29 April 2017

[liff] Sightlines Of Salem, Oregon

Yesterday we were in Salem for a momentous life event. More on that anon.

One of the interesting things about Salem is that the layout of the town gives these wonderful sight lines to the Capitol building which is the city's focal point. The really interesting thing is that the geography makes it look like at least a couple of major streets in town terminate at the Capitol while the geography actually deflects them before they get there.

This is the view from Center Street westbound in the neighborhood between 17th St NE and the Oregon State Hospital area:

And the next two are from a POV near the top of the hill on 12th St SE, just north of Madrona Avenue.

That's 12th St receding into the distance. It's a great, pretty view, really. Salem should really sell this sort of thing. It's the kind of thing that goes on posters. Or should.

This is from slightly farther down the hill, and would have been better if I could have held the camera steadier. The angle on the street is much more enticing. 

Salem is just as photogenic as Portland is, but it's a lit shier. You have to go looking for it. 

03 April 2017

[art] Ink: Zoë At Peet's On Couch

The Peet's coffee on NW Couch between 11th and 12th has begun to evolve into a pre-Powell's 'book church' stop for us. The coffee is good and we can get madeleines (most of the time … it was snickerdoodle this last Saturday) which have gone beyond a mere Proustian affectation to become something I have become simply mad about.

You don't have to love A la recerche du temps perdu to love madeleines, and dipped in the front of a salted caramel latte, they're celestially good.

Our barista today was this magnetically affable young woman named Zoë. Eventually, her lower arm tattoos caught my eye, I asked permission to photograph, and she granted this request.

The wide-screen view didn't work out, but the closeups, much better. This first one made me laugh inside because of its sheer irreverence with a dark tinge.

She said it was inspried by The X-Files. The truth is out there; it's that the show is timeless, at least so far. It was the other one that really touched my heart, though, in the best Oregon-emigrant sort of way:

The cartouche curls into the suggestion of an ocean wave. it merges into flora including a palm tree, then incongruously contains a sunrise over an evergreen forest, the skyline dominated by a snow capped mountain reminiscent of Wy'east. She explained this was to honor her homes; where she came from, San Diego, and where she calls home now … Portland.

Now, that's an Oregon-California merger I can get behind. Full of West Coast heart and soul. Delicious artwork, too.

We like Zoë, and we love that branch of Peet's Coffee. Next time you're in there, may we recommend two things: Donsuemor madeleines, and a hello to Zoë. And my thanks for letting me pict her ink. Quite an honor.

01 April 2017

[Wy'East] Springtime Snow-Covered Mt Hood from Division St

The setting is SE Division St in the mid-130s. Heavy Eastside Portland. There, at 136th, just between the Dairy Queen and the Dutch Bros. Coffee drive-through, is a pedestrian overpass.

Deep outer SE Division is a thronging boulevard, the main route into, through, and out the area on your way from Portland to Gresham, Sandy, Welches, Rhododendron, Government Camp, and points east and southeast into central Oregon and the Oregon outback. And, as in much of east Portland, it's a combination of what amounts to Oregon urban sprawl covering a palimpsest of the rural land it was about 50 years ago.

The pedestrian overpass gives a good sweep of what the eastside has become.

Down and to the right you see a set of tiny apartments that used to be a roadside hotel. These days, it's the Swan Court; back in the bad old day, it was the Swanee Motel. It had seen better days even then. Now it's a shabby-ish apartment court, and it's actually much better off that way.

Just east of that there's the pet shop. We've never been in that pet shop.

The red-eaved building just beyond that is the insurance agency of Nick Kondos, one of those strange, insurance-agent names you see around town like Billy Grippo.

The pale monolith in the distance is the sign for the Division Fred Meyer store. That's out at 148th Avenue, so that's about three-quarters of a mile off.

Looming above all this is our fair-haired sentinel, boastful of a cap of snow that, this year, at least, is more snow than average.  Of all the things we have to worry about this year, at least a drought summer isn't one of them.

You count your blessings these days.

21 March 2017

[print] The Oregonian To Cease Publishing "This Week"

This Week, the mid-week advertising circular published for about a decade now by The Oregonian, Oregon's largest newspaper, is soon to be no more.

The rubric has been worn by more than one publication in the greater Portland area over the last two and a half decades. During the 1990s, This Week was a light news and advertising tabloid published by a concern based in Wilsonville whose name escapes me. There wasn't much in it other than a ton of ads, but what was there was pretty good. There was a weekly column about Portland and Portland history called "Round The Roses" by Karl Klooster (fortunately these have been collected into books which are probably available at Powells) that was memorable and readable.

This Week expired sometime around the turn of the 21st Century. Eventually The Oregonian picked it up for its mid-week ad circular, which was rounded out with what they termed "The Best of FoodDay", The Oregonian's mid-week culinary section. FoodDay, to our eyes, had an uneven history over the years: It would start strong and then dwindle off as fewer and fewer interesting things got put in and it became more devoted to trend-chasing rather than exploring the culinary landscape. Over time, though, the This Week, under The Big O's auspice just kind of slowly dwindled away. Lately it's just been a plea to subscribe, sometimes with an interesting article from the Food section of The Oregonian but just as likely with something put in from a national news service or The Washington Post and half a page devoted to an adult coloring book panel.

In view of the wasting away of This Week, the edition we got today amounts to pretty much a mercy-killing:

TW was, interestingly enough, a broadsheet, the last broadsheet publication The Oregonian issued. Typically there was a big ol' Bi-Mart ad, and that was useful. So, if there's any real victim here, I'd say it would be Bi-Mart.

But if you want what little TW had to offer, you'll just have to plump for an edition of The O. And so that goes.

Though it could have ranged from four to eight pages at its height, it was only one rather stiff sheet now, as it has been for a while. The back looked like this:

A recipe for madeleines, sourced, as it would happen, from The Washington Post, an appeal to subscribe to the Fun Size Oregonian, and as much of what we oldies used to call "the want ads" as they could fit in. But, here's a thing: let's zoom in on the madeleines recipe, shall we?

It was written by Dorie Greenspan, special to The Washington Post (I guess that means she's a stringer) and is brief history of the French cake-biscuit, complete with some interpretation of the shell-shape (an homage to religious pilgrims who used the scallop shell as a badge) and the obligatory, if awkwardly-worded and inaccurate reference to Proust (referring to a short paragraph in 'one of the 20th century novelist's long books, 'Remembrance of Things Past''), paired with a tempting recipe for her own coffee-and-cinnamon inflected version (which sounds tempting to me, but probably is a horror to a purist). No worries for the tradtionalist, though; the traditional madeleine is recapitulated in that final paragraph, though amusingly noted as a 'variation'.

So, in the final edition of This Week, the only original local content is a big front-page thing telling you that this was the last This Week. The rest, they got from somewhere else, which is kind of an exegisis of the state of Portland media to me, these days. It used to be so colorful.

But then, I realized a thing. The last valuable bit of information imparted by this publication was a French baked delight famous for triggering memories that recover unremembered memory. Could the layout artist be sending a bittersweet message here?

When it comes to Portland media, most of the best is a remembrance of things past.

Abysinnia, This Week.

And so it goes.

18 March 2017

[logo] A New Logo And Type Look for Salem's Transit

I follow the news with the mass transit agency serving the greater Salem area, Cherriots. Mostly it's in the 'how much of it they got' department; having grown up in the Salem area, it was my ride around town for a great deal of my high school experience. It connected me with high-school and a good many things around my erstwhile and doughty home town, and it seemed to be more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of funding than the other two major systems I was then familiar with, the Lane Transit District and TriMet, whose service I always envied because in Eugene and Portland the buses ran later and they had transit on Sundays. I survived hour-long waits on Saturdays, buses that quit running around 7 PM, and at least one major service cutback (during the late 70s the service, which was then a function of the City of Salem, was curtailed back to within the city limits only, where formerly it had gone just beyond. We Salem fringers living along Lancaster Driver and in the Four Corners area missed it mightily until the Hamman jitneys came along, but that's all a story for another time).

Then Salem-Keizer Transit established its district, service returned to the Salem urban fringe, and I left town to see the greater world, in more or less that order. Latterly, Cherriots has had to cut Saturday service because revenue but has been extremely clever in using what they had to best effect, constantly rethinking service and how to deliver it. It's been an impressive story so far, and if Salem-Keizer Transit ever gets the funding I think they deserve, with the agency's creativity, Salem could someday have world-class mass transit for a city its size.

Since the 80s, the agency has had an informally-styled script logo with a visual pun on the name, which looked like this:

The o being styled into an abstract cherry and the name itself are all puns on a somewhat forgotten-by-now nickname for the capital, the Cherry City, Salem's cherry orchards once having been a great draw to the area in the spring. The Oregon Statesman and, for a short time, its successor, the Statesman-Journal, published suggested driving tour routes when those trees were in bloom.

Slowly infiltrating the agency's public presence and by now its printed and PDF collateral, has been this new look:

Featuring a hip, bold sans-serif font with some weight to it (which reminds me of the font used by C-Tran in Vancouver), the logo expresses a very mission-driven agency which is visualized by the sweeping curves both concentric on and emanating from the enlarged initial capital, which quite obviously evoke a high-speed highway.

The brand has been simplified; gone is the tagline Salem-Keizer Transit, it's simply CHERRIOTS now, and the simplicity combined with the sturdy, bold type gives a real visual strength and presence. The sweeping abstract highway provides dynamic tension in the way it emerges from above the C and in the way it ends on a cut-off angle. Gone also is the bright dash of red filling an o stylized into a cherry, a feature of the system's logo since its inception.

The brand is also going region-wide. Up until now, the division of Cherriots that provided rural transit service to Marion and Polk counties has been known as CARTS, an initialism that stood for Chemeketa Area Regional Transit System, whose logo wasn't much to speak of. CARTS is being rebranded as Cherriots Regional and being brought under the brand's banner.

The new graphic look hasn't emerged on the website but it appears to be on all digital and PDF collateral, including service advisory graphics as well as schedules, and presumably printed matter as well.

Bottom line here for me is that this is a fairly cool, modern look for a transit agency that hasn't changed much graphically in long time and stands comfortably alongside the other major transit agencies in the Willamette Valley; it's a refined, poised, and serious presence. As I read the current news about Cherriots, I get the impression that they are, at least in spirit, trying to lay the foundation for a fully-grown up transit system to serve Salem, maybe one that will at last have buses on Sunday. The logo fits an agency who is trying to level itself up into the next-generation system for Oregon's state capital city.

Those who liked the splash of red in a stylize cherry will have to make their own peace with that.

17 March 2017

#WyEast: Mt Hood, Cloud Fire Backlit Morning

The sunrise was particularly red today, lengthened as it was by the high overcast. Near I-205 and Killingsworth St, on the edge of Parkrose, it was particularly florid.

When it goes this way, there are those brilliant opalescent clouds that catch the rays and light into bright fire. The cloud snagging the top of Hood, particularly poignant.

Meanwhile, from Rossi Farms along 122nd, the sunlight was doing its best to fan out from behind Larch Mountain.

… and, as the sun rose up above the overhead deck, it illuminated the volcano like a golden searchlight.

14 March 2017

#PDX_liff : Meditation On The Blanding-Out Of Old Portland

The closing of The Third Eye Shoppe has catalyzed a lot of observations into a clear picture of evolution and how things pass along during the years. Change is constant, and change is also bittersweet; you roll with the changes but the changes, sometimes, have no intention of rolling with you, indeed they are indifferent. And there is a little world-pain that comes with that. I suppose that it's something one much just acknowledge as best as they can and be as foxy and clever and find ways to be tenable in the evolved landscape.

I remember when me and Wife were new-again to Portland after spending a few years in Corvallis. We exploited every opportunity we could get to go downtown. Downtown was funky back then. They even had an Arctic Circle with a great view of Pioneer Courthouse Square (prole burgers and fries with a perch for the best people watching in town? Damn skippy!) There was a 'Dollar Chinese Food' place, a steam-table restaurant, in the first floor of the Portland Medical Center building at SW 10th and Washington. Django Records. Art Media for art supplies. Metro on Broadway at SW Broadway and Taylor, sort of a food-court-without-a-mall-attached.

Downtown has been sanitized and de-funked. When they wanted it as a live-in neighborhood, apparently they only wanted people earning north of $75K a year down there. Me and Wife fancy a trip downtown to see if there's anything interesting down there, but I think we know in the back of our minds there's nothing really worth going to any more.

Now, it's Hawthorne. Time was there wasn't a week where we didn't find some excuse to go down Hawthorne. Jambo World Crafts, Dollar Scholar, Muse Art + Design, those were our three regular stops, there was the big raggle taggle used bookstore at SE 33rd that morphed into a vintage shop, Murder By the Book, The Daily Grind, so much that was funky and welcoming. The only thing that would attract us anymore would maybe be Powell's on Hawthorne (actually eager to see how that's building out), and Zach's Shack and Pepinos (they always had the most fabulous steak and potato burritos). But Hawthorne is going the way of downtown, losing all move, groove, and attitude, and if the social push-out of the lower middle- and lower class out to Outer East wasn't real to any one yet, why, it should be now.

Old Portland can still be found, multicolored and funky, out 122nd way, out in what the kids call 'The Numbers' … for a while, anyhow. 

[pdx] Hawthorne To Lose A Little More Funk: Goodbye to The Third Eye Shoppe

It's gettin' tough out there, campers. This just in from Willamette Week: The Third Eye Shoppe, one of Portland's granddaddies of the funky culture that used to rule Hawthorne, is also going away:

Third Eye Shoppe, one of the city's oldest head shops, will close at the end of the month.This morning, shop owner Mark Herer, son of late cannabis legend Jack Herer, who co-founded Third Eye Shoppe in 1987, sent a text message to their glassblowers and vendors to announce that their last day in business will be March 31.

It was a head shop and sold a lot of custom, functional glass, but they had all sorts of psychedelia, posters, t-shirts, and incense. We stopped there a couple of times for the incense because The Wife™ is an incense nut.

They're going to have a big, funky, stupid party the last week of business, and if that's your sort of thing you might want to stop on by. Follow the link to the article in the pull-quote, or just visit

The blanding of Hawthorne Blvd continues, we fear.

Facebook 'em at https://www.facebook.com/ThirdEyeShoppe/.

13 March 2017

[type] Futuracha: The Auto-ligature-spawning Cockroach-inspired Font Everyone's Talking About

Futuracha Pro is sweeping the design world right now, and it's easy to see why. The font design combines elements of history, nature, and whimsy … in short, it's font design at the top of its form, and its most effective.

The font, designed by the designer Odysseas Galinos Paparounis of Greek creative agency høly, was originally available as a font that could be used mainly in graphic design and layout apps, not as a font for the people at large. That's in the process of changing, of which more anon.

The font grew out of Paparounis' obsession with Futura Pro and a sharp eye for nature. As told by HuffPo:

Futura, Paparounis told HuffPost in an email, had become “something like an obsession” during his graphic designer studies. When he was tasked with creating a typeface as a class assignment, he found himself examining two Caribbean cockroaches he was using for an illustration class. Inspired by “the antennae and thorns on their feet,” he garnished the Futura framework with rounded spurs and swooping ligatures.

The design world already seems in love with Futuracha Pro, and the originators have correctly deduced there's a huge demand for a font with swooping nature-inspired swashes that change as you type it. The effort to bring it to an OpenType version anyone can install, powered by IndieGogo, has three days left in the campaign at the time of this writing, and of a $4,000 goal, over $68,000 has been raised.

The IndieGogo campaign is at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/futuracha-pro-design#/. There are pictures of Futuracha Pro works that will be visible for a time after the campaign concludes; the swooping swashes lend themselves to much design other that merely displays and titles.

The idea of a font changing as you set the type isn't a new one, though Futuracha's implementation is fairly joyous and innovative. This reminds us of Ed Interlock, an OpenType font with various ligatures and swashes created by Ed Benguiat and inspired by 60s TV title design. This would be a further evolution of this thought.

The appeal to nature, however, is particularly bracing, fun, and sets this interesting design well apart from the rest.

12 March 2017

[art] Arttist & Craftsman Supply: New Kid On The PDX Art Store Block

Our Saturday art-storin' peramubulations gave us a chance to check out a new kid in town.

Artist & Craftsman Supply is an art-supply store, thought the name might throw you off a bit; it sounds like a boutique-y name for a boutique-y Home Depot variant. But it is an art-supply store, I'm happy to say. One look at the front should clue just about anyone.

Decorated in vibrant designs resonant of 1960s 'Op-art', its tucked away on SE 21st Avenue just north of and on the other side of the street from Fred Meyer's home office, which is just south of SE Powell Boulvard. To find it, turn south off Powell at the Plaid pantry at the light at 21st (just west of Powell Park and Cleveland High School, just east of the railroad underpass) and look for it on the right. You'll have a hard time missing it.

A&C isn't a local company, though it is based in Portland … the one in Maine … and they do seem to be on a nationwide expansion kick lately. Its story is kind of interesting though. As the corporate legend has it, Larry Adlerstein was a renovation professional and in 1985 his mate was let go from her job. He took a renovated structure he had available in Yarmouth, Maine and they started an art supply store there, and it apparently took the name Artist & Craftsman because she was the first one and he was the second one. It apparently did well; in 1995 they moved it to Portland where it did even better. He enjoyed having he store but in the mid-90s big money started to move into the art supply world and from his point of view the way to survive was to grow. That led to A&C's second store … in Seattle, which if you're growing from Portland in Maine, well, you don't have to be a Forbes subscriber to know that's taking a huge chance. Now, in 2017, there are more than 30 stores nationwide (there are not one but two in our Portland, the other in North Portland at the corner of N Lombard St and N Atlantic Avenue (that's just west of the light at Denver) and as of the end of 2016, it's now a 100% employee-owned store.

Walking into the place we had our expectations. I was hoping there was Preppy fountain pens, of course, but there were none, however, they had a good supply of just about everything else. Drawing, painting, all sorts of media, papers … I even saw a wall display of yarn. Notable about the store was what I call the 'impluse purchase' section closer to the front; they have a surprisingly diverse selection of merchandise such as the kind Blue Q produces.

The clerks were nice, friendly, and quite helpful. Being a chain, you'll have to make up your mind how you feel about that, Portlander; but being an employee-owned business goes a long way with some of us, me included. I would come here to see if I couldn't find something that I couldn't find anywhere else, or if a favorite source is closed.

And sections of the front wall are back-album-cover worthy:

It's a nice place. Worth a visit.

[art] I've Been Framed, March 2017

We began patronizing I've Been Framed, the funky art-supply store and custom framing shop, back in 2003, when I was shopping for a number of art supplies for graphic design school

I found an unopened, untouched box of DaVinci gouache for, while I don't recall the exact price, a very very good deal. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Over the years we've paid innumerable visits (and there have been some, one including a cat by the name of Jordie, documented by myself here) and have never fallen out of love. It's like walking into a color explosion, or maybe a tie-dye world. If IBF doesn't have it, then you probably don't need it. They have blank books for cheap, to continue to feed my diary jones.

Its combination of new and used supplies gives it a gallmaufry atmosphere, which is a most wonderful thing, what with things being as they are. You may have your mental-health days. Mine, you'll find me here.

The art being supported by the ladykin is one of my favorite things, and it always makes me smile whenever I see it. It was living in the back for a while, and now it's up front for a while, and I almost laughed out loud when I saw it.

The store goes back for a ways. Packed as always, an explosion of color, and back all the way to the back wall and you go left is a wall full of graphite drawing supplies, more than you'd need, including Blackwings. also, even farther back, the custom framing.

In a world where Art Media sells out to Blick and Muse goes away, if you needed an idea of why I've Been Framed is important and remains so, it's that this crazy gem has been going at it for more than 60 years now … and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Other places may have the supplies, but when it comes to sheer character and pesonality, none tops I've Been Framed.

I felt brighter just for having stepped in.

Thanks for being there, guys. And staying there.

[Wy'East] Mount Hood, Overwhemed In Snow

Under a low ceiling of clouds, hiding the peak, is Mount Hood still in winter garb:

The weather forecasters on the PDX stations, notably Matt Zaffino (who is one of the weathercasters I'd most want to be caught in a crisis with) tell us that Wy'east now us covered in a base that measures 180 inches or more. This last week it was also revealed that we've had forty inches of rain this year thus far. That means if the rainy season stopped now, we'd not be in a deficit the rest of the year, so, though the year holds much to be apprehensive about, at least a drought, for the time being, isn't one of them.

[liff] Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley

Barry Blitt's brilliant satirical retro-look at a present through a crack'd New Yorker mascot darkly finally made it out here to the North West Frontier Provinces, courtesy of the Multnomah County Library:

I laughed out loud when I saw it online. The reality is stellar. Blitt's done something historic and it'll probably be remembered long after the Truth and Reconciliation commission gavels closed.

The New Yorker talks Blitt and Vlad and Tilley: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/cover-story-2017-03-06

06 March 2017

[art] A Motivational Self-Study Short Course: "Do More With Your Art" By Peter Rossing

In the previous missive I shared some of my thoughts and feelings about the permanent closing of Muse Art and Design, the Hawthorne area art supply store that has delightfully taken some of our disposable income over the past twelve years.

I may have gotten a little lachyrmose about it, but it was that good. 

I'd like to share a little something with the world. Peter Rossing, the owner, had as one of his missions to give little talks, a way of fulfilling the store's mission of equipping, informing and inspiring, All artists, may we be working or aspiring, need two essential things to get going: inspiration and motivation. My problem, for an embarassingly-long time, was that I would confuse and conflate the two, eventually thinking that inspiration is all I need to create.

That's bull. I live in Portland, Oregon, perhaps one of the most inspirational places known to artistic people. Also, there are no shortage of publications exhorting my attention: look at this! Truly, this is inspiring! What can you create, now that you've seen this?

Well, I can create whatever I want. But knowing I can create and getting moving on creating, why, those are, after all, two different things. I must have nearly 1,000 pounds of books about insipiring me to create art. Very few on getting the motor actually running.

What I'm going to share with you now is the notes from a talk Peter and Muse gave on the 23rd of February, 2015, two years ago. The title is Do More With Your Art in 2015, and it's a short course on separating inspiration and motivation and how to nurture motivation in a world that's all about inspiration. I love this document, and as I continue the pitched battle to create habits that are about self-indulgently creating good (or any) art rather than just self-indulgence, this is a touchstone that I return to time and again. It contains a couple of self-guided exercises and a handful of good suggestions, a list of references for further exploration, and a chart of checkboxes that represent two years of days (every time you do something creative, put an x in the box and you'll have a trajectory). It's not hard! All you have to do is bring yourself, your brain, a few minutes of your time (it's only 11 pages) and a bit of honesty.

One major reason I made sure to stop by Muse is to visit Peter one last time and thank him. Another important one? To get his permssion to share this file. Muse Art and Design may no longer be with us, but with this, we can make sure its spirit of Equip, Inform, Inspire remain as though it still were.

Inspire yourself to motivation with this document, a PDF, which is on my Google Drive, here:


[liff] Muse Art and Design: Goodbye, Farewell, So Long.

It's hard, on the heels of that sorting out of what the knowledge of the demise of the Corvallis Gazette-Times's wonderful former headquarters building has done to my personal psyche, but now I have to face the knowledge that one of our favorite bright spots in this world, the mighty Muse Art and Design, at 4220 SE Hawthorne Blvd, is gone now, too.

Well, is going. In the process of closing. My heart is broken.

I got the email, as many on the email list did, at the end of last week. Sudden, it seemed; stunned, I was.

Muse opened back in 2004 in the space immediately adjacent to this, at 4224 SE Hawthorne. It's a new-jack old-fashioned barber shop now. The space that they were now in, 4220, was a vintage shop called Shadowhouse. Muse came in and opened up the light and what was a bright spot to us before became even a brighter spot now, well lit, with well-priced supplies we would go back to again and and again, and the same sweet, friendly people.

I made several mentions here in the past of our love of Muse and the people who ran it and the artists who would come by occasionally for a demo or a talk. They will remain cherished memories. But there will be no further. An old beloved favorite is leaving us.

Where there were once art supplies to buy, there is space.

Peter Rossing, whom
we shall extremely miss
I understand the demand for the clearance merchandise was huge. Peter Rossing, the proprietor and hero of our tale, was quite surprised at the number of people who came in on Thursday, which may have been the first real day of the sale. By the time me and The Wife™ arrived, it was only Sunday, but the place had been gone through pretty well. I was hoping to score a black book or two, but those were gone with the wind. There was still quite a few paints - oil, acrylic, and watercolor - also a lot of pastels, but most of the drawing paper was gone, the sketchbooks, graphite and ink drawing supplies, all conspicuous by their absences.

I had to stifle more than one sob, which is corny, but I'm not going to lie about that.

There were some woodless pencils left. I scored several HBs and 2Bs. I don't need much else. Wife got some acrylic colors and some of the POS displays, including a mechanical pencil merchandiser on a pivot.

This really causes me some interior displacement. Art supply shops are some of the happiest, brightest places I can think of. One of the peak experiences of my weeks are visiting art supply stores with my wife; the feeling of well-being art supplies give me is hard to put into words. The two which occupied complementary places in my heart are, of course, the eternal I've Been Framed, and Muse. I loved both of them because of their complementary souls. IBF is like the raggle-taggle gypsy, the tie-dyed Grateful Dead fan, always surprising, just wanting to get you what it was you wanted and the funky style wasn't so much curated as it was evolved. It's the most casual, kind experience you can have. Muse, on the other hand, had a restrained, refined style and poise. Both served the Portland artist community with the same sort of "get busy with your art" passion that has made that community such a vibrant thing.

With Muse, it was a slogan: To equip, inform and inspire.

What will be my most treasured memory about Muse? Knowing I could always depend on getting Preppy fountain pens there? The transformative seminar in February 2015, about the difference between art inspiration and motivation which has finally (after two years, my brain moves slow) enabled me to grasp that it wasn't inspiration I needed, but I was starved on motivation? That time when Bwana Spoons did his demo? Getting to know Vaughn Barker and his little women? That time the fellow who was looking to get a treasured volume of DosPassos repaired and told me the story of Rosa Luxembourg's visit to Portland and the way DosPassos and Hemingway ended their friendship over the way Hemingway regarded the victims of the Spanish Civil War? Or will it be the endless chats me and my wife had with Peter and his staff about art materials, the art store business, small talk about the day, and how goddamned nice they all were?

It'll all be treasured. Because we won't have it again, at least not at Muse.

Muse moved into 4220 about six years ago. One of the improvements to the landscaping was six curved stepping stones arranged into a circle; colored yellow, green, purple, blue, red, orange. A color wheel. And in the middle, a big circle of white gravel. Walking past it always ignited a frisson of happiness in me; I knew that, whether or not I walked out of Muse with a purchase, I was about to pay a visit to friends, and it would be a happy thing.

This is the color wheel today. Sic transit gloria Muse. 

They were friends as well as vendors, and, for a little bit anyway, the old maxim don't be sad because it's over, be glad because it happened and you were there rings a bit hollow. At least we still have I've Been Framed. They aren't going to be leaving us any time soon, or at least it doesn't seem that way.

We visited them in the beginning, and we were there at the end: RIP Muse Art and Design, as Portland as it gets: 2004-2017.

I hope I cross Peter's path again. He sure is a swell fellow.

05 March 2017

[liff] It Really Got Underway When I Found Out They Tore Down The Old Corvallis Gazette-Times Building

Firstly, and at the outset, I'd like to make it utterly crystal clear that I'm not here to cast aspersions or tell the newspaper business how to run its business … well, not necessarily. I am, after all, a prole. I go to what work there is, do what work has to be done, and come home to my anxiety-ridden, yet cozy-if-not-entirely-comfortable-and-without-pitfalls life.

But you know how, once you past a point, you start to recognize, since you can no longer ignore it, how things you took for granted and for constant had actually changed out of all recognition? Become things you no longer recognize? There is a point. We all remember it, like that legendary moment when we're all at a iconic disaster and you're saying to each other yeah, you know you never forget where you were when. 

There was a before, and there was an after.

Before, at 600 SW Jefferson Avenue in Corvallis, Oregon, was the headquarters of a fondly-remembered part of a younger life. Twice in my life I've called Corvallis home. It's a pretty town, located in a lovely place. Of the major northwestern Oregon cities, it's the only one that is not hung off I-5 like a bead on a string, however, because of Oregon State University, drawing students from all over the world, the sophistication of a much larger town always seemed to be in the woof of the town's fabric. And, while being Oregon's Ag college, there is a great deal of tech research going on there, so before the internet was that big a thing, it was a cinch getting a internet login there.

Those of you who did online in the 1990s who know the name 'jacobs.orst.edu' would know what I mean. So, it was off the beaten path but it was a pleasant size and not too far away from everything. Corvallis remains pleasant to this day.

Screenshot of the article you can find here.
During the day, the daily paper was (and still is) the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Being a newspaper devotee, a habit borne of long practice, I loved that paper. It was a good size for the town and hit all the high spots; what I remember most was the fairly-cracking good writing of the editorial page editor, Wendy Madar. The paper itself was house in a solid, understate building bounded by SW 6th and 7th Streets and SW Jefferson and Adams Avenues. It was just west of downtown, a building of red brick and gray concrete, a welcoming little courtyard in front where there were benches for anyone to use, a tree-shaded park-like setting, and a big front porch with the words Gazette-Times in newspaper-masthead black letter in iron over the front of that. It was the sort of building that expected to be around a while.

A cherished memory is going into the lobby, in front of the newsroom, and to the left, there was a rack with a number of recent papers there. Anybody could go and peruse them, and several times, I did. I remember the newsroom, with that quiet hubbub of people getting news things done. All that is in a capsule in my mind.

Back in November, whether it was before or after The Election I don't recall, but I got one of those little frissons of 'wonder what that's doing right now', you all know the kind, and I go looking through Google Earth to get a view of the old building. And I see that there is a Corvallis-sized city block of scraped earth there. And that stunned me for a very long time.

The G-T building in 2012. Google Street View.
I have studied the history of the building a bit. It was built in the 1970s, back when the paper was still a family-run operation, owned by the Ingalls family. The publisher, Robert Ingalls, wanted a new building that would give the paper room to survive and thrive. He was thinking of the future, but maybe not the future we all got, where media owners went from many owning many to just a few owning the many; eventually, the G-T got bought by Lee and went from being the Albany Democrat-Herald's competitor to its partner. Eventually, printing equipment, circulation staff, the whole nine-yards moved east to Albany. 600 SW Jefferson became too big to keep. And so it was sold. And demolished. In the year 2015, 104 years after the founding of the paper. The article about it can be read here.

The G-T is now in a leased office in a corner of an older strip-shopping center in the 1800 block of NW Circle Blvd in Corvallis. Just reporters and editorial staff and management. Doesn't require much space, I guess. Look, I get it; the business is changing, they can't support the old physical plants; it's all about content, all media organizations have to make money. I get it. Really I do. But when I found that the G-T's urbane, lovely city center headquarters was now really just a storefront in a North Corvallis shopping center, my heart, already broken by the self-consumption of The Oregonian and the blanding of the once-vibrant Portland radio scene, got broke into a few more pieces, and I couldn't ignore that things had started to change into something I didn't really want to see any more.

Another thing I get is that change will happen, models will evolve, change, and disappear. I get that, too. What I wish didn't have to happen, however, was that not only the new is embraced, but the good part of the old gets shunned. I said it when The Oregonian moved out of 1320 SW Broadway; edifices matter. When it comes to media such as newspapers, they matter. When you move your century-plus local newspaper - a newspaper, I'll remind, that celebrated its centernary back in 2009 with a birthday party that included a dapper character re-enacting the coin flip that chose the order the then-newly merged paper's combined name would go in - to a small leased office on the north side of town, certainly that reflects current realities. They are what they are, regardless of how regrettable that might seem.

What bothers me is that it may also reflect a future with diminished, narrowed horizons, a future where we're all thankful we're doing as well as we are because we could be doing so much worse.

It's hardly a part of my life, but I'm mourning it. Which should tell you a great deal about me, I guess, somehow, in a way.

The Gazette-Times' building's demise was documented in a scene that can still be viewed by all and sundry at http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/local/gallery-gazette-times-demolition/collection_e13be39e-d06b-5f11-ae4b-228715d1bcd6.html

There was a before, and there is an after.

Welcome to after.

22 February 2017

[PDX_liff] The Temporary Lakes We Grow Out Here

A local friend and author, Cyn Ley, gave me permission to share this with you all … here in Outer East Portlandia, and especially with the glandular rainfalls we've been getting lately, for being an area nowhere near a creek or a brook or a stream, we seem to have our share of seasonal lakes in streets and parking lots (and basements) and some pretty cockamamie reasons for them occurring …

Every time it rains significantly, the parking lot of our local Post Office develops a lake. No small seasonal depression, this; this miracle of Nature is at least a foot deep, and will most happily dampen your axles as well as your mood. Known affectionately as Russellville Lake, it is a wonder to behold. When the weather is dry, it takes several days to return to the skies from whence it came, unless it rains more.
Here's the odd thing: it develops over a sizable storm drain.
The other day, I visited the Post Office thinking to get stamps, and the subject came up. It turned out that one of the mail clerks knew the secret of this precipitous wonder.
For reasons as yet undetermined, someone had blocked the drain in years past with a concrete slab.There's no moral to this story, only a possible future inquiry into the mind of Man regarding the proper functioning of storm drains. As yet, no trout have been spotted in the lake.

But, if there's any time when there is trout in the lake, we may be there to report it for you. Because in Outer East Portlandia, that's our kind of quirk.

Thank you to Cyn for allowing us to post this. 

[art] Motivational Drawing Board Art Courtesy of Fanaticon

Two weekends ago the Klein Force traveled across light years (not as heavy as actual years) to a teen-run micro-comicon that had it's second iteration this year. Advised by the inimitable Jake Richmond (Modest Medusa), Fanaticon is a microcon organized and run by the teens in the Manga Studio art class he facilitates through Portland Parks and Rec. We went to last year's and found it inspirational, and the same with this years. Some old friends, some new treats, some quality face-time with Jake, some great fun chatting with Pharoah (really looking forward to the next episode of Black Fist, my friend) and a couple of bits of inspirational art for postinga bove the drawing board.

I just now realized that I'm evolving the long-neglected drawing board into an altar of sorts; whether or not the universe cares about it, our human psyches need ritual, even an informal or brief one. My religion, such as it is, has only one sacrament, and that's the pursuit of art in the form of word and drawing.

The assembling altar has a totem and and two affirmations here; the cat, our main spazz Mason, comes as a fuzzy gray bonus. His mind is elsewhere. Possibly on Mars.

The single line, I HAVE THE SKILL, is a line from a song by a band who called themselves The Sherbs and was done in 1980 on their album The Skill. It's affirmational in a down-to-earth way: the first verse and chorus run thus:

Ain't no magician, no miracle makerI am the shoreline, you are the breakerAll I can say, if this life that we're livin'Is a death-defying thrillI have the skillI have the skill
We're not supermen and superwomen but each day we live, we defy death. Why am I so afraid? But it continues in that straight-on, straight-ahead style. It's a great pep-talk of a song. The line is set in Micrgramma Extended because that's the headline type on the album cover design.

The other two bits of art came from Fanaticon, and speak to me in different ways.

That cutie of an orange fox with the pink ears is a representation of my totem, the fox. Just like many other metaphysical symbols, I didn't choose it, it chose me; I've always been fond of foxes, and the more I thought of foxes, a few years back, the more I saw them. I figured my local universe was giving me a role model. So I went all in on the fox as that point, and this one, by local artist Jillian Lambert (jillianlambert.com) I fell for instantly; the cute cartoon rendering, but most of all, the texture of the coloring … that made it real, authentic, and very seductive to the eye. And the fox is happy for no particular reason. Acquiring a cheer like that, both practical and motivational, would be a boon. It's a lesson I can take.

The type on the right is a dynamite design by Robin Casey (rozdraws.com) and has the right combination of resolve and irreverance that makes me smile, and not just because of that. The type is fun to look at, reminding me greatly of the elan with which sign painters sometimes go to town when they kick out the jams. You can paint great pictures with type, and this is a great example of how.

And I'll look at it every time I sidle up to the drawing board and push to create something … anything.

21 February 2017

[logo] Seattle's Public Radio KUOW Re-logos

KUOW, one of the Puget Sound area's two NPR affiliates and, by reputation at least, one of the most listened-to NPR stations in the nation, has been on the air since 1952.

It's a historic blowtorch on the FM dial. Up until now the logo look has been like this:

It's also more recently used this look, which eschews the Futura for a bit of timeless class:

KUOW has changed its look again, going for something that's a little futuristic, a little hip, and a little retro:

I see all three, here. The abstraction of the letters into 3-d space gives me a retro-future feeling. The red lines giving volume to the letters while only serving as a transparent skeleton speak to me somehow of the past. The starring role of the call-sign continues a trend I've noticed of broadcast stations taking the focus off the frequency and bringing the call-sign front-and-center, to become more of a brand: here in Portland we have KBOO, which everyone knows by name even if you can't call the frequency to mind immedately. The type shows features of the hip, mechanically-drawn lines I've seen quite a bit of lately, that seem to have visual resonance even with an old-fashioned type lover like myself.

Not everyone I know is enamored of it, finding it busy, or with too much visually going on. I think I can see that. I'd be interested to know what other people think.

[liff] Mackenzie Phillips at Powell's Books

Seen in passing: During our usual Sunday night sacrament at Powell's Books, the actress Mackenzie Phillips appeared to promote her latest book, a series of essays on life, recovery, and addiction titled Hopeful Healing. 

I was up in Pearl browsing the art books, as is my wont; The Wife™ was mildly apprehensive that I would be invading a closed level, as celebrities such as Mackenzie create rather a stir in our still-parochial burg.

But there was no problem. Indeed, the few moments I spent seeing someone I used to crush on on TV when I was much younger than I am now were rather calming. The audience was attentive and she was engaged with them. There seemed to be a calm chemistry going on between them all.

I always thought that it was ironic that someone should speak so authoritatively on addiction and recovery should have once played in a production titled One Day At A Time. 

It was an interesting moment. There really was a sort of serenity emanating from the group that was calming. I didn't stay long, but I'm glad I went by.

Brush with greatness again, my friends.

18 February 2017

[lit] Proust On Film

A great deal of Proust's life is known about; he left a surfeit of information about himself behind, and a great many photographs. But we may now actually have him on film.

The following clip, of a high-society wedding in Paris in 1904, shows an unaccompanied individual proceeding down the steps on the viewer's right, in the 37th second:

Des images de Proust retrouvées ? by LePoint

This via France24 (http://www.france24.com/en/20170215-france-literature-marcel-proust-footage-wedding-clip) is a clip of the wedding procession of Armand de Guiche, being betrothed to Elaine Greffulhe, daughter of Countess Greffulhe (whoever they may be). De Guiche was a good friend of Marcel's.

There are a number of tells that make it extremely likely this is Marcel Proust. From the article:

The clip from 1904 shows a single man dressed elegantly for the occasion. The gay French writer was one of the few unaccompanied guests at the Greffulhe-de Guiche marriage ceremony.

The clothes also correspond to Proust’s sartorial tastes. "The clothes he wears, elegant but distinct from those of the other men at the wedding, correspond to what he wore at the time, when he was a dandy in the English fashion,” said Sirois-Trahan. Proust was then a young man of 30, a socialite who was admitted into aristocratic circles due to his reputation as a spiritual, reclusive man working on a massive book project.
So, Marcel Proust, rescued from lost time … on film.

Hat tip: Friday Valentine. Thanky! 

17 February 2017

[Wy'East] Mt. Hood With His Cloud Cape On, and Calendar Talk

Last minute overtime at work again had me coming home after 10 AM. Now, I know the lights going to be better, the farther we go into the year, and the weather hereabouts being so chaotic, added up to this:

Wy'east towering over the eastern verges of Portland, dominating the old Rossi place, and with a blanket of clouds casually thrown over as though Nature dropped a cloth.

Most dramatic.


Now, as to calendar matters: The last three-four months have really done an enervating thing on the spirit. Yes, political matters have us discouraged and anxious. The chaotic winter weather Oregon has experienced has visited its own travail, as I recall a recent Sunday, where we might otherwise have gone to book church at Powell's, was completely spent when a stationary front parked itself over Portland and our now-somehow-faulty guttering and drainage dumped on the order of 200 or more gallons of cold rainwater into the basement where I try to do my art, but did it on a constant basis throughout the day, making me way too intimate with the wet-dry shop vac.

Over 200 gallons, 9 gallons at a time. It was better than mopping or bailing, but I will tell you, my interlocutor, that I was one crispy critter afterward. Not even Denny's coffee could put the spring back in my step.

For the past two years it's been a evolving practice of mine to put together some of my pictures into a calendar which I then invite my friends to purchase through Lulu.com. After November, my creative energy and drive for even putting something as modest as that together went away. I was out of gas. So, this year, so far … so far … there is no 2017 calendar.

But I am going to go ahead with it. My calendar will start in March, which is a bit out of the box, but eventually I'm not happy unless I'm doing something a little bizarrely different.

Watch this space. I'll be updating your soonly.

And so it goes. 

16 February 2017

[OR_liff] Bill Hall Nails The Tao of Tom McCall With McCallandia

The Wife™ has informed me that seeing local things with the grammatic form -landia appended has become tiresome. I'm beginning to agree. If you see anythinglandia in Portland or the environs these days, it's long since lost its punch.

The upside to this is that when something is given the rubric and deserves it, it wears it so very well. I have just met with such a thing.

Bill Hall is a man of much ilk who has been involved in Oregon politics for a while; he is currently a county commissioner in Lincoln County, down on the coast. As a younger fellow, he volunteered to help elect Oregon's then-quondam governor, Tom McCall, to a hoped-for third non-consecutive term. Old Moe Mentum had swung the other way by then, and it was not to be, but clearly it left the seed of a story that eventually demanded to be told.

Oregon politics and politicos are strange things. At once parochial and world-aware, we tend to have a laser-like focus on the local that tends to obscure the fact that, in the back of our minds, we have a solid idea of how it connects to the world around us. I fancy they are a breed unto themselves. From the late 1960s through the mid 1970s, that breed of human was crystallized into a 6' 5" man from Massachusetts by way of central Oregon who taught us … and is still, by his legacy, teaching us … how to Oregon better than many natives. McCall is a legend in Oregon politics for good, solid reasons, leaving us a legacy of logical, sensible land-use planning and a way of cherishing the environment and our natural treasures that acknowledges that if Oregon's special because of them, Oregon will no longer be special if she sells them out as wealth and plunder.

But he was also a man of seeming contradictions, because as progressive as he was in many important ways, in other ways, he was your standard-issue 1970s Republican. Author Hall has taken the measure of the man, all in all, and given us a romp of a utopian novel in McCallandia, published by Matt Love's Nestucca Spit Press. The book imagines what would have happened if, instead of elevating Gerald Ford to the vice-presidency on Agnew's resignation in 1973, Nixon instead chose The Man From Oregon as an unexpected safe chair-warmer. Of course, Watergate happened after that. And after that … President McCall. And The Oregon Story goes national.

This is, as the tagline in the upper right corner of book has it, a utopian novel, and those who would say that what happened in the book couldn't possibly happen in reality would be well-advised to look up that word and understand what it means. Because a book in which the Bottle Bill and the Beach Bill went national, the President temporarily heads the EPA, Vortex II happens on the National Mall, and Barry Commoner becomes vice president couldn't possibly happen in reality. Being a utopian alternative history, though, allows you to kick out all the stops.

Where this book really clicked for me, though, whas the way Hall made everything work. By his authorial pen, McCall achieves full measure as an Oregonized sort of Lyndon Johnson, who had one foot in tradition and one foot in daring to do the right thing against any and all odds. All the positivity and even the hope for change that McCall represented to many of us was captured utterly. The novel is saturated in all the Oregon you could ever want to read about; no less than James Cloutier contributed a Hugh Wetshoe cartoon as one of the opening gambits.

Hall's McCall fairly strides though the novel, which is set up as a series of episodes interspersed with narratives from other supporting characters and 'what might have been' media pieces. The life of President McCall doesn't deviate from the actual history of the times; "Squeaky" Fromme makes an attempt on his life in Sacramento in 1975, Vic Atiyeh still triumphs over Robert Straub to become Oregon's last GOP governor; McCall still succumbs to cancer in January of 1983. What also impresses is the way Hall weaves the facts of what actually happened with the idea of a McCall presidency and makes it all seem as though, if McCall had actually gotten into the White House, this all might actually have happened.

And any Oregon political novel that has Ken Kesey as a character? That name-checks Callenbach's Ecotopia? Whose roll-call of Oregon political names rings down the Capitol corridors like animating spirits? Whose second chapter is a notional Rolling Stone piece that channels Hunter S. Thompson? How could I not say yes to that?

The book is a wonder and a romp  and a manic bit of fun and as Oregon as it gets and a decided anti-depressant to the current times we're in, and if anyone ever wonders why McCall was revered by Oregonians Of A Certain Age and why he should be even now, you'll find the answers here.

I wholeheartedly recommend that anyone interested in Oregon get a copy of this book. It may well turn out to be one of the best-remembered and cogent books on the Oregon scene ever written.

It certainly nailed the McCall I remember.

07 February 2017

[pdx_liff] Me Talk Portland One Day

Stumbled on this at Oregonlive.

It's not a comprehensive list, but there are certain tells that alert the local Oregonian that You're Not From Here. We don't say "the" before the freeway number, we don't say "on line", and Jo-Jo's are a delicious potato thing you can get at the convenience store (well, at least you could in the 80s and 90s).

The Oregonian gives you a basic Oregon-English/English-Oregon dictionary at this link.

[design] Return To OryCon: The OryCon 37 Souvenir Program

I return to revisiting my program design work for OryCon with the design for OryCon 37. Coming away from its dark period, I re-entered the fray with a con that had a SF, adventure-y feel: The Quest For The Ultimate Artifact.

Tanya Huff was the Author GoH, and Alan M. Clark was the Artist GoH. As anyone who's seen Alan's work weill recognize, there's an atmospheric quality to it as he lets some of his materials play a chaos game in the background while he lets intelligence guide the foreground. The combination usually imparts a near-incomparable air of mystery to all his works, be they SF, horror, fantasy, or anything else he does.

The cover illustration, Buckets of Bad Weather, is a thing to get lost in:

The steampunk-y construction is inscrutable, it keeps its own counsel; it appears to be siphoning something off and sending it somewhere else, but while it's guessable, it's unclear what or where or why. It may be an unwelcome thing, taking from the local environment but giving little or nothing in return, and you might think otherwise, but the title has a sinister note to it. Also, it seems rather ancient; the parchment revealed seems to imply that but it, like the construction, holds its secrets well.

The portrait of Alan illustrates the sense of mystery, stress, wonder, and tension which seems to be his main art materials.

The idea of a quest inspired me to find a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" style font, and that may seem an uninspired, perhaps even lazy choice, but the type used for that movie is a brand that connotes intriguing, mind-expanding, crazy and just-dangerous-enough-to-be-interesting exploration. The Creation Station people really went to the wall with that one.

It's an example of type supporting the message, and again, the type and the art merged to create an atmosphere and feeling for the rest of the book.