Monday, August 21, 2006

an afternoon amble

I decided to take a long lunch today and wander around at random taking pictures. The snarly dude in the top photo is the base of one of the four Tikitotemonikis, sculptures by Kenny Scharf that wrap around & hide the usual utilitarian streetcar power poles. (Although you can see the pole peeking out at the bottom here.) Disguising the poles is a cool idea, because they really are quite ugly. Too bad only super-rich neighborhoods get to have goodies like this.

One of our fair city's new palm trees, installed at NW 4th & Flanders by the supergeniuses at the Portland Development Commission in their latest weird attempt to gentrify the area. Maybe they're here to make the rich Californians feel at home, I dunno. But whatever the reason, it sure is weird seeing the Big Pink building framed by a palm tree. This will probably become an increasingly common sight, what with global warming and all. (I mention this mostly to see if any Big Oil astroturfing trolls show up here wanting to argue. That ought to be a real hoot.)

They say these are a special type of palm tree that can survive in our climate. But if you look closely, a lot of the fronds are already getting a bit brown and withered-looking. So we'll see if they really do survive the winter or not.

Also, they just look damn silly.

You know how the design-snob community keeps lecturing us ignorant rubes about their precious high-concept Tanner Springs Park, and that incredibly delicate ecosystem it's supposed to have? Here's a bit of that fancy-schmancy ecosystem for your enjoyment: gobs and gobs of disgusting algae, and a few dime-store goldfish. No native fish species or anything, just a bunch of freakin' goldfish. Refresh my memory, we paid how many millions of dollars for this crap?

The Portland Mercury recently proclaimed Tanner Springs Park the city's "BEST PLACE TO CATCH FISH AT 3 AM—WITH YOUR HANDS". So that's something, I guess. Although I sure wouldn't eat anything that came out of this thing. Yeccch. If this was really such a fantastic little ecotopia, there'd be herons and raccoons here all the time gobbling up all the fish, but even they avoid the place like the plague.

Ok, ok, the park has a few spiders, too, and some lilypads (but no frogs). I also saw one dragonfly, but it was probably just visiting from somewhere else. (I actually kind of like this photo, regardless of how I feel about the park.)

It probably goes without saying that the park was completely devoid of people (other than me), even though it's right in the middle of a big city, and it was a warm summer afternoon.



Wild flowers & berries along NW Naito Pkwy, under the Broadway Bridge.

I actually came down this way with the idea of making this post a three-park trifecta: Jamison Square, Tanner Springs, and the Liberty Ship Memorial Park (more info & lots of photos here). The latter is an odd little spot by the river where the concrete bows of some 150 or so WWII Liberty ships were buried, some partially protruding from the ground. Many Liberty ships were built in Portland during WWII, and many were scrapped here after the war, so it's sort of a fitting monument. Or at least it was a fitting monument. I walked past and it looks like the park just isn't there anymore. The memorial was private property, not a city park, part of a larger chunk of land owned by the Naito family. Most of the land was just a big, weedy surface parking lot, so nobody made much of a fuss when they announced they'd be building a pair of ritzy condo towers on the spot. I certainly don't recall hearing anything about removing the Liberty ship park, but that seems to be what's happened. As far as I can tell, it just sort of disappeared quietly, with no prior announcement, and no public fuss about it. I'm about the last person to get all misty-eyed with WWII nostalgia, but this just seems wrong, somehow. I realize the park was private property, but it was a piece of local history, and now it's just gone, poof. I wonder what they did with all those concrete bow pieces? eBay, maybe?

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