30 June 2015

[logo] Have You Seen The New Portland Streetcar Logo?

I noticed this one a few weeks back. The Portland Streetcar, enjoying expansion to the east side and the prospect of actually closing a loop once the Tilikum Crossing is finally open, has a new look for its logo. Before, it look thusly:

The old look, with the city silhouette and the crossing tracks, is still on the stop's signs. It's a nice logo, pretty basic, rather flat. Gets the job done, though.

But then I saw this, now appearing on the streetcars themselves, though not at the stops yet:

Kind of nifty, no? There's more thought and deliberation with the type, which has an echo of Underground and Gill Sans. The logo has, rather refreshingly, avoided the driver to have something obviously Portland-esque in it, and has gone for a total abstraction. It reminded me of something more than a clever opened-circle and an abstract S. Not that I wasn't enjoying the suggestion of tracks effectively communicated by the break in the S-form.

And then I thought of the German S-bahn, and it's standard S-in-a-circle logo, which you'll see right here. The S-bahn is comparable in service to the Portland Streetcar; the Stadtschnellbahn provides more local and street level, perhaps you'd say 'tram' (in the European street-train sense rather than the American gondola-hanging-from-a-great-height sense) level service … much like the Portland Streetcar, which connects with its community in much more intimate way than the MAX, meant to pick you up here and get you out there, does.

A variation on the S-bahn logo, or the S-bahn logo being in inspiration? Sure. Why not?

We find the Portland Streetcar logo upgrade worthy. 

[pdx] NW 11th and Davis, Sunday Afternoon

Last Sunday afternoon we were back on NW 11th, and instead of going straight into Powell's, we walked up a block.

This building, on the NW corner of NW 11th and Davis, now largely contains something called the "Pearl Auto Park". It's the sort of building you used to find throughout this section of town … this was part of the brewery district when Blitz was still being brewed here.

I can still smell the smell of brewing happening, in my mind. We've been haunting Powell's for that long, yes.

In front of us, now, The Arrmory, and the Gerding Theatre; much play happens there. The ziggurat beyond didn't exist ten years ago. This is such a different place now.

… but the buskers are still the same.

… and we have rail.

The block of NW 11th between Burnside and Couch, which I rhapsodized about last week, from a remove, with the Streetcar. The new-old debate of the geography is joined in earnest here. Whether or not it belongs, it's all here, now. 

26 June 2015

[liff] The 21st Century Kind Of Officially Got Under Way At Last Today …

… when America finally joined the rest of the planet.

Of my gay friends, I don't want to hear anything but you going off and enjoying your lives together.

Of those who don't feel as though marriage is something gay people have a right to … I just don't want to hear anything from you again. You have been proven wrong. History has proven you wrong. The Constitution proves you wrong.

And so it goes.

24 June 2015

[teh_funnay] How One Sometimes Feels When Watching The News Out Of Salem

Tomorrow's another day, Jake.

[liff] My Wife Says Things: Know Present, Know Future …

Whereas I kind of drone on, when it comes to philosphical matters, The Wife™ tends to save it up and then give it out in a burst of light:

This impressed me, so I share it here. I don't know about anyone else, but I read it as Know Present, Know Future … No Present, No Future.

Your mileage may vary. Let it do so. 

[pdx_art] Gwenn Seemel: The Legacy of Charlie Hales

Gwenn Seemel, who did the amazing Kirk Reeves mural on NE Grand Avenue at Lloyd Blvd in the Lloyd District, has her doubts about the legacy of Mayor Charlie Hales.

I find I have the same thoughts, feelings, and impressions. While people like me stew and worry and argue within ourselves and amongst ourselves, she arts it out.


The legacy of Mayor Charlie Hales from Gwenn Seemel on Vimeo.

Get a closeup of that picture, go to her blog: http://www.gwennseemel.com/index.php/blog/comments/legacy_charlie_hales/

23 June 2015

[pdx] SW 11th And W Burnside … A Flash Of What Was

The first few blocks of SW 11th Avenue, looking south from West Burnside Street, are amongst my favorite views in town … and not just because seeing it in this light, on a Sunday evening, means we're about to spend a blissful few hours in the litmosphere of Powell's.

It's just so delightfully close to my idea of urban, the ideal I formed growing up in Silverton. There are a lot of things to recommend it, in my view. The old faƧades of the buildings, reminding us of a time when Portland was a bit more affordable. One building down that block is still an SRO cheapass place, the Joyce Hotel.

The angle of the street a block up is a geographic detail I adore about Portland: the original city grid's alignment and the alignment of the old Couch DLC mesh at this point, giving interesting bends, beguiling views, and interestingly shaped blocks and buildings.

But there's a lot of old Portland still echoing from these blocks. It's a charming view and one you can lose yourself in, and resonates with my rememberances of all sorts of Big Towns on the television, in old movies and half-hour comedies and dramas.

And if you pull in and frame just right …

There really is a kind of down'n'dirty magic to such a view. An urban view. An American view. You can hear the echoes of the town that was … calling you. Old Portland and New Portland are having an argument over what kind of Portland will be going forward from here. Here, at SW 11th and West Burnside, it hangs in the air, a palpable thing.

[pdx_art] The Spritely Bean Comics Cafe … A Grand Opening Six Months in the Making

It is true of some places that, even though they have a certain inception date, they can't help but start sharing the awesome before they're actually open

Such is The Spritely Bean.

The Spritely Bean (http://www.spritelybean.com) is a little comic cafe and a brand new thing at 5829 SE Powell Blvd, in an area of Southeast Portland that is, quizzically, nearly devoid of decent coffee places or bookstores of any kind. So a need is being answered here, and answered with a really delightful, very Portland approach.

Coffee, zines, and comics. We see nothing the matter with this.

You step inside and the place is comfortable, appropriately lit, inviting. It's got graphic novels, zines, and comics in the back, and a wonderful place you can spread out and enjoy quality time in the neighborhood all around. It's the sort of place you can spread out in and enjoy your coffee, your comics … or a really nifty selection of cheap eats and delightfully unexpected finds like Vietnamese iced coffee.

Adam (pictured left) and Huynh are two of the most affable and warm people we've met in a while. They run the place and are its friendly heart and soul. How affable? I'd met Adam once … just once, mind you … and when we crossed paths in the dealer floor at Linework NW a couple of months back he recognized me instantly and greeted me as an old friend.

You can't fake friendliness like that. Free hot dogs too!

This last Sunday was the official Grand Opening. Spritely Bean has been open for about four or six months now, but they had to make it official some time, and now it is. I was happy to see the people coming through on mostly a constant basis … it's a destination place, obviously (we happily ran into Bwana Spoons, who happened by and spoke with the proprietors for a while, and left with the most delectable looking frappĆ©), but also a neighborhood place in a neighborhood that needs a place like this. The patronage was steady, which is always a good sign.

We looked at what they had to offer and what they have coming up, and this is really a place more people should work into their regular haunts. There are figure drawing sessions that have been held and will be held; you'll see a rich and exciting selection of zines (see the picture right); I discovered Modest Medusa there (a couple of books are still on offer). There is very much the indie and the local spirit there, everything that Portland's supposed to be famous for, artistically, is all here in microcosm.

It's not in our neighborhood but it's not too far out of the way, and it's something that that particular neighborhood has needed for a very long time. I'm happy to see it there, the neighbors are happy to see it there, and I'm hoping it has a long happy life in that area.

I'm not one for foreshadowing and omens,but finding a 2B drawing pencil in the middle
of an open table is significant somehow.
We're going to go by there on a regular basis, and I suggest everyone does.

18 June 2015

[pdx] What Good is Weird If You Can't Afford It?

We here at Home Base have been following the upwardly mobile cost of having a place to sleep in Portland with more than a little alarm. And while we're nowhere near retirement age, we do remember when one could find a place to hang in most areas of the core of Portland without having to pay more than half of ones' monthly poke.

We ourselves lived in a lovely one-room/kitchenette with a shared bath in NW Portland … NW Flanders between 21st and 22nd Avenues … for $150/month. And the same apartment we had near SE 52nd and Flavel until '04 … and was paying a mere $600/month for it (860 sf/2br/1bath) now leases for a year at more than $1,000 a month.

That's insane.

I love Portland's weird. I like helping to keep Portland weird. But if there's a sign at the city limits that says "You Must Be This Wealthy To Enter", then what good is weird? 

17 June 2015

[pdx] The View Of The Stadium From the Stadium Fred Meyer

For a very long time now, tucked into the tony area around NW 20th Ave and West Burnside Street, there's been a Fred Meyer store … the Stadium Fred Meyer. Adjacent to what we now call Providence Park, which was called Jeld-Wen Field, which was called PGE Park before that, the structure was once known as Civic Stadium, a rubric I still think of it as.

Too, the Stadium Fred Meyer store has been through an immense amount of change. It's recently completed a re-re-re-invention, and is quite a comfortable place to watch the city go by.

It has comfortable places to take your food you just got from the deli and look over the intersection of 20th and W Burnside. And it frames the 20th/Burnside gates to Providence Park handsomely - and somewhat intriguingly. There's a dystopian vibe in the way that low tin structure (with two of our ubiquitous street-food trucks in front) kind of distresses the view. Kind of like a scene out of Soylent Green, but with much, much fewer people.

The gates to the gladiatorial arena we love so much. The Timbers do an interesting thing. They get fans to pose for pictures every year and the best go on billboards and such. The fellah on the left of the clock has a rather witty jersey which tells you how much pity an opponent will receive in an ideal match. Ideal matches don't always happen, of course; that's why sportswriters are still so important.

The 5/40 logo is all about team history. In 1975, the Timbers heralded the coming of Soccer City USA, and that's been 40 years. 5 years ago, in 2010, the Timbers joined the ranks of MLS.

History. There's always more of it. And I actually love the way a football club can make abstruse symbolism out of it all. Portland's love of soccer seems very European in this regard.

Immediately west of this intersection is a wedge-shaped block bounded by SW Morrison Street, 20th Avenue, and West Burnside. That building above is one of my favorites. The lower floor is the Kingston Saloon, a long-time fixture in the nabe and, as one can see (and cannily so), a local headquarters for Timbers fans on match day.

The city grid south of West Burnside from the river to about 21st Avenue is canted to follow the river. The grid north of that aligns pretty close to the North Star (which is why it's tilted ever-so-slightly off plumb). The collision of the two grids results in a fun, interesting pattern, dog-legging streets and wedge-shaped blocks which makes for a singularly-interesting place to roam. It's long been one of my favorite parts of town for this reason.

My favorite signs are the non-standard ones.  And, a big no-no in design is stacked type, but there are places where it's appropriate. Here, for instance.

Fred Meyer's type style has changed over the years, but in the modern age, it's always been italicized, bolded, and red. It's a familiar approach and comforting … Fred Meyer has essentially been Kroger West for quite a while now, and just to show I'm not throwing too much of a shade on them, I'll give them credit for maintaining the look, feel, and atmosphere of an honored, Oregon-born-and-bred brand name.

Portland without Fred Meyer really wouldn't be Portland anymore, would it? Kroger seems to understand this. That's responsible brand stewardship I can respect.

Photo by The Wife™; one of inner Portland's ubiquitous streetlamps … now, as I've said many a time, I was born in Silverton and spent the majority of my teen years in Salem. Portland's always been a little more proud of its patina of age than cities down state, and for me, the wonderful streetlamps exemplify that.

It might not be Portland's signature …  but it could be one of them.

Sunday afternoon, May 30th, 2015. Dateline, Portland, Oregon … my home town.

[pdx] Anonymous Urban Vista, NW Portland, NW 11th Ave By Powell's

This photo I enjoy and snapped because of it's photographic non-specificness. This could be anywhere, in Anybigcity, USA.

To be exact, it's a bit of NW 11th Avenue between Burnside and Couch Streets. That building is, of course, Powell's City'O'Books … the 2nd floor and up of that building is the parking garage which is old, respectable, and, sadly, no longer as affordable as it once once. Sic transit gloria mundi, I suppose.

The Coffee Room, where so many cozy Sunday nights are spent, is just visible on the extreme right of the picture, in windows overlooking the rear-end of that red car. It was lensed in March of 2014.

My hometown is special, but it's also got things every other big town has. And I love those too. 

[pdx] Looking West From Laurelhurst, Sunday Afternoon

Pointed west, into the long afternoon, at 32nd and East Burnside, the Burnside portal to the Laurelhurst neighborhood:

They say Portland's east side is 'flat'. I've always laughed at that description. In some places, not even comparably flat serves the topography. It's level in spots but well makes up for it in others.

Several places offer these long, lovely vistas down eastside streets. In the distance, you'll see the US Bancorp Tower (Oregon's 2nd tallest building) and backing that up, the West Hills area approximating King's Heights. These views are particularly intriguing to me because the large blocks of mass depicted by the trees and the road resolve into nice simple shapes that suggest an impressionist painting. 

16 June 2015

[teh_funnay] It's Either This Or Your Next Favorite Character Will Die


[pdx] Burgerville Souvenir Pencils

In doing a bit of micro-tidying I came upon this, which we still have.

Burgerville USA's 50th anniversary was two-three years back. At the time much swag was to be had. We grabbed a handful of these:

There are still fourteen of them. With all the pencils and pens that have collected here as Chez Klein, there's no need to use them just now. Though I will, eventually. But that day's a while off, I wot.

[pdx] A Touch of Pride at Powell's City of Books

Also, this last Sunday was the apex of Pride Weekend in Portland, and the joie de vivre was manifest throughout the downtown area. Holiday spirit was pervasive. Naturally a lot of those people we saw at Powell's but I didn't get too many pictures … but I did get one.

The couple walked into the coffee room and the black-dressed one stood out immediately, as much for height as anything else; slender and easily 6-foot-5 plus in height, they were what we, back in the day, would call a 'tall drink of water' … although the slim-fitting black-and-mesh outfit added a strong dash of spirit to that glass of water.

I tried to get an unaware photo of them, because they moved with such an easy way, very comfortable in their world, I found that quite attractive. But, as anyone can see, someone had my number. Ah, well … you can't win 'em all.

I didn't have the courage to walk up and say hi; I wanted to showcase the casual gestalt, and that would have ruined what was left. But The Wife™ did approach our tall friend as the couple left the coffee room, and complimented the hair color.

My wife has a certain ebullience. It was a positive boon here. I hope the rest of their life is as casual as the ease at which they carried themselves there. That would be a sort of bliss, I think. 

[pdx] The Napkin Flower Guy at Powell's City of Books

Somehow, over time, the Coffee Room at Powell's City of Books has become a regular haunt for our Sunday evenings. It's started to feel like a part of our home; even if we don't plan on buying a book that day, we're there, drinking in the atmosphere, seeing the people, and enjoying the still-affordable Portland downtown sunset, which can be had in abundance through the newly-replaced and capacious windows.

Our home from home, late Sunday afternoon
The coffee there is excellent, I don't mind saying.

Occasionally, you'll see, if you're of the right timing, pale flowers left behind. If they seem to be made of the same material as the napkins, that's because they are; and though they seem to appear as if by magic, they're the product of this fellow:

He works patiently, sometimes conversing with people beside him, sometimes intently focussed. His technique is immaculate and precise and he never makes a bad move. All of his creations are beautiful, otherworldly, and somewhat haunting.

Sometimes he lingers 'till quite late and then leaves a few works behind. This particular Sunday, he packed up fairly early, lovingly placing each finished blossom inside a plastic box for protection in transportation, and left with the lot.

He wears a black cap with the legend WORLDFLOWERS upon the front.

I was happy to catch him in the moment of communication.