The Student

Every now and then, you meet someone by chance or under odd circumstances. Such was the case when a young man contacted me wanting an interview about my current literary show, Authors in Pubs. I said: “Yes, meet me before the show and let’s talk”. What happened next was totally unexpected, but eventually turned out to be a good thing. I think I should explain.

I immediately started telling people that I was going to be famous. An interview by a journalist, followed by a published article in a well-known paper. Be nice to me, or the guy holding the rope at my next show, might not have your name on ‘The List’. This feeling lasted right up until the time the interview started. Seems what the young man really wanted, was a story about one of the writers that had crossed my stage, and had mentioned my name as a source of information. I only had one response: “You have questions about Jared Smith? I don’t know this person. You could stand three random ‘dudes’ in front of me, and I wouldn’t know which one was Jared!” The young journalist turned off his tape recorder, and gave me a puzzled look. But:”Jared talks about you all the time”. “As well he should”, was all I could say. At this point, we were both at an impasse, and the interview ended. So much for my 15 minutes. ( thanks Andy )

My new, soon to be friend and drinking buddy, packed up his stuff and headed out the door. You may have guessed that this wasn’t the end, and you’d be right. A week later he called me back with the following request. “Would it be OK to change the interview, and article, to be about you?”. Turns out he went back to class with the bad news about not getting any info out of me, other than my own drunken ramblings. His class came to the conclusion that I was far more interesting than Jared Smith, so go back and get the rest of my story. And that’s just what he did.

After three interviews and many bourbon & ginger-ales later, ( Yup, I corrupted the young lad ),  we finally had enough material for the article. The article, yeah right!. Turns out he was just taking a journalism class and there was no article to be published. He did inform me he got a ‘A’ on the paper, but really, he turned out to be a political science major. What was I thinking. I suppose all I can do at this point is a little ‘damage control’.

I have read his article several times, and there is some truth to it. Showing it to someone else was not my first choice, so I decided against it. Well, bourbon does have a certain charm, so eventually I read it to a long time friend and pal, being careful to edit out any passages that I deemed unfit. He loved it!. Darn The Luck. I then showed the article to a published author and professional editor. Although puzzled by the young mans writing style, he said the piece captured me perfectly. These events have led me the following decision. I am now going to share his writing with everybody. I may never be the same.

Portland State University, journalism class. Final paper by, Brian Dodson

“I meet this girl Kimberly at a bar. She’s eating a burger like a long-shore man and downing it with a beer. I talk to her for two hours. She ends up hanging out with a friend of mine. I get her phone number, I go to work; I go screw this two-day thing I am calling her up. So I call her up and say, ‘I wanna see you tonight and she says, ‘Me too, unfortunately I am at the airport. I am going to Utah. I go, ‘Why are you going to Utah?’ and she’s like, ‘Well that’s where I live’. We’ve been writing since September of last year. She’s a crochet-err (what she makes she gives to homeless people), charcoal sketch artist, works in the medical field and wants to be a writer, but totally afraid of writing. Just through writing over the last months, she now has stories and I am trying to get her to fly out and read one of them at Authors in Pubs cause’ I am threatening to fly to Utah and start another Authors in Pubs just so she doesn’t have to commute. You want to know why I do this show, that’s why I do it.”  Don Van Kirk

Among the boomers in Portland who claim to have lived the American dream there is one who actually did. He made money, lots of it, spent it, all of it, and goofed off, whenever he could, and to this day, still does. He lost all of his money in a marriage over 27 years ago.     “A kid comes up to me in a bar and says, ‘You Don Van Kirk’ and I shoulda said no but I said yeah. He serves me and I go, ‘these papers are blank and he says’ don’t worry about it, we’ll fill it in later’, well I lost everything.” Van Kirk pulls in a long slow drag through his cigarette holder, ” I went to our old house to pick up some of my stuff and she had a bunch of friends over. All girlfriends. They gave me that special look like, what’s he doing here. “I don’t know, maybe I turned her gay.”

But one won’t find this man hanging out in the corner of The Nobby, with all the other boomers drinking and smoking between stories about Nam or trying to collectively decide who was that man who played opposite James Mason in Salem’s Lot, TV movie circa 1979, fellas it was David Soul.

Those boomers are frail, money stuffed men who could fly off to Thailand tomorrow, just because they wanted too. But, this boomer, the one with the white mustache that used to resemble one worthy of a Tom Selleck stache’ award, (not as bushy now but still worthy of some award), and the leather jacket with the frayed collar. The boomer who stands a hulking  6′ 5″, and weighs close to 260lb, that boomer, he’s Don Van Kirk or as the bartenders here in Portland know him, Uncle Don. In the various bars of Portland if the moon is just right and the well drinks are only two bucks, one would have a good chance of running into the infamous Uncle Don

Uncle Don International is the dream. He has three businesses, each with their own websites, under the UDI umbrella. One being Authors in Pubs, the next, Portland Indoor Racing League (being requested for many years by several racers at Portland International Raceway) and lastly, Bananas and Weiners. (Yes!, we’re happy to see you). Bring on the investors.


(to be continued, maybe?)


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