On a purely urban level, Portland, Oregon is probably my favorite city in the USA ... if not the world.
Portland is a city designed with human beings in mind, not the almighty automobile. Portland's city blocks are limited to 200' in length to keep them walkable, bicyclists typically have their own lanes and parking areas, suburban-sprawl is discouraged by ordinance, and their public transit system makes cars much more of a luxury than a necessity. I don't think that one could argue against it being the most well-planned large(ish) city in the USA.
Not only that, but it is the city in which the Simpsons animated series is set. Seriously, look it up.
Chapman School is the real school upon which Springfield Elementary is based:
When I am sitting on the I-5 just south of Seattle at 8am in the morning, it always fascinates me how two such closely-related cities can vary so wildly in the urban planning department. While Seattle is making strides, it's still pretty much a mess as far as transit is concerned. There are 4 million people in the Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia CSA, and there is a single light rail line that serves the entire area. For statistics fans, this breaks down to one light rail line per 4,000,000 people. Don't ask me how I got this result as the formula I used was very complex.
While I have a great affinity for the city of Portland in general, I do have some issues with the authenticity of some of the people who call the town home.
You see, there is a campaign in the city called "Keep Portland Weird", but I have found the place to be more "faux-weird" than anything.
Allow me to give you an example:
I was in the Lloyd District yesterday, and I sat down with my computer in a park besides two "punks". One guy had a mohawk, and the other guy was pierced to the point that he looked like Hellraiser. When I initially sat beside them, I assumed that they were going to be talking about the new Bleeding Dicks concert or something of that sort, but instead, Hellraiser was decrying the state of his credit score while Mohawk guy was giving him some tips.
"When you pay off the cards, make sure you don't close the accounts. That will hurt your score. Instead, just charge a little each month and pay them off".
I found this a little disheartening since conversations about improving ones debt-slavery score is not the sound of the revolution.
On another occasion, I was walking down the sidewalk in the Overlook neighborhood when I saw a man and woman cross the street. The couple looked as if they hadn't bathed in over three years. The girl had thick dreads, and the guy had aggressively ripped jeans and a tattered knit cap.
Assuming they were looking for a place to camp for the night, imagine my suprise when they strode over to an early 2000's Mercedes Benz ... and got in the front seats.
Again, German engineering ... not exactly fighting the power.
In the grand scheme of things, I would describe Portland not as weird, but as wannabe-weird. It takes a high degree of normalcy to put so much effort into a carefully crafted image.
All of this brings me to a point.
I hate posers -- known colloquially as "hipsters".
I really hate them. I hate them so much that I wouldn't piss on any of them if they were on fire and all it would take to prevent them from being engulfed in flames was a drop of urine.
For a variety or reasons, but one of the things that pisses me off the most is that yours truly is very frequently mistaken for one of these assclowns.
Since I carry a messenger bag, wear a knit cap, ride a bicycle, and wear old, inexpensive clothing, people commonly mistake me for a hipster.
The problem is ... I've always done this. I did not adopt the hipster aesthetic, they adopted mine. I suppose on some level I should feel marginally flattered that I have been "hip" since I was about ten years old, but I don't feel flattered. Rather, I feel annoyed and perplexed. Now I understand how black people feel about wiggers in general, and Elvis in particular.
I carry a bicycle messenger bag because I was ... get this ... a bicycle messenger. A real one, not some pretendster on a fixed-gear bike. For many years in the late 80's and early 90's I made my money riding 30-100 miles per day through the streets of Washington, DC and New York City. This was my primary means of income. I bought durable bags 15+ years ago, and the bags I use today are the exact same bags I used then. In those days, messenger bags were not cool nor were they fashion statements. They were simply tools of the trade.
Speaking of biking, I do not understand why hipsters ride fixed-gear bikes. In 2010, fixed gear bikes are like Ford Model T automobiles. They're interesting antiques, but only the most pose-obsessed of posebags would consider using one as a daily rider ... especially in hilly Seattle.
I've been wearing knit hats for a long time because I don't like a) getting haircuts and b) washing my hair. Hair products are a money pit which only go to further ones vanity. It's much easier and cheaper to wake up, throw on a hat, and go about your day.
My clothes are not banged up because I paid extra for someone to meticulously rip them -- each and every tear in my clothes was put there by me personally, quite unintentionally. I have the same shirts and jeans now that I had 10+ years ago.
I had a few guitars, but I didn't carry one around with me. The only time I held an instrument was when I was actually playing it. Hipsters appear to have a penchant for lugging acoustics around with them when they are drinking coffee, reading books, or buying toilet paper from the corner store. I do not know why this is, but if I had to guess, it's for the same reason that the Beach Boys were often photographed carrying surfboards. It's yet another fashion statement. Not a single member of the Beach Boys knew how to surf.
I lived in Brooklyn way before living in Brooklyn was cool, and the cost of living was dirt cheap since I wasn't surrounded by (supposedly poor) hipsters driving rental prices through the roof. I lived among life-long New York residents, not people who moved in once daddy's check cleared.
Now that I think about it, I must be like Jesus to hipsters. In a way, I was everything that they pretend to be ... and make no mistake about it, they are pretending.
I have a friend in Los Angeles who has informed me that she can no longer shop at her favorite thrift store. She said that used, beat-up clothing is so in demand by hipsters, that the price for these garments is often 2-3 times what it would cost to buy new. This also means that people who used to depend on thrift stores for inexpensive clothing have now been priced out by these shitstain hipsters.
Then there is, of course, the fucking awful hipster music.
Contrary to the alt.hipster creed, just because a band is obscure, it does not necessarily mean that they are good. Sometimes music is unpopular for a reason and the reason is that it sucks. Twanging an out-of-tune guitar as some girl plays the xylophone is not compelling music, and the reason it is not mainstream is the same reason that listening to someone have a bowel movement is not mainstream. It's simply unappealing to most humans.
Honestly, I'm convinced that hipsters don't actually like 80% of the crap they listen to. Much like the keffiyeh (which I will get to later), claiming to like shitty, obscure bands is just part of the whole "alternative" fantasy.
Speaking of alternative ...
Read: Die Hipsters, Die 2