When It All Literally Goes Down The Toilet

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You never think you’d find yourself looking at pictures of toilets, but it’s happening. I looked through thousands of photos to find these images. Bringing the world toilet pictures became a second job, one for which I am not paid handsomely. “Never for money/always for love,” David Byrne sang.

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It dawned on me that Toilet Art, in this case mostly Toilet Yard Art, is rarer than I thought. I would have sworn that through the years of working on this blog I saw many toilets hanging around in people’s yards. And you know every time I saw one I stopped what I was doing and took a picture.(1) I was hoping for more toilets in my photo archive.

This blog offers something you’ll never see anywhere else. All we can do now is appreciate these toilets captured in their outside, unnatural habitat. They’re a bit tacky but they provide a unique design element to people’s landscaping schemes.

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A house in Kenton had great flair for yard decoration. New installations were rotated in keeping my dog walks interesting. The house has showcased paper mache art on the porch, an explosion of Barbie dolls in a kiddie pool filled with dirt and the toilet above serving as a plant holder with industrial tape keeping it all together.

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In Northeast, a toilet makes a subtle splash adding character to a front yard. The plant emerges as a classy asset and compliments the greenery of the ferns in the yard. There’s no doubt a toilet bowl makes a great planter.

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A free toilet on a Northeast street is a sight that would have Marcel Duchamp rolling in his grave. As I recall his ambition would have been to put a price tag on a urinal or have it displayed in an art show and yet here is someone giving away this toilet. The real story that I read on Wikipedia is even stranger with a replica of Duchamp’s original work titled “Fountain” selling for over a million dollars. Sigh. Getting rid of junk plumbing and marketing art are two completely different concepts. You have to admit a sign with three smiling faces and no money down makes a good sales pitch. You’re not flushing your money away on this baby.


In the archive, I was hoping to find more abandoned toilets fashioned into yard art. I was hoping to uncover a movement. Decorative Lawn Toilets proved to be scarce. There always was a certain joy along with a twinge of disgust in seeing a toilet in an unfamiliar scenario, namely not in a bathroom. I did discover some toilet pictures. When I wrote about the art car nicknamed the Space Taxi a boy at the decorating party we went to made a point of showing me the toilet glued to the car. As I zipped though photos deciding what to keep or delete this forgotten image caught my eye. It counts as a toilet and it’s arty too. In my world, that’s an exciting discovery.

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Then there’s toilet art that turns out to be art above the toilet. I placed this painting above the toilet at our old place as a visual joke never realizing it would come back to haunt me when I needed it for this post. The joke has something to do with males having to take care of a certain business in front of a pair of eyes. The current toilet is a similar situation. At least in this case displaying art in this way wasn’t my idea but it has the same effect.

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*****

(1) “And you know every time I saw one I stopped what I was doing and took a picture.” Mrs. Yuchmow this sentence was crying out to start with the word “and.” I know you taught your students, for which I was never one of them, that “and” isn’t a great way to start a sentence, but like I said, in this case the sentence was actually crying and I thought using that word in that way would end the tears.

 

A Long Winded History Of A Half Century of Living in Dodge City

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Jeff Dodge is too busy for fame. He’s multitalented. He knows music, videography, sound engineering, computers and history. With the latest technology he streams a monthly, live TV show from his home office. He makes movies, short films, music videos, produces bands and he recently recorded a 33 song triple concept album. There are more projects in the wings. Jeff’s always up to something.

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Another project, in production.

I’ve written other posts about him but I couldn’t let this significant birthday go without acknowledging his work. Participating in his show, The Peasant Revolution Band Variety Hour, gives me an opportunity to experience any number of interesting Portland characters, musicians and performers. I only have to leave the house once a month for this. Hanging out with Jeff means a whirlwind of ideas, costumes, fun, craziness and the occasional technical difficulty. The suits he wears as the show’s host are hilarious. It’s great to know someone with so much going on. I contribute what I can and the rest of the time I live vicariously through his exploits and I don’t end up exhausted.

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After a half century, I am curious about what keeps Jeff going. I thought it would be fun to see where he’s been and hear tales from his associates. I started with members of the Peasant Revolution Band who appear as the house band on the show. I didn’t know how Jeff put the band together. Curtis Worsely, aka The Commander, explained that Jeff “was the one who gave me my name. That was a big leg up in my career.” They’ve had an on and off again musical relationship that goes back 30 years to the days of one of Jeff’s early bands The Bolsheviks. The Commander appreciates how Jeff has always welcomed him in after telling me he joined the Peasant Revolution Band when he moved back to Portland. He described Jeff as a “historical encyclopedia of information.”

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                 photo by Echo Narcissist (Courtesy of Darge productions)

Bassist Steve Cebula goes back with Jeff to their days at Central Catholic High School. Steve was a rocker in pleather when Jeff was hanging out with a punk rocker named Tom Nims and sporting a “Travis Bickle” look. These were different circles. They got to know each other in Jazz and Stage Prep Bands and played Cream songs with the Pep Band at football and basketball games. Steve had a front row seat to watch a band teacher trying to keep Jeff in line. I discovered Steve wasn’t in the Middle Fingers but joined Jeff’s next band Pink Milk, a name that could have been inspired by Cream. Both band names were controversial at the school. All these years later Steve, the consumet sideman, tells tales of Jeff being a tyrant in the recording studio. I wanted to believe he’s joking from his vivid description of Jeff Dodge in a “one more take” fervor. “Mannequin parts get thrown against the wall—well, one part but it’s heavy,” Steve said.

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In 2013, Jeff organized a Badfinger Tribute Benefit Show for Scott Peterson who had been through a health crisis. Rich Reece sat in on drums. Meeting Jeff, he could see the years of work experience that went into coordinating the event. “Everyone else would have given up,” Rich said considering the logistics of organizing 30 different musicians to perform for two hours. “One of Jeff’s big talents,” he pointed out, “is to just keep going. He doesn’t stop.”

It was Phil Jefferson who inspired me to seek out testimonials. He spoke highly of his experience working with Jeff who recorded and played on his flute centric album Madness of Crowds. He explained that Jeff lives for spontaneity and going into studio sessions fresh not knowing what he’ll be playing. “We didn’t know where it was going to go,” Phil said before offering a comment that explained Jeff’s people person persona. “He wants to be around as many people as he can. That’s his thing.”

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When houses in her neighborhood were being demolished, Jordi Leeb decided to make a film about the situation and the impact it had on her and her neighbors. Being a first time film maker, she called on Jeff.  Jeff took the lead with some assistance from me. Jordi experienced Jeff’s business side finding him to be professional, methodical and patient. “I never felt judged or talked down to. He laid everything out and it was so helpful for me to understand all of the steps. He was eager and excited about my project. He made the whole experience approachable for me,” she said. Jeff’s efforts earned him Jordi’s respect and their collaboration resulted in the film “Diary of a Street.”

Robert Pardington is also known as Bobby Caesar. I always saw him as an archenemy of Jeff’s because, as legend has it, he left the Peasant Revolution Band to go solo. He later showed up to battle Jeff in the movie WNYCee New York. Robert met Jeff through high school friends and later roomed him in the “infamous White House” in Eugene in the early 90’s. Robert admires Jeff’s openness. “He always included everyone, frat types, stoners, nerds,” he said. Robert is in awe of Jeff’s musical brilliance, phenomenal ear and their Meerkat brotherhood.

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On location. photo by Echo Narcissist (Courtesy of Darge productions)

Clint Sargent meet Jeff in 1988 at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. Since then they’ve played music together and  partnered to make a cable access TV show and feature length movies. Clint praised Jeff’s prolific nature. “I have never known anyone with so many visions going at once. There seems to be no end to his ideas that flow non stop.”

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The stories Jeff shared in a frenetic phone call set the scene. He remembered seeing the puppeteers Sid & Marty Kroft on TV giving career advice, “If you want to make sure you keep control of your content in this society, keep your name on it,” one of them said. Jeff took note giving birth to the Jeff Dodge brand. Somewhere in the middle of playing Plastic Man with his sisters a character named Julio would be involved. Julio was resourceful and had a local connection everywhere he went. Jeff aspired to these qualities that have inspired his modus operandi. It adds up to him being fearless. He let’s everybody in the pool resulting in either Busby Berkeley choreography or everybody drowning.

A half century is something to consider. “The winds of age are upon me,” Jeff says quoting a line from one of the movies about his alterego Jeff Steele. (I know, Jeff Steele and the Lost Civilization of NyoNuc from 2004.) Still, there is time for new beginnings and even old dreams. Jeff hasn’t given up on owning and operating a historical amusement park someday. With Portland being the creative place that it is, there could be thousands of Jeff Dodge types out there. I’m talking about catalysts who create scenes of fun loving havoc. And most everyone is too busy creating to know what anybody else is up to. Clint Sargent described what Jeff does as “unmatched entertainment” and that makes all the difference. 

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Behind the scenes of Jeff Steele and The Children of the Doomed         photo by Echo Narcissist (Courtesy of Darge Productions)

* * * * *

Post Script:  The Dodge City from the title is not a nickname anyone ever had for Jeff. Hanging out with him has always felt like visiting another world of his making. I’ve always referred to it as Dodge City.

 

 

Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Could Never Get To): A Fictional Account of the Bernie & Bonnie Story

I had this theory about two restaurants. There had to be a connection. One I saw a bunch of times when I had a temp job around the NW 23rd business district. The other, a place I drove past many times on Columbia Boulvard. These places were two peas in a pod but I’m not sure that was on their menus. They had similar signs. Sure signs can be designed and bought by any sign maker. They were billed as one person operations. This is not the case with Bonnie’s—it was family owned. They both specialized in burgers and teriyaki. Okay, that’s an unusual combination but it’s probably a coincidence. I wanted a story and I wanted it so bad I realized I had to make it up, something that’s never been done this blatantly in a Portland Orbit story. It goes something like this:

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Bernie and Bonnie met in a meet cute way that had something to do with spilled food or a broken dish.They fell in love over their passions for making and serving delicious meals. Food was their lives so they combined them getting married and opening a restaurant. It was nothing fancy, family fare—the basics. (I’ll get the research department in on this) but let’s name the place B & B’s Diner. No, that doesn’t work so they renamed it BeeBee’s. Life was good, in the kitchen and everywhere in between.

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In all stories something has to happen. Over time the stress, the challenge of running a small business took its toll. Both restaurateurs had their niche but their combined efforts didn’t jell. Bernie and Bonnie had different ideas about their respective Teriyaki recipes. Their stubbornness and inability to compromise led to fights in the kitchen that threatened to spill into the dining area.Tension made the work environment difficult and some staff quit. To paraphrase a line from an old Burt Reynolds (not Ryan Reynolds) movie: the love had gone out of their relationship. Where love had once inspired great meals that satisfied customers their restaurant venture couldn’t survive without it.

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One restaurant became two. Was there animosity? It seems possible since their establishments ended up spreading out from one end of the city to the other. Bonnie’s went to NW 21st in a building tucked under a billboard in that bore her name. The establishment shared space with a gas station. This always brought to mind one of the rules of the road that Fred Owens and I learned the hard way: Never eat in a restaurant attached to a gas station. I’m trying to be fair here. This is a love story gone bad not a restaurant review. I’d like to tell you about Bonnie’s but rules are rules. I’m sure those who could overlook the connection to the gas station appreciated the food.

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Bernie’s place has always intrigued me. It has a desolate feel as if set in an Edward Hopper painting. It looks like an ideal place to nurse an espresso on a cold, gray afternoon. Any other thoughts about the place would be assumptions. I’ve never been there. It looks like a rough and tumble, blue collar joint. That’s an opinion formed from its location in the middle of an industrial section of town intersected by Columbia Boulevard.

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I’m not poking fun or being snooty. I’ve always liked Bernie’s large windows facing the road. It allowed me to look in as I drove by. I could imagine the atmosphere with food smells drifting off the grill. It feels like a place to hide out and wile away an afternoon if I ever had one of those to kill. Or maybe it’s about the quick bite of cheap, filling food. In deciding to read up on some reviews of these places I came across a 4 star Yelp review that described Bernie’s Hamburgers & Teriyaki by saying, “this place does not look spectacular from the outside.” That is part of its charm.

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Meanwhile across town I received some sad news after finding a Reedit thread that spelled out the demise of Bonnie’s Burger and Teriyaki restaurant that was run by a Korean family. At this point the piece becomes a bit of an Orbit Obit. A major renovation of the gas station resulted in a decision to go in a Convienience Mart direction. Bonnie’s had to close. My best guess was that this happened in June of 2019. There was fanfare from dedicated fans who enjoyed the good, cheap meals they dished out but there was no word on whether Bonnie has ever reunited with Bernie.

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Along Come Marys: The Mother of All Mother’s Days

Bless this!

I couldn’t think of a better way to honor mothers than write about one of the greats. She entered motherhood under tough circumstances having to bed down in a manger with barnyard animals. Since then she’s been sainted, name dropped in a Beatles song and has been named after countless churches including a famous Paris cathedral. It shouldn’t be a surprise that people honor her, in statuary form, with a place of residence in their yard.

As the two Orbit franchises that have managed to hang on, there’s a bit of a symbiotic relationship between the Portland and Pittsburgh offices. That’s why it’s not accurate to say I’ve stolen this idea because it would have been shared freely if I’d asked. My version originated from a kind of oneupmanship, a comparison of our respective cities. Pittsburgh Orbit head honcho Will Simmons asked me if there were Marys in Portland after he ran a few posts showcasing displays of her image. Because I had never noticed them I assumed they were scarce. When I started looking, they appeared all over town.

Chain linked in Pittsburgh.                     (photo by Will Simmons)

I reached out to Will for the details of his Mary fixation. Growing up in Southwest Virginia, he found little of the Catholic presence he would experience when he moved to Pittsburgh, a city known to have one of, if not the highest, per capita Catholic populations in the country. Will’s fascination with Catholic culture percolated when he realized the gambling operation run by a priest at a Catholic Carnival was possibly illegal. This had him thinking, “The Baptists don’t do this.”

Will has long wondered “why Catholics have this deeper connection to Mary than other Christians.” While that notion is a mystery to me I realized it was intrigue like this that fueled his writings. He’s returned to ideas inspired by Catholic culture in multiple posts. In an email Will wrote:

“In Pittsburgh, it’s not just where people go to church on Sunday (or, often, Saturday evening) but all of these other cultural tangents–fasting for Lent and its byproduct of church-sponsored fish fries; Greek Orthodox “onion dome” architecture; retail stores that sell nothing but bibles, crucifixes, and “Last Supper” reproductions; framed portraits of past popes for sale at every estate sale.”

Will points out that in the Pittsburgh area, Marys are everywhere. There are Every Neighborhood Marys, Porch Marys, Built Into Brickwork/Grotto Marys, Garden Marys, Up On Cement Blocks Marys and Embedded In Concrete Flower Pot Marys—all variations on this theme that Will has photographed and blogged about for years.

Personal Mary. (photo by Will Simmons)

Not religious himself, Will has contracted Mary fever with a Mary of his own to prove it—a friend who rescued her from the trash. He has a blast keeping “an eye out for new Marys” while lamenting those hidden away in people’s backyards that he’ll likely never see. Will also willingly burst my bubble, hey what are friends for, telling me that I was confusing what I thought could be Marys with wings with plain old angels. Some angels look a bit too much like Marys with wings.Wannabees! At least I’ve learned the rules.

Our Lady In Lavender

Not too dry for tears.

This purple cloaked Mary, spotted in the Powell neighborhood, stood out on a late August afternoon when forest fires had created an orange haze that blanketed the area. Sitting in a brick bordered dirt pedestal, she remains calm and serene. The surrounding burnt grass makes her seem a bit parched from the relentless summer sun. The spot light means this Mary merits an evening visit.

Hearts Afire

Sunny Mary

A Mary this bright and colorful becomes a lesson in the challenges of taking photographs at high noon. The detailing is great including the visible heart and the rosary. Additional surroundings offer a feeling of a peaceful oasis.

Radiant Lady

A serene scene.

As if sculpted out of ivory or a giant bar of Ivory soap, this Mary gleams. Her namaste/prayer pose is striking. She appears to be levitating or about to launch out of the bird bath of flowers. Her serenity flows into the surrounding yard off of Interstate Avenue in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood so hard that it keeps a Fu Dog subdued and disinterested in the prey potential of the deer family reclining nearby.

From the Shadows

There could be a gnome too.

I caught sight of this Mary battling overgrowth outside the remainders of the long since gone out of business store Yesterday and Today store in North Portland. There’s a stoic feel from Mary’s grace as she half grins and bears her plight facing eventual engulfment from rouge foliage in this side yard.

Keep Calm And Mary On

Ready for Palm Sunday.

This blue cloaked clad Mary popped out of a Kenton neighborhood yard. Her expression reads pure chill while her attitude offers a blunt reminder that any and all interlopers, stragglers and wayward souls should make all attempts to embrace solemnity as well.

Porch Plopped

Porch perch.

Mary has earned the right to be respected. While she winds up being yard decoration, there’s a need for her to be honored as a focal point to a design scheme. What I came across was disheartening. This Mary display was too unceremonious. To leave her on a doorstep hanging out with a random Francis or possibly Joseph seems like sacrilege. It’s a different story if she’s meant to ward off possible porch pirates. Here’s hoping Mary has the power to make someone think twice about committing theft.

Okay With Angels

All in this together.

I know, I know, Mary doesn’t do wings, but that doesn’t stop her from hanging out with winged sculptures. It was obvious that she was comfortable when I came upon this scene in the Mississippi neighborhood. This display works. There’s lightning, a flower and a pair of angels. It all comes together to make this crown wearing Mary appear even more regal. It’s a setting that has her so blissed out as to not be bother by a few weeds.


Altared Reality

Keep it glowing Mary!

Going through my photo archive, I discovered a Mary doing actual duty as part of an altar set up on a stump left from a house demolition and tree clear cut that transpired in the Woodlawn neighborhood a few years ago. The situation created ill will with the area residents and it seemed like someone thought Mary might be able offer some solace.

Wing Over Portland

Wings, but no Mary.

Garden angel.

I was initially fooled because these statues, seen in North and Northeast Portland, were roughly the same size as the other Marys I’d spotted. Maybe I didn’t want my Hunt for Mary efforts to be wasted. Mary is an angelic presence but in the end I shouldn’t be confusing myself or anyone else with fruitless debates. Instead I’ll lead you out with angels. Peace and good thoughts to all you Mothers out there.

# # # 

 

Will Simmons has a whole Mary/Mother’s day tribute on his site:

The Mother of All Mothers! A Mother’s Day Mary Super Round-Up

Not Horsing Around: There’s No Corralling the Portland Horse Project

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I can’t imagine Portland when horses were used for transportation. The city has never had an old west feel and it’s hard to see beyond the automobile. The Portland Horse Project Facebook Group opened my eyes to things I hadn’t known about. I learned that in the early 1900’s curbs were required to have horse rings. A newspaper article from the 70’s posted on the site reported that people insisted the city keep the horse ring tradition alive by preserving them. Without horse rings there would be no Horse Project.

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Photo by Graham Marks

The Portland Horse Project is the meeting of horse rings and small horses. It was a fascination with those brass rings that led artist Scott Wayne Indiana to start the project in 2005. I asked him by email about the project’s origins and was rewarded with background details about the project. Growing up in Salem, he became familiar with the rings on trips to see his grandparents in Portland.

“I guess I was a pretty observant kid from an early age,” Scott explained. “I have vivid memories of being fascinated with the rings even from those days. There just aren’t many relics like that in cities that have lived on.”

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The first three! Note strings. Photos courtesy of Scott Wayne Indiana

The horse rings offered an aura of wonder and mysticism. While studying art and drawing inspiration from artist’s like Francis Alÿs, Brad Adkins, and Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July’s Learning to Love you More project he came to the realization that “art could be anything.” He experimented with public art including keeping an inventory of planted flags that eventually led to the idea for a public art piece relating to the rings. My initial question for Scott had a chicken or the egg angle. I imagined the project being inspired by his coming across a toy horse. It was the other way around. “The love for the rings came long before the idea to tie anything to them,” Scott wrote. He purchased five or six cheap horses from Goodwill and tied them with string in the park blocks area. They were all gone in a matter of hours. Undeterred he found a more secure method of tethering using clasps and cables. “Over a hundred horses and a few months later, the project took off in a nearly self-sustaining way and hasn’t really looked back,” he wrote.

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Scott moved to Brooklyn in 2008 but he maintains the Facebook group. His father has gotten in on the act “putting out a couple dozen horses around town every year,” Scott noted. He voiced an appreciation for the project’s ability to extend “an implicit invitation for everyone to participate.” That process includes photos shared on Instagram and Facebook.

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Photo by Jackie Omen

Jackie Omen tethers horses too. I noticed her posts on the Portland Horse Project group and Scott mentioned being impressed with her contributions. Jackie wrote that she usually cringes at “whimsical stuff” but that the Horse Project captured her heart. She asked a question that most of us would answer in the affirmative: “Who doesn’t love spotting one of those damn horses?”

Jackie’s 7 x 7 display.

She expressed her attraction to this “mix of city history and hidden Easter egg.” Drawn to them when she was advised to exercise, her walks around her neighborhood allowed her to seek out rings in need of tethering. It’s become a hobby that includes hunting for horses in thrift stores.

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These horses entice people to stop and admire them. Not all of them are the cutesy My Little Pony types. Some are stately, regal even, dwarfed by the rings and surrounding cars. I’ve noticed creative variations on this theme that don’t include horses. That’s a whole other post. The horses exist as a living diorama that’s broken out of the shoebox. It leaves me wondering why, after searching my photo archive, I could only find three horse project type pictures I’d taken. It’s the kind of thing I’d photograph anytime I saw it. They might not be prevalent in North Portland. In the ten years I lived in the Kenton neighborhood, I kept meaning to tie a horse to our ring. At least I now know the horse shopping hot spot and how to secure them. The ring was something I always looked for when I cut the grass. It was either to see it again or make sure it was still around. There’s something magical in that link to both the past and the present.

References:

https://www.facebook.com/PortlandHorseProject/

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/portlandhorseproject/

https://alamedahistory.org/2018/06/12/portlands-horse-tethering-rings/

https://www.kptv.com/history-into-art-the-story-of-portland-s-sidewalk-horse/video_8899ab70-f79c-5b5f-9f16-d876a1b606b6.html

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Losing Their Heads: New Ways of Sign Manipulation

Technifloating!

Signs are begging for alterations. The flat silhouetted figure with the round head is inhuman. It’s identifiable as someone heading for a hiking trail or crossing the street but it’s boring. We’re lucky someone is out there making it their mission to liven things up. In a previous post, the focus was on a variety of sign styles–I even missed a Shel Silverstein reference. These days the efforts concentrate on the improving the head section of the signs creating a more visually stimulating design.


Toasted Cat

Cat-Dogs are real!


Somehow the lady remained unscathed, the gentleman became a toast head and the couple’s dog is forced to recover from a cat head transplant operation. It’s great to see this scene from a sign in Multnomah Village transformed beyond the typical dog walk. The toast adds flavor to the image while the sign now needs to read: PLEASE CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR CAT.


The Googly Eyes Gaze

Look this way.


It doesn’t take much to spruce up the round headed, no necked hiker on this sign. In the outskirts of SW Portland, where this sign was seen, the smallest detail passes for entertainment.


Skullery

Skulking around.


The round skull sticker that dots the hiker from a South Portland sign is the right shape and scale to make a dramatic improvement to this sign. A colorful and ornate design is a far cry better than what’s underneath.


Gunsmoke

Straight shooter?


These SW Portland sign manipulations near the Barbur Transit Center strike at the deep need for this hiker to indulge in vices like gun shooting and cigarette smoking. With the addition of a cowboy hat he’d have the makings of a Wild West hiker villain.

 

Tripping Over My Tongue

Let’s roll!


It isn’t the best way to decorate a handicapped parking sign demonstrating a lack of respect for people with disabilities. Still, the benchmark is whether you’d rather look at a giant eyed, tongue flapping orange head or a white circle. This image might reflect how people look after a night at the Kenton Club where the parking space is located.


Orange Kid

No complaints about complex completions.

Decorate, manipulate away if you have a sticker as good as this one seen in South Tabor. The facial expression is crazy, the complexion is positively Mars inspired and this character doesn’t seem to be taking his street crossing ambitions seriously. The head still floats in an unnatural way that makes my neck sore. This face was so distracting that I had no time to consider how it’s possible to ride a bike without pedals or handlebars.


Bear Crossing

Bearly visible.

You have to look close. Closer. Even closer. I was confident there were no bears in the vicinity of this sign I saw in the Piedmont neighborhood near the Lloyd Center. This bear head resembles more than a trophy. It covers up that tired black circle proving once again that a subtle attempt to make a dull sign interesting deserves accolades.

 

Saving Face

Face peel.


If you head into the heart of NE near the Laurelhurst Theater, you’ll find signs stickered up almost beyond recognition. Spotting the face sticker peeling off this sign was sad but the initial attempt was appreciated. Even half a face is better than that blasted dot beneath it.


The Devil Outside

Parody for you and me.    (Photo by Graham Marks)

This parody of the sign man caught my eye on a friend’s instagram feed. Sign man deserves a good spoof. The sticker insinuates there’s inherent evil associated with the briefcase bearing corporate type. No one addresses the issue of how sign man does anything including carrying stuff, riding a bike or walking without hands or even feet but that’s an issue better left to a future post.

 

Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Could Never Get To): The Tailored Torso of Columbia Boulevard

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Easter’s Finest

I wanted to believe I was looking at John F. Kennedy, a brawny rendition, beefy, broad shouldered but the hair, the hair was a dead ringer for JFK. I was wrong. It turned out all right because I learned the identity of the statue in the yard of a house facing the Oregon Humane Society complex. Through the power of assumption I had convinced myself the statue was Kennedy but being set straight makes me appreciate that someone with research skills unearthed information and reported back to me. Shout out to volunteer researcher Amy M! The Kennedy Files will remain closed for now while a new file, labelled under the name Ngo Dinh Diem, will be opened.

The puzzling nature of the house, the statue and the curious costumes kept me wondering. No one appeared to live there. Feeling like an intruder, I tended to rush up the steps, cross the patio, take photos and bolt. What kind of journalist am I? I should have barged through the door asking, “who, what, where, when, why and even how?” It’s about questions and demands for answers which is why there’s no explanation of these seasonal decorations. It happened every couple of months in time for a holiday. I am left wondering what happened to the Christmas costume? A photo would have been in order but I must have missed it.

Here’s a roll call of the holiday outfits I did manage to document:

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Winter

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St. Patrick’s Day

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Easter

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Summer

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Halloween

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Thanksgiving

Spring Cleaning (Stories I Could Never Get to) When the Georgia Guidestones Came to Portland

Listening to Larry Forte’s Limited Perspective podcast while furiously cleaning and scrubbing out one of our cars—a long procrastinated task, I was pulled into a murky memory. The show’s guests were the director and producers of The Georgia Guidestones movie. The Guidestones, a combination of outsider concept art and roadside attraction  plunked down in Elberton, Georgia, is a mystery that needed this movie to explain it. During the podcast, the director Mike Reser, described his experience screening the film in Portland. His name was familiar—the same name as a childhood friend. The description of the screening felt like a comedy of errors. Then I realized, I had been there.

Listening back to the podcast in preparing this post, the story was as amusing as when I first heard it. A reference to hipsters was an added bonus. The odd thing—I had no recollection of the film maker attending the event. Sorry Mike! We’re talking something that happened in 2013, or was it 2012? The podcast gave me insight on what it took to make the documentary. It made up for my spacing out on that question and answer session. I appreciate a good fish out of water Portland story so I’m going to let Mike take it from here.

Larry Forte: How did they receive it in Portland when you screened it out there?

Mike Reser: Okay, well, it was received well and the people at the theater liked it but it didn’t get a big crowd out there like it would, you know–Charleston, Athens, Elberton, the southeast—a good draw. It went really well in the south but the people there (in Portland) really enjoyed it. It was good. There was some technical difficulties. There was a yellow spot. I mean it was good in the theater but there was this yellow spot on the screen and it wasn’t on my DVD or Blu-ray or whatever it was. Then maybe three quarters through the movie it stalled out, so there were some technical difficulties that I didn’t really experience anywhere else. But the Q and A there was good just like it was everywhere and some of the people who were there—I think they enjoyed it. There was a review—it was the review—

Christy Sinksen:  The regular movie reviewer didn’t review the movie. The food critic was pitch hitting and reviewed the movie.

LF:  So that might be kind of a diss by the regular movie reviewer?

MR:  Well, here’s the thing this was an extremely low budget, D.I.Y. It was the Clinton Street Theater in Portland and I mean it’s not–it’s a great theater, it really is, but it’s not—

CS:  Prestigious.

MR:  Yeah, so yeah, the regular movie critic, I don’t even remember the newspaper in Portland that did this—that was my first experience of something negative in Portland. So anyway this food critic that did review the film just tore it up.

LF:  Really?

CS:  Didn’t they fixate on really technical details like sound quality?

MR:  Yeah it was like I was, I was, I don’t know.

CS:  It’s like dude, it’s a cheap camera.

MR:  It’s not like I’m Herzog or fucking Coen brothers.

CS:  They called him out on technical details.

MR:  You know and it’s just like this is a low budget, do it yourself. And then also like the people ramble on you should cut out a lot of stuff and I’m like: This is southern storytelling.

LF:  They’re supposed to be rambling on.

MR:  So maybe you don’t understand that in hipster Portland. (Everybody laughs.) No, I actually, I like hipsters but going to Portland and doing that I was like whoa, so when you’re in the south and people talk about hipsters, (it’s like) I don’t know I think hipsters are all right. Then you go to a place like Portland, yeah these are insufferable.

LF:  Really? Because, I don’t know, the term hipster kind of escapes me because I thought—I didn’t put negative connotations on it.

MR:  I never did either until I went to Portland and screened a movie.

LF:  So a little sidebar then, what is hipster? What does that mean?

MR:  I’m not sure. I don’t know. Someone once called me a hipster trapped in a redneck body.  (Everybody laughs.)

MR:  I didn’t mean to get off on that.

LF:  No, that speaks for me too. That’s something that’s been in my head.

MR:  Overall the screening in Portland went well but if there was any negative I ever received from it, it was from a critic in Portland.

Paul Floyd:  But it’s the food critic.

MR:  I know but it bothered me. It bothered me at the time.

LF:  Food critics watch movies. They have opinions.

MR:  That’s true it bothered me at the time and now when I look back at it as like—

CS:  It’s like one review compared to many glowing reviews.

MR:  Yeah and I look at that now and it’s like that’s part of it.

CS:  Not everyone is going to like it.

LF:  You can look at it both ways because that’s what’s so impressive to me is you did it for like, I don’t know, at best, I know it cost more than two thousand and sixty dollars and if you had paid your people it would’ve been a million dollars.

MR:  You know y’all are still waiting on the check. (Laughs) 

LF:  Let’s assume you did it for two thousand, sixty bucks. You don’t just make a movie like for that little money. For what you did with the resources you had, it’s impressive.

MR:  I wished that’s what they had understood because they did review it as like I was a legit indie film maker.

LF:  Yeah, like you flew in from New York.

MR:  Like, Sundance or something like that, it’s not who I am at all.

 LF:  Not yet.

*****

The funny thing about the technical difficulties at the screening was how much I’d learned to grin and bear it. It wasn’t a big deal. The Clinton Theater was a bit run down at the time but it made up for that by always offering other worldly cultural experiences, The George Guidestone movie being the type of thing that probably no other theater in town would have screened. One of the owners apologized profusely as we were leaving and gave us tickets for a future show.

I’ve tried in vain to track down that review but have a feeling the food/movie critic was a reporter recruited to host a political candidate forum I worked on during my days at Clark Vancouver Television.  (I’ve since been proved wrong on this. It’s a different paper and different food critic/movie reviewer.) There was a time when Portland hipster backlash seemed to be raging full force. It’s strange to feel nostalgic about it. Hipsters were trying too hard, wearing tight pants, showcasing facial hair and maybe, donning big glasses. As for the movie, I know I loved it. It motivated me to get out of the house and across town to see it on the big screen. I am, afterall, the absolute niche market—an outsider art loving, amateur film making, conspiracy theory appreciating, aging hipster wannabe.

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# # #

Film stills courtesy of the film maker.

Expertly labelled podcast still courtesy of Larry Forte and many thanks to him for permission to use the transcription from his podcast.

RESOURCES:

Check out the Limited Perspective podcast:

or go to the web site:

 

 

Georgia Guidestones movie info:

http://guidestonesmovie.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 
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The bench in question.

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

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Gosh, don’t know.

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

A recreation…

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

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A glowing cross spits flames.

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

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Surround the fort.

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Drips and drabs.

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Censored love.

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Better left untranslated.

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Now it’s a part

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

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Hidden secrets revealed.

 

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

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Oh Lord!


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

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Ground pound.


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

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Triple pounder.


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

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Pound sign.

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The original Lord Pound?


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

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

 

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Impound.

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

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Hearts pound.


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

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Pound it down.

 

*  *  *  *  *

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