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.

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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 full start up disk messages. 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 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 cart kicked over cart and 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.

 

 

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.

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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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