Photo Diary: The Somewhat Satanic Sloppy Sadness of North Mississippi Ave.

Back in the day, many moons ago, I lived in North Portland before gentrification turned the area into an area I no longer recognize.  My wife and I decided the last time we visited my old stomping grounds to take photos of the decay on our next visit.  Here are some of the photos I took, to share, or process, what has become of my old ‘hood.

Church of the ATM

The image above the ATM, depicting Jesus holding a handgun, was in multiple areas on N. Mississippi.

The Fresh Pot features coffee beans from Four Barrel

Portland seems to be a haven for satanic imagery.  Here we have Four Barrel Roasters, with it’s depiction of upside down pentagrams, skulls, goat, and creatures.  Fresh Pot is where you can get a cup of this.

I have no good caption for this one

More bleak and/or satanic imagery.  None of this kind of stuff was around when I lived in North Portland.  As blacks disproportionally left the area due to gentrification, they were replaced with upwardly mobile loft dwellers with ‘Black Lives Matters’ signs in their windows.  As a strange result, more of this nihilistic art increased.


I call this the wall of doom.  There are many of these walls in Portland now. It was after we passed this wall we encountered a mom, dad, and their roughly 4 year old son. The mother wore a tank top that said “Satanic Feminist.”
Bar Bar keeps it real

There are still fun signs and art on N. Mississippi.  Bar Bar features the kind of art that is meant to be fun and a bit absurdist.  This is the kind of depiction that has always been enjoyable and unique in Portland, Oregon.

Under the weather

Another tongue-n-cheek amusement.  This is the kind of creativity that used to be more prevalent in the city.


Blasphemy appears to be quite a pastime in town.  Interestingly the graffiti and stickers featured here are on a black owned newspaper called The Portland Observer.  I guess black lives matter, except when it comes to their newspaper stands.

Before I go on I have to share an observation.  When I lived in the area, I used to walk on North Mississippi Ave. frequently and say hello to the many blacks that lived near.  It was pretty nice being around a considerable concentration of people of color at the time.  The area was crime ridden to be sure (which is why I left) but there was a sense of community and cohesion.  This time, I was one of four brown skinned people (which is fine) among dozens of whites.  The vibe now is one of bleakness, which to be clear I blame on no one.  However I find it interesting that lower income religious blacks are gone, and now the avenue feels disintegrated and decaying.  It’s sad to see so much lip service, and so much depicted despair.

Garbage house

This house we came upon had mattresses on its porch, garbage overflowing from receptacles, and this…

White supremacy at the garbage house

After I got over my surprise at such a sign, I had to stop and think about this house.


My main question, and I grant that because I’m a bit of a clean freak I may have a bias, but why in the world would someone put a sign that is somehow supposed to fight white supremacy and therefore honor/defend people of color near a bunch of garbage and filth?  I get that a house requires a lot of maintenance, but I don’t understand how the three white people I saw leaving this place, think a scene like this convinces anyone they really care.  If unthinking white supremacy is a real problem, why would one display such a statement near total sloppiness?  Perhaps there isn’t an answer, but I certainly didn’t feel “affirmed” by this sign or the home it hung from.


Party Mailbox

The Q Center, an LGBTQ space used for events, had this mailbox near their vicinity.  I’m not sure if someone from there put this poster on the Mailbox or not.  Apparently the United States Postal Service recommends this particular Trans & Intersex social.

Never forget 420?

In Portland I’m not sure how anyone would “Never Forget 420” but someone was worried about it and had to sticker this newspaper box.  I have no idea what a Shark Smeer is BTW.


For my final photo, I wanted to show one of the more tame sticker/graffiti clusters.  There were many many anti-Trump stickers, posters and epithets all over, but this one was actually nice in comparison.

Next photo essay: SE Hawthorne Blvd. Stay tuned!







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