25 May 2020

SW 4th And Harrison

The street blade set caught my eye because there is something so pleasantly urban about the way it contrasts against the new-as-new-can-be building behind it. I also like that the block is 1850, not an even number; an address quirk about Portland I'm happy to say that they can't get rid of.

This is in the part of the city center that's south of SW Market St, which is the 1600 block south of West Burnside. SW Harrison St is three blocks south of that, but instead of a full block it only gets a half block; 1850 instead of 1900.

There's a reason for this, and it has to do with the end of canted downtown blocks, which align to the river, and the part beginning at SW Lincoln St, which is the 2100 block, which runs more cardinally east-west and begins the more cardinally-oriented grid south from there. Lincoln was designated 2000; SW Mill St, one south of Market, was designated 1700; SW Montgomery, 1800, SW Harrison, 1850; SW Hall, 1900; SW College, 1950; SW Jackson, 2000; SW Clifton, 2050. These all occupy a wedge of land which starts narrow on the east and widens as you go west at the point there the grid straightens out, and while the streets continued to march southward at the rate of one every 220 feet, the north-south address blocks on the numbered avenues were stretched to fill by 2 every hundred numbers, to even out at 2100 by the time they, either notionally or physically, crossed Lincoln Street.

Not all of these streets exist on the ground, of course; a great many were erased by urban renewal in the 1960s, construction of the Stadium Freeway and, in some places, ground too steep to build a street on. But it's a fun pattern to suss out.

Trains And Buses, Old Town Portland

The area at the north end of NW 4th Avenue, in the Old Town district, along Hoyt Street and beside the now-former Greyhound Station, is where a lot of transit comes together.

There's a parking lot and staging area for TriMet - this is the north end of our Transit Mall, the north-south axis at the center of the regional transit system which extends, in its current configuration, over a mile through downtown. There's a small building there where the drivers can take their breaks on layovers and just beyond that, if ever there was an icon for a town, there it is ... Union Station.

There's been altogether too many changes in Portland, but that still seems to be the same. It's a gorgeous and lovely building.

The Greyhound station has gone through a change; it suddenly isn't one anymore. Apparently Greyhound has decided it can do without, and ticketing is a few blocks away and the actual stop is just the curbside on a small newer street tucked under the Broadway ramp onto the Steel Bridge called NW Station Way. Sic transit gloria transit. 

The tableau, with its nowhere-somewhere-anywhere feeling, does charm me muchly, however.

24 May 2020

Retro Future, The Way It Used To Be

A little bit of delightful architecture along Corbett Avenue, this one near Hamilton Street:

A little bit of the future the way we thought it would be. I love this architecture; it dates itself as being the sort of futuristic style we thought would be all over the place now, instead of whatever it is we have. And that makes it terribly terribly charming.

I see this and remember that, back in that day, I thought the future would look like that too. So it goes.

OK, City Of Portland, If You Insist

A bit of wry humor from the City O'Portland as far as describing the feature Corbett Avenue goes into from California Avenue north through the Johns Landing area.

Oh, it goes down at about a four or five percent grade about a hundred and fifty feet and then up a little over the course of about half a mile, but, OK, we call it a 'dip' for now.

Heh, heh, heh.

That 10MPH advisory? I'd take that seriously.

22 May 2020

South Portland, And Google Maps Can't Cope

While the new address district of South Portland is an official thing, but it's still not applied to any of the street blades we've seen there, it has apparently broken Google Maps's tiny mind.

The South 'sextant', as it will be recalled, encompasses that part of Portland east of a line formed by Naito Parkway and View Point Terrace, west of the Willamette River, and out to the Multnomah County/Clackamas County line, taking in part of Lair Hill, most all of Johns Landing, and the posh-above-posh estates of Dunthorpe and Riverdale.

Google Maps, though, thinks that the "South" directional extends farther west than it actually does. As in this area around Cap Hwy and SW 30th Avenue:

If Google Maps cruises this blog, we'd like to reassure them that, no, at this point the named streets are Southwest, along with the numbered Avenues. Seeing Carolina spelled out as South Carolina Street is just plain bewildering.

This bemusement extends into the area were everything is actually supposed to be South, which Google Maps can't work out successfully either:

Because we have S Idaho, S Nebraska, and S Florida Streets all crossing Southwest Corbett Avenue and Southwest Macadam Avenue.

Quite an ironic outcome for an evolution that happened because, as they said, geolocating software couldn't cope with the way the addresses were laid out in this area.

I mean, I know we didn't order this side of unintended consequences, yet, here we are.

The Ziggurats From Three Miles Out

This is an edit of the picture previous, that points out three great buildings in Oregon and suggests the grandeur ... human, certainly, but grand nevertheless ... of the cityscape of Portland:

Mostly blocked by the rise that the Lair Hill neighborhood perches upon, you have the Wells Fargo Tower (or one I still think of as the First National Tower), built in the 1970s and still the tallest building on Oregon; in the middle, the KOIN Tower (which still contains the TV station ... you can't count on that sort of thing anymore) and on the right, the US Bancorp Tower (which no longer houses US Bancorp, thus proving the previous parenthetical point).

The views I get are a great amount of the reason I love my hometown as much as I do.

Via Southwest Corbett Avenue

Two days ago we went in search of South Portland. We found that Southwest was still where South was supposed to be, but we did rediscover Corbett Avenue.

Corbett Avenue runs north and south and parallels Naito Parkway and View Point Terrace; it's the fifth street east of that line, but still west of the Willamette River. As of the First of May, 2020, it's South Corbett Avenue, but all the street signs say SW Corbett Avenue. Maybe it's pandemic rules, but all those decals that were supposed to have changed the signs from SW to S haven't appeared yet, not even in the toney-a-la-toney South Waterfront.

As far as we were concerned, we were still in Southwest Portland.

My route for viewpoints intended to take us via SW Macadam Avenue outward then inward via SW Corbett Avenue. I should have indicated a right onto SW Nevada Street but we went up Taylors Ferry Rd to LaView Drive, a narrow, winding way that fairly drips poshness, just like everything on the prosperous west side does, in the way that it does.  LaView winds and corners up hills that goats should be so lucky to climb, then we get to Corbett Avenue.

I love Corbett Avenue. It goes up and down some pretty steep hills, and as some interesting touches to it you won't find in any other town. And here is one reason, one big reason, why I love my hometown so much. You just don't get sight-lines like this in any other city in Oregon:

From the intersection at California Street, Corbett fairly falls down a steep hill down to a low point at Boundary Street, where you can hang a quick ralph for a block and get back over to Macadam, or ascend another hill and go into the thick of the Lair Hill nabe. That hill can be seen in the distance; right up there, above and to the left of where the road disappears again, one sees the bright green of a freeway exit sign, and that's the Corbett Avenue offramp from I-5 northbound (Exit 298, if that helps). But for the fact that I-5 here is below grade, you'd see that, too.

This was a major landmark for traffic reporters during radio's local drive time, back in the day.

Over the top of the hill in the distance, three of Oregon's tallest buildings; that's downtown, and the ziggurat on the right, Big Pink, is at Burnside Street. California Street is the 6900 block south; at 20 blocks to the mile, we're about three and a half miles from that.

The zipline would be insane.

One other unique thing worth noting is how the street splits there. One upper half, one lower half. Two way traffic may or may not be how it's sanctioned, but that's how they locals do it. And all down these streets are the kind of houses George Orr, in The Lathe Of Heaven, survived the destruction and rebirth of the world in. This is the Portland you couldn't have anywhere else.

17 May 2020

Northwest 11th by Powells On Any Given Late Afternoon In The Long Ago

This one tugged at the heartstrings, you know, now that we're all in search of lost time.

The point of view is the units block of NW 11th Avenue, between Couch and Burnside. I'm facing north-northwest. Powell's Books is at my back and on the right. The building you're looking at is called the M Financial Center, which impresses me in as much as I know of no other letter of the alphabet that has so much finance devoted to it.

The intersection in view is that of NW 11th Avenue and Couch St.

NW 11th and Couch is unique amongst Portland intersections is that it is the only place in the city of Portland and indeed the state of Oregon where the so-called 'scramble' crossing is implemented. Couch traffic goes and Couch pedestrians can cross; then 11th Avenue traffic goes and 11th Avenue pedestrians cross; then all traffic on the streets stop and the six cross walks (two for each street and two diagonals crossing the middle) flow. It's an innovative thing and maybe it's the mad dash of everyone toward the Powell's entry on 11th and Couch convinced the city to put it there, I don't know. It's been three years and more since it's been put in and I hear nothing about it being put elsewhere, which is strange in our town where traffic patterns seem disrupted on the basis of wish and whimsy in these latter days.

Indeed, the streets there are so very narrow it's hard to see who, if anyone, is really saving any time by cutting across.

Quite a few years ago, as a teenager in Salem, I remember the city there piloting the idea at the corner of High and Center Streets, and in Salem that makes sense as the street widths there amount to a considerable hike. Surprising therefore that it never caught on there. I guess we love it here, we inscrutable, quirky Portlanders who do things, I guess, just for the sake of being seen doing 'em.

Anyway, that was then and this is now and Powell's is still not opening, not yet. We remain hopeful but understand why this is.

So it goes.

Well, Make A Fruitking Choice Already

Such language in a grocery store!

Well, kid, make your fruitking choice already so we can get the fruitking fruit out of here.

Well, at thirty-three cents a piece we can just fruitking get 'em both, can't we. Man, I can see why Mom comes home all bent out of shape.

Happy PBN Birthday To Me

The Brown Eyed Girl knows me and knows me well. Although I sometimes feel that, in doing my art projects, I'm her art project.

Like I'd mind. She gets me to become the person she sees, I get to play with paint and (pandemic allowing) go to art supply stores, which are pretty much the happiest places on earth. Sounds like a win-win.

It has just been my nth birthday (where n=a number from 1-100 inclusive, though realistically, it's not, say, 14) and when I got home from work, there was this glandularly-large box-shaped thing on the table, and when I got to open it, it was not one thing ... but eight things. Here are those things.

... all the Dimensions PaintWorks PBN project kits I could want for a while. These are simple-yet-involved works which require a bit of time to complete, hard working art working just the way I like it to. As I've pointed out before, I am in love with this brand because it lets you get as sophisticated as you want: the picture on the outside doesn't show the idealized result, it shows the picture as you'll actually complete it, and by introducing you to painterly techniques such as feathering, stippling, and drybrushing, makes it so that you can achieve effects that make them look a bit more than the sum of their parts.

Or you can just skip the fancy-pants painterly stuff and it still looks danged good completed.

I can't say enough nice things about the PaintWorks approach. I just wish there were more of them.

On to the easel.

12 May 2020

PBN Progress Report: Isn't It Romantic?

Last issue, I mentioned returning to PBNs to keep my artistic somatic work going. Used a little clip of what I was working on. But here's the whole thing, in three stages for work-so-far:

When I abandoned it then picked it up again, here's the state:

Pretty subdued and earthy-toned so far. But then more colors come in ...

The fancifulness of the colors begins to really blossom and shine.

The title is Isn't It Romantic?, and I've got to say it is, with the warmth and fantasy is supported by the palette. I'm enjoying it.

07 May 2020

The Paint By Number Life Preserver

The first real post on art in ... well, a while.

For a while I was going great guns with the series from 50 Small Paintings, and was thinking I beat the wall that I usually run into when I try to kick my artist game up to the next level. To be fair to myself, that next level was in sight.

Then I hit number forty-five and ... the engine sputtered, died, and wouldn't start up. The picture is that of an elephant, and it just kind of mocked me. And then I couldn't do it. Then the pandemic hit, and all its psychological centrifugal forces. And just like, that, my habit pancaked and I fell into the hole of too much Candy Crush Saga (we do what we do), too much Facebook posting.

It's a touchy road back, but I started blogging again. Didn't have that much to say, so I made it a sorta-daily photo blog (quite a time to do it, what with Covid-19 reshaping our world). And then, I got out the PBN.

When I started really hitting the freestyle acrylic paintings, I left a last PBN just-started. Isn't It Romantic, a Dimensions Paintworks joint, a fanciful Venetian scene full of saturated color. Well, I didn't have anything but the basic urge left, so I pulled that out, got out the paint pots, and got back to work on it.

It's feeling good, and it's confirming a hypothesis I've long had. It occurred to me that that, like repetitious workouts, when you hit a rocky spot in the road artistically, keeping the motions moving is sometimes enough. I started late on becoming an artist, I wanted to keep going, I need to remain prolific ... but then the old executive dysfunction kicks in and the inertia returns and you just scroll and hit the space bar in social media too much. 

Over the last two days, I've been mixing paints out of the PBN kit, filling in numbered and lettered spaces on the card panel, and getting the sheer joy out of just the physical act of painting which, I think, is at least half the thing of it for me. It's pleasant to work, it's pleasant to work on art. It, in and of itself, is a nourishing thing.

So, I'd suggest to anyone like me who's aspiring to an artistic life to have thier own version of paint-by-number for whatever media they're working in: something that just makes them follow instructions but makes them get out the media and work it, just for the sheer somatic joy of creating an artwork even if there's no particular creativity involved in it. Just working the media is bliss, even if a limited sort.

It's the sort of lesson that may have come late, but at least it came to me. I owe it to myself, and certain others, not to quit on myself now, like I have so very often before. Some motion is better than no motion, and doing something half-assed is better than not doing it at all.

And I'm thinking I can do that elephant painting, maybe this other brush I had here will do the trick.

I'll keep y'all posted.

06 May 2020

Russellville PDX, Where We Try Hard

Russelville is kind of a Miss Congeniality of Portland neighborhoods. We're not particularly noteworthy except, really, as Gresham's gateway to Montavilla; we don't have any notable quirks or brands or atmosphere other than the 70/30 Nitrogen/Oxygen that the planet provides at (for now) no extra cost.

But what we have is guts and know-how and gumption. You try hard ... we try harder. I mean, I could have settled for subscribing to New York magazine but I wasn't happy until I was New Yorker. 

Now, you may be proceeding eastbound on Stark at about SE 100th Avenue. If so, turn around; that's a one-way westbound and you're in for a world of hurt, pal. There. Now that you've stopped driving like an asshole, and you're westbound on Stark as PBOT intended, it has occurred to you that your wealth management isn't stangy enough? Now, wealth management is complicated; you're not expected to know what stang is, really, but you are aware that your portfolio isn't keeping up in the stanginess department.

What to do, what to do?!

Well, if you're at 100th and SE Stark, just look up to the left, pal. Your prayers, which you didn't know you were praying until I told you just now, have been answered.

Yes, in Russellville we try everything harder. Living, playing, your nerves ... everything. 

And so it goes.

03 May 2020

House Under Reconstruction, SE 117th and Washington

SE 117th Ave is a road which connects us to the rest of the world and so we go past the house I'm about to show you fairly often. It looks like it was one of the first out here, when it was all getting gridded out and farms and such; when this was built, our part of Stark was still probably called Base Line Road (after the Willamette Base Line, upon which it was surveyed).

This house is on the northeast corner of SE 117th and Washington. Over the past few weeks we've witnessed a painstaking removal of the veneer of this house, seemingly one board at a time. Now, it looks like the renovators are down to what real-estate agents charmingly call the 'bones':

It do have some good bones. It still looks sturdy and not a little be redoubtable. It's good to see someone rehabbing a structure instead of levelling it and putting in yet another few narrow houses or another apartment silo.

ODOT Updates The Overhead COVID Message

I-205 southbound, milepost 22, today at about 7:15 AM. ODOT's electronic signs, which have been reading STAY HOME SAVE LIVES have updated. Here it is, with a bit of nearly-empty I-205:

STAYING HOME SAVES LIVES KEEP IT UP is a very positive message, considering. The estimate is that Oregon Stay-at-Home has prevented around 70,000 people - that's about one and a half Corvallises or almost one Medford - from being infected. That's smart public action and it's tough for all of us to go through, but if we hadn't, 70,000 Oregonians would be sick or worse because of it.

One of them may have been me. Or you, dear reader.

01 May 2020

At The Dawn Of South Portland On Asbury Barbur Day

Well, we've had about two years now to get our psyches into the idea of a sixth address 'quadrant' (the CoP loves the word sextant but we do not) called South encompassing that long shim of land between a line made up of SW Naito Parkway and SW View Point Terrace on the west and the Willamette River on the east, and we must admit ... we're still not entirely there.

We loved the zero-hundreds, the city-termed leading zero addresses. Of all the quirks a city could come up with to deal with the reality that their west-east division south of the north-south baseline not behaving itself and dawdling off to the east, this was the most charming and the most local. We also, with all charity and no necessary malice, don't entirely buy the reasons the city had for making this change.

But all that's as may be. The decision was decided and the thing has taken its course. Personally, while I like it not, go along with it I will (I mean, it's not as though I have a choice), and have made my peace with it by watching the process and consoling myself with the knowledge that I'm watching the most consequential city address rationale change since the very Great Renaming itself. That was 1931. Almost 90 years is a long run.

In honor of this suspicious occasion, my online friend Michael Long, every bit as much of an Address Nerd as I am, has dubbed this "Asbury Barbur Day", in honor of the man who gave us an unbroken thing that the City o'Portland, in the way cities are time and oft wont to do, strove to fix.

Photo courtesy of Michael Long; used with permission

If the name sounds familiar, it should; that great southwestern gateway to Portland, SW Barbur Boulevard, is eponymous of him. Ironically, the easternmost curl of Barbur, that part east of View Point Terrace and generally between SW Hamilton St and the ramp that sends northbound traffic down Naito Parkway will be ... South Barbur Blvd.

Because if there's anything we Portlanders are, it's consistent as hell.

And so it goes.

30 April 2020

Bridges Through Bridges On The East Bank Of The Willamette

Let's go back the air of 2014 to see what we were doing then.

Me and the Brown Eyed Girl went down to the east bank of the Willamette, which is probably a place we should visit a little more often; you get great views of the west bank and the downtown skyline is always photogenic.

This time I decided to let the sightlines and points of view do the work for me. The result is that looking through the approaches to the Marquam Bridge at the Hawthorne Bridge and the Justice Center across the river becomes something that is at once identifiable and abstract, and since I was able to get the picture with no other people in it it actually becomes a little other-worldly.

No other large town on the Willamette gives one a view like this. Portland seems to belong to its river more than Salem and Eugene and Albany and Corvallis do.

I can't be the only one for whom sightlines in this town inspire one to wrought indulgence in text. Ah, well.

29 April 2020

In Which I Design A Logo For A Candidate That Could Win An Election

I did this some weeks ago, and I can't understand why I didn't boast about it. The client seems pretty happy with it.

First a word about Metro. We have this regional government here in greater Portland and it's simply called Metro. It's a unique thing, something no other collection of governments do anywhere else in the United States. There are still cities and counties (an armful of the former and three of the latter) in this area of Oregon and they operate independently of Metro but they also operate interdependently with Metro. Metro, as summed up by Wikipedia, does this:

Metro is the regional government for the Oregon portion of the Portland metropolitan area. It is the only directly elected regional government and metropolitan planning organization in the United States. Metro is responsible for managing the Portland region's solid waste system, coordinating the growth of the cities in the region, managing a regional parks and natural areas system, and overseeing the Oregon Zoo, Oregon Convention Center, Portland's Centers for the Arts, and the Portland Expo Center. It also administers the Regional Illegal Dumping Patrol or RID Patrol which is tasked with cleaning up illegal dumping and it is the designated point of contact for citizens to report illegal dumping in the Portland metro area.

So, Metro provides some of the common bones for what is a colony creature made of of three very large Oregon counties who have their own ideas about how to go and grow. Crazily, it works, but that's the way we Oregonians tend to look at things.

A good friend is involved with the campaign of a man running for the Metro commission, district 3, which is an area which encompasses a large swath of the southwest metro: cities like Wilsonville, Tigard, Tualatin, a big part of Beaverton, and the areas both incorporated and unincorporated adjacent to them. This candidate is Gerritt Rosenthal, and my brief was as kind as it was loose; I was provided with kind of a virtual vision board, a collection of files of some already-extant ideas, background designs and such. they provided a sense of color and style and allowed me to home in on a key design element and a palette to use.

This was the design I developed:


The tree was the key element and it brought the heart of everything I saw in the various files together. The palette drew on all the cool blues and greens I saw, and the type went for a solid yet friendly feel. How I settled on letting the tree come up through the G, I couldn't tell you; I thought the two should entwine and just went with the idea. It come out divinely, I thought.

Application used was Inkscape with some support from GIMP. It was rather fun. And should Gerritt win ... and Willamette Week has endorsed him so he has a chance ... at least I'd have the pride of being able to say I contributed a bit.

The Hill Going Up 102nd From Parkrose

Maps can, of course, be unintentionally deceptive: Anyone looking at a map containing northeast Portland who have never been here may be forgiven for thinking that's a simple way to go, from NE Halsey in the Gateway district to NE Sandy in the Parkrose district via NE 102nd Avenue.

That first step, as they say, is a doozy. Here's a look up that hill from the street in front of the market I wrote about in the chapter immediately preceeding:

To give some idea of scale, the distance from the traffic signal in the foreground, NE Prescott St, at the 4500 block north, to that signal in the distance, at NE Fremont St, at the 3500 block north, is 10 blocks or 1/2 mile. The distance from where yours truly is standing to the crest of the hill is about six-tenths of a mile. The change in elevation? About 170 feet.

That is a steep hill. Think of it whenever someone goes on about 'Portland's flat eastside'.

The Dog On the Sign: The 102nd Street Market

At NE 102nd Avenue and Wygant Street, in the Parkrose area of town, there's a c-store ... a quick shop ... a bodega, what have you, a shabby but not unclean corner store called, inaccurately, the 102nd Street Market.

Numbered streets are avenues, you see, with few exceptions in Portland ... and none of them anywhere near here.

Anywhoozle, This charming little place looks a little loved-on by time, but is neat and clean and serves its neighborhood well. And, it has a store dog, and that store dog has a bit of a rep, see. You don't even have to go in to see the dog because ...

 ... the pup's on the sign.

The architecture informs you that this was an old-school Plaid Pantry back in the day.

4646 NE 102nd Avenue in Portland, in case the reader wondered.

28 April 2020

Southeast Ash And Grand, 2017

Just an inner-eastisde street scent, Southeast Grand at Ash, looking west. The big building is, of course, Big Pink; one block away, on the right there, a Salvation Army building; visible along the left side of the frame, that old architecture which gave East Portland (and this is part of the original city of East Portland, when there was such a thing) its charm and continues to inform it in a low, slow tone.

Also visible in the picture that you don't see so often now: parked cars and people.

Goneworth Chevytown

The dive into the past continues. September of 2017. Somewhat happier times.

Along Southeast Grand Avenue, between Ankeny and Ash, there's a car dealership called Subaru of Portland. Back in the day, and up until that day, though, it was known as Wentworth Chevytown (Subaru was a sideline for a long time there though).

Through 2013, there was a big sign with 10-foot tall letters which flashed WENTWORTH CHEVYTOWN to the west side of the river. You can see a picture of that at The Oregonian's article of the demise of the sign here: https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2013/11/wentworth_chevytown_sign_comin.html.  That sign was a casualty of a number of things: the march of time, the development of the Portland Streetcar, et. al. And eventually, in 2013, the sign was retired. Eventually, Wentworth Chevytown removed to Wilsonville, only the Subaru dealership remaining and renaming.

But in 2017 it was still a little bit of Chevytown, and the sign over the used car division's lot across Grand from the main showroom defiantly stood to the last, it's oldjack letters recalling any number of car related business from childhood who had similarly-styled signage.

We went, and it was worth it.

Hey, we got this sweet picture.

27 April 2020

27 April 2020: The Day In Errands

A short summary of our commerical adventures on this, day eight million two hundred thirty-five thousand six hundred and thirty-one of the Covidinium.

I've Been Framed: The Brown-eyed Girl bought a bag of small bottles (by 'small' I
mean about the size of a finger between two knuckles). Prairie and Mark were their usual indomitable selves. The world is richer because of them.

Again, you can buy from IBF if you needs you your art supplies and need to support local. There is now a process and instructions on how you can purchase remotely and pickup curb side. Go to ivebeenframedpdx.com and follow the directions under the Curbside Pickup link.

Backstory Books and Yarn: The Girl has wanted a copy of an excellent little book by Beth Terry called Plastic Free and Amanda was able to find this for her. Also she found for us a very very very old compilation of Godey's Ladies Book, a periodical of the early 1860s. It's impossible to find out when that was published in this format, but it's an antiquarian delight, some pages hand-colored, and just the sort of thing the Girl loves. It's so old, all the old-book smell's gone out of it, which I found odd.

As with IBF, Backstory is social-distancing-enabled for your bookshop needs. BackstoryBooksAndYarn.com, follow the Browse link for full instructions and pictures of the shelves with everything available.

Dutch Bros. If there was a candidate for state drive-up coffee place in Oregon, this ought to be it. Dutch Bros. has always been excellent. We got our weekly treat at the 136th and Division place and drove into town for our two other things and and the coffee I had gotten spilled out all over the place. We proceeded to the 67th and Foster location (which was, of course, located just down the street from IBF) and when the Girl told them why we were there and the runner offered to give us the replacement for free, and the Girl said no, we were there to support business with our money, and we got to the serving window only to have them refund our money anyway and we went our of there with a free replacement coffee because that's how excellent Dutch Bros. is.

My wife refused to take no for an answer; DB refused to take yes for an answer. Win-win situation, all around.

There's commerce out there to be found, and a bit of happiness. Portland's closed, but not completely, and certainly not tight.

Southwest Oak And West Burnside, February 2020, from Powell's

Our next stop on the daily photo log adventure comes from only two months ago.

Two months ago. Seems like twenty years ago. I see other on-line humans calling it "the time before" and I mean, say what you want about pop culture, I see where this is all coming from and I'm endlessly impressed with the average person's mind's ability to MacGyver coping with a chaotically shifting zeitgeist on the fly. I mean, cultural literacy won't get you through every emergency, no, but when the order of the day is that which we accept as read today might get rewritten in our faces tomorrow, and the day after may contradict that, well, it's no small tool. Intellectually, it can be a swiss army knife.

Anyway, about two-and-a-half months ago. Coffee Room. #BookChurchPDX. Powell's. 11th and West Burnside. Lookin' out the fishbowl. There is, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Portland's skyline, a building at the corner of Southwest Broadway and Washington. Back in the day I knew it as the Bank of California building. It's now called the Union Bank building after its parent company merged a few times. And it's visually notable for the way it's lit at night, with spotlights pointing down the flutes in the building's architecture.

The Brown Eyed Girl looked out the window across West Burnside where Southwest Oak Street split off between 11th and 10th. The Union Bank tower's the tallest and the lighting made it stand out, and she loved the view, and insisted I take a pic.

When someone with good taste insists, one does not demur. So.

In the foreground is a little walk-through mall with tiny retail spaces called Union Way. The passage goes through to Southwest Stark/Harvey Milk Street. The building immediately net door was a branch of Car Toys for years; what it is now I can't recall. The shorter building was the Federal Reserve Bank Branch in Portland for a long time and was, a short while ago, the home of Jive Software before the vicissitudes of intellectual property and corporate merger sharked that away from Oregon. And over that is the Union Bank building in night dress.

All this from the window of the Cathedral of Saint Ursula in Portland, the Coffee Room at Powells, where we would be tonight If Only.

And so it goes.

26 April 2020

Backstory Books & Yarn, Opening Day or Thereabouts, Sept 2018

In the last posting I maundered prolix about our beloved Backstory Books and Yarn and wanted to reference the posting where I and the Brown Eyed Girl had visited upon its opening, back in September of 2018. I did a search and found that this blog had no such entry.

Appalling omission. I shall rectify perforce forthwith.

We have been happy followers of the Backstory story since we stumbled upon the small shop near 60th and Southeast Foster Road about five years ago. Amanda is a dear human with a very generous spirit and personality, and the shop was amazingly well-stocked for a shop of its size. I've found more than one intriguing thing through this place, and it was Amanda who guided us to my own copy of the Codex Seraphinianus (if you read this book and understand it, you should read no other (and can, indeed, probably read no other*)). Powell's is an unadulterated gem, but the world isn't complete without Amandas and Backstorys. They are the necessary.

Anyway, back in September of 2018 a few commercial stars aligned and Amanda was able to secure the space occupied by Hawthorne Books (the proprietrix thereupon, I understand, was retiring and the space was opening up. Backstory is the sort of place that belongs on Hawthorne, in the good way, so perhaps it was fated.

Herewith, a short tour of our experience of that day, so that the balance is maintained.

The facade of 3129 Southeast Hawthorne Blvd. If you have the ability to come by here, you are luckier than most.

The Brown Eyed Girl in convo with Amanda. We love Amanda, and she works hard for her customers. We rather automatically assume that if anyone has a problem with her, it's your fault, not hers; don't even argue it with us. It is an unspoken truth that anyone who opens your path to the Codex Seraphinanus is golden, because how many people even in books would even know what the hell I was talking about when I said Codex Seraphinianus? You cherish people like this. And her taste in books is as eclectic as you want it to be.

Well, it was an unspoken truth.

Also, the POE-TRAIT will eye you. The eyes, man, they follow you everywhere, even into rooms that it isn't in. Spooky.

If there's a heavenly after-life for book-lovers, here's one of its corridors:

In the previous entry I referred to its cosiness. You know those bookstores you read about in stories that are packed with old and interesting books and are really close quarters but in the good way?

That's Backstory. There are even nautical books. A whole section.

I did mention there was yarn, and the yarn room is straight back and on the left. Absolutely loaded with it. As I am not an exponent of the fibre arts I took no photos, no disrespect intended, but believe me when I tell you that Amanda's as sincere about the yarn as she is about the books.

As a fitting end note, the adorable antique cash register. They do things electronically there like everything else, but it has the right note for the greater tune.

And, like I said in the last entry, Amanda's ready to help you get your fix in this time of Covid-19.

The address to visit is https://www.backstorybooksandyarn.com/.

Backstory Books & Yarn: A True Bookstore Experience Online During Stay-At-Home Time

Portland is a city of bookstores.

We've spoken of one of the most charming of the smaller indies in town: Backstory Books and Yarn. We knew her when she was over by 60th and Foster and then when she moved over to Hawthorne (a place, it must be said, she's always belonged).

From the Backstory website
Small, witty, diligently curated, delightful. And then Covid-19 and the advent of stay-at-home and businesses closing because they had to. Now, as a bookstore, such a business has an advantage in as much as you can take orders over the phone or arrange an online alternative. Books aren't perishable and ship very well. But you lose the delicious bookstore browsing experience ... or do you?

Well, I guess it's not a perfect replacement, but what Backstory has done comes close. The proprietrix had taken pictures of the very shelves where the books are arranged and have posted them to Backstory's website. You can tour the shelves at your leisure in picture form and contact Backstory and buy them thusly. She's got every thing up, which is an advantage for a business of this size selling books (when things finally open up, if you ever wanted to browse a cosy bookstore in the old-school way, this place will leave you in bliss). Powell's couldn't do this. Barnes & Noble couldn't do this (does B&N still exist? Does anything anywhere exist anymore?).

This is why we need the small local indie. How much poorer would we be.

We bow, humbled to Backstory's MacGyvering in the shadow of novel coronavirus. We'll be stopping there tomorrow to get a book the Brown Eyed Girl has wanted for a very long time.

Backstory's home page is https://www.backstorybooksandyarn.com/. If you just want to get down to business, start browsing at https://www.backstorybooksandyarn.com/browse. The rest of it should be pretty easy to figure out; there are instructions on each page, and if you haven't figured out how to use that sort of stuff by now you should probably not be allowed in public unescorted (well, after stay-at-home gets lifted, that is).

25 April 2020

The Brain Fog Rolls In

I've seen a fair number of people react about their reactions to the changed psychological landscape of the pandemic. So little is available; so many people are staying home, by requirement or choice, and we're having to MacGyver structure into lives that, by employment or routine, have had structure provided them; old lingering dreads have blossomed into new stark terror or opportunity, depending on what you had going on when the balloon went up, three-point-five seven million hundred five thousand weeks ago.

We habituated art supply stores, the library, and Powell's; books and art. Those are our treasures. Being in these places recharged; we are now, with respect to the psyche, running on stored charge. It's dilating our psyches in a way that's still difficult to define, but I feel its tectonic effects on the head.

It arrives usually around 9:30 AM or a little after. I have gotten home before 8:00 every day; and with no other reason to go out, I have all this time to do art, right? Except I don't. It settles in heavy, kind of like an umbra, the feeling of a dark gray cloud; I become drowsy. What animation I had toward creating anything is displaced by this at a 1:1 ratio. Yesterday ... in my studio I have this low desk we call the kneedesk, and it's next to the drawing board where I was turning out a minimum of one acrylic painting a day, and I sat at it trying to write in the diary, and I laid my head down on the desk, and I don't know how long I napped there, but when I next opened my eyes I found that I felt as though I had been asleep a very long time.

I have, for aeons now, been a 3rd-shift worker. This puts its own color and shape on the biological processes that regulate ones' diurnal cycle - you wind up struggling against them but you can usually work out a sort of detente. This is an unwelcome guest that invites itself. And while I can't exactly say how, I know it's because my intellect has been cut off from exterior power, and it apparently consumes a great deal of juice, because I go low about the same time every day.

Like many people, I'm giving myself the guilt about not grasping the opportunity I have, but there's also a movement I see that reminds us that this all is not normal, this is like nothing we collectively have ever experienced before. Maslow would have it that we are on the lower levels of the pyramid, so what you have to do to get through the day is entirely proper.

But I do want to use the time. Increased blogging helps. Writing this prolix har-de-har helps. Diarizing helps. I also have a small book about small meditation practices-to-go by Jan Chozen Bays at my side and there's some things I can try here too.

So I'm evolving a way to deal with a changed environment and an attempt to find a new, if temporary, equilibrium. I guess I'm impatient that I can't do it instantly. Perhaps grasping that observation will help me help myself. And help me get that painting of the elephant done.

Five more works in 50 Small Paintings. Just five.

In the meantime, a day at a time. Steady as she goes.

And so it goes.

I've Been Framed From 2017

I haven't been in IBF for far too long, so, let's visit it in the mind which, in this case, is the next best thing to being there.

This is from 2017. For a while, near the front door, there was a full-size, and by that I mean you can stand up straight and look it in the face, ladykin.

There was a naming contest when they acquired it, and the prize was one of those cool Golden Acrylics coffee mugs with a printed label like it was a tube of acrylic paint. I reached into my storehouse of art and science fiction ideas and came up with Mona Lisa Undercoat. 

I did not win. I still want that coffee mug. Anyway.

This was the scene near the register just about exactly three years ago; April 2017. The ladykin was dressed flamboyantly and there was this bit of signage that I've always enjoyed that was created by another long-time patron and given to the shop. It hung in the front window for a while. Now, I think it hangs in the back area somewhere.

I love the visual joke here. Mark told me, I think, it was based on a Banksy, I don't remember. There's something about the way the picture is kind of a visual version of a very clever pun, the kind that doesn't make you groan (don't, you guys! They're out there! I've seen 'em!). The little script thanks a lot! in the lower right corner nails the droll counterpoint. I do love this picture.

Thus concludes this visit-of-the-mind to IBF.

24 April 2020

Mill Ends Park 2 Has A Cottage Now

So, at that gore point, where Southeast Thorburn Street devolves into Southeast Stark and Washington (or where Southeast Stark and Washington unite to become Thorburn, depending on ones' direction of travel, philosophy, or some mixture of the two), I wrote of the continuing presence of a 'guerilla' park emulating the virtues of Portland's world-famous Mill Ends Park ... Mill Ends Park 2.

There've been developments. A development, to be specific.

Some blithe spirit has graced the comma-shaped traffic island with a small, brightly painted hut for whatever fae denizens should be conceived to be living there. Some brightly and intricately painted stones, which defined a path from the sign to the hut but have now been scattered about by the elements are also there.

It's interesting that whoever has temporal suzerainty over this patch of public way has been cool about it. It existed for some days before the coronavirus came as an unwelcome guest and didn't get taken down immediately; presumably whoever is In Control There thought it rather delightful along with the rest of us.

Well, this last week, the small hut and the stone-limned path showed up. Unlike the sine qua non version in the median of Southwest Naito Parkway at the foot of Taylor Street downtown, there is no backstory to it. Some miniature developer kind of bashed it in there, and since we don't have a generation of leprechauns to provide a backstory, one could perhaps assume that it's a faery houseshare, a elfin AirBNB, perhaps.

They probably didn't appreciate me snapping pictures uninvited without so much as a "how d'you do", but sometimes one must take the risks. It must be said that I, too, have affection, so that must be holding me in some kind of advantageous stead.

And, for those who are wondering, no, I don't know what the rates are. You're on your own there, pilgrims.

Another Look Down SE Stark Into Downtown Montavilla, PDX

I took another one of these pictures. I just like 'em, I guess. Looking east down Southeast Stark into the Montavilla business district from the gore point where Thorburn Street devolves into the Stark/Washington couplet east of Mount Tabor.

I just like 'em. Also, it leads into the next missive.

Which happens right after this one.

23 April 2020

Wy'east From Holgate Blvd, Lents

Here's an angle on Wy'east that you don't get from me so often; one where the ramparts of the peak aren't visible, and a clear angle on the peak is impossible to achieve. But the mountain still peeks through, and the peeking peak is still majestic, even though it be obscured.

The Brown Eyed Girl, who helps me look when I'm not looking and should be, thought the angle she got from the drivers' seat heading east on SE Holgate Boulevard crossing I-205 going east was magnificent. She's right, of course. You can't quite get the same view on foot without putting yourself in harm's way, but more's the pleasure for the challenge. The complex foreground dares you to find an expressive composition.

One thing I've self-learnt is that, to make the mountain seem as big in pictures as it does to my subjective impression it just takes the right crop. And in this framing, despite the human artifacts all in front, the mountain still looms. And, also, I enjoy putting all this together; our world is a world of people and what that world does to and with the world of nature; in Oregon, we're no angels in that regard, but I fancy we do it with a bit of awareness and panache you won't find elsewhere.

In Portland, evergreens still rule, for instance. And the houses of man live amongst them at a sort of peace. Even now in the money-mad 2020s.

I-205, Monday Afternoon, With Occasional Mount Scott

I really am at something of a loss to understand why I think I should go out these Covid-19 "Stay-at-home" times and find of Portland a howling desertion suitable for the opening to The Omega Man. I guess I figure since I'm going to be living in times like this, it should at least be a spectacle as I was conditioned to be frightened of since I was a kid.

I used to read magazines and books that told you the most amazing things back in the 1970s about the world of 40-50 years hence. Now I'm here and it's just bewildering and intimidating. I mean, I swallowed Chariots of the Gods? without question ... ah, but that's another program for another time.

As for the reality of life during a particularly spooky global pandemic, the daytime Portland, Oregon, after the city gets going, seems plenty busy enough, if the traffic is a little light. The star photograph of this post is a long view of Interstate 205 looking south from the overpass of SE Holgate Boulevard. I-205 is the official boundary between East Portland and Outer East Portland, and it forms a sort of half-loop around the core areas of the city. And, last Monday, it looked like this:

Running along the super-slab there is the Green Line route of the MAX; just beyond that pedestrian crossing in the middleground can be seen a train coming this way. Look carefully and one can also see the Foster Road off and on-ramps.

That massif defining the horizon is a butte called Mount Scott, one of our modestly-named Portland heights that exult in the title Mount, and is a member of the Boring Volcanic Field.

And this is an awesome post because not only is that a cool angle on the freeway but I also got to say Boring Volcanic Field, which sounds like the mixed-est message you ever heard, but Google it up, chum. Go learn something.

19 April 2020

Out 122nd Way: Log Cabins and Cannabis Dispensaries

Two missives ago I wrote about the house at 1008 NE 122nd, how it had once apparently been an African Orthodox Christian Church and now was probably waiting on a redevelopment, but there's also something right across the street from this, at NE 122nd and Holladay, that's just so adorably Portland I can't even.

This is a T-intersection: the 12100 block of Holladay meets 122nd Avenue as such (Holladay continues east from here, but at a considerable job). And, guarding the entry to the 12100 block of Holladay, as though they were library lions, are two commercial buildings styled, for all the world, as log cabins; one on the north side of Holladay, one on the south.

The one on the north side was for a long time (and still is) a chiropractic office. The one on the south side was a dentist, and then was vacant for a long time, and now is ... a cannabis dispensary.

This is what it looks like today:

The one on the opposite side of Holladay is similarly styled and painted, save for the commercial contents. The environment of this plague year has made for some darkly-hilarious absurdities; along the 122nd Avenue side there you see a small black and buff sign on an orange support; this denotes the pickup area for your herbal order. Living in a present that has as a feature legalize marijuana is an adjustment enough; where it becomes roaringly funny is when one realizes that the same behavior that got you jacked up and in jail twenty-thirty years ago ... driving out to your dealer's, pulling over, handing money through a car window and getting a lid ... is not only now legal but, due to Covid-19 social distancing, prescribed by the same law that would get you cited back in the day.

A similar collision of past and present may also be defined by the fact that when I was of an appropriate age, the combination of log cabin and nectar meant maple pancake syrup, not curated marijuana.

And, so it goes.

Out 122nd Way: Tonkin, For The Love Of Vintage Signs

Well, be honest, I've posted Ron Tonkin's sign before. But boy, how I love that edifice.

This is what it looked like today. A tiny little bit of the past proudly defying the march of time.

It's scarcely changed in the five-or-so years it's been up in front of Ron Tonkin's old place.

122nd belonged to the Tonkin family, in a way; Ron's brother Marv had the spot at NE 122nd and Halsey that's Courtesy Ford today; it had a distinctive architecture with roof supports that reminded one of the towers on the Saint Johns Bridge, in a reductionist-abstract sort of way (a photo of that plus stationery showing the design's use as a logo can be seen at this page: http://www.thecoralsnake.com/Tonkin). And it was the Tonkins' coinage in ads that supply the tag for this and commonly-themed posts here as well as how I think of my favorite road: Out 122nd Way, as they said.

Marv Tonkin also gave us a jingle that rings in the heads of Portlanders of A Certain Age (Keep honkin'/For Marv Tonkin/That's Maaarv Ton-kin Ford!) which remains memorable decades after Marv went out of business.

Ron sold Chevies, and Marv sold Fords. I'll bet family gatherings had a certain quality betimes.

But, Ron Tonkin remains and stands proud along 122nd between Burnside and Glisan, where it always was and, through evolution in automobile technology as we move toward the terminal phase of the internal combustion engine, likely always will be; a true Portland cultural artifact, one foot in the present, and one foot solidly in the past.

I'll always have time to snap a picture of this.

Out 122nd Way: The Church-in-Waiting Has Gone Away.

This is a spot I've taken a picture of before. And it's one I've been wondering about for a very long time.

Back in 2016, I decided to pull over and get a series of snaps of this house at 1008 NE 122nd Avenue. It had lain unused for a while but some basic maintenance was happening and it had a series of signs up front denoting it as the KIDANE MIHRET ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH. The original blog post can be seen here: https://zehnkatzen.blogspot.com/2016/02/out122ndway-1008-ne-122nd-avenue-church.html. I had guessed that it was some sort of a church-in-waiting; what appeared to be a garage was fairly neat and trim and had a Latin cross on the door, and while the property was somewhat dissheveled from people throwing things onto the property, it was seen-to in a basic way.

That time has passed us by. This is what it looks like now:

One imagines the lot's soon to be sold, and real estate in Portland being what it is it will fetch a high price and become, most probably some sort of apartment silo of the kind we are so fond of these days (and which now also exists as a six-story apartment block on the northwest corner of 122nd and East Burnside).

Tempus fugit; sic transit gloria mundi and all that.