Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Never Got To): This Ain’t No Picnic—Disobedient Doodles

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The bench in question.

I hemmed and hawed about whether this was worth running. It’s a frozen in time, summer of 2017, snapshot of how some anonymous doodlers were expressing themselves using bold lines that leaped from the confines of school desks onto a picnic bench in Kenton Park.

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Gosh, don’t know.

I assume this is the work of adolescent kids. Only the culprits know for sure. Remember all the best speculative journalists begin guessing sentences with the phrase “I assume.” It’s also an ageist slag on adolescents. It’s the one age group that seems old enough to know better but lack the judgement to keep the from doing dumb stuff. Who didn’t engage in occasional acts of vandalism on a minor scale in their youth? Okay, so you knew better.

A recreation…

I hid my bookworm character drawing under a slide in our neighborhood park where I was the only one who knew of its existence. I also remember nights hanging out around a picnic table with friends where we could hid away and decompress. The table was out in the woods. We must have moved it there. The location proved too dark for any kind of art work.  

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A glowing cross spits flames.

I can see why these markings caught my eye. There’s a kind of “sign of the times” aspect to the images. They’re in a frozen state trying to speak their relevancy in an attempt to matter. In horror I see in my first draft I’ve written these images off as mindless self-expression of someone reaching out in a medium that’s all wrong. I’m disappointed in my lack of respect towards people who express themselves. That respect and appreciation is something I’ve strived for, especially when it’s happening outside the margins. At this point it makes sense for these images to speak for themselves.

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Surround the fort.

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Drips and drabs.

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Censored love.

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Better left untranslated.

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Now it’s a part

Splashed lines, words that have me brushing up on my Spanish and designs that would look great on the side of a train decorated the surface of this picnic table. An asymmetrical cross mingled with puffed up initials. Who knew vertical dashes could liven up any word? Substituting hearts for the letter O also helped. This graffiti has not stood the test of time, I’m convinced. It exists here now on this blog but my guess is it’s either worn off or been cleaned off. It seems more temporary than three years of existence would allow. It may not be the stuff of cave paintings from thousands of years ago but there are parallels. Everyone has something to say. It’s about whether they choose legitimate means to express it.

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Hidden secrets revealed.

 

Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Never Got To): What’s in a Name? Pound For Pound The Tag Measures Up

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Oh Lord!


When I think about Lord Pound it takes me back in time. There was a different house and neighborhood and our dog Max, who I walked when I spotted most of these tags, has since passed away. The photos are from three years ago. I’m not sure if Lord Pound is active. When I knew of this entity claiming naming rights to every square inch of the Kenton neighborhood I had to admit it had a certain intrigue. I wondered about what was going on with that combination of words and why they were everywhere.

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Ground pound.


So here’s the disclaimer I issue every time I write about graffiti. This is not about promoting or condoning graffiti. I’m here to observe and document even as I risk glamorizing and encouraging works in this medium of vandalization. While it seems irresponsible it’s also irresistible. Graffiti continues. This under read blog offers scant chance of bringing fame or glory to any graffiti producer. Why would they need it anyway? Lord Pound is already royalty according to his moniker. My first assumption is that this is a guy tagger given the male dominance in the graffiti world and the “bro” feel of this tag but I could be wrong.

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Triple pounder.


Lord Pound received a brief mention in this blog in an old post. It’s hard to imagine how he wouldn’t given the ubiquitous nature of his tagging. I couldn’t walk in the neighborhood without seeing his name. Looking over photos, I’ve noticed a certain panache. I can also appreciate its small scale. There’s versions of Lord Pound in different scripts on a single pole. There’s Lord Pound with hearts on the old Comfort Inn, surely painted over by now. Then there’s Lord Pound dripping out of a double arrow on a traffic sign. These tags have flair. They don’t feel slopped and splashed about.

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Pound sign.

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The original Lord Pound?


At first glance the internet provides no clues as to who or what Lord Pound could be or where the name may have derived. There was Dudley Pound who became Admiral the of the Fleet aka First Sea Lord in the British Navy back in 1939 but this hardly seems like a nod to him. There was a mention of a Marvel character named Lord Pound—a god of money, on a database, but the site was making little sense and this would be an obscure reference. There was also much discussion on Reddit from three years ago about Lord Pound tagging the Mt. Hood National Forest. Not cool. I’m sticking with what I’ve learned reading the Pittsburgh Orbit posts written by self-professed speculative journalist Will Simmons  as well as watching multiple episodes of The Alaska Triangle show and offer wild guesses as to what inspired the name Lord Pound.

  • A British boxer with a powerful uppercut, a glass jaw who’s also a bleeder?
  • Religious? As in our Lord and Savior seeking retribution.
  • Some kind of deviant thing, a nod to old school locker room talk? Still affiliated with a bragging British guy wearing Union Jack shorts?
  • Pound sign? Hash mark? Hash tag?
  • Royalty? Money? Royal money?

 

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Impound.

I thought I had a few more entertaining guesses but I am stymied. Regardless, Lord Pound would be a rough neck of some kind. I recall hearing and enjoying the word pound often in the 80’s. It had more of an association with beer drinking as I recall. No one is threatening to pound anyone or anything these days. Then there’s that sexual figure of speech which doesn’t exactly seem gentle or loving. There was a website, something about hot shots, that was written near one of the tags, a half second look revealed it to not be for the faint hearted or anyone with a heart for that matter. As for Lord Pound he may still be out there replacing the tags that wear off from weather, time or clean up. Then again he may have gone into hiding or he’s retired.

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Hearts pound.


After one of my other graffiti posts I was contacted by someone who offered to enlighten me on this subject.At press time, I was unable to establish contact but I might be able to and I’ll add an addendum. The question remains. Why do people feel a need to create a tag and then splash it every and anywhere? Yet, why not? Who doesn’t crave attention any way they can get it? It’s that spirit of look at me that some of us never outgrow. It may have nothing to do with having something to say or it could be saying more than anyone realizes.

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Pound it down.

 

*  *  *  *  *

The Reddit crowd mentioned not posting pictures because it only encourages people but the idea behind the Portland Orbit’s new Spring Cleaning series is to release old photos and ideas. We can only hope that Lord Pound has gone on to bigger and better things besides tagging nature and the Kenton neighborhood.

My Decal Obsession Conundrum in Part 4 Harmony

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What is it about stickers shaped like the state of Oregon? I look for new ones everywhere and I often spot them. I’m blessed with an eagle eye, a talent that gets me no where. I feel obligated to share it with the world. The state of Oregon outline is a hot commodity in the sticker culture. Everyone wants a part of it which means I’ll keep finding variations on this theme. I can’t shake my obsession for these Oregon decals so it’s nice to have an outlet for displaying these images.

Rain Make Rainbows

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The state outline in a rainbow slice might be wishful thinking in upholding the ideals of love and acceptance once you get out of Portland but it can’t hurt to dream about and promote thoughts of a gay friendly state.

Stuck in Place

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Any locale within the state can put themselves in the state borders and create a sticker design. Obvious right? Why not scream out: We are a place in Oregon and create a design. Upon Further Review: I wasn’t paying much attention making the assumption this was a decal promoting Estacada tourism if there is such a thing. In the middle of admiring the literal sky lines, earth tones and abstract trees, it dawned on me that this was a sticker from a weed business. Wow, man. 

 

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This sticker calls out against laziness and should inspire “place stickers” to create slogans. You have to appreciate this effort. It does make me think I have copy editing skills. Why not, “It’s Good in the Hood!” Or was that slogan already taken?

Dead Giveaway

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You’re a Grateful Dead fan, an Oregonian and you’re not Bill Walton. You can broadcast this message with ease with this sticker.

WTF is NWSS?

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A peacock, a heart and an acronym where it’s an easy guess the NW stands for northwest, the SS, I’m not sure I want to know. All this on a green background with a thick black outline. I’m getting too critical about this thin lined drawing and the fluttering letters but boy do I like those thick black lines.

Go What?

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I’m lost. Is it a group of skis or a fort down in the empty quarter of the state? It doesn’t matter but it’s cluttered. I mean what’s with the kids skis in the middle? There is no life for a sticker critic. Go West is a tired sentiment. How about “Go Somewhere Else?” I know, curmudgeon much? I am a sucker for plain and simple black and white designs that may or may not be trying to sell me something.

Home is a State of Mind

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It’s okay if you need to proclaim you’re from Oregon. It can be the home of anyone who lives here. Go crazy on that letter “O.” Is it a wave or Mt. Hood getting tweaked like an ice cream sundae top?

 

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Is there a hidden double meaning in placing the state abbreviation inside the state border? Who am I even asking? Am I hoping an Oregon sticker expert happens by and reads this post? Perhaps. This simple design is eye popping if you can see past the redundancy.


Stuck on Sports

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Of course I’ve learned all about “CorVegas” from the C&C guys and there’s no faulting Oregon State for taking as much pride in their state as their football team. The beaver logo is even extra fierce looking. So, yeah, Go Beavers!

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Washington fans in Oregon, okay, but come on! Is there anything less nesessary than Huskies fans needing to tell people they’re from Oregon? I try to keep my critiques focused on concept rather than execution which is why this one bothers me so much. As for the design, I like purple and pin stripes. 

Stick it Out

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Go to town with that crazy blend of colors on a silver back ground. I’m enthralled. This has to be the most beautiful background of an Oregon outline sticker I’ve seen. It’s lacking a concrete message. Shiny, happy, tacky, perhaps when it’s paired with a grouping of flamingos representing the family unit.

Love, A Many Splendid Thing

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At the very least this sticker gets props for doing something different. Who knew you could form the letter “O” out of the outline of the state of Oregon. I have to say I love this one even though all this love stuff makes me a bit queasy. It’s an ingenious take on an overdone concept. I can only imagine how many word combinations exist that might use this style of the letter O.

Cranberry Sauce: Praising, Not Burying Saul MacGarvey

 

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I learned the word hoodwink from my tenth grade English teacher, Mr. Bobby Hand. He might take pride in knowing that. I always thought about it in that way politicians pull the wool over people’s eyes when they make false promises. I took pride in thinking I was too smart to be hoodwinked myself until I had a run in with Saul MacGarvey. Saul is actually the innocent party in all this. As you’re about to read, he is the subject of an informative and entertaining interview. I was suspicious when Saul’s people contacted me out of the blue but it’s flattering when anyone takes an interest in the Portland Orbit. Jeff Dodge, my Portland connection to Saul, was evasive when I asked him the name of  Saul’s band. Anybody else would wonder why I didn’t ask Saul himself but between trying to decipher the cryptic nature of this project and actually getting in touch with Saul, I forgot! It wasn’t until I began gathering images and links to include with the interview that I found out this was a Jeff Dodge and the Peasant Revolution Band release. And that, is how, I got hoodwinked. Saul MacGarvey’s identity is a mystery but it doesn’t matter, I had a great time talking to him and despite technical issues that created transcription challenges, I had plenty of laugh out loud moments listening to this recording over and over again. This may not be the last word on my getting hoodwinked but I figure I should let it go for a moment and get to the interview.

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Guest hosting The Peasant Revolution Band Variety Hour

Portland Orbit:  Okay we’re starting, I mean, sorry, it’s David, it’s David from (laughs) the Portland Orbit. You’ve got to excuse me because we’re had our Christmas party. We’re so busy that we are just now getting around to having our Christmas party. So that’s what we’ve been up to but Saul we know how busy you are.

Saul: It’s a bit late for Christmas, isn’t it?

PO: Yeah, well, I know exactly, we’ve been very busy and you know 12 days of Christmas and all that so that’s where we were—

Saul: I could play that for you if you want.

PO: Oh wonderful Saul. I know you guys had reached out to me it’s been a bit of a mystery but you’ve reached out to me for an interview and so I’m glad that I was able to track you down I have to admit that I didn’t know much about what you were doing and I’m going right into my first question. Okay, are you ready?

Saul: Chorde was a big fan of the Portland Orbit so we thought we do that.

PO: Oh great!

Saul: Yeah, go ahead, fire away.

PO: Okay, okay, wait a minute. (Pause for technical difficulties.) Here we go, this is great. From what I’m so familiar with for the music I felt like, it seemed you’re inspired by the Beatles with your Beatle influences on your album and I’m wondering how did you connect with the band?

Saul: What you seem to be saying right there, I disagree with that characterization but continue on.

PO: Well then, maybe the question is, because you cut me off, but my follow-up question which was sort of like, it was a two-part question, two questions in one, which is complicated, but did you connect with the band The Beatles when you first heard them?

Saul: Well, for one thing we’re entirely from different eras, you know, just because we grew up in Liverpool, we were born during the bombing, you know, the war going on. They supposedly had similar things but I don’t really know their history. I was always more of a Stones guy, you know.

PO: A what guy?

Saul: The Rolling Stones.

PO: Not Gerry and the Pacemakers?

Saul: Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. I’m also a bit big fan of The Turtles, very influential and the Thompson Twins were also a big influence on our work.

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Saul with the Thompson Twins!

PO: (Hearty laugh) I can imagine twins, anything with twins. This Tom Lemon collaboration that you’ve got going on, were you trying to do the—

Saul: Ronnie Lemon. It’s not Tom. Tom, that’s his Dad.

PO: What’s that? It’s not Tom Lemon? Okay, wait a minute Ronnie, Ronnie Lemon. Okay, I’m sorry I don’t know where I got that. But I mean are you guys doing the songwriting team thing?

Saul: We’re kind of taking a break from it it’s been a lot of pressure so we’re going to release this album and take a little break, maybe get back to it a little later.

PO: Well, actually how did you decide which name was going to go first though?

Saul: Well, this album is very much about me and my life’s legacy. Some of these songs I wrote by myself when I was first teaching myself how to play the guitar. I didn’t have any lessons, you know, no one showed me how to do anything. That’s why I ended up left-handed with it. I can even play dobro with my toes, you know. Back then it was about doing skiffle, you know.

PO: Okay, what was it about Ronnie though? What was it about Ronnie then?

Saul: Ronnie and I met probably about nine—we were young lads growing up in Liverpool. We met playing the game Connect Four. I believe you call it over there, Connect Four. We met in a Connect Four tournament.

PO: (Laughs)

Saul: We were fast friends after I beat him.

PO: Your album, it feels a lot like the I Am Sam soundtrack. I’m not sure if you’re familiar but that was a movie where Sean Penn plays a mentally challenged Beatles obsessive and so the album is full of performers playing Beatles tunes. Have you heard of this movie?

Saul: I have not, had no idea such a thing—but again I don’t see what all these Beatles comparisons have anything to do with this work. This is from my own personal life, you know it talks about the bombings, it talks about growing up in Liverpool. My friends introduced Chorde Benjamin to Ron Lemon and shortly after the Connect Four tournament we discovered that Chorde could make music out of a pickle, not a piccolo, but an actual pickle. First, we thought we’d change the skiffle group to feature the pickle on the solos.

PO: Oh man!

Saul: We got our feet in the fire there and so this is just an album about our ride and our, you know, going on the Boolivan Show and our exposure in the Americas that we got and all of that, the love, the pain, ending in some great new tracks and old tracks you know. I don’t see why that should have anything to do with stuff about the Beatles, whatever you call them, you know, I was just never into them, I don’t know.

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Saul on TV!

PO: Okay, well I mean, a lot of people are and it’s—

Saul: So Paul’s probably caught wind of us doing this new thing and, all lies, and he’s probably jealous, him and that Yoko, they’re probably, you know, desperate to cling to rellavancy and trying to cash in on our project. Yes?

PO: (Laughs) I couldn’t begin to understand what they’re thinking about but, okay—

Saul: He’s a knight, you know, he’s a knighted one. He might even be replacing one of the Princes I hear. Sounds like they’re doing a little trade.

PO: Pick up some extra work at the palace, yes. I don’t know, I was really curious about your skiffle comments because it seemed to me that skiffle is just, in part, an idea of how kids could just play music without, you know, having to have practically any gear at all if you’re talking about making music from a pickle.

Saul: Yes, it was very difficult through the war, you know. I’m from a different generation and the Falkland Islands War was very difficult to get through. We had noble heroes. We were very poor growing up. We were, well, you know, we were in the lines, we were on the dole. It was very depressing and so we would have to use rocks and sticks to make sounds and that, you know.

PO: Yeah, just like a piece of string, tie a piece of string to—

Saul: Some people think it was invented 30 or 40 years before we discovered it but I guess what we did with it, with the pickle and everything was kind of—it’s what we kept doing. We try to reinvent ourselves. It’s very important to do that, you know. Like when I had to replace, I mean when I spotted Saul. It was very, the psychedelic era, a lot of disinformation got out there, you know? What was your question?

PO: I actually, well I was talking about skiffle but I mean I get it, it just something that struck me just the idea that most people would be intimidated or think you have to have a lot of equipment to form a band or whatever but it sounded like kids were just getting up and trying to make whatever music they could to express themselves.

Saul: Sometimes we’d have to compete with rouges, it helps, it was a blunt object that could be used as a weapon. Very tough, you know. It was really difficult when we started to move into sponges and pillows. We wanted to get a softer sound. It was no good. Moving in our junior year we had to fight off for our spots and rosters with pillows.

PO: But that sounds like the origins of soft rock then that came out of California. That’s amazing! I hadn’t even thought about that.

Saul: Brian Wilson, we were probably very influential on him.

PO: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Saul: I feel like, you know, it totally makes sense today. I don’t know if he would’ve admitted to that back then but, you know.

PO: That’s, gosh, I had never even thought about that parallel at all either. I wanted to ask you about the walrus and is it a metaphor?

Saul: Well, you know, I suppose for that Beatles group it was. You know we don’t really have any cute animals on this album necessarily. This is much more about love and peace and understanding and the love Ron and I shared for each other before he got shot, you know.

PO: Okay, yeah, I, yeah, I didn’t want to go there at all but I did, I mean—

Saul: You know, Ronnie getting shot, you could compare that to a walrus getting washed out into the sea. I guess there are some similarities there.

PO: Yeah. Ah, yeah. Yeah.

Saul: Ron got shot in the toe so he got back up, limped onto the shore.

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Saul’s short film deemed a critical and commercial failure.

PO: (Laughs) Well, I was curious about the rest of the band, Chorde and Mack-O, Mackie? And Ron, of course.

Saul: Chorde was my old mate. He was a couple of years younger than us and we met at the Connect Four tournament with Ronnie. He had my back. He was kind of my coach, my cheerleader and then when I beat Ronnie it was like, you know, hey will you join my band? And I said yes, l will. Can Chorde come along? And Ron didn’t—he rejected him out right. That scrawny little thing? I don’t think so. What does he do? And Chorde didn’t do anything at that time. It was another year or so, oh I can play this pickle, you know. That’s sort of how that all came together. Our drummer was a wonderful lad that we used to have. He was kind of stealing all the ladies and that was a bit of a problem so we fired his ass. We got Mack-O. He was cute but he wasn’t as cute as us so we were all able to get the women and the birds.

PO: Because the other drummer before Mack-O wasn’t the best drummer, right? That’s why he needed to go.

Saul: The wonder boy could really, really keep a beat but he was getting all the bird’s attention.

PO: Okay, I just, yeah, I just wanted to make sure I got that.

Saul: Who wants that around, good looking smiling guy. He’d go with three women and they wouldn’t bother with us. They’d all be with him by the end.

PO: Yeah, I was asking about Chorde and Mack-O and about where the names came from.

Saul: Mack-O should be pretty obvious. He came with a mac and he never took it off. The truth, I don’t really know what’s under there. (Laughs) No, he’d shower with that mac on. Mack-O.

PO: He had his mac on!

Saul: Loves his mac, his mother got him in the habit of it when he was really young and he’s much older than all of us but like, you know he’d wear the mac to the shower, anywhere because it rained and he was sickly child so they were very worried about him catching a cold so he always kept the mac on. On the other hand, I, you know, I’m not sure it just seems very convenient that he would be our lead guitar player and his name is Chorde, it just, you know—

PO: Oh, yeah, that’s—so it’s a nickname then? Nickname?

Saul: No. He was born with it. They named him that. He spells it with an e on the end too. It’s unique that way.

PO: Okay, name, it’s kind of a—you got to have a gimmick and all so that’s good.

Saul: His parents were academics who knew nothing about music, you know, it was very outside their world.

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Another handsome drummer axed!

PO: How did you feel about the death of Ron Nasty?

Saul: Ah, from the Rutles.

PO: Yeah the Prefab Four, the Prefab Four and then the Rutles. Yeah.

Saul: I’m a big fan of their work. Nasty was influential in a lot of Ron Lemon’s song writing, for sure, yeah. You’d have to ask Ron about that. He’s hard to get in touch with since he’s isolated himself with that guru, Raku. Yeah. It’s not like her sitting on my guitar was, you know, gonna—it just made me mad. Get out of here. Why are you sitting on my guitar? You’re making it all out of tune.

PO: (Laughs) Not a good piece of furniture.

Saul: Not cool at all.

PO: Did you have anything that you wanted to add? I know, actually, I’m gonna repeat that because I appreciate this so much Saul and I know that the people that I talked to were saying 10-15 minutes. I try to limit, you know, my interviews to three questions which is impossible with a guy like you.

Saul: I fully understand. My management told me this would only be like two minutes but Chorde has spoken so highly of the Portland Orbit that we wanted to give you a fair shot and tell our story. Really this is about my story, you know, it always is at the end of the day and, you know, I guess if I had anything to add to it it’s just that it chronicles our journey as a band and, you know, kind of—when I first replaced—got involved with the band you know they’re sort of two phases of it really and those, the young phase where I was very disengaged and unmusical and then there’s the after the drugs came into it, you know I changed my perspective and some people joked that I changed my face and stuff but you know, a lot of that second phase, really, it brought us into, well, it’s a lot about the world we live in today and the various systems of power and influence according to the majesty of the royal crown is talked about a lot in there, you know. The prestige of the BBC and, you know, what it means to be of kind of a royal bloodline and how important and influential that is on the world, you know, a little bit of blood goes a long way, as they say. It’s got blood all over the place. It’s got blood in the Americas there, you know.

PO: Yeah, you reminded me—

Saul: Fake blood. (Laughs)

PO: Yeah, I’ve kind of gotten away, you know, a lot of the other things that I was hearing about the dribs and drabs that I was getting about this whole project kind of took me away from the music so I’m really appreciating you, because this is a huge album, a huge project and—

Saul: Love and blood lines that’s what it is for me. It’s all about love and bloodlines.

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# # #

Bonus Interview!

P.O. Okay, well, love and bloodlines and what about the future of Scotland? Did you have any thoughts on that? I know you spent a lot of time or you’re going to spend a lot of time in Scotland.

Saul: Me and Cinda, have a little castle, some people call it a cottage up there in the Highlands. It’s very important to get away from Ronnie and Raku and Chorde, you know, Chorde, he has his own projects to do and, yeah, I just want what’s best for all of them. But Cinda and I, no, you know, we’ve dabbled with Scottish politics I suppose, a little bit. The marijuana laws are horribly regressive, you know, we’ve had to get legal help about that at times when we’re traveling back and forth. I have to have lawyers with me. They’re checking our luggage, passports—

PO:  Yeah.

Saul: Certain—

PO: Cavities?

Saul: Thanks to my bloodline it’s sort of a short conversation.

PO:  (Laughs.) All right, well, that is amazing. Thank you so much.

Saul: I’ll have to tell the whole joke about the nickname Billy someday too. There’s a lot of disinformation out there, so I just won’t want you to, especially this Beatles garbage. I hate them. I’m a Stones person.

PO: Okay, well, that surprises me but I get it, maybe it was just too much but, you know, you were still kind of subconsciously reflecting out what you were getting in from them even though you liked the Stones more.

Saul:  I couldn’t name one song if you asked me. I don’t, you know, I mean how little their music meant to me. The Rutles were far better from my perspective.

PO: Yeah, okay, and it sounds like you didn’t catch the Rain tour. I mean, there’s  numerous Beatle impersonator bands.

SauI: I don’t, yeah, you know, there’s some good Stones cover bands that I really enjoy and a wonderful U2 band called boob tube in Ireland. They’re wonderful, wonderful lads, but, yeah, I don’t know this Beatles thing I wish people would kind of drop it.

PO: You can still get confused. I watched much of a rooftop Beatles concert before I realized, now I realize then this is Them Beatles reenacting the rooftop Beatles concert so I was blown away by that. I was totally fooled.

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Saul and Ronnie raise the roof!

Saul: Yeah, well, you know when we were getting on with Ford Harkin and we decided we couldn’t use him anymore to produce it was his idea that we should throw one last set together and Mack-O said, “let’s go on the roof.” We did, but you know, I didn’t know that the Beatles did that actually until you mentioned that. It was a stupid idea because it was pouring down rain. We got all wet.

PO: Who got electrocuted? Anybody get electrocuted? That sounds dangerous. Struck by lightning?

Saul: Well, it was just a lot of water. It was pissing.

PO: You have to check the weather before you schedule a concert outdoors.

Saul: Well, you know, it was the heat of the moment it was quite epic, we were fookin’ done with Harkin here. It was time to do something wild and spontaneous so we did. Actually one of the tracks might have made the album, “World Gone Mad” is actually–

PO: Right from the roof!

Saul: Yeah, people got so excited they decided to put it on a satellite feed across the world so we did that, opened it with the Canadian national anthem to start and it started raining.

PO: Ugh.

Saul: We were live so we played through.

PO: You see Mack-O never—he wouldn’t care because he had the mac.

Saul: Mack-O stayed remarkably dry. His mother raised him well. It was one time the mac really protected him.

 

 

It’s February: Find Your Pit of Despair

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The awful road.

One January morning walking around my SW neighborhood for reasons better left unsaid I headed up the unfinished gravel road. There’s a rut so bad cars can’t pass through without risking axel damage. At the top of this “street,” the empty lot behind a chain link fence beckoned. I wandered up the driveway towards a pile of concrete slabs and turned to look at the pit. It was wide, and deep, ten feet would be an exaggeration but it struck me as a good sized hole. At the bottom were kitchen cabinets and a wire shelving unit. I was shocked to see two throw pillows also tossed in the mud. The sight complimented my bleak mood.

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The Pit of Despair

After photographing the pit I created a black and white image that I posted on Instagram. I called it, “The Pit of Despair.” The dump site that emerged grated on me but the pit put things in perspective. No matter how low things get pits of despair will be there exhaling their misery and exposing their void. I tried imagining the house that may have filled that space before it crumbled and was carted away. Now this giant divot would never be anything more than a pit or an opportunistic junk refuge. Dirt wouldn’t retain water to make a swimming hole.

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Time to reface!

As I write this, January ticks into the next month. Thoughts I had never considered have grown into a February philosophy. It started with a Portland Monthly article I read in an emergency room waiting room. I spent hours there wondering if things would be okay while finding out February was not the month I thought it was. Yes there’s Valentines Day but that has its misery and President’s Day is a holiday spent wondering what you’re supposed to be celebrating. I discovered February’s wintery discontent of grime, gray and grind.

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Let the puddles begin.

Rich Reese helped me recognize there’s a February Survival Philosophy. It’s all in the article but despite any possible positive moments during this month, it’s still a dreaded time. We have to be grateful it ends early. It could have been those feelings of being stuck in an emergency room when I encountered thoughts that added to the gravitas. Reece’s advice boiled down to enduring the nastiness and not making hasty, irrational decisions as a result and not letting the season make you snappy. Consider that someone’s funk can be rooted in their own brand of “Februaryitis.” It’s nothing personal. Maybe they haven’t done the same soul searching that would bring them to the wisdom of Rich Reece.

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Remember your happy place.

In the middle this deep thinking, I came across an article from a copy of a magazine called Yoga Journal that I found in a Multnomah Village recycling bin. The article recommended people find a place to center themselves offering examples like sitting on a rock in nature. I know what you’re thinking, the Portland Orbit has resorted to writing second rate Yoga Journal style articles to boost circulation. Regardless, I like this idea but I prefer one sacred spot. I had a place where I sought refuge a long time ago, a giant tree on the edge of a golf course. It was a place of calm when life got heavy. Last summer I painted a picture at a Larry Yes Free Painting Event downtown. From my imagination, a psychedelic tree on the edge of a field emerged, it could have been a subconscious nod to this place I’d known. Sure your spot should bring tranquility. My Pit of Despair is the opposite but if I don’t find myself at the bottom of it, I’m doing all right and it merits repeated visits.

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Loose shoes.

Every day doesn’t have to be a battle but February can exacerbate feelings of living in survival mode. Last year I instituted a February tradition that I hope to continue provided I make it through the month. I celebrated the month’s end by buying a pair of cheap dress shoes, shoes I’d have no problem letting get beat up. After a year they are scuffed, torn and frayed. They reflect the kind of year its been. Chinese tariffs could kill this tradition or its death could come from my disinterest in shopping. I have yet to find a name for my pretend holiday. I just know the end of the month is worth celebrating. Please consider this public service announcement. Take “Februaritis” seriously and reward yourself if you can hang on until March.

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Rich Reece:  Life’s  a blur.

Portland Skyline: There’s Fine Lines and There’s Tracing

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Dreams of a pink skyline.

This post was inspired by the Pittsburgh Orbit, well, actually, the idea was straight up stolen from them. We only steal from the best. When I saw their tribute to Pittsburgh skyline art I was reminded of the images I’ve collected of precise lines and graphics that have created images of Portland skylines used in advertising, company logos, school murals and art pieces. I hadn’t gotten around to pulling them together but seeing the most recent Pittsburgh Orbit post made me realize it was time.

With no clear guidelines every design takes a stab at what to include and exclude. They might sneak in a bridge or two but all the bridges would be impossible. Distinctive skyline landmarks like KOIN Tower and Big Pink are a must. The goal is to make Portland recognizable. Otherwise, why bother? You’d be left with a generic urban landscape. There’s also the trick of creating a one dimensional image that may not jive with the East-West lay out of the city. Giving leeway to precise skyline design is necessary to fully appreciate different designs.

Getting Schooled

Opening doors for Portlanders.

When dealing with school murals it’s safe to assume the work is by students. This means I’ll step light with my critiques. At Jackson Middle School, the Portland skyline graces one of the front doors blending with door handles and windows. It’s a sunny depiction of downtown around the Hawthorne Bridge. (I risk a grilling if I get a bridge name wrong.) The scene stretches from Big Pink to the KOIN Tower with lots of Willamette River and a desolate Waterfront Park that resembles the morning after Blues Fest after everyone has gone home but cleaned up after themselves like good Portlanders. This portrait is colorful and cheery yet devoid of people. Perhaps a post-plague, Portland portrayal.

Portland’s lego inspirations.

At Wilson High School we get a 3D representation with dark shadows and blossoming trees. It’s a pure design I appreciate. I’m no art critic. I only long for images that fit the theme. This works well and it offers equal space to bold letters declaring the city’s name. This youthful statement of the obvious is forgivable. It only takes one recognizable building to make it an authentic Portland skyline and this fits the bill. The mural’s mostly monochromatic design works—like the city’s motto.

Simply Get it Right

Going Uptown!

It takes very little. If you want to make the skyline a logo you just have to work geometric shapes into the patterns that resemble downtown. Blocky rectangles topped with a triangle equals a KOIN Tower. We’ll take the graphic artist’s word for it. Uptown, downtown, wherever you’re going, you won’t get lost when your company name fits within the boundaries of a few of the city’s buildings.

Portland after dark.

The Audubon Society uses the city as a rallying cry. Save energy, birds and make the stars more visible it declares. This poster has nice detailing like purple skies, flying geese, a giant moon and it sneaks in the Steel Bridge. Some buildings don’t appear to be in the correct order. Is that Big Pink standing next to the KOIN Tower?  Who cares. There’s no need to get picky when it’s more about the message. If Portlanders turn off the lights there will savings, sightings and our skyline will pop like a breath taking silhouette for all to gaze upon.

Whimsical Wins

Life in a fairy tale.

I didn’t steal this image so much as borrow it. Famous last words. Details are sketchy. It may have been spotted in a coffee shop downtown. I love the idea of Portland as a land of enchantment of sorts, the kind an artist’s imagination brings our locale. Sandwiched between mountain ranges, we get clouds of falling rain, puffs of heart smoke from chimneys and an abstract rainbow mixed in with Portland landmarks like the St. Johns Bridge and the tram that bring the image home. The tram is part of the city’s whimsy and for lack of a better word, charm so it’s great to see it included. Bonus points are granted for the creation of an image of a place, I assume, most of us would be willing to live.

I’ll have a Portland bagel.

I entered Spielman Bagels in Multnomah Village after deciding to write about Portland skyline art. I was greeted by a theme appropriate illustration as part of their menu board. More whimsy here with what can be spotted under the bright lights. We get the tram, Mount Hood, the Freemont Bridge and the buildings that are a must invite for any skyline art party.

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I know all of you are begging for more images which I hope to present sooner than later. Portland images appear before me with regularity and there’s  also a backlog on an old phone that couldn’t be located at press time.

2019 Year in Review: The Year of the Toothless Mermaid

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Compromised grasp.

“When failure’s got you in its grasp.
And you’re reaching for your very last.
It’s just beginning.”   –David Berman

What a year! Why? Who knows? Each year seems crazier than the last. Was it better or worse than any other? How can you tell? It was living in all its clawing, spewing and hand stabbing glory. Here I sit stitches in hand scrawling the initial efforts of my year-in-review summation. The stitches resulted from an unfortunate kitchen utensil accident, nothing to laugh at and nothing to prevent me from scribbling some lines. Above all it’s been a year of considering the mission to keep bringing the world observations from my skewed vision. In summary I decided to reflect on three stories that stuck in my craw. The year ended with my attempts to tell a story that put a direct spotlight on my scattershoted mind. Those teeth! I rediscovered more intricate details concerning the visual overload I experienced at the Mermaid parade and I also wanted to revisit the explosion of birdbath yard art I wrote about in NE Portland.

The Hits:  Transmermaidions

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Hidden behind photos of mermaid parade participants bursting with costume details exploding in color, fabric and under the sea energy were scenes of mystery and glamor that appeared with the aid of photo manipulation changing from color to black and white and cropping the photographs to add a whole other demension.

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Parading is better.

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Beyond the bridge.

 

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Kid interview.

 

The Sleepers:  Bird Bathing in Yard Art

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Hold that jug.

The minutiae of this display was the thing that has always inspired me. The languishing decorations reveal new details upon each viewing while the mystery of who’s behind it remains in tact to this date. In other words, it’s an oasis of yard art run amok that I have a full appreciation for from the Grandma shades on the windows, to the angel, frog and other assorted cement figurines to the enigmatic smile that graces the face of the jug holding girl in the picture above, it all comes together, not really so neatly, in one yard.

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How do you spell squirrel?

 

The Misses:  Lost Teeth Found?

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Street of teeth!

What started as something that seemed easy to write about got complicated. It took three posts to uncover the tip of an iceberg sized mystery. Still what a legend when you consider the unknown specifics of how it started and the evidence that still might exist if one were to look harder. Above is the neighborhood tucked away between the Naito Parkway and I-5 where SW Arthur meets SW Water Street.  Below is a contribution to a Reddit discussion. I lost track of this passage. It would have helped after I borrowed this book from the library and I couldn’t find a denture reference after searching in vain. This may yet lead to another denture discovery.

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Misplaced research!

 

 

Inspirational and noteworthy:

Queen City Discovery

Here’s your chance to visit Ohio and surrounding areas to look at great photos of aging buildings. If you like seeing images of small town business districts this is the site for you.

http://queencitydiscovery.blogspot.com/?m=1

Love and Saucers

The movie, available on Amazon Prime, was slow moving until it dawned on me that the Alien encounters that seemed plausible could also have been fabricated. In the end it didn’t matter. The movie’s main character was unassuming and believable. The movie brought back fond memories of attending oddball art shows.

https://www.loveandsaucers.com

Dead Mall Stories

Worried about current mall culture? I know, you’re too cool for that. Someone is out there documenting the casualties of our changing times. I noticed entries that are out of date but it may be worth a look around.

www.deadmalls.com

Summer Teeth Part Three: The Magic in Arthur Water’s Teeth

End of the road?

Working the margins of speculation made the payoff of actually corroborating a local legend much sweeter. I was already feeling good about doing some “boots on the ground” investigative reporting but I was still mystified by a section of town I had never been to, a bicycle map that made me wonder if I’d reach the possible denture burial sites I’d heard about and that my pursuit of looking for fake teeth in concrete was making me  the Mayor of Crazy Town. There was research. I credit that to Will Simmons from the Pittsburgh Orbit. He’d been giving me gentle, long distance nudges to get out of the house. I had to act before he offered up shoves. Will put an announcement on Reddit asking about the teeth legend/denture art installation project and he’d gotten a few responses along with some positive rating points, whatever those mean. With concrete (pun intended and beautifully executed) intel, I set out to verify if there were any planted teeth left. I’d poured through a South Portland history book from the library that I’d heard mentioned a teeth installation but I couldn’t find it. How about including dentures in the index Laflar?

The site!

With my map confusion, I was surprised to find that the streets mentioned intersected. I was able to visit cross streets identifiable by street signs and hunt down dental evidence. In a correspondence, Will had made an an amusing cavity reference. At the very least I was hoping to see a hole or broken section of curb where the teeth had once been. I was getting the feeling that I was writing another post about my being a schlub blogger in search of a legend turning up empty. The Arthur/Water intersection seemed the most promising. A legend had already sprung up about  “Arthur Water’s teeth” and although there was no famous Portlander named Arthur Water related to the story the nickname stuck. I went to the four corners of this intersection looking for clues and wondering what sidewalk planted teeth would look like when I noticed a neighbor down the street beyond a sidewalk closed sign.

Concrete cavity from industrial dentistry.

Approaching the neighbor, I had concerns about how I’d be perceived. It’s odd enough to be approached by anyone. It usually has me reaching for my wallet. My opening was something about whether the man had lived in the neighborhood for a while and if he had heard the legend of buried teeth. He didn’t skip a beat pointing out that they had been underneath the street sign. “They’re gone. Somebody dug ‘em up,” he said. The use of the word somebody may explain why I didn’t ask who dug them up. That didn’t matter because I was hearing they had existed. He explained that they’d been gone over ten years and had looked like a jaw bone. I mentioned what I’d heard, that the teeth had been planted fifty years ago, I realized I was off by some number of years. He responded  that the dark gray sidewalk had looked like they’d been there since the 30’s.

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The Teeth!

My journalist skills, having eroded, made me realized I had neglected to ask the man his name. I later learned it was Jesse. I asked him about the neighborhood being tucked away between Naito and I-5. He voiced a legitimate gripe about the condo building that had replaced the green house, next door to his, where there had been a stage for house parties. It was rumored that the Dead Kennedys had played there. Jesse revealed he had an old cell phone image of the teeth that he promised to hunt down and send me. (See above!) I left thanking him for being willing to talk to me when I had felt like I was creeping around the neighborhood asking about teeth. He responded, “And then you’re like he’s actually seen them, that’s crazy.”

I headed off to locate the other sites. The intersection of what I thought was Corbett and Sheridan (actually Water and Sheridan) lined up in an industrial way station surrounded by fences tucked under highway overpasses. It looked like an area stray teeth could be found. The street post was surrounded by dirt and gravel with little concrete, besides the curb, that would have secured teeth for any time. I could have searched more but I had already gotten lucky enough to discover one good denture story and there was no one in the vicinity to offer another.

How many buried teeth?

I walked past the west side of the Ross Island bridge, another possible location. There was no indication besides slabs of concrete in line for an upgrade. I noticed possible cavity fill from whatever industrial dentistry may have been performed to remove dentures that may have been there. As I walked down SW Kelly Street past signs posted about a missing cat named Dexter, I reached the last location, the intersection of SW Water Street and SW Abernathy near Barbur Boulevard. The area was over grown, with sidewalk moss that would have a required a giant toothbrush to clear it away. There seemed to be little chance to spot teeth in this concrete.

SW Abernathy and SW Water

Anything to unearth?

I’d already accomplished more than I thought I would. With my brain full of images of broken down sidewalks, my ears full of the traffic swishing sounds, I caught the last glimpses of the setting sun’s splashes of autumnal hues cast against a late afternoon sky while walking through the shadows of the urban neighborhood to my car.

Planted rocks, not teeth on Kelly St.

I still had questions. I never had a sense of how many dentures were planted. While wandering around it occurred to me that I would have planted hundreds of dentures as a spider unleashes hundreds of babies onto the world hoping that like the spiders some of the installed teeth would survive. I thought about how the teeth were placed in the sidewalk. It couldn’t have been easy to chop up concrete and then seal up the dentures. One answered question took the sting out of the remaining mysteries. A day later Jesse sent an email that included the promised photograph. I saw it the morning after he sent it and it made my day. Something felt magical when I received that evidence along with experiencing a Portland neighborhood I’d never seen, meeting a receptive neighbor and hearing a story of a long ago punk rock show. I had a boost of civic pride. There could have been magic in those teeth. They gave me hope that Portland will always have pockets of weirdness to be discovered.

The Turkey of St. Johns Part 5: From Genesis to Revelation

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In the beginning the Turkey of St. Johns was created when the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; as this was all that could be seen from the inside of the egg containing our precious bird friend who began to peck its way into the light that was good. Then, when as a result of all this fruitfulness and multiplications, there was this addition, a turkey I swear I saw in a doghouse in a front yard surrounded by a chain link fence, a sight that no one has been able to verify for the last few years. It was good to have seen this bird but part of me feels the need to rest. It feels like a seventh day especially when I have written so many blog posts every year on the Thanksgiving holiday.

There may have been some consideration about the Turkey of St. Johns living alone. The turkey seemed content, as I recall, so there must have been no need to create an Adam or Eve poultry companion. It wouldn’t have been easy to fashion a whole other turkey from a turkey rib. I’m sure too, that in that environment, the Turkey of St. Johns was spared visits from serpents and was able to eat anything it was provided. It’s hard to reason with a turkey and insist that they avoid eating from a Tree of Knowledge. You can’t explain such matters to birds. I’d like to imagine this turkey lived in this proverbial Garden of Eden until which time it passed away from old age. The Turkey of St. Johns could be living there still and I haven’t been able to find it but it hasn’t been without my having made attempts while scouring the area and making minimal efforts of research.

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As for the mystery of the Turkey of St. Johns, I chalk it up to an old memory lost to time, a quick, spectacular vision, a behold moment, out of place, and worth noting by an appreciator and chronicler of the occasional odd sight. After I first spotted this household pet, it felt like lo, a turkey waddling in a yard. I’m not sure if it appeared like jasper and carnelian and I can tell you no rainbows or torches of fire were involved in this encounter but the moment resurfaces in my consciousness as a remembrance of a creature I want to honor, glorify and give thanks to every Thanksgiving. The Turkey of St. Johns is a true symbol of Thanksgiving, a reminder of what stately and generous birds turkeys really are. Reflect on this with each bite of Thanksgiving dinner even if your turkey is made of tofu.

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The Turkey of St Johns may have been surrounded by dogs, sorcerers, hungry murderers and idolaters protected from those folks by that chainlink fence. Maybe an angel watched over the turkey to keep it safe, something along the lines of the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star. I warn everyone who reads the words of this blog. If anyone adds to them the Turkey of St. Johns will add to him the plague this post has become since its completion. The Turkey of St. Johns will take away its share in the tree of life and in the holy neighborhood described in these writings. He who testifies says, “Surely the Turkey of St. Johns will be found soon.” Amen. The grace of the Turkey of St. Johns be with all other forms of poultry. Amen again.

Illustration by Jessica

 

Go back to what started it all: https://portlandorbit.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/the-turkey-of-st-johns-part-1/

Or read last years tribute: https://portlandorbit.wordpress.com/2018/11/22/the-turkey-of-st-johns-part-4-a-return-to-normalcy/

Nevermind the Bollards: Praise and Perplexity

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All in a row.

It started as an in-joke in my mind only. Saying the name felt so good. I said it over and over. Bollards, bollards, bollards. There has to be only one way to pronounce it, but who knows? I became engrossed in thoughts of bollards. They cheered me up and gave me a purpose. Bollards allowed me to ponder them without judgement. I had never thought about them before but I fell in love with bollards. I didn’t know they had a name until I saw a sign on Capitol Highway announcing road improvement plans. The first bollard I saw in person was disappointing because it didn’t match the drawing on the sign.

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The beginnings of bollard fever.

My interest evolved. I wondered about bollards and their purpose. One afternoon I spotted two plastic orange bollards planted in the sidewalk. The late afternoon light that shined on them created an image of  beauty that overshadowed their purpose. I knew then they deserved recognition.

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Bollard down!

Bollards are tough. I witnessed one getting run over only to see it rise from the dead at its own slow motion pace. As bollards take over, they’re now creeping up Capital Highway in an effort to slow traffic, I’ve continued to wonder if there’s more to what they do. I want to believe bollards exist beyond their simple plastic tubing and bolts in the asphalt design. They have a mission. Their underappreciated sentry duty has them standing, stoic, in whatever weather, reflecting, in a literal sense, because they sport reflective rectangles that offer crash preventative measures.

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Dowtown bollards: meaty and tough.

There’s a whole other question that bears research. Is any metal pole that creates a barrier considered a bollard? Wait a minute, you would think I would have answered my own question already. But like the cart going before the horse, I wrote the question then started my research.

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Metal as heck and two toned!

When I looked into bollards I had to turn away. What a rabbit hole! I learned that the term bollard originates from shipping. These posts were found on ships and on wharfs and were used to moor boats. The term has since expanded to mean any kind of post. It’s defined as a sturdy, short, vertical post. My eyes bugged out at the idea of bollards calming traffic while my brained buzzed with the realization that I could buy a bollard of my own if I want one. And, I really do want one.**

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Sign me up!

From the drawing I saw on the PBOT (Portland Bureau of Traffic) sign, I mistakenly thought bollards would be six and a half feet tall. It turns out that’s the measurement of the space between the bike lane and the driver lane. I need a lesson in architectural/traffic pattern drawings. The yellow color and the size imagined meant when the actual bollards showed up I was let down. The neighborhood bollards are skinny and white with their reflective abilities. It may be the gray skies, but they already appear on the grungy side. 

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An artist’s rendering gave me hope.

I’ve gotten used to bollards hanging around. As the excitement waned, their novelty wore off.  They’ve proven to be good neighbors. They’re quiet even as they populate the streets and they have, more or less, faded into whatever scenery we muster around here.

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Bollards from the rearview.

 

**Mrs. Yuchmow I think this is a good use of the word “and” to begin a sentence. I know you used to teach that it’s not a great idea to start a sentence with that word but I felt like, in the recognition of that instance of my intense desire to own my own bollard, it made sense.