Sunday, December 28, 2008

Celebrating Alaska Statehood 50 Years January 3, 1959 - 2009 - A Personal Reflection

Celebrating Alaska Statehood 50 Years January 3, 1959 - 2009 - A Personal Reflection
I remember it like it was just a few months ago - I was already 2 years old and my Mom, a second generation Alaskan - Dee Lane, and my Dad, a third generation Alaskan - Chic Lane, took my sister Lisa and I over the few blocks from our house on the corner of 3rd avenue down to the Park Strip to watch the bonfire in celebration of hard won Alaskan statehood.

There was a great huge pile of wood, and the fire was well underway -- men would run up with all kinds of wood, spare or not, and throw it on the fire. And a whole tree was thrown in too!  The tree being dry burned really fast with a great sputtering noise mixed with the festive scent of painted wood all together.  The United States Senate had voted to make Alaska the 49th state on June 30, 1958.

Just as we arrived from the north side a couple of men were dragging a large wooden box, the size of an outhouse or larger and throwing it on the fire, which was growing quite large. People stood around the fire in a huge circle and it was obvious there had been a bit of drinking going on. Part of a fence was thrown in, sometimes a couple of two-by-fours, or a 8 by 10 sheet of plywood, but mostly old sections of some built things.

My father ran up with his camera just as my Mom was buttoning up my sister's jacket, I think he had parked the car, having just gotten off of work as an architect. She wanted to know what had taken so long. She was pregnant with my brother Ward, born in July of 1958, we girls were born only 11 months apart.

The crowd was growing as the evening was coming in, and singing and hollering and whooping and dancing jigs, in groups of people cheering whenever a new item was thrown on the fire. It was pretty wild and I didn't see many children on the park strip.

Notably the people greeted each other by name since they knew one another! There were a lot of people there.

Later I was taught the "Alaska Flag" song in school. The flag was said to have been designed by Bennie Benson, but the truth was his school teacher designed it to help him submit something, and I think she was happy he unexpectedly won the award with her simple design; she didn't complain when her student got credit for her design.

My mom showed me the Anchorage Times newspaper which read "WE'RE IN!" we kept a copy of that paper for more than 20 years. The heat from the bonfire was so hot it burned our faces and kept us warm - finally my sister Lisa began to get too cold so our folks bundled us off to the house our grandparents built on the very corner of downtown Anchorage where the legal buildings are now, near the statue of Captain Cook.

"8 Stars of Gold on a field of Blue..." I had wonderful teachers. I stayed true.

From the time I was a babe in arms we had a visitor by the name of Yule Kilcher. He was a state senator and one of the most fascinating people I have ever known. I asked him once how many languages he spoke and he took a minute to count them all up and said - "if you include the dialects - it's 47." 47!!! Yule helped to write the Alaska State Constitution, and he stood for liberal causes in a conservative way. People now have forgotten that Alaska was once a liberal state, and it was the conservatives who opposed statehood.

When I turned 13 years old Yule took me to visit his farm down in Homer, driving like a mad man around each curve of the road which he knew every bit of from memory. Every where we stopped Yule spoke to the people in their native languages - and what a diverse set of people he knew - it was just everyone - speaking in Norwegian, Lap, Danish, Finnish, German, Russian, and French, and everyone was so happy to see him and asked us to stay if only for a bite, or tea, or sometimes a sauna! It was one of my most memorable life experiences as I met people from all over the world visiting Yule at his ranch, and his children and other family members and neighbors. I credit Yule with changing my world view completely.

So this photo was taken of the US Flag and Alaska State flag in front of the top floor fireplace in the Anchorage Pioneer's Home with the Christmas tree, when I was visiting my mom for Christmas.

Myself if I were to die today I could honestly say that I have lived a completely unique and unusual life due to being raised in Alaska, and knowing the people I have been fortunate to meet like Senator Bob Bartlett, who was greatly responsible for Alaska becoming a state of the United States of America, and Alaska State senator Yule Kilcher, his children, and Karin and Judge James Fitzgerald and family - Dennis, Denise, Debra, and Kevin, Glo and Victor Fischer and family - Yonnie, the Listons - Bill and Helen, Mike, Mary, Lissa, Gene Guess and family, the O'Malley's, Ernest Gruening (Governor Alaska Territory), Wendell Kay - Eddy Kay, Nick Begich and his family, Alex Duff Combs and his family, the Selkreggs, Gov Bill Egan (who remembered everyone's names and family), Jill Smythe, the Arns family, the Rosenthals, the Jensen family, Kathy 'Willow' Graves, and later folks such as the Browns, Judge John and 'Mama' Kay Reese, Nancy Byrd, the Fairbanks crowd; Drs. Forbes - John Forbes, Rob, the Deans - Doug Dean and Steve Dean, Nick Boseck and his family, the Hale family - Ed, Fred, and Billy, Jim Chase and family, Dennis Savage and his family, Dennis Hartley; the teachers at Orah Dee Clark and East High School, Anchorage Community College and UAA, and other notable people with enormous personalities and strong love for their fellow human beings. Really too many to write about here.

Having left Alaska to seek out world culture I became the student of Dagchen Sakya, a senior Tibetan Lama, where my Alaskan childhood served me well - as I traveled Thailand, India, Nepal, and studied what I believe is the real final frontier, not Alaska as the saying goes, but the innate nature of our own minds.

On January 3, 2009, Alaska will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Alaskan Statehood, and I will be there in spirit remembering a fairly warm day of June 30, 1958 when my mom buttoned me up and said "Look at the bonfire Linda, remember it, because some day when you are much older, you will be able to say, I was there for the first one, when Alaska became part of the United States of America." I remember her black cat eye glasses frames, and the look of joy, pride, and concern on her face as she told me this with her dark brown hair pulled back, she looked into my eyes so closely. And I remembered the bonfire.

Someone told me recently that my life stories are like the movie Zoolander except real, so what's not to enjoy?

What I did not understand at the time was how rare my experience is, and how few people would be alive 50 years later who shared that experience. But I can honestly say, 50 years later, that I have lived because of Alaska, and because of the Alaskan community who raised me and infused my life with personality and love.

Happy 50 Years to Alaska, to Alaskans every where, to Americans, and to the World in which we live together - congratulations! To my relatives who are now raising the 6th generation of our family in Alaska - congratulations on the twins!

For a historical outline see:

Respect goes out to my elders - Great-grandfather who resurveyed the Alaska-Canadian Border based out of Eagle in 1896, my Grandmother raised in Ketchikan, my Grandfather Billy Murry who was a tailor and owned the New Method Cleaners and the Murmac Bar in Anchorage, my Grandmother Marion Murry who played organ during the silent movie era, to my parents Roland and Darlene, thank you to everyone who made Alaska more than just a beautiful place, but an amazing event.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Space is the Final Frontier

Hi Dad,

One day at our favorite little coffee shop in lower Wallingford you showed me your cell phone and your digital tape recorder and said - "this is my office - every where I go - I just place ads take calls and make notes and I am in business."

I have to let you know you helped me out with something - that is recognizing that if I reduce the stuff I own down to a minimal amount I can be more mobile and flexible.
Oil is lit, cook at the Toast Bakery on his cell, Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal party cell phone user 3 cell phone calls

So you are in a virtual business as a real architect meeting people and then doing the design and drafting at home (on paper but so what?). This virtual office ideal you were already living. While I may have considered myself hip and with-it as far as technology goes the reality is that isn't as true for me as it is for you.

Of course I had read about this kind of lifestyle, I knew it was possible. Working in technology companies, I helped to make it possible. What I knew about I hadn't integrated into my personship - although I am always looking for projects and design work to help people succeed, it had not occurred to me that in order for me to be happy, flexible, and carefree I have to dump old ideas even about what a job or an office is, and the accompanying stuff I have saddled myself with for so long. Sure I loved the stuff. But it's mostly gone now anyway having moved to a new flat on average once a year my entire life.

Linda Lane's HabitatSo I had saddled myself with a bunch of old ideas along with electronics and clothes and things to cook with and paperwork that I don't really need anymore. Arguably I don't even need my art supplies because I just digitize the resulting images anyway, and other than that in our age art is really a moving medium or a conceptional framework rather than something you hang on the wall. The things we hang on the wall are really more of artifacts any way.

What finally broke me through to your side - my 85 year old father's revolutionary mobile office of one highly skilled professional? I wanted to see the beach and take photos of people surfing the same day I was working, I wanted to watch the sun set, I wanted to be outside. It's not that there aren't enough photos of people surfing in the world, it's that I wanted to be there and I wanted to upload my images to Flickr immediately so that others world wide who follow my photostream - like a little movie of "What Does Linda Lane See?" - could view them right then, and any subjects could see their images right away!
Her Response
But I had work to do, a design to get out, so instead I stayed home. Finally late at night it dawned on me. My laptop has wireless, I have a car, I can do the design work (which is all digital) on my laptop, turn it in from a beachside coffee shop, and shoot the photos and publish them to the Web the same way. Duho!

So now I want you to know I am combing through all that remains to see how much can be donated to charity or shredded or dumped. And I won't be collecting more - I will collect things like a couple of lens and bodies for the camera, a video camera, and another laptop cause this one was never intended for the kind of traveling I plan to do. Life is too short to sit at home any more. It's going to take a while but I am going to live up to my name.

I love you Daddy! Thank you!
浮世絵, Ukiyo-e, the floating cell world Great Wall of China Phones Home

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Myth to Live By

Sometimes realities must be visualized before they are manifested. To do this it is helpful to draw on mythological paradigms, which make it possible for true transitions to be inacted with out the pain and sorrow that comes from cutting the film in one place and splicing on another reel with clear tape. Clear tape editing is out of style, and transitions that involve gentile trades in a way that suits modern art vehicles as well as real human needs is the style.

This in mind, our production art company promisses transitions between the creative
visualition of an artistic, architectural or environmental change from one thing to another using every available vision to make the changes virtually unnoticable to those who do not have a real insight into the transitionary principles we use, hermetic quicksilver. We call ourselves Star Shift Enterprise. Count on us.

Tacoma Glass Museum Cone Zone
Chris Wilkinson