Archive for the SE PDX Photos Category

[#pdx] Photos on Sunday: Mr Plywood and Mount Hood From Downtown Montavilla

Posted in Montavilla, Mount Hood, Photos on Sunday, Portland Photos, Portland Street Scenes, SE PDX Photos on June 9, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
Not too many photos on this edition of Photos on Sunday, because we had a real day of downtime. And, noting the way I feel right now, it was needed. 
But that’s as may be. Today, The Wife™ needed a bit of board for a little thing she was trying to do to organize the closet, so we do what we usually do in these cases: we went to Mr. Plywood, in downtown Montavilla, at 76th and SE Stark. It’s been in Portland a long, long time … I don’t know what year it was founded in, but I remember the dryly-narrated commercials that Mike Falconer used to do back in the 70s. Since there are fewer and fewer of the good old local retailers that exist around here that did when I was a kid, we put a high importance on patronizing them. We do, after all, want to help them stay in business for as long as they can.

Mr Plywood’s store is hard to miss. 7609 SE Stark Street, that’s on Stark Street, on the north side, filling the whole block between 76th and 77th. You won’t miss it, if only because it’s big sign, made of the mascot, draws your attention.

Inside, it’s your local lumber store … with an accent on the finished plywood sort of thing. Because, name.

Me and The Wife™ love it because the prices are good, the service is knowledgable, and if you stop in as a regular, they treat you like a friend. The Wife™ loves the access to materials. I love the free popcorn.

I’ve gone on in other venues about free popcorn at hardware and building supply stores. To this day, wife says I need some dowling or a cedar board, and my mouth starts watering.

The store’s in two main sections; the upper part, where the cashier is, the aisles with building and wooodworking supplies, and the finished plywood. Rougher stuff is in the other half of the building, which is reached through the large door with these delightful signs over:

They love DIYers and I love those signs. And observing the proceedings in the upper room is the store’s eponymous mascot … “Mr” Plywood.

In all his precise geometrical glory, he beams warmly to all who patronize.

But there something about him … those eyes …

Do you see they way they look? The way they seem to follow you across the room? The way they look not only at you … but into you? (cue theremin at this point. You may not want to, but you have to)

They bore into you in searing honesty … they are the abyss of building materials, and as you look into them, THEY LOOK INTO YOU!!!!! AAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!

Okay, now that I’ve turned a perfectly charming store logo into something you’re afraid will meet you on the other side and chase you after death, let’s move on! Mr Plywood is located in what I think of as ‘downtown Montavilla’. Montavilla is the neighborhood on the east side of Mount Tabor from the rest of Portland, and begins pretty much at the toe of the mountain. It’s main east-west axis is the one-way couplet of SE Stark and Washington Streets, from 76th to 82nd Avenues, where there are a flock of shops, a really nifty coffeehouse called the Bipartisan Cafe, and the best movie theatre on earth … The Academy.

For those who know me well, I’m about to go into another couple of photos where I further if possible, fetishize Mount Hood. I am what I am.

The mountain is visible from downtown Montavilla, and the best view is from the upper end, near SE 76th, in front of the Mr Plywood store. Taking the lessons in creating telephoto-style pictures a couple of missives ago, it quickly occurred to me that this was a chance to juxtapose the distant mountain with the human habiliment in the foreground. I remember seeing similar pictures taken of Mount Rainier from the Seattle suburbs when I was a kid, and they really had impact … impressions of them stayed with me to this day, and are playing across my mind as I write this. Here’s what I came up with, and the result really pleases my aesthetic sense.

The real coup, I think, is the tall facade to The Academy, even though it blocks the view of a shoulder of the mountain, its intrusion into the scene makes it kind of a valuable statement. The above is cropping a zoomed-in photo, and this …

… is at a few levels of digital zoom, which I’m finding, the Canon S-100 handles with deftness.

And it’s Mount Hood, Wy’east, which is its own justification.


[photo] Have You Seen This Bee? BECAUSE SHE’S AWESOME!!!

Posted in Bees, digital photos, Oregon Natural History, SE PDX Photos on June 7, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
Earlier today we were at Tony’s Garden Supply. This is a wonderful nursery near SE 104th and Holgate Boulevard and is the kind of hometown garden center I remember growing up … locally owned, very very friendly and very very knowledgeable.

We got a Yummy Mix pepper plant, a petunia (the really pretty kind with the dark, dark blue, almost indigo stripes), a big pot to do some transplanting in, and got some advice on how to save The Wife™’s Italian flat-leaved parsley plants. Free protips; you can’t do better!

But it’s a riot of color, and plants wontonly dripping with pollen, and where there’s pollen … we kind of hope these days, from what we’ve heard, it’s kind of grim for them … there’s bees. And I hated bees as a kid, because stingy-stingy-owie-owie, but I’m an adult and I have maybe a better understanding of bee boundaries. And I saw honey bees and bumble bees, and since I read maybe a little too much news I fret over the fact that there aren’t so many bees now. But they were chillaxin’, lazily-but-efficiently picking up pollen from the flowering plants at the front gate.

I’d been wanting to pict a bee for an awful long time. They are fascinating creatures. So I pointed and shot and hoped, and reviewed the photos, and look at this, will you!

Not only did I get a fabulously clear picture of afore-intimated apian, I so lucked that I caught the wings, momentarily, at rest. And, I’m a leg man … and check out them shanks, yo, just brimming with pollen.

I am proud of this picture. And that is one awesome bee.

[pdx] Telephoto Fun on Portland Streets With The Canon PowerShot S-100

Posted in digital photography, Out 122nd Way, Outer East Portlandia, SE PDX Photos on June 7, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
Telephoto means one thing to me and, being an undisciplined amateur photographer, that’s probably not accurate, but the result is an artful compression of distance.

SE 82nd Avenue looking south from SE Schiller Street

I’ve always adored telephoto shots because they draw a real interesting line between a kind of abstract expression and reality. It’s like you’re getting this fantasy world mixed with reality, 2-for-1.

SE Holgate Blvd looking west from about SE 105th Avenue

The way the posts and poles lining the street bunch up, the far comes near, forms fascinating shapes and defines entrancing spaces which capture the eye the way Celtic knotwork always does. Your POV goes exploring in interesting spaces that are both fantastic and real.

SE 122nd looking north from SE Morrison Street

The ‘telephoto’ shots taken by the Canon PowerShot S-100 aren’t, strictly speaking, telephoto. Technically speaking, a telephoto lens uses a sequence of lenses called the telephoto group to create a light path that’s longer than the physical length of the lenses. But you can come up with a pretty good simulation if you zoom in tight enough with the S-100, sort of what cinematographers would call an in-camera special effect. In its largest format, too, it combines the astoundingly-good optical zoom with a few levels of  digital zoom to get a zoom level of up to 20X. After that, it’s a matter of framing and composing, or even cropping, to frame the viewpoint.

I’m finding the paltry knowledge I have about composition is actually going a long, long way. Some sense of composition is becoming key to composing good shots – or, at least, shots I like. The generous viewing screens of modern digital cameras are, of course a big boon, try WYSIWYG.

The levels of digital zoom seem to suffer some acceptable degradation of quality, which is to be expected. As I learnt with the old ViviCam 3705, the faithful Plastic Fantastic, digital zoom is a matter of taking the inside of the photo, blowing it up, and cropping. You get zoom, but the quality can be very bad. On the Canon S-100, though, it’s good. I tried a very ad-hoc experiment; the above picture of 122nd is shot at maximum optical zoom and cropped. Left there is the same general view shot with maximum optical and digital zoom. The quality is good enough, to my tyro eye, to use as an effective illustration.

The view southbound down SE 122nd Avenue from the safety island by the Midland Library is maybe a little less expansive but the far away massif of Mount Scott, the layers of traffic signals, the shimmering warmth radiating up from the street and the bunched-up light poles ranging away in to the distance make up for what it lacks, compared to the former shot.

I do like this camera, I do.

SE 122nd Avenue looking south from near
the Midland Branch Library (just south of Morrison Street)

[#pdx] Photos On Sunday: East Holladay and Earl Boyles Parks

Posted in David Douglas Area, Earl Boyles Park, liff in Outer East Portland, Outer East Portlandia, Photos on Sunday, SE PDX Photos on June 5, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
Parks here in Outer East Portlandia seem a little few and far between. In a city famed for its green spaces and park system, it’s proving to be a bit of a struggle to solve. Perhaps it’s because someone hasn’t yet figured out how a developer can make a ton of money off it, I don’t know. Who knows.

The neighborhood trees
muscle up to East Holladay Park

Shutting off the cynicism for a moment, part of it is, you just have to know where to look. West of 82nd Avenue, the parks are brazen hussies; they just throw themselves at you, shamelessly; get out of your car, park it, bub, and enjoy me!!! They’re the only part of the empire of Portlandia that isn’t some sort of passive-aggressive. There are awesome parks on the Heavy Eastside, they’re like gold or water; they’re where you find them. This turns the hunt into about equal parts aggravation and treasure quest.

Rose hips, East Holladay Park

This first park, you’ll see what I mean. It’s called East Holladay Park, and despite its geographically-specific name, it’s not just down the road from Holladay Park, near the Lloyd Center, unless, for you, just down the road means a seven-mile trip out the Banfield Freeway and NE Halsey Street. But then, there are some fitness freaks here in Portland …

Oh, me. Anyway. to get to East Holladay Park, you do indeed go out NE Halsey Street into the veldtlands to deep East Portland. Go east on Halsey to NE 128th Avenue, and south on 128th to NE Holladay Street. About 420 feet, give or take, east from 128th, Holladay Street bends and becomes Holladay Court, and that’s where the park’s entry is. What makes East Holladay hard to locate is that this is its only obvious entry, otherwise it’s surrounded by homes on 2 long sides and a PGE substation on the third. Other streets dead-end at the park’s edge and provide local entry that way; the only public parking area is the one where NE Holladay St becomes NE Holladay Ct at the 13000 block.

The parking lot (a dated version of which  can be seen in Google Maps Satellite view) is both visually pleasing to look at and a version of the green ways of doing things we try to put into operation here in Portland wherever we can. Instead of a sheet of asphalt, square pavers form a surface smooth enough to drive or walk across while the seams between open into the soil, alleviating the problems inherent in water sheeting across a normal parking lot and simply sloughing off onto the streets and soil surrounding it, taking advantage of the ability of the ground and the vegetation to filter out the nasty bits in the same way that our unfairly-lambasted bioswales do

It’s also visually charming, making one feel as though one is walking across a cobbled courtyard. Rather sophisticated, actually.

The area of the park is wide open. This was actually a bit disappointing as we were hoping for a place to spread out with art supplies and diary and play, but there’s no picnic tables there. Truth be told, the space is a bit bland, but I can’t hold a grudge against all that luminous green. There is a spiffy new, bright, pretty, fun-looking play area, so the area is undoubtedly getting real-world likes from every neighborhood kid.

Fun time at the park: enabled.
The other one is Earl Boyles Park. I suppose we missed it all this time because there’s no obvious signs leading to it, and it’s similarly ensconced in the neighborhood near SE 112th Avenue between Powell and Holgate the way East Holladay is in its nabe. The best access we were able to find is SE Center Street going east from SE 104th Avenue. On the south, east, and west it’s surrounded by houses and trees; there is an access on SE Boise Street. North side of the park is bounded by the properties of Ron Russell Middle School and Earl Boyles Elementary, on SE Bush Street west of 112th Avenue, and while there’s ready access from Bush Street the space between the north bound of the park and the street is taken up by Ron Russell’s sports field, so the park’s presence is perhaps not so obvious from there.

By the time we’d gotten to Earl Boyles Park, the sun was beginning to get rather low in the sky, and the long rays were being played about with by the foliage, leaving the grass and tree boughs even more luminous than the park before. There’s a water feature which can be activated somehow, and the kids were playing in it … a high, proud fountain. We were delighted by this. We’ve seen quite a few Portland parks in which the water feature was either deactivated or a thing of the past.

I feel rather abashed. This is the park we’ve been looking for; pleasant access, a nice grove of trees, a fountain pad for the warm bodies that summer in Oregon naturally obtains. A place with tables to sit and take in the world, and to watch the sun linger on the horizon, like it tends to do hereabouts.

Earl Boyles Park. Sunset. 2nd of June, 2014.

And we just kind of stumbled on it. Well, the best things, you usually find them that way. Serendipity, they call it. Just what you were looking for … but not when you were looking for it.

That’s why life is mysterious, in the good way. 

[pdx] Photos On Sunday: The Burnside Bridgehead

Posted in Burnside St, Heavy Eastside, PDX History, Photos on Sunday, Portland Bridges, SE PDX Photos on May 26, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
The block on the north side of the east end of the Burnside Bridge has something of a conflicted history. For a long time, nobody knew what its future would look like. Many people had some definite ideas, but in the end, none of them willed out, in a way that’s funny in bike-friendly, liberal, weird Portland.

This block is bounded on the south by East Burnside Street, on the west by NE 3nd Avenue, on the north by NE Couch Street, and on the east by NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, once known as Union Avenue. I became a full-time Portlander in 1985 (with a break from ’87-’91, but that’s another story) but, by then, being a perhaps-too-avid watcher of the news, had familiarity with at least some of the issues surrounding that square block of Portland.

When I finally did come to the shining city, I knew there was a place of no small notoriety there, and that was sad, because they really did try to fix something. The building on the north side of the bridge was a place that looked disreputable but tried to have a good heart – they called it Baloney Joe’s. It was a homeless shelter run by an organization that dissolved in a scandal involving the director, an organization called the Burnside Community Council, and that’s sad because there were some good angels hard at work there, some of whom you might know if you hang around the good Portlandians online.

Sometime around 1990, due to the scandal, the BCC ended and Baloney Joe’s operation was taken up by the Salvation Army, who renamed it the Recovery Inn, then developers got interested, and the Inn finally closed and moldered for several years while a variety of power and money centers vied for the opportunity to develop it.

Someone wanted to put a Home Depot store there. I, for one, still can’t picture it.

Today, the battle has been settled. When whoever thought it was going to be a bonnie idea decided to turn Burnside and Couch into a one-way couplet east and west of the bridge, they needed a place to funnel the west-bound traffic on NE Couch onto the Burnside Bridge westbound. Instead of a Home Depot or lower-income housing or anything regarding the homeless, now, an S-shaped boulevard full of traffic runs through it.

In liberal, weird, transit-and-bike-friendly Portland.

Who says irony is dead? As long as this absurd city remains, thus shall it be. And the debate over what could have been shall ‘ere be considered academic.

The skyline of the down, dirty, yet somehow fashionable
CEID looking south from the Burnside Bridge.

The Burnside Bridgehead exists in what was, and still shows many sides of, what we locals called the C.E.I.D – the Central Eastside Industrial District. It’s starting to give way to converted loft work/live spaces, trendoid bars, and retail … which, one supposes, was just a matter of time, given that it was in sight of the city core.

The part of the block not given over to the Couch Street connection is carpeted over in long grass and wildflowers. The part of Couch that used to connect SE 3rd Avenue to MLK is now a very short stub which provides convenient and ready parking on a Sunday afternoon to the tyro photographer and his wife, and an opportunity to stretch the legs and look at the urban views.

We all strive for more than just the basics. This is not
Portland, this is universal.

The building on the south side of the bridge at 3rd Avenue has had a sign on it for decades: R.J. Templeton Co. Whatever R.J. Templeton Co, did, it’s been gone perhaps even before your humble interlocutor came to town; one remembers the facade mostly bland painted wood where windows must once have been. The windows are back and whatever is going in behind them, you can bet it’s going to be pretty spiffy and, no doubt, priced to match.

The area is popular now for skateboarders and bike riders, who have carved their own paths to and from Burnside down to the lower streets. Down closer to the river, along 2nd Avenue, is some of the last ‘industrial’ businesses in the area; some of Portland’s oldest produce merchants are still there, a remnant of what was once so many that they named the area Produce Row. Set deep within the industrial haven, it took advantage of the quick freeway connections and rail access to be a break-in-bulk point for the fruits and veggies coming into and out of Portland.

The era is closing out so very slowly though. We do things in our own time here in Portland, and this is on a timetable of its own. Farther down 2nd, under the Burnside Bridge itself, is a skatepark that went from outlaw to legitimate. We saw murals (which I’ll go back and get sometime) and people getting ready, complete with cameras for posterity’s sake. We indeed have come so far.

The path from E Burnside down to NE 3rd Avenue.
You can go your own way, baby.
The building in the distance is the Eastside Exchange,
the building addressed with the No.123
rubric seen earlier in this post.

They say that weeds are wildflowers out of place.
Like the homeless people that used to shelter here, they’ll
be evicted in their turn, perhaps.
Looking under the bridge at SE 3rd Avenue from NE 3rd Avenue.

Today, the old gives way to the new, a streetcar runs where once traffic did, and it all looks kind of the same, but something more than the obvious seems to have moved on. But this is Oregon, and that means …

… we’ll always have the blackberry bushes.

ON EDIT: Fellow PDX Facebooker and curator of the Dead Memories Portland group, Michael Long, shares the news that they are going to put something in more than just a road there … and the idea is so very, very us. It’s a real dumbbell …

[pdx] My Tom Peterson’s 82nd And Foster Pic Communicates Hard!

Posted in advertising, pdx legends, Portland Commercial History, SE PDX Photos, Tom Peterson's on May 23, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
Being the PDX lover that I am, I usually find my way to the great posts, one way or the other. Maybe it’s net-magic, the way the intarwebz tend to remember what you like, I don’t know. But I find them, or they find me.

Today’s offering is a article at the real estate blog Movoto, which I have only just heard about. The reason is this fine article about sweet quirky Portland things that were. Pride of place, though, and number one of the 26 Things You’ll Never See In Portland Again, is this:

Which uses this photo I have up at Flickr:


… which was taken back in 2005 and originally posted on this blog at

I rock this town. With my blog. And if they think of this photo when they think of Tom Peterson’s that was, well, that’s about the next best thing to getting a ton of money for my opinions.

Which I’m still open to. Just sayin’.

[pdx] Photos On Sunday: Inversion Plus/Minus

Posted in Grand Avenue, Heavy Eastside, Photos on Sunday, Portland Public Art, SE PDX Photos on May 22, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
In Portland, Oregon, you tend to get spoiled, visually. Public art is so easy to come by you begin to tune it into the background. A lovely, texturally rich background, but a background never the less, and backgrounds tend to get taken for granted.

I’m somewhat fond of abstract art so, a couple of years back, when strange lattice-like confections of reddish steel started going up at the corners of SE Grand Avenue and Belmont Street and SE Grand Avenue and Hawthorne Blvd, then, I kind of disregarded them. They were interesting, but not compelling. Just another interesting excursion into outdoor art, and in a city that just looks great even when it just tumbled out of bed, nothing all that remarkable.

Or, as I assumed.

This, as they say, is my bad. Since I’ve been working out with my camera so much lately, I’ve put more effort into not only looking, but seeing. A side effect of all this deep examination is that you begin to see things in a glance that you didn’t notice in a long gaze.

The sculpture, parts one and two of which are eight Portland city blocks apart, are called Inversion: Plus/Minus. It’s courtesy Annie Han and Daniel Mihaylo, of Seattle’s Lead Pencil Studio, and honors the idea that buildings were once in those spaces … they’re ghost buildings really. The south wing, at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge, is more obviously referencing the idea of a building … it has an obvious shape and connectivity.

It was the north wing that had me going for so long. As we were heading to the Dutch Bros at Grand and Belmont for that sweet, sweet free birthday coffee (there is nothing in the world that is wrong with this, by the way), I look up out the front window of the car, look down the street, and see …

… the negative space underneath the steel lattice. It’s a pitched roof, as clear as anything. And I had never bothered to notice before.

Again, as I say, my bad.

The area on the east side of the Willamette, as anyone who travels down Grand and MLK might tell you, seems to be a ghost of a big town that could have been, or should have been. It’s still rather disheveled, which is good … too much of Portland has been polished to a blinding gleam. At SE Yamhill and Grand is a four-story skyscraper-styled building which has, for as long as I’ve known, been a home for a beauty-supply house. The Arcoa Building, it’s called. We parked aside of it and I got out and snapped some shots of this thing I’ve finally figured out.

Near by to this and across the street is a spire called The Weatherly Building. 12 floors tall, it’s the undisputed king of the eastside strip. No other eastside building is taller, at least not south of the Banfield. And looking at it, I get the idea that the hoped it would be one of many.

But then, Portland had not yet really become Portland, not yet, anyway.

The illusion shatters, but in slow motion, as you pull aside of it

It was quite an experience, that frisson of recognition I got when I finally looked and saw. I don’t think I could handle more than twenty or thirty of them in a day. 
I hereby resolve to take no more outdoor art in Portland for granted.