Portland Street Scene


You can see street performers in nearly any large American city. Near Pier 39 in San Francisco you can see musicians and mimes and also performers acting like metallic robots. They are fun to watch and often quite talented.

I don’t know where people get the nerve and courage to perform like that in public. My first non-sports related attempt was back in my high school days. There was an experimental class that emphasized the arts off all sorts and I took it as an elective. It was fun…and actually very interesting. I wrote some music (and discovered that being a composer was not my gift), dabbled in some stage stuff (I participated in numerous plays/dramas/musicals) and really enjoyed myself. But my first attempt at performing in public on my own was when I sang, “Sunrise, Sunset” on stage. Thankfully, it wasn’t recorded for posterity!

The young lady in this image was on the sidewalk down by the river in Portland, Oregon. She was quite gifted and was playing guitar (I don’t recall her singing, though), but she played more by hammering the strings with her fingers than strumming or “picking” the notes. I wish I could have stayed and observed her talent longer, but we were off to another destination.

People like this have my admiration and appreciation. I think the only talent that I have which I can demonstrate in public is to appreciate those who are gifted and encourage them!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY (from History.com): in 1831, John X. Beidler, one of the best known of the notoriously secretive Montana vigilantes, was born in Pennsylvania.

Beidler, who preferred to be called simply “X,” had little formal education and tried his hand at a variety of trades. Initially a shoemaker, he also worked briefly as a brick maker and then traveled to Kansas where he took up farming. A supporter of John Brown’s radical abolitionist movement, he left Kansas for Texas after Brown was captured and executed for his abortive raid on the Harper’s Ferry armory in Virginia. From Texas, Beidler wandered northward, eventually joining the Gold Rush to Montana Territory in 1863.

When Beidler arrived in Virginia City, the area was plagued by marauding bandits who roamed the isolated roads of the region robbing and killing. The bandits were led by a charming psychopath named Henry Plummer who had managed to con the citizens into electing him sheriff of the nearby town of Bannock. Frustrated by the ineffectiveness of the local law enforcement, the citizens of Virginia City and Bannock formed a highly secretive vigilance committee and began systematically hunting down and hanging the road agents, including Sheriff Plummer.

Not long after arriving in Virginia City, Beidler joined the vigilantes and became one of the group’s most active members. Unlike most of the members, who took pains to conceal their identities, Beidler welcomed attention. Numerous legends arose around the so-called “Vigilante X,” and Beidler did little to discourage exaggerations—in fact, much of the Beidler lore was true. He was the principal hangman for at least five of the vigilante’s victims, and he survived several narrow escapes in his relentless pursuit of dangerous men.

After helping rid Montana of crime, Beidler became a stagecoach guard and deputy U.S. Marshall. He appears to have been highly effective in these roles, though he was criticized for sometimes overstepping the bounds of his authority. Apparently, the former vigilante still liked to take the law into his own hands.

As an old man, he fell on hard times and became dependent on the charity of Montanans who remembered his previous service. When he died in Helena, Montana, in 1890, his death certificate listed his occupation as “Public Benefactor.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: back in 1967, the band Procol Harum released a song titled A Whiter Shade of Pale, that included a reference to “vestal virgins”.  You may not know what that was referring to, but here’s a snippet: the Vestal Virgins of Rome were women priests who tended the sacred fire of Vesta, goddess of the hearth fire. If they lost their virginity, even as a result of rape, they were buried alive in an unmarked grave. In the 1,000-year history of the temple, only 18 Vestals received this punishment.


2 thoughts on “Portland Street Scene

  1. I respect that the street musicians have the confidence to go out and play in front of people like that. I’d have a harder time.

    But it is smart. What a great way to practice outside, not get yelled at by neighbors, and possibly make a few bucks at the same time? Genius! :D

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