Of Cabbages and Kings: Travelers have one thousand worlds

Of Cabbages and Kings

Half the fun of my job is engaging with readers.

Following last week's column about Jim Huffman the Republican law professor challenging Sen. Ron Wyden, I received this e-mail from one of Huffman's students.

"What is getting buried in (Huffman's) admiration and emulation of Vic Atiyeh is the fact that Huffman is Libertarian and an extreme one at that. His Torts class was taught from a textbook written by Richard Posner and was straight out of the University of Chicago/Milton Friedman world view. Jim will tell you all about the chickens he raises (or at least used to raise) but he is a hard core ideologue. He was the advisor to the Lewis & Clark Federalist Society in the mid '80s before its members (nationally) all started being appointed to the federal bench.

"He has already started to tack toward the center and he will put a smiling face on a radical world view. I hope the press digs deeper and does not let the fact that Wyden finally has a challenger who can string two sentences together to divert their attention from Huffman's core beliefs."

My wife and I like all manner of live music. Over the past four days we saw a forgettable opera and a great singer whose genre runs from pop to jazz to country.

Being in Tulsa last weekend, we noticed that Tulsa Opera was presenting work we had never seen: Massenet's Don Quichotte, his telling of the Don Quixote story. Since Massenet's music can be beautifully sentimental (Thais, Manon) we gave it a try. If Don Quichotte is seldom performed, we think we know the reason. It lacks great music. There are no big numbers and Massenet didn't know how to end it.

Norah Jones, on the other hand, was a striking presence at the Schnitzer in Portland. Like many pop singers who have made it big, Jones brings a stage entourage much larger than what she needs, and with a light show to keep the A.D.D. crowd engaged. Once Jones was onstage alone with a piano, the voice became the main event as she sang Come Away With Me, which earned her first Grammy.

Alumni magazines contain nuggets you won't find elsewhere. Our son is a graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., which increasingly is home to a number of North Coast high school graduates. The most recent issue of his alumni magazine carried an article about Stephen Cunha, the cultural geography instructor about whom our son was enthusiastic. Being a geographer, Cunha exhorts his students to travel. "Homebound types have but one world, while travelers have a thousand. Travel broadens and textures the mind. It allows a person to develop empathy for the millions engaged in more difficult lives."

Cunha added: "To deepen your studies, I also urge frequent travel in order to reap what Mark Twain makes clear: 'Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.'"

I suppose that my wife and I took Stephen Cunha's advice last Friday. I will admit that Tulsa is not most people's idea of a weekend getaway. But like many other places, once you are there, you discover there's a lot more to it than you realized. We flew to Tulsa to see the Charles M. Russell retrospective at the Gilcrease Museum. In the meantime, we learned a lot about the source of Tulsa's culture while enjoying a stunning restaurant and seeing another museum. Unfortunately, the Tulsa Drillers, the AA minor league baseball team was on the road.

Like Oklahoma City, Tulsa sprawls over a vast terrain. Downtown is marked by a number of huge churches and their parking lots. I use the word "huge" advisedly. These edifices look like corporate headquarters. The Methodist church has a skyscraper in addition to its street-level sanctuary.

James Ronda was our special treat of last Saturday. Ronda wrote Astoria and Empire and he will deliver a major lecture during Astoria's bicentennial. He is a retired history professor of the University of Tulsa, which recently took over management of the Gilcrease.

- S.A.F.

FRIDAY: Charles M. Russell and the West of the imagination ? What oil wealth bought ? Treasures of the Gilcrease Museum

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