Portlanders say it’s necessary to keep Portland weird.
Sorry gang, but that horse has left the barn, the door is closed, and the fat lady has sung. The party’s over, it’s time to call it a day.
Oh I’m not saying Portland isn’t quirky. Sure it’s got it’s quirks. Except those quirks are only quirks if you have been living in a cave for the past ten years. In fact those quirks aren’t even quirks anymore. Portland has gotten less quirky as the rest of the country has turned quirky into mainstream.
Donut shop with wild flavor combinations? That trend has taken over the deep fried sugar breakfast industry throughout the land. Voodoo Donuts might have done it first, but they have been copied to the point where it’s the expected, not the unusual. Civic artwork splashed across every formally blank wall in town? Um, have you seen the Windward Walls in Miami? Or the Arts District in Los Angeles? Or the Mission District in San Francisco? Or the one in, well you name the major American city, you’ll find it. Civic engagement in the age of COVID via taking the annual Rose Festival Parade and turning it into a stationary parade of people’s front porches decorated with what would have been the parade floats? Eh, well talk to New Orleans about this past year’s Mardi Gras.
Don’t get me wrong, Portland is a beautiful city with warm engaging people. They are the kind of people who will go out of their way to help a stranger in town find the best brewpub (Deschutes Brewing in the Pearl District) or let you know about the off the beaten path ramen joint (Kayo Ramen on North Williams). They take their eating and drinking seriously in this town. But it’s not anymore serious than any other big city has become.
We’ve homogenized “weirdness” to the point of sameness across the land. Portland is no more or no less weird these days than New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles or any other urban mecca. It’s all a heady mix of coffee shops, vegan restaurants, non-traditional companies looking to shift the paradigm, etc.
OK the citizenry might have a few more tattoos but let’s face it, tattoos are soooo 2012 on the weirdness scale.
I really want to make this clear, I love Portland. What a wonderful livable city it is. Mile after mile of tree lined streets with single family houses on either side. It’s even quaint the way so many of the residential streets are barely wide enough for two cars to pass one another. Forget it if there are cars parked on the street, maybe one car can get through. And I love that the city has done it’s best to keep major chain retailers out and given room for the local guys to try and make a living. And the food scene is incredible. No matter what kind of food you want to eat there are probably a couple of restaurants serving it, complete with their own house brewed beer or locally sourced wine. And when push comes to shove, the Rose Garden in Washington Park is the place you go to shove the push out of your life for a few minutes.
But really how many pot stores do you need? I don’t mean the kind of pot you put a bird on. I mean the kind of pot that their state legalized back in 2015. There are streets where it’s literally one shop after another and arguments can be heard over which one is best. It may not be the way your town boogies, but it probably will be real soon.
Portland is not weird. Not the way they want to claim it to be.
It’s not their fault. While the people of Portland were trying to “Keep Portland Weird“, the rest of the country became just as weird and in some ways even weirder. What were once the Portland foibles that the show Portlandia made fun of are now commonplace across the country. The waiter gives you a run down of where the ingredients for your meal came from? Pretty much every high end restaurant now flaunts their farm to table bonifides. A feminist bookstore? One in every town. A grocery store makes you feel like an outlaw for not bringing in a reusable bag? Happens all the time. Bicyclists are a tad obnoxious? I’m sorry have you driven in a major city lately?
Meanwhile the city, inundated with people wanting to go live the “Portland lifestyle” are still flocking in. Housing is in tight demand. And every new apartment building going up is….boring. It’s the same cookie cutter construction you see in every town in America. Clear out some old abandoned building, level the ground, and go to work making as many tiny apartments as you can that will be rented out for whatever the market will bear. And the market, according to the wife’s (Cruella) real estate broker cousin is demanding a lot. Don’t even think about trying to buy one of those single family homes on a street lined with canopy covering trees unless you have close to or over a million to spend. Think you’re going to get some great deal on a place to live because this isn’t New York or Los Angeles? ‘Fraid not there bucko.
As the post-COVID world is beginning to take shape Portland and the rest of the country are in a frantic race to meet each other in the middle of the weirdness scale.
So now let’s talk about what happened last summer. You’ll remember that there were major protests over the killing of George Floyd in Portland. The area around the downtown Federal Courthouse became a symbol for the rift between conservatives and liberals on the issue. Those protests were entirely peaceful until someone started ordering crackdowns on the protesters. Who gave the order? I can’t say for sure it was the current occupant of the island state of Maralago, but I do know it had to be someone who thought “Oh, Portland, sure, bunch of weirdos there, no one will mind if I send in the troops to go bash some heads”. Heads get bashed, buildings get trashed. Doesn’t get any simpler than that.
By the way, if you are a Faux News viewer (and if you are, thanks for having the guts to read something that isn’t coming out of the Murdoch minions mouths) I want to let you know that the federal building that was covered in graffiti that Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson couldn’t stop going on about is now clean. The fencing is gone and it looks just like every other city’s federal courthouse
Just like every other American city is moving to look like Portland.