Jefferson Monthly

Features and columns published in the Jefferson Monthly.

Stories And Grace

Nov 1, 2015

On the morning after the horrific mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg I listened to Morning Edition intently to learn more about the tragic events of the previous day.  That morning NPR aired a StoryCorps segment that reminded me of the power of personal stories to put in context even the darkest reaches of the human experience.

The concerns of disabled veterans and their families take center stage when JPR News and Southern Oregon Public Television team up for Local Focus: Debt of Honor. It’s the first joint project between JPR and Public TV in many a year, and could pave the way for future efforts.

Stratford Festival

Exchange the Siskiyou Mountains for Midwestern farmland, and the histories of Stratford, Ontario, and Ashland, Oregon, share some remarkable similarities. In the middle of the last century, both were rural towns struggling to thrive after losing their importance as railroad hubs. 

Michael Joyce | JPR


Imagine a snowglobe.  Inside is the sturdy, baroque Mozarteum alongside the delicate, tree-lined Mirabell Gardens. This is Salzburg, Austria, 1958. But it could just as well be 1858. Now give the globe a shake.  

Anyone who has spent a sufficient amount of time on the Internet, especially in the realms of social media, has had something mean and hurtful said directly to them or about them. I’ve been called things that can’t be put into print here.

Sometimes I shot back in anger. Other times I simply left the conversation while chanting “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” The choice was mine. I had the power to walk away from the keyboard. No one was forcing me to interact with the people who were saying things that I felt were offensive and inappropriate.

He’s a guitar player’s guitar player and a jam band icon. He’s worked with John Scofield and Toots Maytal. Early in his career he toured with David Allen Coe and the Dicky Betts Band. He is a staple in post-Garcia Grateful Dead line-ups.   

“Do you know if this is lacto-fermented?” a woman asks me, sniffing the sauerkraut at the salad bar of the Ashland Food Co-op. “It smells like it.”

It’s eight a.m. and Betsy Hicks and her husband, John Hicks, M.D., a pediatrician in private practice in Los Gatos, California, are stopping in Ashland on their way to Portland to visit family.

Imagine the milk is running low—or, if you live in a home similar to mine, one of your kids drank the last of it and put the empty container back in the refrigerator as a decoy—but rather than reaching for that near-empty (or completely empty) container the next morning, your refrigerator already updated a grocery list on your phone the day before and your phone instructed you to stop at the grocery store on the way home and purchase more milk. Or, even better, your phone alerted a grocery delivery service like AmazonFresh and the milk was automatically delivered to your doorstep.

U.S. War Dogs Association

Next month we celebrate Veteran’s Day. We honor those men and women who have served the United States and remember their sacrifice and service. So much has been written about famous veterans like Jimmy Stewart, Kurt Vonnegut, Presidents Kennedy and GHW Bush but few realize that many thousands of “man’s best friend” are also war heroes.

When I first saw the image, it was like a sucker punch to the gut. It knocked the wind out of me.

I could almost hear my heart break, and I sat at my desk in front of my computer and wept.

I’m sure you know the image I’m talking about. It was all over the Internet the first week of September, that picture of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a refugee from the hell that’s broken loose in his home of Kobani, Syria, drowned on a Turkish beach.

In 2014, it became the Southern Oregon Music Festival. Before that it was the Medford Jazz Festival. When it began in 1989 it was called the Medford Jazz Jubilee. They had eight bands perform that year, and the community exploded in a celebration that has continued for 27 years. Like the Redwood Coast Jazz Festivals in Eureka, CA, the Southern Oregon Music Festival has evolved from the traditional, Dixieland jazz that was the foundation of the first fests, to include all forms of jazz, swing, blues, zydeco, R&B, rockabilly and funk.

Jenny Graham | Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The final two plays of this OSF season explore gritty corners of contemporary American life.  In The Happiest Song Plays Last (Thomas Theatre) Quiara Alegria Hudes mines her own biography to counterpose the separate journeys of Yaz and her cousin Elliot out of and back to their Puerto Rican neighborhood in north Philadelphia. In Sweat (Bowmer Theatre) Lynn Nottage mirrors the depressed city of Reading, Pennsylvania, where she spent several years interviewing its struggling people.  

Making Radiowaves

Oct 1, 2015

This past summer has been an active time here at JPR as we’ve been addressing both long and short term issues that impact our service to the region.  I thought I’d take a moment to update you on some of those recent developments.

Jackson County News And Information Service Gets FM Frequency

After about a year of concentrated effort to acquire and construct an FM translator for our News and Information Service in Jackson County, we were finally successful and able to begin service on 102.3FM in mid-September.  

Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

When exactly does Jeff Whitty’s musical, Head over Heels, start? When the Fool’s song threatens violence to those who neglect to turn off cell phones? When the actors trickle down the aisles, chatting up the audience? When the Fool introduces each character and riffs on genre?  

I’m writing this on the day of the first debates between candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination. When I walked into our studio this morning one of our staff members was commenting with surprise that the debates weren’t accessible online without a Fox News Channel subscriber password. I must confess, before today I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to how the debates were being made available to the public.

Considering Country

Sep 1, 2015
David McClister

There are two kinds of music:

Good music, and the other kind

– Duke Ellington

Recently, a listener asked: “What’s with all the country music all of a sudden on the Rhythm & News Service?” Is there? In many ways, it’s a difficult question to answer, but it’s a fascinating topic that deserves some attention.

For the most part, we go about our daily lives unaware that we are information storage devices. We store all sorts of information in our brains. Some of this information is quite useful, but most of it could probably be deemed trivial in the big picture. But no matter what specific information we individually store in our brains, each and every one of us carry inside us the key information for creating life.

Courtesy of U.S. Navy

Maybe you learned about it in high school, saw it in newspapers or maybe you have a subscription to The New Yorker. Or maybe all this earthquake talk is new to you.

Why Build A Hospital In A Tsunami Zone?

Sep 1, 2015

This story is part of Unprepared: Will We Be Ready For The Megaquake? a series Oregon Public Broadcasting is doing on how well the Northwest is prepared for the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that scientists say will hit along the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off the Pacific Coast.


Gold Beach City Administrator Jodi Fritts was angry — or, as she put it in an email to state officials: “Incredible Hulk ANGRY.”

Jenny Graham | Oregon Shakespeare Festival

As the title suggests, Antony and Cleopatra sets the efficient militarism of Rome against the impulsive hedonism of Egypt.  Making war collides with making love, laws and logic undercut spontaneity and intuition—this ancient world according to Shakespeare comes to rich life between such poles.  In the excellent OSF production of the play onstage in the Elizabethan, director Bill Rauch’s timeless approach to the history and his alertness to ambient comedy highlight a further, more subtle tension: the discrepancy between fact and image, between the ragged truth of human embodiment and the idealizations of heroic myth.