Archive for March, 2013

[PDX_liff] The Last Safeway On 82nd Avenue

Posted in 82nd Avenue, liff in PDX, Outer East Portlandia, passages on March 31, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2910.It’s been a long time in coming, I suppose. Its sister down at SE 82nd and Foster closed about three years back, leaving the locals with the choice between Fred Meyer and Fred Meyer, the Albertsons at Eastport Plaza closing sometime before.

The closing of a Safeway seems to have bound into it the idea of a surrender, a giving-up. If Safeway can’t make it in your neighborhood, there’s not much money to be had from the locals. If business is good, fortune passes everywhere, so they say.

They say E. 82nd Avenue is ‘distressed’. This in and of itself is worrisome; distressed can mean many things to many people, but when they start using it on a public policy level, that always seems to be code for here comes the developers and the gentrification. And if they aren’t just down the road, well, hold on tight. They’ll get there eventually.

The sign boasts that Safeway’s been serving Portland since 1921. Whether it’s this particular Safeway, at 101 SE 82nd Avenue, or Safeways in general, is unclear. And now we may never know.

Architecture matters. It lends character and form to a neighborhood, and in cases where it’s unrelentingly commercial, soothes the eye if it’s done right. The design of Safeway stores, the standard look … which is this:

 Is a welcome cool drink of water, visually speaking. Truth be told, SE 82nd Avenue gets fairly bleak south of here; there’s a Lutheran Episcopal church (Sts. Peter and Paul) and then it’s a succession of shabby used car lots and stores-that-had-seen-better-days until … well, on SE 82nd, it never really does end. Clackamas Town Center is about six miles away to your left as you look at the above picture and it’s unrelenting commerce all the way. But I do not condemn it here, understand; I merely state it for the record. I make no judgements. It does not bother me as such; people live here. It is what it is.

The grace of the the wave-form roof has always been a beauty to me. Not so much a roofline as wings that are just waiting to take off from the top of the building. Gave the standard Safeway design a nice symmetry, even if the building is ultimately asymmetrical the curving roof is a dominant element that the entire design revolves around.

And, like other well-done designs of the 20th Century, in its way, timeless.

During the administration of Sam Adams, there was a big deal made about food deserts. Regardless of the press TriMet is peddling these days, it ain’t what it once was; it’s more expensive, less frequent, and goes fewer places.  Along 82nd, now, there used to be four or five supermarkets: There was once an Albertson’s at 82nd and Holgate, two Safeways (82nd and Foster and 82nd and Burnside),  and a Food 4 Less (82nd and Powell). And, over the last decade, they have slowly, one-by-one, died. The Albertsons was the first to go, followed by the Foster Safeway; the Food 4 Less closed suddenly, with no advance warning, just last month.

The 82nd and Burnside Safeway was the sole survivor, and as though it heard its last comrade died, gave up the ghost almost in sympathy. Now, the Adams administration seemed to be saying if you didn’t have a grocery store in walking distance, or within, say, half-a-mile, that made your nabe less livable, and going to the grocery store is like a trek to the nearest oasis. A food desert. And with the closing of the 82nd and Burnside Safeway, the nearest supermarket is the Fred Meyer on 82nd and Foster (about 2 and a half miles south). The next one is yet another Fred Meyer, 82nd and Johnson Creek Blvd, about 2 more miles beyond that. The next reasonably price food store is still over a mile south of that, the WinCo at 82nd and Causey. And Fred Meyer is not really a great choice when it comes to prices.

There are no food stores except a Plaid Pantry and a 7-Eleven on NE 82nd.  

Food desert? Sure, why not? This is a regular food al-Rub-al-Khali. Checking the nearest Safeways they recommend (helpfully tacked to the door):

Those are reasonably reached in a tolerable time only if you have a car. TriMet rides to these stores, with the fewer routes and reduced service, have become an ordeal for some.

If shopping for a family, using the city bus for transportation, seems a reasonable concept then, sirra, I would respectfully submit you have never actually done it.

Not one to waste an opportunity, I looked into the market with fascination. I’ve never seen a supermarket, much less a Safeway, look so danged empty before.

Pallets of bottled water stood in front of shelves as bare as the videos I remember of Russians desperately looking for food during food shortages back when there was a USSR back in the 70s and 80s. In a land of plenty, plenty of space. And it looked as though things were getting packaged up for shipment to … where? Who knows?

The meat and dairy section, pictured above, seemed most folorn. So brightly lit, and so empty. The left over beverages, the ones that didn’t get bought in the clearance sale, futures uncertain, sit waiting. The shelves in cooler cases always struck me as funny … no matter how clean the store kept them, when empty, they always looked overworn and abused.

Thronging with customers, serving a neighborhood … well, that was then. This is now. God only knows what that store will become … either it will get pulled down and developed, or some appalling retailer will take up that space, one can only guess.

But the party’s over, folks. East Portland, you face the future thus, wandering in the food desert, wondering why the rest of the city disrespects you so.

‘S’okay. Don’t fret it. I’m sure it was nothing personal.

It was only business.

(NB: Thank you, Laura C. Minnick, for pointing out that Saints Peter and Paul is an Episcopal Church, not a Lutheran one. The Times regrets the error.)


[design] Design We Like: SE Portland’s Township and Range Restaurant

Posted in design, logo design, SE PDX Photos, signage, typography on March 31, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2909.The various buildings and businesses along the ever-fashionable SE Hawthorne Blvd are in a state of flux. A building at 2422 SE Hawthorne was, for many years, a photo lab. It has become a restaurant.

It’s called Township and Range, and being a geography hobbyist, I know of which they refer to, and found it intriguing that they should name a neighborhood bistro after such a technical term.

t caught our eye mainly because of the bold design of the signage, which is engaging to the eye, bold and attractive, and spiffily well-done. 

The design accomplishes the task of tying a philosophy of ‘local is best’ to the establishment’s message by the rather clever trick of the geographer’s term. The about page shows that they understand the thinking behind the Public Lands Survey System quite well, even to the point of just what the point of the Willamette Stone is, and they knew enough about to create an impressive logo that has the look of the Willamette Stone benchmark pretty much nailed.

When it comes to geographic attitude, it’s got aplomb, Bob.  Which is an impressive bit of local passion, all the more so for a restaurant.

What really  caught our eyes, though, was the bold design of the signage facing the street, which we enjoy mightily:

Nice, eh? Bold, hard to ignore, and fun to look at. The type, reminiscent of automobile and appliance nameplates, is approachable, and the bright red neon provides the contrast you want against the coole colors of the building. The word and is lit from behind: when the night falls is when you see it outlined in silhouette.

It’s clever and we wish we’d of thought of this. 

[teh_funnay] Chocolate Rabbit Nui

Posted in photoshoppery, teh_funnay on March 31, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2908.Eastern morning on Easter Island, before the ears are eaten.

Found here:

[tech] Welcome Aboard Google Treasure Maps; This Is Your Pirate Speaking

Posted in liff in PDX, map humor, mapping, Painfully Portland, tech on March 31, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2907.Just stumbled on this just now. This is something people will have fun with.

Gamboling about the globe on Google Maps and Street view, I saw a bit of a peculiarity; quite surprising actually. I’ve seen the buttons in Google Maps in a variety of ways, but never like this before …


Yes, treasure.

And what does a map of Portland look like as a Google Treasure Map? Well, like this:

A little rough, but nice. I mean, what does a pirate need to know except …

 Where the treasure is. How adorable. They put a bird on it.

The detail, as I said, is not great. if there were tools to draw dotted lines and such I wasn’t able to find them; requesting directions just puts the regular route line and the A and B (or however many) flags on it. The real fun comes when using street view. The little guy turns into a telescope; drag the shadow of the telescope and you’ll see things in glorious age-inflected sepia.

The tale is told of the Dread Pirate Greenbeard, sailing the multimodal asphalt, coming from Gresham to unleash torment and plunder upon the prime trade routes crossing the Willamette River. Enroute, he passed through the treacherous pavement in the Russellville Main:

Sailing between the Scylla of the Chevron station at SE 102nd and Stark and the Charybdis of the Starbucks and food cart pod across the street was no easy task; he hadn’t had his coffee that morning, had to run out of the house so skipped breakfast, and was running low of fuel. But this privateer knew that great reward attends great risk.

After taking broadsides all the way down the Banfield freeway into town, avoiding the siren song of the Laurelhurst Theater (though not on the freeway, its song could be heard by mariners for leagues in every direction, luring them to idle hours drinking IPAs and eating pizza slices), and, going through the Straits of No Return (the Lloyd District), he finally found his goal:

Success was his. Provided he paid the licensing fee to feature the famous Portland sign in the gazette of his travels …

But then he remembered. He was a pirate.

And not even landlubbers paid that fee!

Success just got that much sweeter!

UPDATE: Google Maps Mania has some additional information, and easter eggs. Which is appropriate. 

[ad_design] When Words Fail, Just Tie A Woman Up And Throw Her In The Trunk

Posted in ad design, Ad design FAIL, feminism, women in the media on March 27, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2906.In advertising, a joke can get too nuanced or dry betimes.

Today, in Our Conflicted Attitudes About Women, a Eurasian ad agency’s (JWT) employees, showing off creative concepts for a notional campaign for the Ford Figo (a subcompact sold in the Indian market), created a worldwide furore. Why? Here’s part of it:

That smiling figure in the front seat, flashing the satisfied peace-sign now that all his troubles are behind him (and appropriately silent), is ex-Italian PM Silvio Burlusconi, he of the ‘bunga-bunga’ parties and the sex scandals.

The idea is, of course, at the wheel of the Ford Figo, you can ‘leave your worries behind’, although I can’t hear the tagline over abducting bound and gagged women and throwing them in your trunk. Sophisticated humor is like that, I suppose. But, hey, equal opportunity! There’s also one of Paris Hilton with the three Kardashian sisters bound and gagged in the Figo’s trunk. I showed a piece of one of them above, to see both in their full risible glory, check out the story at Businessweek Insider.

The ad concepts were apparently not circulated with the approval of JWT, but were uploaded by employees seeking a publication’s award:

The ads hadn’t been intended for publication, but were circulated widely after they were uploaded on an industry website by JWT employees over the weekend. The website, Ads of the World, gives monthly awards to ads submitted by users.
This had been done without JWT or Ford’s authorization.

The depiction of assault on women is not only disturbing but inopportune, happening as it does during a time when the nation of India is fighting a battle with itself over the violence done to women that have made national and world headlines latterly.

We’re hoping this becomes a teachable moment.

And, according to the Wall Street Journal, heads have rolled over it. So, there’s that.

[brand] Branded With a Life Sentence

Posted in branding, identity and branding on March 27, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2905.Being a national brand’s spokes-face carries dangers of its own.

One can read any number of tales of an actors’ stereotyping due to a strong character identification … Adam West and Batman come to mind. But what of those who become so strongly identified with a brand name consumer product?

Like Enzyte’s “Smilin’ Bob” … Joe Isuzu … The Dell Dude?

They’ve handled the fame and stereotyping in different ways. Joe Isuzu (David Leasure) kept trying until he got a sitcom role. Andrew Olcott (Smilin’ Bob) went into production. Ben Curtis (The Dell Dude) is trying to be a filmmaker and trying to get roles as an actor … and, in the most folorn way, hoping that the Dell dude can make a comeback somehow.

Businessweek Insider has the most interesting story here. Call it a most unexpected dark side of the branding equation.

I’m betting Stephanie Courtney can probably find life after Flo the Progressive Girl, whenever that happens … but it’ll probably touch and go, for a while.

[logo] GLAAD’s Contracting Name Means An Expanding Mission

Posted in I Love Logo Design, logo design, marriage equality, rebranding on March 26, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2904.On a day when the Supreme Court considers pivotal matters such as whether humane treatment and regular civil rights obtain to those of who had the poor taste to be born other than heterosexual, I thought it would be germane, given my continuing interest in branding and logos, and marriage equality, to spotlight a particular change of branding – or perhaps, better said, an evolution.

The organization GLAAD – formed as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation – operates on the principle that words matter. By telling the human stories of those gay and lesbian people – your friends, and neighbors, humans, and functioning as a monitor on the media perceptions of gays and lesbians, they make that mission real.

Over time, the mission has expanded. Not only gays and lesbians but also bi and transgendered people face weal because of the way they lead their private lives in ways that heterosexuals not only do not fear but also can not, in some cases, comprehend.

Who gets physically attacked for being heterosexual? Nobody we’ve ever known. I am honored to count several LGBT people amongst my friends, and it’s a daily fact of life for them.

In a timely coincidence, GLAAD announced a subtle but important change and shift in its branding. In a move designed to show solidarity in its mission amongst the entire LGBT spectrum, it has simply reduced its name to ‘GLAAD’ to reflect that inclusiveness. That move was announced on the MSNBC program Melissa Harris-Perry just this last week:

“It is a natural progression that reflects the work GLAAD’s staff is already leading,” said Cruz. “We respect and honor the full name that the organization was founded with, but GLAAD’s work has expanded beyond fighting defamation to changing the culture. Our commitment to marriage equality, employment nondiscrimination, and other LGBT issues is stronger than ever, and now our name reflects our work on transgender issues as well as our work with allies.”

The logo itself is elegant in its simplicity:

The mission of amplifying a message is aptly rendered into a graphic message here, and needs no further commentary on that point except that the glaad word mark is just as aptly positioned as the agent of that amplification. The shaping of the expanding soundwaves is a clever visual bonus that unifies the graphic element and leads the eye well through the rest of the design.

The tagline is a succinct statement of its mission as well.

The reduction of an initialism- or acronym-based name to merely its unified form is hardly new. The game Dungeons and Dragons was created by a company named TSR; in its original form, Tactical Studies Rules, the company originally flourished and grew, but as its core products contracted to just the D&D brand and moved away from more generic miniatures-based military gaming, the company’s name shrank too; during its heydey and on into its absorption into Wizards Of The Coast, TSR’s name was just that; the three-lettered initialism.

GLAAD’s name evolution is kind of an opposite thing, though, in that shedding the words actually signifies an expansion of the mission. And we’re ‘glaad’ to see it.

(NB: This blog and its author support marriage equality. Did we have to say?)