No tradition in Portland—holiday or otherwise—is immune to the Portlandia effect.
Exhibit 1,347: The scene inside Pioneer Place mall in the courtyard next to H&M each Thursday starting at noon.
There, parents tired of boring old Santas who can't tell Weezer from Lil Weezy are treated to a Father Christmas much more to their tastes—Hipster Santa.
On a recent Thursday, when snow blanketed the city and only a few shoppers milled about, a plump older gentleman with a frosty white beard and matching hair pulled into a man bun held court on an oversized chair upholstered in fabric patterned after the carpet at PDX. He wore black-rimmed glasses and a Big Lebowski sweater.
His forearm tats were barely visible beneath the sleeves. One arm says "Naughty." One says "Nice." On request, he'll show off his ink in pictures.
"Hipster Santa! Hipster Santa!" my 4-year-old daughter chanted as she raced to the front of the line in her '80s retro-vintage (OK, fine, hand-me-down) Christmas dress.
Rather than chuckle with a belly like a bowlful of artisanal quince preserves, Hipster Santa merely waved in slow motion as she approached. His Miles Davis cool didn't put off my 4-year-old, however. He was as good as any other option, as far as she could tell.
"What would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?" he asked as she plopped down smiling next to him, preserving at least this one part of the sit-on-a-stranger's-lap-at-the-mall tradition.
On top of Hipster Santa's chair, with the PDX carpet upholstery, perched a little brown sparrow. For adult onlookers, it called to mind another ironic character with tufts of white hair and bags of undelivered gifts—Bernie Sanders. BETH SLOVIC.
GO: Hipster Santa is at Pioneer Place, 700 SW 5th Ave., on Thursdays starting at noon.