For five years, I lived ten blocks from my office -- my apartment and the office were both on Main Street, just a short walk from each other. I made that walk year after year and saw plenty of weird and wonderful things, primarily in the morning -- leftovers of whoever had spent the night out. I finally started taking pictures of these things with my camera phone around 2008, a year before I moved to a new house. I no longer walk to my office (it's a 45-minute bus ride now), but here, I've collected some of my favorite photos from that old walk. Sorry about the camera quality -- it's kinda what you get when you're on the go.
In case you're wondering, this was all going down in inner southeast Portland, Oregon. It's a transitional area between light industrial and commercial buildings (think warehouses, bakeries, distilleries) and the beginning of a residential neighborhood.
The Free Box
October 6, 2009
The flier on the front says "Free Box: The Magazine #3." Below, it says "Neighborhood Issue: 'Free Box' travels the world! Furnishing your home with freedom." Initially I was a little scared to open the Free Box, but then took to doing it every time I passed -- because, yes, there was always free stuff in there. I even took to putting my own free stuff in there. The problem with the free stuff was that it was often pretty useless (like a single shoe). But hey, free shoe.
Inside the Free Box
October 6, 2009
Here's a typical example of what's inside the Free Box. Some crazy pajama bottoms, a sheet/curtain, and a newspaper. Written inside the box: "Please don't be a dick! Thank you. Come again."
August 28, 2008
I passed this guy's house many times, and often there'd be a piece of art like this on display out by his car. I finally met him the day I saw this one -- I just had to ask. He said was a retired teacher, trying his hand at painting. He'd put his art outside, figuring that if somebody liked it, he or she would probably knock on his door and they could talk about it. Apparently he got visitors several times a week.
July 10, 2008
Seen on a utility box. I like the birds.
Rant on a Van
August 6, 2008
This was written on the window of a van crammed full of stuff -- boxes, bags, a lamp. It reads (errors intact): "Nice try on the theft, now I have you on camera for two vans and the tools you took the first time. Best of all you left your finger prints on the bolt cutters you handeld. Be a man and come during the [day?] since you are the worst thief in the world. The ignition is very simple if you have a brain." Note that I inserted the word "day," as I think that's what this guy was getting at. I looked behind me and indeed, there was a security camera there.
Christmas in June
June 4, 2008
I lived next to a photography studio, located in a big warehouse. They did all kinds of weird stuff in there involving props. On one notable occasion, they shot a calendar involving firemen, and managed to get a fire truck inside the warehouse. After each shoot they'd leave most of the props just sitting on the curb and people would take them (sometimes I took them -- I got some decent shelves from one shoot). Here's an example of one that made me wonder: what photo shoot required a live fir (cedar?) tree -- looks like a Christmas tree to me -- in June?
Twin Dogs Waiting
June 11, 2008
I saw these little guys several times, waiting outside a coffee shop. They were very friendly. They're tied to an Oregonian newspaper box.
Blue Rubber Glove
July 9, 2009
Hey, free blue rubber glove!
June 23, 2009
Outside a catering company's kitchen. They'd make the food there, then drive it to events. The leftover food was sometimes kinda weird. I think I see some asparagus in there too. Note that these green containers are Portland's composting bins.
June 8, 2009
Another example from the same place, several weeks earlier.
Drifts of Cherry Blossoms
April 28, 2008
There's a period of a few weeks each year when the cherry blossom petals fall and collect in drifts on the street. Here are a few shots from my front steps and the sidewalk by my apartment.
December 22, 2008
I couldn't walk to work that day.
November 18, 2008
A bunch of home-burned CDs. I thought about taking one, but the titles were all very inscrutable...and these were sitting outside a sorta hippie-ish brewpub so I figured it probably wasn't my jam.
Trees Awaiting Planting
January 8, 2009
Some trees waiting for a chance to grow.
Mental_Floss Magazine in Convenience Store
September 20, 2009
I stopped by a convenience store and noticed that our magazine was on the front display, on par with Details, GQ, and Elle. We have better placement than Wired and Scientific American! Take that, publishing industry!
Cicero Quote & Graffiti
October 27, 2009
Two photos. First, the inscription above a boarded-up school. Second, graffiti in the entryway.
December 30, 2009
Not technically on my walk to work -- this was seen in a restroom at the PDX airport. I have to wonder why they had to label it. Lawsuit after somebody poked an eye out? Also, why so many screws?
All images © 2011 Chris Higgins.