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.

 

Summer Teeth (Part Two)

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The brain scan of a blogger.

If you meet a blogger run. Personally speaking, I’m that guy deep in the trenches of my mind trying to articulate heavy thoughts while a puppy bites my foot after I get home from a frustrating job when I’m also contemplating a mystery health issue. Sure I’m interesting to talk to provided you ask the right questions but so are all the other people who don’t write blogs. These thoughts erupted out of a writer’s block that occurred when an idea went south and I’m not talking South Portland. Part Two of the Summer Teeth blog post is a blatant attempt to postpone having to roam the streets of Portland looking for old dentures. It has to and will be done, for Part Three to happen, but for now I can only leave you with what I was working on before my temporary insanity occurred.

A boring list.

How can I be motivated to leave the house to search for old, lost dentures buried in cement? (See part one.) If I know where they are and I’m guaranteed to find them, I wouldn’t be wasting a trip. I’m inspired knowing there’s more to this subject. The last post described scouring an industrial wasteland for false teeth. We weren’t in the ballpark. Now I have locations, general as they are, but I’m worn out at the thought of this quest.  I’m not ready to hit the streets, with a map in hand on a hunt for dentures. I’d barely be game using an app that I believe should exist. Portland Embedded Dentures app. Anyone? Some enterprising techie is developing one for people like me as you read this. My plan is to plug some addresses into google maps to see what I can find using street view. I can be on a peridontic prowl without leaving the couch.

Sheridan Ave or I-5? Google knows.

My concept got weird fast. Research is tricky in an age when everything and nothing can be revealed on a computer. How Sheridan Ave becomes 1-5 according to Google is beyond me but I sure won’t be looking for dentures there.

Water underground?

I was not under the impression that I was going to spot dentures from my efforts at breezing around town using Google Instant Street View but I was hoping it would at least offer me the ability to get my bearings so I wouldn’t be roaming streets perpetually lost and mumbling about old dentures. So much for Arthur Water’s teeth!

Denture mural? Photo by Allison Ella Viaja

Could this be the mural that was mentioned that has something to do with teeth? See, I feel like I’m already downtown babbling incoherently. The address is about right and for me this does look like a lady spitting out teeth. That’s just my imagination because dentures are not going to show up on a mural of this scale.

Has anybody found the dentures?

Another goose chase with a good chance that the ganders are going to get run over. A vague mention of the west side of the Ross Island bridge is not narrowing it down. Where are those teeth?

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A jog past imbedded teeth?

This image stopped me dead in my tracks. I had to imagine this woman, jogging stroller in tow, so completely oblivious dashing past embedded dentures. My mind was very close to being completely blown.

This Research Department. Get on it.

I leave you with the notion that our Research Department is at least making a stab at reading about old dentures planted in the sidewalk. We’ll be back next month with additional reporting in Part Three of this embedded denture exclusive. That’s right no one else in town would dare bring you this story!

Summer Teeth (part 1)

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Hidden roadside teeth attractions.

“Any wild goose chase is better than having to actually chase wild geese.”  David Craig

My obsession with that summer feeling has to do with getting a few summertime minutes when I can catch my breath and relax. Now, days into Autumn, I can no longer deny that another summer has passed me by. Summer thoughts had me flashing back to a day when I could fritter away an afternoon looking for dentures cemented in the sidewalk. Should anyone have asked at that point, I might have seemed less crazy because I could explain it away as archeological research for the purposes of writing a blog post.

A land of rubble and teeth.

What? Wait a minute, dentures in the sidewalk? It’s quite the legend, one that I could not leave alone. Curiosity inspired me to seek out a story that’s grown mythic in stature.  I was lucky that Pittsburgh Orbit founder Will Simmons regaled me with what he knew of these dentures immortalized in certain sidewalks. Ours was a feeble attempt to find them. The search began on the afternoon of August 14 in 2017. Will had gotten a tip from his friend Kate who had lived in Portland for 10 to 15 years. She told him about an artist who placed dentures in the sidewalk in the 60’s. I’ve come to realize that we were making a spontaneous effort to locate the embedded chompers. We were down around the bike path that leads people to the Tillicum crossing. We could see the tram station and a couple of glass OHSU buildings. The only thing missing were sidewalks, and teeth.

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Where are those teeth?

The spur of the moment search was reflected in our texting Kate back and forth to pinpoint the location. Impatient, I wanted to see some old teeth with little effort while hoping technology could make it happen somehow conjuring the ancient dentures. Two years later I contacted Will for his memories of this fruitless search. I was interested in his musings about that day which was a small slice of a long vacation he took in Portland. I asked him if “stumbling around looking for dentures was not the highlight of his Portland visit?” He referred to the texts from that August afternoon two years ago, saying we had been given an area to cover “between Powell and Sellwood.” Even he realized the territory was more than we could check out in an afternoon. Will also figured out we were on the wrong side of the river. This was telling. We were out there desperate for random teeth, any teeth would have satisfied.

Under the bridge, some teeth fell out.

 

Will decided to post a message on Reddit:

Dentures embedded in sidewalk in South Portland–has anyone ever heard this legend?

An acquaintance has this story about an artist (possibly PSU professor?) taking either dentures or dental molds and embedding them in sidewalks in the vague area of “somewhere along the river in South Portland.”

Is this something anyone had ever heard of? Can confirm? Knows more specifics on?

Much appreciated.

Attempts at Research Of Any Kind Pays Off!

It’s a rare thing that a Portland Orbit post resorts to leaving readers with a list but here’s some of the responses to Will’s query.

One respondent quoted a passage from a book titled: The Pursuit of Happiness A History of South Portland which described the dentures being set in the old concrete sidewalk at the SW corner of Corbett and Sheridan.

Dentures can also be possibly be found in the following places:

SW Arthur and SW Water

A mural near Stark and 13th, was described as having a 3D denture flying from an old woman’s mouth.

I got a kick out of a Reddit commenter describing this denture siting as “underwhelming.”

I got into the game realizing I could check out Facebook groups like Hidden Portland for the Curious and Dead Memories Portland. If only I had thought to search these out before Will’s visit.

A post on the Facebook group Hidden Portland for the Curious revealed the false teeth could be in the sidewalk on the corner of SW Kelly street across from the OCOM building.

Responses to that post mentioned the teeth being dug out of the area around SW Water off Barbur, possibly around Abernathy. A reader chimed in that they were at Arthur and Water and nicknamed “Arthur Water’s teeth.”

There was one more location mentioned on the Dead Memories Portland Facebook page–the west side of the Ross Island Bridge.

The hunt is on. It’s looking like I’ll be stumbling into multiple parties of tooth sleuth’s in the next couple of weeks. I promise to follow up these leads and report back on my findings.

 

 

 

Summeritus Meets Signitus: Another Summer Sign Round Up

Slow and steady…

I was diagnosed with “summeritus” by a clerk at a Dollar Store a few years back. It wasn’t a medical diagnosis but the word stuck with me. There was no time for explanation. This wasn’t a Kevin Smith movie so the comment wasn’t overanalyzed. I had stuff to buy and places to be. A few summers later, I continued to contemplate the meaning of “summeritis” coined by that Dollar Store clerk/savant. Discussion around the Orbit office lead me to conclude that while medical terminology usually describes afflictions, I see this as a condition to embrace. Pacific Northwest summers are short. They deserve appreciation and sloth. So I’m really looking for a something to believe in that helps me enjoy a Portland summer. The resulting post, an annual one at that, is a reflection on taking it easy and embracing “summeritis” as a temporary condition, whatever it is.

Video Surveillance

Someone’s watching.

I spotted multiple video surveillance signs, none of them homemade, but I was struck by the different old school cameras and the imposing thought of being watched every and anywhere. There’s footage of me taking pictures of signs that warn me about being surveilled. I get it. No one wants their Walgreen walls or parking lots messed with. Let these signs be a reminder of the many reasons it’s better to remain behind cameras.

Roll With It

Slow and slower.

I never figured out this stretch of SW 45th and the reason for reminders for people to pump the brakes. A slight curve and a deep ditch contribute the need to heed a sign slow down. The handmade sign coexists with a regular traffic sign. The slangy nature of the sign’s phrase made me realize how much sense it makes to replace two vowels with the letter “e.” Take the sign’s advice. Read this post slow. It has words with curvy letters that might crash your brain.

Lower Your Standards

Art stop.

A tiny student made stop sign graces the entrance to the Sunstone Montessori School in South Portland. Who is being asked to stop? It’s almost unnoticeable. Perhaps students get extra credit for sign making. Their method proved more interesting than an average stop sign.

25: No Way To Drive

Rocks out!

The city’s campaign to get everyone to drive slower hinges on a brilliant bit of rhyming wordplay. “Twenty is plenty.” Okay so you can argue the brilliance of it but someone, somewhere had a moment of lightbulb exploding inspiration. You can almost hear the bug eyed scream, “TWENTY IS PLENTY! EUREKA! THAT’S IT!” These signs are ordinary but a line of rocks painted the same color creates a nice eye path to the message.

Hoist Me Up

Here’s a declaration for a limited audience. Those who know about hoisting need to know where they should and shouldn’t hoist.

To Dump or Not To Dump

Don’t get dumpy.

I was amused to see a no dumping sign getting specific with examples of what not to dump. While the sign is pointing out that nothing should be dumped, it’s illustrated with a trash bag, tire and washing machine that should not be tossed aside to rot and rust and become someone else’s disposal hassle. The image makes me laugh at the realization that the popularity of pick up trucks makes it easy for people to pull up with their pony tail wearing driver/accomplice and empty a bed load of junk anywhere they choose to ignore a no dumping sign.

D.M.G. stands for what?

An old sign in the West Portland Park neighborhood used to do it’s duty. Now it looks like it’s been dumped itself. The message is clear enough to keep this patch of wilderness trash free and it’s more intimidating. A Wheel of Fortune watcher could fill in the blanks without buying a vowel.

To Climb or Not to Climb

On the list of do nots.

The sign may not keep anyone away from the temptation of climbing this wall in the parking lot of the Memorial Coliseum. Red screams danger while the capital letters broadcast a louder warning. It is a long way down to the next parking lot so it is better to be safe than mangled.

Climb mountains instead.

At a Portland Public School site in Northeast, a sign benefits from an additional sticker or drawing. All signs should be rendered this interesting. No matter how much someone enjoys climbing on roofs they have to realize it’s not as fun as having to spend time in a court.

Closer To The Fine

No loud allowed.

The intention is obvious. No loud amateur should dare make an attempt to live at the Dickinson Crossing Apartments. It’s not clear how this banner is discriminatory. I wonder where those who can’t control their volume live. Perhaps the walls are thin at the Dickinson Crossing Apartments. Quiet professionals are not the type of folks I would want to live around. It may not be a bad thing to sequester all of the quiet professionals behind those thin walls of the Dickinson Crossing Apartments. If they all want coexist in peaceful harmony, well then, fine.

Live and Let Live

The eleventh commandment.

The appeal here was in the random nature of this tacked up post-it note that may not qualify as an actual sign. Spotted at the Tryon Creek nature center, this could this be the lost 11th commandment or an attempt to remind people that not all spiders are evil, poisonous, diabolical creatures plotting a takeover. It asks its readers to reconsider if they were thinking about going into the forest to kill spiders. Let the arachnids live their happy, web making, scheming lives deep in their natural habitat.

Sticking It To ‘Em

Beef out runs bike.

I’ve seen plenty of stick men traffic signs. I never batted an eye until I saw this one in Tigard out near the train tracks and bike path. Here I encountered a beefy stick man with power thighs that gave me pause. The juxtaposition between biker and pedestrian indicates a competition. Bike riding is painted as the way to a fit and sleek physique while walking leaves you looking like a beef stick.

Pick On My Pet

Before is even better!

No one wants pet waste from pets that aren’t their own on their lawn. It’s not like people ignore pleas they’ve planted in their yards. These signs, cranked out for purchase, feature a happy dog and three exclamation points. This message seen in West Portland Park makes the signs spotted in Multnomah Village encouraging dogs to do their business make even less sense.

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Unhydrate.

Pee freely!

 

Who’s Property Is It?

Property proud.

This sign serves a purpose but it struck me as odd. It’s meant to rust away in a trail side section of brush bordering I-5 in the Crestwood neighborhood. In case anyone is wondering who owns this land, well, it’s the Department of Transportation Highway Division and they must be making a declaration of pride along with an acknowledgement of ownership. It’s ours so don’t try to take it and build a condo. They must be confident that no one is willing to live so close to an Interstate highway.

When Portland Almost Killed Beatlemania

I caught the exhibit about The Beatles at the Oregon Historical Society. The displays weren’t specific to the Beatles’ visit to Portland on August 22, 1965  when they performed two shows to a combined attendance of 20,000 fans. There were relics from the concert but the collection, organized by the Grammy Museum and Fab Four Exhibits, included items from the full spectrum of the Beatle years. Through November 12, people can pour over artifacts, admire replicas of the band’s gear, look over oddball Beatle merchandise items, play drums with Ringo or even sing and record a personal version of Yellow Submarine.

Press kit photo by David Falconer

The band’s performances in Portland must have impacted those who attended, the excitement, the memories. The Beatles, in Portland. Imagine that. Their tours came with baggage. Every show factored into their decision to stop touring. Screams of excitement muffled their ability to hear their instruments. There was more fun backstage jamming, smoking and drinking Wink soda before being trotted out to face 10,000 adoring and screaming Portlanders in a boxy arena. It’s amazing to think facing a crowd like that could get old.

Press kit photo by David Falconer

On tour the band was shuttled by plane and limo in a whirlwind. On the way to Portland the airplane lost an engine. The incident shook up John Lennon but this didn’t merit a mention in Philip Norman definitive Beatle biography Shout, although I swear I read about it somewhere. I also had it in my head that the band landed in Troutdale. I just liked the idea of the Beatles in Troutdale. My memory was proven wrong by a photo of Ringo and Paul waving to fans from a limo at the Portland airport. Their concert rider at the museum called for two seven-passenger limousines, “preferably with air-conditioning” to pick them up. The hoopla  netted them 50,000 dollars for their performances and possibly proceeds from the gate on top of that. Tickets, at four, five and six dollars, seemed like a hefty price for the time. How much that equals in today’s money is beyond me.**

Ringo’s suit jacket.

Tiny details from the exhibit revealed more about the band’s personalities. There were things you would never absorb from a book. I saw John Lennon’s loopy handwriting, the use of his elbow to play keyboards in a show photo and a suit that Ringo had made to wear on the cover of the Abbey Road album. George liked it so much he ordered one. In a concert projected on one wall, I watched Paul graciously invite Ringo to sing “With a Little Help From My Friends.” I’m not sure why Ringo is all over the exhibit. He must have been the one Beatle wiling and able to participate. His deadpanned intro to the Yellow Submarine booth was hilarious.

The most significant thing I learned about the Beatles’ Portland shows was that Allen Ginsberg was in the audience for the evening performance and he wrote a poem about it. Now a Beatles concert for the band was just another show. For the city and those who attended it’s historical. Not many concerts have poems written about them. Ginsberg has already received props for hanging out with Dylan and recording and performing with The Clash, his poem offers a sense of the essence of a Beatles show.

PORTLAND COLISEUM
by Allen Ginsberg

A brown piano in diamond
white spotlight
Leviathan auditorium
iron run wired
hanging organs, vox
black battery
A single whistling sound of ten thousand children’s
larynxes asinging
pierce the ears
and following up the belly
bliss the moment arrived

Apparition, four brown English
jacket christhair boys
Goofed Ringo battling bright
white drums
Silent George hair patient
Soul horse
Short black-skulled Paul
with the guitar
Lennon the Captain, his mouth
a triangular smile,
all jump together to End
some tearful memory song
ancient-two years,
The million children
the thousand words
bounce in their seats, bash
each other’s sides, press
legs together nervous
Scream again & claphand
become one Animal
in the New World Auditorium
—hands waving myriad
snakes of thought
screetch beyond hearing

while a line of police with
folded arms stands
Sentry to contain the red
sweatered ecstasy
that rises upward to the
wired roof.
— August 27, 1965

Now I’m going to attempt something rare in this blog, or any other: poetry analysis. If you absorb the poem you get images of that cavernous “New World Auditorium” filled with screaming beings while the Beatles jump as the complete a song. That must have been their stage move at the time. I got a kick out of his descriptions of the band. George, so sick of being labeled the quiet Beatle probably kept his mouth shut about it. Paul being painted “black-skulled” is something he’ll never live down. “Screech beyond hearing” seems likely what the Beatles heard but they were Portland kids, sweaters and all, and that could have made all the difference.

**From a story in the Oregonian I learned 6 dollars I s equal to 47 dollars in today’s money.

P.S. The museum is free to residents of Multnomah County and the exhibit is worth checking out for a few minutes if you find yourself downtown. It’s fun to have a look but the mock teenager bedroom decked out in Beatle paraphernalia is a bit of a stretch.

For the Beatlemaniacs:
https://www.beatlesbible.com/1965/08/22/live-memorial-coliseum-portland-oregon/

www.bobbonis.com

Bob’s website doesn’t appear to work well but it’s an archive of photos from the Portland show.

The Author: New kicks, old road.

 

Taking Me to the River: The Portlandia Mermaid Parade

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The Mermaid mob!

What makes someone consider the mermaid life? Dressing like a Mermaid? Participating in a Mermaid parade? These questions had been in my head since last year. After missing the 2018 parade, I needed answers. The event, in it’s fourth year, had me incorrectly assuming it had sprung from a skit on the show Portlandia until I read the website:

The name ‘Portlandia’ is in honor of the river goddess sculpture created by Raymond Kaskey, currently located above the entrance of the Portland Building located in downtown PDX.

Okay, so there’s always been a bit of confusion between the statue and the TV show.

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Processionality.

Getting there was a challenge. It can be when you travel by bike or bus. The bike option had us stopping at a repair shop with a mechanical issue. I thought we might miss the Saturday, July 27th parade entirely. I misjudged how long it would take to get there. As we got closer I realized I had no idea where the parade was. Such festivities that included floats and Mermaids in kiddie pools would have involve street closures but I didn’t know the streets. Despite my worrying, we intercepted the hard-to-miss parade cutting through the Tom McCall Waterfront Park with no floats or kiddie pools in sight just people pushing Mermaids in hand carts and wheelchairs.

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Make way for mermaids.

The event has a Portland vibe, a definite local bucket list item. The Mermaid theme, not exclusive to the area but it does play up Portland traditions of homemade creativity in style and design. Seeing the parade in real life helped me interpret its mystery.

mermaid push

When push comes to cart.

Pictures don’t do it justice. This force, a nautical battalion cruising dry land had me searching for a descriptor. What’s a group of mermaids called? A herd? A gaggle? A crush–if you got in their way. A school? A pod? The internet couldn’t settle it so I decided on a mass for the alliteration but I think mob works better. It was a conglomeration of people celebrating mermaids and moseying towards Poet’s beach, an urban oasis of sand under the Marquam bridge. The Sister Sledge song “We Are Family” blared from a boombox in a theme of Mermaid unification.

mermaid canyon

I know the alley.

The procession continued through the SW Harborside retail canyon of what seemed like mostly ice cream stores anchored by a McCormick and Schmidt’s steakhouse. A table of mermaids had given up and gone to lunch. The group remained an amazing spectacle for the unsuspecting as they moved in a methodic, disciplined school of fish fashion.

mermaid wave

Greetings earthlings.

No one could resist the colorful costumes. My wife, Ronna, told me I should have let her know the parade was formal. Which begs the question about what to wear to a mermaid parade. Anything with scales, I suppose. Mermaid fabric pants were in order.

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Under the jelly.

On Poet’s Beach a Mermaid’s tail flapped in the sand. I saw smiles and countless photo ops with plenty of chances for photo bombing–if that’s even a thing these days. My surroundings felt like a Fellini movie set, extras in shimmering costumes pursuing the unusual. I heard Ronna in her bathing suit say, “I have to work on my mermaid game. This is awful.” A t-shirt read, “I Can’t Run I’m a Mermaid” reminding me of my obvious and poorly constructed joke that mermaids can’t parade in a literal sense.

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Summer’s pose.

“Can a mermaid’s tail get wet?” a little girl asked her mom about the tail she was dragging behind her as she headed to the river. Impending rain had me anticipating an uncomfortable ride home but I was comforted by the realization that Mermaids drip dry. I couldn’t help imagining a future Trump tweet threatening to deport Mermaids back to the sea.

dog mermaid

Merdog and friends.

This Mermaid parade and gathering could be described using words that start with the letter “F” like fun, freeing, frivolous, fancy and family. It’s a communal, inclusive celebration of anything mermaid related. Sharks, pirates and jellyfish umbrellas weren’t excluded. Kid’s fascination with mermaids has to be part of the reason for this necessary spectacle.  Out of the ordinary is inspiring. On the beach Aretha Franklin could be heard singing about freedom. People were freed to express themselves. Reasons for Mermaid gatherings were adding up. This celebration felt good; a great way to spend a summer’s day. Mermaid good cheer is something to commemorate on an annual basis.

mermaid rocks

Rocking out.

You never get over the Hans Christian Andersen effect of seeing a Mermaid on a rock. The paraders spread out over Poet’s Beach socializing while kids swam. Mermaids seemed wary of the water. Who could blame this threat to their costumes, extensive make up, face paint and wigs. Who wants a wet wig? I began to feel pasty on the beach in need of sunshine. The  parade became a day at the beach. I took comfort  knowing a shirtless burly man, who arrived fashionably late with two kids in tow, was not a sea creature.

 

mermaid throne

Una holds court.

Una had me starstruck. I feel like the Mermaid scene revolves around her as their de facto leader, but I may be mistaken. She seemed otherworldly, exotic, graceful and dignified—like a real mermaid. She had scales on her face, flowers in her hair and a multi-colored costume. After the parade and Poet’s Beach gathering some of the celebrants headed back to the Harborside retail area. I was a few tables away from Una. I discovered that Mermaids like ice cream. She was an amiable celebrity, happy to chat with passersby enchanted by her costume. I made too much of the notion of being in the presence of a Mermaid Queen. Queens make people nervous. I’ll get the whole story  someday. I have no doubt her grace would be willing to answer a few questions from the Portland Orbit.

Museum Parking: The Art of the Garage Door

 

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Look here!

The obsession to collect hasn’t left me. It’s easier when I only need images. Otherwise storage would be an issue. Bulky garage doors are impossible to drag home. This topic, inspired by the Pittsburgh Orbit, had me realizing that what happens in Pittsburgh is probably happening in Portland. I hadn’t thought about this specific type of mural until that seed was planted. Examples were all over town. Two questions remain: Why? And, why not? Every available space cries out for art. There’s no reason to waste an otherwise drab garage door surface. Paint away.

Duck Jump

Garage Art South Burlingame 7

Go Ducks!

I’m for whatever anyone needs to spruce up a garage door. This South Burlingame door has the look of a fathead style decal as opposed to something hand painted.  U of O Duck fans or even Donald Duck aficionados can appreciate this while my focus remains on how decorative elements break up the monotony of bland color schemes.

Squares Squared

Garage Art 8

Modrian d’art

Simple yet effective, this garage door in the Kenton neighborhood combines geometric and Mondrian influences. At the risk of already beating a theme to death, the design makes a dull door not so darn dull. There’s a soothing quality to the way one square slides into the other as a new square blossoms.

Squared Apart

Garage Art 6 North Portlahd

Square squares.

Maybe it’s the brown outlines or the mismatched square sizes, but the decorations of this door in North Portland caught my eye. I’m at a loss to this design’s function. It offers subtle visual appeal compared your average garage door.

Medieval Times

Garage Art 5

Modern Medieval

When doors like these in Sullivan’s Gulch cry out for designs they get them in the form of animals transported to the middle ages back when such creatures sported ancient fashions and toiled in a field.

Below, a continuation of the medieval theme. I’ve since discovered there’s a Gabriel’s bakery connection to this building so the illustration are about the bread making process.

More medieval than you.

Birthday Greetings

Garage Art 4

The medium is a message.

It was great to stumble upon this garage door in the hills of SW,  the specific neighborhood has been lost to time. This is garage door art at it’s finest making up for it’s slapdash nature with vibrant colors. It’s once pressing message is now out of date. What’s the statue of limitations on birthday celebrations? Yet how could anyone paint over this? Beyond that, and living up to this post’s theme, this is a more interesting, as well as mysterious way to spruce up a garage door.

Heart of the Matter

Garage Art 3

Open heart, open the door!

Leave it to the Albina neighborhood to throw it down with art displays of all kinds. They’re already worldwide leaders in outdoor art so it makes sense that it spills onto garage doors. This work takes an intricate and metaphorical look at a heart. The talent is admirable and sure to stop people in their tracks leaving them to overlook the peeling paint and graffiti of the garage.

Abstractions

Garage Art 2

More artsy than your average door.

The abstract art of these doors would make me regret having to open them ever with their great colors and design. How is it possible to look at any other bland garage door again? Worm holes and a pilgrim hat are among the details that must make the residents of the Albina neighborhood proud.

Look But Don’t Park

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Don’t park here.

The way to get across an important message is to inject a NO PARKING sign into a mural with an undersea motif.  Parking gets tight in the Mississippi neighborhood making this message necessary. The octopus can park where he wants but anyone else should remain cautious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When The Fourth Means Flags for July

Give me peace!

The Fourth of July is a flag holiday. Sure there’s the bang-bang of fireworks, the beer and picnics but the real reminder of Independence Day is the flag. Sure the Stars and Stripes fly year round but flag season extends from Memorial Day past the Fourth of July maybe even beyond Labor Day. The Orbit headquarters prefers a banner that promotes world peace but July 4th needs its Old Glory-style patriotic symbol. Last year I ragged on the flag design, a bit. I felt terrible about it the rest of the year. I have to remember to believe in my country and our system regardless of what the flag looks like. This is America. The only King and Queen we answer to these days are Burger and Dairy. When Betsy Ross came up with her design we were pretty much stuck with it. It’s worked so far. This flag got us through the bicentennial after all. It shouldn’t be considered stale or dull in its appearance when we appreciate what it represents. The only thing left to do is go into the world, or in this case a bit more local, and find captivating images of the Red, White and Blue. 

Flag For Passers-by

A salvaged flag.

Tucked away in a window of Salvage Works in the Kenton neighborhood, this flag is folded and framed to reveal some star and stripes leaving the rest to the imagination.

Eagle Drop

Ram tough, eagle powered.

There’s no better way to display civic pride than opting for a window backdrop seen in action on NE MLK Blvd. It features giant stars, bursting stripes and our national symbol–the eagle, swooping by. Now I’ve always wondered how anyone sees out their back window with this kind of thing. It must take some side mirror adjustments to pull it off.

Faded Waves of Grain

Rain proof glass.

This sticker is a classic. It’s a stubtle reminder of patriotism that has stood the test of time. Spotted in North Portland, the most wear and tear it receives is fading from the sun’s reflections. At least the glass keeps it dry.

Cover Up With Flag Wearables 

Flag fashion for sale.

You can do it. You can pulls off the flag fashion with what I’m guessing is a bathing suit. If these are shorts they’d be good for a laugh and a source of pride at any July 4th function. This fashion statement comes off as a bit ironic with a certain crowd but I’d prefer to consider it decorative, functional and patriotic clothing. Get this look at the Interstate Fred Meyers. These get-ups may even go on sale after the holiday.

Flagging Fencing

A better window.

This flag was part of a larger, artistic fence design the Orbit covered in a past post. Spotted in the Portsmouth neighborhood, this was a decorative Stars and Stripes made from an old window that stood out from other elements included leftover sleds and skis. 

Stars + Stripes = Decorative Tin Flag

Tin flags are special.

Out in SW, the outskirts of town, this flag has a folk art, homemade vibe, but who knows these might be mass-produced and sold out of big box stores. Stars twinkle on a rustic blue backdrop, stripes are a blend of red and white popping from shadows; this banner flutters despite its flat fence confines.

Demanding Keister Respect 

A flag to sit on.

You have to go all the way out to The Dalles and the community of Mosier to witness the glory of this Old Glory bench. Purposeful, functional flag art is as exciting as most flag displays get.

Fast Flag

Pick up that flag.

By now it’s a cliché, the flag bearing pick-up, but ultimately, if it’s an American made truck, if that exists these days, then why shouldn’t trucks bear all the flags they want. It’s good for the US flag market. Those flags take a high speed beating  as they rustle around the highway. They often need replacement.

Functional Flaggery

Keep the car cool flag.

It’s not a real flag but this fragmented design does double duty keeping this car cool while offering patriotic fervor at the same time.

Game Flag Wave

Only a stripe or two.

One stripe is all that’s going to show up on the video screen at the edge of PGE park that offered an animated flag fragment at a Portland Thorns game.

Mobile Flag Art

Spray-on flag.

How could I not be impressed by this spray paint design on a car seen parked outside the Dancing Bare in Kenton. Despite crude art work, this message of American spirit rings true. Stars and Stripes forever or as long as the car lasts.

 

More Fourth!

https://portlandorbit.wordpress.com/2017/07/01/fourth-of-july-flags-unfurled/

This was a tradition begun by the Pittsburgh Orbit. Check out their July 4th coverage!

 

A Post Post: What’s Holding Up Your Mailbox

Generic!

There was a time in my life when I could get excited about an oddly decorated mailbox. I still muster some enthusiasm  but that’s a post for another time. Moving from North Portland to SW allowed me to rediscover mailboxes. In North Portland people had mail slots in their doors. In SW, what sidewalks I’ve encountered have mailboxes planted in them. Mailboxes are a great invention. They offer opportunities for creativity. This didn’t distract me from looking under mailboxes. It happened on a twilight walk heading towards Maricara Park on SW Maricara Street. I spied multiple posts that were not run-of-the-mill or generic. Ingenuity is happening on this street. Mailboxes are being supported in creative ways. This could be a competition among the neighbors or they might draw inspiration from each other. Either way, it makes a walk to the park more scenic.

When I was a kid, well into my sullen teen years actually, we equated the suburbs with “the sticks.” We were living in the middle of a suburban quagmire that was part of an endless metropolis slowly devouring itself, but those stifling teen years had the feel of a life in the middle of nowhere. You could hardly go anywhere without a car, and I did live within a couple hundred yards of a cow pasture with cows and a farm that was eventually abandoned. Whether my SW digs have that exact feel is irrelevant. That suburban spirit is more present out here and can be felt when I take a left down the street to the unlit section of the road. It feels like that old Woody Allen joke about the suburbs. (That’s the long ago,  funny Woody not the current creepy version.) Referring to that living-in-the-middle-of-nowhere feeling he said, “there’s no place to walk after dinner and there’s Dick and Perry.” I’ve yet to encounter Dick and Perry** but thoughts of after dinner walks are met with feelings of exhaustion. It’s too far to walk anywhere. These days the sticks are more about what’s holding up mailboxes. These posts fight the stigma of ordinary while often supporting standard mailboxes. Observation is about taking a closer look.  You might find something interesting.

They Stoned Me

A post that rocks!

When I feel like I’m becoming a mailbox post critic it scares me. I mean how much actual work is there for this kind of thing. This mailbox is a work of art. It has beautiful, smooth stones and it’s set in a rich landscape of small boulders and flowers. This is excellent cement and design work. Anything to keep a mail person interested in their job.

They Stumped Me

Almost a wood stove.

This has to be the best kind of repurposing one can imagine. It appears to be a utility pole leftover. Regardless, it does its job of balancing a mailbox.

One on the Trunks

Mail tree

More sticks here but the real coup de grâce is the how the double trunk cradles the front and back of the box. It looks natural. It appears be an actual tree that was in the right place to be trimmed to form a post. This box holder is due an award in a best supporting role.

Plow Some How

Plow it up!

All right, all right, this isn’t exactly a post but it is a decorative element that sure spices up an otherwise unglamorous mail delivery system. It serves double duty. When it’s not plowing harden it spruces up the mailbox post.

Tree Huggin’ Again

I’m stumped.

The answer to any post dilemma is in using what’s available. This may not be the most attractive piece of wood but it gets the job done.

At Least I’ll Get My Welding Done

Metal rules!

This one is down the road on SW Huber Street. It involves something I get excited about: Welding! This art is serviceable sculpture, a subtle accent to the metal container above it.

Brick-à-Brac

Brick house for mail.

Not so much a creative use of postery, but this example is included to demonstrate what types of set-ups exist. This is a rugged, sturdy, box holder that also seems like it could cook pizzas as well as store mail at the same time.

**Read Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood.

It’s a Purple World, You Just Haven’t Noticed

Prince’s death shocked the world and inspired the Portland Orbit to look for a way to honor him. Tonight a pedalpalooza ride will celebrate his legacy. We have to live with a diminishing output of Prince material. Regardless of how many recordings are in the vault it won’t be the same without a living Prince creating new sounds and musical trends. While things will never be the same, it doesn’t stop us from seeking out another thing Prince left behind: his love of the color purple.

There can’t be much to the Prince/Portland connection. Sure he came here for business trips but it’s unclear if he noticed enough purple to make him feel at home. The only thing I could come up with online was a blog post from the Portland Orbit which was pure speculation, miles away from hard journalism and the blog could only surmise what’s already been said here. There’s no evidence, one way or the other, about whether Prince had a soft spot in his heart for Portland but the world has a soft spot in its heart for Prince.

On this anniversary of Prince’s birth, as spring roars hopefully into the more level headed season of summer, it feels like time to pause and consider purple. Purple reminds us of Prince and reflects his spirit. You won’t have to be a Prince fan or even a fan of the color purple to appreciate this post but it will help. Sit back, catch your breath and contemplate these purple hues.

Purple Wall

Plain, yet purple, this wall color spot lights elegance, perhaps shining above the blues inducing and unsightly nearby garbage can. As part of a dry cleaners on Barbur Boulevard in SW, this color choice on part of the building caught my eye for being the right splash of color in the middle of drab surroundings.

Purple Mountain

Bringing truth to the phrase “purple mountain’s majesty,” this portrayal of Mount Hood does it in style with just the right lighting conditions. Its part of a longer mural on the side of a building on Interstate Avenue.

Purple House

Living in a purple house is as close as some of us get to the Prince lifestyle. It’s a bold choice and it’s the right choice. It gleams in sunlight and cheers up the Foster-Powell area neighborhood on a gloomy day.

Purple Counter

Not too many of us look under the counter at restaurants but while waiting for a take-out order I drank in the purpleness of the counter’s base. It struck me as the right kind of deep and glorious purple for the Kenton neighbor establishment of Po Shines. Another color might have run the risk of blending in, remaining hidden under the counter and going completely unnoticed.

Purple Ex-Coffee Shop 

I’ve been saying good-bye to this place for a long time. The purple paint job, in all of it’s three shaded glory, is something to behold. It’s tough to imagine this Piedmont neighborhood ex-establishment becoming anything else especially a business that might require a new paint job.

Purple Decorative Bike

While getting into an almost realm of dental art by virtue of being placed in front of a dental office, this bike qualifies for inclusion in a purple post instead. It stands out with it’s old-timey style and lighting. This bold bike may not even inspire anyone to make an appointment for a cleaning but it jazzes up the landscaping.

Purple Bike Rack

Where else would you lock a purple bike but on a purple bike rack. Here’s further proof that purple is a versatile color for any municipal equipment. It brings a bike rack into the realm of art object.

Dual Purple Garage Doors

No one gets excited about garage doors but when there’s two of them and they’re purple excitement does begin to gurgle. Tucked away in the SW neighborhood of Arnold’s Creek, these  double doors of purpleness exude tranquility. It’s a strong accent to a more utilitarian and often overlooked aspect of a home.

Purple Planter

Perhaps we have to stick with this newly coined adage, “if you’re feeling down, keep some purple around.” Surrounding an orange tree with a purple planter is one way to stay color coordinated and purple, like Prince himself, can get you out of one funk and into one that’s way better.