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February 26th, 2014 WW Staff | Cover Story
 

26 Reasons to Love Portland Right Now

NO. 10
BECAUSE OUR AIRPORT PROVES THE COMMAND ECONOMY WORKS

Let’s say, God forbid, that you’re stuck at Sea-Tac Airport, in the exurban wastes of Seattle. The seats are slimed with Microsoft. It stinks of Frasier. You need a beer more than you’ve ever needed a beer in your life. You’ll end up at a crappy, corporate “Seattle Taproom,” and you’ll pay $8.75 for a craft beer, and you’ll say thank you, because you can’t go anywhere else.

But at Portland International Airport, that pint of Laurelwood costs a mere $4.75, same as at the brewery on Northeast Sandy Boulevard. Why? Because since 1998, the Port of Portland requires that retail and food shops at the airport charge the same price at the airport that they would in the big, beautiful world beyond the security gates. According to port spokesman Steve Johnson, the airport actually sends out street teams to verify that pricing is the same at PDX as it is in Portland proper.

The Port of Portland apparently doesn’t read Forbes magazine. Because if it did, the port would know that fettering the free market’s ability to price-gouge captive airport customers would lead directly to food riots and stabbings. Restaurants would fail one by one until the food desert spanned the concourses, causing laid-over travelers to resort to eating each other’s tender, meaty thighs. Presumably, Moda Center concessioners understand this, which is why a Laurelwood beer in a plastic cup there goes for what the market will bear: $9.

Not at our pinko airport. And PDX fliers nonetheless spend $11.61 per passenger on our mostly local concessions, 64 percent more than the industry average for airports.

Just like Winston and Julia, you will learn to love Big Brother. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.


NO. 11
BECAUSE NO ONE DIED ON A BIKE IN THE CITY LAST YEAR

In the past decade, there have been 23 cyclists killed on city streets in Portland. In 2012, there were two deaths, same as in 2011.

But while Portland’s streets aren’t as safe as they could be—six pedestrians have been killed crossing streets in the last three months—not a single cyclist died on city streets in 2013.

Bike advocates hope the city can keep that streak alive for a decade. Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, says it’s possible. “We know we can create separated facilities for bikes and streets,” he says, “[and] work toward better driver-education classes and DMV tests.”

That means more projects like the $4.7 million South Waterfront Greenway approved by the City Council on Feb. 5. According to a recent city-commissioned survey of 800 Portlanders regarding the city’s transportation budget, a whopping 64 percent said they favor a city transportation package that includes protected bike lanes or off-street paths. KATHRYN PEIFER.


NO. 12
BECAUSE IT’S NOT AS WET AS YOU THINK

February has found Portland suffering torrential downpours. In the last two weeks, the city accumulated 3.62 inches of rain.

But, as it happens, that’s more rain than we got in each of the months of October, November, December and January.

Despite our damp reputation, Portland is not among the wettest cities in the country. It’s not even the wettest Portland. Here is the average annual precipitation in a number of notable U.S. cities, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


NO. 13
BECAUSE OUR FOOD CARTS SELL FOOD FROM GUAM, BELIZE, MAURITIUS, TRINIDAD…

….and Ethiopia, Argentina, Brazil, England, Scotland, El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela, China, Georgia, Poland, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Egypt, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, the Philippines, Fiji, Peru, Canada, Uruguay, Romania, Thailand, Turkey, Portugal, Vietnam and Australia.

SEE: PDX 671, Love Belizean, Chez Dodo, Trinidad Doubles, Emame’s, Argentina PDX, Brazilian House, London Pasty Company, the Frying Scotsman, Pupuseria la Flor, El Pilon, La Arepa, Beijing House, Kargi Gogo, Taste of Poland, Tabor, Perierra Creperie, Altengartz, Ramy’s Lamb Shack, Momo, Tiffin Asha, Batavia, Caspian Kebob, Saaj Baghdad, Gonzo, Burrasca, Minizo, Koi Fusion, Lebanosh, Elmasry, Lindo Michocan, Gamila, Viking Soul Food, Inasal, Taste of Fiji, La Sangucheria, Potato Champion, PDX Empanadas, Delicios, Run Chicken Run, Istanbul Delight, Eurotrash, Saigon Food to Go, and Jaffles and Wraps.


NO. 14
BECAUSE THE MOST UNDERRATED BAND OF THE ’90S IS STILL HERE

ART ALEXAKIS
IMAGE: Emma Browne

I am talking, of course, about Everclear.

A lot of people in Portland are dismissive of Everclear. These people sneer as they voice the name Art Alexakis. They dismiss Sparkle and Fade and So Much for the Afterglow as pop-punk novelty records that killed time and brain cells between Dead Moon and Typhoon.

These people are idiots.

In fact, the two aforementioned albums are the most emotionally vulnerable and melodically clever recordings released by any Portland artist not named “Elliott Smith.” And they rock harder. They offer the big, blunt catharsis that will always be described as “dumb” by people who have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas.

Everclear is the band that rattles the bones of a damaged, dismissed city beneath the cheese shops lately built atop it. The band carries with it a rollicking sadness that will never be respected. It will always be weird inside. It will always be lame. Forever and ever, amen. AARON MESH.


NO. 15
BECAUSE CITIZENS WILL GO TO THE MAT OVER HORSES, SWIMMING POOLS AND POT FESTIVALS

Here are a few of the items that Portlanders have argued about during public hearings in City Hall over the past two years:

Protecting the city’s water supply from the fluoride chemicals found in nearly every other city’s water supply.

  The number of parking spaces each apartment building should have.

  Police riding horses.

The possible end of funding for a swimming pool in a basement.

  Which city park should host a marijuana festival.

Yes, this list exposes the Portland citizenry to a certain amount of ridicule. (A lot of ridicule.) But it also betrays a laudable tendency to fight to protect a way of life that would disappear without vigilance. The Buckman Pool does not protect itself, and water does not naturally remain unfluoridated. These things require NIMBYs.

We should be earnestly grateful to the characters who protect this city’s characteristics. Without them, we’d just be Seattle. AARON MESH.


NO. 16
BECAUSE THERE’S NO RESTAURANT WITH A DRESS CODE

Portland’s finer restaurants have come up with a lot of ways to encourage you not to wear a hat, hoodie, holey jeans or sneakers into their refined environs. “Smart casual,” they say, or “business casual,” or “casual sophistication.”

And yet, no public restaurant in Portland dares tell patrons what to wear. We know, because we hit the best 100 in town for our annual Restaurant Guide and because we are—we’ve been told—sloppy-ass slouches. Oh, we’ll button up from time to time, but, for the most part, I drop $200 on dinner for two dressed in the same hoodie and ball cap I wear to work. And everywhere I go, I’m treated quite well.

Some restaurants get close. Two chefs ago, Genoa had a soft dress code, and it’s still partial to nattily dressed diners. Earlier this month, a waiter at Departure, the retrofuturist Asian fusion joint atop the Nines hotel, asked my colleague Matthew Korfhage to remove his cap. Mr. Korfhage politely declined and the matter was dropped. MARTIN CIZMAR.


NO. 17
BECAUSE OUR AIRPORT IS AN UNWILLING BASTION OF FREE SPEECH

Last month, Portland International Airport welcomed tourists to the “Home of the Clear-Cut.”

The ad was a protest by Oregon Wild. Despite the group offering cash, the Port of Portland, which runs the airport, never wanted the ads displayed. But thanks to arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and the December ruling of Judge Pro Tem Eric J. Neiman, the ads were shown on a rotating video display above the escalators leading to the airport’s baggage claim.

As visitors arrived in Portland, they were greeted with photos of mountainsides stripped bare of trees by rapacious and under-regulated logging. It’s as if LaGuardia showed dioramas of garbage trawlers, or Cleveland Hopkins’ arrivals gate suggested visiting “the river that caught fire.” In short: It was a showcase of the perverse glory of free speech, and a reminder of our shame that should make us proud.

Having proved its point, Oregon Wild stopped paying for the ad, which has been taken down. AARON MESH.

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