"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

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

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Room to breathe--Sunday in Sayre

The Spirit of the West in Sayre
The minute I get out of the city limits going west, my tension eases, even though I'm on I-40.
Halfway to Amarillo, I always stop for a walk around at Sayre, Oklahoma, right before I get into Texas. But last Sunday, at a more leisurely place, I got off I-40 for a few minutes and drove up into downtown Sayre. My traveling tension evaporated.
There's room to breathe out here in Western Oklahoma. The skies are big, the horizons long, the people friendly. 
I know a few friends from this area, including Brad and Dayva Spitzer, owners of the award-winning  weekly newspaper Sayre Record and Beckham County Democrat, and former UCO student Cody Vignal and family.  I didn't stop to visit anyone, but thought about how peaceful the town is on a quiet Sunday afternoon.
I'd traveled through here on old US 66 on my way to my freshman year in college long ago. Then I saw the old Rock Island depot, thinking about how my Dad went through here in a box car on a freight train longer than that--headed for Mexico to celebrate his high school graduation. Coming back, he tried to jump another freight in Tucumcari and lost his right leg. But he would have seen this depot.
Today, it's the aptly named Short Grass Country museum.
City hall--a monument to civic pride
The streets are wide, like the land, and the Beckham County Courthouse is distinctive as the people--Westerners as the Spirit of the West buffalo suggests on the Courthouse lawn. 
It was also featured in the movie "Grapes of Wrath," but the town is healthier and greener than that now.
 And who can miss the elegant architecture of a former bank that is now city hall? It's a monument to civic pride. Check the equally classy chamber of commerce web site for more information.
This home brightens up a normally dry country
Some of those people make sure there's color in what is usually dry country by painting their houses bright colors. 
Room to breathe--Sunday in Sayre.

Where the streets are as wide as the land--room to breathe

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Reasons I love Texas--Part 5--Two Studebaker Sunday

A Vietnam vet's memorial on the outskirts of Shamrock, Texas, with Studebaker
I love Studebakers
If you slow down...get off I-40 and take the old US 66 exit at Shamrock in the Texas Panhandle, and drive leisurely down the old mother road.
I did that last Sunday, ahead of schedule before stopping in Canyon. I love back roads, and the memories they provoke. Shamrock is known for its art-deco US 66 gas station buildings and more, but on the fringes of this town are boarded up windows, mechanic shops, old gas stations and more.
Such class
Out of the corner of my eye I saw an old Studebaker rusting away in an automobile junkyard, went past it, turned around and went back to take photos. When you drive through a small town on Sunday there's almost no traffic. 
Edsel graveyard
Understand that my first car was a Studebaker, and I've driven one and ridden in one on US 660 and parts of unfinished I-40 as a college freshman from Albuquerque to OKC years ago.  I've been in love with them ever since. There I also found the largest collection of old Edsels I've ever seen, a Hudson, a Corvair, and an old, old Ford, plus more.
Imagine if those cars could talk and  tell their stories, of their drives and roads they'd traveled and places  they'd been.
After taking those  photos, I headed on west and passed another later model Studebaker, next to another old Ford. This was outside a mechanic's shop, with a display that tells me he is a Vietnam vet, because it's also flying the American and POW/MIA flag.
It was a two Studebaker Sunday in Shamrock--more reasons I love Texas. 
*
Here's my poem for you: 
"Once there was a fellow, a raker
Who told his beautiful wife and homemaker
He'd never, ever forsake her,
If he could just buy a Studebaker."
 

Can you imagine the stories?


Friday, August 7, 2015

Reasons I love Texas--part 4--Cousins


Culp cousin reunion in Austin last april, me, Sarah Beth Foote, Jerry Clark, Brenda Reed, Bob Foote
I think I'm the only Culp cousin who doesn't live in the Republic of Texas--Good thing I'm a native Texan or they probably wouldn't fellowship me.
We've had several first cousin reunions, and the number attending is shrinking. More reasons I love Texas

Reasons I love Texas--Part 3--a story of coincidences

Christy White, Cathy Wardlow, and "Shriek" inside The Roost at Shamrock, Texas.
Getting to the point: If you're traveling through the Texas panhandle around lunchtime, get off the Interstate at Shamrock, turn south, past fast "food" places, and drive toward the white water tower. When you get there, turn left on Railroad Avenue, and you'll encounter "The Roost." Don't miss it.
Why?
This is a story about coincidences, culminating this week in meeting a friend  for the first time and my scrumptious, made from scratch,  country chicken club salad.
A few years ago I started playing "Literati" on Yahoo, a scrabble type game, where you'd play other people around the world. It's addictive and eventually, after hours of wasting perfectly good time, you'd eventually begin to recognize and play the same people.
So it was that I "met" JCWardlow, and we were pretty evenly matched. I could tell from our occasional comments about weather and such that she lived in West Texas, and eventually figured out it was in Shamrock. As an oft traveler through there to New Mexico or to visit family, I know the terrain.
Then one day, looking at Facebook comments from former student and friend Richard Mize, I saw he had a friend named Jack Wardlow II from aptly named Levelland, Texas,  west of Lubbock. This old reporter couldn't ignore the coincidence, and contacted him about the possible relation who would play Literati. I found out that JCWardlow was his mother, probably using the initials of her husband and her first name, Catherine.
I surprised her with that knowledge during one game, and we  continued to play. Then Yahoo killed Literati, which is a blessing in saving hours that could be better spent--if I'd take advantage of them.
With the advent of Facebook, Cathy and I again became "friends," sometimes briefly commenting. That's where I learned that she worked in the Shamrock cafe, The Roost, owned by her daughter Christy White. 
I always meant to stop when passing through, but alas, every time we were in the panhandle, we were in a hurry to get somewhere, or it was the wrong time of day. After a couple of unsuccessful tries, I finally located  The Roost on one of my more leisurely back road trips, but it was closed.
Until this week.
Coming back from Lubbock and Canyon Thursday I pulled into Shamrock and headed for the restaurant. When I pulled up at 10:45, there were a couple of cars parked nearby, but it looked closed.
Still, on a whim, I walked up, tried the door and pulled it open.
"Hello, are you open?" I asked, not seeing anyone.
From the back in the kitchen area came the reply, "In 15 minutes."
I kept walking in, coming around the corner, and saw two women and a man working away. From a Facebook photo, I recognized the woman at the counter, and asked, "Are you Cathy Wardlow?"
"Yes I am," she said.
"I'm Terry Clark," I said, and got invited to stay for lunch, meet her daughter Christy White, trade  some stories, and have that great salad before heading back to I-40 and home.
In between, the place started filling up with regulars in hats and boots and other West Texas garb, all known by name. It's bright and clean, with wood tables, and all kinds of chicken kinds of things for decorations. I took two photos, and the one outside doesn't do the place justice. But inside? Larupin' good. The menu is terrific, all made from scratch, all under $10, I think. Look it up and click here on  Yelp, and you'll see photos and reviews. The Roost is also on Facebook.
I want us to go back in the winter when they've got stew and cornbread. And in the summer, with more time, for that peach cobbler.
Coincidences, and more reasons I love Texas.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Reasons I love Texas--part 2

Jerry and Cathrina Clark
Three years ago, or more, I think, my brother Jerry "commissioned" a watercolor painting of the Cathedral of St. Francis in Santa Fe. Since then he's given me snarky comments at reunions, etc., about not following through. 
Hey, it's his fault, he didn't give me a deadline. In fairness, I tried...multiple times...taking photos on site, studying other photos and paintings, and failing, time and again. And, in fairness, he made it difficult. He wanted it big, and he wanted a night scene, with snow. 
Jerry and his wife Cathrina live in Lubbock, where they've constructed this beautiful Santa Fe style adobe home that stands out from all the "Dallas style" cookie-cutter brick semi-mansions around it. It's beautiful. The decor is distinctly New Mexican.
Brothers
We grew up in New Mexico, and haven't figured out how to get back on a permanent basis. Families and careers are in West Texas and Oklahoma, thank you. We are distinctly New Mexican--the place is inside us.
That made painting El Catedral Basilica de San Francisco de Asis...the accomplishment of Archbishop Lamy--daunting. You can read a fictional account in Willa Cather's "Death Comes for the Archbishop."
But, I kept trying, and this week, after having it framed at The Great Frame Up in Oklahoma City, delivered--afraid they wouldn't like it. Sigh of relief, they love it, and we hung it. We love New Mexico, and Jerry and Cathrina are more reasons I love Texas.
And before and after, Jerry and I played Scrabble, just like our folks and uncles did long ago in Albuquerque. I think we split.

Reasons I love Texas--Part I

Dallas and I--photo by Abby
Last of free summertime road trip---to the Republic of Texas to visit my daughter's family, Dallas and Todd Bell, and my grandchildren, Erin, Abby and Max, who live outside Canyon, Texas. These are among the most important reasons I love Texas!
Top photo--Dallas tells the kids, "Ok, one being silly, one for Mom." 
Abby Page, Max Samuel, and Erin Ann with Granddad!