Last Thursday back to fun as usual

Last Thursday on Alberta

A winged devil jousting on a unicycle
wowed a packed crowd at the Clown House.
View gallery
(File photo)

Despite an increased police presence after last month’s unfortunate incident, Last Thursday on Alberta got back to business last night.

The street pulsed with energy and creativity from street performers, local art, and of course bikes and cyclists of every persuasion imaginable.

I saw “Rabbit” the clown on an antique high-wheeler, new recruits in the Belligerantes bike gang, and even a mysterious winged devil on a unicycle (see slide show below for more photos).

As the night wore on, the focus turned to the Clown House at 25th & Alberta.

Crowds spilled into the intersection as neighborhood volunteers in reflective safety vests tried valiantly to keep the road open to motorized traffic. I heard more than one person grumble under their breath, “why don’t they just close the street to cars?” If only it were that easy.

As night fell, the live reggae music on the Clown House stage gave way to tall bike jousting in the yard. There was a silent joust, a naked joust, and just before I left (with my girls were fast asleep in the trailer) that mysterious winged devil mounted his steed for a joust against crowd favorite, Turbo.

Check out my slideshow for more cycling scenes (including a session on the amazing Spin Bike!):

Created with Paul’s flickrSLiDR.

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15 years ago

It was a good time last night. The creativity that comes out is pretty amazing.

But I have to say, Jonathan, you referred to the KATU footage of the incident from last month as “great”. It was not great. The start with a shot of the dancing crowd at 24th and Alberta, then cut to the info about the bottle throwing at *18th and Alberta*. These were two separate, unrelated situations. KATU tried to make it seem as if there was a huge party in the street when the fight broke out. Sure, it was crowded Last Thurs, but it wasn’t that all-in-the street scene of 24th.

Say what you will about the illegalities of dancing in the street, you really just had to be there to believe it. When those people took over the street at 24th and no cars were around (a few snuck by, most avoided by going on side streets), it was pretty awesome.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)


Again, I have made it clear that coverage last month was not about re-telling the incident (because obviously I was not there). I only reported on it to spark more conversation on the car-free issue. I tried to make that clear in the post last month.

And my reference to KATU’s video coverage as being “great” was not a judgment of the editorial of it, but rather a function of my envy over the sheer footage and documentation of the event they were able to get.

15 years ago

Nice coverage, Mssr. Maus!

Your photo work really seems to be coming it’s own sort of “style”, if you will. On more than one occasion recently I’ve found myself framing a shot and heard a tiny voice in the back of my head say “hmmmmmm…very Jonathan-esque”

Great to see my Eastside neighbors were able to have what looks to be a heckeva lot of fun sans Taser input. I hope the folks living closer to the action have a positive view as well. I’m sure we’ll be hearing some varied opinions as the newsday progresses.

Oh, and hey, if the owner of that purple stick-shift Schwinn ever wants to part with that machine, please let me know!


15 years ago

I can’t help but mention how notable the police presence was last night. It was a little crazy. At one point in the late evening, I witnessed a musical duo being shut down by no fewer than 6 police officers. Police cruisers and motorcycles cruising up and down the street constantly telling people to get back on the sidewalk. Officers standing what seemed like every other corner barking at pedestrians who opted for the open street over the jam-packed sidewalk mob.

It all left a bad taste in my mouth. Thousands of people being forcibly crammed onto narrow sidewalks so that a handful of cars and busses (and bikes, too) could enjoy their big wide lanes. In fact, although I know what Jonathan means by “Back to fun as usual,” in many ways last month’s was more fun than last night’s weird copfest.

I know a carfree Last Thursday is on its way but I have to admit: I’m getting a little impatient, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Police look forward to it, too.

15 years ago

“The streets belong to the people!” one of my favorite chants from the 60’s, is going thru my head again.
Time to close Alberta…for one evening a month, for Pete’s sake. Come on Portland, swing a little.

Todd B
Todd B
15 years ago

Yes it was fun in the sun on Alberta Street…more of everything except the full intersection dancing of last month.

Again I have to suggest, as a transportation planner that the future success of this event and the livability/ commercial activity of this street there has to be some sort of ‘rationing’ planned. (Three years ago I saw my only pedestrian crash with a car on Alberta during an event…not something I want to see again.)

For this area to have more pedestrian vitality during this event the city should:
– remove on street parking and place the venders and cafe tables in the parking lane (much as Mountain View CA does and other market streets);
– close the street to through car traffic…and move more of the venders and pedestrians into the street (much as Vancouver WA does with its famers market on Esther Street each week end);
– make this a fareless transit route each last Thrusday (to get less visiting cars on the street or parking in front of homes) and reroute transit;
– set up event park and rides in larger area retail parking lots (MLK?) and shuttle folks in;
– improve the east to west bike lane network to serve this corridor (vs. riding on Alberta) and more bike parking; and
– long term…reconstruct the sidewalk and parkign zones into a blended space that can be better used during these events.

And for visitors…leave your cars at home if possible during the summer months…ride a bike, walk, take a bus or car pool. There were a lot of bikes on the street last night – very nice. Though not much spare bike parking to be had…other than the Trimet railings.

Waffle King of America
Waffle King of America
15 years ago

I was there last night as well and I was really irritated by the effort to corral people onto the sidewalk. I also stood on the corner by the clown house and watched multiple cyclists being pulled over by some police officers and ticketed for whatever they could find wrong. Of course they didn’t stop any cars at that same intersection to ticket them for blowing through the two crosswalks. I was angry that they felt like harassing pedestrians and cyclists when most of us agree cars are the nuissance. I also think there would be less infractions of city law if the crowd was allowed to space itself out more. As is people are crammed into a space where it is very difficult to see what others are doing a few feet ahead or behind. This promotes a sense of security to violate courtesy and respect to others in those inclined to do so. If you feel like a lot of people might see you doing something wrong you probably won’t do it. We really need the street cleared for pedestrians only. What a waste of energy to keep it open.

15 years ago

On a side note,
The reason the cops were justified in the streets was to assure that:
1- there was no drinking in public;
2- there was no out-of-hand crowd;
3- the streets weren’t blocked.

With most of the new bars and restaurants in Alberta having outside patios and terraces, drinking in public was occurring anyways, although in a manner supported by the law. What use to be a spontaneous festival of creativity is been turning in a touristic attraction promoted by real estate owners that want to profit from their properties. Well, this new tourists, attracted by commercial pamphlets and media-supported advertising ( ) , don’t have, necessarily, interest in the communities and the work PEOPLE have been creating and transforming, but rather try to achieve some experience for their otherwise uneventful lives. This type of consumers of culture obviously don’t belong to this community and drive here to participate on the “craziness”, easily affordable at many of the restaurants, bars and boutiques. They will start fights and brake things, because they aren’t the ones losing something and, most likely because of the lack of real creative experiences on their existence, that is a form of expressing something.
The conclusion is that naturally the police presence will increase in Alberta, to guarantee that the business here operate the way the property owners planned. Irresponsible people will still get drunk, they will drive back home after the bars close, but not before braking a fence or some props at the Clown House yard.

Paul Cone
Paul Cone
15 years ago

Within days after the infamous Last Thursday of April, TriMet put up notices at the stops nearby saying that they would be rerouting the 72 line during Last Thursday, through October. So I was confused when I kept seeing bus after bus this time around. Then I noticed the TriMet supervisor in the pickup driving up and down Alberta all night. And of course the very heavy police presence — I was glad to see some officers on foot, but there were at least 6 patrol cars, plus two on motorcycles and the infamous traffic enforcement Camaro later on near the west end, getting ready for the drunks to make their way home. It seemed like half the vehicle traffic on the street was either police or TriMet. Finally it clicked — the idea seemed to be to keep the vehicle traffic flowing and the people on the sidewalks by adding as many official vehicles to it as possible.

And of course, I saw not one popo on a bike.

I also had one police car not stop for me in a crosswalk, and a woman driving a big white van blow a stop sign and play chicken with me, pushing forward and honking and yelling when it was quite clear she should have been yielding right-of-way to me. I told the next cop I saw half a block later but he didn’t even acknowledge I was talking to him.

I agree with Pinga that a certain amount of police presence was warranted but it is sad that Last Thursday has become yet another instance of what once was a good community event devolve down to prioritizing car traffic, harassing of pedestrians and bicyclists, and lots of drunks. It’s not the community event like used to be and I’m not sure it will ever be again. I try and be optimistic that there will be a car-free Last Thursday someday, but let’s not forget this is also the same city where we’re rebuilding our transit mall and instead of adding pedestrian only areas, we’re making it _easier_ for cars to drive through it.

15 years ago

I saw that incident with the lady in the white van and she did the same thing to a pedestrian a few seconds later. She was road-raging, big time! I don’t know how you kept your cool.

Pedro Diksmal
15 years ago

Holy Bike lights Batman! It was an amazing day indeed during the Last Thursday, Art walk, event on Alberta street the other night.
The embattled Clown House was (as usual) the focal point of bike love for the evening.
It is a show of wonder, and totally amazing how those folks have kept it together all these years.
They got grief from all angles, the city shut down their bike shop, the county took money but still shut down the hot dog cart, people promise help that never comes and of course theres the problem of drunks breaking up the place.
Add that to the sky high rent and constant threat of homelessness, those clowns are gluttons for punishment.
You wouldn’t be able to tell from the attitudes though all night it seemed, constant sorties of bikes poured to and from the Clown House like winged monkeys. all ages, all kinds of bikes and all smiles I must say. They have a guy (Capt. Ace) who rides a red, hand made, Tri-plane bike, it towers above the biggest bike they have.
Strange and pointless noisemakers were attached to funny bikes and at on point I saw three tall bikes barreling down the road corralling a beautiful girl who was sprinting in front of them wearing bunny ears, sneakers and a bikini. They have a “Spin Bike” that makes me dizzy just looking at the Cowboy clown ride it.
They had “Pete the Great” bet knownas the Ninja Turtle who jousts on a super tall unicycle.
Is this UNREAL or what????
I looked like all the personal autonomy of past events except for two main and incredible changes.
This month, as people from all bikes of life mingled and had fun, they were joined by two new factions: The neighborhood do-gooders in reflective vests and the Portland Police who had no problem dispersing people who may be blocking the cars right of way.
The neighborhood malitia made a “Courtesy call” to the Clown House reminding them to shut up after 10 oclock, That could have killed the evening but the clowns huddled and made a plan.
What happened was a first in Clown House, Gladiator event history; the joust was a silent one, we had to do the games without the most important part, the yelling.
The guy with the bullhorn (Ood) must introduce the contenders, inform the crowd of rank and tell them when to go. Without that, the event suffered.
“It’s over, we gotta move house to another hood and start from scratch.”
decried Dingo Dizmal the circus boss “It’s much easier to move the show to a better place than get noise permits or play the MAN’s game I at least owe that much to the crew, they work hard.”

Four hot clown gals managed to keep the crowd quiet for at least 6 jousts but then a guy got naked and jousted Turbo, Turbo put him down like he was a bag of crap. The crowd couldn’t help it and they let out a cheer that would rival the ancient roman arenas.
It was that noise that prompted the police to ask everyone to leave the Clown House, they just moved 15 feet to the left and continued to have fun.

Nothing has changed about the Art Walk other than the real estate developers who have began marketing the neighborhood to the next crop of Young Urban Professionals. They show themselves in the form of “Frat mentality” it’s very prone to street scuffles and other eyesore behavior. As the clown boss said “It’s over”
The street is no longer a personal autonomous zone, it’s more like a baby First Thursday.

15 years ago

Very interesting post, Pedro. Thanks. Please advise of he new location.

dingo the clown
15 years ago

That’s actualy Pepto, my brother, he has no idea whats going on.

HeyJonathan!!!!Great pics of the other night, right on dude!
Still no word on where we might move the clown house to.
Thanks for cumming .

Will Workforf Ood
15 years ago

That was great- jousting was a bit behind schedule but regardless we pulled off the first ever Quite Joust.

Thanks for coming out!

15 years ago

The neighbors that I\’ve talked to were thrilled by how it went. We liked the police presence even if it was a bit heavy handed. The OLCC had made the rounds repeatedly over the past weeks reminding business owners of their responsibilities and rights.

Buses had previously been rerouted to Killingsworth. They were back because, as I understand it, some of those in the neighborhood that rely on them wanted them back. Asking the old and infirm to walk, if they can, a bunch of extra blocks just so the kids can have their monthly party that in no way benefits them is somewhere between rude and stupid.

We noticed a gaping lack of the hairy wannabe anarchists frat boys that had been showing up in larger and larger numbers. Instead, we saw larger numbers than ever of good old fashioned independent and wonderfully odd Portlanders. It was a great great turn out.

One thing that the fans of Last Thursday need to keep in mind is that more than a few of the people in this neighborhood don\’t like it, or, at the most, are ambivalent about it and wouldn\’t mind seeing it go away.

All in all, it went very well.

15 years ago

I live very close to the riot intesection (and slept through it because of my awesome new vinyl windows!)

This month, my daughter set up a lemonaide stand in front of Grasshopper and had a really great time. Next month: strawberry lemonaide!

There were neighborhood folks (in orange vests) reminding people that they need to not drink on the street (One friend called it \”the last thursday protection society\”). And my husband and I reminded a few people to be discreet with the alcohol consumption. Walking down the street drinking a beer is a sure way to attract the attention of the police. I think people need to ask themselves \”would I behave this way in my own neighborhood?\” I guess some people think this makes us evil \”do-gooders\” or \”malitia\” members. Fine with me.

As a long time resident, I enjoy the festive atmosphere, the wacky bikes, the costumes, the music, etc (and who wouldn\’t compared to the drive by shotings of 10 years ago!) Howevver, Thursday is a work and school night for many of us. There have been Last Thursdays in the past where we have been woken up by partiers late at night. And Last Thursdays where getting our daughter to sleep has been a real problem.

Thanks to everyone who bought lemonaide!

15 years ago

I can\’t wait to drag the party someplace else.