Because Portland is to America what America is to the world…
They aren't just coming to America anymore. They're coming to Portland.
For the second year in a row, Oregon was the state that Americans moved to most in 2014, according to a moving-company study. Japanese fashion magazines publish Portland guidebooks, and Tokyo mall shoppers flock to a "Lifestyle of Portland" pop-up. We're the only American city listed by swanky British Monocle magazine as "livable." Even the French seem to like us, and they don't like anybody: Paris has held multiple festivals devoted to keeping Portland weird.
Blame Portlandia if you like. Smirk at the kids who move here without any plans or prospects, and end up using their diplomas as placemats.
Portland has become just as much a utopian ideal as a city, a lifestyle panacea for the anomie of the Palo Alto software designer or ground-down NYC bartender. It isn't so much where the young come to retire, because they don't really retire: We're 50 percent more likely to start a business here than people elsewhere, and we're chock-a-block with freelancers who can actually afford an apartment. Portland is instead where people come to live differently, in a world that seems new.
I grew up here. I watched New Bad Things at the X-Ray Cafe, and bought second-hand shirts from Thee O, amid the art-damaged, suicide-rap Thunderdome of '90s downtown. That love-in-the-ruins Portland now endures only in memory—and, somehow, also on Sandy and Foster.
But in its place, we are becoming an immigrant city, the same way America has always seen itself as an immigrant country, a place where the dreamy-eyed and deeply talented gather and mix. Portland has barely functional schools, but we're still managing to import the young and educated from everywhere else.
Willamette Week spends a lot of column inches diagnosing what's going wrong in this city. But there's a lot to love. And we'd like to think that the other 26 Reasons to Love Portland we've assembled show why so many people come here to stay. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Because the Eastside's best view comes from the top of Portland's newest music venue…
This week is the soft opening of Revolution Hall, the sprawling development at the site of the former Washington High School in Southeast Portland. Its features are many: an 850-seat concert hall, two bars, a daytime cafe, multiple office spaces. The best asset, though, isn't inside but on top. The 2,680-square-foot roof deck—currently only available for private events, but hopefully not for long—offers the best 360-degree view of the city, period. MATTHEW SINGER.
Because you can drink at the zoo…
…and the laundromat
…and the arcade
…and the cat adoption agency
…and the painting class
…and the ceramics class
…and the indoor mountain-bike park
…and the curling rink
…and the gentlemen's clothier
…and the hybrid flower shop/furniture store
…and the role-playing game store
…and the kettlebell gym
…and the motorcycle shop
…and at least one current church
…and the playhouse (for free)
…and the outdoor store
…and the indoor playground
Because Damian Lillard can save us from everything…
No scientific explanation exists for why Damian Lillard is better than any other human being at basketball when the game is on the line. But he is.
Advanced statisticians boggle at his numbers in the final five minutes of contests where the Trail Blazers are within five points. Quantum theory provides no answers for #LillardTime—the moments when Dame repeats the salvation of the Blazers by hitting the same dagger from the same sliver of hardwood where he saved them before.
Here, then, is a highly unscientific explanation. Lillard gets better in the clutch because only then has he built up enough anger. It takes his body 48 minutes to refine the accumulated injustices and frustrations of the game into the jet fuel of precision-strike rage.
It's no secret Lillard is energized by slights. We can all rattle off the litany: Oakland hardscrabble, Weber State obscurity, Olympic snub, All-Star snub. Each time he's overlooked, his dunks grow more violent.
But less remarked upon is that this city loves him because his fury offers us catharsis. Lillard's character is a release valve for the Irish-German repression and new-arrival timidity that keep Portland polite. He is not willing to settle for locally harvested mediocrity. He will destroy his critics. He will hit the game-winner. He will point to his imaginary watch. He will save us whether or not we believe in him.
There are times when I look at Damian Lillard and see nothing else in Portland worth liking. AARON MESH.
Because our doughnuts are big in Japan…
…just like Cheap Trick, Spinal Tap and Avril Lavigne.
Voodoo Doughnut has a long relationship with Japan, and not just because it's popular with Nikon-wielding tourists. Before the shop had even opened, founders Tres Shannon and Kenneth "Cat Daddy" Pogson were filmed by a Japanese television crew as they handed out doughnuts at a memorial for longtime Lakers announcer Chick Hearn. By 2011, they were on the phone to Japan almost weekly.
In June, that long-discussed Voodoo Doughnut store will open in Tokyo, bringing maple bacon bars and sidewalk lines to the land of the rising sun. Voodoo told Portland's semi-daily newspaper that it will open 19 more spots in Japan and Taiwan over the next three years. By comparison, the number of shops in the U.S. is a mere five, with another one expected in June.
Meanwhile, bourgie novelty-doughnut chain Blue Star Donuts—think hibiscus and Cointreau, not Froot Loops and aspirin—is flirting like the French. In December, co-owner Katie Poppe wrote WW that they were headed to Tokyo, too, inside a luxury department store. "I literally just signed the deal last night," she wrote in an email. "Pretty effing cool, so excited to partner with a luxury brand and represent Portland abroad! :)"
Poppe and partner Micah Camden have walked back that enthusiasm, both to us and to other media outlets. No official announcement has escaped, and through emissaries they've sworn nothing is set in stone. But if the maple bacon can cross the pond, why not the fried-chicken ring? MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Because bike-lane art is back, baby.
Because we need support groups for moms who use formula…
Oregon has some of the highest breastfeeding rates in the nation. More than 90 percent of Oregon moms give it a go at least once, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 40 percent of 1-year-olds still milk it.
Walk into any Multnomah County library early in the day—say 10 am—and you're likely to see a lot of naked knockers as the librarian reads I am a Bunny.
Flashing? In Portland, no one gives a tit.
Local children's consignment shops peddle everything from used cloth diaper covers to baby carriers. But try selling a nursing cover. Sometimes called an "udder cover" or, even more politely, a "hooter hider," the cover is a cross between a bib and an apron, typically made from cutesy cotton prints (think cowboys or owls). It's designed to let a nursing mother experience the pleasures of life with a burqa.
You won't find many Portland mothers using one, at least not after the well-meaning relative who gave it to her leaves town. Wendy Stein, co-owner of Bella Stella on Northeast Broadway, says her store generally doesn't accept them because they don't sell. "They just sit," she says. "They don't move."
Sara Holmes, owner of Piccolina, with locations on Southeast Clinton Street and Woodstock Boulevard, says her shops sell about five nursing covers a month. "Most of the time it's because the nursing mother is traveling to another state," she says.
Portland's "lactivist" culture means moms can unsnap their bras comfortably just about anywhere. Bothered by this? Beware of voicing that opinion, lest you invite a nurse-in.
There is a downside, of course, to Portland's obsession with hyperlocal milk. Lots of moms can't breastfeed, or choose not to for good reasons. Bottle feeders sometimes feel like bottom feeders here, forced to sneak into their cars to pop bottles in their kiddos' mouths to avoid quizzical stares inside Cafe au Play. "Why don't you breastfeed? Don't you know formula is evil?"
It's not. But let's get back to gloating. Nationwide, about 50 percent of 6-month-old babies are breastfed. In Oregon, the rate is more than 64 percent. According to the CDC's rankings of "support indicators" for breastfeeding, Oregon lags behind only Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, besting the rest of the nation. Or should we say breasting? BETH SLOVIC.
Because white people all over the world covet our woodpiles and tepees…
But this design blogger and Instagram junkie didn't spot the source of this pattern until January 2015.
"Only a couple weeks ago," she says, "I noticed Kinfolk was linked to this. In all of these feeds, a Kinfolk cover would appear."
Kinfolk is a Portland-based lifestyle magazine founded in 2011—a purveyor of trust-fund Americana and a lover of elaborate group dinners, a cultural touchstone of those for whom all of life is intentional.
Allen made a folder on her phone, labeling it "The Kinspiracy." In three days, she gathered 300 photo feeds made by Kinfolk fans, all bizarrely similar. "Why are there so many photos of piles of wood?," she says, remembering. "It was things beyond lattes and shoes. People on a canoe, which seems strange. Tepees. Sliced citrus."
As Kinfolk has expanded, so has the Kinspiracy. The things Allen saw on Division Street in 2012 are now in Stockholm, Moscow, Tokyo and New York. It has spread to the places where Kinfolk goes. The yellow light is contagious. Portland has colonized the hive mind of Instagram.
So in January, Allen put all the Kinspiracy pictures on a Tumblr account (thekinspiracy.tumblr.com), with the subhead, "Making White People Feel Artistic Since 2011." It was meant only as a "catty joke" for maybe 10 friends. But it, too, spread across Facebook and the blogosphere within weeks. Jezebel swooned. And Gawker asked her to write an article. "People could suddenly put their finger on what had been bothering them," Allen says. "Seeing them all together seemed really creepy."
She now lives in Los Angeles—but, of course, the Kinspiracy is there, too. A Kinfolk photographer posted her Tumblr on social media, offended.
As for Allen's own Instagram feed? "Oh," she says. "I mostly just take photos of my cats, and drunken selfies." MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Because the city's quintessential dive bar survives the onslaught of condos and chains…
Southeast Division Street was a very different place when I moved there. Saturday nights did not find ladies in high heels hopping out of cabs, or packs of drunken suburbanites roving between bars. There was Pok Pok and Stumptown Coffee, but there were no lines for blueberry-and-sausage ice cream, no urban wineries scoring raves from The New York Times and no slab-faced condoplexes populated by well-branded local chains like Little Big Burger, St. Honoré, Bollywood Theater and Koi Fusion. You never had to drive around the block searching for parking.
That was all so long ago.
Just over three years now.
As a recent transplant, I'm in no position to mourn old Portland or wail about what's being lost when we smash a row of old bungalows to erect another concrete box lined with reclaimed barnwood so more people like me can move here. But I will say that Division Street, in my opinion, currently kinda sucks.
And yet, it's still home to what is objectively the best dive bar in Portland—Reel M Inn.
That fact was reinforced several Saturdays ago, when I showed up to watch the Seattle Seahawks play the Green Bay Packers for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. By happenstance, among the crowd were this newspaper's visual arts critic and the most awarded brewmaster in the state. The chicken and jojos are still spot-on, and a plastic cup of Coors Light was $2.
But it's the people that make a bar. At a neighboring table: a Portland native in a North Face jacket who says he's a Bengals fan, a Packers fan from Alaska in a Fox Motor Sports trucker hat, a bearded Rams/Seahawks fan in hiking boots, and a guy in Packers-branded mesh running shorts.
As far as I could tell, the entire operation was being managed by one bartender, Carey, whose name hangs above the Jameson and Johnnie Walker Red.
Everyone is nice and polite and cool, even as they taunt and yell "sack his ass!" At the end of the game, after the bone piles have been cleared and Jermaine Kearse has won the Seahawks a place in the Super Bowl, everyone shakes hands, settles up their tabs and heads out to their cars. These days, of course, those cars are two or three blocks away. Sure, it would be nice to find a spot right out front. But, really, what's there to complain about? MARTIN CIZMAR.
Because we finally have a cat cafe, like every other city that matters…
Purringtons Cat Lounge was not quite the first functional cat cafe in North America. But it was close. Portlanders Kristen and Sergio Castillo were the first to announce plans to open a cat cafe in the United States. It's just that like a lot of Portlanders, they took a little while to get it together.
It was worth the wait. One room is a cafe with food, beer, wine and all things caffeinated. The other, though? It's a world of cats—up to 10 at a time, acting like cats do. They hang out when they want to hang out, and when they don't, their tails go up. For such moments there is the beer, which you can bring in.
There's an admission fee, sure. And there's a waiting list. And there are rules about how you can hang with the cats. But that's because the cat room is in high demand, just like bangin' Miami VIP sections and the inner sanctum of a Mormon temple.
But the best part about the cat cafe is you can do more than visit. You can take the cats home. Purringtons partnered with Cat Adoption Team, so once you sober up after falling in love—this is where the nightclub metaphor breaks down—you can talk to somebody about adopting.
Does Miami have a cat cafe? No, it does not. Does Seattle? They don't care about anybody. It's us, Tokyo, Paris, New York, Los Angeles and, uh, Oakland and Denver. You know—the places that matter. LUCAS CHEMOTTI.
Because we're still No. 1 in semi-factual superlatives…
NO. 1 MOST LIVABLE CITY IN THE U.S.
NO. 1 MOST GENTRIFIED CITY OF THE CENTURY
NO. 1 BEST PLACE TO LIVE IN THE COUNTRY
—Money magazine, November 2014
NO. 1 WORLD'S BEST BEER CITY
—CNN.com, November 2014; Thrillist, August 2014
NO. 1 AMERICA'S FITTEST CITY
NO. 1 KINKIEST CITY
NO. 1 MOST COURTEOUS DRIVING CITY IN THE COUNTRY
NO. 1 WINNINGEST SPORTS CITY IN NORTH AMERICA
NO. 2 CITY FOR ATTRACTING AND RETAINING COLLEGE-AGE PEOPLE
—The New York Times/Portland State University, September 2014
NO. 4 BEST BIKING CITY
NO. 1 STATE FOR VOTER TURNOUT IN THE 2014 GENERAL ELECTION
NO. 1 WHITEST CITY IN AMERICA
NO. 1 CITY FOR PET TRAVELERS
NO. 2 AMERICA'S MOST VEGAN-FRIENDLY CITY
NO. 1 CITY FOR LIVE MUSIC IN THE COUNTRY
Because Moda Center is fully Portlandified…
When the Trail Blazers sold the Rose Garden's naming rights to a health insurance company in 2013, it felt like Portland was losing part of its soul. Most sports arenas are vacuous monuments to American corporatism, and if we're being honest, the RG wasn't much different: It's where you went to see basketball or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and paid $10 for a cup of Coors Light to wash down a boiled hot dog. But for two decades, it was our vacuous monument, with a name evocative of the city itself. It didn't help that Blazers fans are, as sports columnist Bill Simmons once put it, a cult of glorified soccer moms. It felt like our giant children were being sold off to the highest bidder.
Indeed, these days a game at Moda Center doesn't feel like it did at the Rose Garden. Instead, it feels like home.
In the two years since it was renamed, the arena has undergone a process of Portlandification. Last year, the arena localized its food options, bringing in Po'Shines, Bunk Sandwiches, Killer Burger, Fire on the Mountain and Sizzle Pie. In the summer, the upper-level smoking patio was converted into the Pines, a standing bar with an Oregon-heavy tap list and a panoramic view of downtown. This season, instead of pumping up fans at halftime with "Rock and Roll Part 2," or another clichéd jock jam, the team has taken to spotlighting local bands—from the Decemberists and Sleater-Kinney to truly underground acts such as Onuinu, Mean Jeans, the Chicharones and Magic Mouth.
"We want to make it a show that's not a cookie-cutter NBA experience," says Todd Bosma, the Blazers' director of game operations. "We want it to feel like Portland."
Sure, "Moda Center" still sounds more like a place you'd go for a gastrointestinal exam. But when fans wave signs declaring it "Our House," the claim rings truer today than it ever did before. Now, if they'd just bring back the damn chalupas… MATTHEW SINGER.
Because our 2-year-olds could survive the Oregon Trail…
"Everyone who comes over says, 'Oh, it's so Portland," says Brittany Witherite, who runs the school from her home in Southeast Portland's Sellwood neighborhood with partner Geoff Fasulo, a former farmer.
Like a lot of preschools and day care centers in Portland, Little Seeds is teaching kids all the skills they need to be homesteaders. Children who can't yet form full sentences know butter doesn't magically appear on the shelves of Fred Meyer because they are taught how to make it.
Kids at Little Seeds—and at day care centers with yearslong wait lists like ChildRoots—aren't eating microwaved chicken nuggets for lunch. At Little Seeds, they grow their own radishes, broccoli and kale onsite. Their art projects don't involve smelly glue, glitter and googly eyes. Children learn to weave, sometimes using grasses and other objects they find on walks in their neighborhoods.
Students—some as young as 2—will make their own candles and applesauce. When the goats arrive, they'll also make their own cheese.
Other schools may be drilling children on their letters. Little Seeds pupils are learning to connect with the land. "All of these things help to create really self-sufficient kids who are learning their importance in the world," Witherite says. "Our world is slower and hopes to create something that children really did live in in the older days." BETH SLOVIC.
Because we can now admit the airport carpet thing got a little out of hand…
On Jan. 23, after a yearlong farewell tour, Portland International Airport finally let go of the last scraps of its 28-year-old carpet.
In some ways, it was a relief. Portland's love affair with its teal flooring got coverage from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and NBC's Brian Williams (who may or may not have actually been there). Not because the carpet was considered especially interesting outside of this city, but because of how obsessed with it this city seemed.
In the year between the announced removal and the final dumpster run, PDX's carpet inspired tributes both commercial and not: coffee mugs, a Rogue beer, tattoos, socks, shirts, Ashbrook 5-panel hats, Nike shoes, bicycle helmets, and thousands of shoes-on-carpet selfies.
There is something beautiful in the whole thing, and it's not the carpet. Let's be honest, the old carpet was of average aesthetic value as high-traffic flooring goes. It was us, all along. Portlanders see beauty in the unlikeliest places and will take anything to an absurd extreme. LUCAS CHEMOTTI.
Because we have the craziest legal hotels in America…
You can spend the night in a tugboat. You can spend the night in an old church. You can spend the night in a tiny house painted bright pink. You can spend the night in an attic stocked with books.
You can spend the night in a mud hut under the St. Johns Bridge. You can spend the night in a condo above the Steel Bridge. You can spend the night in several Airstream trailers—including one, remodeled with hardwood floors, placed in the middle of a vineyard with four intermittently friendly ducks. You can spend the night in a home where the next morning, the family downstairs will rent you bicycles.
And all of this is legal! Well, most of it. Some of it, maybe.
Last summer, Portland became the first city in the nation to start collecting taxes from the short-term rental website Airbnb. That puts PDX on the short list of cities welcoming visitors to stay, with the blessing of city officials, in just about any kind of room in just about any nook in the city.
Of course, it's also true that all these miniature, adorable, insidiously gentrifying Airbnb hotels are required to get a city safety inspection by the end of this month. Which means you can sleep with the peace of mind that your DIY inn is not a death trap.
It also means that some of this vacation whimsy will shut down, balking at increased costs, meddling inspectors or the need for fire escapes.
But did we mention the tugboat? You can stay in a tugboat. AARON MESH.
Because you can get beer on tap at coffee houses and coffee on tap at beer bars…
The two great Portland brew cultures are merging.
It began simply. Somewhere along the way, Portland's third-wave coffeehouses figured out that at the end of an all-day study session or coffee klatch, their customers were walking off to get a beer somewhere else. Why not just offer a crisp, profitable beer so they'll stay put? The downtown Stumptown was one of the first, with a beer tap and even Chimay available—although the beer tap recently went to nitro cold-brewed coffee. These days, alongside its nitro cold-brew tap, Ristretto has a beer tap offering Hopperhead. Barista likewise has a rotating beer tap, with cider next to that.
As of this year, it's also gone the other way, with coffee getting its own tap line at Portland bars. And at the new Mad Sons bar, themed after the American Revolution, a nitro beer tap of Old Rasputin—an imperial stout thicker and blacker than coffee—shares space with a tap of crisp nitro Stumptown. Lardo sandwiches has a nitro cold-brew tap right next to the beer.
To further muddy the mud, Portland now has a Coffee Beer festival at Goose Hollow Inn each January, with 16 local breweries mixing the two, from Imperial Oak Aged Coffee Stout to a Mocha Banana Split Weizendoppelbock. Half-and-half orders of cold brew and stout at the local pub—we'll call it a Portland speedball—can't be far behind. LUCAS CHEMOTTI.
Because the zoo is saving butterflies from extinction...
The Oregon Zoo gets most of its press, good and bad, for its "charismatic megavertebrates" (that's zoo-speak for elephants) and its "meme-friendly mammals" (otters who can dunk basketballs). But the most impressive thing our zoo does is protect the existence of species you might not see flitting away.
That is to say, the Oregon Zoo breeds butterflies.
The zoo's efforts to preserve Northwest animals—including turtles, pygmy rabbits and the huge, bald California condor—are among its most successful. The triumphs include the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, an endangered species, and the Oregon silverspot butterfly, which lays larvae on just one kind of violet.
It's not easy.
"They're very small and delicate animals," says David Shepherson, the Oregon Zoo's deputy conservation manager. "And because there are so many of them, it's a record-keeping challenge."
Butterfly keepers track every single insect they raise, even taking note of each one's parents, so they don't release too many genetically similar butterflies into the wild. And the staff replicates the bleak winters of Oregon and central Washington, when the insects hibernate.
"We keep the Oregon silverspot butterflies in the fridge all winter," Shepherson says. "The challenge is keeping them in an environment that's not too damp, so they don't get moldy."
The zoo has released 17,000 silverspot butterflies into their habitats, along with 18,475 Taylor checkerspot butterflies. It shares some of the credit for the checkerspot release with Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Belfair, Wash., where zoo officials guide a conservation program.
That's right: Prisoners are raising butterflies. It's not technically in Portland, but everybody deserves something to love. AARON MESH.
Because we own reality...
Portland didn't even watch The Real World when the show was shot here. We didn't let them film in most of our bars, so the bros and ladybros just hung out at Subway.
But bring us a televised contest that involves actual skill, and we will own that shit. On Chopped, Nong Poonsookwattana, of Nong's Khao Man Gai, broke down a suckling pig like it was made of Legos before sending the competition home in doggie bags. In 2011, Vitaly Paley dirtied up the whites of Iron Chef Jose Garces. Portland-born Vecepia Towery Robinson outlasted everybody else on Survivor: Marquesas and took home $1 million. And most famously, our fashion designers have walked off with four of 13 top prizes on Project Runway.
As this issue prints, Departure chef Gregory Gourdet is poised to win Top Chef: Boston. Imperial's Dougie Adams, who seemed equally unbeatable for a while, ended up in third.
Why do we do so well? âPortlanders like to start their own trends,â says Michelle Lesniak, Project Runwayâs Season 11 winner and a final-four finisher last week on Project Runway All-Stars. âOther cities follow.â
While it's obviously good for the future career path, it has its drawbacks, and Lesniak coached Gourdet, who is a friend, on coping with the loss of anonymity after winning a show. She's convinced he will win as well. The downside? Strangers write to tell her what plastic surgery they think she should get—pinned ears, apparently—and rubberneck at Smokehouse 21.
"I can't pick my nose in public without getting caught," Lesniak says. "I had a meltdown with a girlfriend where I was crying, and somebody walks up and says, 'Hey, can I take a photo with you?'" MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Because the Olympics of Weed are coming the very same month we legalize…
The Cannabis Cup is coming to Portland. We repeat: The Cannabis Cup is coming to Portland, the very same month we do what Peter Tosh said.
For those of you who haven't been writing letters to High Times magazine for years, the Cannabis Cup is the Super Bowl (heh) of weed, the biggest cannabis trade show, awards show and pot party in the country.
The cup showcases the newest sciencey gear and hybrid strains, the all-and-sundry innovations in cannabinoid delivery the weed public has concocted in the previous 12 months.
The location of the Portland event and exact details are still TBD. But one thing is known: Right when shit gets legal, it also gets judged. These are the most prominent awards in pot. A team of experts with knowledge going back decades will assess the product of every grower in Oregon who submits nug samples—and believe us, every good one will. And then the Cannabis Cup will go to the best sativa, indica, hybrid, shatter, edible, hash, high-CBD, whatever, in all of Oregon. It's accreditation, people. And that's just as good for the new wave of novices as it is for the old pros.
Oh, and there will be free weed samples. Did we mention that? Yeah. Free weed samples. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Because you can watch live standup comedy in the basement of a bike shop…
...and in somebody's house.
...and in a video arcade
...and at a sandwich shop
...and at a coffeehouse
...and at a pizza place
...and at a gay bar
...and at a drag club
...and in the basement of a pool hall
...and at an art gallery
...and right before a metal show
...and in a recording studio
...and in a record store.
...and in a below-ground rumpus room
...and in a burlesque dinner theater
...and at a zine publishing center
...and at an Ethiopian restaurant.
Habesha Lounge. (All shows occurred within the past year.) MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Because the city we make fun of is cooler than the place most people live…
An experiment: Go pretty much anywhere in America, and tell people about Portland's most-mocked neighborhood.
There's a indie movie theater that serves booze and is currently showing Oscar-nominated shorts and WolfCop. There are five breweries within a short walk of each other, through an old and leafy business district. There's a divey 24-hour taco shop between them, and nearby a much better taco shop that specializes in fish tacos and craft beer. They have a record shop. It's very easy to score weed. You can buy a century-old bungalow within walking distance of a hardware store and Safeway for $180,000.
"Why, that sounds like where the hipsters live!"
And yet, Vancouver is, for the most part, not where the hipsters live. But that's because of us, not because of them.
Vancouver is—in the grand scheme of things, relative to the rest of the country—actually pretty cool. It's a livable, walkable, cheap little burg that would be the new Asheville or Madison if it were located in North Carolina or Wisconsin.
The fact that we snooty Portlanders can smirk at these people even as they continue to acquire more and more of the trappings of contemporary urban living is a statement about just how special Portland is right now.
Only one store specializing in the sale of outmoded plastic media and three shops where you can legally buy a Schedule I drug? Ugh, I'd rather live in Lents. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Because a Portland author dared shame the publishing industry...
When Ursula K. Le Guin accepted the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters last November, it quickly became national news. Not just because of the recognition given to the often-overlooked genre of fantasy and science fiction, but because of Le Guin's ballsy acceptance speech.
The Portland author and literary legend called out the mega-booksellers who value sales strategies over story, and even writers and publishers for "letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write."
"I don't want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward isn't profit. Its name is freedom," Le Guin extolled.
You could almost hear the drumbeat of war against Amazon. People took notice. Within hours, Le Guin's speech was reported on NPR, in The New Yorker and The Guardian, and elsewhere.
"The press glommed onto it, and it went out very quickly on social media, too. By the next morning I was giving Maru the Cat some real competition on YouTube," says Le Guin of the frenzy that followed. "I said something a lot of people evidently wanted to hear said. And I am very glad of that. Now I just hope that they—especially the writers and the readers and the buyers of books—will repeat it, act on it, and carry it on farther." PENELOPE BASS.
Because the OLCC really takes care of serious boozehounds...
A lot of people complain about the Oregon Liquor Control Commission—dingy stores, poor locations, inconvenient hours. Last year, grocers who want to sell booze in their stores wasted nearly $3 million trying unsuccessfully to kill the OLCC, and they'll probably try again.
But for booze geeks, drinkers who like chasing rare bottles, the OLCC's online bottle-finding service, OregonLiquorSearch.com, is awesome.
At a time when demand for premium bourbon, whiskey, tequila and rum is growing faster than the Chinese economy, it can be difficult to find what you're looking for.
Say you want to bribe your father-in-law or boss with a bottle of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof bourbon. The stuff is vanishingly rare, but the search will tell you which of the 248 stores have it. And if the store that has your bottle is far from home, the OLCC will ship it to the nearest store. The whole setup is kind of like Tinder for drinkers.
And to stretch the dating metaphor a bit further, the happiness you find on the OLCC search, unlike on some dates, won't leave you financially embarrassed. That's because the state markup—about 100 percent according to an OLCC spokeswoman—is standard no matter how popular or rare the bottle. You won't pay extra for Pappy Van Winkle here. The OLCC sells its Pappy allocation to lucky buyers at its regular markup, as it does other rare bottles. You'd never see that in California or Washington, states where liquor prices are not controlled.
So, yeah, shopping at the OLCC's stores may lack the aesthetic pleasure of dropping into New Seasons or a freshly tricked-out Freddie's, and you may not get rock-bottom prices on high-volume sellers that you'd get at Costco in the 'Couv. But if you're looking for happiness and predictability, the OLCC has your back. NIGEL JAQUISS.
Because we have the best woman-focused bike shop in the country...
A well-fitted bike can feel like an extension of your body, inextricably linked to your sense of self. Like Hedwig to Harry Potter, combat boots to Daria; or white privilege to Batman. Leah Benson, owner of Gladys Bikes on Northeast Alberta Street, seems especially attuned to the bike-rider connection.
"To some people, a bike is just a sporting good, but for a lot of people, it ends up being more in your life," Benson says. "It helps to create a storyline for what you're doing. Your bike takes you to all sorts of places. It starts to represent you in certain ways."
Benson, who worked in the nonprofit world before opening Gladys in the fall of 2013, drew inspiration for her shop from the way pet adoption agencies paired animals with owners. Gladys offers semi-custom bike builds and a saddle library, where $25 lets customers try out any of shop's collection of bicycle seats. She also took cues from She Bop, the woman-focused sex shop in Portland.
"The reason I like calling it women-focused is because it's an open invitation," Benson says. "We're thinking of you first. You're not an afterthought. Men are welcome here, but it's women that we're thinking about when we purchase products and when we design programs and even when we design our marketing.â
Gladys was named 2014's best female-friendly bike shop by Interbike, the "largest bicycle trade event in North America." Aside from showcasing bikes and gear made for women, the shop's inviting aesthetics reflect its female focus. During the interview, we sat in comfy yet not overly plush chairs in the shopâs âliving-room space.â
"It takes a space that is traditionally thought of as a male realm and and makes it more comfortable for a woman to come into," she says. ANNA WALTERS.
Because no one ever asks you what your real job is…
When guitarist Cory Paolo moved to Portland this spring from his native Pittsburgh, his biggest surprise was the question people didn't ask. "What you do isn't how you make money here," he says. "Back home, when I told people I was a musician, they would say, âYeahâ¦but what do you do?ââ
Your band might pack the Alberta Street Pub on Saturday, and then you stumble back to work at a Shell station on Monday. But people don't give a shit about what it's like to work at a gas station. And you don't have to bother telling them about it.
We live in a city where the question of what you do doesn't mean for money. In Portland, it can be answered, "I'm a filmmaker working on a remake of Purple Rain set in the Sahara." And by God, people will be excited to hear it.
Curtis Cook, a guy who spends his workday at a call center, is one of the funniest standup comedians in the city. Matt Shelby, who spends his days as a communications strategist for the state, is fully licensed to brew and sell Red Ox beer out of his garage. After stints backing up Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, and Marvin Gaye, legendary jazz drummer Mel Brown got a day job in Portland as a bookkeeper—a job he'd wake up for each morning after long nights spent gigging with the city's finest jazz talent. No one remembers that Mel Brown was a bookkeeper.
Back in 2003, author Katherine Dunn told Chuck Palahniuk that everyone in Portland has three distinct lives, and no one cares about the one that pays the rent. Some things never change. PARKER HALL.
Because we are still kicking Kickstarter's ass on beverage technology…
Look at this glass. This glass is amazing. It is laser-etched, based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey, to be the exact shape of Mount Hood on the bottom. Mount Hood is drowning in beer! Just like the entire state of Oregon!
Its makers, a fledgling company called North Drinkware, asked for a mere $15,000 on Kickstarter so they could start production on these boss glasses. Well, as of press time, they are about 2,600 percent funded on that goal. They got over $400,000 in advance orders after a mere seven days. At least 4,000 people really want to drink a pint of beer out of Mount Hood.
Last August, it was a cooler. The Coolest Cooler. It had a blender, a built-in speaker, and a USB charger for phones. About 16,000 people were so desperate for one of these things, they gave Portlander Ryan Grepper $13.2 million, the most money anybody has ever received on Kickstarter for anything. Grepper already sort of looks and dresses like the kind of guy John Cusack would beat in a yacht race, and now he can probably buy a yacht.
In October 2014, Tony Peniche asked for $18,000 to fund some kind of stick, called Whiskey Elements, that would make your whiskey taste old. Y'all gave him almost $200,000. In November 2013, a group called Mazama got like $24,000 for ceramic drinking vessels. Lord knows what you'd fetch for a new and better kind of beer bong. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Because our most famous actress goes record shopping with our coolest athlete…
In a recent profile on the reunited Sleater-Kinney, Pitchfork shared an interesting off-hand tidbit about singer-guitarist and Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein. Two, in fact. Not only does she frequently exchange emails with Blazers owner Paul Allen, she goes record shopping with the team's center and noted super-nerd, Robin Lopez.
To put this in perspective, it's sort of like discovering Eddie Vedder goes antiquing with Richard Sherman. Alas, it wasn't something they did for a sketch: According to a clerk at Everyday Music on Northeast Sandy Boulevard, Lopez and Brownstein, on at least one occasion, came in together. He couldn't remember what they purchased (though on previous solo visits, he recalls Lopez buying a Nas album, a Paul Simon box set and a DVD of Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons, because of course he did), so we'll just have to take a guess… MATTHEW SINGER.