The whole point of carnie land is to escape from the real world and enter the world of bright colors and lights, excitement, strange people, and dangerous amusement.
During the summer, I head down to Oaks Amusement Park, the small, privately owned play land near my house. This is probably the most diverse place in all of Portland on any given Saturday and Sunday. There are families and people from every possible background here, and likely none of them very wealthy, because rich people do not visit carnie land places. It is also a lot of fun, even if you do not get on the old-school rides.
When I come down the hill to the noisy, colorful place I often bring my GoPro camera and experiment with different shots. Here is one I like. It captures the spirit of the place. You can see more photos and read more about the amusement park on my photo essay page.
Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.
Idled construction equipment in Sellwood, in Portland.
Probably in a neighborhood near you this summer, some large construction equipment.
Everywhere I walk and go it seems, some water or road project is going on, digging up streets, laying new sewer lines, and creating some inconvenience for all of us. Hey folks, that is called the price of living in a modern world. Be thankful you have these things. According to Food and Water Watch, 2.5 billion people, 1 billion of them kids, live without basic sanitation like a sewer system. And if you think your roads are bad, try them overseas, where they create literally lethal situations daily. So, you may just try and chill out if you have to wait. You can even smile at those flaggers. They are your price for a modern, comfortable life. It is worth our investment.
Forest Park, in Portland, Oregon, provides a great place to quickly connect with nature and soak up the health benefits of a forest. Love this place.
The Japanese have a term that describes taking in the atmosphere of the forest. It is called Shinrin-yoku. The expression does not exist in English, but the concept is not unique to the Japanese, and the idea of clearing one’s mind by walking in the woods is very old and trans-cultural. It turns out some scientific studies measuring cortisol (the stress hormone associated with chronic disease and so many other ailments), heart rate, blood pressure and other health indicators found improvements in those measurements of people who walked in forests. I have known this all my life. I always feel better after a walk or run in the woods. If you are living near some woods, if you can, remember to get out for even a short walk.
Click on the picture to see a larger photo on a separate picture page.
Portland is no stranger to gentrification. I’ll use that term to describe the redevelopment of urban properties that “revitalize” areas from being low-value for tax collectors to high-value and geared to serve people with high-income levels. That is my own definition. One piece of downtown that has transformed over the last two decades is around Burnside Street and the blocks of SW and NW 10th through SW and NW 14th. One of the anchor businesses here is Powell’s Books, a great institution. Whole Foods moved in more than a decade ago, and there continues to be a lively debate if the company follows the prevailing winds, or moves the local real-estate market up in price once it chooses a site. (For the record, I have shopped and eaten here many times.)
The landmark building in this section of downtown is the old Henry Weinhard’s Brewery. This is a classic late 19th century brick factory style structure that once was home to the former local beer company of the same name that is now folded within the larger MillerCoors brewing empire. The old factory is now mixed-used retail and condos, following the redevelopment completed in 2002. The building retains a facade of a brewery, but it doesn’t brew beers. Scores of other fine microbreweries do that around town. On any give night, there is a lot of foot traffic, and people usually pack the Henry’s Tavern located inside the old factory. When I first moved to Portland in 1983, I remember this part of town as being a popular area to many homeless residents, warehouses, and retail businesses that came and went.
Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.
The 49th Super Bowl is still being played. I am listening live on the radio, as the Hawks just went up 23-14. Here is how it looked at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which thoughtfully opened up its doors to the public and showed the game on its giant screen.
This dead fir tree is in the Mt. Hood National Forest.
High on the Columbia River Gorge, in the Mt. Hood National Forest, I found a number of standing dead trees that have been thoroughly scavenged by woodpeckers. Lovely place up here. Seven species of woodpeckers live in the forest, so I cannot say which ones may have hammered away here.
I grew up in University City, Mo., a municipality next to St. Louis. It is a diverse community with a rich cultural and architectural history. It remains a racially diverse community with an incredible diversity of wealth, but has remained cohesive unlike other communities where the gap between the haves and haves not continues to widen because of growing and historic income inequality in the United States. The swankiest subdivision in this town is University City Hills, located on the south edge of the city next to much more affluent Clayton, Mo., a mini-financial hub for the St. Louis area. Homes date from the first half of the 20th century and span a wide variety of European styles. It exudes money and power, even though it is quaint as moneyed neighborhoods go.
Growing up in areas far less affluent than University City Hills, I always knew a giant gulf separated me and the kids who lived here. Many of them are the type of kids who went to the best private schools, whose parents were professional and upper-middle-class, and who had better opportunities and health then the less well-off in my community. Yes, many of the kids who grew up here went to my public high school, which was a bit rough and tumble, but many more went to private schools and never experienced the world just outside their leafy suburb. One of my college classmates grew up in one of these homes. We had absolutely nothing in common, and I do not think he ever had to worry about college loans, not doing holiday ski trips, and even thinking about what a security net means to success. He was a lot like many young people I knew at my private college.
I still love how pretty the homes are in University City Hills. I know many of the people who live here are likely good people. But they still remain in a place that is worlds apart from the lower-income areas about two miles north. However because these homes are in St. Louis, prices are ridiculously low compared to, say where I have lived, in Seattle. A three-story brick beauty here is actually less than a single story wood shack in parts of Seattle.
Luther Tower stands majestically at the entrance to Concordia Seminary.
A scene from the campus of Concordia Seminary.
The photo was taken from the main courtyard at Concordia Seminary.
Concordia Seminary is one of the most beautiful academic campuses in the country, in my book. The seminary is affiliated with the more conservative branch of the Lutheran Church in the United Stated (Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod), but that is not why I have an affinity for this place.
I used to live very close to here, and I always pay a visit when I visit family in the St. Louis area, mainly because I find the campus to be so lovely. The seminary was built like many homes, churches, and public buildings in the St. Louis area, with a sense of permanence and with stones and slate roofs. If I were to pick any place to shoot a film that needed an “elite university look,” this would be the place.
All of these photographs were taken with my GoPro.
(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)
Belmont Street is one of those quintessential streets in Portland that fuses “weird Portland” and gentrifying Portland. Off the main drag one can find the old Portland wooden Victorian homes, painted in lovely colors. Sunnyside Plaza is quite boisterous, with an entire intersection painted, and I would like to see more of this. The upscale food store Zupan’s has an entire city block of Belmont, surrounded by businesses like the Anasasi Beat African drum and crafts store and Stumptown Roasters coffee shop. (Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)
A black and white study of some the scenes on the bluff above Oaks Bottom.
A trail takes visitors down to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.
Oaks Bottom Widlife Refuge is a beautiful wetlands and nature preserve near my house, along the Willamette River in Southeast Portland. I cannot believe I live so close to it. Coyotes hang out here, and signs are up warning people their cats will be coyote nibblins if they do not pay attention and bring them indoors. People live down here too in tents. Next time I publish pictures of this place I will show you what it looks like up close, perhaps with the many resident waterfowl.
Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.