Year-In-Review 2021: Not a Rear in Yearview

Photo by Ronna Craig

During the holidays I become part of the furniture. Since I’ve been in the “journalism” field a while, I understand, and now swear by, that end of the year, take it easy it’s the holidays brand of content provision. I’m tapping out, leaving you with all the wrapping up of 2021 in a hastily tied bow, you know the cliched platitudes, canned info packages, reruns, best of lists and anything else that requires as little thought as possible. Surviving Christmas and 2021 has me striving only to ooze from the old year into the new one. 

I’ve been drifting like the tail end of 2021. Speaking of drifts, we received some holiday-appropriate weather in the form of snow that feels more like set decoration than actual winter. A cold, wet, winter wall of snowy drizzle had me contemplating a crawl back into my 2020 fetal position but as I continue to digress, I must say it’s time to get to it. As usual it’s presented in a format stolen borrowed from the Pittsburgh Orbit

The Hit

My Dairyville post was presented in the form of “drive-by journalism” if there even is such a thing. It was all about getting out of the car and dashing through every open door before my camera battery died. “Drive-by journalism” should never be on any syllabus! My main goal was getting to the Alpenrose Dairy, getting there before my memory of what it was was completely erased by whatever it will become.  

Hats and heads off to Dairyville

Dairyville remains a mystery. As a transplant, I arrived too late to see it in action. I combed through the relics and appreciated a last chance to get a sense of the place. I didn’t need much time although the Rusty Nails Magic Shop begs for further research. Between watching a video about the Senior Chorus doing their last shows at the opera house, and getting a heartfelt message from a reader, my investigation into the story and its response pulled at my heartstrings and had me missing something I never really knew–a kind of, what I describe as, astral nostalgia. If that’s not a thing, at least some concept of Dairyville will remain in the dark recesses of my imagination.

Store in-store

The Sleeper

For the Portland Orbit, 2021 was not the year to skip the posts we run annually like the Purple Prince Tribute, The July 4th/Flag Tie-in, and the Turkey of St. Johns Memorialization. I touched on other favorite topics like Pole Art, Sad Toys and Interesting Fences. I was finally able to post about Directional Signs and Arrows. Perhaps you noticed that I was also able to root through my metaphorical closet and clean it out to write more editions of my Whatever Happened To Series

Fences hide neighbors.

Fences are the comfortable shoes of the blogging world. There’s a feel good story whenever you can stand in front of a well designed fence exhibiting artistic merit. It’s nice to see fences pushing boundaries, sporting more flare than a Friday’s waiter. I don’t ask for much these days in my pursuit of creative distraction. 

The Misses

Blog posts considered misses are on me then I blame the shoddy research department run out of a dusty and cob web strewn unoccupied office–the result of long ago budget cuts. I’d love to make time for research but I wouldn’t have time to write. I could have delved more into the topic of local celebrities. I left out names and I fear I disrespected them. I’ll return  to this topic some day. Maybe I’ll fill in the gaps while reporting on another crop of local celebrities. Who knows? My starstruck persona might belong in a separate blog. It reminds me, again, of my transplant status that had me missing out on a Portland upbringing and all the local TV personalities that would have entailed. I keep my Rusty Nails and recent Guppo fascinations alive but my Portland Experience would be sadly adrift without my current gang of local celebrity heroes.

CALL NOW TO SCHEDULE…

All LAN jokes aside, I have to say I was apprehensive because one of the network names seemed like it would be offensive to someone. But, ah, the Portland Orbit is so under the radar these days there was no one to offend. The story idea felt ingenious highlighting an underworld of creativity hidden in plain, almost, sight. Ultimately, the screen grabbed images weren’t interesting, not when my audience can get an eyeful of abandoned toys, pole art and fascinating fences. 

Thanks Alzo!

It’s been a tough year. To list what made it challenging would only have me wallowing deep in a few unsavory errors of the past 12 months. I’ll leave it at that, but I can tell you paying the 78 cents postage due on the annual Alzo Boszormeinyi laugh-out-loud Christmas newsletter was worth every penny. Thanks to any and all who made an effort to spread holiday cheer. It’s more necessary than ever and it’s a good reminder to me to keep writing jokes, bringing my brand of “journalism” to the world and to make a little more effort to spread around my own limited supply of holiday cheer.

The Year in iPhone Memories!

Ancient Forest
In search of Tim Hardin
Survived Island Hopping
Back in Portland (Post Riot)

Poop Police: They Live Inside My Head (All Puns Intended)

When the inspiration isn’t there for a post it helps to switch gears. Now I know most of my readers. My guess is they aren’t interested in being immersed in the behind the scenes of this blog. While it might only interest me, I have to say I moved on from a subject that needed more thought and time. I hadn’t taken the topic seriously until it came down to crunch time. Manic holiday preparation procrastination left me frazzled and unable to think but this piece has shaken me out of my doldrums. Yucks aside, I started my journalism “career” thinking there was an audience for my first publishing venture: The Daily Doo. I was a kid illustrating dog droppings which explains everything. My venture lasted two issues. This was in the 70’s, those dark days, when there was less emphasis on cleaning up after dogs and more focus on fashion and disco.

I stepped into, no not that, a skirmish of sorts on one of my routes walking home from work in SW Portland. An empty, overgrown field serves as a shortcut. Lying between a townhouse development and the backyards of other homes this No Person’s Land is where some dog walkers found freedom from having to clean up after their pets which prompted sign makers to post signs. It’s hard to tell how bad it was due to lack of evidence. Does this mean the signs that appeared worked? Or were the signs proactively placed as the result of a careless dog walker, or two, in order to make others aware that cleaning up after a dog is a “civic duty?”

Now I’ve stated, in this very blog, that 99.9 percent of the time I’ve cleaned up after our various dogs. The one time I didn’t I was scolded by a random tough guy and undeputized member of the Poop Police. I deserved it. This was when I could walk two dogs while reading the Portland Tribune. At the time I was deeply entrenched in an article about Gene Simmons of KISS, too distracted to notice one of the dogs had engaged in her business. I walked away, oblivious for a blissful moment, until a confrontation brought me back to reality. This reminds me, the Portland Tribune seems to love KISS. Every couple of years they write an article about the current KISS lead guitarist, and local hero, Tommy Thayer.     

So what makes people think they don’t have to pick up after their dogs? We know dogs won’t and they can’t read the signs telling them where they can or can’t use the facilities. This isn’t quite the same mentality that has people leaving full poop bags on hiking trails. This drives Ranger Drew, and others, crazy, for good reason. People: Don’t expect the rest of us to pick up after you under any circumstance! It leaves me wondering who the Poop Police are. I’m talking about the people who get bent out of shape, maybe not in a pooping posture, about people not picking up after their dogs. Where I can offer a scolding in jest, for the most part, this is an issue that I can take or leave, other people feel compelled to post signs. I understand why people do this. It’s a bummer that they have to.

We have a hundred pound dog at our place. I know the amount of excrement (thanks thesaurus) that piles up. Knowing what one dog produces, I could imagine how exponentially pile would grow if all the dogs from the neighborhood had owners thinking they’d discovered a poop dumping zone. One wonders if there was a proverbial dropping that broke the camel’s back? Or was it one wrong step? I know how unpleasant that is and how it could send someone into a sign posting tizzy. Heck, if it happened to me you’d hear me from miles around scream, “PICK UP YOUR POOP! NO I MEAN LIKE LITERALLY, WHOEVER LEFT THIS COME GET IT NOW!”     

I like signs more than anybody but ultimately, like the band Five Man Electrical Jam who wrote the song “Signs” in the early 70’s, I feel like my little nook in the woods used to feel peaceful and sacred before the signs. “Signs, signs, everywhere a sign” the song says. A couple are even nailed to a tree for goodness sake. As a 99.9 percent poop picker upper, (there should be an award for this) I don’t like the idea that the Poop Police are out there monitoring. People should have the common sense to keep a common area clean without constant reminders. I say, “Pick it up. Doo it!”

I went back to the site. Wouldn’t you know it, like a cliche, it’s an empty field with a fire hydrant in the middle. It has the feel of a dog gathering space. Where on earth did that myth come from–the one about dogs peeing on fire hydrants? The hydrant sported plastic bags for anyone who left home without one. I get that it’s a good idea to keep this section of the neighborhood from becoming a field of poop mines with one false move getting you a poo shoe. While it feels like I should appreciate that someone is trying to keep the neighborhood clean, the Poop Police take a heavy handed, big brother vigilante approach. Yet, without these efforts, I’d be tromping home with a foot, or two, full of it!       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

It’s You I’m Looking For: Still Missing the Turkey of St. Johns

I’ve been alone with you inside my mind

and in my memories

I’ve missed your Turkey lips a thousand times

Sometimes I see you waddle in your yard

Hello?

A turkey I look for

I saw you with my eyes

And it makes me smile

The hug I’ve always wanted

And my arms are open wide

Cause you know just how to gobble

While my memory has to do

I remember you so much

I miss you

I long to see the sunlight in your feathers

And write about you every year because I care

I really do feel my heart will overflow

Hello!

I want the world to know

‘Cause we wonder where you are

And we wonder what you do

If you were somewhere feeling lonely

Or is someone eating you?

Tell me with a beating heart

Because I haven’t got a clue

But let me start by saying I miss you

Hello?

A Turkey I look for

I wonder where you are

And I wonder where are you?

Are you somewhere feeling lonely?

Or is someone eating you?

For I haven’t got a clue

But let me start by saying I miss you

Turkey Portrait by Ronna Craig

The regulars may remember this annual tradition but to those mystified the legend begins here:

Of note:

This year’s tribute was going to be a homage to Old Yeller by Fred Gibson. If you don’t know, the book is about a boy and his dog. I haven’t read it or seen the movie but the ending was the stuff of school yard legends. I tracked down an ebook version and swiped to the last pages searching for that key paragraph, the one that detailed the deed. I was let down. There was little to work with from the short, blunt description of that certain action–nothing I could use as parody for my annual Turkey of St. John obsession tribute. It was Thanksgiving Eve, late for me to have no back up plan. I had thought about adapting a song lyrics but I’d been drawing a blank. A few minutes after the Old Yeller paragraph fiasco a song popped into my head, a song a student of mine had been singing years ago. Maybe it works.

If none of this makes sense to you, you’re not alone. It makes no sense to me either. As I’ve recently heard, drawing a turkey is exceedingly difficult, missing a turkey, well that’s the same degree of difficulty. Oh and for what it’s worth, have a great Thanksgiving.

Watercolor Turkey Portrait by Ronna Craig

Special thanks to Ronna Craig and Cindy Couling for their illustrations.

Local Celebrities: Watching the Stars Align

I watch television. Sometimes it blares local news or reality TV programming. Local celebrities seem heroic to appear in the commercials I have to endure. They jump in front of cameras, a feat not as easy as it appears. Whether it’s cars, mattresses or deeply discounted stereo equipment, advertising comes with the territory. These local stars hawk wares in a dying medium yet this post innovates. Introducing a new feature: The Star Struck Factor Rating. Each representative will be scored from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most petrifying degree of star struckness. Interesting enough, I had very few local celebrity encounters. The best example was eating at a restaurant where a Channel 12 weather person was sitting at the next table. I wasn’t exactly starstruck. I been saving this story for a humble brag when I needed one. Ultimately, I wanted to give the guy a chance to have dinner in peace and not deal with one more person who had seen him on TV. Who doesn’t deserve a night off from talking about the weather?

He Sells Enchiladas in Milwaukie

I’m not sure if this guy has a recognizable moniker or if he even uses his name in his commercials. I’ve seen him before pushing his margaritas but when I saw him in this asparagus get up I had to get a screenshot. Things that are gimmicky are still mostly fun and interesting so I would encourage this restauranter to keep pushing the envelope. I’m due for a visit to Milwaukie at some point and I may make it a point to check out his place because of the effort he makes to get people into the door.  

Star Struck Factor: 3  With this costume I might not recognize him but he seems like a nice, low key type of person so I’d imagine a friendly encounter.

Most Outrageous!

Rumor and probably research would reveal this guy to be related to Tom Peterson–the patron saint of local advertising appearances. Heck even Kurt Cobain sported a Tom Peterson watch and if this Outrageous Audio guy had a watch I’d get one. As far as I know he doesn’t blast his name out in advertising. There no time. He’s too busy pushing the product in an outlandish way. It’s all crazy deals smothered in crazy sauce. I have to say–it works. The commercials are never dull and while it doesn’t feel quiet like a mental breakdown in progress, it’s close. That’s the fun.

Star Struck Factor: 8  I think I’d actually be a bit afraid to meet this guy but it would be interesting to see if his TV persona is all an act.

Lampee: How you want your dentist.

So a dentist doing his own advertising could go south pretty quick but Dr. Lampee pulls it off by being genuine and offering a gentle onscreen presence. His commercials wouldn’t scare anyone off. 

Star Struck Factor: 6  Dr. Lampee seems likable and the kind of person who would have the patience to explain a tricky procedure in a gentle and patient manner.

Calling Dr. Darm

Dr. Darm seems like a nice guy who does important human body work. He’s soft spoken but his demeanor is reassuring. He’s recently brought on a partner to appear with him in the commercials. The business like low key approach to their practice feels like these two would be helpful in the way all goods doctor should be.

Star Struck Factor:  9.5  I think I would be like, “woah, it’s Dr. Darm! Then I would start shaking. Dr. Darm is a star to me. He’s been around a while which increases his star power. 

Siblings Working Together

This is a team with good chemistry–they are family after all, but they also have good natural screen presence in the commercials they make to sell cars. Their most recent ad made references to their sibling rivalry and included an 80’s flashback. Everything about them feels good.

Star Struck Factor:  There are two of them. There’s a certain intensity to these two but I think they would be friendly. There’s still that added pressure that I would end up buying a car.

BedMart: One Stop Bed Shopping

This celebrity has me harkening back to the days of Bedmart Mom and actually missing her a bit. As far as I know this spokesperson is anonymous while Bedmart Mom wasn’t. In the old commercials a woman introduced herself as Bedmart Mom as she splayed herself across a bed wearing silk pajamas. Mom was unceremoniously fazed out for a younger model who is upbeat, personable and smiley.

Star Struck Factor:  8.5  I think I’d be able to talk to this spokesperson but her star factor would make me nervous. I might actually flub my question about the whereabouts of Bedmart Mom. 

The Banner Boys Are Back in Town

This father and son team has fun making commercials and it shows. This photo is part of a sequence where the Dad knocks his son onto a mattress. Slapstick sells. It makes me appreciate the entertaining bits these guys come up with for their advertisements.

Star Struck Factor:  4  These guys are fun, genuine and likable and it feels like they don’t take life too seriously which makes me think they wouldn’t have intimidating attitudes. It’d be easy to tell them I like their commercials for the most part.

Seeing Through Window Guys

These window salesmen bravely make their own commercials. They haven’t let their lack of camera readiness stop them from appearing on camera. I find this admirable. I’ve rooted for for these guys and my patience has paid off. They’re beginning to step up their game. I’ve noticed some artistic growth and some gags that makes their window selling advertisements more interesting.

Star Struck Factor:  5  These guys are relatable and fun. I would avoid getting into the mechanics of how they make their commercials. It would be fascinating and a little scary to see them up close and in person. 

Leaf Guard Guy: I’m Not Buying!

Oh man is the Leaf Guard Guy professional. He’s got a smooth radio voice and a nice presence. The Leaf Guard message has an infomercial feel that puts me in a tizzy about the condition of my gutters and how I don’t want to pay this guy to fix them. He’s good but will I ever succumb to those velvet tones working to convince me I need to bite the bullet and finally fix my gutters? He keeps working me. How have I not dialed that number to get the incentive prize of an ipad or restaurant coupon?  

Star Struck Factor:  ?  I can’t put a number on it right now. I think the guy bothers me because I can’t get a read on him. He’s a pro but it’s too much. I would not be able to engage with him. He’d keep working me, selling me until I was on my knees. The real guy would disappoint me or sell me Leaf Guard. He may not actually be a local so my worries may be unfounded.

Wall to Wall Carpet Carl

Carpet Carl was the first local celebrity I recall and I’ve been following his career through his commercials. Does he work at a Marion’s store? Does he really sell carpets or does he just do it on TV? The research department is on it’s way for an interoffice retreat at one of the stores. What I’ve noticed is Carpet Carl is no longer referred to by his stage name. He’s now just an anonymous shill who’s shed his moniker. As great a nickname as it is, I could see how it would get old. 

Star Struck Factor: 10 of 10  I think it’s the name and how I would be stammering while saying it out loud. Surely this would cause me embarrassment. I’d worry about his reaction to being called Carpet Carl. He’s a local legend so the kind of awe I have for him would leave me speechless.

Whatever Happened to…Mysterious Halloween Window Pictures?

There’s a naive charm to the images that caught my eye a few years back. Since then the photos lingered in the Portland Orbit archive waiting for the right moment. What’s more right for Halloween images than Halloween? The simple two tone color designs must have beckoned to me. These weren’t the usual window paintings and while their artistic merits weren’t top notch they seemed to be trying their best.

The black cat, indifferent to much as most cats are, has become an accidental symbol of Halloween. I have proof that the superstition of crossing a black cat’s path will bring actual bad luck. Bad luck fits the spirit of Halloween. This representation presents an all knowing, kid’s book illustration cat seeing the world from one side of a window.

We all know that toothy pumpkins are another symbol of Halloween. This makes it the favorite holiday of dentists everywhere. It’s not just about all the extra business they’ll get from candy consumption cavity generation. It’s also the pumpkin teeth. This illustration blows my mind. I never would have thought a cat would sit on a pumpkin due to their indifference but it happens. Our research department revealed it’s all over the internet.

Considering the depictions of Jack-o-Lanterns on this window, it’s still rare to see rectangular eyes and mouths. This pumpkin looks like a head that’s fallen off a scary Halloween robot. There’s a uniqueness to this depiction that would make all Jack-o-Lanterns proud.

There are should and should nots when creating Halloween scenes. The truly scary shoulds involve floating pumpkins and scowling scarecrows. What should not be included would be crows flying in parrot costumes.

This window scene sprang out of a farm house location. The flying crows look much less like Van Gogh birds than I once thought. My imagination fills in the gaps envisioning an old farm on a late fall afternoon with a wide open field for pumpkins and crows to gather. The barnyard cats hang out. One looks intimidating, another enjoys some autumn sun while lounging on a pumpkin. Simple illustrations capture an infinite moment in a finite medium. The Halloween decorations were sure to be scraped and scrubbed away to make room for the next holiday.

My love of untrained folk art draws me to any attempts of creativity. These pictures were taken years ago. Our research department couldn’t place when but it occurred to me that it doesn’t really matter. No one is interested in the exact day, hour or year these images were taken. I realized I could stop wracking my brain. Then while writing this piece, I realized I couldn’t confirm where these pictures were taken. I thought it was a market on Dekum in NE, across from the gelato place. That market became the Tough Luck bar. The more I looked at details within the photos, the more I realized it could well have been decorations on a NE market across from the Ethiopian restaurant named Enat’s Kitchen. Regardless, these images stand on their own in their mystery and their ability to capture the spooky aura of the season. Beyond that nothing much matters but as an added bonus, I learned the revelatory fact that cats sit on pumpkins.

Show Me The Way To Go Home: The Point of Arrow Collecting

Anywhere will get you there.

With the coffee spilled and the procrastination bug defeated, I sit down to type, ah, I mean, write. I’m fascinated by arrows so, really, it’s a great topic to explore. For some, they’re background noise or invisible. For me, they scream, always pointing things out or trying to get me to go somewhere. I marvel at their abilities. After revealing this obsession, it’s a good time to make sense of my arrow fixation but that’s proving impossible. Instead, I’ll rely on the thousands of words generated by the photos I post. You know that old saying about how many words a picture is worth. The effort to explore my arrow infatuation is the making of a future blog post that I know you are already anticipating. My ultimate goal is to see you fall in love with arrows like I have.

Nothing’s perfect.

My good friend and cross country rival from the Pittsburgh Orbit has written about arrows and what he calls arrow collecting. This inspired another blogger. I include links for the one percent of the one percent who need to see additional arrows, proof that there are arrow appreciators out there. Working on an angle for my arrow approach, I finally saw multiple variations of a functional arrows. I kept noticing these arrows, often under numbers on mailboxes. Their job is to point towards the house that the mailbox belongs to. I can only guess the necessity of this. My best conjecture is pizza related. Deliveries need to get to the right place.


Look around. Arrows are everywhere, as if Cupid has a full quiver and bad aim. What they’re saying is up to your interpretation. They can contain clever design elements or suggest you “stand over there,” regardless, you’ll soon be doing some arrow collecting of your own. To the unenlightened, arrows might be just arrows but it’s about what those arrows are trying to communicate and how they’re doing it. If they look good they get noticed.

Over here.

The phenomenon, as seen by this triangle on a stick, says the box is here but the house lives across the street.

This way.

In this example, the house is behind the mailbox.

Fancy lighting.

A classic example of arrow lighting so it can’t be unseen.

You can’t miss it!

This sign points out the Tesla dealership because the numbers on the actual building are probably hard to find.

Navigating a tail wind.

Multiple bonus points for what looks to be a homemade sign with store bought letters. The arrow’s tail is extra sleek.

The back side.
Don’t pass me by!

This stylish arrows seems to have attracted another arrow making whatever they are pointed at hard to miss.

Opposite sides.

An understated arrow does its job with a classic flag matching red background.

In the Footsteps of Belushi and Buster

Cottage Grove, Oregon seems like an unlikely cinematic hub if, give or take, four movies merit that kind of descriptor. Yet consider how Kate Hudson, Ernest Borgnine or Lee Marvin, John Belushi and Buster Keaton have the makings for a Hollywood meets Cottage Grove Mt. Rushmore of sorts. If these names are not familiar you are youthful beyond your years and you’re probably not fanatical about film. These stars were part of a personal mystique originating with Keaton’s use of the area for his silent movie “The General” while the homecoming parade scene from “Animal House” also made an impression on me and had me wanting to see the town.

I had considered a trip to South Lane County in the spring of 2021 to gawk, soak up, and seek any remnants of movie magic that happened a long time ago. As luck would have it, this year’s bike camping trip used Cottage Grove as a departure point, a convenient way to experience traces of this film history first hand. 

Cottage Grove has a quaint downtown of a couple of blocks. I counted three book stores in my jaunts through Main Street. On a weekend that featured a car show as part of a Heritage Day’s Celebration and a Saturday farmer’s market too, I began my search for signs of past cinematic glory.  

A wild haired, wild eyed image stares out from a mural on the wall of the Cottage Grove Hotel. Those large, melancholy Buster Keaton eyes are extra resonant from the scale of the work. I was just as struck by the Death Mobile–a prop from the movie “Animal House” parked on top of a trailer. That vehicle had a celebrity all its own. 

The story isn’t complete until you see the site where Keaton wrecked the train. It’s somewhere in the area but it wasn’t on the agenda for this trip. I’m saving it all up for the 100th anniversary of the filming which is sure to feature a screening of the movie and set location visits. That celebration is expected in 2026 so I’m already planning for that blog post.   

I went searching for a plaque on the wall of the hotel where Keaton stayed during filming. I fully expected to find it on the wall of the hotel. After bumbling around, someone noticed and asked if I needed anything. Then a group outside the hotel pointed to the ground and I realize the plaque was in the sidewalk where it was getting ground away from foot traffic.  Oh well, now we know Buster Keaton slept in Cottage Grove 

The downtown, while not huge, is dotted with murals along with a couple of official signs documenting the filming that went on for the two best known movies, “The General” and “Animal House,” that were filmed in the area. 

The homecoming parade scene from “Animal House” is epic. Further scrutiny from the always reliable YouTube gave me access to the parade scene, noting a few inconsistent hairstyles and seeing a section of Main Street that doesn’t resemble the current Main Street much. Things have changed in the over 40 years since the movie was made. I did catch one image from a still from Animal House that revealed a business, or perhaps a neon sign, that has stood the test of time. 

Unless you’re a film scholar who has had a recent screening of “The General” you may feel a bit lost. There’s a sign on the outskirts of town that could lead you to more set locations. An image of the crumbling train on the bridge showed up on a kiosk outside of one of the area’s many covered bridges. Here’s where this piece turns into a travel log. 

There’s not much that really stands out from a film screening with the exception of an iconic location like a house so getting a true sense of a set from a film isn’t the only reason for visiting Cottage Grove. The town is idyllic, offering us an opportunity to take a pleasant ride on a nice bike trail that lead to a lakeside campsite. In town we ran into a chatty, former Portland resident and book store owner. Even the police were friendly. 

Josh G., from our bike camping party, talked about lesser known movies filmed in the area. The early 2000’s Kate Hudson vehicle was called “Ricochet River.” It’s proving tough to track down but a trailer revealed very little in the way of a recognizable Cottage Grove establishing shot. The Ernest Borgnine hobo/train movie from the 70’s, Emperor of the North, which also features Lee Marvin and Keith Carradine, took advantage of Cottage Grove’s rail infrastructure.

If you’ve read to this point, I have to say there’s more there there then I let on. I would have enjoyed a day hanging out in Cottage Grove going from bookstore to bookstore, seeming overly touristy and possibly hearing an old story or two about any time Hollywood took over the town. It’s cool to watch an “Animal House” clip and see John Belushi get out of the Death Mobile in a pirate costume and start climbing up a Cottage Grove building. It happened, in this little Oregon town. Cottage Grove is worth a visit when you can spend more time there based on what I experienced during my brief stop over. You might not see the Death Mobile but you can bet that Buster Keaton will be watching you.

A Pole Art Poll: Love It Or Leave It

In these dying days of summer I’m taking it slow. Thoughts of heading back to school and shorter days make me melancholy but Pole Art rejuvenates me. Sprucing up dull utility poles, it’s ubiquitous nature has me finding new examples to showcase. Pole Art catches my eye adding a twinkle to it. There’s inspiration from humanity. Public Art worthy of display available for a head tilt. It doesn’t cost 20 bucks, requires no crowds to endure or squeaky floors. Been to the Portland Art Museum lately? I last documented Pole Art three years ago, if you can believe it. So l won’t delay any longer.

Hung Up Like a Moose Head

Not good enough for a wall?

I’m off to a bad start and yet seeing this frame affixed to a pole in the Kenton neighborhood was something I couldn’t resist. The siren call had me digging out the camera phone to demonstrate that anything can be affixed to a utility pole. This isn’t Pole Art, it’s decor but a resemblance to Pole Art is better than no art at all.

Pecking Away

Never call me Woody!

In the South Burlingame neighborhood this Pole Art recreates nature. You would mistake it for the real thing like I did at first glance. It’s crafty and well executed. It might be art for the birds. There are no bugs in those poles so a real woodpecker would be out of luck. This bird just gets to pose.

Sun Walk

Walk on sunshine.

This one caught me eye in Multnomah Village. I like the colors, the composition and the action. There was a point where I thought this was a homage to Michael Jackson but now I don’t see it. Michael Jackson would never have worn shoes like that unless he signed a shoe contract. It’s not even a moonwalk image so all my moonwalk jokes are obsolete.

Peck a Pepper?

Pepper up?

In the Alberta neighborhood, I stopped to take a picture of the type of Pole Art I appreciate the most. It’s simplistic yet visually creative in its use of two colors. The design is mysterious allowing my imagination to wonder.

It’s What You’re Offering

Rude buddha?

Sometimes Pole Art makes a statement. It’s easier when the art includes words. The message seems ironic when thinking about a zen master swearing. Then again how can you not get this message across without the f-bomb. Without this overused word this Pole Art might be too solemn. Pole Art is usually not funny. These days attempts at humor are always appreciated.

Half Hearted

Glad to see sad art.

Back in Alberta, a broken heart can manifest itself into Pole Art. I guessed it was a tribute to these sad times of pestilence and remorse but in small writing a message reads, “I Have A Father’s Broken Heart.” Despite the heart break the art brings the eye away from the collage of clutter that drapes some utility poles.

Sad Dad.

Dark Night

Good night kitty.

A night time photo of a dark subject matter from the Kerns neighborhood has its challenges. The outline of a silhouetted wolf head creates a mystical vibe that fades into the grime and shadows of its host utility pole.

Starry Sky

An art splatter platter.

This Pole Art offers a rich combination of multiple art movements, so many that I need to complete a correspondence course in art history just to be able to talk about it. It looks like layers of art have been applied to this pole. The effect adds a new dimension of artistic relevance if you’re willing to study it through the murk of a evening in the Sunnyside neighborhood.

Star Star

Striking Star Fish?

Is it store bought or hand made? For the most part, I’m just glad to see utility poles with any decorations. Am I going to get picky? Perhaps I should in the defense of Pole Art but I would rather see a purple star than stare at wood grain it covers. The effort to enliven the tedious landscape of modern infrastructure always perks me up. Vivid purples resurrects dead wood.

Splinter in the Eye

Any hamburgers to steal?

Okay it’s a given that graffiti isn’t Pole Art. I know the difference. Then again after looking at images of poles and Pole Art, I can’t help but include this image. This is a public service announcement to encourage the decoration of poles by any means necessary. At the risk of being reckless, I can’t help to think I’d rather look at anything other than regular old poles. At least this graffiti is spelled correctly and I dig that someone has a thing for Ronald McDonald’s arch nemesis.

Why, White Rose?

White rose, right rose?

Simple, elegant and an image that offers people to consider what it means to them. Yes, we’re back to decoration really, but it’s nice. A stapled white rose says a lot. It could mean anything but it means what you think it means. For me, Even something white and basic breaks up street monotony.

Street Stalker

Pole portrait pontification.

I saved the best for last. Spotted in the Kenton neighborhood, this Pole Art is basic, yet street regal. She’s wearing a fancy necklace. Perhaps it’s a portrait of a long ago denizen of the area. The design drew me it, rising above the broadsheets and flyers, not because it’s placed higher. The figure has pursed lips, an enigmatic smile, a curled coif and gentle, far away eyes. Pole Art has a low key presence but its anonymous nature puts the focus solely on the art.

There’s more pole art where this came from:

What’s in a Name? The Art of Naming a Network

I’m unsure what led me to the subject matter of this blog post. Was I trying for free wi-fi? Regardless I discovered my phone could root out wi-fi networks. I get a kick out of the creativity that goes into naming them. I’m a bit apprehensive due to my limited technical knowledge when talking about computer jargon but right there on my phone it lists available, although mostly locked, networks. If I’m confused, this post will be downright embarrassing but even I have enough knowledge to know that setting up a router and a modem equals a network. Heck, we even named ours after one of our pets. That network will remain undisclosed to keep the hackers at bay. 

Finding network names is as easy as pressing the settings button on my phone then hitting the wi-fi button. A list pops up with names that are sometimes memorable. Other namers use their own names or leave the network naming to a default setting. Looking up network names is a fun game to hunt down goofily named networks, the creative ones and the names that are downright offensive.

Punny Named Networks

The puns are the best and they sure test my computer terms knowledge in order to get the joke and yes, networks are also know as Local Access Networks.

Obscenity Trials and Errors

These freak me out. Don’t people know other people can see the names of their networks?

The above was all the more shocking to me because it appeared in the area of an elementary school. When talking to Pittsburgh Orbit’s Will Simmons he commented that Christine needs to step up her game. It’s not my business what people do in the privacy of their own home, just don’t name your network after it.

There’s no decorum when naming a network. I’m not really sure what this refers to, so shake away.

What a fine name, I guess, if you’re feeling honest or realistic about how you use your network.

Sometimes rhyming words stuck together are funny.

I’m sure I had run ins with guys like Hugh and Phil as I attempted to learn student’s names when I was a substitute teacher. This is a middle school level of sophistication. Then again, if your last name is Mungus how could you resist naming one of your kids Hugh?

All I can say is stay out of my hen house!

Funny Not Punny

It’s blatantly obvious that people celebrate their vices through their network names.

Um, I guess it depends on what you’re smoking or what’s burning.

 

Thanks for letting me know!

It occurred to me that I should have a separate category for ham references. I’m surprised I didn’t find homages to bacon. 

Work Beefs

Who wants to be reminded of a bad work experience when dealing with their network? I’m guessing this isn’t a corporate network. 

Animals

Who ever thought you could name a network after a pet or any animal for that matter?

This has to belong to a sports fan.

This network has to belong to a cat fan.

Maybe there’s a Thundercougarfalconbird fan out there!

Well, this one is cute. It’s from one of our area animal hospitals.

Two of my favorite things combined in one network. If cakes and dogs were actually combined there would be even more biting going on.

From an unknown network, a new canine superhero emerges.

It’s hard for me to imagine a tough Moose. They’re more gangly and intimidating due to their size. This theory is based on an actual observation from this summer.

I’m not sure what Piggyboy9913 is up to. Maybe liking pork too much?

Surveillance Van Network Names

What is it with surveillance and van’s being used for names of networks? Something feels sinister about it. It’s as if someone wants a surveillance van in their neighborhood hacking into their network or watching them as they access the internet. How does Justin Bieber get his own surveillance van? Does he hang out there when he’s not on tour?

Weird Mystery

Are we speaking Italian here? Is it a name? An Italian name? This mystery can only be solved by Justin Bieber Surveillance Van 7.

Most of us would agree that Chombi is a fine name for a computer network. It’s the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when making that split second, off the cuff network naming decision while wrestling with moden, routers and technology. It wouldn’t surprise me if all networks were named Chombi. It’s perfect.

For those of us who grew up the TV show Father Knows Best this phrase sounds familiar. It’s almost like a Rorschach test in how you might think about the use of the word Daddy. This might belong in the Obscenity Trial and Error column.

Jesusiscomingsoon, as if you need a reminder every time you access your network? Some people are so impatient.

Selling Dairyville

Have another glass!

Buzzing into an auction preview to take pictures with a camera phone at 10 percent battery is not a best journalism practice, but I had come to pay my respects. The auction would be selling off the antiques, signs, Christmas decorations, theater seats, musical instruments, milk wagons, stage coaches and other memorabilia from Dairyville, the frontier village on the property of the Alpenrose Dairy that’s slated to be razed for a housing development. This post is loaded with subconscious thoughts about a vague and sinister corporate takeover that I don’t fully understand. I do know it’s sad to lose a long running, local tourist attraction under any circumstances. I had related the closure to the pandemic. Some places were closed for so long they weren’t able to reopen but this isn’t the case here. Off I went on a manic, yet technically low energy stroll to get the photos for this post. 

Shacked up, packed up.

I owe Nerdletta Erdlettanay for posting information on the Stop Demolishing Portland Facebook page that alerted me to the auction preview. I had been to Alpenrose, seen the Velodrome, watched the Little League Softball World Championship tournament and stumbled around a closed Dairyville. I peeked through windows imagining what it would be like when it was open. I didn’t grow up in the area so I didn’t visit as a kid. By the time I moved to SW the pandemic was keeping people away. The auction preview was my first and last opportunity to enter buildings. 

Waiting for a certain lady to sing.

My initial stop was the Opera House. It was bigger and more ornate than I expected. Inside were piles of dismantled seats, Christmas decorations, furniture and wooden character cut-outs. My wife, Ronna, and I, joked about the lot system with a woman also looking around. We determined someone would have to buy all the cut-outs, not just the ones they liked. She told us she would not want to end up with Humpty-Dumpty and I didn’t blame her a bit.

Having a great summer.
Between a Welt Elf and Rift Rat.
Just needs some air.

I wasn’t in a shopping mood, despite being fascinated by the characters. The arrangement of a girl sandwiched between an elf and a short eared rabbit propped up against a wall seemed more menacing than fun. The Opera House had a balcony and boxes where my wife pointed out the grouchy, old Muppet Show characters would sit. A dusty, pneumatic percussion instrument sat on the stage. The phrase “everything must go” entered my head. The finality hit me. It would all be gone soon. Until then I could only laugh about a sign telling people not to touch elves. 

I don’t even want to touch your hammer.
Need to pick up some milk.

The magic of a Dairyville Christmas is lost on me. A tour of Storybook Land, a village within a village, featured plaster mountains, houses, stores, story books on podiums and a church. This was the kitsch fix I needed. I couldn’t focus on the story, choosing to work extra hard to get a decent shot of Mr. and Mrs. Claus without catching too much window glare. The scenes within the buildings drew me in while signs demanded we stay behind the fences. Ronna pointed out that she would have liked to have seen the display’s water features but they had been drained.

House of the holy.

Reflecting on the Stop Demolishing Portland post, Nerdetta’s words stung:

“I’m pretty sure that even though there’s so many fascinating pieces of history up for sale, many generations of folks in the Portland area and beyond feel just as sad, especially that the world we live in today is saturated with snake-oil salesmen and neoliberal shills who characterize all our memories and social gathering places – the sentimentality that roots us to place, time, and one another – as weakness.  Everything and everyone gaslit by the false-narrative of  cognitive dissonance – that in order to save the planet we must destroy it by sacrificing to the bulldozer.  And all that does is create endless amounts of expensive empty artifacts needed to trade interest-bearing / debt-backed securities on Wall Street so that the .1% speculative investor class can extract, conjure, and hoard even more trillions to build unsustainable luxury hotels just beyond the atmosphere of the planet they are rapidly destroying.”

The loss of all that Alpenrose offered seemed pointless. I thought about the plight of the bicyclists who used the Velodrome and wondered where they would play the Little League World Softball Championship. I couldn’t think of another local frontier village that would fill this void. A Facebook commenter pointed out that the sell off occurred due to family in-fighting. I read about a divided family battling in court to keep Dairyville open. I also learned that the buildings were considered structurally unsafe. Words fail me in trying to sort out my feelings about an injustice that can’t be stopped. 

Could use some new shoes.

I picked up a couple of giveaway calendars from 1968 and 1973 filled with images of bygone days. They offered a combination of history, pride and nostalgia. Henry Cadonau, the son of the man who started the dairy and his wife Rosina were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary back in 1968. The place has a long history that’s hard to let go. Photos brought the old days to life. Bike racing, Little League sports, Easter egg hunts, Quarter-Midget racing, the Shetland Shodeo, goats and milk advertisements (5% Guernsey Milk anyone?) were prominently featured. I got my clown jollies seeing more pictures of Rusty Nails and discovering Guppo, part-time clown/full-time principal. I felt the graciousness of the notice at the bottom of each calendar page that stated, “visitors always welcome at Alpenrose Dairyland.” Something had me wanting to believe the end of Dairyville was a simple matter of family vs corporation. 

Own some history.

As a side note, I got mixed up seeing Dairyville referred to as Dairyland in the older publications. I wondered if I’d referred to it wrong the whole time. More research revealed Dairyville to be a subset of Dairyland known by its official title as Dairyville Western Village. My confusion waned.

Drink milk with ponies.
Original milk sold here!

My battery dies in a warehouse full of vehicles, a Christmas sleigh decked out with a tree, buggies, stage coaches, something labeled the original milk wagon and what appears to be the crown jewel, a 1930’s milk delivery truck that you have to stand up in to drive. I found out later from a KGW report that this vehicle sold for $30,000. There wasn’t much I could do then but head out. I took one brief look at a man sitting in a chair on the Dairyville gazebo and I went to find Ronna. A man on a porch thanked me for coming, which seemed nice but I would have hated to miss it. 

Milk man bring me more milk!

On the way home, my wife described to me overhearing the man on the porch telling people that housing all around the property once belonged to Alpenrose Dairy Farm. Progress somehow means the Dairy is sure to be swallowed up by housing. I feel bad about the Northwest Senior Theatre losing the Opera House as their performance space and how the train club won’t be able to meet in Dairyville any more. I was struck by the stunned look someone gave me when I told them Dairyville was closing and I’m saddened by the loss of community this place supported. It feels like the end of a kind of generosity that Dairyland brought to the area for so long. I’ll miss the Little League World Series and live with regret for not catching bike racing at the Velodrome. For me, one last chance to combine an Opera House visit with a dash through Storybook Lane while seeing some old modes of transportation and milk distribution vehicles was the best I could do. 

Back to the barn.