16 September 2014

[PDX] 36 Pit Wildfire Morning From Portland

Over the past several days, something has come to the west side of the Cascades that not many of us would ever have thought to see: A wildfire.

They're calling it the 36 Pit Fire for reasons I'm hoping they'll eventually explain (on the edit: a commenter in my GooglePlus stream, +Merrilee Gilley, posted a link to a KOIN 6 News report explaining just how this wildfire-and others-got their name), and during the last few days, the prevailings have been blowing it down into the Willamette Valley, casting a dull pall from Portland down to past Salem. It's located, more or less, just east of the end of the North Fork Reservoir, which is about 5 miles southeast of the town of Estacada, which is about 30 miles southeast of the city center of Portland.

According to a Google Map-based estimate, the nearest part of the sprawling fire is about 27 miles from Home Base's front doorstep.

What residents there are in that area are being evacuated, and people in the town of Estacada itself are feeling a bit nervous. The Governor has invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act, which allows the State Fire Marshal to draft more structural firefighters to help. So, yeah … shizz has gotten real up at the end of State Hwy 224.

Down here, in the valley, at a safe remove, we who have healthy lungs and are out at just the right time get a show. Sunrise today was exquisite …

These were taken with the Canon simply pointing in the direction of the light.

The only processing was done to bring them into a size more appropriate for posting.

It's like shining a very bright light through nacre. And, if things stay lucky, there's not too much of this left to go.

So, if I can be allowed a soft'n'corny sentiment, I wish those who fight the fire and those who have property in harm's way well. 

15 September 2014

[logo] KINK's New Logo: The KINKtrix, Reloaded

This was actually pointed out to me more than a couple of weeks back, by Ben. And, by way of explanation, if not exculpation, whenever I tried to write about it, I found myself having to restate my words over the first few paragraphs.

Or, as, the say on FB, It's Complicated. 

KINK, Portland's legendary FM station at 101.9 on your dials, goes back a hell of a long way; 1968, an eternity in broadcasting, and an infinity in todays furiously format-flipping radio landscape. I don't think I'm unsafe in saying that Portland's radio landscape has gotten a lot more dreary since the the late 1990s, but fortunately we still have outlets such as KINK who, even if music has diverged and become richer in tone and substance, still approach it the same way … literately, with thoughtfulness and style and an awareness developed over nearly 50 years of taking the music they play seriously.

I was impressed by how seriously when I discovered that KINK is using the TuneGenie online service to provide its Listen Live function. This is more than just a simple stream. Each song is listed at the time it played, and gives links to online clips, the lyrics, and even to iTunes purchase links. Song you just heard caught your ear? Go ahead and buy it right now.

It's pretty nifty. This screenshot (from http://kink.tunegenie.com) gives you an idea (you might have to go through the main website at http://kink.fm to get there tho):

Classic Bowie, The Verve, and three or four bands I never heard of. All of that fits in with the new tagline … but I get ahead of myself.

My history with listening to KINK goes back to the mid-80s. It was the days where apartments in NW Portland were still affordable on the minimum wage; 1-room with a kitchenette on NW Flanders between 21st and 22nd with a shared bathroom in a very clean and well-maintained old mansion were $150/month. The meagre choices of jobs I would ere be offered was well on its way toward evolving me into the night owl I seem to have become, and KINK was the only station I ever listened to. I knew the late-night velvet that was Lights Out, which was nice because that was just enough jazz for my day. Steve Winwood ruled the airwaves and his songs won my heart. And there was else and other.

The 1970s.
The KINK format and approach has remained consistent and so, up until recently, has the logo. The original logo, legend has it, had block caps and a mountain and a bird, but that didn't seem to sit with the image the organization had for itself, so it's said, so in the early 70s, the wordmark that would serve in various versions for the next 40-odd years was created: the minuscule 'kink', in handwritten script. Relaxed, informal, yet erudite and smart, it neatly embodied the KINK vibe.

In those days, of course, radios didn't do any of this nancy-poncy decimal point frequencies. Sure, it's always been at 101.9 on the FM dial, but our Dads and Moms tuned to "KINK, FM One-Oh-Two", and they liked it.

The 1990s-2000s
Times changed but, as I said, the logo … not much. By the first decade of the 2000s the kinky script had moved out of the old square pad and into a newer and more modern oval with a yellow background. But the True-to-the-music spirit of the old logo was still there in its casual script, and the tagline was still True To The Music, even though the glyphs underlying the design boasted of its precise frequency and its web address as another place to tap into that KINKy goodness.

Scarcely a year ago the logo evolved again, as I wrote about in this blog here: http://zehnkatzen.blogspot.com/2013/11/logo-kink-fm-true-to-logo.html. And here's what I wrote at the time:
Today's KINK is much the same as the 1980s version. But they've ventured more into live acts and similar promotions. The new logo, which boasts the terrestrial frequency as well as the legendary tagline, encourages you to think of KINK the way a lot of stations do these days - frequency-name, so it's going with the fashion in a fashion, but in some ways you gotta change with the times, even if your content stays timeless … as the script logo, which I've always enjoyed, does.
This was the then-new version of the logo:

Circa 2013, November
… which I was a little mixed on but I did enjoy the fact that they remained true to the logo.

Well, if you've seen any of the commercials they've been running on TV latterly, you'll know that the look is all-new and rather cool. And this is it (screen-capture from the website … no high-def available, unfortunately) …

My feelings are decidedly mixed about this. And they revolve around two poles. The first one being: I didn't think the old look was old, or dated, or needed to be particularly fixed in any way. But that's why I maundered prolix about what KINK has meant to me; you don't get to know someone for that long without learning the contours of their face. I grew up an inveterate radio-listener. A favorite radio station for me was part of my daily survival kit; you go to a favorite stream to get just the right kind of water – well, your mind is the same thing. You go to a favorite station to hear the music you want to hear, and KINK's eclectic, unafraid mix of what's new and what's classic is just the right soundtrack for late lights over a drawing board, noodling around in sketchbooks or writing in one's diary … or just grooving on the late-night air.

The second one is … this logo is pretty good, actually. There's been a trend in making inspired type choices carry the design water, and this sticks that landing pretty well. A note I enjoy is the way the callsign is in minuscule … the tagline, Discover Music (which is always delivered with a strategic, pregnant pause in the TV commercials between the two words) is in mixed-case. The strictly lower-case display of the call-letters, though, recalls the older 'handwritten' logo in a subtle thematic way. 

So, the logo works and works well. Kudos there. 

But to, all of a sudden, find that my old friend is gone and won't be coming back? I has teh sad there, folks. Sorry, I can't lie about my feelings here. 

So, good on KINK for coming up with a good, solid logo, easy on the eye, in fashion and current with the type. I do sincerely think it's well-done.

But, if you really must know, KINK's left its script signature on my heart, and that's exactly the way it'll stay there. 

14 September 2014

[pdx_TV] KOIN 6 Brands the Mothership

I've said it before: edifices matter. Especially when you're a media company that has an electronic side (The Oregonian has forgotten this, and will be consigned to the netherworld of has-beens for it).

KOIN TV has one of the best emblems that a media company can have: A remarkably beautiful building, the KOIN Center, which, at 509 feet in height and 35 floors, is the third-tallest building in Portland (and, thus, the state of Oregon). It stands on the block surrounded by SW Columbia and Jefferson streets and SW 2nd and 3rd Avenues; this was KOIN's home since before the construction of the KOIN Center, and the station thus became its signature tenant. Its tapering profile, topped with a blue pyramid, remind one of a rocket ship from classic SF movies, if nothing else.

The mothership, ready for takeoff.

During the KOIN Local 6 days, they didn't take advantage of this symbol, and that, I thought, was a missed opportunity. Identity efforts before that did, but the were kind of bland, I thought. But then, a few months back, KOIN rebranded. Now, I don't know who was responsible for putting together the new look of the opens, but someone finally got it right. These are opens I can't get tired of looking at.

The graphics open with dynamic layered chevron shapes in blue chasing each other from the left to the right. Glossy music strikes up, with a technological edge, arresting the viewer's attention. The chevrons part momentarily long enough to let a voice-over intone "Live, from the KOIN Center, in downtown Portland …" and we are treated to really-awesomely well-done aerial shots-in-motion, gliding over the south part of downtown, and given an atmospheric feel thanks to colored lens-flare effects. These are great shots. They really draw in and almost make love to the most photogenic major downtown in America.

This YouTube video, posted by a user monikering themselves Portland TV, compiles all the major opens. Just goes to show what happens when you pair the beating heart of a beautiful city with dynamic opening music and graphics … something memorable and successful.

I've taken the liberty of screencapping the four variations on the approach. The source is the original poster's video.

The first one seems to be used for the morning and noon newscasts. If you paid attention to the video, you also noticed the tone of the morning news theme is more chipper and upbeat; there is a grimmer, more minor-keyed approach on the other three.

The morning and noon 'casts use the above, as I mentioned. The view is from the south and the flying view point is approaching it going north. Other notable buildings include the Edith Green/Wendell Wyatt Federal building (the one with the 'doffed cap' just behind and right) the Portland Building (behind and to the left) and the Wells Fargo Tower (left edge of frame).

The next two are used for the flagship 5-6 PM broadcast hour:

Above, the viewpoint is looking north-northeast as it moves from west to east toward the Willamette river. The ramps to and a bit of the west end of the Morrison Bridge can be seen at the top of the frame; the red brick building on the right edge of the view is the Umpqua Bank Plaza, which started as the Benj. Franklin Plaza; the chevron shaped building at the extreme right is the Waterfront Marriott Hotel, and, of course, the Wells Fargo there on the left. The building with curved roofline is the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse.

This one pivots about the Wells Fargo Tower, on the right this time, as we travel again from east to west but this time north of the KOIN mothership. In the upper left, boats can be seen plying the RiverPlace marina; in the extreme upper corner of the shot the Marquam Bridge carries I-5 over the Willamette.

And this is the 11 PM shot. Same general area as just above, but an approach more straight on. Very TRON-esque.

Edifices matter. If you have one use it, but make sure you use it well. This is doing it right. 

10 September 2014

[Out 122nd Way] Reach Out For The Sunrise

The early day's sun and clouds once again captured me on my commute home from making sure the world stays open for y'all's … so I returned it the favor and captured it back.

The morning sun in the distance, shining under the clouds, found gaps and cast divergent rays under the deck. It's not the amazing display others were fortunate to capture some months ago, when the sun illuminated the east side of Mount Hood who had her tip int he clouds and case the most amazing shadow, but I still think it's something.

I'm fortunate in that the Rossi Farms are still working and give me this wonderful, clear spot to pull over and shnap the shutter.

That's life Out 122nd Way.

08 September 2014

[Photos On Sunday] September Sunset, Hawthorne Blvd, Portland

We have one of these once every day, I promise you … and I also promise you that, because this is Portland, Oregon, we do sunsets more beautifully than you.

Shh! This is Portland, now! Just accept it!

Seriously, though, the light had an amber quality as the sun cut into the West Hills today. It wasn't too hot, and as the rays got longer and took on a more red and orange quality than usual, it was hard not to feel adored, coddled … even seduced, yes, I said it … by the light.

See? I told you we did sunsets more beautifully than you. I guess I kinda meant it.

This is SE Hawthorne Blvd, along an area I think of as Lower Hawthorne … between SE 12th and SE 30th, going up the hill from the big five-pointed intersection at 20th at the NE corner of Ladd's Addition … almost but not quite to the fashionable part, which stretches east from SE 30th through 50th Avenues. The signboards on the street are outliers of Kruger's Farm Market, at 23rd and SE Hawthorne, a fine place to go if you like farmer's markets but can't always get to your neighborhood edition, which seems to always close a little too early for us night-owls. Good prices too; less than eight dollars got us a pretty hefty haul … corn, squashes, potatoes, onion … all grown locally.

Sure, it helps if you're all pretentious about it, but there's no requirement to be.

The sun threatens to immolate Oregon's tallest building, the Wells Fargo Tower, that vertically-striped, black and white monolith there in front of the West Hills. That smoky orangeness pervatded the air in a way that a mere photograph can't really picture, it was an atmospheric thing … but this one comes close (or, long sight lines means Sam's about to play with extreme zooms again …) :

This is letting the lens play games with the bright light and having something delightful happen. Another in-camera special effect.  I think I was whispered to by the memory of this:

Which is, of course, a screen grab of a Los Angeles freeway from the opening titles to The Rockford Files. I came pretty close, I thought.  Anyone thinking of scripting and getting illustrations or visuals for any upcoming hard-boiled Oregon style PI shows can contact me for the rights.

Another extreme closeup! featuring some downtown landmarks, being bathed in the late summer sunset …

The Wells Fargo Tower, I've told you about; the silvery, boxy one to the right there is still called the PacWest Center, though PacWest Bancorp hasn't existed for about 25 years now. Still, it's nice to see something still being called what it always has been. Here in Oregon we're more interested in that sort of history than some places I can name, but that's no guarantee that things will maintain.

Gosh … Isn't that in-lens reflection just the thing, though?

Now, up on Hawthorne at  43rd … which is, by the 20-block-to-the-mile rule, 1 mile east of where we just were, the sun was well into its setting task, and the light had taken on a different quality. Still warm and seductive, a bit more firey though.

Yeah, extreme closeup! again.  And it reminded me that, no matter how much I'm in love with the scenery around here, how easily it is to miss things. I hadn't really dwelt on the fact that you can still see the downtown towers from here – that rise that crests between SE 28th and 30th Avenues puts the city center at your back and then you go downhill into the heart of fashionable Hawthorne, and you kind of forget it's back there. But you look in the distance, and there it is … the Wells Fargo Tower and, to the left, under a just-visible pyramidal roofline, is the KOIN Tower,  that orange-red sun, a glowing kindness.

It's doing it's best … we'll be going into fall soon, and then comes the clouds and the rain … well, if the shaky weather the entire continent is dealing with hasn't shaken up too much yet.

The rosy color deepens, and this picture is mostly because Fat Straw, a favorite place … boba tea, Banh Mi sandwiches, we love the place and I'll move on before this veers off into a food-obsessed post, but nifty place and go.

And the lovely, lovely light.

Do you take pictures thinking this would be a lovely album cover? Because I do, and this last one is just about color and form, silhouette and shape, and any band that wants to purchase this for their album, you know how to reach me.

This is the sort of evening we'll all remember round about mid-October going into November, when we can't remember how we complained about how warm it was in the summer because we're too busy bitching about how cold and gloomy October is.

Well, you guys might be. In general terms, I won't; you don't grow up an Oregonian hating the gloomy winter. You accept it. It's home. 

[logo] Goodby KGW NewsChannel 8, Hello, KGW8

A few weeks into the new graphics change over at 15th and SW Jefferson, and here are a couple of thoughts about that.

Portland's KGW-TV is one of the senior members of the broadcasting world; that it should get by on only three letters in its call-sign should tell you that – the system was rationalized a bit sometime during the 1930s/40s to only allow four-letter callsigns, and the three-letter ones were grandfathered in. KGW, to be specific, has broadcasted in one form or another since 1922.

During the 70s, 80s, and 90s, KGW seemed to change looks more often than any other station locally, at least as far as I can remember. In 1995, however, it went to the coinage Northwest NewsChannel 8, and then in 1996 firmed up the look: A wide one, with the word Northwest reversed out of a red stripe, NewsChannel in condensed bold italicized, and a comparatively-dainty 8 in a blue box of its own.

Myself, I found the coinage rather awkward to say, and a bit confusing actually; to me, a News Channel is one that has news on all the time, or most of the time, kind of like CNN was before you couldn't watch it without pulling a face while you raced to change the channel to something that wouldn't melt your head. It also subsumed the individual station identity, which I felt should always include the call-sign. But it worked for KGW, and it (or some version - in 2008, a version of the NewsChannel 8 logo mostly based on the FF DIN font once again highlighting the call-sign debuted, of which I approved) served stalwart duty as KGW's identity for nearly 20 years.

Reently, Belo, the company which owned KGW (and its Seattle sisters, KING and KIRO) underwent a major rearrangement, dividing its print media from its broadcast media into two separate companies. Subsequently, the broadcast media side was purchased by Gannett (the same company that publishes both USA Today and, locally, the Statesman-Journal down Salem way). And the changes rang.

This is was KGW's NewsChannel 8's logo:

… and this is KGW 8's logo now:

KGW's new logo look approaches design by pretty much eschewing design. It's a simple, stark thing now, the only thing brought forward being the the unique detail of the bevelled end of the G's cross-bar, which I've tried to use to identify the font this was constructed out of with, so far, no success (the closest WhatTheFont seems to come to is the 205 foundry's Maax Bold) (Update here: It's my understanding now that the font used here is Gotham, and KGW's graphic design king Jeff Patterson did that tweaking). It wins on the uncomplicated level, proving that sometimes next-to-no design is actually pretty successful design.

Another thing that this design does do fairly well is mesh with the station's new graphics. Gannett's USA Today original design brought us sections with color-coding, and KGW's new on-air graphic approach follows this logic too. Reading what I could get and following what I could on-line reveals that Gannett has a sort of empire style and all the broadcast properties carry this forward, including KGW's new website design, which is clear, clean, fairly tight, and works a great deal like USA Today's website does. The fonts on the website, according to the WhatFont bookmarklet I have installed in my Opera browser, indicate 2 fonts used overall: A version of Futura developed especially for USA Today's use called Futura Today, used for the menu headers across the top of the page, and Arial, which seems to be used for pretty much everything else.

And it all clicks pretty well together, proving that if you use it just right, Arial can be an asset rather than looking like the font you used because you didn't feel like going with anything other than the default.

The lower-thirds of the KGW news on-air presentation have been thoroughly revamped. They're harder-working now: the story being reported on occupies the large upper portion of the strip, with a colored line along the top indicating the 'department' the story falls into. Along the skinnier portion of the new chyron, the next three stories coming up are announced, with a similar colored bar immediately to each story's left noting their department:

The color along the top of SUPERHEROES SURPRISE BURN VICTIM here is purple, denoting a Feature story; the three upcoming stories have blue bars, denoting Local stories. They have a congruence with the USA Today scheme (they use the same colors for Weather and for Money, for example). While each report is running, if location or person ID information becomes necessary to display, the large title moves down and the necessary information appears in a smaller point-size in gray superior to the large title.

That's not all, of course. As these YouTube clips will show, the same approach is now being used by KGW's sisters. KING-5 in Seattle's looks like this (and gives a snappy example of how the new chyron works):

… and this is what NWCN's (Northwest Cable News) opening looks like now …

I've watched the KGW deploying of same, and I actually like it a great deal. Teasing stories is a tactic the programs use to keep you tuned in, and I understand this, but there's teasing and there's aggravating. Seeing exactly what they have coming up is a Good Thing™ and I very much approve.

Even though KGW is essentially using Gannett empire style, which is a sort of thing I usually dread, I find myself having to admit that, if it's a uniform thing, at least it does its job well. It's hard to be concise and informative, and on that level, at least, it's a success. 

[ad_design] There Should Be A Word In The Dictionary For A Photo Like This …

You'll probably figure out the kind I mean.

Walking in a local grocery story, I looked up and was confronted by this on the back of an endcap display:

I don't know about anyone else, but I took one look at that and I knew, instantly, what that cute young tyke was going to look like when she was 35 years old. She would look equally at home as some high-powered executive as she would taking up your time on your front doorstep telling you about what her religion can do for you.

As it is, she seems just a little too thrilled at the presumable knowledge that she's got some Little Debbie to be munchin' on at lunch. I mean, that sort of smile is reserved for lottery winners.

I'm not sure what lottery you've won by turning up a Little Debbie snack in your lunchbox, but I'm pretty sure that it's not the kind where you win money.

07 September 2014

[PDX] Calendar-Worthy Portland

The following shots are candidates for any good Portland calendar.

The Chinatown Gate guards the entry to NW 4th Avenue at Burnside Street. North of this is what amounts to Portland's Chinatown; about a six-square-block area where there seems, these days, to be more gentrification and drunk nightclub life than there is any legacy of Chinese culture any more. but it is, historically, the Chinese quarter of the Rose City.

Down there, in the lower right hand corner of the shot, is the controversial homeless enclave known as Right To Dream Too, or R2D2 as we've taken to calling it. It's not so controversial because of the fact it's a homeless camp, but more because the fight over finding somewhere else to be, which has changed character; sometimes it's a real conversation of the issue of homelessness, other times, more of a fight over who gets to develop the property.

For many years it was a grotty porn shop called Cindy's, which became the just about the last bastion of the way lower West Burnside used to be commonly referred to as Skid Row, Portland's own Bowery. This is actually not as hard on the eyes as Cindy's was.

Three blocks west and one north, at the corner of NW Broadway and Couch Street, I got this handsome shot of Big Pink. that tan building in front of it is the Helen Swindells Building, an SRO lower-income property at West Burnside and NW Broadway. The Brody Theater is an improv house that also hosts local groups and comedy classes; down on the corner there is a shabby quick-shop that holds the barest echo of the way the whole quarter used to be.

… and our own mecca of high culture, the Portland Center for the Performing Arts (I can tell that it's a center for high culture, as I can afford nothing that ever goes through there). The sign is memorable
as it is iconic.

Rumors that I may be planning an annual calendar of my kind of scenic Portland may indeed have some truth to them. Be watching. 

[Photos on Sunday] Parked In The Sunlight On The Burnside Bridge

I may be a city mouse of long standing, but I started out as a country mouse. Silverton, to be precise. So maybe it stands to reason that I never become completely jaded of living in Portland, and have it best of both worlds, because even though I was born of a small Oregon town, I've lived in the big Oregon town more than half my life, so I am a city kid now, if only by osmosis.

Stadt luft macht frei. The air of the city leads to liberation.

Nowhere is this more adroitly pointed out to myself as when we, The Wife™ and I, temporarily stranded on one of my hometown's remarkable drawbridges during life. We have more than one kind here in Portland: the Morrison and Burnside bridges are two-leaf Bascule, the Broadway is a Rall-type (meaning it takes a long time to open and close), and the Hawthorne and Steel are vertical-lift structures.

On a recent Sunday, the Burnside caught us. This is never a bad thing, unless you have to get somewhere in a hurry, but then if that's the case, maybe you needed to be slowed down a bit. I can only speak for myself here … but if you're smart, you'll take my advice.

I've taken the above shot before, but the way it presented itself, I couldn't resist. In the far distance, the Fremont Bridge; middle distance, the Broadway Bridge; the near distance, the Steel Bridge; in the far foreground are the ramps connecting I-5 (as the East Bank Freeway) to the Banfield Freeway (a/k/a I-84), and immediately in front of us is the Burnside Bridge balustrade.

The one thing the country mouse will immediately notice on the open leaf of the bascule bridge is the way the streetlamps will stick to it. Of course, they will, naturally … the don't fold up into the bridge and they're not about to fall off. But when you come from a place where there's no such thing as drawbridge, it's the most curious thing you've ever seen.

A friend in the past, wife of a fellow who came here to see us just to visit the Rose City, squealed with delight when she saw this.

"Wow! They stay up on the bridge!"

Well, yes, where else are they going to go … but I'm a country mouse too, so I understood perfectly.

You also get to stay with on the bridge and frame some shots. And I have something of an admission to make; this we circled back around for. The such breaking through the clouds was much more impressive a few minutes before this … but I didn't have my camera out.

Bad me.

Shafts of light breaking through firmament is always an impressive sight, though, even if you don't get the best of it.

Cue the choir. This here is heaven.

The building stump, with the crane, sticks out like a snaggly tooth in a perfect smile. That's called Park Avenue West, and it's under construction again, after being in limbo for a few years when, temporarily, the money ran out. At 35 stories, it's going to be Portland's (and, hence, Oregon's) third-tallest building; that monolith in the right part of the frame is well known, of course, as the US Bancorp tower … though you can call it "Big Pink" … and even though it has more floors than any other building in Oregon, 42, it's actually about twenty feet shorter than the forty-story Wells Fargo Tower, about 13 blocks south of that, along the same street. 

One of those scenes when you see it, you know you're home.

The one below … when I took it, I was hoping for focus. The camera let me down on this one, but I just decided that I liked it more than I thought I would. The atmosphere is ineffable. 

25 August 2014

[pdx_legends] Working Kirk Reeves - Portland's Patron Saint, Now In Mural Form

He's part of Portland's landscape now … on a permanent, full-time basis.

When Kirk Reeves passed from us, since two years ago as of November, more than one intersecting PDX artistic community gasped in shock, dismay and despair. I'm sure there are those around us trying to still come to terms with it. I, for one, can't hit the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge going east, either straight on from SW Madison Street or coming up the ramp from northbound Naito Parkway, without looking at that little pavement peninsula he sat on with his horn and his paraphernalia, busking in those absurd-but-oh-so-right white tails, sequined waistcoat, and Mickey Mouse ears, wishing that he could somehow come back and do an encore for a while.

Well, Kirk is back … in a way.

Of course, those of us who knew and loved having Kirk around were hoping for a tribute of some sort. You don't lose that sort of happiness without feeling generally betrayed by the world in general, but having a homage to someone who kept others' spirits so high helps us do what healing we have to do to move on.

We loved Kirk enough that we lobbied to have the Tilikum Crossing named for him; the learned heads on the commission decided on another name despite Working Kirk being the popular choice, because learned heads reasons.

But someone did finally come up with something, and it's smashing, and I fancy that Kirk might have approved. At 430 NE Lloyd Blvd – the corner of Lloyd and NE Grand Avenue … there is a small, plain building that was, for years, home to a business called Rich's Delicatessen. Like almost everything that thrived in the 80s, it's gone now, and the building has been remodeled and refreshed, at least on the outside (the inside remains unfinished, a large expanse of gravel taking up most of the middle of the floor. Oddest thing …).

Thanks to the preternaturally sensitive artist, Gwenn Seemel, there is now a firey-passionate mural on that wall …

The style of the painting, seeming to layer small abstract shapes over colors and making up forms from these shapes, conveys a lot of emotion. It depicts, as closely as possible, the quiet riot that was the passion of Kirk.

The permanent beatific smile, the immense personal warmth one felt when talking with the man … it's all there. The message is there too, and rendered in playful, hand-created type.

It's a thing of despair to see that Kirk now kind of iconically stands out in the city he spent his artistic passion in, but it's a hopeful thing too … the combination of the style, the likeliness gazing warmly out at everyone who may pass that way and the message above, kind of makes me think he's really gazing out there. Makes me think I can go by and say 'hi' and he will, somehow, hear me and listen and somehow respond.

He's a part of the fabric of the city now, a patron saint of all of us aspiring artists who are striving to overcome our own obstacles, made real by an artist with a very deft touch.

… watching over a city where food carts roam the streets between gigs …

… and where streetcar tracks bask in the warmth of a somewhat-too-warm late August Portland gloaming.

Being part of the Orycon family, I'd call him a friend; he had closer friends than I did. But I feel privileged that I knew him at all.

He was one of those people who are like that. The world was simply better that he was around at all; it's a bit lacklustre becase he's not here now, but you know you were lucky just to share the same planet with him, if only for a little while. 

23 August 2014

[liff] Scrabble at Chez Burgerville, 82nd and Glisan

What you do after you've had a hot, tiring, but quintessentially-satisfying day on Hawthorne Boulevard is take your Scrabble set to the Burgerville on NE 82nd and Glisan and play.

True story: at the corner of SE 41st and Hawthorne there is a curiosity shop that's having an going-out-of-business sale, and the shop is called the Blue Butterfly.

It's been having its GOOB sale for about 2 yahren, as memory service. Not hatin, just sayin'.

Anyhow. We poked around the tables in front and found a Diamond Anniversary Scrabble set. It's in this plastic clamshell case, with two drawers for holding tiles and the racks, rubberized wheels designed to allow the board to rotate in place when open, and a raised grid for holding the letters in place. But would it have all the tiles, we wondered?

I waited as The Wife™ did a quick count. 99 tiles. There should be 100. At a $5 price tag?

Hell, close enough!

Needing a cooling break, the next stop was the aforesaid Burgerville. Over two beverages, we laid out the tiles … no, actually, there were 100 of them!

Just one thing to do … game on.

My wife is a cutthroat Scrabble player. I rarely win. I won this game by one point …

… 10 points, if you deduct that Q that's laying just to the right of the playing field. That was hers. I used all mine.

That word at the bottom, PLUNGER? I started it as LUNG. She added the E for LUNGE, and I put in the P and R to complete the word. It wasn't the winning coup, but I figure I got style points for that.

[comics] Spiral Notebook Comics: Bob's Yer Paradigm!

Brother, can he paradigm!

Can you smell the leadership?

21 August 2014

[PDX] Faux Telephoto - Hawthorne And The Big Hill East of César E Chávez

It was said, on the Hawthorne Street Fair Facebook page, that this was the first time the Boulevard between 30th and 38th had been closed in decades.

This gave the perfect opportunity, of course, for some angles that you couldn't otherwise get else the chance of grievous bodily injury. An always-inspiring view is the view east down Hawthorne, with the street rising to meet, and appear to be utterly defeated by, our legendary volcano-within-a-city, Mount Tabor.

It will be remembered, though, that Hawthorne Blvd was named after Dr. Hawthorne, who once ran what they called then an "Home for the Insane" down near where the Hawthorne Bridge now, and the street started life as Asylum Avenue.

So, on Hawthorne, unless anything's possible and everything's a little crayzee, then it ain't right. Not really.

The above photo looks down Asylum Avenue east from just west of Chávez up tow where the street jogs south on the side of Mount Tabor. That edifice at the apparent termination of the street is the Portland campus of Western Seminary.

Notice the dude there in the lower left of frame. He's doing what I'm doing, except his only companion is a tripod. Tripods are nice, but wives are better to have around. Just my opinion, of course. Now, when  you widen the angle, here's what you see …

The loftily-named 'Mount' Tabor is merely a hill, though a most pulchritudinous one. It is an extinct volcano, and one of the western outposts of what is amusingly called the Boring Volcanic Field. A great number of small, knobbly hills spread out south and east into the Multnomah and Clackamas hinterlands; these all erupted over one period, with nary a peep since the last 300,000 years.

In short, it's dead, Jim.

The summit elevation is reported as 636 feet above sea level; the surrounds are about 200 feet above sea level, though, so that's a 400 foot hill there. Still, remarkable; of all the cities in the USA, only four are thought to have extinct volcanoes within the city boundary. Two of them are in Oregon.

When you zoom in, crop and frame, and go for a compressed perspective view, though, that's where I fall in love:

The parts of Hawthorne west of Tabor are kind of in two parts to me: the painfully cute and fashionable, which stretch from about SE 30th Avenue to Chåvez Blvd, and the more clubby section, which run from Chávez to 50th.

When reviewing the photos I was going to put there, I realized that I tend to prefer photos with few people in them. This one, with the two young dudes there, just ambling down the street enjoying life, spoke to me, saying that maybe I shouldn't be so aloof. But, just to satisfy the aesthete in me:

… here's one where you can ignore the peoples, if you want.

A few years back, when we Portlanders went through the spasmic renaming of what we then called NE and SE 39th Avenue to César E Chávez Boulevard, it was such a strange thing. Yet again, the careful rules that were agreed on to ensure that everyone … especially those along the route, who would have to spend money changing up stationery and signage … was on board with the change, were rather casually set aside because reasons. And more than a few people, of more than one ethnic POV, pointed out that it'd take more than a street name change to really address the problems that we all saw in a mere street name-change.

But the change did go through, as it did. And I don't think I'm off the beam in saying that it very much appears that the vast majority of us have not only made peace with the change, but have embraced it. I like the idea that my hometown has a street named for Chávez; it fits with the sort of place Portland's trying to collectively constantly reinvent itself as.

So when I take a picture like this:

… with the street blade settling in against the charming latticework of the windows in the façade of the Hawthorne Theater, there's something there that's never been more natural somehow. It's part of the fabric of Portland now, which has been many things, sometimes simultaneously, often contradictingly … corrupt and holy, fair and unjust, progressive and regressive, rich of heart and poor of spirit …  All of that. Depending on time you look and the angle of persistence.

Exegesis in a photo.

One more: as addicted as I'm becoming to the forced perspective, the Telepfauxto, in sizing and cropping for display, this angle and crop hit me as perfect. Just makes me happy. That's all it is here:

I love you, Portland.