THE ART OF REVENGE – FROM PORTLAND’S ART SCENE TO REALITY TV (MAYBE)

 Originally published in The Oregonian – December 11, 2010

The sawed-off head of the My Little Pony doll came in a handmade box, with crimson string that was knotted into a bow on top.

I was at a hotel bar waiting for an interview. When the box showed up instead it seemed pretty, yet sinister, too. What could be inside?

One reason for trepidation: The guys who sent it were the proprietors of a Portland-based company called Revenge for Hire.

Also worth noting: This same pair had just shot the pilot episode of a reality series about their antics.

And there’s more.

Read the rest here.

JAY CUNNINGHAM: PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A VICTIM OF HIS OWN PERFECTIONISM

Jay Cunningham on the threshold of his secret world

 Originally published in The Oregonian – January 1, 2011

In Jay Cunningham’s paintings, the things that don’t fit matter the most.

It’s the shiny gold key in the hand of the monkey who smiles cryptically as he unlocks a wooden door. It’s the golden crown on the table next to the man watching his toddler play with a toy dinosaur.

And it’s the detached expression of the young man peering away from the mother bird feeding her two babies in a vine-tangled tree.

That’s the picture that gets to Jay Cunningham’s mother, Sharon Vanderzanden, since she knows that the young man in the foreground is her son. The birds represent her family back when her two boys were navigating what Jay calls “the crucible” of their childhood.

Crucibles can do the darndest things. When he was young, the Milwaukie-reared Cunningham retreated into his room, where he projected himself into the wide-open world of crayons and paper. Brushes, canvas and pigment came later, then art school. Then a shockingly fast rise to the upper ranks of Portland’s most prominent artists.

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JEFF ALAN’S WEIRD JOURNEY FROM THE RFK ASSASSINATION THROUGH SEVERAL IDENTITIES, WIVES PLUS ALSO A THRIVING CAREER AS A TV NEWSMAN IN THIS MODERN AGE WHILE ALSO BEING LEGALLY DEAD

alan2(Originally published in The Oregonian, 2009)

Jeff Alan says, finally, that it’s all true.

That Jeff Alan isn’t exactly his given name. And that the Social Security number he has used for most of the past 23 years isn’t exactly his either.

The former news director at KOIN (6) acknowledges he abruptly left his family in Los Angeles in 1986 and has since been distant from his three daughters. So distant that his ex-wife, the mother of his two youngest, had her vanished ex-husband declared dead in 1993.

That’s all true. So is the part about Alan being at the Ambassador Hotel, perhaps just steps behind Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, when Sirhan Sirhan shot Kennedy in the early hours of June 5, 1968. It’s true Alan had a thriving career in television syndication during the 1970s and early ‘80s before reinventing himself as a TV news anchor and executive. He worked at stations across the country the next two decades, wrote a pair of books (“Responsible Journalism” was one), taught broadcast journalism at the University of Pittsburgh and appeared on CNN and MSNBC as a media expert.

These things are real. So is the wrongful termination lawsuit Alan is pursuing against KOIN, and the investigation of potential fraud being weighed against Alan by the Social Security Administration’s inspector general.

Former KOIN news director Jeff Alan’s latest project has been to look into voter fraud for the Cascade Policy Institute.

Also true: A ruling by a probate judge in Michigan last week that echoes an Oregon judgement requiring Alan and his girlfriend, Patrice Bailey, to repay all charges to a credit card belonging to Bailey’s elderly mother, when she lived in their Portland home.

There’s more.

Alan has never denied owning multiple Web sites catering to people interested in the sexual practices known as BDSM (for bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism). It’s long-term research, he says, adding that the true focus and scope is, for the time being, a secret.

It almost certainly has nothing to do with his work for the Cascade Policy Institute, a conservative political think tank. That’s a campaign to root out Oregonians who might cast fraudulent votes by assuming the identities, and ballots, of people who are dead.

Which seems a bit ironic, given that Alan has, according to the Social Security Administration, been dead for more than 15 years.

Read the article here.