Monday, May 12, 2008


I went out to do some work today in a place called Fairview Village out in east Portland. The funny thing is that I was the field geologist for this site over ten years ago - I walked the then-fields and -woods with a tracked excavator trailing behind me digging test pits for the future - now existing - development.

I have been responsible for a lot of crap development over the years: Subway stores, cell towers, animal shelters, even a prison. But Fairview is one I have always felt good about, a great idea well realized.

But the visit today reminded me of a funny story relating to this place. The original site had a large area that was underlain by a virtual pavement of immense basalt boulders ripped from the Columbia Gorge by the vast Missoula Floods. This area was untillable, and the farmer had left it in timber.

The forest cover made it delightful for Portland's urban pioneers, and the homeless camp inside the woods was one of the biggest I'd ever seen. The litter was truly stupefying. Clothes, food, auto parts, over 100 woodstoves...the excavator and I picked our way through a wonderland of debris.

And among the debris were scattered individual pages of a paperback novel. Not just ANY paperback novel. This was one of those paperback novels, the ones with the cartoon of immensely-endowed women in deshabille on the cover. The kind newsstands used to sell back in the corner, next to "Juggs" magazine.

The forest floor was littered with torn pages of this thing. As we travelled about we accumulated about a chapter, enough to get the gist of the thing, anyway. Let's just say that the main characters were a woman...and a gorilla...and leave it at that, shall we?

So, anyway, when I sat down to write geotechnical report the "Surface Conditions" portion read something like this:

"...and a thick understory of swordfern, snowberry, rhododendron and blackberry canes. An extreme variety of man-made debris was observed on the ground surface including soil and rock excavation spoil, wood (including dimension lumber), brick, metal, plastic, cloth and household items, paper, several automobile bodies and scattered individual pages of a grossly salacious and pornographic novel entitled: 'Rajah'."

I knew that he'd got to that section when my then-boss started laughing so hard I heard him through the door to his office.

That item didn't make the final revision.


srv said...

Thanks for the laugh. I remember being a young teenager and we'd find the tamest pboys out in the woods somewhere and think we'd hit treasure.

Some kind of surveyor or hunters debris. Makes you wonder what goes on out in those woods.

Lisa said...

"Let's just say that the main characters were a woman...and a gorilla"

...they've written my story!