Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Could Never Get To): This Art by Stanley Grochowski


I was always on the look out for possible ideas when I started this blog. I was figuring out what topics worked while seeking out displays of creativity and inspiration behind them. Heading down North Greeley Avenue on a day in early April three years ago, I noticed a display of art work framed and screwed to a utility pole. I stopped, read the blurb about a man hit by a car at this cross walk and I’m sure I was moved by the memorial’s intensity. Then, I dutifully took pictures and filed them away.


Three years later I came across the images going through the photos on my computer. I had considered writing about it when I took the pictures. My spring cleaning/pandemic concept has given me a chance to revisit past ideas I didn’t have time to explore. This story had more to it than I realized.


While searching for information about the memorial, I learned things that made the story sadder. Local news agencies stuck to press release reports but the blog Bike Portland offered details that added another dimension of tragedy to the story. Fifteen months after Stanley Gochinski was fatally injured after being hit by a car in a cross walk, his sister was killed in Beaverton while walking her bike through a cross walk. I found out another man was seriously injured in another crosswalk in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood. I ended up going down a rabbit hole reading comments about the sister’s death that were alarming in regards to the press coverage of pedestrian deaths but I was comforted by people’s concerns about the situation.


The write up posted under the art described these pieces as something Stanley had with him when the accident occurred. There was no information on how the art was obtained but Bike Portland revealed it was collected at the scene. These tangible remnants of the victim made the display more intimate and provided a sense of Stanley’s imagination. It’s hard to tell the art from what may be deterioration from its outside display. It’s not about the quality of the art but that it was used to create a unique tribute honoring a senseless death.

The unsolved case became part of the Crime Stoppers of Oregon reward program. Hoping for an update, I called but the number led to an answering machine. The website was filled with information on other cases showing grainy surveillance footage. It felt like an amateur slueth’s dream, figure out whodunnit and collect reward money. Seeing so many languishing cases bummed me out. I recovered by reminiscing about the old spooky AM radio Crime Stoppers spots where a guy named Henry Gribber (or Gripper) had a funny way of pronouncing “cash reward.” It sounded more like “kaaysheee reward.” I was hoping to find information about this case being solved. Then it hit me, Crime Stoppers of Oregon was making a valiant attempt to stop crime but people were getting away with all kinds of transgressions.


No one should ever die crossing a street. My disappointment is compounded by those who think they can drive away from the scene of an accident. There’s someone out there living with the consequences. Maybe they managed to go on with their lives after taking someone else’s but having to live in hope of getting away with something seems like no way to go through life. In the end my angry curmudgeon side worked up another rant about how all drivers are speedy, inattentive, accidents waiting to happen. To overstate the obvious, there’s nothing anyone has to do and no where anyone needs to be that is worth someone’s life. Stanley Grochowski deserved better that late August night.

Art Racks 2

Art Rack Logo

Decorative bike racks or what I like to call Art Racks are all over the place. It’s a safe bet that most people have seen these, but I’m hoping I’m presenting a couple that are new to the Art Rack game or others that are more out of the public eye and not over-exposed. At the very least I hope my pithy commentary adds a deeper dimension to these dedicated pieces of art serving double duty as bike racks.

Product Placement

I caught a glimpse of this bike rack on a day when the eBike store on N. Rosa Parks was closed. It made more sense. If it had been surrounded by bikes, the cord may have been obscured. While it reminds me of one of my tangled electrical cords at home, this rack is well looped to secure bikes and it sports a giant, well balanced plug, a nice sculptural element that feels like a visual pun on the store’s electric bike product. Buy an eBike and unplug! (So you can ride it!)


How appetizing is a half eaten donut? Is it more appetizing than a half eaten donut bike rack? It reminds me of the best way to eat donuts–two bites. The first, a test bite, then down goes the rest. There seems to be an overly sweet intensity to considering a giant pink parking place,  donut-eating-wise – appealing to the eye, appalling to the stomach.

Bikes Seeking Bikes

A condo building on North Williams was designed with every detail imaginable taken under consideration. Whether it was an after thought or a decision debated in multiple meetings, (we’ll probably never know) these bicycle-looking bike racks were included in the project. Streamlined, functional, elegant.  That covers the categories essential to condo bike racks. The inescapable feeling that the racks are either cliché or ironic is best left on the boardroom table. No further meetings are scheduled.


While on N Albina Ave, I spotted this ingenious rack that includes bike parts. In the photo it is difficult to see where the rack starts and the real bike ends. This camouflage might mean the bike rack will soon be stolen.

To Rack or Not to Rack

I may be going out on a limb assuming this NW located sculpture is a bike rack. It could serve double duty as a bike rack and sculptural name of the company working out of the building. The internal debate would go something like this: Is it a sign or a bike rack? Then I’d work in some logic. If I can lock my bike to it then it’s a bike rack. This works with railings and fences too unless someone posts a sign like this:


The last consideration has to be about how a bike mars the sign’s look, but at least that’s only on a temporary basis while the bicycle is locked up. Unless your bike and lock somehow damages that shiny painted ironwork finish. It may be worth the risk if you are desperate to enter TOPAZ.


In St Johns this rack takes on the look of a Star Trek insignia. I do feel a “Beam me up Scotty” joke welling up. It’s a bit wonky but it looks well bolted into the concrete and sturdy enough to do the job when you’re in town.

Odd Fellows

I’m not knocking these racks outside of Sparky’s Pizza on MLK and Lombard, when I describe them as buried safety pins. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. Also it’s important not to get their various locations mixed up when ordering carry out. The design seems so different. I may even be wrong to assume they are bike racks. They could be related to pizza making process, although I’ve never seen anything related to food preparation going on under the bricks or in the metal tubes in front of a business. I like the look of these and their green color. I can’t attest to the functionality because I’ve never picked up a pizza carry out order while riding a bike.


This rack outside the Odd Fellows on Lombard St. seems more dedicated to topping the rack off with a symbolic design than offering anything more than a slim pole to lock a bike to but that’s an Odd Fellow convention. Would you want it any other way?

Good Night

Nothing spectacular here, but these racks, seen one night in the Clinton St. District, are more eye-catching than your run of the mill bike racks and possibly more functional. With that, this blog post rolls on into the night. May all your biking adventures include time with an art rack.

For more on Art Racks and a couple of additional photos see:

Tune in next week for an Orbit Buddy Holly tribute.

Photographer Doyle Thomas shared a link to his art rack photos if you want to see more: http://www.primaryfocusphoto.com/portfolios/bicycle-racks/



What Went Wrong

I broke my arm on June 22 along with my collarbone. It was gory enough to keep me sidelined from blogging and whatever else I would have been able to do this summer. The arm break required surgery in early July which seemed to go well. I slept through it. The collarbone, well there is nothing that can be done besides let it heal itself. New bone forms to connect the collar bone to wherever it ended up. I found out from a friend that’s called remodeling.**

Not that grate!

Not that grate!

On a new bike heading down the hills of Tewilliger Blvd around the VA hospital, I clipped the edge of a sewer grate in the bike route. I was trying to get around it but I didn’t make it. I went head first into the asphalt managing to turn my head in time to bear the brunt of the fall on my shoulder. My numb, dead left arm and a knot on my collarbone were the result.

13512097_10153922957533172_6979725732597236385_n (1)

The kid is all right.

After the crash, I got up and wanted to be all right but I but I’m no Chuck Norris. There had been no cars or joggers around when it happened but then a line of cars materialized, slowed down and a driver spotted me hunched over sitting next to my bike. He could tell I needed help. I confirmed this. “I need to go to urgent care,” I said looking up at him. This stranger, who later became known as Scott, was willing and able, with a bike rack on his car, to take me and the bike.

The bike was fine. We had to take the wheel off to get it home.

The bike was fine. We had to take the wheel off to get it home.

Scott was one of many people who have helped me along the way to recovery. Whether it’s been doctors, nurses, X-Ray technicians, occupational therapists, friends offering encouragement and food, calls from my parents and brothers or other family members delivering jelly beans, the attention has been humbling. An accident with a two to three month recovery time is a drop in the bucket compared to other accidents I read about: A bicyclist in a head on crash with a car that ended up in a coma and Bono from U2 whose bike accident in Central Park required two surgeries. He also sustained eye socket damage (glasses failure?) and a mucked up finger that might threaten his guitar playing abilities.


Nothing calms pre surgery nerves like gift shop displays.

View from my hospital room, seeing the flag was much appreciated.

The view from my hospital room. The flag inspired me.

The accident taught me that I should never have taken for granted a fully functioning left arm and collarbone, whatever a collarbone actually does. I had a faint memory of reading about the dangers of grates. Now I was living proof. Here’s a bit of advice I figured out after the pain killer fog lifted. If you’re flipping on your bike make it a full flip.

Recently I unearthed the manual from my new bike. It was covered with warning signs and urgent pleas to read it before riding the bike which I neglected to do. It had me recalling that profane acronym RTFM. I’m not sure it if it mentions bike flips or sewer grate hazards. It might be time for me to contribute a chapter.

**Shout out to Mike Blau, who I thought could have been pulling my leg about my collarbone remodeling. (Too much kitchen remodeling on the brain.) I’ve yet to research it but since he’s practically a Rocket Scientist, I’m sure he knows his stuff.

Back next week with the long awaited follow up to my Pole Art piece.


Jelly beans having healing properties.


The Beautiful People of the Bike Lane

In Portland, Ore., we have bike corridors and bike lanes, both of which are marked with large images. Bike corridors are streets marked with bike symbols that provide easier access for bike transportation. The bike routes are recognizable thanks to the oversized bike symbols, while the bike lanes that run along side roads have lined borders and are marked by a thick, stick figure riding a bike with a floating head.

Bike lane marker plain

I didn’t know what they were called until I did some research. I didn’t care for the knick name “bike guys” somehow preferring my own more generic name of “lane markers.” Once I began to notice the footless people riding on these bike symbols in the bike lanes it was hard to miss the detailing added to the occasional markers. While huffing and puffing around town, their entertainment value is undeniable. Sure the thrills are cheap, but the designs also provide a bit of low-key joy to the world. If you study the generic nature of the stick figure person on the bike, you can imagine how some creative enhancements spice them up adding pizazz to the bland features.

I wasn’t sure who decorated these things before I researched the subject. I surmised it was the work of one person. The designs seem uniform and consistent in the number and style of additional elements. My theory had me under the impression that bike marker decorations were the work of a lone, talented vandal. Consulting the bible of all Portland Oddities, PDXccentrics, which exists in book and blog form, revealed that the lane markers are the work of PBOT, that’s the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Which makes sense because, when I had a look at the movie “Martinis in the Bike Lane,” I discovered there’s a bit of know-how involved in burning the thermoplastic material that makes the designs into the road. This isn’t something that gets pasted on the asphalt which negated another of my theories about the markers being giant stencils.

SW Terwilliger Blvd


How can I knock this? I just happen to think that a hobbyhorse is a goofy toy. I probably would have had hours of maniacal, improvised fun with one if I had one as a kid. The subtle use of green in the hat, belt and boot made me want to stop and take a picture. Of course there’s no shame in riding over a one legged hobbyhorse rider.

N Vancouver


Dubbed the transportation super hero, this female representation of the decorated bike lane markers is one of the reasons I don’t like the bike guys moniker. I can really appreciate this cape and glasses wearing female super hero. Usually it’s the exact opposite, when super heroes only wears glasses to disguise themselves as normal people.


N Broadway


I like how this marker celebrates the Rose Festival, a local event who’s spirit I’ve never really caught. It brings back memories of  the incline that stretches from Lovejoy and well past the Broadway bridge. When this Rose Princess marker showed up it provided comic and cuteness relief. It’s a nice acknowledgement of the rose parade tradition. I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the significance of the half dozen roses she’s carrying, in case you’re wondering.

Here’s a blog entry as part of the PDXccentric web site.  Scroll down to get the history:https://pdxccentric.wordpress.com/c4-bike-guys/

Great coverage from a Portland bike community blog: http://bikeportland.org/tag/bike-lane-characters

Post Script:

A week or two after this post I discovered a photo I took of another lane person. This is more of example of the older “bike guys.” This one might be smoking a pipe and sporting horns.



Art Racks

Art Rack Logo

After noticing the gold tooth weather vane in the Hollywood district, I didn’t think I would encounter many more artistic landmarks related to dentistry. Soon after having that thought I spied the pop art bike racks that are part of the pop art explosion of decor that makes up the Interstate Dental Clinic. I called this pop art because the giant tooth brush, especially, lent itself to this description. I’d driven and riden my bike up and down Interstate Ave for years and remained blind to the charms of those bike racks.


Art racks alibi (1)

I had also recently noticed the bike racks outside the Karaoke/Tiki Palace known around the world as The Alibi. I really thought these were Easter Island heads. I don’t focus so well when I’m buzzing by on my bike, I guess. When I stopped to take photos I realized they were more like a modified Tiki heads of sorts.

Alibi art rack

Detail alibi art rack

Proof the art racks get used for bikes.

In my head I had been trying to recall some other art racks I’d spotted in the North Portland area. Heading down Killingsworth St. on a completely different mission I was in a state of morning and coffee deprived bleariness because it took me a while to bring this particular art rack into focus. Of course! It’s a steaming cup of coffee in front of what used to be an Italian bakery but is now a pizza joint.

Bike rack coffee (1)

One of the more frisky, fun and sculpturally appealing art racks has to be this dancing cat and dog in front of a vet’s office. While it seems more cartoon than functional bike rack, I have to say it’s an enjoyable art work.

Dog cat art rack 1 (1)

I have serious doubts that I would be able to use it for it’s intended purposes. I’d be wondering how to squeeze my bike and lock in between the various pieces of twisted and decorative metal. I’m not sure I’d be lugging around our almost 100 pound German Shepard on my bike for a trip to the vet anyway.

Dog cat art rack no sign (1)

There have to be many variations on the art rack theme in the Portland area. It wouldn’t be Portland without our bike racks getting artsy. I can’t say I’m going to be working hard to catalog and photograph them because it’s a safe bet they’ve already been documented. When I posted a link to my blog piece about Pop Art bike racks at the dentist’s office on the Facebook page Hidden Portland for the Curious I got a response from Aimee Wade coauthor of the book PDXccentric An Odyssey of Portland’s Oddities who posted a link to a PDXccentric blog post about art racks. I had no idea what to call these bikes racks so I’ve borrowed her term. Thanks Aimee! I’m sure there is more about bike racks in the book and more about all of the things I like to write about as well. I plan on getting that book for my birthday. It’s an invaluable Portland resource that everyone should have. In one brisk preview I learned that Raquel Welch once roller skated on the street I live on! But did she lock a bike to an art rack? I’ll have to research that.

Here a link to that blog post about art racks:


Pop Art Dentistry

Interstate Dental Clinic

Would you rather go to an ice cream parlor or the dentist? That question is preposterous, rhetorical and easily answered but it does seem that a colorful, cheery building exterior that feels more ice cream shop than dentist office might take the sting or even tooth pain out of having to have your teeth worked on. At least on a subconscious level.

Pop Art Dentistry 1

The Interstate Dental Clinic located on its namesake Interstate Avenue makes it potentially easier to visit the dentist, especially one that practices sedation dentistry, by offering up an exterior office design of bright colors, a glossy lip plaque, candy stripped awnings, prevent snoring signs and pop art bike racks that combine to create a pleasant atmosphere and ease the intimidation factor out of those who need to sleep through their dental procedures.

And I am not trying to make light of sedation dentistry. As much as my teeth seem to be falling apart in my advancing years, I’ve managed to make it through appointments on anxiety and terror. I tried nitrous once when I had a deep cavity and while it was a gas it was a bit of a bad trip as well.

Pop Art Dentistry 2

The Interstate Dental Clinic further accents it’s exterior design with these whimsical, sculptural bike racks. I’ve noticed several other designs in the nearby area so I’m planning expanded coverage plus some insightful commentary. For now these decorative elements are above and beyond anything any of the other dental clinics are using to entice customers and they make this an inviting place to have to go see a dentist.

Pop Art Dentistry 3

Pop Art Dentistry 4

Pop Art Dentistry 5

All apologies go to Mrs. Yuchmow. I know you taught Will Simmons from the Pittsburgh Orbit that you should never start a sentence with the word “and,” but it just felt right.


Need more dentistry art?

See: https://pittsburghorbit.com/2018/08/05/incisor-edition-dental-art/

Dumb Ass

dumb ass 1

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.

dumb ass 2

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.

dumb ass 3

Max, excited again about seeing a dog friend.