About Me

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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870. The "xothique" portion of the web address is a nod to Clark Ashton Smith's fictional continent of Zothique.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mayan Long Count Calendar/Shortest Day Special

Postcard from Shanghai, depicting a poster advertising cigarettes.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I hope you guys know karate

Polaroid of Roman Scott taken before one of the Lovejoy columns (http://pdxstreetartadvocacy.wordpress.com/pdx-street-art-history/), in situ, in 1986 or 1987, taken by NBW. The portrait on the column was juxtaposed for the obvious resonance; it was put on top of one of the Tom E. Stefopoulos mythologically/classical Greece-themed paintings on the now-destroyed, or relocated columns. The area appears in the "home movies" sequence at the start of Gus Van Sant's film Drugstore Cowboy. The three of us walked beneath the Lovejoy street ramp after, no doubt, a movie or event, perhaps a Derek Jarman film. In the night a rent-a-cop approached us and said to us, as a warning about the place, "I hope you guys know karate."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


 Good day my beloved friend, may the peace of gracious God be with you,please I have a problem which I needed a help from you,I have decided to write you for help, My Name is Mr.Ubu. I am writing from Burkina Faso-West Africa. I am a staff of one of the biggest Bank here. I want to wire $10, 300,000.00 (Ten Million Three Hundred Thousand Dollars) that has been abandoned for 12 years in our Branch to your account abroad. The account owner is dead with his next of kin since year 2000. Get back to me for more details if you are interested to receive the inheritance fund.

Best Regards in your family, Entscheidungsproblem

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dual Reading: Mark Vonnegut's The Eden Express and Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Time was recent I absorbed Mark Vonnegut's The Eden Express (as in the son of the author of Breakfast of Champions) and Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The Eden Express I picked up at the unfortunately now-defunct store the Dollar Scholar on Hawthorne Avenue in Portland, for, as eponymy would have it, one dollar, because I liked the cover. My copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull I got in the "free boxes" that used to be placed outside the front entrance of Powell's City of Books; I picked up the tome around thirty years ago, and never read it until now. The book is rippled, looking as if someone dropped it whilst reading in the bathtub. Again, I associate the two books for no better reason than that I have read them around the same time. I avoided reading JLS from recalling its ubiquity in the early 1970s;  such fads rarely have value, I reasoned.

The Eden Express is prefaced: "The author maintains that all people, places, and events in this book are real and that he has depicted them accurately to the best of his ability. Before drawing conclusions, however the reader is cautioned to bear in mind the fact that the author has spent considerable time mentally unbalanced."

The memoir covers, among other subjects, Vonnegut's periods of mental illness and institutionalization, interwoven with his initiation of a commune in one of the remote parts of British Columbia. The time frame of the book is the late 1960s and early 1970s, along with plenty of references to such things as "The Revolution," "grass," the I Ching, Charlie Manson, Richard Nixon, and so on. In that era, leaving contemporary and conventional life to pursue truth in the backwoods was viewed as a suitable reaction to a culture of insanity. Vonnegut starts by interpreting mental illness with reference to the questionable theories of R.D. Laing, in which schizophrenia was seen as a valid response to a deranged world. Toward the end of the work, he embraces a more modern view of mental illness as biochemical in nature, as he begins to recover. His writing in places is short on descriptive power. There is a use of cliches, as with terms such as "passed with flying colors" (which is used not once, but twice close together).

In reviews of memoirs, one statement often appears: Something to the effect of, this memoir is good, it avoids self-pity. The Eden Express has a sort of hippie self-pity about it, but hey, what's wrong with a little self-pity once in a while? The book is effective both for chronicling a previous time and for its numinously intense and disordered accounts of mental illness.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is one of the best fictional works about seagulls that I have read. While Bach's style lacks literary qualities, and he is too obviously drawing on aeroplane flight maneuvers for his seagull acrobatics, the book is still a tolerable parable about spirituality and the Bodhisattva idea.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I entered a few of the words from the inscription on the back of this family postcard photo online and found, as I suspected, that the language, and names mentioned, are Finnish. A Väinämöinen-sent luminiscence washes the room in 1935.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Koo-Koo the Bird Girl and Dwarf

Postcard depicting Koo-Koo the Bird Girl, noted for her part in Tod Browning's Freaks (1932). I recently re-watched this claustrophic, dark film.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Bird walking on wings in foam, in the tidal and receding cave. The omens, gusts of moving sand.
Fallen brook, ribboned and covered with black tadpoles.  Green-grey, drained leaves, burrs, lava roads.  Away the farm row of beeches, portend horizon winds sounding.  In the mowed fields of alfalfa, two shades walk above with heads edged with gold.
One robe grows large in the void grounded by the black-topped building.
JF late 1980s
Photo:  Wroclaw, Poland.  Twilight of the Prussians

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Multnomah Falls

Touring car from the 1910s, perpendicular to Multnomah Falls, with an unknown traveler. Not only does the steep ascent to the top of the falls pay off with views, if one keeps going on the trail one will eventually reach the summit of Larch Mountain (a day climb). (Or one can also drive there before the road is seasonally closed.)   From stony Sherrard Point at the top, one can dwell visually on the slopes of Mt. Hood and other mountains, depending on clarity -- but the depths of the Columbia Gorge itself are concealed by the lay of the land.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill Cody

This postcard shews Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux leader Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill Cody in 1885, during a tour of the Wild West, before a studio backdrop typical of the time. Their body languages and miens are opposed to each other.  Buffalo Bill looks upward as if seeing into the future, his hands arranged dramatically, one holding a rifle. Sitting Bull is pensive and his gaze turns inward.  The chief only lived another five years after this photograph was taken.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Apache War Chief Geronimo

Geronimo as a prisoner of war in Mobile, Alabama, 1890, following the Apache Campaign, .  A few years ago I read his autobiography, which he dictated to S.M. Barrett through an interpreter : http://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Geronimo/GerStory.htm  (I read it in a paperback reprint, without photos.)
The autobiography is a dignified and potent work, whether or not it is absolutely complete and accurate.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Content Provider

From Hong, 1989

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Party out Back

Doug Gilford poem. From Hong, 1989.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Inside Front Cover, Hong, 1989

I just found John M. Bennett's blog here on blogspot.com:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Parallel readings of Richard Brautigan and Raymond Carver

Last month I read at the same time an old edition of Trout Fishing in America (with its quaint typewriter-like text) by Richard Brautigan and What we talk about when we talk about Love by Raymond Carver.  I had read little or nothing by either author before, although their reputations are inescapable. When I bought the two books together at the king of bookstores, the clerk said:  That's an interesting combination, or something to that effect.

There is no reason to link the two authors, other than I finally felt compelled to read them.  As such things happen, though, they have some parallels and were contemporaries -- both were born in the 1930s and died fairly young in the 1980s, Brautigan at the age of 49 and Carver at 50.  Both were born in the Pacific Northwest.  Both writers used relatively simple language and wrote in a sparing manner. 

Carver -- or Carver's material as procrusteanly edited, at any rate, in the edition I read -- merits his high regard.  At times head-scratchingly truncated -- what the hell happens to the old injured couple?  -- his encrypted glimpses of savagery (as in Tell the Women we're going) and human incompleteness (alcoholism, missing limbs, muteness) are conveyed with the simplest economy.

The famous cover of Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America suggests some of the differences between the two works.  Brautigan and his companion, with their free-form garb, in Washington Square in San Francisco, distill the essence of the counterculture in the late 1960s, when the book was published (whether or not Brautigan was fully on board with the hippies is another issue).  The novel itself was actually written during the Kennedy era and is more of a late Beat Generation or proto- hippie work.  No psychotropic drugs are referenced -- the drug of this book is alcohol.  In contrast with Carver's naturalism, Brautigan uses language in a way that is dreamlike and in places liberated from semantics. "Sandbox minus John Dillinger equals what?"  But Brautigan's writing is suffused with an underlying note of tragedy, as with Carver.  There's always a melancholy along with Brautigan's humor, as when he writes of reading, in Life Magazine, about Hemingway's suicide, anticipating his own.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Adorkable Austroslavism

Neti flush remants of Lemuria and Mu
Not Therion iris the purling snow ridge
Vault booms arc azure Klarkash-ton.

Friday, September 21, 2012

FOOD will win the war don't waste it

Postcard sent in 1918 depicting the then-recently built Multnomah County Courthouse in Portland, Oregon -- still very much an active hall of jurisprudence.  The area surrounding the courthouse's footprint seems almost rural in this World War I era scene; its surroundings in this current century are definitively urban.   Much attention was paid to the last few remaining World War I veterans who died within recent years.  By now there are few people who would have any memories related to the World War I period at all -- anyone recalling this time even from early childhood would, at the youngest, be approaching the century mark in age.  That's how this planet rolls.

The message was apparently written by a college student who signed it "C.H."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A flickering lantern

A promotional fan from the Nikko Restaurant in what was Japantown (now Old Town Chinatown) in Portland, looking to date from the 1930s.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Enlargement of a yearbook track team photograph of my father from 1942. The photo had lain in oblivion for decades until I uncovered it some years ago in the Milwaukie (Oregon) High School Library. I noticed a number of Japanese American students in the 1941 yearbook. In the 1942 yearbook, there were none.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Third Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories

The Third Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories, edited by Christine Bernard, from 1968, with a psychedelic, anamorphic photo for the cover, is one of many (mostly) solid horror anthologies from a grand era in the 1960s and 70s.  My copy looks to have been heavily read and consulted, so much so that the cover is separate from the book.

Among the stories is one of August Derleth's "posthumous collaborations" (i.e. a Derleth story based on the flimsiest association with a note or story germ) with H.P. Lovecraft, The Shuttered Room.  I hadn't read any of the "posthumous collaborations" in many years, though I read the Arkham House anthology The Watchers out of Time and other stories in various places a long time ago.  Made into a film as well, the story is a fun as a light read, though possessing little or none of the controlled atmosphere and intellectual depth of Lovecraft's tales.  The Shuttered Room cobbles together plot elements from both Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror and The Shadow over Innsmouth, leaving out what's best about both short stories.  At times the descriptions seem accidentally funny, as when Abner Whateley overhears dreadful events by eavesdropping on a party line.

The other eleven stories range from Roald Dahl's well-crafted suspense story "Poison," to Rudyard Kipling's "At the End of the Passage," which couples suspense and supernaturalism in an burningly hot colonial outpost, to stories of surreal, physical horror such as R.C. Cook's Green Fingers (wasn't that also a tv show with Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor?).  Many of the titles alone are great -- take Henry James' The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, which bears influence from Hawthorne's tales.

E.F. Benson's The Room in the Tower is a disturbing interpenetration of dream and waking life;  for me the brief description toward the climax, of the narrator "under the impression that some bright light had been flashed in my face" (apparently lightning) is particularly deft and unsettling, suggesting the loss of control one experiences in the state of nightmare.  Although a few of the stories are slight, the book is for the most part a good anthology.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mount Adams, Washington State

Per Wikipedia, this dormant, volcanic peak in the Cascade Range has lost a couple hundred feet since the time of this postcard (or else measuring has become more precise). Crawfordsville is an unincorporated area in Linn County, Oregon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee

One of my recent reads has been Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee, an alternate history novel published in 1955.  The book is a curious one which presents two possible, paradoxical realities:  One in which the Confederacy wins, and one in which the Confederacy loses the Civil War.  According to Wikipedia, Philip K. Dick stated that he was in part inspired to write his 1962 Axis Victory novel, The Man in the High Castle, by Moore's earlier work (although I've been unable to find the source for this statement immediately). 

If the Confederacy wins, then one (in Moore's book at least) ends up with two countries rather than one grudgingly united one.  Moore's work takes place in the abbreviated, impoverished United States.  As with Dick's later novel, the presentation is subtle.  One doesn't find the obvious material, occupying greycoats in Moore's book or strutting German (or Japanese) soldiers in Dick's book.  The pertinent action in The Man in the High Castle takes place offstage at times, as when his character Frank Frink contemplates the German Nazi campaign of genocide in Africa.

Bring the Jubilee falls into the Bildungsroman mold, in which the narrator, Hodge Backmaker, discovers his potentialities as he leaves "Wappinger" Falls, New York, and lives in New York City, then in the retreat of Haggershaven.  The ramifications of a possible Confederate victory post -Civil War seem at times incidental to Backmaker's development.  While I liked the novel, the strongest and most poignant part is the last few chapters, in which Backmaker finds himself forever stranded from his ideal world.

Photograph:  The Inauguration of Jefferson Davis, Alabama State Capitol Building, February 18, 1861.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Portland, Oregon, The City of Roses

The skyline of Portland as seen from the east side of the Willamette. The postcard appears to be from the mid to late 1950s. The Oregon Journal newspaper, referenced in a sign, went out of business decades ago, and the fresh up... 7up sign sleeps with the fishes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Life's a Beach

A wooden postcard depicting Jake, the Alligator Man, a reptilian/human-type mummy in Marsh's Free Museum, Long Beach, Washington, offering a Weltanschauung, juxtaposed with the arch making the "World's Longest Beach" claim. I haven't been to Long Beach in a spell.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


If one could have tapped this man's internal monologue of the nineteenth century, how would it have run? "Stew tonight... graduated...."

I once spent a week in August in Omaha, Nebraska.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wind and Containment

Wind and Containment

Incorporeality;  the leaves dropping and scattering as fall's wind bloweth, sweeping alley and sluice.

The three illuminated ovals situated atop one another, bridged and somewhat red.  The nine gates and the impalpable.  Tissues and filaments along which currents shudder.

The bound coils and liver.  They're all wadded-up.  I've never seen anything like it.

The singular, antiqued, and inaccessible, wondrous or tearing petals;  of the angled lotos in early gloaming.   The mice impelled toward stricture and putrefaction, collapsed arches, shivered and rent core;  aether o'er purple hollows.

Congealment or waves in the deep and far-flug.  A splintered remnant of the city of no walls or recollection;  the implicit.

JF early 1990s

Photo: from Dark Hearts: The Making of Hearts of Darkness, the Making of Apocalypse Now