Day 179: Celebrate the dream of the nineties

March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

If you had told me a few years ago that there would be a stereotypical Portlander like there are stereotypical Southerners or New Yorkers, I would have called you crazy.

But thanks to shows like Portlandia and Christian Lander’s book “Stuff White People Like,” bike-loving, food cart-centric Portland culture has become a tangible, recognizable thing. I couldn’t even tell you how many times in the past few months people have asked me if the dream of the 90’s really is alive in Portland.

And you know what? I tell them it is, because I have seen every single person in that video at one point or another in the Rose City, and I’m pretty sure a lot of the actors in there aren’t even actors but are just people they picked up off the street. Having grown up in PDX, it wasn’t until moving to Chicago that I came to the realization that other places aren’t like Portland. They don’t have an affinity for ducks or beavers, get rain 364 days of the year, or have homeless people who hold up signs saying, “Will work for weed.”

I’ve read that some Portlanders are offended by the characterizations on the show and feel that it is inaccurate. Well of course not everyone in the city fits perfectly into the Portlandia mold, but there are a ton that do, and the world they depict is definitely one in which I feel at home.

For instance, take this clip from Portlandia about locally raised chicken:

Then click here to be redirected to Bugerville’s website, where they list all of the local sources for their produce and meat – and that is just our fast food!

A girl in one of my classes at Medill recently asked me what a hipster was, and within 30 seconds I was able to find a very Portland-esque online photo of my old friend Ian Beecroft that perfectly illustrates what would’ve been an insufficient oral explanation:

Kimono, cigarette, facial hair, weird camera angle, dog with scarf – it has it all. If you’ve seen this photo you’ve pretty much been to Portland.

To end, you should follow this link to a clip from Portlandia of tryouts for a baseball team. In it the players’ athletic ability isn’t measured at all – they’re just judged on how they’d react in baseball situations and their passion for the game. It reminded me of how in Rip City, we don’t keep score of most sporting events for young kids because they are all supposed to be about love of the game. As my Uncle Kerry always said, “The winner is the person who had the most fun.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is Portland – home to New Seasons, Deschutes Brewery, school closings on days with less than an inch of snow, the Trailblazers and recycle bins as big or bigger than garbage cans. I am proud to say I hail from Portlandia.



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