‘My intention wasn’t to create a spectacle or get arrested. It was really something more magical than that.’

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Today, the Tree Guy speaks; there have been some pretty great/horrible puns about the whole thing; and Troy Bennett is on the final stretch of his “permanent Portlanders” series.

What we’re talking about

Jake Bleiberg today spoke with Asher Woodworth, the Portland artist who dressed as a tree and blocked traffic — and got arrested — becoming an international story.

Woodworth explained to Jake, in detail, his thought process behind what he considered to be performance art.

“I’m really glad I was able to execute an hour’s worth of the performance before getting taken away,” he told Jake. “My intention wasn’t to create a spectacle or get arrested. It was really something more magical than that.”

The whole post is worth reading. Here is an excerpt:

Q: Was the police intervening something you were thinking about going into your performance? Was that a concern?

A: Oh yeah, sure. That’s another form of choreography. Maintaining the status quo is a really interesting really serious bit of social choreography and I was interested in interacting with that.

I don’t disagree with the fact that I was arrested, necessarily. I guess I’m of two minds about it.

If I put on the mindset of utility and economy I can see yeah, we need to not obstruct public ways. We need to let people move and go about their daily business. This is part of what allows us to function as a “society.” But then another part of me is not interested in choreographies of economy or utility and I’m interested in magic and nature.

I don’t think I shouldn’t have been arrested. I mean I fully understand why, but I also think it’s interesting that, what was I doing other than moving very slowly across a crosswalk. And yeah, I was dressed as a tree, but that had nothing to do with why I was arrested.

I was arrested just because I was slowing down the pace of business as usual. Is it illegal to be slow?

I’m a tireless advocate [of] slowness and stillness and quiet in my life and I feel like we could use a lot more of that right now.

Read the full interview here.

Related: BDN blogger Rob Korobkin argues that Woodworth is the hero that Portland needs right now.

In other news

Speaking of which — This story has led to some pretty great/awful puns. Tony Reaves collects a few of the best/worst ones.

How angry does Donald Trump make me? Angry enough to steal 40 Trump signs. —   Betta Stothart of Falmouth writes in The Washington Post why she and two other women stole dozens of Trump signs along Route 1.

In retrospect, I realize I shouldn’t be proud of my transgression. Hanging out with a bunch of moms, we started grousing about the proliferation of signs. Can you believe someone would put that many Trump signs so close together on our roads? It’s so rude. Who is this jerk? We felt assaulted by the number of signs. The idea of “cleansing” our streets seemed like the fastest way to restore balance and alleviate our election stress — at least, that night it did. …

Reflecting back, I realize that I momentarily snapped. But there was a deeper reason for my anger than just the signs. Over the past several weeks, grasping the depth of Trump’s predatory behavior toward women throughout his adult life (and even worse, his denial of it) has simply become unbearable. I became unhinged.

This Portland soldier’s pants and shoes were stolen after he died — Troy continues documenting the lives of those buried around town:

Like his big brother, William, George Heard enlisted to fight for the Union during the Civil War.

He signed up with the 10th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment in October of 1861. Then he marched south as a private in Company C — the Portland Light Guards — under the command of Capt. Menzies Fessenden.

He’d been promoted to sergeant by the following summer when the 10th Maine entered the fray at the Battle of Cedar Mountain in Culpepper County Virginia on August 9th. …

When Heard’s comrades were allowed back on the battlefield the next day to collect their dead, they found them stripped of their pants, shoes and valuables. The only things the rebels didn’t take was their blue, Union uniforms.

George Heard’s body eventually found its way back to Portland where it was laid here in the Western Cemetery. Two years later, his big brother William, an ensign in the Navy, joined him in the family plot after dying aboard a gunboat in Louisiana.

The Big Idea

‘You’ll Likely Be Reading One Of These 5 Articles The Day After The Election’ — Wherein Five Thirty Eight predicts what the story could be on Nov. 9 — from five different angles.



Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.