Monday, June 27, 2005

I went to Oregon

I've long been known as someone who dislikes Oregon. Most of these reasons are personal and somewhat illogical so don't expect me to defend my thoughts on this poor state in this blog. Being that I have such disdain for Oregon, it is quite remarkable that I visited our southern neighbor this weekend and had such a wonderful time.

What brought me to Oregon was Larry Norman. I won't pretend you know who he is necessarily so I'll just tell you. He is a singer/songwriter known worldwide for many controversial songs about politics, culture and Christianity. He began performing in the 60's and recorded a very classic album collected by many called Only Visiting this Planet. Many of his songs have been in movies and have been performed by other artists. Larry's popularity in the United States was hampered to some degree by a recording industry that was uncomfortable with the Christian nature of his songs and a Christian music industry in its infancy that was frightened by his outspoken political viewpoints against the Vietnam war and the explicit nature of some of his songs. Apparently Europe has always been able to stomach his music just fine.

Larry performed a farewell concert in his hometown of Salem, Oregon. The venue was the beautiful and impressive Historic Elsinore Theater. I could go on and on about how wonderful this theater is and how proud Salem should be to have it in their town, but that would be another blog all together. Here is their website

Larry's concert was amazing, but I'm a great fan of his and of that era of rock music in general so I won't bore you with tons of details. The concert had an acoustic set, and an a cappella set featuring five members of an African a cappella choir from Liberia, (Larry has been raising awareness for the plight of the people of Liberia) The concert had video intermissions showing Larry's career from television interviews, movie appearances, fan club videos and concert footage from all over the world.

Salem is the capital city of Oregon and there are many government buildings around the city. I'm a big fan of architecture and I am always drawn to buildings that are unusual. Salem had very few unusual buildings but did have a tall old looking brick church just a few blocks from the theater so I went and investigated. As one might imagine the church was on Church Street. Because the Capitol building was just across a few blocks down the cross street was State Street. In short, I was standing at the corner of Church and State. I took this photo with my cell phone to prove it.

After the concert I ate in one of the worst restaurants I've experienced in many decades and slept in a crappy no tell motel by the freeway. I could've chosen better, but there was a dogshow in town and an Eagle's Convention so most of the first pick lodging was taken. Early the next morning I did what I love to do most when I'm in Oregon...leave.

I made some other stops along the way and took more pictures and will probably post again and tell a story about sliding down some slick marble that lined a majestic stairway in the Washington State Capitol building. Everything can be an amusement park if you just put your mind to it.

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