All year long, this feeling has been building.
We've been bottling it up. We've been tamping it down.
But now it's the holidays—the most irritating season of all—and we just need to say it: Portland, we love to complain about you.
We gripe about the rain and the people who gripe about the rain and the people who don't gripe about the rain and the people who say that if you do gripe about the rain you shouldn't have moved here in the first place.
We whine about the people who moved here, even though we moved here. We bitch about the new apartments that look like military barracks, and we make fun of the people who blame the new apartments for the high rents in their shitty old apartments, because that doesn't even make sense. And we can't take any more weed puns.
Wow. It felt good to get that out.
That feeling of release is why, 16 years ago, WW launched Kvetch Fest, our curmudgeonly ode to all the things we love to hate and hate to love about Portland.
Kvetch Fest has returned to WW's pages four times since then, and staffers have vented their frustrations about everything from bad bus etiquette and canned MAX announcements to punny Thai restaurant names and adults playing kickball.
This is the first time we've held Kvetch Fest in the holiday season. That's where it belongs—the event owes an unmistakable debt to Seinfeld's Festivus and the "airing of grievances."
(Kvetch, by the way, is Yiddish for complaining—which is an obvious definition we'll feel obligated to explain until we get Kettleman bagels back.)
This year, we asked our fellow Portlanders to join in the griping—everyone from food-cart owners to the city's candidates for mayor. They proved more than happy to whine with us.
We're asking you to kvetch, too: Send us your complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll post the most memorable.
Because if there's one thing this city needs, it's a good kvetch.
Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club
I hate all the sofas abandoned curbside in the weather, each adorned with a "FREE" sign. As if anyone is going to seize upon a flea- or bedbug-infested piece of upholstered furniture, drenched in rainwater. People somehow think, more recently, that keeping the loose cushions inside will redeem the soggy part left outdoors.
Chelsea Cain,author of Heartsick
Please stop waving me into oncoming traffic. I didn't ask you to stop your car and usher me to dash in front of it. Do pedestrians take you up on that offer? Because I'm just seeing the other three lanes of cars that aren't stopping. You can gesticulate. You can flip me the bird and drive off in a huff. But you can't make me run for my life with a flick of your finger.
Lynsie Lee, stripper
Every now and again, I will take a break from the sauce. That's how I realized that in Bridge City, there is no escape from alcohol. "Ooh, a pottery class!" I implored, clicking the link. Free wine and beer. I clicked link after link: "Marathon: beer garden at the end" or "Adult workshops: You bring the snacks and cocktails, we'll do the rest." I discovered an indoor dog park with happy hour for the owners, because watching adorable pups play is just so stressful. My favorite find was a children's play gym that had alcohol available for the parents; kids sinking helplessly into ball pits, mom and dad drowning themselves in the craft beers on tap. For Portlanders, adulting is hard without liquid courage pouring from all directions.
Portland Parks & Recreation has many lovely outdoor pools—Sellwood, Grant and Creston are my favorites on the eastside, where I live—but they're closed for long swaths of each day to all but those enrolled in swimming lessons or doing laps. Free our pools from the lesson/lap tyranny!
Jules Bailey, Multnomah County commissioner and expected candidate for Portland mayor<
OK, Portland, let's talk poopy diapers. It's bad enough that the designed-for-babies, fold-down changing tables seem all to be in the women's restrooms when they're there at all. But the men's (and gender-neutral) restrooms can't even be bothered to include any kind of a flat, dry, stable surface. I get it—the designer sinks and rickety mosaic-tile end tables are hip, but really, would it kill you to have one stable surface?
Ted Wheeler, Oregon state treasurer and candidate for Portland mayor
I can't enjoy coffee in public. I like my coffee thin, watery, high in caffeine, low in robustness, boldness, aroma, or any other word people use to describe coffee. I say, "Give me the largest, weakest coffee you have," and most baristas just look at me. I've found a few shops where a barista, who takes pity on my underdeveloped palate, will add some water to my quality coffee. One day, gas-station coffee will be a thing at Portland's independent coffee shops. And you'll all have my sympathetic baristas to thank.
Curtis Cook, comedian
I'm getting tired of these lazy, flannel-clad "artists" saying this city's artistic scenes are all dead now that they can't afford rent. New York has art. Chicago has art. S.F. and L.A. have art. I'm sorry you may have to get a full-time job and drop the faux-artsy, PBR-bedazzled, make-believe "my dreams are all I need" shtick you've been passing off as a personality for the past few years, but there will still be art in this city. There was art in this city when the first wave of gentrification came through, and there will be art in this city now that that first wave of gentrifiers has to move on.
Byron Beck, gossip guy and gadfly
Portlanders like to pretend they don't care about celebrities. But what's the first thing I get asked everywhere I go? "Which Real Housewife, which Top Chef is in town?"
Jody Stahancyk, divorce lawyer and potential candidate for the Portland City Council
We all love Timber Joey, but we want to know why there is no Timber Jody. Oregon women can saw logs as well as any man.
Courtenay Hameister, former head writer and producer of Live Wire! radio
Pioneer Place hired a "Hipster Santa" for two days this year. He wore a brown, vintage ski sweater, chunky glasses and a man bun. I get the sense that Hipster Santa was created by a marketing team of people who have never met or been children. Santa wears a fucking red velvet suit. If Santa's not wearing a red velvet suit, in your child's mind, you're essentially just dropping him on the lap of a strange old man and walking away. That's terrifying.
Amy Margolis, cannabis business lawyer and lobbyist
There are so many charming and quirky things about the "growing" cannabis industry. But let's "hash" out the annoying parts together. Let's really get into the "weeds." It can be a "joint" venture. This is not "high" level stuff and I promise we can still be "buds" when it is all over. I am not trying to stir the "pot" here or anything. But, this latest "crop" of weed puns has really got me feeling "burnt." Like everyone is just "blowing smoke" at each other. Enough with the weed puns. This is serious business.
Randy Leonard,former Portland city commissioner
It irritates and frightens me to no end that some dog owners will let their little lovelies run loose (usually at the track I'm running on) or give them so much loose leash (typically on the sidewalks or grocery-store aisles I'm traversing) that I literally have to freeze in my tracks as what I fear to be a crazed maimer and his/her proud human walk/run/lunge toward me. I then imagine that person later being interviewed by a local news station: "Toto has always been so well-behaved. My little sweetness has never eaten anyone before. It was just horrible." Grrrr.
Nick Zukin, owner of Mi Mero Mole
Foodies here like to think they're worldly and open-minded. But so often that just means taking a traditional dish and ruining it with pork belly. What would be weird would be eating a doughnut because it tastes good, not because it looks like a penis. Take the five minutes to walk the two extra blocks to great gelato, rather than stand in line for half an hour for mediocre ice cream.
Amy Miller, comedian
Brunch servers: I do not need you to sit down at my table, chair flipped around A.C. Slater-style, and attempt to be my friend. Lyft drivers: No, I do not want to sit in front, and yes, I would like it if you just drove to our destination instead of taking a bunch of wrong turns because you're distracting yourself asking me why I'm going to the comedy club. If you can manage a conversation and your job, great. If not, let's focus on the part I'm paying for. And no, expecting you to do the job you chose does not make me a bitch. It makes me an adult person who lives in a city and has other stuff to get to.
Auggie Camacho Rebelo, store manager at Everyday Music on West Burnside Street
Mic Crenshaw, hip-hop artist
Dear customer-service food handler dirtbag: I have to eat out sometimes because it's convenient and I didn't have the foresight to pack lunch. I have worked in the food industry longer than you, and I took the shit about washing one's hands after handling money and smoking seriously. You think I can't see the fact that you handled money and then went directly to handling the food I'm about to pay for? You are nasty.
Julia Silverman, editor of Metro Parent magazine
If someone wants to bring a seeing-eye pony on a TriMet bus—this is a real thing, and a solid option if you've got approximately $60,000 to drop for a trained service animal—that's A-OK. But God forbid you ride the bus without folding up your stroller. What's a parent of twins who is flying solo to do — stash one of the babies on top of a miniature pony?
Ursula K. Le Guin, author
I think kvetching is for middle-aged people. You get old, you haven't got time for it.
Sean Jordan, comedian
There is such a thing as being too polite. I got into a "sorry off" with someone the other day, and I didn't know that could happen. I apologized for making him feel bad, then he apologized for making me think I needed to apologize, and then I apologized for seeming like a dick for some reason. We did that back and forth for about six apologies. I still feel kind of bad about it.
Claire Cain Miller, New York Times journalist based in Portland and cousin to Chelsea
Ian Ruder, editor of New Mobility magazine
Why does seemingly every Italian restaurant in Portland feature some sort of "wild boar" pasta? Where are these "wild" boars coming from and what about them makes them so perfectly suited to pairing with pappardelle or ragu? Like everyone else, I'm thoroughly enjoying Portland's local, farm-to-table dining movement, but I'm beginning to freak out about a huge, undocumented feral boar population in the city.
Jesse Cornett, chairman of the Lents Neighborhood Association
The lines to get a hot meal in Portland are as ubiquitous as bread lines were in the Soviet Union. I like the Reggie Deluxe as much as the next pudgy Portlander, but I'm not going to spend an hour just to place my order. I'm surprised a cottage industry of line waiters hasn't developed. Maybe that's the next Uber-like app.
Bud Clark, former mayor of Portland
Gina Cadenasso, owner of Bolt Neighborhood Fabric Boutique on Northeast Alberta Street
I've lived in the Concordia neighborhood for 13 years. Until about three months ago, when I looked out my windows I saw hedges and trees, hazelnut and fig. Now I look into my neighbors' windows and they look into mine. When the house sold, the buyer tore it down, as well as all the greenery, to build a new one. Now when I see a house for sale, I think, "Oh, let's hold onto those trees."
Han Ly Hwang, owner Kim Jong Grillin' food carts
Customers will ask me for recommendations on gluten-free items. I'll spend time answering their questions, because there are people who can get really sick. They'll order something gluten-free—and then they'll add an IPA. What's going on there?
Dan Saltzman, Portland city commissioner
Restaurants that don't accept reservations! They show a total disregard for customers and their customers' time. They say, "We're sorry, you can wait a couple of hours and get a table then."
Erik Tonkin, owner Sellwood Cycle Repair
Tilikum Crossing's spill onto South Waterfront is an under-thought, over-engineered, New Portland wet-dream mess of urban planning. I mean, I'm biking on a nice bridge, and then I'm crossing lanes of truck traffic and train tracks just to ride on the wrong side of the road before returning diagonally to where I just was—and it takes forever because of all the signals. I think I saw an elevator, too. I'm not moving most of the time, so it's easy to observe all this shit. It shouldn't be this slow, confusing and dangerous to ride in a straight line.
Aja Bogdanoff, CEO and software architect at Civil Comments
Phil Geffner, co-owner of Escape From New York Pizza
In Portland, the culture is "nice." When we first opened, I would go through the line asking people, "What do you want, what do you want?" Inevitably someone would say, "You're so rude." To me, it's rude making people wait. Here, not spending the nicey-nice time with the individual is rude.
Norm Frink, former Multnomah County chief deputy district attorney
There are way too many stops on the streetcar and MAX. We could eliminate about one out of every four on the streetcar and 10 or 20 percent on MAX, and we might actually get someplace in a timely manner. Don't expect that to happen (other than the minor adjustment the streetcar is doing) because it would require an admission that money was wasted on pointless stops.
Cheryl Albrecht, Multnomah County circuit judge
Hey, you know that ginormous Ford Super Duty mega- cab you insist on backing into that tiny parking space sized for compacts? I'm pretty sure it isn't a compact. All I know is that my car, which actually is a compact, can't shrink itself any further to fit between two of those trucks. And there seem to be so many of them. Is there some secret area of cattle ranches in Portland I don't know about?
Israel Bayer, executive director of Street Roots
Liberals who support great causes and claim to have compassion for people experiencing homelessness—yet somehow don't believe under any circumstances that people on the streets should live or gather in their neighborhoods. Having to share their neighborhood with thousands of people suffering on the streets was somehow left out of the real-estate brochure when purchasing their cozy home in North Portland.
Steve Novick, Portland city commissioner
The heat's set too high on the No. 45 bus in winter. Cool it, TriMet!
Bim Ditson, And And And drummer and candidate for Portland mayor
Finished basements. Furnished basements. Sizzle Pie. "Rocker" anything.
Cameron Whitten, nonprofit director
One of the things I love the most about Portland is being approached by random white people who I've never seen before, and before I can even say, "Hi, my name is…" they've embarked on a monologue about how not racist they are and how much they love the diversity of the neighborhood they just moved into. Nothing says, "Hey, black person, I'm not a racist!" like starting a conversation with me that's only about how I don't look like you.
Dwayne Molock, aka Moshow the cat rapper
The MAX system. This is the city that rains, and every time it rains hard it shuts down the MAX. You would think, living in the city of rain, the MAX system would be indestructible at this point.
Carl Wolfson, radio host
I don't like how I have to sneak around at night to dump fluoride into the city's water system.