Sunday, March 22, 2009

Critical mass

A while ago we scanned almost all of the photos we owned using the aptly named (you send them boxes of photos and they scan them in a day for pennies per picture and send you a DVD). I was thinking it'd be interesting to go back and randomly pluck out pictures and then tell a story about what was going on in them, or otherwise some impression. This'd skew things to back when we actually used film, so today I made a random number generator (yes, spreadsheets were involved) and found this one from my digital camera...

The original's quite dark so I diddled with the colors a bit so you could actually see what was going on. You can click on it too to blow it up I think. 

This was taken September or October 2002 in Portland, OR at the corner of SW Main St and SW 3rd. I had been in Portland for about 5 months at that point, working for the NRCS Water and Climate Center. It was about 7 pm and I was getting off of work late. Between my office and the bus stop there was a Critical Mass Bike Ride. They're events were large groups of bikers get together and have enough "critical mass" to take over traffic patterns rather than having to bike on the defensive from cars. Some rides are 20 people, this ride was probably about 15 city blocks long. I stumbled upon this one and just happened to have my camera. I don't think I knew what Critical Mass was, so I had no clue what was going on. 

There were lots of costumes and this was one of those warms-your-heart endearing Portland kind of moments. In this picture alone I can see...

A cat-in-the-hat hat
A bumble bee costume
A clown outfit with rainbow wig
"Where's waldo"? in a bathrobe
A pink wig
and someone dressed as a Christmas tree.

Another staple at these rides are the chopped up custom funny bikes (e.g. tall bikes where someone's welded two framed together, added an extra long fork to a tiny wheel in the front and so on).

It reminded me of one time when Andy Wood was driving me back home late at night and we were stopped at a light. Across the intersection bikes a lithe 20-something girl in a sundress... and a Nazi Stormtrooper helmet. He said, "yeah, only in Portland" and how much he missed living there as opposed to Seattle. I dunno, sometimes when I tell that story people don't quite get it and ask "so... you're saying you like nazis? hunh?" Clearly the outfit was ironic, a parody. I liked to think that my business-casual work clothes were a parody too... Subtle, but...

In the background the restaurant is La Terrazza ...Funny enough earlier this week I was reminiscing with Sheila about their tomato basil soup and how I used to love to go and sit at the bar during lunch and watch their open kitchen. It was the cheapest, quickest and tastiest food around and made for great peoplewatching. Peoplewatching was the thing I missed most when our office moved from downtown to across the river. 

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