25 August 2014

[pdx_legends] Working Kirk Reeves - Portland's Patron Saint, Now In Mural Form

He's part of Portland's landscape now … on a permanent, full-time basis.

When Kirk Reeves passed from us, since two years ago as of November, more than one intersecting PDX artistic community gasped in shock, dismay and despair. I'm sure there are those around us trying to still come to terms with it. I, for one, can't hit the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge going east, either straight on from SW Madison Street or coming up the ramp from northbound Naito Parkway, without looking at that little pavement peninsula he sat on with his horn and his paraphernalia, busking in those absurd-but-oh-so-right white tails, sequined waistcoat, and Mickey Mouse ears, wishing that he could somehow come back and do an encore for a while.

Well, Kirk is back … in a way.

Of course, those of us who knew and loved having Kirk around were hoping for a tribute of some sort. You don't lose that sort of happiness without feeling generally betrayed by the world in general, but having a homage to someone who kept others' spirits so high helps us do what healing we have to do to move on.

We loved Kirk enough that we lobbied to have the Tilikum Crossing named for him; the learned heads on the commission decided on another name despite Working Kirk being the popular choice, because learned heads reasons.

But someone did finally come up with something, and it's smashing, and I fancy that Kirk might have approved. At 430 NE Lloyd Blvd – the corner of Lloyd and NE Grand Avenue … there is a small, plain building that was, for years, home to a business called Rich's Delicatessen. Like almost everything that thrived in the 80s, it's gone now, and the building has been remodeled and refreshed, at least on the outside (the inside remains unfinished, a large expanse of gravel taking up most of the middle of the floor. Oddest thing …).

Thanks to the preternaturally sensitive artist, Gwenn Seemel, there is now a firey-passionate mural on that wall …

The style of the painting, seeming to layer small abstract shapes over colors and making up forms from these shapes, conveys a lot of emotion. It depicts, as closely as possible, the quiet riot that was the passion of Kirk.

The permanent beatific smile, the immense personal warmth one felt when talking with the man … it's all there. The message is there too, and rendered in playful, hand-created type.

It's a thing of despair to see that Kirk now kind of iconically stands out in the city he spent his artistic passion in, but it's a hopeful thing too … the combination of the style, the likeliness gazing warmly out at everyone who may pass that way and the message above, kind of makes me think he's really gazing out there. Makes me think I can go by and say 'hi' and he will, somehow, hear me and listen and somehow respond.

He's a part of the fabric of the city now, a patron saint of all of us aspiring artists who are striving to overcome our own obstacles, made real by an artist with a very deft touch.

… watching over a city where food carts roam the streets between gigs …

… and where streetcar tracks bask in the warmth of a somewhat-too-warm late August Portland gloaming.

Being part of the Orycon family, I'd call him a friend; he had closer friends than I did. But I feel privileged that I knew him at all.

He was one of those people who are like that. The world was simply better that he was around at all; it's a bit lacklustre becase he's not here now, but you know you were lucky just to share the same planet with him, if only for a little while. 

23 August 2014

[liff] Scrabble at Chez Burgerville, 82nd and Glisan

What you do after you've had a hot, tiring, but quintessentially-satisfying day on Hawthorne Boulevard is take your Scrabble set to the Burgerville on NE 82nd and Glisan and play.

True story: at the corner of SE 41st and Hawthorne there is a curiosity shop that's having an going-out-of-business sale, and the shop is called the Blue Butterfly.

It's been having its GOOB sale for about 2 yahren, as memory service. Not hatin, just sayin'.

Anyhow. We poked around the tables in front and found a Diamond Anniversary Scrabble set. It's in this plastic clamshell case, with two drawers for holding tiles and the racks, rubberized wheels designed to allow the board to rotate in place when open, and a raised grid for holding the letters in place. But would it have all the tiles, we wondered?

I waited as The Wife™ did a quick count. 99 tiles. There should be 100. At a $5 price tag?

Hell, close enough!

Needing a cooling break, the next stop was the aforesaid Burgerville. Over two beverages, we laid out the tiles … no, actually, there were 100 of them!

Just one thing to do … game on.

My wife is a cutthroat Scrabble player. I rarely win. I won this game by one point …

… 10 points, if you deduct that Q that's laying just to the right of the playing field. That was hers. I used all mine.

That word at the bottom, PLUNGER? I started it as LUNG. She added the E for LUNGE, and I put in the P and R to complete the word. It wasn't the winning coup, but I figure I got style points for that.

[comics] Spiral Notebook Comics: Bob's Yer Paradigm!

Brother, can he paradigm!

Can you smell the leadership?

21 August 2014

[PDX] Faux Telephoto - Hawthorne And The Big Hill East of César E Chávez

It was said, on the Hawthorne Street Fair Facebook page, that this was the first time the Boulevard between 30th and 38th had been closed in decades.

This gave the perfect opportunity, of course, for some angles that you couldn't otherwise get else the chance of grievous bodily injury. An always-inspiring view is the view east down Hawthorne, with the street rising to meet, and appear to be utterly defeated by, our legendary volcano-within-a-city, Mount Tabor.

It will be remembered, though, that Hawthorne Blvd was named after Dr. Hawthorne, who once ran what they called then an "Home for the Insane" down near where the Hawthorne Bridge now, and the street started life as Asylum Avenue.

So, on Hawthorne, unless anything's possible and everything's a little crayzee, then it ain't right. Not really.

The above photo looks down Asylum Avenue east from just west of Chávez up tow where the street jogs south on the side of Mount Tabor. That edifice at the apparent termination of the street is the Portland campus of Western Seminary.

Notice the dude there in the lower left of frame. He's doing what I'm doing, except his only companion is a tripod. Tripods are nice, but wives are better to have around. Just my opinion, of course. Now, when  you widen the angle, here's what you see …

The loftily-named 'Mount' Tabor is merely a hill, though a most pulchritudinous one. It is an extinct volcano, and one of the western outposts of what is amusingly called the Boring Volcanic Field. A great number of small, knobbly hills spread out south and east into the Multnomah and Clackamas hinterlands; these all erupted over one period, with nary a peep since the last 300,000 years.

In short, it's dead, Jim.

The summit elevation is reported as 636 feet above sea level; the surrounds are about 200 feet above sea level, though, so that's a 400 foot hill there. Still, remarkable; of all the cities in the USA, only four are thought to have extinct volcanoes within the city boundary. Two of them are in Oregon.

When you zoom in, crop and frame, and go for a compressed perspective view, though, that's where I fall in love:

The parts of Hawthorne west of Tabor are kind of in two parts to me: the painfully cute and fashionable, which stretch from about SE 30th Avenue to Chåvez Blvd, and the more clubby section, which run from Chávez to 50th.

When reviewing the photos I was going to put there, I realized that I tend to prefer photos with few people in them. This one, with the two young dudes there, just ambling down the street enjoying life, spoke to me, saying that maybe I shouldn't be so aloof. But, just to satisfy the aesthete in me:

… here's one where you can ignore the peoples, if you want.

A few years back, when we Portlanders went through the spasmic renaming of what we then called NE and SE 39th Avenue to César E Chávez Boulevard, it was such a strange thing. Yet again, the careful rules that were agreed on to ensure that everyone … especially those along the route, who would have to spend money changing up stationery and signage … was on board with the change, were rather casually set aside because reasons. And more than a few people, of more than one ethnic POV, pointed out that it'd take more than a street name change to really address the problems that we all saw in a mere street name-change.

But the change did go through, as it did. And I don't think I'm off the beam in saying that it very much appears that the vast majority of us have not only made peace with the change, but have embraced it. I like the idea that my hometown has a street named for Chávez; it fits with the sort of place Portland's trying to collectively constantly reinvent itself as.

So when I take a picture like this:

… with the street blade settling in against the charming latticework of the windows in the façade of the Hawthorne Theater, there's something there that's never been more natural somehow. It's part of the fabric of Portland now, which has been many things, sometimes simultaneously, often contradictingly … corrupt and holy, fair and unjust, progressive and regressive, rich of heart and poor of spirit …  All of that. Depending on time you look and the angle of persistence.

Exegesis in a photo.

One more: as addicted as I'm becoming to the forced perspective, the Telepfauxto, in sizing and cropping for display, this angle and crop hit me as perfect. Just makes me happy. That's all it is here:

I love you, Portland.

20 August 2014

[PDX] Scenes From A Street Fair: Hawthorne Blvd, 2014

This last Sunday we sojourned over to the other side of the mountain (Mt. Tabor, that is), and went from our part of Hawthorne Blvd to the fashionable part of Hawthorne Blvd to see the people there.

Hawthorne Street Fair 2014 was happening this hot August day, and The Wife™ really wanted to go; me, I tend to stay away from human contact, having figured that, at this point, I've met all the people I need to. But, my love loves going out to these things … there are few things more quintessentially Portland than this … and I realize that she has the right of such things, as not being out in the world isn't really an option if one fancies themselves an artist.

And, besides, I haven't taken Photos on Sunday in a few weeks. That investment in time paid off, as follows in the scenes; one of the delights of curating one of these postings is I get to look at all the photos, re-experience the reality as the memory wells up. Coincidentally, it's one of the burdens as well – I end up sorting through so many pictures I get lost in selecting the ones that tell the story I want to tell.

The story is really the people and the surroundings. Now, mind, I'm not bagging on it, but the Hawthorne Street Fair is, at its nut, a bunch of people coming out to sell you things. I'm not criticizing it, here, but it is what it is.

That said, there's nothing wrong at all with it, it's got a bunch of great stuff and, in the Portland DIY tradition, all the best. We bought artisan soap from an entrepreneur who sold Scrumptious Suds (here's her website, and here's her Etsy shop). We stumbled upon a quite wonderful thing, a soap made with Ninkasi Oatis Oatmeal Stout, which smells a lot better than you'd think it did … warm, embracing, as The Wife™ said (I paraphrase) like a crisp autumn evening when the neighbors  have just stoked their fireplace, all that in the good way.

The old city-neighborhood feel of Hawthorne is endlessly enticing. Businesses have changed over the years … that Blue Star Doughnut shop, whose sign is just behind the telephone pole in the center of the picture there, used to be a Chinese food joint of some 30 years standing … but everything seems just as inviting as the first time, years ago, me and Wife got down Hawthorne and realized that These Were Our People-ish.

The merchants along Hawthorne in that area had stalls out in the street. The above display was apparently being marketed by the owner of the Potala import shop in the building directly opposite. I particularly loved that big glyph over the display of Tibetan impedimenta below.

As I've always said, you can always find your Om on Hawthorne.

The Peterson Building
The theme of the day is people and surroundings; this building has always delighted the eye. The Peterson Building, 3530 SE Hawthorne Blvd, just bursts with imaginative potential. That little niche balcony up there. The two bay-windows toward the building's corner (don't they just make you think of hard-boiled PI's offices?). The hand-painted sign over the main entry to the upper floor there. The individually-painted shop facades. Made my point here, I think.

Again, the people. If those two old lovers aren't as Portland as anything, then nothing is.

One of the merchants on the street. I found her quite beautiful in absolute terms.

Oh, the ubiquty … one of our legendary food carts. I have never met a fried egg I didn't enjoy, so I dug this name for a long time before I found out it was a pun on the title of one of the Cure's most popular songs. But then I never was big on the Cure. Just the way I roll there.

Whatever that old, rusted sign with the light-studded arrow (or it would be, if any power was going to it) ever held, I don't know. But it suggests so many stories.

Tall bikes are a thing here locally, and I saw a couple. This one …

… looked fairly adventurous, and I was duly impressed. But I was really blown away by this one…

… with a fellow Portlander alongside for scale. Seriously, look at that rig! It  has stairs on it. 

I'm not sure what this mute duo's act was, whether they were trying to sell something or just to perform. That costume must have been murder in the heat though … at least as it was beautiful to look at.

They were absolutely quiet. No words.

The beats were as heavy as the pavement was hot:

And it caused not a little bit of dancing.

This dancer, as you can see, she owned that beat.

The Bread and Ink Cafe,  SE 36th and Hawthorne, started out as the original location of the Hawthorne Fred Meyer store (as photos I've seen depict, but none I can find right now).

Diners can now enjoy meals as well as draw on the tablecloths.

Of course, being Hawthorne and being Portland, there's other drawin's and art …

And, again, the surroundings: the building the Bagdad Theater's in has always been pleasant to the eye. Massive and sculpted.

I have a few more photos that I may share in subsequent postings.

But what I'll remember? Tiring … but a good tired. Glad I went. 

[print] Soylent News™'s New Calendar Strikes Again …

… but, on what day, it's kinda hard to tell. But then, isn't time an arbitrary thing, especially when NCA3 is doggedly, tirelessly, relentlessly redefining today's The Oregonian as a thing to be read?

We return to the scene of the crime, Library Day (accept no substitutes), and The Wife™, who is doing her usual weekly catch-up, and peeps it. Here's the wide-angle view:

So stipulated. And, now, the closeup.

Yep. As documented previously, there's been the Julian, the Gregorian, and now, the Oregonian Calendar. Didn't like the way Sunday, August 11th, 2014 worked out for you?

Don't worry, Soylent News™ is giving you a do-over on Monday, August 11th 2014.

But, as documented earlier, remember, it's always Tuesday at the new Fun-Size™Oregonian. 

And Tuesday is Soylent News™ day. 

13 August 2014

[PDX] Joe Vithayathil: The Latter-Day Frank Bonnema

Old-school Portlandia, pure and simple.

Those of you who have any recollection about Back-in-the-Day around these parts know about Portland Wrestling. You are no doubt aware of modern pro-wrestling, with its flash and gloss and pyrotechnics, and its acknowledgement of kayfabe-as-dramatic-storyline.

I can't really get into it. I remember pro-wrestling as-it-was … regional circuits, a working-man's pastime at the fairground or at the armory, and every week, without fail, on KPTV-12, late at night on Saturday … it was Portland Wrestling. It was the kind of show that your babysitter would let you stay up much later than you should be (and don't tell Mom) to watch. Hailing from the Portland Sports Arena (which was a converted bowling alley, I'm told, up on North Chautauqua Blvd), we got a weekly diet of Tom Peterson Xonix TVs, Playboy Buddy Rose, Rowdy Roddy Piper when he was comin' up … and Frank Bonnema.

He didn't host Portland Wrestling. He was Portland Wrestling.

Joe Vithayathil, a/k/a Joe V, KPTV's feature reporter, is also a wrestling geek from 'way back. He is right now living the dream. He hosted the recent re-incarnation of Portland Wrestling, known as Portland Wrestling Uncut, which has been on hiatus for far too long. And he's still working it … we understand that he's debuted a book about Lynn Denton.

Those of you suitably informed will know this man as THE GRAPPLER:
Yours truly is the author (well, co-author technically) of Grappler: Memoirs of a Masked Madman. It’s the autobiography of my good friend Lynn Denton, better known to the pro wrestling world as “The Grappler”. As I have discussed before on this blog, I was a wrestling nerd for decades, dating all the way back to the mid-80s. In 2012, a childhood dream came true (at the age of 36) when I was given the opportunity to work on a local wrestling show with Lynn- who everyone calls Lenny- and WWE Hall of Famer Roddy Piper. I became close with both men, and it was clear to me that Lenny had a story to share with the world.
Like I said, livin' the dream.

Joe has a blog posting up about it all here: http://gdojoe.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/look-ma-i-wrote-a-book/.  He's working hard at following in the footsteps of Bonnema, and while they broke the mold when they made that guy. I'd say Joe has the passion to make himself the modern-day image of the man.

As Katherine Dunn proved, writing about warriors in the squared circle can be seen as poetry on its own. I certainly wish the best for this effort.

[PDX] Love Sellwood? Then There's a Bridge I'd Like To Sell You.

Seriously …
After nearly 90 years of public service, the Sellwood Bridge could have a new owner and a new home. The bridge has been designated a historic resource which requires it to be made available for historic reuse before it is removed to make way for the new Sellwood Bridge. Multnomah County is accepting proposals to buy the bridge until September 12, 2014.
This chapter of the Sellwood Bridge follies isn't facetious, though, it be for real. The old bridge has to go, and since it's (as the excerpt says) a 'historic resource', they have to put the ol' girl up for grabs. You want it, you can maybe get it.

It is a continuous steel truss, over 1,000 feet in length, and you have to take it away. So, it's like a spiffy piece of furniture in someone's front yard, with a sign saying 'best offer', and you have to move it.

Only muuuuuuuuch bigger.

So get your proposals together and get your financing in line by the 24th of next month.

One very historic bridge … such a deal!

Full details at http://www.sellwoodbridge.org/?e=554

Good luck. 

11 August 2014

[PDX} Project Pabst Bites My Style

Recently, as in the last couple of weeks, I've seen a upcoming festival break in the press; a little thing called Project Pabst, a musical festival (a/k/a that voodoo we do so well) featuring a plethora of musical combos in a marketing love letter to a city that apparently made a beer I drank when I didn't care about quality cool again.

They've come up with a pretty cute badge for it … here, let' me give you a look at it:

Totes adorbs, right? But I wonder … where could they have gotten the idea to combine a unicorn with the Portland Oregon sign? Where, I wonder … hermmmmm … Oh! I know Maybe, maybe, I don't know, I never had any success at designing, but, back in March, 2009, I posted this to this very tower of cultural integrity …

Dang. Uncanny.

Oh, I know. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. And maybe … just maybe … that foolie a few of us got in on back during those days to remind everyone that Portland is built on an ancient unicorn burial ground has longer legs than I thought and went deeper than we imagined it would. And it's easy enough to say they got the idea out of the same found objects pile that I did.

Still …

If it was the inspiration, a hat tip would've been nice. Just sayin' here.

(speaking of hat tips, thanks for pointing this out, Mike Vogel, and his little twitter dog, too)

[PDX] TriMet MAX: KATU Says It Runs On Magic

While we have always held that Portland is built over the site of an ancient unicorn burial ground, I had no idea how deeply that went.

Here, today, KATU-Channel 2 has put up an article (that might be edited by the time you look at it, but it's here) about delays caused by upcoming maintenance. Here's a screenshot:

Not the best time for service delays, what with the hothothot weather and all. But what's that there? Second 'graf …

There you have it. They're using witches to power MAX. It's right there, and you couldn't put it on the web if it t'warnt true. And here I thought public transit was ran by muggles all this time. Live and learn, I suppose.

But what kind of witch improvements? I'm thinking better and more powerful spells to provide more trains and more on-time service. Though, if I were improving my witches, I'd not necessarily ask TriMet for that sort of advice on it. They'd probably just figure out some way to lay them off, budgets being what they are, and you don't want to lay off witches without a very good reason.

I'd ask a unicorn … if they were still around.

Sorry to be a downer here … but it is what it is. Or they are what they were, more appropriately.

UPDATE, 2208 Monday: Amusingly enough, KATU has not edited the article. Go fig.