A foot of snow should never cripple a major American city for a week.
And yet that's exactly what just happened to Portland, where in two days a few inches of light powder was allowed to harden into sheets of ice with dueling rock-hard ruts running parallel like raccoon-size toboggan chutes.
Don't blame nature for this debacle. Circumstances forced me to drive all over the region last week, from Wilsonville to Camas to Beaverton, and Portland's main thoroughfares were uniquely fucked. Crossing the line from the clean, dry asphalt of Clackamas County to the teeth-chattering roads of Portland reminded me of crossing into Tijuana. Across Portland, I saw semis stuck on off-ramps, all-wheel-drive imports spinning out, and regular sedans doing things I'd previously seen only in crazy Russian dashcam videos.
Folks, the blame for this mess lies squarely with Mayor Ted "Spinning" Wheeler and Commissioner Dan "Please Sprinkle the Roads With Some Fucking" Saltzman, who oversees the Bureau of Transportation. No one stepped up to spend the money necessary to get the roads plowed down to asphalt early, before they could harden into an ice rink and paralyze the city.
This is bush league. As The Oregonian's editorial board so perfectly put it: "[Portland] cannot afford to shut down interminably, waiting for the weather to wash away what other cities capably confront on their own."
There will be huge cultural fallout from this storm, as restaurants, bars and shops on the edge may be forced to close after two lost weekends, and people who can't pay their rent after missing a week of work are evicted from their apartments. For some, the ripples could rival the other apocalyptic event scheduled for this Friday.
Which brings me to my point: Citizens! If this city will not devote its great resources to taking care of our roads, why does it spend so much time being such a stickler about cannabis rules? Our city government has empowered its officers to wage a mighty war on cannabis clubs, and treated cannabis events the same way it does hip-hop shows. It has gone so far as to ban the public from the harmless vaping of cannabis or nicotine in their own parks.
Hopefully, you've been vaping for the past week. This is no weather to be outside, trying to light a J in the frigid winds. And inhaling smoke from things that have been lit on fire, like a Neanderthal, is not something to do indoors.
Vaping is also sort of a perfect test case for government overreach. Because vaping hasn't been shown to emit hazardous secondhand smoke, anything the government does to ghettoize it seems especially aggro.
On a cold, icy day, walking to a neighborhood cannabis cafe would be so nice—or to a bar that allows cannabis use, such as Denver now has. But thanks to our city government's crusade against cannabis clubs, you'd be hard-pressed to find a place to gather with friends, chat, maybe play some games and vape. Cannabis events where people vape—meaning there is no public health hazard—have all but ended under the reign of Amanda "No Fun" Fritz. Because the city has instated a silly ban on vaping anything in parks, you couldn't go for a nice wintry walk and vape, even though it would harm no one else.
We Portlanders face so many challenges to our way of life right now—vaping being pretty far down the list, truth be told. But, personally, I feel less confident in the capabilities of my government, both local and national, than I ever have before.
This is Vape Awareness Month, a time when we celebrate vapes and shun anti-science fearmongering. The city should pay its respects by chilling out, apologizing for letting the roads get totally fucked up for a week, and giving storm-weakened small businesses a boost by permitting them to allow their customers to vape some weed.