Day 3: Donald Trump Has Been Elected President

tl;dr: It was a protest, not a riot. Don’t break windows. Not everybody can walk around, but do it if you are able to and feel safe doing it.

Yesterday after work I walked for a little over eight miles before I came home. For a very short bit of that walk, I joined last night’s protest. So I’m going to write a little bit about the protest, and a little bit about walking.

I was part of the protest for less than fifteen minutes, just during a short time as it crept along SE Grand. It was the biggest protest that I’d seen in town since the start of the Iraq war 13 years ago. I wanted to stay longer, but I was there without anyone else I knew and my nervousness around crowds of people sent me on my way. At home, I followed along Twitter and various livestreams.

There were the usual knucklehead “anarchists” that are just young white men that enjoy spray painting and smashing stuff. I put “anarchist” in quotes, because anarchy is a legitimate political philosophy that I think these guys are probably anathema to? Anyway, they’re the fringes of every protest that ever happens in Portland and while I seriously doubt they’re false flag-type plants, they’re extremely counterproductive to the overall goals of protests. They make for great photos and videos for the TV news where people at home who are angry that people are protesting, or that protestors exist, or that protesters create traffic can point their fingers at the TV and scold,”Shame!” There is not a lot of nuance in the image of someone smashing a windshield and that becomes a convenient avatar for someone’s idea of a thing they don’t like.

But like I said, these types are the very fringe of a protest – a couple dozen out of an estimated four or five thousand. So it was a little weird when the Portland Police Bureau tweeted this out a little before 9pm:

So now the whole protest was deemed a riot. “Riot” implies, at least to me, total chaos and that was not happening to the bulk of the protest. For the rest of the night, the protest in all its forms was called a riot. I don’t mean to downplay the ugly scenes that happened on NE Broadway and in the Pearl, but I felt that using the word riot was an intentional political choice, a conscious decision. Our current police chief is a former police spokesperson thus knows the importance of language. By calling the whole group a riot, this allowed the police to use different tactics, but also put the whole protest in a different frame of reference.

My concern was that the word riot would be latched on to by the media, particularly the national media, and that’s what happened. So now instead of a peaceful protest (a phrase that became a popular chant for the rest of the night), there was now rioting in the streets. In the morning, the national news on the radio was reporting that there had been a riot in Portland, and that’s now how the night will be remembered. It gives our new President-Elect a nice talking point should he want to use it. Kidding, right? Of course, Donald Trump is not going to exploit a more complicated narrative to work it towards his favor. I mean, he’ll be more nuanced, right?

Anyway, there was a bunch of damage that happened, and Portland’s Resistance, the organizers of the protest, put up a GoFundMe page to help out the affected businesses. I kicked in $10 to help out.

So: walking. As I mentioned, I walked around a lot last night. I walk around a lot in general. It helps relieve my stress, it is my own little protest against car culture and environmental destruction, and it is something that is a privilege to me as an abled white male. I want to talk a bit about these last two things, starting with walking as a privilege.

The act of walking is a basic function of everyone that has full mobility. It is a simple practice, and the primary method of locomotion throughout the bulk of human history. But it is not safe for everyone. Women are exposed to harassment walking down the street in broad daylight and who knows what imaginable horrors at night. When I think about it (and here’s a thing about privilege: I don’t have to think about it), for my entire life women have been discouraged from walking at night. “If you have to walk at night, walk with a friend.” A fundamental act has been identified as a dangerous practice – something to avoid if at all possible and certainly not something that you could possibly enjoy. And being a person of color on the street opens you up to harassment, but also subjects you to inherit bias. At least one study has shown that drivers are less likely to stop for African-Americans pedestrians than white pedestrians. Long before that study had come out, I’d seen it countless times in my real day-to-day experience: a driver might slow down to let me cross the street, but speed up and cut off the black person trying to cross right behind me. Spend enough time walking around downtown Portland, and you can witness it yourself. This has been the case in Obama’s America, and I have a feeling that it’s not going to change during Trump’s America.

This could be my own projections, but the day after the election, I saw a lot of women walking who looked more guarded than usual. I’ve read those anecdotes of street harassment including “grab her by the pussy” type exclamations or “jokes”. I haven’t seen any of it personally, but it doesn’t seem unrealistic.

Here’s my suggestion to men walking: when approaching a woman, give her sidewalk space! A good sidewalk can fit three people abreast, so walk towards the edge of the sidewalk. It is really not a hard thing to not invade someone’s space. And if you’re a fast walker, like me, be careful about over-taking women on the sidewalk. Make some noise that let’s a person know that you’re coming up behind them: it sucks for anyone to be surprised by anyone walking behind them, especially when they don’t know what that person’s intentions are.

So, my final thing: walking as protest. By not using a car when possible, I’m not burning gas, I’m not creating significant traffic, and I am not treating operating heavy machinery as a day-to-day tool. A lot of you who might read this drive as your main mode of transportation, and that’s fine. It’s your choice or need. Like I said, I have the privilege of walking, and not everybody does. Our system is built around the idea that person needs to drive, and that’s what I’m protesting – not that you have to use your car to get around. By walking as my main mode of travel, I also hope to help normalize it – to make people see that it’s aware as a possibility. But here’s a very realistic thing: my personal protest might have no effect on a single other human building.

Acknowledging the futility of walking as protest is something that is important for me to recognize, but I feel like its something important to think about. Any individual protest action might not have an affect on anybody. Our individual actions might not have a significant effect on influencing anything or anyone else. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it, because it does have some effect, if nothing else but to give you a little hope. I’ve got a lot more thoughts on this idea, but I think maybe it needs to wait for a different post.

Day 1: Donald Trump Has Been Elected President

I went to bed after several drinks last night, not surprised but not fully prepared for where the election was headed. Heather, my wife, came into bed later, crying and holding me and confirming what I feared. I felt numb, and comforted her as best as I could.

I woke up this morning with the same dumb numbness, but NPR came on to the alarm clock. The announcers were too upbeat for the reality, and Heather started crying again. I shut it off and lay in bed. I didn’t look at Facebook and I didn’t look at Twitter. I didn’t know what to do. When I thought about what to do, I thought about deleting both my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I had an idea, an idea that stills seems reasonable, that interacting on social media instead of in person was destroying us. I’d also attended a demonstration the previous day of software that efficiently scrapes all of your social media for immediate review and consumption. I was thinking about how President Donald Trump might use this technology. President Donald Trump. I checked a few permission settings on Facebook and walked in to work.

Nobody harassed me on my walk into work – it was no worse of a walk than usual. The day progressed as normal, with the exception that I greeted people with “Hello!” instead of “Good morning!”

There was a protest happening after work, just a block away from me over at Pioneer Courthouse Square, and I considered joining. I was starting to feel again, realizing that this is our new reality and that to be numb and turn away from it is the equivalent of apathy and death. I also wanted to go to the Library, where I do my research on Wednesdays. I decided to check out the protest, which filled Pioneer Courthouse Square. A thousand people, easy. There was also a contingent of sad men that supported Trump doing a counter-protest. I decided that the crowd was big enough that it didn’t need me, so I went to the Library.

The Library was closed. I’d later learn that the Library was closed due to the protest, but it felt really fitting that a library would be closed the day after Trump won the presidency. I decided to join the protest.

I couldn’t find the protest at first, which seemed silly considering the amount of news helicopters hovering above the city. I walked around for a while and finally found the protest as they were taking the Morrison Bridge. As a pedestrian and a guy who hates cars, I love a protest that shuts down traffic, but I have a lot of empathy for car drivers that are frustrated by sitting in that traffic. I want to help shut down traffic, but then I think about the person sitting in their car (idling, needlessly) who gets mad about the protest without thinking about what the protest is trying to accomplish. I decided not to join in, and kept walking around.

I walked through Waterfront Park, which was close enough for me to enjoy the protest, but not to be part of it. As I was walking, I heard the horrible crunch of metal hitting a smaller metal target. The sound came before my sight, but it happened in such a way that I turned my head towards the noise and saw a bicycle and a bicycle rider flying through the air. It took me a second to process, and while I was understanding what I saw, the driver who hit the bicyclist pulled off to the side of the road. The bicyclist pulled himself from the ground and immediately started staggering into the park. He saw me calling 911 and waved my concern off – it seemed pretty obvious that it was a stolen bike that he had left demolished behind him. I paused for a moment before pressing “dial” on the call before deciding not to dial. I feel a lot of concern about the health of the guy, but he didn’t want that call to be placed. I stopped the call. Whatever that guy’s scenario was, I hope he got the help he needed.

The driver stayed behind, and was clearly concerned about the cyclist. I didn’t see what led to the crash, but the abandoned bike was demolished. The driver behind the driver also stopped to get out. They were both concerned about the crash, albeit in different ways. The driver that hit the man on the bicyclist told me “he ran a red light!” I’d normally take issue with that – you should always travel at an appropriate speed to anticipate unknowns – but this injured dude just booked it. I advised both drivers that the guy did not want help, and left. I don’t feel very good about it. That driver was driving fast enough to send a person through the air. Confronted with a crash that sent a bike rider into the air, I left that driver to deal with his own conscience.

After the traffic crash, I never caught back up with the protest even when I followed the news helicopters. I was within blocks of it, but never got close to join. On the Esplanade, I enjoyed the calm of one direction of traffic being shutdown.

I got off of the Esplanade and climbed the stairs at the Burnside bridge. A pickup truck drove by me and a passenger yelled “WOOOO TRUMP PENCE!”. At the Burnside/MLK intersection, someone gunned their engine as they sped around the turn. I don’t think that’s related to the election, because it happens all the time, but I assume the perpetrator was a Trump supporter. That might be unfair! Who knows.

As I got closer to my house, I walked through the houseless encampments in my neighborhood. As a white male, I have the agency to do this – a lot of women, regardless of color, feel unsafe doing this. It’s understandable! A lot of houseless people in our neighborhood have taken to carrying improvised weapons with them – it’s a threatening scene.But like they need to arm themselves. They’ve been attacked a lot, politically and physically. I saw a lot of houseless people emerge after the Great Recession of 2008, and I’m seeing more of them appearing now.

I walked by a couple of houseless youths, one armed with a crowbar and the other armed with an axe. The guy with the crowbar got in my face and yelled “Fuck Trump!” I responded by saying “I agree!” He was a little startled.

I don’t feel numb anymore. Here’s our first day. We can’t run, we must be present. We have to acknowledge our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses, our biases, and we have to fight. We have to fight.

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.
ted_cruz_holiday_elf

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 khris.soden@gmail.com.

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 “khrissoden.org” 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 www.multcolib.org 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!

Sources:
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.

1 2 3