Archive for March, 2014

[design] Milton Glaser Hearts Microbrew Labels. Unless He Doesn’t. Without Extra Added PDX.

Posted in design, Graphic Design, label design, Milton Glaser, package design on March 31, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

Milton Glaser is responsible for a a lot of graphic awesomeness over his career, including a very iconic New York logo.

Just recently The New York Times asked him to review a handful of microbrew’s labels. Is very trenchant. The bad reviews are, as usual, the most fun to read, as witness:

“The surface of this is so unpleasant. It sort of looks lumpy, like food that has gone bad. To me, this is antithetical to the idea of refreshing taste. Even though this violates assumption, it still doesn’t create a sense of anticipation about drinking it.”

The rest are here.

SPOILER ALERT: There is no mention on Portland anywhere on this list. Yeah, I know, right? You figure any intersection of NYT, beer and microbreweries would squeeze out a pip labelled PDX, but no. Not this time.

(via You The Designer)


[art in PDX] Used Books at I’ve Been Framed

Posted in art books, art in PDX, I've Been Framed, PDX art stores on March 30, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
One of our favorite places on this or any other world, I’ve Been Framed, also sells art books, did you know?

This picture, nicked from IBF’s Facebook stream, shows a little less than the half of what they have on offer. You’ll have to wait ’till Monday to shop (they closed today) but a trip to see if they have some stuff to interest is highly indicated.

However, that one on the upper right there, the Dorling-Kindersley The New Artist’s Handbook, by Smith, you can’t have. And do you know why?

Because I bought it. I got there before you did.

Hey, you snooze, you lose.

[art] Pens, For the Record

Posted in art, art tools on March 30, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
For writing at work: old, battered Cross Classic Century, probably from before the time they started using the word “Classic” up from to market it. Penatia makes refills for these at about $5 the two at Staples. Only ballpoint pen I can stand using.

For diary writing: One of either:

  • Preppy Platinum Fountain Pen. Well-used by now, economical, will go the distance. 
  • The above mentioned Cross Classic Century.
  • Pilot Precise V5 Roller-ball. Liquid ink. The best roller ball pen on the market, by far. No competition.
For Drawing: for inking in,  COPIC Muliliner SP, 0.1, 0.35, 0.7 widths.
Pencils employed are usually mechanical, and I rely on the .5. Have 2 really nifty Staedtler 925s for this.

[pdx] 1 Elevator Street, Oregon City, Oregon

Posted in liff in Cascadia, liff in OR, Oregon City, Oregon Pictures, PDX photos, The OC on March 27, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
In Oregon City, an elevator is something other than else.

The history of the elevator goes way, way back, and the legend goes something like this: as the city developed, this legend goes, the early OCans made do with the trails that the original inhabitants used to get between the bench and the bluff. That wouldn’t fly over the long term, of course. Eventually, funds were raised for a more civilized way up the hill.

The first elevator, which went into operation about 1915, was a water-powered contraption, very business-like, matter-of-fact, practical, and plain. You got up and got down and got about your business. In the mid 1950’s, though, the current version – which is done in a combination of what I understand to be Art Deco and a Space-Age style somewhat appropriate to The Jetsons, possibly inspired a little by Metropolis, was built and went into service. And this is what we have now.

The entry is a tunnel leading below the railroad tracks from this nifty façade at the intersection of 7th and Railroad Streets, just one block away from the end of the Arch Bridge (Downtown OC is defined by three N-S streets, and is only two blocks wide).

The crow’s-nest observation deck is about 130 feet up, and has the nifty look of a alien spaceship from some 1950s B-monster SF flick.

You can fly me anytime, baby.

The elevator is really a conventional elevator, which is unique because Oregon City employs an elevator operator. He (today it was a he) sits on a small stool behind a plexi partition and works the buttons, is generally a nice host-y presence.

Being a map aficionado, the floor of the deck had a great thing for me to see. That, of course, would be … a map. Quelle suprise.

A plat map (a plat is the term of art of the original town street design on the ground, whether the streets actually get built or not) from the original OC was adapted into a design for the floor of the deck. Brown blocks for the lower level; green blocks for the upper.

The ‘wooly-worm’ design that denotes the bluff is known by cartographers as a hachure, and in this case is mostly symbolic, but is a rather rustic way of indicating slopes. In more technical representations, the length and width of the hachure indicates the slope and direction of slope; much as you can tell how sheer a hill is by the spacing of the contour lines on a modern relief map, knowing how to read a hachure gives you a graphical glimpse-idea of the terrain.

The crow’s nest design of the deck allows historic Oregon City to show herself off at her sexiest.

All about, the deck (and the tunnel below) are lined with an ingenious historical display. Each photo is a layered thing: a modern view, a historic view, and a wide panorama of the falls. Due to the same effect that allowed a kids eye to wink at you in those toys that had the corrugated plastic, that gave a kind of animation effect, the exhibits designers packed a time panorama into a series of well-curated panels.

The below I selected because, well, vintage street signs, and the kind of finger-directional signs we used to grow around here, a style which existed well into the 1960s.

The art-deco touch even extends to the well-chosen typography, which is drawn from the past’s idea of what the future would be. Of particular note is the low waistline on the font, which can be noted in the R, E, and G, and the absolute geometric perfection of the forms. The Art-Decoish feel to the facade just reinforces the retro-future feel.

The tunnel leading to the lower entry to the elevator is a great place to play your songs, as this guy working it showed us. He didn’t seem to be busking, just playing to hear himself play. He was quite skillful and very much into it.

I love tunnels. They’re fun to photograph and the neat thing about it is you can take it for where you are or it can be anywhere. They’re great for fantasizing and getting lost in your own visions.

And from this Art Deco treasure, you can see the other.

[pdx] Travelogue: Downtown Oregon City (another photo essay w/words scattered about)

Posted in liff in OR, liff in PDX, Oregon City, PDX Metro Photos, PDX photos, The OC on March 25, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
The perambulations of yesterday, as I may have intimated (and if I didn’t, I’m doing so here), included a rather extensive leg up and down Main Street in downtown Oregon City.

The lower levels, as they called ’em back in the day.

Downtown Oregon City is a cozy place.

It’s shimmed between the river on one side and the bluff on the other. In this rift is a very cozy neighborhood with some pretty vibrant businesses and lovely architecture. On this mid-Sunday afternoon, typically a sleepy time in Oregon cities of any size, there were a bustling pizzeria and a hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place, both doing good business.

As to the architecture, this building – labelled COMMERCE BANK and hosting and Edward D. Jones stock broker’s office on the ground level – has survived a bit more than a century. That space-age thing against the bluff is Oregon City’s famed Municipal Elevator, of which more later. This picture was taken at the corner of 7th and Main Streets.

The street fronting onto the river is McLoughlin Blvd, a part of Oregon Highway 99E, the major artery down the east side of the Willamette Valley. At this point it’s an arterial taking you past and around the end of downtown. Center here is the old Clackamas County Courthouse, to which we will return.

Like I said, cozy place.

A view downstream on the Willamette from the middle of the Arch Bridge, which one gets on by going to the corner of 7th and Main and heading west. It’s hard to miss how narrow the river is at this point, especially if one is used to its full-bore majesty north and south of this place. In the distance is the Abernathy Bridge, the one that carries Interstate 205 over the Willamette as it strikes out for SE Portland.

Now, while we were viewing the above, we couldn’t help but notice a distance barking of … seals? Yes, there were seals there. And zooming in to the max with my Canon, this is the best view we could get:

Note the small black pips there more or less at the center of the shot. We could just make out the bobbing of heads.

Seals. Pinnipeds in the Willamette.

A view back down the bridge gives a clear idea of how the bridge leads into the center of downtown …

… and this one from the crow’s nest of the elevator looking down at Arch Bridge and the vicinity of the eastern approach. Downtown OC’s so snugly packed it gets lost down there. Lovely small-town architecture.

Between the River and the Rails …

There are a great many placards of all sorts in downtown Oregon City. This is a place that’s proud of its history and doesn’t want you to miss any of it. Tough to get lost there … even if you look down, there’s a signpost telling what’s nearby.

Singer Falls? We’ll get there.

The Clackamas County Courhouse is a thing of muscular beauty. It, along with the rest of downtown, is cozy; Clackamas County is to be admired for maintaining a courthouse which is, by reputation, a bit small for the county’s needs (a great deal of county admin happens at the south end of town, an area known by the locals as The Hilltop. In Oregon City, geography is all).

It occupies most of the block on Main Street between 8th and 9th. in the above POV, taken from 8th and Main, the foreground has an obelisk from the Arch Bridge before it was renovated, crediting the visionary who created the bridge’s design, as well as many arched bridges along the Oregon coast … Conde B. McCulloch. Think reverently of him whenever you cross the bay at Newport.

The details of the building suggest the sort of project initiated during the Great Depression to get men back to work. The details are Art Deco and very representative of the artistic styles popular at that time as I’m familiar with them. The typography above is worth the price of admission right there.

A couple of photos back I noted a geographic feature I’d not unto then heard of: Singer Falls. I only knew of one falls associated with Oregon City. Well, there are two, and here’s the other … Singer Falls:

Singer Falls. According to lore, Singer Creek once flowed from the upper level and came down the face of the bluff as a stream. Like many small streams in Oregon’s larger towns, it’s been largely culverted. This part, however, has been channeled into this chute, which is Singer Falls. The staircase that climbs the bluff crosses the stream, and it’s all landscaped very nicely where the two cross. Worth the climb.

Fear and loathing in The OC? Nah. Just the van belonging to the tattoo shop that’s across the street from the courthouse.

Say what you want about Oregon City, if they have tattoo shops near the courthouse, it can’t be all that uncool.

It’s very walkable down there. Cute little alleys between buildings beckon.

The best angle on the Arch Bridge we can get off main street, and framed by not only by nature but the constructions of man.

And, as a coda, detected at last, evidence of Democrats in Clackamas County. As a fellow Democrat, I feel for them. Judging by the sorts of people who get elected down that way, they have a hard job pretty much all the time.

But, when you can show off a Senator Jeff Merkley-autographed lawns sign, then things can’t be all that bad.

This is Merkley Country, yo. Represent.
I was surprised by a lot I found there. Downtown Oregon City really is kind of a spiffy, tidy place (not one, but three hobby stores down there, and two furniture stores, as well as a video production company). It’s a real gem, tucked down where you’ll miss it if you don’t take the time to look.
Maybe they’re trying to keep it a secret.

[pdx] Hyas Tyee Tumwater (a photo essay w/a few words here and there)

Posted in Advance Cascadia Fair, Chinuk, liff in Cascadia, liff in OR, liff in PDX, oregon history, PDX photos, PDX Visual History on March 24, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
Oregon City, as an incorporated town, is, for the European culture of the American west, a very old thing. Goes all the way back to 1845 as a municipal corpration, 14 years before the USA constructed what we call a “State” on the site. Lord only knows what it is we’re building now, but we’re doomed to find out, I’m certain.

But my phlegmatic attitude about the middle-term future aside for now, Oregon City is truly a sort of a gem. That it lost the primacy battle to Portland is obvious in that it’s a subsidiary city, part of the periphery to Portland’s metropole. Today, more than 150 years after its founding, it still only hefts less than 35,000 people, and in todays inflated Oregon populations, that obtains an atmosphere more appropriate to a slightly-larger Silverton or Molalla.

Viewing the geography, it’s kind of obvious why the founders thought The OC would prosper a bit more wildly. It was about as far up as the boats could go, and it had a ready-made source of power.
Today, we call it Willamette Falls. Back then, it might have been called hyas tyee tumwater in a hybrid of English and Chinuk wawa: hyas tyee can take shadings of expression but essentially can be thought of as big king, and tumwater being a Chinuk-English fusion, the tum word meaning a strong, muscular sound, like that of a roaring heartbeat.

Big King of the Roaring Water.

You don’t think or hear much about Willamette Falls, and that’s sad. Despite its mere 40-foot height and lack of a sheer drop, and not to mention the difficulty there is in getting a good view (we keep it hidden in the graveyard of the paper industry in downtown Oregon City) it’s a world-class cataract: the second largest waterfall in North America, behind Niagara, and the seventeenth largest on the planet, according to the World Waterfall Database (which puts Victoria Falls at tenth and the drowned Celilo Falls at seventh).

Living the mollycoddled life of the Portland denizen tends to make one forget how rugged and majestic Oregon really is. But that misconception is something that can be handled.

Requires a bit of a walk, however.

If one takes the Oregon City Municipal Elevator up from the lower level, the geographic relief becomes quickly apparent, as does the town’s industrial history. at your feet is the shuttered Blue Heron Paper plant, which was James River before that, which was Zellerbach before that, which was Crown-Zellerbach before that.

A half-century of industrial history. Now Oregon City gets to figure out what to do with the leftovers. The young lady under the tree, however, fills diary pages and listens to music (the weather this March day being quite fine for the Portland area)>

Once off the elevator and out of the crow’s nest at the top, the sojourner is presented with a rather hilly walk. Up and down, overlooking the river, downtown, and the old paper mills. If you’re out of shape, you’ll want to take it slowly; there are benches along the way, so those who need them can take breathers.

The park – McLoughlin Promenade, by name – fronts onto a sweet, quiet neighborhood on the upper levels, whose outward-facing houses are served by an unsigned right-of-way called Bluff Street, and backed up by the appropriately-named High Street.

Some streets are even-more appropriately named.

Near the south-end of the prom, overlooking Tumwater Drive and the VFW hall, is a rock outcropping that has photo-opportunity written all over it.

The tree makes for great framing when the foliage is gone. Of course, try as one might, one can’t really get the falls without the industry. That was how the West was won, after all.

South from the falls, the river spreads out into a wide-throated titan. North, it is constricted between not only a narrow gorge but the tattered remnants of what once made Oregon City and West Linn throb with economic vitality.

A sense of power is obvious even from the pictures. The amount of mist the fall throws up is stunning. The roar of the falls can be heard from this far away … about a half-mile … even above the din of the modern world.

An enormous snag rests in the falls, giving some idea of the power that had brought it there.

Still, despite all the human strait-jacketing, the development, the horse-shoe shape of the falls is still quite beautiful, to ineptly gild the obvious, and I fancy that one is left to wonder what sort of devotion the falls would generate if people could just see it a bit easier.

This is Oregon.