Doug Kenck-Crispin wants Oregonians to know and love their history.
So whenever a major Oregon historical milestone rolls around, Crispin and his fellow “Oregon history geeks” throw a party. In the past year, they have gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, toast the exploits of D.B. Cooper and celebrate Oregon’s 154th birthday.
This month, the guest of honor will be Tom McCall, one of Oregon’s most famous and celebrated governors, who would be marking his 100th birthday on March 22nd. To celebrate, Crispin and friends from Know Your City (formerly The Dill Pickle Club) and Nestucca Spit Press will host the Tom McCall 100th B-Day Party at the Jack London Bar in downtown Portland on March 23rd.
Crispin, who serves as resident historian at his website, orhistory.com, says the event will have lots of history, but it will be served up in an unexpected format. He promises a night filled with music, art, poetry and general merriment.
“It’s not going to be three historians sitting behind a table and talking about their books,” says Crispin. “It will definitely have a Portland DIY vibe to it.”
Author and historian Matt Love will be on hand to talk about Vortex, the infamous rock concert that McCall sponsored to prevent anti-war protests in downtown Portland. Know Your City will celebrate the release of Tom McCall and the Oregon Vortex, a new comic book illustrated by artist and teacher Daniel Duford and written by reporter Sarah Mirk. There will be music by Dirt Vortex! (made up of members of Blue Skies for Black Hearts), a showing of classic Tom McCall videos, an ode to the governor written by a local poet, as well as a “Dress Like Tom McCall” costume contest.
Crispin will also talk about three lesser-known aspects of Tom McCall’s career, which he and producer Andy Lindberg featured in recent episodes of their irreverent podcast Kick Ass Oregon History. Looking beyond what Crispin dubs the “big three” aspects of McCall’s legacy — the Beach Bill, the Bottle Bill and land reform, the three special episodes dig into more controversial topics: McCall’s support of the Vietnam War, his advocacy of prison reform and his mixed record on environmental issues related to forestry.
Crispin says he hopes the podcasts and the events this weekend help give Oregonians a richer picture of the former governor.
“I think history is much more interesting when it’s not one-dimensional,” says Crispin. “I think it’s important for Oregonians to get a more complex picture of the man and to realize that he had some shortcomings which, if anything, helps to strengthen his legacy.”