15 October 2014

[literature] What Did Not Kill Harlan Ellison Obviously Didn't Try Hard Enough

We have been following the news of the travail of a man called, by himself, 'possibly the most contentious human being in the world' with some interest.

Above: L: Susan Ellison, R: This mook she married.
Photo: Steven Barber
Harlan Ellison, we have heard, has suffered a stroke, since about a week now. He's been in the hospital, and we hear, is doing quite well actually. He has, it is reported, lost a bit of use of his right arm and right leg.

This will do some damage to his legendary typing speed, though how his right leg entered into it, I'll never know.

I've admired his writing and watched with amusement and awe as the legends about the man grew and got spread. I've heard him described in glowing terms; one person I knew once referred to him as "The Ego That Ate Corvallis."

What he was ever doing in Corvallis, I'll also never know.

My exposure to him began with a copy of the collection Approaching Oblivion, which has eleven short, crisp, sharp-edged stories which range from the almost-too-abstract-to-be-a-story "Ecowareness" to the dark "Cold Friend" to the barbed "Knox" to the warmest, most humorous Jewish story I've ever read, "I'm Looking for Kadak", almost Sholem Aleichem in miniature. I came to this book as a 11-year-old who sent in a penny to the Science Fiction Book Club without telling my Mom; if I had had any actual ambition, this probably would have spurred my rise to becoming an actual author; as it was, even though I didn't comprehend the stories, I sensed kind of a kindred spirit there. At 11, I was a bullied social outcast, and knowing, even though not clearly, that there was someone out there who saw the world as I did, while it didn't spur me on to any artistic destiny, at the very least it helped me cope.

It is a beloved book. I still keep a copy (Book Club Edition for memory's sake, bought from Powell's) on the headboard of my bed.

He is, thankfully, recovering. His wit, they say, is as sharp as ever. I have the good fortune as having as online friends some people who are personally very close to Harlan, and they have collectively described the scent at the hospital as one of more than a fair amount of mirth. When a stroke victim is entertaining his guests, you know that's a good sign.

So, for what it's worth, whether you like him or dislike him, he's still with us.

What did not kill him should have tried harder … but I'm glad it gave up.

Steven Barber, a/k/a The Thumbnail Traveler, has a short heartfelt thing to say about it. The photo above is also via his gracious aegis, for which I am doubly grateful. 

[creativity] Inspiration Pad Dares You To Ride The Wave

Of all the interesting ways to challenge your creative brain to keep up, this is one of the most interesting and simple I've seen.

Designed my Mark Thomasset, the Inspriation Pad at first seems like just another of the incredible range of paper notebooks we've been seeing all over. About the same form factor, thickness, dimensions. It's a ruled notebook, red margin line, blue writing lines. But you open one and maybe you see this:

Or any one of a bunch of different patterns, from other waves, to mazes, to off-kilter registrations of the pattern, to sphereized and pinched lines.

The closest analogy I can come to is that of the Zen koan which, as I understand it, is a riddle without a logical answer. Considering the koan causes your mind to go places where logic cannot follow and the answer to the riddle as such is equally ineffable.

One looks at the wavy pattern above and the mind jumps on it and tries to ride it, and out of that creative tension, ideas may flow.

This has apparently been around for a while, but this is the first I've heard of it and I was delighted when I did. I can see why this might work but, of course, as the response to a koan, I can't put it into words.

The first version of this is displayed as a Behance project here: https://www.behance.net/gallery/Inspiration-Pad/430578,  and the current Pad is available through design firm TM's website, here: http://www.tmsprl.com/shop.html 

07 October 2014

[teh_funnay] Meanwhile, somewhere near Westeros…

GRRM hasn't killed all 140 characters … he still uses Twittah …

06 October 2014

[art, map] The Story of the Void in Jerry Gretzinger's Map

Back last year I posted here about a most singularly delightful thing, Jerry's Map.

To recap, the story goes kind of like this: One day, in 1963, during lulls in what is only described as a tedious job, Jerry Gretzinger, a resident of New York State, started drawing a map of an imaginary city. The city reached the edge of the sheet; he attached another, and kept on going. He kept this up for 20 years.

In 1983, life offered sufficient distraction to cause him to put the map of Ukrainia on the shelf. Then, after 20 years of sleeping, the land awoke again when Jerry's grandson discovered the map and it lit the creative fire again. Since 2003, he's been expanding it even farther using a system of playing cards pained and decorated, that give him directions on what to do next.

The cards rule.

Over the past 51 years, Jerry's been working on the map for 31 of them. The map has expanded into areas of collage that are truly impressive. But some things of Jerry's world tend to stick harder than others, and the most haunting aspect is that of "The Void". See, when Jerry draws a certain card, areas of his map that aren't watched over by defensive works get transferred to The Void.

What exactly The Void is has been left as an exercise to the reader up until now. Some hint has been extended by the creator himself that The Void is not simply an oblivion where people disappear into utter annihilation. As noted in my earlier report on Jerry's map, when a section of the city of Fields West, pop about 700,000, was Voided, …
this largely unprotected city of over 700,000 souls saw the relocation of an estimated 15,700 individuals to the alternative dimensions inside the Void.  This portion of historic old town will be greatly missed by the remaining residents.
While the amazingness of Ukrainia itself is pretty entrancing, the idea of a Void incursion as an occasional thing has a hauntingness about it, and the author's evident idea that the victims within the Voided precincts actually go to another place is compellingly fascinating.

Jerry has begun posting YouTube videos about his process: the channel is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl07nZ3C1kGhnFiDW87EvBQThis video, however, answers the central question about just what the Void is, while raising further questions, which Jerry is no doubt exploring as we speak:

Again, Jerry's blog about all this, which is interesting following, is http://jerrysmap.blogspot.com/

03 October 2014

[caturday] Kiki ArtKitty Provides Supervision

Whether or not I waste time in the studio, she's watching me.

Almost like she's keeping score.

Sure, I can screw off, but I'll have to answer to the fluffball.

[design] The ABC Of Lettering, A Type Handbook From the 50s

I'm not quite sure where I got this gem, but it's going to be a valuable resource.

The book is called The ABC of Lettering, and the author is J.I. Beiegeleisen. It was apparently first published in the 1940s, and this copy that I scored somehow was apparently published around 1958.

It is in excellent condition, considering.

Extensive instruction on how to letter, what strokes to do - script as well as manuscript, and big, big, beautiful specimen displays, as thus:

I think this particular edition was published around 1958, and sold for $8.50.

I got it for $6, which means it held its value better than some cars and most houses.

01 October 2014

[artist] Jack Ohman Comes Back To Portland

… but just for a night. But one night is better than no nights, then, isn't it?

I will admit to being a rather giddy fan of Jack. During the 80s, the 90s, and the double-aughts, as he defined political humor for The Oregonian, I became a fan. Impossible not to, as far as I'm concerned. His wit, so dry as to make the planet Arrakis seem a rainforest, and an unmistakable drawing style were first-class to me, and I was smugly proud that, being The O's cartoonist, he was ours.

I've been a fan of the editorial cartoonist in general since I was a little kid who was one of the few I knew who could pronounce the word Watergate. I've been a political news-obsessive for that long. All of my favorites, I found, served their wit on wry; Toles, Danziger, MacNelly, Oliphant, Herblock. An acid wit was a must for me. Still is.

When me and a lot of local Ohmanites found out, just about two years ago this month, that Jack had decided to leave The Oregonian, devastated … well, that word will have to do, though it be somehow inadequate. Tear out our hearts, why don't ya, Oregonian?

Well, that was then; this is now. Jack's gone on to the Sacramento Bee, and has cut an amazingly funny (and aptly trenchant) figure; anyone who can make Rich "Governor Goodhair" Perry cry is just my kind of cartoonist. The drawings remain as crisp and funny as ever, though now focussed on California politics, and this isn't a bad thing, really … I can't remember having this much fun following lower-left coast politics. When I heard that he was coming back to Portland to do a talk on political cartooning, I was hooked; when I found out it was free, I was netted and boated; when I hit the World Affairs Council of Oregon's website and found that I was early enough to nab a couple of seats, I was served for dinner.

The conditions of Monday were covered in the previous missive; I shant retread that path, trompe l'oeil or no. I will make the short, shameful admission that I've never, unto now, have visited the Oregon Historical Society, and it's shameful because my taxes make it so that, as a Multomah County resident, I can visit for free. I should know better than this.

Tickets were unnecessary; all that was required was to check in at the door. We entered the spacious atrium area and was able to get a seat up at the front.

The casualness of the crowd could belie the importance of some of the people that were there that night. But a bit more on that presently.

Jack recognized me in the front row and shot me a friendly hello; I returned thumbs up. I am fortunate to have his friendly custom on FB, and that's how he recognized me. If anyone remembers how sharp and witty the humor in his cartoons were, I can tell you that Jack's one of those rare people who come off in reality as advertised virtually. Warm, generous of spirit, and funny as hell.

On the left, OHS director Kerry Tymchuk. On the right, Jack Ohman.

Somehow I got a photo of his shoes.
The talk began right on time, and OHS's Kerry Tymchuk did the wisest thing in letting Jack roll about his times here in Oregon. You may have heard Jack was smart; I had an inkling, reading his cartoons and writings through his Oregonian years. Forgive me the obvious joke, but I didn't know Jack; the man is an encyclopedia of mid-to-late 20th Century lore on everything Oregon Politics from the legendary Senator Wayne Morse forward, and I suppose it stands to reason. Uncurious people do not make good or memorable political cartoonists. Sharp wits collect the best stories.

And now, I have more reading to do.

I found it funny, though it stands certainly to reason, that politicians who get japed at by political cartoonists want the originals, even if the portrayal isn't always that complimentary. It's a little like "Wierd Al" Yankovic in a way … you know you've arrived if Jack makes fun of you in the paper. It's a sign you've arrived.

I remember a certain Ohman cartoon which showed Lon Mabon losing it over two men grasping hands in a certain way, and the man who was with the Mabon character telling him to relax, it was only a secret fraternal handshake. I find myself wondering if Mabon ever asked for that original … I'm betting no. Lon Mabon didn't strike me as a man with much humor in him.

The field of political cartooning is nowhere near what it once was, with the national supply going, sadly, down. According to what I heard, not only did a lot of smaller-market dailies have political cartoonists, but the bigger ones had two or even three (when Jack started out, at age 19, at The Columbus Dispatch and later at the Detroit Free Press, if I heard correctly, he was in one of those arrangements). I still feel a deep loss that The Oregonian wouldn't hang on to Jack, but as far as the role he's playing at the Sacramento Bee, where I still follow his work, I'm thrilled that some actual-news-7-day-delivery-paper has the good sense to support him.

The talk was capped by Jack talking about various cartoons and cartoonists and their impact on their subjects. This was where I heard the story about subjects wanting the originals, and we all got to chat and shake hands. Jack, I found was a very encouraging presence. A woman who wondered to me how someone would get a start at editorial cartooning, who was asking on behalf of her kid, was treated as a new friend; I stood for a few minutes next to Norma Paulus, who was almost Oregon's governor circa 1986, and was momentarily within about an arm's length of David Sarasohn, who still writes pretty much the best opinion articles The Oregonian publishes, which crackle with dry wit and great style.

I did shake Sarasohn's hand and just thanked him for being who he was, which I think is a necessary thing, especially these days. and yes, I'm a giddy fan, so there's me for you.

I don't know what its like for other people who meet people like this who are nationally acclaimed and that one really sincerely admires. But the few minutes I spent near Jack made me feel like a friend. This was a big experience for me, and I'm thankful.

Jack, as you can see, did me the ultimate benediction sketching me an quick-self-portrait in my diary (yes, this is my diary. Not even my wife has seen the inside of it but Jack has). It's in volume 19, which happens to also be my favorite number, but now I'll be able to find it, too.

And, you know, I don't usually let people see the inside of my diary, but when I do, it's because a remarkably inspiring friend has made a sketch there.

Thanks for hitting Portland again, Jack, and thanks for being a friend. 

30 September 2014

[PDX] Downtown, Trompe l'Oeil and Church - The Corner of SW Park And Madison

On Monday, yesterday night, we saw the talk that Jack Ohman gave at the Oregon Historical Society. That wonderfulness will be for the next missive. Before we entered the building, of course, the surroundings on the Park Blocks, at SW Park Avenue and Madison Street, caught my attention, and I was, of course, smitten.

Aw, you know how I do.

There are two sets of what we call 'Park Blocks' in Downtown Portland. The north wing starts at West Burnside and runs north between NW Park Avenue and 8th Avenue until one block south of the Main Post Office on NW Glisan. The south wing runs south from SW Salmon beween SW 9th Avenue and SW Park Avenue into the Portland State University campus.

The newbie to Portland would probably figure that the pattern of these skinny blocks, only 100 feet wide to the standard 200-foot Portland city blog, running to within a block south of Burnside then jogging as it crosses Burnside to continue north, meant that they were all meant for greenspace, and that newbie would be right. But early Portland business dynasties didn't always give stuff away, and as a result, the blocks north of Salmon and south of Burnside went mostly over to business. Some takeback is occurring; the space known as Directors Park used to be mostly parking. I don't expect to see a greenspace connecting to north wing to the south wing even within my lifetime, so this will have to do.

The history also makes the nomenclature a little tricky. When originally planned out, the South Park Blocks were bounded by streets called West Park Avenue and East Park Avenue. Today, north of Salmon, what was West Park is known as SW 9th Avenue. south of Salmon, both sides of the Blocks are bounded by SW Park Avenue, West Park apparently becoming 9th Street, then SW 9th Avenue, as development occurred.

So much for all that. Back to the pictures.

This is the South Park Blocks, looking north from SW Park and Madison. It's easy to see how the narrow block makes a green corridor. The two wings of Park Avenue on either side are very narrow, even for Portland downtown streets, so the area feels very cozy.

That edifice above is the First Congregational Church, whose construction was completed in 1895. A United Church of Christ congregation is  headquartered there modernly. The top of that campanile is about 175 feet straight up. It's an imposing building but not without a certain comforting weight and presence.

This is the east wing of SW Park Avenue between SW Salmon and Main Streets. Like I said, cozy. The blue-awninged building on the right just up the street is the Oregon Historical Society main building. The real architectural treat is here, though:

Between the new main lobby of the OHS and the corner of Park and Madison there's a courtyard, and overlooking the courtyard is the west side of a building called the Sovereign Hotel, a building that the OHS also owns and is on the Historic Register. The optically-illusory painting on this building face has entranced me for a long time, and it's so well-done that you really think it's a feature of the building.

The French have a word for it: Trompe l'oeil (pronounced, approximately-enough for the English tongue, trump-loy). Literally, 'trick of the eye' or 'to trick the eye', it is exactly that … it delights the eye by fooling it into seeing something that's not there.

In this case, by decorating up what would otherwise be a bland, flat building side into something that truly does delight the eye. It pulls a foolie on you … but you appreciate the joke.

[Unicorns] PDX, Land Of Unicorns. As We've Been Saying

Now, the idea of Portland and unicorns is something I definitely approve of, in as much as here, east of 82nd, the idea of Portlandia is certainly a thing – of which even we, out here, are alternatively entertained and sometimes appalled by.

But somehow, it all comes together and creates something awesome, as witness this t-shirt (which had the tag of the T-Line company of notably unicorn-free Canby) we saw on sale at Powell's this last week:

Indeed, as we've been documenting for a while now, Portland is indeed built on an ancient unicorn burial ground (not to be mistaken with an ancient Unicron burial ground, which is not a thing that I think could possibly exist, but I'm no Transformer expert). And as the tagline I Believe  suggests, this is more than a cute pairing of unicorn and city, but expresses … a deeper truth.

I want to believe. And so do you. Shut up, you do. 

26 September 2014

[bloggage] It's Good To Be Listed: I'm On The List At PDXBloggers.

As I've hinted, I'm now part of the most recent PDX master blog directory: PDXBloggers.com.

So check that shizz out, yo. And thanks to the PDXBloggers crew for adding me.

25 September 2014

[PDX] The View Down Sandy Blvd, The Hard Way

I was in slight danger for taking this picture. This is looking west down NE Sandy Blvd while in the crosswalk with the WALK signal favoring us. The nearest cars you see down the road there.

We were in vague peril but not imminent danger. The Wife™ stood sentinel duty.

The nifty thing about Sandy is that, from its origin at SE 7th Avenue and Washington Street to where it meets Killingsworth in Parkrose at NE 99th Avenue, it's more or less a straight diagonal line (as it ascends the Alameda Ridge, between just west of downtown Hollywood and NE 57th Avenue, it kinks right then left ever so slightly. You can scarcely see this on a map).

And it's pointed toward downtown, and gives great views as you come closer.

That big domino against the hills is, of course, my beloved Wells Fargo tower. Just as far away and just behind that copse of street trees is the KOIN Center, and with KATU just a block and a half away behind us and to our right, I noted that if you stand at the corner of NE 21st and Sandy and look down the street, you can see it, meaning you can see one major Rose City TV station from the other.

KGW is not visible in this shot, of course.

Again I used sightlines to force perspective and creat a faux-telephoto effect. Cropping out parts of this photo would result in very nice abstract-urban bits.

22 September 2014

[PDX] More Wildfire-Inflected Sunset Pictures, From Inner NE Portland

Yesterday, when we were busy taking poses of the KATU studios, we did, in fact see the sunset.

I've been calling these Wildfire Sunsets and -Sunrises because the amber, gold, oranges, and reds I've seen in the sky really do seem unique and unusual, and the only cause I can logically single out is the Scroggins Valley Fire and the 36 Pit Fire. In this case, it's Scroggins Valley … these pictures are looking due west down NE Hoyt Street from NE 21st Avenue.

It's hard to resist taking the pictures when the clouds throw their shadows.

Certain similes including the names of some boiling precious metals seem not at all amiss here.

[PDX] The Studios of Portland: KATU, On Your East Side

A few days ago I'd visited the surrounds of KGW-TV, Channel 8, over on SW Jefferson St. And I'd rhapsodized about the KOIN Center before that. But one of Portland's Three Sisters of Broadcasting had escaped my lens, and that would be that (former) Fisher's Blend station, KATU.

KATU Logos over the years.
KATU's studios occupy what was originally a five-sided city block bounded on the north by NE Hoyt Street, on the south by NE Sandy Blvd and a slivery piece of NE Glisan Street, on the west by NE 21st Avenue and on the east by NE 22nd. Its official address is 2153 NE Sandy Blvd, and the station has lived in this building since it was inaugurated in the early 1960s. It has also been an ABC station for all but about a year of its existence, and while the other major outlets in town have changed affiliations at least once or twice (even KPTV was an NBC station at one time), KATU has been Portland's ABC stalwart … though it is, it is said, the fourth Portland station to be an ABC affiliate.

The current look of the building dates from sometime in the 1980s, if memory serves. It removed the old logo (a big 2, shaped something like a top-heavy swan) from the building and went big for beige. The station ID gracing the SE and S sides of the building visible from Sandy Blvd date back to about that time. Earlier versions of the logo (including the classic swan-2) can be seen in the paragraph above.

The current facade of the building, oddly, is not where you find the front door. See the photo above. That corner of the building, including that white-stuccoed corner with the single grey door in it that holds the station's 2153 address in bold numbers was once the main entry. After the major remodel in the 80s, that entry moved to the other side of the building. But stay tuned for that, as they say.

The above shot is taken looking south on NE 22nd toward Sandy Blvd. The charming brick building was at one time a jazz club named E.J.'s; now it's the east wing of Silver Lining Jewelry and Loan. It's a pawn shop. That van is turning into NE Glisan St going east from Sandy and 22nd; it diverges from here to take you into the heart of Laurelhurst, Providence Hospital, and points east and east of that.

Moving to the NW corner of this block … NE 21st Avenue and Hoyt Street … is where the somewhat counter-intuitive actual-main-entry to the KATU studio is. I remember being here for that KATU blogger meetup a few years back,  still a cherished memory. And, while the logo on the other sides of the building recall a slightly earlier time, the ones over the main entry are up to date:

The current logo, the current On Your Side tagline, and the call sign of the Portland Univision outlet … KUNP. This is what they apparently call a 'duopoloy', which is a broadcasting thing.

Fittingly, the new logo and IDs are on the building's side (COMEDY GOLD! YOU'RE WELCOME, PORTLAND!)

Now I mentioned the five-sided block with a sliver of NE Glisan. Here's that side of the building today:

That long, flat side of the building with the landsaping in front of it, that landscaping used to be street. And that street was technically part of NE Glisan, though there was not enough of it to make a full-width street there. Out of shot on the left the not-so-busy part of NE Glisan Street continues nto the formerly-industrial neighborhood north of Sandy and south of I-84. Presumably this was done to make the intersection safer; Glisan and Sandy are both very busy arterials at this point, and the same thing about the diagonal of Sandy that creates those quirky little corners and interestingly-shaped blocks also make for dangerous intersections. And so that goes.

The part of the building that surrounds it like wainscoting is perhaps the part with the most visible history to it. Remember how I told you that SE corner of the building used to be the main entry? Well, check this out:

Note how the stone tile has a certain change of tone from just the other side of the CHANNEL 2 metal type there to the white pillar at the corner? That was part of the original entry way. And the addres numbers appear not just once on the building, but twice …

… on that metal flag that shows about fifty-odd years worth of wear. I find it sweet that KATU has left those old address numbers there. Makes me smile. I like anyone and anything that appreciates its own history, and KATU, being a broadcast station, and especially with its Fisher Broadcasting roots, knows how to do that

The motif here is along the west side of the building and I took it before we left to get some other pictures of the neighborhood because it's the only side of the building you'll find that on. And it's an interesting one, which suggests nature or canoes or something. It's really hard to say. But I like seeing it there.

21 September 2014

[liff] Outer East Portlandia Wildfire Afternoon

As posited in an earlier missive, the 36 Pit and Scroggins Creek Wildfires have, at a remove, given us amazing skies.

SE Stark at 117th Avenue, looking west.

The smoky cast t the clouds isn't always evident, but it stands right out when the sun peeks through those clouds.

Now, we're at SE 114th and Stark, still heading west.
Last afternoon the skies out here in Outer East Portlandia were decidedly amber.

God Loves the Denny's
And the effect overall was not unlike you walking into a room and seeing a filmy pall of the smokers within, clinging to the ceiling overhead.

Except that it wasn't nearly as obnoxious. At least, not this far away.

18 September 2014

[#RCTID] The Portland Connection To The New MLS Logo

As it seems to happen in cases like this, Soccer City USA, RCTID and all, there's also some sort of Rose City connection.

Love it or hate it, Major League Soccer has a new 'crest'-style logo meant to evoke a more universal soccer tradition. Divided into upper and lower halves by sinister (it's a heraldic term) diagonal line that extends from outside the shield, the letters MLS rule in the upper left corner supported by three stars, the three supporting 'pillars' of the brand, the three C's … Club, Community, Country.

But why those? What caused MLS to create those three concepts as core to the brand?

Well, because Portland, that's why. Brian Straus writes at SI.com:
Before the U.S. and Belize opened the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup in Portland, Oregon, the Timbers Army and American Outlaws unveiled a massive series of banners that featured ‘Cascadia Sam’ and the words ‘Community,’ ‘Club’ and ‘Country.’
So, now you know. 

[#RCTID] BREAKING: Major League Soccer Unveils New Logo

(h/t Jeff Fisher at this tweet hyar) I, for one, didn't see this coming.

I've always been charmed with the cleat-and-ball logo that was MLS's identity … but, apparently, MLS wasn't all that down:
We are not like other leagues, whether in North American sports or other soccer. Our situation is different, our history is unique, and how we express soccer is decidedly North American. We have goals and aspirations that are distinctly MLS. As a result, our brand and crest visually reflect the type of business we are.
As of 2008, the MLS logo appeared thus:

It was in colors until 2008; since, this was the official version of the design.

MLS has decided that it was time for a design that was different, soccer … but all-American. The result is thus:

The organization explains it this way:
The new brand's design is intended to say “soccer: without the literal ball and cleat. In the end, we decided that the inclusion of a ball and cleat is unnecessary as it dates us very quickly (due to the fast pace of innovation in our game) while many other ways exist to signal we are a soccer league. Our new brand will build meaning over time so that our new crest signifies soccer in North America and has a unique place in global sports.
I get what they're going for. That slash extending beyond the shield though, on the lower left there … I'll be honest, I don't get that.

The new logo (which they call a crest but, as every self-respecting heraldic professional will tell you, is a 'coat of arms' … whether or not a College of Heralds recognizes and protects it is actually issue altogether) is designed with an ulterior purpose. The blank half of the shield is meant to give room to the team's personal logo or device and is intended to be cast in the team's colors. For instance, here's the #RCTID version:

The other teams' versions, plus all the whalesong-and-joss-stick logo talk you could possibly take unless you were a graphic designer (note; I love logo whalesong-and-joss-stickery) can be found at MLS's new rollout page … here:


#RCTID, baby!

17 September 2014

[PDX] The Studios Of Portland: Retro-cool KGW-TV

I have said it before, and I'll say it again; TV stations are temples to me.

I'm sure it comes from too much Saturday morning TV and game shows and too much TV news when growing up. Once I saw pictures of Portland over the TV … well, it was game over for my sentimental heart.

Now that I've been a Portlander for more than half my life, it's surprising to realize that some things never get old to me. Like driving past TV stations … the technology, the energy. TV stations to me are like those purple lights to bugs. Irresistible.

I'm fortunate that I've gotten to tour some. Not all the ones I've wanted, of course; the day of the regular station tour … if ever there was one … is loooong past. But so far, KATU, Channel 2, KOPB, and KGW's Studio on the Square. KOIN, despite my love of its building, I've still not seen into, and the KGW main studio, still nada there too also. Hope springs eternal, at least within the limited bounds of a human's life.

But, as I said, I've never gotten tired of pulling past TV studios. And, if KOIN's is a mothership, then KGW's is Moonbase Alpha … kind of what you get if you let all the architecture in Gerry Anderson's TV shows collide and merge, but in the good way, totally in the good way.

You reach the KGW studios by travelling west on SW Jefferson Street going out of the city core. The two streets, SW Jefferson and SW Columbia, form an important legacy 1-way couplet; these two streets carried US Highway 26 before the Sunset Highway was built and connected to the inner I-5/I-405 freeway gauntlet. The streets still merge at SW 18th Avenue and proceed under the Vista Bridge to merge with the Sunset just west of the Vista Ridge Tunnel.

But I digress and get away with myself, and pass by the building just like you might, because it cleverly slots into its surrounds. The facade almost seems too small to contain a TV station. But it's there, on the north side of SW Jefferson Street, between SW 14th and 17th Avenues, just as you start to go downhill into the bowl of Goose Hollow.

The first thing you notice is the cowlings over the windows. When KGW's studios were built, they were obviously designing for a then-futuristic look. Well, it's gone through a futuristic phase through various fashion changes without altering, and now, it's come back around … delightfully retro-futuristic, riding the Ouroborous of architectural fashion.

This is one cool-ass building.

That mast at one time held a lit sign bearing the station's call-letters. The place you'll find station ID from street level is on a modest sign in front:

The new Gannett empire style has not yet trickled down to the sign in front, but I'm sure it's set to soon. It holds all the just-superceded logos, including the old KGW.com and a digital subchannel I must say we quite miss … KGW 24/7, kind of a super-local weather channel, cycling beautiful Oregon views from KGW's many remote cams with the occasional weather report and news-show recast. This was a good, great thing, and we miss it. Seriously.

The front of the studio has a classy touch no other broadcast center in Portland has … this wonderful semi-circular drive designed to drop anyone, in any limo (or personal car, even) in style, at the front door to the station. It really is quite hip, and moreso in person.

Did I want to walk up and look in that lobby? You bet! Did I? No! I respect boundaries. But I'm hoping that someday KGW gives a studio tour. I would so be there.

Now, I mentioned that it seemed a brief facade for a TV studio. It's what I've heard call a 'sleeper' … a little front leads to a big back side. In this case, the building is shaped like a reversed "L", with the tip of the base of the L peeking out onto Jefferson. The building extends back and then turns west. The back door is about a block north of Jefferson on SW 17th Avenue:

… which you can tell, because there's the window cowls up there.

Each edifice has things to recommend it. KGW's is just totally cool, because it has this funky futuristic design that became retro-future, and it wears it with cool self-confidence.

KGW doesn't need your approval. KGW just is. 

[PDX] Yay, But Just For Green Arrow

In Portland, we like our superheroes, true.

But only one counts, really:

The only superhero we love.Right on … Green Arrow, ONLY!

So, you go boy … but just Green Arrow, ya understand?

The rest of you are on your own. 

16 September 2014

[PDX] 36 Pit Wildfire Morning From Portland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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