I pass by this mural practically every day. It’s about a block and a half from my place, pretty much right between Chez Galby and my favorite caffeinating and intoxicating holes, which are conveniently located next door to one another. I say “practically” just in case I miss the odd day, but I don’t actually think that happens unless I’m temporarily near death…
I like to think it’s based off this pic, but I’ve never fact-checked it.
This is a mural honoring Steve Prefontaine, a runner for the University of Oregon in the late 60s and early 70s. He’s a native Oregonian – well, was…he was killed in a single car drunk driving accident in 75 – and has had a fanboy grip on me since I learned about him forever ago.
A) because he was an Oregon hero
B) he spoke to me on a gay-instinctual level before I knew what sexuality even was…I mean, hubba-hubba
C) he represented a mystery to me…dying when I was only 7, I never knew of him in real time so my connection to him has always been inexplicable.
Well, minus the hubba-hubba factor.
He never lost a distance race, his entire running career. He’s actually co-credited with starting the running craze, not just here in Oregon, but nationwide. Take that, Jim
Of course, Jim bothered to live a bit longer than Pre. Still, dying at 52 versus 24 could give you a pretty solid con-running argument.
Glad I was forcibly retired from running?
Anyway, I wear a winter reminder of this mural, so I find myself thinking of my slight Prefontaine Obsession even when I’m not passing the mural. A couple years back, I was walking back from breakfast at Fullers and saw some nogoodnicks throwing fluorescent green paint on the mural.
Acting before thinking, I ran toward them yelling at them to stop. They ran off like punks, throwing down their paint cans as they left.
Me. Running again!
I got closer than I thought because when I got home I realized some of their paint had splattered on me as their paint cans bounced around. Lucky me, it was my $400 Arcteryx jacket.
I’m not letting a little green paint stop me from wearing that!
Or the fact that I’m a little too puffy to wear a puffy down jacket.
One of my favorite things about this mural, though? The optical illusion.
It’s even odds that that plumbing hardware is going to make me think, “Ooh, nipple!” as I pass by.
3 thoughts on “Before Forrest There Was Pre…”
When I was looking at the lead photo here, I was wondering what that was. Like yourself, my first thought was a man’s nipple. Thank you for solving that mystery! It’s funny how our childhood fascinations can influence our lives. Mine was Kareem Abdul-Jabar, which steered me into basketball, a sport I still enjoy to this very day! Naked hugs!
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I would love to visit this mural some day. My husband and his twin are huge Pre fans. My nephews middle name is Pre! We’ve visited Coos Bay, Portland, and Eugene before but must have missed this. dDo you mind giving me the exact location for our next trip so we won’t miss it? Thanks so much.
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Wow, what a delightful and unexpected response to this post! Where do you and your family live?
The mural is actually in Portland, just down from where I live in the NW part of town. It is on the corner of NW Davis and NW Park. Easy to find!