranz has been writing about comics since 1969. His Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975, chronicles the inception and development of the artistic revolution that changed comics forever.

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Libby Burke, librarian & archivist/Citizen Kahn: Stephen B. Kahn at BPA.


Woody Guthrie recorded “Roll On, Columbia, Roll On” for the first time in NE Portland, just blocks from where Libby Burke supervised the restoration of the Stephen B. Kahn film (“The Columbia”) for which it was commissioned. Libby Burke, MLIS, CA, came to the Bonneville Power Administration Library from the Lyman Museum and Mission House in Hilo, Hawai’i, where she participated in the pilot project for “’Ulu’ulu: The Henry Ku’ualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawai’i.”

Lunch – on your own (Alberta is one block away)


Harry Dawson will speak about his decades long collaboration with artist Bill Viola.


Harry Dawson attended the Pacific Northwest’s first film school, the Center For The Moving Image at PSU (1969-1982). His credits as director and cinematographer include National Geographic Explorer, The Guggenheim, NBC, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Paris Opera, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Leverage, MOMA, Discovery Channel,  The Whitney, The Plains Indian Museum, TNT, The Getty Villa, Tate Modern, PBS, Grimm, National Portrait Gallery, Twilight. From McMinnville.

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Richard Blue gives an update on the international search for the lost negative of James Blue’s THE OLIVE TREES OF JUSTICE (1962).


Like his older brother James Blue (1930-1980), Richard spent much of his life in working outside the USA. He worked in Eqypt, India and Bangkok, first as a political scientist for USAID and later as an officer for the US Foreign Service, retiring as Senior Foreign Service Minister Counselor. He founded the James Blue Alliance in 2013. James Blue, Oregon’s first Oscar nominated director, made films in India, Africa, and South America. A member of the founding faculty of AFI, James Blue was the founding director of Rice Media Center in Houston. Both Blues graduated from Jefferson High School. From Portland.


Mike Richardson will tell us about the transition he made from publisher to producer with DR. GIGGLES in 1992.


Graduating from PSU with a degree in art, Mike Richardson always knew he wanted to make movies. He founded  Dark Horse Comics in 1986, and in 1992 made the move from the page to the screen by co-producing a low budget thriller, DR GIGGLES, in Portland. Dark Horse Comics was now Dark Horse Entertainment. In 1994, he was an executive producer on THE MASK, starring Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz, and based on characters he had created in 1985.  A steady stream of comics, films, comics based on films, and films based on comics, followed. In 2004, HELLBOY consolidated his place on Hollywood’s A list. From Milwaukie.


Mike Richardson’s next film, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN,  opens on July 1, 2016.

We will limit the length of each presentation to leave lots of time for Q & A and discussion.

The day will be a whirlwind of information, designed to encourage open ended conversation, interdisciplinary engagement and professional networking.

It is by invitation only.

Seating is limited.

Contact me if you feel you have been left off the invitation list by mistake.

The second annual Oregon Film History Invitational is brought to you by Oregon Movies, A to Z, a project of Oregon Cartoon Institute, which in turn is fiscally sponsored by Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, a 501 c3 non profit organization.

This year we also receive support from Oregon Film, aka the Governor’s Office of Film and Television. Thank you, Tim Williams!

Oregon Cartoon Institute/Oregon Movies, A to Z was founded to raise awareness of Oregon’s rich film, animation, and cartooning history. It has no brick and mortar presence, and always partners with organizations and institutions which do.

“Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say; This is my community, and it’s my responsibility to make it better.” Tom McCall

Thank you in advance to all our presenters!


The second one day Oregon film history conference was made a success by the following presenters and participants.

Richard Blue, James Blue Alliance
Libby Burke, Bonneville Power Administration
Mac Burns, Oregon Film Museum
John Concillo, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission
Harry Dawson, filmmaker
Damon Eckhoff, artist/UX designer
Bill Failing, Oregon Historical Society
Michael Friend, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
Laurie Gabriel, filmmaker
Gretchen Gruber, writer
Abigail Howard, Bonneville Power Admistration
Brooke Jacobson, educator
Michele Kribs, Oregon Historical Society
Gary Lacher, film preservationist
Lois Leonard, filmmaker/historian
Ross Lienhart, PSU Foundation
Matt McCormick, Portland State University
Zach Margolis, animator
Tom McFadden, Oregon Film Museum
Frann Michel, Willamette
Marc Mohan, Oregonian/Oregon Arts Watch
Karen Munro, University of Oregon
Dennis Nyback, Oregon Cartoon Institute
Phil Oppenheim, Lionsgate/Comic Con
John Patterson, Willamette
Ben Popp, Northwest Film Center
Anne Richardson, Oregon Cartoon Institute
Mike Richardson, Dark Horse
Brad Robison, systems designer
Patrick Rosenkranz, writer/historian
Charlotte Rubin, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission
Kaye Silver, Bonneville Power Administration
Khris Soden, artist
Larry Telles, writer/historian
Suzanne Toole, curious citizen
Andreas Wallach, filmmaker
Tim Williams, Film Oregon

Thank you all!



Notes On Blue

On October 15, 2012, I wrote on Oregon Movies, A to Z about an Oregon filmmaker about whom I knew little. Who was James Blue? 


Richard Herskowitz, the director of the Cinema Pacific film festival in Eugene, read that post, and a companion post about The Olive Trees Of Justice, commenting “James Blue is a revered figure by many, including me. I didn’t realize he grew up here and went to UO!”

On September 9, 2013, Richard Blue contacted me to let me know that he was interested in finding a home for his brother’s films in Oregon.  I told him I had a few ideas.

He had read the Oregon Movies, A to Z post as well.

On October 31, 2013,  the University of Oregon announced the James Blue Tribute, a six month retrospective. Richard Blue and Richard Herskowitz, working together, brought the films of James Blue to Eugene, along with guest speakers who knew and worked with the filmmaker.

On February 24, 2014 the University of Oregon announced the acquisition of the James Blue collection of films and papers.

On April 26, 2014, four Oregon documentarians, Brian Lindstrom, Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher and Penny Allen, will discuss James Blue at the White Stag Building, 2:30 PM, at a free event titled Four On Blue.

After attending the James Blue Tribute screenings, and learning about him from his colleagues, family and friends, I know much more about this accomplished, forgotten artist from my home town. I will be sharing what I have learned on a new blog, Notes On James Blue.

Sometimes A Great Mini Series

So invested am I in the belief that Sometimes A Great Notion would make an excellent mini series that I have gone to the trouble of assembling a dream cast.

Irene Bedard, as Indian Jenny

Restoring Indian Jenny to the plot would make an honest miniseries out of a Sometimes A Great Notion, and communicate both the novel’s social and psychological complexity, and its epic sweep. I propose Irene Bedard to play the beautiful small town prostitute who falls in love with the young logger Henry Stamper, and whose thwarted union with him provides the narrative engine for the rest of the plot.

See the rest on Oregon Movies, A to Z….

Harry Comes Home To Seattle

harry comes home for web-2

Oregon Cartoon Institute’s expanded cinema version of Heaven And Earth Magic comes to SIFF Cinema in Seattle on March 18, 2014. Dennis’ Pike Street Cinema comrade, Lori Goldston, will provide a live score, with help from Jessika Kenney and Susie Kosawa. Josh Winsor’s Harry Smith poster will be for sale at the event.

You will be able to buy tickets for the event at SIFF Cinema online, but they haven’t gone on sale yet.

Between Harry Smith (born in Portland) and James Blue (raised in Portland), I am up to my neck in mid-century Oregon genius. Later that week I take a paper on Harry to the Society of Cinema and Media Studies conference. If we can swing it, we hope to do a tour of Harry Smith’s Seattle, as we did in Bellingham.

Liminal vs Our Town: Bare-knuckled Berendzen Delivers A Knock Out


Leo Daedalus makes a slithery Stage Manager in Liminal vs Our Town

There’s a moment in the third act of Liminal’s production of Our Town where Emily suddenly turns to the Stage Manager, and asks him a question. It is a tribute to director John Berendzen, founder of Portland’s most experimental theater troupe, that at that moment I truly thought Jahnavi Caldwell-Green, the luminous actress playing Emily, had gone off script. I knew Berendzen designed this production to create these moments of confusion, and even knowing that, I found myself watching the Stage Manager’s momentarily panicked expression and thinking, “Are we still in the play? Does he know what he’s supposed to say?”

John Berendzen chose Our Town on a dare. If you’re truly experimenting, he reasoned, then the biggest experiment would be to do America’s most performed play straight. His Our Town accepts the rules of Thornton Wilder’s dollhouse reality without resistance or irony. He doesn’t prod for the reasons behind our love for Grover’s Corner, with its milk wagons and choir rehearsals. He gives us the world Thornton Wilder wrote, where, unaware that they are doing exactly what they have been trained to do, Emily, who loves giving speeches, will fall in love with George, who forgets to do his chores. If you’re lazy, that’s the entire plot of Our Town.

Read the rest at Portland Stage Reviews.

Oregon Film History Initiative: A Look Back From 20 Years Into The Future


Not all Oregon film historians are women, but this first group was. Left to right: Heather Petrocelli,  Anne Richardson, Ellen Thomas, Rose Bond. Not pictured: Michele Kribs, unavailable because she was out riding her motorcycle.

Dateline: 2033, 20 years from now.

The Oregon Film History Initiative celebrated its 20th birthday today by blowing out candles on 20 virtual cakes scattered throughout the state.

Founded in 2013 by a group of librarians and historians, OFHI’s original mission was to ensure that key documents and artifacts essential to a full understanding Oregon’s unique film history were successfully archived within the state.

Read the rest on Oregon Movies, A to Z. 

New York Is Oregon Territory: James Blue Takes Washington Square


In 1962, the first issue of the magazine which would become Film Comment hit the stands. On the cover was the brand new filmmaker du jour, James Blue.  This photo must have been taken just before Blue won the Critics Prize at Cannes for his French language feature, The Olive Trees of Justice, shot in Algeria.

The dates of Cannes that year were May 7 to May 23, 1962.

Blue was a frequent contributor to Film Comment during its earliest years. In 1965, Sheldon Renan, a fellow Portlander turned New Yorker, began publishing his film writing in Jonas Mekas’ Film Culture. Meanwhile, on the Left Coast, PSU professor Andries Deinum was co-editor, with Ernest Callenbach, of Film Quarterly. During this period, Portland writers were contributing to all three of these important film journals.

I will be writing about James Blue during the James Blue Tribute, organized by Richard Herskowitz to celebrate the bequest  made by The James and Richard Blue Foundation of James Blue’s papers and films to the University of Oregon.

Paul Wolfe Shoots Oregon Cartoon Institute’s Harry Smith PDX, May 16 – 19, 2013

free4all_Dennis1Photographer Paul Wolfe documented Oregon Cartoon Institute’s Harry Smith PDX events, May 16- 19, 2013.  The results are up at harrysmithpdx.tumblr. See for yourself Paul’s take on an evening of magical cinema, plus a day of interactive presentations.




Additional info about Harry Smith PDX can be found here.

Here’s information about  Oregon Cartoon Institute.

Photographer Paul Wolfe is at

Bookology: A Cascadia Crash Course


I have never met William Deresiewicz, but I am guessing that he spent just as much time hanging out in Butler Library as I did. Reading that he moved from Morningside Heights to Portland, not long after I had done so myself, I felt an immediate kinship with him.

His recent American Scholar post, Think Again, The Secret To Portland’s Success, inspired this piece of fan mail.

Dear William,

I know you are just waiting for someone to give you a leg up on understanding all things Oregon.

For advanced practitioners, there is a distinction between all things Oregon and all things Cascadian, but for the purposes of an introduction designed for newcomer, I will collapse the two.

The key text is no surprise.

Ken Kesey’s Sometimes A Great Notion (1964) contains almost everything you need to know about our regional identity. The narrator copes with the same disorientation you must feel, adjusting to the difference between East and West Coast. Kesey never lived on the East Coast, but his awareness of the difference shows you how deeply  this cognitive code switching is embedded in our regional identity. He was able to deploy it as an artist, even though it was not part of his own personal experience. Sometimes A Great Notion is not “about” Leland Stamper’s divided awareness, but the tension of his dual East Coast/ West Coast identity is central to the plot.

To fully understand how fully Oregonians have come to choose sludgy group think over quick urban wit, a cultural value you summarized as “You don’t have to be a genius. Just don’t be a dick.”,  I recommend going back to the beginning.

Here are the first two Cascadian texts. Most elemental, most essential. Don’t waste time. Go straight to the source.

The Canoe and the Saddle (1863) Theodore Winthrop travels across the state of Washington accompanied by hired Indian guides and his own Yale education.

This extraordinary urtext reveals, in its first pages, that Theodore “Yes, that Winthrop” Winthrop is fully aware that he is a dick. He has no choice. A laudanum addicted homosexual alone in the West, he floats in and out of the transcendental register, choosing to perform his arias in the key of complete disorientation. He is the oppressor. He knows it. Utterly alone.

Unwritten History: Life Amongst the Modocs (1873) Joaquin Miller rewrites Winthrop’s “lone white man among the Natives” narrative, jettisoning the racial superiority, but retaining the broken compass sense of disorientation (viz. how does one write an “unwritten history” ).

These are the most important two books, in terms of laying out the imaginative territory Northwest writers would explore. Miller’s public persona, a cross between Buffalo Bill and Emily Dickinson, is the first delineation of the Oregon choice to be neither genius nor dick. He is too self enthralled to be a genius, and not empty enough to be a dick.


Read those two books to lay the best groundwork for a deeper understanding Cascadia’s deep dislike of thinking. Although Winthrop wrote as an outsider and Miller as a native son (not born here, but arrived in a covered wagon), both men attribute all to landscape. Sounds shallow, seems brutish. Might be, but landscape is bedrock, as you will see.


I am convinced you might need further guidance, so I include the following reading list, in which I pair two texts, the only way for you to discover the shimmering truth of our regional identity which hovers between them.

I will go chronologically.

You can pick and choose your way around this croquet field.


Two books by Oregonians-turned-New Yorkers begin the list:

Oregonians In Exile, in New York :

Country Boy: The Story Of His Own Early Life (1910) W. R. Hearst’s leading cartoonist, Homer Davenport, idealizes his Willamette Valley childhood.  Apparently “You don’t have to be a genius”  includes covering your tracks if you are one.

paired with

Ten Days That Shook The World (1917) John Reed lives up to the ideals of his father C. J. Reed, who fought land fraud from Pioneer Courthouse.  Three years later he would be dead.


Oregonians in exile, without leaving the Pacific Northwest:

Honey In The Horn (1935) H.L. Davis crammed every rural occupation he could think of into this portrait of pre automobile, pre electrification Oregon. This is the West of social desolation. People are tumbleweeds.

paired with

Yellow Wolf: His Own Story (1940) He–Mene Mox Mox, an aging hops picker on the Colville Reservation, dictates his eyewitness report of the 1877 Nez Perce war. Includes his emergency initiation into the non-Christian spirituality for which his tribe was being persecuted.


The Haunting of Celilo Falls:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1962) You know this one.

paired with

The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening Of the Northwest (1965) Knopf scion turned Harvard dropout Alvin Josephy rewrites the history of the Pacific Northwest, from an Indian point of view. The best “quick course” for the deeply regional history Kesey evokes.


Oregon Beats & Post-Beats

Trout Fishing In America (1967) Richard Brautigan, an exact Eugene contemporary of Ken Kesey, minus the wrestling and good grades.

paired with

An Introduction to the American Underground Film (1967) Sheldon Renan grew up on an Oregon City turkey farm, his leftist parents (Portland mom, Queens dad) in hiding from the Feds during the blacklist.

paired with

Turtle Island (1974) Gary Snyder, the “jewel of Reed”, wins a Pulitzer.

paired with

Mala Noche (1977) Walt Curtis, mentor of Gus Van Sant and high school classmate of Sheldon Renan, documents unrequited love on Skid Row.


Futurists, Utopians:

The Left Hand Of Darkness (1969) Ursula LeGuin, the leading portraitist of pre-Portlandia Portland. Much of her fiction embodies “you don’t have to be a genius, just don’t be a dick” ethos.

paired with

Goat Brothers (1993) Larry Colton charts the gender role dislocation of the 1960‘s via the lives of his fraternity brothers. Extraordinarily closely observed. Could only have been written from the psychological distance of Cascadia.


The Earth Is Our Mother

Owning It All (1987) William Kittredge explains why he jettisoned the ranch his family worked for, and passed down to him. Also The Prairie Keepers (1996) Marcy Houle went to the most remote corner of northeast Oregon as a scientist hoping to change the way ranchers viewed the land. Not exactly what happened.

paired with

Fire At Eden’s Gate: Tom McCall & the Oregon Story (2000) Brent Walth compresses three generations into one epic. Required reading.


Just Don’t Be A Dick

The Radical Middle Class: Populist Democracy and the Question of Capitalism in Progressive Era Portland (2006) Robert Johnston wrote an entire book about the way Progressive Era Portlanders collectively chose not to be dicks.

paired with

Sometimes A Great Notion (1964) Back to where we started.


The three most important books, if you are in a hurry, are Sometimes A Great NotionThe Radical Middle Class and Fire At Eden’s Gate. But you will get more out of those books if you wander freely through earlier Cascadian texts.

I hope this helps you understand your new home.