Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spoils of the Ocean

This one can be filed under the "local effort" category, as I continue posting the ventures of my early meanderings into my thirty-first year. ABC Seafood is a pleasant Portland discovery for all of your live seafood needs. Even though Portland is about an hour away from the coast and great fisheries, the majority of all that is caught off shore is shipped out of state, primarily to the East Coast and to International proprietors. So it is rare that you can find a market that has a variety of seafood such as this little shop. Even more rare is that they have so much live seafood in stock. Lobster, crab, tilapia, catfish, prawns, cockles, clams, oysters, and more; it is like walking into an aquarium that you can eat. Which actually sounds like a really great marketing idea that I should pitch to some wealthy millionaires.

I can see it now: Picture this, you take an escalator down a giant plexi-glass tube to the dining room which is actually submerged under twenty feet of salt water. Crabs feed on the floor, fish swim around. There are decorative ones, and then there are your stock fish for dinner. Your waiter brings you a menu of the variety of live fish and their preparation, and via com system, a diver already in the tank is sent to catch your live prey. Maybe he just picks out a great looking crab from the aquarium floor, maybe he has to spear a fish, but the fun is watching the chase. Think of it like those restaurants where they do live jousting, but MORE AWESOME because it is underwater and actual hunting is involved.

Now I just need to find some extremely wealthy eccentric willing to fund such a folly. We could be on the front page of Travel and Leisure...or GQ...or Highlights or something.

But in the meantime, until I open my underwater restaurant, you can purchase live fish, or fish heads at ABC Seafood all of the time.

Hell, they even had live crawfish! Sure you could set up a trap in almost any stream outside of town and get just as many for free, but if you don't want to work or spend a day in the wood, this is your place.

My folks and I got lobster. Two of them, in fact, for a really good price.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Definitely not a Radio Flyer...

Some things are so amazing that you just have to post them as soon as you see them.

And then there are unfortunate things like this truck.

Does the owner of this truck want to get a picture of it posted up on

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Things that Cause Car Wrecks...

Driving 55mph and seeing a Wooly Mammoth is a pretty sure way to cause an automobile accident as I nearly found out during my Highway 99E excursion. I am not even certain where I was while I was driving.

When all you see is rolling hills, vineyards, and various small farm stands, encountering a prehistoric pachyderm is something that causes you to slam on your brakes and pull over to the side of the road pretty instantly.

I believe this beast was made of rusted barbed wire, of which there is an abundance in this area. 

This is why I love Oregon.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Magic Hair Balls, Mutant Cattle, and Nazis

My wanderings around the Abbey led me to some unique discoveries. First being four volumes of the infamous Mein Kampf by Adolf Hilter. I believe that one of these texts is actually a first edition in German, another is a first printing in English. Given the Benedictines originate from Germany and that the rebuilding of the abbey after after a massive fire that destroyed the campus occurred during the early 20s, it makes sense that some donors would have contributed significant books of the era. However, it seems kind of tragic that these would become hallmarks of that era of German culture. If anything these four copies of this text represent an interesting piece of history. Tragic history, but history. Let's hope they always remain locked away in their rare book room in the library, a curiosity that remains untouched.

On a more light-hearted topic, inside the museum contains a number of unique relics and artifacts that amuse and bemuse the public. As well as confound the knowledge of the masses. For example, bezoars. giant hair balls removed from the stomachs of pigs.

What is not included in this little sign is the belief that bezoars were once used by medieval doctors and magicians as the universal antidote for poisonings. The logic behind this baffles me. Perhaps people thought these would work like hair booms are used in the Gulf, sucking up oil and thus cleaning the water from toxic petrol chemicals. However, no such luck. Most people just held a bezoar on their person to imbue some protection and, well, died when they ingested hemlock, arsenic, or whatever else was publicly available and poisonous.

And finally, we are left with the great fortune of meeting the cutest mutant calves in the world. If you look at the cow above, those aren't udders. Those are an additional set of legs, pointing in the wrong direction. Bummer. Unfortunately, octo-cow wasn't able to run any faster because well, the legs pointing two different directions kind of neutralized any forward momentum.

This calf is what I like to think of as the bonus veal meal. One head and two bodies. All cuteness. And that is about all I can say about this little mooer.

I can attest that both of these animals aren't taxidermy hoaxes. Although I am quite fond of them, these are genuine oddities that were born nonviable and more that likely died within a few hours of existence. Fortunately someone had the foresight to preserve these specimen. 
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Mountain of Angels: The Strangeness Begins

Wandering the campus of Mount Angel Abbey, I found myself in their library designed by Alvar Aalto, wandering the stacks and looking throught the books they had for sale. Of course, I would find a text entitled Holiness of Sex. As far as I can tell, it doesn't have to do with any cool sex-cult-hedonistic stuff; instead, it focusses on making babies for Jesus, waiting until you're married, and not masturbating.

Go fig.

While the library and it's modern design, I really came here for one reason, and that was to see the abbey museum. I really had no idea what this would hold. But boy was I happy when I encountered a giant Bison! American Buffalo, yep, looking like it was going to charge. That is a good mount.

An entire wall was covered in trophies, mounts, and heads on a wall. It was quite interesting. Even if you're opposed to taxidermy, the way the original artist put these animals back together was pretty impressive.

And there were a number of photographs of the original brothers who came to school at this monastery. Some of whom later went on to parishes in the Pacific Northwest and Portland area.

But if sex and dead animals wasn't strange enough for what could be considered a Catholic uber-school. What other strange things could I find here?

Just wait...There are other weird things in Mount Angel. And they are awesome.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Further Down 99E A Mount of Angels

Further down 99E was my first true destination, Mount Angel. A sleepy German town with a predominantly Catholic population. What drew me to this town? Well, twelve years of Catholic School, seven of which were spent raised by Benedictine Nuns, all of whom trained in this town before going off to the world to do God's work.

And while I am a proud atheist, heathen, agnostic, whateveristic bastard child of I-don't-care-whatchu-think-as-long-as-you-live-well-and-don't-hurt-nobody-type-of-person, I still like to pay my respect to the history of where I came from. Which was never being Catholic. Hell, I am baptized a proud Dutch Reformer, and I have no idea what that means. HA!

So, Mount Angel actually has an Abbey and seminary school for young Catholic men training to become priests. Pretty noble. The grounds of the Monastery are quite peaceful and very beautiful with red brick
buildings everywhere and nicely manicured lawns. The bell tower is by far the most dominant feature of the grounds.

The Sanctuary had the typical Catholic statuary. Virgin Mary holding a child, and given that his was a Benedictine Abbey, St. Benedict, patron of brewers and poison victims.. I have no idea who the saintly
nun is. I figure either St. Gertrude, the Patron of the Benedictine Sisters, or the Nun/Saint that they placed in a vat of beer and was miraculously preserved/pickled. I will find more infomation on this I swear.

Everything is pretty typical for this place. Mount Angel, Catholic Capsule of Calmness.


Wait till the next post. Things get weird

Monday, August 23, 2010

Glorious 99E

99E is probably my favorite highway in Oregon. It just takes you to so many interesting places. Friday, I decided as part of my birthday weekend, I would do a little road excursion and head south.

The first stop on my little trek was the lovely town of Hubbard, Oregon. Hubbard isn't really known for much as far as I can tell. However, it is home to Voget's Smoked Meats. Voget's has the best beef jerky in the entire world and they make damned mean hams. Hams not injected with water or other filler, just damned good meaty goodness.

Hubbard also has a pleasant water tower with a permanent star affixed to its top. 

Besides a few shops, a Mexican restaurant, and a some farm equipment here and there, that is pretty much all that Hubbard has to offer. In fact, if you look at the Wikipedia page for Hubbard, which I have failed to link to, you will find it is spectacularly boring. 

My next stop was Mount Angel. About half-an-hour south of Hubbard, this town is much more interesting. Why? Well, because they had garage sales and yard sales happening on almost every block of this tiny burg. And given my love of things Reno, I had to take this picture. 

Mount Angel is home of a Benedictine Abbey, founded at the early part of the 1900s by German immigrants. Thus the town has a thin Bavarian sheen to it, making it kind of pleasantly pseudo-European, but not really. 

And in Mount Angel, they have weird Sasquatch-like monsters, probably of Germanic heritage. There are more interesting things about this town. Like the massive Catholic Church, the Nunnery for the Benedictine Sisters, who accompany the Benedictine Monks in separate but not quite equal quarters. 

Next post has more German fun. 
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sweet Black Jesus...

I think it was Malcom Little, the gentleman who would later become known as Malcom X, who with the assistance of Alex Haley wrote about his belief in a Black Jesus. Given that his Malcom X's father was a follower of Marcus Garvey, and the religious movement birth from his teachings, it seems reasonable for him to posit this concept.

Of course, we don't hear too much about Black Jesus until Chris Rock, who played Marcus, the Thirteenth Apostle, in "Dogma," the best movie on theology and popular culture ever made. Yes, it is a Jay and Silent Bob flick, but in terms of dealing with concepts of concepts of religious doctrine, I have to say, it is pretty spot on, even if it does piss a lot of people off.

All of that backstory aside, rarely do we get to encounter images of Black Jesus. So call me happily surprised when I strolled into a weird flea market and found all of these along with other carnival midway prize fair, you know, Scarface posters, Little Mermaid mirrors, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The first image I came across was sandwiched between a Tu Pac picture and a 50 Cent picture. Yes, Black Jesus likes to roll with the thugs. Why? Because Black Jesus accepts everyone, just like White Jesus does.

Here we get to see Black Jesus in a number of scenes of healing, preaching, and martyrdom. I think of this as the epitomy of struggle image.

The last image is the best of all. This triptych is of an all Black Last Supper, or as I like to think of it, the Blast Supper. Of Course Jesus is in the Middle. If I made this picture thought, I would have made Judas a white man.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Where it All Began

Even though I consider myself a native Portlander, I have a little secret. For the first nine months of my cluttered existence, I dwelled in a land where kitsch and neon refuse to die a graceful death.

Yes, thirty-one years ago, on August 21st, in Reno, Nevada, I was born. The "Biggest Little City in the World" got a little bigger. And we don't need to make any "hitting the jackpot jokes..."

This picture postcard was from my Grandparents' collection of images from their travels before the War and Camps. My guess is that this is Reno circa 1930-35.

Of course Circus Circus isn't around during this time period. And well, neither was I. But that doesn't matter. After nine months, my folks pulled up stakes and relocated to Portland. Mount St. Helens had just erupted and, from what people tell, Portland was stuck in a bad post-apocalyptic movie scenario for a few days as ash fell all around. The neon that lit my existence was gone. Now all I knew was gray and pumice. HAH!

Sounds trite, but hell, it was great growing up in Portland. Don't know if I would have had the same experience in Reno. Maybe I would have been a pawn broker, or a blackjack dealer, or a hustler? Who knows?  Although I never got to know the city, I do hold a place in my heart for that town. 
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blackest Night Fun: When Nekron Was Alive

Now that Blackest Night is over, we now know that death's embodiment is well, dead-ish. Or at least, kind of conveniently negated through White Lanterns with their White Power Batteries. Can you say "Awkward?" 

Anyway, while this mega-event is complete and a new mega-event has taken its place, we never really did get to know who Nekron was. Apparently he is death. But other incarnations of death in the DC Universe once were "alive." For example, The Black Racer was a comatose Vietnam Vet who embodied the New God, wore pink and purple, and delivered souls from a pair of alpine skis. 

I will be the first to admit that my assumption that Nekron was actually Karate Kid's fetid corpse re-animated turned evil. The butterfly collar was such a dead (hahaha) give away at first,. But recent research has lead me to new guesses as to who Nekron might have been while he was alive.

So who is Nekron?

My first suspect as to Nekron's true identity is, Billy Corgan, front man for the Smashing Pumpkins.

When The Smashing Pumpkins first came onto the scene, and Mr. Corgan had hair, this would not have been my first guess. His nasally voice lulled us into a sense of complacency, but then the band kept shrinking, he shaved his head, and he began wearing more and more eye-liner. Soon the large, vinyl gowns, cloaks, and other odd costumes dominated his attire. 

For a long time I assume that Billy and  Darth Vader were one in the same. But given my dislike of Star Wars, I had to remove that image from my mind. But the parallels are pretty clear. 

Dark cloaks, bald heads, and pale skin. No matter what, it makes you look like an force of evil, a force of death, or a force of musical self-destruction.

Now my theory is a bit off given that Mr. Corgan is still alive. But he is constantly trying to resurrect his dead career and his dead band. Fortunately the forces of good defeat these vain attempts every time. 

So think about it. Nekron and Billy Corgan: Are they one in the same? 

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Things that No Longer Exist

Each internment camp had their own newspaper. The Tulean Dispatch was published out of the Tule Lake Relocation Center in Newell, California. While most papers published various reports of events during the weeks at camp, a few oddities appear from time to time. Notably, Chris Ishii's "Lil' Neebo" comic strip arose from the Merced and Granada papers, but Tule Lake took a more introspective look by publishing a literary magazine by the imprisoned Japanese American citizens.

Presented here are images from the Valentine's Day issue of the Dispatch Magazine Edition. The comics are not nearly as playful or biting in satire as Lil' Neebo was. Instead, they fall more into the realm of scratches on a cell wall. There is a graffitti like quality to these images in that they are more raw. The normality of miserable situations stands out more than anything else.

Tule Lake was probably the best suited place for such artistic expressions to born. It was the largest camp and also the camp filled with the most unrest. Riots, arrests, and "repatriations" back to Japan all occured at this site. The magazine was a sounding board beyond the news of births, deaths, and government announcements that typically dotted the newspaper.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ethical and Most Helpful...

In the past I wrote about some of the marvels of old magazine advertisements, so I thought today would be a good chance to look at some of the various mail-order offers and and instructions available in the backs of periodicals.

I am personally fond of the "World-Famous Health & Medical Texts." The "ethical and helpful" line is what sells me. If I didn't want to talk about "common rectal ailments" with, let's say, a doctor, I could always read something and know that my $4.95 was well spent. Why because the information was ethical.

Of course most readers of this magazine advertisement wouldn't have needed the medical text if they had taken the time to "Learn Yogi." Eh, Booboo, you get that? Who knows, with some recent movie posters that popped up on the internet, perhaps the some ethical medical knowledge will be required. And as a side, if you visit the link and read the posts, you may want to find some way to purge your mind. In other words don't buy the subsequent pamphlet.

Well, this pretty much sums up all of these mail-order periodicals. You could mail away for stag films, and "bizarre books," i.e. pornographic images, or you could be the smoothest of all these characters and learn Swedish Body Massage. 

For ads from a men's magazine featuring sweater girls, and combat tales of soldiers in trenches, it seems like there was a bit of a mixed bag for the target audience. Or, perhaps not.
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Dawn of Boredom

Has it almost been ten years? Years ago, I worked at a camp in Upstate New York. I always thought of the place as a mix between Lord of the Flies and Fame, but that is completely unrelated. You see, years ago, I used to also have really long, thick black hair.

So why is 2001 so important? Well, at said camp, with said long hair, I wore a gorilla outfit, and with my hair pulled over my chin, I decided to re-enact this scene from the film with a live 15 piece kazoo and tympani orchestra. The Dawn of Man was impressive enough that my primordial man impersonation became the back-cover for that year's camp yearbook.

Kind of ridiculous...

So why is this important nearly ten years down the road? Well, to be honest, it has nothing to do with anything. I have been working on PowerPoint presentations and OP manuals most of the week and I wanted to see what I could accomplish with just the rudimentary tools for in the Office suite of software.

ergo...I present The Dawn of Boredom, or, How I Do What I Do on PowerPoint.


Warning Signs

The previous post sparked a memory of a sign I spotted at the Willamette Falls viewing area in Oregon City. 

Sometimes workers throw stuff back.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Office Comedy

So dipping my toes into the realm of private life, I went through a half-year job review today. There is complexity and comedy to this, but I will leave that for other entries.

Since I began my career as a research assistant, I had been each review I faced a performance appraisal that I always found degrading.

Quoted verbatim:
Interacts in an appropriately professional and interpersonal manner with supervisory research staff and other co-workers. (Success: No more than two instances during the rating period in which inappropriate behaviors we observed or reported to supervisory staff)

In other words, as long as my boss and management didn't think I behaved unprofessionally more than twice, I was a success story.

Well, today I found out that this Appraisal Rating" was specifically requested by my last supervisor and it was unique to all other staff.

It had nothing to do with me but instead was the machinations of an agressive and paranoid boss.

Gotta love it!

Mecca Can Move Through Time: The 24 Hour Church of Elvis

The 24 Hour Church of Elvis was holds a fond place in my memory as a child of Portland. While it may run the spectrum of fondly remembered to kind of recollected, I have to say my little heart warmed again when I saw the newest iteration of the church on NW Couch.

My memories of the Church of Elvis go back to the second store front version of this temple which began circa 1987. Located on Ankeny, in the block where Berbatti's Pan, Valentin's, and Dan and Louis Oyster Bar all intersect, I remember pink, glitter, computers, and spinning doll heads and assorted items dispensing wisdom beyond my adolescent mind. Everyone came by at some point to drop a quarter into the  slot to see just what would happen. The coin-operated kitsch was a marvel harkening back to the penny arcades, but with more tinsel and an eerie Speak-and-Spell voice. During a late night trip to the Oyster Bar, I recall seeing Stephanie, the proprietor/chaplain/curator of the Church doing work with a glue gun and soldering iron. 

When this store front disappeared, I waited until the new Church opened. My friends and I would go there after chain-smoking cigarettes at Umbra Penumbra and drinking coffee walking up the flights of stairs on our knees given that the Church of Elvis was sacred ground. One friend even volunteered there as some form of "intern." From my understanding, his job was moving boxes all day long.

And then one day it was all gone. 

My 24 Hour Church of Elvis tee-shirt wore through with holes and eventually turned into unsalvageable rags. Portland changed. People didn't wear flannels anymore and there was a sudden influx of people from places other than Seattle. The 24 Hour Church of Elvis was now the "Hey, whatever happened to..." conversation point that would begin and then drift away forgotten.

Walking down Couch and finding the new, scaled-back version of the Church send a wave of nostalgia over me. It was back! In all of its garish pink and sparkly glory, like a beat up Mary Kay Caddy after a drive in a hail storm, it was back. 

You see, The 24 Hour Church of Elvis quite possibly the ur-concept from which The Wonderful World of Clutter was born. The kitsch, the oddity, the spectacle, it all can trace back to this one source where a young boy was mesmerized by a sparkly display in a storefront in a tiny street in 1987. 

Maybe I wax too poetic about it. But hot damn is it great to see this place again.
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Monday, August 9, 2010

The Scariest House in Portland: A Requiem

The Scariest House in Portland is no more. If you click on the link, you will get a few pictures of a strange abode in SE Portland where there was no lawn just an expanse of decorative red gravel, a bunny dressed as Rambo hanging on a swing on a front porch, surveillance and security camera warning signs, and a mock-cemetery devoted to the war dead. Well, the pictures don't hold all of those fond memories, but that was once the Scariest House In Portland.

I drove by it recently because a friend said he had trouble spotting the place. As I passed by, the crosses were gone, and so was bunny Rambo. The red rock former lawn had been excavated for perhaps a real garden or grass seed.

My guess, the patriot who owned the house died. The property sold. And to the the relief of neighbors up and down the block, the new owners immediately began the refurbishing this once pleasant bungalow. The other possibility is that man got evicted from the property and is armed and pissed off. I don't like to think of the later--I mean there were fake graves on his property all year long.

Yard Saling...Improving Esteem

I went yard saling again a few weekends ago, and of course I brought my camera. My friend who accompanied me wondered why I had my pocket digital camera with me, and I had to tell her simply, "You never know what you might find..." I love yard sales because they are a wonderful way to purge oneself of clutter and to acquire new various and sundry clutter. However, there are some things that should just never be sold off at a yard, garage, or estate sale.

For example, a man should never sell his Esteem. For without Esteem, what is a man? What does it say about you when you've put a post-it note price tag of $50.00 on your own Esteem? Certainly things in life can be hard, and we all need to walk erect at those times, but without a little Esteem, how can you pointedly face those challenges? Knowing someone out there has walked off with your Esteem, you must feel mighty soft inside.

If there is anything that can be said about a man who had to sell his Esteem it might be this--That man is no longer pumped on life.