Saturday, December 27, 2008

Snow Fatigue

The snowstorm that began a week ago is finally starting to melt. The temps rose to a balmy 45 degrees today and I removed the chains from my tires. Besides the slushy streets, we are left with the rain that is our norm. Both snow and rain will temporarily hamper my efforts to get out and capture the sights of Portland at night. In the meantime, I thank you for your patience. Have a Happy New Year.
portland at night

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Solstice

portland at night
Portland at night
Originally uploaded by alicethelma
The reports on the news are saying this is the severest storm the area has seen in 50 years. The most snow. The lowest temps. It’s shattering all records. Crazy in light of the fact that winter officially began today. At first I cursed this storm. Such a struggle trying to stay warm. Max stuck in Minneapolis overnight trying to fly home. The constant anxiety of dollars going out without the comfort of dollars coming in. The economy is in the toilet and just getting worse. It looks bleak. Honestly, a storm like this a nuisance to say the least.

And yet…how does the saying go? It’s always darkest just before dawn?
portland at night

So today I’m quietly celebrating the darkest day of the year. Starting tomorrow the light will increase ever so slightly; imperceptibly until June when I’ll celebrate another solstice. Rejoice I say. Things can only get better.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

baby, it's cold outside

portland oregon at night
Portland at night
Originally uploaded by alicethelma
It’s been frightfully cold around these parts. Ice, snow, bitter wind. You name it and we've had it these past few days. It's been too cold to venture out at night. But I did anyway. Last night. And almost froze my fingers off. Seriously. I got an inkling of what it must be like to suffer frostbite. I thought my newly knit fingerless mitts would be sufficient but my fingers were close to numb in a matter of minutes.

Adding to my little adventure I was actually stalked for the first time. I was by myself, P. having been hurt in a fall and unable to accompany me. A car drove slowly by, stopped, drove in reverse and then thick head, with the car window down, stared at me. Frozen. We both froze.
portland oregon at night

I thought to myself should I ask “Can I help you?” No. That’s a stupid question to ask my would-be rapist. Finally I asked, “What do you want?”

“Is my truck” he said in a thick accent.

I collapsed the tripod and moved on. My fingers were frozen solid at that point anyway.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

while you were sleeping

portland at night
Portland at night
Originally uploaded by alicethelma
I scored free tickets to a press screening of the movie Valkyrie coming out on Christmas Day. Seriously, the Oregonian’s own Shawn Levy was sitting right behind me. Tom Cruise plays *gasp* a Nazi – albeit a good Nazi who tries to save the day but we all know how that story ends. Tom didn’t even pretend to put on a German accent. Just Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise. And the rest of the Nazi officers had lovely English accents because they were all English actors. I say, wait for the dvd. It’s certainly not the feel good movie of the year if you know what I mean.

Walking back to my car I noticed an exceptionally well-lit scene up ahead along with the fragrance of raw sewage. Although it looked like it could be a movie night shoot it was in reality a couple of good natured guys working on the pipes of Portland. Pipes of Portland…hmmm…another blog perhaps? I think not. But it got me thinking about the people who toil away while we sleep, safe and sound in our warm beds.

portland at night

Do think about the people who work at night?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Portland at Night: Marquam Bridge

Last month I wrote a post about the Steel Bridge and I have decided to feature one Portland bridge per month (and quite possibly other bridges around the world). This month I present to you the Marquam Bridge, the busiest bridge in Oregon carrying I5 and over 135,000 vehicles per day. I never really appreciated the Marquam Bridge until I stood directly underneath it at OMSI. What a behemoth – a real workhorse of a bridge.

I love this quote by former mayor Vera Katz in her state of the city address in 2001: “It’s like having the Berlin Wall dividing east and west, with all the subtle charm of the Daytona 500 smack dab in the middle of our city.”
portland at night marquam bridge

The Marquam Bridge offers by far the best view of the city but it can be quite distracting if you’re the driver. However if are lucky enough to be driven across it, from west to east, you’ll be treated to a stunning panorama (the upper deck carries northbound traffic and the lower deck, southbound). Unlike the Fremont Bridge which is closed to traffic during the annual Bridge Pedal, the Marquam is never closed to traffic. At least not to my knowledge. You might know something that I don’t.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I love trees

Fall is obviously a great time for trees especially here in Portland, but I am drawn to trees the year round and the word wide. Not that I actually travel much these days. I’m sticking pretty close to the West Coast. Akthough I always take notice of the spectacular foliage during the fall season, this year the trees have taken on an almost supernatural glow at night. Perhaps it’s the translucent quality of the leaves that makes them radiate eerily. I’m not exactly sure but they are profoundly beautiful to me.

This tree looked so majestic and intricate to me, so solid and wise that I just had to capture its nighttime glory as we were wandering along Waterfront Park.
portland at night
Which reminds me: I need to get down to the Reed campus post haste. Spectacular trees to be found there.

Do you have a favorite tree? Favorite tree time of year? Do tell.

Monday, December 1, 2008

come to the cabaret

I think I mentioned last month (is it December already!?!?) that I had attended a sing along Moulin Rouge at the Bagdad Theater with my friend Evelyn aka evymetal. It was a blast and now Evelyn's daughter Nico is producing a similar production with the film Cabaret on Saturday, December 6 at 10pm. I'm going to be really dating myself here when I say that I actually remember when Cabaret first came out and Liza Minnelli was still a cute young thing.

But I digress. Here's a quote from E. regarding the event: "Attached is a flyer for my daughter Nico's next event. This is a sing-along, burleque, circus, dance in the aisles screening of Cabaret!! It promises to be a fabulous time! ONLY $5!!!" 
bagdad theater portland oregon
Hope to see you all there!

Friday, November 28, 2008


golden gate bridge in black and white at night
golden gate bridge
Originally uploaded by alicethelma
Probably the most photogenic bridge in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge was on my to do list while visiting here in the Bay Area. Having grown up in the East Bay and having taken this landmark for granted, I marveled at the fact that I had never visited the bridge at night. As busy as this tourist spot can be, A., M. and I had little trouble navigating the various vista points and parking. I wanted to capture the bridge from various vantage points including Fort Point, the spot where Kim Novak famously jumped in the water in the film Vertigo.

Heading north over the bridge into the Marin Headlands is where we found the true magic. The trail was extremely dark without benefit of moonlight and both A. and I felt a bit sketched out hiking so high above highway 101 in almost pitch black. But seeing the bridge from this viewpoint was stunning. It is an awesome sight and one of the true wonders of the world.
golden gate bridge in black and white at night
I’m not taking the GGB for granted anymore.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

road trip

oakland california
Originally uploaded by alicethelma
I guess I forgot to tell my loyal audience that I was going on the road for a week. Yes, I'm in California to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. I've got lots of family here. They're all over the SF Bay Area. I also see this as a great opportunity to capture some Bay Area landmarks at night but have so far been thwarted by the weather - it threatened to rain, but didn't - and other factors. This evening I drove all the way into Oakland to shoot the Fox Theater but because it's in the middle of rennovations it wasn't lit up and the street was so severely torn up, there was nowhere to park.

As I was driving down one of the many detours, I spied the Greyhound Bus Station. Perfect! I suppose the moral of the story is to remain open. Things don't always work out the way we want them to, despite our best efforts, but often better (or at least different) than we expect.

As the Rolling Stones say, "You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

random order

portland at night
Portland at Night
Originally uploaded by alicethelma
My favorite coffeehouse in town is random order. I don't know what they do to the coffee but it's simply the best in town and I've tasted the coffee all over Portland. Like a lot of folks in the PNW, I am addicted to coffee. Some here call it "liquid sunshine". I think that all (or most of) the independent coffeehouses in town are using stumptown roasters and so does the random order but there is just something different, and something special about the way it tastes. Maybe it's the love they pour into every cup. Ok now I'm getting a little carried away with myself. Spreading it on a little thick like strawberry jam as my friend Roy would say.

They're not just a coffeehouse either. RO is also a bakery creating outstanding pies and I LOVE pie. They carry both sweet and savory varieties but my favorite is the flirty berry. This pie has a bite to it. There's nothing I enjoy more than sitting down with my americano and a thick slab of berry pie. Pure bliss.

portland at night

The random order is located at 1800 NE Alberta Street at 18th and Alberta and they're open until 11pm so you can even take a date there. Great caffienated fun.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

i've been tagged

A couple of days ago, my lively plurk buddy, AsKatKnits, tagged me - quite unexpectedly I must say. So please bear with me because I am not as web saavy as I may look (or act).

If I understand the game correctly I first give AKK a shout out. She’s a lovely and interesting lady and her blog is well worth reading. You're gonna love it and it's updated frequently. Always current.

OK that was Step #1.

Step #2. = Now I write 5 interesting factoids about myself:

1. I worked as a chambermaid in Germany at Hotel Bad Schachen (in Lindau) the summer that Princess Di wed Charles.

2. The next year I worked on a kibbutz in Israel doing various odd jobs such as driving a tractor and working in the childcare center.

3. I have met Richard Avedon, Ansel Adams and saw Annie Liebovitz lecture in SF.

4. I have 5 brothers so don’t mess with me (oh and two sisters too).

5. I have arthritis in my big toe, the right one (sorry-couldn’t think of anything else!)

Step #3 is where I get to tag 6 other unsuspecting bloggers around the globe. Here goes:

1. Always compelling and well written: Quotidian Musings

2. Read the crazy Swiss-Cheese Land Adventures of my niece, Charlotte, who is a fresham at Franklin College in Logano, Switzerland

3. My longest friend, who I have known since the second grade is Kathryn K.

4. Rantz is my favorite Aussie and yes, he does.

5. I have a lot in common with Chris, and it's not just the name.

6. And last, but certainly not least, don't forget to visit alice thelma.

Hope you enjoy these blogs, handpicked by yours truly.

Friday, November 14, 2008

the streets of portland

portland at night
portland oregon
Originally uploaded by alicethelma
Two days ago it was stormy here. Windy and rainy. Blew all the leaves off the trees, most of them anyway. The deciduous ones not the evergreen variety.

But yesterday, last night and this evening in particular, it's been peaceful, warm and dry. Fifty degrees feels like summer to me now. I've become acclimated to the weather of the PNW and now I love it (ask me again in 6 months, however,  and I might have a different answer).

We talk about the weather a lot here. A favorite saying goes something like this: If you don't like the weather, wait a minute.
The weather here is ever-changing, volatile, temperate, rainy, wet, get the idea. That's why it's important to enjoy evenings like this. And I did.

Monday, November 10, 2008

everything you wanted to know about the Bagdad (*but were afraid to ask)

Did you know that the Bagdad Theater opened in 1927 and was the site of the world premiers of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975 and My Own Private Idaho in 1991? All true. Our beloved Bagdad Theater located deep in the Hawthorne District is a treasure indeed.

More recently, Alice and I saw Art Spiegelman lecture about comix and graphic novels and I accompanied Evelyn to sing-a-long Moulin Rouge complete with a can-can dancing competition. Yes, it's a movie theater but so much more. Check out the current schedule here.
bagdad theater portland oregon
That's not exactly *everything* you wanted to know but that's a few things anyway.

PS: I still haven't seen the Dark Knight. Sorry Max!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


What struck me about Portland when I first moved here in 1991, were the bridges. I couldn’t believe the many short bridges criss-crossing the Willamette River. Over the years I have fallen in love with these bridges, each one unique and interesting in its own right.

One of my goals with my night photography is to capture all of p-town’s bridges at night. Once in black and white, they are even more luscious and tactile than in person. There’s a heightened quality that transcends the present moment and transports me to an earlier era. You could almost pretend you were in a Bette Davis movie from the 1930s. Try it.

But before I get too woo-woo on you, I also want to present the hard, cold facts about each of these bridges. Today I introduce to you my favorite Portland Bridge, the Steel Bridge.
steel bridge portland oregon

I love this bridge because it’s so practical besides being architecturally the most interesting for me. Built in 1912, replacing the original 1888 structure, the Steel Bridge …is the only double-decked telescoping vertical lift bridge in the world. Imagine that.

Here is more info from Wikipedia: "The Steel Bridge is a through truss, double lift bridge across the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, United States. It carries railroad and bicycle/pedestrian traffic on the lower deck, and the Pacific Highway West No. 1W (former Oregon Route 99W), MAX Light Rail and a vintage streetcar on the upper deck, making it one of the most multimodal in the world".

So you can drive your car onto this bridge, take the MAX train, walk, run, ride your bike across or even ride on the Southern Pacific. Recently, P. and I watched all these forms of transportation take place simultaneously, at night, and it was truly a sight to behold.

Speaking of movies, the Steel Bridge was also recently featured in the film Paranoid Park by local filmmaker Gus van Sant.

Be sure and check back as I review other bridges in town as well as other events and happenings around town, as always, at night.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

inaugurating a new blog

portland outdoor store
Originally uploaded by alicethelma
Howdy and welcome to my new blog. With me as your guide, we will venture into the Portland night, exploring the bridges, the shops, the rivers and the empty streets. Oh yes and the night life too. Clubs, music and parties.

Feel free to leave comments, tell me what's on your mind and/or let me know what's going on around town. You can click on the photography to explore more night shots via flickr. And if you see me and my tripod around town be sure and say hello. I'd love to meet you.

Stay tuned; this should be a nice adventure...for all of us.