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Strange Days - A Pandemic Journey

BY LesOverhead / Art, Creative, humor, writing / 0 COMMENTS

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As if times weren’t strange enough, my artist friend, Karen Wippich, and I have created an art book together. “Strange Days: A Pandemic Journey” attempts to capture through images and words a sense of the surreal experience we’re all living through. It features 48 of Karen’s reality-bending paintings matched with my brief ponderings on our changing existence. Different takes on bewildering times.

This is our 2nd collaboration - our first being “Driving Strangers: Diary of an Uber Driver” produced a few years ago. The 98-page book is available on Amazon.

Vote for Earth

BY LesOverhead / Uncategorized / 0 COMMENTS

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And this is what it’s come to in smoky Portland, where Ben wears a mask indoors and implores us to as well, and wonders if we’ve gone to hell and I tell him no not yet but the world is heading that way, and he asks how anyone these days - with all the infernos and storms and melting glaciers and towns burned to the ground - can still not believe in climate change and I can only say they are sadly deranged.

In search of Buffalo Bill

BY LesOverhead / death, history, humor, Roadtrip, story, Travel, Uncategorized / 0 COMMENTS

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Chasing down a rumor that Buffalo Bill and I are related, I left Big Sky, Montana last week and went in search of the man. It may be just a coincidence that we both wear hats size large, but I feel we are akin in many ways and may share some bloodlines.

What’s more, I’ve heard some say that he’s alive and that he did not die in 1917 as recorded – which would make him about 170 years old. This is definitely a story worth pursuing I told myself (and my wife who said get outta my sight), and thus I set out six days ago in search of Buffalo Bill, aka William F. Cody or Colonel Cody to those who knew/know him best.

My route went south to West Yellowstone, east across Yellowstone Park, out the east entrance, and on 60 miles to Cody (a town founded by the good Colonel) whereupon I checked into the Buffalo Bill Antler’s Inn.

I caught numerous sights of the Colonel over the next couple days (mostly at the world-class Buffalo Bill Museum), but we didn’t have words together. I did see him talking sign language with an old Indian friend who’d been with him in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, in which Cody convinced Sitting Bull and a whole passel of Indians and cowboys to sail across the ocean to London and Paris and put on a mythic “frontier” spectacle for 30 odd years. I mean, who does that? I’ll tell you who. Nobody – except my presumed great, grand relation – Uncle Bill.

Bill’s tracks led north from Cody and I followed them toward Montana. After about 18 miles, they angled west and I headed that way – across the Sunlight Basin, now known as the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. It’s a vast expanse of heavenly mountains and hills that will bring you to your knees – dangerous driving because your eyes simply cannot stay on the winding road.

This is where “This land is your land” really means something. Old westerns should’ve been shot here and I thank god they weren’t. The roads are near empty; strange since it’s only 50 miles from the horde of numbskulls traipsing out into bison herds for selfies in Yellowstone Park.

Sunlight Basin is a spiritual place in ways I can’t begin to put words to; if you’re an atheist you may want to stay away if you wish to remain one.

But alas, my eyes kept wandering to the mountains and I lost the trail of my kin Bill Cody. I think he’s out there, along with many others in these parts, some I know personally who have passed on to greener pastures. (RIP Maizie).

I decided to let Bill be and drove on over Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge, a small town on the edge of the mountains where I and many others were tear-gassed on Main Street, July 4th, 1975 (see attached photo of local news of the mayhem). But that’s a story for another day.

While I didn’t catch up with my great ancestor Buffalo Bill and cannot confirm if he’s alive, I did see why he settled in this part of the universe. There’s really no place like it.

I like to think he and I will share yarns some day in the future, though mine would pale in comparison to his. I could tell him about coasting down Beartooth Pass in my parents’ Toyota in neutral with the engine off to save gas and make it to Red Lodge. He’d be amazed at that, and would want to try riding this Toyota – such a strange name for a steed.

Wouldn’t it be grand? The Colonel and I riding off together through Sunlight Basin again, as kin. If only I could ride a horse.

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A MOBILE ONE-MAN CREATIVE TEAM

20 Odd Years In Business

The true, sober story of Les Overhead.

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I was leaving to buy a keg for a party in the mountains outside Missoula when the phone rang. I picked it up in a hurry. A woman asked if I had recently applied for a job with a radio station in Whitefish.

“Uh, yeah, did I get the job?” I replied, anxious to move the conversation along.

“Not yet. Are you available for an interview?” I wondered if she was in town and wanted to meet right then.

“Not for the next 24 hours,” I said. "To be honest, I'm on my way to buy beer for a party in the mountains."

“I meant next week," she said. She no doubt heard me hit myself in the head with the phone. Well, I blew that I thought.

But I was wrong. I somehow landed the job and showed up for work two weeks later, shaven and sober. After a couple years punching out radio copy on a Smith Corona and doing odd jobs like radio play-by-play for donkey basketball games I headed west.

Eventually, I ended up in Portland where I caught on with a series of ad agencies. I got into everything: print ads, brochures, radio and TV spots, creative disputes… Many words were exchanged. Nobody got hurt.

One day in the shower a hair circled the drain and it dawned on me. I should use my head and get off this manic ad agency merry-go-round. Go to work for myself and provide creative help to anyone with a good company or cause.

That day Les Overhead was born. Freelance Creative Director/Copywriter. A man of his word.

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The best way to reach Les Overhead and Tom Vandel is by email (tom@...), by phone (503-505-4723), or by sending carrier pigeon or mail to 1750 NE 57th Portland, OR 97213. Thank you.