Beer Can Bonanza

Group beer cans

When hundreds of beer cans showed up at Kenton Antique & Collectibles on North Denver Avenue something happened to me. As a recovering beer can collector it wasn’t the shakes or delirium tremens I felt, but a surge of nostalgia. So I had to know how Kenton Antiques & Collectibles owner Maureen “Mo” Bachmann got her hands on someone’s entire collection. “I didn’t find it, it found me,” Mo explained. She told the tale of a man who had been in the store and seen beer cans she’d had for sale and sensed that it might be a place where a beer can collection he and his father had shared, could find a temporary home. After asking Bachmann if she might be interested in taking a look at the collection, he presented her with three tall boxes and two giant garbage bags—around 600 cans and a trade arrangement for store credit was made.

Group beer 2

“He was just hoping to replace something that took up a lot of space with things that took up less space,” Bachmann said. She emphasized that cans take up a lot of room adding the collection “looked like they’d been in those boxes in a garage for a couple of years.” That storage method required Bachmann to spend two days sorting and hand washing beer cans. She managed to put a shine on the older steel cans which cleaned up well.

Bachmann has been selling the cans. A kid began his beer can collection with cans from the store. Someone else bought some of the Iron City Pittsburgh sports team collectible cans for a friend. A gentleman completed his Schmidt’s outdoor can series that involved cans decorated with 28 different things you can do and see in the great outdoors presumably with a beer in your hand.

beer art

For me, I enjoyed the opportunity to look at beer cans again up close and personal and in living and some times faded color. My collection, accumulated in the 70’s was boxed up and eventually donated to a bar in Vienna, Virginia. Cans like Narragansett and Narragansett 96, (96 calories!) brought back memories of dragging my parents to package stores in the New England area. Other cans like Brown Derby and the Old Frothingslosh series remained as awe inspiring in their design as I had remembered. Brands jumped out at me with names like Tuborg, Swan and Ballentine–the beer my grandfather drank with the pull top can. There were others I’d never seen before like one of Mo’s favorites: The can commemorating the 1979 Bean and Bacon Days. There’s nothing like the Kenton Antique Store for being able to visit stuff without having to bring it all home.

Old Frosh 2

Mo’s is always interested in considering people’s collectibles habit which makes it fun to chat with her about collections. “I had 53 typewriters when I moved (to Portland),” she said. “Now I’ve got four, and now I collect miniatures.” She theorizes that “you’re always going to replace one collection with another.” I was so busy talking about beer cans that I forgot to ask what happened to the other 49 typewriters.

beer can box

Ever wanted to know what happens at a beer can convention? Here’s tons of footage from 2005.


From one collection to another:


How could I leave out a photo of Bean & Bacon Days?

Carl & Sloan Show

Carl&Sloan 2

It’s great to see a new gallery rising up from the ashes, so to speak, like a Phoneix, to fill up the empty gallery space left after the closure of the Nisus Gallery. I saw Brad Nelson, who ran the Nisus Gallery, on a public access show talking about a long list of projects, none of them related to art so I knew he was a busy man. While it’s sad that the Nisus Gallery is gone, it’s a good time to welcome Carl & Sloan Contemporary to the Kenton neighborhood. I’m happy that I’ll continue to be inspired on my nightly dog walks that usually take me past the new gallery space which is housed in the Disjecta Contemporary Art Center building.

New Show: Testable Predictions
Featuring works by Amy Bernstein
, Perry Doane and 
Michelle Liccardo.
March 14 – April 12, 2015
8371 N. Interstate Ave. #1, Portland, OR 97217 — 360.608.9746

For more info:

This is Not a Motel

This is Not a Motel 2

Surely not a nod to Magritte, but a sign letting people know that what looks like a motel is now no longer a motel. The Comfy Inn has been a short-term housing center run by Emmanuel Community Services for close to two years.

comfy inn est

While it might be confusing, it is cool to see the motel’s “motel” characteristics left intact. The sign and the mural around back, as well as the neon arrow pointing to the motel’s check-in office remain. The unspectacular sign serves as a reminder of the other motels and motel signs up and down Interstate Ave. The neon message that says sorry at the bottom of the sign is as good an apology as can be offered to someone who reads the words “this is not a motel” taped to the old office window and then has to head down Interstate Ave looking for other accommodations.

comfy inn sign

neon sorry

comfy inn mural 2

I don’t know if the sign will always be around but the mural has survived a recent paint job.

I miss the days when the motel was a motel. The biggest excitement then was when the motel would fill up with people coming from all over to attend the Portland International Raceway Auto Swap Meet. These days my inner curmudgeon gets inflamed by noisy kids playing in the motel parking lot when I’m trying to write. I was also irritated about a construction trailer for 6 months after our new neighbors arrived but one construction trailer became two smaller ones and they seem to have blended into the background. Sure the motel was once a quieter place but I can’t deny kids the right to make their joyous sounds. Besides it drowns out the hammering from the condo project across the street and the neighborhood’s many barking dogs as we all strive to live together in perfect harmony.

Read a Willamette Week blog post about this very topic:

Assigned reading:é_Magritte

Western 2

One of my favorite motel signs on Interstate Ave.

Mannequin Fever

mannequinoriginal 2

Fashionista scarecrow or Goddess mannequin yard art? It was difficult to tell. When I stopped on a misty afternoon to take her picture she gave me her best red carpet frozen pose but refused to answer my queries. She’s got the looks and grace of Taylor Swift dressed up to sign a recording contract extension. I’m not sure what’s propping her up but she stands tall and glamorous braving the elements in a Kenton neighborhood yard.

mannekin2 2

This decorative mannequin torso and head with her pants dangling and askew brought out my mannequin fever.  Her head reminded me of a beauty academy practice hair head and I recalled the time a friend found two huge boxes of heads outside an Arlington, Virginia beauty academy.  There were strange heads hanging around for years.

Academy Heads 2

Mannequin Garden photo by Ronna Craig

City of Roses Motel Salute

2010 early summer deck construction more bunyan 013

Last week the City of Roses Motel sign was unceremoniously removed from the site where it spent years in a state of slow decay. Nothing of the motel remained except the sign and as time passed the letters fell off one by one. Here’s how the sign looked in 2010. I know little about the hey day of the City of Roses Motel,  which was located on Interstate Ave near the Kenton/Denver Ave. Max stop, but here’s a found image.

city of roses

With some ambivalence my wife and I are watching new life being breathed into what has been an empty lot for a long time. The mixed emotions have something to do with living in close proximity to what has turned out to be a bigger than expected apartment complex.

See a brief description and drawing of the new Kenton Apartments on the old City of Roses Motel site.

Link here:

Residents of Kenton may have noticed that the remnants of the old Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant sign on Lombard Street were also removed recently making way for a construction project to go in that spot.

I can’t resist posting one more photo of one of the other motel signs on Interstate.


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:

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.