"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My grandson

Max is recovering, and the family has been blessed. Here's the latest update from the apple of my eye, daughter Dallas, in Lubbock:

 Update on Max: Off of IV Fluids, Eating Great!, Doing therapy. We are making great progress. He's upbeat most of the time and not in a lot of pain. Thank you for all your prayers!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My kids

For those of you following the near tragedy of my grandson Max being severely burned,
see facebook posts today, here'a photo of my kids at an OSU game. I am a blessed man.

From left, Dr. Todd, Max, daughter Dallas, Erin and Abby

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Powerpoint makes us stupid"


Headline:  "We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint"

Great article in today's NY Times about the military's problem with Powerpoint. Besides wasting lots of time and therefore money by relegating junior officers--called Power Point Rangers-- to spending most of their time making up the programs. The use of PowerPoint  "stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision making."

"Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable," said one General who banned power point presentations. A Marine General said, "Power point makes us stupid." The bulleted points are referred to as "Dumb-Dumb Bullets."

Still "death by PowerPoint seems here to stay," used to describe the numbing sensations that go with a 30-minute slide presentation. Of the 30 minute presentations to the media last 24 minutes with five minutes for questions. Those sessions  are called "hypnotizing chickens."

General McCrystal, in charge of the forces in Afghanistan, gets two PowerPoint presentations  per day, plus three more during the week! We're in trouble folks.

Higher ed folks, are you listening?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Illegal Aliens?

Illegal aliens are big in the news these days. Arizona has just passed a law that makes it look more red-necked than Oklahoma. Police can stop anyone who "looks like an illegal alien" for a search of papers.

What does an illegal alien look like?

Wonder what Geronimo thought? Or chief Joseph? Or the Navajo? Or Sequoyah and the Cherokees on the Trail of Tears? Come to think of it, Oklahoma is a state celebrating illegal aliens... "Sooners."

 Maybe we should go further back. I'm sure  the English thought that about William the Conqueror, the Angles of  the Saxons, and before that, the Gauls probably thought the same about the Romans. Apparently, the Canaanites had the same impression of  the Hebrews.

The United States grabbed a huge portion of the southwest from Mexico after the Mexican War. Today most of those state's, including The Republic of Texas, have Latino majorities that are growing.

When are we going to understand...you can't keep people out.

Illegal aliens are all around us. Look in the mirror.

Full Moon

Full Moon, watercolor
7" by 9", 140 pound paper

 “Time for the moon.” He rose, poured a last cup of coffee, grabbed his binoculars off the kitchen cabinet, and opened the back door.
The swollen moon inched above the silhouetted house-tops and trees, as he walked out on the wooden deck with the coffee and binoculars.
“The first time I remember seeing Aunt Sissie was when she showed me the moon,” he thought, putting the coffee down on a table, and lifting the 7 x 50 binoculars to his eyes as he twisted the focus ring.
At least, he thought he remembered the dark shadows of summer-thick bushes and trees rising above him on the sidewalk,  the black bulk of nearby buildings framing a few yellow-lit apartment windows, the huge round silver-white face in the dark Dallas sky reflecting its light off her equally round, kind face.
“Maybe it’s just that I heard Mom and Dad tell me about it; how Sissie would take me for a night-time walk and show me the moon; how I’d reach my little hands and stubby fingers for it; and how she’d tell Mom, ‘Well, Faye, get it for him.’”
The full moon always made him talk to himself, he thought.  “I know they told me Aunt Sissie would take me out in a baby carried during that summer of 1944, but seeing the moon seems fresher somehow. Mom and Dad might have told me about it, but they wouldn’t add the details about the shadows and lights.
“But when someone pays you a lot of attention at that age, and in later years you hear your folks talk about it, and then, decades later, when you go back to view the old black and white snapshots crowding family albums, what you remember and what you’ve heard sort of melt together, like the moonlight reflecting on her face that night in Dallas.”
Aunt Sissie was his favorite aunt, and even now, years after she died of cancer, when the moon jogged his memory, his throat thickened, and his eyes would water.
“Let him reach for it, Miss Vera,” was his mother’s reply to the quip about getting the moon for him. That’s what Sissie told him years later.
“Seems like you’ve been reaching every since,” she chuckled. He didn’t know if it was a blessing or a curse, or both. Maybe that was the key. Always reaching, challenged by some remote destination; yet, once attained, never satisfied. Easily bored when the newness wore off and routine set in. A journalist’s life was at once a sop and a sentence.
He treasured the full moon and moonlight, especially shining through the edges of swiftly moving clouds, or circled through the haze of thin high ice-clouds. The Apollo missions 40 years ago had captivated him. Now he rarely let a month go by without viewing the acne-scarred face through his binoculars. The full moon provoked his imagination, his memories, his fantasies, helping him write.
The moon seemed to transform everything with a magic glow--landscapes, buildings, plants, smooth human skin--things he could never quite get enough of--things he couldn’t seem to quite reach and possess, any more than he could reach the moon. But he kept reaching like the little boy who had vainly reached to touch the strange light in the sky.
“It pulls me like the tide.” His tight spinal muscles relaxed as he lowered the binoculars and sipped the coffee. “People would think I’m crazy if they knew how I anticipate the full moon. I deserve the moon.”
He heard the phone ringing inside the house, interrupting his thoughts, demanding his attention and time and no telling what else. Resentfully, turning to go in, he glanced at the sky once more. “C’mon, babe, I want you.”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Oklahoma poetry

The poetry book  "Work is Love Made Visible" by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish brings Oklahoma working folks to life with sweat-stained images.

A huge  appeal of the 64-page book are the old black and white family photos matching the imagery of her poetry. Growing up in south and south central Oklahoma, she writespoems on a variety of experiences. They include some almost prose essays like " The Etymology of Honky Tonk," complete with a family photograph from a joint in Duncan in the 1950s, and a note that the word was first used in The Daily Ardmoreite in 1894.

Perhaps my favorite poem is "Mapping Desire," about the call of back roads and looking at road maps.

For a sample, here's the first stanza of the poem that gave the book its name:

"After working all day, at home or at the garment factory
or taking care of her mother or her grandchildren,
after cooking dinner and cleaning up the kitchen
my granny would uncover her sewing machine
and stitch our family together."

again, her website:  www.tonguetiedwoman.com

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Pages of April

One of the joys of working with the national Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (judging non-fiction for the Western Heritage Awards, and writing for Persimmon Hill), is attending the big events. Every year I end up buying books from the Western Heritage Award winners, usually the photo and the poetry winners...and I get the authors to sign them.

This year, a brilliant book on Ghost Ranch in New Mexico won the photo award, and the photographer lives not too far from my uncle Mike in Santa Fe. He's spent years studying the area, which was made famous by Georgia O'Keefe, and his black and white photos, made with a 5 x 7 view camera and almost 100 year old lenses. I took students there on a study tour a few years ago. He captures it in "Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby," which includes interesting essays.
The winning poetry book "Work is Love Made Visible" is also brilliant, by an Okie  poet Jeanneta Calhoun Mish, of Norman, who pairs her poetry with old black and white photos of her family in the early years of the state. She's from Wewoka, and knows my friend, and Pulitzer prize winning journalist and member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, Vance Trimble of Wewoka.

Her poetry speaks to me of family and travels and life of working people, and I'll quote some soon. But here are the two covers, the photography copyrighted, with the Western Heritage Award winning seal on the front. Fantastic reading and memories. Links to their sites are:

Pueblo Heart

Watercolor, 5 " by 8"
140 pound paper

Letter to Bob

"Here's to Bob!" From left, Himself, Mark Zimmerman, Susan Clark, Mark Hanebutt, Gwen Olivier, Bill Hickman, Christy Vincent

Old World, April 24, 2010

Well old friend, sorry I haven't written sooner. Fact is, writing just slipped my mind, but I was browsing through a Charlie Russell book today, "Trails Plowed Under," written by the artist about a year before his death. The Introduction, written by Will Rogers in 1926, was a letter to Charlie in heaven, and I figured, what a great idea. And he started it out, "Old World."

But of course, it ain't as though we've forgotten you, you know that from the many times you've heard us toast "To Bob," in the booth and elsewhere in the five years since you've be assigned to keeping God in stitches. I figure, given the state of the world, he needs you, maybe more than us, but even if not, he does get to pull rank.

I hope you got to see and hear our party for you on our back porch earlier this month. We had a good crowd, and I'm posting the photos with this letter on my blog, just in case. I know you don't understand this blogging stuff--I remember you having trouble with email. Just think of it as a sort of digital diary and newspaper column. But yes, unlike your lead pencil, it does crash from time to time.

Anyway, in case you missed it, I  thought I'd catch you up on things down here since you left. Frankly, the place has gone steadily downhill, most of which is my fault--actually I'd like to blame you because you weren't around to set me straight. Yep, I got this wild-haired idea to merge with the communication department--I know, I can see you rolling your eyes.
We needed to get together with the broadcast folks, but the communication people came with the deal. They're good people, but as you said, they were more "touchy-feely" people than us. They do think differently.

That was five years ago, and as a testament to my foolhardiness, I got elected chair again of the whole outfit--22 full time faculty and as many part timers--a huge department--meaning of course, more problems. Then of course, not being able to get my senses straight by playing you cribbage at least once a week, I got bogged down and lost a couple of administrative battles. The result is that I'm no longer chair, having been given the job of running the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, which I do enjoy, cause I get to work with journalists and don't have to worry about all those personnel problems, and the endless administrative meetings that waste so much time, but which academics just love. But I've moved out of the building and spend less time with students.

And now, the worst news I can tell you...Sherry Sump is retiring in a couple of months.  I can tell by your silence how stunned you are. You and I used to get to the office at 7 a.m. and sit in the darkness and sign and enjoy silence and talk, and we'd often talk about what a great secretary she is...we'd agree she's the best we'd known.

So the department has changed radically since you've left, and when she's gone, it'll sure never have the same character and spirit.  Students, alumni, faculty, everybody likes Sherry. She's been here almost 15 years now--can you believe it? We joke that she's my "other wife," because we're so much alike and I rely on her so much. We were arguing with each other one day--you know, good natured disagreement like all journalists have...and a student overheard it, stuck his head in the door, and asked, "Are you two married?" Ain't that a hoot?

You can be glad you're gone, because there's more and more official nonsense and paperwork--I swear they're trying to make us all clones--and there have been no real raises since you left.Your "Sweet Pea" and family have been down to visit a couple of times, and we keep wanting to get up and visit. I hear the redbud tree we bought is doing well in your front yard.

We think of you often, almost every day, and you'd be pleased to know it always brings a smile.. Went to a NCAA basketball tournament here with son Travis--he says hello, by the way--and Kansas State was playing. Immediately, I thought of you referring to it as "Silo U."

On personal news, I've got six great grandchildren now, and I hear from Liz that your family  and grandkids are doing great things, including being at Notre Dame. Those are the important things, aren't they?

At any rate, at our party for you, I dug out the old cribbage board, your ugly green coffee cup and a photo of you and I playing cribbage in the "Booth." They were on our back porch during the party, and you were toasted many times. I used good Irish Catholic whiskey, Jameson, for the toasts. The booth has moved about a mile south of where we played, but the plaque is hanging there, and we visit it almost every week. But I haven't played cribbage since our last game.

There's some people up there I'd like you to look up and tell them I said "Hello." There's a one legged artist up there, probably doing portraits and landscapes, name of Terrence. Tell him you knew his oldest son, and  that son has taken up watercolors and is pretty good--not as good as his dad, but good enough that a Clark watercolor hangs in the Illidge manse in Wichita. And my Mom is up there too, a tall slender lady with a great sense of humor, and all her brothers and sisters. They're probably located in the East Texas section. Amble over and tell Mom how much I miss her, and share some stories.

Well, I'm about out of stuff to write. I look forward to sitting down with you for another cribbage game, but I'm not in any big hurry to do so, just yet. We think of you often and miss you. Take care of God--he needs all the good spirits he can get these days.


From left, Bill Hickman, Jill Kelsey, Suzie Bennett, David Bennett, 
Lissa Wohltmann, Daisey Nystul
 Some of the fixins'
Good spirits
Himself and broadcast colleague Gwen Olivier expressing opinions.

 "A good time was had by all"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Parable of the Bear

There is a parable for ursa horriblis...

If a twig falls in the forest
A deer will hear it,
an eagle will see it,
a grizzly bear will smell it.... .

Once upon a time..a bear story

A big old Grizzly papa bear had lived in a cave on the side of the mountain for many years. He liked his home, because he could look out from the mouth of the cave to the valley below, and a stream ran down the side of the mountain, curgling between the rocks and aspen trees.

He's spent a lot of time there, out of the glaring summer heat, in the shade of the quaking aspen, drinking cold, snow-fed water, eating berries and roots from the green undergrowth. And every once in a while he'd catch a nice big rainbow trout.

He's sit motionless beside one of the deep blue pools of water near on of the small waterfalls, looking at the occasional silver flash of fish down deep. But in the evenings, if he sat still long enough, the fish would rise to the surface to eat flies and mosquitoes caught on the suface.

Then with a mighty swing of his large paws and long claws, he'd slap down, scooping a fish out, flinging it to the bank. There it would flip-flop back and forth, silver in the setting sun, until he got to it and pulled it apart with his fangs and claws for a tasty evening meal.

Finished, he'd amble over to the nearest large aspen, rise up on his hindquarters, and scratch his back, up and down on the rough bark. After a drink from the stream, he'd make his way up the mountain to his cave, and settle in for the night, on a soft bed of pine needles, for a peaceful night of sleep, as the brilliant stars came out in the thin, cold alpine air.

He liked the quiet, except for the noisy ravens, and ate as much as he could in the brief summers and autumns before the snow began to fall again. Though he didn't really hibernate, he'd curl up in the cave and let the snow seal him in for the long months, until spring came and the smell of female bears wafted up the mountainside, raising a primal urge in his senses and body.

Other male bears stayed out of his way, because they were smaller and didn't have the huge hump of muscles that powered his forelegs and claws. He knew most of the smaller bears by their scent. He'd  fathered many of them and tolerated their presence, as long as they didn't get too close.

But one spring, he smelled a new female....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Colors of life and death

With a salute to Rusty Lang, wordwitch of the Tulsa World, and photographer of flowers and neighborhoods extraordinare, these iris grew next to my Dad's grave in Comanche, Oklahoma, by an old post oak that has has been reduced to a stump. I dug some up and have them transplanted in my yard. Thanks for the inspiration, and the hug!
Hostas growing my my yard.

And the azaleas have popped. Scarlet lake red...every time I see them I think of my red-headed cousin Sarah Beth, of Texas!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When the azaleas are blooming

Petty politics of people
harvests happiness from the air.
But at home, the azaleas are blooming
Brilliant Scarlet Lake  red,
In spite of my not having worried
over them as I should have.
At work I've poured my feelings
onto altars of falsehoods.
But at home, the cardinals are singing
and mourning doves coo
Though I do nothing but
put out water and birdseed
And drink and eat the peace
of a backyard of truth.
The smells of stress
fill the stagnant office air.
But at home, the aroma
of flowers, of greening trees,
of pinon wood and fresh planted herbs
stir with every fresh breeze
through my nostrils and pores.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekly newspapermen

A long time ago... Clark, and Donald J. Morrison, partners

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Journalism Hall of Fame, official photographs

Dennie Hall, myself, and Dr. Ray Tassin before the ribbon cutting on the 40th anniversary of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame--the old journalism geezer trio. Dr. Tassin founded the hall of fame, and the journalism department, and taught me reporting. Two out of three ain't bad.  --all photos courtesy Dan Smith, UCO photo services
The ribbon cutting for the new Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame April 9 on its 40th anniversary. The exhibition area is behind us. I thought it was fitting that founder Dr. Tassin cut the ribbon, with Dennie and I standing by. From left, Mass Comm Chair Roz Miller, Dean Pam Washington, 2010 inductee Bill Sherman of Tulsa World, the old journalism geezer trio, and  behind me, Mike Boettcher, CNN war correspondent and inductee, and inductees Gene Atkinson, Melba Lovelace of The Oklahoman, Jack Stone of the Anadarko Daily News, Sean Dyer of the El Reno Tribune, Andy Rieger of the Norman Transcript, and Ray Dyer of the El Reno Tribune.
Clark sounding important before the new logo.
Mike Boettcher of Ponca City talking about being a war correspondent in Afghanistan and elsewhere--"Don't get on your needs except to pray."
The 2010 honorees--from left, Ray Dyer, Jack Stone, Sean Dyer, Melba Lovelace, Bill Sherman, Susan Ellerbach, Gene Atkinson, Any Rieger and Mike Boettcher.

These are the kind of people who give me hope for journalism in America.
It's a pleasure to know them and work with them.

My wonderful kids

Taken last summer, at Derrick's house in Fulton, Missouri

From back, Vance, Derrick, Travis, and Dallas

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Agog at the Mingling

Susan and Tom Selleck
Terry and friend M.J. Vandeventer dancing to the live music.
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Martin Murphy and friends from Wisconsin.
M.J. and friends
Susan dreaming about Tom.

That extra western touch...

And yes, that is Lisa Sorrell, the renowned custom bootmaker from Guthrie.

Wesward, Ho!

The action at the Western Heritage Awards is a blur of people and sounds and art and delight and stories that never end.

A tip of the hats, "Howdy, Ma'am."

Some people, a lot, are agog at movie stars at the Western Heritage Awards. I'm agog at the characters and their get-ups.

Jingle Jangle Mingling

I've tried to put this evening in words before for Persimmon Hill, the magazine of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, about it's Western Heritage Awards weekend. We get to go because I'm a judge of the non-fiction book contest. But nothing tops the photography...a photographer's paradise of people and places and clothes. People watching and good fun.

Here's a sampling. Let's start with boots. Yes, I ask permission to take photos, and you have to admit, it's a rough job.

This bottom photo is of artist H.T. Holden, sitting, and his wife Edna Mae Simmons, a Waurika, Oklahoma, native who graduated from there the year I bought the newspaper. They now live in Kremlin, Oklahoma. The boots are custom made by renowned Lisa Sorrell of Guthrie, Oklahoma.

From one branch to another

In the backyard,
worrying about the future,
out of the corner of my eye
a movement in the oak tree--
a gray squirrel moves
confidently along a limb
until it becomes a branch
then almost a twig
swaying from the weight
of the traveler.
He pauses before
considering which branch
in a neighboring tree
will be the new road
for his aerial journey
above man-made obstacles below
to whereever he is going.
Then he leaps,
his tail keeping his balance,
onto a slender branch
which sags from his arrival
but his sure claws grasp it,
and he moves on to firmer wood
until it becomes limbs and trunk,
the momentary interruption
and uncertainty forgotten
as just another part of the journey.

Here's to the Navy!

 The nuclear aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, arriving in Pearl Harbor. In the background is the white U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, and beyond, the U.S.S. Missouri.

'Twas great visiting with Lt. Comdr. Steve Curry, U.S.N., Thursday. Steve, friend and former student extraordinaire, is based in that great seaport, Omaha, after worldwide assignments and duties, including Sicily, Vladivostok, and elsewhere. He was on his way to his hometown metropolis of the high plains, Plainview, Texas, to visit family. Soon, he'll be aboard the nuclear carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. (No, not in Omaha, in Everett, Washington.) Anchors a' weigh!

The Navy and I go way back, since my uncle Mike, where I got my middle name, is a WWII and Korean War combat vet in the Navy. As a kid, I made model ships, collecitng a virtual navy of my own,  and dreamed of being a sailor.

Steve loves the Navy, is proud of his country and thinks he's got the best job in the world.

My son Vance, in the Air Force, says "I work for the best organization in the world." When Vance was stationed in Hawaii, he got to visit the Abraham Lincoln at sea.

Isn't it great to live in a country where we have people of that caliber in a military of that caliber?