"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.

Friday, May 27, 2016

"Killed in Action"--Memorial Day amid the Oklahoma graves

Memorial Day, Decoration Day. There will be flags on the graves of veterans all over the U.S. and the world this weekend, trying to remind us that it's not just a three-day weekend.
I am always attracted throughout the year to rural cemeteries, and to National Cemeteries. So many stories, so many lives. 
You don't have to go far, to see graves of men who died for their country, the original reason Memorial Day was established.
In a small cemetery very few miles from our house, the Luther cemetery, just north of US 66, I've wandered many times. This past fall, I discovered two fascinating graves I hadn't seen before. It wasn't a holiday, but there were flags on many veterans graves, and Old Glory flew on a monument overlook others.
The most striking was  that of Ferrell E. Messer, who died  in Vietnam at age 19 in 1969--just five years younger than I--unable to vote, but eligible to die for his country. The grave is topped with half an infantry helmet and a cross  telling freedom's story. I wonder about his heart-broken parents and family, and survivors. 
His grave is not alone in those who died in combat. 
Underneath the cemetery flag is a monument to the servicemen, and one of the sides honors William M. Perkins, 24 years old, of the Rainbow Division, who died 98 years ago in 1918 in France in WWI. (The St. Mihiel battle was in September, two months before the end of the war.)
Do yourself a favor and go walk through a cemetery this weekend. See out the graves with flags on them. It's a Memorial...not a holiday.

Friday, May 20, 2016

When I'm in a concentration camp

Painted two years ago, and owned by step-son-in-law Jake Harms.
You won't be able to visit me, or it will imperil your safety.
You won't be able to say my name, or even mail me.
You will have to disavow you knew me.
You will have to affirm, under oath, that you knew all along, I was a traitor.
You will have to join the majority, goose step and salute with cheers to the dictator. 
You will have to "vote" unanimously to disband schools, to destroy libraries, to repeal the Bill of Rights, to censor all art and music.
It will begin in one of the smallest states, and spread, like cancer, an infection of the mind, of the soul, of humanity, by selfish forces of delusion and division, of intolerance and insecurity, and funded by the hunger for power, not for people.
I will understand, because I will be one of the first to be rounded up and sent behind barbed wire for "national security."
I will admit that I used you, deceived you, led you astray against your wishes.
I will deny that you ever agreed with me, and affirm that you were afraid to disagree with me. 
I will die doing slave labor to build a wall in 100 degree heat in a desert compound where there is a cup of water, and a piece of bread every day.
Or I will be executed for failing to bow down, or salute and repeat the mindless sayings of the "leader," or for trying to escape into the deadly heat of the desert.
I hate pain, and that is my great weakness, but I would rather be shot in the back running away than suffer.
But just know, that my memories of you will sustain me with joy; that I will not judge you for staying away, that I will pray for your survival--knowing that this too shall pass--because souls are eternal--that despots and demagogues are not. 
But I will weep for the loss, for America, and freedoms, and decency, and morality--stolen and fueled  because of a "leader's" manipulation of fear, and hatred, and racism, and violence, and intolerance,  and demagoguery, and ignorance, and extremist religion and politics.
They will come for you next. 
I wish this were a fantasy. 

First ever "vlog" post for #clarkclass!

Students make the difference. I learn from them. One of the most creative and "color-outside-the-lines" students I've had is Jade Braun.

Here's her vlog (video blog) of Rob Crissinger speaking in my Twitter for Media #clarkclass last week.


Here also is the link to it  on her blog: https://jadebraun.squarespace.com/

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Tradition in nontraditional twitter class

My twitter page with group shot, from January
My most exciting class at UCO these days is my Twitter for Media class, taught only in intersessions for two cram-packed weeks. 
It's also extremely satisfying to me because this traditional journalistic geezer is learning new tricks, teaching new things and connecting with bunches of terrific students as well as cool and energetic professionals, many of them my former students.
This makes about the fourth year I've taught it in between semesters in winter, and in May, I think, and its strength is the professionals in all areas who I bring in to talk to my students about how this social media tool has transformed communication in many fields.
I hashtagged the course #clarkclass in the early going, and it has become its own brand, with proud "alumni" no less. Students say it's more a class about life than twitter, and mark it as one of the most important they've ever had, in spite of the people who turn their noses up at it, thinking it's a blow off.
It is laid back, but it's intense at the same time.
After each speaker, the class "debriefs. "You can get running summaries of what the speakers say by checking my blog for the class #clarkclassUCO, click here: http://clarkclass.blogspot.uco.
You can also follow the twitter stream on the class, including student comments and assignments by going on twitter and searching #clarkclass. The speakers vary a little from time to time, but all bring insights. Last year at the closing session, one of the speakers Jenny Grigsby @refreshcreate took a group photo of us. It's currently at the top of my twitter home page above.
But this year, our first speaker, Jill Castilla, @JillCastilla, dynamic president and CEO of Citizens Bank in Edmond, suggested a "selfie."
Thus has been born another tradition in a nontraditional class...Group photos. We have seven more speakers coming up this coming week. Stay tuned.
Here are the group shots so far:
@JillCastilla, with @Okieprof in the background

@Dezhill UCO broadcasting professor Desiree Hill

@MikeSherman, UCO alum and sports editor, The Oklahoman

@rcrissinger, Rob Crissinger, UCO alum and vice president of Bumbershoot PR

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tomorrow's pilgrimage toward a reunion

They're all gone now--Sissie, ET, Mom, Ima, Addy, Gladys
Francis Faye Culp Clark
June 15, 1909-
July 5, 1980

It's more than two hours southwest and 35 years back in time for me tomorrow. I go to plant real flowers at her grave, and think, remember, talk, and touch mortality. 
Tell your mother you love her.
Brother Jerry and I have mementos and photographs, and more. We have questions and wondering we'll never find out. We have cousins.
Mom with grandchildren Travis, Dallas, Becky, Derrick and Vance
We and our children and our grandchildren carry her genes, her grace and goodness--and her sense of humor.
Mom, you'd delight in our your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  
I know it's a long way from humble East Texas, but we've all traveled miles and years, and can never thank you enough for your unselfishness, how you cared for and reared us. 
Retirement at MD Anderson
We wish we were as good as you, but any goodness we have we inherited and learned from being around you.   
We look forward to a big reunion. In the meantime, I'll see you tomorrow.

Front row, right corner, on a Ma Bell basketball team

Dad's portrait of his bride, 1943

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What to do about stale coffee on a blog's birthday?

Coffee with Clark was born as a blog on this day, May 3, 2009, with no idea about where it was going or if it would survive. 
The future blogger, Paris
After its seventh birthday, now beginning its eighth year, that is more true than ever. 
Judging from the declining number of posts this year and the past couple of months, it must be getting stale. At least the aging blogger is.
It's remarkable that it's stayed fresh as long as it has, because most blogs cease to exist after only a short time. But...
The blog has changed and aged, with the blogger. Is it time to just  throw out the dregs, rinse out the pot, and put it away?
I said last year at this time that I was wondering why I blog and the purpose of the blog. I'm no closer to answering that than then, but I know it's time for a change...it's time for fresh coffee or no coffee at all.

"It's time for fresh coffee or no coffee at all."
The aging blogger, Edinburgh
I planned to work on this during the summer, having sat in on webinars and more, trying to find  new directions, perhaps a new blog. My wife suggested this week that I should perhaps switch to a different blog.
Part of that is life stage, I know, some is laziness because I have plenty of ideas and stories to tell (for instance, I'm in the middle of reading about five books right now, all that need to be reviewed) but find myself just not wanting to sit down and spend the time it takes. This shows in the decreasing number of my posts, and the fact that I'm posting more paintings and less writing.
I have continued for several reasons, including teaching a blogging for journalists class at UCO. That pretty well demands that I be a blogger too. I don't believe you should teach something you can't do or haven't done.

And, I'm still a journalist--this is part of who I am. As one friend said, "You've got your newspaper column back." I don't want to give up the Coffee with Clark moniker because it's established, but there have to be some new directions. I'll probably try to keep it going through the summer, until I've met with consultants and others on taking my blogging to something that will be a pre-retirement and retirement effort that brings in some income and has a specific purpose.
So, on this birthday, here are the facts this year, and so far--the coffee is stale. Facts this year, and so far:

  • 33--number of posts this year, counting this one
  • 2--Month with fewest posts, June last year
  • 4 and 4--number of posts last two months
  • 144--number of countries where I've had readers
  • 203,000+--number of page views since beginning
  • 1,966 posts since beginning, almost all original
  • 339--number of posts from May through December, 2009
  • 76--number of posts in August, 2009 
  • 11--number of posts in August, 2011
 And yes, I'm open to suggestions. In this insane political year, I'm desperate to have a voice that's heard, because it is so essential as Oklahoma education and everything else in the state goes down the toilet. But party politics don't belong in Coffee with Clark. So, I don't know. Will the blog survive another year?