Lombard Re-Imagined

On October 14, I participated in a Walktober event, a walking tour of Lombard Street sponsored by Oregon Walks and organized by the Swift Planning Group, Friends of Lombard and the Kenton Neighborhood Association. In the introductions, before the walk started, I described myself as an interested neighbor leaving out the part about my being a blogger in search of things to blog about. I wasn’t sure about the subject matter and I was being shy. So much for self promotion. Three things struck me after walking up Lombard with this group:

walkway est

1. The concrete walkway across the exit for I-5 South doesn’t always get used by pedestrians. It takes longer to wind your way up and over what is actually an easy section of street to cross underneath. The walkway is in need of sprucing up. The views I’ve seen when crossing by bike are nice. On a clear day Mt. St. Helen’s looks spectacular.

walkway med Seven Rivers BBQ

2. The Seven Rivers BBQ restaurant has a beautiful sign when it’s lit up at night in red neon. It stands in one of my favorite sections of North Lombard. Looking down the street, with the Arby’s sign lit up in the background, makes me wish there could be at least a half dozen more neon signs in that section of Lombard although I’m not sure the Lombard Re-Imagined folks would want that.


foggy notion

3. Inside the Foggy Notion is a cool bar area. They serve pierogies if you need a fix. I’m not sure about the mural inside though. Maybe I felt dumb because I only recognized Mick Jones from the Clash and while it’s great to see his image in black and white, the other people in the mural appeared to be rocking out and falling out of the frame. More thoughts: We checked into the rumor that King Burrito might be closing after the walk and found out that this is only a rumor.  Everything is fine at King Burrito and they’ll continue to operate as normal. I was in awe hearing that the Swift Planning group, the Portland State University graduate planning students that are working on reimagining North Lombard Street, have put together a guidebook containing 122 pages of information about the work they’ve been researching for potential improvements of Lombard Ave. You’ll find it here:


Additional info:



Faces in the Crowd


I’d seen Allan Ostermann’s art in the Triple Crown Market in Kenton, peeling off the back wall, immortalizing Kurt Cobain and Susanna Hoffs from the Bangles, among others. Then there was the feeling that his Lou Reed portrait was staring at me from the glass window of Smoke it Up a couple of stores down.

It was good to see Ostermann’s work hanging in the Cup and Saucer on North Denver Avenue after these appearances in the neighborhood. Ostermann’s main focus for this show is images of faces. Faces with large eyes, sometimes a tiny bit too far apart, haunting, angular and stylish. I appreciated the mix of celebrities like Eddie Vedder and Willie Nelson along with faces I thought I should know like what appears to be a 40’s movie starlet in her black and white glory with a subtle off-kilter look to her eyes. The hallucinogenic color distortions of the faces appealed to me and I was glad to see his art in a more formal art show setting.

The show runs into the middle of November at the Cup and Saucer, 8237 N. Denver Ave, Portland, OR. Ostermann sells 11 x 17 prints of his works for $20.


ahurried show

                                                    A hurried show poster shot.

Perry Mason Addendum

perry mason addendum

At my substitute teaching job this week, I spotted the September issue of the Oregonian with the Perry Mason blurb in it that I had blogged about. I looked at it and realized I missed a crucial detail concerning the cancellation of the show. Andy Delaporte, vice president and general manager of KPTV/KPDX had pointed out that the ratings were low but he also mentioned that the station’s contract with the syndication company was up. I don’t know what it means when a syndication contract is up but it seems obvious the renewal would involve money that wasn’t going to be spent keeping Perry Mason around. I can still plead my case that promotion could have built an audience that might have kept the show on but the judge and jury have joined Perry Mason and left the building.

I imagine Portlanders heading into middle age as the types who grew up on college/indie rock. This somehow seems to equate them being a vast audience open to the undiscovered, old fashioned campiness of Perry Mason. Then again Portland folks don’t have a reputation for being television watchers. Since I missed 47 years of the show’s 48 year run it would have only been a matter of time before I, too, uttered the words, “I’ve seen this one.”

Rest in Peace Perry Mason!

Something Happen

TB Building

I don’t know much about Terrell Brandon. I had a coworker who was nostalgic about his basketball skills. Brandon owns a beautiful, two story, brick, historic looking building in downtown Kenton. For more than five years, since I’ve lived in the neighborhood, it’s been empty. At Christmas time last year the front windows were decorated to market downtown businesses and it was nice to see some life in the building. When I saw Terrell Brandon on the cover of the Portland Observer, I wondered if they would mention his building in Kenton. The article was part of a minority business report the newspaper was running. High praise was given for Brandon for being a successful business man for twenty years in Portland. The focus was on the businesses he owns in another neighborhood. I kept thinking about the hole he’s left in the heart of downtown Kenton with his lifeless property. Pardon the melodrama, but I’ve walked past the building many times and I can only seem to dream about something going on there. My wife, Ronna, tried to remain positive. She said the last quote of the article hinted at the possiblity that something could happen and there is a PDC (Portland Development Commission) sign in the window that only seems like a long shot in years of little action. I would like to see the Portland Observer write about this and other dormant neighborhood properties. While it’s inspiring to see that Brandon does great things for the community, I’d like to see him challenged to make something happen with his Kenton building.




Sign Says…#3

I’ve imagined this blog as a counter-culture anecdote to internet puppies and kittens but then my thoughts concerning local issues have begun boiling and I’ve ound myself with a forum where I can offer commentary.  Before writing with more depth I’ll send out some sign photos that have been back logging my blog topics file.

garden sign

Yes, I agree don’t eat from anyone’s garden, unless you have a dinner party invitation or permission. But how is any one to resist a sidewalk salad right there on the street?

gas sign

It’s easy to imagine a dog tied up on a gas meter getting excited, breaking a pipe and then someone dropping a cigarette causing a raging inferno that burns down half of St. Johns. I can see this happening quite easily so maybe the sign should have a frown on it for God’s sake.

Downcast Screening


I once had a film maker friend say to me, in a way that sounded part out of frustration and part out of reality, “It’s hard to make a film.” I don’t think I’ve heard a greater truth. While the same can be said about most art forms it’s more important to note that Christopher Jayawardena has completed his film Downcast. I saw trailers for the movie screened several times throughout the years at the monthly screening series Attack of the Flix. I remembered Downcast as an intense crime film with guns blazing. Seeing the latest trailer, none of what I remember has changed. I can well imagine the persistence and a half dozen other characteristics needed to make a movie on an independent level, but now it’s done.  The whole movie can be seen at 5th Avenue Cinema, 510 SW Hall St. Portland, OR 97201, on Sunday, October 19th at 3pm.

See the trailer that will inspire you to see this movie:

More info on 5th Avenue Cinema:


Giant Heroes

Bunyan CU

I like giant things like oversized milk cartons that rotate and gigantic roadside attractions. Was that the subconscious pull that caused me to move to the Kenton neighborhood with it’s towering Paul Bunyan Statue a block away? He’s the rival of tall tire guys and 30 foot Indian statues the world over. On a clear day, we can see the pom pom on his hat from our master bedroom.

The giant milk carton is a thing of beauty. As it spins, four different types of milk are revealed. You could spend an afternoon watching it whirl at the Sunshine Dairy plant in NE Portland around 20th St. Look for the building with the milk carton on it.

Giant Milk Carton

The milk carton plays a minor role in the following video.

Thanks to Josh G. for sending the link. http://youtu.be/SwK635FOfPw

The milk carton cameo is at 1:58.

Kenton residents might remember Paul Bunyan’s coffee cart.

Jeff Bunyan Eternal 003

Power to the Perry!


After 48 years The Perry Mason Show is off the air in Portland, OR.  A mild controversy erupted two years ago, the first time Perry Mason was replaced from its noon slot on KPTV (Fox-12).  It returned to an 8am broadcast time on KPDX-TV channel 49, I’m assuming after enough of an uproar.  With little fanfare, Queen Latifah replaced Perry Mason in September. Any diehard Perry fan settling in to watch the show had to be disappointed. My wife, Ronna, and I started watching and enjoyed it. The characters all seemed to smoke like chimmneys and it was fun to see Perry Mason in black and white, along with investigator Paul Drake and the faithful secretary Della, chasing down some goofball in the 50’s and 60’s Los Angeles who thought he or she could get away with murder. We watched together when I had Monday mornings off. My wife’s work schedule allowed her to watch it every weekday morning.

The official story from Andy Delaporte, the vice president and general manager of KPTV/KPDX, is that the ratings were too low to keep airing the show. This is understandable but it occurred to me that the show was never promoted. A quick and funny promo could have easily been made to alert people to this gem of a show and could possibly have built an audience. And why does it always have to be about money? What about the public service of entertaining, what’s safe to assume, an elderly audience. I understand an hour of TV, five times a week, is too much to give away, but I cannot recall seeing any advertising during the show targeted to the audience. No Henry Winkler or Fred Thompson schilling for reverse mortgage programs, no medicare insurance, no Colonial Penn funeral insurance with or without Alex Trebek, no Teva (adult depends), no Consumer Cellular and no mysterious medication ads of any kind that I remember. I mostly recollect seeing commercials for career colleges and promos for Fox 12 news broadcasts. Anyone in the area who had been watching the show for 48 years was probably not considering career college.

My first thoughts were that I was going to have to fight the power to get Perry back on the air. I thought of boycotts, listing all the advertisers on the station and its affiliates, and then marching into a retirement community, up in arms, saying we can get Perry back. Working six days a week these days, I don’t want to spend my one day off protesting and I boycott most things anyway by being broke. I will get around to contacting Me-TV which is a subchannel of KATU-TV that may someday air Perry Mason in the Portland area. I found out through the Perry Mason page on Facebook that the show airs on Me-TV in Florida. Perry Mason also airs on the Hallmark Movie Channel but I’m not going back to cable.  Some of these other options involve investing in one of those DVR contraptions, something that me and all my geriatric compatriots may not be willing to do.

The biggest disappointment is losing another unique Portland experience.  If only I’d watched the show sooner, I could have seen all 275 episodes. Now I can only wish I was watching Perry Mason brainstorming in a haze of cigarette smoke, at 8am on a Monday morning, like the good old days.

Because they can say it better: