20 June 2016

[pdx_liff] Powell's City of Books On The Afternoon Of Pride Weekend

Sunday evening was, as usual, church for us, and by church, I mean hanging out Powells City of Books drinking coffee (well, iced tea that day ... it's been warming up) and looking through books we will either purchase or bookmark for future acquisition, and watching the world go by on 11th and West Burnside.

W Burnside looking east toward Oak
Of course, it's been Pride Weekend here in Portland, and it was wild, a good time had by all. We didn't go ourselves, not only did we have a sort of a mixed-up weekend, but the last thing our LGBTQ friends need is a cis het culture vulturing it. It's their space. I respect this.

But there was a lot of people thronging Powell's, as is the case whenever there's a big event in town. A lot of beautiful, beautiful people, and I think the beauty was probably multiplied by it being Pride. After all, what else can happen when you have an entire day dedicated to stepping aside and concentrating on remaking ones'-self into a person who lives and lets other people live?

Oh, I'm not talking about queer people. They seem pretty cool about themselves already. I'm talking about us straights who still have a little evolution to do. I'm working on mine. Are you working on yours?

So, this year's Pride is symbolized and sanctified by this picture. I was in the coffee room waiting on The Wife™ to catch up to me when I saw this person. Absolutely loved the countenance. Very beautiful and artistic. And so I requested permission to pict, and she gracefully granted.

Most beatific. Glad to be here.

Completing the tableau, the prettiest ugly car you ever saw, a classic VW Karmann Ghia, or what happened when VW decided to design a sports car. When I was a kid, I thought they were pretty ugly. Now, I have the attitude best encompassed by the person who described the actor Richard Boone, back during the Paladin days, which I paraphrase here:

The car is so ugly, it's beautiful.

The picture is blurred because my camera decided to be a brat and focus on the plate glass rather than the object in the street. The passenger was thrilled to be lensed, though. That much was apparent from the look on her face.

If you drive a classic VW, people are going to look. Know that going in, Homo sapiens volkswageniensis. 

[VW] The Very Last Day Of A Very Good VW Beetle

And so, back in May, two days after my natal day, after the decision to go with the total loss, decision from the insurance company, we went to retrieve things and pay our final respects to Old Red.

We all find out things we didn't know about ourselves at milestones like this. This car, which was my daily driver, served me very well for more than a decade. It was something of an heirloom. My late father raised me to be a Volkswagen lover, it was one of the few gifts he gave me that I still have to this day.

During die Zeit zwischen den Kaefern, I also learned that the mere sight of a classic VW made me smile (nothing is as good as driving and having one, but when you're in the desert, my friends, any glass of water will do). There is a spot that I will always, now, specifically remember, it's the spot where I had that accident. And, across from that corner and only one lot north is a house. This house has several residents who are coming and going to disparate places: there are four cars there, and they're always changing places. And one of them is a yellow '74 (or later) VW Beetle. With a roof rack. Totally adorable. And I would take this route just to see it.

By the way, you know how you tell a post 1974 from a pre-1974 VW Type I? Look for the windshield. If it's bowing out, it's '74 or later; flat windscreens are a feature of '73 and earlier.

File that away.

The other thing I realized is, though I'm a very materialistic person (in the way that things are just things and I tend not to give teleological imperatives to things like cars and computers and such), in things like this, I'm the same sentimental, spirit-imbuing sap that just about everyone I've ever known is. As I approached Old Red one last time, I gave her regrets. I said I of all the ways I figured our relationship would end, this definitely was not what I wanted. I sat in the drivers seat one last time. Looked all around; the German flag sticker that I affixed upside down; the instrument binnacle, remembering all the times during cold, damp weather the moisture would collect behind the glass; the red-velvet upholstery; the gas tank I had to fill by opening the bonnet. All that. All that meant something, and maybe it's the culture I was steeped in or the innate human need to have inanimate objects care about us back, but it was my experience, and for a few moments, it was for real.

When I walked away, I also did not look back. No damned reason other than sentimentality.

Now, I'm one with a very pretty yellow '72 VW and I'm so far very happy. We lucked in finding someone who needed to sell at the time we needed to buy, and the owners who had it before him took near-immaculate condition, at least as much one can reasonably expect. No complaints so far. She's the daily driver. She has a new radio. She has her quirks, of course, but I think that's why us classic VW drivers drive them. We love cars with character.  And, of course, nothing cuts a figure like a classic VW Beetle. It makes adults smile and makes kids hit each other on the bicep.

She's a different car, but I swear I feel the spirit of the old one riding along with me.

Old Red was a very good car for a very long time. I have a feeling Yellow will be a very car for at least as long as Red was.

And so it goes.

13 June 2016

[VW] The Yellow Beetle Gets A Sound System At Outrageous Audio

This is one of those things that is a very Portland thing to do.

Outrageous Audio is a little car audio shop out in the Rockwood area, at 192nd and SE Stark. It's in this charming, shabby little shopping plaza called (incongruently) Germantown Square. If there was anything German about it, it got on the MAX and left the are long ago, my friends.

But there isn't anything shabby about Outrageous. Blane, the owner and public face of the store, has been selling car audio and electronics out of that place more more than 20 years. His late-night commercials are unforgettable. He's one of the last great local commercial pitchmen, and examples of his craft can be found at the bottom of the "Our Story" page at Outrageous's website.

He takes his approach straight from the Tom Peterson school. But as big as the man's voice and reputation are, the store is an unexpectedly small place. Lots of stuff in there, though ... chances are if Blane doesn't have it, you don't need it.

What we needed was a good, basic, radio and CD player. Nothing fancy. They had something that fit the bill, and a pretty good price to match, too. Not to mention Mike, a diligent installer with caring hands who had the job done in under an hour.

Here, Mike's surveying the territory. He developed a quick action plan.

Trouble with having a '72 VW is these hippie chicks that keep hangin' round, man. Fortunately, this babe's cool.

... and that's what the place looks like. Anyone want an authentic Portland retail experience, and wants a sound system installed, there's your place right there. 

I mean, everyone knows that a car isn't a car unless you have a device that'll allow you to play your tunes and listen, while stuck in traffic because of a traffic jame, to the traffic report of the traffic jam you're stuck in because of the accident the traffic report was advising you to avoid, lest you be stuck in a traffic jam.

There was no traffic jams, but there were good tunes. A CD with pop music from the late 60s and early 70s. Which, of course, was flawless.

10 June 2016

[art, design] Forward Into The Past With John Muir's "Idiot's Guide"

Before there were "Idiot's Guide"s and "For Dummies" books, there was "The Idiot's Guide."

The Idiot's Guide. Classic VW owners know and love this well.

Back in the 60's, see, the VW was more truly lived up to its name "the People's Car", becoming a badge to the hippie culture as much as owning a Subaru strongly suggests one lives in Portland. Being an automobile, of course, the array of end-user maintenance options are more or less like they are today ... take it to a mechanic, take it to the dealer.

You could also fix it yourself, if you knew how. Not so much today; the engine in the modern car is more like a computer center; sometimes you feel if you so much as look at it, you void the warranty. But back then, the shade-tree mechanic was a valid functionality, and if you knew enough about your beast, you too could fix your own prime mover. And nowhere was this more true or accessible than with the classic VWs of the 60s and 70s, before the brand went uptown and yupscale.

The 'hippie' ethic deserves a close, hard look. One side of it was the casual, come-as-you-are-lifestyle, which may or may not have something to teach the individual assayer; the other side was a quick-witted, nimble DIY intelligence that coped with maintenance and repair with a cool, fierce aplomb that MacGyver would value. The properly-enlightened hippie only looked like a generally feckless will'o'the wisp; inside, he or she hid a savvy systems thinker that would slog courageously through lows that would leave most of the rest of us curled up in a foetal ball, crying softly over the wreck of our life.

This brings us to John Muir, who is a legend amongst classic VW lovers. And thence hangs our tale.

The legend of John Muir, 60s counter culture auto mechanic, runs something along these lines; a distant relative of the namesake American naturalist, he worked in the American defense industry during the Fail Safe/Dr. Strangelove days of the Cold War, until he'd had enough of it and decided to drop out. In the late 1960s, he moved to Taos, New Mexico and became a VW mechanic. I don't know if he intended to become the best there ever was, but his legacy certainly suggests that.

In 1969, Muir, Tosh Gregg, and artist Peter Aschwanden collaborated to create a timeless and valuable bit of 60s magic and a book for the ages. Fully titled How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual Of Step by Step Procedures For The Compleat Idiot, and known by lovers of the book and the car as simply The Idiot's Guide, the book is indeed a timeless gem. Right, the reader will find the cover of the copy I own. It is as compleat a manual of how-to-maintain it as the idiot it is intended for, but an idiot, it will not treat you as. As you are not an idiot. It will not treat you. It won't make fun of you, is what I'm saying.

It's so steeped in the 60s self-reliant hippie-esque counterculture, it's surprising it doesn't come tie-dyed and with scratch'n'sniff patchouli. The impression is that of a crunchy friend guiding you through a difficult subject with love. At the top of the section "ENGINE OVERHAUL",  for example, I find this tale of wisdom:

"Back in the Red Dog Saloon era, there was a garage in Carson City run by a sympathetic super mechanic named Muldoon. When you were pushed into Muldoon's, he looked and listened to your sick engine, asked how far you needed to go and how much bread you had, then he nodded and showed you where you could work on your engine out back. When you ran into problems, he left his profitable highway trade to give you a hand. You made it to where you needed to go, but God help you if you tried to go fifty miles further. We tell you about Muldoon because he has the type of genius an indigent VW owner needs when it comes to emergency time - the ability to balance the available bread and labor agains the immediate mileage requirement. 

In an emergency, the Volkswagen reacts well to any scrambling on your part to keep it going, but you really have to keep your promises to it. Muldoon's last words as you drove away where, "Don't forget to get that fixed right when you get there." You're on the road from New York to L.A., seventy-five bucks is all you got, you're near Santa Fe running on three cylinders with an engine that's overheating badly - like that. Don't give up and thumb, but do a compression check. 95 pounds in three cylinders, but No. 3 tests zero? Sounds like a burned valve, so find a place and go to work. Pull the engine, take off the tin, remove the heads and carry them to the machine shop (do both heads even if you go hungry the rest of the trip). Have the valves ground and a new valve put in. Reassemble and install the engine and you can probably make it to L.A. I figure a little over a penny a mile for the Bug and a cent and a helf for the Bus for gas and oil."

Adjusting the costs in the narrative for inflation to the current day is an exercise left to the reader, and I wish you well. But do you see what the above did there? Not only is it a capsule of a time, but it's casual-yet-witty prose both evoke that time, provide you with a single memorable character, and deliver a bit of technical know-how, illustrating what I meant when I said that the core of a hippie is a systems-oriented DIY problem-solver.

It's hard not to kind of fall in love with this book, whether or not you actually have or hope to have a classic VW, it's fun to read, and enlightens as it takes you under its kindly wing.

That's not to say it's all laid back tale-reeling. Muir was trained as an engineer, and the procedures, while warmly worded, are actually quite precise and methodical. Reading this book will teach you many of the fundamentals of how works a VW, but it focuses on two essential functions that every mechanic must fulfill: diagnosis and cure. The book is organized into sections simply titled by manifest symptom (RED LIGHT ON! (Generator or alternator), GREEN LIGHT ON! (Oil Red light), VOLKSWAGEN DOESN'T STOP (Brakes), and SLIPS AND JERKS (Clutch) are just a few), and each procedure identifies itself to you in language that is accessible to the tyro.

What really pops in this book is art, though. Peter Aschwanden illustrated technical details with whimsy and seems straight out of the Underground Comix school; he's what R. Crumb would have been if he did illos for auto manuals. The art (excerpted here and there in this article) are gorgeous, witty things, clearly drawn. I've used this book to diagnose electrical problems in the late Red Beetle, and I'm, if anything, mechancially declined. There's clarity and humor there, and the satisfaction that is naturally derived from seeing the work of an artist who was in solid command of his medium and his tools, and who loved his work and his subject. If Muir and Tosh got the 60s DIY ideal of owning a VW, Aschwanden (credited at one point in the book with his nom-de-guerre, Amanda B. Reckonedwith) similarly got the gestalt idea of the serious whimsy which comes with the ownership of the classic VW (which wasn't actually a classic in the full sense, yet).

You can still come by this book; sadly, both Aschwanden and Muir are no longer with us (Muir died of a brain tumor in 1977 at age 58, Aschwanden made it to 2005, and died aged 63. Even John Muir Publications is a thing of the past, his works still being published but The Idiot's Guide now belonging to Avalon Travel Publishers and The Velvet Monkeywrench, his socio-political manifesto and proposal, being published by Oceantree Books.

My particular copy is the 1981 edition, and was given to my by the legendary east Portland VW mechanic, Bill Trafton. If you knew Trafton and his generosity and his gift with VWs, you'd know that he was the equal of Muldoon, and why I consider the book such a treasure.

Even in a 35-year-old copy, it's as current as it needs to be.

It's a love letter to the best car every made, a book that everyone who loves a classic VW should have - even if you don't plan on touching the insides. It'll make you an enlightened owner, and is just damned good fun to read.

07 June 2016

[liff] Tales of the DMV, Which Changed its Name to DMV Some Time Back

The DMV. A verity of adult life. If you want to legally drive, you'll find yourself there.

The mere name is a verity. Over on the site DMV.org, a privately-run clearing house of links to DMV information for all 50 states of the Union, I randomly clicked several states and as often as not, the name DMV ... Department of Motor Vehicles ... was the name of the agency in each state which handled titling and registering of cars and trucks as well as licensing of drivers. Almost every one had either DMV, some combination of another letter (BMV, in New Mexico, for Bureau of Motor Vehicles) or MVD (which is also what the Russians call their Ministry for Internal Affairs, a coinage one must accept as coincidental).

That last sentence points up a certain conception of the DMV as a thing that must be endured. A friend, long ago, remarked that Hell is an immense DMV waiting room, and your number will never be called. We all have bad memories of a DMV encounter. This year not only have I had to renew my ODL, but also process a new title and registration for the new Little Yellow Beetle that we now have. And I approached the event with more than a little apprehension.

The Oregon DMV has undergone such changes, though. I went in apprehensive and left delighted. The keynote seems to be on efficiency, speed, and friendly service. I got my ODL renewed in record time, and the title transfer application and registration were of almost sublime efficiency. Would it that all less important services were delivered with such aplomb.

Today we spent maybe 30 minutes in that building. It was a Tuesday morning, though, and that's kind of a slack time for them. It probably drags a little during high demand, but I'll be they're pretty good at handling that too. The sincerely-smiling, genuinely-helpful people there are probably a match for any problem you threw at them.

And, noting that I'm registering a 1972 VW Beetle, the clerk asked, with an impish glint in the eye, "You picked a name out for her yet?"

We haven't. But we're working on it.

The real inspiration for this ruminance, though, was the name. DMV. I'd noticed that the mere abbreviation seems to be a near-universal cultural token ... even Marge's sisters in The Simpsons work as clerks at the DMV. And I, as well as you, my dear reader, probably think we know what those three letters in Oregon stand for: Department of Motor Vehicles. 

Well, no. As it turns out, it's not Dept of Motor Vehicles; it's not really a Department; it's a Division (there are two major levels of Oregon state government agency. The top level is Department, and Departments are comprised of Divisions). The official name of the DMV in Oregon, is the Driver and Motor Vehicle Division, and its under ODOT, the Oregon Dept of Transportation, which is proper and logical.

Anyone devising the branding here can appreciate the cleverness. DMV changed its name, but still gets to call itself DMV. The iconic connection is maintained, the social concept token intact and involate. You need license and reg, you still go to the DMV.  I still can't determine when the official name-change occurred, though; all the time when I was growing up, the Dept of Motor Vehicles coinage seemed correct, my memory reports to me, even when it wasn't a state Department.

And there's yet another interesting thing that I turned up. The DMV hasn't been a Department since 1969, long before I started driving. It was only a Department from 1956 to 1969, before that, it was under the wing of the Oregon Secretary of State, and after that, a part of ODOT.

But to me, it'll always be the DMV, no matter what the initialism actually stands for. The DMV ... a fact of life, and one that works pretty well.

And so it goes.

06 June 2016

[art] When You're Not Successful And People Still Help Themselves To Your Content

My friend, Jeff Fisher, has been a successful graphic designer for a very long time and I much admire him. He's published two very good books and put himself out there in the world in what still seems to be a courageous way: He stands up for himself in the matter of holding people accountable for simply helping himself to his work, which he has gotten justly paid for, but is just as likely to see his work used across the world by small businesses who don't understand that graphic work has value as well as by desperate designers in 'crowdsourcing' online logo factories.

A personal blog he maintains is http://jefffisherlogomotives.blogspot.com/, and it's got good reading there.

It's kind of a funny thing to acknowledge but I, too, have been similarly done. It's a funny thing that obscurity and lack of success does not bring immunity from this. In a recent posting I mentioned that a few people have, in the past, helped themselves to my own online stuff, specifically, the PDX downtown skyline picture I snapped in 2004. It's even being used in unauthorized places today, as this Google Images search will show.

The commonality I mentioned in that post that the three authorized users have is that, at first, they found the image on the web and simply appropriated it, without asking. At the moment I discovered that, I was a little wounded; after all, all three were fairly savvy online users, all had good ideas, and all were good people. I say this because I want to pointedly add that once I contacted them they apologized and since I liked them and what they did, I agreed to license use of the picture because of that personal reason.

But I think it goes to show that no matter how obscure or unsuccessful you are, you put something up on the web, out it goes and, Berne convention or no, people will use it. Now, I still, after all these years, have profited pretty much not at all because of another thing; I had, and still have, no real strategy for holding such kyping accountable. I'm not the DMCA sort, but simply helping yourself to what I do online without so much as checking in with me isn't cool either.

So this is a work in progress, still, even 12 years after the original was taken.

And, yes, I might have imagined that this would happen ... but I might have also imagined people could send me an email on it. And I've evolved in more ways than that; I'm much, much less inclined to use something off the 'net without making sure it's available for such (I'm thankful to Wikimeda commons for this … most people there put stuff in expecting it to be shared and used), or simply creating my own (I've the skill to do so).

I guess what I'd say to anyone putting stuff on the web right now is, have some sort of plan in place for dealing with when people help themselves to your stuff.

Be ready to contact them. Because, for some reason, they won't contact you.

And so it goes.

04 June 2016

[liff] The '72 VW Beetle Has Landed

So far, 2016 has held many unexpected things in store, and when I say unexpected, I mean unexpected.

On 20 April, for example? I was involved in an auto accident. My quick reflexes prevented me from catapulting through the window. I was unharmed, physically at least (auto accidents have this way of messing with your head).

My beloved 1972 red VW Beetle was, as it turned out, a total loss. But difficulties sometimes have this wily way of working out for you. This one did. The amount from the insurance company has enabled us a replacement ... and here she is:

Isn't she adorable? She's another 1972 VW, Type I, 1600 cc's and all. But instead of a dusky red-orange which we couldn't really tell the color bias of, she's a pure, unmistakable and rather adorable yellow.

... and that's her starboard side. The roof line of a classic VW Beetle is visual poetry to me. I'm pretty sure the Beetle is the best car ever made.

Moreover, this one is actually in better shape than the old one! So it's like the lottery, in a way. There are some flaws (fuel gauge sending unit, tires, needs a brake job), but that's to be expected for a car that's 44 years old. There are some 44 year-old people I know that could be doing as good.

But she fills a definintively-Beetle-shaped hole in a heart that was broken massively when the old red one was similarly broken. Sometimes, things work out though. This is one of those 'when one door closes another opens' sorts of things, and I'm grateful.

I love the VW Beetle to death, and I'm looking for many satsifying miles on the road with her.

Hertzlich willkommen, little Beetle.

Volkswagen does it ... again.

And so it goes (putt putt putt ...)

30 May 2016

[pdx] Portland 2004 vs Portland 2016: Compare and Contrast

Naturally, having snapshots from back in the day and now currently, even if it's an unadvantageously-lit first-pass, invite comparisons. Here are the two photos, side-by-side orothogonally:

Some comparisons kind of jump out at you. The red brick-colored building there in the front and center, 1 SW Columbia, has a new companion immediately to the right; it's a shiny block of ice now blocking the view of the US Courthouse (the building with the curved roofline); the area of horizon between the Wells Fargo Tower and the Portland Plaza (the two buildings closest to the left of frame) has partially been populated with some of the rash of new apartment towers populating old Portland. You can even see the top of Park Avenue West (it's directly to the left of the flag on top of 1 SW Columbia).

Number and name the changes, friends. Portland's evolving, no matter what we think of it. 

[pdx] Downtown Portland From Marquam Bridge, 2016

In September, 2004, I snapped a picture of City Center Portland from the top deck of the Marquam Bridge, our city's link for I-5 over the Willamette River, south and east from the tall towers of downtown.

It's a wonderful view, but you can only get it, legally as far as I know, in a car travelling at freeway speed. What shoulder there is is perilously small.

The photo went a few places. Back in the day, Radical Russ Belville, who had a weekend show on KPOJ (A moment of silence, please and thank you) used it on his website. A local record-store themed bar opened with the photo on its posters.  Even Jefferson Smith's mayoral campaign of 2012 used it. It was my first real experience with something almost kinda sorta going viral.

There is an interesting commonality to all these uses, but I'll get to that in another post. Note to self.

Anyway, very recently it occurred to me that it's been almost 12 years since that photo was snapped. 12 YEARS, MY FRIENDS. That's three presidential administrations, people, and if you had a kid when that photo was taken, he or she'd be in middle school now. So it occurred to me that it might need an updating.

We tried it this last Sunday. This will serve a first-pass attempt, sadly, the light (as the viewer will note) is not quite bright enough, and certainly not at the level of the 2004 photo. Here it is:

I'll put it on the table right now, I did some photoshop primping in order to bring out the buildings that didn't get the benefit of the light they'd otherwise have had.

But this is Portland, 2016. Changing yet timeless, at once small and big, now the 26th largest city in the United States, and with a battle for its city air going on in more ways than one. Still my hometown.

[liff] Our Hummingbird, Perching

In heraldry, that is to say, the classic school of artistic design of coats of arms, there is a bird called the martlet. It is drawn usually something like this:

Those tufts on the bottom of the bird are where the feet would be, if they were there. Medieval people had funny ideas about fauna. The most likely, to me, legend as to whither the martlet comes from the conjecture that it was inspired by the swift … which probably perched, but few people actually saw it happen, so the popular idea was that they never landed at all.

Which was kind of what I thought about hummingbirds. We have a few hanging about; they're pleasant birds, fun to watch, and scrappy little guys who are not above chasing (and sometimes succeeding) some of the local crows away from the area. I mean, I knew that hummingbirds perched, but I'd never seen one … until this guy:

And that, my friends, is your Marlin Perkins moment for the day. 

04 May 2016

[info] Uber, By The Numbers, 39 Ways

Uber ... love it or hate it, it's hard not to be fascinated by the beast.

Did you know, for instance, if you were an angel investor in Uber and you laid down $20,000, you might be $40,000,000 richer at this point? Or that 20% of drivers are women and 25% are over 50 years old?

Or that, if Uber had to engage its drivers as employees, it would cost Uber $4.1 Billion?

No matter what you think of it (for the record, I'm not a fan), it's an educational trip to get an awareness of the sheer numbers swarming around the phenomenon. This graphic ... 39 Facts About Uber, by Cardude of MisterBeep.com, gives the skinny. The original article is at http://www.misterbeep.com/39-facts-about-uber/.

Made by: Mister Beep

03 May 2016

[pdx] A Review of UKL's The Lathe Of Heaven 45 Years In The Making

One of the more interesting sorts of literary critiques is from those who come to the work late.

The Lathe of Heaven is Ursula K. LeGuin's 1971 masterpiece, a subtext-laden love letter to Oregon and the nature of existence and human affection and love, and the most Portland novel ever written. It clothes its story so well in its setting ... A now-alternate-past version of Portland and northwestern Oregon ... that it's hard to believe that LeGuin wasn't a native Oregonian. It's the novel that caused me to fall in love with her writing, and the way she looks at the world.

At the blog Biblioklept, posted last October, review Edwin Turner posts an intriguing and accessible interpretation of his experience reading the novel for the first time, making a solid case that it's Heather Lelache, not George Orr or Dr. Haber who is the pivotal character of the story. He ends his review thus:
The Lathe of Heaven is a propulsive and intriguing read. I can’t believe I hadn’t read it before now. Great stuff.
To which we say, better late than never.

Read the review at https://biblioklept.org/2015/10/28/a-review-of-ursula-k-le-guins-novel-the-lathe-of-heaven/

26 April 2016

[logo] Sacto Kings Debut New, Improved Logo

... and this one in over the transom. The NBA's Sacramento Kings (which, I've incidentally found out, is the oldest continually operating franchise in the NBA, having begun in 1923 as the Rochester (NY) Seagrams) have changed up the graphic identity, retiring a look they've sported (sorry not sorry) since 1994 ... to be precise, this look:

Not remarkable, really. Got the job done, we suppose. Doesn't make us laugh, doesn't make us cry. Kind of bland, really. Like something you got from SportsTeamLogoMart; about the only logo with less passion is OKC's.

But now, This ...

Very effect. We're enjoying this much; tough, clean, smart, direct. Its clean design mixes the right proportion of design and attitude.

What really got us going about this logo approach was this version:

This looks like something a Sacto fan could get passionate about. The lion wearing the crown (whose simplicity of design is genius to us), morphing to the basketball shape. 

Pretty nifty, we think. 

[pdx] In Portland, During the Playoffs, Blazer Fans Who Own Buildings Be Like ...

Seen looking north from NW 11th Ave and West Burnside St, just before we go in for our Sunday night session of Powells City Of Books-Church:

Hard not to feel good about the Blazers, right now.

16 April 2016

[Out122ndWay] Mount Hood Of The Day: Wy'East Walking His Sundogs

The view today from Rossi Farms was bright ... and beautiful.

The bright sunlight washed out the peak; that's it there, almost a dreamy silhouette. But today was brought to you by Mount Hood, the sun, and that high thin icy mist, which gave Wy'East sundogs to take out for a walk.

Of course, wherever there's one sundog, there's usually another not too far away.

Bow, wow, wow!

14 April 2016

[pdx] Portlandness Is The Atlas Portland Needed.

There's a section, near the front of the book Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas, (David Banis and Hunter Shobe, $24.95, Sasquatch Books, www.sasquatchbooks.com) which tries to define just what 'Portlandness' is, and then goes on to illustrate just where that Portlandness is thickest. In it, the book's authors, faculty in the Geography department at Portland State University, surveyed students in one of their courses to find out what qualities define life in Portland. The list of answers were largely what one would expect – things like green energy use, breweries, liberal politics, food carts – and they then related these qualities to things that could be measured via GIS and then, plotted the density of these qualities individually and then combined them all into an infographic that illustrated the combined density of all these statistics. 

The results  come off as one might expect: the more you go toward the center of Portland, the more Portland Portland is. Or maybe the more Portlandia. And the assaying is a valuable thing, because it represents a moment in time for Portland, one which our hometown has gone from adorable regional town to the west-coast's 'It Girl'. 

Latterly, Portland has become painfully fashionable and the subject of a national love affair which, if it may be levelling off, shows little sign of abatement very soon, for better … or for worse. Is there a Portland state-of-mind? Is there a way to objectively look at  that peculiar state of being that seems to be Portland and, here in the 2010's, and lay it all out for you, comprehendably? If there is, Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas  comes as close as anything can at the moment ... a witty, earnest look at what it means to be Portland right here, right now

Portland, for all its reputation and buzz, is still on a cusp of sorts. We're still at a place in the national consciousness where we can get either even more popular or pass the crown of the new cool on to another city (sorry, in advance, new city, if we do). But we weren't always this way. There is a story, a context, to how Portland is now and what that's made up of. Portlandness tries to tell that story, as it is now. If 'Portlandness' is a thing, this atlas does its best to describe it as it finds it. In the first part, as mentioned above, it tries to quantify that. 

Portlandness is divided into seven sections, after the introduction which sets the Rose City into a Cascadian context, which group maps and infographics according to overarcing themes: Urban Landscapes, The Once and Future City, Wildness, Views of the City, Social Relations, Food and Drink, and Popular Culture. Amongst them, there's scarcely a base that hasn't been touched, from historic street names to the hauntedness level of various areas of town; one map that combines all the historic plans of how Portland could have grown into one clear-yet-detailed graphic that makes you think of what may have been; the geography of the invisibility of our city's homeless; the interface between the coyotes of Portland and its chickens; a comic on geek culture and its spatiality; another demonstrating how far one is from the nearest indie coffee shop and plots that against Starbucks; a set of set tables demonstrating how long you're going to be waiting for that food at the Screen Door cafe; Chinatown then, and now; the evolution of the Guilds Lake area; a sorely-needed 2-page spread on how the city's annexations have created its shape (my favorite); soccer culture (would you ever doubt? - there's even a set of diagrams showing the loudness levels of various sections of Providence Park during a Timbers/Sounders match), even the story of Maywood Park. One section relates how children see the city, another composites how a group of students in a PSU course made mental maps of the town, characterizing it with their impressions. There's even a map of downtown that shows you the route you must take if you wish to be surveilled by the fewest cameras. And it even tries to answer the question does Portland have more strip clubs per capita than anyone else, making smart side-stop at the reason why that would be.

The design is a tight, disciplined, visually delightful thing, which herds all these infographic cats into something with a grand sense of order. Typography is beautiful, and the infographics are well-done and diagrams you can get lost in. By starting with a strong introduction (which even compares the Portland of Oregon to the Portland of Maine and finds more similarities than you might think) to give a regional setting and context, this book goes beyond mere interesting (and well-designed) fact presentation via infographics and does what a solid reference atlas should do … behave as a snapshot of a moment in time of an important time in the story of the place that is Portland. 

This is a fine book that I really can't put down for long, and anyone who loves, is intrigued by, aggravated by, or loves from afar Oregon's biggest town really should find a space on their shelf for it. 

The Portland of 2015 is a curious thing. Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas is the atlas Portland needs for this time. I'm kind of hoping that the authors decide to do a 2nd edition sometime down the road. 

The comparison would be epic.

Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas, (David Banis and Hunter Shobe, $24.95, Sasquatch Books) is available via Sasquatch's website (http://www.sasquatchbooks.com/book/?isbn=9781632170002&portlandness-by-david-banis), which also has links to other places you can purchase the work.

09 April 2016

[teh_funnay] Holy Talking Koi … Fish Wielder Character Cards!

As the release date for J.R.R.R. Hardison's epic, Fish Wielder, approachetththehth*, the swag gets better and better. And if you're lucky enough to be at a convention where J.R.R.R. is, you might stumble your way into this nifty find:

Fish Wielder Character cards! And a nice production they are, too. Slick, wonderfully colored, great-looking mementos of the adventure yet-to-be, they are great portraits of our main protagonists and antagonists.

Our hero, Thoral Mighty-Fist and his faithful companion, Bradfast … the talking koi.

Of Thoral, the card saith Perhaps the strongest, toughest, most mythical fighter in all the mystical world of Grome. His most striking feature is his piercing gaze. So intense is his stare that those on the receiving end often feel the need to look away for fear they'll catch fire.

Well, why … I eyes ya.

The heroine … Nalweegie … looks delicious. And there's a reason.

The elfish warrior princess, in the elfin language, Nalweegie translates as "the Evening Snack". She is so named because to look on her in twilight quells the hunger of one's heart without making one feel overfull, as can happen with a more substantial meal. 

You know what would be perfect? If her visage would also be part of 'this' nutritious breakfast. 
And, how can be a heroic tale without the villains? The set contains two:

This is Necrogrond:

The mysterious and evil sorcerer. A high priest of the Bad Religion, kidnapper of Princess Nalweegie** and the self-proclaimed nemesis of Thoral and Brad. Oh. He is also immortal.***

As nemesis-proclaiming goes, self-proclaiming saves a lot of time. We approve of the getting-things-done attitude of Necrogrond. 

And someone who needs no introduction … but he's getting one because he's a silent type … The Heartless One:

The scarlet-robed and mostly silent leader of the Bad Religion and the mastermind of the plant to find the lost Pudding of Power. By eating it, the Heartless One hopes to bring the peoples of the magic world of Grome to their knees.

Talk about eating like you mean it. I hope it comes with a MSDS.

The art is by Herb Apon (who drew the FW cover art), the coloring is by Dan Jackson (who worked with JRRRH on The Helm) and the silly is 100% Jim. Each card has the above descriptions and a QR code on the back, so you can sail away to where-ever that takes you in the online world of Fish Wielder.  And if you were lucky enough to go to Emerald City ComicCon, you may have run across Jim and he's probably given you one. If he offers you one, it's our hearty recommendation to accept … and join the school of afishonados waiting for this work to come out.

The world of Fish Wielder on line is best accessed though FW's site here: http://www.fishwielder.com/, which has as much as you need to know about the whole spree, and should keep you wanting some more.

Two fins up, so far. 

* ththththhthth. Thththth.
** Booo, hisss!!!!
*** So, there's that.

08 April 2016

[Out 122nd Way] Mount Hood-of-the-Day: Under Gray Skies

This edition was postponed because there was a lot of distractions last week, not the least of which were a chest cold that kept me off line most of the week. But this was a dramatic shot I liked and was just backed up just right.

I also tried an angle about 200 feet east down NE Shaver from 122nd, but found the parking not as advantageous.

But it draws a nice line between dramatic and mundane.

[teh_funnay] Spot The Error

In the last week, in as much as Wife™ and me were parched, we stopped at one of the fine purveyors of artificially sweetened, flavored, fizzy water arrayed along the many miles of SE Division Street and acquired a small supply of said beveraginal substance in the cup you are about to see here.

Bearing in mind the time of purchase, I invite you to spot the error.

Go on. Take all the 'time' you need!

06 April 2016

[Out122ndWay] SE Market St, In the Mist

A brief check-in, the fog this morning making it feel chillier than the unseasonably warm day this is destined to become:

You don't get variegated fog like that out this way very often, turbulent weather or no.

SE Market Street, looking east from SE 113th Avenue.

03 April 2016

[pdx_liff] Old Town Portland Sightlines

Devoted here to my love of looking as far as I can down a street and getting lost in the view.

This one, a look west down NW Glisan Street, from NW 6th Avenue:

And this one, looking south on NW 5th Avenue from NW Glisan Street:

Stage your favorite Leverage scene, fans. Remember, in Seasons 1-4, this was actually Boston, but we all knew it was really New Boston … Portland, I mean. 

[pdx_art] Art Nouveau M.S. Awareness Mural, NW 6th Avenue, Old Town

Also seen in Old Town last week during our sojourn there, this mural in an awesome dead-on Art Nouveau style:

This is the first and only time I've ever seen Multiple Sclerosis awareness displayed so gorgeously, and with such style. An artist rubricked Lydia Emily painted it in 2015, and I pay all due respect. It's most lovely.

If you're in Portland, you can see it on NW 6th Avenue at Flanders Street. overlooking the small parking lot on the NE corner.

If you're not in Portland, just look at the photograph.

[pdx_liff] Vintage Taxi Poster, The Fox and Hounds

Seen on the corkboard and The Fox and Hounds in Old Town (simply smashing burgers and fish and chips) was the following vintage poster:

How vintage is that?
  1. You didn't have to dial "503".
  2. Dig that Safeco logo.
  3. Dig that Radio Cab logo.
  4. The poster has the addendum 'OR WALK', and no Uber or Lyft-based snark. 
This thing is a straight-up collector's item.

[Out122ndWay] The Aliens Have Arrived Out On 122nd …

Or, at least, their tagger has. ET's no Banksy, not by a long shot, but I kinda dig his style anyway:

The above fella was spotteed on SE 122nd between Oak and Stark, on the old, boarded-up car wash on the lot between Ron Tonkin Honda on the north and the Astro station on the south, whereas this guy:

… was similarly eagle-eyed at SE Market (note the sign) and 122nd, on the same lot as the Plaid Pantry store, SW corner of that intersection.

Some things we can deduce from mere observation:
  1. The aliens are quite happy.
  2. They may need dental work.
  3. They are rather horny.
  4. They are good as opposed to evil (note the halo), and
  5. They have chin clefts that remind one, uncomfortably, of derrieres (or maybe it's me with issues, who knows).
So, let's welcome them, whoever they are. David Douglas is amongst the most diverse communities in Oregon, so a couple of ETs should fit right on in.

19 March 2016

[Out122ndWay] Mt Hood-of-the-Day: In the Bright Sunlight

I'm usually through this stretch of 122 way before this hour. Put it down to T.C.B. and working overtime. Which is a thing that happens.

Back to the usual corner at NE 122nd and Shaver, Rossi Farms, and this is what it looks like with it's the time before the sun has passed the meridian but is still somewhere south of fully-out-of-the-way:

The mountain entices because it dares you to look closer and see more. But there's all that light.

That is merely a cloud in front of the peak there. There is no eruption impending, thankfully. I'm in love with that outline, and would have for something to harm that profile (it's the same reason I'm not fond of the "Baha Bug" VW conversion, but that's another program). A Plinian eruption such as what ravaged Mount St. Helens back in 1980 isn't likely, though … it would seem that Hood just doesn't roll that way.

But still it wouldn't be much fun. Let Mt. Jefferson erupt. They haven't seen action down that way in yonks. 

18 March 2016

[pdx] Sellwood Bridge Bonds: Same As It Ever Was …

One of the bits of ephemera given out at the Sellwood Bridge grand opening a few weeks back now, was this, printed on the back of a card given out by the Multnomah County Elections Dept to encourage y'alls to use your damn' franchise. Here it is. Most ironically illuminative:

It enumerates the various benefits the bridge would bring. Most unintentionally amusing is the point that The life of the contemplated bridge would be 40 to 50 years. The ad, as the attribution notes, was published in The Morning Oregonian in November of 1923, and the bridge would actually debut just slightly more than 2 years hence.

Given the cited lifespan, the old Sellwood reached its pull date in 1975. Interesting to think that they figured that a 50-year bridge would fix the need adequately. And, of course, the debate over taxes is an evergreen one.

Also, those fonts? Love those fonts! Those fonts just speak loudly of their time.

[Wy'East] Mount Hood-of-the-Day: Embedded In A Golden Dawn

The dawn, as profiled in the post before, was sublime. It had been a few days since I last saw the mountain, and this atmospheric display was moody and worthy:

I played withe the curves a bit in Photoshop to amp up the golden a bit. I'll cop to a little bit'o'manip. Here, for your further delectation, is a tighter shot:

I like the car lights in foreground. Makes it into more of a statement.

[liff] Radiant Dawn

Radiant, literally. Coming off my work shift this morning, observe the rays being picked out of the sky:

Sunrises are the best some times.

[Out122ndWay] Holy Irony On SE 122nd Avenue

Sometimes I wonder if the Shepherd's Gate Church isn't trolling.

Spotted by FB friend and RL fellow-Portlander Sarah Gerhardt, the church's reader board is usually seen by me travelling south on 122nd, so I see the north side. I don't travel north on 122 as much so, I missed this:

I shall leave you with only two thoughts:

1) The church, as reported, used to be a strip club.
2) Dudes, phrasing! 

Oh, before it slips my mind, Sarah's online home of publishing and awesome is She Never Slept. It's horrible, in the good way.