29 August 2009

[pdx] An Orwell Reason To Visit The Hillsdale Library

2202.If you aren't stopping to look at the small displays that mount into the walls of the foyers of your local branch of the Multnomah County Library, you're missing out, Tex. Perforce, a lesson in how to look.

As mentioned, in the walls of the foyers of most of our library branches are small display boxes. They are typically decorated with a small, usually nifty, interpretive display with a theme. Latterly, one of the ones at the entry to my favorite branch, the one at Midland out 122nd way, had a very well done collage-y bit about Whitman and Blades of Grass.

I'm no poetry fan, but the work was well done, I'm just saying.

Rick Seifert, The Red Electric, has been given the chance to do a display in the Hillsdale branch (1525 SW Sunset Blvd). The theme, perfectly pertinent in as much as his CV indicates he's a "semi-retired" journalist and journalism teacher, is George Orwell, on the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is a favorite book of mine, having been read (and re-read) many times over the years.

It contains niftyness – an old Remington 3 typewriter similar to the one Orwell used; a range of Orwell's books, and some explanatation.

It's worth a visit to your local library, yo. Crack a book, people!

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28 August 2009

[type] You Want The Wikipedia of Fonts?

2201.Then, you'll find it at Typedia, here: http://typedia.com.

I just wonder what took someone so long …

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[design] Paste Into – The "Other" Paste Command In Photoshop

2200.The joy of Photoshop is that it has more features than you can shake a stick at. That's also the heartbreak, because there are so many it's easy to forget ones you would find mad useful. And one of those is Paste Into.

It's an advanced version of the Paste command, which you can find in the Edit pulldown just underneath the Paste command. The reason it's awesome is that it saves you a ton of steps if you want to paste an object into a certain area.

What Paste Into does is this: given a selection (which you can create any which way you want), it pastes the copied image data into the current document on a new layer, and then creates a layer mask with the same shape as the selection. The effect is that your pasted content appears to be pasted into the selected area – the layer mask – which can then be gradiated, changed, whatever you want to happen.

There's a good and quick video tutorial supported by CreativePro.com which can be viewed at http://www.creativepro.com/article/combine-images-quickly-photoshop. It's a short video which hints at real design power that can be leveraged. Also, this tutorial takes a quicker approach if you just want to learn the basics: http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/paste-into/, which details just what goes into the process but doesn't demonstrate anything else … but if you're a good enough Photoshop Ninja, you should be able to take it from there.

I feel an article about alpha channels coming on, for some reason …

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27 August 2009

[design] Personas: Data Mining As Graphic Design

2199.Something that should be meaty food for thought for everyone who communicates online is available for a time. It's called Personas (http://personas.media.mit.edu/personasWeb.html). It's a crit of "data mining", which is not only the way places like Google and Amazon and Netflix are able to make a list of suggestions of things you might otherwise like, but also how certain agencies make up lists of people to watch out for. In following a data mining strategem to compose a composite picture of where your activity online takes you, it suggests an awful lot about data mining's strengths – and speaks loudly indeed about it's weaknesses.

You put in your name, and get an interesting show while it crunches the data.

Here's what I got for putting in the name "Samuel Klein":

(embiggen it thusly) It's an interesting picture, no? The labels are suggestive of assumed categories of relevant interest based on textual analysis, and the size of the colored zones are weighted according to the amount of activity in each thing.

But this doesn't quite picture Samuel Klein – me – very well. Of course, I just put in the name "Samuel Klein"; it didn't know I was meaning me, and as it turns out, there's an armload of Samuel Klein on the web (including a prominent Wikipedian as well as a leading obesity doctor).

So I put in the name Samuel John Klein in the query box and let it go. So far as I can detect, there's only one Samuel John Klein who uses the intermets in any notable degree. Here's what it came up with:

(embiggen this thusly) Now, this is more like it. I'm online a lot. I think about art and design about as much as I'm online. I don't know what the 7734 "aggression" is supposed to mean.

But that's the point, I think. Notice the way the result changed when I refined the query. The second one is a better picture of me, but I had to think to put in my medial moniker. Notice the amazing amount of interests Personas thinks I have – but actually, how would it know for sure? The code has never met me. The coder has never met me.

What does it say about me? In the end, how can one be sure?

And this is the state of the art of how "the net", as an automaton, creates an "online picture" of just one person. The thing is a tool – but those who use the tool is what makes the difference.

Like I said, food for thought. If you love being on line as much as I do, It'll make you think for a while.

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[pdx] The Powell's City Of Books Uncertainty Principle

2198.The Powell's City Of Books Uncertainty Principle states, quite simply, this: regardless of the actual presence of absence of a given volume in the Powell's inventory, the attempt to locate said book changes whether or not you'll actually see it on the shelf.

In particular, once failing to locate the desired volume in the appropriate section, consulting the Customer Lookup terminal collapses the book's wave function and makes it tougher to find once you get back to the corresponding shelf.

Actually, this is a POV on how awesome Powell's actually is, not a criticism.

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20 August 2009

[pdx] Life's A Sign That Gets Stolen From A Nonprofit

2197.I think that there should be a space reserved amongst perdition's flames for people who would steal from feminist non-profits:

Bitch magazine (http://bitchmagazine.org) is a non-profit, feminist media and advocacy. Go to thier site and read up on them. Just like every decent non-profit, they have to scrape for every dollar and penny, and that highly-excellent sign (photo screenclipped from the blog posting's pic, in the interest of publicity) was donated to them.

If you see this sign, kindly remove it from the possession of the cloaca that claims it as their boon and return it to the smart and passionate people at Bitch, who need this about as much as they need a hole in the head, yes?

Oh, and read this blog posting too. Put yourself in their place. Imagine something you care about gets damaged this way. How would you feel.

The fact that this is a cool design and that it's kickass typography enters into it for me, I won't lie. I am a self-made typographer and actual-trained designer, after all.

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19 August 2009

[web_design] Getting a Letterpress Effect With CSS

2196.Here's a nifty trick I stumbled onto yesterday.

Letterpress is very chic these days. The look and feel of letterpress is unmistakable and immediate: it imparts a level of craft and artisanship that make each letterpress piece a personal statement from the printer to you. It is, as Harlan Ellison has said, foot-pounds of effort, a personal connection to the viewer, and in a very literal way.

CSS allows you to do with the text-shadow attribute, which, if you're familiar with the drop-shadow attribute in Photoshop or any number of graphics programs, should make pretty much instant sense:

text-shadow: 0px 2px 3px #555

The first parameter specifies x-offset, the second, y-offset, the third blur (or spread) and the last, color. The above (nicked from the tutorial at Line25) will create the effect seen at this URL (which is a demo).

To get an idea on how to actually use the goodness, go to the Line25 tutorial at http://line25.com/tutorials/create-a-letterpress-effect-with-css-text-shadow and follow the bouncing ball. It's pretty nifty!

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17 August 2009

[design] 10 Gems Of Logo Design Truth

2195.Logo design talk frequently becomes the stuff of "whalesong and joss-stick', as the pugnacious IT site The Register likes to wag. To a degree it's true; the talk of color, influence, graphic elements and design frequently sounds like one needs a basic art appreciation curriculum just to keep up.

Even such prole sensibility as my own has been heard to describe some work as (shudder) Mondrianesque.

But it's also true that many things can be dressed down to basic, essential elements that make grasping the thing easier. Logo Design Love has don this with the article Ten Logo Design Tips From The Field. I'll reel them off with my own observations here.

  1. A logo doesn’t need to say what a company does, and that's true. Does PGE make colored dashes run around three letters? The Columbia Sportswear logo isn't a down jacket. The TriMet logo isn't a bus.
  2. Not every logo needs a mark

. Think of Intel. As a matter of fact, think of any number of legal firms. Sometimes, a distinctive type treatment is all that you need.
  3. Logo design is a 2-way process. Involve the client. Incorporate what your client wants as far as possible, and improve it. The client will trust you because you are the designer; take the input and produce, and explain.
  4. Picasso started somewhere. and this is truth. What they seem to be saying is, essentially, don't discount the sketching stage of things because you can't draw. I can draw, but I hate my thumbnailing style. No matter. Ideas flow quick and fast between the pen and the paper, much more so than between mouse and monitor (as the article says). I've seen some artist's sketchbooks – some are sublime, most are a mess. This is a glorious mess, and beautiful things come out of them.
  5. Underpromise and overdeliver. Everyone's familiar with the way Enterprises chief engineer, Montgomery Scott, employes good-hearted slight-of-hand to maintain his air of the engineering genius. He looks great and Captain Kirk gets what he needs, be it another point in warp speed or whatever. Everyone wins. It might seem cynical but it's not; the object is to give an honest assessment of your own ability and a bit of wiggle room, because something always goes wrong and will take more time than you think it will. If you underpromise – design your own process conservatively – overdelivery will happen as a matter of course. A win-win.
  6. Leave trends to the fashion industry. If you aren't meaning to go for the retro, try to design to the classic. Nothing looks more dated than a 70s logo designed to 70s trends. Same with a 00s logo to 00s trends will look in 2030.
  7. Work in black first. Logos won't always be printed in color; color is more affordable than ever but still much more expensive than black and white or grayscale. Chances are, that logo you're engineering will eventually be seen thus. Starting in high-contrast black and white will ground you in that color space and will develop a logo that looks good with – and without – color
  8. Keep it appropriate. If Intel's logotype were engineered from a Comic Sans base, wouldn't that strike a sour note?
  9. Work for simplicity. This is a good general guideline, because simple logos look good at small sizes as well as large – that's the reason for this. That said, there is a place for complication in logos – it can be brought off. But I agree that we should avoid complication if it's not called for.
  10. The Columbo Rule This is my take on the tenth point, One thing to remember. In the classic TV detective series Columbo, Peter Falk's character would begin to leave after interrogating someone in his classic rambling style, then stop, turn around, and say Uhhh, just one udda thing … then get the real point to the line of questioning in. You might not want to deliver it like Falk did, but as you and your client depart the meeting, leave them with "one udda thing" – and that "udda thing" is the strong point of the logo. Logos can have any number of things working, but they need just one strong thing to be memorable. Give them that strong thing. That "one udda thing".
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12 August 2009

[design] Separated At Birth: The 2001: A Space Odyssey EVA Pod and The New MAX Green Line?

2194.The design sense and style are certainly the same. See how the design zeitgeist works?

I'm tellin' ya, man, that's kinda eerie.

It'll all be fun and games until Frank Poole gets stranded at Clackamas Town Center.

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11 August 2009

[pdx] A Preview Ride On The MAX Green Line

2193.On Monday, me and The Wife™ and hundreds of our closest friends got a taste of what using the new Gateway to Clackamas segment of the new MAX Green Line would be like. It's a fifteen-minute trip to and from Gateway to the Town Center, and the ride is sweet, interesting, and smooooth.

The signage and the type design on this are really, really sweet. Prominent signage and a type which reminds one of Myriad Pro are just pleasant for this typophile to look at. To get invited,  you had to be on the TriMet mailing list for announcements and press releases. See what happens when you don't sign up for these things, Hmmm?

Anyway, the shelters are part of the new design regime at TriMet facilities, which include glass, metal, and etched art on the glass. Really sweet.

Public art is as plentiful as ever on the MAX Stations, and the glittering tile around the shelter supports is very pretty and visually neat. There's that excellent signage again. Seriously, I like this type a lot!

As our appointed time to ride came, the new cars came up from the south …

… went onto a middle-siding just north of the Main Street Station, and reversed back …

… and we were ready to load. I'll admit something here – I'm silly in love with these rail cars. They're beautiful. the streamlined look of the operators cabin remind me of some good SF (and a great deal of bad SF – but SF with style) movies that I saw growing up. Maybe we don't have our flying cars, but we do have some devastatingly good-looking transit rail. These are excellent cars.

Graphics on the side of the car reinforced the "GREEN MEANS GO" campaign that has some of the most charming art I've seen on transit collateral in a long time:

And so we boarded. Once on, a nice lady from TriMet gave us a ton of statistics: Eight stations, six in Portland, two in Clackamas County, the synthetic sound barriers that were made from 6,000 recycled tires, the long transit overpass over the Johnson Creek Blvd exit at I-205, the round trip time.

As one can see, the cabin is built for wide shoulders and the seats look very comfortable indeed. A beaming young woman gave out apples:

Green, of course. (I think the "PAA" refers to Portland Adventist Academy, the little private church-run school just down by SE 96th Avenue and Market Street)

And, so, on a beautiful, warm-but-not-too hot August day in 2009:

We boarded a new Green Line train and got a look at I-205 from the MAX. It was a good thing.

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[type] Telegraphem: A Font That Looks Like Old Telegrams

2192.Seen in an email on one of the many mailing lists I'm a member of (I think it was InDesign Talk), is this cool font which looks like the teletype hammers that used to bang these message out on the little tapes that Western Union used to clip, stick on yellow bits of paper, and zoom off to you the the pouches of messengers on bikes:

You can see it in full at http://www.dafont.com/telegraphem.font. I think it's cool.

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[liff] Closed Captioning Gone Wild: Maybe They Should Get A Room Then. (NSFWish)

2191.ProbablyBadNews.com (via Twitter, the incredibly Twitter-savvy KGW TwitterPilot at TheSquare) shows us what happens when the Closed Captioning second-string shows up for work – you get what can only be described as a CC FAIL.

Ew. Just eww.

On the other hand (sorry), you've got to admire the intense concentration that would allow you to accomplish such a deed. I think.

Best to move on, yes. Nothing more to see here, yes.

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10 August 2009

[pdx] Rod Hill's Forecast Check Has Gone Live!

2190.Just about our favorite weathercaster who's off the air, Rod Hill, late of KATU-2, has finally gone live with his website, Rod Hill's Forecast Check.

Begin your free trial and see Rod's daily videos guiding you through today's weather and the up coming weekend. You will see complete forecast information for the Northwest and have the ability to contact your private meteorologist. Your days of looking up weather information are over! Whatever you need, simply contact your weatherman and he will deliver.

It's a subscription service, which means the access will cost ya a little. As online services go, Rod's service is very reasonably priced – $4.00/month, $40.00/month (that's 12 months for the price of 10). And all this with personal service – what's not to like about this, yes?

And you can pay by the month or by the year. And you get a two week free trial.

I'd suggest that everyone get on board with this. Here's the link straight to Rod's subscription page.

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08 August 2009

[design] I'm On The Bēhance Network

2189.A very happy thing happened today. I just received an invitation to participate in the Bēhance network, http://www.behance.net.

The Bēhance online network is part of a company whose stated mission is to organize the creative world to make ideas happen. They have a good number of online presences, and Bēhance.net is the network that makes it possible for designers to have a wide exposure online.

My Bēhance online address now is http://www.behance.net/SamuelJohnKlein. You can visit there if you want, but I got this about three minutes ago, so there's nothing there to see – yet. I will perforce begin winnowing my digital files to add content to the free, unlimited portfolio they have there.

This is a nifty thing, no mistake there.

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07 August 2009

[pdx] Hawthorne: Tales Of Typographic Boulevards

2188.Portland's Hawthorne Blvd, at about 7PM, on an overcast, famously-Oregon summer evening:

Looking west from SE 47th Avenue, just where I took the sign blade pictures in the previous missive. Yes, it is gloomy and kind of dark. After the hellish heat wave Oregon just endured, you won't find me complaining. Actually, too much clear, bright weather makes me edgy. But then, I was born here in Oregon.

A couple of examples of typography and architecture that contributes to the famous Hawthorne feel and atmosphere caught my eye.

JaCiva's Chocolatier was founded by a man named Jack and his wife, Iva, and it's pronounced that way. You may think you know Oregonized confectionary with Moonstruck, and it is good stuff, but for real local flavor, JaCiva's in the place. The logotype on the sign is completely designed here (I'd be surprised to find that was an actual typeface) and it uses the idea of soft graceful curves and swashes to impart a sense of luxury.

The type in the old Portland IMPACT community service center logo is Koch's famous Neuland, a font that gives the impression of hand-hewn craft. The simplicity of it, combined with the whimsy of the figures and the flat brown tone, deliver a message of humility and approachable help. The reader board's message of E HAVEMOVE RN EWA DD RESS . BURNSID delivers a message that is perhaps in code.

Portland IMPACT have in fact removed to a different address on E. Burnside and have updated their look and name. They are now Impact Northwest:

… the colorization fo the logo is inspired and fun, at least against a light background – the type's a little uninspired though – in my opinion.

Part of the charm of Hawthorne, as I alluded, is the architecture, and along the 4700 block, on the south side, are some charming old commercial fronts that I hope aren't replaced by condos any time soon:

The signage on the places are as eclectic as the variety of people you'll meet on Hawthorne. Hawthorne Vintage, there on the right, has a hand-done sign that is just fun with its funky type and bouncing color balls. Timbuktunes World Music has a mashup with type inspired by Art Deco, purple and green colors, going for tradition and non-tradition all in one fell swoop – and somehow, despite having two colors that you don't think would work together, they do. The CPA office on the far left – the type and presentation is staid and boring, but you don't want to be entertained by your CPA. You want them to be dependable, expected, and expert.

I know the type is hard to see in the photo. Go down there maybe and enjoy the atmosphere in person, yes? Maybe I'll be getting better photographs later on.

Finally, just a mysterious two-storefront building immediately west of that:

Isn't that wonderfully anonymous? The paint, put on for the sake of argument; the architectural touches, which suggest Art Deco; if you get up close, the transom-level windows have this wonderful frosted rippled glass which you used to find everywhere. Nothing special about this, but everything wonderful. This little building really captured my imagination.

All of the above can be found on upper Hawthorne Blvd between SE 47th and 48th Avenues.

Gloomy late afternoons in Portland, Oregon. Definitely nothing like them anywhere else.

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[pdx] New Street Blades Sighted: SE 47th And Hawthorne

2187.Another new street blade set, picture-perfect, SE 47th Avenue and Hawthorne Blvd, by the Hawthorne Vision Clinic. Type face: that beautiful, sophisticated Clearview:

What really caught my eye is the tracking along the whole of the specific and the directional. The letterspacing on this sign is, while not being immaculate, about as close to perfect as I've seen on one of the new breed of street blade. Also, the line-spacing (leading) between the 1500 and Blvd is appropriate. The display seems very un-forced. All the type in this blade lives where it's supposed to. God is indeed in His Heaven.

And, for the numbered avenue:

Not bad, either, though there's more space between the directional and the specific than there is between the specific and the generic (notice how the 'Th' superscript seems to invade the space between it and the AV?), making it feel unbalanced.

This is a valuable sighting because we can now have some idea of what this style will look like for the longer street names. I have yet to see what a Martin Luther King Blvd blade (or a Cesar E Chavez Blvd blade, for that matter) look like – those will be the defining example on the long street name.

Speaking of Chavez, no blades are as-of-yet up along Thirty-Ninth Avenue (at least the segment between SE Hawthorne Blvd and East Burnside Street). It's a forlorn hope to think that I'd be the first person to get a picture of it, but it's my forlorn hope.

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06 August 2009

[marketing] WTF Is 230, or, When Viral Marketing Is Just Fricking Annoying

2186.So, you and me and everyone we know have seen the cryptic ads. An electrical outlet afloat in an endless sea of green. A peppy jingly tune that's kind of catchy. As the numbers "3" then "2" bumble into the screen and bump the outlet aside, it animates into a face, which is startled, then smiling, then winks at you as the numbers "8 • 11" materialize below.

And that's all you know about it. You've Googled 'til you're blue in the fingers; you've actually had to slow down your acquisition of the movie Knowing via BitTorrent and completely stop downloading internet pr0n, you're so obsessed.

Ad Age has some meat for us: the power behind the campaign seems to be General Motors. The debut of whatever it is on 11 August might be a hybrid car with an MPG rating of 230 – or it might not. Unless it is or, of course, it isn't. Though it probably is.

Who knows? Who cares?.

Take it as a mark of suspicion on my part that the link to the above Ad Age article comes via a blog calling itself http://whatis230.blogspot.com, a blog whose URL is conveniently similar to the meme's information-free homepage, http://whatis230.com, and just-as-conveniently anonymous.

God, I've begun to be tired of viral marketing. The fact that this campaign is spinning its wheels, kind of, as a viral phenom and that it's really seeming to irk people is comfort – but cold comfort. G4's Attack of the Blog:

But what happens if a viral campaign is just so mysterious that it leaves the public completely confused? Today we're marking the creepy "What Is 230" campaign as this week's Actual Moments in De-Evolution, since the empty website, complete lack of information (despite all the Googling you can do) and annoying presence on Hulu, baseball games, Twitter and billboards everywhere goes to show that sometimes being a little too cutting edge in marketing can send you back to the Dark Ages.

Hey, 230 people. Slow down. Evolve on the same speed as the rest of us. Your viral campaign isn't working because we're only spreading the confusion rather than hype over a new product. And the lack of hints just makes us tired of trying to figure this thing out.

So what is 230? No idea. Some people are speculating a new hybrid vehicle debuting in August 2010 or August 11th, smart people believe it's connected to the American electric grid and others (like me) are predicting the zombie apocalypse via electrical outlets. Beware the electric undead!

Now, I'm not really that much against viral marketing, if you make it entertaining enough, and don't make it kind of an insult to the intelligence. I've bitched to my friends for years about his compulsion we have to make everything an advertising opportunity. But a viral marketing campaign done well, just like any other art form done well, is a thing of beauty (I'm not necessarily the audience for every advertisement out there but I do enjoy it when an ad campaign is executed with deft hands).

This is not a viral campaign done well. It smacks of the same sort of cynicism that I sensed behind the misguided campaign I heard of a few years back to turn Showgirls into a cult-party movie, complete with people dressing the part of thier favorite character. It was call smug, clever artifice. And right now, GM is patting itself on the back, smugly congratulating itself.

Me, as well as you and everyone we know, have been viral-advertised to death. We've seen clever and we've seen cleverer. This is what they call in the Empire too clever by half. What viral marketers need to begin understanding is that we all know that you are trying to get us to deliver to you some of our time and attention – two things that once we give up, we don't get back. If you're going to divert our attention with viral ads, make them good. Acknoweledge our intellect. Don't just toss out a catch phrase, mystifying visuals, info-free websites, and anthropomorphic smiles. If you're going to bury the treasure, make it findable, otherwise – we'll just get kinda pissed off at you.

I mean, already I'm feeling herded. How do I now that they didn't want some irritated, little-read blogger to write about it? But I do have a strong feeling about this. And if you think about it, how do I know that the WhatIs230 blog wasn't simply set up by someone in GM's marketing arm? How do I know that they didn't get Ad Age to contact the right people? How do you know that I didn't do this at GM's behest?

Well, I'd tell you that I'm not making any money off this. Believe me. I'm still struggling.

But we get advertised at so much, how do we trust anyone anymore?

Do you see where I'm going with this?

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05 August 2009

[pdx] Una acte gratuite

2185.The exploit in guerilla gardening ending, not with a bang, but a sense of resignation by the employee sent to remove the garden.

As David Loftus details here, he was on the scene at 8 AM on Monday, and by 8:15 AM, the garden was gone, removed by an employee of City Center Parking/Downtown Development Group that comported themselves with something resembling a sense of honor.

The plot was apparently planted by some college sociology class that was trying to make a point in some way somehow. How they were going to do that by planting a boulevard-strip garden and stepping back to let whatever happen, happen kind of escapes me, but remember, I'm a prole. Sometimes I just don't "get" these sorts of things.

David took a few pictures and handled it with utmost aplomb.

Why do it, even though the removeal of the garden was essentially a fait accompli? Well, as David says at the end of his article:

To paraphrase Tertullian's line about faith, I acted because it was futile.

In a world full of powerful interests hoping to make us all into consumers and spectators, it's essential to act and speak.

Otherwise, you're not learning and growing; you're just opening your mouth for someone else's spoons.

Capisce, my friends? This is kind of what it could mean to be an actual human.

Your next responses to your own reality are left as an exercise for the reader.

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[art] "Where I Write": Kyle Cassidy Shows You Where Writers Create Worlds

2184.Anyone who creates has their happy space. I call mine my studio, even though it's more of an office, because not only do I write there I sometimes draw and sometimes paint.

Kyle Cassidy shows you, through photos, where some of the most well-known authors create what they do. As someone who has a happy place, they all feel right and proper and good and the photos feel comfortable. He's creating a series called Where I Write, and if you just wonder what some authors look like, it's something to see.

Joe Haldeman, writing in the early morning by candle-and-lamplight,
by Kyle Cassidy. Used with Permission.

What will you see? Ben Bova, happy in an ordered space with just enough clutter and model planes. Michael Swanwick, looking as though he were frozen in enthusiastic dance. Samuel R. Delaney, in fish-eye view, looking like he's at the center of a claustrophobic space about to explode (I felt rather the same way after I finally worked my way through Dhalgren). Joe Haldeman (pictured), writing by candle- and lantern-light in the early hou of the day in longhand in sketchbooks. Some writers use computers, some don't. But everything about them suggests that these are their happy places, the sort of place which is so personalized (and so lined with books/tapes/CDs/personal trinkets) that to enter such a place probably gets the juices flowing.

Kyle has lined up twenty authors so far, and is on the hunt for more. He'll be at WorldCon looking up some more (I'm, of course, hoping he gets Harlan Ellison). Word is that there is eventually a book to be out of this, and I'm looking forward to that.

The address to explore is http://whereiwrite.org. Kyle's site is http://kylecassidy.com.

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[pdx] New Street Blades In SE and SW, and We Suggest A Transitional Form

2183.More new street blades out and about; this time we find the new format in SW Portland, in the Johns Landing area.

The area called Johns Landing is found along the Willamette River on the left bank, south of the new condo desert of SoWa. It centers on the venerable WaterTower shopping center and is served by both SW Macadam Avenue and SW Corbett Avenue; Macadam is, of course, the main road between Portland City Center and Lake Oswego City Center. Some of Portland's most notable broadcasters are also in this area, espcially notable is PDX's Clear Channel cluster, KEX, KPOJ, and others in the studio building in the 5000 block of Macadam.

SW Richardson Ct is the 5100 block, and here's a picture of that assembly.

The Richardson Court blade looks like it could use a bit of kerning between the S and W in the directional:

… Richardson Street and Court form the 5100 block south of Burnside. The blade for SW Macadam Avenue here missed something though:

… the block index in the upper right hand corner, which should be 0500 at this point. It's omitted from both sides. We've so far seen this at one other intersection in town, SW 57th and Barnes:

… and it frustrates us. We feel that simply because the intersection is a T (and the person on SW Richardson Ct and SW 57th Avenue, respectively, will find it a bad thing to go straight through the intersection) this does not mean that knowing the block of the street you're leaving might not be a useful thing. Especially since, if you proceeded one block south, the corner of SW Mitchell St and Macadam Ave, you'll find an old-style blade assembly with an address block tab on both blades and it, too, is a T intersection, we are led to the conclusion that the omisson of the block index on these blades is just that, an omssion, and we kind of wish it wouldn't happen. Chances for information are really being lost here.

Speaking of old-style blad assemblies, a real good example of one is at the corner of the Water Tower Mall's lot, SW corner of SW Macadam and Boundary Street. Here you go:

There are a couple valuable things to notice about this assembly. With tabs on both blades, one has to be bolted to the bottom of the bottom blade otherwise the top blade will be obscured to the point that the top blade really can't be read at all.

If you've followed me at all, you know how to read this display; if you don't, this article will give you background, and if you've followed me at all, you know that that 0 in the 0500 is important and necessary and this article will tell you about that.

During the documentation of this trend we've noticed the advent of Clearview in the Portland signage with some happiness. We like Clearview a lot. There's a new example up, at SE 60th and Division (the part that goes south from Division which, due to being in a different plat than the part north, jogs:

The new font is visible on the SE 60th blade above, and here's the SE Division Street blade:

I am starating to be sloppy in love with the Clearview font and the way it's being used in street blades. It just looks more sophsiticated. Remember, since Division jogs north a block between 42nd and 82nd Avenues, it's actually the 2400 block, and a short, discontinuous street called SE Windsor Ct amounts to the 2500 block.

Moreover, the sort of blade that the Richardson Ct/Macadam Ave assembly represent seems to be a midpoint between the Classic Style and the New Style, having features of both … the layound and design of the New Style with the letterforms of the old style. We'll dub this the "Transitional Style", because it forms a bridge between the two forms.

Many of these can be seen embiggened at my Posterous stream here.

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03 August 2009

[pdx] Why Is Portland OR Better Than Vancouver BC?

2182.Dave knows.

A half-megabuck for a liquor license in Canadiddia? Who knew?

Also: Unicorns? We haz them!

I'll stack whatever VanBC has to PDX's Unicorn Force any day of the friggn' week!

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02 August 2009

[pdx] Guerilla Gardening Showdown In The Shadow Of City Center Parking

2181.David Loftus is a local writer and performer who, while I've not seen him in performace, I've read his writings sometimes in The Big O and found them most nifty. Also, he's a habitue of the Harlan Ellison message boards, where he writes with a dry yet gentle wit.

Not too long ago, he noticed that someone had, in a strip between a pay-parking lot and the sidewalk near his downtown home that had been a collection point for urban detritus like "weeds, trash, and dog poop", some enterprising fellow downtowner had actually started to grow garden plants. Like tomatoes – chili peppers – eggplant. Food plants.

The tenablilty of the impromptu garden seemed doubtful, so he decided to give them a bit of a hand. Thus, guerilla gardening:

I decided to help 'em out. I borrowed a key from my building's maintenance guy and filled a pair of my own buckets, repeatedly, at one of the exterior spigots along the outer walls of our building, and repeatedly walked diagonally across an intersection to get to the parched greenery. It took five trips, with 2-1/4 gallon buckets, to water them all -- maybe a total of 22 gallons.

With that, an help from other anonymous gardener-American insurgents, the plants actually started to stand a fighting chance. Which, of course, attracted (as it is wont to do) the roving eye of The Man, who has stated that he/she/it will remove the garden – which we must assume has either proved to be either a public health hazard or perhaps has actually assaulted someone – by tomorrow, Monday, 3 August 2009, if the plants aren't transplanted before then.

For his part, David has promised to take a folding chair, a cool drink, a digital camera, and something to read and wait for 'em. He hopes you'll stop by and visit: It's on SW 10th Avenue between Columbia and Clay streets. Get your picture taken with the condemned plants – or help win them a reprieve, who knows?

I mean, c'mon folks – they're vegetables! These are supposed to be good for you! Five servings a day! Work with us here!

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