A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper personal column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in more than 130 countries.-- My metaphor--Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The U.S.A.--The United States of Afraid?

Great Wall of China
All the political talk about building a wall between us and Mexico is more than disturbing, considering history.
Remember, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall"? Now, we're saying, "Mr. Trump, Build that wall."
Consider the historic walls, many designed to keep people out, or is it to keep people in?  
What's the difference? A matter of perception, perhaps. Aren't they all built on fear? Today there is a story on the front page of the New York Times about Hungary building a fence to keep immigrants out. 
What kind of mindset does it create
for those living behind a wall?
Consider our high-priced "gated communities," many with guards at the gates and medieval architecture. All the houses are cookie cutter and all the people living inside think alike--perhaps medievally, excluding those who are different. 
You become hostages in your own land, thinking like medieval people seeking refuge in a stone castle for protection against the barbarians. I understand armed guards at military gates, but those living inside are not living in fear.
Has the U.S.A. become the United States of Afraid?
And, in the long span of history, have any of these walls actually worked? 
Here are some other famous walls, in historical order.
Hadrian's Wall, England
Maginot Line, France

Berlin Wall

North-South Korea

Israel

U.S.-Mexico


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Never on the rocks--from the "Whisky Correspondent"

Here's the story that appeared in the July 29 issue of the Journal Record, the daily business newspaper in Oklahoma City. After a dram of Ardbeg's last night, I wanted to share with you what I wrote. I think I earned the appellation "Whisky Correspondent" at the paper, so I'm looking for new assignments.  Headlined, "Never on the Rocks," which was the title of my previous post too. This was the most fun I've had on an article in a long time, especially in the "research" before writing it. 


Oklahomans who gather after work with  their blended scotch on the rocks cocktails would discover an entirely different whisky world in Scotland.
While Dewars and Famous Grouse top the Scotch whiskies sales charts here, they're weak in that and taste too in the home of more distilleries and whiskies than anywhere else in the world. Single malts are king, and not just on the Royal Mile of Edinburgh.
"You can buy Dewars at the airport," said Alan Rogerson, assistant manager at at one of the Whisky Trail stores in Edinburgh, a city that seems to have more whisky stores than Oklahoma City has convenience stores. The shelves are lined with hundreds of bottles of single malts. About the only similarity with America is that Famous Grouse is the best selling blend in Scotland.

Amie Hendrickson, manager and sommelier at the Edmond Wine Shop, agreed.
"Blends are the favorites and best sellers," she said. Her main distributors report Dewars as the best selling scotch in the state, and it and Famous Grouse are among the top sellers at the Edmond store.
But in Oklahoma, the best selling single malt usually includes The Glenlivet, Hendrickson's suppliers report, though several other brands  are also favorites, while the best selling scotch in the world is Glenfiddich, Rogerson said.
Hendrickson's not surprised at the variety.
"Single  malt drinkers tend to be more adventurous and try more, but they all have their favorites,"  she said.
And scotch isn't as popular in Oklahoma as other liquors, said Randa Warren, of Warren Wine and Spirits in Tulsa. Warren is the only master sommelier in Oklahoma, and said that vodka and others outsell Scotch here.

Drinking and buying scotch in Scotland is an adventure as different as the blends and single malts.
Hendrickson said the blends are designed to be refreshing and delicious, for use in cocktails.
"They're not complex. Many blended drinkers don't even like single malts, the flavor is so different. There's as much complexity in scotches as there is in wine,"  she said.
It's no wonder. Scotland, with more than 100  whisky distilleries, produces single malts by the hundreds, in an area a little smaller than the state of Maine. America is second in the world, with just 15.
To experience the full range of adventure, visitors should put The Scotch Whisky Experience (http://www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk/) on their travel itinerary. Located at the foot of Edinburgh castle, it offers an hour-long tour explaining the distilling process. Or visitors can just go to the store….lined with hundreds of bottles of scotch from all of the country's six producing regions.

A visit to the bar offers single drams, or "tastings" (what Americans would call "flights")  of four different whiskies. Prices start at about 23 pounds (current exchange rate is about $1.60). That first flight offers four drams from four of the  distillery regions, culminating in a smokey, peaty Ardbeg malt from the isle of Islay. For the more adventurous, and richer, there are other tastings, ranging up to more than 100 pounds in price.
Staff members at any of the  stores--regardless of age-- all seem to be whisky experts and the word "adventurous" is a word that keeps coming up in reference to scotch.
Caleb Jaffray of The Scotch Whisky Experience said that the Ardbeg Uigeadail scotch  is "dark and mysterious," and at 50 percent alcohol might need just a little water to "open it up" in flavor.

Water perhaps, but never on the rocks as in Oklahoma on a hot August day. Scotland's cold enough, but drinking Scotch there is a ritual of swirling, sniffing, and slowing sipping, perhaps while dreaming of sitting by a blazing fire after a cold day in the highlands.
Those sampling at the Whiskey Experience tastings take at least 30 minutes to sample those malts. It also helps them to be able to walk out afterward.
 Henderson said that scotch sales in Oklahoma increase in the winter, between January and March.
In most of the English speaking world, it's spelled "whiskey." But  in Scotland, it's "whisky" and the tastes and sales are as different as the spelling.
Scotch is serious business in Scotland, where its production must meet specific standards. Single malts must be aged at least 10 years in barrels--some up to 30 years, and must be at least 40 percent alcohol. But blends make up a majority of the production because of worldwide sales demands in places like Oklahoma.
Your whisky correspondent at work
 

Hendrickson and her husband vacationed on the isle of Islay this past year, visiting distilleries.
For the adventurous who want to try really expensive scotch, she recommends going to a "high-end" steakhouse, and ordering one dram at the bar. 

"If you want to know what a really expensive  Scotch tastes like, order one $100 dram and share  who you're with. Those many varieties cater to many different tastes," she said.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Coffee with Clark, and Curry

Susan and I had a great visit yesterday with friend and 1993 UCO grad Steve Curry, USN, and his fiance, Marti Powers of Houston. He wanted the Coffee with Clark photo, and here it is...alas, we neglected to get a photo of him and Marti. But we'll have to visit, also to see my blood red painting of the Alamo hanging in her home. I do think Starbucks ought to pay us for this, don't you?
And, here's the 1993 graduation plaque hanging in our UCO building with Steve's name on it. This is the guy who got me the Tiger Cruise on the USS Abraham Lincoln three years ago.

80 years ago today, America mourned for two Okies

Terrence Miller Clark's masterpiece portrait of Will Rogers
Two of the most famous Oklahomans died today, 80 years ago, when Will Rogers and Wiley Post died in a plane crash at Point Barrow Alaska. 
America mourned, but for Okies the loss was even greater-- they were everyone's heroes, idolized during the tough Depression years. 
The photo Dad used to draw from
We grew up with Will all around us in the Clark household, with books, sketches and our father's masterpiece portrait. My Dad's pencil portrait of Will, which took him a painstaking 14 months to draw when Will was still fresh in that generation's memory, is his best portrait work, showing all the famous people he knew. Damaged over the years, and aging, it hangs in my brother's house in Lubbock. Fortunately we have surviving 12" by 16" rotogravure prints  (About one fourth the size of the original). Dad had them made in the 1950s to try to sell. That didn't work, but they keep showing up in long forgotten friends' and relatives' houses--given as gifts--or even on ebay. One hangs in my office, and we have a few left.
As far as I'm concerned Dad, a relatively unknown poor Okie boy, set the example that Charles Banks Wilson years later followed or whatever for a much less detailed but famous color portrait of Will. You can see for yourself.
The memorial near Wiley Post's grave
And by coincidence, Wiley Post's grave is only about five miles from here in Memorial Park Cemetery on Memorial Road and Kelly.
Here are Dad's portrait, Wiley's grave memorial, and the key to all the people in Dad's portrait.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Happiness is...

Youngest son Derrick and I today
I've heard it said that you can't depend on others to be happy, that it has to come from within, that it is not something to seek, but something deeper.
Perhaps, certainly not to seek, and a state of being. I don't know, as I'm not a philosopher. But I know this, that happiness does come from other people. I don't think whoever said your happiness shouldn't depend on other people was ever a parent.
As a grandparent, and a parent, much of my happiness
Barrett Clark
depends on how my children fare. I remember praying as a young parent that my children would have long lives and be happy. 

If they're happy, it affects me, and vice versa. And when I'm around them, both emotions can be infectious. I've been blessed this past week to hear five of the grandchildren run up to me saying, "Granddad!"
I'm blessed with healthy children and they're generally very happy. I depend on that, especially as I get older.
Liberty Clark

Derrick with Barrett and Liberty Clark at the science museum in OKC today