When I travel, I turn into a brand anthropologist: I gawk at, and photograph, names and signs that locals take in stride. Last week’s brief trip to Portland via Coast Starlight was no exception.
TheStandard (yes, one word), a division of StanCorp Financial Group (of course), is an insurance company that may or may not be based in New York—the website is maddeningly vague. I’d never heard of it before last week.
What caught my attention was the tagline: “Positively different.” The blue flag emblem suggests the “banner, pennant” definition of standard, but the word has multiple meanings, and I couldn’t help being slightly puzzled: Isn’t the whole point of a standard that it’s positively the same at all times?
Food carts are at least as big a phenomenon in Portland as they are here in the Bay Area, with one major difference: Here the carts are nomadic; you need to follow them on Twitter to figure out where they’ll be heading next. In Portland, the carts are permanently parked along a couple of busy downtown sidewalks.
A small sampling of the dozens of food carts on Alder Street.
This takes a lot of the serendipitous fun out of the whole affair; but, on the other hand, it’s in keeping with Portland’s polite, orderly vibe. (Such courteous drivers!)
One cart’s name reminded me that I haven’t written about “Mr.” businesses in a while. (See my May 2008 post, “Mr.-y Spot.”)
As the Food Carts Portland blog notes, “Shouldn’t it be Senor Taco?” Good question.
I saw a second Mr. in Southeast Portland; a friend was driving so I couldn’t shoot the sign, but I later found it online.
I’m sure top hats are a big hit with today’s prom-goers.
Mr. Formal operates stores in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Arizona; its slogan is “Tuxedos for All Generations.” Isn’t it cute the way the cross-bar on the F resembles a bow tie?
Finally, at the Portland Art Museum—the oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest—I spotted this sign.
Photography is verboten, but the very nice security guard made an exception for me.
It seems to me that if you go to the effort and expense of building a center of modern & contemporary art, you could at the very least spell contemporary with all its syllables. And maybe spell out “and.”
I do, however, like the way the museum’s logo highlights “art”:
Yes, it’s another cartouche museum logo!