Here’s Ted Cruz as One of Santa’s Elves

It’s easy to think that the Internet is home to every crazy image that you can possibly imagine, but sometimes it fails you. And when that happens, you just have to come up with the image yourself. With that in mind: Dear Internet, please accept this image of Senator Ted Cruz as one of Santa’s elves.

Know Your City Louie Louie Sing-A-Long Poster

Last month, I designed and illustrated a poster for Know Your City‘s World’s Largest Sing-A-Long event. Here’s the poster:

kyc_louie_louie_posterAnd here’s a larger version of the main image (members of the crowd include a Where’s Waldo type guy, an elf, Marge Simpson’s hair, a cat, and someone throwing devil horns):

kyc_louie_louieI didn’t get a chance to make it to the actual event, but it was fun project to be a part of. I hadn’t designed a poster in probably about 8 years, but it reminded me how much I enjoy doing it. If you need a poster made, hit me up at

City of Roses: The Adventures of Mayor Harry Lane


Mayor Harry Lane, in office from 1905 to 1909, is one of my favorite mayors that Portland ever had. If you’ve never heard of him, you should read the Wikipedia entry on him. Some of his highlights: “Father of the Rose Festival”, pro-suffrage and anti-white supremacy (unlike his grandfather). Oh, and he ended up being a US Senator, too. He hated corruption, and was very hands-on with some of his practices. According to E. Kimbark MacColl in The Shaping of a City (pages 340 – 341), the two incidents drawn in the comic were described by Harry Lane himself and widely reported by others.City of Roses: Mayor Harry Lane Part 1City of Roses: Mayor Harry Lane

The MoHDI Illustrations

Two years ago, my friend Drew Anderson started his website Millions of Hundred Dollar Ideas, or “MoHDI” for short. I ran into him one night, and he asked me to draw a burglar mask for him in his sketchbook. I did as he asked, and saw my burglar mask drawing up on his website a few days later along with, to my surprise, something to the effect of an announcement that I was the newest staff member. Drew’s one of these guys who does not stop thinking, no matter what, and he’s coming up with this constant stream of crazy ideas. One of those ideas was that I should quit my job and work for him on MoHDI. That never happened, but I did do a few illustrations for him over time. I’ve never really collected them in one spot, but I figured I should do something with them, so I’ve posted them below. The “” on each of the images is a new addition that arose from the “Famous Sock Puppets in History” image; I get about 2000 image hits on that a month, and after a couple of years of that I finally decided that maybe I should advertise myself a bit.

Otterpop Bandolier
The Otterpop Bandolier
The Self Drunk Test
The Self Drunk Test
Famous Sock Puppets from History
Famous Sock Puppets from History

The next two aren’t ones that I came up with, but were ones that I was requested to draw. I think that Drew submitted the “Securi-pee” (definitely not my idea) to a couple of invention contests or something:

Popsicle Protector
Popsicle Protector
the Securi-Pee
the Securi-Pee

Get it while it’s still around

The Virginia Cafe

The Virginia Cafe and Zell's

The Dental Arts Building


The next few months will be your last chance to visit the Virginia Cafe, Rice Junkies, or the fabulously out-dated Zell’s department store. The entire block is slated for demolition within a few months, and will soon give rise to a 30+ story high rise. So much for seventy years of history, and a Park Block that never manifested itself.

Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard: the backstory

Back in October of 1987, Bernie Foster, the publisher of the Skanner, submitted the signatures of 3,000 Portlanders and a thousand dollar check to the city in order to facilitate re-naming a street to Martin Luther King Jr. The city took the signatures and the money, and formed a committee to look into the project. The committee specifically looked at re-naming Front Avenue, Union Avenue and Fifth Avenue. By late December of the same year, the city’s panel determined that re-naming Front would not be feasible, as only nine respondents were for it, while 216 were against it. City Auditor Barbara Clark noted that the primary reason wasn’t racism, but that “Front Avenue really means something”. Another source noted that Front Avenue was one of the city’s oldest street names [which is true: it was a name on the original plat, and survived through the two major street re-namings]. Interestingly, Front was re-named “Naito Parkway” in 1996.

After that, the Committee (it’s official title was the Martin Luther King Boulevard Committee) set its sights on Union Avenue. By November of 1988, they had submitted an application, but had not gotten any sort of sign off by the seven neighborhood associations and two business districts that needed to be involved by the requirement of city policy. In lieu of the sign off, the committee was then requested to produce 3,000 signatures in support of the name change. After that had been gathered, the application would be reviewed by three historians, and the city auditor would conduct a survey of property owners on Union Avenue.

It was estimated that a name change would cost $90 per approximately 100 intersections.

By late March of 1989, the proposal had passed the board of historians (Carl Abbott, E. Kimbark MacColl, and Stanley Parr [as a digression, I own books by two of these guys]) who noted that Union was named in honor of the victorious side of the Civil War. Still, there was little endorsement from the different neighborhood associations. Hosford-Abernethy was the only one to give full endorsement, and one of the other two endorsers – the Central Eastside Industrial Council – only signed on to neutrality. The third endorser was the Metropolitan Service District, who represented the newly-built Convention Center. They thought that the name change would create an impression of a multicultural city. The Portland Planning Commision supported the name change.

By mid-April of 1989, the City Council was having hearings on the subject, and most of City Council was in favor. Mayor Bud Clark noted “the Emancipator of the 1860s was Abraham Lincoln. The Great Emancipator of the 20th Century was Martin Luther King.” Commisioner Bob Koch was the one dissenting voice, noting that he didn’t think that a street in a state of disrepair would be appropriate to be named after Dr. King. In the late 80s, the street was primarily associated with drug dealing, decay, and prostitution [which is pretty much what I think of it when I think about it these days – as a dedicated pedestrian, it is one of the few streets that I feel nervous when walking down, especially past Fremont and before Alberta]. Other factions argued that the symbolic name change would serve as a force to clean up the street. During the surveying for the name change of Union, only 15% of respondents were in favor of the name change. The City Council decided on a vote for it, although the neighborhood associations still hadn’t signed off in favor of it, which was a requirement of city policy. Then-commisioner Earl Blumenauer noted that the idea had been “grandfathered” in because the committee was organized before the policy.

One week later, the council voted unaminously in favor of the change. Commisioner Koch tried to insert a resolution insuring that more funds would be directed to the development of Northeast but this was dismissed under the auspice that it would happen anyway. Bernie Foster, the initiator of the plan, was pleased, while many other people weren’t.

By late May of 1989, there was a coalition calling themselves Citizens to Save Union Avenue that were trying to force a public vote on the issue. They did not garner enough public signatures for a referendum, but they decided to continue with an initiative.

From here, I’d go on with the story – it involves a lot of people unhappy with the name change, and their lack of success in changing it, but I’m kind of tired, and need to be up for work early tomorrow. If you want to know more, the process is easy enough as long as you have a Multnomah County library card. All you need to do is log on to and go to their database section. From there, you can find digitized versions of the Oregonian from late 1987 onwards. It’s a great resource. If they had an 1850 to 1987 section, I’d be busting out a lot more comics, but I suppose I’d also have more competition. Anyway, check it out.

Also, in my past posts (especially with the comics), I haven’t cited sources. From here on out, I will be citing sources for any of my historically-attained materials. When I first started doing all of this stuff, I didn’t realize that I was actually doing any sort of academic work. Now that I know, I should be held up to scrutiny. Anyway, uh… have fun!

Lane, Dee. “King Committee Turns to Union Avenue” The Oregonian, 24 December 1987, B01
Mayer, James. “Dream Fall’s For Street’s name Change” The Oregonian, 14 January 1989, D01
Mayer, James. “Union Avenue Isn’t Burning For Name Change” The Oregonian, 24 March 1989, E02
Mayer, James. “Switch From ‘Union’ To ‘King’ Endorsed” The Oregonian, 29 March 1989, C03
Mayer, James. “City Council Supports Union To King Change” The Oregonian, 14 April 1989, A01
Mayer, Jmes. “City Council Votes To Rename Union” The Oregonian, 21 April 1989, D01
Mayer, James. “Proponents of Union Avenue Fall Short” The Oregonian, 23 May 1989, C05

Cesar Chavez Boulevard

I never understood why Portland Boulevard was named that; it was just too far from the heart of Portland to make much sense to me. I admit, I’m still getting used to it now being called Rosa Parks Way, and I often slip in forgetting to state the new name when I am referring to the street. Anyway, now there’s all of this controversy regarding the re-naming of Interstate to Cesar Chavez. Personally, I’m on the fence about the idea. On one hand, I’m very much for the idea of honoring the former labor leader – I think it’s an important idea – yet, on the other hand, I question the method of how this is being done, and wonder why it’s being applied to a street that already has a historic name and exists in an area that has little to do with the man in question. Maybe some place in Produce Row would be more relevant? Or perhaps somewhere in the Northwest Industrial Triangle? I don’t really have any good suggestions.

What I do wonder, though, is how many of these proponents and opponents involved remember that MLK Jr Boulevard was once named Union Avenue? Union was named, I believe, in order to honor the uniting of Portland proper with the then-city of East Portland. The change to MLK makes symbolic sense to me. What I an curious, and unknowledgable about, is how that renaming process was initiated, and what the public reaction was. This renaming happened less than twenty years ago, and doesn’t seem to have incurred any long term pain.

Regardless of whether it remains Interstate or becomes Cesar Chavez, I know one thing for sure: by 2025, people will call it whatever’s decided, and no one will remember what the drama was all about.

Overheard on the Trolley

On my way home from work on Sunday, I notived the Vintage Trolley coming down the MAX lines, and decided to catch it to its terminus over at Lloyd Center.  I like the trolley a lot; I enjoy its rumble, the big windows, the comfy seats, and most of all, the trolley conductor that points out interesting facts along the ride. The trolley conductor is kind of a Portland booster, extolling all of the things that make our city great, and dispensing interesting historical anecdotes. On this particular ride, however, the conductor talked aboutsomething that didn’t quite sit right with me.

As we were coming to the dip in the tracks that go underneath the Morrison Bridge, the conductor started talking about how that was the original location that Pettygrove and Lovejoy started clearing out for the future town. Okay, sounds about right. Next, he started talking about how that little dip was the original elevation of the land, and that due to flooding, they did infill all around the area. The original elevation bit seemed plausible, but what about this infill? He then went on to say that they did this around the time the seawall was built in 1929, and that in doing so, they buried the first floor of all of the original buildings, so that all of the ground floors that we were seeing were actually the second floors. Uh… HUH? That’s the first time I ever heard anything like that. Upon hearing this, I was surprised and skeptical, but didn’t outright disbelieve it – I’ve only lived in town for seven years, so there’s plenty about the history of the city that I don’t know. I was mulling this over, wondering if I’d heard him correctly, when we started passing the New Market Theater. At this point, he now tells everyone on the trolley that the floor of the New Market that we are seeing as the ground floor is actually the second floor because of this burying business. What?

For about two seconds, I thought to myself, My God! How could I not know that?? Then the guy started talking about Skidmore Fountain, and I realized that his statment about the buildings being buried couldn’t make sense, since the Skidmore Fountain is at ground level. If there is any truth at all to this, then this supposed infill would have had to happen between 1872 (when the New Market was built) and 1888 (when the Skidmore Fountain was dedicated). I decided not to believe any of it when he started talking about how the Skidmore Fountain was built by Stephen Skidmore (it was bequeathed by Stephen Skidmore) and that he selected the sculptor for it (that was C.E.S. Wood that commisioned Olin Warner).

The more I thought of all of this, the more it bothered me. For starters, all of the ground floor architecture looks like ground floor architecture. Second, if there was just one point in downtown that wasn’t filled, why was it conveniently done where the MAX would one day run underneath the Morrison Bridge? Third, where did this guy get this information? If anyone has some knowledge of this supposed “infill”, could they let me know? This whole thing sounds pretty fishy to me.

Anyway, aside from this, the conductor seemed like a really nice gentleman. I don’t know if I want to ride on the Vintage Trolley with him again.

ps – more comics coming soon.

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