44 posts Posts by Michael

Portland: Plenty of Water in this West Coast City

Portland: Plenty of Water in this West Coast City

Since moving to Portland less than a year ago, I’m still in awe of the nearly constant presence of water. It falls from the sky, though not nearly as much as I expected, and it pools up in small ponds around town, and some wetlands a bit farther out. But water’s real presence can mostly be found in the rivers. As an inner Southeast Portland dweller, that mostly means the Willamette, and occasionally the Columbia. …

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Readings from Blessing the Hands that Feed Us: An evening with Vicki Robin

Readings from Blessing the Hands that Feed Us: An evening with Vicki Robin

Author and activist Vicki Robin has helped people around the world change their relationships with money, and now she wants to do the same for food. Robin spoke about her new book, Blessing the Hands That Feed Us: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us About Food, Community, and Our Place on Earth last Friday, January 10 at Powell’s City of Books in Portland. Robin is well known for co-authoring, with the late Joe …

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Book Review – Early Portland: Stump-town triumphant

Book Review – Early Portland: Stump-town triumphant

Early Portland: Stump-town triumphant, rival townsites on the Willamette, 1831-1854 by Eugene E Snyder (reviewed 1970 edition) Every time I move to a new city, I have a voracious appetite for information about the place I now call home. Having recently moved to Portland, Oregon, I’ve set about learning as much as I can about the place as it is now, and as it was in various stages of history. The history and character of …

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Moving to Portland: Initial Impressions

Moving to Portland: Initial Impressions

After years of planning and much delayed gratification, we finally took the step of moving to Portland, Oregon this month. The timing was somewhat dictated by circumstances. The lease at our Superior, Colorado apartment was ending, I had just lost my job, and the summer heat of metro Denver was on our minds after last year’s sweltering, smoky summer. Plus, the thought of  crossing six mountainous states in a moving van any time when their …

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Another Piece of Analog Technology Bites the Dust

Another Piece of Analog Technology Bites the Dust

I can’t help but admire the design and functionality of the IBM Selectric, a groundbreaking typewriter at the time it was introduced in 1961. Its smooth, organic, mid-century curved design  calls up images of the Mad Men secretary pool. The functionality and level of design seems remarkable, even timeless. I came across this non-working gem that somebody had put out with the trash today, and brought it home for a polishing and final photo before …

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Testing a Camera Obscura

I’ve been intrigued by possibilities for mixing old and new technologies in the creation of videos and still photos. Online, I’ve found lots of information about making your own camera obscura to capture and project images in a box, which you can then capture with your SLR or compact video and film cameras. Why bother? You get a unique, narrow depth of field (some objects are in focus but most aren’t) and a vignette, or …

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‘Carousel,’ a New Short Film

Carousel from Michael French on Vimeo. A recent trip to Los Angeles for a wedding found us with a few extra hours to relax before our flight home. We headed to the shore a Santa Monica, one of my favorite places to go when I used to live in Pomona, California, east of Los Angeles. There’s a old pier that’s sort of a West Coast Coney Island: A Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, some games …

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‘City Birds’ Explores Nature in an Urban Environment

I just put together this short film that is an exploration of place and the beauty of nature found even in an urban environment. All footage comes from Cherry Creek in downtown Denver, near the confluence with the South Platte River, an area rich in history. It was once the seasonal camp for up to 1,500 native people led by Chief Little Raven, and it was also where Denver was founded. Today this part of …

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Are We Hard Wired to Hate?

Are We Hard Wired to Hate?

I’ve observed it again and again: People readily put other people into boxes. Rednecks are this way, nerds are that way, blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, you name it, any discernible group of people is identified by others and assigned blanket characteristics. In the past I always thought this was learned behavior. A child grows up with parents telling him or her to avoid this or that group, they’ll rob/cheat/hurt/betray/blame others (fill in the blank here). …

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William Lamson’s Place- and Time-Based Art

Last night I had the pleasure to find an unexpected film-based work at the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. William Lamson’s Action for the Delaware is as captivating as it is difficult to characterize. Lamson himself, and the Delaware River, are both subjects in this work. In essence, the artist attempts (and succeeds) in giving the illusion that he’s standing on the surface of the river. But rather than leave it at that, which is …

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