Month: May 2011

Kenyan Safari.

 

Mags and I wandered over to Kenyan Safari (3939 NE MLK) two weeks ago. Neither of us had been there before and I have wanted to check it out – I’ve been to the other Ethiopian/East African restaurants nearby, so it was definitely time to try it out.

It was mid-afternoon, and no one was in there except the proprietor. We wanted to chat with him, but we were distracted by the two TVs that dominated the dining room – one showing CNN, and one airing Al-Jazeera. It was a couple of days after the daring raid on Osama bin Laden’s bunker that captured the imagination of Americans, and so we sat through lunch watching CNN show the same digital ‘reconstruction’ of the raid on the compound again and again. We heard, in distressing depth, about the cameras that Navy SEALS wore on their helmets, and that military specialists would no doubt be analyzing footage from these cameras in depth, even though the SEAL soldiers were constantly on the move – we were assured several times of this last ‘fact.’

All the while, Al-Jazeera quietly displayed news from around the globe, in the background of Kenyan Safari.

The menu we were given was much smaller than the menu the restaurant shows online. I ordered an aptly-named ‘vegetarian dish’ – lentils, cooked greens, and an oily bread that was incredibly delicious, I could’ve gone on eating it all day. Mags had Mukimo, which was served as beef stew, alongside a mound of potatoes cooked with corn, and beans. He ate all the beef and there was some potatoes left, that I nibbled at, and it was clear that the beef and potatoes had to be eaten at once; the potatoes were tasty but too dry to be eaten alone.

Does a review need an ending? Can I summarize a meal that was primarily an experience in the redundancy of CNN’s description of a murder committed by the US government? Can I end this with ‘review’ with a digital shrug?

 

oops.

A strange accident today, on King Boulevard between Schuyler and Hancock, just south of the loop-around where one can veer from traveling north on Grand Avenue to heading south on the Boulevard:

Luckily, the driver crashed into the Progressive Insurance building, so sorting things out should be plenty easy.

SCRAP grabs.

T******* and I made a lovely visit to the SCRAP wonderland the other day, filling up a large basket with all sorts of supplies and art-possibilities.  SCRAP, if you haven’t been, is a treasure of used items – crayons, cards, office supplies, fabric, yarn, pieces of glass, tile, metal and wood, and much more – that can be turned into … whatever you desire.

SCRAP,  the School and Community Reuse Action Project, has its store on MLK, along with with space for classes; a gallery of re-use art, including permanent exhibits and shows that rotate in and out; and a re:boutique, selling items made by re-use artists.

When T******* & I went, I was looking for some particular office-y items. I didn’t find any of them (sometimes SCRAP has exactly what I need for a project), but happily went home with a bagful of different stuff.  Here is some of what I scored at SCRAP…

Those handy signs can point you in any direction you want to go.

I picked up some art supplies. It’s hard to say right now what I’ll do with them – I might send T******* a card prettied up with these:

I founds these wonderful felt flowers. Thanks to the unknown artist who made them:

One of the flowers ended up adorning one of my bicycles:

I found a doll, and I bought it. She looks strange and some people might say she looks creepy. She reminds me of Kiki, whose beeper kept Shaye Saint John up all night in this video, causing Shaye to oversleep and miss a modeling session (which went to Brooke Shields). More about Kiki can be found here.

In the image above, Kikitoo is sunbathing atop a box of fancy paper, that I also bought at SCRAP.

I bought this yellow strip of tile, because it matches the colors in my kitchen:

Finally, I bought these strands of glittered balls:

Just in case you’ve never seen a glittered ball up close, this photo is for you:

Sometime soon I will write up a post telling the world about the most amazing thing that I have ever found at SCRAP, something that links to both my youth and my present-day way of being in the world. Such finds a person can make at SCRAP!

The Ex-Girlfriends @ Dunes.

As noted, the lovely little club known as Dunes is closed now, with the Boxlift Building that housed it undergoing strenuous rehabilitation. As often as I think of it, I will post video of shows that took place at Dunes, as a way to mark the boulevard’s long-running little club-that-could.

The Ex-Girlfriends, live at Dunes, 9/12/10.  Thanks to everyone who posts videos of all kinds to youtube. I’ve only ever posted one, and it’s not pretty.

“King Boulevard has serious problems”: bikes and autos, constructive conflict and public policy, in our fair city.

This week, Larry Bingham of the Oregonian/oregonlive.com has a write-up of the Portland Development Commission’s plans for the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Gateway, and the problems that pedestrian activists foresee with the soon-coming Gateway.  Mr. Bingham has done a good job covering North and Northeast Portland for the paper/website in recent months, giving folks in N/NE a chance to be heard on various issues in our local daily paper.

The MLK Gateway project will authorize the construction of a pedestrian plaza on the island where Grand meets Hancock, as Grand curves to meet MLK Boulevard.  The plaza will sit behind a steel wall that runs along the island on its Grand Street side; on the wall will be a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Somewhat useful schematics of this hard-to-describe site are here: http://www.activerightofway.org/p/gateway-plaza-at-grand-and-hancock-missing-sidewalk & http://www.pdc.us/ura/convention_center/heritage-markers.asp

Area residents who attended Gateway project stakeholder meetings held by the Portland Development Commission have objected to the design of the plaza, which will also include a small steel wall to be placed across the narrowing strip of land that stretches into the median of MLK Boulevard.  Their objections point to the Gateway designers’ intention to direct pedestrian traffic behind the wall, instead of allowing it to flow along Grand Avenue;  also, future construction of a pedestrian crossing over MLK Boulevard will be more difficult.

One might ‘read’ the design of the Gateway as a project that prioritizes automobile traffic over all other forms of transit. Folks driving out of the Lloyd District north along the Boulevard will encounter a curved steel structure that gracefully eases them into the neighborhood, suggesting that they are entering a new neighborhood. The neighborhood itself won’t be identified directly, except by heritage markers containing neighborhood historical information; these markers will, of course, be visible to motorists only as ‘steel in the air,’ with the plaques containing historical information readable only by persons who travel into the plaza itself. These markers will eventually be joined by more towers with historical plaques along the Boulevard.

Drivers passing by will be greeted by a quote from Dr. King, inscribed onto the steel wall, “They will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The lettering will, of course, be visible to the pedestrian or bicyclist as she travels on Grand heading north, until of course she is ‘behind’ the wall.

The attitudes of those objecting to the design of the Gateway plaza site are in marked contrast to those of Peggy Lovell, who writes in a letter to the editor published in Wednesday’s Oregonian (also online here), that “I am a cyclist and a motorist. I don’t know anyone among my many cycling friends who isn’t also a motorist… [T]he sooner we can stop acting like a person is either a cyclist or a motorist, the better. In the end, though we may ride to work or ride for fun, most of us put many more miles on our car per year than on our bike.”  This is, of course, not true for me or many of the people I know – I travel almost exclusively by bicycle or foot.

Activists Bozzone and Rudwick seek to remind us (including city planners) that the folks who use different forms of transit have needs that both intersect and clash, and that all voices must be heard. In theory, the city seems to agree; Gateway project stakeholder meeting notes indicate that PDC staff are seeking to schedule a meeting that will include PDC staff, folks from the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and at least one pedestrian activist to “improve communications with the pedestrian community regarding PDC projects (current and future).”

Lovell, in contrast, seems to me to imply that there are no differences among transit users, and that planners have no valid reason to differentiate. Lovell’s privileged viewpoint (in more ways than one, she has the luxury of choosing how to travel) does not recognize that there are people who consciously choose not to drive motor vehicles (by her own account, these people are literally invisible to her), or cannot afford to do so.

If we accept her suggestion that we blind ourselves to the existence of people who are not both cyclists and motorists, we will assume that all transit planning that improves roadways for motorists will benefit everyone equally.  It is just this attitude that enables planners to shrug off the very different needs that different modes of transit require, while pretending that their solutions benefit bicyclists and other non-drivers.

As folks who are stepping and riding out into traffic every day, and as citizens of our community, we need to embrace the idea that different transit users have very different needs, and that they cannot all be met, in all situations. Conflict is at least as much a part of creating public policy as cooperation  and is to be welcomed, as long as it’s respectful.  Accordingly, we must struggle to advocate for the best possible solutions for our own transit needs, encourage transit activists to continue to advocate for us when we need representation to do so and take advantage of all public forums to press our cases.We must also press the city’s various bureaus to invite multiple perspectives to planning discussions at the earliest possible moment.

Visit these sites for more info: Active Right of Way; the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition; and the Portland Development Commission’s website for the Gateway and Heritage Markers Project.

Photos  below were taken at the Gateway site.