[liff] Our Certified Piece of Portland

Posted in Iconic Portland, liff in PDX, Painfully Portland, ZehnKatzen on June 3, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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Now, as I’ve often (and smugly) boasted, I’m a native Oregonian. A downright Oregon chauvinist, I’ll admit it. Not only is Oregon pretty much the best place ever, anything Oregonian is the best thing ever; our successes are mighty as our failures spectacular.

But one thing I cannot claim to have been is to have been born in Portland. I have lived in Portland more than half my life now, but I was born in Silverton (which, these days, Silverton being what it has become, is also a point of pride now … but still). If there was one thing I’d change about my life, that’d be it.

That, and I hate my nose. Place of birth, nose … just about covers it.

Anyways, back about 1992 or 1993, the people running Pioneer Courthouse Square opened the Square up again for those who wanted bricks. In 1984 I lived between Salem and Corvallis, and was a broke-ass young guy, so no brick for me! But now, me and The Wife™ had our chance. I can’t remember now how much it cost to get one; you can still get one now, and it’ll cost you a C-note, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that expensive at that time.

But we got the money we needed at the time, and we got us that brick. So, there we are.

The only problem we have with it is finding it, or at least, usually so. It’s about
3/4ths of the way up SW Yamhill from 6th Avenue, along the part of the block designated the Pioneer Square South MAX platform. We always go there and have a heck of a time finding it; I always start too far toward the middle of the block, based on a memory, and my memory has never been any great shakes. This travail is compounded by the fact that despite an extensive online database, The Square has never indexed the bricks along the Morrison and Yamhill sides (we’ve e-mailed The Square about it. Nice lady named Lindsay Clute said she’d look into this. More on this as it becomes necessary).

But, as I’ve intimated, we’ve found it. Again. And, as much as a experiential thing to write about as a public bookmark, here’s where it is … referring to the photo of the PS South station sign as a guide: there is a brick seam proceeding more or less from the middle of the sign post. Going west parallel to Yamhill Street, count six bricks. Then, from that line, count three out.

And there you are. On the above snap, the yellow coffee mug we scored from KGW’s Studio on the Square is right beside it. And close-up, it looks like this:

SAMUEL & BRENDA KLEIN 5 YRS, is how it reads. 
1995 was our 5th year together as a couple. We invested in a piece of our beloved town; we are yours, Portland, just like you are ours. 

[pdx] The Square, and The Courthouse That Gives It Its Name

Posted in Advance Cascadia Fair, Iconic Portland, Painfully Portland, PDX photos, Pioneer Square on June 3, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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If you were here 32 years ago, you could have parked here.

Prior to 2014, the downtown Portland block bounded by SW 6th Avenue, Yamhill and Morrison Streets, and SW Broadway was more than a parking lot, it was a parking garage. Doubtless there are a few now that would it back that way, but, fortunately, those few know better and keep their mouths shut about it.

Portland’s Living Room, they call it. It’s a good nickname for what has become, in the incorrect nomenclature of the peoples, Pioneer Square. 

It’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. And born of unsure beginnings in the early 80s, it was the beginning of Portland as a modern-day version of that Livable City on the Hill, shining as an example to all. It has become world-famous, and has become an icon, a signature, and a Portland trademark.

On the day of the KGW Studio on the Square tour (#kgwnow) It was hosting blooms … lots of them. An ‘interactive maze’, they called it, though I know of no maze that isn’t. It had a pattern inside the pattern, if you knew how to look; the number 30 in purple outlined in white. 30 years of the Square.

It’s gone through changes, though not too many. Powell’s Travel Store has become KGW’s satellite news studio (such is progress). The Crepe Faire bistro on the Morrison/Broadway corner has become a Starbucks (such is life). But the water, the fountain surrounding the Vistiors Center/Tri Met office, the curving stairs, the columns … they’re all still there.

The 30 is there for the finding.

The Pioneer Courthouse holds vigil over the proceedings on the 6th Avenue side, and now that MAX is finally on the Mall, it has a modern touch in front of it every few minutes.

One of my favorite touches is on the floor of the crow’s nest balcony over the walkway into the TriMet office. Inlaid in tile mosaic is a most small and darling schematic diagram of the Square.

You aren’t here.

 The Starbucks bistro pavilion is a pergola-like affair. Makes for great and adventurous framing.

… and the whole texture lends itself to asbtract geometric expressionism.

Not the Stariway to Heavn … unless you think Heaven is Southwest Broadway.

The buildings muscle up on every side, creating a feeling of being in a clearing. Since the original name of our town was, in fact, “The Clearing”, it makes sense. And it gives the square block a certain urban friendliness and coziness.

The Square is home to one of the iconic statues in Portland … a life-size statue of a man holding an umbrella, offering assistance. It’s called Allow Me. 

He’s as Portland as it gets, but I think he’s an immigrant, for two reason. Number: the umbrella. We accept, here in Oregon, that they exist, but we have no truck with them. The other?

He’s way too thrilled at the sunny skies.

At the leaving this day, we see the A-frame sign … which some wag has slapped the Doug thereon. Advance Cascadia Fair, oh yea.

[pdx_TV] A Look In To KGW’s Studio On the Square #kgwnow

Posted in KGW, PDX Broadcast Media on June 2, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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I am a kid of the TV age, for better and for worse and for all that this implies.

There are good sides to that. TV introduced me to the my Other Woman, the Other Love Of My Life: the city of Portland. Unlike most, at least I can say I’m a native Oregonian, but if I had it to do over again, I would that my Mom and Dad lived up here.

I’d say we’d have been a good fit in Montavilla. As it is, I live in Greater Russellville, so at least that worked out.

But TV studios, for me, is where a lot of magic occurs. It is a kind of temple for me. I never got the chance to be on Ramblin’ Rod, like a lot of my fellow kids did, nor even ironically, as a young adult. And when I finally became a Portlander full-time, one of the first things I did was go around to all the TV stations … KOIN, KGW, KATU, KPTV … and just get a good look at them. To say I’d been.

For a time, I lived on SE 8th Avenue just south of Powell Blvd. That was the time before whoever owns KPTV bought it and moved it out to Beaverton, when it had that beautiful building, resplendent with the big neon 12 in the tower at the corner of the building. There was an ineffable satisfaction in living within a half-mile of the station that gave me Perry Mason so faithfully.

That, as they say, was then … though it looks much the same from the front end, ownerships have changed, philosophies have changed. There isn’t even a Fisher Broadcasting any more. But the big guns are still stalking the streets of our now two-horse town (I believe we upgraded from one-horse sometime in 2007) and they still generate fascination and I am still mad curious at what it looks like behind the scenes. So, when KGW NewsChannel 8 said we could all come down and get tours of the Studio On The Square, in Pioneer Courthouse Square well …

It was from 10 AM to 2 PM last Saturday, the 31st. Arriving at the Square itself we saw, laid upon it, a labyrinth of colorful flowers, a hypnotic pattern. It’s the annual Festival of Flowers, and this year, they’ve decided on a labyrinth design with a graphic pattern celebrating the Square’s 30th anniversary. It’ll be up until the 10th of June, and I understand you can buy the blossoms as the event wears on. But that, as mentioned, was not why we where there … well, not the main reason. It did give the eye something delightful to linger on as we waited to get in.

This was a day to be somewhere as early as you could. Not only was the weather strictly beautiful, a wonderful Oregon Spring day where the sun was bright, it was warm and not too warm, and not too humid, so waiting outside wasn’t an ordeal. Now the Studio On The Square is on the southeast corner of the Square, near the intersection of SW 6th Avenue and Yamhill Street. A big window looks out onto a stairwell that leads up to the ground level of the Square itself. On the level over the studio, the roof, was arranged a long shelter so that those who came could wait out of the direct sun.

It was needed.

Looks like they’re gonna need a bigger boat.

We stood by in a line while we were taken down in groups of 30 at a time. They were neat and organized and precise … they knew what sort of fanbase they were dealing with here. In the meantime, a familiar face came out to enjoy some sun and some coffee:

That’s KGW’s Wayne Havrelly, whom we rather enjoy. You see him on weekends mostly, and doing reporting during the week.

The news cameraguys were out in force, and there was a bit of a moment of recognition between two documentarians … one, professional, the other, yours truly, self-made. Still, I felt a bit of solidarity here …

iSeeYouSeeingMe

 … and the chance to get a picture of someone taking a picture of you taking a picture of them taking a picture of you should never be passed up. It was a cool moment and I know it was, because just as he took down the camera, he gave me a peace-sign.

Dude, that was most cool of you.

We were admitted, finally, to the area under the Square through the door on the right of the studio window. While we waited for the previous group to clear out we had one of the producers tell us all about the Square, point out the videos that were running on the screens beside the big window in, and get us all ready and enthusiastic about it (we all brought our happy, there wasn’t much priming to do there). Meantime, somehow, that Havrelly fellah slipped back into the building and had to slip past the madding crowd to get back out. Here, I caught him as he got past us.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Wayne Havrelly.
He’s pretty hard to pin down, however.

At last, in … now, I do know something of the history of this space. Five years ago, before it was KGW’s Studio on the Square, it was a branch of the Powell’s Books empire … Powell’s Travel Store. It stocked maps, travel guides, travel accessories … it even had a currency exchange counter. I loved it because you could find city maps from all over the USA of small towns that you’d never heard of. When the Travel Store closed, those items removed to just off the top of the store in the Red Room, until the stock was depleted, and that is now history.

But they’re making history of their own in the space that used to be the Travel Store. And one other thing. When that space was planned, I’m certain they did not envision it to be a television studio or anything like it. Now, when you look at the set, with Brenda and Russ behind the desk, it has a certain size to it.

You enter this studio, and you and the thirty other lucky Golden Ticket winners and the newsies within are all there … and it feels tiny. Just to the left, as we came in, were all the computers that the weather ‘casters use to put together the reports. Less than ten feet away, on the right from that, is a big green wall in front of which the weather ‘caster stands. Less than ten feet away from that is the anchor desk.

Right foreground, Brenda Braxton. Above, LIGHTS!!!!

This was once a smallish bookstore. Now, it’s a smallish TV studio. It’s a bit like the TARDIS, in a way; it’s bigger on the inside, but only on TV.

On your left, Reggie Aqui. Against the green wall
chatting with a fan, Steph Stricklen.

This next photo gives an very good idea of the size of the set. There, on the left is morning anchor Russ Lewis; on the right, signing an autograph, is morning weatherguy Nick Allard. Now, Russ is about average height, and Nick is tall (well, not Steve-Dunn-tall … that guy’s a freakin’ Sequoia). And you can see how close the overhead lighting and how wide that anchor desk really is.

It felt about the size of your average dinner table.

And one thing I noticed about Nick Allard … with fashionably-stubbled visage, he bears a striking resemblance to Wil Wheaton. Seriously. He looked just like him!

Remembering back to our experience at KOPB last month, where it was a leisurely, self-guided tour and you could chat as long as the personalities had time, very laid back, this was like speed-dating. And that’s no sin on their part … they were swamped with people who just wanted to see the people they liked on the news and get a look at the place they worked at. All the KGW newsies were very sweet and very affable, and up for as many photos as you wanted to take with them.

Shepherding us fans through there must have been like herding cats. And KGW has lots of Portlanders that love them; when we got there, the line just barely fit under the shelter. By the time we left the studio, it extended almost all the way back to the corner of Broadway and Yamhill.

We Portlanders love our newspeople. And I’ll bet those newspeople were some tuckered newspeople by the end of this ‘do. God bless ’em. Seriously. I could not keep up with that pace.

Reggie and Steph with a young fan in front
of the weather wall

And here’s a real look behind the scense … the anchor desk. Below can be seen the computer that runs the electronics built into the anchor’s desktop. The seats were rather comfortable.

In the distance, with his arms crossed: Nick Allard

I got to say hi to one … Reggie Aqui. I must say, his aplomb in affably meeting someone who was a little overcome in the crush of people and therefore without his usual velvet wit (that is to say, Yours Truly) I will sincerely be in awe of:

“Hi! I’m Sam.”
“I’m Reggie Aqui”
“I know.”

I could write speeches for the President, genius, SHEER FREAKING GENIUS!!!

One more picture for now. This is what the Studio on the Square looks like to Brenda or Russ every morning.

About the size of a medium size classroom. I recall when KATU invited a bunch of us bloggers over to the studio a while back, and I got the first look I ever had, in real life, of a television studio. I was astounded. Not only did KATU vid the news there, but on the other side of the studio was the set for AM/NW. That studio was a very large room but you cram two shows’ sets in them and all of a sudden it becomes very small; even the seats for the AM/NW audience were in there, hidden behind a curtain. But it’s all in the way you frame it. 
That guy in the lower right corner there? Stalker. Has to be.
I’d suggest a restraining order. Otherwise, you’ll have nothing but fans tromping through the studio all the time. 
Don’t know what gave me that idea, but there it is.
Thanks for the peek, KGW. You guys rock.

[art] Step One: Dream Big

Posted in art as a career, arting around, artisting, artistry, Samuel John Klein, ZehnKatzen on May 30, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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Our text is The Artist’s Guide, by Jackie Battenfield. The homily should become apparent, I hope.

Dreaming big has always been somethingI’ve done really well. But effectively? Nope. I always go into something, like my two stints at Community College, thinking that if I just do my lessons with enough diligence and sheer sincerity, the rest will take care of itself. In as much the last course, at PCC, despite me graduating in graphic design, has gotten me exactly no closer to my goal of working in the visual arts than I was when I started (never mind how long I’ve been trying to figure it out), just working hard and earnestly, apparently, don’t cut it.

That’s a sad thing. The way I was raised, you worked hard enough and honestly enough, the way opened for you. Wouldn’t be the first thing in life that turned out to be a bit of a lie (yeah, that’s a harsh word, a sharp judgement, but sometimes you have to call it the way it looks. Life makes little hypocrites of us all, I’ve become convinced).

So, welcome back to the beginning. I’ve begun again so many times, I should rename myself Finnegan. Ahhh, Square One … we meet again. But what other alternative do I have than trying to figure it out again? Otherwise, I’m already dead … just waiting to be buried. So, we turn the puzzle on its side … for the however-many-th time it is, and try to figure it out again.

On page of chapter 1 on The Artist’s Guide, then, we see this:

I always have done this. But maybe I need to try another time, and vary the angle of attack.

Dream big? Okay. Nothing I feel confident to put down on paper just this moment, but what’s the best way to dream?

Today, why … I’ll sleep on it.

[art] The Desk, Between Ideas

Posted in art, art as a career, arting around, artistry, Samuel John Klein, The Artist's Guide, ZehnKatzen on May 30, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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Where I try to come up with things. My ‘studio’ is in the basement, in a finished room that is outfitted as an office. It is made with a perma-desk and a bunch of cabinets and is a very fine place to just exist. Happiest place I’ve ever been able to call my own.

The two books open before us are, foreground, the everpresent diary, and background, the book The Artist’s Guide. I’m going to use it to help guide me toward being a working artist, which is what I should have been going for all along.

I’m going to be sharing bits of this journey in days to come, time to time. Some details in the next missive.

We’re going to try to get serious. Not just arting around any more.

[artists] Donna Barr’s Radio Blitzkrieg

Posted in artists, comic artists, Donna Barr on May 28, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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Ever wonder what Donna Barr‘s (The Desert Peach, Stinz) like in person? Well, a show I’d not heard of before, Karl Show! (starring Jason), took on Donna Barr. That probably left a mark.

But in a good way.

Listen, dammit! : http://www.karlshowstarringjason.com/2014/05/artist-donna-barr/. Just do it. Don’t argue with me.

[pdx] I Bring You The Head Of Tom Peterson. Or, At Least, The Face.

Posted in pdx legends, Portland Commercial History, Tom Peterson's on May 27, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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Tom Peterson seems to be a trending item.

Interest has increased in the legendary salesman since it’s been made public that his health is failing to the point he has to be moved into assisted living, as reported by KPTV’s Andrew Padula last month. Considering Tom’s commercial relationship with Yesterday’s KPTV, that’s only appropriate.

The signage remains memorable and, in its Portlandian way, iconic. When his visage delivered its smiling benediction to the corner of 82nd and Foster Rd, you knew just where you were, and it was a landmark. The building has been remodeled out of recognition, of course; gutted, made new inside and out, and turned into a corner strip center, “Peterson Plaza”. I’ve been an Oregonian all my life and a Portlander the majority of it, and I know my granfalloon enough to know that we save things.

If we didn’t exercise some restraint, this whole state could appear on Hoarders. That’s how we get so funky and kitschy. We’re drunk on it, up in here.

A couple of days ago, though, an acquaintance of longstanding who prefers anonymity at this time contacted me and said he knew where the old sign was. Really? said I. I’d be all over that if I could.

Get back to you in a couple of days, was the gist of the reply. Today, here’s the payoff. Somewhere, secluded in a Portland back yard, I know not where (not even in confidence, and I understand why), rests …

The head … or at least the face … of Tom Peterson.

This is the most Portland back yard in Portland, wherever it is. And I’m not tellin’ where it is because I don’t know; and what little I know of whom took it I shall not divulge. He knows how some people are, and so do I.

But it’s enough to know, just to know, that it’s out there somewhere.

Now, that’s Tom Peterson’s.