Jul 5, 2013

Late Night Walk

During a late night walk through long alleys in northeast Portland, I came across some large colorful tags, several wonderful murals, and a painted garage. These are in the alley just east of the intersection of Williams and Jessup. The last two photos are of interesting features from that general vicinity.

May 22, 2012

8th and Holman Intersection Repainting

The huge and beautiful street mural at NE 8th and Holman street in Portland, Oregon will be repainted on Sunday and Monday May 27th/28th. The event is open to the public. There's a video farther down this page documenting the creation of the painting.

May 3, 2012

Rain Footprints

A few blocks away is an intersection bearing dozens of footprints in cement. When it rains, water falls only into some of these footprints, and at night, the light glimmers off the top of the rainwater therein. This gives the long trail of 'shoes' a visual and emotional appeal. Someone caught the cement when it was fresh years ago, and walked about as if having fun, which lends a characteristic feature to the street.

Dec 7, 2011

The Portland Stairs Book

I enjoyed Laura O. Foster's The Portland Stairs Book. She provides short descriptive and historical accounts as well as photos of the various staircases about town.

Among my favorite are the more remote and sometimes unkempt stairs around Forest Park, the wooden stairs leading down from SW Montgomery Drive, and the SW 10th Avenue pump-house stairs. There are also the elevated sidewalks built in Linnton during a different era, and some of the SW trails circa SW 45th winding through forests. The more residential Alameda Ridge and NE 50th steps also have a certain charm. She lists as most perplexing, the two staircases hanging off the Morrison Bridge which allow pedestrians to walk unhindered by car traffic.

Among my least favorite: the stairs leading to the Broadway Bridge, and those in the Multnomah County Library.

The author also provides a list of stairs, each of which she walked while researching the book.

The Portland Stairs Book by Laura Foster; Timber Press, 2010

Jan 28, 2011

Steampunks in Seattle

I'm intrigued by the archaic inventions, toys and fashion sense of this milieu. Click on the title above or copy the link below.


Jan 8, 2011

Monster Rises From Fountain

I enjoy watching for unusual events in the news.

Disregard the tourist content on this page and look instead upon rare photos of the water fountain monster. The bottom three of the four pictures stand out with paranoiac qualities. They are a writhing mass of clouds from which Terminators may emerge, a duck's head nearly hidden in a frilly hat, and a soapy beast releasing a bubble towards the clouds above.

(As an aside, the slogan 'Keep Portland Weird' is not one I use. Keep Portland More Than Weird, I say.)


Jun 25, 2010

Groucho Marxists in Hillsboro

"A Multitude of Marxists: Thick eyebrows, black glasses and mustaches may be Hillsboro's claim to fame. On Saturday, at Celebrate Hillsboro Presented by Intel Oregon, several thousand people donned Grouch Marx glasses in a bid to break the Guiness record for most people wearing a Groucho Marx mask in one place. Toni Carlo, a vice president for United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, says more than 3,400 people took part. IF that number is certified, it would break the record of 3,000 people who wore the goofy glasses at a minor league baseball game in Springfield, Mo., in July. United Way provided the glasses. The Hillsboro event continues today."

---From the caption presumably written by Olivia Bucks, who is given credit for the photo above it, from August 2007. The event was placed into the Guiness Book of World Records. See also:



Feb 16, 2010

ALICE in the Southeast

Mural on SE Division & Orange in Portland, OR. Photo by Brandon

Jan 5, 2010


Months ago I wrote here about the group 'Surrealists Metanational' who have changed their name to 'Situationists Metanational.' While I have not attended any of their meetings, I was amused to learn that a new housemate was a participant. We did not get to talk at length, however.

Nov 22, 2009


An interesting article about what a local woman is doing over thanksgiving weekend. Click on the title above or copy and paste the link below.


Nov 4, 2009


Years ago the 'Paranoiac-Critical-Coyote' suggested itself from a Portland map. The related article (co-written with Brandon Freels) published on the Portland Surrealist Group's blog, Flying Stone, cited map reading as a form of interpretive delirium. To read that article click on the title above or copy and paste the link below.


I've always enjoyed looking at, and dwelling on maps, not only to learn the areas I'm curious about, but to analyze the shapes and patterns therein. The suggestions of geography tempt the eye.*

When one studies a city as a whole including its outskirts, one sees how the social context has sculpted its terrain and millions labor within the 'model.' This is how the arrangement of buildings and freeways tends to operate. It's built and maintained with a certain kind of circulation in mind. A long process of mass social irresponsibility has left the landscape irrevocably altered, but we can still move through this terrain like shadows, oneiric ethnographers and anomalous phenomena. One can find unique joys in paranoiac-figurative elements on the map, and perhaps discover real time zones or ambient centers that correspond to these larger geographical and oneiric themes. For example, if I were to walk to Kelly Point Park on the tip of North Portland, I would be somewhere on the nose of the Coyote. And so on. This is just one idea. If we don't seize the ability to make space our own, we will more easily forget that the footstep is new each day.

*(I haven't directly referenced the material created by various surrealists and surrealist groups with regard to geography and poetic experience, but interested parties could spend a lot of time going through it. What comes to mind first are the concepts of Atopos developed in Stockholm (and elsewhere) and Exteriority, deveoped in Madrid (and elsewhere).

Sep 18, 2009


You can listen to Penelope Rosemont, co-founder of the Chicago Surrealist Group, on this 'Diet Soap' podcast which is run by Portland writer and fellow traveller Doug Lain. Copy and paste the link below or click on the title.


Jul 28, 2009


A tide of poetry appeared in an article from the 'beach connection' website about the nocturnal Oregon beach.

Among the many things that can be said about the night ocean, is that it suggests H.P. Lovecraft's human fish creatures, as well as Maldoror's oceanic forays. It also reminds me of an encounter with a freezing cold wind coming off the night ocean in San Francisco.*

The 'beach connection' website itself features information about Oregon beaches, ghost towns and other trivia, but it also contains real estate ads and tourist content, so be warned. Click on the title or copy the link below.


Jul 5, 2009


Qagyuhl* masked dancers circa 1907-1930. (*A sub tribe within the Kwakiutl residing at Fort Rupert on the coast of B.C.) Click on the picture above for a better view. Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonian/3148/2838796125/

Jun 29, 2009


Let's hear it for free boxes placed on neighborhood streets and at yard sales. I take great pleasure in spying piles of unwanted items marked 'free.' Who knows what awaits in the collection of random objects? There's a certain charm in this way of obtaining and circulating surplus items. It's a practical, grassroots practice that I've noted a lot in certain areas around the Alberta street district, for example. And there are free porches, the truly free market, and other anarchistic/communitarian efforts operating in this realm of object relations that have slipped outside of typical exchange restraints. I'm sure more could be said.

May 10, 2009


Recently I've been playing and recording music and noise and making short videos on low-brow equipment. Crafting layers of noise in a way that moves one's body and emotions towards satisfaction is an interesting discipline of learning and experience in itself. I find myself drawn to lower volumes and the use of headphones to promote greater clarity in recording and listening. Headphones eliminate feedback and make higher volumes more accessible. Elsewhere on the musical goings-on, there were a few word-of-mouth shows with Qkcofse and Freed Eighps. I played at my own birthday party (as did another band) in front of about twelve people. In early May I made drawings and collage with Tim who plays with Freed Eighps.

Also that night in early May, I wandered, in the dark, through a series of unpredictable, occasionally paved, dirt or gravel alleys which run behind houses for blocks at a time in parts of Northeast Portland (and in other areas). Because I couldn't see well, I picked one that dead-ended into a large shed or garage and was overgrown with thorns and other plants. Barking dogs kept the nearby properties safe from my wandering menace as I was forced to retrace my steps. I emerged with some painful scratches on my knee, amused. I'm impressed that a semi-wild and basically hidden area could co-exist behind the rows of houses. I think by some technicality these alleys belong to the city or county rather than individual property owners and thus they are in another kind of grey area. It would be called an atopos or 'worthless space,' to use the Stockholm surrealists' phrase. I've written about them before on this blog because they (these alleys) are always available for unusual passage. I don't mind being away from cars for a time. Being able to pay attention to something without the constant presence of 'traffic' threatening one's life, can be a real relief.

Another reason why nocturnal passageways are interesting is because I've been exploring how greater darkness in mediocre photos changes the quality of imagination one must use to interpret the image. This is also suggestive because people haven't really shed their 'fear of the dark' which manifests in various problematic conditions and pathologies. Unless the darkness is total, it is more easily paranoiac to the eye and can be a great pleasure to experience. Let's hear it for twilight, dim lights and bat radar. In other news, the addition of a bike basket has added wonders to my bike riding trips as picking up various objects and transporting slightly larger items is easier. It also provides a better opportunity to take part in the spirit of chance when objects can be moved around.

As far as the Surrealist Movement goes, it is a great loss that Franklin Rosemont died in Chicago in early April. He's been a key figure in surrealist publishing in the U.S. and some of his words mean a lot to me. A more complete note was posted to the Unexpected Sound.

On the local level there's been no organized surrealist activity but I'm sure that something like 'surrealist events'--things that could not possibly be planned-- are ongoing, against the current of the typical day and by surprise. Tangential to this, surrealism in popular culture and in local geography and history here has been explored to some small degree by the Portland Surrealist Group, although there is a lot left unsaid and only a starting point achieved so far. There was a group, 'Surrealists Metanational' that apparently changed its name to 'Situationist Metanational' that was meeting at an independent bookstore. It would be interesting to hear from them but I didn't have any way to contact them after my attempt to meet with them failed. I don't know what they're all about but you could probably find the notice on Portland Indymedia.

I received some books. A Menagerie in Revolt: Benjamin Peret, Selected Writings. Introduction by Franklin Rosemont, Afterword by Don LaCoss (Black Swan Press). The second book is Morning Star: Surrealism, Marxism, Anarchism, Situationism, Utopia by Michael Lowy. Introduction by Don LaCoss (University of Texas Press, Surrealist Revolution Series). I'm reading them more or less at the same time but have not finished either title.

A film showing and discussion was hosted by a local group called Hearing Voices, but I was unable to attend. I found it intriguing because of the surrealist and sociological implications of 'hearing voices' and how that has played out in history in relation to generations of religious interference in the personal psyche as well as the repression and officially sanctioned personality murder of the psychiatric industry, who in some ways carry on the 'witch-burning' panic of earlier ages. Since people weave their exterior and interior lives together in inexplicable ways, it's not accurate or fair to condemn all auditory phenomena and unusual experiences with a broad brush. This is imposing unacceptable limits on the ability of human freedom to express and reinvent itself. The less censorship of the dynamics of our real relationship to life there is, the greater the chance of surrealist experience. There is a lot to be said about the subject. But surrealism offers a chance for the interior lives of all players to co-mingle, and this brings to mind the phrase 'communism of genius' and 'poetry made by all' by way of parallel.

Here are some links to the Hearing Voices group and their allies:

* www.intervoiceonline.org -- the main international website of the hearing voices movement
* www.mentalhealthportland.org -- our fiscal sponsor
* http://www.newsweek.com/id/195694 - Newsweek magazine profile of Will Hall
* www.madnessradio.net
* www.theicarusproject.net
* snipurl.com/forbesfreedomcenter
* snipurl.com/nytaredrugsalwaysneeded

Mar 24, 2009

Swift Winds

(From Portland Indymedia)

Reading Frenzy Hosts Book Release for Anarcho-surrealist Author Ron Sakolsky

At 7pm on Wednesday, March 25, Reading Frenzy will host a book release event for anarcho-surrealist author Ron Sakolsky's new book Swift Winds, published by Eberhardt Press of Portland.

Sakolsky's new book is a backpocket compendium of subversive texts, marvelous manifestos, mutinous rants, outrageous ideas, utopian dreams, impossible demands and incendiary broadsides strategically aimed at countering the pathos of miserablism with the uncontrollable laughter of the insurgent imagination.

Sakolsky will be at the event to read selections from Swift Winds and will sign copies of the book, his second anthology of essays and poetry.

Sakolsky is a widely-published author whose essays have appeared in an array of dissident publications such as Alternative Press Review, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, Fifth Estate, Green Anarchy, Black Sun, The Oystercatcher, and many others. Swift Winds is Sakolsky's sixth book. His previous books include Creating Anarchy (2005); Surrealist Subversions, which he edited for Autonomedia (2002); Sounding Off: Music as Subversion/Resistance/Revolution, edited with Fred Wei-Han Ho (Autonomedia, 1996); and Gone to Croatan: Origins of North American Drop-Out Culture, edited with James Koehline (AK Press, 1993). An active proponent of underground radio broadcasting, Sakolsky also edited Seizing the Airwaves: A Free Radio Handbook with Stephen Dunifer (AK Press, 1998).

Swift Winds features etched illustrations by artist Anais LaRue. The book is being offset printed and bound at the Eberhardt Press print studio in Portland.

Reading Frenzy is located at 921 SW Oak Street. For more information on the event, call 503-347-1048, email info@eberhardtpress.org, or see www.eberhardtpress.org.

Jan 3, 2009


The Fremont Troll lives under the Aurora bridge in Seattle, Washington. It was impossible to get a good picture with my cheap camera even in the daytime, but the darkness helps to create a menacing and fun ambience. The Volkswagon Beetle in its hand is an actual car, which should give you an idea of how big this creature is. For a less nocturnal view, follow the link:

Dec 21, 2008


Though this took place several years ago I've been meaning to write about it for some time. I went to this event a few hours after it started. There were six or seven electronic and acoustic sound stations set up on the floor at various points along the walls, which left the rest of the floor open for the dancers. The sound improvisers were listening intensely out of a desire not to dominate the sonic atmosphere, which remained largely on the ambient side. The occasional louder horn or processed electronics would steer the mood towards noise at certain moments, then the ethereal collaborations would resume. Notes were stretched out into long tones, sometimes for a half hour or more while the dancers challenged the limits of movement and exhaustion. Most of their movements were conducted with a mindfulness towards the need to save energy for the full twelve hours, and people would take breaks before resuming solo or collective interaction. A small crowd took in the scene, but not that many made it through the night as tiredness and a slight chill set in. Memorable moments included the players and audience members running around together, playing a piano in the lobby, and tearing up newspapers by dancing on them. Traditional human speech was almost entirely absent for much of the night and a profound alteration took place. I felt slowed down. When the sun came up as the event drew to a close, I knew this would linger in my memory for a long time. The bus ride home was uncomfortably jarring as consensus reality rushed into the hypnotic vacuum. Click on the poster above for a closer look.

Dec 18, 2008


'Pirate Town' is an area of land in North Portland near the Willamette River which consists of an abandoned creosote factory, a tall chimney, and several nearby derelict buildings. The wrecked ship a bit farther north along the train tracks has been removed. The properties are obviously used by graffiti artists, partiers, bike jousting groups, and others. Photo by Eric.

Dec 2, 2008


I went to a 'Surrealists Metanational' meeting a few weeks ago, but no one was there and the bookstore was closed. I sat on the bench in the cold waiting for someone to arrive, but the only person who came by was in a sense looking for the wrong group. He called the phone number on the printout, but it rang inside of Laughing Horse books just on the other side of the window, which had a certain humor. After a while I went to a slightly pretentious cafe before enduring the bus ride home.

Some ways I've tried to engage the world lately involve moving found objects around the city during walks and bike rides, and exploring long overgrown alleyways in the north and northeast parts of Portland. The alleyways cut through backyards and there are various points of interest, whether it be overhanging tree limbs obscuring the path, a broken down car that may have been someone's bedroom, cats, rats, possums, racoons, interesting piles of rubble, someone's trash, graffiti, overgrown weeds and crumbling concrete mixed with hard dirt trails, and so on. Some spots offer a feeling of clandestine passage due to fences and walls being on either side, and the glare of streetlights does not always penetrate. Thus the impromptu life of the city is shown in some of its aspects when one strolls through the out of the way avenues.

This is by no means comprehensive but I wanted to add a note given the lack of any current collective projects on the local level other than the occasional noise/experimental collaboration and some conversations.

Sep 13, 2008

Surrealists Metanational

I found this notice on Portland Indymedia. *note: I am not endorsing this event, but simply reporting that it's happening. Whether or not I would find my interests and passions at such an event, I'm not sure. But aside from any other considerations, it may represent more local interest in surrealism after the recent dada/surrealist marathon on KBOO.

Surrealists Metanational
Saturdays at 6pm

What is the most radical form of existence? Question rationalism!
Meet with your fellow paradigm shifters to explore theory and practise of Surrealism, the history of DaDa, and ways to incorporate it into every day life. Saturday evenings will include fun chaotic influence from UBU, cabaret, IWW, the Surrealist Manifesto and activities include derive, cut-up collage, surrealist games (exquisite corpse,"knock on the door", dream resumes etc.) spoken word performance, guerilla street theater and film noir.

Location 12 NE 10th Ave
Phone Contact 503/236.2893
Sponsor Laughing Horse Books

all events are free, but donations to Laughing Horse, a volunteer-run, anti-corporate, independent collective, gladly accepted)

September Laughing Horse member, volunteer and community contributor meetings: 14th and 28th and every other Sunday after that!


Aug 27, 2008

KBOO Dada/Surrealist radio marathon

Click on the title above for further information.

Aug 7, 2008

Jul 23, 2008

Jul 12, 2008


Using his trusty BB gun to help him return to Earth, a 48-year old gas station owner flew a lawn chair rigged with helium filled balloons more than 200 miles across the Oregon desert Saturday, landing in a field in Idaho.
Kent Couch created a sensation in the tiny farming community of Cambridge, Idaho, where he touched down safely in a pasture and was soon greeted by dozens of people who gave him drinks of water, local plumber Mark Hetz said. He shot out the balloons to land.
Couch covered about 235 miles in about nine hours after lifting off at dawn from his gas station riding in a green lawn chair rigged with an array of more than 150 giant party balloons.
Bend, Oregon. From Associated Press.


Jul 3, 2008


As I've written in the blog description above, this blog is now open to interested others. If you live in this region (or not) and have something to say that relates to these themes, I will consider making you a co-creator here. You can write to poetrybeyond@yahoo.com with 'surrealist egregore' in the subject line and I'll get back to you shortly.

May 21, 2008


I'm very interested in, and familiar with, a variety of Portland-based and regional/global noise performers, free improvisors and sound artists. In many of the intimate and d.i.y. live shows I've attended since 2003, I've seen parallels with surrealist practice that are worthy of further exploration. Automatism and improvisation with minimal objects, prepared guitars, tape decks, re-wired electronics, toys and invented instruments can provide a sonically corrosive experience of hypnotic catharsis and the play impulse. Freely improvised methods involving strings, wind instruments, and percussion, which also draw upon acoustic sounds based on one's surroundings and certain chance factors, can create a passionate interrogation of humor and discovery. I'm currently more interested in the noise spectrum, but jazz improv and noise are not mutually exclusive. Some generally acoustic improvisors in Portland have been known to break out large suitcases of circuit bent electronics during 12 hour plays.

At our fingertips is a fantastical canvas of obsessive sound textures propelled by creative subversion of the conventional definitions of 'music' and 'entertainment.' Some noise acts such as Arachnid Arcade, Ecomorti, Crank Sturgeon and Rubber O Cement incorporate unusual costumes and puppets into their shows, while other noisicians prefer a more casual approach to the presentation of sounds that are anything but casual. Portland based guitarist Doug Theriault blends free jazz with noise and electronics in a variety of solo and collaborative settings. There are also surrealist improvisors Davy Williams, Ladonna Smith, Hal Rammel, Johannes Bergmark, William Davison and the Recordists, Criadero en Seres, and others, who create sounds that have the power to challenge our sedentary complacency. If you've never experienced them, a Youtube search on some of these names may be of interest, as the visual element of live shows provides context. Also keep an eye out for the 'Famous room battle of monsters" video series.

Mar 28, 2008

Surrealist show

There was a 'surrealist group art show' at the Waypost cafe in Portland Oregon for the month of March, with an opening reception on March 14th. I went on a Thursday and looked at each work. There were only a small number of images on display due to the cafe's layout, and I did not make notes due to tiredness, but there were things I liked and some things I was indifferent to. Chuck Bloom's tree houses were the most personally memorable, because I built and played in tree houses as a child. As far as the surrealist aspect of the show, without more biographical information it's hard to tell where those involved are really coming from, other than a vague idea of making surrealist art. I don't mean to insult their efforts or creative pursuits, but a show with no personal statements or available literature tends to imply that surrealism is just a way of making art.
For me, a surrealist manifestation should have a romantic and libertarian ethic within an evolving collaborative basis and methodology in order to be true to the historical current. This does not imply dogmatism, but rather an evolving play-in-progress or an 'open system.' It's helpful if those who call themselves surrealists clearly present their ideas and associations in full depth. If they are just making art, without the radical critique of capitalism and 'consciousness,' that is inherent to the Surrealist Movement, I am less interested. I get the impression that this is not a 'Surrealist Group' show, but rather a gathering of individuals whose imagery or thinking have something considered surrealist or 'surreal' about them. Further information forthcoming.

Mar 5, 2008


For information on urban exploration in Portland, click on the title above, and also see http://iokaos.net/derive.

While I enjoyed the interactive map of the Southeast Portland Derive and the rest of this material, I have reservations about the Sadie Plant text which is prejudiced against surrealism, and reduces it to a dated cliche. It seems to me that vadding and the Derive can be part of a methodology where the dynamics of a surrealist-situationist synthesis materialize beneath our feet.

Feb 28, 2008


The trumpet scatters the awful sound carved on the backs of waves, the slaves of nature. Blood flowed through a bug gestating amongst red lights. I'll cough it out, to the south, back into the water of my balloon neck. How many handless can reach for so little? The answer is beneath the sand--dig down, dig deep, dig down, deep.

Water leaked through the earth, skewed in shape, parcelled to hungry ghosts. Their thin lipped glasses of rubber ice skates are raining into the navel with a memory of ripened shoulders ready for the wild plants' invasion.

M.K. Shibek, Tim Iserman, Kristy Rose

Feb 21, 2008

Pantsless Commuters Confirm Surrealist Dream Theory?

It's not mentioned in the article (which you can see by clicking on the title above) but I'm wondering if this was a response to a Tri-Met driver's complaint about a passengers' clothing. More troubling is the vague reference to 'surrealist dream theory' which implies that surrealism is a pointless and possibly frivolous exercise in anything odd or unusual. While I support the pantsless commute and would have enjoyed taking part, I found myself wanting more from the article, which doesn't provide any meaningful context about surrealism and the Surrealist Movement which continues today. I suppose the shock and novelty of seeing underwear on the Max could remind someone of surrealist images, and it could have been liberating for those taking part, and I understand this connection. But at the same time, the convulsive interplay between the conscious and the unconscious--which is more important than a specific theory of dream-is not fully drawn out in the article. Note: I am not implying that surrealism revolves around 'shock and novelty,' but simply trying to contextualize the headline chosen by the Willamette Week's writer.


Feb 15, 2008


In early August I went to the Tri-Met Transit Mall located along Fifth and Sixth Avenues with a tape recorder and sign reading “Portland Surrealist Group Interviews.” Most people chose to pass by or face the street, awaiting buses in silence. About a fourth of them looked at the sign or made eye contact. At four in the afternoon the streets were busy but not full. Only the curious were asked the proposed question. Below is a summary of the results:

—Can’t think of anything. (3)
—Jobs and shelter for the homeless. (2)
—Free parking and more free transportation. (2)
—More trees. We’ve lost fifty percent of them since 1975. I ate off fruit trees as a child.
—Tear up the streets and plant grass and flowers.
—Expand Waterfront Park from the Fremont Bridge to the Stadium Freeway Bridge, and make the Portland Streetcar pass through it.
Get rid of Front Avenue altogether.
—Clean the Willamette River so people can swim in it.
—Move the Portlandia statue on the Portland Building to Waterfront Park so it can welcome incoming ships.
—Make it legal to skateboard.
—Move the Police Station to the middle of the ocean.
—Get rid of Niketown.
—Too many buses.

A following trip to the South Park Blocks induced these comments on the statue of Teddy Roosevelt:
—Paint it patriotic colors.
—Move it to where it’s more visible.
—Shit on the horse’s head. Piss on that guy.

Later at the Multnomah County Library a discussion ensued with two people involving electric buses, the use of recycled and natural building materials, building with character and permanence, and more room for bicycles. Also discussed was the controlled feeling of Pioneer Courthouse Square (where Portland’s entrepreneur-funded Clean and Safe Services and the Portland Police Bureau keep people from any excess of passion), the difficulty of putting up murals compared with the ease of putting up billboard advertisements, and the building facades, which conceal a structure’s true function and makes it easier to sell. The importance of building on existing structures rather than making “ugly” new gentrified buildings was also emphasized during comments on numerous construction sites seen recently. One participant liked the idea of leaving parking garages standing to be used as a scaffolding/mesh structure.

No doubt some of the proposals would improve the quality of life and should be implemented for their practical benefit. A few display humor and imagination with regard to being able to “do anything” to the city-space. Other answers are generally contained or constrained. Everyone was made aware of the uncensored aspect of this game survey, meant to illuminate desire, and activate tension between desire and experience, subject to chance variations.

MK Shibek December 2002 (Originally printed in Flying Stone #1 and also at http://pdxsurr.blogspot.com)

Feb 3, 2008


Improvisational Workshop

hosted by Andrew Wilshusen

First Monday of every month

6212 N. Commercial Ave. Portland, Oregon

8:00-10:00 p.m.

Topic on February 4th: What are common clichés and habits in improvised music?

In our pursuit of creativity, it is important to expose common musical crutches and predictable musical choices. Although they needn't be eschewed entirely (as that itself is a cliché), they should be shunned insofar as they distract from creativity and creative potential.

(Please arrive early to allow time to set up and get acquainted, as in consideration of roommates and neighbors we must limit volume levels after 9 and finish promptly at 10.)

All instruments (unfortunately none provided, but I'd love to find an upright piano..) and levels of ability are encouraged to participate. My only requirement for all participants is to take the process of musical creation seriously. As with a game, music should be fun, but it is restrictive and frustrating if everybody is not in full participation. Please, no spoilsports.

Thanks again to all who have shown interest in having me host an improvisational workshop. This will be the first such gathering of this particular workshop, but will be my third attempt at leading a workshop aimed at exploring the possibilities of purely improvised music.

My Mission:

My purpose for this workshop is to provide an opportunity for musicians to work together to improve and expand their musical creativity. By "creative," I refer to the concept of attempting to reach beyond personal experience and understanding in order to explore with open mindedness that which is unfamiliar and unknown. Interacting in an unfamiliar context with unfamiliar but like-minded musicians promotes creativity by forcing each player out of their routine.

RSVP would be appreciated, so I can get an idea of how many people to expect. For further questions, contact me at
or liberatednsf@yahoo.com.

Feb 2, 2008


Sunday, June 25, 2006

In collaboration with the London Surrealist Group who
issued the call, and with other surrealists and allies
around the world.

On the way to my first point, I met a woman with
her face painted white, who was intrigued by the idea
of the derive, and by surrealism, though she said she
knew little about them. She said she'd try her own
version of the derive once I told her the coordinates
and then left an email address during the short bus
ride. I rode to a large mall. My intention was to
wander using the second right, second left, first
right formula from the point of repulsion to the
chance locale to the points of desire, but the
desiring space sometimes intruded into, or was found
alongside, the repulsive and the chanced upon.

From the food court to the video and gaming arcade I
went, talking into a tape deck. 'War: The Final
Assault' was a game which featured an instruction
label reading 'kill boss to complete level.' 'Wing
War' was a flight and driving simulation. 'Time
Crisis' was the last game I saw as I headed for a long
hallway across the food court. I couldn't help reflect
on the tone of video 'adventures' in light of U.S.
foreign policy and the narrow outlook which saturates
this land-mass. People stared at me as I talked into
the tape deck mic.

Following my guideline directions I arrived at a
hallway leading away from the food court. Past a sign
reading 'authorized personnel only' I went through
unlocked double doors, through a short hallway, and
out onto a rooftop area, deserted but for one car. I
could only go one direction down this path which lead
to the public parking lot. Soon I descended a white
steel staircase onto a boring street and saw my
initial point of entry into the mall in the distance,
farther away than I'd imagined.

Heading east, a sudden point of desire emerged in a
parking alley behind a chinese fast-food place. This
was a deserted area without a single car or person,
quiet, and partially in the shade. A row of pine
bushes towered above me to the left from where they
lined the edge of a higher lot. A bird flew by as if
to heighten the solitary feeling of being hidden from
view for a moment, away from the prying, judging eye
of 'the public' near the rush hour. Before I left this
spot I saw one pane in a large double-paned window had
been broken. It seemed no one would notice due to
piles of boxes just inside.

The alley continued across a busy street and past a
small building labelled 'The OOOption Group.' I'd seen
this sign before and it reminded me of the Romanian
Surrealists' 'objectively offerred objects,' which
helped to auto-mythologize the 'oooption group' into a
curious secret society in my imagination. This name is
also a mix of a mistake and a pathway, as in ooops and
options. A sign read 'these premises under video
surveillance' to top it all off.

Moving through an alley behind buildings, past
several 'permanently locked' doors and security
buzzers, I found myself taking the next available turn
into a kitchen and housewares shop. The air
conditioning, shoppers, jazz on the radio, and crying
baby inside were a sudden change, and with humor I
navigated the aisles and levels of this place until I
returned to my point of entry and then set off in
another direction. I wondered when I would be asked if
I could 'be helped' but by then I'd made an exit past
the patio umbrellas onto a boring, hot and busy

A series of giant, locked doors blocked the next
intended turn, and left an uneasy impression. Past the
Epicure restaurant I found an abandoned computer by a
dumpster. A single sheet of paper lay in the
landscaping--an invoice for tropical plants, 'and a
bow' as someone had written in ink next to the print.
It was addressed to a person I haven't thought of for
years, but once was attracted to. "Could it be the
same person." She had a common last name. I moved
through an intermediate space without much to report
other than an unintelligible comment and a smile from
a woman in a passing car. Once past a house where
musician friends once lived, I realized the area was
quite a bore and decided to adopt the chance method by
getting on the next bus.

An atopos or 'useless area' became visible during
the bus ride. Located underneath a busy street's
bridge, just west of a giant bowling alley, this dirt
trail by the highway fence and bridge supports had an
allure. It could be seen only briefly from a short
stretch of road or two in the vicinity, and only
viewed completely by access from the bowling alley
parking garage. Just today as i write this I saw
people moving through and standing in the area. A
short while later I got off the bus to see graffiti,
'paulrus is dead' which appears in multiple locations.
There was a hearing aid shop in a small building near
some apartment towers. On the hearing aid shop's
outside wall were the words 'building' in black
letters. It looked like another phrase before
'building'--some official title or designation-- had
fallen off or been removed from the brick. There were
marks visible where it had once been affixed.

Across the street a bright red, ornate church door
with gold decor and round black handles stood out. A
small courtyard just to the north had been designed
with maze-like patterns of grass and concrete. It was
too tidy and controlled, but was still a somewhat
welcoming area. A nearby dumpster had been decorated
with an ambiguous drawing and the words 'defend the
earth.' I recorded fingertip drumming on a large
aluminum soap container sitting there. To cool off I
headed for a usually interesting or charming thrift
store nearby. In the thrift store I conducted the
derive past clothes and various objects, and found a
unique candle of the cat-goddess Bast or Bastet, some
recording adapters, and a book about a town I grew up
near in a different part of the country. Inside this
book was an aerial picture of a mall (another mall!) I
used to visit as a child, but the photo was taken
before I was born. In addition to this, the
architect's name was the same common name of the woman
in the tropical plant invoice.

I'd intended to explore semi-deserted industrial
spots by the Willamette river, or a series of
overgrown alleyways in the northeast residential
areas, but I was tired and hot and decided to visit
them another time, perhaps with a camera. On my way
back to the busline which would return me to my bike I
saw a pine tree with a curiously bent limb much like a
single arm waiting to be sat on. If someone were to
sit there, it would appear that the tree was telling
stories while holding them up.

I enjoyed the feeling of my motions charting a kind
of geometry on parts of the city, though I was often
tempted to resist the basic instructions. It was a
humorous discipline to maintain the 'flight path.'
Making a sustained pattern across the social
landscape, across the habitual city space, for several
hours, left me with a mild urge to continue for the
rest of the night. The residue of derive lingered upon
me, creating new perception of the commonplace

M.K. Shibek

Feb 1, 2008


This morning I read Mattias Forshage's brief essay "Worthless Places (Atoposes*)", and decided that it would be worthwhile to do a derive in search of such places in Portland, Oregon. I knew it would be a challenge, because Portland is culturally a very bourgeois city… But this would force me to keep my eyes open.

Shortly into the walk, I came upon a vacant lot that I hoped would qualify. In the past it had been beautifully overgrown weeds and piles of trash. That was all still there, but it had been fenced in with a "No Trespassing" sign, and a truck advertising "Toppy's Furniture". So apparently someone had given the space "worth" by capitalist standards – but the cats still wandered about the place like hobo kings.

I was walking parallel to an interstate expressway, a couple of blocks to the east. I noticed that there was a wall blocking the sight and some of the sound of the expressway from the residential neighborhood I was walking through. The narrow area next to the wall looked as if it might be a "worthless" place, overgrown as it was with weeds, vines and so on. So I approached this area. Upon close examination, I discovered that there had been some attempt to cultivate this space – rocks were laid to mark off little circles and ovals in which domesticated flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees were planted. But it had all pretty clearly been left untended for quite some time, and so everything had a wild, unkempt look – the morning glories as much as the chicory, the evergreen trees as much as the Queen Anne's lace and dandelions, the roses as much as the clover and thistle. Here the drift into "worthlessness" was beautifully evident.

Portland is also full of back alleys. Since these do provide passageway for pedestrians and vehicles of all sorts, they don't automatically qualify as "worthless". But in my wandering I came upon one that was overgrown with blackberries from the side and with several varieties of plants growing out of and widening cracks in the pavement. It was obvious that this alley was hardly ever used, and was drifting toward a glorious "worthlessness". I am certain that similar alleys could be found in other parts of Portland.

But as I expected, on this too brief derive I did not discover a lot of "worthless" space. Portland is a bit too neat and refined. Still, I am certain with further exploration I could find more, and it is something I will continue to explore.

Apio Ludicrous

*This piece originally appears in the CD-ROM album of the 2007 London International Festival of Surrealism hosted by SLAG.

P.S.G. on C.E.I.

The Portland Surrealist Group in Response to the Cultural Economy Initiative

The Cultural Economy Initiative was developed by Portland Mayor Vera Katz to give assistance to local artists in hopes of luring to Portland what economist Richard Florida has termed the “Creative Class,” a trendy branch of the middle class who will allegedly bring with them economic growth. The following letter to The Organ Review of Arts is our response to that initiative. A somewhat altered version of this letter was published in their September/October issue (#7).

To the Editor:

The recent discussion in the May/June issue of The Organ (#5) addressing Mayor Vera Katz’s new Cultural Economy Initiative and Portland’s creative potential presented a disappointingly limited understanding of creativity. With its overall importance as an instinctual force, creativity exists beyond the notion of talent and those specialists who claim to possess that talent. Creativity is the external manifestation of the unfettered imagination that we all retain.

Essentially, Katz’s new economic scheme is just another assault on the imagination, and an attempt to exploit it for lucrative gains. Financial rather than cultural, Katz’s sole focus is to attract privileged white hipsters and well-groomed bohemians, today’s most enduring consumers, and to transform whatever artistic and revolutionary potential this city has into a fruitless commercial domain.

Rather than focusing on establishing and sustaining an environment in which these lifestyle leeches would want to live, it would make more sense, culturally, to focus on letting the people who are already here create an environment in which they would want to live. If we really want to talk about developing culture we must first talk about destroying restraints. In response to Katz’s plan we propose the following Cultural Recovery Initiative:

1. The abolition of repressive compulsory schooling, which would be replaced by the development of a community emphasis on supporting individuality and creative expression among youth.

2. The abolition of codes that restrict creative expression, such as the ban on murals and graffiti, or the more imposing building codes that render it impossible for people to craft a home or living environment outside of the city’s lifeless standards.

3. The abolition of all codes aimed against the homeless, which would be replaced by the spread of truly inventive groups such as Dignity Village and the various squatter communities.

4. The immediate cancellation of all gentrification plans, especially those directed at the Old Town district.

5. The reclaiming of little used roads and commons throughout the city to be reused as creative, agricultural, recreational, or natural spaces, thus eliminating the supremacy of cars and generating more intimate neighborhoods.

6. The complete socialization of the city’s wealth as a prelude to the negation of work and money, being that the human imagination, bound by capitalism, will never be able to burst into full flower until capitalism and the state lie in smoldering ruins.

The Portland Surrealist Group August 2003


This is an online resource for documenting things of interest to me happening in or related to Portland, Oregon, and surrounding regions. It will contain creative material, social commentary, and informative features, as inspired by urban anthropology and surrealism. If you have suggestions for topics or an article to share, get in touch.