Random Thoughts on our Fair City: Portland
A series of random thoughts about what makes Portland great and what threatens that greatness. Written originally as a response to some Zoo Bomb detractor it became a thing itself. I hope it sparks thoughtful reflection and quality conversation.
A sample: Beware of those who promise quick, easy, or painless economic recovery for they are selling you a bill of goods that you do not want. Beware of those who complain about the social backwater of Oregon because they threaten to reshape your community rather than to celebrate its beauty. Beware of people who proclaim affinity with Portland and point to their bumper sticker to prove it after they bitch everything that would make Portland better. Portland is a beautiful and socially progressive and evolving place; beware of those who were not drawn here by that beauty and by that social community because they cannot see or appreciate the only true value and beauty that Portland, specifically, and Oregon, generally, has to offer.
I love being arrogant and snobby. I love to look down my nose at people because as any snobby person I believe that I am superior to others and I take pride in my superiority and express that pride by demonstrating my low opinion of others and thereby elevate my own individual standing and status. It is a celebration of me and those who listen to me pay homage to me and celebrate my superiority.
I am not rich so I don't look down on people because I have greater wealth. I am not beautiful and nobody celebrates my beauty. I am not brilliant and I don't celebrate my intelligence. I don't have an SUV's so I won't run you down in your puny little whatever. I am an Oregon Native, a real Oregon native, not some transplant that decided to stick a bumper sticker on my car to advertise my personal sacrifice to endure the wet Oregon winters.
As a true Oregonian and a prideful snob; I look down on those who come to Oregon for the wrong reasons. Among these reasons are; economic prosperity, the dot com boom, most livable reputation, cheep living, the pearl district and a host of other "trendy" reasons people give to their friends for slumming it in Oregon. I look down on these people because I have lived here all my life and I know something about Portland, specifically, and Oregon, generally, that these "transplant natives" will never understand. Portland, specifically, and Oregon, generally, is a tapestry of beautiful individualism and unique opportunities. These intangible things are celebrated in little ways that have traditionally come together to create a beautiful tapestry that makes Oregon interesting, engaging, friendly and fun.
I look down on people who come here to Portland and Oregon and complain about the weather. I look down on people who come here and complain about the quirky people and their strange little rituals. I look down on people who come here and lament that there is no good Chinese food available at 4:00 a.m. I look down on them because these complaints threaten the beautiful tapestry and that tapestry is significantly under the gun as our civic leaders and media personalities target cultural minorities as the boogie men and suggest that these people limit our city and state's economic prosperity.
It is senseless and anti-intellectual statement to suggest that Portland would be great if it only didn't rain so much. Portland wouldn't be great if it didn't rain so much it would be Los Angeles and it would suck because everybody would move here. Likewise, the fact that Portland doesn't have Chineese food at 4:00 a.m. means that there is not the demand for it and that is a good thing because there are not hoards of people milling about looking for food, chineese or otherwise, at 4:00 a.m. Zoo Bombers exist in Portland because this is their environment. Zoo Bombers are a visable expression of the beauty of Portland and if it were not for Zoo Bombers expressing their life and joy and sharing that enthusiasm among their community the tapestry of Portland would be diminished.
As a life long resident of Portland I can say unequivocally that Portland, specifically, and Oregon, generally, are possessed of a beautiful personality. That personality is a combination of many different elements and it is historic. Few Portland residents are aware, but Oregon natives know that all Oregon beaches are state highways or that plans for the Mt. Hood Highway abandoned due to neighborhood resistance, or that Water Front could have been a Freeway. All of these things would not have happened but for the will of Oregonians who shared a vision and an appreciation for the beautiful tapestry they create together.
I have felt, over these many years and more so now than ever, that shared vision is being diluted by the influence of strangers who demand Chinese food at 4:00 a.m., and wish that everything in Portland were just like it was somewhere else. I don't understand why these people ever left their beautiful cities if it was so much better somewhere else. I love Portland and I have only left for short times but I never tried to change the places that I visited but simply rejoiced in the confirmation that Portland was a much better place to live and rejoiced in my good fortune at having lived here all my life.
Now a days (a quaint patois, not from Oregon), I meet people from everywhere else and I am always curious about how they came and what their motivation was for coming to Portland. I sympathize with their longing for their home towns; "yes", I say, "I have been to Santa Clara, it's beautiful there; so warm and wonderful. I can't imagine a single reason for leaving such a beautiful and inviting place". When I am told that person came here for the dot com boom and subsequent bust then I understand their bad attitude about Portland; they came for the wrong reason and I am unsympathetic. I meet others who talk with thick east coast accents or the hard edged clip of San Diego who say; "yeah, I heard there was an interesting community here and I came to hook-up but I discovered that I love the easy access to the environment and the rain keeps everything clean, green and beautiful". I think to myself; "this person isn't a transplant from somewhere else but an Oregonian who found their way home, like some crazy pacific salmon".
If you are not aware then please believe me; there is a huge threat to the beautiful tapestry of Portland, specifically, and Oregon, generally. That threat is the propagation of the notion that it has to look like or be something other than what it is, if it is to grow economically. There is an effort under foot, anyone with a pulse should know this, to make Portland feel backward culturally and underdeveloped as a city. An effort to sweep the "human garbage": the homeless, protestors, alternative community (the "altcom"), and other social minorities, off the streets. The effort is to tear the image of Portland down, to suggest that Porland doesn't measure up nationally, that these minority communities make Portland look bad all because it doesn't look or feel or behave like some nebulas icon of 21st century success. These same people promote the notion that Portland must take some drastic and immediate action or it will be left behind or possibly fall back into some stone age hell. Beware because these are ploys, artful tactics, used by slick salesmen to promote economic products; Baseball teams, Arial trams, Pearl districts, casinos, and doughnut shops.
They are lying to you because it is simply not the case that anything of value is passing Portland by. Take it from a native Oregonian, generally, and a life long resident of Portland, specifically; Portland has always been great without those things and it has always been great for its acceptance of all its citizens especially its free-range citizens. Portland Family Entertainment did not improve Portland by bringing big league baseball to Portland but improved Portland by opening up Civic Stadium and communalizing the entertainment there. The Pearl district did not improve Portland but Portland made the Pearl district successful because it allows a community of yuppie centric snobs to live in a great city in an urban environment reminiscent of those 70's rodent cages called Habitrails that yuppies find pleasing.
Don't misunderstand my message. I am not anti-yuppie or anti-anyone, I am an Oregonian and, therefore, I respect your right to be who you want to be and I expect the same in return. I want to be an Oregonian snob. Unfortunately, that is not reciprocated by most of the transplants, "Oregon Residents", that I meet who are more than willing to tell me what is wrong with Oregonians and what is wrong with Portland, specifically, and Oregon, generally. And, all that I have to say is; "you're here for the wrong reasons."
By the way; Oregon has always grown economically on a gentle upward curve as opposed to Seattle which looks like an EKG of a heart attack patient in the throws of an attack. The Portland skyline reflects this gentle economic growth by the buildings that represent all building styles from 1880 forward; there has never been a real boom and bust cycle in Oregon that caused a huge building boom or an outright end to building for any period of time. Our first real economic boom and bust cycle started with the dot com, hopefully, we will learn our lesson, take our meds and avoid the bi-polar economic roller coaster. Economic boom and bust cycles change and threaten the health of this community and the friendly personality of Portland. Big growth attracts speculators and carpet baggers. Real Oregonians are known for resisting the siren song of quick financial gains and short term economic fixes. That is why Oregon has no major military installation within its boarders; Oregonians never campaigned to go on the Federal dole like West Virginia or a host of other states which is a reflection of the independent nature of the Oregon ethos.
Beware of those who promise quick, easy, or painless economic recovery for they are selling you a bill of goods that you do not want. Beware of those who complain about the social backwater of Oregon because they threaten to reshape your community rather than to celebrate its beauty. Beware of people who proclaim affinity with Portland and point to their bumper sticker to prove it after they bitch everything that would make Portland better. Portland is a beautiful and socially progressive and evolving place; beware of those who were not drawn here by that beauty and by that social community because they cannot see or appreciate the only true value and beauty that Portland, specifically, and Oregon, generally, has to offer.
Zoo Bomb contributes to Portland's intellectual, community, and social beauty. If you can't appreciate that then I look down my nose at you and suggest that you might be happier going back to wherever it is from hence you came. If you are not careful, I may even fart in your general direction but other than that I have no time for you.
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