Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Beautiful Afternoon in Portland: Alberta Art Hop 2009

Saturday was the 10th annual Alberta Art Hop--a day with the street closed off, people moseying along, all sorts of tents and booths and food and art and crafts and things posing as art and craft. The featured artist this year was Thelma Johnson Streat, Portlander, WPA artist and the first African-American woman to have her work collected by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

How good an idea is a Rib Pit?
How bad an idea is a Vegi Dog?

There's music from singing and playing of musical instruments and there's singing and playing of musical instruments that isn't so musical, for instance, a strolling electric minstrel.

There was at least one person wearing a dress festooned with marshmallows.

There was a place for tough chicks.

There was Yoga by Donation--I guess that's Donation sitting there...

There were roses, hula hoops, hats decorated with foxglove, snail shells, and western red-cedar, and a place to buy, sell, and trade.

There's a new food cart/bus on Alberta--The Grilled Cheese Grill--specializing in grilled cheese, everybody's favorite!

Free samples of the Kindergartner--it was good, alright.

There were Eskimo Pies to be eaten--kids still flake the chocolate off and eat that first...

And, there was a parade featuring March Forth, a marching band with stilt walkers...

The Schwinn Club...

A parade unit of one, doing her thing, whatever that was...

and Rose City Vaudeville bring up the end of the procession.

All-in-all, a grand day out.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Beautiful Morning in Portland: National Train Day 2009

When was the last time you smelled steam in a train station? If you were at Union Station in Stumptown, it was today.

It's May 9th, National Train Day, and the station was alive with people, displays, the Amtrak Cascades passing through, the Amtrak Empire Builder 5 hours from departure, a couple privately-owned Union Pacific coaches, and the featured attraction, the The Southern Pacific 4449 Daylight. Clowns entertained the substantial crowd while they waited to peer in the cab of the 4449. It amazed me how many parents dressed little kids in train garb.

The Daylight is a 4-8-4 steam locomotive, built in 1941 by Lima Locomotive in Lima, Ohio. It's now owned by the city of Portland, and it's perfectly restored and maintained. She was in the station today for children young and old alike to admire. Here are some shots of the locomotive, associated cars and caboose, and some of the very photogenic (at least to me) drivers, connecting rods, pistons, and valves. Here's a complete description of locomotive components if you are interested.

The SP4449 Daylight is getting ready to make an excursion to Chicago. She'll pull a number of private cars and you can book day segments or the whole shebang. Nancy and I talked with the crew that will be making the run while I waited for the sound of the past, the whistle of a steam locomotive!

So, get out your check book. All Aboard!

Oh, and even though lots of railroad buffs like to live in the past, check out this conductor who has traded in his railroad pocket watch for a Bluetooth earpiece. I'll take the watch please...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Beautiful Evening in Portland: First Last Thursday on Alberta

I heard Dolly-girl in the foyer. She was doing the numbers on the blower. "It's me, Dolly-girl...Last Thursday...Yep...Nope, shooters mean a different thing to him, he won't go for it I tell you...Eh-talian? Now your whistling Amore!...Twenty minutes... Gotcha." [click] "Kitty. She's game." "For what?" She blew that exasperated blow through the wave. "I told you, it's the first Last Thursday. You don't listen to me, Jack." "Right." I left it at that. Thursdays are big in Stumptown. They call Thursday Thirsty Thursday and gin joints fill up with a crowd that's old enough to go but not too old to stay, follow? We'd go, but not stay, but hey, at least we went.

In Stumptown, where you go on Thursday depends on what side of the river makes you jumpy. Over in the ritzy part of town, where they look right down their beaks and across the river to where me and Dolly-girl call home, they stroll the streets and découvrir les arts. In the flats, we do Last Thursday on Alberta, a street not far from where me and Dolly-girl set the brake. The art's happening there, but it's mostly on the street.

Shank's mare took us to a joint on the corner of Alberta and 22nd. Ciao Vito. Kitty grabbed a sidewalk table and Missy was right there with whadda-yas. "Happy Hour 'til 8. Nice night--watering trough or feedbag?" I looked at Dolly-girl. "There's nothing in the oven but Easy-Off, if that's what that look is about." "Both. We need skidrow first, due bicchieri di vino rosso e uno bianco." "Su di essa. Grazie." Missy got our game.

I looked up and down the street. I wanted to fire a Lucky. This sorta setup don't exactly relax my bones, what with people streaming all over the place from every direction, but the sun was shining, the air was warm, and there didn't seem to be much of a look in anybody's eye for anything but a walk through the artists hawking this and that--paintings of chickens, jewelery, Polaroid portraits--to them that passed them by. Big crowd, but the cops must be taking it easy someplace--they weren't paying no never-you-mind to reefer madness tonight.

Missy brought us out skidrow and pulled out her book. Kitty looked up. "Bring us cicchetti, lots of 'em. Start with the sliced pork with fennel pollen polenta, pane e olive, and, ah, ah, antipasti della cassa. Then we'll have the sugo pork and shave some wax on there, will ya?" "E 'la tua. Grazie." Kitty's been listening to travel shows on the Zenith again, I guess, and maybe Missy's listening with her. Dolly-girl and me gave her and Missy the up and down, and we all went back to enjoying the sun and watching people.

The oats in the feedbag sure hit the spot and, along with a good skidrosso della cassa, and Happy Hour prices, we were all doing a Cheshire number. When what we'd bought was gone and paid for, we decided to perambulate on down the avenue and see what there was to see.

There are strange things done in a Thursday sun...Here's a few of what me, Kitty, and Dolly-girl spied.

A clucker and a, I don't know, giant revolutionary frog?

A chiquita in a bird cage with a guy playing the wires. Hey, what's that speaker for...

Black people making music and white people trying to dance to it.

A parade in support of International Workers' Rights Day the next day, May Day

That reminded me that a year ago, on May Day, Dolly-girl and me were on our big trip to Venezia, tracking down la familia D'Mestiere, shortened at Ellis Island from della Tutto Mestiere. May Day was the day they banned feeding pigeons in Piazza San Marco.

By the time the sun was going down and the air was cooling off, the three of us had had our passeggiata, so we headed north, back to where we set our brakes. "First Last Thursday, but not the last." For sure, Dolly-girl...