Well, this is interesting: Nineteen hours ago on Facebook, Blake Nieman-Davis, owner of longstanding designer denim-centric boutique Blake, announced that he is throwing his hat in the ring for the mayoral election, launching a page and a spiffy new logo:
I am running for mayor of Portland. This is not a joke. I want to change some stuff and am tired of complaining, so I decided to do something about it.
I love you. I always have. I have spent over half my life here. I have strayed occasionally. I had brief affairs with Los Angeles and San Francisco. The most hurtful was probably my intense and torrid love affair with New York. I admit, I still think of her often when we are together.
Even though I was away, you were never far from my heart. I talked about you constantly to anyone that would listen. I bragged about you and defended you while people took their shots. I would not listen. I did not care that people constantly mistook you for Seattle. It did not bother me when people asked if you were in the midwest. I pointed you out often on a map to people who were surprised that there was actually a state between California and Washington.
I stood by you while you were a gossipy small little town where everyone knew each others business. I also stood by you when there was not really that much going on here. I did this because I KNEW how cool you really were. We did not need you to love Portland. Even our governor from years ago talked about how we were happy to have you come visit, spend your money and then thank you very much, please leave. Our thing is that we loved it here and while we would talk about it with whomever would listen, we really did not care if you loved Portland or not. Not cocky, just confident.
Things have changed recently. We are no longer a secret. The entire world knows now what I have always known. We have amazing, creative, smart people here. We love local businesses and support individuality. We had a mayor who was famous for flashing a statue for gods sake. We have amazing food (some of the best in the country pound for pound), the largest and smallest inner city parks in the US. We have Powells, the largest independent bookstore in the country. We have more strip clubs per capita than anyone else. The mountains are a little over a hour away and so is the beach in the other direction. We have more food carts than anyone in the WORLD! We have a lot going for us. Also, we have lousy weather, which while it evokes suicidal thoughts in us from time to time, does serve to keep a lot of the undesirables (douchbags) away from here. A customer once said to me that they would not want to move anywhere someone would move just for the weather. I understood what they meant. Those places attract a certain type of person, one who I am not anxious to be around. No doubt about it, it is cool here.
Lately, I have grown a little frustrated with you. I will try to explain why in the best way I possibly can.
You have become cocky. Not confident, but cocky. For those who do not know, there is a difference. That does not work here. I do not want you to think I am like a old timer who cannot deal with change. I love change. I am constantly making major changes in my life and find it very exciting. We used to be a place that was so confident in what we had going for us, that we did not give a rats ass what others thought. We were cool, we knew it and that was good enough.
I think maybe we have bought into the hype a little bit. We have been getting massive press over the last few years. We are good at this, we are good at that blah, blah, blah. We even have our own (unfunny) TV show. Yes, it makes fun of us, but only because they love us. We have what appears to be a almost weekly article (advertisement) in the New York Times. I recently was back there and everywhere I went New Yorkers talked about how Portland is the coolest place in the country right now. That is just not acceptable. They are New York! The greatest city in the world? They should not bow down to anyone! You can see my point. When the greatest city in the world is kissing your ass, you will probably become a little arrogant. The problem is that we are starting to buy into the hype.
I have been secretly hoping that San Francisco and Seattle would take a little road trip, come here and beat Portland up. I am sure they are ready to take their rightful places as the coolest west coast cities. They should be annoyed. I think we are due for a little humbling beat down.
I see a attitude developing here that I do not like. One where we think our poo does not stink and that we can do no wrong. You can feel it in the air. You can see it everywhere you go. We have rules and you need to abide by them. We are going to shove our local, sustainable, organic attitude down your throat and you will abide by it. What? You drove here? You didn’t ride your bike? Not cool man! We used to embrace individual attitudes more than we do now. Now we are all supposed to look and act the same. We have a holier than thou attitude. I expect this from other places, just not Portland. I expect the citizens of Portland to be better that that. I expect more of you. We have heart. I want to start to show it again.
Why do I have a right to talk this way to Portland? Because I am from here. This is my home. I can bash on my own family, but you better watch your mouth if you are going to. Look, it is probably my fault to a certain extent. I talked it up for years and now that everyone is buying into it, I am annoyed. It’s like having a band you love. You beg people to listen to them. They become popular, then you complain that they have sold out. Maybe I just long for the days of the hippies instead of the hipsters. Maybe I am just getting old?
I just know we have a good thing going and I would hate to muck it up.
Portland I love you, even if I do not always like you. You are my family.
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