But like many things with Sam, there's a certain steely (even opportunistic?) shrewdness behind the comedy. For the mayor, a cable show cameo is only the latest chance to put on his salesman hat and preach the virtues of Portland to the kind of urbane national audience that laps up all the umpteen-thousand New York Times stories about how awesome we think we are. (Of course, the mayor isn't the only one eyeballing a sales opportunity.)
Consider the roll call from papers near and far in their coverage of the show. Most mention Sam's cameo, but a few have offered him a chance to deliver quotes like this one, this weekend in the Los Angeles Times:
For Portland Mayor Sam Adams, the local job market helps explain why the city has become a magnet for forward-thinking 18- to 34-year-olds. "We're known for high-tech, digital media and outdoor apparel, and those industries require highly educated folks or folks who skew younger," says Adams, who makes a cameo in "Portlandia" as the assistant to the mayor. (Yes, in Portland, even the mayor's ironic.)
But Adams points out that the city's progressive attitude can be traced way back to "the Fort Hall phenomenon," named for the Idaho outpost where the Oregon Trail diverged from the California Trail. "Settlers who came to Oregon had to decide that they weren't gonna try to strike it rich in California," he says, "so there was a real self-separation going all the way back."
Or this one, in the Oregonian, after the series made its debut last month:
Portland Mayor Sam Adams says "Portlandia" is all in good fun—and that TV productions like this help employ and retain creative workers.
"I think it shows we've got a good sense of humor," says Adams. "It shows we can laugh at ourselves, in addition to our reputation of being sustainable, and offering a good quality of life, and as a good place to live with lots of small businesses."
Adams is known to travel widely to preach the Portland gospel. But sometimes it's easier to let a film crew invade your suite of third-floor City Hall offices. So maybe think of Portlandia like a bicycle-planning or green-building conference, but way cooler. (And about as funny. Snap!)
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