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Monday, February 18, 2008

Portland Portland: Overrated?

Posted by Matt Davis on Mon, Feb 18 at 12:08 PM

Is Portland overrated? I’ve tried pitching the following words to the New York Times and the LA Times as an op-ed column, over the last few weeks. Needless to say, neither of them wanted it—they’re too busy running “Ra Ra Portland” pieces. And why not, when it sells advertising?Portlandcheerleader.jpg
Portland Media Cheerleaders: Ubiquitous and over-compensated…

So, here are my unpublishable thoughts on our fair city. Incidentally, I asked mayoral candidate Sam Adams for a comment when I thought the LA Times might take it. But I never heard back from him. Which, I guess, says more about this city than if he’d returned my inquiry. Still, judge for yourself:

Portland: Overrated?

Unless you live here already there’s a strong chance, like most contemporary Americans, you are considering moving to Portland. Well, stop right there.

I, personally, would love to have you—let’s just be sure you have all the facts, first.

It’s hard to pick up a travel section from Berlin to Beijing these days without reading Portland celebrated for its showcase organic cuisine, Bohemian street life, cutting-edge cafes and wacky public art. Not to mention its so-called indy music, ubiquitous left-leaning bumper stickers, streetcars and neolithic house prices.

What’s the problem? I’ll tell you: People here are rude. Perhaps it’s an extension of the city’s media-induced smugness, but I’ve never been anywhere so prone to passive aggression. Occasionally a Portlander can be drawn into open xenophobia, especially when it comes to talking about newcomers who have moved here from elsewhere, but for the most part, they keep their rudeness to themselves.

That’s a problem, because native Portlanders and newcomers alike have an awful lot to be angry about, and you can’t help wishing they’d talk with you about it, instead of just, you know, acting it out.

More after the jump.

There’s the weather, for a start. Coming from London in 2006 I thought I knew rain, but an Oregon winter is something you don’t so much live through as survive. Remind me: What does the sun look like? And there are no jobs here, either.

Economically, growing up is proving harder for Portland than puff pieces on the city’s burgeoning creative class might have you believe. Young people, especially, are moving here in droves, lured by cheap rent and a misguided perception that perhaps Modest Mouse or The Shins might need a new drummer on the exact day they happen to arrive.

Portland’s creative class is a myth, of course. I worked without pay for six months at a hipster paper before landing a full-time position there, and freely admit to being one of this city’s lucky ones. Most aspiring creatives fall quickly into waiting tables at hipster cafes while they fail to get on with their novel, and slowly turn into the rudest Portlanders of all.

For example, this is the only place on Earth I have ever been asked by a straight-faced waiter who had failed to bring my entrée: “Do I look like I care, buddy?”

It takes restraint here not to rip the odd handlebar moustache off. Then, when it comes to needing a real job, Portland has very few opportunities for newly shorn hipsters because there are hardly any mortgage-paying companies to work for.

Too proud to woo major corporations with hefty tax breaks like they do in real cities, Portland needs to do more to nurture medium-sized employers who can pay home-buying wages. Otherwise the city can scream "sustainability!!!" from its green rooftops without changing the fact that its population influx is unsustainable.

Eventually, all but a fraction of Portland's creative class will have to leave and live again with its retired parents in California or New York. That’s assuming, of course, that the creative class’s retired parents didn’t already move to Portland—itself a phenomenon somewhat irking to those older Portlanders in the wrong place at the wrong time (i.e here) during the tech boom.

Rapid change over recent years has not gone easy on the city’s political self-assuredness, either. Portland’s mayor, Tom Potter, is now a popular laughing stock for spending $1.5m on a consultancy-based community outreach project called Visioning, asking Portlanders how they want the city to look in the next 25 years.

The irony, of course, is that most Portlanders envision a future without a mayor who’d prefer to ask abstract questions than get a grip on the very real issues of a town in transition. Potter will step down next year, leaving his project short-sighted, to say the least.

Just like every other city in America, Portland is dogged by its failure to adequately address homelessness and the needs of the mentally ill. It's not yet ditching people on Skid Row fresh from ambulances like Los Angeles, although downtown Portland at night is full of people who should be getting treatment and shelter or housing, and for whom none is available.

One of the regular homeless guys at my local grocery store has no nose. A regular at Whole Foods, where I can't afford to shop, is an 85-year old homeless woman who begs for money on the street outside and guilts people, daily, into parting with $20 bills. She loads up a cart with the best organic chicken and red wine before flouncing off the sidewalk into a taxi. We've no idea how she cooks it or where she goes but if you came here, trust me: She'd guilt you, too.

It’s all very well touting Portland’s livability, but it’s livability increasingly dependent on one’s financial and psychological means. Portland also has 200 fewer police officers than it did in the early nineties. Still, all the better to beat you with...

In September 2006, a 42-year-old schizophrenic named James Chasse was severely beaten in the street by Portland police officers. His alleged crime, never proven, was to have urinated in the street near an upscale restaurant, for which he mysteriously died an hour later, in custody. 16 months later, Portland’s police are yet to complete an internal affairs investigation into Chasse’s death, although in August 2007 the City did find the time and money to outlaw sitting or lying on its sidewalks in a move targeted at homeless people.

Does Portland really deserve its liberal reputation? Is it tolerant of such questions being asked of it? No.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t move to Portland. I confess I wouldn’t still be here if I hadn’t fallen in love with the place, or at least, fallen in love with poking a stick at it. And by God, don't Portlanders hate that. But I would encourage you to consider the impact you may make, and how you will be received here, should you decide to make the jump.

Incidentally, I would think especially hard about that question if you’re African American. Only 6% of Portlanders are, and in two years I have only gotten to know one of them. He describes Oregon as “the deep North” and has stories to make your toes curl, to confirm it.

Portland is not a big city, but a small town with a rapidly expanding ego. It may bask in its good press, but it’s oversensitive to criticism and because of that, it’s going to have a very tough time growing up. Like a pubescent Goth guitarist still flirting with the idea of going mainstream in adulthood, it can annoy the hell out of you. My advice is to wait a decade, and see how little Slash turns out.


boring post is boring.

i like how your only evidence of people acting out is a waiter being rude to you. call the fucking waaahmbulance to take you back to merry old england, dipshit.

1."People here are rude."

Interestingly the whole reason I moved here was that people on the whole are a lot less rude/judgmental here than where I come from in California.

I think it may be a cultural thing, trust me when I say, per person the displayed rudeness here is much less than many if not most of the rest of the US.

If only you had heeded the words of Tom McCall:

"Come visit us again and again. This is a state of excitement. But for heaven's sake, don't move here to live."

Feel free to catch the next thing smoking back to the land of steak and kidney pies.

Too many hipsters makes for a lot of snobbery. It's not enough to have cool friends, you must have THE COOLEST friends. Only the highest caliber of tight-jeans douchebag will do. PBR in one hand, a desperately clasped shred of your 23-year-old self's glory days in ther other....fuck you, Portland. You insist on strident monoculture. The self-importance is deafening.

It would be nice if people would stop moving here. I'll be laughing in my rental when Portland's over inflated housing market pops like a zit. The people are rude.

I've been here for 3 years, and I think this is spot on.

Matt: You've done this to death.

You have hit about twenty nails right on the head with this, nice work.

I'd guess though that you are about to be excoriated: Portlanders don't like to have multiple shortcomings of their culture demonstrated to them all at one time, particularly when one of those shortcomings involves Whole Foods. Portlanders need organic food to survive, and where they purchase such food is as important as what they purchase. Many Portlanders consider shopping at Whole Foods to be a religious experience, allowing them feel good about their consumption.

You're right, Matt… I hate you… and you're right.

Thanks for writing what many of us know to be true, but are afraid to admit outloud. The major arts in Portland are dying, downtown after 7:00 pm is dead, our PR is fueled by real estate developers who will be AWOL when the market tanks (and it will - big time), we refuse to realistically address homelessness, we're racist as hell, the school system is a dire mess, newly graduated trust-funders are angry because the may actually have to take jobs that aren't COOL, drugs and booze abound, people tailgate as if they have somewhere to go, and people ARE passive agressive and will fuck you over to get what they want. As bad as it is to have these problems, it's just as bad to pretend we are some perfect green creative liberal la-la land utopia for artists and techies.

That being said, on sunny days like today - it is so amazingingly beautiful here I can hardly stand it.

You make a lot of good points, Matt. I've been here 61/2 years and while there is much I love about Portland -- especially not being tied to a car to get around -- the people are a little hard to figure out. I've lived in 4 other U.S. states and I actually think people in Portland are very nice and polite. I also think they're weirdly passive. I've witnessed so many bizarre situations on the MAX where people won't even just say excuse me to someone who is blocking the door when they're trying to get out. I once saw a girl practice some outstanding contortionist moves to get to a garbage can that I was standing in front of instead of just asking me to move. And there are some strange undertones here -- there is a major history of racism in this state in general and people here will combine sex with just about anything (think VooDoo doughnuts and vegan stripping?!?)
But what I really don't like is that I find it hard to make friends here. The people I've gotten closest with are all from other states. I was once talking with a woman from Queens, New York who I think summed it up best when she said, "people in Portland are very nice and polite, but they don't seem interested in enlarging their personal circle." Maybe it's different if you're a younger hipster hanging at the clubs, or maybe it's in part a generational thing, but I don't know.


I wouldn't say you're entirely right. I'm fairly new in comparison to a lot of the "influx" who came here and yes, as part of the so-=called "creative class"; why, I'm a filmmaker and isn't that Gus Van Sant fellow from here and Portland was named one of the top 3 places to live as an indie filmmaker by Moviemaker mag? I'm there! `Course, now I'm studying architecture and focusing on documentaries, but that's beside the point..

As a poster mentioned up above, the rudeness here is very much under par with the rest of the country. Perhaps it's only in comparison with where I grew up- Los Angeles, where the people are incredibly frigid and antisocial- or where I had lived for 2 years before moving here: Miami, where people are furious at everyone all the time, EXTREMELY rude, and self-righteous. You think Portland's snobby and rude? Spend a year in South Florida (if you can survive the heat and THAT rain which makes Oregon weather look like a total joke) and tell me different.

Now with that said, I agree with your views on Portland's police force. And the unemployment issue is a big one, but it's one that the city can only overcome with time. The Whole Foods gripe listed above is moronic at best; one of the best things that Portland does have (keeping in mind we're stepping outside of our progressive little bubble to compare) is that its community is trying to be dedicated to their ecological footprint (even if most of the city still does drive) and that they care enough about organic food to buy it in droves, and have multiple natural food selections available. To illustrate a little better, consider the multitude of options that there are in addition to Whole Foods: New Seasons, Zupan's, Trader Joe's, and the multiple great co-ops in the area, not to mention one of the country's best farmer's markets. You will simply not find anything but a pathetic little farmer's market and one or two Whole Foods in Dade County; L.A. is a little better, but environmentally friendly and L.A. don't really seem to go much hand in hand.

With all that said, Portland is not without its faults, obviously, but to take it out on the Times and represent our city as not being as rosy as one would think (pun not intended) kind of blows it out of proportion a bit. It's great that we get media attention; plenty of other far more awful American cities get more sometimes (Miami being the quintessential example again here). And as much as Portlanders hate it, the influx of people moving here to start businesses could hopefully help give the economy a boost.

But, you know, to paraphrase South Park, if you don't like it you could always GIIIIIIIIIIIIT OUT.

So, you hate Portland because you aren't talented enough to get a job that pays you more money, can't be bothered to befriend more than one African-American person, and hate hipsters?

Or is it because your self-identity depends solely on being "contrary"?

Here's the link to U-Haul, your one-stop shop for all your moving needs. Please write back from whatever shithole you end up in to let us know how much better it is.

The irony is: I won't be leaving. You will!

Ah, Tom McCall quotes. Let's have a cheer for renegade republicans.

Also, the sun looks like what was in the sky all weekend.

Still, please don't move here.

Nice article, Matt. While I love it here, I can't argue with anything you said. And the part about Portlanders being hypersensitive (and they are especially hypersensitive about their hypersensitivity) is spot-on. Try to say ANYTHING bad about this place and you'll get an earful of "love it or leave it" - that strange mantra shared by redneck and hipster.

Regarding how Portalnders interact with each other when they feel there is no consequence... The over courteous driving is huge sign of people that are unwilling to be honest with how they really feel. I spend an immense amount of time in the thick of my beloved city driving amongst the callow that quickly turn to aggressive psychopaths if crossed. If you think I'm wrong, go sit in a Whole Foods or New Seasons parking lot for an hour. Watch the urban yuppie neo-hippies scramble in their Land Rovers and Subaru station wagons for spots and the disgusted looks on their faces when all courtesy flies out the window as they scramble to pay twice as much for food than they need to.

Oh, and an open letter to all of you that lack a sense of self preservation... Don't cross the street if you don't have a walk sign or at least a flashing don't walk. You screw up the flow of traffic downtown and are begging to get ran the fuck over.

I've lived in a lot of different places and I must say, I think Portland is one of the friendlier places I've lived. Sure there are lots of hipsters that are too cool, but I don't bother with them... If you only have one black friend, you're probably hanging out in the Pearl too much... Wild Oats is expensive, so shop at Safeway, they have the same stuff for cheaper. Are you just saying this because the City Auditor told you to go fuck yourself?

I'd like to know the average time of Portland residency of the Merc's readership, and of its staff. To put it all in perspective, you know.

As a Portlander for nearly two decades, I welcome anti-Portland publicity; the population influx, as beneficial as it can be, is also unsettling and as you mention unsustainable. But I'm not sure if you're yet qualified to write a critique on Portland. I may be wrong, but I'm going to guess that your exposure to Portland is mostly limited to its newer elements, districts and inhabitants. That means your warning to potential Portland immigrants is really about the immigrants themselves. If that's true, shouldn't you be writing articles to Portland hipster immigrants that have came here in the last one to three years, about how they should leave town in order to grow up and stop trying to stave off their inevitable destiny of selling out and selling insurance in a Seattle suburb? That they're joking themselves about being "creative" and that they're staying in low-end jobs because they're otherwise incapable or haven't grown past a teenaged level of personal fiscal responsibility or taste because they still work service industry jobs, smoke and drink Pabst?

But really, talk to some older Portlanders and you'll realize the fellating that the media has given Portland lately isn't anything new. It's just the latest wave of irrational exuberance that has made Portland what it is today. Back in the 1970s, environmentalists conjured up an idealized version of Portland that wasn't true then, but decades later, with an entrenched green demographic, that vision has been realized and is looking more accurate. Something similar probably happened after the 1905 World's Fair, but I can't say which demographics were which back then and for what special reasons people were inclined to move here in droves in the years following.

The point is that the more the media frenzy expounds the virtues of Portland, the more people will move here that want those things to become true. If people come here seeking a certain kind of utopia, each person that immigrates for that reason is a building block towards making that happen. Although right now that utopia might be a playground for self-absorbed 20-somethings.

Matt, give me an email if you want me to put you in contact with some people whose ideas I stole about the irrational-exuberance-comes-true theory if you want to write a story on Olde Portland.


I like how just to the left of your sentence "It takes restraint here not to rip the odd handlebar moustache off" there's an ad for Biggs Bros. Wings (where they sell, what?, fake handlebar moustaches?, shaving kits? chicken wings?)

Your point brilliantly illustrated.

Not a bad little rant. Why not put it in this week's paper?

Sigh. Matt, is there anything you like about Portland? Every time I accidentally read something you've written it's some kind of bitchier-than-thou sob story about how you know better than everyone else around you. It's kind of droll.... maybe you should try to focus on something positive.

Here, I'll help:

1. Great weed. Seriously.

2. Access to mountain on your right, and ocean on your left (assuming you're facing north.)

2. Great parks, trails, bike routes and opportunities for exercise (oh wait, you're from England or someplace right? Exercise is what some people do instead of smoking and eating fried fish from rolled up newspapers.)

2. Did I mention the marijuana? Cause it's great.

3. There are jobs around, just not "cool" jobs. In portland there are a great number of jobs where people do something called "working" instead of creating synergy or selling crap to people who create synergy.

4. The Mercury is always worth a laugh. Love that Perry Bible Fellowship and that Dan Savage. What? Those are both syndicated? Oh, uh, never mind.

I whole-heartedly agree with elliot @ 20. It seems that people move here expecting to find not only the perfect utopia, but the perfect job right away. Guess what? It ain't that kind of town. I moved here a little more than 2 years ago and worked a few service level jobs. At the same time I was volunteering with groups, organizations and other entities that would make me valuable contacts later on. Lo and behold it worked out, and I am now working up the chain in my desired industry. I have met quite a few people who moved here expecting to get the perfect job, only to move away a short while later because they couldn't slum themselves to have a shitty service job. Working in low level service shouldn't be a career choice. It should pay the bills while you talk to the right people to make some real money. Along the same lines, I believe art should be a hobby not a career.

I've lived here most of my life and I'll throw my name onto the "you nailed it on the head, Matt" stack. I love this burg because I don't know any better and I don't have the means or guts to move to NYC. Since returning to town after college I watched plenty of 20-something friends get chewed up and spit out by Portland. They come for the sustainability, kitsch and nightlife and they inevitably leave two years later after bouncing from low-paying temp jobs to internships and back again.

Some of the former Portlanders I know treated their time here like a stint in the Peace Corps or a year teaching in Asia, something fun to do while killing time before grad school or moving on to a city with "mortgage paying jobs." The others curse Portland like a former lover that smashed their hearts to bits. The level of bitterness in people like that, or anyone too stubborn to move on after a few years in Portland, rivals that of a frustrated actor pushing thirty still stuck busing tables in a Hollywood bistro.

Portland was a great town to grow up in but it's been sinking under the weight of hype and buzz-words for going on ten years now. Transplants still apparently come here seeking a utopia of microbrews, kind buds, low-rents and easy living. Portland hasn't had all those things to offer since at least the late '90s and it's time for this falsehood to die a quick and long overdue death. It's like watching hippies get off a Greyhound bus in San Francisco to find a Gap store and burnt-out junkies at the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

In short, the dream is dead. Portland has become another Seattle or Berkley, a place where, once upon a time, you could make a living as a barista while waiting for your music career to take off. It's time for these hipster ex-pats to move on to the next overhyped burg with a fledgling music scene and mildew-encrusted houses with rooms for rent under $400 a month. Maybe somewhere in Idaho? I'm thinking Boise. It could use a hipster makeover.

If you want to see Portland's future watch a rerun of Fraiser. In four short years the country's impression of Seattle went from a grunge rocker paradise to Kelsey Grammer playing jazz piano in a condo with a view of the Space Needle.

hey, thanks. i plan to move back someday, so please continue to complain as loudly as possible. that should bring housing demand down to a reasonable level, i hope.


I just typed a HUGE paragraph on why Portland sucks because everyone moves here.

But then I found one word as a (perfect) example:

If I ever snap I am going there.

There's some good points in among your ranting. Yeah, the job situation isn't as good as it could be (but it's not nearly as bad as some people make out either - and way better than many other cities right now). Yeah, there's problems with the police and the homeless (although I don't accept anecdotes alone as being a reasoned argument). And yeah, the "if you don't like it, leave" argument is moronic (no qualifying statement needed on that one).

But I don't see Portlanders as rude. Far from it. The average Portlander is infinitely friendlier than the average Londoner. One of the biggest reasons I moved here from the UK was that I didn't want to work in London because of the people there. You don't get superficial cheeriness and faux-friendliness here the way you would in California - I see that as being a good thing. I've found it incredibly easy to make friends in this city, once I learnt to avoid the hipster cliques and found a better place to go instead (www.meetinportland.org since you ask).

Portland ain't perfect. Better nightlife would be a start; better public transport; and cheaper housing and more jobs (if the two can coexist). But it's still the best place I've yet found to live in, and I'm in no rush to move. It's not perfect for everyone, but it is for me...

Umm Matt, your point is? Portland is weird, not in a good way despite the bumper sticker slogan. The contortonist story really sums it up well. And the schools are awfully underfunded (also a national problem). Buy up those condos sucka's!

FYI - I see Portland becoming a even more rich man/poor man society. The servers serving the rich who has a little more consience by living here instead of So Cal or Florida.

Hey Jan?

You once "saw a girl practice some outstanding contortionist moves to get to a garbage can" that you were "standing in front of"...

Uh, did you consider getting the %#&$ outta the way? Sheesh!

2.I confess I wouldn’t still be here if I hadn’t fallen in love with the place, or at least, fallen in love with poking a stick at it. And by God, don't Portlanders hate that.

I'm not going to be passive-aggressive; I'm going to bitch about what I don't like about Portland:

1.) Alternating eco-fascists who criticize people for driving and eating meat, while other people throw trash in the street that ends up on my lawn.

2.) The bicycling boom means there are hundreds of idiot cyclists wearing black at night, not wearing helmets, and ignoring traffic laws. Too often, these people end up running into garbage trucks when they bomb down hills or otherwise end up road pizza.

3.) Inattentive service in restaurants isn't as huge of a problem - maybe I don't go to enough hipster cafes where Mr. Tight-Jeans and Ironic Shirt treats people with disdain. (I live across town from the Belmont Stumptown, FWIW.)

4.) It's tremendously hard to get people to do things here.

But I will echo Le-oh - Miami sucks - it's active aggressiveness instead of passive aggressiveness. Miami is the land of "No, because...", where people don't want to do things because of surliness rather than laziness.

Except for the hipsters, Portland has always been this way. It's just that the recent hype and popularity changed the expectations.

But I always told friends from other cities: "Great. You want to move here. Want to see you. But don't expect a good job. If you find one in your chosen field, more than likely it will not pay." It was this way in the 70s and it is still is.

These friends then move here and eventually have parties full of people who just moved here, all amazed at how underemployed they are for their experience and skill. And they befriend each other too because they find Portlanders... you guessed it... kinda rude.

But they were warned. If you want to be ambitious, this is not really the place to be. Go to NYC or some other town. No one comes here for the money. They come here cause it's easy! And yeah, the weed is good.

Here are 5 reasons why I love Portland.

1. New York
2. Los Angeles
3. Boston
4. Denver
5. Atlanta

Portland is not any of these places. This is a very good thing.

So some guy named Matt from the other side of the pond has issues with Portland?
Any I care because???

No, you don't care, Jim. Because you're from Portland. That's the whole point.

Ps: "The weed is good?"

Fuck Portland.

I just have to say - that was about the most sad display of bitching I have ever seen.

Coming from a background of Escrow and currently being in Real Estate - I have to say - the more hype we get, the more it helps our housing market. Working for a project that daily sees our buyers struggle with the decision to stay or go, proceed, or try to back out of their deal... all the media hype about our so-called "recession" is just creating a big headache. And for what? We're technically not IN a recession. A bit of a dip - sure. But our market was 3rd in the nation closing out 2007.

Next - you are sadly naive if you think Portland is home to the rudest people you've ever come in contact with. I'll give you that Portland has some of the most atrocious drivers I have ever seen, but regular day to day interaction with people? I like to call them "politely friendly." They're too polite to bother you to ask you to move, therefore they try to go around so as not to inconvenience you. Whereas in say... NYC, they're aggressively friendly. They have no problem striking up conversation or butting into yours. Doesn't mean they're rude - they just have different boundaries.

And yes, there are some... genres, if you will... of people that are a mite irritating. But really - where have you been that doesn't have a certain type of people that you cannot stand? I happen to be one of those CA transplants (although I moved as a child, so don't you dare point a finger at me for ruining your housing market). CA has the punkrockers, the gangs, the yuppies, etc. and in much larger quantities than we do.

And really - one African American friend? Who's fault is that?

Liberals can be some of the most narrow minded jackasses I have ever come in contact with.

There - how does it feel to be put in a box?

Obviously, I agree with you whole heartedly.
A little rant from a born and bred 503 girl:
*Oregons tax system is completely out of whack. We demand services here but don't want to pay for anything. Getting Oregonians to raise their taxes is like waxing my Dads back: not going to happen. We don't have a sales tax which means we are utterly dependent on income and property taxes--on top of that when our economy is in surplus we don't save the extra tax revenue, we give it back through a kicker! So when the reccession does hit, we have nothing to fall back on. Our corporate minimum is still a mere $10 and our property taxes were cut so serverly in the 90's due to genius intiatives from Bill Sizemore that our higher education system is now FUNDED 46TH IN THE NATION. Yes. That means that there are only 4 other states worse off than us. Mississippi.....
*We claim to be liberal and progressive here in Portland. But in order to be truly liberal, everyone can't look, think and act the same. Portland is 1.9% black. There are LESS THAN 1700 black students in all 7 public universities combined. Take a look at ORs ridiculously racist history, really, and see if you still think we're liberal. Because the remnants of racism are alive and well. Just one example.
*Yes. Drivers will stop for you to cross the street in Portland. But try going out here. All of the twenty somethings are so insecure about their identity(partially because they can't find a paying niche here) that they stick up their nose and sneer with disinterest. Try going out in the so-called "rude" LA and NYC, you will be met with people eager to network and find out who you are and what you do. Thats what makes people in Portland rude.
And for what it's worth, I was born and raised on 68th and Killingsworth. I've been around every block this city has. Can't tell you about the rest of OR though, because I refuse to go there--the confederate flags scare me.

I don't care because I am from Portland or I don't care because your opinion is irrelevant? I know the correct answer but I doubt very seriously you do.

Summary of responses to this article:

1. If you like Portland, fuck you.
2. If you don't like Portland, fuck you.

Boring and self-important. AKA Matt Davis as usual.

about 90% of the people i meet who've recently moved here disgust me.

a lot.

they seem to want portland to be something it wasn't.. at least something it wasn't until they all moved here.

it's interesting that most of the negative aspects of the city are now due to the dumbshits who move here (ie half the "anarchists" who constantly entice police or the pretentious hipster waiters from socal).

and i'm seriously fucking tired of people moving here and telling me that people are pretentious and all dress alike.

as far as i can remember, that's just the way it is. we all dress plain and act disaffected. that's what happens when you spend 3/4 of your life surrounded by rain and separated from any real city by hundreds of miles.

i love portland.

and when you decide portland isn't good enough for you anymore, i will still love portland.

i just hope you decide portland isn't good enough sooner rather than later, so i can get back to being disaffected and dressing the same as everyone i know.

Maybe the big boys didn't listen to your pitch because they too, think that you're a whiny, self-adoring idiot.

Maybe stop blaming all of Portland's "short-comings" on everything and everyone else and see what you can do to make your (hopefully short) stay a little less poor-me-the-town-is-keeping-me-down, and a little more wow-look-what-this-place-has-to-offer-if-I-get-off-my-lazy-ass-and-do-something-with-it.

Now, to disclaim: I don't disagree with everything in this post.


No, you don't care, Jim. Because you're from Portland. That's the whole point.

That's a clever little rhetorical trick Matt pulls here. It allows him to put any criticism into a box that says "proves my point", even if it doesn't, thereby inflating his sense of the success of his argument.

It's difficult to argue for or against your points, Matt, when you wrap them into false rhetorical "gotchas" like the above.

I drink your milkshake. I drink it up!

3."I’ve never been anywhere so prone to passive aggression. Occasionally a Portlander can be drawn into open xenophobia, especially when it comes to talking about newcomers who have moved here from elsewhere, but for the most part, they keep their rudeness to themselves."

Care to address that, B!X?

What exactly is the point of your rant?

That Portland is overrated. And that Portlanders are over-sensitive to criticism, which is what, ultimately, is holding this city back from living up to its reputation.

Americans generally seem to be over-sensitive to criticism. It's always fun to wind people up who take themselves way too seriously (sports fans, for example). But you can't claim that that's unique to Portland.

Philosophical point: If people "keep their rudeness to themselves", surely that means they're not being rude??

I love Matt more with each passing day.

You are hereby awarded four out of a possible five flushes for this post.

But what is with the cryptic, single mention of the noseless person? Did you intend to follow up more on that, or was it an example of your point in the previous paragraph?

And average annual rainfall in Portland is 36", while that in Manhattan is 46".

Lastly, I would suggest submitting this to the Village Voice.

Thanks, TJ. I'll give them an email.

I think this post says as much about Matt Davis as it does Portland.

That being said, I believe there is something insular and risk averse about Portlanders. And, many of us are prone to a particularly unappealing brand of shreaky, knee jerk reactionary liberalism.

That being said, I love it here and have no immediate plans to leave.

Well, saying Portland is overrated really doesn't mean much to me. It sort of says nothing. I can understand certain points though. Portlanders can be overly sensitive to criticism but I think that's fairly natural and stems from a good deal of civic pride. I have lived here for 25 years, grew up here, have not lived anywhere else as an adult and I really have no desire to move anywhere else. I am proud to say I'm from Portland and to let outsiders know about all of the amazing aspects of our city and region. There are major problems that should be worked on and I think that for the most part, the public has a lot of the same concerns at heart. We want Portland to have great schools, we want Portland to be a friendly and inviting city, we want Portland to have a thriving economy and offer good jobs and affordable housing. These are common goals that most of us are working for.

I understand your tactics and that you enjoy framing valid points with incendiary commentary which can anger a lot of readers. This is your job in some respects and it helps illustrate your point, that people are quick to react rudely rather than seek the heart of the matter. I hope you also can find the positives in Portland and report with equal flair.

also, that cheerleader is fucking hot

So your rant mostly boils down to people. The ever easy-to-bash "hipsters", us not treating the homeless well (despite some of them being able to bilk people out of 20s), rude people, shitty wait staff, shitty drivers, shitty police, and lack of diversity. Well, most of those things you'd know going in. I looked up the census data in portland and found it was 78% white. I figured there would be a lot of homeless, as I lived between two of the biggest east coast cities before I moved here (Philadelphia and NYC. Its a little place called New Jersey). Cops mistreat people everywhere. No one likes the homeless (don't kid yourself).

As for the weather, I hardly consider that Portland's fault, other than where its located. Not much we can do about that until we invent a hipster weather machine. Personally, I like the mildness.

But still, its all about people. You don't like them, quite a few people posting here don't like you. If you honestly think you're going to move some place where you like everyone, I would like to sign up for whatever drugs you are taking. Sounds like its not the lovely Oregon pot or else you'd be more mellow.

Lots of things about Portland suck. Lots of things are great. Replace "Portland" with any place else, and it would still be just as true.

If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Maybe next time you can rant about how you'd like to change things.


In short, the dream is dead. Portland has become another Seattle or Berkley, a place where, once upon a time, you could make a living as a barista while waiting for your music career to take off. It's time for these hipster ex-pats to move on to the next overhyped burg with a fledgling music scene and mildew-encrusted houses with rooms for rent under $400 a month. Maybe somewhere in Idaho? I'm thinking Boise. It could use a hipster makeover.

I think what's missed here, however, is that there aren't necessarily a lot of people who moved here to be a barista while becoming a rock star. Admittedly, I'm drawing on my pool of friends as a reference here, but they aren't hoping a barista job can pay the bills in the long run. Instead, they want out of the barista job now, and want a job in the field they studied or have had jobs in elsewhere.

Amy makes a good point.
The most flamboyant amongst us humans are always getting all the attention. See: Hipsters, yuppies, gangsters, fashion divas..etc -- Most are none of the above.

However, like Amy mentioned, most young people I know who live here are educated, underemployed folk. Most are trying to get a better job thus they have enough interest in seeing things through here. Ultimately, Portland needs to become a better breeding ground for business start ups. We have the right mix of people here nowadays...and the utter lack of quality jobs.

As for the disaffected attitude complaints, get over yourself. It rains like 265 days a year, its a natural response to the weather.

For the record I was agreeing to the comment about the cheerleader. Not the one below it.

Well, Matt, you’re partly right and mostly wrong. Of course Portland is overrated. How could any town live up to the endless stream of hype that’s been coming our way for the past decade? Too many journalists spending time in the Pearl, the inner East side, wine country and up mountains without visiting Beaverton or Greasham creates a false image.

As a fellow Brit (Staffordshire) who has spent four years here after living in So Cal for twelve I do think you have a couple of things very wrong. The people here are the nicest I’ve seen in any large American city (and I’ve been to most of them). They may be a bit earnest, and lack the some of the “have a nice day” fake-perkiness of our neighbors to the south, but on the whole they are great. I do have to agree with what people have said about Florida. That place is a vile combination of seedy criminals from South America, cranky old people, and Euro trash. Also, despite the constant whining, the weather here is fantastic for eight months of the year. You won’t hear that wonderful English phrase “we didn’t have a Summer this year” around these parts. Now, the weather in January sucks cock for Belgium, but there is much to be said for getting half of your annual rainfall out of the way in twelve weeks.

Your point about smug hipsters is on the money, but then again young people everywhere are vile. The phase of wearing stupid outfits just like all your friends to prove how individual you are is universal. I bet you did it. It’s also true that there aren’t a lot of high-paying jobs here. If there were most of us couldn’t afford to live here. The wife and I brought a job with us, something that is becoming more common, but it is true that those seeking high-powered media gigs will eventually have to compromise or move.

"The point is that the more the media frenzy expounds the virtues of Portland, the more people will move here that want those things to become true. If people come here seeking a certain kind of utopia, each person that immigrates for that reason is a building block towards making that happen."

I've heard this a lot. But what if you're talking about a place that's less a utopia for how crowded it's becoming? People come here seeking something that their very presence is little by little negating.

The attention seems to be mostly on people - and how "super sensitive" Portlanders are to criticism.

1 - you're not criticizing... you're bashing. We/they have a right to be a bit peeved, I would say. try having an open ended CONVERSATION or DEBATE with people instead of blindly throwing stones. Thank God you have bad aim...

2 - if someone began bashing something you cared about, without much knowledge of the topic, and a know-all attitude - you might be a bit of a cranky pants yourself.

3 - you've been here since 2006. One+ years does not a Portlander make. At least two years is required for residency (in terms of school)... or at least it was the last time I was looking into such things.

4 - I would have to imagine that Portland is much bigger than "you". By that, I mean you cannot possibly make such broad accusations after living here for such a short time, and probably in the small circle of comfort that you maintain on a regular basis.

5 - cockiness is one thing... arrogance is another. learn the line and stop dancing on it. no one likes an arrogant asshole that doesn't know what he's talking about. at least cocky pricks give us something to laugh at and can be (at times) charming.

One thing that's gone unmentioned...
Portland'ers are amazingly reserved and quiet in a social sense. Most other places you will talk to strangers walking down any street in the city. Here..not so much. People avert eye contact and make a weird movement. That is the Portland way of saying "Hello"..

It bugs me and obviously many others as well. My one major complaint is just that: people are hard to get to know here. Most folks seem to like keeping their click their own!

"My one major complaint is just that: people are hard to get to know here. Most folks seem to like keeping their click their own!"

It's so weird that people say that - I have NEVER had a hard time getting to know anyone. Be that neighbors, at the bar, at the dog park, grocery store, you name it... I've always been able to talk to people. Granted there are the few schmucks in there that feel the need to look you up and down, give you the brush off, or just not keep up their end of the conversation... but that hasn't ever been the -norm- in my experience.

Maybe I'm just approachable and seemingly non-dangerous... but I can make friends anywhere. You should try just striking up conversation with someone sometime. You might be surprised.

“Do I look like I care, buddy?” LOL. Only you would be treated like that. Has never happened to me. Matt, have you ever consider Portlanders are rude to you because they smell your shit a mile away? Your whole blogging "style" pisses me off constantly, from your sheep killing to your childish whiny prose. You are just an unbearable sustained noise with no purpose. No one else at the Mercury bugs me -- only you, you pimply misguided twit. I'd sign a petition to get your sheep-killing ass out of here. London's calling you, biatch. Seriously, you act like a spoiled priss with that pinchy-lemony sourface of yours and you wonder why people aren't friendly and loving towards you? It's called the Douchebag Effect, and you reek of it, you clueless frackle. You need to learn to be loving and kind like me and maybe the world won't chuck their cantelope rinds at your misshapen and oddly angular head.

hahaha @ gandhi

Other than the fact that you fail to mention that no one here can drive worth a goddamn, this is pretty much spot-on.

WOW! love the analysis... ill have to digest this one. Some of the stuff i dont agree with - like when you say people are rude you sound as if its the majority, which it is not, more often then not -- people are nice here. But this city does need more criticism with hopes of improvement! There are some mighty rough edges which need work.

The thing other thing is, with a world population increase of up to 9.4+ BILLION ppl by 2050, dont get your panties in a wad with people coming.

The trend of populations centralizing to a city is not going away.

Its just a crazy fucking time to live... PERIOD!

As one of the new immigrants that seem to be the root of all evil (although, for the record, I ended up here by accident), I'd like to put forth another idea:

The mass migration to Portland is a fait accompli.

Seriously, even if the influx came to a halt right now, there are so many newcomers already here that it's easy to sense we're past the tipping point. I've met a lot of people since I arrived in September, and the vast majority of them 1) hail from elsewhere and 2) moved here in the past decade. I definitely feel I'm on late side of this phenomenon.

Rather than bloviating about the ills of change (although the range of responses here is fascinating), we should be talking about what we can do with all this new energy and talent. The job market is a huge concern, but one would like to think that people with money are also moving here, and hopefully some of that money will go into creating new opportunities for the rest of us. Or, more to the PDX DIY spirit, we simply create our own.

As an aside, I personally find the people here incredibly friendly. My next-door neighboor, a Portland native in a well-known local band, and his girlfriend took me out for drinks just a few days after I moved in. And cute women smiling back when you pass them on the street? Works for me! But like others here I've also noticed a certain resistance to developing new friendships, the old cliquish thing which frankly reminds me more of the East Coast where I came from...

And you're going to write a film about Portlanders in the early 1980s? Are you sure you can stand to stay around that long? Hopefully you can dim some of the current mind chatter.

"You need to learn to be loving and kind like me," Gandhi.


And Michelle, if I had a nickle for every time someone had said this to me in my life, I'd have fifty cents:

"5 - cockiness is one thing... arrogance is another. learn the line and stop dancing on it. no one likes an arrogant asshole that doesn't know what he's talking about. at least cocky pricks give us something to laugh at and can be (at times) charming."


I just moved to Portland a month ago. I moved because my fiancé got a job here, not because of the Portland-orgy the media has been having.

Even though I didn't pick the place the love of my life chanced to settle, I DID expect certain things that Portland didn't really live up to. People in Portland seem to be interested in the same type of things people everywhere are interested in; indicators of wealth, looking hot and young, and skiing.

All of this is not a bad thing. It's just not that great. I was expecting something different. If my fiancé was transferred I wouldn't really care.


When I was little I had a fort which I kept scrupulously clean and I had fits when my mud-covered siblings came in, disturbing my private utopia. I feel the same way when one of my favorite musicians suddenly becomes fodder for MTV. So I feel you "real" Portlander's pain. But I get the feeling most of you are too stuck up to care about unhip noobs like me one way or another. But while I'm here I'm going to try to like it. While I'm here I'm going to enjoy the weather.

Hey Matt,

You say that you "fell in love with the place." It can't be just the stick poking.

The amount of response to your post would seem to validate your point about Portlanders sensitivity to criticism. The problem with that is the assumption that your post is intended as criticism. The overall tone comes across as little more than (your much loved) stick poking.
The reason your proposed op-ed was not picked up for publication and ignored by Sam Adams has less to do with selling advertising or speaking for the city than the lack of quality contained within. It is just not that well written.

Telling an entire ethnic group to reconsider moving here because of a lack of diversity is akin to saying "don't think you gone like it here, cuz we don't got a lot ah yo kind of folks round these parts."

White people love ethnic diversity, but only as it relates to restaurants.

Many white people from cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York will spend hours talking about how great it is that they can get Sushi and Tacos on the same street. But then they send their kids to private school with other rich white kids, and live in neighborhoods like Santa Monica or Pacific Palisades.

But it’s important to note that white people do not like to be called out on this fact. If you run an ethnic restaurant you can be guaranteed repeat business and huge tips if you act like your white customers are adventurous and cultured for eating food that it isn’t sandwiches or pasta.

Christ, enough with the BITCHING already. Portland kicks ass. Good food, good bars, bikes, mountains, cheap movies, neighborhoods, art, music, infinite subcultures, and thousands of interesting, creative people.
But godDAMN if there isn't a counterculture of glorified cynicism from people like Matt Davis. WAAAAAA there's too many hipsters! Well fuck you, why do you care so much?! Go CREATE something instead of tearing people down. You know what sucks balls? Snarky, condescending, make-their-living-off-criticizing-everything psuedo journalists. FUCK.

I find it fascinating that on a blog where a variety of issues are discussed, this post gets way more comments than any other. Not as many people jump to comment when the blog focuses on killer cops, bicyclists getting run down, city commissioners who can't shut up or even the latest hip band. The real problem with Portland (as shown by this post and the responses) is that the Mercury readers are a bunch of whiny self-absorbed twenty-somethings who can't even name the mayor much less intelligently debate the issues of the day or handle a debate on the relative merits of our fair city.

i have to agree with the comments above. that cheerleader is really hot.

Me to the Village Voice:

Portland: Over-rated.

The NYT wouldn't touch it. Nor would the LAT. Someone suggested you might, after I'd spunked it onto our blog.


I can re-work this as a feature including the blog response. Perfect for your readers.


Matt Davis
News Reporter
The Portland Mercury
503 294 0840 x246
AIM: mattdmercury
605 Ne 21st Ave
Suite 200
Portland 97232
Fax 503 294 0844

The Village Voice to me:

No thanks.

Ward Harkavy
Senior Editor
Village Voice
New York City

1-212-475-3333 ext. 14144

That's why he's the senior editor.

"It rains so much in Portland that you don't even need an umbrella."

Yeah, I've been around pdx since that infamous quote from the great Walter Berry. Do your research neophytes.

Matt, congrats on your first big comment response blog of '08. Yer getting a tad bit rusty bud. You've found the right formula though. Attack lambs and Portlanders = 80+ comment responses!

The one interesting thing you had to say in your fine essay was about a nose less women; yet she disappeared...I'm titillated. What was the significance?

Weather. Yeah. Open window. Take deep breath. Repeat. No smog cutter here.


I think you're wrong on this one. Rude? Have you ever been to New York City? I lived there for years and parachuted happy to Portland a decade ago - to be around NICE people.

Many of the problems you cite with homelessness, affordability, etc. are quintessential big-city problems that nearly every metropolis faces.

The rain? Yes, it'd a downer. But New York has more cumulative days with rain than Portland does. And it's not f---ing 120 degrees like Phoenix.

I don't know why people are so unbelievably cynical about Portland having a tiny window of media attention after being ignored by most of the east coast media for generations.

If you think those media articles are portraying Portland as a utopia, you're right that the city is thus over-rated. But with all due respect, your arguments don't sway me.

I've never been to any American city that's ever even remotely tempted me to move away from this place. Only if they transplant Amsterdam or Copenhagen to the US would I ever leave.

It was worth a try.

I'd suggest that it has something to do with the possibility that Portland hype may itself be way outpaced by Portland meta-hype -- in the google search you provided in the original post, for example, each Times piece that comes up is flan,ked by at least five Weak Week or PDX blogger bits analyzing, classifying and flowcharting the source piece.

After all, the most recent US census data shows that since the influx of nearly 100,000 people in the 1990s (from 437,319 in 1990 to 529,121 in 2000), Portland's growth has nearly flatlined since (2006 population estimate is 539,950 and that is with a margin of error of 7,789 individuals!).

Meanwhile, Beaverville alone from 2000-2006 went from 76,129 to 89,643, and Washington county from 445,342 to 514,269.

So Portland is overrated, but not Tigard?

"It was worth a try" -- referring to the Village Voice submission.

Matt, so many people have said what I thought I would say after reading your article. So I won't say those things. But I do feel that "home is where the heart is," and mine has been firmly rooted here my entire 30 year life. I spent my 4 years in the Marine Corps mostly in Southern California and couldn't wait to get back. I remember the absolute joy, almost indescribable elation actually, when the airplane would start descending into the thick, grey cloud layer when I would come home on leave.

I feel lots of emotions about my home, and I have many opinions about our politics and local issues. But I could never harbor the (apparent) type of feelings you have and remain somewhere I wasn't even from. I remember telling myself I never wanted to see another palm tree for the rest of my life when I got out of the Marines. I'm sorry you aren't happy. I feel like you should come spend Thanksgiving with my family or something. Peace.

As someone born and raised in Oregon the most annoying question people ask me is "where are you from?" It insinuates that I, like most Oregonians, am not from here! Less than half of all Oregonians were born here. This subjects those of us who were to endlessly play the game of 'get to know the new person' all the while feigning interest.

Then we listen to you sit around and compare this place to everywhere else you've lived often running down our home. Locals don't care, they often haven't lived many places because they love their hometown and see no reason to leave. If this place sucks so bad why not move back home?

How would you feel if I walked into your life long home and said that your house was nice but that I hated your uncle and that the carpets were cheesy? Then on top of that, what if I got offended because you didn't realize that I was just offering perspective. "No offense really but your furnishings are nasty."

Tons of people come and go through this state and I don't have the time to get to know all of them so that they will feel better and stay. Once you have been here for a while and I notice you are not leaving, I'll give you some time. Sorry if this hurts your feelings.

To the girl who said she is scared to check out the rest of Oregon because of confederate flags, I would only ask if she's spent time in deep SE Ptown? Or if she remembers the fairly recent neo nazi movement in Portland?

Also, I have lived in several states. I am just trying to elucidate some of the feelings that locals have in many of the western states that are experiencing rapid population growth. Just remember that every city/town you go to is someones home of which for whatever reason they love and respect. A decent person recognizes that before opening their mouth.

As someone born and raised in Oregon the most annoying question people ask me is "where are you from?" It insinuates that I, like most Oregonians, am not from here! Less than half of all Oregonians were born here. This subjects those of us who were to endlessly play the game of 'get to know the new person' all the while feigning interest.

Then we listen to you sit around and compare this place to everywhere else you've lived often running down our home. Locals don't care, they often haven't lived many places because they love their hometown and see no reason to leave. If this place sucks so bad why not move back home?

How would you feel if I walked into your life long home and said that your house was nice but that I hated your uncle and that the carpets were cheesy? Then on top of that, what if I got offended because you didn't realize that I was just offering perspective. "No offense really but your furnishings are nasty."

Tons of people come and go through this state and I don't have the time to get to know all of them so that they will feel better and stay. Once you have been here for a while and I notice you are not leaving, I'll give you some time. Sorry if this hurts your feelings.

To the girl who said she is scared to check out the rest of Oregon because of confederate flags, I would only ask if she's spent time in deep SE Ptown? Or if she remembers the fairly recent neo nazi movement in Portland?

Also, I have lived in several states. I am just trying to elucidate some of the feelings that locals have in many of the western states that are experiencing rapid population growth. Just remember that every city/town you go to is someones home of which for whatever reason they love and respect. A decent person recognizes that before opening their mouth.

But Amy, that's true of anywhere. I never would have left a lot of places I've lived if I could've gotten real work there in the field I studied. That's why I moved here, sadly, more work than where I lived in Michigan and California (at least in my field).
And bitch all you want people, but Matt has you either way in the this post. I have to hand it to Matt, he is the Howard Stern of the Mercury. Matt Davis lover reads some or most of his posts and maybe leaves a comment. The average Matt Davis hater reads every post and comments two-three times per post.

The city of Hillsboro is growing at a rate unprecedented here in Portland. Why? Because its city government is open for business.

We're too busy fussing here to worry about providing jobs.

Ah, the continual provincial focus on “Portland” as if it is an entity of shining vision unto itself. An entity that extends from Washington Park to 39th Ave. As Tom Peterson said before on the telly, “Wake Up! Wake Up!”

Portland was long ago subsumed by its suburbs. Bear with; this will be dry, and factual. A Google map view, the same as the US Census Bureau uses, sees “Portland” as a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) that encompasses four counties: Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and Clark. In 2000 Portland’s population was 531,600 and the MSA had 1,789,457. Thus Portland had 30% of the MSA population. By 2006 that percentage had dropped to 29%. Thus in 2006 Portland’s population was 562,689 and the MSA had grown to 1,972,670.

Metro has indicated that the 2006 MSA will grow by about 700,000 by 2020. Then the MSA population will be about 2,700,000 and I would venture to guess that the percentage of these people living in Portland will be less than the 29% figure of 2006.

Embrace the outer fringes of north Clark county, Wood Village, Damascus & Hillsboro, for they are us.

Big fan Matt, great post. I have a little different story. I moved here from Wisconsin about 5 years ago and had a good job lined up when I got here. 5 years later I’m making 60% more than my first salary here, which was good to begin with. Great job, great friends, graduate degree, etc. However, I plan on moving back to Wisconsin (or smaller town back east) to use what I’ve learned form Portland (professionally, scholastically, and personally) to help “progress” others that either haven’t lived in a city like this, nor have had the interesting and positive experiences I have. I guess the point is I learned a lot while living here. It took me five years to realize I don’t like the weather, the girls here are either way too dumb or way too smart, and in order to play music, I have to share gigs with elementary musicians. But that’s not Portland’s fault and luckily I have learned to accept that. So, back to the Midwest, where the more Green Bay Packer gear the women wear, the hotter! Thanks Portland, you have been great, but I’ve gotten what I have out of you and learned that I’m really a hick who now can afford to buy a bunch of land and grow some of that Oregon weed back in the Midwest.

Matt, when you say, 'We're too busy fussing here to worry about providing jobs,' and advocate for Hillsboro as a better place than Portland, you sound a lot more like a Republican (or Tory) than I'd expect you to be.

Um... Im moving to Portland in August. I hope everyone in Portland isn't as much of a whinny bitch as you are. It seems like a fine place to live. I don't think people move to new cities expecting some sort of utopia that was built specifically for them (if they do, thats there problem). You can bitch about any city in the country, none of them are going to be exactly what you were hoping for.

So Matt... whats the perfect city?? If you can tell me, maybe I'll move there instead.

you got wicked comments on your post. Maybe the LA times didn't run the piece because its the LA times, not the Oregonian. Portlanders love to talk about themselves, and LA Times' pieces on here are probably just filler.

Well, obviously the way to get a rise from Portlanders is by criticizing our fair city. Now that you have proof we're all still reading Blogtown, are you going to start putting a little more effort in it again? Seems like lately you've sorta given up. I have to go up to Slog for entertainment.

Just have to add... I freaking love Portland. Hood, Tabor, monkey trees, moss, rhododendrons, foodies, rustics, friendly cats, old bicycles, old cars, spanish coffees, dramatic clouds, new seasons, oregon pinots, tended and unruly gardens, fashionable youth and those who scoff at em', city chickens, stumptown coffee, marionberries, the existence of nutria, powells, bridges... these are a few of my favorite things.

1 - Why does a guy who moved here less than a year ago have any say about our city?

2 - Why does a European who obviously hasn't lived around the US, have any say about how Portland compares to other American cities?

I've lived all over the west coast, and the problems you describe are everywhere. The issues you bring up are american-city issues in general, not particular to Portland.

And guess what - after you've lived in San Diego, LA, SF, and Seattle - you start to realize that Portland is a gem.

I do agree with the lack of jobs in Portland downtown. There is a small pond here, but you need to get out of Portland. There are lots of companies to work for in Wilsonville, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Gresham. Expand your search a little.

I completely disagree with the rudeness or snobbishness. You obviously haven't lived in SoCal. In my book, Portland ranks as the friendliest city on the entire west coast.

I find it laughable that any Portland blog or newspaper would tolerate this guy's completely ignorant one-sided ranting. What credentials does he have except being skillful at stringing insults together?

Yes, it rains every once in a while, but have you seen how beautifully green everything is when you go hiking? Duh.

Hmmmm, I'm Portland born and raised living in NYC/NJ since 1990. The press has been renlentlessly upbeat about PDX recently and I suppose a fall from grace is due eventually (look out Obama; you're next!). I must say though, I don't know who this guy is but he doesn't know from rude. I travel back to Portland 3 or 4 times a year and I still do a double take every time the clerk at Fred Meyer asks how I'm doing and actually looks at me. People in Portland are so nice it's almost too much! Come back East and I'll show you rude. Most Oregonians wouldn't survive 30 minutes on the Garden State Parkway much less in Manhattan. Also, I'm guessing since that this is a blog the story doesn't actually have to be well written or subject to the usual editing. P.S. I can't testify about London winters but summers are no great shakes. And the place is a fortune.

Hey Matt, great post and I agree with your points on Portland's problems. The things that are right with Portland far outweigh any of the negatives mentioned by far. I came here almost 12 years ago, have seen a lot of changes, and I love the place.

As far as what we can do to make it better? I recommend that businesses stay open later and expanding MAX hours to accommodate a 24-hour city. This would create more jobs and more activity to the business community as well.

Over the years, I have found that the amount of sweet jobs in the city has declined greatly, as well as the payout and benefits given, but that's a national problem. I love my job although it pays less, but it came from my decision to not work for assholes anymore.

The people here are so nice that it almost hurts. I mean, it hurts SO good that I can't think of a place that I would rather live, but I'd like to incorporate some of the positive things from those other places and the transplants are a good start in that direction. At least the ones that stay past a year.

Really though Matt, Portland didn't make a lick of sense to me until I had lived here for more than a year, so give it a chance and get some titties, my friend.

On the housing thing, just remember that those homes sold to Californians were sold by Oregonians that got greedy. Portland is still the gem of the West and I love the place; it keeps getting better for me.

"I find it laughable that any Portland blog or newspaper would tolerate this guy's completely ignorant one-sided ranting. What credentials does he have except being skillful at stringing insults together?"

Me too, jeff. Laughable!

Im glad to see not everyone from Portland hates it. I'd like to thank the people above me for making me feel good about my decision to move to Portland... (yeah yeah I know, you don't need anymore hipsters, but why not??) Ive grown up in the deep south and spent the last 3 years in MPLS, Mn. I chose Portland because it seems to be a lot like MPLS, but with better weather and better access to mountains and the ocean. Oh yeah, please dont bitch about your weather until you've lived through a mid-west winter. Ill take a cloudy winter sky over 5 months of subzero temperatures.

If you hate Portland so much why not go back to England? Limey Bastard :)

See you in August.

Looking forward to it, grammatically illiterate Southern prick.

While Mr. Davis touches on key perceptions of Portland's evolving community identity, and how it is regarded both locally and abroad, he essentially defeats his own arguments by representing his complaint. The irony of that is obviously quite deliberate, which is not all that interesting. Worse, such attempts suffer from a profound lack of cleverness and perspective to make themselves truly relevant. As with anything in life, it's easy to observe something and state an opinion; the hard work comes in making (or, trying to make) a difference. A community is not a casual relationship that can be terminated at the first instance of irreconcilability, it is an evolving organism that requires participation and selflessness. While those at the margins-- perhaps the least civic-minded-- will simply disassociate themselves (i.e. move on), the rest of us are left to carry out the daily task of trying to make this a good place to live. It may not be what people expect it to be, because expectations are increasingly individual and unrealistic. It will simply be.

'Looking forward to it'

Posted by Matt Davis

So am I you whiney bitch.

Woah, Portland isn't being passive anymore! At least I used a smiley face. Now I guess I'll use the sad face. :(

(yeah, way to be first to realize us peoples in them there souths caint spell or right. but wuts that they say? ignorance is bliss? ha)

Take a joke dude, you just insulted an entire city and you cant handle an insult from a "grammatically illiterate Southern prick"? (Thanks for spelling all those big words for me, I never would have figured them out.)

Cheerio! :)

Hey west. The weather here is pretty good, I too hail from a Midwestern state, and they really don't know the meaning of cold or tornadoes, or even the amount of deaths attributed to lightning. We complain about weather here a lot though, and if you stick around long enough to get used to it, it'll make you soft too.

Then, you'll feel weird when it doesn't rain for too long.

Yes yes, pricky. But if there was an emoticon for Portland, what would it look like?




Hi, Matt. I just wanted to mention that I lived in Olympia through Everett True's tenure at The Stranger. The dude was clever, funny, intelligent, and more than a one trick pony. If you want to beat this "i'm a special limey, look at me!" schtick further into the ground, please take some notes from everett and up your game.

I don't see what my nationality has to do with the fact that Portland is up its own ass.

I mean, fine. Overreact. Be oversensitive. I get it. But are you people just plain stupid? Do you lack basic reading comprehension skills?

Attacking someone personally is a surefire indicator that they've said something true. Although I am beginning to tire of it.

If this were England, I reckon only 50 people would have commented. All with intelligent, witty things to say.


I miss the societal effects of the British education system.

Funny when you hate your own personal life and are depressed as hell you tend to look for the bad in everything around you...well done loser. I find it IRONIC that so many of my friends, including myself black and white, leave Portland for greener grass and then end up moving back!
The only rude people in Portland are the ones who moved here from the East Coast and the Bay area...If you want a job move to Detroit, I heard Ford is hiring.
On the weather, when you see the first rain in November that means snow on the mtn., so grab your snowboard and enjoy. If you want 365 days of sun there is a city called Phoenix where you can play in the dirt...

See 111 re: "British education system" and "societal effects."

After reading this artcicle, no wonder it took you so long to get a job...your soo observant here.
I mean, who put that big ugly Mt. Hood over there and all these ugly trees...the wine valley has to go, and get rid of all the mass transit, I would rather park in downtown San Fran for $40. I really miss the London food and grocery prices too. The clean air is probably killing your lungs. Maybe there is a new job you can apply for titled, "Boring as hell" writer.

Ha. Im not up on my emoticons, but I would have to guess it to be a smirk with a raincloud above it? Im not sure that can be made into an emoticon though.

I meant no disrespect earlier, just having a little fun.

Im sure Portland has its faults, but so does every other city in this country. You should research some southern cities!! You could write for days!! haha.

Take it easy man, and watch out for those Portlandians(????) they seem pretty angry!!

See 111 again. Honestly, responding to these comments feels like being given free throws with no opposition.

Actually I don't think any English paper would have published your type of article, this piece reminds me of a tiresome Clinton attack add!
The palmy papers have a lot more creativity and humor to them, maybe that is why you were jobless.

I was talking to 114, since west appears to have gone to finishing school in the last ten minutes.

Would you people stop commenting so quickly, already? I'm trying to address your remarks. WTF? You're 100% correct: I left London because I was totally unemployable there. Like everyone else who comes to Portland, I thought life would be easier here.


At times it can seem as if there is very little hope for this country -- or perhaps I have just watched "Idiocracy" too many times.

It's hard to tell if Portland is overrated or if people coming here just have far too great of an expectation from the town. It's still America in the midst of a recession, the aftermath of global outsourcing with too many degrees and not enough jobs. But like I said earlier, if you can take a step back and enjoy what's right about the place it's usually some good times.

"See 111 again. Honestly, responding to these comments feels like being given free throws with no opposition."

Yeah. Portland is such a rude city! The 'writers' of its papers make attacks on the place, and then bitch and moan about "personal attacks," while then calling his READERS illiterate. Pot, meet kettle. How's the moral high ground treatin' ya, Matt?

"I don't see what my nationality has to do with the fact that Portland is up its own ass."

You're right, Matt. That would be an ad hominem attack if it weren't for the fact that you're literally asking for it. I would agree with you if you just presented yourself as a cynical douchebag, but you've taken every opportunity to remind your readership that you're a cynical douchebag from england...

Matt, if you think in England the responses would all be polite and intelligent, you've clearly never met a Daily Mail reader.

A Londoner calling Portland unfriendly isn't the pot calling the kettle black. It's the remorselessly inevitable gravitational pull of the singularity at the centre of a black hole, as scripted by Irvine Welsh, calling a bright green apple black.

Post #123

LOL, nuff said.

You're all right. I quit.

Don't worry, Portland. Joke.

Cities I have lived in: Charleston SC, Rochester NY, Bergen Norway, NYC, Portland.

(Major) Cities I have visited: Minneapolis, Boston, Baltimore, Detroit, Orlando, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Vancouver BC, Toronto, Oslo Norway, Paris, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Glasgow, Berlin, Dresden, Vienna (more that aren't major or I can't remember).

The best of all of these places I have ever experienced? Portland, by far!

It seems like you should either work to fix the things you don't like or find somewhere that suits you better. This city is pretty awesome.

As a person who's not into "the scene" in downtown PDX I found this whole discussion very interesting and humorous. I realized I'm getting a glimpse into what the "hipster" world as you call it must be like. I grew up in OR and have lived in PDX for over 20yrs. I have an education which I worked and paid for, a great job (including the pay) that I work hard for and so does my wife. We are though average people. We don't live fancy, don't drive Rover's and all that. We are what my father and grandfather have been, in Oregon, for decades. Hard working people that make up the majority of people here.

It's really funny listening to all of you complain about no jobs when this area has a lot of great employers. Not anything most of you would want to do it seems like work. There are blue collar jobs at places that make things like Boeing--also many high tech places. There are many professional firms to support them like engineering and programming like Intel. Industrial design firms that design data centers around the world that make your cell phones with mp3's work; design, build, manufacture bio-fuels plants; on and on.

There are financial institutions with major operations here, did I mention high tech. There are major medical facilities that do world class research. Right now even with the economy supposedly poor there are advertisements for engineers, programmers etc because local companies can't find enough.

Yet to hear it at this blog these hipsters come here and complain about not having a job. Ha! Certainly if they don't have any education or skills they will be stuck in service. It's almost absurd speaking as on of the vast majority of portlanders who's not one of the "creative class". I'm just an engineer who designs world class manufacturing facilities using state of the art sustainable practices like LEED and my wife designs software that helps medical people keep their costs down. Not much "creativity" in that I suppose.

I am all for someone seeking to make it in a creative industry if you can but don't complain about being a waiter while you're trying to make that happen. When the day comes that you've finished giving it your best try then don't be afraid to get to PCC or, OSU or PSU or UofO and spend just a few years to find another route. It's not an end to creativity just another way to drive it.

The more I think about it, the more I think that you've been watching the agenda of websites like Gawker. You have decided to define your success by their metrics.

I'm not so sure you should decide that a mark of successful writing is "Look how many people I enraged!"

I mean sure, you could make a career out of that. Easily. I just think you would come out on the other end feeling bad about yourself.

Find a more beneficial goal. Everyone has to give back. And they feel better for it.

Well done, Matt. I think you captured the spirit of Portland. A hit dog always hollers. Looking at all the angry blog comments you received - I think you hit a dog. Perhaps if Portlanders learned to laugh at the themselves a bit (really, free yellow bikes?), it would become the utopia that we were all promised!

I agree, Kris. And thanks, bk, for your insightful comments.

Now, dalas, on the subject of "giving back." I don't define my success or failure by looking at how many people I've enraged. But I'm not about to start pulling punches because I'm scared of criticism. That would be Portland, all over.

When it comes to giving back, I feel I do my fair share of that. And you're right about working to change some of Portland's problems. I think homelessness and police oversight are the two areas where I work hardest to affect change with my writing.

But some days, I just fancy a fight. Don't you?

If you think Portland is the American hotbed of snobby, passive aggressive, cooler-than-thou hipsterdom, then you obviously have never visited our fair city of Seattle. Seriously.

For those not keeping score at home, the "Matt Davis" count is up to 32.

I learned this, of course by replacing that tired phrase with the more appropriate "self-important ballsack."

C'mon Matt, 33 is taunting you. Go ahead and prove something with a smug answer. We love that nearly as much as you do. Or not.

That makes you #102. I know Portlanders hate to engage in discussions, once they've said something vaguely offensive. But I've always felt it was important to have an exchange of views. That, where I come from, is called a "conversation." Welcome to civilized interaction. Oh, and thanks. "Self-important ballsack" is a new insult. And reasonably funny, for a change.

Dalas v hit it on the head, with his "look how many people I've enraged" comment. For me that pretty much sums up Matt's voice and style. The subtext oozes a special kind of arrogance; a pinch of fact finding (too much makes it sour!) mixed with a quart of sweet, creamy bravado. Goes down smooth but you are hungry again in an hour.

On the internet we call them trolls.

Each Matt Davis article should get a LOMPIE score, a scale from 1 to 100 on how likely it is to enrage the average Portlander. I'd give this one a 79, which is an over-achievement based on the passive-aggressive tone and endless parade of tired stereotypes.

Some days I do fancy a fight, but I always feel very embarrassed by my rash and immature behavior afterwards. Having a hostile "conversation" has never made me feel better about myself or anything else.

If you want to have respectful dialogues about issues facing this city and courses of action to correct those problems, that's one thing, but I think what people are reacting to is your framing of this discussion in an air of disrespect. The world doesn't need more of that, and it's not going to solve anything.

If you think this city needs focus and planning to overcome its obstacles, then perhaps what it needs to accomplish that goal is a positive environment of level-headed cooperation.

Provoking fights does nothing to work towards that goal.

Fuck you.

Sorry. Couldn't help it.

dalas verdugo: want to be friends?
mattdmercury: sure!
dalas verdugo: ok, we should get a pint somewhere soon
mattdmercury: sounds good!
mattdmercury: except mine'll have to be an O'Douls.

No more Internet fights, people.

I love a happy ending. This post has at least shown me that Portland is full of passionate people, whether its a petty internet fight or not! ha. Good times.

O'Douls with a lime. The cocktail of kings.

Oregon overall has a lot of bias against African-Americans. Sick but true. And you need about 5 years to work your way in, at which point you are set.

I wonder what would happen if a guy who arrived in 2006 from London tried to publish an anti-NYC piece in the New York Press or Village Voice?

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