Long before the movie “School of Rock” hit the big screen, Chris Gragg M.A.T. ’04 hit upon the power of music to motivate students.
Each fall more than 100 incoming students participate in Breakaway Adventures. College Outdoors sponsors a variety of trips and also teams up with the Office of Student Leadership and Service to offer outdoor service projects.
From Mafia bosses to Enron executives, John Kroger specializes in bringing criminals to justice.
This fall, Marcia and I sent our middle son off to college. Like many parents, we felt conflicting emotions: pride, melancholy, excitement, and, dare I say, some measure of relief. Like most 18-year-olds, he had been spending less and less time at home and was ready for more independence. Still, we miss his presence in the house. We find ourselves looking for his car in the driveway, listening for his voice down the hall, and marveling at the extra food in our refrigerator. Mostly, we hope we have provided the foundation he needs to be a happy, healthy, and successful adult.
On Palatine Hill
“About two years ago, I picked up the phone and heard the voice of Joe Yuska, my former boss and director of College Outdoors, telling me he wanted to reconnect the old office crew on a reunion trip,”
When Verna Bailey walked into her first-year biology class, she sat front and center in the auditorium. Her peers–more than 100 of them–gave her a wide berth, leaving her entirely alone in the first three rows.
“Settle,” commands John Pedrick Jr. J.D. ‘77, rolling a 7-week-old golden retriever on her back, rubbing her belly as he establishes human dominance. “Snuggle,” he says next, placing the puppy’s snout against his neck to teach her to approach people.
Peter Ames Carlin ‘85 publishes a critically acclaimed biography of Brian Wilson, the troubled genius behind the Beach Boys.
Ward Plummer ‘62 grew up in Warrenton, a tiny fishing and timber town hunkered at the mouth of the Columbia River near Astoria. His parents–survivors of the Great Depression and the devastating Dust Bowl days in Kansas–shared the nation’s obsession with beating the Russians in the space race
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Catherine Mulhall ‘99 found herself at a huge family crawfish feed in Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish. As an associate producer for PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, she was chasing down an interview with state senator Walter Boasso. Not only did she get the story, she also learned how to shuck, cook, and eat crawfish like a native, or nearly so.
Bob Mandel, professor of international affairs, examines the meanings, misperceptions, and challenges associated with military victory in the context of the nontraditional wars of recent decades.
Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2006. 190 pages.
James Wallace, professor emeritus of education, pens a biography of Angelo Patri, a progressive educator of the early 20th century who helped immigrants and mainstream Americans understand one another and work toward the common good.
Peter Lang Publishing, 2006. 264 pages.
Robert J. Miller J.D. ’91, associate professor of law, offers important new insights into Jefferson’s Indian policy, the significance of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the origins of Manifest Destiny ideology in 19th-century America.
Praeger Publishers, 2006. 240 pages.
Bruce Podobnik, associate professor of sociology, offers a timely look at key transitions in energy use over the past 100 years.
Temple University Press, 2005. 240 pages.
Jennifer Bowers ’84 coauthors this guide that discusses both primary and secondary research resources for the Romantic era.
Scarecrow Press, 2005. 272 pages.
Robert Orr M.A.T. ’05 draws upon 26 years of teaching experience to offer suggestions on teaching general biology.
BookSurge Publishing, 2006. 224 pages.
Peter Ames Carlin ’85 publishes a critically acclaimed biography of Brian Wilson, the troubled genius behind the Beach Boys.
by Eric Meyer
It’s a long way from the fabled sun-drenched beaches of Southern California to an office in overcast Portland, where Peter Ames Carlin B.A. ’85 discusses Brian Wilson, the mercurial subject of Carlin’s recent book. Carlin speaks with authority about the cultural and artistic importance of the genius who wrote, produced, played, and sang on all of the Beach Boys’ best-known songs.
Carlin, who majored in English, credits John Callahan, Odell Professor of Humanities, for sparking his interest in identifying connections between popular and classical art forms. As a student, Carlin noticed a link between the folk ballad “Stagger Lee” and the Rolling Stones’ “Midnight Rambler.” Callahan encouraged him to pursue the idea, which led to an in-depth study project.
Following graduation, Carlin found himself in the offices of Portland’s daily newspaper, the Oregonian, and soon realized that he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He started as a copy aide, then began contributing freelance stories, receiving assignments with progressively more responsibility. Today, he is the paper’s television critic and occasionally contributes concert, book, and movie reviews as well.
In 1996, Carlin went east to write for People magazine. Although he enjoyed living in New York City, he and his wife always planned to return to Portland, where they wanted to raise their daughter and two sons. They moved back in 2000.
Writing a book about Brian Wilson was something that Carlin “always wanted to do,” and after interviewing Wilson for a magazine profile in 1998, he saw the genesis of a longer work. Publishers were initially cool to the project, believing that the story had been told. But Carlin felt that none of the other books about Wilson and the Beach Boys “had really gotten it right.”
Everything changed in 2004, when Wilson released Smile, an album he had abandoned some 37 years earlier. Back in 1967, Smile was to be the crowning achievement of Wilson’s career, a psychedelic masterwork that would rival its contemporary Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But the reluctance of the other Beach Boys to embrace Brian’s musical experiments, as well as his own emotional problems and drug abuse, led to the album’s demise. Smile seemed doomed to be known as rock’s most famous unfinished work. But when Wilson rerecorded the album from scratch with a new band nearly four decades later–and released it to rave reviews–Peter Ames Carlin was ready. The result was Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.
Writing about Brian Wilson is a risky enterprise, because he’s a notorious eccentric–a man who wrote evocative surfing songs but was afraid to go in the ocean; who could celebrate the drag strip brilliantly in a three-minute single but knew little about cars; who created a musical universe of beaches, sunshine, and fun but was excruciatingly shy. Most writers become fixated on these contradictions and overlook the more important aspect of the story, the one Carlin wanted to move front and center: the music. It frustrated Carlin that people listened to Wilson’s songs superficially, missing the “fundamental American notions” and darker themes that lurked beneath their shimmering surfaces. As Carlin observes, the Beach Boys’ songs are “not about utopia but about the striving for utopia.” In that regard, he perceives a thread connecting Wilson not only to other composers such as George Gershwin and Stephen Foster but also to other quintessentially American artists such as Mark Twain and Herman Melville.
In Catch a Wave, Carlin maintains an admirable balance between recognizing Brian Wilson as a significant figure in American musical history and acknowledging that he remains a troubled human being. In his own encounters with the musician, Carlin has observed, intriguingly, that Wilson “uses the words ‘love’ and ‘fear’ almost interchangeably.” The single thing Carlin most hopes to impart to readers about Brian Wilson, however, is that he is an important American artist.
Carlin is now happily settled back into life as a journalist. “You end up hurting yourself” when you write a book, in terms of the difficulty of the project and the sacrifice of time away from family; financial reward is not enough. If Carlin wades into those waters again, it will be only for something that matters deeply to him, something so important that “I have no option but to write it.” In the meantime, those who admire the music of Brian Wilson and appreciate fine writing can be grateful that Peter Ames Carlin was willing to put himself through it at least once.
Eric Meyer is a longtime fan of the Beach Boys, especially Brian Wilson.
Katy Preston M.Ed. ’96 offers 17 creative storybook-based units for use with preschoolers.
Butte Publications, 2006.
Brian Josepher ’90 coauthors this book that explores the contentious subject of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust.
Barricade Books, 2006. 320 pages.
Suzanne Segerstrom ’90 surveys the scientific data on optimism (including her own award-winning research) to reveal that it’s not what you believe about the future that matters, but what you do about it.
The Guilford Press, 2006. 232 pages.
Maggie Roberts Murdy, namesake of Maggie’s Café on campus and a member of the Heritage Society, Don Ostensoe ‘53, a friend of the College and a nationally prominent beef industry leader, Ralph Jerald “Jerry” Baum, professor emeritus of literature, Robert Flowerree, a life trustee of Lewis & Clark College, Richard Woolworth ‘63, former Donald G. Balmer Citation awardee and a life trustee of Lewis & Clark
Honoring alumni, faculty, staff, and friends who have recently passed.
Ian Frazier, author and essayist for the New Yorker magazine, was the keynote speaker for the fourth and final Lewis & Clark College symposium commemorating the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The theme of the symposium, held September 29–30, 2006, was Legacies. In these edited excerpts from his talk, Frazier muses on some of the legacies of the Corps of Discovery.