An Orbit Obit: Goodbye to Meaty Boy

Meaty Boy was a beefy, male rabbit. His real name was Bartlesby Bunny or something along those lines. We mostly called him Bart which caused sitcom-like confusion because our dog is named Burt. The Meaty Boy nickname was derived from the muscular nature of this rabbit. When I picked him up he offered powerful back leg kicks, unnecessary when I was placing him back in his pen and he was feet from the floor. He always needed to show off his power and leaping ability.

We watched him die, Tuesday, February 22, with the help of a veterinarian who made a house call. Bart was in rough shape. He had congested breathing, had stopped eating and pooping–bad for bunnies and it felt like he would stubbornly try to live too long in his near death misery. The first shot sedated him. His nose continued to wiggle. I realized it had never occurred to me that a rabbit’s nose is in constant motion. The second shot took him to what we euphemistically called the Rainbow Bridge. In that moment I felt calm. He lay on his side. There was no more congestion or sickness. There was no turning back, no more thoughts of whether this was the right thing to do. Losing a pet is tough. Other pets made it easier but it never really is. 

I was skeptical when, my wife, Ronna said she was going to get a rabbit. I was sure someone else would get there before us. Responses to internet queries are usually high volume, but he became ours. Bart was hanging out in a hay-filled manger. His owner’s landlord wanted him gone. An abandoned house next door and Bart’s outdoor living space were causing a rat problem. He was two years old when we adopted him in 2017. Bart’s first “wife” had passed away so it made sense to get him a mate. They lived all over our North Portland home, the bathroom, the mud room and the basement. Bart loved escaping in the basement and had a great time chewing cords of some of the items stored there. I forgave him and it stills seems funny when I recall leaning over to put hay in his pen while watching him take a bite out of a headphone cord dangling from my neck.

The rest is the life of rabbits. We all like to say our pets lived a good life. Some days I felt like Hannibal Lecter with rabbits in a pen in the garage at our new place, but I often thought about how we had taken the rabbits out of a tough situation and given them the best life we could. There were free runs in the backyard and a trip to Colorado with Max the dog. When we had to evacuate because of a wild fire the rabbits had a blast chasing each other around various hotel rooms. They traveled reasonably well. Not many rabbits go on vacation.

Hare Metal Rules!

The rabbits were part of an experiment to prove if there were any truth to an old riddle. What’s a rabbit’s favorite kind of music the riddle asks. The answer: hare metal. I told this joke to a student and I realized he had no idea what hair metal was. I borrowed a Ratt album from the library’s online music lending system, hooked up some speakers and let the music play. There was little reaction. Perhaps they really preferred long hare music, a little Chopin perhaps. It wasn’t until I overheard the later tracks that I realized what was bad about hair metal, the lyrics devolved into misogynistic women hating rants. The bunnies didn’t seem to care.

Rabbit Food, Not Weeds!

While working at my school, I noticed greens–abundant dandelion leaves grew in the courtyard area. I gathered leaves most days to take home. Bart knew his schedule. He would periscope, which is rabbit speak for standing on his hind legs, and then hold onto the bars of his pen with his paws in anticipation. I couldn’t let him down. I had to get his greens. I told kids at the school, “some people see weeds but I see rabbit food.” I brought home bag after bag. Bart’s insistence eventually earned him the nickname “Boss Bart.” He was always happy to munch away at his late night snack until one morning, last month, I realized he hadn’t eaten much the night before. Things weren’t quite right for poor old Bart.

Bart and Jessica

Bart’s mate Jessica passed away in January of 2021. When it was just Bart again it felt lonely but we knew Bart wasn’t going to survive a third wife. I missed Jessica but I’d have laugh about walking in on the “rabbit things” they used to do together that I couldn’t avoid seeing. I’m still thinking about Bart and missing him everytime I walk through the garage. I cleaned up the pen and the hay all over the garage floor but the image of the water bottle that was tricky to get in and out of the pen still gets me. 

Thinking about and even talking a little about it made me realize how stuck in denial I am, telling myself it’s just a rabbit–it’s no big deal. I’m not talking about it much. After mentioning it to a friend by text and seeing his response about his being sad when his pets die I realized it’s okay to be sad. I was upset thinking about the scheduled euthanasia appointment. I didn’t like the idea of putting the Grim Reaper on the calendar. As it turned out there was a time window so we waited with the rabbit for his last couple of hours.

I’m looking for ways to accept death. In the meantime there has been what feels like an onslaught of deaths of people I’ve met, or worked with. As I write this I’m having more feelings of denial, not being able to take in the news that another friend has died. The day after Bart died the war started in Ukraine beginning a wider scope of senseless death. While it feels like there’s too death much lately, I have to consider what I can do about it. A student told me I should put a picture of the rabbit next to my bed. I didn’t take this serious until my sister-in-law sent us a miniature pewter rabbit in the periscope position. It made me realize the need to memorialize people and pets and keep their images in mind. I’ve also considered that death is inevitable and I have to work on getting past the denial stage and onto acceptance. In the meantime, I’ll hunker down with a book by Mr. Rogers that I just unearthed. It’s called “When a Pet Dies.” Rogers explains that “loss takes time to understand.” As for Bart, I’ll remember his foot stomps when we made him mad, his leaping jumps, known as binkies, when he was happy and roaming free in the backyard and his soft fur that he was always shedding. I’ll walk past the dandelion leaves swaying the breeze. Today I don’t need any rabbit food.

Twofer Two, Two Two, Two Tuesday: Daily Doubles for 2/22/22 (The Portland Orbit Edition)

Twice The Inspiration
(Photo by Willard Simmons)

The challenge came over the wire from the Pittsburgh Orbit about running parallel Daily Double stories. This left me confounded. It sounded like a Pittsburgh thing but this date, 2/22/22 is magical, so full of 2’s and Pittsburgh Orbit head honcho Willard Simmons later explained that a daily double references anything involving the number 2, doubles or twins. He left the rest to my imagination and modern research techniques. The internet sent me on multiple goose chases, funny Willard said this idea was inspired by his spotting a double goose. 

Double Arrow: Be One With Yourself

This Twosday on a Tuesday may have you soon sick of twos. You’ll be begging for a three by the end of the day. Imagine the Two for Tuesday marathons and the prattling disc jockeys. The local classic rock station, The Eagle, 106.7, should be reminded not to mix old and new Van Halen tracks and I’d always follow up a Volume One Greatest Hits Eagles tune with a song from Volume Two but that’s just me. Sigh, I suppose radio programming is yet another thing left to the algorithms. It also has to be the best day ever to celebrate two for the price of one tacos. BOGO (Buy One Get One Free) has tried to take the twos out of the two for one deals but NOT today!

The Second City

Two Portlands

Portland is the other Portland, not the original Portland. Most of us know the story about a couple of Easterners flipping a coin to see whether they were going to call the city Portland or Boston. There’s little confusion between the two cities besides the occasional internet search mix ups. There are plenty of other Portlands including one in England that has a Bridge Pairs tournament. When this headline caught my eye: The Portland Police Respond to a Bar Fight–Twice, it took double checking to realized it’s the wrong Portland Police. Multiple Portlands can get confusing.

Double Up!

Enter the Dragon

As if this piece isn’t listicle enough, here’s a list of establishments in Southeast Portland that use double names. Double your pleasure today and while you’re at it, make it a double.

Twin Sisters In Folk: The Shook Twins

No Mirrors Involved
(photo by Summer Wuerthner Courtesy of the Shook Twins)

I wish I could tell you more but I take these folks to be a folksy band utilizing twin harmonies and the secret weapon in their arsenal–the use of oversized percussive eggs to drive their rhythms. My giant egg fascination began when I learned about the band from an OPB Arts Beat segment that aired in 2012. I’m trying to spare you a Nelson reference but it hit me that they have to be the most famous current twins-in-a-band band that I know. My labeling the band as folkies hardly seems fair. Their music has evolved over time as this video, which plays around with twin imagery, demonstrates.

Twice the Crime

Portland Twin Gang Members

This feels like doubling your trouble and nothing I want to mess with but twins work together in many ways, not always the preferable artistic ones.

Robbed Twice in a Month

As if one robbery wasn’t enough having to go through it all over again seems especially difficult. It’s scary out there. These are desperate times even for blog post subject matter.

Dribble Doubles

Double Red Ale

Double Up!

Of course this post is going to channel a beer reference. More research is needed to determine what actually gets doubled in this ale recipe. I’m sure I could get a soliloquy out of the beer guy at Barbur World Foods. Double Red Ale sure seems twice as exciting as your basic Red Ale.

A Portland Pilot Triple Doubles

Double History

Maybe this is ultimately going to work better for a different month, 3/22/22 perhaps but I’ve gotten so excited about doubles that I’m exponentially impressed with three of them. This probably happens every night for LeBron, but it’s cool to see a local kid having a great night on the court. 

The Stat Line!

Twice Delayed

Celiniac Fan Art (Uncredited)

I’m so sorry to have to reremind people that Celine Dion hasn’t been able to perform in Portland lately. The Oregonian reported that her whole “Courage World Tour” was cancelled due to health issues. Now she may not perform at all in Portland in the foreseeable future. One of my goals is to help people learn. Sometimes it’s trivial stuff. I’ve learned that Celine Dion fans are known as Celiniacs. If you haven’t already forgotten that fact you’ve learned something as well.

Not Just A Tennis Thing

Roll Together!

When I hear the phrase doubles I always think of tennis. I was surprised to learn people can double their fun while bowling. Doubles has to be about a combined scores and not two people working together to roll a ball down the alley.

A Pair Of Laughs

Under a search of “Portland pairs” nothing of significance popped up besides a ho-hum, Portland pair being charged with meth dealing. Then the random nature of this exercise revealed an Oregonian link to YouTube video of a clown addressing the City Council at a hearing. I got as far as hearing that Ronnie the Clown, in full clown makeup, talk about insurance issues related to injuring his funny bone. I had to stop watching. The cringe factor made me uncomfortable especially when I anticipated the reactions and non reactions of Portland’s stilted elected officials. When I had another peek I saw Ronnie the Clown graciously yielded a third of his three minutes while managing to nominate the Mayor for Clown of the Year and read a proclamation to “immediately instate him as an honorary Clown Commission.” Ronnie’s appearance was met with indifference proving City Council affairs are truly humorless. 

Honorable Mentions: Twos, Twices and 2.0’s.

Portland Timbers 2 are the reserve squad for Portland’s major league team.

Courtney Taylor-Taylor, the singer and guitarist for The Dandy Warhols.

Portland 2.0, a cryptic, joint venture between Oregon Public Broadcasting and Portland State University. tackled issues concerning Civic Infrastructure.

Local Business Gets In On The Act!

Add To Your 2-Do List

The New Seasons grocery store gets in on the act with a nice use of the numeral 2 instead of the word two. Make plans to get there and you’ll run into me. I love those double points!

2 Years Of COVID

(Photos by Yusef and Ronna Craig)

In a stunning two year COVID transition I went from sauve sophisticant on Valentine’s Day of 2020 to middle aged grunge rocker exactly two years later in 2022. That’s what the pandemic did to me. It’s been a tough couple of years but we are all, for the most part, muddling through. Now if I could only find that Tad album!

In Through the In-Store

In-Store Performance!

Not related much to a specific combination of twos unless you consider this math problem: 2 American Creep Van Albums multiplied by 2 American Creep Van Albums equals 4 American Creep Van Albums! Can you believe there here have already been four American Creep Van recordings released?

Twin Brothers in Rock

This has nothing to do with Portland but since we’re celebrating all things twins, twos and doubles here’s one last chance to celebrate this Day of the Twos.

Head to 1:25:20 of this video for more entertainment than you can possibly stand:

Production Notes:

I think it’s clear that my transplant self is suffering from a blind spot as to a Portland landmark or institution that fits this category. After an especially tough week of work–working twice as hard as I should have to, I suffered from an inability to, well, think. Please take me to task and point out any glaring errors. I certainly appreciate the inspiration I got from Willard Simmons to even tackle this piece and make a deadline. This piece ended up shedding light on a realization that Portland doesn’t have to keep it weird, it is and will always be weird. Head over to the Pittsburgh Orbit for their take on this subject.

Deer Hunting in Portland

Feel The Difference (Photo by Ronna Craig)

I make one bad joke in the grocery store about having to take up hunting because of inflation and days later I see a deer with huge antlers crossing a SW street on my way home from a pizza run. I never see antlers. It’s usually females grazing on the sides of roads. This was a reminder of another kind of deer that I’ve been obsessed with for a long time: The concrete lawn deer. This deer has no reason to exist other than a decoy of sorts. Do people really want someone shooting towards their front porch? Or do these deer keep other territorial deer off people’s property? Let’s not overlook them as a mighty fine lawn decoration.

Fawning Over You

I’ve managed to avoid buying a lawn deer. The closest I’ve come has been the above thrift store craft creation and yet I’ve never been able to get enough of this kind of deer. One lawn deer would be a gateway to a flock, or a herd all collected up in yard space, concrete and bad paint jobs. They are easier pursued by camera as they pose on people’s lawns and never startle. I may never know why people display these creatures. I blew a chance to ask a direct question while in a giant, roadside store in North Carolina, a place known for cheap towels.There in the lawn deer section I noticed a man cradling a find. It was my chance to pick his brain. I anticipated the weird conversation that was sure to ensue so I held back only to be haunted all these years later. Shyness has no place in real journalism. Now I leave it up to the idea that this is how people choose to decorate their yards. I benefit by getting to hunt lawn deer.

A Deer Student

This deer hung out in an inaccessible courtyard at George Middle School in St. Johns when I worked there. It’s not like I would have been able to pet the guy, but he remained mysterious from his psychedelic paint job to his unknown origins. It was always great to admire this concrete landmark from various perspectives around the school’s hallway intersections.

Abandonment Issues

Way out in the Beaverton suburbs this poor deer looks abandoned on the other side of the sidewalk and propped up against a tree. She’s beat up, moss covered, ensnared in a tree limb, not quite the cozy confines of other deer but she survives. Perhaps this orphaned looking deer will find a better home someday.

No Safe Hiding Place On The Streets
Step Deer

The exact location of these specimens is not clear. Memory is cloudy and nobody really has to know. Our research department is head scratching and full of regret for not using the location setting on the iphone back in the day. Regardless, here’s proof that concrete deer are not just for lawns. Decorating tip: They can be placed near steps or on porches. The configurations have proven to be endless. It is nice to appreciate faded colors and fallen antlers. The state of decay take on lives of their own and builds character.

Call Me Mellow Yellow
Old One Antler
Proud Poses

Deep in the heart of the Arnold Creek neighborhood where things get more rustic the deeper you go, these lawn deer blend in resembling wildlife. They impersonate, posing with chests out and heads held high, scanning their surroundings against the backdrop of a house’s stone exterior.

Under Cover Deer

You can’t make a blanket statement about the way Hillsdale residents dress their lawn deer when you only have one example of a dressed deer. No matter, this interests me. I see so few lawn deer wearing clothing of any kind. This addition is an attempt to liven up the statue with a colorful floral pattern and some flower antlers.

The Better To See You

This old mainstay in the Kenton neighborhood stands close to the Buddha mural. It’s a classic with nice coloring and a pleasant face and snout. This deer is hanging out doing its best lawn deer thing which means it looks decorative. Its brown coat mixes in well with its brick surroundings.

A Natural Habitat

Here’s one of my favorite lawn deer in the Portsmouth neighborhood of North Portland. This deer is surrounded by all the trappings of yard decor. The concrete bench, the picket fence, the plantings, the block steps and the windmill in the background. It blends seamlessly to keep the deer half in a natural setting and half in a well decorated naturescape. This setting is pure serenity. I feel it when I remember the times I happened passed this lawn deer.

Rest For The Weary

These are the great decorative elements of Doctor Creature and the gang, the folks who owned the art car The Space Taxi. They had a decoration party/cook out a few years ago. I found them to be warm and friendly and their home was full of tasteful yard decor. This deer in particular seems so serene, oblivious to the nearby skulls indicative of a fate that awaits any of us who aren’t cast in concrete and displayed on someone’s lawn.

Ain’t No Stopping Us Now: Stop Everything And Read This!

Temporary Restraining Order

Somedays I want it all to stop. It’s as if there’s a giant stop sign on my brain. I could stare at walls until their paint color drove me mad but the design of a stop signs keep me motivated. They are reliable, traditional and recognizable; those white, capitalized letters shout through a burst of crimson that causes my foot automatically to tap the brakes. With the help of stop signs we can change the world. They aren’t only about the whims of traffic engineers to keep us safe. Now messages about everything that needs stopping can be broadcast. Consider the signs that blared: STOP TRUMP! They worked, at least for the time being. Updates will need to read: STOP TRUMP AGAIN! We love doctored signs at the Portland Orbit so any effort stops us dead in our tracks. 

Don’t Stop Living

If we stop mass extinction we won’t all die. This may include pets, wild animals and maybe many species of insects. Stopping mass extinction should be a priority. This sign, seen in the Kerns neighborhood, is living proof. We need to do this. If all stop signs carried this message vehicles would stop, then stop doing all the things that have us on track for our prospective extinction. The message would be two fold and read something like:

STOP FIRST

THEN ALSO STOP MASS EXTINCTION.

This is just a draft. The right wording is crucial to communicate the message and it has to fit on the sign to really work.

Gas Costs Too Much

Another in a series of stickered messages, as seen in South Tabor and created for whichever campaign being run to stop what needs to be stopped. Fossil fuels get a bad wrap because they’re pungent, flammable, toxic, expensive and environmentally unfriendly. They should be stopped. A message on a stop sign is the first step. Doctored stop signs may also be a ploy to get bike riders to stop. They might be curious about what the signs says and take an extra couple of seconds to stop and read the whole sign. Bike riders would swell with pride knowing that their people powered modes of transportation are helping to stop fossil fuels.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

These stickered messages aren’t the stop sign blending shade of red. A seamless transition would look more official and make the impression that the Portland Bureau of Transportation was working to put themselves out of business while attempting to save the planet at the same time. I could think of many other things I’d like to stop on my personal stop list but climate breakdown should be in the top three list of priorities, perhaps right after mass extinction. While it’s hard to say how effective the vandalism of traffic signs like this one spotted in the Kerns neighborhood is, the act offers a thought provoking message.

Stop First Then Get Excited

If we stop apathy people would be freed up to put effort into stopping all the other categories added to stop signs. This message, spotted in Multnomah Village, is presented in the most apathetic of scrawls. This sign speaks truth to power. If we stop apathy we have a chance to stop it all even bikes. Drivers pay attention to stop signs so this bold message might work better with improved penmanship. With people having to read and drive at the same time the message has to be easy to see.

Stop Fun!

When adding a message to a stop sign, like this one in the Concordia neighborhood, we already know it’s best to make it legible. It should not look like white out was involved. The font and message size is best when it’s similar to the letters in the word stop. People shouldn’t have to stop, scrutinize and decipher the contents of a notice. I’m not in a position to defend or deny the message at this point as the Portland Orbit avoids politics. The sign could read, “STOP taking money out of the community to give to the Police Department,” but that wouldn’t fit on the sign.

Don’t Stop Thinking About Anything (photo by Graham Marks)

This is a sign of anarchy. Stop following the orders of stop signs the message implies. I would like to think that not too many people take this sign serious. Then again some people might wonder whether they should followed the revised sign and keep going. Luckily the sign doesn’t look official but it’s an ominous reflection of the end of civilization as we know it. When we all begin our rants about the apocalypse, the first thing we’ll be saying is, “Now, they’re not even stopping at stop signs!”

Stop or Go!

This sign, spotted on the campus of Ida B. Wells High School in SW Portland, seems to reflect a student’s new found power of editing and revising skills that have gotten out of hand. While we applaud the hard working personel in the English Department, it looks as if a student decided stop was the wrong word, crossed it out and added what was deemed an appropriate one. This had me thinking. Why are there no GO signs? A sign in a bold green proclaiming drivers to GO would spruce up any intersection.

Stop Talking Too

This last sign, spotted in Hillsdale, leaves us all in suspense. It offers the obvious, unanswerable question: Stop talking to who? Someone doesn’t want us to know. Does it mean we should stop talking to everyone until we find out who it is? I have to say it’s nobody’s business who any of us talks to. I’m unwilling to take orders from a stop sign but, ya know, I’m excited about any redecoracted sign so I’m certainly going to read any altered sign, and take its picture. After that it goes back to being a stop sign and it’s no longer a message center or a billboard.

Sign Off With Flags

Have you just not had enough fun? Read more:

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.