“Portland is where the young go to retire.”
I’m traveling in the Pacific Northwest. Pray for me!
The “weird Portland effect” isn’t news. I’ve been here before. I spent several years getting rained on amid the socialists and tall trees. I did my time. I paid my debt to society. I have since escaped to flyover country. My homestead’s location is my version of heaven and their version of hell; I’m happy I left, presumably they’re happy I’m gone.
Back when I lived west of the Cascades, my thinking was “yes it’s weird here but then again there’s nothing wrong with a little idiosyncrasy”. I accepted it but never got used to it. Maybe I should have been stoned? Silly me!
I was a social outlier but it wasn’t that bad. One eventually accepts the idea that being straight, married, employed, and not actively worshiping Cesar Chavez makes you “not one of the cool kids”. Unfortunately, and this was what really doomed me, I had an unshakable innate desire to pay off student loans and support myself. It was a malady the the locals could never exorcise from me (they sure tried).
Eventually I moved to drier climes (which is just about anywhere on earth). Having neither “gone Galt” nor “gone trustfund” I chose to seek money (or rather jobs… which may confuse Portlanders as they see little correlation between the two). An economy based on mountain bikes and coffee wasn’t doing it for me.
After leaving I gradually realized that all that rain really had hammered my attitude. The sun came out and my spirits soared. My boots finally dried out and stopped smelling like mold. I could ride a bicycle without a raincoat. I could drive a truck without feeling like it was fueled with the bones of baby seals. I could put a bicycle in the back of the truck and drive it around while listening to heavy metal instead of lute and eating beef jerky instead of slimy yogurt. I could wear Carhartts non-ironically. I could walk past a smoker without feeling social pressure to be a dick to them. God bless America I was free again! Dinner became about food instead of a hand wringing exploration of GMOs and localvores. Have you noticed that they’re all skinny? I’d be skinny too if I lived in a world without bacon… and joy.
A dismal gray depression had flowed over me so stealthily that I’d hardly noticed it’s arrival. A few months after fleeing the constant rain and Marxism it had fully lifted off my shoulders and was gone. Who knows how long or how deeply the rain had seeped into my bones? All I knew is that I felt as light as a feather. I knew it was gone when I stopped wondering why everyone thought tofu was food. Perhaps it takes a lot of rain to make tofu appear to taste good and bacon to taste like murder?
I visit from time to time. I prepare like it’s a visit to Warsaw in 1950. I pack plenty of rain gear, never stay longer than necessary, and make damn sure I’ve got my escape route clearly in mind. I say “hi” to the tall Douglas-fir (I do miss them) and check to see that the Pacific is properly situated where I left it. I love watching the waves. They’re entrancing. You’ve got to keep an eye out though. Sometimes a rogue wave will rise up and suck an inattentive fool into the undertow. You can be drunk while on the beach but never turn your back on the Pacific. Then, after a few beers and some salmon, I get the hell outta’ Dodge.
Today I had to venture back across the “moss barrier to reality”. I was “forced” to drive through Portland en route to a classified location to do something that was none of your business.
I’d been looking forward to some of the highlights; Powells City of Books for example. However, it’s 2013 and the magic is gone from buying books in a place. A big honking used book store used to be a repository of awesome. Now it’s a anachronism. The whole thing could be replaced by a handful of websites and ten bucks in a PayPal account. I can get the sum total of human knowledge delivered via FedEx to my remote homestead (and probably a third of it could be beamed to my Kindle at two am during a blizzard). Bookstores are cool in the way that I think a blacksmith exhibit at the farmer’s museum is cool. Nothing more.
What did Powells have to offer but parking hassles and nearby locations where I could pay a 500% mark up on burnt coffee. I rocketed through. My truck, which views bicycle lanes and trustfunders with suspicion, thought I’d made a sound decision.
At the gas station I had to let someone else put their dirty hippie hands on my truck! Oregonians are by statute determined to be too incompetent to pump their own gas. Imagine a place even more restrictive than California! I’m pretty sure that George Washington would mount bayonets and charge had he been in my place.
By chance the truck happened to be empty. Imagine the fun I had when I pulled up with a one ton dually and carefully loaded two six packs of beer in a payload area that could tow a house. The guy pumping, who’s life savings is worth less than my fly rod, could barely contain his disgust. Yep, a guy pumping diesel who hates diesel. He’ll probably go home and write a poem about me.
The Pacific ocean appears unaffected by the weirdness. Thank goodness! The waves were as beautify as ever. I had to walk past four unused electric car charging stations and a bulletin board of protest posters to get there but that’s ok. The beer was as excellent as always. It was served by a forty year old white guy with Rastafarian hair and the far off look of a man who’ll never pay off his student loans in this century but hey, that’s not my problem. In the end it was like being an adult in a theme park.
I’m happy knowing that I can pull the rip cord and in a few hours be safely across the divide. I’ll be back where coyotes and real men still roam free. I can see my truck from where I’m sitting. So long as I’ve got a full tank of fuel (try buying fuel on a Sunday in Oregon!) and I’m not impoverished like I was when I lived there I’ve got my golden ticket out.
In case you’re thinking I’m exaggerating. That Portland is no more freaky than say, Des Moines… I’ll provide two examples. The first came about while talking with a waitress. She mentioned some ethics kerfluffle involving Portland and a New Jersey politician. I checked it out. Here it is:
“It’s America’s most famous vegan strip club, thanks to Cory Booker. Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Twitter flirtation with a stripper has cast a spotlight on Casa Diablo in Portland, Ore., a city with proud traditions of both veganism and X-rated entertainment.”
Folks I’m here to tell you that I’m entirely used to New Jersey politicians acting like… well like politicians from New Jersey. Did any of my readers honestly ever expect there is such a thing as a vegan strip club? Is this really a pressing need that society must fill? Why? If you’re the kind of man that’ll pay good money watching a naked woman on stage but it crosses your mind to ask whether her sexy boots are leather or vinyl… hand in your balls right now. They’re defective. Or, you might just be a resident of Portland.
While checking out the vegan strip club quandary I crossed paths with Exhibit B. Exhibit B is a video of a man dressed in a kilt and Darth Vader outfit, on a unicycle, playing bagpipes, that shoot flames. I’m not one to discount the imaginative of humanity. This is truly something unique. Only Portland would create such an entity. Which is why I never turn my back on either the Pacific or Portland.