My Take on the Friday Tape Thing


I was headed down to the Max stop at the Convention Center on Friday with every intention of helping pull up tape for “The Cause.” I stopped by Aztec to say hi to a couple of friends, who happen to be older african americans. I told them about ripping up the tape, blah, blah, blah. They said that the idea was good, but we weren’t going to prove anything or further the cause by pulling up tape the day before the parade. In a sense we would just be causing problems for people the next day. They had been involved in the civil rights protests, and said that if you want to make a statement you don’t do it by bullying people.

I thought about this as I walked down to the Convention Center. I was a little late so I missed the actual Cleaning Crew, but I was glad I did, because looking down MLK all I could see were tents, campers, barbeques and lots of people getting together and having fun. I didn’t have the heart to go rip up tape, when all of these people were so excited and happy to see each other and tailgate before the parade. With all the hype I had anticipated seeing a ghostland of tape-ridden streets, not a bunch of families and friends having a good time.

So I decided instead to talk to them and see what they thought about the whole controversy. I’ve read some other reports from the event, and everyone was saying how supportive the campers were. I got the exact opposite reaction from the folks I talked to. The general concensus was that it was scary to have this huge group of people walking down the street and pulling up the tape. First of all they wanted to know who these people were, and what gave them the right to rip up tape the night before the parade. The family pictured above has camped out every year, and normally the dad sleeps in the car while the kids camped out on the sidewalk. This year he was concerned and worried about what other groups might take it upon themselves to possibly harass the people camping out. I don’t think that was a consideration to the tape cleaning up crew. With all the media attention it left doors wide open for anyone else who wanted to get their message out there.

The more people I talked to the sadder the whole tape ripping up thing became. People agreed that it’s not cool to tape and not camp out, but they said that it’s something the city should deal with, not a group of vigilantes who have taken it upon themselves to mess with people the night before the event. In a sense it was sort of a ding dong dash. I am fairly sure that the same group of people didn’t show up to the parade the next day to find out the repercussions of their actions. If part of the point, besides the “cutting in line” theory, was to clean up trash I didn’t see the media covering them picking up all the tape after the parade. I think it’s because they weren’t there.

It seems like as the results of a really slow news day in Portland the Mercury got a ton of free media attention, we managed to insult people from the “burbs”, and we showed our own sense of self-entitlement and even ellitism. I don’t know why people would use Gresham as a stereotype for trashy ignorant people because my definition of a Greshamite is defined by my cousin Shari who was raised in Gresham, and happens to be cool, is in the Wussy Scooter Club, and went to high school with Poison Waters another Gresham native who would be furious to be labeled in that way.

All in all I found it heartening that people are still excited about a 100 year old parade, and get together every year to meet up with their friends, have barbeques, and celebrate. I know the tape rippers feel like they made a statement, but it was funny to see people following up after the rippers had left, and put the tape back down. Overall it just seemed like kind of a mean thing to do, and a bad karma generator. I’m glad Randy Leonard was able to see that it is something that needs to be dealt with, but I hope in the future it doesn’t resort to something like this again.

So onto other things. This is getting boring.

22 Comments so far

  1. Nolando (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 10:06 am

    Funny – I thought the “self-entitlement” was somebody staking out a claim, taking away something that belongs to everyone by saying, “THIS is MINE!” versus the removal of said boundaries? Seemed to accomplish the much more communal aspect (and consequences) of making the space belong to everyone instead of individuals/families.

    My bro-in-law is in the Portland Metro 5-0 and said the spirit of camaraderie was barely evident on Saturday before, during, and after the parade as well. All over a parade. Just silly.

  2. Himself (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 10:36 am

    My wife, a Portland native, stopped going to Rose Festival parades some time ago, because it’s turned into such a competitive sport just finding a viewing spot. After the tape rippers cleaned it up, we actually considered going this year (but staying in the warm bed won out).

    My only experience with a Rose Festival parade was the Junior parade a few years back. We got a decent spot, but were elbowed out by a late-arriving couple, who claimed to have staked out a spot up front. They literally pushed their way through the crowd and evicted a family from their curb-side seats. They had no children with them, and the fact that they had taped out a spot gave them the privilege of showing up late and pushing out people who had come early. Disgusting.

    Taping should be banned, period. These are our public streets. If you want good seats, camp out, have fun, and commune with your parade neighbors. Or you can buy grandstand seats!

    To lay tape a week in advance and then show up the day of the parade and expect to have “your” space reeks of the kind of childish individualism/libertarianism I’ve seen nowhere else but Portland.

  3. Aaron B. Hockley (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 11:03 am

    I’m always amused by folks who post a big long rant and then say “this is boring, onto other things”.

    What gave me the right to go rip up the tape? The same thing that gave other folks the right to go put it down. Except instead of littering, I was doing something legal.

  4. Martin (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 1:35 pm

    My family put down tape and we came and spent Friday night sleeping at our spot. Early Saturday morning, we welcomed 50 people to share our spot, and this included people who we just met on the day who had no place of their own. By doing this we had a diverse group who enjoyed the parade. They were friends who hailed from Kentucky, Arkansas, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as relatives from Beaverton and Clackamas. We ourselves are south-east Portlanders, and had 3 neighbors with us. Talk about fun and camaraderie! And when the parade was over we pulled all our tape up, picked up other trash and left it all in the SOLV bags handed out before the parade. The duct tape thing is not a big deal. It has been blown way out of proportion by a politician and a newspaper wanting free publicity. What a sad state of affairs that this becomes newsworthy.

  5. dieselboi (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 1:45 pm

    Personally, I had a blast on Friday night. I helped clean up the street and I believed that what I was doing was the right thing to do. I spoke to a family who were camped out on Lloyd/MLK when we were wandering down. Initially, they were defensive and wanted to make sure their tape wasn’t ripped up. They engaged us, asked us questions. When we explained that we were only ripping up tape that was abandoned and not ripping up tape for those people who were camping, their mood changed. They have a prime spot and had been camping out there yearly for the past 30 years. He confirmed my memory that the taping had only started about 10 years ago. Before that (and I remember doing this as a kid) people came and camped out or arrived early.
    This isn’t about tradition, it is about egalitarianism. Everyone should have the right and ability to go get a spot.
    Oh, and to your point that people were putting tape back down after we went by – cool! That is what we wanted to happen. Force people to come down the night of the parade and claim spots, not 2 weeks before.
    Too bad you didn’t get to join us. We had a lot of fun and out of all the interactions we had, I would say 4 of 10 were negative. Not a bad ratio.

  6. Wm. Steven Humphrey (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

    At the risk of further boring Kai, here’s a question for Martin. If your original intention was to share the sidewalk with 50 other people you didn’t know, then why tape it out in the first place? Thanks for picking up your tape. Many others didn’t.

  7. Wm. Steven Humphrey (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 1:57 pm

    Oh, and Kai? Congratulations on having two African American friends. I can see how they come in handy in situations such as these.

  8. Kai (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

    Thanks Steven, I was waiting for someone to comment on the friends issue. I have more than two friends who aren’t white like me, just wanted to point out that I appreciated their point of view on the situation. When I am ready to discuss issues on gay pride coming up I’ll make sure to quote my two gay friends I like to bring in on those issues.

  9. Wm. Steven Humphrey (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

    I hear ya. I have two Italian friends that I only call on whenever I make spaghetti.

  10. jack (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

    No, Aaron, the people taping had a reason: they wanted to attend the parade and were following a tradition that, whether you like it or not, has been in place in Portland for at least a decade.

    You, on the other hand, couldn’t give a shit about the parade. You just wanted to get drunk on Friday night and feel extra special telling other folks how you are better than them.

    Ass hole.

  11. Martin (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 3:52 pm

    I think you misunderstood my comment. My intention was to have about 50 friends of mine join me, from church, from neighbors, from relatives, etc but I am always open and looking to invite others on the day, whom I have not met, and who become new friends at the Parade, join me. We can always squeeze in a little more. In the previous years I have formed friendships with people from Medford and Vermont who sat with me and who continued to correspond with me afterwards.

  12. Wm. Steven Humphrey (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

    Okay, Martin, I think I’m starting to see where you’re coming from now, but here’s the thing: By taping off the sidewalk for the use of 50 of your friends, you are placing your needs and YOUR friends above everyone else. That’s selfish behavior. Next year, before putting that tape down days in advance, thereby pushing out the thousands of people who aren’t lucky enough to be your friend or go to your church, you might want to ask yourself, “what would Jesus do?”
    (I’m assuming you go to a Christian church.)

  13. Sarah (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 4:54 pm

    To Steven: Have you ever actually attended the Grand Floral parade?

  14. Daaaaave (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 6:32 pm

    Can I be portland metblogs special jewish rosh hashanah correspondent?

  15. Joe Garagiola (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

    Hey Steve.

    Did I get that right? Steve?

    You made a major mistake. You have no idea how much of an asshole you made yourself to be. It’s a crime to put this kind of crap into effect. I have no respect for you.

    Eat shit.

    The same kind as you fostered.

    That was cheap.

  16. Joe Garagiola (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

    Hey Steve.

    Did I get that right? Steve?

    You made a major mistake. You have no idea how much of an asshole you made yourself to be. It’s a crime to put this kind of crap into effect. I have no respect for you.

    Eat shite.

    The same kind as you fostered.

    That was cheap.

  17. Joe Garagiola (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

    Hey Steve.

    Did I get that right? Steve?

    You made a major mistake. You have no idea how much of an asshole you made yourself to be. It’s a crime to put this kind of crap into effect. I have no respect for you.

    Eat shite.

    The same kind as you fostered.

    That was cheap.

  18. Daaaaave (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 8:39 pm

    So nice Joe had to post it thrice.

  19. warner (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 9:44 am

    And they say there’s a literacy problem in America.

  20. Julian (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

    It would be nice if people would just admit their is some “greyness” here. Even if one did not want to tape, it appears that one would need to because it has become the norm (and therefore needed for a good spot)in the last years.

    Also, taping a spot for a parade does not make you a bad person or against public spaces. You might be a bad person and against public spaces, but all the tape shows is that you wanted a spot to see a parade.

    The problem is that the tape-destroyers feel like they had done this great public good, and possibly have. It seems rather logical that taping a public space is not enforceable and therefore should not have been allowable by the city–It had become an expected and tolerated practice though, and that is not the tapers fault.

    Yet, there has been this vilification of the people who put tape down. Why? Well, I imagine because it doesn’t feel good to do something t people you (would) like. If they are “taking public land” and “littering the streets”, it is easier to feel good about what you are doing to stop them. If they are simply putting tape down because that had become a normal, accepted practice–you are attacking the wrong people.

    The correct people to attack would be the government to enforce no taping (which seems to be happening). We’ve all done worse things than tape a freaking sidewalk top see a parade, and we didn’t have a bunch of people and the media telling us we were jerks for it.

    Hopefully, there just won’t be taping allowed next year.

  21. no one in particular (unregistered) on June 13th, 2007 @ 1:06 am

    Julian: really, though, how do you propose to enforce a “no taping” rule? Let’s not forget that we already have “no littering” rules, but the cops can’t be everywhere all the time and it takes but a minute to throw down some duct tape.

    I would submit that a pre-parade clean-up action is the only feasible method for stopping this madness in the future. If it happens every year, hopefully people will eventually see the futility of taping spots days in advance and the problem will stop. I just don’t see how it’s possible for the overburdened cops to give people a ticket for putting down tape.

  22. Julian (unregistered) on June 13th, 2007 @ 10:10 am


    I don’t think the tapers are hard-core law breakers. I have seen the police make a larger presence on annual drinking nights like Mardi Gras. If the police/city were to make an announcement that taping was not legal, not allowed, and tapers would be fined for littering; I believe most of it would go away rather quickly.

    It would do one thing for sure–the people who show up early would have the city behind them instead of the tapers. If the tapers wanted to point out their tape, then call the cops and get fined.

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