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The Shape Shifter is still my favorite mural in Anchorage ...Ziggy did this in collaboration with one or two others.

The Shape Shifter is still my favorite mural in Anchorage …Ziggy did this in collaboration with one or two others.

This post was going to be called “Fat Loot and Three Cool Characters from Anchorage,” but thanks to the airlines, the ‘Fat Loot’ part is now in the questionable column. Somewhere out there a piece of luggage is lost and looking for its home.

…or maybe it’s out looking to party with the internet service for the hotel I stayed at last week. If you see a band of wifi coverage and a grey-colored stand-up suitcase doing lines of coke at a local strip club, please tell them both to go home.

That said a little stint in Anchorage has yielded a few good memories, not the least of them being a chance to meet some some truly memorable characters.


Me & Ziggy ...cool!

Me & Ziggy …cool!

I first noticed Ziggy‘s name on some of the beautiful mural‘s throughout downtown anchorage. He is responsible for a lot of the pieces featured in this post. On a lark, I decided to google the name and see if he might be found in the area. As it happened, I had only to cross the road and enter the coolest crafts shop in town. That’d be the one piping vintage blues out onto the street, a fact which had not escaped my attention, even if the name ‘Ziggy’ all over the establishment had.

Sometimes the path from 2 and 2 takes the scenic route to get to 4.

Wallet by Ziggy

Wallet by Ziggy

Richard Ziegler (that’s long for Ziggy) runs the Arctic Treasures Trading Post, which is also known for its 4th Avenue webcams. You can buy all sorts of Alaskan goodies in this trading post, but Ziggy does the leatherwork himself, so I have a cool new wallet. That much escaped the great suitcase escape of the summer.

My only beef with Ziggy is that he hasn’t done any new murals within the last year, a fact which is almost unforgivable. But seriously, it was a real treat to meet the artist behind so much of the public art in Anchorage.


Laurel Downing workin' a mean history booth

Laurel Downing workin’ a mean history booth

I first noticed Aunt Phil’s Trunk while looking for links to provide students in my Alaskan history classes. I was looking for short vignettes and flavor pieces to counter-balance the usual dense survey texts, and her website provided quite a few gems for use in the classroom. So, it was a pleasant surprise to find Laurel Downing working a booth at an arts and crafts fair in downtown Anchorage.

Laurel is the person behind this great website. Her path into Alaskan history started with the passing of her Aunt Phyllis. Phyllis Downing Carlson had written quite a bit about Alaskan history in her day, and Laurel picked up the torch when she inherited her Aunt’s life’s work. She wet to school to learn the skills necessary and then began turning out stories about Alaska’s remote past at an astounding pace. She is up to 4 books now, all of them worth a read.

We chatted a bit and Laurel was in high spirits as she had just sealed the deal on some new publications. For the present, I walked away with all four books from her series and a supplement of crossword puzzles to boot. Seriously, this is local history at its best.

…here is hoping my luggage doesn’t pawn all four of those books to pay for booze and cheap sex.


Mike, the Pissin Off Texas Guy

Mike, the Pissin Off Texas Guy

Mike the Pissin’ Off Texas Guy is one of a kind, …which is probably just as well, but hey, let’s just be glad there is one of him anyway. I laughed my ass off the first time I saw his work, the state of Texas sitting snugly inside the boundaries of Alaska. At the time I didn’t think much about it; just an internet meme as far as I knew, albeit a damned funny one. Little did I know, Mike has parlayed one-upmanship over the Lone-Star State into a gig of its own. His shirts are $20.00, but he offers a smaller price to his little buddies from Texas.

Mike seems to do a lot of business at the fair, …Texans are of course his best customers. I think he gets pretty much anyone from down that way right over to his booth, without exception.  But it’s all in good fun.

…I think.


My damned suitcase better not be giving my shirts away, …dammit! Seriously, I know a piece of luggage with some serious explaining to do!