Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lately I've been trying to get off my bike and walk more, usually around the downtown area. It helps that I've been taking courses at PSU and usually have a few hours to wander around before work. I'm so used to powering my way across town from point A to point B, all senses on defensive overdrive, that experiencing the pedestrian world has felt at times like a revelation: a slow(er) unfolding of blocks and buildings and streets and people on the move that allows for more micro-marveling. The day that I lose my capacity for perpetual marvel... well, I don't know what will happen. Nothing good. In the meantime, here are some photos of stuff that I've been noticing, for better or worse.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Oregonian Editorial Board Should Do What Is Best For The City And Resign Immediately

Sunday Update: Good news in Puritan America today.

I wasn't going to write anything about the Sam Adams controversy and let my photo stand for itself, but it occurred to me that it would be entirely reasonable to demand the immediate resignation of the Oregonian's editorial board. They could have taken the high road and reserved judgment until the outcome of the investigation by the AG, but instead (probably in a pathetic attempt to sell papers) chose to demand Adam' resignation within hours of the story breaking. If the mayor had, say, taken a bribe from a developer, I'd be the first to demand his resignation. However, his sex life should not be our business, and I don't blame him for lying about sleeping with an 18-year-old. Stupid, yes (sleeping with Breedlove in the first place was incredibly foolish); worthy of resignation, no. The Oregonian editorial board let the people of Portland down, and undermined the public interest, by fanning the flames rather than simply reporting the story fairly, and for representing our culture at its hypocritical and moralistic worst. In my conversations with friends over the past few days, one sentiment expressed repeatedly ran along the lines of "why, oh why, are we stuck with such a horrible daily paper that seems so out of sync with the city?" Seriously. We deserve much, much better here in the City Of Readers. And the Portland (sic) Tribune barely even merits any attention. Headquartered in Clackamas and owned by a right wing Christian nut; reduced to printing one paper a week; riddled with grammatical and spelling errors. What more can one say? I remember when Jim Redden published PDXS back in the 90's. Man, has he fallen far. As for the Willamette Week and their star sex-scandal-journalist Nigel Jaquiss: nobody is winning any Pulitzers this time.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I spent part of yesterday's holiday walking, appropriately, up and down MLK from Alberta to Lombard as part of a project to survey the street in advance of a citizen-led push to extend the streetcar north from Broadway. The idea is to get a photographic record of the urban form on the boulevard and show both the nascent revival that is happening as well as the massive amount of poorly utilized land that someday could be home to high-density mixed-use development. The street really is nightmarish in stretches for the pedestrian: roaring traffic; too many buildings that don't come right up to the street; too many vacant lots with suburban owners; huge billboards; a median that encourages high speeds and makes turning impossible for long stretches. All of this adds up to a feedback loop that keeps businesses from being sustainable and prevents any sort of human-scale, walkable environment from flourishing. Can the streetcar tame the traffic? Get people making local trips out of their cars? Encourage mixed-use development? Make the street a destination rather than a place to get through? Can it be done in such a way that the existing cultural diversity is enriched and solidified?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I have a funny feeling that 2009 is going to be a year of hope aborted.