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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 5, 2012 7:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was Portland water bureau sponsoring concerts?. The next post in this blog is Party's over in SoWhat District. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

That menacing street punk with the pit bull deserves your smile

The City of Portland suggests that you make eye contact with strangers in public places. In downtown Portland, that would be some pretty dumb advice. The bureaucrats keep telling us that the streets should be places of "play" and "community," but given who's on the streets downtown these days, it's not a community that a normal person would want to get too involved in.

Comments (19)

I do NOT want to be part of, nor play with, the unemployed, homeless, alcoholic, drug addicted, pan handling "community".
I have given up offering meal tickets to the pan handlers to Sisters of the Road. No one will take them. So much for my good intentions...and eye contact.
Maybe the SamRand twins are preparing for their retirement.

It's shocking that the transportation bureau fired hundreds of workers who actually maintain transportation infrastructure, but retained office employees who spend their days reading magazines and writing online editorials.

How about a new "game" called "go play in the freeway"?
Sam and Randy and ALL the PDC employees can dodge the cars on I-5, I-405, or I-84 at rush hour! Not all at once of course, because there are so many of them that traffic would not be able to maintain adequate velocity.

Now we have our Bureau of Transportation telling us to make eye contact and say hello to "strangers" on the street to avoid being raped, burglarized, spat on, cursed and beg badgered.

Being nanny-ied by our Bureau, spending our tax dollars is not their Mission. Why don't they fix the streets? I thought they had a $17 Million dollar budget shortfall.

Got any spare change? Got any spare change? Got any spare change? Got any spare change?....a typical one-block conversion in downtown P-town.

How many potholes could the author of that post have filled in in the time it took him/her to read the article and type up the post?

Helpful folks! Without CoPo bureaucrats, we wouldn't know how to sort our garbage nor why reduced pickup is a good thing, and now they provide helpful advice on how to take the "ten toe express", as they like to call it. Clearly, the Borg Collective has won.

After the pickpocketing last week and the assault a foot away from me on the sidewalk in mid-day yesterday, I have accelerated my quest to find a place to look neighbors in the eye.

Making eye contact at a 4-way stop is a sign of yielding and weakness. Unless, of course, you add a grin to the eye contact from behind a beat up pickup truck without a muffler. I can't imagine making eye contact with anyone downtown if I hope to return home without a story.

Making eye contact with those under the influence, homeless and/or mentally ill is a great way to start a spirited one-way conversation in downtown Portland. Very entertaining for your young children too. Anyone in the transportation bureau live downtown and actually do this? Play? Community? I have to admit, it's a great city, but I still think the dogs have it better. All the fountains, Jamison, and Chapman Parks are overrun when it's not raining and above 50 degrees. Get a clue.

It's getting wearisome living in what increasingly feels like a community of collective self-destruction.

Just returned from four days on the streets of Boston where I saw a grand total of one (1!) panhandler. Refreshing.

Back to our little green, homeless utopia.

I make eye contact with the meter maids. Even on Sundays now.

Last week on the late train from Seattle I had met a nice Turkish grad student from Boulder, visiting Portland for the first time. It was 9pm when we got in to Portland, so I offered to walk her part of the way to her guest hostel on NW 18th and Glisan. I planned to walk her to Glisan, part company there, and then walk on to my car, which was parked across the river on Burnside.

I had warned her that we might meet some seedy characters but told her they were generally not dangerous. We passed the Greyhound station, and there was a veritable crowd of characters out of a bad dream. A schizophrenic black guy, pushing 7 feet tall, saw us walking in his direction, and he started walking toward us, but not in such a way as to let us keep walking down our side of the walkway. No, he walked towards us, mumbling incoherently, while angling his path into us, forcing us to move sideways against the wall of the building in order to pass him. This poor Turkish girl looked like she was taking cover when she filed behind me to pass the guy. "Is the bus station always like that?", she asked. Oh, honey, you have no idea, I thought.

Glisan seemed pretty safe, so I directed her on her way from there, fully assured that she would have learned everything she needed to know about Portland, that is, to definitely never move here. My walk across the Burnside bridge to my car was as redolent of urine, and as spicy with the uncertainty of the malevolence of the creatures en route, as ever.

Then I hear a great story at work on Sunday. My co-worker tells me that at 7 AM he's on the eastside max coming in to work. As usual he has tried to pick the emptiest-looking compartment. What happens? A drunken, belligerent member of one of our oppressed communities starts to scream and rant that he's going to go get his gun and shoot every white person he sees. People look at the ground, praying this will pass peacefully, that this maniac is not actually armed, and no, they do not try to make eye contact. Well, one person does. An upstanding African American tells the guy to chill out...so the gunman-wannabe gets right in this guy's face, screaming at him that he should be backing him up, not telling him to quit. A near-physical confrontation ensues, and the gunman-wannabe decides to get off the train. But not before he prevents the doors from closing by standing between them for a good minute, in order to allow him one more opportunity to scream repeatedly his intention to gun down every white person he sees. But that's not all. When the guy finally gets ready to leave, a woman passenger enters the train. She is schizophrenic, and raving. The other passengers then got to listen to her rave, while savoring their relief that the 7AM Max race-warrior was not, in fact, armed.

Most of my success as a bus rider and pedestrian has been my ability to avoid eye contact. This is where a good pair of sunglasses can come in handy. As a female, you learn early on what prolonged eye contact can do for you after only one encounter with some creepy guy thinks you were flirting with him if your gaze lasts more than 1.5 seconds.

It appears that the Transportation Bureau's social advice is at odds with the PPB Womenstrength about eye contact and smiling.

"Make brief eye contact, selectively.  It communicates that others are seen, that we belong in a space, and that we are not easily intimidated.  To avoid sending a mixed message, keep your face neutral, not glaring or smiling.  Break eye contact by looking to the side.  Avoid eye contact with those who you believe could misinterpret it as a challenge, or as an invitation into your space."

Got any spare change? Got any spare change? Got any spare change? Got any spare change?....

I don't usually carry change - spare, or otherwise...

...I do carry, however.

Am I the only one who figures that this could be improved with selected scenes from Shaun of the Dead?

Survival Gear:
-Sun Glasses (clouds be damned)
-Hoodie (makes you look tough)
-Head Phones, large (easily seen)
-Good Running Shoes (for escape)
-Stone Poker Face (communicates nothing)

Okay. Now you are ready to go shopping downtown.

PS: if you are giving money to those guys downtown nearly 100% of it is going to drugs. There are social services to care for just about everything else. I used to do social work on 2nd and Burnside. So you can accept what I'm saying as incontrovertible fact.

Leaving Soon: That sucks man! My downtown survival skills were honed to a fine point, but even I got into it with an unstable street person a couple of months back. Seems like things are just deteriorating.

I have heard stories from some of the old timers over at Hooper Detox that when crack first hit things were much worse. People getting stabbed. Guys sleeping on every inch of dry cement. Blocking doorways. The cops used to have to come around at 5 in the morning or so and wake everyone up so that business could function.

Maybe we are going back to that?


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