This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 12, 2007 2:26 AM. The previous post in this blog was Where's Fireman Randy?. The next post in this blog is Open source this isn't. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Two thumbs down for the Cleaning Crew

A couple of bloggers have sounded off, and not in a positive way, about the folks who ripped up other people's duct tape from the parade route Friday night. One actually went down there to join in the ripping, but changed her mind when she saw the happy scene. Another thinks the duct-tapers should be left alone, not only by the self-proclaimed keepers of the public way, but also by the city.

Me, I don't much care how the city comes out on this, so long as they make the rules crystal clear so that everyone knows what to expect. I thought that was what they were doing with their official guidelines on reserving spaces, but I guess I was mistaken. And if they decide to stop all the moms and pops from taping, they darn well better do the same to Nordstrom, the Hilton, and all the other corporate big shots who call dibs on their sidewalks every year.

Meanwhile, I'm not done with the newsracks. There are a few in my neck of the woods that are clearly illegal, and as to them, stay tuned as we see how free and open our city's sidewalks really are.

Comments (40)

Jack, while I like your blog and you personally I do wonder about your sense of proportion...Meaning what's really important and what isn't.
We have a power company here in The Dalles - Wasco Electric Co-op who takes private property for their power lines via the legal system - at considerable expense to both the ratepayers and victimized property owners not to mention the constitutional problems their actions bring up and you're hot and bothered about illegal newsracks?

People "reserving" Rose Festival Parade spots is a tradition that's been going on in this town for decades. It's interesting that all the folks with the "Keep Portland Weird" bumperstickers are the ones trying to stop this quirky, "only-in-Portland" tradition. We ought to go back a ways and pick up another tradition - Randy Leonard ought to be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail.

"Randy Leonard ought to be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail."

Nice. How about capital punishment for those who advocate violence against elected public officials?

I join the anti-newsracks consciousness raising efforts. The hubristic self-annointed so-called 'free Press' gots lots of 'splainin to do.

Yeah, the parade taping topic is tempest in a teapot. Tradition carries on people's behavior farther than fickle fiat du jour.

Ahhh yes, a claim that taping Rose Festival Parade spots is a "tradition that has been going on for decades." The second I read comments like that I immediately know that that individual is NOT from Portland and most likely is not even an Oregonian. Having grown up here, I know what tradition is. TRADITION is waking up at 4AM and driving downtown with grandpa and grandma with a thermos of coffee and a couple dozen donuts and playing in the streets downtown with other kids as the sun comes up. I'll grant that there has always been some element of taping, but not even remotely close as to what has been happening over the past decade.

This so-called "tradition" is a recent phenomenon perpetuated by lazy individuals who think that they are somehow entitled to lay claim to a public space. Acts like these not only perpetuate a selfish sense of narcissism, but quite frankly is un-American.

You want a Rose Parade tradition? Go to the parade like Portlander's used to. THAT was the real tradition, not this fake "tradition" that the news created on a Thursday night to increase weekend ratings.

I respect your opinion on the whole taping thing, but I find it interesting that you cited and linked to the one Metblogger who changed her mind to oppose the tape removing, not the numerous other posts on that cite talking about what a great time they had and what a positive experience they thought it was.

"Nice. How about capital punishment for those who advocate violence against elected public officials?"

Allan L = hypocrite. Do I have to go back and find the post where you advocated death to global warming non-believers?

I think the entire taping off nonsense has to go. When I first started my business nearly 19 years ago; we had our offices in a nice building at 11th & Salmon Streets - just one block from the parade route. I do no recall ever seeing parts of the sidewalk taped off during those years in the late 1980s or early 1990s. People simply got up at an early hour, staked out a spot to sit, and stayed there until the 10:00 A.M. start of the parade.
Also, as a former TV cameraman at KTVU-TV in Oakland, CA I find it pretty strange that people even bother to have chairs at parades in Portland. In larger cities, such as San Francisco, Chicago and New York the police simply set up baracades before a parade and everyone stands for the duration of the parade. There is no such nonsense as chaining lawn chairs to light posts or sitting unless it's on the sidewalk of curb.

Does irony as a form of argument always confuse you? Do you really think my suggestion is to be taken literally? My condolences.

"People "reserving" Rose Festival Parade spots is a tradition that's been going on in this town for decades."

My understanding is this "tradition," as it is happening now, has only been going on for the past 5 to 10 years.

I know people have taped for much longer then that but there was a better reason then "I just don't want to camp out!" For example, there is a home for mentally disabled up the street from my mother's house would go downtown every Friday before the parade, and mark off a spot based on the location of the nearest bathroom & pay-phone. They also wanted to ensure that each resident had an equal view of the street [and they never taped off the front row].

Other then that, everyone I knew while growing up went to camp out for the good spot.

Of course many people camping saw that certain groups would come reserve a space and leave, and and jealousy set in. "Why can't I do that?" The result is what we have now, and I am willing to bet that it will only get worse. Whats next? Taping a space in line to get the new Playstation 4? Taping off seats at the movie theater?

I am all for banning the tape; with exceptions made to groups that might need to.

Allan, do you think John's suggestion should be taken literally?

Look in the mirror, Bud -- if you can stand it.

Sit/lie law, Jack. Sit/lie law. I'm still waiting to hear what you think.

One way does not tradition make, but ... many years, first from Beaverton and then from Canby, our family four (even with stroller) did not leave for downtown until, like, 11:am, while the parade was already underway on the Eastside; got to city center, parked, hiked, and in sidewalk place before the first motorcycles and majorette made way.

The worst-place view is barely different from the front-row seats. And it ain't the view, anyway, it's the sounds and smells and neighbors, and the sounds of the neighbors' smells.

Let 'er buck.

Let 'em tape, let 'em camp out, don't let 'em nothin' -- it's all good. Sheesh, people, this is of a league with Mardi Gras. Civil carnivaling is tradition. No rules, rules!

(And massmind media can shove their cyclopic microphone where the sun don't shine. They made this piece o' snit and now they can sleep in it. Let 'em go guess the weather some more, or -- concept! -- report the tsunami-surf popular revolt rising anti-establishment, bankrupting and dismantling corporatism (including those media), and impeaching the Bush fascists into prison.)

Randy Leonard ought to be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail.

Light rail, of course.

Sit/lie law, Jack. Sit/lie law. I'm still waiting to hear what you think.

The deal cut with the ACLU was smart, but then of course, it wasn't honored.

what a great time they had and what a positive experience they thought it was.

My heroes.

I wish the first blogger Jack linked to had joined the group. She says, "because looking down MLK all I could see were tents, campers, barbeques and lots of people getting together and having fun," and, "I had anticipated seeing a ghostland of tape-ridden streets."

Well first, I'd suggest the families weren't that bothered by the "mob" if they were still having fun after we passed through. That's because the Merc was very adamant that members of the detaping crew not mess with camping families. Second, the reason she didn't see a ghostland of tape-ridden streets might be that the tape was all cleaned up. Like Dave A., I work on a street that was covered with tape a week before the parade. When our "mob" came through, none of those spots on that block(or spots across the street) had families hanging out. Those who say we're insensitive to these families are wrong. Saturday morning, plenty of families showed up and got great seats for being early, not for taping the sidewalk a week in advance.

And you got to pick which families benefited. Who died and left you boss of Portland?

Tom Potter?

We'll we're all boss of Portland, that's kind of the point. Anyone can put tape on the sidewalk, and anyone else can decide it's trash and clean it up. We didn't mess with the families who were hanging out cause they have the right to sit on the sidewalk just as I do. It's not really that big of a power grab on our part. Even people who put tape down got to see the parade, so we really didn't pick which families benefited, we just re-established the criteria for getting a good seat: early arrival. I don't see how that's any worse than tapers deciding to establish that tape is the criteria for getting a good seat at the expense of non-tapers.

I don't see how that's any worse than tapers deciding to establish that tape is the criteria for getting a good seat at the expense of non-tapers.

What's different is that these people were coming out to see something that they love, rather than just behaving like jerks to work off their Pabst buzz and show how cool they were.

I should also note that the comment about "populists" beating up on mom & pops is not fair. The clean up crew (but not me) took up tape in front of the hotels and some even folded and stacked the chairs in front of Nordstrom's. I don't know what became of those areas except that I'm guessing the hotels were able to reclaim the areas with overnight staff in place effectively "camping out." It's certainly not accurate to suggest that we have any preference toward the big companies than families or smaller business. The problem with Pablo's suggestion is that no business/private interest, small or large should be able to say who sits on the sidewalk in front of their business and exclude others, parade or otherwise.

Take a look at the photos. It's really not a gang of drunken hipsters. There were children, parents, young people, old people, and yes, cool Pabst drinkers.


no business/private interest, small or large should be able to say who sits on the sidewalk in front of their business and exclude others, parade or otherwise.

I have no problem whatsoever with that proposition. But that's not what the city itself, and years of regular custom, led everyone to believe as regards the parade.

People had legitimate expectations, which you took it upon yourselves to trample. Bad on you.

Ok, bad on us, we [legally] trampled on their expectations. Next year they won't have any. Problem solved.



The implication of your message is that each of us can make the rules as to what constitutes appropriate use of "our" streets.

It is not true that we are "all" boss of Portland. We "all" can't carry guns and arrest people. We "all" can't collect property taxes. We empower government as our agent to impose agreed upon social values on individuals.

The fundamental error that you keep making--and that the Merc encouraged--is for some minority of individuals to determine that their interpretation of the law and social norms take precedence over all other interpretations.

The tapers, love them or hate them, were following the norm that has been in place for at least a decade (many may disagree on how old a 'tradition' this is, but no one denies it's been around at least 10 years).

Whether taping is "illegal" or not is not for you to judge--it is for our elected officials to judge. For you to claim that you are somehow simply establishing a new norm is just incorrect.

And I ask when I asked on other blogs--how many of the hipsters actually attended the parade? Isn't this critical--you want to establish norms about an event that many of you don't even attend. All you care about is that your values take precedence over all others.

This is why this behavior strikes many of us as self-absorbed and juvenile.

And no, I am not going to rely on a self-selected set of pictures to determine what the "cleanup brigade" looked like.

"...and yes, cool Pabst drinkers."

Huh? Are you from around here?

I remember when I was a cool young hipsters, way back. I had a free weekend on the East Coast, so I caught a flight from Newark to London on Peoples Express (think Virgin just after Carter lost), and in the tube was an advert of all the world's best brews, by country. England had a picture of Guinness, Holland had a pic of Heinnekin, Germany had Becks, Czechoslovakia had Plzen. And America?

Well, let's just say that it was NOT Pabst. People from around here know what kinda beer represented America to the Brits back then, and it wasn't Blitz either, but almost!


fyi, according to folks in the know (who have to clean it up), most "taping", etc. occurs on the streets, not the sidewalks.

I don't see why one has to be a frequent parade-attender to have a say or part in this -- part of the issue is the way this detritus makes our city look ugly, especially when it is thoughtlessly left behind for weeks and months afterwards, which it often is. I used to walk across the Burnside bridge daily, and it looked like crap after every Rose Parade. Do I have to go to the parade to complain about that?

And saying that we should leave this to the government reflects an attitude I really deplore these days. Just because we have laws doesn't mean average citizens can't do anything. If your neighbor is too loud, don't just call the cops the first thing -- go talk to him! And if someone leaves ugly litter on your street, don't just call the city to come clean it up, talk to the litterer and clean it up yourself! When we depend on the government to solve our problems, as has been well documented on this blog, we don't make things better.

Obviously, while I may not agree with everything about the tape-puller's words and actions, I ultimately see them in light of people taking action to make their city better.

Would there be this much scorn if people organized to clean up cigarette butts?

I ultimately see them in light of people taking action to make their city better.

Maybe their message would have gained more sympathy if they had pulled the tape up after the parade.

If we're trying to take back out public sidewalks, include the violations of restaurant/bars taking over the sidewalks, way beyond what city ordiances allow. Take for example SW 2nd, 3rd, several Pearl streets, NW 23rd and 21st, SE Hawthorne, SE 17th, RiverPlace, Mississippi, NE Alberta, SE Belmont, etc. Many times the 6 foot clearance rule is not met, nor in some of the wider sidewalks the city approved seating margins are not met-like along the esplanade in RiverPlace. Yes, it is nice to have street life but we need passable sidewalks. The city doesn't enforce the regs we have.

Lc Scott, "sympathy" from whom?

I agree that there would have been fewer hurt feelings had the tape been cleaned up after the parade, but then that fails to resolve the issue of preventing trash build-up next year.

Would you similarly counsel a group out to decrease the number of discarded cigarette butts to never talk to smokers, but rather to only pick up a butt once the smoker has tossed it to the curb and gone back inside? What does the smoker learn from this? Will he stop tossing his waste in the street?

Fundamentally, there is a conflict here: one group (The Mercury, et al.) wants the other group (tapers) to at least think about what they're doing, and at most to stop it. Correcting the problem afterwards is nice, but preventing it through education is better for all.

That the Mercury and friends could have gone about it more nicely is probable. That they went about it like vigilante ogres (as some here would have it) is pretty specious.

to never talk to smokers

This was not talking to anyone. This was the equivalent of grabbing the cigarette out of the person's mouth and crushing it out.

You can look up what "vigilante" means. This was it.

Jack, for your comparison to be accurate, the Mercury crew would have had to rip up the tape of people who were already there in a taped-up spot. As I understand it, they didn't -- there wasn't much confrontation at all, unless you count the comments on BlogTown.

And I'm still not sure this is vigilanteism, even after my trip to the dictionary to double-check. On the one hand, it's not clear that the Mercury crew took the law into their own hands, because, while there is an anti-littering law, the city was rather open about ignoring it around Rose Parade time, meaning that, de facto, there was no law for them to take into their own hands.

On the other hand, the term "vigilante" implies taking into my own hands that which is explicitly given only to authorized agents of the law. That's why it's illegal for me to avenge a death by murdering, but legal for the state to do pretty much the same thing. But there is no law prohibiting people from picking up trash (in fact, there are several government initiatives urging them to do just that), even if there is a law against littering.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, so what do I know?

picking up trash

It wasn't "trash." The city actually had guidelines out by which the taping was to be done. The people who left the tape retained their property interest in the tape. They did not abandon it. Taping was much more like parking your car than it was throwing litter on the ground.

But now this thread is getting just a little too cute. You go work it out in your own creative mind. I'm not taking this argument to whatever the next level of absurdity might be.

"huh? are you from around here?"

Harry, I am from around here, and I attended with four other people born and raised here. It's totally beside the point.

As for vigilanteism, sympathies, and pulling tape after the parade, you're all taking our "movement" and our message too seriously. tODD is right in so far as our goal was to eliminate the advantage people hoped to acquire by reserving places with tape, street or sidewalk, with the hope that the practice (I refuse to call a ten year event a tradition) will cease. All the talk about newspaper boxes and restaurants with tables on the sidewalk misses the point. My aim (can't speak for others) was specifically about the parade event in which people compete for use of the sidewalk. Those cases of newspaper boxes and tables and sandwich boards aren't worth protesting because they don't result in a very meaningful exclusion of someone else who'd like to use the space.

But DE, you haven't answered a few questions.

1) Do you actually attend the parade?

2) Is there evidence that the taping is exclusionary--that people who would have wanted to watch the parade were unable to as a result of taping?

tODD I say it makes a difference if you attend or not for this reason: if the problem is the CLEANUP then fine, make people clean up. We have taped and we *always* clean up. Maybe taping can't continue because people are lazy. Ok. There is a good reason.

But to say taping has to stop because you have some principled objection to the norm surrounding an event that you don't even attend--that I object to.

As to "leaving this to the government" I meant in a very specific way: deciding that "we" all own the sidewalks and "we" can decide when they should be clear.

Of course, we can pick up litter if we find it. But do you similarly think that you can physically eject a homeless person from the sidewalk even if they are violating an ordinance?

Obviously, there are differences, right? It stretches credulity to suddenly decide, after a decade or more of the activity, that the tape is suddenly "trash" and then organize a group to uphold the "law."

It's not about the "law," paul. I don't think you'll find my comments or those of the Merc referring to the illegality of taping. As Jack said, the city even provides guidelines for doing it.

The homeless person scenario is a straw man. You can't kick the homeless person off the sidewalk, or arrest a red-light-runner, the list goes on. Most of us who pulled tape would probably object to a law that bans someone from sitting on the sidewalk anyway.

On the cleanup issue, it's a pain, and it's obnoxious, and yes, it fueled my passion for the action. BUT, the main issue for me, and I think for many of the tape-pullers was the principled objection to people "reserving" public sidewalks like a table at the Heathman. Sorry you object to that.

Finally, my attendance would only matter if I was concerned solely for my own ability to secure a spot, in which case I would have only torn up enough tape for myself and friends to sit (much less time & effort, believe me). But again, it's not about me and my whiny right to a seat for myself, it's about everyone who shows up early being able to get a spot in accordance to the order in which they arrived.


I apologize if the appeal to the illegality of taping was not your position--it has been stated in many other posts on this topic. Perhaps I assumed when you posted above that "we're all the boss of Portland."

But your final post makes the arrogance of your position quite clear. You don't attend the parade. Most of the tape pullers don't attend the parade.

Instead, you decided that your principles--that reserving a space is unfair--trumps the principle held by many others than such taping is fair.

On the side of the tapers, we have a decade or more of informal norms of parade attendees and stated city policy (as in the oft cited memo).

On your side you have your belief that you are representing the interests of parade attendees whom you can't even know about since none of you attend the parade!

It's never been about your whiny need to get a spot for yourself. It's about your whiny belief that your principles trump all others.

Did I attend the parade this year? No. But I grew up going every year, I have run in more Starlight Runs than I can count, and when I have kids, I expect to attend every year again. In other words, I know about the interests of parade attendees who show up early and stake a spot physically because I was in that group and will be again. I feel that I'm sufficiently invested in the "tradition" of the Rose Festival parade to take action.

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