Saturday, May 29, 2021

Photographs Of Places I've Lived # 0: I Think I Went Down The Wrong Street

Oh no.

In my visit last week to Dallas, I was able to see a copy of my birth certificate, which let me know the house in which my family lived when I was born.  One morning that weekend, I drove to that house, I thought, & snapped a picture.

For some reason, I can't seem to find where I put that birth certificate when I got home.  I'm sure it's not lost, it's just not currently at hand.  I found the picture I took, & then I double-checked with Google Maps to make sure it's the right address &...  I think I got the street wrong.

When I have a little more time next week I'll double-check.  I might have gotten it right.  But I don't think I did.

The series started in the first place I lived about which I have memories & ended in the place where I currently live.  I believe I covered 23 places I've lived in my 53 years.  But I think I am missing two - the house on my birth certificate, & the one in which we lived before my mother left my father.  No one seems to know the address of that one, just the street, but both were in the same neighborhood.  In my first eighteen years on this planet, I lived in an area that was mostly constrained by Garland Road on the west, Kingsley Road to the south, First Street on the east, & Miller Road to the North.  I did apparently live a few houses north of Miller before I was four, & I did live south of Kingsley for a year in the mid-1970s, but only one street south.  (Also for six months in 1982, we lived maybe a half mile south of Kingsley. I almost forgot that.)  Otherwise, you could basically take a walking tour of the places I've lived & it might be a little tedious, especially in the summer heat, but it wouldn't take you longer than a couple hours.

Not that that's something I would recommend.

Friday, May 28, 2021


The picture above is a tattoo on my niece Jordan's arm of the German phrase "Ich liebe dich" ("I love you") written in my mother's handwriting.

This weekend I gathered with my family & others for my mother's memorial.  She died last September, just days before her 91st birthday.  (I wrote about that on the blog then.)  She asked me several times if I'd give her eulogy, & I did.  I present the written version of the eulogy below, with some notes.  I didn't read it exactly as I wrote it, but it's pretty close.  I was quite affected by my siblings' emotions at the memorial, & I think we all got some well-needed closure.  It might be the last time we're all gathered together, which would make my mother sad, but there was a great deal of love in the event, & it was all about her, so it would have made her very happy.  Here it is.


I’m going to talk for a few minutes about the person we’ve gathered here to remember.  She was my mom – our mom – our grandmother – our great-grandmother – our friend.  I hope not to overstay my welcome & I hope any of you – all of you – will say something, share some thought or memory, after I speak.

It’s fair to ask, why him?  Why me?  I spoke with Mom once a week for the past few years – maybe the past two decades – & she talked to me about everything. What I know about you is mostly what Mom told me on those calls, almost every Sunday, for years.  As she got older, & as she heard about & attended funerals or memorials, as she became aware her time might be near, she fretted a bit – well, she always worried – she would never say anything bad about a religious service, they were all beautiful to her – but she worried when she was gone, whoever would speak at her funeral wouldn’t know her.  That it would be impersonal.  She hinted & then outright asked me if I would give the eulogy.  & I said yes.  So here goes.

My mother was born Marianna Köllner in a town called Höchst on September 20, 1929. I always think of it a small village, but in 1928, the year before she was born, it was named a city district of Frankfurt, Germany, a major German city.  She had two siblings she loved, & two parents she adored & who loved her deeply, & who shaped her view of the world.  Most of all they taught her the importance of family, & family is what my mother lived for.  It was with great pride that she became the matriarch of a large family.

I never really knew my grandparents, but Mom talked about them often, so here’s what I can say.  My grandmother was serious but loving woman, very superstitious, & I think of the opinion that men, though obviously helpful in work & support, were mostly tender things that had to coddled, & that women were really in charge of the world.  Women humored men by letting them think they ran things.  A mother’s job was to make sure her sons were taken care of & her daughters could become strong enough to take care of the men in their lives.

I’m not going to tell too many stories today – some of you knew her longer than I did, & have far better tales – but I want to illustrate what I’ve just said with two anecdotes.  One is about the importance of family.

As you know, when my mother was four, her country was taken over by a monster.  She was a child while most of that was happening; in fact, it was right before her tenth birthday that Germany invaded neighboring Poland & World War II had begun.  Because of its proximity to Frankfurt, Höchst received its fair share of allied bombs. To protect her, her parents sent Mom south, to live in the countryside.  I think she was separated from her siblings, because she told me a story that seemed so uncharacteristic of her.  As a young teenager, missing her home, she left the safe haven she had with her distant relatives & walked, hitchhiked – hitchhiked! – & in whatever way she found her way home.  She told me that she got to town as an air raid siren blew, so she first saw her parents in the bomb shelter.  & she said her mother gave her such a look – a look of disappointment & disapproval – one I think she probably inherited. But the point is, my mother, who could be too cautious, threw that caution to the wind for the sake of being home, no matter the danger, with family.1

The second story happened when I was a child.  My grandfather came to visit.  I don’t have any memory of this, I must’ve been four or five.  He was visiting Garland & my mother went to look for him in the afternoon & he was nowhere to be found.  She was out of her mind with worry.  A couple of hours later, he returned home, a little drunk, but happy.  It turned out he struck up a conversation with a stranger & the two of them decided to go get a drink.  Garland being dry at the time, they had to drive into Dallas.  The best part of the story is that my grandfather spoke no English.  & his companion spoke no German.  But also no English – he was Hispanic.  That my grandfather could enjoy an afternoon with someone with whom he had so little in common – certainly no language – spoke volumes about his fun-loving personality.  My mother though saw in him what she was taught by her mother about all men: irresponsible though lovable.

The war ended.  She told me wonderful stories about being a teenager who was not allowed to go to the USO – which was the only place to have fun in the shell of a country post-war Germany was – & getting into trouble with her mother because she told her she was going studying, but she returned with her dress inside out – she had obviously changed dresses before going dancing.  I would’ve loved to have met that Marianna Köllner!

She met a GI named Everett Dickerson.  They courted, they married, they started a family.  After he mustered out of the service, my father worked for a time in the diplomatic corps.  But opportunities were few in Germany, so the small family moved to the United States.  Most of you know how dark that story got, some of you here lived it, I feel I was mercifully spared so much of its awfulness.  My father, stricken with the disease of alcoholism – a weakness of men, my grandmother might have said – was unable to provide for his family, & eventually – with more than just the financial help of my two oldest siblings, who were all grown up as they say, & had started their own lives – my mother left that relationship.  It’s very hard for me to imagine the strength it took for her to do so in early 1970s America, when divorce was still considered something shameful.  Even more the defeat she must have felt because she was in a way breaking up her family.  But ultimately, the reason she had to do it was for family – certainly she did it for me & my little brother, who never had to witness the fights or the humiliations or the pain of a drunken father.2  Her courage was considerable, & it still impresses me when I try to imagine the pressures she was under.

I’m sorry if I seem to be skimming her life.  There was so much of it, some of us were there for a lot of it, I don’t mean to bore, I just want to paint a picture of a person I loved.  I do want to say that as happy as she was to watch all of you get born, grow up, get married, have children, find jobs, succeed in your myriad ways, I am glad she was as happy as she was later in life in her apartment on Miller Road.  It felt at last like a home that was hers – sure, she invited us there, she entertained friends there, especially relatives & friends from Germany.  She certainly logged many hours on the phone there.  She would tell me it was the place she lived in the longest.  She just loved it.

This being a sort of eulogy, I feel obliged to talk a bit about religious matters.  I myself don't have any supernatural beliefs, but I love to talk to people about what they believe, so naturally I talked to Mom about what she believed.  She would by the way be scandalized by me talking about this in public, especially with so many people.  "Never talk about religious, politics, or sports," she would tell me.  I would jokingly reply, the three things people are most interested in?  She meant that you didn’t want to talk about things that people might argue about, that could cause disharmony or discord.  I did finally ask her, what do you talk about, then, Mom?  She answered without hesitation: “Other people.”3

Mom grew up in the Lutheran church & considered herself a Lutheran, although I don’t think she went to church much after she got to the United States.  If so, it was Baptist church & not a Lutheran one, & almost certainly it wasn’t formal enough for her.4  She believed in God but I don’t think she thought too much about Jesus.  When I tried to press her about whether she felt Jesus died for her sins, or whether she had ever asked him for forgiveness, she snapped at me, “What do I have to be forgiven for?”5

What I do know is she believed that if you were a good person, when you died you went to heaven, & that in heaven, waiting for her, were her mother & father, her sister & brother, countless cousins & aunts & uncles & ancestors beyond counting.  & of course her dear Patricia Ann.  & though, like I said, I have no supernatural beliefs, I have no problem believing that’s where she is right now, with the people she loved, with family.

I feel as though I need to finish this with something spiritual & I will, but I thank you for listening to me & for coming together with Mom this one last time.  She would be so happy that we have gathered here to celebrate her life.  For my spiritual text I will read a section of the poem Song of Myself by the American poet Walt Whitman.  Please tell your stories about Mom after this.

A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them, soon out of their mothers' laps,
And here you are the mothers' laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing. 

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

I love you, Mom.  Goodbye.


1 This memory was discussed after the eulogy.  My mother must've told the story many times.  Apparently when her mother saw her in the bomb shelter, my mother told some of us, she slapped her.  I don't know if she added that detail when she told me.  The point is, it was uncharacteristic of my mother to take such chances, but she would do such a thing for her family.
2 My older brothers spoke a bit after the eulogy about how different their lives were with an abusive, alcoholic father.  I was even more grateful to my mother afterwards that she was able to leave my father & that my childhood was free of such things!
3 I don't know if you're supposed to get laughs at a eulogy, but according to the response I got, this was the funniest thing I said.
4 My sister corrected me that our mother didn't go to church at all, mostly because she didn't drive & otherwise couldn't get to church at that time. & I was corrected after the eulogy that my mother did in fact go to church with my little brother & his wife & family, but of course here I was talking about after she got to the states.  There's more in the next note.
5 By far the most controversial thing I could have said - not for my mother, but because I have family members who are born again who I knew might take some kind of offense at this.  I stand by it, mainly because it's a true story - I laughed out loud when she told me. It's difficult for people raised in a tradition of biblical literalism to accept that there are other ways to be Christian, but my mother - though she did go to church from time-to-time apparently - didn't really think very much about Jesus; she thought more about God. & I know for some people this means the same thing but my mother didn't quite see it that way.  She did have a way of listening to people which made them think she agreed with them when she really might have just wanted to be pleasant - or not seem stupid.  Or as my sister put it recently in a text to me (about something unrelated to this), "She pretended to understand but I know she didn't."
However! I do note for the record that my sister-in-law Melissa said at the memorial that she knew that my mother did in fact know Jesus & that she was in heaven now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Self Help Radio 052521: IDM - The Early Years

(All album covers from Discogs.)

Here it is.  Three hours of electronic music that some have called "IDM."  & that's it!

You can listen now at the Self Help Radio website or at the KBOO website.  The songs I played are listed there or below.  I hope you enjoy.

Self Help Radio IDM - The Early Years Show
"Simon From Sydney" LFO _Frequencies_

"We Are The Music Makers" Aphex Twin _Selected Ambient Works 85-92_
"Spiritual High" UP! _Artificial Intelligence_
"Bike" Autechre _Incunabula_
"Peschi" Reload _A Collection Of Short Stories_

"Focus Mel" Atypic _Black Dog Productions: Bytes_
"Phi* 1700 (u/v)" µ-Ziq _Tango N' Vectif_
"Smokebelch I" The Sabres Of Paradise _Sabresonic_
"Obtuse" B12 _Electro-Soma_

"Ginger" Speedy J _Ginger_
"Sym-phon5" Beaumont Hannant _Basic Data Manipulation: Tastes & Textures Vol. 2_
"Zombie Astral" Sandoz _Digital Lifeforms_
"Tinned Teardrop" Vibert/Simmonds _Weirs_

"Lifeforms (Path 2)" Future Sound Of London _Lifeforms_
"Reality Of Space" Luke Slater's 7th Plain _The 4 Cornered Room_
"Frosch" Mouse On Mars _Vulvaland_
"Solar X" Solar X _Outre X Mer_

"I See More Than You Do" Atom Heart _Morphogenetic Fields_
"More Than A Feeling (Black Dog Mix # 2)" Nav Katze _Never Mind The Distortion_
"Machine" Cristian Vogel _Beginning To Understand_
"Flow, Form, & Spiral" Thomas Fehlmann _Flow_

"Sanq" Kinesthesia _Empathy Box_
"Kellogg's Corn Circles" Vulva _From The Cockpit_

Monday, May 24, 2021

Whither IDM The Early Years?

(Image from here.)

That link above - which is - would answer the question, "What is IDM?" if you don't know.  To quote from the article, "Intelligent dance music (or IDM) is a form of electronic music influenced by underground dance music like Detroit techno & various breakbeat styles emerging in the UK in the early '90s. The atmospheric & beat-oriented music is more likely to be appreciated with a good pair of headphones than on the dance floor. Born out of a fusion between hard-edged dance music & downtempo music, IDM is usually dense & thought-provoking."

Most fans of IDM hate that that stands for "intelligent dance music" - especially since much of it wouldn't be any fun to dance to.  But it's the genre of electronica that got me interested in electronica in the first place.  It's basically pretty electronica.

As I explained yesterday, I made this show previously as an "evergreen" in case a live remote Dickenbock Report went off the air.  As far as I know, that version was never used.  Because I knew I'd be out of town this past weekend, I repurposed the show for Self Help Radio tonight.  It's IDM from 1992-1994, when the genre was new.

It's on 90.7 fm KBOO from midnight to 3am.  Listen at if you're not in town.  It'll be lots of long electronica sounds & very little of me.  So probably a good show!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Preface To IDM: The Early Years

This will need to be brief.  I am giving a eulogy in a couple of hours. I haven't really had time to make a radio show this week so Tuesday's show is a kind of repeat - of a show that never aired.

You see, when I was doing the Dickenbock Report live on KBOO last summer, I had to make an "evergreen" version of the show - three hours I could play any time, which would be an emergency back-up if I ever got kicked off the air.

That never happened.  It never aired (as far as I know).  So.  It'll air now.  With all new airbreaks, naturally.

Next time we talk I'll be back in Portland!