Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How I Spent the July 4th Holiday

During the July 4th Holiday on Thursday I saw Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.  And on Sunday I saw The Beach Boys - Love and Mercy.  July 4th often great for great movies, one year I went to see Ghandi. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Reading in Belfast Diary, by John Conroy, and Apartments and Dormitories

My internet is at the public library.  The library will be closed tomorrow for July 4th.  I am reading Belfast Diary, by John Conroy, and want to comment now, with the closed library tomorrow...

The New Yorker featured a grim story about a Northern Ireland Troubles tragedy, a mystery that had been solved, with a  photograph labeled Divis Flats.  The architecture was like a building in an architecture book, Apartments and Dormitories: collected Architectural Digest Articles from Dodge Press, 1958, a sketch and three levels of floor plans, at about page 91. I tried to find the book, the Architecture book was no longer in the library collection. 

The Plan of the floor
below the gallery
I have looked at the Inter-library loan book again, and I am reading Belfast Diary: War As A Way of Life, by John Conroy, in which Divis Flats is on the map on the end pages, inside the front and back covers. In reference to the tragic story in the New Yorker and the trailers on the internet for the movie called '71 -  the page in the book about architecture offers a view that is not expressed, partly expressed where British soldiers patrol on the apartment building corridor in the internet videos, where close together on the corridors are three doors. 
The plan of the floor
on the gallery level

In the article, "Skip-Floor Access Saves Cubage", a description of Borgia Butler Houses, Bronx, New York, three doors open - one on the corridor level, but two into individual stairwells that carry the resident up to the floor above, or down to the floor below.  In this way,one corridor serves three floors. 

I have found this difficult to visualize and am curious about whether the resident had a chair or rainwear on the landing.  And I find no picture of such a stairwell on the internet.  I am including a tiny extract from the book to illustrate the stairwells.

In Belfast Diary, by John Conroy:  The fine details of the military's role in urban planning were exposed in late 1981 by David Beresford, Belfast correspondent for the Guardian (formerly known as the Manchester Guardian).  Beresford revealed that in one Catholic housing project, the footpaths had been laid not merely for pedestrians, but with the foundations and width necessary to support the army;s fourteen-ton personnel carriers. 

The story of council housing is of an idealistic dream of a better life that followed World War Two; but, perhaps the skip-floor housing that limited access to individual doorways also was used to control Belfast residents.  About Divis Flats, in Belfast Diary: ...blocks of flats, five stories high, and one twenty-story tower - was only twelve years old in 1980, but it was already a notorious slum.  Rats ran on the balconies late at night... The internet explains that the poor building materials deteriorated rapidly.  (These Flats were torn down, only the tower remains.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Friends of Tacoma Public Library Initiative / Tacoma Public Library Foundation

Henry Haas, Dean Martin, Persis Shook
bow tie, stripes, white hard hat
Regarding the library:   Friends of the Tacoma Public Library Initiative is new, wishes to raise interest in helping Tacoma Public Library - Libraries should have Friends Groups, of course.  At the meeting Saturday a representative gave the news that a non-profit group to help Tacoma Public Library exists.  I believe it links to the past, when there was a re-model.

McCormick Branch Library
 For about a year in 1987-1988 the main library had a small version in a store front on Broadway, downtown, where library devotees waited for the remodeled library up the hill on Tacoma Avenue that would feature the reopened 1905 Carnegie as a permanant library wing.  A new building beside McCormick would become the McCormick Regional Library, and the old McCormick Library would become two meeting rooms.  Both the Main and the Anna E. McCormick Libraries opened successfully.

It was a year after my mother passed away, my father still lived at thehouse, and in 1987 I attended the ground breaking for the Anna E. McCormick Regional Library and took a few snapshots.  On the stage are (according to Brian Kamens, Pacific Northwest Room Librarian) Henry Haas, Dean Martin, and Persis Shook - bow tie, striped jacket, white hard hat.   Brian Kamens also identifies a person on the far left of the "digging" photo as restauranteur and high school teacher Mr. Stortini.  I wonder if in the other photo it is a representative, Art Wang, who hands a shovel over. 
Groundbreaking Souvenir Ruler

Tacoma Public Library Foundation began sometime in the 1980s or the 1990s (spearheaded by Marilyn Strickland before she ran for mayor). Meanwhile the Anna E. McCormick Library became two meeting rooms.   

At a Friends of the Tacoma Public Library Initiative meeting Saturday morning there was a representative who showed a copy of a TPL Foundation document which named the five-member board in September 1996.  Some names are familiar to me from a glimpse into a brochure in celebration of the library remodel, and familiar from the query I made of Brian Kamens:   Henry Haas, Molly Lane, Dean Martin, Persis Shook, and Tom Stenger.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Bike Rack, Privet Honeysuckle

Changes outside the County City Building.   A new bike rack has appeared. 

And today at the County City Building they are planting Privet Honeysuckle.  Some flowers become purple berries in the Autumn. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Poem from 1976

For Father's Day:  Seventy years ago next month my father had returned from a year and a half in England and made plans to marry my mother.  My mother's father had died in 1931.  She had worked nine to five for fifteen years.  My Uncle Elmer was to give her away at the wedding, which was at the house.  For six years my parents lived next door to the house, where the grandparents had lived.  They had died during the war.  This was a poem I wrote remembering a vacation back from college. 1968, in 1976. 


One day in my summer youth
I carried my drawing book into the rain.
At the old town dock I drew
the fish scattered strangely
on the old brown planks,
then walked uphill to the vacant house
my uncle owns.  I sat
on the covered porch where my play-pen
held me long ago and drew
the mill, carefully – cranes,
and the light piles of lumber
with the sweetest smell on earth.

Eventually my uncle looked around
the corner of the porch and found me.
We walked uphill to the house
they all lived in, long before
I was born, and before the war. 

One of my earliest memories
is of my uncle holding me
on his knee, reading me
the funny papers.  I remember
him pointing at each word

Before the war my uncle was a barber.
He kept his scissors
and would set me or my sister
on the closed treadle sewing machine
to cut our hair like the dutch.
He worked at a mill
in the cloud of industry
that is the tideflats
Once he fell from his place
into a conveyor belt and held fast
to a metal bar above him.
The machine abused him
and went on without him.
It must have seemed
a long, long time before
friends found him.

My mother took me to see him
in the hospital bed.
He had been ready to let go,
he said.  He lifted the sheet
and I saw his bruises.
I did not know that bruises
ever could be hurtful to me. 

(Feb '76)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Four Links to Comments I Have Made About Density

The essay, a coda in this anthology,
describes the Proctor District briefly
This blog post is written to offer links to posts I have done about density.  After graduate school I began to live in Tacoma in small apartments, and often I visited my parents in the Proctor District.  It has been over twenty-five years since those times, presently I sometimes read a poem at the Open Mike at King’s Books. The first link I offer is to an essay published on-line at Salt River Review.  This spring it was included, as a coda, in an anthology called In Like Company,  I describe the Proctor District briefly in this essay.

During the effort in 2012 for the MLK Subarea Plan, I sent in comments and attended an open house workshop.  These blogs posts are from May 23, 2012, and February 10, 2012.
The future will require people to repair, restore and maintain buildings, because truly there are more and more buildings that age every day.  So, any new project, whatever else it is, also is a loss of training opportunities for re-use and restoration.  However, if we care about the ecology, we have to care about density.  The apartments I have lived in have been mostly in old houses, and as I have biked around I am fortunate that I had that opportunity.  A fourth post is an impression from last year when questions rose about the new building in the district.
There must be ways to create housing that merges the old with the new creatively. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Long Poem - Meditation

My blog entries have been delayed, because I have several decades of thoughts continuing simultaneously.  I can include this long poem that I worked on in 2002.  This long poem refers to movies - Black Orpheus, Auntie Mame, and 2013's Fruitvale Station -  where other film is spliced  in.  It mentions a 2002 mining rescue of nine miners trapped underground for three days, and a radio show host of big band swing.  It also refers to 1965 to 1967 when I worked at the library in high school. 

A Long Poem - Meditation


The band on the ferryboat kept playing,

spliced into Black Orpheus,

another roll, another camera.

It was the international

geophysical year, the 1950s,

Early in the 1950s Auntie Mame

in a taxi, in the taxi back window

is inserted street-scene footage

it is wide, loose pieces.

In 1957 my aunt died. 

My aunt was blind.

thirty-one years of sight.

Thirty-four years of dark.

She died of a heart attack in 1957.

I could watch Auntie Mame

on a library video player.  As I watched,

during two thousand two nine miners

were trapped underground for three days.

Late on Saturday evening,

it shows in the newspaper photo

there was still a little light

in his headlamp.  As they rose,

the radio in the small kitchen

did a television theme song

recognition contest.  I could

never call long distance.

Dr. Kildare.  Steve Allen.  Route 66

from so long ago. 

Cynthia Doyan was the radio host.

As it happend - she ended her life on impulse

when her radio station let her go.


Fruitvale Station resembles Black Orpheus.

The rapid transit train,

spliced earlier material,  the people

of African descent, the love and violence

in a night of exuberant holiday celebration.

I was writing a meditation in 2002

about music in Brazil and a 1960s

Time-Life Series about countries. 

This meditation is a version.

The Samba and Carnival are joy

before Lent begins.  Bossa Nova puts

Samba indoors into nightclubs, so joy

confronts the sad, sad blues.


There was the damaged book.  And that

began my thoughts. 

On a chair in the small kitchen

there was the damaged book.

The sky in the window

and the house next door were blue.

Not chrome

like a painting by Hopper,

no.  But through the screen -

like some photographs are blue

in wide, loose pieces.

Like light was on the planet

so water turned like animated jewels.

In the small kitchen

there were such waves of weariness.

But along through the air

there wheeled in spirals

Ideas about the photographs

inside the damaged book.

I lifted such books one by one

in the warm air near open library windows.

Such a Time-Life book slowed

for a moment.  I felt then

so much desire

To be at the white building

in the Time-Life book called GREECE,

or at the beach near the sea,

that I was there,

and it was not desire at all,

but a miracle.  BRAZIL.

Did it pass through my hands

into a bag to the main library?

Forty years since BRAZIL

by Elizabeth Bishop and the editors

of Time-Life, it is library re-bound,

a glossy pattern of green,

the narrative columns meet

so that letters are missing at the binding.

But someone with a razor blade

stole a dozen pictures.

The wide, loose pieces

like animated jewels.


In the small kitchen

there were the waves of weariness.

There was the damaged book.  When I

brought that back I had to report it.

When I brought back BRAZIL,

I tested for Library Assistant, then

Looked through books about photography.

The animated jewels, the color imbalance.

In one caption it is FOCUS -

the background, the foreground

in a compromise of blur

to avoid a shadow everywhere.

No loss of detail

into the shadow everywhere.

There is a compromise of blur.

Then people, landscape

are as the eye would see it.


I had tested for library assistant.

Then studied books about photography. 

At the park, dark tree species,

cars with shadows,

the church at the top of the street,

all focused into that

appearance.  A compromise of blur

with some color imbalance.

Mid-July, sun everywhere,

a photograph from the 1950s,

all the park framed ahead -

it was miraculous desire.

So much desire

To be that it was not desire at all,

but a miracle.