20 November 2017

OryCon 39 and the Ghost of OryCons Past

The occasion of OryCon is, as one could probably expect after one reaches a certain point in their journey, an occasion to remember things and to evaluate how those things have changed, just like spending long quality time with any loved one in ones' life.

The location of Ory39 this year was the Red Lion Inn on the Columbia River, at Jantzen Beach. Jantzen Beach, for those who don't know, is essentially a neighborhood on Hayden Island, which is just within the boundaries of the city of Portland and the last bit of Oregon as you head north on I-5 before you enter Vancouver, Washington. It's seen many changes. For a very long time a very many years ago, it was one of Portland's then-more-numerous amusement parks; it was the place where the first traffic bridge from Portland into Vancouver was built (and is still rockin' away), and it had a front-row seat to Vanport.

In my time it's been the home of two hotels that loom large in Portland fannish history: one on the west side of the bridge, the other, on the east. And that's still the case.

When I began attending OryCons, back at the ninth iteration of same, it was being held at the one on the west side, then known as the Red Lion Columbia River. The one on the east side of the bridge was known as the Red Lion Jantzen Beach (it's rubric has flowered somewhat), and since most of the Orys happened at this hotel, that was was affectionately referred to as the other hotel. No further explanation was needed. That which was known as the Red Lion Columbia River began and ended life as the Thunderbird, which was a local chain based here in Portland (it's original edition, between Interstate Avenue and the Willamette River adjacent to the Memorial Coliseum, is what gave that dead end street there, N Thunderbird Way, it's name).

The Red Lion Columbia River/Thunderbird was a cool hotel to have an SF convention at. It, with it's five room wings extending like pincers to the west and east of the main hotel building, even reminded me of a spaceship. And in the early days, me and The Wife™ entered the hotel on Friday afternoon and didn't leave until Sunday afternoon, so it was pretty much the same thing as.

Mapquest tends to update on some levels slower than Google Maps on the satellite view. You load that into MQ and zoom in, and here is what you see.

That is just a cool layout, as I said. Walking the corridors linking the five wings, which were all named for local features, was like traversing a sort of space station.

In the interim since the last OryCon was held there, the property has seen some adventure. Around 2003, the Red Lion sold off the property, and it simple became the Thunderbird again. In 2005, it closed for good. In 2012, most of it burned to the ground, taking a whole lot of memories with it.

But part of it still stands, and that's the part that really is cosmically hilarious. It's still a hotel. A Rodeway Inn, as a matter of fact.

Those last two wings are still in business. They even have the names of the old wings up on the outside: Multnomah Wing, St. Helens Wing.

We drove around it on Sunday on our way out from our end of 'con. There's a new lobby area ... it was the ground floor lobby on the Multnomah Wing back in the day ... and they've built a new entrance. Driving around the back side, though, it's hard not to remember the rest of the hotel attached to it ... and the good times it held.

And now, OryCon's home is what we used to call the other hotel, perhaps illustrating that axiom that implies that while you can return to whence you came, you can never really go home again - but, all you really need is now, anyway.

And so it goes.

19 November 2017

OryCon 39: Timothy Zahn Talks To the Fans

This is also the sort of reason why OryCon means so much and matters. OryCon has long had a reputation as a 'literary' SF convention which is appropriate; most Portland SF fans try to realize some sort of dream as a writer (I've known few who haven't), and in a city with events like Wordstock and famous for establishments like the Mighty Multnomah County Library and Powell's City Of Books, it just makes sense that people attracted to the craft and activity of writing would make OryCon he sort of place it is.

In this talk, author Timothy Zahn talked about things authory and Star Warsy: it was Zahn who brought us Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the most enduringly-popular and arguably important characters in the SW Expanded Universe; Zahn is credited by some I've read with setting the table for a great deal of what followed. In his talk, he was a bit more modest about it, leaving the impression of someone who felt he was at the right place at the right time.

But the point I was striving at he just what a nice guy he was; affable, indefatigably friendly, the kind of Author GoH I remember OryCon seems to attract and invite. The kind of author all us aspiring SF writers hope to be.

He's our kinda guy.

18 November 2017

OryCon 39: The Souvenir Program Cover

And, here's one look at my real contribution to the OryCon 39 effort: the cover of the Souvenir Program. Design by myself, artwork by the Artist GoH, the delightful Sarah Clemens:

We saw Timothy Zahn. Affable fellow.

The site of the illustrator, Sarah Clemens, is http://www.clemensart.com/.

OryCon 39: Cosplay Via Starfleet, Vegas Division

And, what 'con ... SF or otherwise these days ... is complete without a little cosplay?

The friend of mine pictured, who goes by the name of Sarah, particularly rocks the idea of the Star Trek: The Original Series female crewmember who came to the NCC-1701 by way of the Vegas Strip. Sparkly!

Everyone who loves Star Trek should know a friend like Sarah. She's the Trekkiest person I know. She Treks hard every day and twice on Sunday. She Treks so hard that there are little Starfleet insignia arrowheads left in her wake. I don't care how hard you Trek, my friend, Sarah was already there in front of you. She even Treks so hard that when I get weary from pop culture media saturation of Trek, she reminds me why it's cool to love Trek.

My sincere thanks to Sarah for allowing me to put her in the picture.

OryCon 39: Wy'east From the Mighty Columbia River

OryCon 39, this year, was at the Red Lion Jantzen Beach Hotel. This, through the many years the 'con was at the Red Lion Columbia River, which was and then was again the Thunderbird, was known as the "Other" Hotel, since for a long time both of them were Red Lions and the Portland fan crowd held so many events at the old Thunderbird.

The sight lines from the back of the ballroom area, which I assayed between two panels in the Art Show, provide for striking views of Wy'east, resplendent under the plentiful snow that the last couple of storm systems have deposited.

The boat mooring in the foreground make for an attractive composition as well.

OryCon 39: Alexander James Adams In Performance

Alexander James Adams is a treat that we OryConians have been priviledged to for quite a long time. We love him and he loves us back and it's become sort of a mutual admiration society. This is a good thing.

For a time, while Alex was still in Heather mode, he lived here in Oregon, but fortunes and times change, and he and his wife still live in Oklahoma, near Muskogee.  I mean, I can't criticize, but Oklahoma? Well, you thrive where you can, but ... Oklahoma? 

Now, I'm not trying to besmirch Alec's fortune at all, but this is literally the only, and I'm speaking personally here, nice thing to ever come out of Oklahoma. I've known a few people from Oklahoma. Their proudest achievement is leaving. That said, Alec let slip that, while he's not moving back to Oregon, he's going to hold more live performances out this way, and you know what? We'll take it.


Any Alex performance is a memorable one. I still recommend him to people who don't think they'll like folk music. They'll come away convinced that there is a least one modern folk artist they'll enjoy enough to buy music from. And as he travels down the road of Time, and we go along with him, his music puts on the patina of wisdom, touches emotions we didn't know we had.

I think Alex's website is needing some attention, but for those of you familiar with the magic of Patreon, you can get on board and help him create more music (including the occiasiona and keep up to date generally:


Alec also offers periodic online-live performances via ConcertWindow:


17 November 2017

[branding] Colonel Sanders Wants To Wrap You Up In A Cocoon Of Internet Protection and It Just Got Really Weird

I picture it happened this way:

Wendy's: We have the best most surreal social media strategy out there. Nobody can beat our tweets.
KFC: Hold our Extra Crispy $5 Fill-up and watch this.

In the world of social media and branding, it's hard to tell what's real any more. But KFC, so far the master of surreal TV commercials featuring a round-robin of edgy stand-up comics playing The Colonel, has decided to really up the weird. It's hard to tell if it's a troll right now, but for the sake of the joke we'll concede the point for now: KFC is, right now, on their website, selling an Internet Escape Pod.

Since the link is probably destined to die soon (it's a Cyber Monday thing) here's a screenshot for posterity's sake:

It's 10-kilobuck price tag is apparently them selling it at-cost.

There are so many things about this that are just really too weird. The Colonel, shielding you with those long, long arms like some fast-food version of the love-child of Stretch Armstrong and Reed Richards; the drumstick that's the door-handle. But perhaps the funniest (and I'm speaking cosmically here) thing about it all is that a modern, armed and fully-internet-operational fast food company is selling, even as a joke, a Faraday cage (look it up) to protect you on Cyber Monday from the internet.

I mean, here in Portland, we DIY that shit every day of the week.

Twice on Sundays (we don't go to church around here, so we got the time).

And so it goes.

15 November 2017

[liff in PDX] I've Been Framed Should Definitely Be One Of Oprah's Favorite Things

A visit to I've been Framed nourishes the heart. Even if I just pick up another blank book for my sketchbook/diary backstock ($3.99 for a Daler-Rowney, such a deal!).

It was when I was browsing the block-printing and screenprint department that I saw this:

... which I think of as Domo-kun goes Diving.

And, on the other side of the column from Domo there, here was Oprah:

Everyone should get a new art. And that should be one of Oprah's Favorite Things.

After I noticed it, Mark, who's always a pleasant personage, let me in on a thing. If you visit IBF on any regular basis, as we've been doing for more than a decade now, you'll have noticed an evolution in the glorious gallimaufry in the interior decor. As it happens, as the legion of people who've worked at IBF have found other opportunities and moved on, as people will do in a working life (especially one in art) they are afforded the chance to decorate part of a wall, making the interior of IBF not only a wonderful, fun, happy place to browse and find, but also a story of many of the people who've worked there.

I respond strongly to that. I didn't think there was a way for IBF to be any more charming than it is ... well, my friends, I was wrong.

Best. Art supply and framing store. Ever.  

11 November 2017

[liff in Cascadia] BV-Radio.com: Cascadia's Favorite Music

There is a website devoted to Pacific Northwest local music; powered by Burgerville, it's called BV-Radio.com.

Right now it's devoted solely to playing music by Pacfic Northwestern artists. It has just two things to do, which is refreshingly simple; click the play button to start the stream, and a form to send feedback. There's also a bit of verbiage:
Welcome to BV-Radio.com, a new conversation about what makes this region-the beautiful, dynamic, Pacific Northwest-the unique place it is.
We have a goal to connect the people of the Northwest with each other and explore what makes this community so resilient, what restores us, what grounds us in our home. We are starting through music, and expanding from there…art, agriculture, food, architecture, design…wherever you and the story leads us.
We’ve created a platform for some of the region’s recording artists. Listen along. You’ll hear songs you recognize and songs you don’t. You’ll hear new music and classics from way back. But everything you hear has a connection to this region and the people who live here.
This is your home. It should sound like it. Join the conversation and we’ll make sure your voice-and your music-gets heard.
I've included the entire text because it provides a picture of an interesting ambition. Burgerville is the quintessential Northwest burger place, and no other place that I've experienced so far has managed to translate the PNW 'foodie' tropes of local sourcing, terrior, and seasonal availability so effectively to the crowd who isn't going to go out to the fashionable places. Lunching BV regularly is a relatively cheap way to sophisticate the palate.

As such, BV has developed a certain essential local POV as a now-indelible part of its brand. You can get burgers and fries that will sastisfy, and those you will like, in other chains, but none as PNW as the stuff at Burgerville.

BV-Radio, one can infer from the text of the site, is helping BV establish a bridgehead in more than just Northwest fast-food culture, but other intellectual sectors of the local spirit, offering itself up as the first brick in a bridge that could connect those Northwest things ... art, architecture, design ... that intangibly establish that you are here feeling that you can't get anywhere east of Rockies or south of the Adams-Onis treaty line. Listening to it is easy on the ear; the feeling is that of listening to KINK-FM, back in the day.

To bring this prolix meandering to a point, though, it was the logo that really intrigued. The big, classic radio mike, its capsule encased in the big steel cage, is a given. But the background really made me think twice.

To those of us in the region who think about the past, present and future, that design is no mystery. To those who don't look at a map so much, it may confuse. And the shape of it is very specific, and very very local.

The region I live in has acquired a sense of place and has called that Cascadia. The geographic design is a conception of what Cascadia could be defined as; the sum of the basins of the Columbia River, the Salish Sea, and everything along the coast east of the Cascades and the Canadian Rockies that drain to the sea. Commerically, BV is limited to NW Oregon and Western Washington; founded in Vancouver, WA, it's been a part of NW culture since its founding, around 1962. Through the arts and culture initiative that BV-Radio seems to represent, it sees itself as an available platform for more than just Oregon and Washington, and more than just music.

It's an interesting ambition for a chain of burger joints, but then again, Burgerville has grown into a rather unique chain of burger joints, with a vision that goes a little farther than just selling burgers and fries. BV's always been a little bit 'out there', and if its self-given remit seems a bit grand, it's never been insincere.

The music's free to stream (such a deal), and a link to buy the music is provided as the song is playing. And it's a good listen.

27 October 2017

[Out122ndWay] Morning on Big 122

Another photo taken today when I was lensing Wy'east. A look up slope, south on Big 122, from the SE corner of NE 122nd and Shaver. This is the stretch of major arterial road that crosses the Rossi property.

We welcome you to rush hour, Outer East Portlandia, which is already in progress.

[Wy'East] Two Dawns Over Wy'East

The Mountain was in beauteous form today. Also a few days back. As circumstance would have it, I happened to be on Big 122 at the viewpoint just as the sun was coming up.

The first time, about two days back, I couldn't get to the corner soon enough to catch the sunrise without intervening human artifice. Such is life. I get the shot, and I don't know about anyone else, I see the composite beauty within. The marks of civilization in front of me just make it that much more interesting.

This involved parking Olivia on Shaver Street just west of 122nd in the first legal parking area (the first sign back from 122, and just across the street from the driveway to Parkrose High School) and walking over.

The parking on 122nd from Shaver all the way up the hill to Fremont has been eliminated in favor of a bike lane. It's a pretty nice looking bike lane. And ain't no thing as I need the movement.

Back there today, it was rather dark. I got out of work a little early because things that happen. Most of the wait for dawn was very poetically dusk:

Up there n the upper right, there's a single star struggling against the encroaching dawn. I admired its audacity.

This, though, was the big show:

The shadow being thrown by Wy'east in the direction of Larch Mountain was just a bonus. I didn't count on that. One can see the steady southward track of the Sun, made manifest by the difference in the positions of the bright spots. There's a clear difference between this and the first.

And the entrance.

Pretty nice reveal.

The last few entries has been nothing but Wy'east, and if you're anything like me (and you might be), its during times of great dexterity that one narrows ones focus on what nourishes one. Wy'east is a heartening thing for me, so I seek it out more right now than normally.

I anticipate the waters calming soon, though, there's one major thing I need to get through. And I will. It's not a sinking boat, more like choppy waters, but one must keep one's hand on the tiller. So, bear with.

And so it goes.

16 October 2017

[Wy'East] The Mountain In the Bright Sunshine

Not much to say today, so I'll leave this here:

Bright sunshine, peak gleaming with the first snows of autumn. We haven't heard about any ski-resort openings, but surely, they can't be that far off.

14 October 2017

[Wy'East] Fog And Sun Across The Mountain

There hasn't been a post in the last week; more overtime at work, more personal drama (nothing catastrophic, but to the dysthymic, the phrase going through a patch takes on a certain dimension) and with the weather the way it's been this week, views of Wy'east have been few and far between.

Coming home from work along NE Sandy Boulevard east of 102nd Avenue the over-riding thing was the fog. It's That Time Of Year In Oregon, which, near the rivers, means a great deal of fog and a slightly-cutting chill. It was decidedly and deliciously gray and dark as I traveled along that old Portland road. I didn't expect to see any of the peak when I travelled south on Big 122 from Sandy, but as I cleared the Kmart and the Parkrose post office, there it was - big and semi-obscured in cloud that was rapidly coming in.

The time of day that I have usually means I'm seeing the peak in silhouette, so the real secret, I've found, is finding those moments of visual drama.

This mountain has been an obsession with me for most of my life, keeping watch on me even when I was a kid on the east side of Silverton, where this peak can be seen from the hilltop out on Steelhammer Road. In that adorable way we people think the universe is centered on us, I fancy a connection. Sometimes I feel as though the mountain arranges itself for me.

But it's a pretty fancy, and nothing more. However, if you're going to have a fancy, make it count.

I still can't help thinking of myself as George Orr, in a way, in The Lathe Of Heaven, where Ursula K. LeGuin uses appearances of Mount Hood like a slowly-tolling bell, a subtext which ties the whole book together and sets a kind of meta-cadence for the whole story, almost a spirit which watches over the whole changing universe and yet, keeps its own counsel.

It can hide behind the advancing clouds, but you know it's always there.


03 October 2017

[Out122ndWay] Fall In The Rossi Farms Flower Bed

In the big field east of NE 122nd, across from the Rossi Farms barn, they grow veggies usually. I've seen corn, cabbages, kale, things of that nature.

The patch of ground going east from Big 122 on Skidmore, south side of the street, just before you get to Parkrose High, is given over to flowers.

The following pictures are big'uns.

Still a small spot of country in the city. Can anyone from these parts anymore imagine what it must have looked like when all of Portland east of Mount Tabor, all the way to Gresham, was like this? Swathed in farms?

It does give one excuse to go wild with saturating them colors, though. That ain't no bad thing.

[WyEast] In Which We Again Stare At The Sun, But Are Careful About It, Seriously.

Another crisp, clear morning, another chance to see The Mountain.

Over in front of Rossi Farms, the City has done one of those traffic-pattern remodels that they are of late so very fond. All parking along 122nd south of Skidmore and going all the way up to the hill to Fremont is gone, replaced by bicycle space. Which means I have to, to stay legal, park Olivia the Little Yellow Beetle down Skidmore about a hundred-fifty feet or so, right about across from the front of Parkrose High School.

It's not a welcome thing to do but I find the bright side. Not only is a little more walking required (and I need all of that I can get), as I left the scene, a passing high-school student told me she thought I had a cool car. And a cool car it is. And a little friendly complimenting of what style I have from anyone of any age always makes my day just a little.

It's just past the beginning of fall, as everyone knows, and the air is crisp in that way, and the sun is rising a little farther to the south each day. That means here, not long after sunrise, it's right in the picture. I used the camera judiciously, not lingering on the scene. So far, my caution has paid off, there's been no apparent damage to the camera, and I get shots like these:

Now, normally, I'm across the street there on the same size as the big Rossi field, because that gets the cars and people out of the shot. I squoze off a few snaps as I approached the Big 122 from the west on Skidmore, leaving some of the traffic and people in the frame, and it really speaks to and resonates with the emotion I have in looking at the mountain and the impression of its size I get.

This is an experiential issue because, as many who've pointed a camera for fun have found out, you point it as this beautiful view and close the shutter and bam it's yours, but when you look at it on a light table or in a print or even on the screen, the frame and everything else in it make it look like it's just this little point on the horizon with absolutely none of the experiential and emotional weight you felt when you were looking at it in the real

This teaches you an essential thing that all artists, self-made, aspiring, or what-have-you, learn about framing. Composition is paramount. It's the first thing, or you have nothing ... at the very least, you don't have the punch that the sense memory of the way you felt when you looked at it. I have never witnessed it in action, except in the rearview - it's like the eye trying to look at itself without a mirror - but your mind and your vision, always on the lookout for beauty, frame and compose your vision for you. It's only clear after you take that picture of the mountain on the horizon without framing it to include some things in and other things out and you see how small it seems in the full frame that judicious looking and inclusion, like setting a stage for effect, tell the story you want to tell. Most specifically, the phalanxes of trees in the mid-distance have always helped me in this regard. But the cars on the street and the person I happened to capture walking through really ground the subjective perspective in a way that begins to most truly tell the story of how big this mountain feels and how majestic it seems when I look at it with only my eyes.

As I said, the Sun has moved back toward the mountain. Here was it today:

I didn't linger on it too long; eyes can recover, at least to a large degree; camera parts, not so much

The clouds and mist were a welcome thing, contributing their own stories of scale and size.

27 September 2017

[story] Ames Link and the Waitron of Doom

And now, it's story time.

Ames Link walked up the streets of an average downtown of an average large American city, except it's Portland (which we're currently staging in Vancouver BC until the union and budget issues work out), brain-filled mind deep in thought.

Of all the things that The Agency had entrusted him through the years, this was perhaps the most monumental. On the least movement of the many that were to come, and soon, could fates of empires and powerful men depend. But he was the organization's top operative, and there was much risk, but also much confidence.

If #AmesLink were to mess up, it would be epic.

Ames Link approached Pioneer Courthouse Square (we worked the labor and budget issues out, this is really downtown Portland now) and felt a tension fill the air with a palpable palpation reminiscent of a much-anticipated yet dreaded medical exam, one which promised awkwardness yet would end in much diagnosis.

Ames Link decided that medical metaphors were useful but maybe not here.

Ames Link entered the Square from the 5th and Yamhill side, noticing - what was that? A flash? A flair? Something visually incidental that whose rubric began with the letters f and l? He wasn't sure. Just as he was going to remember a key aphorism taught him by his Tibetan Ti Kwan Leep instructor (well, he *looked* Tibetan), his adversary drew themselves out from behind one of the overwhelming number of trailer-based food conveyances that Portland, somewhat smugly, boasted about. His adversary was slender. His adversary was bearded (but still could be male or female, which we, I think, all agree, can be valid forms of expression). His adversary was polite.

"Ames Link. So we meet again."

A pause.

"May I take your ... order, sir."

Ames Link knew this was a barista, of course - a barista ... of menace and doom. A barista of malice and aforethought. A barista, in other words, that couldn't possibly have worked at Dutch Bros. And, suddenly, dropping all pretense of barista-like behavior (paging editorial, is that shipment of adjectives in yet? Let me know when they are, yeah, thanks) the silver of a finely-honed kitchen knife (bought at great expense from Sur le table, Kitchen Kaboodle being closed that day) flashed in the Portland afternoon sun, and the danse macabre was joined.

Ames Link dove left.

Ames LInk slid right.

Ames Link jumped, narrowly avoiding the tip of the toxic service employee's knife and reminisced, briefly, on when Portland AM radio was listenable.

Ames Link, of course, in the end, won the epic battle, doubling back and divesting the foe of his knife, and using a trick encoded in the second skit of the fourth episode of the third season of Portlandia, pinned the opponent to the bricks in such a way that any movement on his part would sever his cardiod .... carotid ... carotin ... that big artery in his neck utterly, completely and mostly into two pieces, and drew close to the aproned-one's ear (and yet, it just looked to the passers-by like two good friends finding a named brick, so sly was their style).

Ames Link breathed softly into his opponent's ear: "I know your secret. You are not the barista you claim to be.

"You are a diner cook.

"You never fooled me for a moment."

Ames Link's adversary slumped in defeat.

"May I," he said, in soft supplication, all arrogance gone from his voice, "take your order, sir"
Ames Link brought in his voice-tones of command.

"Reuben. Use real sauerkraut."

Ames Link paused again.

"Toast the bread."


[WyEast] On A (Finally) Clear Day ... Mountains

We haven't had a view this crystal for months. And the sun was a little blind-y. But it was worth it.

From NE 89th and Killingsworth ... Loo-Wit. St. Helens.

A train passing by on the lower part of the frame there kind of gives the scene a forlorn quality ... but still, not sad.

And we know what majestic massif this is.

The sun at close quarters giving a strange light to the scene; it's fall, but it feels like the heat summer (of which we've seen enough, thank you). There's early fall snow on all the peaks, but the flood of sunshine makes it impossible to see.

But still, it's good.

21 September 2017

[pdx] Arnold Drake World, Magic Paper Flower Man

I've written before about Arnold Drake World, the man who does the exquisite paper flowers, lilies and roses, and does his Zen meditations in the Powell's Burnside Coffee Room, time and oft when we too camp out there. Last Saturday we saw him there and he had clearly added another trick to his already-impressive repertoire. Here's him:

Note the little white thing underneath his hands. that's one of those long folds of paper he usually has doing a ballet in the air between his hands before he transmutes it into a part of one of his creations. And that's impressive enough; if I looked up dexterity in the dictionary and didn't see his picture next to the definition, I'd be disappointed.

But he's doing more than that this time. He's got a bit of the old-school prestige going on here. He was totally levitating that piece of paper, hands flashing above and below, one side to the other. Performing, as usual, for nobody, and everybody.

If you don't admire that man's style, man, I gotta check your pulse. You can't be alive and not be moved.

[OR_liff] Greetings From Downtown Salem, 1958

I stumbled on this on a page from the Worldwide Elevation Map Finder page for Salem, after being turned on to the image by another friend I have on Facebook, which means this is probably from someone's Flickr but I was unable to determine whose. So, if youse whose stumble by here and find it and let me know, I'll link credit for the scan or take it down as you prefer, but I really wanted to share it.

This is downtown Salem, looking east on State Street from its intersection with Commercial, and I'm guessing that, given the angle on the shot, the photographer is probably on the southwest corner (in the shadow of the 11-story building today called the Capital Center). The vintage of the cars suggest this was taken in around 1958.

What really made my heart sing with remembrance was that curbing there, in the very street, enforcing a left-hand curb-lane turn from westbound State to southbound Commercial. I've never been in another city, not even in Oregon that did that. Just Salem. It's was Salem's way of saying You're gonna make a curb-lane turn, pal, or how're ya fixed for a spare tire right now? Those concrete snakes lay on the curb through about the mid-80s, I think.

Much nostalgia for those of you who remember those old, old Salem commercial names. 

20 September 2017

[art] The Mural Of Surreal Toys

There is a building I've just heard of here in the anytime-now-to-be-formerly industrial central east side of Portland called Kidd's Toy Museum. It's at the corner of SE Grand Ave and Main Street, and, accessable from Grand just south of Main is a small pocket-parking lot, and in that lot, if you're looking quite quickly, you'll see this:

It's rather beautiful, isn't it? It's like Dali by way of Maurice Sendak via Picasso's 'blue' period. The icy blue monotone makes it all a rather sere dream scene, and seeing as the Kidd's Toy Museum bills itself on Google as exhibiting toys through the first third of the 20th century, it has the feel of a forlorn, yet happy dream. My wife was looking sharp, else we wouldn't have seen it at all, and really wanted the picture, and that much I owed it to her; after all, she'd been sherpaing me around the outer southeast in Sellwood. It was the least I could do.

19 September 2017

[pdx] Signs of the Sellwood Bridge

There's a bit of information there, on the top of the Sellwood Bridge.

There are signs in the city that we no longer celebrate our history in Bridgetown; it's a struggle documented in the war over housing prices, rents, what gets torn down and what gets built. Portland, thankfully, still looks a lot the way it used to between the new stuff and the strange stuff (I'm looking at you, Burnside Bridgehead - but that's for another time).

At the east end of the Sellwood Bridge, as is true is most public works, there is a brass plaque recording the date, the when, the how, the who. Centered is the list of 2016 county commissioners, five in number, headed by a Kafoury (that's a Portland political verity: if you missed this Kafoury, there's gonna be another one along in about five minutes):

... but, at the bottom there, inset into the parapet? That's the original, now-92-year-old dedication plaque from the original Sellwood Bridge. Portland is conflicted right now about her history, but at least we remember there is one. There is hope in that.

There's a cosmic humor to me in this sign:

... because as everyone in Oregon knows, you have to go LEFT to get to Portland and RIGHT to get to LakeO.

And this is how we tell cyclists that Riverview Cemetery is right across the street, at the west end of the bridge.

Of course, you can take the scenic route, which may take up to 5 minutes. Plan accordingly.

And, in every city that has bridges like this, there are people who care about those who find their way onto them in times of crisis. One is sometimes not as alone as they think.

[EagleCreekFire] The Smoke Before It Got Here

Another photograph from last Friday.

After concluding our visit to the Sellwood Bridge, we came back into town via SE Milwaukie Avenue, SE Powell Blvd, and SE McLoughlin. The Columbia Gorge, as well as the Eagle Creek Fire (which was still burning and threatening Hood River at the time) is, as maps have shown, just east of the urbanized Portland Metropolitan Area. We'd enjoyed a day of clear, vibrant blue sky and clear air, but there comes the change.

That gray pall on the eastern horizon there was the smoke from that not-so-distant fire, waiting to pay a return visit.

Which it did, the next day, as the record duly shows.

[pdx] Sellwood Bridge: We Love Our River

The river traffic was fairly bustling this day in 2017.

There's a line out of Ursula K. LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven, after Dr. Haber begins toying with reality via George Orr's dreams. He's in his new office suite, overlooking Portland and the river, and Heather Lelache has just witnessed, with knowledge, Orr's dream rewrite the reality of a 21st-century, overbuilt, overpolluted Portland into the Portland that's more like it was back in the 70s, and Haber relates how he, in the new reality, came out to Oregon, and the thing that stuck with me from that scene was the line:

The ecosystem out here was still fairly intact.

And that came to mind as I looked out and saw the blue sky and the water of what was once one of the most polluted rivers in America, the Willamette, a river that's all Oregon's, and that we are as proud of to have as we are proud to be able to pronounce it correctly.

The Willamette is a pulchritudinous river along her entire length from Eugene through Salem to Portland, but it attains a certain mightiness north of Willamette Falls. Not only that, it's influenced by ocean tides ... there's a gentle tidal bore that causes the river to go up and down from the mouth all the way up to the falls at Oregon City.

I was skeptical, then me and my wife spent an lazy afternoon watching the water rise off Sellwood Riverfront Park. Then I was just boggled. Still am.

There wasn't just pentiful fun craft frolicking on the river, but there was some serious work going on under the bridge as well. This crew seemed to be doing some sort of maintenance on the bridge pier:

Men with hard hats on the barge, marine industrial equipment of every description, but it was the bubbling coming up near the top of the picture that intrigued me the most.

Wondered what they were doing down there. Still do.

Meanwhile, Maria kept everything snug and in place. What a cute little boat she is, too.

We love our river.

We're positively ... ah, Chipper about it.

18 September 2017

[pdx] The View Of Downtown Portland From The Sellwood Bridge

The tyranny of choice is a thing to contend with.

The idea of that is that having too much good stuff to choose from is as paralyzing as having too little. A multiplicity of options only stymies you because you have so many choices to make and you want every one to count, so you dither, dither, dither. Eventually you get as much done in as much time as having nothing at all to choose from.

I took what I considered to be a great many photos from the Sellwood Bridge last Saturday, the aim being to get some sort of idea as to what it's been like now that a year and a half had passed since the bridge dedication. Doomed mission from the start. So I've identified a couple-three themes and will post some themed sets over the next couple of days, giving you, my notional reader, and myself, something to come back to.

By now it should be obvious that one of my obsessions is The Iconic Skyline Photo of Downtown Portland, Oregon. Its something that, by its definition, can never be completely satisfied, especially with the speed at which Portland continues to mutate and change. While the top of the Sellwood isn't the most ideal viewpoint, is still is a superb one, as the view down the Willamette River is unobstructed and the natural geography provides incomparable opportunities for framing and atmosphere.

From the top of the Sellwood to that tall monolith with the vertical stripes ... the Wells Fargo Tower ... the straightline distance is about three and a half miles. By road, around five. For a city of national stature, Portland is compact, but for an Oregon city, here, where sprawl is a cardinal sin, it's glandular to a great many of us. This, to me, is a very long way.

The above shot I chose precisely because of the intervening objects. The rail-line and the Springwater Corridor Trail, leading into town ... the road to Oaks Amusement Park, just along side ... the welter of wires and supporting poles and trellises, all are still dominated by the green of the trees. Even that massive pile of construction has trouble competing, from this angle.

The river, which animates us. The Willamette has been through a great many changes, from when Tom McCall got the state to clean her up to hassles about sewage and CSOs, and more, and now the peculiar absurdity we call South Waterfront, still crane-enabled after all this time.

But still, we put our best face towards the Willamette when we can. We are a river town.

There's a little sandbar there in the river. It has a name. Toe Island. Just pointing that out.

Beyond the western margin of Ross Island, that's the Lloyd District, 2017. I count six high-rises here. Four of them didn't exist as recently as 15 years ago.

And boats. You can't keep us off our river.

And here, a wide-angle panorama. Downtown, crane busy puttins something else up. There's a city amidst those woods, but you wouldn't be completely knowing of this if someone didn't tell you. On the top of the hill in the upper left, that's Marquam Hill, and that's the main hospital complex of OHSU, and, if I haven't mentioned it before, we Portlanders love calling it Pill Hill, because wouldn't you expect us to?

In the foreground, the houseboats of the Macadam Bay Club. It must be of some absurd comfort, knowing that a flooded basement is the way things are supposed to be.

[pdx] The Sellwood Bridge, A Little More Than A Year On

Back about a year and a half ago, me and The Wife™ were just two of thousands who watched the new Sellwood Bridge being dedicated. The bridge, completed in February of 2016, replaced an old structure that had spanned the Willamette between Sellwood and the southern end of SW Macadam Avenue since the year 1925. It was renowned as the single most dangerous bridge to be on; traffic weight limits were much reduced and not even TriMet ran across it any more.

This last weekend, we went out to see how the new span was doing. I've got more pictures to come; but not enough time to extemporize for the moment. For now, though, this beauty shot of a bridge whose new aspect has grown on me significantly.

Sellwood Bridge, big, bright, and bold.

More to come.