The Spacey Napkn Haze

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Spacey hit the town with a mad dash, autograph rage, tagging everything in his wake. He left his name to carry on. What a handle! That’s what they used to call a nickname during the CB radio craze of the late ‘70’s. My appreciation for the name Spacey comes from liking the song “Lazy, Hazy, Spacey” by Charlie McAlister.* It’s easy to imagine Spacey, lost in a cloud, spray paint fumes buzzing, improvised blank urban surface canvas crying out for his name. Spacey should prove to remain as anonymous to the world as this blog may be to him. It seems innocuous enough, but it’s disappointing to see a neighbor have to deal with this name writing rampage.

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Spacey splashed a homeowner’s wooden gate which made the crime hit closer to home. It feels like a waste of time and money for anyone who doesn’t want to display the grandeur of his name to have to clean it off their property. In the end we all pay when Spacey goes on a tear. It’s advertising for a product that doesn’t exist and no one really needs. We get the Spacey brand on top of a garbage can. On those blocky, utility boxes, the Spacey name attempts to liven up the industrial gray paint job. There’s no escape from visual clutter. I’m getting eyeball fatigue from the constant name drop.

Spacey on Paul

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Yet, Spacey isn’t as bothersome as the Napkn graffiti. It’s obvious that Napkin, without the letter I, is still napkin. So it’s not enough that this has to be written all over the Interstate Business Corridor and in the Kenton neighborhood in capital, white letters. While Spacey conjures whimsical visions of astronauts floating in the solar system a napkin is what you wipe your face with when you have a chicken dinner. It lacks street cred. The misspelling or weird spelling doesn’t bother me when my mind automatically fills in the missing letter. As a tag it’s not bad assed and it lacks Spacey’s cool factor.

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Haze Mustard

Haze New Seasons Gray

While working up this blog post, I discovered that Haze had tagged the Interstate New Seasons and a nearby Chinese restaurant. There are times when I consider that if vandals hit a business resources are available to take care of the clean up effort and that puts my mind at ease, a bit. The mysterious color of the New Seasons, is it yellow, green or mustard?, must have proven an irresistible backdrop for Haze. I was puzzled by the change in script but impressed with an ability to carry multiple colors of spray paint. There are some flexible chops at work here with the ability to deal with encountering a white building.

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It all had me daydreaming about Spacey and Haze starting an intergalactic, multiracial hip hop group. Napkn could lug around the turntable. Or better yet I don’t think you could find a better name for a marijuana dispensary than Spacey Haze. It’s time to go legit. The advertising campaign is in full gear.

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Post Script: Since these pictures were taken two of the Napkn tags have been removed.

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NAPKN tag  and chalk $ sign, added latter, have been removed from this cement wall.

See a Portland Orbit Report video based on this blog post.

*Actual name of the song is “Lazy. Spacy. Hasty. Crazy.” It’s from the Flannel Banjo release titled I’m Wounded I Don’t Think So.

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Gone to Pot

It’s been some time since marijuana was made legal in Oregon. That exact date is less momentous to me than it is to others. I’ve noticed the difference since the law went into effect. Pot stores are everywhere. If I head into a section of town I haven’t visited for a while, it seems inevitable that a marijuana business has moved in. It sure feels like pot picked the right time to become legal since the economy has picked up.

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Green party headquarters.

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Before & After

The old Office strip club is a pot shop now. If that’s the best we can produce for an economic upturn how can I complain? In our current internet age what tangible things need to be bought and sold that can’t be ordered from Amazon and shipped to our houses? We don’t need sales or service people so much anymore when we can figure out how to things work through YouTube how-to videos.

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These days have that all or nothing feel of either pot businesses or empty storefronts which makes the symbolic green cross comforting. We all know a red cross has a strong symbolic message and meaning tied into it. Words like assistance, first aid, help and blood come to mind. The green cross seems to mean almost the same thing minus the blood. Except this time it’s pot to the rescue and it’s become a beacon of sorts, you need pot, bam, there it is behind a sometimes windowless door with a green cross insignia.

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Best buds

I have yet to succumb to partaking in the legal weed. Past experience has found me experiencing mild panic attacks and weird vibes along with zero understanding of the pot sharing culture. I’m also reminded of a quote from a friend who might want to be nameless. He said, “Is this stuff going to make me claw my eyes out?” Needless to say his eyes are very much intact. Of course any job I’ve wanted to do, including working at a brewery, has required a drug test. I am willing to bet that any pot consumption would cause even more typos to appear in my blog posts.

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Our first foray into a pot dealership, had us talking to an excited salesperson. The enthusiasm and breadth of knowledge he had for his product was mind blowing bordering on mind-altering. He discussed strains of marijuana and their expected effects reeling off colorful and crazy names. The best type of pot for football watching? He was on it with a recommendation. It felt good (contact high?) to see this gentleman express his passion and expertise. It felt even better that all of his salesmanship has been legitimized.  Whether you would have this type of discussion with an old school dealer back in the day is beyond my knowledge and research capabilities but there seemed something reassuring about it all now that the criminal element has been taken away.

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The money will be rolling in and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with a recreational relaxation industry becoming the region’s strongest economic force. The only downside might be that I now have a scapegoat for the rash of screwed up pizza orders I’ve suffered lately.

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The Music That Makes Us

I’ve lived in the Kenton neighborhood for seven years but my experience with the music in my immediate surroundings has been random and sporadic. Disjecta, the arts organization, is exploring the music made in the Kenton with an exhibit called “The Music That Makes Us.”  Disjecta explains that the exhibit “investigates a neighborhood through its music, and emphasizes the value of diverse musical expression within a community.”

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Setting up at Disjecta for the Kenton Street Fair Fundraiser.

All neighborhoods have their musicians, unsung heroes who go unnoticed but this exhibit gives me a chance to explore mine. It may seem like an odd thing. I can’t recall a time when I’ve read anything about any neighborhood in the city making better music or being more creative than any other neighborhood. While we may have our arts districts, I realize the exhibit is not about competition, but a chance to explore the specifics, music wise, of a community. I’m lucky it’s happening here. I have a good opportunity, with little effort, to be introduced to the creative people who are around that I didn’t even know are around me.

Make overs and music

Make over and music.

Since the exhibit opened I’ve learned some things. One of the barbers who works at Bart’s Barber Shop not only cuts hair, he’s a musician too, as is one of the guys who works at Cason’s Butcher Shop. It has me seeing these men in a different dimension and making the people in my neighborhood less mysterious. The other revelation is that I’ve found out that Norman Sylvester lives in my neighborhood. He’s a living legend and a local celebrity to me. I’ve seen him on TV on AM Northwest and been to a concert at Kenton Park. I clipped a photo I came across of him with B.B. King. I even met him at Jeff Dodge’s place when he was dropping off some video footage. Recently he was on the cover of the Portland Observer and there he was was at the exhibit opening wearing a sharp suit. I was a bit too shy to mob him.

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My own investigations of my neighborhood’s music have amounted to seeing bands at the yearly street fair and occasionally at the Kenton Club. I caught some great music spilling out of the church in downtown Kenton one Sunday morning and I’ve also heard bands practicing in neighborhood basements. For a time my next door neighbor had a band that practiced at her place. Hearing their sound reminded me of playing music in a garage. Once I noticed our chickens bobbing their heads to the submerged rhythms.

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When I went to the exhibit opening, I saw a serpentine  pattern of music related objects laid out in the room on tables that included sheet music, instruments, photos, a music stand covered in stickers and Norman Sylvester’s press clippings that his wife has gathered over the years. A drum kit was on display and someone was banging away on a piano. The objects  gave me a sense of the ephemera that goes into music making but it’s great to see that the exhibit is multi-dimensional offering up a couple of chances to hear the music created in Kenton.
Meat and music

Meat and music.

Two events will be held in association with the exhibit. The first will be a walking tour which starts at Disjecta at noon on Saturday, April 16th. The walk lasts 90 minutes. The tour guides are members of the Portland State University Art and Social Practice program and will present audio recordings of field recordings and interviews. If you can’t make the walk you can still listen to the tour.

The other event is an afternoon concert celebrating the exhibit. Who’s going to show up? Which neighbors are going to reveal themselves to be musicians? How many more proverbial dots are going to be connected? The only way to find out is to attend the show at Disjecta on Saturday April 23  from 4–8pm for The Music That Makes Us Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

The Trophy Wife

Marci MacFarlane is a fellow blogger who was kind enough to look me up so we could discuss a couple of my blog posts. I later found out she was the owner of The Trophy Wife art car. I had not seen it around but last August I happened to catch it parked outside the North Portland Tool Library where Marci works. When she’s not keeping her art car in tip top shape, Marci is one of the curators of the public art that can be found at the Pittman Addition HydroPark. I appreciated the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her art car creation.

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Photo courtesy of Marci MacFarlane

What I was wondering was what it was that inspired you to create an art car? Well, I’ve had an art car since ’88, I think, my first art car, it’s kind of funny, I was dating this guy at the time and his ex-girlfriend was selling her car and so he went down to California and brought it up and I bought it from her, it was a Dodge Dart, a great car, it was an old cop car and one day I was at school and he said, “oh, I saw the Dart the other day and I thought that’s great Gwen’s in town but then I remember you bought it.” And I was like, “really, you saw that car and you were all excited because you thought your ex-girlfriend was in town.” I went over to a friend’s house, Jeff Skinner, who owns the Tree of Shame on Sumner and I’m like, “I have to do something. I can’t have this car look like that.” So my first car, I painted it bright orange and we glued AstroTurf to the top of it so it had green all over the top of it. It was fun because I worked at Powell’s and I’d come downtown and one time when I was at school downtown somebody glued a bunch of animals to the top of it so it looked like a little forest, it looked like a little farm, a bunch of those blew off because they didn’t use very good glue. And another time, I was downtown working by Blitz brewery and I came out from work and I’m like, “what the hell is on top of my car” and someone had cut out what looked like a putting green and they had a flag sticking up and there was a little golf ball on top it and it was on top of my car and there was nobody around. This was so weird. So that ran for a really long time and then I killed it by running out of oil. I had another one that was a Chevy Nova—glued glass all to the side, that was bright blue and then I had astro turf on the top of that but it was a blue and black AstroTurf and that lasted a long time ‘cause it was a Chevy Nova as my friend said you know they call those “No Goes” down in Mexico. It finally died. I didn’t have one for a while, but the one I have now, The Trophy Wife, the car was just trashed it was trashed. He bought it from the original owner and he ended up, you know, taking it to one of these title places and he needed two hundred dollars so he was like, “do you want to buy this for two hundred dollars?” I’m like sure. It was maroon and it was just ugly. I wasn’t sure what I was going do with it but that’s the whole idea, you buy a really ugly car and make it look pretty. A friend of mine, a good friend of mine who died in 2009, Tom Kennedy, saw the car and he was like, “you know this would look so cool if you cut the top off and you had fins on the back. I was like “really, I can’t cut the top off” and he was like, “yeah you can.” I said we live in Oregon. He was like, “So what.”So that’s what happened. Although Tom died before we were ever able to get the fins on it. And that’s where that last one came from and it’s one of my other cars, the Nova, I had, I had gone to, have you heard of Scrap? So I had gone there when they were on Broadway and they had all these bowling trophies and she said, “as many as you can fit in a bag for 10 dollars.” I was like, “okay.” So I got them home and now I have 50 bowling trophies, they were all kinds of trophies, but I was like, I’m just going to put them on the hood of the car. So I started drilling them in and putting them on the hood of the car and then when I got the convertible–when I made the convertible, that’s when I was like, “oh this is going to be the Trophy Wife. This is the Trophy Wife.” That’s how that one came along.

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I was wondering about the concept and so that inspiration came from a bag of bowling trophies? Yeah, and my Ford Nova, I had trophies on that, so I kind of started collecting them and people would give them to me because they would see them on the car and then like I said this is perfect, cut it off, paint it bright pink then kind of play on the whole trophy wife idea because at the time I wasn’t married. So it was kind of more of a joke, you know, like “hey.” I’m a little difficult to get along with so my friends joked about it like, “yeah you’re the trophy wife.”

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How long did it end up taking to make? Really not that long, cutting off the top and popping out the back, we did it all within a summer like two, three months. I kind of took time, I pulled out the seats one weekend and recovered them and put them back in and everything was in stages. But I mean it would take about 3 months. I did that one, that was 2002, the summer of 2002.

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Were there any more kind of adventures as far as collecting all the trophy parts? I have gone to events. Have you ever heard of Combine Demolition Derby? That’s fun. Up in Lind, Washington there’s this thing called the Combine Demolition Derby and it’s always the weekend of Father’s Day and we went to it in the late ‘90’s. Somebody was like, “oh we have to go to this.” The idea is four combines go in and they bash the hell out of each other until one of them comes out and then the ones that are left after that, because there is usually five or six heaps, go in and bash each other until somebody comes out. You can only do twelve welds per combine to alter it and the thrashers can’t be more than, I think it was, 12 or 15 inches off the ground and the thrashes don’t work. So we started going up to that and one time we were up in Ritzville and we’re at a bar and there was like three different art cars out there because we’d go up there and they wanted us to be in the parade which is fun because it’s only three blocks long and then they’d feed us pulled pork and potato salad in the park. So we’re in this bar and this guy is talking, “did you see those cars?” and we were like, “yeah, those are ours.” And he’s like, “Yeah, who’s is the trophy one?” I’m like “well, that’s mine.” He goes, “I got something. You wait here. I’m going to run home and we’re like, “really?” And he came back and he had a trophy that he won, I think it was bowling, and it was a horse’s ass. And he’s like, “will you put this on your car?” and I said, “sure let’s go out and put it on right now. “So we went out and put it on—the horse’s ass on the car. There’s been other ones every now and then friends will be like, “oh I was at this garage sale and I saw this great trophy.” I have a couple of Police Officer shooting (trophies), animals are really hard to find, bowling ones are easy but then I’ve had people that have won them, you know when they were kids and they’ve given them to me and I’m like, “sure let’s put it on.”

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Well then do you have to replace them? Sometimes yeah, I do, you know the plastic ones get old and brittle so eventually they break off and then I had, what I’d call the apocalypse one year, I think it was 2012, where I came outside in the morning and somebody had broken five different trophies off and had unscrewed a bunch of other ones. So you know, it is what it is. And every now and then when I’m downtown I’ll lose one. One time I had parked downtown on Burnside and Broadway, and I was like, “man, I shouldn’t park here, I’m going to lose one and we came back and one of them was broken off and I’m like, “oh man, really and then I found it in the back seat of the car next to a PBR can that said sorry and it was a full beer and I’m like that’s really nice they accidently broke off the trophy and they left me a PBR because as you can see people can reach in and take what ever they want out of the car.

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Photo courtesy of Marci MacFarlane

Are you part of the art car scene then? Somewhat. I’ve gone to a couple of events. My friend Victor has done a lot more of those ‘cause the Trophy Wife isn’t really a great traveller and a lot of the events take place down in San Francisco, although last summer my husband took it up to, ‘cause I had to work, he took it up to Seattle, the Fremont Fair and all the art cars go up there and it’s really great ‘cause Kelly who runs that gets donations from a lot of businesses and so they pay for you and they put you up and they feed you for like four days and you just have to park your car at the Fremont Fair on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve gone down to San Francisco for, I think it’s called “WekFest” and this next year is going to be the 10th anniversary of it. One year in 2006 we were down in San Jose outside of the San Jose art museum. They did a whole art car festival and they had a bunch of cars inside. They had the rest of us parked outside. It was a whole day thing so I’ve done a few of them. But more and more lately the car is kind of getting a little old.

Is there local activity for art cars? There used to be. There’s a lot of them in Portland and there’s a lot of them around here. We did the Hawthorne Fair one time and what they did was they did the parade and then the cars went through that and then they parked up on the side in front of the businesses along Hawthorne because they block off the street well, some of the businesses complained that too many people were crowding in front of the cars and they couldn’t get into the business and so we didn’t go back to that anymore. And then we’ve done the Alberta Street Fair, I think once or twice, and it was the same thing, the businesses were like, “the cars, the cars there’s too many people looking at the cars and they can’t get into my business.” And we tried to explain, “that’s awesome you have like twenty people standing outside your business, like now you need to get them in. We got ‘em here, you need to get ‘em in.” Haven’t done a whole lot lately although when everyone heads up to Seattle in June a lot of them stop over here because Tom Kennedy, he was a huge art car guy, he’s been an art car guy forever and his mom lives up here so everybody stops here and sees his mom because everybody knows Tom or used to.

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The one last thing, I was wondering about was the type of car and then what made it a good fit to be an art car? Well, anything that’s cheap and ugly because people sell cars that are ugly for cheap and all you need is a coat of paint. I always try to get cars that I can work on or I can get something done easily. When I was down in San Francisco with the Trophy Wife a couple of years ago my alternator went out on the side of the road and it was awesome because we called a couple of places and they had what they called a Triage Van so if any of the cars broke down the Triage Van would stay with you and get you, called a place, went there, got the part, was back at the car, had it all installed in like an hour and a half to two hours. Whereas, you can’t do that nowadays. I mean you get a car nowadays you’re not going to be able to do that with the newer cars and you really need to know how to work on your car. And so I always look for the older things and especially if there’s dings or damages or stuff like that. Like the Trophy Wife, the back seat on the passenger side, I think it got hit at one point or some thing so it was having troubles opening and closing and I just finally closed it and sealed it so you can’t get in on that side, that’s all. You just crawl over the back.

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Marci MacFarlane as the Trophy Wife

Any reactions to it? Oh people love it. I have a PA out on the front, that’s the one thing where people are like, “I don’t think we should give you a PA you have a loud enough voice as it is but I have a PA in the front of it and I pretty much try to play Wizard of Oz that’s about it. I did have Willy Wonka for a while but people didn’t recognize the songs. I got a couple of others but it just wasn’t the same but the Wizard of Oz, I mean, you drive down a street on a sunny day and everybody knows that, everybody knows all the songs, people stop, they smile, they wave and it’s just, it’s cheerful. My husband always wants to pull out and sing on the PA because I actually have a phone. Have you seen the phone in front? So it’s literally like a hand receiver like this and it’s hooked up to my PA and so you can just pick the phone up and you speak into it and if you have it on the right station and it broadcasts anything you say out the front. So he likes to sing out of the front of that. But mostly it’s just you know, it’s smiles. There’s a few times when I’ve parked downtown and I’m in a hurry and I’ll come back to the car and I’ll be like, “there’s like nine people standing there and I don’t want to get into the car and I’m not going to be able to drive away” ‘cause then they’re like, “can I take a picture of you? Can I take a picture of you? Is that your car? That’s so cool.” And I always offer to help ‘em do it to their car, like if you want to and they’re like, “what do you do when it rains?” And I’m like, “I get wet. I get wet, there’s no top. It doesn’t come back.”

Check out Marci’s blog: http://sewingwithcupcake.blogspot.com

See a brief video version of this blog post: https://youtu.be/_Xk32wWQoa8