"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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The coming death of public higher education

Dr, Hochenauer
Colleague, friend, and top blogger Kurt Hochenauer writes  "Okie funk," a blog that's won national and state awards, and is the result of hours he puts into it every week, year after year.
While it's a "liberal" political blog, he articles don't call names, but offer opinions of facts and trends in this very conservative state. though now an English professor, his background as a newspaper reporter shows in everything he writers.
His most recent article is a response on OU President David Boren's warning of the death of public higher education. I think it's a must read, because both Boren (a conservative, a scholar, a former governor and senator and I think the most powerful person in Oklahoma) talk about facts I see even here at UCO, such as our so called "profit-share"  of summer funds with departments. That is part of the "corporate model" referred to in the article, one that could lead to the death of public higher education, and make it accessible only to the rich.
David Boren
I started to quote just a few of the thought provoking comments from Kurt's blog, but discovered I'd want to quote them all.
So here, check on the link for an analysis of a chilling trend in Oklahoma higher education, "Boren's lament."


Monday, April 29, 2013

Marathon mother's memories

Roxanne and Jennifer Henry from her blog.
What's it like to run a marathon? I'll never know, but a fellow blogger ran the Oklahoma City marathon Sunday, along with her daughter and niece, and she tells about it on her blog Jenniferuns is 51.
It's a complete first person account by Jennifer Henry. Jennifer is the wife of my brother-in-law Jim Henry. She' an athlete, yoga teacher  and amazing positive personality.
(No, she's not my sister-in-law--picky picky--she's married to my brother-in-law and that makes her my wife's sister-in-law. Hey, as a curmudgeon, you have to know these things). And she knows running and writing.

Read her account.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Giants of the Great Plains

Oklahoma skyscraper watercolor, 15 by 22, 300 pound d'Arches paper
You can't live on the Great Plains and not notice the skies, and fall in love with their many moods, colors and changes.
The new issue of Oklahoma Today carried a 10-page section, "Storm Watch," carrying 13 photos from three photographers, plus the cover photo. The double page spread photo by Mark W. Nault, of this thunderhead near Okarche, caught my imagination. First watercolor in too long.

Monday, April 22, 2013

When irises bloom in the dooryard, day by day

My favorite line of poetry, the one I consider the most powerful and haunting in American literature, is Whitman's opening elegy to Lincoln--
"When lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed... "
We have some special irises planted in our dooryard, and they didn't bloom last year, but I noticed buds a week ago, and over the past three days, have photographed the miracle of spring.
The reason they're special is that I dug them up from next to my Dad's grave in Fairlawn Cemetery in Comanche, Oklahoma, a few years ago, and brought them home. I wrote about them two years ago on this blog, but was worried last year, and they're late this year. 
They give me hope, and memories, especially as I age. Dad will have been dead 40 years this December.  The irises are still alive. The tree and the stump of the tree  that they grew around are now gone, though some of these irises still grow there. See that article and photos  at


So anyway, here are the photographs of the iris blooming in the dooryard, and you can see time.


Three days ago

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The most important thing in the world...to be loved

Revelation...I am very slow to learn, though I have had multiple examples throughout my life... .

It hit me tonight when I heard how my granddaughter Katherine Clark took our painting to her class to show, and "beamed," said her mother Kerin.

The most important thing in the world is ...

To be loved

That means giving love. That means the worst sin is not loving, or destroying love...I plead guilty

And the only forgiveness, and living, is loving...and I am guilty.

No wonder, "God is love." 

Love is a verb.  That's means, I have known God.
Why did it take me so long to learn, what Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians:

If I speak in the languages of humans and angels but have no love, I have become a reverberating gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing. Even if I give away everything that I have and sacrifice myself,  but have no love, I gain nothing.
Love is always patient;
love is always kind;
love is never envious
or arrogant with pride.
Nor is she conceited,
and she is never rude;
she never thinks just of herself
or ever gets annoyed.
She never is resentful;
is never glad with sin;
she’s always glad to side with truth,
and pleased that truth will win.b
She bears up under everything;
believes the best in all;
there is no limit to her hope,
and never will she fall.
Love never fails.
Right now, three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thinking on good things--painting with grandchildren

After yesterday's tragedy in Boston, I'm at a loss for words, and then I began looking through my photographs, of stories unwritten. And there, waiting to be shared, were photographs from my trip to Germany last month to visit son Vance, daughter-in-law Kerin, and granddaughters Katherine, Sarah Beth, and Neysa. Good stories and memories which also put life in perspective.

Sizing up the subject
One of my highlights was getting to go watercolor painting with Katherine, who is quite the artist, at her request. So Vance and family drove us to the castle at Lichtenberg, which has the largest "keep" in Europe. It was cold, but we bundled up, and found a good place to sit on a stone trough, and painted. Little sister Neysa joined us briefly. I drew the castle and we both painted on it and signed it, while the rest of the Clarks toured the castle. I don't know about her, but I'll remember this forever.

Little sister looks on

Artist Katherine with the castle in background
Later that week, we attended the art extravaganza
at Katherine's school, to see her art and we took photos there too. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston...So American, So Transcendental.

Transcendental. Literature, History. Education. Rebellion. Religion. Politics. Sports. 
Settled in 1630 by Puritans, who named it after a town in England.Harvard--America's first college in 1636. America's first public school in 1634.
Revolution. Boston Tea Party. Paul Revere. The Battles of Concord and Lexington and the "shot heard 'round the world. Battle of Bunker Hill. Boston Massacre.  John Adams. 
Thoreau and Walden Pond. Emerson. Alcott. Longfellow--the Transcendentalists. "The Athens of America." 
First subway. 16 percent Irish. Catholic. Jewish. Tip O'Neil. JFK and the Kennedys. 15,000 people in 1760. Now, 600,000+ people, including 7.6 million in area. Home to MIT and 100 colleges and universities. Global economic dynamo. Boston Globe with 16 Pulitzers. 
Boston Red Sox, founding member of American League. The Celtics. New England Patriots. The Boston Marathon, world's oldest annual marathon, one of six World Marathon Majors.  Started in 1897 after 1896 Summer Olympics marathon. Always held on third Monday in April, Patriots' Day. More transcendental that ever. So American. Boston.

A party for my journalistic friends--III

Here are the short biographies and photos of the nine outstanding journalists being inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism hall of Fame this Thursday.

JAMES COBURN (1955-) has served as reporter and photographer for The Edmond Sun since 1986. A native of Oklahoma City, flexibility is Coburn’s middle name, going from a passion as photographer to feature *writer and then the city beat and state politics. He was on the scene of the Edmond Postal massacre, and one of the first at the Murrah bombing. His investigative pieces have included nursing homes, race relations, Alzheimer’s, death row, drunken driving, and the homeless. He writes annually about the HOPE center project helping raise funds. He’s won two sweepstakes awards from AP, and first places from AP and SPJ. He won the American Cancer Society’s High Plains Media Award in 2008 and 2009. He won the Edmond Historical Society Historic Preservation Award as well as Photo of the Year from the Oklahoma Press Association.

JOE HANCOCK (1929- ), publisher of the  Hobart Democrat-Chief, began working in newspapers at age nine, five years before his father bought the Democrat-Chief. He worked as a fill-in Linotype operator during summers for papers at Anadarko, Mangum, Frederick and Duncan. While a student at OU,  he worked as operator at the Norman Transcript and Oklahoma Daily. After a two-year stint in the Army, he returned to the Democrat-Chief in 1953, selling advertising and writing sports. He became publisher in 1974 when his father died. He’s active in civic and state associations including the Kiwanis Club and serving on the OU Athletics Council. Name Hobart Citizen of the Year in 1998, he has been president of the Hobart Housing Board sine 1972.  He was president of OPA in 1991-92, and earned the Milt Phillips Award in 2006, OPA’s highest honor.

JOE HIGHT (1958- ) became editor of The Colorado Springs Gazette in 2012 after a 27-year career with The Oklahoman. Hight began his career on The Vista at Central State University. He worked at the Guthrie Daily Leader, the Lawton Constitution and the Shawnee News-Star before joining The Oklahoman in 1985 as a reporter. He held many newsroom jobs before becoming a managing editor in 1999 and director of information and development in 2007. Active in community and professional organizations, he was president of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, chairman of the Mid-America Press Institute and elected to the national APME board. He’s written numerous booklets and articles for the Dart Center, APME and other publications.  He’s taught and lectured for universities and media groups around the world, been involved in efforts that have garnered national awards, and has been featured in books.

JOHN KLEIN (1953- ), senior sports columnist since 2005 for The Tulsa World, began his career in high school as a sports writer for the Perry Daily Journal, crediting Milo Watson with encouraging his career. After graduation from OSU, he was sports editor for the Daily Ardmoreite in 1976-78 before joining the Tulsa World as sports writer.  He worked for the Houston Post in 1985-1990 covering the Southwest Conference, before returning to the World  as state reporter playing an important part of the Murrah building bombing. He became sports editor and columnist in 1995. Known for his enthusiastic storytelling, he has covered football, basketball, NASCAR, boxing and golfing. Winning numerous awards, he was Oklahoma sportswriter of the year in 2000, the top national wrestling writer for seven straight years and the top college baseball writer in the country in the 1980s.

JERRY LAIZURE (1953-2012), senior photographer at the Norman Transcript, worked for Oklahoma newspapers since age 14 when he fibbed about his age at the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise to start as a paper boy. He worked at Pawhuska before studying journalism at OU, where he worked in the production shop at the Oklahoma Daily. He worked briefly for the Oil and Gas Journal before co-founding the Cleveland County Record in Noble in 1984, before it was bought by The Norman Transcript in 1989. His photos won multiple awards from the AP, SPJ and OPA. He helped usher in the digital age of news and photography coverage for the Transcript and other papers, and was often first on the scene of breaking news events, easily  recognizable for his Hawaiian shirts and Santa Claus hats.

MIKE MCCARVILLE (1940- ) has built a national following in political coverage with online The McCarville Report, beginning in 1980. He started as a teen correspondent in Del City  for the Oklahoma City Times in 1957, served in the Army and returned to the Daily Oklahoman and Times in 1961 as reporter. He was publisher of the Del City News in 1963 and worked at the Oklahoma Journal,  Tulsa Tribune,  Norman Transcript and Oklahoma Courier. He  became assistant news director of KWTV in  1971-72. He was  Gov. Dewey Bartlett’s press secretary and worked in his senatorial campaign. He worked at KTOK Radio as investigative reporter, talk show host and program director in 1991-2005. He’s been active in several national and state organizations, including being director of the National Association of Business Political Action Committees.

MARY MÉLON (1961- ), president and publisher of The Journal Record, was named publisher in 2001 after serving as advertising director and associate publisher beginning in 1995. She is a member of the senior management corporate team for The Journal Record’s parent company, the Dolan Company, and serves as group publisher of daily group operations for five additional markets. Mélon earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from OU in 1983. A member of the downtown Rotary Club, she was named Rotarian of the Year in 2003-2004. In 2004, she received 2004 Association for Women in Communications Byliner Award. She was awarded the 2008 Embrace Award by the YWCA, for empowering women and eliminating racism and was inducted into the OCU Meinders School of Business Hall of Honor in 2012.

TOM MUCHMORE (1950- ) is the third generation publisher of The Ponca City News and The Tonkawa News. He also owns and is manager of WBBZ Radio and president of poncacity.net, an Internet provider. He graduated from Ponca City Senior High School and earned a BBA degree from OU. He’s involved in a multitude of professional organizations in Oklahoma and has served as chairman of the Ponca City Area Chamber of Commerce and other civic organizations. He is currently a trustee on the Lew Wentz Foundation at OSU and a member the OSU Student Media Board. Muchmore received Ponca City’s Outstanding Citizen Award in 2001. He served as president of the Oklahoma Press Association in 1997, and was honored with OPA’s highest honor, the Milt Phillips Award in 2009.

OLIVER C. MURRAY (1941- ) joined the newsroom at WKY-TV (Now KFOR) in 1968 after serving in the Army, becoming the first African American photojournalist in the city. He held many positions including chief news photographer and production/operations manager in a 38-year career. He became a force in the newsroom as a role model for minorities and with the advent of electronic journalism, helping pioneer live news coverage, commanding the station’s and Oklahoma’s  first “live truck.” He, Bob Dotson and George Wesley teamed to produce a documentary on black history in Oklahoma that won three  Emmys. He covered the state capitol, the 1973 McAlester Prison riot, the 1977 Girl Scout murders and the 1995 Murrah building bombing. He was instrumental in starting the local chapter of the Association of Black Journalists.

A party for my journalistic friends--II

Here's the official news release about this week's  Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame ceremony.

Nine outstanding journalists will be inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame this Thursday  at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Journalism honorees, 2013
Honorees are James Coburn, veteran reporter for The Edmond Sun; Joe Hancock, publisher of the Hobart Democrat-Chief; Joe Hight, editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette; John Klein, sports columnist for the Tulsa World; Mike McCarville of the national political  The McCarville Report: Mary Mélon, president and publisher of The Journal Record;  Tom Muchmore, publisher of The Ponca City News; Jerry Laizure, photographer of The Norman Transcript who died late last year; and Oliver C. Murray, pioneer photojournalist for WKY/KFOR-TV.

The luncheon program will be begin at 11:45 a.m. on the third floor of the Nigh University Center, across the hall from the Hall of Fame exhibition hall, said Dr. Terry M. Clark, director of the Hall of Fame. Master of ceremonies will be Mark Thomas, executive vice-president of the Oklahoma Press Association.

    Dr. Don Betz, president of UCO, will welcome the crowd. More than 250 journalists, friends and families are expected for the Hall of Fame ceremony.

“The annual ceremony has become an informal homecoming for honorees and families. The Hall is a virtual Who’s Who of Oklahoma Journalism, and the crowd will be filled with the giants of the profession,” Clark said.

The ceremony will include the first Oklahoma Press Association Award to a student with outstanding promise in newspaper journalism, funded by donations from judges of monthly writing contests. Also to be awarded will be Brian J. Walke scholarship in journalism ethics to a student at UCO.

Honorees are selected by a committee composed of members of the working press and the Hall of Fame. The committee sifts through all nominations, both new ones and those held over from previous years before selecting the nine honorees. Nomination forms are available at any time from the Hall of Fame office at UCO.

Framed citations are on display in the Hall of Fame in the Nigh University Center at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Former Journalism Chairman Dr. Ray Tassin founded the Hall of Fame in 1971 and this year’s inductees make 390 total members. The Hall is supported with funding from UCO and The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation.


A party for my journalistic friends--I

This week marks the 43rd year of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, and it's my pleasure and joy to be "working" to coordinate the event. We will have the largest crowd ever Thursday, with almost 300 people present to honor nine new inductees and reunite the previous ones. We have more than 40 of the members registered to attend our luncheon and ceremony here at UCO.
It was my pleasure three years ago to preside over the 40th anniversary celebration, including the dedication of the new display hall in the university center. Attending was the founder of the hall of fame, Dr. Ray Tassin, my predecessor as chair and actually my undergraduate journalism teacher. Ray has since died, but it was so great to have him seem how far his idea has come, attracting statewide attention from small beginnings. 
And I get to work again with friend and long time assistant Sherry Sump, who comes in during the spring semester to keep this thing really organized and get the bills paid. She and I were just scanning the display area this morning, talking about the ones we've inducted, many of whom I know and have known, the ones who have died. What a crowd of characters and people who've had an impact on Oklahomans.
One of my friends and professor colleagues once said to me--"Clark, you've got a great job. you teach and once a year throw a party for your friends."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A brand of hope in wet concrete, and questions

I've seen this symbol many times in my life but this one caught my eye this weekend on a decaying sidewalk in Norman. I wondered about the people working on that Depression era crew long ago  in Oklahoma in the residential neighborhood of small frame houses. How hot was it? How long had they been working that day? Where were they all from? Which hands were assigned to place this symbol, this brand, of hope and three meals a day in hard times, in this concrete? They're all dead now, but still I wonder.
Then it occurred to me that I've never seen the tool that was used to imprint this brand of hope in the still wet concrete. Was it like a cattle brand? Was it a badge of honor and experience to be selected to place the mark of a long day's work in something that would last? Who designed the tool? Where were they made? What were they called? Have they all rusted away, or been melted down for metal in the war years? So many questions, unanswered in the years.

Weatherbeaten poetry

Whose hands
crafted a future relic
With pride and care
Measuring and cutting
nailing and painting
admiring and hanging?
Watching it age
like the hands that made it.
Till one day
repairable no longer,
stained with years,
it returns slowly
whence it came.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The blog and flags at 100

New Caledonia's flag
"Where is that?" I asked myself when a reader from another country I hadn't seen before showed up on my stats for this blog. As a geography nut, I knew it had to be in the Pacific, but that had to be it. It is ironic I think, that when Coffee with Clark hits the 100 mark--having readers from 100 different countries, that it be one I can't immediately locate.
New Caledonia...an archipelago 1,210 miles east of Australia is a "special collectivity" (territory) of France, including the main island of Grande Terre. Its flag is relatively new, because until 2010 the only flag was the French tricolor. Now it is one of only a few territories in the world with two official national flags (sorta like Texas). That's the year the French approved the Kanak flag, the flag of the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation front from 1980.
The symbols--blue for the sky and ocean; red for the blood shed by the Kanaks for independence, socialism and unity; green for the land and their ancestors; the yellow disc for the sun; the black symbol, an arrow adorning Kanak roofs piercing tutut shells.
New Caledonia was discovered by James Cook in 1774 who named it New Caledonia because part of the coast reminded him of Scotland--my thought is that he must have been very homesick. Many of the inhabitants were victims of "blackbirding," slavery to work in sugar cane plantations in Fiji and Queensland. English missionaries arrived in 1840, and in 1849 the crew of an American ship was killed and eaten by inhabitants.
The French took over in 1853 and made it a penal colony, discovered nickel in the 1860s, and began mining, importing labor, and diseases that killed many of the local people. During WWII it supported Free France and force the Vichy governor to leave, and the capital Noumea became a naval base from which the US Navy was able to win the Battle of the Coral Sea.
After the war there was the usual colonial tension, including rebellions and bloodshed through the 1980s.  But in 1998, agreements were reached for gradual transfer of power to local government. That may be more than you want to know, but it's interesting to me how much history is in small, remote places, and that at least one person there, among a population of about 250,000, has hit on this blog.

Coffee with Clark Saturday morning

Thinking, with the help of coffee in my granddaughter's Katherine Emerson Clark art designed coffee cup

Monday, April 8, 2013

March madness, exhaustion, and type heaven

March madness mean something new to me. My spring break trip to Germany to see my son Vance, his wife Kerin, and three granddaughters--Katherine, Sarah Beth, and Neysa, gave me a one week reprieve from three months of blogging every day. But by the end of the month, I was done.
The blog still reached the most hits it ever had in a month, just a few short of 4,000. Since then, I've stewed, with lots to write, but no deadline, little motivation. Thankfully, both a Ugandan and Lithuanian clicked on the blog this week, promoting writing.
I'm now behind in daily blogs, but at least it's moving again, motivation for this Capricorn first born, thinking about the letters I effortlessly type compared to what Gutenberg did in Germany almost 500 years ago.

New readers, closing on 100 countries

In the past week, the blog has attracted readers from two more countries, bringing the total to 98, not counting the USA. These come from countries with long histories that have been occupied, and their borders changed during history, before finally becoming independent. We in America with a short history, forget how much geography and political rule have changed around the world as various strong powers have exerted their rule.
These newcomers are from Lithuania and Uganda. That means the blog has readers from all the Baltic states, including Latvia and  Estonia. Uganda becomes the eleventh African country on the roll.
Lithuania formed a commonwealth with Poland to the south for about 200 years, but fell to Russia and others in the 1700s. It declared independence after WWI, but was occupied by the Soviet Union, and then  and Germany throughout WWII, when USSR took over. But before the breakup of the USSR, it was the first Socialist Republic to declare independence. A salute!
The flag was used between the wars, and then adopted in 1989, two years before the USSR fell. The history of the colors vary, but are prevalent in folk art.
Uganda's flag dates from 1962, the year it gained independences from the UK. The colors represent the African people, the son, and the blood of African brotherhood. The gray crowned crane, a national symbol, and the military badge of Ugandan soldiers during British rule.
The area was invaded by missionaries in the late 1800s, followed by the British which ruled under the East Africa Company. It imported 30,000+ workers to build the Uganda railroad, but many Indians stayed after completion. The final area took shape in 1914.
It's a troubled land. In the early 1900s, sleeping sickness killed more than a quarter-million---two thirds of the population. Since independence, it's had a history of military coups, the worse from Idi Amin in the 1970s, who killed more than 300,000 and drove out the remaining Indians. The current leader has been in power since the 1990s.  But it is a beautiful land, with wonderful people. Salute!