The demise of the movie rental shop is nearly complete, and for the
consumer another minor thrill has been replaced by a few dull taps on a
I lack any legitimate grounds for lamenting this trend, however.
In fact I am as complicit as anyone in the eradication of a business that once seemed ubiquitous.
I have a Netflix account.
I have not browsed the aisles of a rental store for at least a couple of years.
(Although in my defense, neither have I ever acquired a DVD from a large, inanimate box.)
The recent announcement that Movie Gallery is closing its Baker City
rental store saddened me largely because it reminds me that I have
lived long enough to experience a commercial and cultural trend from
its infancy clear through to its current death throes.
It’s not that I feel old, exactly.
But I’m more aware that 40 years (almost) is a pretty fair spread of time.
I imagine people were afflicted by a similar twinge a century ago
when Ford really started cranking out Model T’s and the dominance of
the horse was clearly on the wane.
The Israeli commando team’s deadly raid on a flotilla delivering aid
to Gaza happened, coincidentally, just a couple of days after I started
reading a book which influenced my reaction to the tragedy.
The title of the book, by Neal Bascomb, is “Hunting Eichmann.”
In case the name Eichmann is not familiar, the subtitle explains the
context: “How a band of survivors and a young spy agency chased down
the world’s most notorious Nazi.”
That being Adolf Eichmann.
Although Eichmann did not conceive the Holocaust — that infamy
belongs, of course, to a different Adolf — he was beyond question the
most prolific practitioner of the Final Solution.
Eichmann was to genocide what Henry Ford was to the manufacture of automobiles.
I’d like to believe that Chris Dudley can help to etch a couple more wrinkles on John Kitzhaber’s rugged face before Nov. 2.
It’s not that I’m rooting for Dudley.
I am in fact registered as an independent. My vote likely will remain in play until the cottonwoods have started to tinge yellow.
And anyway blowouts, whether in football or gubernatorial races, bore me.
Yet as much as I pine for a healthy tussle, I just can’t silence the interior voice which insists that Dudley, who couldn’t poll a majority from among his own party in the primary, has little chance to pull the monumental upset over Kitzhaber.
Maybe I could believe otherwise if the Democrats had gone for Bill Bradbury.
Or for anybody, come to that, except the denim-clad doctor who has a deft touch with a fly rod and who leaps to the aid of seizure-suffering debate watchers.
(Neither Karl Rove nor Rahm Emanuel has ever arranged a scene so serendipitous as the one that played out during a Kitzhaber-Bradbury debate in Eugene last month. Although I remain skeptical that somebody actually hollered, verbatim, “Is there a doctor in the house?” after a man in the audience fell ill.)
From 1981 to 1991 I served as Chief of Police in Coronado,
California. The southern limits of that city were just one mile from
the international border with Mexico. The problem of illegal
immigration existed then, though it pales by comparison to what exists
Because my city was impacted by the downsides of illegal immigration
we met regularly with Mexican officials, including the Tijuana, Mexico,
police chief and Mexican federal officials to discuss the issue.
In the mid 1980s, Tijuana was blessed with a very well-educated,
ethical and professional police chief who was quite knowledgeable
concerning crime problems in his country, demographics, and what the
future might hold in terms of the illegal alien problem. In our
conversations he made a number of predictions, many of them dire, and
most of which have come to pass over the years.
My futility as an elk hunter has finally attracted the attention of Oregon’s wildlife managers.
And if I may be so bold, belated attention it is.
Although I suppose they have wolves with a taste for mutton and veal
to worry about, and those sea lions munching salmon, and the occasional
coyote snatching suburban cats.
Still, the scale of my ineptitude in the pursuit of elk had some
years back attained the status of legend, at least in my view, and so I
can’t help but feel that the biologists have failed to give my constant
failure the recognition it deserves.
I’m not talking about buck fever, either. Or bull fever, as the case may be.
Any hunter can miss an elk at 500 yards.
(And many have.)
I rated myself as a pretty fair singer right up to the indelible
instant when I heard my naked voice, the protective filter of
accompaniment by actual musicians stripped away.
For some years previous I had often amused myself, as I suspect most
people do, by crooning along with the stereo while I was driving alone.
Which is about as realistic as playing Tiger Woods golf on a Wii.
Harmonizing with Lennon and McCartney, suffice it to say, ranks on
the difficulty scale right beside bisecting the fairway with a 300-yard
(Although Tiger isn’t staying on the short grass all that often these days, either.)
One day, for some reason I’ve forgotten (although a reason no doubt
spawned by the same hormone that leads high school students to use
Bunson burners for unorthodox purposes), I decided to try what you
might call an experiment in a cappella.
What resulted was a sort of auditory shock treatment that cured my
naivete, as regards my lyrical ability, instantly and irrevocably.
While I was belting out the chorus to some ’80s anthem — I think it
was Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian,” although possibly it was “The
Final Countdown” by Europe — I punched the radio’s “off” button.
Ted Carlin intends to walk clear across Oregon this month, and I’m jealous.
He also plans to spend a couple nights at the Sky Hook motel in Mitchell.
This guy is really trying to goad me.
Not intentionally, perhaps, seeing as how we’ve not met.
But I don’t care about that.
The Sky Hook is my favorite motel.
At least it’s my favorite motel that I’ve never stayed in.
There is, most obviously, that name.
I’ve driven past the Sky Hook probably half a hundred times, and whenever I see that neon sign I think briefly of Kareem, flicking the ball softly, just high enough to foil Walton or Gilmore or Lanier.
The thing about owning a four-wheel drive rig is that without even
trying you can get into situations that you would avoid like the
hantavirus if you owned a lesser vehicle.
Many of these situations, sadly, involve a significant risk of multiple fractures.
The current crop of off-roaders, I’ll concede, is somewhat less malignant in certain ways than its predecessors.
Computer-controlled nannies such as traction control and anti-lock
brakes can extricate clumsy drivers from predicaments that would have
left their forebears high-centered on somebody’s front porch.
As a result, four-by-fours, if they can’t actually defy physics, can temporarily stun it with a sharp blow to the chin.
They can also, to put the matter in less pleasant terms, get you into a mess which no stack of microprocessors can make right.
As I meet with people throughout our council, I have been asked why
I, or we, did not respond to the editorials and stories about the
recent verdict against the Boy Scouts in Portland.
At the court’s direction, we have been, and continue to be,
restricted in communications about this case. Because this matter
continues, the Judge has asked that the Boy Scouts of America refrain
from comment on the specific allegations.
However, I must comment and respond to the mischaracterization in a
recent editorial (in a different publication) that we are not concerned
about protecting youth.
As a movement Scouting does care very deeply about the safety of our
members and all youth, and always has. Abuse is a huge problem in our
society. According to Childhelp.org there are 3.2 million reported
abuse cases in the United States every year. We are one of only a few
agencies that has a rigorous, nationwide system of background checks of
every registered volunteer leader and employee — conducted through an
independent service — which attempts to keep out of the program those
individuals who should not be leading youth.
The unemployment rate in Oregon has been in double digits for the
past year, but it seems as though many politicians in the nation’s
capital are focused on creating frustration and gridlock instead of new
Bipartisanship isn’t completely dead, though. Recently, I joined
with members of both parties, including Republican Senators Richard
Lugar of Indiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, to introduce a
bill that will both create jobs and lower monthly energy bills for
families and businesses.
It’s called the Rural Energy Savings Program and it works like this:
Rural electric co-ops like the Oregon Trail Electric Consumers Co-op in
Baker City will administer low-cost loans to help families and business
owners afford the up-front costs of energy efficient renovations. The
families and business owners will see their energy bills go down, and
can pay off the loan out of these savings. In fact, they can pay it
back with a charge on their electric bill, so they don’t even have to
pay an additional bill.