The Emerick Collection

 

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If you end up at the Sunnybrook Medical Center it may be due to an injury requiring the services of a trauma surgeon. Or you may have something stuck in your ear, nose, throat or somewhere else necessitating a visit to the ear, nose, throat, or somewhere else department.

Thanks to a display tucked away in the lobby of the ENT department, I learned all manner of objects can be and are lodged in the human body.

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The framed story of Dr. Charles Emerick* greets those, suffering and not, who enter.  He collected these items during his service at a missionary clinic in India and a Naval hospital in San Diego. His career summited Mt. Scott at Kaiser Permanente where he cached his loot of curiosities upon retirement. The display educates patients, staff, and visitors of the dangers of things and bodily cavities and the  coexistence of the two. The origins of this collection, while not discussed in the brief write up, are what intrigue me. That spark, that moment of inspiration when Dr. Emerick committed to starting his collection had me wanting to dig (pun may or may not be intended, I’m just not sure) into this story and uncover more than what the lobby offers.

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Thanks to modern technology, I was able to access an article about Dr. Emerick. The old school alternative would have had me in library basement futzing with microfiche and an ancient, bulky machine. I found one secondary source available with ease, an Associated Press article that ran in a Fredericksburg, Va. newspaper in 1997. Dr. Emerick had been retired for seven years. A photo showed him looking over his collection. I read looking for the source of his inspiration to collect what are referred to in the story as “items.” And there it was!** Emerick explained he, “was inspired to keep the items because he heard Dr. Chevalier Jackson, a pioneer in endoscopy, had such a collection.” Note that endoscopy is how an item, once lost in the esophagus, trachea or lung, is located.  A hollow lighted tube illuminates the included object; it then takes an additional piece of gear for removal should the object prove an obstruction or irritant or otherwise inconvenient or unwanted addition to the patient.

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It’s noteworthy that the AP writer made an attempt to locate Dr. Jackson’s collection which was last seen at Temple University Hospital. A spokesman uttered the sad words, “nothing remains of the collection.” This gives Dr. Emerick’s achievement heightened stature and highlights its remarkable staying power simply persisting in its low key existence, not as some central attraction of a national medical museum but in the quiet confines of Kaiser’s ENT waiting room.

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Looking over the items housed in the display case with revolving shelves, the kind of display case you find in antique stores, was as fascinating as it was gross. The first consideration seems to be with the item itself. I thought about the size and shape of the bagged and tagged objects before moving on to contemplate where each was found. It never failed to amaze me.

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It’s rare to see evidence doctors put this much effort into their jobs. Trash cans have been filled so thoughtlessly over the years. Body junk salvaged from many an Ear, Nose and Throat languishes in landfills, yet the experiments and accidents of Dr. Emerick’s patients live on in a display case in Portland carefully preserved and labeled.  It is detritus for all time, but also significant and instructive. Whether a pilgrimage must be made to this strange menagerie is up to you unless you’re accident prone or careless with either money or crayons.  If that’s the case, a few extra minutes checking out this collection on the third floor could be worth thousands in future medical expenses.

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*After a bit of confusion, I figured out that Emerick was the last name of the doctor and not a medical term referring to stuff lodged in the human body.

**Mrs. Yuchmow having to justify using the word “and” at the beginning of a sentence always makes me try to find a way to not do it, but I needed to add drama to my story and discovering a tidbit of information concerning something I had been wondering about for a long time but hadn’t gotten around to checking out inspired that sentence: And there it was. Yes you told your students in Princeton, NJ, back in the day, that under most circumstances they shouldn’t start a sentence with the word “and.” In this case you should just be glad I didn’t use an exclamation point.

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Oregon Decal Obsession Part 2

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I’m back to my Oregon Decal obsession and until I find out otherwise, I’m convinced it all started with the green heart in the state boundary design. I’m working on tracking down the creator of this image which really shouldn’t be too hard but my self-imposed deadline is approaching and I’m still planning on one more part to this series before I exorcise this obsession from my consciousness. The last blog post was titled Oregon Decal Spawn Part 1, or some such title, which in hindsight seems terrible so I reworked the title based on what these decals have become to me—something of an obsession. While maybe a casual obsession, they’re images I’m focused on collecting. A snapshot is satisfying enough, the need to possess some tangible remnant of these decals hasn’t over taken me. I have only seen a few of these decals for sale which means tracking them down would have proven impossible.

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While on my bike my eyes scan the bumpers of parked cars. The state outline usually jumps out at me. After considering whether the design is something I’ve seen before I either stop and grab a picture or keep pedaling. I’m surprised by the number and variety of designs that represent all manner of Portland and Oregon related subjects. I want to think that as Portland-centric as we are, a Portland border would be a far more specific and authentic a representation, in some cases, of this sticker concept. There’s only one problem. The Portland city limits prove to be a design flaw mess. No one would recognize it and it would never work as a decal outline.

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Portland: Not a decal inspiring border.

Last summer I ran into Rob Campbell who is among other things a T-shirt designer. He showed me a T-shirt design which incorporated the use of the Oregon border. This got me blabbing about my Oregon decal obsession. I asked him why he thought so many people use the state to frame designs. He was succinct when he explained that it’s “effective.” And that makes sense. As I pointed out before, people immediately know the image involves regionalism, whatever the symbol happens to be, sometimes it’s not clear, but it’s stuff in this state or even something being promoted specific to Portland. Regardless, it makes for an eye-catching decoration for a car bumper or anywhere else it gets stuck.

So let’s get to it.

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Love Portland City Limits

Why not love Portland? Again if you slapped these words on top of the city limits map it wouldn’t look right so the use of the state border. Everyone knows there’s a city named Portland in Oregon.

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It’s greek to me, except it’s not Greek, it’s Latin. It’s the Latin translation of the state motto which when translated back into English is: “She flies with her own wings.” Who knew you could get a  lesson in history and Latin from a sticker.

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Tie-dye could be symbolic of almost anything but seems specific to Dead Head/hippie culture. The top design is bold and colorful and has heart so I’m not going to trip out on it. The other one has a peace sign which is also a nice touch. If I’m any kind of decal critic, well these messages of peace and love are mellowing me out. Tie-dye is a bit of a psychedelic cliché but I have an appreciation for colorful design

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This one is saying all kinds of things about Portland. It references the White Stag sign, mentions old town and frames it with an eye catching golden state border. The quality of the photo does it no justice but this vehicle owner is loving Portland.

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These two seem like homemade designs. The stripes, rays of sun maybe, made me think of   Arizona. The other sticker looks like a basic art project with the tiny blue heart sticker marking Portland’s location on the pink state map.

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Every Portland sports team does the Oregon decal with gusto. Thorns, PSU Vikings, and Rip City!

 

Any kind of advertising receives a boast with a state of Oregon decal design.

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Northside shoes were founded in Portland. The  little heart is a nice touch and for whatever reason the state is depicted as dripping, or is it oozing?

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Even Pabst ran like a stallion/unicorn with an Oregon design for their Pabst music festival.

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And yeah, Portland and Oregon have a few tea drinkers.

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Adorned plays off the Keep Portland Weird campaign requesting that people “Keep Oregon adorned.”

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Well, no one can exactly advertise snow but it’s another mix of borrowing an advertising slogan and mixing it with a state decal.

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Even Bernie Sanders gets in on the act with an Oregon inspired reminder to vote for him.

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Do we have bees and bartenders or martini makers in this state? According to these decals, we do!

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This one doesn’t make me groan. I could not resist that lame pun. It’s seems like a statement about farming or it insinuates that the owner of the car is a native Oregonian. It could well be there as a show of support for local farming or hauling around vegetables.

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Oregon Crabbing (1)

 

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Other decals offer identifiers by way of symbols. We run half marathons, love animals, depending on the foot print, crabbing and ride bikes. It can all be spoken in decal.

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This one speaks for itself. It has one of the best uses of the Oregon border since it serves as a reminder of the original inhabitants of these parts.

Gotta run to look over more car bumpers. The obsession will rear it’s ugly head again in this blog soon enough.

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Note to Mrs. Yuchmow:  I feel the need to justify my use of the word “and” to start a sentence. I know you taught Will Simmons from the Pittsburgh Orbit that this usually isn’t a good thing to do but in the case of my usage it needed to happen.

 

 

Time for a Treety

I came across this scene on my way back from a sub job one afternoon. There were half a dozen construction worker looking guys in hard hats and safety vest garb standing in the dirt of a lot that had been cleared at Morgan and N. Williams Streets. They were tree guys. I looked over at the Redwood trees in the corner of the property and could see that some of the limbs had been cut off. Back on the ground a woman was shaken and yelling. I think it was directed at one of the men. Another woman was walking up the sidewalk. She seemed angry and involved in the scenario. The tree guys were milling around. One of them seemed to be laughing, not a hearty laugh, more like a reaction to an uncomfortable situation. And given this description it’s obvious how things ended. The trees were cut down. I rode past the scene on my bike.. I don’t know what else I could have done beyond stopping and watching so I didn’t stop. As I pedaled I noticed a man keeping a silent vigil on the sidewalk around the area. That seemed to be the problem: What could anyone do? The situation made me think of the Jim Morrison story about when he was a kid coming across a car crash with his family. A spoken word piece about the incident later appeared in the middle of the song Peace Frog. There was an intensity: Pissed off ladies, indifferent tree guys and soon to be dead trees. My regret was at least not taking a picture of the living trees. The tense situation caused me to flee.

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It’s possible I had seen some flyers in the neighborhood leading up to the time the trees were cut. There was some mention of organizing to save them. This didn’t happen. It had me thinking about the trees in SE that were saved. TV news coverage ate up the exploits of the man who climbed up the tree to stop the chop. Surrounding neighbors banded together to put up a fight and bring awareness to the plight of the trees. A guy named Arthur Bradford seemed to be a spokesman for the protesters. I had heard that he performed a song about saving the trees at a Disjecta event. In the end it was Bradford’s connection to the world-famous co-creator of South Park who donated money that led to a deal with the developer to save the trees. I appreciated that for once something worked out. The SE trees were a statement that there can be victories for people and nature but Matt Stone can’t save all the trees.

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Who can save the trees? The Redwoods in the episode I witnessed were massive. I noticed this more after eyeing the giant stumps and logs splayed across the lot. It didn’t make sense that trees located on the corner of the property were cut. With minimal effort the design of a house or houses on the lot could have included these trees. It also seems senseless when you consider the older growth, healthy trees being removed. The Portland nickname of Stumptown is more of a quaint term of endearment than something to continue to live up to.

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I saw the remnants of the trees for what seemed like a couple of weeks hanging around after they had been cut. It seemed spiteful to remove the remains as soon as possible. Spray painted messages appeared on the vinyl fencing around the property–anonymous expression of rage. One tree stump became a makeshift altar. The messages seemed to be too little, too late but at least brought some attention to the loss of these trees.

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I can’t claim to be a tree hugger. But what I witnessed was disconcerting. I can explain it away as Portland growing pains but these are becoming more and more uncomfortable. There has to be a better solution to preserve noble, old trees. To compare the confrontation of the people with the tree cutters to that of the scene that Jim Morrison witnessed as a kid where people had died in a car crash is on the melodramatic side but there was an intensity, an underlying rage to that situation and others in Portland that have had people climbing trees and even up on the top of a roof to protest various demolitions. There was also such a doomed energy to what I saw, a helpless feeling in not knowing how to stop the changes to the character of Portland neighborhoods that are happening. I left the confrontation I witness thinking that something needed to be done to make changes that may protect threatened trees in the future. I wondered what mayoral candidate Ted Wheeler would do to save trees. I’d want that concern brought up at a future debate. The regulations now seem to favor developers paying minimal fees when they want to remove a tree. You’ll see me at an upcoming Mayor debate. I’ll have it looking like a Donald Trump rally. I’ll be the crazy standing up and asking, “What are you going to do about all these trees that are getting cut down?” I damn sure better get an answer.

Note to Mrs. Yuchmow:

I think I can justify the use of the word “And” at the beginning of one of my sentences in this post. I know you taught your student Will Simmons of the Pittsburgh Orbit fame not to begin a sentence with the word “And.”  He has explained to me that you also said that good writers break the rules. Let’s just say I’m choosing to breaking the rules here with a somewhat guilty conscience.

P.S. I can imagine the title pun is a bit obnoxious. I couldn’t help myself.

Pop Art Dentistry

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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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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/

Elegant Graffiti

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I’m surrounded by graffiti. There’s no escape. While I want to document it, I’m wary of praising it. This giant decal art work that appeared on the side of my neighborhood strip club, the Dancing Bare, caught my eye a couple of weeks back. It was slapped on the wall that faces the Trimet Max train tracks by an anonymous source. Most graffiti is created anonymously or it might be easier for those who create it to get in big trouble.  It occurred to me that if people needed to deface buildings it might be appreciated a bit more if it were done in an artistic manner.  This one screams art. The bearded dude is a painter holding a palette and brushes.  Artist imitating art.  It could very well be a deep statement pasted on the wall of a strip club.

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When I consider the rest of the wall, I see an ad for Bud Light, bolder, letter type spray painted squiggles as well as some painted sections covering up past graffiti and I had to consider which image I could live with more because there’s no way a blank wall can exist for long in Portland without someone wanting to spray paint squiggles on it or display advertising.

I considered who the figure in the picture was. He resembled a pumped up Charlton Heston playing a combination of a Moses character who decided to retire after delivering the tablets and parting the sea to take up painting and then ended up looking more like Michelangelo. Anyone young enough to not have a feel for who Charlton Heston was, well there was a time when he had cool roles in movies like Omega Man and a couple of the old Planet of the Apes films. He shouldn’t be remembered solely as the crazy old coot who stumped for the N.R.A. talking about how we’ll have to pry the gun out of his cold dead hands before anyone messes with the 2nd amendment. Such a memory for that might also be murky. He’s been dead a while.

There’s an endless cycle of decorating and redecorating the neighborhood. Charlton Moses Michelangelo is already in the process of being peeled off the wall. This style of graffiti might be appealing (pun intended and unintended) compared to other forms but it may be harder to remove much less paint over. And really there should be no tolerance for graffiti of any kind. Regardless of the skill level or technique it’s still vandalism. Get there early to catch the first form of this constant flux.

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My apologies to Mrs. Yuckmow (the third grade teacher of Pittsburgh Orbit blogger Will Simmons) for starting a sentence with the word “and.”