Mirah & more

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Brooklyn-via-Portland lo-fi matriarch Mirah served as one of my introductions to independent music (and, unbeknownst to me, Northwest music), so it was truly exciting to get to interview her for the Jewish pop-culture site Jewcy about “doing the ‘woman’ thing,” the competing influence of Hebrew prayers and Stevie Wonder, and her grown-up new album, “Changing Light." 

Also exciting: Getting to go down to Eugene this spring and watch history in the making for this Portland Monthly story on how Oregon (finally) got gay marriage. The print version, combining Matty Newton’s awesome illustrations and my text, is well worth the cover price.

Lastly, I wrote my first story for Portland Business Journal, a piece about what happened after Vancouver, Washington marketing firm AHA! basically lost its biggest client. You need a subscription to read it online, but if you’ve got one, do click on over

JF

Write-up roundup

Been under deadline for one story after another for basically a month straight, so haven’t had time to report on my reporting till now. A roundup:

- I wrote a little story about Portland/Las Vegas sex-worker support organization the Cupcake Girls for BUST. (Print only—the cover story is an interview with Dolly damn Parton, so it’s well worth picking up a copy.)

- I reviewed the agoraphilic new record from Isaac Brock scions Mimicking Birds over on Wondering Sound

- …And previewed the new, percussion-and-spoken-word album from Neal Morgan—who drums for Joanna Newsom and is as close as Portland music gets to a literally unique artist—for the Oregonian

- On the theater beat, I wrote about Profile Theatre’s production of Sam Shepard's Buried Childand Ira Glass’s Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host for the O. (Love Ira, loved Ira dancing, didn’t love Ira’s dance show.) 

- For Portland Monthly’s May issue—theme: “Reasons to Love Portland"—I profiled five Portlanders leading "double lives” to pursue their passions, from a roller-derby girl/social worker to a vegetarian chef/soccer entrepreneur…

- …And for the magazine’s June issue, I profiled Daniel Wilson, roboticist and author of the bestseller (and, hopefully, soon-to-be Spielberg movie) Robopocalypse.

- Over on the business desk, I wrote about one of Oregon’s largest and oldest mixed-recycling companies for Oregon Business—and learned that contamination (trash in the recycling), resulting in large part from Portland’s home-composting program, is mucking up the recycling business.

- Finally, I penned a small piece about local wallpaper-maker the Make House for the very pretty, very cool Australian magazine Smith Journal.  

More in the pipeline!

JF

In 'A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff,' an exploration—and excommunication—of the fallen financier

“What goes up must come down.” “All good things must come to an end.” “Nothing gold can stay.” Artists and aphorists through the ages have sought to remind us — in case sunsets, autumns and deaths weren’t reminder enough — of the universe’s essential nature. Still, no shape is so alluring to our small, scared selves as the upward-sloping line.

Case in point? The Bernie Madoff scandal, in which thousands of individual and institutional investors — not to mention regulators and Madoff’s peers — were beguiled by the wealth manager’s impossibly consistent, positive returns — by the fantasy of a smooth, steadily rising course through the inevitable boom and bust of the market.

I previewed Portland artist Alicia Jo Rabins’ multidisciplinary performance piece about the Madoff scandal for the Oregonian. Thought-provoking just to write about—can’t wait to see it.

JF

America's Hard-Cider Boom Has One Problem: Not Enough Apples

I was excited to make my debut on Modern Farmer—the stylish, of-the-moment magazine for people who care where their food comes from—with this story about the U.S. cider boom’s missing ingredient: apples. Tasting cider and nerding out about apples at an orchard in rural Oregon was one of those moments where I can’t believe I get paid to do this. And this is turning out to be one of those stories that begets other stories, so hopefully, this won’t be the last cider writing I do. 

JF

Drones over pools over little-known big-time local bands

Or, what I’ve been up to lately. 

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I checked in on the Pendleton-area economy for Oregon Business and found a small wheat town with big drone dreams. The Eastern Oregon municipality of 16,838 was designated by the FAA last year as one of a limited number of commercial unmanned-aerial-vehicle testing ranges across the country. “So the story of Pendleton became a tale of two cities,” I write. “One a farm town with deep roots, the other a tech outpost with high-flying aspirations." (Photo above, of Eastern Oregon wheat and airspace, by Bill Peal.)

Over at The Oregonian, I previewed and reviewed Theatre Vertigo’s brilliant production of Mark Ravenhill’s seriously screwed-up play pool (no water). I never pass up an opportunity to quote Virginia Woolf: "With this play, Ravenhill plunges into the unlit recesses of the human soul without fear – and where he boldly goes, Vertigo follows. What they resurface with is an unflattering portrayal of our tendency to project insecurities onto innocent others, turning complex people – even friends – into what Virginia Woolf called ‘spectres with which one battles in the night…spectres who stand astride us and suck up half our life-blood, dominators and tyrants.’”

Finally, also for the O, I profiled the most successful Portland band most Portlanders have never heard of, electropop duo Mackintosh Braun. Always love getting into the nooks and crannies of the local scene. 

JF