Sunday, December 05, 2010

Carwash Fountain




A couple of video clips of downtown Portland's "Carwash Fountain", on the transit mall at SW 5th & Burnside. The city water bureau's page on downtown fountains describes it thusly:

Popularly known as "The Car Wash" (Officially Untitled)
Located at SW 5th and Ankeny Street.

This tubular fountain designed by Carter, Hull, Nishita, McCulley and Baxter was installed in 1977. A wind gauge shuts off its water on gusty days to prevent hazards for motorists.

There isn't a lot on the net about this architectural firm except for references to this fountain, but an intriguing detail emerges from a thesis titled "The Fate of Lawrence Halprin's Public Spaces: Three Case Studies", in reference to a park project in Fort Worth, TX:

The park was conceptualized by Halprin, but primarily designed and planned by associate Satoru Nishita, as indicated by the office documents.23 Therefore, when Lawrence Halprin and Associates disbanded in 1976, much of the correspondence reveals confusion regarding with whom Fort Worth officials should consult. The newly formed Carter Hull Nishita McCulley Baxter (CHNMB) seems to have been the primary contact after the Halprin and Associates breakup. Perhaps due to this final confusion, very little reference to this design exists.

Halprin and Associates, you may recall, was the firm behind Portland's Keller Fountain and Lovejoy Fountain, among other things. The Wikipedia bio for Halprin's associate Satoru Nishita indicates he worked on both of those projects, and apparently was the Nishita in the name of the subsequent firm. So this fountain has an interesting ancestry. And an unexpected one, since "Untitled" here looks nothing at all like the earlier two.

You might be curious why I posted a couple of video clips rather than the usual overly large set of fair-to-middlin' photos. For some reason I don't have a lot of photos of the thing, despite having an office a couple of blocks away for over 5 years. And of the few I've taken, none really seemed worth posting here. Part of the problem is that the wind sensor everyone goes on about also seems to detect me waving a camera around nearby, and the fountain has an uncanny way of shutting off as I'm framing a shot. Not really sure how that would be possible, but it's happened at least twice that I can recall. The once exception to that rule seems to be the shooting of brief yet boring video clips, so I have two of those, and here they are.

The YouTube video was previously seen here by the elite few people who visited that particular 2006 post. At the time I said:
It's often called the "Car Wash", but don't be fooled. If you try to wash your car in it, a nice policeman will drop by and shoot you full of holes. I mean, not to detract from the relaxing(?) tone of this post or anything, but the fuzz really will do it. Go ahead and try it if you don't believe me. [Legal Disclaimer: Don't!]

If I'd written this a couple of years later, it would have contained a waterboarding joke instead. Ah 2006, you were such an innocent bygone year... Anyway, what will actually happen is that you'll get a misdemeanor citation with a small fine and maybe some community service, plus the entire internet will make fun of you for a few days, especially if there's video, and forever after strangers will approach you on the street demanding to know if you're that carwash fountain guy/gal. Maybe you'll eventually get a cheesy reality show gag out of it, if you're lucky.

Elsewhere on the interwebs:

Updated: This little post here has been lifted -- naturally without attribution or anything, by what looks like a spamblog. As far as I can tell, it's nothing but randomly swiped content about car washes, posted anonymously without any credits or bylines, and with hyperlinks stripped out for some reason. They don't appear to be selling anything, and there aren't even any ads there, so it's not clear what the point of it all is. There's surprisingly little one can do about content thieves on the interwebs if you aren't a ginormo-monstrous record company or movie studio. Google suggests you try a DMCA takedown. I still might do that, but I'm not a huge DMCA fan and I'd hate to seem hypocritical by using it to my advantage. What makes this doubly annoying is that the Portland Water Bureau posted links to the swiped post -- rather than the original -- on both Facebook and Twitter this morning, and the either haven't clued in on the mistake or haven't bothered to fix it. I mean, I'm not selling anything either, and I don't have any ads, so purloined content and waylaid traffic doesn't translate into lost revenue or anything. I'd have to say it's purely an ego or vanity thing: I just don't like to see people making off with my stuff, even if they don't benefit and I'm not harmed in any concrete way. And besides, the videos themselves are still getting hits from the copied post, even if the original post isn't. The fact that it was done anonymously is puzzling; I'd probably be even more aggravated if there was a name attached, someone falsely claiming to have written this post. As it is, it's merely incomprehensible. I just don't see what their angle is. Maybe they're trying to boost a search engine ranking for some reason. I didn't see anything weird in the page source, so if they're trying to give you malware, they're doing so very subtly. Or it's a fresh attempt to figure out (or confuse) Blogger's spamblog-detection algorithm. Or someone's being paid to blog about washing cars, and they're lazy/greedy and are taking the shortest of shortcuts. Honestly, I can't come up with very many plausible hypotheses as to what might be going on here. I'll update this again if I decide to try to anything about it, which I may or may not do.

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