The City of Portland Made a Sign Reading “Heartbreak Dead Ahead”
“It just magically appeared one day."
By Matthew Korfhage
On a cold day in December, something strange showed up in front of Terry Currier's 48-year-old music store, Music Millennium, at Southeast 32nd Avenue and East Burnside Street.
"It just magically appeared one day," says Currier. "It looked like an official sign. None of us knew how it appeared there. My first suspicion was it was an art project, but it looked pretty official."
The yellow and black highway-style sign carried a simple message: "HEARTBREAK DEAD AHEAD."
"I kept reaching out to people," says Currier, "and finally one of my customers called the city."
The culprit was a likely one: outgoing City Commissioner Steve Novick. In October, he'd also put up caps reading "Positively 4th Street" on Portland's 4th Avenue street signs, for Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize.
Novick believes that the sign dedication ceremony in December may have been his final act in office.
"You know the lyric, right?" Novick says. '"They say that love is blind, but it's as clear as a highway sign.' So I thought there should be an actual street sign somewhere in the world honoring the song, and the Marvelettes."
He even reached out to Katherine Anderson of the Marvelettes, but didn't hear back.
Despite its timing, Novick says the sign should not be construed as a commentary on the election he lost in a nail biter to incoming Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
"I'd been meaning to do it for a long time," he says. "Probably in August, I asked how much it would cost, and they said $400. I did deliberately put it on the approach to Music Millennium. I figured if they saw the sign, it might ring a bell."
"He somehow got the city to approve funds to make that sign," says Currier. "It couldn't have been in a better place."