Friday, July 21, 2006

Burnside, "THE SKID-ROAD."

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Portland waterfront near the Burnside Bridge, c.1925

From a WPA "Guide to Portland," of all things.

The wide thoroughfare North of Ankeny Street is "THE SKID-ROAD," known as a meeting place for itinerant workers from all over the country. In former days Burnside Street separated the rough North End "bowery" district from the more genteel parts of town, but now it is the southern boundary of a cheap mercantile district of lounging rooms for itinerants and numerous cheap hotels and flop houses. These are gradually being pinched out to make room for factories and wholesale warehouses. In 1905 Mayor Harry Lane, later United States Senator, clamped down on the women denizens, and scattered them to all parts of the city. Since then the city has had no restricted red light district.
Portland had a "restricted red light district?" No surprised, really. After all, what western U.S. town was not without its, uh, adult entertainments?

Portland, you dirty girl, you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

d.d. tinzeroes vs. the Transformers

I spill a lot of ink discussing 1986's Transformers: The Movie, in my first piece over at Reviewiera.

I always found the above image inexplicably disturbing. Actaully, "disturbing" is too strong a feeling. Just a sorta weird, "soemthing's off here," "whut da?" feeling.

Like, here's this gigantic, multiple-ton alien artificial life creation from an artificial metal planet1, dangling a Terran biological life form (a salmon? a trout? it’s a sizable fish by human standards, I think, if scale is ever consistent in Transformers) like a fly on a string. What's a human in his eyes? An intelligent guinea pig? Even giving the Autobots the benefit of being, at least, are benevolent, this still has a strange, sinister, overlordy tinge to it.


1 Cybertron: Presumably a "real" planet once, transformed by the Quintessons into a factory planet millions of years ago. They built a race called "Trans-organics", part-animal, part-machine, to serve them. Eventually the Trans-organics came to be beyond Quintesson control, and were placed in suspended animation in Cybertron's core (ladies and gentlemen, welcome to: "things I learned from the third season of Transformers!). The creation of the first versions of the Transformers soon followed, although they could not transform yet. Soon they were programmed to have intelligence, and perhaps unintentionally, feelings. Autobots and Decepticons are descended from the two basic classes of robot the Quintessons' built: industrial/commercial (Autobot) and military (Decepticon). Guardian robots, a third class, were produced to protect the Quintessons from their other creations. Eventually, a proto-Autobot known as A-3 built a device (the Matrix?), hidden inside his slave brand (the proto-Autobot insignia), that disabled the Guardians, and at last the Transformers (Autobot & Decepticon) rose up. The Quintessons fled into space to construct a new home world, Quintessa, and another slave-race of transforming robots, the Sharkticons, to serve them. They would remain uninvolved in Cybertronian affairs until Hot Rod & co. crash landed on Quintessa at the time of Transformers: The Movie.