Portlandia. The show that makes fun of Portland. When I travel, one of the questions I hear most often is, “do you watch Portlandia?” Then, after I answer in the affirmative, the follow-up is usually, “is Portland, really like Portlandia?”
The answer is yes.
But in some ways, Portland is absolutely like Portlandia.
Portlandia Theme Song
The Dream of the 90s is Alive
Before I heard this song, I never thought Portland was an alternate universe, but it’s absolutely true. We’re one of the only cities in the country to vote against fluoridation. Four times. Since 1956. We don’t want the government telling us what to do about anything, including dental care.
Al Gore really would like it here. We recycle everything. We compost all food waste, curbside. We have community gardens everywhere. There’s a farmers market in every neighborhood. The garbage truck comes twice a month while the recycling truck comes every week.
We love the earth here. A lot.
It’s Like You Don’t Even Need a Car
We also love to commute via bicycle. This is a combination of our love for the earth and our love for exercise and frugality. You will see more bikes when you’re in Portland than in most other major cities. You’ll see them everywhere, too, and you’ll stop being surprised when you see bikes of all shapes and sizes (including tall bikes, those are absurd) out in all kinds of weather. I’m a fair weather cyclist, myself. You can’t convince me to ride my bike in the rain. But many residents don’t have cars. We’re that bike friendly.
Tattoo Ink Never Runs Dry
Visitors from more conservative lands will be shocked by how many tattoos they see here. The ink art is amazing, and plentiful. I’ve seen whisks, deer heads, industry-related art (as in, you can tell what they do for a living based on the art on their arm), and all kinds of creative things. In creative places. Full sleeves of tattoos are fairly common here. In fact, we’re so inked that I don’t even notice it until I leave and come back.
The City Where Young People Go to Retire
Baristas with masters degrees. Hour-long waits for weekday brunch. There are a lot of young people here, with varying degrees of employment. Some are writing the next great American novel. Some are musicians. Some cobble together two or more part-time jobs to get by. We make enough money for happy hour, here. Some of us don’t make much more. Retired? Not really, retired people are probably not living with seven roommates and sitting on the lawn at 2 in the afternoon. But if the opposite of retired is slaving away at some corporate job, then yes, I suppose retired is the right word.
We work in Portland. We just work differently than they do on, say, Wall Street.