Quick quiz for you all: Name the most hipster-y place you can think of. Don’t Google it, just the first thing that comes to mind. (I don’t have any way of really enforcing this, but come on, be cool, I thought we were friends.) Alright, time’s up! What place did you pick?
Trick question: Of course you picked Portland. If not, then your first answer was probably Brooklyn, so give me the second-most hipster-y place you can think of. There we go, now it’s Portland.
It’s really not a terribly surprising choice, given the still-burgeoning reputation for it (thanks, Portlandia!) — and really, I don’t think anyone would argue that reputation isn’t deserved, what with the way the city and its residents present themselves. “Keep Portland Weird,” as the saying goes (the ultimate hipster move: stealing slogans from Austin, TX).
But if you somehow find yourself doubting the legitimacy of this reputation, don’t you worry — Willamette Week is here to help:
26 Reasons to Love Portland Right Now
This should be a fun one! All aboard the magical BrewCycle to the LEED-Certified Pretentiousness Station, kids!
Let’s jump right in, shall we? Everyone comfortable? Are your beers full? Good, because the very first paragraph is a doozy:
“What comes to mind when you think about why you love Portland? Powell’s, beer, strippers, third-wave coffee, food carts, weird doughnuts, water fountains that don’t stop running, plastic horses tied to metal rings…”
I love how a bookstore was the first thing on this list — classic. What a perfect representation of Portland’s attitude: a place that offers services long-since rendered obsolete by the Internet, still thriving in a city that can’t let go.
Also, why is this list 26 things? Fairly arbitrary, if you ask me. But hey, it’s more sustainably-farmed logs to feed my metacritical fire, so I guess far be it from me to complain. Let’s hit the list!
NO. 1 BECAUSE OUR VIRTUAL MONEY IS TAKING OVER THE WORLD
CLASSIC. The #1 thing on this list — the very top thing on a list of 26 reasons to love Portland right now — is about Dogecoin. It’s an Internet meta-joke based on an already obsolete meme. Remember how I said the Powell’s thing was classic? This makes Michaelangelo’s David look like a Bazooka Joe comic. (NOW who’s being pretentious??)
Also, I get that this list is about why to love Portland “right now” or whatever, but let’s pay attention to how many of these things aren’t sensible reasons to love a city or are likely to run their course within the next 1-2 years. In fact, let’s make it a drinking game! My guess is half of you have alcohol poisoning by No. 5.
I mean, honestly, if the reasons to love your city are contingent on fads that don’t pertain to the city at all, it doesn’t speak super highly of the city. Replace Beaverton with Walla Walla or Cucamonga or Seattle and see how much it impacts the story and you still have the exact same story. What’s next?
NO. 2 BECAUSE WE’RE NO. 1 IN SEMI-FACTUAL SUPERLATIVES
There you have it: as long as you’re a 35-year old single atheist who spends their free time playing with their dog or biking between Cinetopia, Powell’s or Mary’s All-Nude Revue, Portland is a great place to live!
Additionally, here’s a quick breakdown of the years mentioned in these surveys:
- 2008: 1
- 2009: 1
- 2010: 0
- 2011: 3
- 2012: 3
- 2013: 4
- 2014: 1
Such a timely point — I mean, ONLY five of these surveys took place 3+ years ago, and everything is basically the same now as it was then!
NO. 3 BECAUSE YOU WILL SOON BE ABLE TO GET A JUG OF BEER ON EVERY CORNER
No. 3: Reasons to love Portland “right now”: Something that’s probably going to happen in the future.
Reason No. 3 to love New York City right now: Eventual transformation of Statue of Liberty into Voltron-style robot for national defense.
Reason No. 3 to love Moontropolis right now: Will become site of Intergalactic Peace Conference in 3117, uniting all alien tribes under one space-flag.
Should I keep going? Are these examples contrived enough yet? I can keep going if they aren’t contrived enough yet.
NO. 4 BECAUSE STEVE NOVICK IS AMERICA’S MOST ENTERTAINING CITY COUNCIL MEMBER
In fairness, I know very little about Steve Novick, and I refuse to do any research because this post is already going to take up an unhealthy amount of my time, but it sounds like this entry is predominantly because of this (admittedly pretty amusing) Richard Sherman-esque posturing screed. There you have it, Portland: one reason to love your city right now is Steve Novick, one city council member whose most famous moment was a nod to…Seattle.
Also, let’s play out a quick hypothetical conversation:
Guy: Hey, how’s Portland treating you?
Girl: Oh it’s great! We’ve got so much good stuff going on right now…the Blazers are playing well, Timbers season is about to start, and — oh, I almost forgot! We’ve got the COOLEST city council member in the country.
Girl: Steve Novick! You know? The guy who has a hook for an arm? Wrote the letter to Santa asking for transportation funding for Christmas? Got into a prank war with Lars Larsen involving plastic flamingos? Dude is HILARIOUS.
Guy: …Hook for an arm?
Girl: Anyway, yeah dude. Portland’s pretty great right now because of him. It gets me so fucking pumped to live here!
Guy: …I gotta go.
NO. 5 BECAUSE WE’RE UNWITTINGLY FOMENTING SECESSIONISM WITH SOCCER FLAGS
I’m sorry, I hate to keep harping on this point (well, not really), but: Is this really a good reason to love Portland? Because its hipster population latched on to a secessionist movement’s flag vis-a-vis the Portland Timbers? How does this paint Portland in any sort of positive light whatsoever? The secessionists are getting the symbol of their movement co-opted by soccer fans and the whole thing is being done “unwittingly?” I think I speak for ST when I say: Da-whaaaaaaat??
Also, are you noticing the same trend I’m seeing here? Almost everything on this list so far is something that doesn’t materially impact people’s daily lives. Cryptocurrency? One city council member? Timbers fans’ flag choices? If you’re still playing along with the drinking game, let’s add another rule: Drink every time something wildly irrelevant to your daily life is mentioned that you’re supposed to feel proud of anyway.
NO. 6 BECAUSE MOVIE THEATERS WITH BEER WILL SOON OUTNUMBER MOVIE THEATERS WITHOUT
Finally, the first legitimate entry on the list. At this rate, we might get to four or even five by the time we’re done! Drink out of excitement!
NO. 7 BECAUSE WE’RE TEACHING THE ARAB WORLD HOW TO BELLY-DANCE LIKE US
Drink because of the wild irrelevance!
Be proud and love your city, Portlanders. Why? “Because we’re teaching the Arab world how to belly-dance like us.”
I mean, look at all the glowing evidence from the article:
“In the late 1970s, a mercurial Jordanian belly dancer named Badawia thrilled sell-out crowds at downtown Portland Greek nightclubs like Athens West.”
“Because Badawia, one Jordanian belly dancer, is teaching the Arab world how to belly dance like her.”
“Badawia is long retired, but students of her students are now exporting Portland-style belly dance to India, China, Japan and even back to the Middle East.”
“Because Badawia is indirectly teaching some parts of the Arab world how to belly-dance like her, including India, China, Japan and parts of the Middle East.”
““With travel and the Internet, everyone’s fusioning,” Claudia says. “But you can’t run away from your basics. Badawia taught Ruby, Ruby taught Aziza, and Aziza is teaching the world.”
“Because Badawia, who was once popular in Portland, has passed her style on to a handful of apprentices, who are teaching China, Japan and parts of Turkey how to belly-dance like them, partially aided by the Internet.”
It’s practically the same sentence, once you get to the end of the paragraph.
NO. 8 BECAUSE—SORRY, AUSTIN—THE STATS SAY WE’RE THE REAL CAPITAL OF LIVE MUSIC
This is a tricky one for me, since Portland certainly has a strong live music scene. But quantitatively arguing for success against a city with a much more prominent one is super desperate. This is exactly why people find you pretentious, Portlanders.
NO. 9 BECAUSE MIDDLE-CLASS PEOPLE RIDE THE BUS
No. 9: Reason to love Portland: one bus-related anecdote during a snowstorm. Plus I’m sure plenty of “middle class” (if not absolutely upper class) people take the subway in New York City, or the BART in San Francisco. Are we giving out extra credit for public transportation? Do we expect only homeless derelicts to ride the bus? Does anyone really get THAT excited by this?
NO. 10 BECAUSE OUR AIRPORT PROVES THE COMMAND ECONOMY WORKS
Another one I have no issue with: PDX is great, in no small part due to the great and reasonably-priced food and drink options you get there. That being said, the irony of the city’s gateway to literally anywhere else in the world being one of the best parts of town is pretty funny to me.
NO. 11 BECAUSE NO ONE DIED ON A BIKE IN THE CITY LAST YEAR
Look, this is obviously good news, and if you’re a bike fan this is a fine reason. But I love the part about how the city is looking to aggressively expand the number of bikers — as though increasing the volume of bikers will lead to…fewer accidents? Not more?
But hey, I’m feeling charitable, I’ll still give them this one. I’m a sarcastic dick, not a heartless monster.
NO. 12 BECAUSE IT’S NOT AS WET AS YOU THINK
This one focuses on how Portland’s average annual rainfall isn’t actually as severe as people make it out to be. I’m amenable to this argument, by the way: I lived in Colorado for three years, and I constantly had to tell people how little it really snowed there. Anyway, check their graph of average annual rainfall:
By this measure, it doesn’t look so bad, right? But look at this from CurrentResults:
So no, maybe it doesn’t get the same volume, but it has the third-highest number of “rainy” days — I’d argue that can still make the place feel like one of the rainiest cities in America.
NO. 13 BECAUSE OUR FOOD CARTS SELL FOOD FROM GUAM, BELIZE, MAURITIUS, TRINIDAD…
…so international food? There’s no debating the food cart prominence here, but does anyone doubt you could find all of this in any other city? And what are the odds of food from Guam and Romania being profitable enough to last for long?
This is one thing that’s always driven me crazy about Portland, and I know ST doesn’t agree at all: Portlanders have FAR too great an opinion of the food quality/offerings here. To me it’s right in line with what you could expect of a city this size, but everyone local is willing to put it up there with the best cities in the country. New York City? Chicago? Miami? San Francisco? Los Angeles? New Orleans? Las Vegas? Nashville? Minneapolis? Austin? St. Louis? Kansas City? There are at least a dozen cities off the top of my head, and I’m sure there are more I’m not even considering — but Portlanders are always just SO sure their city is a special little jewel in this realm. It absolutely reeks of living in a feedback loop bubble (mixed metaphors for days).
NO. 14 BECAUSE THE MOST UNDERRATED BAND OF THE ’90S IS STILL HERE
I had something to say about this one, I’m just gonna need a minute here to review my notes — yes, I think I left them somewhere around here. Let’s see…ah, yes, here we are:
Are you motherfucking actually goddamn kidding me?????????!??
Everclear? We’re just gonna gloss over Art Alexakis being a notorious douchecanoe and how Everclear was never really very good at all and just wistfully remember this? As part of a list of reasons to love Portland “right now?” Let’s get some Metacritic scores up in here oh hey wait I just did, and their highest album got a 67.
But hey, sure, let’s go all Pitchfork on the explanation of their skills and call some of their albums “the most emotionally vulnerable and melodically clever recordings released by any Portland artist not named “Elliott Smith.”” Because sure, that seems totally reasonable and not at all pretentious or biased or what am I even still doing typingggggggg I just want to punch Art Alexakis in his fucking voice box.
And again — again! — I feel compelled to mention how this is a terrible reason to like a city “right now.” Are you getting sick of this yet? Because fuck me, I know I am.
NO. 15 BECAUSE CITIZENS WILL GO TO THE MAT OVER HORSES, SWIMMING POOLS AND POT FESTIVALS
What is this, “Parks and Recreation?” Are the citizens in town being passionate over small issues an example of a reason to love a town? Because of horses?? Swimming pools: fine. Pot festivals? A little cliched, but whatevs. Horses? We’re hanging our hat on horses?! Unreal. Plus I love the insinuation that fighting for small issues is somehow better than fighting for the bigger ones — especially in a city that hasn’t yet legalized things like gay marriage or marijuana sales. Looks like someone’s never seen the gimmicky “Big Rocks” motivational video! Also, quality dig on Seattle at the end here: “We should be earnestly grateful to the characters who protect this city’s characteristics. Without them, we’d just be Seattle.” So suck it, Seattle! Enjoy your non-existent city council!
(Seriously though, how palpable is the Seattle inferiority complex showing through in this article so far? This is like the second time it’s come up, and it won’t even be the last. Subtle work, guys.)
NO. 16 BECAUSE THERE’S NO RESTAURANT WITH A DRESS CODE
Pretty sure this can’t be true. Even as a rhetorical device, that’s just lazy. Please show up wearing athletic shorts at Portland City Grill. Wear a hoodie and flip-flops at Ringside. See what happens!
NO. 17 BECAUSE OUR AIRPORT IS AN UNWILLING BASTION OF FREE SPEECH
Second airport-related item on the list. And a “bastion” of free speech for running one ad? That’s what we’re gonna hang our hats on? Denver’s airport is home to a creepy demonic blue horse and several totally insane conspiracy theories — both of those are WAY better reasons and that’s just one airport.
NO. 18 BECAUSE WE HAVE SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST BIZARRE BASKETBALL WRITERS
One former blogger, one current blog and a focus on a Portland-themed series of basketball coverage? What an amazing and unique city which no other city with any sports teams can lay any claim to!! Will Leitch is probably the most notable face in sports blogging in the last decade. Does that make St. Louis cool? How about Kansas City with Joe Posnanski?
Moreover: what does this have to do with living in Portland? These articles are available for everyone in the world to see any time they want, and FreeDarko was one of the most widely-popular basketball sites of its time. Portland connection: tenuous at best here. Am I being unfair here? Maybe a little. I’ll give this one a little credit.
NO. 19 BECAUSE EVEN OUR CITY FATHERS WERE PROTO-HIPSTERS.
“These pioneering Portlanders shared many of the same interests we do today, including bicycling, ecologically responsible permaculture gardens, hiking and crafting.” The difference? THEY HAD NO OTHER FUCKING CHOICES IN 1914. These things are all a by-product of the era itself. There was almost literally no other way to accomplish any ecological feats except in “responsible” ways; hiking and biking were two of the only means of transportation, and crafting was how most people got ANY of their clothes, furniture or whatever else. In essence, the reason to love Portland is because the city loves living in a self-made time warp. Hooray…?
NO. 20 BECAUSE WE’RE ABOUT TO FINISH THE ONLY BRIDGE IN THE COUNTRY THAT CARRIES TRAINS, BUSES, BIKES AND PEDESTRIANS BUT NO PERSONAL CARS
A bridge for public transport is, at least, defensible. Never mind that it’s a total stretch of a reason, in that there are already several other ways to get around this issue, but it technically IS at least a reason. Point: Willamette Week.
NO. 21 BECAUSE WE HAVE FAT VEGANS
Fat vegans! Bike friendly! Unhealthy but healthy! This makes my life measurably better in so many ways! I love this city!
Also, is the point here that it’s a great reason to love Portland because there are so many vegan-friendly options in town that even vegans can get fat, or that it’s fun to laugh at their fatness? Consider this section from the article:
“Here in Portland, though, the quickest way to spot one in the wild is to visit a Voodoo Doughnut and look for any individuals breathing laboriously and breaking a sweat from standing on their tiptoes to see the vegan offerings of the top shelf. This is apparently the proper position to assume when working to demonstrate the superiority of their diet for the economy, the ecology and personal health.”
NO. 22 BECAUSE WE ARE NOW THE OFFICIAL ARBITERS OF GOOD COFFEE
“Official” arbiters of good coffee. The fat vegans must be so proud! Plus I love how the choice to put an ACE office in Portland — which is “validated” by pr flak from ACE — means anything about anything. Do you know how expensive a lease would be in SF or Seattle? (Hey, there’s another mention of Seattle!) Besides, for a town that just became the official arbiters of good coffee, I sure do still see a fuckton of people at Starbucks every day.
NO. 23 BECAUSE QUESTLOVE IS OBSESSED WITH US
A hip-hop icon who rose to prominence in the early 90s (the only era of rap that matters to Portland!) has an opinion on Portland? DEIFY HIM. This is like a slightly different take on a “my mom says I’m cool!” defense here, guys. Also, sick and super topical Michael Vick joke. I bet all his family back in Virginia are really hurt by that one.
NO. 24 BECAUSE PORTLAND IS QUICKLY GOING CASH-FREE
Portland, unlike most cities, now also accepts “electronic cards” — what an idea! It’s like living in the future! Try telling this to like 90% of the food carts BTW, since most of them still roll cash only.
NO. 25 BECAUSE THE HOOLEY REATTACHED SOUTH PORTLAND TO THE CITY
In case you haven’t been reading these along with me, this one is about the Gibbs Street Bridge, which linked up two previously inaccessible neighborhoods that were separated by I5. Yay, another thing about a bridge! Portland is so much fun right now due to its oddly intense devotion to bridges!
NO. 26 BECAUSE ROBIN LOPEZ IS THE COOLEST GUY IN THE NBA
Let me preface this by saying I have no problem if Portlanders love Robin Lopez. He seems like a legitimately interesting guy and gives off a vibe that runs counter to a lot of professional athletes, so I have no problem with him at all. But come on, guys, haven’t we been here before?
“There was our fling with Rudy Fernandez, who briefly enamored us with his exotic Eurotrashiness before whining his way out of the league and back to España”
Hard to see why he didn’t love you back!
“Patty Mills was sweet, but he was a certified towel-waver.”
“Channing Frye was certainly charming, and he reciprocated our feelings, but his favorite restaurant was the Buffalo Gap in John’s Landing—major red flag.”
Channing Frye was also only here for two years and he’s a professional athlete with a busy schedule that takes him out of town all the time — are we really gonna get on his case for a restaurant preference? How would he have even had time to explore the city all that much?
Look, Lopez seems like a cool dude, but Portland does this with tons of non-star players: Rudy, Patty, Channing Frye, Steve Blake, Arvydas Sabonis, Sergio Rodriguez, etc. Every city does this with its hometown favorites — that’s just kind of what happens. Besides, most of the players on this list have had pretty short stints here. Robin Lopez has spent his six NBA seasons with three NBA teams — give it a season or two and I bet he’ll be gone too.
So there you have it: a crazy list of reasons to love a hipster-y city that is completely and totally in love with itself, where most of the reasons listed are irrelevant to the town itself or are too distant or dated to qualify as “right now.” Nice work guys! Expect a mass influx of people ASAP!