Truckstop Cinema

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The theater in my neighborhood closed in 1956 and I miss it. It’s been gone for almost 60 years but I wish I could go back in time and see movies there. I was looking for a theater nearby, a place I could go almost every week that’s easy to get to. Second run movies fit the bill when trying to get to movies that much. I don’t want to pay astronomical prices and I can wait a few months to see most movies. It’s also nice to just be able to go to see what’s playing with expectations low, rather than think about having to see a particular movie. I’m lucky that I’m not picky. In the end the closest theater, my go to theater, was the one I found in the middle of a truck stop.

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Back in the golden age…

When I moved to Portland I looked over listings and advertisements for movies and scouted out theaters. A listing for the Portlander Inn and Marketplace came up. Not sure what it was other than knowing there was a theater there, I took a bike ride out to the address listed on Vancouver Ave that was tucked away in the Delta Park area. I’m not sure how people get to it from the interstate but with its large hotel and separate gas pumps and truck area, it doesn’t have the traditional truck stop feel to me. The original attraction was second run movies at a budget price. It was three dollars then, but has since gone up to 5 dollars after the theater went digital. If you get a loyalty card you get a dollar off every ticket you buy.

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I call the Portlander Inn and Marketplace hotline on most Fridays to see what the new movie is. My life is nothing if not routine. Often my wife, Ronna, and I find ourselves hitting the 6:45pm show on a Saturday night. They rotate movies every week. The first week it screens at 6:45pm the following week at 9:30pm with matinée shows as well. I’d find myself falling asleep at later screenings so we usually catch 6:45pm shows. The Willamette Week highlighted the whole truck stop from the shoe repair place to Moe’s Deli. With Jubitz on the local media radar it seemed like a good time to tell the tales of the truck stop cinema.

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We’ve had our share of weird experiences at the truck stop. The theater allows for an opportunity to eavesdrop on truck drivers as they chat before the movie starts. The high cost of fuel, trucking industry boon and bane times, and trucking routes are all things I’ve heard about. Things got surreal the night we were sitting in the theater watching a semi-truck roll over in a movie starring the Rock. Art imitated life. Comments from truckers debunk scenes especially those involving high-speed car stunts. They know engines and mechanical aspects of vehicles and are willing to share their thoughts. Ronna theorizes that it seems natural for truckers to make comments out loud because of their use CB radios.

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Inside the theater lobby

The theater has had it’s share of technical snafus especially with the 35mm equipment. In the early days of our attendance there was some set up involved. Someone from concessions would have to go to the projector booth, start the projector, fix the focus and adjust the image to the screen. Sometimes the projector would start and stop which seemed fitting for the budget admission. For one screening the projector never got on track. There was a flicking effect that was unwatchable. We made an effort but after 10 minutes it was determined that the projector was broken and we lined up to get our money back. On another night the adjustment of the film to the screen resulted in us seeing us things that were not intended to be seen. The audience was able to see the production microphones in all the shots. While this technical aspect of the film was educational it happened during a screening of an M. Night Shyamalan movie called The Happening.  As if this guy wasn’t on thin enough ice for making bad movies, the truckers in the audience were aghast by seeing what they should never have seen in the first place. I headed back to the concession stand but couldn’t find anyone to adjust the movie.

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We were there when the 35mm projector died. Again we lined up to get our money back and were assured that the theater would be up and running with a new digital system. It seemed to happen without a hitch. In fact it now seems that the system operates at the flip of a switch. The only issue in the beginning was the night we had to sit through a movie in English subtitled in English. As a compulsive reader I found it impossible to not read the unnecessary and distracting words splashed across the screen. I put in a called to America Cinema Equipment who had installed the system and let them know that things weren’t quite up to par.

As far as I can tell there’s no truck stop movie genre. Sure the movies that come to the theater are lighter on the “chick flick” genre, but beyond the usual action adventure we get teen movies, dramas and comedies. I wouldn’t have expected to see The Grand Budapest Hotel or even It Follows there but we did. I have my limits. I’m not addicted to going to this theater every week. I passed on Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 and Adam Sandler movies.  I’m considering Fast and the Furious 7 which is playing there now. I can’t remember if I saw 2-6, good God that’s too many sequels. Still a night out with my lady and some truckers seems to be my favorite entertainment past time.

See the article and great illustration featuring the Jubitz truck stop:

http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-24896-disneyland_for_truckers.html

Editor’s Note:

If you’ve read this far down it looks like I’ll be going to a weekly posting format for the summer. The plan is to post on Friday afternoons before 6pm Pacific time because a deadline is the only motivator to get things done. There’s lot’s of sunshine, dog dookie and antique browsing that’s not to be missed. See comments from the Random Round Up post for a better idea of what that means. Actually, I’m dealing with a kitchen renovation that started late in 2014 and is about to kick into high gear, chronic underemployment that’s killing the budget and a back logged video project. As for blog posts I’ll be shooting for quality over quantity but also taking time for more research and topic brainstorming. I hope to post more in the fall.

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When the Torch Marauder Played Portland

What’s not to like about a performer who paints himself blue, dons a black cape and puts on a show with his back up band as a video image from a TV screen. All the Torch Marauder had to do was plop in a VHS tape and he could do his thing.  Sounds like he’s kicking it old school in the technology department but the Torch Marauder was in his prime many years ago. (I’m not ready to believe that he’s retired from show business.) I made a short documentary about him which meant following him around with a camera, taping tons of his performance especially at the Galaxy Hut in Arlington, Virginia where my attempts at lighting would annoy the guys trying to play chess in the bar.

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In 2010, I dusted off my video and gave it a sorely needed re-edit. I mean who puts a three-minute video in the middle of a short documentary anyway?  Around that time I had a chance to screen it at one of the NW Film Center’s open screenings at the Whitsell auditorium. Open screening are still going one and it was a great opportunity to see my stuff on the big screen. At that time, I emailed the Torch Marauder and got his impression of performing in Portland as part of his US tour in the summer of 2000.  I was ready to share this with the folks who came to the open screening but the usual host, Thomas Phillipson, was not there that day and the intern who was present did not follow the usual introduction procedure. My plan was to read the Torch Marauder’s email that night but I didn’t get the chance. So here it is followed by a brief Q&A about the show, the club and his memories of Portland:

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My show at the Tabor in Portland was a funny story. I can’t remember all the details, but I was listed to play on a Sat and they changed it to a Friday, after I was already on the road. Luckily, my friends there saw the listing and told me to get there on time. Then the band that set it up didn’t show, so it was just me, who no one had ever heard of. There was a big room with 3 local bands, and then a small theatre where I played. I only got paid according to who said they showed up to see me. Even though a bunch of folks came over from the big room to watch me play. Then the girl who handled the money that night told me that’s how they do it, and that she had to pay a babysitter for the night just so she could be there to work the door. I told her I drove from NC, but she didn’t believe me, told me to take it up with the owner, and maybe I’d do better next time. She then said I could come back and play two weeks later. I again told her I lived in NC, and she was like “are you serious?”. There’s more details that I’m forgetting, but it was a pretty strange experience.

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How were you able to get the gig?

I set up the gig through another band, who must have been friends of friends, because I didn’t know them. I honestly can’t remember how I came to be in touch with them. They were called The Visit.

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(There’s the Mount Tabor Pub, and then the Tabor Acoustic Room, which is where I played.) I think I remember them being compared to early Pink Floyd or something like that, but they didn’t show up for the gig, so I never heard them. No other bands filled in, so I just played solo.

Any impressions of Portland from that time?

It was my second time in Portland. I had been there two years earlier in the Summer of ’98. I had friends who were living there then, and I remember having a great time. We saw The Big Lebowski at the Bagdad – that place is amazing! I remember going to a few different McMenamin’s Pubs, and digging them all. We had dinner at the Montage one night. They had communal seating, and they wrapped up our leftovers in tinfoil origami – it blew my mind at the time! We drove out to the coast one day, and that was beautiful. I also dug going up to the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. I think the exterior was used in The Shining. Multnomah Falls was gorgeous. I’m combining memories of my two trips out there because I can’t recall exactly what I did on each trip. Sorry I don’t have any more specific memories other than a ton of bridges, and being told how to properly pronounce Willamette.

I’m under the impression that you were paid little to no money. How did that feel?

I got paid something, probably like $30. I was definitely bummed about it at the time because there was a decent size crowd watching my set. I should have at least made $60! I think I explained the situation as best as I could in my earlier email. But otherwise, it was a fun experience overall. I had a great time, and ultimately, that’s why I was there.

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The Torch Marauder as a Teen Idol

See the Torch Marauder documentary:

Random Round Up

traf sign

If I find the right inspiration and dodge distractions I can get a blog piece posted on time. It’s time I take the deadline serious too. It has the feel of a self-imposed deadline but I’m learning the hard way how important deadlines are. Things get in the way. Take, for instance, a sunny Friday afternoon when I’ve been asked to help volunteer for the community garden where I learned about a community garden plot that you have to pass through a trailer park to find. This volunteering took my wife, Ronna, and me into the neighborhood of our favorite pizza place so we had to stop for happy hour. Dinner followed a trip across the street to a garden store where we picked up some kale starts to replace our potato crop that we harvested and Ronna made into the best potato salad I ever ate. Kale starts meant we had to go to our garden plot to plant the kale and water the garden. I bog you down with this minutiae because I was planning a completely different blog post that needed photos and was something that was going to be a long-winded piece that wasn’t going to come together in a half hour like this one might. Now I can take more time to put a cohesive touch on my next blog post due to an inspired last-minute switcharoo.

Needless to say I’ll be written up for missing my deadline. It’s a violation of the sacred tenants of Orbit customer service. Even if only one person was expecting to read a post at the usual time and place and couldn’t, I’ve failed. If it makes you feel any better it was all worth it to blow off blogging for a few hours on a sunny Friday. I was trying to get to writing but I ran out of time. Word has it that I will be receiving written notice, a warning from Orbit big cheese Simmon Wills.  He’s given himself the complicated and meaningless title of Managing Editor of the Orbit Partners Limited Corporation and the inflated salary to go with it. I cower in my cube every time I see him blasting through the halls in his three-piece suit. No matter, I’ll make more of an effort to plan ahead and I’ll be ready to slap something together to avoid future confrontations with Mr. Wills. I also want to sincerely apologize to those I kept waiting.

To placate the missed deadline in some way I empty out the confines of the photo backlog that had no place to go until it was time for them to be strung together in this manner.

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Of all the randomness I’m about to document I took this picture because I liked the image. Pasted on a strange, long, skinny, rectangular traffic signal sign near the Denver Ave MAX stop train tracks there seems to be no way of telling what the sign is trying to say except perhaps “don’t drive, walk, or bike here.” Plain, simple, direct lines create a cool image that breaks up the slanted bar mystery sign monotony.

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When I encountered John Wayne peering down on the Bison Coffeehouse in the Cully neighborhood, it seemed like a coincidence or then again a strategic marketing plan. Regardless I liked the juxtaposition of the cowboy looking over the cowboy coffee shop with its buffalo heads and cow hide chairs. John Wayne’s image is shilling good will for the Foundation for a Better Life in one of those Pass It On campaigns. The black and white treatment served to upgrade the aura a bit.

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This bulletin board caught my attention when I was coming out of a TJ Maxx restroom. I was struck by trying to figure out what the phrase “Leveraging Differences” could possibly mean. If it’s something that has to do with a retail strategy it’s still an utter mystery.  It seems so mystifying that no one could think of anything to put on the bulletin board that used the phrase as a title.

Mary's sign

Being downtown this week on foot, I saw this sign on the door to Mary’s Club, one of Portland’s historic strip clubs. I couldn’t pass up a photo op because the sign created a minor contradiction in my mind. Is it fabulous or cool inside? Why can’t it be both. If a certain degree of fabulousness overrides the cool factor can’t someone update the sign? A full investigation would have made me late for my temp job interview.  Anybody’s speculation is probably better than mine.

Displays Of Place

Tee Pee

My dog walking routine has changed since I’ve acquired a more anti-social dog. I had a regular route that would take me past the window of Kenton Antiques most days. There were times when I would stop and study everything on display. I appreciated that the displays would change or evolve, sometimes even an additional item would be added and I’d notice. I’m not walking by the store as much. Our current dog encounters more dogs in downtown Kenton than anywhere else in the neighborhood and it can be harder to maneuver him around so rather than face a vicious muzzle to muzzle encounter we take alternative routes. I still get by the store plenty and always appreciate a wave from the owner Mo Bachmann. Stuff from the store is always displayed in the front window with some displays being more random and others fitting themes centered around holidays or going back to school.

I appreciate the Kenton Antique store because it was under different ownership when I first moved to Kenton. The owner then was nice enough. Sometimes there was coffee brewing in the store and candy and I had more time to kill then. I’ve seen a difference in the level of interest Mo has in her customers since she’s taken over the store. She’s also shares her interests in collectibles and antiques in an enthusiastic and infectious way.

I’m familiar with her window display work because I made a short film about a particular display she made. It’s been years, but when Mo broke out the 80’s figurines and pitted them against a brigade of plastic army soldiers and staged it around a scale model battleship my mind was blown. I used to work in a group home and late one Monday evening coming back from work, I was riding my bike through Kenton when I saw the display. I was impressed that rather than display objects from the store the scene in the window was a multilayered narrative. It stirred my imagination and inspired me to get back into making short films. I knew Mo a bit at that time and felt comfortable asking her to sit for an interview. She was also generous in allowing me to run around the store crouching and crawling through her window display to get footage.

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Detail from the film The Battleship Battle.

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Which brings me to why I’m writing this in the first place. Sometimes with window displays it’s one item in particular that I relate to without knowing why. I remember seeing a teepee in the window, a strange one-off item and it was hard to tell if it was something decorative or a child’s toy. It seemed like that dug into my subconscious on some level because when the book The American Indian and the Occult appeared in the corner of the window I had to have it.

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It might have been the title, the subject matter or the design of the book or all three that captured my attention. Most things I can pass on but this book, I was worried someone else was going to snatch it up. It turned out to be a book that I would have appreciated more while serving detention in middle school, but it is a good book full of strange stories. It’s probably not the type of book you’re going to find anywhere else but at Kenton Antiques. The sad story of the Tukudeka Indians also known as the Sheepeaters who lived in the rugged mountain ranges of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho was especially poignant–a whole tribe of Indians wiped out by small pox.

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Not only did Mo’s teepee in the window sway me, but I’ve had a sense of NW Indian culture around me since moving out here. It’s resonated in various ways from hearing the history of the people who lived here and seeing images like the one at the local elementary school named after Chief Joseph that I used to pass on my way to work. All this has combined to create a magical vibe that now has me studying the psychic secrets of ancient people.

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See the re-edit of the video The Battleship Battle. I’ve posted this before but I really felt the need to fix one particular shot.

Art Racks

Art Rack Logo

After noticing the gold tooth weather vane in the Hollywood district, I didn’t think I would encounter many more artistic landmarks related to dentistry. Soon after having that thought I spied the pop art bike racks that are part of the pop art explosion of decor that makes up the Interstate Dental Clinic. I called this pop art because the giant tooth brush, especially, lent itself to this description. I’d driven and riden my bike up and down Interstate Ave for years and remained blind to the charms of those bike racks.

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I had also recently noticed the bike racks outside the Karaoke/Tiki Palace known around the world as The Alibi. I really thought these were Easter Island heads. I don’t focus so well when I’m buzzing by on my bike, I guess. When I stopped to take photos I realized they were more like a modified Tiki heads of sorts.

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Detail alibi art rack

Proof the art racks get used for bikes.

In my head I had been trying to recall some other art racks I’d spotted in the North Portland area. Heading down Killingsworth St. on a completely different mission I was in a state of morning and coffee deprived bleariness because it took me a while to bring this particular art rack into focus. Of course! It’s a steaming cup of coffee in front of what used to be an Italian bakery but is now a pizza joint.

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One of the more frisky, fun and sculpturally appealing art racks has to be this dancing cat and dog in front of a vet’s office. While it seems more cartoon than functional bike rack, I have to say it’s an enjoyable art work.

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I have serious doubts that I would be able to use it for it’s intended purposes. I’d be wondering how to squeeze my bike and lock in between the various pieces of twisted and decorative metal. I’m not sure I’d be lugging around our almost 100 pound German Shepard on my bike for a trip to the vet anyway.

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There have to be many variations on the art rack theme in the Portland area. It wouldn’t be Portland without our bike racks getting artsy. I can’t say I’m going to be working hard to catalog and photograph them because it’s a safe bet they’ve already been documented. When I posted a link to my blog piece about Pop Art bike racks at the dentist’s office on the Facebook page Hidden Portland for the Curious I got a response from Aimee Wade coauthor of the book PDXccentric An Odyssey of Portland’s Oddities who posted a link to a PDXccentric blog post about art racks. I had no idea what to call these bikes racks so I’ve borrowed her term. Thanks Aimee! I’m sure there is more about bike racks in the book and more about all of the things I like to write about as well. I plan on getting that book for my birthday. It’s an invaluable Portland resource that everyone should have. In one brisk preview I learned that Raquel Welch once roller skated on the street I live on! But did she lock a bike to an art rack? I’ll have to research that.

Here a link to that blog post about art racks:

https://pdxccentric.wordpress.com/b2-nick-racks/

Oregon Decal Spawn (Part 1)

If we lived in a square state like Colorado or Wyoming an Oregon border style decal would not work. It would look square much like any old frame or square, so it’s amazing how unique and appealing a frame in the shape of the state of Oregon is. Any symbol can be placed within the state border to make a statement that says, “we do this in Oregon.” What’s more it’s a message that suits a decal. If I had not been searching in vain for a Portland Flag decal, I may not have caught on to the decal phenomenon.  My search focused on decals people put on their car windows and bumpers.  I saw many of the green heart within the Oregon border sticker but then noticed variations on this design. Images of golfers, bikes, and sports related designs within the Oregon border cropped up.

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The Oregon Decal Grandaddy with Mt. Hood.

I have to believe it starts with the heart of Oregon image. This is by far the most popular Oregon state border decal I’ve seen on cars. I would estimate seeing it on one out of ten cars. It’s like the gateway decal. If someone is going to have one Oregon outline decal it’s at least going to be that image. I even know a guy who had the green heart in Oregon tattooed on his right calf. It’s likely that a decal historian could confirm or disprove my theory that all the rest of the Oregon related decals borrow from the original green heart design. The Portland Orbit crack investigative team researched the wikipedia entry that says the green heart design was created in 2003 which has me hard pressed to imagine that there were other Oregon border designs before then.  I would be happy to accept any information from decal historians out there who can set the record straight. Also any decal statistician would be welcome to set me straight on my one out of ten cars estimate.

The state of Oregon border decals now come in many variations and themes.  The ones I’ve discovered so far and documented consider Oregon and Portland related themes–the stuff we do here. It’s great to see them paired up with local stickers touting the the community radio station KBOO and the St Johns Bridge .

Oregonians Rule decal

Airport Carpet Decal

How can you not get excited about an airport carpet reference.  It wasn’t until all the clamor started about replacing the carpet that I even realized there was such an interest in it or even noticed it and I had been to the airport more than a few times.

A certain mystery lies in exactly what these decals are promoting but put it in the border of the state of Oregon and that has to at least mean it’s an Oregon thing, whatever the thing is.

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Sometimes the decal makes it statement in writing:

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Other times it’s symbolically obvious that Oregonians are as addicted to their coffee as any other member of any of the other states in this union.

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I’m loving the sports references.  Portland teams are Oregon’s teams so seems to say this one:

Timbers decal

Go Timbers!

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The University of Oregon has a design which makes me wonder what aspect of U of O life the one below represents:

pink U of O decal

Who cares! It’s colorful, cool and small for some reason.

Then there are the flat out promotional decals doing it in the Oregon border style:

Powell's Decal

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This one struck me as the most beautiful with it’s quivering border outline, faded heart and wood grain.  It shouts, “I love wood working in Oregon, plenty of trees, great lumber” etc…

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If you haven’t seen enough Oregon border decal inspirations this one proclaims, “I run marathons in Oregon, none less than 26.2 miles thank you.”

26.2 Decal

The REI decal is usually found in basic black, but it wouldn’t be an Portland Orbit post with out a reference to graffiti in some way. So here’s how REI represents with some additional artistic flare.

REI Decal

Note:  Having Part 1 in the title means another onslaught of decal photos is in the plans. I’ve noticed more decals out there that I was not able to photograph either due to being in a hurry or seeing car decals in traffic. Hang tight for more images related to activities like running, golfing, Indian rights and Woman’s soccer as well as more discussion of this decal phenomenon.

Another note: At times I wish these photos had been a bit better but there is only so much you can do with an iPhone 3 under these conditions. Here’s hoping a soon to be acquired macro lens will help the situation.

Trimet Tales #2

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If you’re like me, you might also hate it when you have to stand on the Max train when  no seats are available. Already you’re stuck with crowded conditions and maybe you’ve spent a few minutes hunting for a seat or contemplating, in short order, if you want to squeeze next to someone in a crammed car.

I found myself standing on a blue line train one afternoon hopeful that I’d find a seat when I transferred to a yellow line train. I stood next to the door when three adolescent guys entered train. They stood and talked.

It occurred to me that I didn’t know many teenagers, never saw them hanging out anymore and I’d lost touch with what they do and what they’re into. Having been one myself, I was curious about today’s teens and how they deal with these times. At least two of these guys were carrying skateboards and Subway sandwiches, which seemed typical modern gear. One of the boys was wearing a crooked bow tie and on old suit jacket. Probably not the sole representative of teen fashion but I figured he was trying to work it.

They weren’t lost in their phones though, they were talking. I wasn’t eavesdropping. Due to close quarters there was no way I wouldn’t have been able to hear everything they said. One of the guys bogarted the conversation.

He was telling stories of his misspent youth. The first story involved his punching a cop during a demonstration while other officers looked on and some how this was all right, and nothing was done about it because the officer’s riot gear face shield was up. There was another story featuring, you guessed it, more police officers. This one had the kid spraying a fire extinguisher at an officer and miraculously getting away with it. While these stories were entertaining, it hit me that they probably weren’t true. A third story has since become murky to my memory because part of me was thinking this guy was making stuff up to impress the other two guys. As I recall it was another epic tale about another battle with authority.

When the train made a stop the story teller got off while the other two guys remained. This gave me the idea that maybe the two kids didn’t know the other boy as well as I thought. I waited a few minutes and then directed a comment to the guys who stayed on the train. I had a certain amount of confidence that they were aware of the BS that had been coming out of his mouth when I asked them if they knew whether there was a reward out for the guy who had gotten off the train explaining that I could use some money.

My question was met with little acknowledgement and no information about how I could parlay the confessions I’d overheard into any kind of cash. Maybe my comment was another in a series of dumb things said on the train that afternoon but when you’re looking for additional income, it never hurts to ask.

Catch up with all the lastest rants on this site:

http://rantingsofatrimetbusdriver.blogspot.com/?m=1

You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Officer Henry Groupper pronounce the phrase “cash reward.”

http://www.crimestoppersoforegon.com

Pop Art Dentistry

Interstate Dental Clinic

Would you rather go to an ice cream parlor or the dentist? That question is preposterous, rhetorical and easily answered but it does seem that a colorful, cheery building exterior that feels more ice cream shop than dentist office might take the sting or even tooth pain out of having to have your teeth worked on. At least on a subconscious level.

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The Interstate Dental Clinic located on its namesake Interstate Avenue makes it potentially easier to visit the dentist, especially one that practices sedation dentistry, by offering up an exterior office design of bright colors, a glossy lip plaque, candy stripped awnings, prevent snoring signs and pop art bike racks that combine to create a pleasant atmosphere and ease the intimidation factor out of those who need to sleep through their dental procedures.

And I am not trying to make light of sedation dentistry. As much as my teeth seem to be falling apart in my advancing years, I’ve managed to make it through appointments on anxiety and terror. I tried nitrous once when I had a deep cavity and while it was a gas it was a bit of a bad trip as well.

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The Interstate Dental Clinic further accents it’s exterior design with these whimsical, sculptural bike racks. I’ve noticed several other designs in the nearby area so I’m planning expanded coverage plus some insightful commentary. For now these decorative elements are above and beyond anything any of the other dental clinics are using to entice customers and they make this an inviting place to have to go see a dentist.

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Pop Art Dentistry 4

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All apologies go to Mrs. Yuchmow. I know you taught Will Simmons from the Pittsburgh Orbit that you should never start a sentence with the word “and,” but it just felt right.

 

Need more dentistry art?

See: https://pittsburghorbit.com/2018/08/05/incisor-edition-dental-art/