Portrait #2: Trojan
2006, 5 minutes, 35mm to SD video  

The Portrait Series is part of an ongoing series of filmed places, stories and histories of Cascadia with scores by musicians living in the Pacific Northwest.

The Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, with its 499-foot tall cooling tower that loomed over its otherwise bucolic Columbia river setting, is the only commercial nuclear power plant ever built in the state of Oregon, at the cost of $450 million in the 1970's economy (almost 3 trillion dollars in today’s money). Beset by environmental concerns and citizen protest from the moment it began operations in 1975, resting in close proximity to a fault line, suffering unplanned closures due to leaking steam tubes and other operating issues, and shortly after Portland General Electric spent $4.5 million to defeat a ballot measure to shut the reactor down, the plant finally closed for good in 1993, after only 17 years in operation. At 7:00 am on May 21, 2006, in the first ever implosion of a cooling tower at a reactor plant in the United States, with the river and its denizens as witness, Trojan fell.  Portrait #2: Trojan is a sublime representation of the surrounding environment leading dramatically up to the moment of demolition. Sam Coomes’ flawless score provides stunning sonic context for the happy ending of the Oregon nuclear skyline. The film is an effective prescription in prevention of politically-triggered anxiety and depression in post-modern Cascadia.

score: Sam Coomes
cinematography: Eric Edwards
2nd unit: Paul Deering
edit: Vanessa Renwick
online edit: Tim Scotten
colorist: Jim Barret


The first time I was close to anything to do with the nuclear world I was naked and surrounded by bison.
I was modeling nude for housewives in a barn on the Fermilab in Illinois. Underneath us atoms shot around the proton-antiproton accelerator.Outside, bison were roaming around. The Art Institute of Chicago had drawing classes in their extension program out at Fermilab. There was a big silo next to the barn which I was naked modeling in. Naked next to the silo I was wondering, “ What's in that silo anyway?” At lunch break you'd walk past the bison to the lab compound itself and eat with the scientists clothed in their white lab coats. On the way back to Chicago I got stuck behind a stinking garbage truck in 100 degree weather in a traffic jam.
The 2nd time, I was in Knoxville, Tennessee. I had just moved there from Chicago and I was depressed out of my mind. Culture shock is when the bag boy in the checkout line at Kroger's comments on our purchase of a 6 pak of Corona seriously with a drawl of, “ Boy, yew shore aur sew -fist-tickaytid.” I was bitching on the phone to a friend in Chicago and she told me that one hour away from Knoxville was the highest concentration of people in the U.S.A. with the highest I.Q.'s.
I drove over to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a small town with absolutely nothing in it for those high I.Q's to do but work on their equations. There were trees roped off with yellow caution tape, the trees were radioactive from some seepage, and every fall they shot any geese that had spent the summer there because they didn’t want them migrating away to some hunters radioactive feast.
Highest concentration of highest I.Q's in the U.S.A.
The third time, I was in Oregon in a car with two friends. One of them was burping up the foulest smell I've ever smelled coming out of a human, and it was cold out, so none of us wanted to roll down our windows. We made her sit in the back. It was strange, as she was a knock out babe,(and also an artist model) but she couldn’t stop the rotten smell burp. We were at the coast, coming back to Portland via Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, that fine specimen of a cooling tower built on an earthquake fault line. We stopped at the strip joint next to Trojan. The two closest things to Trojan were picnic grounds at its' base, and a strip joint. We had to get out of the rancid burp infested car. The dancers were on strike. They were not picketing, they were nowhere to be seen. The management asked us if we wanted to dance. Dance for whom? No one was there but us. It was a similar recipe...naked women in close proximity to scientists, but something had gone wrong and the ingredients were awry. Perhaps the scientists and the strippers were having a picnic at that picnic grounds at the base of the cooling tower? We got back into the car and drove to the picnic grounds. No one was there. Even the foul smelling car was similar to being stuck driving behind that garbage truck the first time. I was/am the naked woman, my friend was the garbage truck, but where were the scientists?