30 April 2020

Bridges Through Bridges On The East Bank Of The Willamette

Let's go back the air of 2014 to see what we were doing then.

Me and the Brown Eyed Girl went down to the east bank of the Willamette, which is probably a place we should visit a little more often; you get great views of the west bank and the downtown skyline is always photogenic.

This time I decided to let the sightlines and points of view do the work for me. The result is that looking through the approaches to the Marquam Bridge at the Hawthorne Bridge and the Justice Center across the river becomes something that is at once identifiable and abstract, and since I was able to get the picture with no other people in it it actually becomes a little other-worldly.

No other large town on the Willamette gives one a view like this. Portland seems to belong to its river more than Salem and Eugene and Albany and Corvallis do.

I can't be the only one for whom sightlines in this town inspire one to wrought indulgence in text. Ah, well.

29 April 2020

In Which I Design A Logo For A Candidate That Could Win An Election

I did this some weeks ago, and I can't understand why I didn't boast about it. The client seems pretty happy with it.

First a word about Metro. We have this regional government here in greater Portland and it's simply called Metro. It's a unique thing, something no other collection of governments do anywhere else in the United States. There are still cities and counties (an armful of the former and three of the latter) in this area of Oregon and they operate independently of Metro but they also operate interdependently with Metro. Metro, as summed up by Wikipedia, does this:

Metro is the regional government for the Oregon portion of the Portland metropolitan area. It is the only directly elected regional government and metropolitan planning organization in the United States. Metro is responsible for managing the Portland region's solid waste system, coordinating the growth of the cities in the region, managing a regional parks and natural areas system, and overseeing the Oregon Zoo, Oregon Convention Center, Portland's Centers for the Arts, and the Portland Expo Center. It also administers the Regional Illegal Dumping Patrol or RID Patrol which is tasked with cleaning up illegal dumping and it is the designated point of contact for citizens to report illegal dumping in the Portland metro area.

So, Metro provides some of the common bones for what is a colony creature made of of three very large Oregon counties who have their own ideas about how to go and grow. Crazily, it works, but that's the way we Oregonians tend to look at things.

A good friend is involved with the campaign of a man running for the Metro commission, district 3, which is an area which encompasses a large swath of the southwest metro: cities like Wilsonville, Tigard, Tualatin, a big part of Beaverton, and the areas both incorporated and unincorporated adjacent to them. This candidate is Gerritt Rosenthal, and my brief was as kind as it was loose; I was provided with kind of a virtual vision board, a collection of files of some already-extant ideas, background designs and such. they provided a sense of color and style and allowed me to home in on a key design element and a palette to use.

This was the design I developed:


The tree was the key element and it brought the heart of everything I saw in the various files together. The palette drew on all the cool blues and greens I saw, and the type went for a solid yet friendly feel. How I settled on letting the tree come up through the G, I couldn't tell you; I thought the two should entwine and just went with the idea. It come out divinely, I thought.

Application used was Inkscape with some support from GIMP. It was rather fun. And should Gerritt win ... and Willamette Week has endorsed him so he has a chance ... at least I'd have the pride of being able to say I contributed a bit.

The Hill Going Up 102nd From Parkrose

Maps can, of course, be unintentionally deceptive: Anyone looking at a map containing northeast Portland who have never been here may be forgiven for thinking that's a simple way to go, from NE Halsey in the Gateway district to NE Sandy in the Parkrose district via NE 102nd Avenue.

That first step, as they say, is a doozy. Here's a look up that hill from the street in front of the market I wrote about in the chapter immediately preceeding:

To give some idea of scale, the distance from the traffic signal in the foreground, NE Prescott St, at the 4500 block north, to that signal in the distance, at NE Fremont St, at the 3500 block north, is 10 blocks or 1/2 mile. The distance from where yours truly is standing to the crest of the hill is about six-tenths of a mile. The change in elevation? About 170 feet.

That is a steep hill. Think of it whenever someone goes on about 'Portland's flat eastside'.

The Dog On the Sign: The 102nd Street Market

At NE 102nd Avenue and Wygant Street, in the Parkrose area of town, there's a c-store ... a quick shop ... a bodega, what have you, a shabby but not unclean corner store called, inaccurately, the 102nd Street Market.

Numbered streets are avenues, you see, with few exceptions in Portland ... and none of them anywhere near here.

Anywhoozle, This charming little place looks a little loved-on by time, but is neat and clean and serves its neighborhood well. And, it has a store dog, and that store dog has a bit of a rep, see. You don't even have to go in to see the dog because ...

 ... the pup's on the sign.

The architecture informs you that this was an old-school Plaid Pantry back in the day.

4646 NE 102nd Avenue in Portland, in case the reader wondered.

28 April 2020

Southeast Ash And Grand, 2017

Just an inner-eastisde street scent, Southeast Grand at Ash, looking west. The big building is, of course, Big Pink; one block away, on the right there, a Salvation Army building; visible along the left side of the frame, that old architecture which gave East Portland (and this is part of the original city of East Portland, when there was such a thing) its charm and continues to inform it in a low, slow tone.

Also visible in the picture that you don't see so often now: parked cars and people.

Goneworth Chevytown

The dive into the past continues. September of 2017. Somewhat happier times.

Along Southeast Grand Avenue, between Ankeny and Ash, there's a car dealership called Subaru of Portland. Back in the day, and up until that day, though, it was known as Wentworth Chevytown (Subaru was a sideline for a long time there though).

Through 2013, there was a big sign with 10-foot tall letters which flashed WENTWORTH CHEVYTOWN to the west side of the river. You can see a picture of that at The Oregonian's article of the demise of the sign here: https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2013/11/wentworth_chevytown_sign_comin.html.  That sign was a casualty of a number of things: the march of time, the development of the Portland Streetcar, et. al. And eventually, in 2013, the sign was retired. Eventually, Wentworth Chevytown removed to Wilsonville, only the Subaru dealership remaining and renaming.

But in 2017 it was still a little bit of Chevytown, and the sign over the used car division's lot across Grand from the main showroom defiantly stood to the last, it's oldjack letters recalling any number of car related business from childhood who had similarly-styled signage.

We went, and it was worth it.

Hey, we got this sweet picture.

27 April 2020

27 April 2020: The Day In Errands

A short summary of our commerical adventures on this, day eight million two hundred thirty-five thousand six hundred and thirty-one of the Covidinium.

I've Been Framed: The Brown-eyed Girl bought a bag of small bottles (by 'small' I
mean about the size of a finger between two knuckles). Prairie and Mark were their usual indomitable selves. The world is richer because of them.

Again, you can buy from IBF if you needs you your art supplies and need to support local. There is now a process and instructions on how you can purchase remotely and pickup curb side. Go to ivebeenframedpdx.com and follow the directions under the Curbside Pickup link.

Backstory Books and Yarn: The Girl has wanted a copy of an excellent little book by Beth Terry called Plastic Free and Amanda was able to find this for her. Also she found for us a very very very old compilation of Godey's Ladies Book, a periodical of the early 1860s. It's impossible to find out when that was published in this format, but it's an antiquarian delight, some pages hand-colored, and just the sort of thing the Girl loves. It's so old, all the old-book smell's gone out of it, which I found odd.

As with IBF, Backstory is social-distancing-enabled for your bookshop needs. BackstoryBooksAndYarn.com, follow the Browse link for full instructions and pictures of the shelves with everything available.

Dutch Bros. If there was a candidate for state drive-up coffee place in Oregon, this ought to be it. Dutch Bros. has always been excellent. We got our weekly treat at the 136th and Division place and drove into town for our two other things and and the coffee I had gotten spilled out all over the place. We proceeded to the 67th and Foster location (which was, of course, located just down the street from IBF) and when the Girl told them why we were there and the runner offered to give us the replacement for free, and the Girl said no, we were there to support business with our money, and we got to the serving window only to have them refund our money anyway and we went our of there with a free replacement coffee because that's how excellent Dutch Bros. is.

My wife refused to take no for an answer; DB refused to take yes for an answer. Win-win situation, all around.

There's commerce out there to be found, and a bit of happiness. Portland's closed, but not completely, and certainly not tight.

Southwest Oak And West Burnside, February 2020, from Powell's

Our next stop on the daily photo log adventure comes from only two months ago.

Two months ago. Seems like twenty years ago. I see other on-line humans calling it "the time before" and I mean, say what you want about pop culture, I see where this is all coming from and I'm endlessly impressed with the average person's mind's ability to MacGyver coping with a chaotically shifting zeitgeist on the fly. I mean, cultural literacy won't get you through every emergency, no, but when the order of the day is that which we accept as read today might get rewritten in our faces tomorrow, and the day after may contradict that, well, it's no small tool. Intellectually, it can be a swiss army knife.

Anyway, about two-and-a-half months ago. Coffee Room. #BookChurchPDX. Powell's. 11th and West Burnside. Lookin' out the fishbowl. There is, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Portland's skyline, a building at the corner of Southwest Broadway and Washington. Back in the day I knew it as the Bank of California building. It's now called the Union Bank building after its parent company merged a few times. And it's visually notable for the way it's lit at night, with spotlights pointing down the flutes in the building's architecture.

The Brown Eyed Girl looked out the window across West Burnside where Southwest Oak Street split off between 11th and 10th. The Union Bank tower's the tallest and the lighting made it stand out, and she loved the view, and insisted I take a pic.

When someone with good taste insists, one does not demur. So.

In the foreground is a little walk-through mall with tiny retail spaces called Union Way. The passage goes through to Southwest Stark/Harvey Milk Street. The building immediately net door was a branch of Car Toys for years; what it is now I can't recall. The shorter building was the Federal Reserve Bank Branch in Portland for a long time and was, a short while ago, the home of Jive Software before the vicissitudes of intellectual property and corporate merger sharked that away from Oregon. And over that is the Union Bank building in night dress.

All this from the window of the Cathedral of Saint Ursula in Portland, the Coffee Room at Powells, where we would be tonight If Only.

And so it goes.

26 April 2020

Backstory Books & Yarn, Opening Day or Thereabouts, Sept 2018

In the last posting I maundered prolix about our beloved Backstory Books and Yarn and wanted to reference the posting where I and the Brown Eyed Girl had visited upon its opening, back in September of 2018. I did a search and found that this blog had no such entry.

Appalling omission. I shall rectify perforce forthwith.

We have been happy followers of the Backstory story since we stumbled upon the small shop near 60th and Southeast Foster Road about five years ago. Amanda is a dear human with a very generous spirit and personality, and the shop was amazingly well-stocked for a shop of its size. I've found more than one intriguing thing through this place, and it was Amanda who guided us to my own copy of the Codex Seraphinianus (if you read this book and understand it, you should read no other (and can, indeed, probably read no other*)). Powell's is an unadulterated gem, but the world isn't complete without Amandas and Backstorys. They are the necessary.

Anyway, back in September of 2018 a few commercial stars aligned and Amanda was able to secure the space occupied by Hawthorne Books (the proprietrix thereupon, I understand, was retiring and the space was opening up. Backstory is the sort of place that belongs on Hawthorne, in the good way, so perhaps it was fated.

Herewith, a short tour of our experience of that day, so that the balance is maintained.

The facade of 3129 Southeast Hawthorne Blvd. If you have the ability to come by here, you are luckier than most.

The Brown Eyed Girl in convo with Amanda. We love Amanda, and she works hard for her customers. We rather automatically assume that if anyone has a problem with her, it's your fault, not hers; don't even argue it with us. It is an unspoken truth that anyone who opens your path to the Codex Seraphinanus is golden, because how many people even in books would even know what the hell I was talking about when I said Codex Seraphinianus? You cherish people like this. And her taste in books is as eclectic as you want it to be.

Well, it was an unspoken truth.

Also, the POE-TRAIT will eye you. The eyes, man, they follow you everywhere, even into rooms that it isn't in. Spooky.

If there's a heavenly after-life for book-lovers, here's one of its corridors:

In the previous entry I referred to its cosiness. You know those bookstores you read about in stories that are packed with old and interesting books and are really close quarters but in the good way?

That's Backstory. There are even nautical books. A whole section.

I did mention there was yarn, and the yarn room is straight back and on the left. Absolutely loaded with it. As I am not an exponent of the fibre arts I took no photos, no disrespect intended, but believe me when I tell you that Amanda's as sincere about the yarn as she is about the books.

As a fitting end note, the adorable antique cash register. They do things electronically there like everything else, but it has the right note for the greater tune.

And, like I said in the last entry, Amanda's ready to help you get your fix in this time of Covid-19.

The address to visit is https://www.backstorybooksandyarn.com/.

Backstory Books & Yarn: A True Bookstore Experience Online During Stay-At-Home Time

Portland is a city of bookstores.

We've spoken of one of the most charming of the smaller indies in town: Backstory Books and Yarn. We knew her when she was over by 60th and Foster and then when she moved over to Hawthorne (a place, it must be said, she's always belonged).

From the Backstory website
Small, witty, diligently curated, delightful. And then Covid-19 and the advent of stay-at-home and businesses closing because they had to. Now, as a bookstore, such a business has an advantage in as much as you can take orders over the phone or arrange an online alternative. Books aren't perishable and ship very well. But you lose the delicious bookstore browsing experience ... or do you?

Well, I guess it's not a perfect replacement, but what Backstory has done comes close. The proprietrix had taken pictures of the very shelves where the books are arranged and have posted them to Backstory's website. You can tour the shelves at your leisure in picture form and contact Backstory and buy them thusly. She's got every thing up, which is an advantage for a business of this size selling books (when things finally open up, if you ever wanted to browse a cosy bookstore in the old-school way, this place will leave you in bliss). Powell's couldn't do this. Barnes & Noble couldn't do this (does B&N still exist? Does anything anywhere exist anymore?).

This is why we need the small local indie. How much poorer would we be.

We bow, humbled to Backstory's MacGyvering in the shadow of novel coronavirus. We'll be stopping there tomorrow to get a book the Brown Eyed Girl has wanted for a very long time.

Backstory's home page is https://www.backstorybooksandyarn.com/. If you just want to get down to business, start browsing at https://www.backstorybooksandyarn.com/browse. The rest of it should be pretty easy to figure out; there are instructions on each page, and if you haven't figured out how to use that sort of stuff by now you should probably not be allowed in public unescorted (well, after stay-at-home gets lifted, that is).

25 April 2020

The Brain Fog Rolls In

I've seen a fair number of people react about their reactions to the changed psychological landscape of the pandemic. So little is available; so many people are staying home, by requirement or choice, and we're having to MacGyver structure into lives that, by employment or routine, have had structure provided them; old lingering dreads have blossomed into new stark terror or opportunity, depending on what you had going on when the balloon went up, three-point-five seven million hundred five thousand weeks ago.

We habituated art supply stores, the library, and Powell's; books and art. Those are our treasures. Being in these places recharged; we are now, with respect to the psyche, running on stored charge. It's dilating our psyches in a way that's still difficult to define, but I feel its tectonic effects on the head.

It arrives usually around 9:30 AM or a little after. I have gotten home before 8:00 every day; and with no other reason to go out, I have all this time to do art, right? Except I don't. It settles in heavy, kind of like an umbra, the feeling of a dark gray cloud; I become drowsy. What animation I had toward creating anything is displaced by this at a 1:1 ratio. Yesterday ... in my studio I have this low desk we call the kneedesk, and it's next to the drawing board where I was turning out a minimum of one acrylic painting a day, and I sat at it trying to write in the diary, and I laid my head down on the desk, and I don't know how long I napped there, but when I next opened my eyes I found that I felt as though I had been asleep a very long time.

I have, for aeons now, been a 3rd-shift worker. This puts its own color and shape on the biological processes that regulate ones' diurnal cycle - you wind up struggling against them but you can usually work out a sort of detente. This is an unwelcome guest that invites itself. And while I can't exactly say how, I know it's because my intellect has been cut off from exterior power, and it apparently consumes a great deal of juice, because I go low about the same time every day.

Like many people, I'm giving myself the guilt about not grasping the opportunity I have, but there's also a movement I see that reminds us that this all is not normal, this is like nothing we collectively have ever experienced before. Maslow would have it that we are on the lower levels of the pyramid, so what you have to do to get through the day is entirely proper.

But I do want to use the time. Increased blogging helps. Writing this prolix har-de-har helps. Diarizing helps. I also have a small book about small meditation practices-to-go by Jan Chozen Bays at my side and there's some things I can try here too.

So I'm evolving a way to deal with a changed environment and an attempt to find a new, if temporary, equilibrium. I guess I'm impatient that I can't do it instantly. Perhaps grasping that observation will help me help myself. And help me get that painting of the elephant done.

Five more works in 50 Small Paintings. Just five.

In the meantime, a day at a time. Steady as she goes.

And so it goes.

I've Been Framed From 2017

I haven't been in IBF for far too long, so, let's visit it in the mind which, in this case, is the next best thing to being there.

This is from 2017. For a while, near the front door, there was a full-size, and by that I mean you can stand up straight and look it in the face, ladykin.

There was a naming contest when they acquired it, and the prize was one of those cool Golden Acrylics coffee mugs with a printed label like it was a tube of acrylic paint. I reached into my storehouse of art and science fiction ideas and came up with Mona Lisa Undercoat. 

I did not win. I still want that coffee mug. Anyway.

This was the scene near the register just about exactly three years ago; April 2017. The ladykin was dressed flamboyantly and there was this bit of signage that I've always enjoyed that was created by another long-time patron and given to the shop. It hung in the front window for a while. Now, I think it hangs in the back area somewhere.

I love the visual joke here. Mark told me, I think, it was based on a Banksy, I don't remember. There's something about the way the picture is kind of a visual version of a very clever pun, the kind that doesn't make you groan (don't, you guys! They're out there! I've seen 'em!). The little script thanks a lot! in the lower right corner nails the droll counterpoint. I do love this picture.

Thus concludes this visit-of-the-mind to IBF.

24 April 2020

Mill Ends Park 2 Has A Cottage Now

So, at that gore point, where Southeast Thorburn Street devolves into Southeast Stark and Washington (or where Southeast Stark and Washington unite to become Thorburn, depending on ones' direction of travel, philosophy, or some mixture of the two), I wrote of the continuing presence of a 'guerilla' park emulating the virtues of Portland's world-famous Mill Ends Park ... Mill Ends Park 2.

There've been developments. A development, to be specific.

Some blithe spirit has graced the comma-shaped traffic island with a small, brightly painted hut for whatever fae denizens should be conceived to be living there. Some brightly and intricately painted stones, which defined a path from the sign to the hut but have now been scattered about by the elements are also there.

It's interesting that whoever has temporal suzerainty over this patch of public way has been cool about it. It existed for some days before the coronavirus came as an unwelcome guest and didn't get taken down immediately; presumably whoever is In Control There thought it rather delightful along with the rest of us.

Well, this last week, the small hut and the stone-limned path showed up. Unlike the sine qua non version in the median of Southwest Naito Parkway at the foot of Taylor Street downtown, there is no backstory to it. Some miniature developer kind of bashed it in there, and since we don't have a generation of leprechauns to provide a backstory, one could perhaps assume that it's a faery houseshare, a elfin AirBNB, perhaps.

They probably didn't appreciate me snapping pictures uninvited without so much as a "how d'you do", but sometimes one must take the risks. It must be said that I, too, have affection, so that must be holding me in some kind of advantageous stead.

And, for those who are wondering, no, I don't know what the rates are. You're on your own there, pilgrims.

Another Look Down SE Stark Into Downtown Montavilla, PDX

I took another one of these pictures. I just like 'em, I guess. Looking east down Southeast Stark into the Montavilla business district from the gore point where Thorburn Street devolves into the Stark/Washington couplet east of Mount Tabor.

I just like 'em. Also, it leads into the next missive.

Which happens right after this one.

23 April 2020

Wy'east From Holgate Blvd, Lents

Here's an angle on Wy'east that you don't get from me so often; one where the ramparts of the peak aren't visible, and a clear angle on the peak is impossible to achieve. But the mountain still peeks through, and the peeking peak is still majestic, even though it be obscured.

The Brown Eyed Girl, who helps me look when I'm not looking and should be, thought the angle she got from the drivers' seat heading east on SE Holgate Boulevard crossing I-205 going east was magnificent. She's right, of course. You can't quite get the same view on foot without putting yourself in harm's way, but more's the pleasure for the challenge. The complex foreground dares you to find an expressive composition.

One thing I've self-learnt is that, to make the mountain seem as big in pictures as it does to my subjective impression it just takes the right crop. And in this framing, despite the human artifacts all in front, the mountain still looms. And, also, I enjoy putting all this together; our world is a world of people and what that world does to and with the world of nature; in Oregon, we're no angels in that regard, but I fancy we do it with a bit of awareness and panache you won't find elsewhere.

In Portland, evergreens still rule, for instance. And the houses of man live amongst them at a sort of peace. Even now in the money-mad 2020s.

I-205, Monday Afternoon, With Occasional Mount Scott

I really am at something of a loss to understand why I think I should go out these Covid-19 "Stay-at-home" times and find of Portland a howling desertion suitable for the opening to The Omega Man. I guess I figure since I'm going to be living in times like this, it should at least be a spectacle as I was conditioned to be frightened of since I was a kid.

I used to read magazines and books that told you the most amazing things back in the 1970s about the world of 40-50 years hence. Now I'm here and it's just bewildering and intimidating. I mean, I swallowed Chariots of the Gods? without question ... ah, but that's another program for another time.

As for the reality of life during a particularly spooky global pandemic, the daytime Portland, Oregon, after the city gets going, seems plenty busy enough, if the traffic is a little light. The star photograph of this post is a long view of Interstate 205 looking south from the overpass of SE Holgate Boulevard. I-205 is the official boundary between East Portland and Outer East Portland, and it forms a sort of half-loop around the core areas of the city. And, last Monday, it looked like this:

Running along the super-slab there is the Green Line route of the MAX; just beyond that pedestrian crossing in the middleground can be seen a train coming this way. Look carefully and one can also see the Foster Road off and on-ramps.

That massif defining the horizon is a butte called Mount Scott, one of our modestly-named Portland heights that exult in the title Mount, and is a member of the Boring Volcanic Field.

And this is an awesome post because not only is that a cool angle on the freeway but I also got to say Boring Volcanic Field, which sounds like the mixed-est message you ever heard, but Google it up, chum. Go learn something.

19 April 2020

Out 122nd Way: Log Cabins and Cannabis Dispensaries

Two missives ago I wrote about the house at 1008 NE 122nd, how it had once apparently been an African Orthodox Christian Church and now was probably waiting on a redevelopment, but there's also something right across the street from this, at NE 122nd and Holladay, that's just so adorably Portland I can't even.

This is a T-intersection: the 12100 block of Holladay meets 122nd Avenue as such (Holladay continues east from here, but at a considerable job). And, guarding the entry to the 12100 block of Holladay, as though they were library lions, are two commercial buildings styled, for all the world, as log cabins; one on the north side of Holladay, one on the south.

The one on the north side was for a long time (and still is) a chiropractic office. The one on the south side was a dentist, and then was vacant for a long time, and now is ... a cannabis dispensary.

This is what it looks like today:

The one on the opposite side of Holladay is similarly styled and painted, save for the commercial contents. The environment of this plague year has made for some darkly-hilarious absurdities; along the 122nd Avenue side there you see a small black and buff sign on an orange support; this denotes the pickup area for your herbal order. Living in a present that has as a feature legalize marijuana is an adjustment enough; where it becomes roaringly funny is when one realizes that the same behavior that got you jacked up and in jail twenty-thirty years ago ... driving out to your dealer's, pulling over, handing money through a car window and getting a lid ... is not only now legal but, due to Covid-19 social distancing, prescribed by the same law that would get you cited back in the day.

A similar collision of past and present may also be defined by the fact that when I was of an appropriate age, the combination of log cabin and nectar meant maple pancake syrup, not curated marijuana.

And, so it goes.

Out 122nd Way: Tonkin, For The Love Of Vintage Signs

Well, be honest, I've posted Ron Tonkin's sign before. But boy, how I love that edifice.

This is what it looked like today. A tiny little bit of the past proudly defying the march of time.

It's scarcely changed in the five-or-so years it's been up in front of Ron Tonkin's old place.

122nd belonged to the Tonkin family, in a way; Ron's brother Marv had the spot at NE 122nd and Halsey that's Courtesy Ford today; it had a distinctive architecture with roof supports that reminded one of the towers on the Saint Johns Bridge, in a reductionist-abstract sort of way (a photo of that plus stationery showing the design's use as a logo can be seen at this page: http://www.thecoralsnake.com/Tonkin). And it was the Tonkins' coinage in ads that supply the tag for this and commonly-themed posts here as well as how I think of my favorite road: Out 122nd Way, as they said.

Marv Tonkin also gave us a jingle that rings in the heads of Portlanders of A Certain Age (Keep honkin'/For Marv Tonkin/That's Maaarv Ton-kin Ford!) which remains memorable decades after Marv went out of business.

Ron sold Chevies, and Marv sold Fords. I'll bet family gatherings had a certain quality betimes.

But, Ron Tonkin remains and stands proud along 122nd between Burnside and Glisan, where it always was and, through evolution in automobile technology as we move toward the terminal phase of the internal combustion engine, likely always will be; a true Portland cultural artifact, one foot in the present, and one foot solidly in the past.

I'll always have time to snap a picture of this.

Out 122nd Way: The Church-in-Waiting Has Gone Away.

This is a spot I've taken a picture of before. And it's one I've been wondering about for a very long time.

Back in 2016, I decided to pull over and get a series of snaps of this house at 1008 NE 122nd Avenue. It had lain unused for a while but some basic maintenance was happening and it had a series of signs up front denoting it as the KIDANE MIHRET ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH. The original blog post can be seen here: https://zehnkatzen.blogspot.com/2016/02/out122ndway-1008-ne-122nd-avenue-church.html. I had guessed that it was some sort of a church-in-waiting; what appeared to be a garage was fairly neat and trim and had a Latin cross on the door, and while the property was somewhat dissheveled from people throwing things onto the property, it was seen-to in a basic way.

That time has passed us by. This is what it looks like now:

One imagines the lot's soon to be sold, and real estate in Portland being what it is it will fetch a high price and become, most probably some sort of apartment silo of the kind we are so fond of these days (and which now also exists as a six-story apartment block on the northwest corner of 122nd and East Burnside).

Tempus fugit; sic transit gloria mundi and all that.

One Mile of 122nd With No Traffic

This is a view of SE 122nd looking south from Market Street at approximately 7:30 AM today. Now, yes, I know Sunday morning and all, but Portland was always a bit busier than this even on Sunday morning: East 122nd Avenue being the traffic artery it is, almost never sleeps.

And yet, this view fades into the distance near Division Street, about a mile out from there. And it's highly unusual to see a mile of 122nd with no detectable traffic on during the day ... any day. Including any given Sunday.

Lonely Sunday morning. Very lonely.

17 April 2020

I've Been Framed Will Meet You At The Curb To Sell You Art Supplies

Is the pandemic killing you inside because you can't browse I've Been Framed? Or you can't browse your favorite art supply store, which should be I've Been Framed?

Well, IBF has news for you. They are evolving a way you can order your art supplies on line and you can drive over and they'll bring them to the curb for you. Nothing beats the experience of visiting IBF but you can patronize them this way, and help keep them in business, and get your art supplies from really, really cool people.

All you have to do is go the blog post here (https://www.ivebeenframedpdx.com/blog/update-still-not-opened-but-online-ordering-curbside-pickups-available-now-to-help-you-still-make-art) and follow the link that says "Curbside Pickup". This will take you to a form that you can fill in with what you want, they'll contact you and square it all up, you pay them, then you go and pick it up.

Do this and there'll be an IBF for us to visit after the pandemic clears up.

Good good I miss browsing that place. Patronize IBF!

Direct link to the curbside pickup form? Here is it at https://www.ivebeenframedpdx.com/curbside-pickup.html

11 April 2020

Home Sweet Home, 2020

Just east of SE Division St at 130th Avenue there is a pedestrian bridge. The south end is between the Dairy Queen and the Dutch Bros. drive through.

Division is a very wide street.

And about a year and a half ago, some artist decorated it up with a fanciful, colorful paint job. Unicorns, colorful clouds, and the like.

Despite that, it still reflects the human chaos of this time. There is a person in that homeless hideaway-in-plain-sight, and the presence of happy color alongside despair pretty much sums America up right now.

Dutch Bros. Is Not Unlike The Force

Well, at least in the Pacific Northwest, it is. Remember, we're all in this together ... with good coffee.

Another bit of coincidental wisdom. The Matrix is being kind today.

Yes. Like a Kidney Stone.

Appropriate billboard wisdom coincidentally observed near the intersection of SE 162nd Avenue and Division Street.

It'll pass. It'll take a few of us in going by. But it'll pass.

10 April 2020

Troutdale: The Gateway To The Gateway To The Gorge

At the western entrance to downtown Troutdale, just east of where the freeway overpass deposits you (or if you come from the south, via SW 257th Dr*) you'll pass under a really pretty nicely-done archway gate.

TROUTDALE GATEWAY TO THE GORGE, it exults, adorned on either side with the fish that give the town its name. It's actually rather understated for a monumental gate.

And still, it's not overstating it. One will notice, as you travel eastward on Historic Columbia River Hwy, that there is a rather substantial knoll overlooking the main drag.

And though the road snakes down into the dell and crosses the Sandy River on a historic old girder bridge (which was being worked on and was closed when we were there) that road bends to respect the sheer rock face on the right bank of the Sandy. It is a headland against which the relentless rectilinear grid of the eastern Metro area breaks and, in a very real way, the first high point of the south rim of the Columbia Gorge.

The manmade gate is back several blocks. The natural gate, much more spectacular, you can see from quite a way off. Natural grandeur, only about 15 miles outside of downtown Portland ... and the Cascade foothills, on the doorstep of downtown Troutdale.

* One may find the name of a main road in Troutdale being SW 257th Drive a bit perplexing. Troutdale doesn't spread out that much. However, that part of town is in the Southwest address quadrant and was originally NE 257th Dr before the city developed around it. They address it like a Troutdale street, but kept the historic name.

Troutdale: Main Street, Small Town Oregon

Troutdale's downtown area, that several blocks of Historic Columbia River Highway paralelling the I-84 freeway, is a very prim and tidy place.

The impression one gets is that it was maybe the set on a back lot for an American small town downtown. This is not a bad thing: it's neat and nifty and comfortable, not too large and perhaps a bit small for a town of about 17,000 people ... but it's on the edge of the greatest commercial shopping area in Oregon, so there're other places very close by to do business.

And, strangely enough, there is a Western town vibe. Maybe it's the squarish storefronts, I don't know. History teachers, when I was a kid, were fond of pointing out that the American frontier ... the so-called "Wild West", stereotyped in story and Spaghetti western ... was, indeed, east of the Willamette Valley.

But the feeling is here. A bit glossy, and without the chunky type font, but it's here.

The sound of the train going through downtown helps that a bit.

Even the City Hall is a modest place, fitting in, not drawing too much attention to itself. Prim, proper, tidy, and above all, just doin' its job.

09 April 2020

Troutdale: Mayor's Square Park

I am, generally speaking, a fan of any public thing that teaches what came before. A great example of this was found on our visit to downtown Troutdale.

At the southwest corner of SE Dora Ave and East Historic Columbia River Highway is a small corner park and it's decorated with Troutdale history. Did any of you know that, just about a year after women won the franchise in Oregon, a woman was elected mayor of Troutdale? It's true. The year was 1914, and this was the woman:

This is Clara Latourell Larsson. If the name sounds at least one-third familiar, it should; there's a cataract a few miles up the Gorge named for her pioneer family (Latourell Falls). She came from a tradition of civic involvment: her relative, Lizzie Latourell, served on early school boards a few years before that. It's said that Clara served in one capacity or another in Troutdale civic life until shortly before her death in 1939.

Troutdale, the legends say, was originally named Sandy, but was renamed to Troutdale by the city's father, Aaron Fox, after trout ponds he had. Coincidentally, Sandy still stands as an Oregon city name, but that town is about ten miles southeast of here.

Knowing this, it's not hard to figure what the other focal point of the park honors.

Us locals sometimes call it Fishburg, but it's a nicknaming with no small amount of affection.

Mayor's Square finished the tableau with a vision of Troutdale's history, looking down upon you. The mural, credited to Duane Harty and Tammy Callens, proclaims it being released to the public domain, so the image is yours and mine. Being history, it seems only fitting.

For the Clara Larsson sculpture, we can credit Marlena Neilson.

08 April 2020

Troutdale: The View from Buxton Hill

Now, earlier, a couple of missives back, I mentioned entering Troutdale from the south. This involves coming in on South Troutdale Road, which jogs to become the non-directional Buxton Road at its signal at SW Cherry Park Road, at approximately the 1200 block.

It then goes down a really nifty hill. You get a good view: the Columbia River bottomland and a vista of Washington, across the river, spreads out before you.

The Girl gasped at this ... she loves expansive views, and started chirping "Picture! Picture!". And when you're right, you're right. So.

That grove of trees in the middle distance are just beyond the airport and obscure the Columbia River itself. The green hills beyond are all Washington, though, a land foreignish, but not foreign (we are all Cascadian). The green topped buildings just beyond those at the foot of the hill are the factory outlet stores, quite a draw.

At a time in the past the area beyond the trees would have also had a bustling and power-thirsty aluminum plant, and if you had anything aluminum, from pots to foil, during the 1950s through 1980s, there was a good chance that the aluminum it had came from there; one of the many benefits of cheap hydro power that we Oregonians still, to a degree, take for granted.

Troutdale: A Beetle Trailer, Made Of Two Beetles

Yesterday, when me and The Brown Eyed Girl were in Troutdale, we had a thought to go down to the old historic Stark Street Bridge. We didn't get there, it was closed for some sort of reconstruction work, but when we were turning around, we did see this:

... it's just what you think it is: a VW trailer made of VWs. Two of them. You weld the backs of two Type I chassis toether and there you have it, and just to make it truly local, you paint an image of Wy'East on it.

This is not only Oregon AF, it's Troutdale as hell.

That it was on a piece of property in the Sandy River dell just east of downtown and out of sight of the mountain is a mere technicality.

Tales of Olivia: Eighty-eight, Eight Eighty-eight ... Point Eight

So, on the way home from work, going straight home as every good citizen who does not want to get tagged by COVID-19 should be doing, the-editorial-we stopped to notice this:

Olivia drew a full house today. Eighty-eight thousand, Eight hundred and eighty-eight miles, and eight-tenths. It was double-fortunate in a way: it happened in such a way that I could pull over, on SE Cherry Blossom Dr, pointing southeast, just past the intersection of SE 107th Avenue, and it happened in such a way that I could pull just past the intersection, out of the flow of traffic, and have all those eights line up perfectly.

A lot of people do this and it almost never happens that they line up so sweet. I hope this wasn't the day I was supposed to buy that lottery ticket.

This was the view of Cherry Blossom Drive out Olivia's windscreen at that point.

07 April 2020

The Street Sign At The "Center" Of Troutdale

Yesterday, the Brown Eyed Girl and myself did a little East County sightseeing. With nowhere to really go during these COVID-19 inflected times, its about all one can do really, but then, when you live in greater Portland, it's a fine thing to do indeed.

Yesterday, on our "Sunday drive", we went all the way out Division through Gresham to Troutdale Road, then into Troutdale itself. As many years as I've been a Portlander, the majority of my life by now, I'm a little abashed to say that while I know where just about everywhere is and can get there without a map, I am rather parochial as regards my beloved E 122nd Avenue and David-Douglas-landia. The wife thinks in broader terms than I, and is not only interested in as many things as I am, but more given to spontaneity. So we hung out in downtown Troutdale for a short while, and I ligged about taking snapshots.

I've got pictures to share over the next several missives, but I wanted to satiate my Address Nerd with this. The center of the Troutdale address grid is this intersection, right here

Troutdale, as with all but one of the other cities that hem Portland in on the east side, has an address grid of its own, and its origin point is where these two roads come together.

The east-west street is part of a storied historical road, and its somewhat gangly name tries to carry the whole of that reputation on its back. The whole of the official name of the street is Historical Columbia River Highway, and since it's divided in twain by the street that, in central Troutdale, divides the grid east from west, it comes in two complementary flavors: West Historical Columbia River Highway and East Historical Columbia River Highway. The necessity to include so much type on a street blade, even a fairly macho wooden one, necessitated a creative solution, as can be seen in the photo.

Buxton Road is the other baseline, running south from the city center and dividing Troutdale into east and west halves, and does not present a directional, similar to State Street in Salem. After this road leaves the center of town it does a small s-shaped jog and becomes South Troutdale Road, maintaining its baseline duties to the edge of town.

Troutdale's address grid is quite lopsided: the historic center of town is well into the north part of it and the town grew mostly southeast and southwest from there. Buxton Road does not extend north of Historic Columbia River Hwy; north of the main drag there's the railroad, then I-84, then the Troutdale Airport then, the Columbia River, all in less than a mile. The city is divided into binomial compass quadrants, however and the grid is considered to continue into that area; the streets, all of which lie north of the freeway, are prefixed NW west of the airport, and there are one or two streets just east of the airport which wear the NE directional in a NE quadrant that is an almost absurdly small sliver of land.

I have more pictures of a very picturesque little Oregon town on the edge of the Metro, positioned at the literal entry to the Columbia Gorge, Oregon and Washington's own Grand Canyon, which has a knowing sense of its own history and is charming as anything, and the will form the subject of further posts.

05 April 2020

Plague Year Diary: Stark Street Looking East at 122nd

This is SE Stark Street, a major outer eastside arterial, looking east toward 122nd from just west of 122nd.

... and here's an even tighter zoom.

The first signal is at SE 122nd, the second signal in the middle distance is at SE 130th, and the signal in the far distance is at SE 139th Avenue. I am in the refuge lane at approximately 119th, so you're looking at about one mile (remember, in the Portland system, 20 blocks equal the mile).

Portland has never been so quiet.

Plague Year Diary: Interstate 205 On A Very Quiet Sunday

Sundays here in Outer East Portlandia are usually very quiet.

Sundays during a coronavirus pandemic, even moreso.

The above was taken looking south down I-205 from the Stark Street overpass. Crossing freeways could become a hobby.

Billowy Clouds over Division Street

Sometimes, it's nothing more than distant, billowy, majestic clouds that do the trick for the eyes.

This was a few days back, and that there is a storm coming in, as we all found out. This is about 134th and Division, and this ...

... is just about 122nd and Division. And that's what I call home.

01 April 2020

Mill Ends Park 2, Side of Olivia

So, to show that not everything in these times of dexterity are dismal, I noted a thing that was meant to be temporary was still there and not in my photo library yet, so I went and got it, and a guest star besides.

Mill Ends Park is one of the most Portlandest things that ever Portlanded in Portland. Originally a post hole, it was first cared for by a columnist for the late, great Oregon Journal newspaper whose home was, at the time, a very large, white, double-masted building that vaguely resembled an art deco cruise liner where Tom McCall Waterfront park is now. Dick Fagan populated it with leprechauns and named if after his column, and eventually the hole, in the median of what we now call SW Naito Parkway at the foot of Taylor Street, became a local legend and then an official city park.

A 2-foot wide city park.

And over time small plants would be there and people would arrange little figures of people and dinosaurs and such and it was all very kind and fun. But sometime, about two years ago, some chowderhead cut the small tree that was growing there, out. And we all found out and it became one of the most Portlandest stories that ever Portlanded in the media, and everyone had the sad about it.

Somehow, during that time, almost as though in response to the destruction, someone got the idea that  the west side of the Willamette shouldn't have all the fun. And thus, in an asphalt island in the gore point of where SE Thorburn Street, a main route around the shoulder of Mount Tabor feeding East Burnside Street traffic down into downtown Montavilla, split into the couplet of SE Stark and Washington streets there, someone placed two planters, a sign, and a wooden sword in a wooden stone, and we got this:

The sign, while it looks kinda official, is not; Portland Parks and Recreation have said as much. But they're good sports about it all, and haven't disturbed it, and neither has anyone else.

And here's the fair Olivia, alongside:

Mill Ends Park 2, and Olivia: both actual size.

And so it goes.