Rich and Poor

Michael and I had a different kind of date night recently. In my quest for free, or cheap, things to do in Portland while he’s unemployed, I found out that Portland State University offers free lectures. I picked one that sounded interesting and we made a date night out of it.

First, we went to East Burn for dinner. I had a Groupon deal for the restaurant so dinner out and one round of drinks only cost us a tip for the waiter! It was a great deal. We both ordered the burger. It came with applewood bacon on it and in ciabatta roll.

The photo of the burger did not turn out, unfortunately, but trust me when I tell you it was fantastic. They do burgers right! I enjoyed a glass of the happy hour house red wine and our seats were in these funky chairs that were suspended from the ceiling. It was sort of like eating dinner sitting in a hammock.

After our amazing dinner, we headed downtown to PSU for the lecture. It was at Shattuck Hall and the lecture room was huge. I didn’t get a photo of the whole room, but there were probably about 100 people there for the lecture.

The lecture was one of the most fascinating lectures I’ve been to in awhile–despite the technical difficulties in the beginning. (I turned to Michael and said, “artists must always have a tech guide with them” and it’s totally true. πŸ™‚ )

“Jim Goldberg is a Professor of Art at the California College of Arts and Crafts and a member of Magnum Photos. He has been exhibiting for over 30 years and his innovative use of image and text make him a landmark photographer of our times.

His work is in numerous private and public collections including NYMOMA, SFMOMA, Whitney, Getty, LACMA, Corcoran, MFA Boston, Hallmark Collection, The High Museum, Library of Congress, MFA Houston, National Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.”

Goldberg has lead an interesting life and has done some really innovate things with photography. He started the slideshow with his early work in the 1980’s where he did a project photographing people living in a group home in San Francisco. It was for transients–homeless, prostitutes, you name it. He used a hotel guest book and he took a black and white photo of the person and then had them write something in the journal next to their name. The photos were rudimentary but their starkness really came through and you could see how hard these people’s lives were. Here is one quote:


Β “I keep thinking where we went wrong. We have no one to talk to now. I will not allow this loneliness to destroy me. I still have my dreams.”


This began his “Rich and Poor” series. He spent time documenting the poor and then did the same with the rich in SanΒ Francisco. One of the “rich” photos was this stodgy looking man in a mansion with his butler standing behind him. The quote was “I project a picture of contentment! Everything looks happy!” The questions he asked the rich were different too, and their answers were longer and about power. There was one really funny quote from the “Rich”: it was a photo of a couple that had been married a long time. On top was a quote from the husband, “My wife is acceptable. Our relationship is satisfactory.” And then the wife’s quote below was gushing and romantic. It was rather comical to see the difference!

After the “Rich and Poor” series, he did “Raised By Wolves” which followed a few street kids. This was really interesting because most of these kids have had some sort of trauma in their lives that lead them to leave home. Watching the slideshow of the “Raised By Wolves” series made me wonder “where do they go wrong?” Of course there was abuse in many situations. But the tragedy that came through in the photos was disturbing. He focused on two specific kids–Junkie Dave and Echo–a young couple in love and addicted to drugs. He documented their love story, and Junkie Dave’s demise.


The next project, The Nursing Home Project, was rather sad. One of the quotes of the elderly ladies in the home was “I was beautiful when I was young.” The photo was a happy-looking, smiling old lady and it just broke my heart.

This lead to him doing his Hospice book and he spent a year documenting his father’s death. He just had a baby with his wife, too, so he was going through the whole dying of his father thing with the birth of his daughter. The pictures of the father and his baby together were touching and haunting. I wondered if doing the Hospice series helped him to deal with and prepare for his father’s death. Or if stepping behind the camera was his way of disconnecting from the entire event and not getting emotionally involved. During the lecture, Goldberg choked up, so clearly he’s still feeling the pain even years later.

After these series, he started doing work overseas in places like Nigeria, Dakar and other places. The photographs he took of the refugee camps were amazing and quite different from the photos he took earlier in his career. He brought along a translator that spoke the native dialects so that the refugees could tell their story. “All I want is a bed to sleep in. I make one dollar a day and I have despair.”


The work he did photographing the refugees is amazing. He said he wanted the invisible people to be “proof” that they existed. You can find out more at his latest project’s website.

The lecture was moving and very interesting. We were both glad we went and it sparked conversations on the drive home. Michael wondered about how he stayed safe in countries like Nigeria where rebels were killing everyone. I wondered that too.

Something else I wondered about, but didn’t want to bring up in front of the huge auditorium, was how Goldberg felt about the “Post Secret” project. Clearly Goldberg sort of created the whole concept back in the 1980’s–writing phrases down on photographs. I wondered what he thought of the Post Secret project. The subject matter of the evening turned out to be pretty heavy and dark, but still important to see.

If you want to see some moving artwork and Jim Goldberg is in your city, check it out. I’m not sure if he has more lectures planned in other cities or if he’s planning on taking his work to many museums but check it out.

QUESTION: Do you go to lectures (any subject)? In what ways are you trying to enrich your life by learning new things?

The Portland Century – Part 3

The Portland Century – Part 3

The Home Stretch


Read Part One and Part Two.

I definitely felt a sense of relief when we arrived at the Springwater Corridor. It was where we’ve done the bulk of our training and it felt familiar. I could mentally relax knowing how close we were from the finish.

Heading west on the Springwater Trail means two things: the wind is usually at our back and it’s slightly downhill. Which means we can make up a lot of time by going pretty fast on the trail. The only downside is that there are a lot of stops for roads/intersections.

Michael and I stayed pretty close together for most of this stretch. We were in a group with other cyclists.

For most of the ride there weren’t any issues with non-cyclists until the Springwater. There was some guy not participating in the Century on his bike who shouted something rude to the cyclists going by, but I didn’t hear what he said exactly. Then a bit later, we were trying to make the light at an intersection and we had 5 seconds left on the signal so we booked it. We made it through the light with enough time but some guy sitting in his car shouted rude comments at us. I thought that was weird and uncalled for, I mean he’d have to sit at that light anyways so why be a jerk? Who knows.

The final Rest Stop came up pretty quickly. I think it should have been placed closer to the end of the Springwater Trail because that’s where I needed it to be. More on that later. We stopped at the East Gresham Park to rest.

This Rest Stop had Hot Lips Pizza! I was not hungry but had a slice anyways. We found some shade to sit down in and I did some stretching.

After stretching and getting more water, we headed out on the rest of the trail. It was the home stretch, mentally I knew how much was left and I was excited.

My back was also starting to hurt. I tried doing lots of stretches while I was on the bike–every few minutes–but it was getting hard to sit still. I was feeling the fatigue in my lower back and my shoulders and neck.

We biked down the Springwater, through Sellwood, and passed Oaks Park. It was cool to be biking where my commute is.

We passed OMSI and I knew I needed to stop and stretch. I was thirsty. I was starting to get cranky and my back HURT. Michael and I stopped underneath a bridge in the shade. I was trying to stay positive and not give in to the Cranky-Pants-I’m-Crashing-Mentality. I could see it looming over me and I wanted to complete the Portland Century with a positive attitude–not like how I finished Reach the Beach or Hood to Coast last year (near tears). I stretched and drank my water (which was hot at this point–yuck) and Michael said his butt was hurting. We both agreed that 70 was the right distance for us–that neither of us were ready for the full 100 yet.

We continued on up SE Water Street in the bike lanes and then we had to wait for a train to go by. That meant another break.

The wait was probably 3 minutes or so. Then we continued on. We were heading East–which was annoying me because PSU was west! I had no idea where we were heading. We crossed a few streets and then the signs said to turn left. There was a group of us turning left together and we all had our arms out indicating as such. A car behind us decided he wasn’t going to wait and he sped up and cut us off–narrowly missing a girl right in front of me. She came within INCHES from being hit! Whoever that guy was, he’s an asshole! Grrr! We turned and looped around a few blocks and then the route took us over the Burnside Bridge.

I’ve never biked over the Burnside Bridge. The bike lanes were nice and wide. We looped around through downtown once we were off the bridge. We biked through the very congested Saturday Market area and then up to Broadway where we biked the last stretch of the course–uphill of course, and with lots of stops at lights. A car almost hit me. I had the right of way and apparently he wasn’t paying attention to the bike lane when he decided to turn right but he stopped just in time and I stopped on my bike. SIGH. People can be jerks to cyclists.

We arrived at PSU and we were finished. And here is where I have two complaints about the Portland Century. 1) There wasn’t a finish line that we crossed. It was anticlimactic to just be DONE. Where’s the banner to ride under?? and 2) There was no stinkin’ medal. I wanted a medal. I paid $70 for this ride, there should be a medal at the end of it. I know that’s petty but dammit, why not?

Portland Century Stats:

Time: 6:28 (with all the stops)
Calories Burned: 3229
Distance: 71.9 miles

First order of business: get our checked bags and change out of our sweaty spandex!

It felt so good to be in real clothes. The next order of business: BEER.

A Widmer IPA. Then we got our gourmet dinner at the finish line. Salmon, salad, grilled asparagus, Dave’s Killer Bread, chicken, orzo salad (which was delicious) and of course dessert:

The salmon and chicken were a little dry but the food was decent and yes–I had two desserts!

We hung out at the finish line for about an hour. We relaxed, drank our beer and ate dinner. There was a band playing awful music, lots of people. We chatted with some guys that did the full 100 and then we ran into my friend Kristin. She volunteered for the event and rode the 33 Mile Route. (She’s also a runner and ran the Boston Marathon this year!) It was such a fun event! We had a blast and I was glad that I was able to enjoy the after party this time. I missed it at Reach the Beach because I crashed so hard and got hypothermia. That was not the case this time (it was 90 degrees!).

We headed home to shower. We were both truly exhausted and struggling to stay awake. Here are some final stats:

As you can see, our actual riding timeΒ was 5 hours, not 6.5. That 1.5 hours was sitting at lights and the rest stops. Also, our actual miles were 72.51 biked. That could just mean that we took a wrong turn at some point and got a few extra miles in. Our average speed was 14.4 mph. Michael thinks the elevation was off but I’m not sure.

What a cool app. I’m glad to see the actual stats from our ride to compare it to our training rides.

QUESTION: Have I inspired you to try something like this? πŸ™‚