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Monday, November 19, 2007

Portland Renaming 42nd Avenue for Douglas Adams

Posted by Amy J. Ruiz on Mon, Nov 19 at 2:49 PM

Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_%28book_cover%29.jpgI just chatted with Aaron Duran, the guy behind the fledgling movement to rename 42nd Avenue for Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (In the book, the “Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything” is 42, hence the choice of streets.)

Duran concedes that the idea began as a joke. He and several friends were discussing the César E. Chávez rename issue over beers a few weeks ago, and wondered if anyone could try to rename a street. “Can you just name anything after anyone? What if someone wanted to make a street after Douglas Adams?” Duran says.

But after they researched Adams a bit more, “It makes sense. He was real big in global conservation, a huge advocate of bringing technology to everyone, and a support of the free flow of education—the idea that educating people could help solve issues like global poverty,” Duran adds. In other words, Adams might as well have been a Portlander, his values dovetail so well with our city’s. Meanwhile, Adams—who died in 2001 at the age of 49—”enjoyed his spirits and his fine beers.”

“It’s something that’s possible and something the city could be proud of,” Duran says.

So they started a website for the effort, and Duran just got a copy of the official rename process application today. “As pedantic and annoying as bureaucracy can be, you can’t put yourselves above the rules—even if you’re the mayor,” says Duran, who lives off of 43rd. He and the rest of the 42nd rename team plan to follow the official rename process to the letter, he says. “Since we’re not on the council we can’t really strong arm this one, and we don’t want to,” he says. They’re about to start raising the money needed to file the application, and they’ve reached out to Adams’ widow to see if they can get her blessing.

I also spoke with Clarance Larkins, head of the NE 42nd Avenue Business Association.

“Is this a joke?” he asked. I assured him that as far as I could tell, it is not, and I directed him to the website.

“Whoever’s in charge of that, probably needs to come to a [business association] meeting,” he says. “They haven’t even talked to us about it. I think they’re going about this the wrong way.” Uh oh.

Larkins, who hadn’t heard of Adams, adds that this sounds different than the Chávez effort. “That’s a real person,” he says. “Here we’re talking about galaxies and whatever.”


I'm sort of watching a bit before forming an opinion about this.

I'm a big fan of Douglas Adams, and I would love to see such an appropriately numbered street named in his honor.

That being said, if this turns out to be perceived (or used by opportunists) as a snarky way to diminish the idea of naming a street somewhere for Chavez, I'd have a hard time supporting it.

So: Let's work to honor Adams, but keep working to find common ground on honoring Chavez.

- Bob R.

What is Douglas Adams' relationship to Portland that merits trashing a rational system of naming streets for him? If Douglas Adams fans feel so strongly about renaming 42nd avenue to honor the man, then they should put up part of the cost of renaming the street. Maybe just a small part of the cost, like paying for new stationary for everyone on that street.

Wouldn't Gladstone be a better choice? I mean it already has the Pub at the End of the Universe. Maybe someone could open up Slartibartfarst's Cafe. They could have Vogon poetry readings. the streets could have banners that read: "Welcome to Douglas Adams Blvd. DON"T PANIC!"It would be brilliant!

What if instead of changing the street name it was simply given an honorific, like the Veterans Memorial Hwy (I-205)? Then those in the know are pleased (like me!), and yet there's no need for stationery changes, etc. And then we could simply fundraise to have another sign added to existing signage, like those downtown that indicate "Museum District" or "Old Town".

Added signage might be good. Something that looks like the "Old Town" signage but just says "Don't Panic" on the street sign on the corner of 42nd and Burnside. Simple, cheap and possible that it could actually happen without the angry public hearings.

I've renamed my driveway "Zaphod Beeblebrox Place" if anybody cares.

Does anyone know if the existing city code allows for honorific street names and/or dual signage? That would seem to be (at least in the lighthearted case of Douglas Adams) the way to go.

Especially in this case, it would be important to maintain the "42" on the street signs.

- Bob R.

City Law does not allow Dual Signs for a street. Not that any of the city's LAWS matter as they can be, have been, and will be Waived. Here is the first part of the law 17.93:

1. a person who has achieved prominence as a result of his or her significant, positive contribution to the United States of America and/or the local community;

2. a real person; and

3. a person who has been deceased for at least five years.


I'm thinking of starting a group to rename 37th Avenue after Clerk's director Kevin Smith!

What about MARK ROTHKO , who some consider the most important American artist of the 20th Century. He was from Portland and his first one man show was at the Portland Art Museum.

What about MARK ROTHKO , who some consider the most important American artist of the 20th Century. He was from Portland and his first one man show was at the Portland Art Museum.

What about MARK ROTHKO , who some consider the most important American artist of the 20th Century. He was from Portland and his first one man show was at the Portland Art Museum.

First you hate hispanics - NOW YOU HATE DOUGLAS ADAMS!!???!! Portland is soooo racist! Thank goodness I'm not a alien or spock look alike! RACIST!!

"But Mayor Potter, the plans to change the name of 42nd St. have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."

"Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything."

"But the plans were on display ..."

"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."

"That's the display department."

"With a flashlight."

"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."

"So had the stairs."

"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"

"Yes," said the Mayor, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'."

well...as i see it, to the best of my knowledge Chavez and Rosa Parks never set foot in PDX, so why not Adams. Keeps very well with the "keep portland weird" campaign, and its pretty much in line with everything else this city does.....i am all for this!

This name-change stuff is all pretty stupid, and I appreciate that because it makes my grim task as a satirist fairly simple. Now that the basic rules are out of the way why not reconsider the whole thing. I mean why not rename Portland? Why wait to rename Beaverton? How about 82nd Avenue? Or Portland State University? Or the "Green Line"? I agree with guiltycarnivore.com above, seize control of your words, spray paint random directions, arrows, u-turns in the Sheridan parking lot. It's f*cking anarchy now dudes.

BTW, f*ck Mark Rothko. He left as soon as he could, and unless he was in a depressive funk (which he was in 1933 during his first one-man show at the portland art museum, and again in 1943) never returned.

How about a larger-than-life bronze of Neil Goldschmidt standing in Terry Schrunk Park giving the finger to City Hall? Talk about under appreciated!

Please rename Gladstone. It might make it easier to get a table at Yoko's if people were confused about which street it's on.

I would like to see all of the stoplights replaced with mimes; extravagant handsignals, mimes spraypainted in cheerful colors.

While he's a literary icon, I think the tangential links between Adams and PDX are pretty flimsy. I'd prefer someone who actually had an effect on Portland or was a mainstay of the city.

And just throwing it out there: Elliott Smith?


Adams at least came here for book signings. That's more than you can say for Chavez, Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr.

Why does it have to be one or the other? There can't be a Chavez street and a Douglas Adams street? If one argues that Douglas Adams had nothing to do with Portland, then what is the rational for Chavez? He wasn't born in Portland. His efforts were focused on California as I recall. So his relation to Portland would be no more direct than Douglas Adams. And at least Douglas Adams represents the massive literary culture that exists in this town, except possibly the guy who thinks Douglas Adams "is not a real person" and would probably do well to pick up a book some time.

Clarance Larkins (head of the NE 42nd Avenue Business Association) sounds like a complete and total douchebag. Is there a petition we can file to kick him out of Portland? Or an injunction we can file to sentence him to life in Gresham?

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