Josh Schicker

I've been listing to allot of new Portland artists recently, but this guy by far is the best. He needs all the support he can get, so check out his music here.

Urban Exploration

Ever since reading a travelogue by a woman who took a ride through Chernobyl on a motorcycle, I've been fascinated by all the strange abandoned places people have forgotten about. Whole cities, castles, tunnel systems or amusement parks that people just left at one point or another and were reclaimed by nature. This website has photos of a lot of these places, a great deal of which (go figure) are in Russia. If I had the money and the time, I'd be exploring places like these...


Olympic Spirit

When I heard the 2008 Summer Olympics were going to be held in Beijing, I was disappointed, but did not give much thought to the matter. I have little faith in the punitive power of boycotting Olympics, and was not dead set on never watching these. A few days ago I remembered that the Olympics were indeed going on and so I turned on the television to see what I could see. Five minutes later the TV was off and I was almost physically ill. They had been showing a bike race, athletes joyously and fiercely competing, the crowds cheering, and the commentators excitedly filling in details that would no doubt escape biking neophytes. I followed the progress of the madly peddling men with less than absorption, when I suddenly felt my blood freeze in my veins. They were madly peddling past Tiananmen Square.

The site of the student protest of 1989, the place of death for two to three thousand (Chinese Red Cross estimate) deaths on June 3 and 4 of 1989. And all the commentators had to say was "What a spectacular location for today's race."

The camera panned up and I saw the massive gilded photograph of Mao Tse Tung. A man who has been held responsible for 70 million deaths; his own people, murdered for the devil's own cause. I switched off the TV.

There probably are worse locations for the 2008 Olympics, and I am sure I could name some off the top of my head. But why does the civilized world do nothing? Why do we rely on badly organized protests and cheap bumper stickers to salve our consciences? The People's Republic of China is a communist state with capitalist economic power. Which makes the possibility of its implosion frustratingly remote. This government uses Yahoo and Google to track the computers of those dangerous citizens who dare look up Tiananmen Square or any other incident with less than perfect PR. This government still makes liberal use of arrest without warrent, surpression of political debate, and religious persecution. Families are held to completely unnatural standards of reproduction, and our own State Department record of China's human rights violations reads like a 1930s NKVD For Dummies.

I don't know what the answer is. I don't know whether we should have boycotted these games or not. I would like to believe that somehow our sense of right and wrong is not dictated by what is politically expedient, financially beneficial, or even by the possibility of athletic immortality. As much as world records matter, some things are simply more important. And as long as China continues to treat its citizens (not to mention the denizens of those countries China has invaded) as cogs in a machine, to be tinkered with or discarded at will, I think the rest of the world has a duty to put up some kind of a fight.


December 11, 1918-August 3, 2008

A year ago I read Joseph Pearce's magnificent biography of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, A Soul in Exile. One of the most moving and beautiful things I've ever read, passages from it still echo in my head. I remember deciding then that one of my life's goals would be to meet Solzhenitsyn someday, and to prepare for that day I read The Gulag Archipelago, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, Cancer Ward, Lenin in Zurich, among other essays and prose poems.
Today my dream ended with the death of this incredible poet, philosopher, and lyric warrior. I do not have suitable words to mourn his passing and can only count it an honor to have shared this earth with him the past eighteen years. I will continue to study his work and now go to quietly live out the final day he drew breath.
The Soul in Exile has gone home at last.