Archive for January, 2014

[art] Saturday in Portlandia: Handwriting Class with Barbara Getty and Inga Dubay

Posted in art in PDX, Dear Diary, Getty-Dubay, handwriting, italic handwriting, portlandia on January 27, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

If it’s Saturday and I’m in a handwriting class and there are adults there, this must be Portland.

That’s what I couldn’t help thinking while waiting for the workshop to start, and various variation thereunto.

This last Saturday, the handwriting artists and calligraphers Inga Dubay and Barbara Getty held a three-hour seminar on their Getty-Dubay Handwriting Method in a room called Kempton Hall at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in NW Portlandia. This was a feast for my eyes and senses on so many levels.

The room itself was large yet cozy, with the sort of clear-lacquered floor one expects to see in auditoriums and dance rooms. Inlaid into this is a large labyrinth, the kind that’s popular these days to walk along as a meditative tool, and a stage at the front of the room which has seen decades of use, worn in that well-maintained, much-loved way such things can be.

All was in brown, comforting, earth tones. Above the room, on the south wall, a monumental painting of the cleric this room was named for commanded and watched over all; it’s a very very kind space. And we were all there to see how we might right gud.

Er, write good. Sorry. Couldn’t suppress the joke.

The seminar was free and offered me a chance to kick my obsessed-upon handwriting up to the next level, and The Wife™, who is writing more stuff these days and I couldn’t be more pleased with this, wanted some tips to make her handwriting sing a little more.

Ain’t no sin there, wanting to handwrite better, and I’ll stand in nobody’s way.

My handwriting has always been good, and the way I obsess on it, it should be. But a refresher betimes is no sin, and when you can get Getty and Dubay’s insights for just showing up … well, as Tom once said, free is a very good price!

You may have heard that the preference for handwriting in America is declining, with even cursive in danger of becoming a lost art (I wouldn’t be so sad as to lose cursive, but more on that later). So, even though the seminar  was on a Saturday tucked into a corner of NW Portland which is kind of hard to find parking in even on a slow day, the attendance was … well, extremely heartening. We got there about 35 minutes before the show got underway, which was lucky for us as we were kind of pushing it. Though I lived in NW back when it was still affordable, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed at all: Parking is hell there. We lucked and got one of the few spots in the Trinity Cathedral’s microchip-sized parking lot.

I’d heard of Getty-Dubay handwriting before but this was going to be an up-close look, and I was eager, to say the least. I’ve been an advocate of italic handwriting (as opposed to cursive, which is what we all learned in school – I was a victim of the Palmer method) for all my adult life so far. When I was

The first of my many role-models.
Sourced from here.

in high school I had an epiphany after looking at typing from an IBM Selectric Light Italic typeball (how the olde-tymers kicked word-processing old-school, yo). I can’t remember the day or time of the epiphany, but I do remember gaining, quite suddenly, the awareness of two things:

  1. I didn’t have to write cursive the way they said I had to anymore, and
  2. If I made it legible, they wouldn’t care anyway.
I had started in junior high, actually, writing my minuscule q a certain way that gave it a foresail-shaped banner instead of a loop, not knowing then I had discovered one of my own keys to distinctive, recognizable, and admired handwriting (I am not bragging when I say I’ve received more compliments than I can count on my everyday hand … it’s the truth). 
What I was busy discovering, in my reinventing-the-wheel way, was italic handwriting. To most of us, italic means what I just did with that word italic there … giving it a slant for emphasis. The word italic comes to us from Italy, where the slanted hand was first devised. And it was  used there for fine, fine handwriting … every handwriting aficionado knows of Arrighi’s La Operina, and it would do one no damage to peruse a copy when the chance presents itself. This is italic at its utmost, and most poetic.
Today’s handwriting is a mess. This I lay at the door of what we commonly call ‘cursive’. It has a noble purpose – speed. The word cursive itself shares Latin roots with a word which also gave us coursing and Corsair … words denoting fleet speed. Some call it running script. To promote quickness in writing, letters are joined and loops introduced, and if you can do it right, it stays readable. 
It’s tough, though, to do cursive right. Cursive promotes speed and speed becomes its own excuse, leading to a mess of loops and capital letters than in no way resemble either the minuscule versions or the constructed, printed version. Sure, there’s a G, Q and S somewhere in the strange cursive construction meant to stand in for them. But you’ve pretty much got to take their word for it. Cursive destroys legible handwriting, without legibility, nobody wants to do it much. Who’s going to blame them?
Italic handwriting promotes deliberation, and if you started out slowly at it at first, don’t worry: you needed training wheels before you can ride on two wheels, and starting out in italic can be maddeningly slow. 
But then, you weren’t born writing cursive, either.

The Getty-Dubay method teaches italic handwriting with an emphasis on simple rules you learn on the ‘printing’ side of the learning curve which just about anyone who can hold a pencil can aspire to. Then, when you’re ready to go to the ‘big leagues’ of cursive italic, you learn a handful of simple joins, then you learn you can use them or not, as you care to. There’s a wonderfully simple structure that you can decorate up or leave spare as you please. Italic really is more simple to learn than you might think. I’d challenge people to find this out for themselves.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a very nice and polite young lady who gave us white envelopes with the seminar’s materials. There were handouts with practice-sheets (which we all used, rather lustily) five or six sheets of good-old-fashioned looseleaf, and the most delightful example-card which now has pride of a certain place in my studio. It’s pleasant just to look at, and inspirational to look at besides. It’ll stay up there for a long time to come, I expect.

The teachers, Barbara Getty and Inga Dubay, give off the air of being elementary school teachers from way back and, as far as I was able to find, they were; you wouldn’t think that they could deliver the basics in three hours but, by Arrighi’s nibs, they sure were. The passion they had for this certainly delivered. And the classmates were as affable and friendly a group of learners as I ever wanted to find. There was free World Cup coffee, which can make a bad day good and a good day better, and they sold some of their books at a table in the back for a discount just for your having come out.

I’ve read books by Lloyd Reynolds and Fred Eager, and Getty/Dubay belongs alongside of them; ahead, because they are the current champions of handwriting as a thing in these modern times, a task which must seem thankless now and again. But I’d recommend this to everyone. Look, you don’t have to write for anyone but yourself even to enjoy the fun in handwriting this way.

From what I’ve seen, Getty and Dubay run a seminar like this every January. They are more popular than you’d think, and if there’s going to be another one in January 2015, then I’d just start making my plans now.

You can keep up with Inga and Betty on their website,  I’ve seen their books on handwriting at Powell’s, as well.


[PDX_liff] The Family Pictures at Midland Library

Posted in liff in Outer East Portland, Midland Library, MultCoLib, Outer East Portlandia on January 26, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

At the time of this writing, along the back wall of Midland Regional Library, on SE 122nd Avenue at Morrison Street, is a series of pictures. They’re large format, and hard to miss.

There is a similar lineup on the other side of the building, these gorgeous photos of families. Well, as detailed by the poster in the next photo:
It’s We Are Portland, an arts initiative by MyStory Portland, which describes itself as:

…a mobile arts organization that brings photography workshops to underrepresented Portland youth. Our programs give young people an opportunity to explore their lives through the lens of a camera, and strengthen their communities through the arts. We collaborate with community organizations in building programs that empower low-income and recently immigrated youth.

So, it’s arts to the people, who always had it to begin with, but tend to get talked out of it repeatedly by our rather dysfunctional culture, which has kind of lost what it means to be an artist and to make art in many ways. So this is a thing of which you would possibly assume I approve of, and I do.

They do take great photos, don’t they?

And the explanatory poster has this logo in the corner, which is just worth showing off.

Now, there are other pictures there. I didn’t include them because discovery is most of the fun.

Maybe a visit to the Midland Regional Branch of the library is in order, so that they may be seen. Couldn’t hurt. Got books there and everything.

[design] The Talking Leaves Of The Midland Library

Posted in liff in Outer East Portland, Midland Library, MultCoLib, Out 122nd Way, Outer East Portlandia on January 26, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

There is a big painting on the right as you enter the Midland Regional Branch of the mighty MultCoLib. It looks like this (as taken from the complete other end of the building because art, don’t argue with me) …

The title is Talking Leaves. It’s a biggie as one can see, stretching from about head-level to almost the ceiling. Below it, behind a clear panel, is what looks very much like conceptual sketches, in charcoal, of the creative process leading up to the panel.

The whole thing is abstracted trees and leaves, and the stories they tell about themselves. The beguiling gray and white and gradated thing on the right is noted as a ‘lollipop tree’, a fanciful thing. The suggestion of the lazy-8 inside always causes me to kind of space into it. Above is a leaf and another abstraction of that takes up the left. In the lower left corner, a seed.

There is another meaning of talking leaves, and I hope some of you who may be reading this arrived there before I tell you this: it’s what Sequoyah called books.

It’s only logical, therefore, that the motif be drawn out from the painting to cover the whole building. As it is, if you look along the high ceiling …

Th leaves alternate all the way down the center aisle, anchored by the seeds at the four corners of the design.

[pdx_photo] Workaday Mt Hood At Sunrise

Posted in Mount Hood, Outer East Portlandia, PDX photos on January 24, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

There is a stretch of NE Killingsworth Street I use daily, near I-205.

It gives fine views and usual memorable sunrises. Thus.

My day begins after most of yours ends; conversely, mine ends when most of yours starts.

You look upon the morning commute with dread. Me, not so much. And I can take a moment out to look, really look.

Of course, some feel Oregonian is just a granfalloon. Whatever, it’s an excellent thing to be.

[teh_funny] The Gay Shipping Forecast, Transcribed

Posted in modren times, teh_funnay, This Modren World, topical on January 22, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

It’s gone round the world and come right back into your face, though not in an embarrassing way.

Blighty has its own chorus howling about how tolerating Teh Gay has ‘removed God’s protection’ from England’s Mountains Green. It would seem that, similar to the hectoring warnings about increased meteorological and geolphysical travail that we get in America from fundamentalist teleministers, they get warnings that sound like mail-merge script in the UK.

Theirs is a man named David Silvester, a councilor in the UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), a sort of British sort of Libertarian sect which advocates leaving the EU, and he wrote a letter to a local editor all but coming right out and saying that a spate of recent flooding may just as well have happened because of tolerance of gay people. This went viral and is currently getting the right sort of ridicule, which is hard and hilarious.

Nicholas Pegg (really, you don’t know who he is?) decided to have a bit of fun and coöpted a UK broadcast institution, the shipping forecast. Brittania, of course, once ruled the waves, and the feeling of the UK as a great naval power has never waned. People who have no conception of even how to dog-paddle listen avidly to the shipping forecast; Fog in Channel, Continent cut off goes a famous line.

Here, then, the UKIP Shipping Forecast:

In listening to it, though, I was entranced by the cadence and the easy way with which the areas were ticked off and listed. I wanted to read along, actually, but the words were not to be found.

I have taken the liberty of transcribing them, because I love reading lyrics with a song, and this is no different really. With apologies to the author:

(music fades in, and out)

And now, the shipping forecast, issued by UKIP, On Sunday, the nineteenth of January twenty-fourteen, at twelve hundred UTC.

There are warnings of gays in Viking, Forties, Cromarty, Southeast Iceland, and Bongo Bongo Land. The general synopsis at midday: low intelligence expected, becoming Little England by midnight, tonight. 

And now, the area forecasts for the next twenty-four hours: 

Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire: southeasterly gay 7 to severe gay 9, occaisionally bisexual. Showers, gay.
Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher: Women, veering southerly 4 or 5, losing their identity and becoming sluts. Rain, moderate or gay.
German Blight: Immigration veering north. Figures variable, becoming psychotic. Showers, gay.
Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth: Benefit tourism, 98%, becoming variable, later slight, or imaginary. Showers, gay.
Biscay, Trafalgar: Warm, lingering nationalism. Kiss me Hardy, later becoming heterosexual, Good.
FitzRoy, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey: Right or extreme Right veering racist 4 or 5 increasing 5 to 7. Homophobic outburst, backpedalling westerly becoming untenable. Showers, gay.
Fair Isle, Faeroes, Southeast Iceland: Power base decreasing, variable, becoming unelectable. Good.

And that concludes the forecast. And now, it’s over to Ambridge, where Bridge Farm in still knee-deep in water, and the village is counting the cost of Adam and Ian’s civil partnership.


What really impresses me about all this is the insight into UK isolationism, jingoism and hyper-nationalism and xenophobia this gives us. I’m so used to the sort which grows here in America that it always seems indescribably odd that another nation should go at it with such gusto and joie de vivre, but the insight that Nicholas Pegg’s piece gives us is a strangely familiar one. By the tenor and substance of his jokes, we find that UK xenophobia is not all that different from America, as the UKIP-infected shipping forecast shows, the right-wing litany is rather the same, with prehistoric attitudes on women and utter fear of the immigrant moving in to take advantage of the advantageous features of the economy (that’s apparently what benefit tourism is).

Plus ça change …

There are a few references worth noting. All the boldfaced names are sea areas in the seas adjacent to the British Isles. Names like North Utsire (ut-SEARY) and Fastnet roll of the British tongue quite fluidly but sound like strange music to the American ear. Two obvious jokes there, of course: “Bongo Bongo Land”, being one, and the German Blight, which is a pun on German Bight, which is the name of the elbow of North Sea which abuts Germany’s northwest, between the Netherlands and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, kind of Germany’s left shoulder.

The reference at the end is for a wholly remarkable Radio 4 program, The Archers which, at over 17,200 episodes, is most likely the longest-running serial drama on Earth.

Anyone needing to know just where these sea regions are geographically located can view the map here.

I’m going to listen to that thing a few hundred more times.

[pdx_photo] 82nd and E Burnside Photo Rhapsody

Posted in Outer East Portlandia, PDX photos, SE PDX Photos on January 20, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

The photographic impressions of just doing your errands on a night when the sun sets gold behind Mount Tabor:

The platform … the front seat of our car … wasn’t the best, but color of the backlit clouds above Mount Tabor was what I was after. And the atmosphere or the time.

The segement of E Burnside just east of the I-205 overpass. We like this stretch of road. Can’t say why. Call it visual umame, if you must. 

New Urbanists call it ‘distressed’. I call it home. 82nd Avenue looking south from Burnside.

The Chevron at 82nd and E Burnside, the Hong Phat Food Center that used to be the 82nd and Burnside Safeway, the sunset over Mount Tabor. The nose of our old Subaru. 

The Hong Phat Food Center that was once a Safeway. They’re doing quite well, Haven’t been yet, though. Maybe soon.

Heavy Eastside. It’s how we roll.

[pdx] … And A Transit Bridge Runs Through It: An Editorial Comment

Posted in Advance Cascadia Fair, Iconic Portland, PDX Transit, Portland Legends, portlandia, Working Kirk Reeves on January 20, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

TriMet has, this week, released the list of the finalists for the name they’ll be sticking on the new landmark Portland-Milwaukie Transit Bridge. They are:

  1. Wy’East
  2. Duniway
  3. Cascadia Crossing
  4. Tillicum Crossing
The four names stand pretty large in the history of the  Salish lands and the history of the American Pacific Northwest. Wy’East is, of course, the name the original locals gave Mount Hood. Duniway is for Abigail Scott Duniway, the suffragette (who already stands tall with a legacy of a park and a school), tillicum is Chinuk wawa for us folks, our people, our tribe, and Cascadia is the emerging name for our regional identity latterly.
A few problems come to mind with these names. All of them are fairly unoffensive, The first two still manage some inspiration, the last two sound like suburban shopping malls. Very historical, very important, very expected.
The real sad part, personally, for me, is who didn’t even make the short list:
Kirk Reeves. To most Portlanders, he should need no introduction, but to those who arrived late in the game, here’s a Working Kirk primer for you. Kirk Reeves, the white-suited man at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge (and betimes other places, busking for a living, making bad comedy shows on local access, appearing as himself every OryCon, and basically making the world better by just being. Kirk Reeves, whose struggle with keeping the wolves at bay grew to be so wearing that he gave in, just a few months over a year ago.
TriMet has published the list of suggestions. I haven’t the inclination to count myself, but a subjective peruse of the 202-page list of suggestions seems to indicate a sheer preponderance of Kirk (in some variant spellings). Joseph Rose at Soylent News™remarks that a page count comes up with Kirk’s name on about 11 pages of the document; by contrast, Duniway got about four, and Wy’East, two.
So, clearly, this wasn’t a popularity contest. 
It does make TriMet seem a little out-of-touch with its constituency though. Wouldn’t be the first time that has happened over the last few years, we bittersweetly note, not at all.
It has been pointed out to me that perhaps a sort of wide-screen personality could really only support the idea of a bridge name. As far as that goes, Wy’East or Duniway goes just fine with me. And, as T.A. Barnhart pointed out to me, Kirk’s name would fit perhaps a little better as a park name or a place where performers could come out to play. I’d picture that as a Oregonized sort of Speaker’s Corner, something we really could rock, in a Portland way. Picture people debating in one part, someone playing a public tune in another, and not one of our local over-promoted, over priced you-have-to-pay-to-get-into-Tom McCall-Waterfront-Park dos, either. 
A people’s space? Working Kirk Reeves People’s Park? I could get behind that.
But, in the meantime, if TriMet wasn’t interested in what the people really wanted, why did it bother to ask at all? If there was no possibility of Kirk’s name going on the bridge, at least it could have thrown us a bone by putting it on the short list.
And, in my opinion? I think Kirk was big-screen enough for his name to go on that bridge.

I wonder, would his story have turned out any differently if he’d have known how much affection the community had for him?

I know people might disagree with that, and I’m down with it.

You can download the pdf list here, if you wanna.