27 February 2009

These Things Tend To Work Out, With The Right Spirit

1959.Just recieved a note from the Hall Of Records folks, and it was so excellent that I can't help but share it:
We're so sorry about the photo. Obviously our graphic designer didn't do due diligence on the image used. Lesson learned for next time. But thank you for being so cool about it.  You're right, we are small fish just starting out. In the essence of turning every negative into a positive, we'd love to buy you a beer and maybe even use you to do some graphic design for us some day.
I've always thought that where we can we must be excellent to each other.

May fortune smile on thier enterprise, and good instant karma all around. It sounds pretty cool.

And if you can, go to their party and have a beer and a slice for me, will you? I'll be drudging away somewhere dreary, but I'll feel a little better about things if you do this for me.

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26 February 2009

Hey! How'd My Photo Get On That Cool Poster!

1958.Check out this poster I found via Dave:

Now, look at the piccy I took back in March of '05:

I'm flattered, to say the least. I adore that type. The funky vibe is represented. I fully approve of the poster and my photo's use in it.

Just one thing, though. I check my sitemeter logs regularly; this must be one of the most hit parts of the blog, this picture. It's probably been round the world once or twice. One of the risks you take with putting your creative work on the web is that people tend to help themselves to it.

And I understand that. Hell, a couple of posties ago, I ripped off a photo from the PMerc. But it was satire, and they were credited.

But this photo is particularly dear to me. It was taken by me, foolishly, with my camera in one hand and the steering wheel of my '72 VW in the other, at speed, hurtling over the Marquam Bridge on cold spring morning after one of my evenings at work. I'm in love with my cityscape, and I'm in love with tthis photo of it.

So, if you want to use it, that's cool. But don't assume that I have put it in the public domain; I have not. Write me and ask. You might be surprised. I could very well just say yes, and if you're a little fish just starting out like the Hall Of Records is, the only price I might ask is that you credit me for it.

Thanks. And hey, since I'm too poor to go and work nights and weekends anyway, go on over to the Hall Of Records party for me. Have a brew and a slice in my name. I'll catch the spirit.

(Update: Checked the metadata for the photo. I actually took it in 2004 on Sept 16th, at about 11 AM.)

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Street Blade Gallery, Mardi Gras NOLA Streetlife Edition

1957.For the newest addition to the Gallery, let's go down to the streets of the Vieux Carré, from which Portland's (and this blogger's) favorite formerly-of-NOLA-but-now-back-in-NOLA mystery writer, Kevin Allman, checks in with this lovely shot:

You really can't include a picture of a bona fide French Quarter street blade without including some of the street life around it. New Orleans has that charming reputation for a reason, yo.

Kevin tells me there are many variations of street blades in NOLA, an I'm presuming it's because the city has a singularly-colorful history. The one you're most likely and remember as tourist and as illustration are the blades in the French Quarter, I'd wager.

And, as information design, they aren't ideal-ideal. They don't have a directional; they don't say whether the way is a Street or an Avenue; they don't use FHWA-approved typeface one. But they work nonetheless and they please me mightily, visually. Why, for a person who's obsessed about a street blade that will help you navigate am I so down with this design?

It's an extension of the art and effective atmosphere and attitude that draw so many there for the annual celebration and contribute in a note-perfect way to the attitude of the area. The most charming part of the sign is the box in the upper center that contains the historic name of the street expressed in French.

A technical point worth noting is the bracketing used to mount the signs. Three rivets through attach the sign to  right-angled support which has an angle at the corner which is, itself attached to the post; this puts the blade up front-and-center as the star of the show (which is actually a very designerly thing to do) while leaving the blade unencumbered by hardware which requires gripping one side or the other of the sign itself. The design can come right up to the edge of the blade.

The whole street-scene picture provided me by Kevin is too cool not to share in toto, so get a good look at this:

You can't have a picture of New Orleans without some of its people really. Kevin really has an eye for the moment, does he not? The fellow in the hoodie up from, distracted by something; the punky girl with the pink wig, hot miniskirt and legs, and amazing boots on the left; the two youths just hangin' under the post, and the kid climbing up it for who-knows-what.

It's a warm photo. Invites you in.

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25 February 2009

Unicorns In The City Council Chamber

1956.Portland being built over an ancient unicorn burial ground explains so very much, if you let silly things like logic go by the board.

For instance, over at PMerc, there's a photo of Councilor Fritz and Mayor Sam at the hearing for the increasingly-brobdingangian Columbia River Crossing thingy. View the article and the image here.

I found myself, though, in a Kolchak: The Night Stalker*/X-Files/Fringe** sort of way, wondering if there was a deeper story to the unsanity that has been Portland City Council of late. So, I nicked the photo from Blogtown and put it into Photoshop, applying the Unicorn Filter (of which I own the only one), found that there was indeed, something deeper to say about it:

What is the unicorn doing? Whispering some sage policy advice in Sam's ear? Protecting Amanda from a psychic barrage leading to cynicsm? Simply observing? We know not, and will never know, for unicorns keep their own council.

We could find a gentle virgin to tame the unicorn and perhaps find out, but, hey ... this is Portland, yes?

A note on the Photoshop Unicorn Filter: I've been allowed its use only if I keep the developers an absolute secret. I have further been told to say that if I tell you all who did it, the developers would kill themselves, which I 'splained to them was kind of backwards, but they said that's what they meant, and boarded the TriMet 33 so they could get out to Jim & Patty's coffee before it closed.

You don't argue with geniuses. You all know what I mean.

* The Darren McGavin version, not that lame-o Stuart Copeland version that deservedly died, screaming.
** Not the X-Files, no matter what anyone says.

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The Street Blades They Grow In Cupertino

1955.Cupertino is a California city that needs little introduction to some who might be inclined to read a blog; it's part of the legendary technological heartland known "Silicon Valley"; it's a city of about 50,000 that covers about 10 square miles; and, according to my valued friend Sharon, who sent along the pics you're about to see, it is one of California's most expensive cities.

It also has given its name to the so-called "Cupertino effect", which is the vernacular name for what happens when a spellchecker suggests unappropriate subistituions for misspelt words or words you haven't put in its dictionary. I am indebted, for example, to people like Sharon for giving me her complete Cupertino in helping my build my Street Blade Gallery.

Anyway, here's the pic (by way of explanation, somewhat low-res):

The things I find interesting here is the obviously-non-FWHA font which, at low-res, it's hard to say exactly what it is, though something like Souvenir is hardly out of th question here. The sheer height of the placement is interesting: that would seem particularly driver-unfriendly. The staggering-apart of the street blades themselves is also interesting–of the photos I've so far seen, I'd not seen them spaced that far apart. The blue color is striking but a little dark for me somehow. I don't find that blue makes a very good background color, but that is certainly my opinion.

Thanks very much, Sharon, for sharing your photos with me and my street-blade-obsessed readers.

24 February 2009

Quick–Which One Of These Is An Actual Product?

1954.Go ahead ... tell me which one is the actual product you'll find in the freezer case:

Time's up!

Well, to be honest, it's probably not all that hard. The one on the left, of course, is the one I did.

It was a student project, done while still at PCC. I was always satisfied with it, and I always thought it shoulde that I had a decided handle on things like layout, hierarchy, type, and such. I think it hangs together rather magnificently.

The one on the right we consumed the contents out of very recently (we better have had, anyway, yes?). The designs, in my humble opinion, share very common elements–the way the type hierarchy encourages eyeflow towards the product, the way the product anchors the whole design at the bottom, the way both designs depend on blue and white to get the job done. and while my design doesn't include a shell full of cocktail sauce (which I'd of thought of something like that) the reddish-brown tone of the table surface does kind of the same job–completing the span of dark reddish color.

The point I'm making here isn't whether my design is better or worse, but I think it could creditably hold its own in the freezer case next to any other frozen product. It certainly looks like it belongs. and it must be pointed out, the thing where line becomes a wave and is followed across the product name ... I obviously came up with that one first!

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Towards A More Postcard-Friendly Unicorn

1953.It has been pointed out to me that "UNICORNS BITCHEZ!!!111!!!" might not play so well amongst the more sophisticated amongst us (which I thought I wuz, but see how I am). So I've changed the type. Now available here for the asking, a more modest unicorn graphic with more warm and welcoming message:

Magical, yes?

I expect this to be up in the NYT within the week. It was meant to be.

Expect it in bus shelters soons after. If Travel Portland wants to use it, thaz' cool, just credit me.

NB: The Portland Photo is CC-SA-BY-2.5 licensed by Eric Baetscher. I got it from here. The unicorn graphic I scraped off my hard drive somewhere; if you recognize it, just shout out, and I'll credit.

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23 February 2009

Zines I've Seen

1952.Herewith, a few delights I've found along the way. Moar as I find 'em.

The Multomah County Library is an unexpected place to find zines, but find them you will. Check-outable too. They say that it's a very personal medium, and zines have been around long enough that the observation is a bit trite, but it's the truth. This first one is particularly personal, and one of the first I looked at since I decided to stop fearing the zine.

Some|body, by Amaris Summer Hayden, is as personal and witty as it is poignant. So far as I've been able to find, two issues have been published; Chapter 1, in July 2006, and Chapter 2, in May 2008. The covers, made to resemble medical file folders (right down to the colored first-three-letters-of-the-last-name labels on the tabs) are created from actual trimmed-down Pendaflex Esselte™ brand folders. The detailing on the cover, consisting of the clip-strip on the top and the big ol' paper clip on the side, were hand-done. A "Patient Information Sheet" is attached to the inside of each's cover It makes one pause after reading the story within, thinking that the person to whom all these events happened and, we estimate, are continuing to unfold.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension is a particularly dreadful disease. You may have heard of it when the "fen-phen" diet medicine controvery broke some years back, when it was called Primary Pulmonary Hypertension. In IPH, constriction of pulmonary arteries (typically with no known cause) cause oxygen-deficient blood to return to the heart from the lungs. This causes the heart to pump harder to compensate, causing enlargement of the right ventricle, overstressing and wearing out the heart at an astounding rate; average survival after diagnosis, via right heart failure, is a mere 2.8-10 years.

Add into this the fact that the author was a mere 27 when diagnosed, and had a 6 year old son when diagnosed, causes the reader to ask themselves questions which were theretofore somewhat corny, such as "what would I do if today were my last day?".

Hayden will live to see her son's 17th birthday, unless the dice roll against her before then, and the odds are not in her favor.

The author uses all variety of cut and paste, drawing styles contrasting detailed realism and childlike on the same page, in a very unafraid style. I suppose anything I say up past this point would be a bit maudlin and lachrymose, so I'd just suggest that anyone who wonders about life, mortality, and how short life can be (and how much observation you can pack into an abbreviated lifespan).

Her last contact address is Mszine@gmail.com.

The Superman Stories, by Mark Russel, is wry and deadpan. In the mode of ironically reinterpreting past icons in a modern light, he recreates Superman as a superhero who doesn't have an alter ego (who really believed that just a pair of glasses and a suit made Kal-El look like a normal newspaper reporter? And I suppose you were totally fooled by Sandra Bullock's 'regular' garb in Armed and Fablulous?) and is kind of a self-centered, tempremental, misogynist fellow–a real jerk at times.

Through a series of vignettes–fifteen "episodes" and a series of intersitials called "The Lois Lane Dialogues" which make you wonder why she puts up with the jerk–we learn much: why Lex Luthor hates him (turns out Superman's the reason he's bald); What Superman's "Indian" name is; that Superman is constanly pestered by leopards; what interruped Superman when he tried to bowl; why Superdog was a menace to the city's butcher shops (and how Superman dealt with it) and more. There's even a "Superman Warnings List" on the back, with such forearmings as:
  • 3: Superman does not eat food that has been prepared in a microwave oven. Hot-pockets, pizza rolls and Jolly time popcorn are all unknown to him.
  • 7: Superman's two favorite smells in the world are Bark-o-mulch and taco meat. Number three is Lois' hair.
  • 9: Superman doesn't enjoy shopping, except for grocery shopping. But he doesn't like to stick his hand too deeply into the fruit displays, for fear of being bitten by tarantulas. Whenever he mentiones this to Lois, she secretly laughs to herself.
The spare, icon-line graphic treatment of the cover is what drew me to it (especially the 1-2-3 illustrated sequence of Supe taking off which has nothing obvious to do with the text beside it). The dry humor kept me reading it.

Mark Russell is also known as a Portland-based writer and cartoonist who self-published The Penny Dreadful. He also has been published in McSweeney's, which means we admire and hate him, because we sent them a list once and it was rejected. It was brilliant.

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20 February 2009

This Handy Chart Should Explain Everything:

1951.It's all so very clear to me now.

Clicky here to embiggen.

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Kelly Groucutt, Electric Light Orchestra Bassist, Dies at 63

1950.Michael William Groucutt, known professionally as Kelly Groucutt, a member of the Electric Light Orchestra during their signature years, died of a heart attack yesterday in the UK. He was 63 years old.

Kelly joined the lineup, replacing original bassist Mike De Albuquerque, with the Face The Music album (1974) the album which gave us the early ELO hits "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic". He remained, with his high-pitched backing vocals and intricate bass work helping to craft the classic ELO sound through 1983's Secret Message, though more than one source makes plain that he at most only performed four songs on it.

In 1983, Kelly split somewhat bitterly from the group, unhappy with royalty payments, a move which culminated in lawsuits against band managment and group leader, Jeff Lynne.

Post-ELO, he remained active in music, recording at least two solo albums and collecting a small core of devoted fans. In 1989, he joined former ELO bandmates Bev Bevan and Mik Kaminski with a few other players to form the ELO-revival group Electric Light Orchestra Part II. In 2000, ELO Part II became The OrKestra. He also had a small session band which did live gigs around the area he lived.

Kelly was my first favorite bassist, and he's one of the reasons I remain in love with the bass and consider it integral to any real rock band.

As old as some rock dinosaurs get these days, 63 years seems an extremely untimely death.

He will be missed by many.

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18 February 2009

In Memory Of The Unicorns

1949.NB, 3-Mar,2009: A hearty "heigh-ho" to all of you who surfed on over from Blue Oregon. Nifty!

After the revelation today that Portland was built over the site of an ancient Unicorn burial ground, I couldn't let the magic of the day go by without honoring their gentle spirits.

If only they could be with us now.

Please excuse the crap*ss Photoshoppery, but I was so seized by the emotion of the moment, I had a hard time getting a grip.

I think that's about right, for the sentiment.

In addition, I propose a moment of silence, tomorrow, and 11:11 am.

No freaking reason, I just want everyone to pipe down then.

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Factish :Portland Is Built On An Ancient Unicorn Burial Ground

Can A Name Change Erase A Troubled History: The Question of "Xe"

1947.Blackwater USA.

Likely as not, you took one look at that pair of words and had an instant reaction.

And, no matter where you stand on the idea of the world's most famous private security firm, a truth is that coporations go through brand refreshes for a very specific reason; whatever the previous identity said about the company, the fit has become awkward or completely wrong.

Blackwater, of course, has gone through two such evolutions; from the orignial form "Blackwater USA" to the latter-day form "Blackwater Worldwide" and now, the new, tabula rasa-esque, very nearly devoid of any apparent meaning, short, sweet, and easy-to spell "Xe".

In updating the identity to Xe, the company has explained as its reason:

On February 13, 2009 the company announced that it will now operate under the name 'Xe' (pronounced 'zee'). In a memo sent to employees, President Gary Jackson wrote that the new name "reflects the change in company focus away from the business of providing private security." A spokesman for the company stated that it feels the Blackwater name is too closely associated with the company's work in Iraq. Spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said there was no meaning in the new name, which the company spent over a year to arrive at in an internal search.

Shades of the word "Exxon" there.

At this time it might be a little instructive to go through the evolution of the Blackwater logo. The first and most famous version is this:

Blackwater (now Xe) is based in eastern North Carolina ... Dixie, the American South. Knowing this, several visual tropes leap immediately to mind. The name Blackwater itself ties it in geographically; the so-called "black water" rivers (slow-moving rivers whose waters are inky due to an abundance of tannin from decaying vegetation that is not quickly moved away) are very common in the US's rural south, as are black bears, which very well may have provided the inspiration for the spookily-unnaturally-symmetrical paw print. The oval-and-ticks arrangement communicate nothing so obviously as a guns's target reticle.

The over-arching type reminds this commenter strongly of the type design typically found on logos you'll see on NASCAR autos (we once watched every auto race we could find). Indeed, the logo itself would seem quite at home on a stock car.

It's a very locally-tuned design. But between there and the desination of Xe, Blackwater must have realized that thier design was a little too "good 'ol Southern boys". It needed to be more grown-up, more corporate. A remodel was ordered up, and this was the result:

And it it somethign of an improvement. Gone is the heavy overarching type which looks more like it belonged on a satin jacket than a corporate letterhead. The reticle is stil a reticle, but is a little more abstract. And the bear paw now looks like a real bear paw.

The graphic design has become more ecumenical, while obviously referring its roots.

The type design became much more corporate: obliqued and off to the side, with Blackwater in large type with the word Worldwide reduced and tucked below. It was also broken away from the logo, which frequently appeared without the type at all (as above).

With the advent of Xe, we notice some that the corporate identity, however it's been re-engineered, is still being held very close to the vest. Despite exhaustive searches via teh Google we've been unable to find out what the new graphic design is, or even if Xe has deigned to develop a new logo at all.

Meanwhile, the company's training facilities have taken on the much more generic name of U.S. Training Centers, retaining use of the updated Blackwater Worldwide logo.

Can a name erase a troubled history? After thinking a great deal about it, we really still don't know. It would be naïve indeed to say that Blackwater/Xe doesn't have simple hurdles to overcome to rehabilitate its pulblic image. Where you stand on this issue depends on where you sit.

But just like every organization that has a past it wants to separate itself from, Xe understands that they have to make a clean, effective break with it if they are to recast themselves in the image they now see themselves in. And that, in and of itself, is a canny branding move.

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13 February 2009

This Comment Made My Day, As It Should Have

1946.My Address Nerdery has garnered some really cool responses. Here's the latest and the neatest.

Referring to my definitive post on the 1928 address layout of Portland (and the Hibernia Map), today, I recieved the following comment, which was too good not to share. Credit one Valerie Jasperson for the following:
Well, not sure where any of us came from, actually, but I got to your wonderful mapnerd blog after a long search for early Portland addresses. I just finished reading "On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine", and my 101 year old book has a name written in the front with the address "684 E. 11 North, Tr 0090 Portland, Oregon." Your site did it for me! Not only am I gratified to understand the address, your blog is a great read. Rarely do I get to see the word "embiggened" in print. Love it. Also love maps. My Dad was a surveyor and later draughtsman for PGE in the 50's, and he used to bring home waste blueprints and I'd color in the lots and make mazes of them. I hated the way the paper made your hands feel dry and the ink smelled so sharp and dull at the same time, but I was captivated by the map bug, just the same. Thank you for the great old PDX info,SJK. May you always fold it right on the first try!
Publicly, you're welcome, Valerie. As I said in the response to this, one of the most thrilling things is when my obsession answers a question that someone else didn't even know they had until they found me.

The only part that mystifies me is the "Tr 0090" part. Looks like a postal code somehow, Hey! Another investigation!

Anyway, is this not cool? I can attest to the smell and feel of those prints–I have some experience making diazo prints, and actually grew to like the ammonia smell that you got assaulted with when making one, but they are hard on the fingers.

Also, On The Trail of The Lonesome Pine is a book so old not even Amazon knows about it. Must be some book!

One of the best things in a life where you are but really a cypher moving amongst a throng of cyphers is when someone else reaches out and says "thanks" for something like this. So I may be making a party out of a comment ...

... but why not?

Thanks again, Valerie.

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Cleaning Out A Corner: Before and After

1945.Before ... Something had to go. This corkboard is kind of representative of the doldrums I've been in lately and am still struggling to emerge from:

A lot of that stuff was fun ... the big cow from Aquent, who for some reason thinks I'm an employer looking for staff (rather than the other way round) was a favorite at one time. But sometimes, everything (or almost everything) must go.


That actually makes me feel better. The things I'm keeping up are (upper left) the sticker I got from Weiden and Kennedy after not making the cut in the "Seeking" campaign (I had such high hopes and really tried to pull that one out, but thought that the haiku was a little mocking. I don't think so much now), which remains as a spur; the lower right, a favorite image, the promo image from that amazingly singular movie The Quiet Earth; lower left, a packet of 8 "So Big" Crayola crayons (because, in this world, sometimes you just have to get out what I like to call the big crayon for people).

In the center is a note card designed to be sent, with a single phrase on it. It's inspiration. It contains a quote from the great George Sand, and it goes like this:

It is never too late to be what you might have been

Can't give up, no.

Public PS to Kris @ Rorohiko: I am still working on your project. It is pressing my boundaries more than expected yes. Thank you for believing in me.

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12 February 2009

Pepsi: The Powell Street Station Domination

1944.The lampoon by Lawrence Yang referring to the Pepsi posters in BART's Powell Street Station set me to looking for images of the posters. Since it had designers and digerati talking about it there ought to be some documentation, Right.

Right. Here it is, courtesty of Nancy Friedman's Fritinancy. My favorite (nicked impolitely from her blog–but she took the piccy, not me!) is this one:

Yup. Sody Pop.

Such is the aim of this campaign that they apparently actually call it station domination. Be afraid, I say, be very afraid.

Such is also the sway that the mere image and thought of Pepsi has over people that the properly executed sways hearts and minds in ... unpredictable ways.

A FreeRepublic message thread I accidentally (trust me ... the existence of FreeRepublic strongly suggests that hell is full and the dead walk the earth) hit on my travels to find the above was apparently written by someone who didn't get the memo that the development of the new-look Pepsi logo had nothing to do with the devlopment of the Obama logo.

I mean, they're both in circles, right? What are the odds?

If you want to peer into the abyss, go here. You have been warned.

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11 February 2009

Extensis Offers/Font Haiku Contest. Deadline:/Valentines Day, Yo

1943.Want to win some nifty prizes? Like fonts?

If you're like us, we know you do. Hie yourself over to Extensis Manage This blog and read the entries and submit your own.

Remember, it's 5-7-5. 1st Prize include at $50 iTunes gift card and at $20 Starbucks card, which is a pretty good return on very little work. Oh, a cool t-shirt and a laptop skin as well.

Deadline is the 14th.

Right this way

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09 February 2009

The New Pepsi Logo: It Was Probably the HFCS*

1942.Lawrence Yang:

So they recently plastered the Powell BART station in San Francisco with Pepsi ads. Just big posters that say "POP", "HOPE", "SODA", "JOY", etc. All flaunting Pepsi's new lopsided logo.

Being a "drawer", Lawrence couldn't help but interpret it his own way (clicky to go to Lawrence Yang's blog entry, that you may see this embiggenly):

"You'll never look at the Pepsi Logo the same way again", says Lawrence.

"You'll never unsee what you have seen", says me.

* High Fructose Corn Syrup

(h/t to Larry Fire, of course)

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08 February 2009

In Case You Were Wondering In What Direction Fate Lies

1941. ... it's that way:

Seems kind of bleak, don't it? Who knew Fate was in Texas?

And where's Fate's fate?

Other beautiful and expressive examples of found typography being reinterpreted via photography here.


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See TriMet From The Other Side ...

1940.... with TriMet Confidential.

Dan Christensen writes a compelling story, yo.

He's one of my "Blogs of Note".

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Shout Out To Followers

1939.The new Blogger service called "Following" means you can actual visible supporters, and I (suprisingly enough) have gathered a few.

I want to thank you all for stepping up and saying I'm worth keeping tabs on:

  • Dale, of Faith In Honest Doubt, who's just plain fun to read.
  • Stan (Dinglemunch) and his wife Nicole (Coley Boley), our favorite expat Milwaukiean and his life's love. I really should read you guys more than I do. You're quite good.
  • Smoky Banjo, a very funny fellow I met over at MyDamnChannel
  • Dustin Williams. This fellow was very much a pleasant surprise, because I've never met him. He lives in Memphis (yes, the one in Tennessee)
  • Dan Christensen. This is a real find, this one. He writes the blog TriMet Confidential, and he's a bus driver. Fascinating human stories, very loose "story-teller" vibe. People should read this. Get to know the routes from the other side. You've heard that the life of a TriMet driver is an interesting one, well, now you'll understand how.
I know not how the last two of you found me, but I'm glad you did. Thanks for the encouragement!

This Guy Probably Worked for Lehman Brothers Not Too Long Ago

1938.An example of the kind of beggar we grow around here:

At work, a cow-orker of mine named Mary related the story of a clever bus-fare beggar.

"I got chiseled!" says she.

"Oh, you did," said I.

"Yeah. I was coming to work on TriMet and this guy came up to me and asked me for some change for the bus. He said he wanted a dollar. He was real thorough, and said he needed $1 because he had to get over to Northeast Rodney Avenue, and that he thought he had to take the 75, and go just a couple of miles."


"But I didn't have a dollar. So I said 'would you settle for a bus ticket', because that would solve his problem. And he said that would be fine, thanks. So I gave him the bus ticket. And you know what happened next?"


"Well, you know thos MAX machines?"

"You mean the ticket machines?"

"Yeah. Anyway, he sees this lady going to buy a ticket from it and ... well within my hearing ... says 'Hey, lady, you know those tickets are two dollars. I can let you have this ticket of mine for $1'. And you know what? He sold the ticket to her."


"Yeah, I was so chiseled."

I laughed out loud. "That's amazing! He got the ticket from you and sold it to someone else at a discount, and still walked away with the legal tender!"

"That seems wrong though."

"Well, yeah, it kind of is, but that is one clever homeless person, isn't it?"

You see, he assesed the situation and was able to exploit it to make himself a cash profit. Sadly, his ambition only went out to about a dollar's worth, but that's some entrepreneurial spirit there, no mistake about that! And Mary gave birth to a little microeconomy there.

And a little cosmic humor besides.

Oregon: things do indeed look different here!

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07 February 2009

Bridges and Signs

1937.Seen about lately:

Don't know why ...

... There's no sun up in the sky ...

... stormy weather ...

Those heavy clouds just above the buildings are poetically beautiful. Also, it looks like they are going to eat them.

At the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge there's a sign at SW 1st and Main that just seems to quinessentially PDX:

I mean, they pretty much skate everywhere, yes, but the sign is pretty cool anyway.

The nice thing about this time of year is that a few days later, the weather will change:

The Greatest Volcano Evar taken though the front window of that little Subway just north of SE Division on 122nd Avenue. On the left, a Les Schwab Tire Center, on the right, the shabby Shell station on the corner.

Despite the crush of sprawl obscuring the landscape, this doesn't make me feel as forlorn as it ought to. Strange, that. Maybe it's the juxtaposition playing cosmic tricks with my perspective; maybe it's because "Out 122nd Way" is another way of saying "home" to me.

I'm a human; I can't help it. Cities comfort me. Especiallly Portland. Strange, but there it is.

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05 February 2009

Relax. It's Coming Back.

1936.So I did a drawing for someone yesterday and he was going to take it and create woodburning art using it as the template.

I remember feeling like a piece of me was going out the door with him. But he said he'd bring it back.

I trust him.

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