Visitors are drawn to Portland. With a population of just over 600,000 residents (approximately 400,000 could be defined as eccentric), the city is large enough to offer a world-class transit system, a thriving business environment (after all, Nike headquarters in nearby Beaverton), cool boutique hotels, an unparalleled restaurant scene, and a vibrant community of artists. Much to the dismay of some, people are flocking here to visit and to stay. Gentrification is the culprit blamed by media art critics nostalgic about the avant guard energy of the early 2000s and by local singles and young families faced with the lack of affordable housing. Portland used to, “have a less commercial, more exciting art scene and have room for the average Joe to find a place to live.” Now, it “panders to transplants with lots of money and no taste.”
Apparently, however, hipsters thrive on high rent and bad art. What is defined as “weird” anywhere except along the thin ocean border of the East and West coasts is the norm here. The hipster look, commonplace in Portland, is not 50s beatnik, 60s hippie, or 90s punk. Hipsterdom seems to be exclusive to those under 35, relies on a curator’s eye at thrift stores, and demands that a hefty portion of a barista’s salary be spent on food and hand-crafted beer. In Portland, being an ice-cream scooper or an expert on artisan salumi is seen as a career option. And everyone is in a band.
Now, I’m not completely sure which came first, Portlandia or Portland’s hipsters, but Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, creators, writers, and stars of Portlandia hit the mark on the city’s offbeat character. And she is in a band.
Anyways, my friends from San Diego (no slouch on the “wish I lived there” list) were here for a visit and I so enjoyed counting hipsters with them. Plus my favorite hipster, The Sweetie, received the all clear on his recent CT scan, so all is good.