Monday, September 3, 2007

Drugstore Cowboy - Special Feature

Gus Van Sant filmed the opening sequence to his 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy in the old industrial northwest section of Portland. To say the area has changed since then is an understatement. The area between NW Broadway and 12th north of Lovejoy Ave. was all railroad tracks. Some tracks between NW 8th and 12th continued down to Hoyt and spurs on 11th and 12th went all the way to Burnside to service the Blitz Weinhard brewery. Now known as the Pearl District, the area is packed with high-rise condos and toney shops catering not to the grimy train man, but the upper income set. Van Sant's film captured a bit of old Portland (and old Portland signs) that, for good or bad, no longer exists.

The opening shot shows Bob Hughes (actor Matt Dillon) under the Lovejoy Ave. ramp at about 12th street. Looking south, the white building in the upper right now is home to the Cultured Pearl at 12th and Hoyt. The building behind and to the left of it, with the slanted roof, is the Pacific Coast Biscuit Co. building and the red smudge on its face is the Snow Flake Sodas sign. Stand on the corner of Lovejoy and 12th today and look south. You're now standing in the center of a maze of high density condos and shops with a very limited view indeed.

In this scene, Kelly Lynch's character Dianne stands directly under the Lovejoy ramp next to one of the Lovejoy Columns (you're looking west). The building behind her with the red stripe (now painted all gray) still stands on the corner of Lovejoy and 12th.

The same column, again looking west but to the north of Lovejoy. That building, at 13th street, was demolished in May 2007 to make way for a Safeway and residential/retail complex.

Try this now and you're likely to be run down by traffic or the streetcar on Lovejoy.

I recently posted photos of the Oregon Transfer Co. sign at NW 13th and Flanders. Heather Graham (the lovely and doomed Nadine) frolicked in front of that sign in this scene. Heather fans: stand in her place and take a self portait.

Same sign, James LeGros (Rick) and Heather Graham.

(Images: Avenue Pictures)

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