Summer’s Gone: Dive and Dash Until the Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Ducks like swimming.

Nothing reminds me of what’s great about a Portland summer than the end of a Portland summer. I hold out, hoping the season lingers. The late summer heat inspired us to hit the sometimes frigid, but swimable area rivers and lakes. We had been making late afternoon runs during the hottest part of the day for quick dips to cool off. Then summer had an abrupt end despite more plans to swim. A wind storm blew forest fire smoke into the area creating unhealthy air that was less than ideal for breathing much less swimming. I’m left with memories to share of the spots we managed to visit which created the kind of summer feeling that has to last until the next one.

Poet’s Beach

The sign says it all.

We’d know about Poet’s Beach since it opened. The city’s public relations staff must have got the word out. It’s felt like a tradition to make at least one visit each summer to this make-shift beach under the Marquam Bridge. It was also the end point of the Portlandia Mermaid Parade allowing the assembled mermaids a place to take a dip. The lines of student poetry inscribed on the rocks leading to the beach have faded somewhat but the beach area is wide for a steady stream of visitors. The river is clean, thanks to the big dig project making a rare occurrence out of the sewage overflows that used to make the river unswimable.

Mermaids and more at Poets Beach.

The Willamette River is shallow around the beach that offers a sandy river bottom. The constant boat traffic is either annoying or scenic depending on your disposition. Unless your free parking game is strong, you’ll have to pay to park in the inner SW area. The beach is listed as being part of the South Waterfront City Park. I associated it with its proximity to the Harbor Marina area where the anchor business is a McCormick & Schmidt’s. If the goal is to get wet this is as good a place as any within the city limits.

Henry Hagg Lake

Dog days at Hagg Lake.

This lake is out there if you are looking to get out of town. The nearest barely-a-town-town is Gaston. The boat heavy waters carry the essence of diesel fuel. Then there are the indignities of having to pay seven bucks and weed through a State Park indued traffic jam. Still there’s the uniqueness of the lake’s squishy, muddy bottom along with the antics of the boaters and swimmers that provide entertainment on a summer afternoon. It’s worth at least one visit for the escapism factor and the wide open views of the lake. 

Audrey McCall Floating Dock

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This was our most focused dive and dash experience. What else is there to do besides hang out on a dock or jump in the water? I was surprised to learn that the Vera Katz Esplanade is named after Rich Reece’s cat. The dock offered a shimmering view of downtown and provided a ladder for those unable to heave their bodies out of the Willamette River and back onto the platform. People weren’t concerned about drinking laws. I’m unsure of OCC regulations but I saw at least one guy enjoying beers. The dock may be an unregulated autonomous zone. It was easy to get there from the Eastside industrial area with free parking if you’re up on zone parking regulations. This is an essential spot for however much time one can spare for sunshine, swimming and dog paddling.

Cedar Island

How to make an island.

Who could resist a visit to an island off the coast of West Linn? It’s about as much status as anyone could hope for. In my possibly misguided geological knowledge, it’s a kind of jetty created by the Willamette River where a swimming pond has formed. We found parking outside a gated mansion although there’s boat ramp parking too. It’s necessary to walk through a river side beach area and over a bridge to get to the island. Once there we had the rocky beach to ourselves. The water temperature was fine but you wouldn’t know it from my wade and squat technique for getting in the water.

The author in island waters.

Cross Park

Rocky, not roaring.

You can go to High Rocks Park or Cross Park. Either offers access to the Clackamas River. Cross Park seemed to be more accessible when we dashed down to the Gladstone area for a Friday afternoon happy hour swim. The river wasn’t crowded in the area where we parked. A guy standing in the water told me I’d get used to it if I ever got brave enough to get wet and I did. Minutes later he got in a kayak and paddled away. Our dog had a blast swimming until he was scolded for chasing ducks downstream. The river bed was rocky but despite the current and the mountain run off it wasn’t too treacherous or cold. The water was just right for cooling off after a hot week.

*****

Special thanks to Ronna Craig for her photographs minus the duck and mermaid photos that I took.

Cruise Your Illusions 1: The Painted Wagons

Sure it’s unconventional to take a perfectly good car, glue junk on it or paint it up to create an art car. At that point it becomes a a public service because it breaks the monotony–so many cars, so many drab shades. There’s an audience, often a captive one. I know I’ll stop what I’m doing and take a picture. There’s also the stuck-in-traffic crowd who say, “Look at that car!” Diversions in a traffic jam can be exciting.

I document art cars when I see them mostly while they’re parked. There usually isn’t a way to track down the owners to find out what inspired them to decorate their cars. I gained a sense of the art car phenomenon when I wrote about the Space Taxi and interviewed Marcie MacFarlane, coowner of The Trophy Wife which satisfied my curiosity somewhat. It’s helped me appreciate people breaking out of the norm to offer the world something beyond a run of the mill paint job.

Unfurl the swirl.

With colors and lines flowing within a wind storm, this wagon noticed in Northeast had a Van Gogh high on psychedelics while painting in the garden quality. Curly Q’s and puffy clouds are all I need most days.

What you wonderin’ about?

More woman than you.

Three summers ago Will Simmons and I rolled past the Wonder Woman Art Car parked on North Williams Avenue. This is hardly a comprehensive exhibit of this design. Two pictures don’t do it justice. Someday I hope to meet the owner or owners. Without the full story, I’m left to admire the big, bold, cartoony paint job that’s moving, or in this case parked, pop art. I’ll leave you with the Wonder Woman Theme Song that’s playing in my head on a loop.

Out back.

The best of Australia.

These cars seem more at home in the Outback and I’m not talking Subaru models. I’ve spotted and admired Aboriginal Art on a couple of different vehicles. While reminiscent of all things down under, it takes me back in time before there were cars. These side panels are a modern twist on a rock art tradition.

Over mountains, over seas.

The majestic mountain subject matter always caught my attention when I saw this car in my old Kenton neighborhood. I tended to find it parked up the street in the middle of the day when the light was at its harshest. The art might not be great but I would still live in the mountainous landscape it depicts.

Comments on comets.

This sleek, smooth, daring comet design screams movement. It’s doubtful that the blazing space rock helps the car move faster. Is there any wonder that I saw this reflection of the cool crowd in Steve’s neighborhood, somewhere in the blurred border of the Kenton and Portsmouth neighborhood?

Heading’ out!

Sometimes cars, like this one spotted in the Mississippi neighborhood, need help. Face it, with this model of car painting anything on it, including a funky face and head light eyes, is an improvement.

In dreams.

Float downstream.

Until I saw this car I never thought about Yoga Dreams or even considered what it would be like to have one but those who have them or live them inspire me by choosing their car as a means to broadcast their lifestyle choice. The hood illustration is a mobile billboard when the car’s parked. The sunny design is an added bonus. I spotted this car in the Humboldt neighborhood and I can appreciate how the blue on the side panel creates a dream effect, floating yoga within watery confines of primordial art disguised as advertising.

I recall the owner of this van was in the popcorn business, not that this would be the only reason to be inspired to have a corn motif painted on ones vehicle. This creation, with its mismatched kernels, is authentic enough to make anyone who noticed think they’re being chased by a giant ear of corn.

 

Greetings From Gearhart, It’s By the Sea

Flippin’ out!

We needed a get away. The walls of the Portland Orbit office were closing in and we were irritable. “Corona-fatigue” had us begging for new scenery. The coast beckoned. A stay at a golf resort in Gearhart was secured. We set out for a different climate and the promise of a different mind set.

Greenery unspoiled.

I wasn’t particular. I knew nothing of Gearhart and less about golf. Going away on short notice meant we couldn’t be choosy. I meant to pack my putter, a donation from Brother-In-Law Paul, so I could hit the practice putting green but I left it behind perched on a bean bag chair in the garage. This lapse would haunt me throughout our stay.

Chasing sticks, not cars, on the beach.

There was also the dog factor. We couldn’t leave him behind so the hotel had to be pet friendly. Our teen-aged pup would need help navigating the world outside his pandemic bubble. A waiver about the hotel’s stringent pet policy meant we had to keep him under constant surveillance.

King Neptune rules!

Before leaving we learned that this was the fourth incarnation of this hotel. Two others had burned down with the third version having been razed in 1972. The hotel’s best feature was the photographs lining the hallways, historic evidence that people partied in the early 60’s, a innocent time before the psychedelics kicked in. There were costumed golf tourney participants and New Year’s Day bashes. I was pleased to see King Neptune making the scene. This made for a nonsensical, amusing diversion. If only I could have found an old timer and gotten the lowdown which proved impossible in the days of social distancing.

Golf is fun.

In the room a piece of golf art stared out at us. Not that I didn’t like this newly discovered subculture but the lady golfers, who I later realized were wearing strange hats, made me a bit uncomfortble at the thought of their watching us sleep. The hotel was a bounty of golf art. I wasn’t about to knock on doors to see other examples but I liked our piece. I was glad we weren’t stuck with a painting of someone playing golf. I couldn’t have handled artistic license taking over golf form. Searching for info on the artist, I discovered there were too many with the last name Yoder, a good reason for artists to include a first and last name on their art.


Beard on Gearhart.

A book in the room offered the history of the area revealing renown chef James Beard to be a Gearhart resident. He dug the area’s razor clams. Skimming through book gave me an idea of what we’d encounter if we left the room. I got excited about an old reptile museum only to learn that it too had burned down. Later we found ourselves sitting in a park overlooking a bluff that bordered the ocean. I notice one bench had the name of the woman who spearheaded the park’s creation. She’s been dead since 1975 but I felt a connected to her through her past efforts.

Downtown with shrubbery.

We wandered past people playing pickle ball on a tennis court, ironic because it’s tennis on a smaller scale played with paddles. Minutes later we reached Gearhart’s tiny downtown, a block of about ten businesses with real estate being the main industry. The pandemic seemed to hit a couple of shops hard closing them for the duration. The gourmet coffee shop was just closed Mondays. The desolate business district propelled our return to the hotel.

Watching golf.

So what does anyone do with time on their hands that they couldn’t do at home? You have to be able to throw the routine out the window and yet here we were at a place where we could watch golf happening outside our window. Free and copious golf was available all day for our viewing pleasure. I can’t say I took full advantage of this. When we weren’t watching the links, there were opportunities to walk on the nearby beach that allowed vehicle traffic. Then there was all that time spent considering what and when to eat next.

Elk make good neighbors.

Signs near the entrances to the beach read “Welcome to Gearhart: Where Elk Might Be Your Neighbor.” I made assumptions about elk crowding the beach for early morning swims. The sign lists tips on coexisting with the elk, something I’ve done my entire life by avoiding them especially one morning on a camping trip where we could hear them being shot at. Staying out of their way was a good excuse to sleep later. The sign warned against not getting in the middle of a herd which is what I would have ended up doing.

The other side of Elk herds.

The best thing to do at the hotel proved to be taking advantage of their bike loan program. It made for a nice afternoon ride offering a different perspective of beach houses with wooden clad siding. I tried to imagine what it might have felt like to experience the usual wind and drizzle despite it being a sunny summer day. On our return, I realized the previous day I had hallucinated and seen two submarines. That day, as we were nearing the seashore, I saw submarines surfacing. Pillars formed a loading zone. A low tide allowed people to walk out to board the vessels. I convinced myself this was real because when I looked away then looked back I could still see it. On the bikes that next day I looked over and realized what I had actually seen were chimneys on the roof of the condo building. 

Bright and beautiful.

As I put this post to bed it occurs to me that this account of a brief vacation is about as dry as a typical Oregon summer day. It’s all I can muster under my current circumstances. Stick around if you have any interest in art cars. There will be plenty of that in the next few posts. I take pride that even in the mundane I mange to bring the world views of elk backsides, golf art and a hallucination tale. “Corona-fatigue” is raging against my summeritis. I’m doing all I can to battle back. The antidote to Gearhart’s quiet shimmer was a side trip to Seaside for a dinner of oysters and fish and chips. While keeping an eye on the world outside the restaurant window, I was offered a slice of touristy humanity as people ambled past the t-shirt shops carrying double scoop ice cream cones. The view of the man riding on a multi-person pedal car while carrying his infant in a babybjorn was a vision I’ll cherish from this summer. I’m not sure how any of them held on when they took that sharp turn off of North Columbia Street. I was completely distracted by Grandma Herzberg’s giant pizza pretzel poster which looked to be held on by blue painter’s tape. It’s the best I could do knowing I could never digest one. In the end I found out  it does a person good to bug out, go anywhere for any length of time. An effort should be made to absorb even a tiny bit of history if only because it makes you feel like a slightly more interesting person.  

 

Another car on the beach.

 

*****

At this point it should be glaringly obvious that the hotel has remained nameless. Due to the circumstances that made our stay unpleasurable, I decided not to give them any publicity. 

Getting CIMBY and UnCIMBYed by the Multnomah Village CIMBYs: A Satirical Tragedy

 

MV Sign

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I meant to write Portland is underseige but it came out underserved. Wham! It hit me. People don’t realize how true this is. A Saturday morning on Facebook meant reading about the aftermath of the previous night’s protest and the Feds vs protesters situation along with posts about the mask/no mask controversy. When I found myself reading about CIMBYs I was clobbered. I’m a CIMBY. The post was too clever to be real. I missed the part of the initial post that labelled it satire. Dissenting opinions were met with tact, surrealistic wit and no one who commented was beaten perjoratively about the head and shoulders.

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CIMBY, in case you’re wondering, is Chipotle In My Backyard. The crux of a joke that I couldn’t accept because I realized I never want to not be within two miles of a Chipotle. Ever. I started to sweat realizing I wasn’t sure where the nearest Chipotle was. Two miles is easily covered by a light jog. Anything else means getting in a car or running further. As I write this I thought of the Chipotle in NE near the Lloyd Center—not close! There might be one down Barbur Boulevard but I realized that’s one of those places that starts with the letter B. (Baja Fresh) There could be one down Hall Boulevard, my favorite street in Beaverton, but I don’t want to go there.

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My instant CIMBY conversion led to disappointment. It’s unlikely a Chipotle will materialize in Multnomah Village. It would be nice for that one or two times a year I might get a craving for a fast and robust burrito that I help put together by calling out ingredients. If it all has to be a humorous diversion why did their guac have to be discussed as if it’s excellent? I would crave it more if it were accessible. Also, what about the joyous margarita parties lampooned in the post? While I abstain from alcohol, it sure would be fun for a few minutes to stumble upon raccaous frivolity in the Village once in a while.

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The corporate creep from Starbucks left a bad taste in one of the commentator’s mouth. They’re awfully nice in that store. Try returning a drink that’s not made to your exact specifications and they’ll cheerfully make you another. Portland has bigger battles at the moment, I know, but I’d want that Chipotle to be placed in the retail section of the latest condominium. I suppose that’s asking a bit much.

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I reached out to the guy who wrote the post but he didn’t get back to me. It was probably my mess of a Facebook messenger message. I don’t think I would have responded if I’d received a message like that. I would have assumed it was from a crackpot. It reminds me of how hapless and devoid of ideas I’ve become to write about a Facebook post in the first place. It had me laughing myself to tears—not easy to explain or reenact. Lately Facebook has offered a fair share of hate reads. After that I get distracted by a cat video before I start to wonder again if social media is the best use of my time.

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For once I found pure entertainment. People who were too serious were met with oddball responses like that’s a “GIANT TINY IDEA.” Lot’s of commenters played a long but others were as serious as Margaret Dumont dealing with the Marx Brothers. One guy had no idea how his writing “no no no” could be construed as an Amy Winehouse lyric. Obscene references were tossed around for Taco Bell and Chipotle became the rather offensive Shitpotle. Descriptions for Chipotle being “extremely delicious” had me wondering why delicious is such a funny word. There was mention of someone preferring Qdoba branding himself a QIMBY. Another place I can’t pronounce. Where’s the U? A helpful response revealed that a new Chipotle would help a Negative Nancy become a Joyous Jane. Someone even managed to drop a Parrot Head reference. I started ascending to heaven. At least I found out there’s a Chipotle on Beaverton Hillsdale Highway—still too far for my taste. Somehow a sign-of-the-times accusation of racism creeped into the post—a misunderstanding that was cleared up when once again it was pointed out that the post was satire. Oh satire, how I’ve missed you! Most of the responders were having a good time. The pressure was off. No one was really having to go to a meeting, debate the merits of a real Chipotle in Multnomah Village or mobilize in anyway to make my newly found, yet soon to be unrealized dream a reality.

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After reports of 50 plus straight days of violent, murderous, bloody rioting in the streets of Portland with Federal troops, the likes of which haven’t been seen in America since before the Revolutionary War, I was left to obsess over the realization that I do not live within two miles of a Chipotle restaurant. Portland truly is underserved. I considered this until that CIMBY reference. A Chipotle in my backyard, so maybe I’m pining for a bigger back yard. At the suggestion of making buttons and bumper stickers I thought this movement could get serious. While activities in downtown Portland boil over, a movement in the name of burrito liberty, guac justice and the pursuit of happiness from a full Chipotle meal stomach extinguished itself in my corner of SW Portland. It was a grand idea gone awry or at the very least lost in the whims of satire.

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A Journey Fourth Into A Slight History of Portland Flag Waving

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Happy to be stuck on you.

Previous flag posts will give you my thoughts on Old Glory as I’ve reflected in the past on this most American of all holidays but I know you’re really here to celebrate by seeing images of the Stars and Stripes in all its glory. I like images of the flags in various forms and iterations. Some might appear disrespectful, maybe when you’re talking apparel and you’re not sure if something should worn or hoisted up a flag pole.

I take pictures of flags throughout the year to prepare for this post. Last year I posted my flag tribute early, a rare feat, but last year we were traveling on the Fourth of July. I had photos I never got to from last year that I know get a chance to show. Being well into flag season, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, displays are out in full force for all of us to admire and celebrate. If you can’t get enough Fourth of July head over to the Pittsburgh Orbit, the birth place of patriotic display blog posts for additional coverage.

Tire Flap Flag

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Call me the breeze.

This image can’t escape getting roughed up from mud, road debris and water. Like any flag it stays the course in it’s role as a beacon of liberty all while looking good doing it.

Highway Fly Way

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This way to the egress.

Hitting the highway for the Fourth makes for more opportunities to see flag displays if you happen to be taking the I-5 North highway off of Capitol Highway. This flag had been planted in a pole apparatus next to the roadway. It didn’t appear to a sanctioned flag holder so some ingenuity employed in finding ways to display this flag.

Centerpiece Flag

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Signing ceremony.

There’s nothing that’s going to make me want to work at the Tigard Home Depot more than a flag centerpiece at their job recruitment table. It’s decorative and right on target. Uh, that’s a different store. Anyway, they get points for the effort of adding anything considered decoration in their efforts to find employees.

Bracket It!

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Furl assistance appreciated.

Near the fireworks stand sharing space with the Tigard Fred Meyers (again in Tigard), I spotted Old Glory with a feature that adds an unfurled effect. The white bar across the top looks like it’s engineered to extend the star-spangled banner allowing it to wave more freely. It’s a great concept that I wish more flags would adopt.

Hydrant Flag

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Patriotic hydration.

A flag will spruce up anything. It sure distracts one’s attention from something like a hydrant. This South Portland scene caught my eye and while it’s an unusual combination, it works. There’s no need to paint fire hydrants red, white and blue like we did when we celebrated the Bicentennial. Hydrants just need a built in mini flag holder.

The Flag of Encampment

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Hanging around.

Hung from a tree near an urban camp site in South Portland (again with the South Portland), I noticed it was upside down. I can overlook this because it’s inclusion to the setting injects a dose of patriotism. And while it’s unfortunate, it is a reality that some people have to sleep under the stars.

Pallet it, Pal

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Wood you be my neighbor?

 

I always want to believe a pallet flag is a handmade/homemade piece of yard art but I wouldn’t know hand crafted from store bought. Either way it still represents the flag well.

Stuck On Flag

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Flag appeal.

They might peel but the colors of this sticker flag seen in the West Portland Park neighborhood never run. I do love a good sticker flag. No poles, bracket mounts or location hinderances. You can put it anywhere, within reason.

Group Flag

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When we gather.

Flags in groups are part of the more the merrier style of decorating and they support the idea that you can never have too much of a good thing. When a gang of flags combine with another flag of almost any kind, shape or size, it gets even better.

Small Flag, Big America

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Let’s get small.

I can’t remember where I got this mini flag but when I photographed it in the backyard I decided it looked epic. So really what are these for? I tried to remember. To attach a pickle to a hamburger, perhaps? No matter the size and scale is just right for a close up.

* * * * *

 

More Portland Orbit coverage:

https://portlandorbit.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/special-flag-edition-2018-you-can-critique-the-flag/

 

Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Could Never Get To): This Art by Stanley Grochowski

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I was always on the look out for possible ideas when I started this blog. I was figuring out what topics worked while seeking out displays of creativity and inspiration behind them. Heading down North Greeley Avenue on a day in early April three years ago, I noticed a display of art work framed and screwed to a utility pole. I stopped, read the blurb about a man hit by a car at this cross walk and I’m sure I was moved by the memorial’s intensity. Then, I dutifully took pictures and filed them away.

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Three years later I came across the images going through the photos on my computer. I had considered writing about it when I took the pictures. My spring cleaning/pandemic concept has given me a chance to revisit past ideas I didn’t have time to explore. This story had more to it than I realized.

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While searching for information about the memorial, I learned things that made the story sadder. Local news agencies stuck to press release reports but the blog Bike Portland offered details that added another dimension of tragedy to the story. Fifteen months after Stanley Gochinski was fatally injured after being hit by a car in a cross walk, his sister was killed in Beaverton while walking her bike through a cross walk. I found out another man was seriously injured in another crosswalk in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood. I ended up going down a rabbit hole reading comments about the sister’s death that were alarming in regards to the press coverage of pedestrian deaths but I was comforted by people’s concerns about the situation.

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The write up posted under the art described these pieces as something Stanley had with him when the accident occurred. There was no information on how the art was obtained but Bike Portland revealed it was collected at the scene. These tangible remnants of the victim made the display more intimate and provided a sense of Stanley’s imagination. It’s hard to tell the art from what may be deterioration from its outside display. It’s not about the quality of the art but that it was used to create a unique tribute honoring a senseless death.

The unsolved case became part of the Crime Stoppers of Oregon reward program. Hoping for an update, I called but the number led to an answering machine. The website was filled with information on other cases showing grainy surveillance footage. It felt like an amateur slueth’s dream, figure out whodunnit and collect reward money. Seeing so many languishing cases bummed me out. I recovered by reminiscing about the old spooky AM radio Crime Stoppers spots where a guy named Henry Gribber (or Gripper) had a funny way of pronouncing “cash reward.” It sounded more like “kaaysheee reward.” I was hoping to find information about this case being solved. Then it hit me, Crime Stoppers of Oregon was making a valiant attempt to stop crime but people were getting away with all kinds of transgressions.

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No one should ever die crossing a street. My disappointment is compounded by those who think they can drive away from the scene of an accident. There’s someone out there living with the consequences. Maybe they managed to go on with their lives after taking someone else’s but having to live in hope of getting away with something seems like no way to go through life. In the end my angry curmudgeon side worked up another rant about how all drivers are speedy, inattentive, accidents waiting to happen. To overstate the obvious, there’s nothing anyone has to do and no where anyone needs to be that is worth someone’s life. Stanley Grochowski deserved better that late August night.

Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Could Never Get To): The Return of the Shopping Cart Blog

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I’ve spent my pandemic quarantine deleting photos from my computer. There were over 18,000 images clogging my hard drive. I had to reclaim space. Anybody would have told me to get an external hard drive which I have but it’s full of video footage. Another one is not the answer. It can’t keep everything and move it around. Stuff has to go. My digital hoarder issues got real when I began getting constant messages about my start up disk being full. Let’s switch gears before this post devolves into a Mac Help Forum.

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If anyone asks what I did during the pandemic I’ll start talking trashed photos. I never got to the boxes of actual photos that need culling. Photographs pile up. Dealing with real photos is for another day or a future pandemic. I deleted thousands of photos. Many were duplicates from technological advances that transfer photos from my phone to my main computer. The computer also creates copies of photos I edit. Dealing with photo clones took time.

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Common photo themes included shots of old mattresses, abandoned TV sets, our chickens, impossible-to-photograph-with-an-iPhone antenna toppers and stickers in the shape of Oregon. Then there was my shopping cart obsession. If anyone can tell me what it’s about I’d appreciate it.

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There’s some grand statement I’m looking for, something metaphorical. I hoped that if I got the right angle I’d achieve a mythical image. Yet, there will never be much art in the banal. Andy Warhol might have disagreed. At the very least I’m trying to take a worthwhile photograph and document out of place shopping carts.

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Maybe I was trying to live up to the standard that was set when a friend called the Portland Orbit “the shopping cart blog.” I want to be THE shopping cart blog even if I only run posts about them once in a blue moon. I was overrun with shopping cart photos which has to be better than being run over by a shopping cart. The carts drifted into my North Portland neighborhood making them easy pickings.

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Since moving to SW, I don’t see neglected carts much. The one above appeared in the parking lot of the Barbur Transit Center empty due to the pandemic. Seeing shopping carts outside of their supermarket parking lot environment, I tend to forget they’re used by homeless people to cart their stuff around. There is a purpose in their relocations but it isn’t until they’re emptied and abandoned that their appearance hints at a deeper significance.

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I discovered the crown jewel of my shopping cart fascination at the Woodstock Trader Joe’s. There on a pole elevated into the heavens was a red shopping cart gleaming in the sun like a beacon. To me it honored all the world’s lost shopping carts. The sad reality is that it’s only there to show people where to return their carts.

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Pictures of shopping carts discarded on their sides have always pulled at my heartstrings. There’s drama in what I have to imagine is a kicked over cart left to transpire. I had to go for the added bonus of working the Mercedes insignia into the shot to make a high class/low class statement. This hardly seems fair because pushing a cart in a grocery store is not indicative of any class at all. I will admit that this was more than likely taken at a Fred Meyer’s parking lot where carts are expected to be returned not shoved on their side.

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My attempt to increase the art factor has always been to change the image from color to black and white. Again it’s a cart on it’s side heaving like a broken legged horse. It’s quite possible that any wayward shopping cart with a soul would beach itself a some point. It’s not easy being dragged away from a shopping center. That would be enough to make anyone give up.

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A Purple Post Postponed

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To the one person who missed what had been an annual Prince Tribute in celebration of his June 7th birthday, I can only offer one purple picture this year. I hope to bring this tribute back if I’m ever able to track down and bag an interview with the infamous and elusive “Purple Duck.” In the meantime enjoy this picture of a purple jeep. Oh, and we miss you more than ever Prince.

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The above vehicle may, or may not, be the Purple Duck. I spotted it one day heading up North Williams. This version was spotted in Portsmouth. It has since become the great white whale/Moby Dick of this blog. Someday I’ll track him down and ask questions about purple and ducks.

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 with 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 the one where he owns and operats a historical amusement park. 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)

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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  refer to it as Dodge City.