WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
Do you feel like Portland has changed in, say, the past three years? Or is it five? Do you feel like you live in "New Portland," a place that's long on artisanal doughnut shops and short on parking?
Well, Warren Pash wrote a song that you might like.
A native Canadian, Pash lived in Portland from 1997 to 2000. (Prior to that, he co-wrote another song you might already like: "Private Eyes," the 1981 Hall and Oates hit.) Then he moved to Nashville to try and go bigger in the music business. But he hated it. The place was full of musicians—too full. And it was getting soaked in the worst of American culture.
"Nashville has become the bachelorette party capital of America," he says.
So, he moved back to Portland three years ago. The place looked fresh and new to him. He talks about it like a man on mushrooms, and not shiitakes wrapped in free-range bacon and topped with a quail egg.
"I was in that weird high place where people are at when they get to someplace new," he says, "and they're really excited, and their peripheral vision is crazy wide, and the colors are a lot brighter than they normally would be."
He knew the feel would go away, so he started taking pictures of everything, including a dilapidated sign for Madison Square, someplace on the eastside. It was missing some letters, and the new name became, for Pash, a man called Adson Quare.
The sign is completely gone now, Pash says, but it may have given rise to a new character in the Portland canon:
"How I remember Adson Quare/A shooting star in his blue underwear/Ripping on the embers out in the rain/I asked a stranger about Adson Quare/She heard he's grinding an axe somewhere/And flipping off the neighbors shouting his name."
Adson is an interesting guy, and he embodies Portland in this post-boom moment, when a pandemic and a toxic president might return us to our more gracious, introspective roots.
See more Distant Voices interviews here.