Duff McKagan: On Star Anna, Timothy Egan, and Jackie Robinson

Before I get to the movie and book picks that I carved out for this week’s column, I want to give a quick plug for Star Anna’s show at the Tractor TONIGHT—yes, Wednesday night!

If you are local, I hope you already know about our latest and greatest songbird: She’s one part Ann Wilson, another part Patsy Cline, and all parts motherfucker. Tonight’s show is a fundraiser so that she can make a new record. If you’re in town, do the right thing and go. If you’ve never heard of Star and go to this show, you will immediately start telling every friend and near-friend about your new find. She is a local gem that won’t be staying in places the size of the Tractor for too much longer!

OK, readers of this column know I’m a big fan of Timothy Egan, a local author who has found international acclaim writing books about the Northwest (present and past). Here are a couple good places to start:

The Big Burn: As that “radical” President Teddy Roosevelt was nationalizing huge swaths of our U.S. forests and trying to stock them with a few good men and women (the first Forest Rangers) to protect the trees from evil clear-cutting lumber companies, a massive fire-fueled anomaly of a hurricane swept through the inland Northwest. The year was 1910, and there was no such thing as forest firefighters yet. The saga that ensues is an edge-of-the-chair fete of death, survival, heroics, and frustration. This book makes me want to take a driving tour of eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, just to see the remnants of this 110-year-old mega-fire.

Breaking Blue: Spokane was once a burgeoning promised land of wealth and growth. During the American Dust Bowl and Depression, Spokane became a main destination for tons of people looking to start anew with a chance for a job and perhaps even prosperity. But Spokane was also a place run with an iron fist by the law, where graft, prostitution, liquor-running, and burglary were all reserved for the police. If you stepped in the way of any of these vices, you may have gotten killed . . . even if you were another cop. This is a brilliantly written book on a true story that took 55 years to finally come out.

And, finally, do yourself a favor and go see this movie!

42: Jackie Robinson was an American hero. He and Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey were both American heroes. actually, and this movie depicts a dark period in U.S. history, when pro sports had yet to let anyone but whites play. This film is simply beautiful and victorious. My family and I left the theater with our heads held high, and feeling that you know what, we humans just might end up doing the right thing after all. There should be more movies like this. The world would be a better place.

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