“Let There Be Beauty!”

Michael FerrellHow Michael Ferrell, a NEW Seasider, finds joy in COMMUNITY!

WHEN HAIRDRESSER Michael Ferrell lacks inspiration as he’s about to cut a client’s hair at Beach Blondes, his salon in Seaside, he places both hands on her head and intones, “let there be beauty!” This invocation to a goddess of beauty hints at the mix of industry and business savvy with a restless spirituality that’s such big part of this guy’s make up.

After buying property at the north coast, Ferrell has demonstrated, in the short time he’s lived here, a willingness to get involved in the community and put his energy and creativity to work for good causes. He views doing hair as a calling, his business acumen continually tempered by a long-standing need to find meaning in this life and help others through his chosen vocation.

“I can make someone pretty and help give her the confidence to go to that job interview or make that life change,” Ferrell explains. That said, he’s done things like free makeovers and beauty consulting for women referred by the Women’s Resource Center. His customers are generally always women, and Ferrell’s wonderfully adept at endearing himself to his “girls.” In no time at all, he’s not just their beauty consultant but a good buddy and confidante. Does he cut men’s hair? “There’s only two haircuts men want, Ferrell quips, “short and shorter.”

His new shop/digs on Seaside’s First Street, just south of Holladay, was a serendipitous find, as he tells it. “We were playing ‘wouldn’t it be lovely if…’ while idly looking at commercial properties in the area and ended up making a silly (low) offer,” he recalls. The seller grabbed at it. Apparently, the house, zoned commercial/residential, had blighted Seaside’s landscape for years; the local police were a constant presence. “When my neighbor to the back found out we’d bought the place, she wept tears of joy,” says Ferrell smiling.

Now, he, his partner Marvin Hampton, and Milo, their black and white Chihuahua mix, divide their time between the north coast and Portland where Ferrell has a house and owns and operates another hair salon called Zen-Do. The couple quickly transformed their newly-acquired, decidedly dilapidated house, inhabited mainly by druggies in its past life. These days, the place simply oozes curb appeal, with the salon at the front and living quarters in the back and on the upper floor. The new owners have worked wonders with the place which remains a bit of a work in progress. Currently awaiting application on the salon’s interior walls are 10 gallons of Ralph Lauren Regent Metallic Colors paint.

Beach Blonde Salon
Photo by Don Frank

Already Ferrell is a member of the Seaside Downtown Development Association, in the throes of preparing for the town’s annual Festival of Trees at the Convention Center. He’s entered floats in the town’s Fourth of July Parade for two consecutive years. (On one float sat 15 females wearing platinum blonde wigs, black false eyelashes and white gloves, including his 80 year old mum. The ladies threw 80 lbs. of saltwater taffy to spectators.) Working with Seaside’s Beautification Committee, he’s also making plans in that busy brain of his to implement a flower box program for area businesses. “Flowers give people a sense of God and slow you down,” he declares.

Ferrell admits to having experimented with many different belief systems over time, including EST, Lifespring, the Church of Scientology, Catholicism and even a Pentecostal cult. “I was trying to fill a God-sized hole in my heart,” he says. Six years ago, he became attracted to Sufism. “It teaches that we’re each of us on a path…that all gods reach the same place. The emphasis is on bridging the differences that divide us and seeking out commonalities.” His Sufi name is Khaliq which means creator.

Every month, Ferrell goes to San Francisco for a World Spirituality Class taught by Mersheda Rabia Ana Perez Christi, a professor who teaches World Religion studies at Berkeley. Eventually, he’ll be a full-fledged Cherag Minister, able to marry and bury people. He says, “I don’t know what’s exactly going on with my life path. It could be hair or it could be something else.”

That something else is most likely his dream of a Cherag Ministry under an umbrella of services that include hospice care. With its seven bedrooms, Ferrell’s house in Portland would be an ideal location for this, he thinks. At one point, his former teacher, Ken Storrer, who was dying of Aids, ended his days there. Storrer was an activist, one of the leaders of San Francisco’s Shanti Project which helped people who were HIV positive or had other life-threatening diseases. Remembers Ferrell, “Ken would rescue people who were dying of Aids and were completely alone.”

Another piece may involve his grandmother’s ranch in the Wallowa Mountains… turning it into a retreat where those facing institutionalized care or death can transition with dignity, be comforted and, perhaps, find peace. Says Ferrell, “It needs a lot of work, but there’s an artesian spring on site and the most wonderful silence… a silence in which you can actually hear the voice of god with nature’s help or through your inner spiritual being.”

Right now, his focus is on hair, on bringing out your “outer fabulosity” as he might term it. Only time will tell how Michael Ferrell’s life will play out, though, given his myriad interests, boundless energy and big, big heart.

Beach Blonde Salon
720 First Ave.
Seaside, OR 97138
Phone:  503-717-5255


Nuevo Regatta! An Old Tradition is getting a Tune-up

Regatta Parade, circa 1950's
Regatta Parade, circa 1950's

THE OLDEST continuous festival west of the Rockies and steeped in tradition, the 2011 Astoria Regatta runs from Wednesday, August 10 through Sunday, August 14. The city’s very first Regatta took place in 1894, consisting of a series of boat races staged to celebrate the end of the fishing season. While the races still play a part in the festival, this annual event has evolved into a five-day extravaganza with music, parades, the selection of the Regatta Queen, fireworks and lots of other activities. Despite its long and distinguished history, however, Regatta’s getting a bit of a face lift in this its 117th year.

People can expect to see some changes to Regatta in 2011. Most of the changes have come out of series of meetings that have been going on since early in the year between the Regatta Association (RA) and the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association (ADHDA), which is a new development. With the Bicentennial and more folks new to the Regatta expected, the two groups have been working hard to get ready—to ensure that things run smoothly and that the Regatta experience will be a safe, enjoyable one.

After doing a little research on his own beforehand Eric Paulson, RA President, saw that attendance at the LEKTRO Grand Parade was pretty lackluster compared with parades he visited in other communities. He says, “I look at things from a marketing and business perspective. If people don’t buy my product I find out why and make corrections.” ADHDA and RA subsequently came up with a two-pronged focus in their discussions: traffic/parking and local business impacts.

To beef up the turnout for the parade—on the part of both residents and out-of-towners—the two groups concluded 1) that it needs to be easier for motorists to get to downtown and park; and 2) once people are downtown, they should be encouraged to stay there… to shop, have a bite to eat and, of course, take part in the Regatta and Bicentennial activities that will be going on all week during Regatta—more of them downtown too.

Business as Usual
Paulson says he wants to “make it ‘business as usual’ downtown” during Regatta with people able to shop, eat, and otherwise enjoy the city’s core area. In the past, merchants have complained that the Saturday during Regatta weekend is often one of their worst shopping days. So this year, several downtown businesses will offer discounts to customers who’re wearing a new commemorative Regatta pin that costs $10 and is for sale at local businesses and banks. At participating merchants, “pinned” customers may also register for a drawing to win a 43” Samsung Flat Screen TV… as many times as the number of places they visit. To add to festivities, businesses will decorate their windows and compete for “best window display.” There’ll be judges and a plaque awarded.

No Square
There won’t be a Regatta Square this year. Instead, the whole downtown, with its businesses, restaurants and other attractions, will provide the services that the Square’s special vendors (brought in for the occasion) used to. Some, if not all, of these now displaced vendors will be at various locations around town on Saturday, August 13 instead. The $10 it used to cost to get into the Square now buys the commemorative Regatta pin, with its extra value of discounts and the drawing attached. The proceeds from pin sales also support the Regatta Association activities.

More for Families and Teens
Before the parade starts at noon, family fun may be had at both ends of downtown this year, courtesy of Astoria Parks and Recreation and the Clatsop County Historical Society. At Astoria’s west end, there’ll be a Regatta Swim (ages 4-12) and a “Bouncing House” (an outdoor inflatable gym/climbing wall) on the grassy area next to the building at the Aquatic Center, all starting at 10:00 am. At the city’s east end, the action will be at the Flavel House where, starting at 10:00 am, there’ll be lawn games, dog agility competitions and jail/film museum tours.

Your teenagers might get a kick out of the skateboard tournament at Tapiola Skate Park at 2:00 pm, after the parade. Then at 6:00 pm, they can “Rock-n-Bowl” at Astoria’s Lower Columbia Bowl, which will be offering  “Cosmic Bowl” later in the evening, at 9:00 pm. The cost for each session is $9.00, which pays for bowling and shoe rental.

Fleet Beat or Sailors’ Delight

Nacho Bizznezz

Amy Willis Jeremy Hirsch
KMUN DJ’s spinning for Fleet Beat: Top – Nacho Bizznezz-Cocktail
Nation, Bottom Right – Amy Willis – Eclectic Boogaloo, Bottom Left –
Jeremy Hirsch-Caribbean Moon

Populists won’t want to miss the “party for the people” that’s new to Regatta this year—an unabashed alternative to the Mayor’s Ball. So beat feet over to the Astoria Event Center at 894 Commercial Street in Astoria, for the “Fleet Beat Bicentennial Celebration” from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am. This Bicentennial bash—described as a dance and public social—is open to the public and formal dress is NOT required. What’s more it’s “kid friendly” until 9:00 pm.
You can dance the night away to the music of some of your favorite KMUN programmers who’ll be doing their shows live! There’s a great line up that covers many genres of music. Times, programs and programmers are as follows:

7:00 pm     In The Mood    with Wayne D.
8:00 pm    Cocktail Nation    with Nacho Bizznez
9:00 pm    Late Night Radio    with Rev. Tim
10:00 pm    Short Attn Span Radio    with Slab Slabinsky
11:00 pm    Caribbean Moon    with Jeremy Hirsch
12:00 am    Eclectic Boogaloo    with Amy Willis

This event will also “Broadcast Live” from the Event Center on KMUN from 8 to 10pm. Event sponsors include KMUN, the RA and ADHDA, Nacho Bizznez and Go Events. It’s also a fund raiser for the Regatta Assn. and KMUN. Share news of this event with your friends and neighbors and be ready to have a blast. Cost: $10 or get in FREE by wearing your Regatta pin.

Regatta Parade Re-Route

One of the most controversial changes in Regatta this year is the re-routing of the 2011 LEKTRO Grand Land parade. It’s moving one block south from the highway (aka Commercial Street in downtown parlance) and will proceed along Duane and Exchange Streets. Why the change? In a word… traffic.
ADHDA and Regatta folks didn’t take this decision to change the route lightly. They talked to the Astoria Police Department and even sent out a short, five-question survey questionnaire using an ADHDA e-mail list. According to Tiffany Estes, respondents were split pretty much down the middle—about half thought the decision was a “travesty;” while the other half bought into the idea as long as it improved safety and could help their business.

At one time, Estes helped organize the City of Hillsboro’s Fourth of July parades. She says, “I saw first hand what a nightmare a parade can be. A lot of things are happening (then) that you have to watch closely.” Turning corners and disbanding are particularly problematic that way. Following the old route, the Regatta parade goes down Commercial Street, turns and heads back down Marine Drive to past the Aquatic Center. At 16th Street, these two streets merge so floats, cars, horses and excited kids get backed up and much too close to one another for safety.

The rerouting of the parade will allow traffic from Hwy. 30 to move through town or, more importantly, to get into town and park in order to enjoy the festivities. Says Paulson, “We do all this work to get people to come, and then they can’t get here. It keeps people from out of town and even from areas close by like Alderbrook, Knappa and Swensen away.”

With the old route, if motorists survived the ordeal of getting into town they still couldn’t find a place to park. Astoria’s only got one main street, and parking is prohibited from 8:00 a.m. until after 2:00 p.m. on the day of the parade on both sides of Commercial and on one side of MarineThere was no parking on Duane that day either, so the only place left for many motorists to park was up the hill. The new parade route frees up the street parking on both Commercial and Marine Drive. Too, by parking there people will be in a better position to avail themselves of downtown services.

This way the Parade!
So remember… when you come down to see the parade during Regatta, find your spot on Duane or Exchange, between Seventh and 17th. The parade will start in front of the hospital on 17th and Exchange and travel west on Exchange St. to Seventh St. It will then take a right on 7th, and proceed to Duane St. It’ll then turn right on Duane and end at 17th St. with disbanding occurring near the John Warren Field.

2011 Regatta Parade Route

Astoria’s Bicentennial Celebration Concert Starring Reba McEntire

August 14th, 2011
Camp Rilea
Warrenton, OR

KUPL is proud to be a part of Astoria’s Bicentennial Celebration Concert Starring Reba McEntire with special guest Phil Vassar! Join us at Camp Rilea (Hwy 101) in Warrenton, Oregon. The show starts at 1 pm and is open to all ages.

Price level 1 – $200 * Reserved seating within the first 9 rows in front of stage.
Price level 2 – $150 * Reserved seating within rows 10 thru 18.
Price level 3 – $50 * General Admission Lawn seating. Low profile chair or lawn chair, blanket and umbrellas are allowed.
*No pets, coolers, food, backpacks allowed. Camp Rilea is a military base; patrons may be subject to the same “search and/or seizure” rules that apply on any military base.
Purchase your tickets at any TicketsWest location or Online.

Reba McEntireREBA
The appearance by country superstar Reba McEntire at Camp Rilea over the weekend breaks very new ground for the Regatta. According to Paulson, Regatta organizers wanted something “really special” for this year’s event and the city’s Bicentennial. They felt they needed a bona fide “headliner” and Reba McEntire certainly fills the bill in that regard.

Says Paulson, “This is something everyone can attend. While $52 for a ticket isn’t inexpensive, it’s comparable to what people from this area would spend driving to Portland for a concert.” In doing that, they’d more than likely have gas, lodging, meals and ticket costs to contend with.
Reba McEntire and guest opener Phil Vassar take the stage at 1pm, on Sunday, August 14, Camp Rilea. For ticket info:


Astoria’s Cloaked Ambassadors – these clowns are serious

Astoria's Cloaked Ambassadors

IF YOU have lived in Astoria, you know the Astoria Clowns – a bunch of local guys who give up a lot of weekends with their families to promote their city, clad in full clown regalia. For well over 50 years, they’ve been traveling the length and breadth of Oregon and Washington, delighting crowds with their zany antics at parades—the Astoria Regatta, Portland Rose Festival, Seattle Seafair and Pendleton Roundup to name a few.

According to Larry Berg (aka Motormouth) no one is quite sure how the AC got started. One story is that some local merchants were planning to have a float in the 1955 Astoria Regatta parade. That didn’t pan out, so they settled for walking in the event dressed in clown suits that somebody had lying around. The rest, as they say, is history.

Berg, a former project manager for a construction company, has been 17 years an Astoria clown. “It’s for the kids, the older folks, the smiles,” he explains. “The AC is one of the area’s most diverse groups. Where else would you have a 21 year old and an 80 year old in the same club?” While it’s true that doctors, lawyers, construction workers, business owners and various other occupations and ages are represented in the AC, no women are allowed. A few females have been made “honorary clowns” but strictly on a temporary basis—coastal pianists, Colleen Simonson and acclaimed accompanist Betty Jane Phillips (who recently passed) both played the calliope at different times.

Astoria native Bill Landwehr (aka Stubby) has been a clown for about 15 years. “You do it for the fun of it,” he says. “You do it for the kids.” He claims there’s no special training involved, and newbes get help with their make-up and costumes from the veterans. Today, the AC has roughly 20 members and is actively recruiting new clowns. Becoming another potential Emmett Kelly in Astoria isn’t that easy, however. Someone has to sponsor you and the other members must vote you in. Like many civic groups, the AC has bylaws, a charter and members meet monthly.

Explains Landswehr, “Many (newcomers) think they’ll love being an Astoria clown. They’ll put in a year or two, make a few events and then bow out.” It is a huge commitment. This year, just appearing at Tacoma’s Daffodil Festival means doing four parades in one day, starting at 10:15 am and going until late in the day with no break! Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Ortig Washington all have parades for the festival. The AC has a total of 20 parades on its schedule for the year.

The AC raises money for various good causes in the community. These include scholarship programs at all the high schools in Clatsop County; donations to the X-mas basket program every year, and playing in a Special Olympics Kids regional basketball tournament (where they always lose.) All AC money comes from a single event… the annual Crab Festival where the guys man a food booth serving up tasty crab and shrimp melts. The word is they make a bundle—enough to do good works AND take care of expenses like insurance, car repairs, etc. “Balloons are expensive,” complains Landwehr.

When it comes to the funny stuff, the AC come up with their own gags. “We don’t read books on it,” laughs Landwehr. Some guys are really inspired when it comes to this… like one-time clown Newt Smith. “He was a great clown… a short stocky guy with a real gift,” Landwehr remembers. Berg recalls an especially silly gag involving parade horses. While the parade’s going, a clown runs over with a can of shaving (or whipping) cream and puts a dollop on every horse dropping encountered; another clown then comes by and puts a cherry on top! Most often the members ride bikes in parades. Member Rod McCauley is a good mechanic and keeps the group’s unicycles, bikes that pull apart and bikes where the front wheel operates independently of the back wheel in good working order. He keeps clown cars running as well.

Callopie Hillsboro Clowns Hotel Elliot 1958
Astoria Clowns of the 1950s, photos courtesy of Jeff Daly

Jeff Daly
Clown after his father, Jeff Daly

HISTORICALLY, THE AC’s raison d’etre has been serving as Astoria boosters—as city ambassadors really —and they’ve been quite effective. Driving around the Northwest in an old repainted ambulance bearing the message “Let’s Build the Bridge,” the group was instrumental in garnering support for the building of the Astoria Megler Bridge. Naysayers called it “the bridge to nowhere,” but that didn’t bother these guys who, clearly, were men of vision – leaders in their community – clown suits notwithstanding.

Jeff Daly is the son of Jack Daly, a one-time Bumblebee cannery executive and one of the AC’s founding members. Son Daly is responsible for the colorful and affectionate AC exhibit on display in the old Lum’s Building at 16th and Exchange in Astoria. It’s a tribute to the AC and showcases a unique piece of the city’s history. He’s also decorated the street-level windows of The Elliott Hotel with photos and old signs, depicting a sort of “walk down merchant street in the 1960s.” “I wanted to do something with vacant spaces like this in the Bicentennial year… to make them something enticing to people instead of abandoned storefronts,” he explains.

In nearly every window of what was once an auto showroom, passersby can ogle vintage clown memorabilia. There’s old home movie footage of the clowns being played on stacked-up TVs, baggy clown suits in eye-popping colors hanging from clothesline, fading photos (one shows Bing Crosby hitting a golf bowl from a tee that’s been placed in the mouth of one especially intrepid clown), documents and newspaper clippings, one particular pair of over-sized clown shoes intrigues. You can piece together the Astoria clown history in an afternoon visit through Daly’s creative installation.

Almost a native Astorian (he was one year old when his family moved here), Daly’s a veritable storehouse of anecdotes about the AC. He’s particularly admiring of their accomplishments on the area’s behalf during the time his father was a clown. “Here was this unbelievable group of guys that came together to support the city and the idea of the bridge. They were really thinking of the future and were very open ended in their view of things… thinking 20 years ahead of their time,” he marvels. “They were civic leaders, highly instrumental to the organization of the city, the government of the city, the business of the city, thus able to anonymously promote the city and make things happen.”

Back then the AC was a totally anonymous entity; less so these days. As a kid, Daly adored the mystery of it all. “A boy or girl might know that their dad was a clown but the identity of the other clowns was never revealed,” he says. Apparently, this was also the case when they were on the road. “They’d do a parade and then get invited to a dignitaries’ ‘do’ at night. Twelve guys would show up in snappy red blazers and ties… no clowns in sight. Talk about making stuff happen. They’d be talking to governors and heads of state. Wow!”

Daly has a special reason for his fascination with and affection for the AC. This reason has received a lot of news coverage in the past… by CBS Sunday Morning, The Oregonian and The Daily Astorian, among others. To quickly recap, his was the perfect fifties Astoria family…Dad, Mom, Jeff and Molly, the little sister he adored. That all changed when Molly, at age three, was institutionalized at the Fairview Hospital and Training Center in Salem. At his mom’s insistence, the girl was never mentioned… ostensibly forgotten. Soon after, the Dalys had another child – a healthy boy. Molly became an even more distant memory.

Jeff Daly never forgot about her though. After his parents’ death, he tracked her down, with the help of his wife Cindy; and brother and sister were reunited after decades apart. As a filmmaker and freelance cameraman, Daly deftly documents this alternately chilling (old footage from Fairview is pretty hard to watch) and moving story in a film he subsequently made entitled, “Where’s Molly?” It’s guaranteed not to leave a dry eye in the house and is beautifully done. Work is currently under way for a book and a screen play version.

Father Jack’s story, though, is equally moving. A bit of a straight arrow, Jack Daly appeared to go along with his wife’s rules against even mentioning Molly. Nevertheless, he frequently made the long drive from Astoria to Salem to visit his daughter. And when staff at Fairview asked him not to visit anymore because his visits upset the girl, he came up with a way to see her anonymously… as one of a troupe of traveling clowns!


THERE’S ALSO a dark side to clowns and clowning in our culture. Some people actually have an irrational fear of clowns, a condition known as “coulrophobia.” One explanation for this is that clown costumes exaggerate facial features and body parts such as hands, feet and noses, which can be seen as monstrous or deformed. Popular culture has certainly played on this notion. There’s the Joker in the Batman stories, the evil clown in the Stephen King novel, It, or how about the 1988 movie Killer Klowns from Outer Space?

The act of disguising oneself and the anonymity that affords could be another source of unease when it comes to clowns. In Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 movie, The Greatest Show on Earth, actor Jimmy Stewart plays a circus clown who never removes his makeup. It turns out his character had been a doctor who euthanized his wife and was wanted for murder. In the real world, serial killer John Wayne Gacy dressed as a clown to lure and disarm his victims, thus earning the nickname “Killer Klown.”

Even if you aren’t threatened by clowns, there is something about dressing up as one… people behave differently. Daly witnessed this when he persuaded a couple he knew to dress up as clowns and sit outside the building housing his AC exhibit one day. “Have fun but don’t get us into trouble,” he told them. The next thing he knows, the man—a total introvert who reportedly went about with eyes down, rarely speaking above a murmur—is out in the middle of the street striking ridiculous poses and making flowery gestures designed to stop and direct traffic so that a little old lady can cross the street. He then takes her arm and escorts her to the opposite curb with impressive aplomb.