Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dispatch From A Blue State: The Essential Guide To Portland


The Office of Civic Suggestions is pleased to offer the following guide to Portland, Oregon:

Welcome to Portland.

The Office of Civic Suggestions is dedicated to creating a Young-Creatives-Positive environment for the Young Creatives that are assumed to be our largest up-and-coming demographic, so that they will feel comfortable doing whatever it is they do, which is expected to become clearer over time. The city strives to foster the attitude that nothing is required of anybody, and that no one really has to do anything if they don't feel like it. As an example, it is not compulsory to be in a band, as long as you can hear a band from inside your house.

Whereas every homeowner is encouraged to build either a Poetry Post or a chicken house, it is not mandatory. A mini-library may be substituted. The Office of Civic Suggestions is pleased to report that, citywide, we achieve nearly 100% compliance in this endeavor, due to our collective will. This uniformity of purpose is a point of pride in an otherwise diverse population, wherein people between barista jobs rub elbows with people looking for graphic design work.

Conformity will not be monitored, but you really should have a dog, and your dog really should have an outfit, spangly antlers (in season), or, at minimum, a bandana. Also, he or she should go to day care. A spot under a sidewalk cafe table may be substituted as long as it puts the canine citizen in a position to net a belly-rub from a complete stranger. It is felt that dog ownership knits society together in important ways, but those unwilling to contribute should feel free to go out in the back yard and bark just for the hell of it, and if seen unaccompanied at a dog park, should signal their good intentions by accessorizing with a poop bag.

Visitors are advised that it is possible to pass as native by going to the symphony with one pant-leg rolled up on the gear side. There is no citizenship test to take, per se, but newcomers, if they would like to be comfortable, should familiarize themselves with the bitterness scale of beer and be able to use "bioswale" in a sentence. Political involvement is encouraged at every level. Remember to begin your letter to the editor with "so, let me get this straight."

It is not true that it is against the law to situate a Walmart in Portland. Walmart is merely subject to the same zoning regulations as any other commercial entity, including the requirements that all new development be anchored by an independent book store, provide adequate skateboard lockers, and not be a Walmart.

Yes, those are real ferns growing all the way up the trees. Yes, the solar panels are supposed to go on the side of the roof without the moss on  it. Yes, we have a state fungus. No, there is no place to buy an umbrella.

The City of Portland is proud of its support for the arts, and encourages visits to our many galleries, street fairs, and the traveling tagged-railcar exhibit. In addition, all of our children have been subjected to thick praise since infancy, and their scribblings and beadwork are available most weekends at a sidewalk blanket near you, next to a dog. No money need be exchanged, but you are expected to pause thoughtfully and smile. A pocketful of kibble should see you through several blocks.

Finally, the idea that you can create art by merely "putting a bird on it" is a gross oversimplification. It should really be a crow.

Thank you. Please share this flyer with at least five people before placing it, ink-side-down, over a noxious weed.

34 comments:

  1. Yay, crows! CAW!

    It sounds like Portland is a city of non-conformists... but that all the non-conformists are exactly alike. How do you tell them apart? Or are they some sort of gestalt creature, like the Borg?

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    1. You don't need to tell them apart, since you know you're not going to get into an argument with them.

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  2. AND Portland Saturday Market opens today; will be open every weekend (Sundays, too) through Christmas eve, and I am not there. Tra-la. However, I will be pedaling over to the studio with my bike and trailer (which holds the groceries), and my dog is wearing pajamas and a jacket, while he runs along beside my bike, and I am taking my fresh baked (whole-grain) bread to Mom's house where we will drink rosemary tea from our own rosemary shrub.

    At the studio I am not working on salamander hardware today, but Xoloitzcuintle (show-low-eats-QUEEN-tlee) pieces (Mexican Hairless) for a client in Colorado. So I hope that still qualifies me as a Portlander.

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    1. Oh heck yes. You had me at Xoloitzcuintle pieces. (They're so much tastier in nugget form!)

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  3. Yay for crows. And cats - even though rubbing THEIR bellies is a little like Russian roulette. It seems I am not a Portlander, but I am happy to admire them from afar.

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    1. I've only had two cats and they were both quite happy to net a belly-rub without punishing anyone for it.

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  4. It's interesting to me as a former Portland resident and 4th gen Oregonion just how enamored with itself Portland has become. Seattle is rather the same, enchanted with it's 'uniqueness'. It would not have occurred to me in the early 70's that I was living in something other than a nice place to live.
    Although now I do remember the disdain for all things California, and guv McCall.....

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    1. Oh sure, but that self admiration goes along with any real young population. The fact is I walk down the streets and look around and even I say to myself, genuinely--God, I love living here. It's a few things. It's a disregard for putting on airs (or nice clothes) and it's the wonderful food everywhere you look and it's the beer and it's the mountains and streams. And the weather. I arrived here in 1976 just when McCall was saying all that about "visit, but don't stay" and I was trying to get in under the wire.

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  5. "So, let me get this straight" ... aside from the astronomical property taxes, Portland is a slice of heaven? Sure sounds like it! I'm with Elephant's Child - crows and cats, yay! And little library depots everywhere. Heaven.

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    1. And of course there is that destination book store, Powell's City Of Books...and more independent bookstores than churches. Well, maybe not churches.

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  6. Those Little Libraries may be in danger...
    http://dailysignal.com/2014/06/25/banned-books-city-shuts-9-year-old-boys-little-library/

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  7. My fingers forgot how to spell, sorry about the removal.
    I tried to put an outfit and antlers on my dog. He bit me and peed on the outfit, luckily I was able to get to the antlers while he was thinking about where to stick them.

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  8. Uh-oh. I cannot use bioswale in a sentence--- or, wait, I just did? I can paint a good crow! Does that get me in?

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    1. YOU'RE IN! Now, see what you can do about messing up your hair a little.

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  9. Yes, your dog should really be a pug! :)

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    1. YOUR dog should be a pug. Mine should be a cat!

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  10. Based on my recollection, seems you've covered it.

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  11. I talk to crows.And to the dog next door.Am I in?

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    1. You're in! I've been talking to our backyard crows as I feed them nuts. I go out and bellow "HEY, WALNUT BOY!" because that's what I want them to say to us when we come outside. It's not working. But they do scoop up the nuts, and perch on the telephone wires when we come out.

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  12. Sounds uncannily like Santa Cruz, Portland does. Though with fewer ferns in the trees, as our drought continues. My sense of delight continues at the quirkiness, the weirdness, as well as the natural beauty and the awesome climate. Even after 23 years here, I regularly pinch myself and say "OMG, I'm not a tourist, I actually get to LIVE here!" This after living all over the US as the Navy moved us hither and yon.

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    1. Navy brat! I always thought it was odd y'all didn't have to be at sea all the time.

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  13. Speaking of crows: Murr, did you see this? http://web.orange.co.uk/article/quirkies/Crows_bring_gifts_to_girl_who_feeds_them.

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    1. I did see that. I'm holding it up to Dave as a beacon of hope that he will finally get the little-buddy attention he deserves from our crows.

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  14. I like the Poetry posts!! The last Poet Laureate of Oregon (yes, our state has them!), Paulann Petersen, has one at her home!
    I love everything about Oregon!

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    1. I admit I'm hard pressed to find something I don't like.

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  15. No place to buy an umbrella? Gosh darn it all! That's a deal breaker. Nice though your city may be, I'm going to have to stay where I am.
    Seriously, it does look like a very lovely area and I would visit if I could afford to.

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    1. We have a couple umbrellas in the closet. Couldn't tell you what color they are or anything. It's a roving population. They were left here by guests and sometimes they go home with other guests and new ones appear.

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  16. Sounds a little like that Trust-Fund-Baby population in Boulder, Colorado where the drink is either herbal tea or locally brewed beer. Lots of bikes also. Does Portland have bikes? No granola? Local artisan breads and spring water are also big in Boulder.

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    1. LOTS of bikes. I did allude to them. It's the only sensible way to get around. I rode mine to work every day for the last fifteen years of my career and a year after I retired they repaved a bike lane right near my house. D'oh!

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  17. We might have recently moved to the wrong town. We did, however, score a gently restored Craftsman Bungalow

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