June 2, 2009 by John Chilson
Every once in a while I come across an image, factoid, booklet or yeah, postcard, that reminds me why I produce Lost Oregon [other than the gazillions of adoring fans or occasional crackpot emailer]. Last week I nabbed a stack of old issues of the Portland Scribe, Portland’s own early 1970s underground/counterculture newspaper from 1972 – 1975.
The late 60s and early 70s were ripe for newspapers such as the Scribe – most of the daily biggies didn’t cover much of the news that these smaller circulation papers carried – the Vietnam war, impeaching Nixon, music and underground film, labor issues, the draft, and most importantly, local issues.
Sure, some of the content is unintentionally funny [“The EYES, an all-woman, all-rock from Oakland, California, played in Portland at Beaver Hall”] or hilariously dated [“EYES zapped right into what is considered by some to be within the capabilities of men only; they even did a ‘macho medley-for all closet Rolling Stones fans,’ a total triumph over male chauvinist pigs and m.c.p. dupes.”].
There are Wounded Knee references galore. Obscenity is used freely. There’s a review of Deep Throat – it screened at the Aladdin Theater – the reviewer didn’t care for it. Laurelhurst Park had jazz concerts in 1975 that were eventually shut down by the city. Jerry Lee Lewis played Crystal Palace in 1972. There are all kinds of minute pieces of local history that have slipped through the cracks. It’s a real-time glimpse into our city that I’ve never seen.
The paper holds up well. The layout and design got increasingly sophisticated each year. Each issue has a classified section that offers help to homeless teens, draft dodgers and cheap housing for hippes. I was also impressed with the DIY aesthetic represented with regards to growing your own food; organic gardening and living healthier.
My take is that The Scribe set the groundwork for what we now know as Portland. Growing your own food and self-reliance? Check. Fighting big business and agribusiness? Check. Protesting ugly buildings being built while razing historical ones? Check. [“High rising with the rich folks,” reported that “an 18-story luxury apartment building is being planned by Harold and Arleen Schnitzer. This building exemplifies all of the short-comings of high-rise construction.”]
My favorite score though is the collection of great advertising and imagery from local businesses including record stores, clubs, head shops, book stores, boutiques, and other shops that were frequented by the hippies, freaks, anti-war folks, and I’m sure, narcs.
I’ll be scanning and posting some of the best of the adverts soon and will be using many of the food-related ads for my in-progress post on the history of Portland dining, 1955-1980.
The Hockshop on Grand:
Summerfest, 1973. All-day? Portland International Raceway? This has “bad acid” written all over it:
The Yellow Submarine Shop: