Cosmic Bowling

The center of every neighborhood should revolve around a bowling alley. It’s a place where people meet, chat, catch up and then throw heavy balls at wooden pins and listen to the sound they make as they hit the polished floor that adds spin to the bowling balls that are hurled down the long alley towards the pins. The cycle would repeat itself until the bowling alley was closed for the night and everyone would go home to get ready for the next day’s work and the following evening’s bowling and visiting with neighbors. But bowling is not such a neighborly activity anymore. It may be a dying sport. I’ve yet to read the book Bowling Alone. It’s an older book that, as I recall, summed up the underlying story of what’s going with humanity and bowling. The Kenton neighborhood used to have a bowling alley that now houses the Disjecta Arts Center. We lost our lanes when they moved up the street to new digs and became Interstate Lanes.


I’ve long admired the simple yet cosmically inspired, with a slight psychedelic twist, external decoration that can be seen in a mural on the building, the sign post, entryway paint job and strips of neon. Sure the paint may be peeling off the outside walls and I’ve heard a rumor that the bowling alley may close but I’m hopeful it will stay open if only because there are now too few places to bowl left in the area.

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The entry way has a multicolored picture of what looks like the evolutionary stages of upright bowling. It could also be seen as group of bowlers who like to bowl together–especially close.

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The sign post does it right. Somehow a conglomeration of metal stripes and shields supports a sign that creates a visual pun by replacing letters with bowling equipment. Regardless of how aged it looks, it all seems so classy, clever and cool.



The coup de grace, pardon my French, is the giant mural on the side of the bowling alley that hasn’t totally succumbed to vandals. It’s where things get cosmic. I see intergalactic bowling in space. This occurred to me because the round object at the lower edge of the picture looks like a planet. I image Aliens being the ones to keep the sport of bowling popular. This would probably be because they would enjoy smoking and drinking PBR which seems as much a part of the game as the game itself. The mural is a thing of beauty with a slight marring from an errant spray can nozzle. I can only suggest a double dose of cosmic bowling which would entail staring at the mural and then actually doing some actual cosmic bowling resulting in more of a trip than just going to Interstate Lanes.

Trollarium of Schofield


It was Ronna Craig, degreed in anthropology and with an intuition that someone or thing had taken refuge in the hollow at the bottom of a giant tree, who I would say made the discovery of the Trollarium of Schofield. All awkward sentences aside, walking down North Fenwick Ave on a Saturday morning Ronna made a beeline to a cave like indention in a tree at the corner of North Fenwick Ave and North Schofield St. She seemed to know she’d find something where I would never think to look. The troll sat in the hollow with a couple of plastic friends and a rabbit. We took brief glances not wishing to disturb the troll in his habitat.


There was never any debate between us, although others might be able to detect gnome character traits in the troll’s features—regardless Trollarium flows off the tongue better. They managed to accept my brief manic, paparazzi impersonation when I returned later with a camera to document their living quarters in an attempt to publicize and somehow profit from their lifestyle. We’ll let them all live in peace for now. No need to concern ourselves with whether they’re getting mail delivery or paying taxes. There’s never been much of a Welcome Wagon in this neighborhood so there’s no one to bother them. This discovery is so low-key that it’s quite conceivable that the Trollarium of Schofield will exist in quiet obscurity. I can only add: Squat as long as you like Mr. Troll, hang out with your friends and enjoy your tree as long as it continues to stand tall.



Troll friend: shirtless, plastic hunk-guy.


Another of the various hangers-on with Mr. Troll.

Center of the Known Creative Universe

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If abducted by aliens and told to take them to the creative hub or nerve center of Portland, I’d head over to the corner of N. Albina Ave and N. Sumner St. (Sorry W&K.) On one side of the street you have Mississippi Records, the other Cherry Sprout Produce. It’s like a lightning bolt hit smack in this area and supercharged it with a heavy dose of ability to channel creative expression. You’ll find it in the ideas about creativity and self-expression and attitude that’s amplified within the walls of Mississippi Records with an art museum, the Portland Museum of Modern Art, in the basement. Last time we visited the record store and art museum we headed over to Cherry Sprout Produce across the street. Sure it’s a grocery store but it has a whole different approach. That day was sunny, there was art on the walls and it felt good to be buying food in that atmosphere. The store’s sound system was playing better music than I heard at Mississippi Records. It sounded fresh, yet vintage–psychedelic garage rock with guitar solos leaping out of the speakers.

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The telephone pole in this section of town marks the spot where creative energy seems to flow the highest. Yes, right into the street. It had multiple colorful discs on it. I worshipped the crazy colors and decorations. I think this would make the aliens smile too. It took me a while to realize I was looking at repurposed records which makes sense since Mississippi Records sells vinyl.

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Insane, weird, impressive culture radiates out of these two establishments. I’m surprised the powers that be haven’t seeded the clouds in an attempt to wash it all away. If the aliens said take me to your leader I’d try to track down Eric Isaacson, Mississippi Record’s head honcho. He’d probably think that was too weird for him but look at this upcoming film from the screening series he’s organized at the Hollywood Theatre. It’s a movie called The Secret Life of Plants about psychobotany followed up by a slide show (winningly old school!) about the concept of “Ecstatic Truth.” This is happening Thursday, April 23 at 7:30pm so get a move on it. Expect to see the front row full of beaming aliens. It’s so unassuming, yet mind blowing. Pardon me, I have to go write my Alien Abduction novel now.


It’s all happening here.

420 Special


Whatever you consider the significance of this date to be, I hope you celebrate it as you see fit. Next year’s 420 holiday will either be an all points epic blaze out or another day in paradise once marijuana is legalized in the state of Oregon on July 1st. It won’t be long before the City of Portland is shrouded in a haze of pot smoke.

Meanwhile I experienced this mildly hallucinogenic flyer promoting paraphernalia needed to commemorate the April 20th date know to some as 420 Day. It seems like the poster was much brighter when I first saw it. It may well have been a shade of green that popped on a gray day. The appeal for me is the blast of squiggles and smudges encircled by some wormy things that all seem to pulsate and spin around the sparkly glass water pipe in the center of the picture. Stare long enough at the flyer and a contact high seems imminnent. In the meantime celebrate 420 Day anyway you see fit using this image as inspiration.

Magic Happens

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I read billboards. Sure they’re an annoying blight on the horizon but if someone displays a message, as a compulsive reader, I’m duty bound to read it. Billboards keep it simple. It’s a giant magazine advertisement that leaps off the page and into the roadway. Billboards for local casinos have been calling out to me. My reading addiction overpowers my gambling compulsion so mostly I stay home.

The idea of an evening out listening to a cacophony of slot machine chimes is a siren’s wail I can barely resist. I couldn’t pull the trigger on the Year of the Ram celebration or the weekly seafood buffet which is on a week night but when I saw the “Magic Happens” sign I began imagining a magic show at the casino that seemed to be the perfect entertainment concoction to inspire me to get out of the house. I’m thinking old school magic show, tuxedo clad magician, burlesque attired assistant who would get cut in half to end the show. There would have to be something else going on at the casino to keep me there longer than the half hour it would take for me to gamble away the family nest egg. I thought of it as an nice evening out for my wife and me. Then I realized I didn’t know if she liked magic shows. She confirmed that she didn’t like magic shows much but she would go if I asked her.

After several attempts of getting a satisfying picture of the billboard it hit me that the sign might just be a bit of advertising mumbo jumbo implying that if you go to the casino you may hit the right button or pull down the right slot machine arm and money would magically swirl around you and fall into your pockets or a pile to be carted home in a wheelbarrow. Maybe I was too literal in my interpretation of the billboard. Could it mean no magic show? There was no evidence of any performing magicians appearing at the casino when I looked on the website which meant it was time to put my crack team of investigators on the case and pick up the phone.

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To be honest, my crack team is really me flying solo. I talked to an operator at the casino who told me that they don’t do magic shows. She had not seen the billboard and didn’t know what it meant. The operator was friendly and really nice about my investigation into this magic billboard conspiracy. I did ask if they would ever have magic shows at the Casino and I believe her answer was, “no, I’m sure they won’t.” The finality of that statement hit home. I asked why and she sweetly suggested I take my questions to a higher authority. I was given the extension of the promotions director. I’m not KOIN news you know, I’m not watching out for you or anyone except, maybe, myself. I’m not giving up either. I can speculate that the don’t want anyone getting stuck with swords when the magician does his cut the lady in half act and sticks the box with several blades or however that trick goes, but I’ve never been to the Palace Casino so I don’t know if they even have the proper performance space for a magic show. Besides if I really need to go to a magic show there’s probably ten going on any given night in Portland. They probably do basement magic shows. I will seek them out. There’s no way I’m going to convince anyone at the Palace Casino to put on a magic show or build a magic show performance space addition. Not with one phone call or arm twist. I can’t make the kind of magic I want happen but that doesn’t mean it can’t be found.

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When Scribbles Mean Art

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Anyone who’s read a few of my posts must sense an underlying obsession with scribbled graffiti. It feels like annoying visual noise buzzing through my head when I’m out walking the dog. In my best agitated curmudgeon state it seems like a blight openly screaming that vandals have no need to consider people’s property or businesses, that it’s their right to make nasty, meaningless ribbons of paint wherever they want because no one seems to care. I’m heading into Travis Bickle territory with that last sentence, but I don’t see graffiti getting cleaned up or painted over often. It hangs around not looking like much. I can’t help but look at it, feel curmudgeonly feelings towards it and dream about living in a scribble free world. I wish the scribblers could have gotten it out of their system when they were babies. I had a flashback to a religious pamphlet a guy handed me downtown. The cover had Jesus and a group of children from many different nationalities in their native garb approaching a glowing, crystal city with a giant rainbow over it. I’m guessing there’s no graffiti in that place. I’m sure people can defend it and call it street art. I look at it and most of the time I grumble. I’m grumpy. I just paid my Arts Tax, and my household payment of 70 bucks puts a dent in my anemic budget. I would have preferred to go out with my wife and have dinner with some money left over to support an art event. I do like knowing that the money is going to hire teachers and I want to support art, but I want to complain more. Buy the kids some canvas with some of that art tax. Let them make indoor art.

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I was around mile 7 of a 9.5 mile bike commute home from a substitute teaching job. My route from Southeast Portland had me heading to Lombard Ave to hit the bike path and ride along the railroad tracks. It started raining in the afternoon and I hadn’t thought to pack rain gear. The Bison Coffee House jumped out at me like an oasis so I stopped to drink coffee and warm up. By the time I got along the railroad tracks the rain started back up. I was getting soaked and in no mood to stop. I had seen some old school multi-colored subway train graffiti on a cement underpass, but it was too hard to reach. When I saw the scribbles that made a face the part of me that wanted to check it out overpowered the part of me that wanted to get home. I’ve ranted about scribbles that make no sense to me but these scribbles captured my harried, soaked to the skin, dampened spirits. I was looking at about as much art as you can get out of a spray can. The mouth, the grimace, captured the spirit of life along the railroad tracks. It took scribbles to a whole other level. There was movement, meaning and great energy. I could overlook the vandalism aspect because I saw art and when you’re riding a bike down Lombard Ave with cars whizzing by and rain in your face a little art takes the misery out of the whole endeavor.

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The Portland Orbit editorial board wishes to make the following statement: We’re asking that David Craig acknowledge that he is not promoting vandalism and that if he wishes to continue writing about graffiti it will be for the purposes of documenting it and not promoting it or encouraging it in any way. And by documenting it he will also refrain from harping on how much it annoys him.

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Not art.

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Graffiti free zone.

The Golden Tooth of Hollywood

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This golden tooth caught my eye in the Hollywood District of Portland.  I appreciated the weather vane but it wasn’t until later that I realized the molar was surfing on a golden toothbrush.  I had a minute before I had to be at the nearby Hollywood Theatre so I was only able to take one picture to treasure. I’m also an admirer of the fancy font used to describe this place of business.

My concern is whether the dentist or dentists from this office are more focused on the design elements of the exterior of their facility. Could this possible distract them from bicuspids, molars and cavities? It feels wrong headed to question professionals in the field of dentistry. How much focus is really necessary on design elements once they’re chosen and affixed to a building? Unless they’re falling over, it’s probably easy to go back to thinking about what you have to think about when you deal with teeth, gums and gingivitis all day. Maybe this is more of a subconscious worry about the possibility of encountering a distracted dentist.

Right now it might be better to sit back and admire the striking elements that make up this unusual weather vane and marvel at the swirling font selection of the sign.

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A couple of weeks later I grabbed this not so great shot from the car that proves that the vane rotates!

Dumb Ass

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I got called “dumb ass” while crossing the street and I deserved it. I was crossing against the light while walking my dog. Everything looked clear and then I was between a car and a bike or the other way around. It happened fast. It was the bicyclist who called me a “dumb ass” as he peddled off down a side street. I watched him, making a mental note of his bushy beard and square plastic bucket on the side of his bike. I was so offended I wanted to chase him down the street. I knew I was wrong. I’d been in a fog, too impatient to wait for the light in the rain, over caffeinated as always with Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History Wrath of the Khans part 1 podcast blasting in my ears, and deep in thought about whatever else was going on in my life. But that crosswalk, it had been empty. I swear.

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Scene of the incident.

The idea that I could be called a dumb ass for doing anything by an ill-mannered stranger bummed me out. I was wrong. I put the ill in that ill-mannered bicyclist. Forces in the universe colluded. I was destined to experience that moment and be branded a dumb ass. In my attempt to come to grips with what transpired, I realized that I needed to be happy I was alive and had survived crossing that cross walk. I’m not sure why I was so shaken up. I took being called a dumb ass way too personally but it did occur to me that an accident could have happened. Was I supposed to come home and tell my wife, Ronna, that I almost caused a car, bike, two people, one dog pile up? I thought it would be better to make sure I didn’t do anything to make it possible for something like that to take place again. I vowed to change my serial jay walking/dog walking ways. I was determined to resist my cavalier street crossing lifestyle and wait for the signal.

My first trip to the Pacific Northwest in the early 90’s should have taught me something. Fresh out of the car, in downtown Seattle, I’m crossing the street when a police officer on foot informs me he could give me a ticket for jaywalking. He decided to be nice and let me off with a warning. I guess it could have been a lesson, but it became more of a story to break out when I want to imply that Seattle is full of overzealous cops that bust tourists for jaywalking. I can’t say I learned anything from that experience other than relying on the dumb luck of not getting a ticket or run over in a crosswalk. I feel my luck running out.

Later that afternoon, I went to Fang and Feather, the pet store in the Kenton neighborhood, to get chicken food. The people who work there are always nice. All they have to say is something like “how’s your day going” and I spill my guts. I’m blubbering about how I almost got run over by a bicyclist while walking my dog and that I got called a dumb ass. We laughed. The cashier said that kind of thing happens. He told me to be safe out there. It seemed less like a big deal.

So the lesson in all this is that if I obey the rules of the road, traffic signs etc… I can keep myself, my dog and my fellow travelers safe. There’s no other way around it. There’s no point in saying that bicyclists should not cuss. I can’t blame anyone for this incident. I caused it. I know the adrenaline surge that comes with pedaling furiously and I’ve found myself saying or at least thinking worse phrases. It’s time to start taking potential bicyclist and pedestrian crashes seriously. For the record, I’m a blogger with a heart of gold not a dumb ass. Sometimes I do dumb things.

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Max, excited again about seeing a dog friend.

Sign Round Up Snarkathon

Here’s a chance to empty the Portland Orbit photograph backlog that also allows me a forum to make snarky comments about street sign graffiti, bumper sticker philosophy and homemade signs.

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Stay True

I’m thinking this message on North Lombard is referring to staying true to my convictions. Too bad my convictions aren’t paying me a dime. But it’s a nice message written in admirable penmanship. I wouldn’t be offended by foul language written in this script.


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Don’t Postpone Joy

Ah, bumper sticker philosophy! Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy, you want to talk about joy.  I thought that was a Christmas thing. How am I supposed to postpone joy when I can’t muster up any in the first place? I had to look up the definition of joy to get a clear idea of the sentiment of this bumper sticker. Joy resembles the temporary euphoria I get after my second, or third cup of coffee. I noticed the word dismal was included in the dictionary entry as the opposite of joy. That’s closer to how I feel and I don’t have to postpone a thing. It’s better for this bumper sticker to be stuck on the back of a stop sign instead of a car bumper or I would find myself unable to postpone the joy of smashing into any car displaying this message.

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Pick Up Your Poop

I pick up 97.999 percent of the poop my dogs, past and present, have pooped out while on dog walks. The one time I didn’t, I was instantly scolded when I hadn’t realized one of the dogs I was walking had made a deposit. This was back when I was walking two old dogs that were kind and gentle. They didn’t get worked up about seeing other dogs or chase cats, squirrels or flying birds. This meant I could multitask and read the weekly papers while walking them. I had been reading an article about Gene Simmons of KISS, so engrossed was I that I hadn’t paid attention. A guy walking to the body shop where this occurred asked me if I was going to pick up my dog’s poop. Like I said before, man, I didn’t see it happen. I wanted to tell him I was reading a Gene Simmons article but who the hell cares about that.

I haven’t figured out my complusion to read about Gene Simmons every chance I get. He’s repulsive, his hair, his arrogance, his TV show, which I hope is off the air. Besides, I’m still getting over being traumatized by seeing Paul Stanley sing the National Anthem in a New York accent last Fourth of July before a Timber’s soccer game. This whole KISS aura, including their arena football team, has infiltrated me.  The sophomoric response is to consider the “your poop” section of the message.  It really should refer to your dog’s poop but I guess there’s only so much space for messages that people hang in trees.  All in all, Pick Up Your Poop is a good reminder, although I don’t think I need to read it every time I see it.

Please No Litter

Please No Littering

Like the Pick Up Your Poop sign, this sign was also spotted in the Kenton neighborhood. If I had been creating this sign I would have spent at least an afternoon deciding on whether to include a comma in the message.  Using the word please is a nice way to begin an imperative sentence. It doesn’t feel harsh in that do this or don’t do this kind of way. All right, so I’ll figure out a better place for my candy bar wrappers and cheeseburger bag. I won’t toss them on the street under your sign. You win anonymous sign poster because you have manners.

Bunyan Need a Bath!

Paul Needs A Bath

When I first started this blog I included a picture of Paul Bunyan in a blog post professing my love for giant milk cartons and loafs of bread that can be seen around Portland. A woman in the neighborhood who is involved with the Kenton Neighborhood Association saw the post and photo and remarked on how dirty Paul looked. This got me thinking. Paul needs a bath. He’s sooty, especially around the forearms, his painted on shirt is peeling and he’s fading. When it is sunny, he gets blasted. His skin turns paler and his clothes get dingier every second.

I was told that a Paul Bunyan bath runs in the neighborhood of $10,000. Well, that’s what you might expect to pay at the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort and Spa but good luck getting Paul there. It is quite an involved process. It takes time and multiple people to scrape, power wash, scrub and then repaint Paul. The last time it happened was in the summer of 2009.

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That’s right, Paul has not had a bath in over five years. We’re lucky Paul doesn’t perspire or the neighborhood would be smelling like it did when the Union Meat Company had a processing plant in the area. I don’t know how it was all arranged the last time Paul was cleaned up but it’s looking like it’s time to start thinking about another restorative/industrial spa session.

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Despite the fact that our Paul Bunyan statue never takes a step, his shoes are worn out. It’s time. It’s beyond time. We can all agree that no one should have to go over five years without a bath! New shoes, clothes and a good scrub for our beloved Paul Bunyan statue are the order of the day!

Paul Needs...

See this link for more great info on the Paul Bunyan statue in Kenton. The book PDXccentric will tell you about the time the statue was in a movie so you have to buy it:

Here’s a link to a great Kenton history page. Scroll down to see the version of Paul with heavy mascara.

Check out the neighborhood photos from the Kenton Commons web page. They are beautiful. Wait a minute, I live here?