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.

# # # 

 

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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Losing Their Heads: New Ways of Sign Manipulation

Technifloating!

Signs are begging for alterations. The flat silhouetted figure with the round head is inhuman. It’s identifiable as someone heading for a hiking trail or crossing the street but it’s boring. We’re lucky someone is out there making it their mission to liven things up. In a previous post, the focus was on a variety of sign styles–I even missed a Shel Silverstein reference. These days the efforts concentrate on the improving the head section of the signs creating a more visually stimulating design.


Toasted Cat

Cat-Dogs are real!


Somehow the lady remained unscathed, the gentleman became a toast head and the couple’s dog is forced to recover from a cat head transplant operation. It’s great to see this scene from a sign in Multnomah Village transformed beyond the typical dog walk. The toast adds flavor to the image while the sign now needs to read: PLEASE CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR CAT.


The Googly Eyes Gaze

Look this way.


It doesn’t take much to spruce up the round headed, no necked hiker on this sign. In the outskirts of SW Portland, where this sign was seen, the smallest detail passes for entertainment.


Skullery

Skulking around.


The round skull sticker that dots the hiker from a South Portland sign is the right shape and scale to make a dramatic improvement to this sign. A colorful and ornate design is a far cry better than what’s underneath.


Gunsmoke

Straight shooter?


These SW Portland sign manipulations near the Barbur Transit Center strike at the deep need for this hiker to indulge in vices like gun shooting and cigarette smoking. With the addition of a cowboy hat he’d have the makings of a Wild West hiker villain.

 

Tripping Over My Tongue

Let’s roll!


It isn’t the best way to decorate a handicapped parking sign demonstrating a lack of respect for people with disabilities. Still, the benchmark is whether you’d rather look at a giant eyed, tongue flapping orange head or a white circle. This image might reflect how people look after a night at the Kenton Club where the parking space is located.


Orange Kid

No complaints about complex completions.

Decorate, manipulate away if you have a sticker as good as this one seen in South Tabor. The facial expression is crazy, the complexion is positively Mars inspired and this character doesn’t seem to be taking his street crossing ambitions seriously. The head still floats in an unnatural way that makes my neck sore. This face was so distracting that I had no time to consider how it’s possible to ride a bike without pedals or handlebars.


Bear Crossing

Bearly visible.

You have to look close. Closer. Even closer. I was confident there were no bears in the vicinity of this sign I saw in the Piedmont neighborhood near the Lloyd Center. This bear head resembles more than a trophy. It covers up that tired black circle proving once again that a subtle attempt to make a dull sign interesting deserves accolades.

 

Saving Face

Face peel.


If you head into the heart of NE near the Laurelhurst Theater, you’ll find signs stickered up almost beyond recognition. Spotting the face sticker peeling off this sign was sad but the initial attempt was appreciated. Even half a face is better than that blasted dot beneath it.


The Devil Outside

Parody for you and me.    (Photo by Graham Marks)

This parody of the sign man caught my eye on a friend’s instagram feed. Sign man deserves a good spoof. The sticker insinuates there’s inherent evil associated with the briefcase bearing corporate type. No one addresses the issue of how sign man does anything including carrying stuff, riding a bike or walking without hands or even feet but that’s an issue better left to a future post.

 

Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Could Never Get To): The Tailored Torso of Columbia Boulevard

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Easter’s Finest

I wanted to believe I was looking at John F. Kennedy, a brawny rendition, beefy, broad shouldered but the hair, the hair was a dead ringer for JFK. I was wrong. It turned out all right because I learned the identity of the statue in the yard of a house facing the Oregon Humane Society complex. Through the power of assumption I had convinced myself the statue was Kennedy but being set straight makes me appreciate that someone with research skills unearthed information and reported back to me. Shout out to volunteer researcher Amy M! The Kennedy Files will remain closed for now while a new file, labelled under the name Ngo Dinh Diem, will be opened.

The puzzling nature of the house, the statue and the curious costumes kept me wondering. No one appeared to live there. Feeling like an intruder, I tended to rush up the steps, cross the patio, take photos and bolt. What kind of journalist am I? I should have barged through the door asking, “who, what, where, when, why and even how?” It’s about questions and demands for answers which is why there’s no explanation of these seasonal decorations. It happened every couple of months in time for a holiday. I am left wondering what happened to the Christmas costume? A photo would have been in order but I must have missed it.

Here’s a roll call of the holiday outfits I did manage to document:

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Winter

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St. Patrick’s Day

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Easter

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Summer

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Halloween

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Thanksgiving

Spring Cleaning (Stories I Could Never Get to) When the Georgia Guidestones Came to Portland

Listening to Larry Forte’s Limited Perspective podcast while furiously cleaning and scrubbing out one of our cars—a long procrastinated task, I was pulled into a murky memory. The show’s guests were the director and producers of The Georgia Guidestones movie. The Guidestones, a combination of outsider concept art and roadside attraction  plunked down in Elberton, Georgia, is a mystery that needed this movie to explain it. During the podcast, the director Mike Reser, described his experience screening the film in Portland. His name was familiar—the same name as a childhood friend. The description of the screening felt like a comedy of errors. Then I realized, I had been there.

Listening back to the podcast in preparing this post, the story was as amusing as when I first heard it. A reference to hipsters was an added bonus. The odd thing—I had no recollection of the film maker attending the event. Sorry Mike! We’re talking something that happened in 2013, or was it 2012? The podcast gave me insight on what it took to make the documentary. It made up for my spacing out on that question and answer session. I appreciate a good fish out of water Portland story so I’m going to let Mike take it from here.

Larry Forte: How did they receive it in Portland when you screened it out there?

Mike Reser: Okay, well, it was received well and the people at the theater liked it but it didn’t get a big crowd out there like it would, you know–Charleston, Athens, Elberton, the southeast—a good draw. It went really well in the south but the people there (in Portland) really enjoyed it. It was good. There was some technical difficulties. There was a yellow spot. I mean it was good in the theater but there was this yellow spot on the screen and it wasn’t on my DVD or Blu-ray or whatever it was. Then maybe three quarters through the movie it stalled out, so there were some technical difficulties that I didn’t really experience anywhere else. But the Q and A there was good just like it was everywhere and some of the people who were there—I think they enjoyed it. There was a review—it was the review—

Christy Sinksen:  The regular movie reviewer didn’t review the movie. The food critic was pitch hitting and reviewed the movie.

LF:  So that might be kind of a diss by the regular movie reviewer?

MR:  Well, here’s the thing this was an extremely low budget, D.I.Y. It was the Clinton Street Theater in Portland and I mean it’s not–it’s a great theater, it really is, but it’s not—

CS:  Prestigious.

MR:  Yeah, so yeah, the regular movie critic, I don’t even remember the newspaper in Portland that did this—that was my first experience of something negative in Portland. So anyway this food critic that did review the film just tore it up.

LF:  Really?

CS:  Didn’t they fixate on really technical details like sound quality?

MR:  Yeah it was like I was, I was, I don’t know.

CS:  It’s like dude, it’s a cheap camera.

MR:  It’s not like I’m Herzog or fucking Coen brothers.

CS:  They called him out on technical details.

MR:  You know and it’s just like this is a low budget, do it yourself. And then also like the people ramble on you should cut out a lot of stuff and I’m like: This is southern storytelling.

LF:  They’re supposed to be rambling on.

MR:  So maybe you don’t understand that in hipster Portland. (Everybody laughs.) No, I actually, I like hipsters but going to Portland and doing that I was like whoa, so when you’re in the south and people talk about hipsters, (it’s like) I don’t know I think hipsters are all right. Then you go to a place like Portland, yeah these are insufferable.

LF:  Really? Because, I don’t know, the term hipster kind of escapes me because I thought—I didn’t put negative connotations on it.

MR:  I never did either until I went to Portland and screened a movie.

LF:  So a little sidebar then, what is hipster? What does that mean?

MR:  I’m not sure. I don’t know. Someone once called me a hipster trapped in a redneck body.  (Everybody laughs.)

MR:  I didn’t mean to get off on that.

LF:  No, that speaks for me too. That’s something that’s been in my head.

MR:  Overall the screening in Portland went well but if there was any negative I ever received from it, it was from a critic in Portland.

Paul Floyd:  But it’s the food critic.

MR:  I know but it bothered me. It bothered me at the time.

LF:  Food critics watch movies. They have opinions.

MR:  That’s true it bothered me at the time and now when I look back at it as like—

CS:  It’s like one review compared to many glowing reviews.

MR:  Yeah and I look at that now and it’s like that’s part of it.

CS:  Not everyone is going to like it.

LF:  You can look at it both ways because that’s what’s so impressive to me is you did it for like, I don’t know, at best, I know it cost more than two thousand and sixty dollars and if you had paid your people it would’ve been a million dollars.

MR:  You know y’all are still waiting on the check. (Laughs) 

LF:  Let’s assume you did it for two thousand, sixty bucks. You don’t just make a movie like for that little money. For what you did with the resources you had, it’s impressive.

MR:  I wished that’s what they had understood because they did review it as like I was a legit indie film maker.

LF:  Yeah, like you flew in from New York.

MR:  Like, Sundance or something like that, it’s not who I am at all.

 LF:  Not yet.

*****

The funny thing about the technical difficulties at the screening was how much I’d learned to grin and bear it. It wasn’t a big deal. The Clinton Theater was a bit run down at the time but it made up for that by always offering other worldly cultural experiences, The George Guidestone movie being the type of thing that probably no other theater in town would have screened. One of the owners apologized profusely as we were leaving and gave us tickets for a future show.

I’ve tried in vain to track down that review but have a feeling the food/movie critic was a reporter recruited to host a political candidate forum I worked on during my days at Clark Vancouver Television.  (I’ve since been proved wrong on this. It’s a different paper and different food critic/movie reviewer.) There was a time when Portland hipster backlash seemed to be raging full force. It’s strange to feel nostalgic about it. Hipsters were trying too hard, wearing tight pants, showcasing facial hair and maybe, donning big glasses. As for the movie, I know I loved it. It motivated me to get out of the house and across town to see it on the big screen. I am, afterall, the absolute niche market—an outsider art loving, amateur film making, conspiracy theory appreciating, aging hipster wannabe.

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# # #

Film stills courtesy of the film maker.

Expertly labelled podcast still courtesy of Larry Forte and many thanks to him for permission to use the transcription from his podcast.

RESOURCES:

Check out the Limited Perspective podcast:

or go to the web site:

 

 

Georgia Guidestones movie info:

http://guidestonesmovie.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Never Got To): This Ain’t No Picnic—Disobedient Doodles

 
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The bench in question.

I hemmed and hawed about whether this was worth running. It’s a frozen in time, summer of 2017 snapshot of anonymous doodlers expressing themselves with bold lines leaping from the confines of school desks onto a picnic bench in Kenton Park.

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Gosh, don’t know.

I assume this is the efforts of adolescent kids. Only the culprits know for sure. Remember all the best speculative journalists begin guessing sentences with the phrase “I assume.” It’s also an ageist slag on adolescents. It’s the one age group that seems old enough to know better but lack the judgement to keep the from doing dumb stuff. Yet who didn’t engage in occasional acts of vandalism on a minor scale in their youth? Okay, so you knew better.

A recreation…

I hid my bookworm character drawing under a slide in our neighborhood park where I was the only one who knew of its existence. I also remember nights hanging out around a picnic table with friends where we could hide away and decompress. The table was in the woods. We must have moved it there. The location was too dark for art work.  

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A glowing cross spits flames.

I can see why these markings caught my eye. There’s a kind of “sign of the times” aspect to the images. They’re in a frozen state trying to speak their relevancy in an attempt to matter. In horror I see in my first draft I’ve written these images off as mindless self-expression of someone reaching out in a medium that’s all wrong. I’m disappointed in my lack of respect towards people who express themselves. That respect and appreciation is something I’ve strived for, especially when it’s happening outside the margins. At this point I’ll let these images speak for themselves.

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Surround the fort.

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Drips and drabs.

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Censored love.

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Better left untranslated.

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Now it’s a part

Splashed lines, words that have me brushing up on my Spanish and designs that would look great on the side of a train decorated the surface of this picnic table. An asymmetrical cross mingled with puffed initials. Who knew vertical dashes could liven up any word? Substituting hearts for the letter O also helped. This graffiti has not stood the test of time, I’m convinced. It exists here now on this blog but my guess is it’s either worn off, been cleaned off or painted over. It seems more temporary than three years of existence would allow. It may not be the stuff of cave paintings from thousands of years ago but there are parallels. Everyone has something to say. It’s about whether they choose legitimate means to express it.

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Hidden secrets revealed.

 

Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Never Got To): What’s in a Name? Pound For Pound The Tag Measures Up

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Oh Lord!


When I think about Lord Pound it takes me back in time. There was a different house and neighborhood and our dog Max, who I walked when I spotted most of these tags, has since passed away. The photos are from three years ago. I’m not sure if Lord Pound is active. When I knew of this entity claiming naming rights to every square inch of the Kenton neighborhood I had to admit it had a certain intrigue. I wondered about what was going on with that combination of words and why they were everywhere.

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Ground pound.


So here’s the disclaimer I issue every time I write about graffiti. This is not about promoting or condoning graffiti. I’m here to observe and document even as I risk glamorizing and encouraging works in this medium of vandalization. While it seems irresponsible it’s also irresistible. Graffiti continues. This under read blog offers scant chance of bringing fame or glory to any graffiti producer. Why would they need it anyway? Lord Pound is already royalty according to his moniker. My first assumption is that this is a guy tagger given the male dominance in the graffiti world and the “bro” feel of this tag but I could be wrong.

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Triple pounder.


Lord Pound received a brief mention in this blog in an old post. It’s hard to imagine how he wouldn’t given the ubiquitous nature of his tagging. I couldn’t walk in the neighborhood without seeing his name. Looking over photos, I’ve noticed a certain panache. I can also appreciate its small scale. There’s versions of Lord Pound in different scripts on a single pole. There’s Lord Pound with hearts on the old Comfort Inn, surely painted over by now. Then there’s Lord Pound dripping out of a double arrow on a traffic sign. These tags have flair. They don’t feel slopped and splashed about.

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Pound sign.

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The original Lord Pound?


At first glance the internet provides no clues as to who or what Lord Pound could be or where the name may have derived. There was Dudley Pound who became Admiral the of the Fleet aka First Sea Lord in the British Navy back in 1939 but this hardly seems like a nod to him. There was a mention of a Marvel character named Lord Pound—a god of money, on a database, but the site was making little sense and this would be an obscure reference. There was also much discussion on Reddit from three years ago about Lord Pound tagging the Mt. Hood National Forest. Not cool. I’m sticking with what I’ve learned reading the Pittsburgh Orbit posts written by self-professed speculative journalist Will Simmons  as well as watching multiple episodes of The Alaska Triangle show and offer wild guesses as to what inspired the name Lord Pound.

  • A British boxer with a powerful uppercut, a glass jaw who’s also a bleeder?
  • Religious? As in our Lord and Savior seeking retribution.
  • Some kind of deviant thing, a nod to old school locker room talk? Still affiliated with a bragging British guy wearing Union Jack shorts?
  • Pound sign? Hash mark? Hash tag?
  • Royalty? Money? Royal money?

 

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Impound.

I thought I had a few more entertaining guesses but I am stymied. Regardless, Lord Pound would be a rough neck of some kind. I recall hearing and enjoying the word pound often in the 80’s. It had more of an association with beer drinking as I recall. No one is threatening to pound anyone or anything these days. Then there’s that sexual figure of speech which doesn’t exactly seem gentle or loving. There was a website, something about hot shots, that was written near one of the tags, a half second look revealed it to not be for the faint hearted or anyone with a heart for that matter. As for Lord Pound he may still be out there replacing the tags that wear off from weather, time or clean up. Then again he may have gone into hiding or he’s retired.

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Hearts pound.


After one of my other graffiti posts I was contacted by someone who offered to enlighten me on this subject.At press time, I was unable to establish contact but I might be able to and I’ll add an addendum. The question remains. Why do people feel a need to create a tag and then splash it every and anywhere? Yet, why not? Who doesn’t crave attention any way they can get it? It’s that spirit of look at me that some of us never outgrow. It may have nothing to do with having something to say or it could be saying more than anyone realizes.

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Pound it down.

 

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The Reddit crowd mentioned not posting pictures because it only encourages people but the idea behind the Portland Orbit’s new Spring Cleaning series is to release old photos and ideas. We can only hope that Lord Pound has gone on to bigger and better things besides tagging nature and the Kenton neighborhood.

My Decal Obsession Conundrum in Part 4 Harmony

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What is it about stickers shaped like the state of Oregon? I look for new ones everywhere and I often spot them. I’m blessed with an eagle eye, a talent that gets me no where. I feel obligated to share it with the world. The state of Oregon outline is a hot commodity in the sticker culture. Everyone wants a part of it which means I’ll keep finding variations on this theme. I can’t shake my obsession for these Oregon decals so it’s nice to have an outlet for displaying these images.

Rain Make Rainbows

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The state outline in a rainbow slice might be wishful thinking in upholding the ideals of love and acceptance once you get out of Portland but it can’t hurt to dream about and promote thoughts of a gay friendly state.

Stuck in Place

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Any locale within the state can put themselves in the state borders and create a sticker design. Obvious right? Why not scream out: We are a place in Oregon and create a design. Upon Further Review: I wasn’t paying much attention making the assumption this was a decal promoting Estacada tourism if there is such a thing. In the middle of admiring the literal sky lines, earth tones and abstract trees, it dawned on me that this was a sticker from a weed business. Wow, man. 

 

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This sticker calls out against laziness and should inspire “place stickers” to create slogans. You have to appreciate this effort. It does make me think I have copy editing skills. Why not, “It’s Good in the Hood!” Or was that slogan already taken?

Dead Giveaway

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You’re a Grateful Dead fan, an Oregonian and you’re not Bill Walton. You can broadcast this message with ease with this sticker.

WTF is NWSS?

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A peacock, a heart and an acronym where it’s an easy guess the NW stands for northwest, the SS, I’m not sure I want to know. All this on a green background with a thick black outline. I’m getting too critical about this thin lined drawing and the fluttering letters but boy do I like those thick black lines.

Go What?

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I’m lost. Is it a group of skis or a fort down in the empty quarter of the state? It doesn’t matter but it’s cluttered. I mean what’s with the kids skis in the middle? There is no life for a sticker critic. Go West is a tired sentiment. How about “Go Somewhere Else?” I know, curmudgeon much? I am a sucker for plain and simple black and white designs that may or may not be trying to sell me something.

Home is a State of Mind

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It’s okay if you need to proclaim you’re from Oregon. It can be the home of anyone who lives here. Go crazy on that letter “O.” Is it a wave or Mt. Hood getting tweaked like an ice cream sundae top?

 

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Is there a hidden double meaning in placing the state abbreviation inside the state border? Who am I even asking? Am I hoping an Oregon sticker expert happens by and reads this post? Perhaps. This simple design is eye popping if you can see past the redundancy.


Stuck on Sports

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Of course I’ve learned all about “CorVegas” from the C&C guys and there’s no faulting Oregon State for taking as much pride in their state as their football team. The beaver logo is even extra fierce looking. So, yeah, Go Beavers!

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Washington fans in Oregon, okay, but come on! Is there anything less nesessary than Huskies fans needing to tell people they’re from Oregon? I try to keep my critiques focused on concept rather than execution which is why this one bothers me so much. As for the design, I like purple and pin stripes. 

Stick it Out

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Go to town with that crazy blend of colors on a silver back ground. I’m enthralled. This has to be the most beautiful background of an Oregon outline sticker I’ve seen. It’s lacking a concrete message. Shiny, happy, tacky, perhaps when it’s paired with a grouping of flamingos representing the family unit.

Love, A Many Splendid Thing

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At the very least this sticker gets props for doing something different. Who knew you could form the letter “O” out of the outline of the state of Oregon. I have to say I love this one even though all this love stuff makes me a bit queasy. It’s an ingenious take on an overdone concept. I can only imagine how many word combinations exist that might use this style of the letter O.

Cranberry Sauce: Praising, Not Burying Saul MacGarvey

 

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I learned the word hoodwink from my tenth grade English teacher, Mr. Bobby Hand. He might take pride in knowing that. I always thought about it in that way politicians pull the wool over people’s eyes when they make false promises. I took pride in thinking I was too smart to be hoodwinked myself until I had a run in with Saul MacGarvey. Saul is actually the innocent party in all this. As you’re about to read, he is the subject of an informative and entertaining interview. I was suspicious when Saul’s people contacted me out of the blue but it’s flattering when anyone takes an interest in the Portland Orbit. Jeff Dodge, my Portland connection to Saul, was evasive when I asked him the name of  Saul’s band. Anybody else would wonder why I didn’t ask Saul himself but between trying to decipher the cryptic nature of this project and actually getting in touch with Saul, I forgot! It wasn’t until I began gathering images and links to include with the interview that I found out this was a Jeff Dodge and the Peasant Revolution Band release. And that, is how, I got hoodwinked. Saul MacGarvey’s identity is a mystery but it doesn’t matter, I had a great time talking to him and despite technical issues that created transcription challenges, I had plenty of laugh out loud moments listening to this recording over and over again. This may not be the last word on my getting hoodwinked but I figure I should let it go for a moment and get to the interview.

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Guest hosting The Peasant Revolution Band Variety Hour

Portland Orbit:  Okay we’re starting, I mean, sorry, it’s David, it’s David from (laughs) the Portland Orbit. You’ve got to excuse me because we’re had our Christmas party. We’re so busy that we are just now getting around to having our Christmas party. So that’s what we’ve been up to but Saul we know how busy you are.

Saul: It’s a bit late for Christmas, isn’t it?

PO: Yeah, well, I know exactly, we’ve been very busy and you know 12 days of Christmas and all that so that’s where we were—

Saul: I could play that for you if you want.

PO: Oh wonderful Saul. I know you guys had reached out to me it’s been a bit of a mystery but you’ve reached out to me for an interview and so I’m glad that I was able to track you down I have to admit that I didn’t know much about what you were doing and I’m going right into my first question. Okay, are you ready?

Saul: Chorde was a big fan of the Portland Orbit so we thought we’d do that.

PO: Oh great!

Saul: Yeah, go ahead, fire away.

PO: Okay, okay, wait a minute. (Pause for technical difficulties.) Here we go, this is great. From what I’m so familiar with for the music I felt like, it seemed you’re inspired by the Beatles with your Beatle influences on your album and I’m wondering how did you connect with the band?

Saul: What you seem to be saying right there, I disagree with that characterization but continue on.

PO: Well then, maybe the question is, because you cut me off, but my follow-up question which was sort of like, it was a two-part question, two questions in one, which is complicated, but did you connect with the band The Beatles when you first heard them?

Saul: Well, for one thing we’re entirely from different eras, you know, just because we grew up in Liverpool, we were born during the bombing, you know, the war going on. They supposedly had similar things but I don’t really know their history. I was always more of a Stones guy, you know.

PO: A what guy?

Saul: The Rolling Stones.

PO: Not Gerry and the Pacemakers?

Saul: Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. I’m also a bit big fan of The Turtles, very influential and the Thompson Twins were also a big influence on our work.

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Saul with the Thompson Twins!

PO: (Hearty laugh) I can imagine twins, anything with twins. This Tom Lemon collaboration that you’ve got going on, were you trying to do the—

Saul: Ronnie Lemon. It’s not Tom. Tom, that’s his Dad.

PO: What’s that? It’s not Tom Lemon? Okay, wait a minute Ronnie, Ronnie Lemon. Okay, I’m sorry I don’t know where I got that. But I mean are you guys doing the songwriting team thing?

Saul: We’re kind of taking a break from it it’s been a lot of pressure so we’re going to release this album and take a little break, maybe get back to it a little later.

PO: Well, actually how did you decide which name was going to go first though?

Saul: Well, this album is very much about me and my life’s legacy. Some of these songs I wrote by myself when I was first teaching myself how to play the guitar. I didn’t have any lessons, you know, no one showed me how to do anything. That’s why I ended up left-handed with it. I can even play dobro with my toes, you know. Back then it was about doing skiffle, you know.

PO: Okay, what was it about Ronnie though? What was it about Ronnie then?

Saul: Ronnie and I met probably about nine—we were young lads growing up in Liverpool. We met playing the game Connect Four. I believe you call it over there, Connect Four. We met in a Connect Four tournament.

PO: (Laughs)

Saul: We were fast friends after I beat him.

PO: Your album, it feels a lot like the I Am Sam soundtrack. I’m not sure if you’re familiar but that was a movie where Sean Penn plays a mentally challenged Beatles obsessive and so the album is full of performers playing Beatles tunes. Have you heard of this movie?

Saul: I have not, had no idea such a thing—but again I don’t see what all these Beatles comparisons have anything to do with this work. This is from my own personal life, you know it talks about the bombings, it talks about growing up in Liverpool. My friends introduced Chorde Benjamin to Ron Lemon and shortly after the Connect Four tournament we discovered that Chorde could make music out of a pickle, not a piccolo, but an actual pickle. First, we thought we’d change the skiffle group to feature the pickle on the solos.

PO: Oh man!

Saul: We got our feet in the fire there and so this is just an album about our ride and our, you know, going on the Boolivan Show and our exposure in the Americas that we got and all of that, the love, the pain, ending in some great new tracks and old tracks you know. I don’t see why that should have anything to do with stuff about the Beatles, whatever you call them, you know, I was just never into them, I don’t know.

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Saul on TV!

PO: Okay, well I mean, a lot of people are and it’s—

Saul: So Paul’s probably caught wind of us doing this new thing and, all lies, and he’s probably jealous, him and that Yoko, they’re probably, you know, desperate to cling to rellavancy and trying to cash in on our project. Yes?

PO: (Laughs) I couldn’t begin to understand what they’re thinking about but, okay—

Saul: He’s a knight, you know, he’s a knighted one. He might even be replacing one of the Princes I hear. Sounds like they’re doing a little trade.

PO: Pick up some extra work at the palace, yes. I don’t know, I was really curious about your skiffle comments because it seemed to me that skiffle is just, in part, an idea of how kids could just play music without, you know, having to have practically any gear at all if you’re talking about making music from a pickle.

Saul: Yes, it was very difficult through the war, you know. I’m from a different generation and the Falkland Islands War was very difficult to get through. We had noble heroes. We were very poor growing up. We were, well, you know, we were in the lines, we were on the dole. It was very depressing and so we would have to use rocks and sticks to make sounds and that, you know.

PO: Yeah, just like a piece of string, tie a piece of string to—

Saul: Some people think it was invented 30 or 40 years before we discovered it but I guess what we did with it, with the pickle and everything was kind of—it’s what we kept doing. We try to reinvent ourselves. It’s very important to do that, you know. Like when I had to replace, I mean when I spotted Saul. It was very, the psychedelic era, a lot of disinformation got out there, you know? What was your question?

PO: I actually, well I was talking about skiffle but I mean I get it, it just something that struck me just the idea that most people would be intimidated or think you have to have a lot of equipment to form a band or whatever but it sounded like kids were just getting up and trying to make whatever music they could to express themselves.

Saul: Sometimes we’d have to compete with rouges, it helps, it was a blunt object that could be used as a weapon. Very tough, you know. It was really difficult when we started to move into sponges and pillows. We wanted to get a softer sound. It was no good. Moving in our junior year we had to fight off for our spots and rosters with pillows.

PO: But that sounds like the origins of soft rock then that came out of California. That’s amazing! I hadn’t even thought about that.

Saul: Brian Wilson, we were probably very influential on him.

PO: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Saul: I feel like, you know, it totally makes sense today. I don’t know if he would’ve admitted to that back then but, you know.

PO: That’s, gosh, I had never even thought about that parallel at all either. I wanted to ask you about the walrus and is it a metaphor?

Saul: Well, you know, I suppose for that Beatles group it was. You know we don’t really have any cute animals on this album necessarily. This is much more about love and peace and understanding and the love Ron and I shared for each other before he got shot, you know.

PO: Okay, yeah, I, yeah, I didn’t want to go there at all but I did, I mean—

Saul: You know, Ronnie getting shot, you could compare that to a walrus getting washed out into the sea. I guess there are some similarities there.

PO: Yeah. Ah, yeah. Yeah.

Saul: Ron got shot in the toe so he got back up, limped onto the shore.

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Saul’s short film deemed a critical and commercial failure.

PO: (Laughs) Well, I was curious about the rest of the band, Chorde and Mack-O, Mackie? And Ron, of course.

Saul: Chorde was my old mate. He was a couple of years younger than us and we met at the Connect Four tournament with Ronnie. He had my back. He was kind of my coach, my cheerleader and then when I beat Ronnie it was like, you know, hey will you join my band? And I said yes, l will. Can Chorde come along? And Ron didn’t—he rejected him out right. That scrawny little thing? I don’t think so. What does he do? And Chorde didn’t do anything at that time. It was another year or so, oh I can play this pickle, you know. That’s sort of how that all came together. Our drummer was a wonderful lad that we used to have. He was kind of stealing all the ladies and that was a bit of a problem so we fired his ass. We got Mack-O. He was cute but he wasn’t as cute as us so we were all able to get the women and the birds.

PO: Because the other drummer before Mack-O wasn’t the best drummer, right? That’s why he needed to go.

Saul: The wonder boy could really, really keep a beat but he was getting all the bird’s attention.

PO: Okay, I just, yeah, I just wanted to make sure I got that.

Saul: Who wants that around, good looking smiling guy. He’d go with three women and they wouldn’t bother with us. They’d all be with him by the end.

PO: Yeah, I was asking about Chorde and Mack-O and about where the names came from.

Saul: Mack-O should be pretty obvious. He came with a mac and he never took it off. The truth, I don’t really know what’s under there. (Laughs) No, he’d shower with that mac on. Mack-O.

PO: He had his mac on!

Saul: Loves his mac, his mother got him in the habit of it when he was really young and he’s much older than all of us but like, you know he’d wear the mac to the shower, anywhere because it rained and he was sickly child so they were very worried about him catching a cold so he always kept the mac on. On the other hand, I, you know, I’m not sure it just seems very convenient that he would be our lead guitar player and his name is Chorde, it just, you know—

PO: Oh, yeah, that’s—so it’s a nickname then? Nickname?

Saul: No. He was born with it. They named him that. He spells it with an e on the end too. It’s unique that way.

PO: Okay, name, it’s kind of a—you got to have a gimmick and all so that’s good.

Saul: His parents were academics who knew nothing about music, you know, it was very outside their world.

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Another handsome drummer axed!

PO: How did you feel about the death of Ron Nasty?

Saul: Ah, from the Rutles.

PO: Yeah the Prefab Four, the Prefab Four and then the Rutles. Yeah.

Saul: I’m a big fan of their work. Nasty was influential in a lot of Ron Lemon’s song writing, for sure, yeah. You’d have to ask Ron about that. He’s hard to get in touch with since he’s isolated himself with that guru, Raku. Yeah. It’s not like her sitting on my guitar was, you know, gonna—it just made me mad. Get out of here. Why are you sitting on my guitar? You’re making it all out of tune.

PO: (Laughs) Not a good piece of furniture.

Saul: Not cool at all.

PO: Did you have anything that you wanted to add? I know, actually, I’m gonna repeat that because I appreciate this so much Saul and I know that the people that I talked to were saying 10-15 minutes. I try to limit, you know, my interviews to three questions which is impossible with a guy like you.

Saul: I fully understand. My management told me this would only be like two minutes but Chorde has spoken so highly of the Portland Orbit that we wanted to give you a fair shot and tell our story. Really this is about my story, you know, it always is at the end of the day and, you know, I guess if I had anything to add to it it’s just that it chronicles our journey as a band and, you know, kind of—when I first replaced—got involved with the band you know they’re sort of two phases of it really and those, the young phase where I was very disengaged and unmusical and then there’s the after the drugs came into it, you know I changed my perspective and some people joked that I changed my face and stuff but you know, a lot of that second phase, really, it brought us into, well, it’s a lot about the world we live in today and the various systems of power and influence according to the majesty of the royal crown is talked about a lot in there, you know. The prestige of the BBC and, you know, what it means to be of kind of a royal bloodline and how important and influential that is on the world, you know, a little bit of blood goes a long way, as they say. It’s got blood all over the place. It’s got blood in the Americas there, you know.

PO: Yeah, you reminded me—

Saul: Fake blood. (Laughs)

PO: Yeah, I’ve kind of gotten away, you know, a lot of the other things that I was hearing about the dribs and drabs that I was getting about this whole project kind of took me away from the music so I’m really appreciating you, because this is a huge album, a huge project and—

Saul: Love and blood lines that’s what it is for me. It’s all about love and bloodlines.

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# # #

Bonus Interview!

P.O. Okay, well, love and bloodlines and what about the future of Scotland? Did you have any thoughts on that? I know you spent a lot of time or you’re going to spend a lot of time in Scotland.

Saul: Me and Cinda, have a little castle, some people call it a cottage up there in the Highlands. It’s very important to get away from Ronnie and Raku and Chorde, you know, Chorde, he has his own projects to do and, yeah, I just want what’s best for all of them. But Cinda and I, no, you know, we’ve dabbled with Scottish politics I suppose, a little bit. The marijuana laws are horribly regressive, you know, we’ve had to get legal help about that at times when we’re traveling back and forth. I have to have lawyers with me. They’re checking our luggage, passports—

PO:  Yeah.

Saul: Certain—

PO: Cavities?

Saul: Thanks to my bloodline it’s sort of a short conversation.

PO:  (Laughs.) All right, well, that is amazing. Thank you so much.

Saul: I’ll have to tell the whole joke about the nickname Billy someday too. There’s a lot of disinformation out there, so I just won’t want you to, especially this Beatles garbage. I hate them. I’m a Stones person.

PO: Okay, well, that surprises me but I get it, maybe it was just too much but, you know, you were still kind of subconsciously reflecting out what you were getting in from them even though you liked the Stones more.

Saul:  I couldn’t name one song if you asked me. I don’t, you know, I mean how little their music meant to me. The Rutles were far better from my perspective.

PO: Yeah, okay, and it sounds like you didn’t catch the Rain tour. I mean, there’s  numerous Beatle impersonator bands.

SauI: I don’t, yeah, you know, there’s some good Stones cover bands that I really enjoy and a wonderful U2 band called boob tube in Ireland. They’re wonderful, wonderful lads, but, yeah, I don’t know this Beatles thing I wish people would kind of drop it.

PO: You can still get confused. I watched much of a rooftop Beatles concert before I realized, now I realize then this is Them Beatles reenacting the rooftop Beatles concert so I was blown away by that. I was totally fooled.

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Saul and Ronnie raise the roof!

Saul: Yeah, well, you know when we were getting on with Ford Harkin and we decided we couldn’t use him anymore to produce it was his idea that we should throw one last set together and Mack-O said, “let’s go on the roof.” We did, but you know, I didn’t know that the Beatles did that actually until you mentioned that. It was a stupid idea because it was pouring down rain. We got all wet.

PO: Who got electrocuted? Anybody get electrocuted? That sounds dangerous. Struck by lightning?

Saul: Well, it was just a lot of water. It was pissing.

PO: You have to check the weather before you schedule a concert outdoors.

Saul: Well, you know, it was the heat of the moment it was quite epic, we were fookin’ done with Harkin here. It was time to do something wild and spontaneous so we did. Actually one of the tracks might have made the album, “World Gone Mad” is actually–

PO: Right from the roof!

Saul: Yeah, people got so excited they decided to put it on a satellite feed across the world so we did that, opened it with the Canadian national anthem to start and it started raining.

PO: Ugh.

Saul: We were live so we played through.

PO: You see Mack-O never—he wouldn’t care because he had the mac.

Saul: Mack-O stayed remarkably dry. His mother raised him well. It was one time the mac really protected him.