31 March 2014

[design] Milton Glaser Hearts Microbrew Labels. Unless He Doesn't. Without Extra Added PDX.

Milton Glaser is responsible for a a lot of graphic awesomeness over his career, including a very iconic New York logo.

Just recently The New York Times asked him to review a handful of microbrew's labels. Is very trenchant. The bad reviews are, as usual, the most fun to read, as witness:
“The surface of this is so unpleasant. It sort of looks lumpy, like food that has gone bad. To me, this is antithetical to the idea of refreshing taste. Even though this violates assumption, it still doesn’t create a sense of anticipation about drinking it.”
The rest are here.

SPOILER ALERT: There is no mention on Portland anywhere on this list. Yeah, I know, right? You figure any intersection of NYT, beer and microbreweries would squeeze out a pip labelled PDX, but no. Not this time.

(via You The Designer)

30 March 2014

[art in PDX] Used Books at I've Been Framed

One of our favorite places on this or any other world, I've Been Framed, also sells art books, did you know?

This picture, nicked from IBF's Facebook stream, shows a little less than the half of what they have on offer. You'll have to wait 'till Monday to shop (they closed today) but a trip to see if they have some stuff to interest is highly indicated.

However, that one on the upper right there, the Dorling-Kindersley The New Artist's Handbook, by Smith, you can't have. And do you know why?

Because I bought it. I got there before you did.

Hey, you snooze, you lose.

[art] Pens, For the Record

For writing at work: old, battered Cross Classic Century, probably from before the time they started using the word "Classic" up from to market it. Penatia makes refills for these at about $5 the two at Staples. Only ballpoint pen I can stand using.

For diary writing: One of either:

  • Preppy Platinum Fountain Pen. Well-used by now, economical, will go the distance. 
  • The above mentioned Cross Classic Century.
  • Pilot Precise V5 Roller-ball. Liquid ink. The best roller ball pen on the market, by far. No competition.
For Drawing: for inking in,  COPIC Muliliner SP, 0.1, 0.35, 0.7 widths.

Pencils employed are usually mechanical, and I rely on the .5. Have 2 really nifty Staedtler 925s for this.

27 March 2014

[pdx] 1 Elevator Street, Oregon City, Oregon

In Oregon City, an elevator is something other than else.

The history of the elevator goes way, way back, and the legend goes something like this: as the city developed, this legend goes, the early OCans made do with the trails that the original inhabitants used to get between the bench and the bluff. That wouldn't fly over the long term, of course. Eventually, funds were raised for a more civilized way up the hill.

The first elevator, which went into operation about 1915, was a water-powered contraption, very business-like, matter-of-fact, practical, and plain. You got up and got down and got about your business. In the mid 1950's, though, the current version - which is done in a combination of what I understand to be Art Deco and a Space-Age style somewhat appropriate to The Jetsons, possibly inspired a little by Metropolis, was built and went into service. And this is what we have now.

The entry is a tunnel leading below the railroad tracks from this nifty fa├žade at the intersection of 7th and Railroad Streets, just one block away from the end of the Arch Bridge (Downtown OC is defined by three N-S streets, and is only two blocks wide).

The crow's-nest observation deck is about 130 feet up, and has the nifty look of a alien spaceship from some 1950s B-monster SF flick.

You can fly me anytime, baby.

The elevator is really a conventional elevator, which is unique because Oregon City employs an elevator operator. He (today it was a he) sits on a small stool behind a plexi partition and works the buttons, is generally a nice host-y presence.

Being a map aficionado, the floor of the deck had a great thing for me to see. That, of course, would be … a map. Quelle suprise.

A plat map (a plat is the term of art of the original town street design on the ground, whether the streets actually get built or not) from the original OC was adapted into a design for the floor of the deck. Brown blocks for the lower level; green blocks for the upper.

The 'wooly-worm' design that denotes the bluff is known by cartographers as a hachure, and in this case is mostly symbolic, but is a rather rustic way of indicating slopes. In more technical representations, the length and width of the hachure indicates the slope and direction of slope; much as you can tell how sheer a hill is by the spacing of the contour lines on a modern relief map, knowing how to read a hachure gives you a graphical glimpse-idea of the terrain.

The crow's nest design of the deck allows historic Oregon City to show herself off at her sexiest.

All about, the deck (and the tunnel below) are lined with an ingenious historical display. Each photo is a layered thing: a modern view, a historic view, and a wide panorama of the falls. Due to the same effect that allowed a kids eye to wink at you in those toys that had the corrugated plastic, that gave a kind of animation effect, the exhibits designers packed a time panorama into a series of well-curated panels.

The below I selected because, well, vintage street signs, and the kind of finger-directional signs we used to grow around here, a style which existed well into the 1960s.

The art-deco touch even extends to the well-chosen typography, which is drawn from the past's idea of what the future would be. Of particular note is the low waistline on the font, which can be noted in the R, E, and G, and the absolute geometric perfection of the forms. The Art-Decoish feel to the facade just reinforces the retro-future feel.

The tunnel leading to the lower entry to the elevator is a great place to play your songs, as this guy working it showed us. He didn't seem to be busking, just playing to hear himself play. He was quite skillful and very much into it.

I love tunnels. They're fun to photograph and the neat thing about it is you can take it for where you are or it can be anywhere. They're great for fantasizing and getting lost in your own visions.

And from this Art Deco treasure, you can see the other.

26 March 2014

[logo] 2 Fun Logos Spotted In The OC

Returning once again to that little hidden gem, downtown Oregon City, I found two fun and kind of funny logos on a business there.

The Verdict is a restaurant and lounge located on 8th Street between Main St and McLoughlin Blvd, directly across the street from the south face of the Clackamas County Courthouse, whence it obviously draws its inspiration. I've never been there but we might go sometime; the menu looks witty and in the parlance of the review sites, the prices are one-and-a-half to two $'s.

The logo, which is witty, looks like this:

With the scales of justice at different levels, I'd say we're looking at a split decision.

They also have an adjoining function space (in a building that their website avers is the oldest commercial building standing in Oregon) called, appropriately …

… The Holding Cell.

Whimsy in logo design is apparently a Constitutional right.

Case closed, though appealing.

25 March 2014

[pdx] Travelogue: Downtown Oregon City (another photo essay w/words scattered about)

The perambulations of yesterday, as I may have intimated (and if I didn't, I'm doing so here), included a rather extensive leg up and down Main Street in downtown Oregon City.

The lower levels, as they called 'em back in the day.

Downtown Oregon City is a cozy place.

It's shimmed between the river on one side and the bluff on the other. In this rift is a very cozy neighborhood with some pretty vibrant businesses and lovely architecture. On this mid-Sunday afternoon, typically a sleepy time in Oregon cities of any size, there were a bustling pizzeria and a hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place, both doing good business.

As to the architecture, this building - labelled COMMERCE BANK and hosting and Edward D. Jones stock broker's office on the ground level - has survived a bit more than a century. That space-age thing against the bluff is Oregon City's famed Municipal Elevator, of which more later. This picture was taken at the corner of 7th and Main Streets.

The street fronting onto the river is McLoughlin Blvd, a part of Oregon Highway 99E, the major artery down the east side of the Willamette Valley. At this point it's an arterial taking you past and around the end of downtown. Center here is the old Clackamas County Courthouse, to which we will return.

Like I said, cozy place.

A view downstream on the Willamette from the middle of the Arch Bridge, which one gets on by going to the corner of 7th and Main and heading west. It's hard to miss how narrow the river is at this point, especially if one is used to its full-bore majesty north and south of this place. In the distance is the Abernathy Bridge, the one that carries Interstate 205 over the Willamette as it strikes out for SE Portland.

Now, while we were viewing the above, we couldn't help but notice a distance barking of … seals? Yes, there were seals there. And zooming in to the max with my Canon, this is the best view we could get:

Note the small black pips there more or less at the center of the shot. We could just make out the bobbing of heads.

Seals. Pinnipeds in the Willamette.

A view back down the bridge gives a clear idea of how the bridge leads into the center of downtown …

… and this one from the crow's nest of the elevator looking down at Arch Bridge and the vicinity of the eastern approach. Downtown OC's so snugly packed it gets lost down there. Lovely small-town architecture.

Between the River and the Rails …

There are a great many placards of all sorts in downtown Oregon City. This is a place that's proud of its history and doesn't want you to miss any of it. Tough to get lost there … even if you look down, there's a signpost telling what's nearby.

Singer Falls? We'll get there.

The Clackamas County Courhouse is a thing of muscular beauty. It, along with the rest of downtown, is cozy; Clackamas County is to be admired for maintaining a courthouse which is, by reputation, a bit small for the county's needs (a great deal of county admin happens at the south end of town, an area known by the locals as The Hilltop. In Oregon City, geography is all).

It occupies most of the block on Main Street between 8th and 9th. in the above POV, taken from 8th and Main, the foreground has an obelisk from the Arch Bridge before it was renovated, crediting the visionary who created the bridge's design, as well as many arched bridges along the Oregon coast … Conde B. McCulloch. Think reverently of him whenever you cross the bay at Newport.

The details of the building suggest the sort of project initiated during the Great Depression to get men back to work. The details are Art Deco and very representative of the artistic styles popular at that time as I'm familiar with them. The typography above is worth the price of admission right there.

A couple of photos back I noted a geographic feature I'd not unto then heard of: Singer Falls. I only knew of one falls associated with Oregon City. Well, there are two, and here's the other … Singer Falls:

Singer Falls. According to lore, Singer Creek once flowed from the upper level and came down the face of the bluff as a stream. Like many small streams in Oregon's larger towns, it's been largely culverted. This part, however, has been channeled into this chute, which is Singer Falls. The staircase that climbs the bluff crosses the stream, and it's all landscaped very nicely where the two cross. Worth the climb.

Fear and loathing in The OC? Nah. Just the van belonging to the tattoo shop that's across the street from the courthouse.

Say what you want about Oregon City, if they have tattoo shops near the courthouse, it can't be all that uncool.

It's very walkable down there. Cute little alleys between buildings beckon.

The best angle on the Arch Bridge we can get off main street, and framed by not only by nature but the constructions of man.

And, as a coda, detected at last, evidence of Democrats in Clackamas County. As a fellow Democrat, I feel for them. Judging by the sorts of people who get elected down that way, they have a hard job pretty much all the time.

But, when you can show off a Senator Jeff Merkley-autographed lawns sign, then things can't be all that bad.

This is Merkley Country, yo. Represent.

I was surprised by a lot I found there. Downtown Oregon City really is kind of a spiffy, tidy place (not one, but three hobby stores down there, and two furniture stores, as well as a video production company). It's a real gem, tucked down where you'll miss it if you don't take the time to look.

Maybe they're trying to keep it a secret.

24 March 2014

[pdx] Hyas Tyee Tumwater (a photo essay w/a few words here and there)

Oregon City, as an incorporated town, is, for the European culture of the American west, a very old thing. Goes all the way back to 1845 as a municipal corpration, 14 years before the USA constructed what we call a "State" on the site. Lord only knows what it is we're building now, but we're doomed to find out, I'm certain.

But my phlegmatic attitude about the middle-term future aside for now, Oregon City is truly a sort of a gem. That it lost the primacy battle to Portland is obvious in that it's a subsidiary city, part of the periphery to Portland's metropole. Today, more than 150 years after its founding, it still only hefts less than 35,000 people, and in todays inflated Oregon populations, that obtains an atmosphere more appropriate to a slightly-larger Silverton or Molalla.

Viewing the geography, it's kind of obvious why the founders thought The OC would prosper a bit more wildly. It was about as far up as the boats could go, and it had a ready-made source of power.
Today, we call it Willamette Falls. Back then, it might have been called hyas tyee tumwater in a hybrid of English and Chinuk wawa: hyas tyee can take shadings of expression but essentially can be thought of as big king, and tumwater being a Chinuk-English fusion, the tum word meaning a strong, muscular sound, like that of a roaring heartbeat.

Big King of the Roaring Water.

You don't think or hear much about Willamette Falls, and that's sad. Despite its mere 40-foot height and lack of a sheer drop, and not to mention the difficulty there is in getting a good view (we keep it hidden in the graveyard of the paper industry in downtown Oregon City) it's a world-class cataract: the second largest waterfall in North America, behind Niagara, and the seventeenth largest on the planet, according to the World Waterfall Database (which puts Victoria Falls at tenth and the drowned Celilo Falls at seventh).

Living the mollycoddled life of the Portland denizen tends to make one forget how rugged and majestic Oregon really is. But that misconception is something that can be handled.

Requires a bit of a walk, however.

If one takes the Oregon City Municipal Elevator up from the lower level, the geographic relief becomes quickly apparent, as does the town's industrial history. at your feet is the shuttered Blue Heron Paper plant, which was James River before that, which was Zellerbach before that, which was Crown-Zellerbach before that.

A half-century of industrial history. Now Oregon City gets to figure out what to do with the leftovers. The young lady under the tree, however, fills diary pages and listens to music (the weather this March day being quite fine for the Portland area)>

Once off the elevator and out of the crow's nest at the top, the sojourner is presented with a rather hilly walk. Up and down, overlooking the river, downtown, and the old paper mills. If you're out of shape, you'll want to take it slowly; there are benches along the way, so those who need them can take breathers.

The park - McLoughlin Promenade, by name - fronts onto a sweet, quiet neighborhood on the upper levels, whose outward-facing houses are served by an unsigned right-of-way called Bluff Street, and backed up by the appropriately-named High Street.

Some streets are even-more appropriately named.

Near the south-end of the prom, overlooking Tumwater Drive and the VFW hall, is a rock outcropping that has photo-opportunity written all over it.

The tree makes for great framing when the foliage is gone. Of course, try as one might, one can't really get the falls without the industry. That was how the West was won, after all.

South from the falls, the river spreads out into a wide-throated titan. North, it is constricted between not only a narrow gorge but the tattered remnants of what once made Oregon City and West Linn throb with economic vitality.

A sense of power is obvious even from the pictures. The amount of mist the fall throws up is stunning. The roar of the falls can be heard from this far away … about a half-mile … even above the din of the modern world.

An enormous snag rests in the falls, giving some idea of the power that had brought it there.

Still, despite all the human strait-jacketing, the development, the horse-shoe shape of the falls is still quite beautiful, to ineptly gild the obvious, and I fancy that one is left to wonder what sort of devotion the falls would generate if people could just see it a bit easier.

This is Oregon.

15 March 2014

[Out122ndWay] Outer East Portlandia Sunrise With Added Ron Tonkin

Sunrise in Outer East Portlandia.

This contains all the things that cause anxiety to people who don't actually live out this way, but which, if you look upon things with a kinder eye, are just kind of homey.

This street is one of the 'miles and miles of unpaved streets in Portland' which seem to make so many people so unhappy. The homes are careworn, many of them, but they are also cared for; that little complex there on the right may need a coat of paint, but it's got nice people living within.

Just because this is Portland, it all has to by glossy and neat, I guess.

But I love it.

Meanwhile, southbound on NE 122nd Avenue at Glisan …

There it is, in the middle distance. You see it. Down there, on the left. A monument to an era. Once upon a time, two brothers … Marv, and Ron … opened two auto dealerships out 122nd way. The first one gave us a memorable jingle (though mayhap you moderns never heard of it. I pity you). Marv Tonkin Ford was where Courtesy Ford now is: the building, with integral arches giving a distinctive roof line, has been funadmentally re-modeled, and no trace of Marv's hand remains.

The other gave us a more visible monument:

… which is persistent and nostalgic, reminding of ages when the monumental neon sign was all. The lights still sparkle in the first name, and you can still see it from a looooong way off.

We no longer have either Tonkin with us, Ron having left us earlier this year, and Marv several years before that. There is still a surfeit of auto houses up and down 122nd between Burnside and Halsey, but Tonkin … for the love of cars … is still the king, surviving waves of Thomasons and Carrs and Alexanders and Lyman Slacks (long may their memories linger).

14 March 2014

[design] USPS Hendrix Stamp: 'Scuse Me, While I Lick This Guy

The USPS, one of the few places you can learn something about popular history without an agenda, has just released a pretty cool stamp.

It's pretty cool, are, for more than one reason:
The artist created the selvage and stamp art with acrylic paint and colored pencils. His choice of colors and designs introduced elements of movement and rhythm with an almost musical flow, paying homage to the 1960s without directly imitating the era’s art.
The stamp sheet, designed to resemble a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve, features a painting of Hendrix’s face surrounded by colorful swirls and small icons that reference song lyrics or aspects of Hendrix’s life.
And here's what it looks like:

Philatelists will note, and you can buy them at your local PO, or here.

(NB: They're self-adhesive. Those of you born in the current age will hopefully have been told that you used to have to lick your stamps. Don't lick these however. Oh, the sacrifices I'll make for a joke).

09 March 2014

[pdx] Local Model Shows Off PDX Unicorn Wear, ca. 2012!

Sherman, set the wayback machine to about sixteen months ago. We at OryCon 34, not at all ready for the apocalypse that wasn't, and me and The Wife™are getting ready to attend the annual Who's Line Is It Anyway performance, and I have a spiffy new phone that'll take pixs and have teh Bluetoof and stuff.

And we meet a fellow con-goer.

Now, some time before, me and a few wired locals (most notably Dave Strom, who once ran the site Dave Knows Portland (which was DaveKnows.com but that site has gone on to alphabet heaven, alas, however Dave and his sweetie Heather and their twin sons and kitteh can be followed at the blog Mile73)were furiously spreading the word that Portland is, indeed, built over an ancient unicorn burial patch (there were others involved, and it's been long enough that your names escape me, but I remember how much fun that was, so if you stumble this way, feel free to check in).

It never got as meme-worthy as I'd like (nothing ever seems to) but it did get hooves. Because here I was, at OryCon 33, and I spot this lady (whose name has been lost in the memory graveyard):

She agreed for a photeaux. Here's a closer look:

The original attempt to post this is at this entry hyar (http://zehnkatzen.blogspot.com/2012/11/pdx-orycon-34-portland-unicorns-got-legs.html) shows the tiny pixs I was then able to get.

Yeah, I'll bear up under the embarrassment of taking that long to figure out how to turn on the Bluetooth feature of my cell phone, because these pix are just that awesome.

Another awesome thing to note is that Portland's most awesome uncelebrated holiday, St. Unicorn's Day 2014, is coming next week on the 17th. Drink to remember the sweet Unicorns which died so that Portland can be a city that doesn't suck.

08 March 2014

[Out122ndWay] Famous Model Photoshopped By Local Photog! ZOMG!

It's true! Like many photographers, I have a favorite model, and occasionally I nudge a bit in Photoshop.

Well, it's Mount Hood again. I don't know whether the same ethical rules apply, but I find my favorite model voluptuous.

Today I went up 122nd from Sandy because of the beautiful slate-grayness of the clouds and how the bright-white of the mountains stood out against it. I got a photo of the mighty mountain that looked like this:

… and here's where I actually admit I tell the lie. But it's not a lie, not really, it's an interpretation; the way cameras have trouble reflecting what I'm actually seeing. The mountain, since I know how to look at it, appears a certain way in my mind. More like the above, and less like this, which is close to what it actually looked like:

Not actually too bad, Wy'east is always gorgeous no matter the weather, provided it can be seen, of course (you know the old joke? You can use Mount Hood to forecast the weather. If you can't see it, it's raining; if you can, it's going to). But a bit of tone and contrast adjustment in PS and it pops better, nudging the curves function makes it even better.

This next photo is more of the above (again, it's cropped to give the mountain the scene-composition that it really needs to dominate) …

 … and I showed it to you so I can contrast it with this:

What a difference, yeah? I really went to town in the adjustments … earlier, I realized when I adjusted the curves thus and such, that rose-colored area emerged out of the left hand side of the picture. The clouds in the sky take on a certain nacre-like quality, and the scene, on the whole, acquires the feel, sort of, of a pastel picture.