How come Portland—home of Simpsons creator Matt Groening—doesn't have any Simpsons-related civic art? I was just in Santa Rosa, Calif., home of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, and they've got Charlie Brown stuff everywhere.
Not to throw too much interurban shade here, Chuck, but I'm guessing that Santa Rosa is beating us in the resident-cartoonist-boosting game mostly because it doesn't have a whole lot else to brag about. If it weren't for Peanuts, Santa Rosa's slogan would be "Next Town Over From the Former Home of the World Wrist-Wrestling Championship.*
In Portland, we have bigger claims to fame to commemorate through sculpture—like, say, the rusting, skeletal ghost homes recently erected on Southeast Grand Avenue in memory of affordable housing.
Still, the Simpsons are an undeniable force in popular culture, and many of the characters are named for streets and people in Portland. Moreover, Groening was actually from here, unlike that Minnesota-born carpetbagger Schulz. Would it kill us to erect a plaque?
As it turns out, there was a plan in 2009 to erect a granite statue somewhere in Portland of the Simpson family, seated on their signature couch. This effort, sponsored by local Fox TV affiliate KPDX, would have tied in with the 20th anniversary of the show.
Organizers originally hoped to locate the statue in a Portland park, but the Parks Bureau decided—not entirely unreasonably—that a sculpture celebrating a current TV show was a little too close to a commercial promotion.
Plan B was to locate the inevitably creepy-looking 3-D rendering of the cartoon family in Northeast Portland, near the Hollywood Theatre.
Neighborhood residents were, by all accounts, enthusiastic. Unfortunately, 2009 turned out to be a better year for global economic collapse than for goofy art projects, and the plan was shelved over funding concerns.
There you have it. Let's hear it for "Dr. Know," your go-to source for seven-year-old news about things that, as it turns out, didn't even happen! The Pulitzer committee knows where to find me.
* Petaluma, for those keeping score at home.
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