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Friday, March 12, 2010
The South Park Blocks
For me, the past few weeks have mostly been a blur of take-home finals, essays, coffee shops and the PSU library. This doesn't leave a lot to blog about. The South Park Blocks, which run through the middle of the Portland State campus, do break up the monotony though. They're the closest thing the school has to a plaza or a courtyard. As with any school, there's the "campus characters," activists and others that keep things interesting and they all tend to hang out in the Park Blocks.
One bloke who immediately springs to mind is "Bible Guy." He's heavy-set, bearded and wears a multi-colored hat. I don't know what his story is but I've heard that he's a member of "Jews for Jesus." Bible Guy hangs around outside of the Smith Memorial Union, loudly preaching the gospel according to himself. On sunny days he can draw a crowd of dozens and graduate students in the school's science department love to bicker with him.
On the way over to the Market Street Pub the other day, I paused to watch one of them scream at Bible Guy about the true age of the planet. The graduate student became so frustrated that he began screaming, "there are rocks on Earth that are, unequivocally, millions of years old!" Bible Guy took this time to meditate until his debater ran out of steam before launching into a passage from the New Testament.
There's other odd sights and moments that make me wish I had my iPhone's camera drawn and ready to fire as I rush between classes. One morning, I encountered a preschool teacher leading a line of tots past a "Have You Hugged Your Local Abortion Doctor Lately?" kiosk being hosted by two students from Planned Parenthood. This past Wednesday, the first thing that caught my eye when I set foot on campus was a middle-aged gentleman pushing a stroller with a large, plush hot-dog sitting in the seat. Trotting alongside him was a dachshund in a white sweater. Behind them, six adorable puppies were rushing to catch up. It was another moment in need of further context but I didn't feel up to the task of running after this "Dachshund Pied Piper" to ask him what was up. Yesterday, a student activist dressed-up as a tree growled at me as I headed off in search of coffee.
I'm much better at capturing photos of stationary objects, like this fire-hydrant/toilet art display that someone left on top of a manhole cover. There's also this guy, who rolled onto campus last week in a Winnebago. He was with a hippie jam band that had been hired to play a set at a student protest over incorporating the Oregon University System. As I walked up, he spat a cigarette butt at me. Undaunted, I asked him if I could take his picture. He obliged and even smiled for the shot.