Archive for November, 2008

Iconic ‘70s Actors


I hate the phrase “they don’t make them like they use to.” It implies we don’t currently have the option of choosing something of quality, when in point of fact we do — we just collectively choose crappy things for a variety of reasons. Take consumer goods made in China, which is something Stacy and I have been talking about since she has been struggling to find a coffeemaker manufactured outside of the PRC. A recent trip to the local Fred Meyer yielded many coffeemaker options, but none made in a country other than China. I believe there are many good reasons to steer clear of a coffeemaker made in China, including the possibility that a Chinese manufactured coffeemaker could contain metals with toxic impurities. I think some of the blame for all these Chinese products flooding our stores should be heaped on American companies, who have been shipping American manufacturing jobs overseas for years to maintain fat profit margins. But I also think a larger portion of the blame falls on all of us for not caring where our consumer goods come from and just buying whatever is on the shelf at our local store regardless of their country of orgin. There are coffeemakers made in countries as diverse as Holland and the Czech Republic, we just don’t buy them because we can buy a Chinese made one for half the price. But if your health is at stake, where is the savings buying something that could make you sick and possibly cost you money for medical treatment?

So how does this relate to screen actors from the ‘70s? I don’t know if it really does, but hear me out as I try and articulate something. Any trip to your local cineplex will convince you we don’t seem to have the same kind of iconic actors that came of age during the ‘70s. The two actors I’m thinking specifically of, because I’m a huge fan of their work, are Warren Oats and Robert Shaw. Of course there are many others who had obtained iconic status by the ‘70s, but I think Oats and Shaw are in an entirely different class. I was watching The Taking of Pelham One Two Three the other night and was left in awe of Robert Shaw’s portrayal of Mr. Blue, the ringleader of a band of NYC subway highjackers. Dito for his portrayal of Captain Quint in Jaws. And then there is Warren Oats, who was great in just about every movie he starred in. My personal favorites are The Wild Bunch, Two-Lane Blacktop, and Stripes. I don’t know if there are any current actors who I get excited about seeing in a film, but maybe Crispin Glover and Steve Zahn are the closest we have to truly iconic contemporary actors. But like Chinese consumer products, we’re happy with our large of selection of films with actors of dubious quality.

G.T.O explains the 455 V8

Captain Quint

2 comments November 24th, 2008

Gordon House


(Photo by Brian Libby)

This last weekend Stacy and I went down to check out the Oregon Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House. This Usonian style dwelling was designed by Wright in 1957 for Evelyn and Conrad Gordon of Clackamas County and finished in 1963. Evelyn Gordon spent her twilight years in the house and then her children tried unsuccessful to sell it after she passed away. In 2001, the house and property were finally sold, but the new owners, oblivious to the significance of the structure, prepared to raze it in order to make way for a skanky McMansion. Lucky, the new owners displayed a modicum of decency (despite their utter lack of taste) and granted the house a three month stay of execution — just enough time for the structure to be dismantled and moved by truck to the Oregon Garden about 21 miles south of the original location.

I have to confess, the Gordon House is a little underwhelming compared to the other Wright house I’ve toured: Fallingwater in Southwestern Pennsylvania. My lack of initial awe is probably due to the fact the house is now in a totally different environment. Like all good architects, Wright designed his homes with their natural surrounding in mind. And while Wright never actually visited the property where the house was originally located, he had seen numerous pictures and had met with the Gordons on a couple of different occasions. Another strike against the Gordon house is the sparse interior. Unlike Fallingwater, there is no original furniture, so you don’t get a sense of what it must have been like to live in the residence. But on the plus side, the restoration is pretty remarkable and one can still marvel at Wright’s quirky flourishes, like the fret board windows or the 15 degree angles everywhere. Like all Wright houses, the roof leaks, so no
surprises there. I would definitely recommended it as a day trip destination for Portlanders – tours are only about $5.00.

Orginal interior before move to Oregon Garden

(Original interior before move to Oregon Garden)

Just a couple of comments on the Oregon Garden seem in order as well. We didn’t have great weather, but I still enjoyed walking around and riding the cute little tram. Of course I got us lost a couple of times, but it’s a fun place to get lost in. Since the OG hasn’t been around for very long, it feels somewhat sparse and undeveloped. At times it felt like we were in a scene from Jurassic Park, wandering around a soon to be open theme park. We stayed at the newly built Moonstone Resort at the OG which was quite nice and inexpensive. I think our fairly large room was around $90.00 and included a pretty good breakfast at the lodge. That rate also included admission to the Garden, but not the Gordon House. Bookings should probably be done online to get that deal.

B-Love’s Architecture Week Article

2 comments November 5th, 2008


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