Month: March 2015

Rueda flash mob hits downtown Portland, dancing ensues

Rueda de casino is a hypnotically cool dance from Cuba that uses Cuban partner dance patterns called casino to traditional Cuban rhythms that today we know mostly as “salsa,” with dancers moving around a circle and changing partners. You can dance to salsa, traditional older Cuban dance music, and even reggaetone. Fun beyond description, really. Today this is literally a global dance phenomenon, like so many dances that have originated in Latin America.

A great group of Portland-based rueda enthusiasts and instructors, who band under the name Portland Casino Fridays, organized a series of rueda flash mobs at Director Park and then a bit later (after we got kicked out) at the park strip near the Portland Art Museum on Saturday, March 28. Bet you did not know there is such as thing as Rueda de Casino Internationl Multi-Flashmob Day. Well I did not until I joined the fun.

If you have not tried rueda, look it up in your city and give yourself some time to pick up the moves. There are hundreds if not thousands of instructional videos on YouTube now. Oye, baila!

The ducks were made for walking

Seeing happy ducks in the muddy wetlands not far from my home on a rainy night this week made me think of other happy ducks. Here is some footage I shot in the rice paddies outside Ubud, Bali, way back in 2009. (Ouch, that is so long ago already.) Now tell me, do these ducks have moxie or do these ducks have moxie. You can see a larger version of these critters on YouTube too.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk

While strolling through downtown Portland this Sunday, March 22, I pulled out my GoPro and snapped a few photos of some of the lovely old stone churches. There are quite a few, and they give downtown a stately charm. Seen here are the exterior and front of the First Baptist Church, which dates from 1894, and the First Unitarian Church of Portland, which celebrates its 150th year this June.

The First Baptist Church rents its sanctuary space to rock ‘n’ roll Christians in the afternoon under the banner of Bridgetown, “A Jesus Church,” which has an electric rock band that was warming up when I dropped by. I stepped inside to see the First Baptist sanctuary, and I liked its circular layout and stained glass, similar to the Baptist church in Seattle, also of the same era. These are Northwest Baptists, so I assume a bit more laid back than their Southern brethren. I have always loved stained glass. It is a great art form, as is stone masonry.

(For the record, I did not have beer for breakfast, smell fried chicken, or have a religious experience like Kris Kristopherson and Johnny Cash.)

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.

Thanks to the more than 5,900 visitors to my photo blog

It has been more than a year since I launched this blog in March 2014, with a post on how the Inuit of Barrow and Greenland share a common cultural identity. Wow, time went fast. It was an experiment, to see if I could impose more discipline in taking pictures. It also was a place I could showcase work I have taken over the years that never found a home on my main web page (

As of today, I have published 266 posts. My WordPress stats page indicates that I have received 10,487 page views and 5,909 visitors. I will claim some of those numbers checking the page from different locations, but everyone else is from the web the world over, who have landed on my page due to the magic of search engine optimization and, hopefully, worthwhile content. Thanks again to everyone, and I hope you will return.

visits to my photo blog

Luarelhurst Park’s tree spirits

Laurelhurst Park in east Portland is about as English of a Portland park as they come. It is a perfect example of urban planning dating to the City Beautiful movement. Everything is so, well, proper and in its place. It felt like someone have used a vacuum cleaner before I came, even on a wet and muddy day. I loved the gnarly old arboreal denizens. They just begged for attention. So I returned after an accidental visit and grabbed a few photos.

Pretty Portland, without the grit and the grime

Every single city in the world, and country for that matter, would prefer to present a postcard image of itself to the world. Portland’s emerging brand is one of “smart development,” urban villages, greater density, and urban beauty. These are descriptors I grabbed from the cultural ecosystem. Other observers may have alternative brand labels.

I took these photos over the past few days. South Waterfront is a development on former brownfields industrial land that once was used to build ships. The tram that connects to OHSU and a streetcar are some of the high-cost infrastructure projects that support this high-end neighborhood. It also has been the subject of attacks for being a tax giveaway to developers and for nearly going belly-up during the Great Recession. Condos had to be converted to apartments as a result of the tanking real-estate market that defined the bubble that burst.

I snapped the downtown Portland photo from the Eastbank Esplanade of the lovely cherry trees in full bloom and the city in the background. It is the type of image we see in Portlandia, on postcards, and in stock images that sell the city to the world. We are not showing the four or five tent camps I passed on my bike route that took me to the vantage points where I took these pictures. You can read more about that on some of my other blog posts.