Ghosting the Blogosphere: A Not Too Scary Halloween Spooktacular

I can’t get enough homemade Halloween decorations and ghoulish scenes that pop up this time of year. There’s no need for over-the-top special effects. It doesn’t take much to delight me. I appreciate any effort. Where there was nothing but lawn, a cemetery arrives. Ghosts sway while skeletons roam the usually dull streets. It’s a nice diversion.

At least one of these ghosts is friendly.

Blow up decorations may seem tacky or lazy. They’re not homemade but they add pizzaz to any holiday decor. Ghosts that appear overly friendly prove there’s not much to be afraid of in late afternoon sunshine.

Mom and egg are doing fine.

What’s scarier than a dragon? The easy answer is a mother dragon guarding her egg. I might have considered seizing that egg to make a giant omelette while somehow avoiding being scooped up and dropped into the nearest volcano. There’s something about that egg being just the right detail. It terrifies me to consider Dragon-Mom rage and it reminds me of where dragons come from.

dragons & pirates

Set sail for Dragon Island.

Pair the mother-of-all dragons with a ship full of pirate skeletons spotted in Arbor Lodge and you have the beginnings of quite a tale that might eventually involve an omelette feast. The homeowner assured me it was even better at night and recommended that I bring some kids by.

Crash through the cemetery gates.

Someone out there should be protesting outside cemeteries to stop Halloween from giving them such a bad rap. They’re supposed to be places of peaceful, eternal rest not cobweb ridden terror terrariums. Halloween brings out misnomers but front yard cemeteries do add the right amount of seasonal creepiness. We can only hope this scene spotted in Kenton contains the remains of political canvassers and door-to-door magazine salespeople.

Fear strikes the heart.

In southwest Portland, I spotted such creepy decor that I was afraid to get too close. It didn’t help that there was someone, seemingly oblivious to the carnage outside the window, watching daytime television inside the house. Take a red cloaked skeleton and combine it with a snake chasing a rat around a clavicle and my chills start feeling attacked by my heebee-jeebees.

Bones hanging with bones.

Some neighbors go out-of-the-way to create an environment like this one spotted in the Kenton neighborhood. It may not make sense but that ups the scare ante. There’s a cemetery, decorations stuck to a wall and a scene featuring the proper burial of a Wicked Witch. These scattered ideas combine to form an unsettling tableaux.

Hang it on the wall like a moose head.

Buried witch grows skeletal head.

 

Ghosts join leaves.

Ghosts in trees, like autumn leaves are a joy at Halloween. Between the rustling and the low level ghost moans it’s not the Season of the Witch without a sighting like this. These ghost folks showed up in my new SW neighborhood to welcome me.

If you need more Halloween decor check out this Pittsburgh Orbit post on the folk art creations of Gary Thunberg:

https://pittsburghorbit.com/2018/10/30/october-surprise-halloween-at-thunberg-acres/

Or see our past Halloween posts:

https://portlandorbit.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/halloween-spooktacular-spiders-and-ants/

https://portlandorbit.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/the-portland-orbit-spooktacular/

Post Script:  I know few are wondering but I pulled a disappearing act this October only being able to surface at the beginning and end of this month. I spent a good part of the month moving from north Portland to southwest Portland. I may be entering a bit of an Obi-Wan crazy hermit phase, only time will tell. The move took me away from my usual existence involving stuff like blogging and other forms of social media but I hope to get the Portland Orbit back on a semi regular publishing schedule next month.

Yesterday & Tomorrow: An Orbit Obit

It dawned on me. Yesterday & Tomorrow was closed. I kept driving  past it on my way home from work and nothing was happening. The plantings around the house were overgrown. No one seemed to be entering or leaving. I’m not sure if I noticed any lights on in the past but the business was deserted.

As most Orbit Obits go I tend to write about places that have gone too soon, too soon for me to visit, that is. It seems like a place that had always been there and always would be there.  I was curious and had meant to visit some time in the ten years I’ve lived in Portland. There a sadness to my procrastination when I realize a store I’ll never experience has closed.

Yesterday & Tomorrow was a business run out of a house which felt like a barrier. It was hard to get past the idea of shopping in a personal environment. I remember the sign that sat on the corner next to the electrical pole, but I still had a hard time getting a feel for the kind of art they sold. I saw stuff for decorating lawns and imagined more of that inside. The deteriorating sign couldn’t have made it any clearer. This business was an art gallery. I missed my chance to see any of the type of art that had been displayed in the various rooms. Art of any kind would have been worth checking out at least once.

The unkept front yard was full of sculpture. It didn’t look like your typical big box store lawn ornament inventory. What I saw when I visited the site this summer reminded me of the work of Carlton Bell. This store was a possible link to the work of this mysterious artist that might remain unexplored.

I blame myself for the demise of a business like this. Local businesses, especially those in a different setting, need support. It’s a lesson. Never put off until tomorrow, what you’ve been meaning to do for years. If you think you’re going to do something someday, consider the one thing I remember from seeing the play Sacramento 50 Miles in elementary school.  “Someday may never come.”








 

The End of Summer: Sigh, A Sign Round Up

I never complained about this summer’s heat. It’s a memory I’ll need some cold, damp, March afternoon when I’m half way between this summer and the next one. I opened my mind to the sun light and tried not to think. Appreciating the last of this summer has led me to post something requiring the least energy possible.

Caution Step Up Then Down

This homemade/handmade sign provides a valuable public service. Placed on a side door of a bar on North Lombard Street, the message could become more confusing as the night wears on. The caution warning alerts people to the need for the tricky two step dance necessary to get through the entrance.

No Dumping By Order of City Eng’r.

This sign caught my eye on Willamette Boulevard. The road is on the top of a sloping hill that runs down to an industrial ravine. It’s sure to tempt polluters or anyone who needs to dump something in the underbrush. I found amusement from the sign’s need to include a mention of the City Eng’r (City Engineer?). It’s tough to tell if this is an intimidating enough authority figure to get people to heed this warning.

Watch For Pedestrian

I don’t doubt there’s a need to warn people to watch out for pedestrians on this tricky corner of the St. Johns neighborhood near the bridge. I couldn’t tell if this was poor planning on the part of the sign maker or if there are fewer pedestrians than one would expect.

If You’re Not Outraged…

I don’t know the history of this incident but it’s worth noting that this sign spotted near the Lloyd Center has either survived since 2007 or someone continues to bring attention to the situation. The outrage feels never ending and the reminders always necessary.

Drop Your Pants Here

In the days of #metoo, this sign seems a bit crass but it’s the nature of this dry cleaners to risk letting the world know they have a sense of humor because, well, they spend their work days in the confines of a dry cleaners. It’s nice to try to loosen up a little bit although not to the point where one takes the sign literally. If the photo looks a bit too much like an advertisement I can attest to the work they do, which is, pretty good.

Stick With It

Not so much a sign but a message applied to a garbage dumpster in the Kenton neighborhood. Anyone seeking out inspiration on a dumpster would usually be out of luck but a trash receptacle bearing this message has a certain inspirational quality not usually found on dumpsters.

Notice of Free Range Rabbit

Having spotted this next to the curb on the outskirts of Kenton, I assumed the sign was staking out parking territory. Seeing it up close, I was surprised to learn about the parking strip maintainence performed by a free-range rabbit who’s whereabouts were unknown at the time I took the picture. I’d say only Jimmy Carter should heed a beware of Bunny message. My preference would be to remain mindful of the rabbit’s maintenance munching.

Got Laundry?

Oh to the ad campaign that lunched a thousand, or more, parodies. This one is funny to a certain someone I know. It seems to be trying to remind people driving down North Lombard Street to round up their dirty clothes and head back to the laundromat.

Jesu Loves

The grape vine obscures a handsome sign with an uplifting message spotted  in the Kenton neighborhood. You can tell I didn’t leave the neighborhood much this summer. The sign may yet return to glory when the leaves die back.

Please Stop Stealing  

                         

It’s a shame someone has to post this kind of message. It’d be nice to think that people could leave their stuff out and not have to worry about theft. Another sign of the times seen in the Kenton neighborhood.

Please Do Not Steal the dogs water dish!

More theft to report, with this occurring down the road in a no man’s land between the Kenton and Woodlawn neighborhoods. It almost doesn’t matter what thieves steal. It’s always annoying.

Try Vegan

The camera optics at dusk aren’t always great but this is a cardboard plea near the Lloyd District that’s polite and offers a low frill, yet ultimately high tech way to explore the vegan lifestyle. Is the hash tag going to get you propaganda? Recipes? There’s only one way to find out.

DON’T STAND HERE

Sure it’s good information, a notice that surely has saved many lives. The sign straddles the tracks by the North Denver Max station. This blurry photo reveals that if you only stop for half a second, or less, you can get away with standing next to the sign without violating the sign’s strict request.

Never Been To A Riot: A Collage of Coverage

riot and coffee

Riot gear.

On Saturday, August 4th something was going down downtown. If I couldn’t be there in person I at least had to monitor it. The build up had me expecting confrontation between Joey Gibson’s Proud Boy crowd and whoever showed up. I was scared off by the gun talk. One unleashed bullet would have been too much. With or without gunfire, a riot seemed inevitable. A.C. Thompson, speaking on Fresh Air, expected the Patriot’s Prayer Rally to be “the next Charlottesville.” What I ended up witnessing had the posturing of a Pro Wrestling event minus the physicality.

The pre-rally provided an understanding of the importance of facing the Patriot Prayer gathers. I wasn’t sure if it was Mic Capes’ rap or his speech before hand, but I got a sense that violence didn’t have to happen. The pre-rally meeting fired people up with quotes like we have “a world to win,” and “Organize your grandma!” A speaker from Jobs for Justice said the Proud Boys were disenfranchised by getting fooled for their belief in the American Dream. The crowd chose engagement over sitting at home watching Facebook Live.

Standoff.

After the rally people made their way to the Waterfront. An interview from the crowd set the tone. “We have to make a stand,” a woman said adding, “We’re not going to give up our country.” The counter-protesters were greeted with a robotic sounding Police announcement commanding people to stay on the sidewalks and out of the pedestrian cross walks. The two parties were separated by Naito Parkway. Patriot Prayer Rally USA chants mixed with the counter-protestors singing “Eye On The Prize” and “This Little Light of Mine.” I heard myself saying, “We have to move the riot into the kitchen.”

Riot in the grapes.

The third pot of coffee had me pacing and writing illegible notes. An out-of-town interviewee described a festive atmosphere and was impressed that a brass band showed up. The feed sputtered and someone cussed. KGW-TV apologized. I lost the feed when my battery died so we switched to another phone. KGW-TV was on the counter-protest side explaining that they couldn’t cross the street due to Police Orders. I switched to KOIN coverage which was in the middle of the Patriot Prayer Rally. “It’s not about the hate over there,” Gibson was saying. It seemed like time to make potato chips. Soon after, on the Patriot Prayer side, a discussion of a dance-off began. My thought was: Joey Gibson doesn’t dance but I have no evidence of this. The whole notion of the people downtown that day channeling their aggression through dance seemed absurd but it would have been an attempt at unity. Not much was happening with the Patriot’s Prayer Rally. Would there be group prayer, recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance or more standing around?

Chip preparation.

Meanwhile the munchies were in full force. My wife was creating a dish she called “Cheese sushi,” consisting of avocado and chili oil on chunks of cheese. When KOIN’s picture froze I migrated to KATU’s coverage noting that the number of viewers was hovering between 798 and 804. The Police issued orders for people to clear a certain area or be arrested. It felt like chaos was more likely once the Police tried to manage the crowd. I returned to KOIN but their coverage seemed oblivious to the live format. A reporter was on the air texting and making phone calls  to figure out if they were going live on their television channel. When Joey Gibson was swarmed with reporters an impromptu press conference broke out. Even KGW-TV managed to cross the street. Joey didn’t seem to want to talk. “Are you running for Senate?” He was asked. “Yes,” he responded. It all ended too soon and had me wondering how anyone could run out of questions for this guy.

Clown to the left.

The KATU reporters kept throwing it back to the studio where Wesleigh Ogle told them, “continue to be safe out there.” The riot was portable. We headed to the porch where traffic sounds and barking dogs mixed with the coverage. I stumbled onto the feed of Unicorn Riot. It had the feel of an Saturday Night Live skit before I realized the reporter’s brain was buzzing with college knowledge. He approached people on the Patriot’s Prayer side focusing on the shirts worn by some of the Proud Boys that carried a message about Pinochet that declared he had done nothing wrong. The reporter knew history and made an effort to find out what statement the group was making. Those he talked to seemed incoherent, making comments like, “my kids are illegal” while mentioning that the Confederacy fought to free the slaves and wondering why he wasn’t reporting the facts or talking about what past presidents had done.

Standoff part 2.

On the other side of the street, an Infowars reporter squared off with a man in a Mexican wrestler mask. News broke that more counter-protestors arrived. By then I was into my third hour of this coverage and I felt like I was at a screening of The Sorrow and the Pity. The audio was cutting in and out. Technology can only do so much. My ears wouldn’t have been doing this if I had been there. Like Pro wrestling, when the referees look the other way, a Proud Boy seemed to have snuck a weapon (foreign object) past the Police while alluding them to creep towards the counter protest side. Over caffeination created this melodrama. I lost track of how it turned out. Tension ratcheted up when the Police declared the gathering a Civil Disturbance. The crowd was expected to disburse but one man said, “We’ll go home, when they go home.” The gathering devolved into people yelling at the Police. One man flipped them off. Natio Parkway was open to traffic but the image of a Juggalo looking guy riding through the rally in the back of a U-haul pick-up truck felt out-of-place.

Burn notice.

At this point I began to get ready for a 3pm collage workshop at our local library. I took the riot into the bathtub. I had the afternoon following the downtown activities but had seen little. Much of the coverage focused on looking at the Proud Boys from across the street. I didn’t see the Antifa presence until a member was spotted burning a flag. There were clowns too. They’re presence was mysterious, but a welcomed for its comic relief. The coverage waned. KATU’s feed skittered with views of the ground and people’s shoes. I had watched in suspense knowing that something could happen but still missed the Police crack down on counter-protestors who were accused of throwing objects across the street.

Not clowning around.

I was happy to have a refuge after my riot binge. We met Michael Albert a collage artist, who was traveling the country holding workshops. I realized how much I needed an escape from the noise and tension of the downtown gathering. Michael was upbeat, talking about his art and the enjoyment of taking time to be creative. The hours I spent watching the coverage felt like an aural and visual collage of dream imagery swirling in my mind. Gladiator costumes mixed with roaming clowns while a soundtrack of chants, brass instruments and Police announcements created a feeling of underlying chaos that can break at any moment.

***************

Post Script: The title was a lifted from the Mekon’s song which I was unfamiliar with until I wrote this piece. The lyrics are impenetrable. I couldn’t find them online. The song is about a guy who never gets to go to the riot because he’s always on the toilet.

Riot gear photo by Ronna Craig

 

A collage of collages.

 

Ansty About Antsi Part 2



This piece is an effort to sum up feelings of ambivalence about graffiti. I’m divided on whether my reporting on something many consider delinquency means I’m supporting or even glorifying the activity. I offer a disclaimer when I’ve written about it before, a statement that has found me wallowing in wishy-washy conceits. I embrace creativity and graffiti is too pervasive to ignore. It’s on buildings, street signs, poles, highway barrier walls, jersey walls and every other wall. I’ve seen it removed, usually painted over, but it sprouts back after it’s covered. Some markings linger when they aren’t cleaned up. So, we live with those.

I’ve wondered if it’s right to bring attention to street art. A past commenter questioned responses to a previous graffiti post noting that other comments, mine included, sounded like they were written by “a bunch of people who have not had your property vandalized.” It was a mild rebuke that had me searching for where I stand. I’ve been lucky not to have had personal property tagged, but I realized that graffiti in my neighborhood is something I have to look at. I responded to another commenter with a quote from film maker Andrew H. Shirley about his movie Wastedland 2 that appeared in the Willamette Week. Referring to graffiti he said, “It’s anti-everything. It’s punk. It remains outside of the system. It alludes to dysfunction and allows a public audience to see that people without a voice still have a message, and by any means necessary will get it out to you.” The quote made clear grafitti’s unstoppable nature. It’s easier to take other’s thoughts and see how they reflect my view-point and that quote put things in perspective. Some days I complain, other days I admire. This may be my opportunity to use my blog as a way to get a dig in at all the lesser, yet omnipresent expressions of amateur-Cy Twomblys or maybe, just a chance to make a Cy Twombly reference.

Graffiti has that feeling of being something it shouldn’t be. It can be called art but it’s art foisted on an unsuspecting audience on a unordinary canvas. It’s an intrusion on people’s property or businesses. For clarity, I sought input from other sources. I had heard rumblings of a Matt McCormick film about graffiti. Matt is a film maker who keeps a tight grip on his work mostly showing it on the big screen. I was surprised to see it appear in multiple versions online. When I contacted him through messenger, he directed me to his film The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal. An earnest narrator talks about graffiti cover-ups that mimic art movements, something I’ve touched on, and I found this to be humorous reaction to municipalities dealing with graffiti. He commented on something I’m guilty of: “It does creativity a disservice to lump all graffiti into the same category,” he wrote. He touched on the conundrum of the varying skill levels of people who are taking spray paint to public places noting, “there is some beautiful, creative work out there being made by some talented artists, but there’s also a lot of crap that’s just uglifying the urban landscape.” This reflects my inability to appreciate squiggles as much as someone who makes an effort to create something viable and uses a relatable tag.

Later that day Matt posted on Facebook about a new form of cover up he’s noticed that he named “cross-hatch.” I’ve noticed this and wondered about this technique, as had many commenters. Who is doing this? Does it save paint? Does it make someone who creates graffiti upset to see their work only partially erased?

Other cover-up styles include blotting out the image with black spray paint, an homage to Robert Motherwell, perhaps, or painting over it with squares that usually don’t match the paint job. I’ll touch on these questions and more when I take on graffiti abatement and clean up in a future post.

Will Simmons, who writes the Pittsburgh Orbit, explained that in Pittsburgh, “there’s a whole lot of graffiti that just feels like dogs marking their territory—stupid tags and whizzle-jiggles that seem to cover every street sign, lamp-post, building backside and bridge support.” Will finds these “cool in a gritty, urban America way,” something he explained he didn’t experience growing up in a small town. Seeing old buildings defaced bums him out though. “(Graffiti) occupies a very interesting and entirely subjective netherworld between public menace and cultural institution,” he wrote. Will derives joy from what he calls, “graffiti in another state of mind, stencils and wheat paste and cool murals and weirdo installations–the artists *know* this stuff won’t last, won’t bring them any acclaim, nor any monetary gain, but they still give it to the world.”

While working on this piece, I witnessed a tagger in action. I always thought this happened in the dead of night with the world asleep. Around 10pm during a dog walk, I stumbled upon a tall tagger wearing a white hoody. Brazen! He was applying the last of his tag on the side our neighborhood motel that’s being renovated. The next day, my inner arm-chair quarterback had me searching for a response. I could have rushed him, attacked him, at least yelled at him a bit, or called the police. I realized what bothered me more, besides not knowing what to do, was the realization that I was going to have to look at the loopy script and strange combination of letters until the renovation was finished. I’m particular about my graffiti. Anyone blatant enough to tag before bedtime deserves flak. My doing nothing led to a plot line out of a comic book. Not scaring this tagger away, with a Batman-like vigilantism, led him to return and mark up the motel’s mural. I hated seeing it tagged.

I also contacted Jeff Bagato, my go-to authority on all things underground. He offered educational tidbits, perspective and slang terminology. He has an appreciation for the “rich and diverse” street culture of Portland adding “there’s a general blackout in mainstream media regarding graffiti, most likely because they fear that publicizing it will only encourage the artists; nonetheless, these same outlets have no problem publicizing the work of serial killers, mass shooters, and monomaniacal presidents, with the same result.” This had me thinking that I have only seen one local news story about graffiti since moving to Portland ten years ago It was a story about the City’s abatement office that seemed understaffed and overwhelmed.

Like the others I’ve polled quality is an issue. “You get beginners and toys slopping cutty tags around, or you might get fully developed pieces or really interesting stickers or posters,” Jeff wrote. “Good with the bad. I believe graffiti is one of the major art and counterculture movements of our time, perhaps the only one that has remained on the edge over its life cycle since the 70s. While other movements have been commodified to some degree, graff and street art remain dangerous and unacceptable to many people. Even to photograph it, or to write about it, can be seen as an accessory to the vandalism.” Jeff pointed out that taggers get respect for the work they do, not necessarily for attention from bloggers. He schooled me on the “real hierarchy between “real” graff writers and street artists, between petty tagging and full pieces, and between those who do a couple of things when they’re bored or drunk and those who bomb the hell out of a town. There is a code among writers and serious street artists about respecting the work of others and the spots where it appears.”

Jeff included in his email a plea that people see beyond the “perception that writers and street artists are thugs or vandals or just playing around” adding that no stereotype applies because “many (street artists) are serious, educated and accomplished artists of all ages and walks of life.” He directed me to the story of Ultra, a DC street artist, who theses days teaches art and creates airbrush paintings. I may still be confused and in the middle of an unrelenting battle but the fight to stop graffiti seems unwinnable. Sure there is bad graffiti. Most would consider all graffiti bad, but those who heed the call to tag have to start somewhere. We can only hope they improve. Meanwhile people can find ways to deal with it. These other viewpoints have helped me accept graffiti. Jeff advised me to write about subjects I enjoy. Compared to ugly billboards selling me things, graffiti isn’t half bad. There’s plenty of clutter out there, blaring and blasting away at our senses. We live with it.

So what’s good graffiti?


Mook writing his name on the back of this I-5 highway sign took daring, planning and a need to  figure out how to get four letters on the back of three signs. Combining the two O’s in one panel did the trick.

This rabbit motif in pink takes the sting out of the visual clutter. Sure it’s a nuisance but a pink rabbit-like thing seems harmless.

Fast food can be equated with graffiti if you’re going for a fast food vs real food, graffiti vs art kind of debate. I’ve always appreciated these fast food meal creations. This one is operating on a scale larger than usual. The numbers are a mystery but this might be a work of biting satire.

 

(Don’t) Stop! Blogging about Stop Signs

Stop. Abandon your car.

Is it too easy? Think of your foremost pet peeve and write that word or phrase under the word stop on a stop sign. Or, better yet, get a sticker of the word or phrase so you can mass-produce your message. Even a politician’s sticker can be used against him. This protest is convenient, the opportunities are plentiful with stop signs being everywhere. These modifications do make the signs more interesting for those who pay attention to them.

My stop sign fixation started a few years back when I noticed a stop sign modified to create a plea for people to stop laughing at Danzig. Sure it was an obscure message created for a select audience, but it opened my eyes to stop sign communiques. Stop signs now serve double duty. They command brake application and inspire protest possibilities.

Stop and Smell The Roses

There’s a nice stenciled graphic here and while the message is trite, it adds humor to an otherwise bland sign. Back when Bob Mould was with Husker Du he wrote this line:

 If you don’t stop to smell the roses now, they might end up on you.

The sign decor makes an attempt to remind us of this sentiment. There’s one problem. No one planted any roses. The next task, if your pass this way on Capitol Highway in SW, is to find some roses to smell.

Stop Racism

Yes, for sure, there are many things to stop and many isms to conquer with the exception of my personal favorite, Bagism. Leave it alone! What struck me was how someone got their hands on a giant vat of white out which must have had an extra-large brush to screw off the container. If the artist hadn’t been in such a hurry to mark up this stop sign in the Sabin neighborhood, the white paint could have spruced up the stop sign lettering as well.

Stop Ableism

This sign spotted in the King neighborhood made me feel dumb. I had to ask what ableism is. I received a great answer but it’s been forgotten already. It’s important to note that if we all work together we should be able to stop it.

Stop For Love

Another sign in the King neighborhood seems to be inspired by a song title. The closest one I found was “Stop To Love” by Luther Vandross, so perhaps the message is more metaphorical than literal. I was unable to find love around this stop sign anyway. My reason for stopping then had to do with the regulations I read about in the driver’s manual at the DMV which instructed me to obey all street signs.

Stop Frowning?

In the Kerns neighborhood this stop sign had been put through the ringer. The offense of mistreatment include being scribbled on, stickered, tagged, autographed, initialed and scratched but it manages to keep delivering its message. I understand its duty in controlling the flow of automobile traffic but I had to loosely interpret what concept this stop sign asking us to cease.  After spying a hieroglyphic I surmised that we’re being asked to stop frowning. When the medium is the message it’s best muddle it.

Stop Police Brutality & Hate

I sometimes get to the point where I feel like too much is being asked of me. This is the case with this Sabin neighborhood sign. It’s a tall order even to take on police brutality. I would have been willing to stop, read the sign and perhaps have taken the first steps towards taking action, but the additional request is too much. Really, I’m going to stop police brutality and in what time I have left over I’m going to squeeze in some hate stoppage. It’s overwhelming. Let’s prioritize. Once police brutality is stopped there may be a bit less hate in the world.

Stop Eating Animals

If I saw this sign in the Mississippi neighborhood on an empty stomach I might lose my appetite or head to the nearest vegetarian restaurant. I appreciate the request. Not eating animals would be good for the planet, people’s health and animals too, but I have to imagine that it would be necessary to try much harder to get people to stop eating animals. People are going to have to go down to the food cart pod and slap BBQ sandwiches out of people’s hands. It could get ugly. The sticker affixed to the sign does makes me realized how efficient this method is to bringing people’s attention to this cause.

Stop/Support Trump

One message became two when one person’s attempt to stop Trump was crossed out. This isn’t  exactly visible while driving but I encountered this sign on a bike. Someone must have become offended and tried to get their message across while obscuring the intent of the original. Now it’s becoming a jumbled mess that would have made more sense if the word stop had been crossed out. Another solution might have been to write support above Trump’s name. The arrow is the kicker, plain and simple, if you’re not sure who you’re being asked to support.

Stop That!

It’s makes sense that I should end with something that, well, is kind of cute because after all we’ve all been asked to take on many different serious issues that need stopping. This sign in North Portland demonstrates that on rare occasions, stop signs, with a bit of help, can demonstrate a sense of humor.

 

 

Special Flag Edition 2018: You Can Critique the Flag

I begin this holiday realizing that I’m trying to keep up with the Pittsburgh Orbit and their stupendous, annual flag tribute. They’re already well ahead of me having posted so they can get to the cook outs, hot dogs, and fireworks. Ah, well keeping up with the Pittsburgh Orbit is something I’ll strive for all year.

An additional thought occurred to me this Independence Day. Maybe it’s not all thought out but here in America we have freedom. That freedom allows me to be critical of the flag design, which I’ll get into later. Other nations might be less tolerant of such expressions. Of course I’ll see what kind of social media backlash occurs, mind you I am not a trained flag critic so my guess is it will not ruffle many feathers. Few media outlets and social critics pore over my words.

While seeking to bring unusual forms of creative expression to the masses, I find it challenging to highlight flag displays. There’s not much creativity in running a flag up a pole. Each year the Special Flag Edition of the Portland Orbit seeks flags displayed in unique ways.

Flags in the Looking Glass

What better way to display a flag than behind glass in a window. It may fade in time but it’s less likely to become frayed from the elements. It’s subtle, alluring even and allows for display any time of day or night.

Lone Star Nation

Spotted in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood, this flag decoration may be store-bought but it brings out a sentiment straight out of the Pledge of Allegiance. We are one nation indivisible and all that. This lone star represents this ideal of singular unity and it does it well.

A Better Door Than a Window

Sure you can make a door out of a flag like this one spotted in the Kerns neighborhood at a business located off of East Burnside Street, but you will lose some stars and stripes along the way. The flag does add bold colors to some drab, brown surroundings.

Crafty Flag

I went searching for yet another flag in a window in the Kenton neighborhood. That proved too challenging to photograph. Then I stumbled on the flag next door. It’s a gem. This flag puts the glory in Old Glory with what I want to believe is a homemade design made from fuzzy pipe cleaners. The stars are a jumbled mess shooting into the night sky background, but have you considered the state of our nation lately? It’s almost perfect and celebratory in all it’s flag waving energy. It’s one well done seasonal decoration.

Since learning about Vexillology, the study of flag design among other things and a word I still can’t pronounce, it seems like a good time to consider the layout of the American flag. I’ve realized that the rectangle within a rectangle no longer works for me. Why do the stars have to be contained in the upper left hand corner? It cuts off stripes and limits the blue to one section of the flag. I’d prefer the 50 stars spread over the entire flag. Time for an upgrade. While we’re redesigning, we could add a couple of new states. The resistance to new states seems to be that so many flags would become obsolete. My flag design would result in 13 rows of 4 stars. That’s two states added. I’d create an example but my Photoshop skills are lacking. I can’t demonstrate exactly what it would look like but don’t you have to admit it’s a concept worth considering. In the meantime have a happy Fourth Of July.

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

and: https://portlandorbit.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/go-fourth/

Post Script:  A friend posted this on Facebook a while back. I didn’t get far watching it, but I found it interesting to hear Williams riff on coming up with the original design of the flag. Besides I owe him one for comparing his Mrs. Doubtfire look to the look of Evelyn Collins.

 

Antsy About Antsi

The name, or tag rather, intrigues me. It’s part of a culture that I find fascinating when I should find it repellent. As an old curmudgeon, homeowner type, I’m expected to dislike graffiti. For me, I’m working on understanding it and living with it. It’s everywhere. Antsi graffiti has seized the zeitgeist with a spray painted, nervous penmanship. Antsi, spelled with an i, may not refer to the word antsy but it feels weirdly reassuring to be reminded of these times living in the United States of Anxiety. We’re dealing with the work of vandals creating an unstoppable visual clutter as well as the mystery of who is making it.

I didn’t realize how much of a graffiti star Antsi was until I wrote a post that mentioned the tag in passing. It began to get a slow and steady trickle of readers before becoming my most read blog entry. It’s not hard, on a typical day traveling from North to SW Portland and back for work, to see evidence of Antsi. The name is out there. Sometimes it’s small, other times it’s big and bold and it includes a black outline, my preferred method. Graffiti has to rise above the tiny nuisance scrawl.

Here’s where I feel the need to offer my typical disclaimer. I come to bury graffiti not to praise it. While a third-rate Shakespeare reference will do nothing to stop this expression, I once again run the risk of glorifying graffiti. Antsi can’t be ignored. The sheer amount of tags, the word it implies and the audacity of some of the locations, especially around I-5, makes me realize that this is, in some way, a special tag that’s due consideration. It will continue in the cycle of spray painting, clean up and more graffiti. Antsi survives by staying ahead of the clean up crew. Meanwhile, additional thoughts on  graffiti will be explored in a second post. My appreciation for graffiti involves unique looking efforts, examples created under death-defying circumstances and tags that makes sense and might carry a message, a challenge when we’re dealing with a lone word.

In a sea of “rafts,” “qwilts,” and “napkn” tags Antsi stands out. The real message may have more to do with my imagination applying meaning. I know the city and highway department have better things to do than cover up graffiti. It is a waste tax dollars. That money could find better ways to be wasted.  For me, it’s become the strange entertainment of obsessing over new tags and spray paint designs on my commute to work. There doesn’t seem much else to experience trodding back and forth with other disillusioned souls. Here’s a few tales about the good times I’ve experienced through the work of Ansti.

Antsi on a Truck

It’s hard to tell if the owner of this truck gave permission to have his vehicle painted. It seems like there was an opportunity to make the paint job spiffy. It’s apparent that no effort was made to paint over the side panel which allows Antsi an opportunity to have a moving billboard promoting his brand. Not wanting to miss a chance to get this photo, I had to drive down a side street to wait for this truck to pass by.

Antsi and the Donut King

I do have to admit to playing with my phone while driving. This was one of these moments where I was hoping to catch an image of the Donut King’s house for a future story. A decent image would save me a trip for more photos. Looking at the image later, I noticed the Antsi tag on a jersey wall in the lower left corner. The red color adds a splash of vibrancy, something different from the usual black and white color scheme.

Antsi Tags Portland City Market

It’s not everyday that you get a sense of the personal experiences that come from someone having their property tagged. I’m writing about this from a memory of a while back based on what I read on Nextdoor. The feeling I recall was pure rage. The business owner had a legitimate complaint about an Antsi tag that appeared when his Lombard Avenue business was in the midst of a renovation. Antsi managed to keep the paint mostly on the temporary plywood.

Stuck on Antsi


In the Albina neighborhood, I may have found the answer to what the Antsi promotion is about: Boasting sticker sales. Going from graffiti to stickering seems like a natural progression with opportunities for cross marketing, double branding or other phenomenons of our current times that mystify me. I’m getting more antsy trying to figure it out.

All Things Prince and Purple, Another Tribute

Mural behind Motivasu Coffee Shop

Prince has little to do with Portland. He was an occasional work related visitor, but who can help missing the guy especially on the anniversary of his birth. As I write this, there’s a Pedalpalooza event with bicyclists pumping to Prince jams and biking through the tears. No matter when Prince died it would have been too soon. His birthdays remind us of this. Sure he left his music but that isn’t as tangible as his physical being.

Thinking about Prince, a purple haze drifts through my mind. Every last purple object reflects his essence. It’s a color deeper than red, bolder than blue that remains regal and rich. It adds depth, beauty and elegance to any object. Other hues in the purple family are also admirable. This isn’t coming solely from a Prince endorsement. Paint sellers at Home Depot steer the undecided to purple pigments every day. I’ve never had my colors officially done but I was told I once that purple was a good color for me. I never forgot that. One day out of the year, at least, it’s good to commemorate all things Prince and purple.

Purple Moped

There can’t be a better mode of transportation when taking a date on a visit to the healing waters of Lake Minnetonka than this purple scooter spotted in the Alberta neighborhood.

Purple Flamingo

I had never considered, nor thought about, the idea of a flamingo being purple until I saw this North Portland species. All flamingos, living and plastic, should be purple. I haven’t figured how this could happen but it should. These gallant birds wear purple well.

Purple Cage

If I had to be kept outdoors in a cage, I’d hope it would be this one spotted off Columbia Boulevard. This purple spruces up the exterior and interior of this impenetrable contraption.

Purple Plastic Scrap

Any other shade of scrap plastic would likely go unnoticed. This fragment jumped out at me after garbage pick up. It seemed in desperate need to be immortalized in a blog.

Purple Logo

It maybe the eye-catching font, but the use of the color purple contributes to a design, seen in the Kenton neighborhood, that could sell anything, including racing tires.

Purple Prius

I happened upon this vehicle parked at a SW Portland fast food establishment. It dawned on me. Purple is the best color for a Prius, really, the only option.

Purple Door

What could be more welcoming than a purple door? I doubt I could enter this house in the Kenton neighborhood if I were invited. I’d prefer to gaze in admiration at the exact right color choice for this edifice entry.

Purple House


Purple houses are beautiful and they make me wish there were more around town. This one in the Mississippi neighborhood does it right.

Purple Shudders

Since shudders have been relegated to a decorative element and aren’t as functional as they once were, this purple especially highlights their decorative nature. They look even better in the early morning summer light.

Purple Shoe Boxes

No one could possibly spend too much time considering what color a shoe box should be but it’s amazing to think how they outshine even the shoes within them in this shade in the purple family.

Thanks Prince for opening our eyes to beauty that’s found in the color purple in all it’s many shades, forms and hues. 

Garage door in the Cully neighborhood.

Mt. Hood Reflects Back

 

IMG_2428

A windshield eyed view.

After noticing one image, I found myself immersed in Mt. Hood’s use in advertising, signs and as decoration. Always a pretty picture, Mt. Hood adds serenity to visuals. It’s a reminder of our nearby nature. I do wonder if artistic interpretations are necessary when spectacular views are available from certain vantage points around town.

Artists do need to get their Mt. Hood portraits right. It’s about including the pointy top and the secondary little groove. Snow coverage is another element each artist must consider when creating these images. It has different looks all year but for much of the time it remains a winter wonderland. Regardless, the mountain’s beauty is an effective tool for drawing people into various messages and mediums.

Dumpster Diving

This dumpster, with its Mt. Hood decoration, inspired this post. I spotted this recreation of Mt. Hood in a lot with other dumpsters decorated by elementary school students near the underpasses that surround the Fremont Bridge. Images of Mt. Hood began to appear everywhere.

The Age of Vape 

Perhaps there’s a subliminal message about volcano smoke in this image concerning smoking products and ID checks, otherwise there’s no connection that I can make. Mt. Hood livens up a dull message offering pretty scenery that has me wondering if Mt. Hood is even a Multnomah County resident.

It’s Elementary

This elementary school mural in SW creates a pleasing picture of the snow-covered peak with cloud cover below and an errant sea-gull. It makes an effort to show all of Oregon weather conditions that are capable of happening at the same time.

Pyramid Power Perpetuated

Sure I bought into pyramid power back in the ’70’s, we all did, but this portrayal of “Hoodie” seen at the Interstate Kaiser Medical Office is too angular, too geometric as well as being too pyramid-shaped to depict our mountain friend in a just manner.

Q’d Up

This is a great take on Mt. Hood using expressive, autumnal colors while including lifelike, glacial features of the area. The multicolored birds flying off the side of the building are an added bonus.

At the Crest of Man and Van

Sure we all know all about the Pacific Crest Trail so the use of Mt. Hood for this business name makes sense. It’s so nicely done that I’m tempted to call them just so I can gaze at their van while they work on the house. Nice pastoral meadows dwarf the mountain a bit but this scenery is the next best thing to being there.

Best Bud’s Mountain Mural

Spotted and photographed from the window of the New Seasons across the street, it dawned on me that the Best Buds cannabis shop on Lombard Ave has offered up a Mt. Hood mural on the side of their building. This is quite the tribute to the views of the mountain that you sometimes get driving down Lombard.

Detail, Purple and white Mt. Hood.

Widmer Brewing’s Hood Garden

In the beer garden at the Widmer Brewery, a mural of Mt. Hood caught my eye. I wondered if it was advertising a new Mt. Hood beer. On closer inspection it was a gallant piece of art with only an almost subliminal W in the top corner connecting it to the brewery.  Ah, the mountain, the city, the rose, the painting lacks flowing beer which would tie this piece together.

Detail, Widmer world view

The Cat and the Dog Jumped Over the Mountain

The mountain appears simply and majestically on this sign. The addition of a frolicking cat and dog are a great way bring attention to the business. It makes sense that if a healthy cat and dog visited Mt. Hood they would leap over one another with great gusto and expressions of joy.

Better Transit, Better Graphics

Maybe not the best slogan but far be it from me to think I could come up with something better. This is a nice use of Mt. Hood. It seems to hug the city, surrounding it and offering a nice caress. Mt. Hood and Portland get along as well as any natural landmark and city could be expected to. What this all has to do with making transit better I don’t know. It might be that we should all be enjoying our Mt. Hood view as we travel by Max train over the river.