What's with the lack of native Portlanders?

January/2005: Portland - Sometimes I feel like the last native Portlander. I cut an interview recently with KGW and Pat Dooris (Who is a cool mofo because he bought me a Chai, putting him on my "Cool media people who take me to coffeeshops for B-roll and buy me a Chai" list that includes him and Amy, a producer from Al Roker Productions. Chai is good. People who buy me Chai are good. All is good) and during some background questions (Age? Interests? Born here?) that are normally used to give the odd little facts about people that media does, he asked the usual, "born here" question. My pat answer is that I'm the last native Portlander. And odd enough, it's somewhat true.

There are very few native Portlanders who stay in the city. During my many visits to San Francisco, it's a big joke there about that city, that everyone comes to live there and experience it, but nobody stays because it's not exactly the city you raise a family in. That makes sense. San Francisco is ridiculously expensive and not the kind of city you want to raise a family in. Not the kind of city that encourages say, home ownership. Everything costs a bajillion dollars.

Portland doesn't have that excuse however, as we still have a lot of cheap property, and more importantly, cheap rent. We're more expensive than say, Wyoming, but nobody leaves a place like Portland for Wyoming. Yet it's true. Everyone leaves or migrates here. At my last tech support job, not a single person in my training class was born here. Few of my friends from High School were born here, and of those that were, most left the state.

To me, there are three main reasons to live in a specific city. First of course is the cost of living. As stated, Portland does good on that. Very affordable city compared to other cities, mostly because it's such a massive, expansive city with more neighborhoods than anything. The second is weather. I wouldn't live in a place that gets any of the "death weather", tornadoes, hurricanes, massive snow or ice, unbearable heat spells, earthquakes, thunder and lightning, whatever. We're mild all year long. Quite seasonable. Our weather is some of the most hospitable on the planet. The third thing I would take into consideration is convenience. While Portland is a massive city in terms of how many miles it covers (especially if you include the suburbs), it's pretty easy to get around. We have a great MAX train system that makes public transit a worthwhile idea, before you consider the dregs of society that ride it, as it will get you downtown pretty quickly. There are lots of shopping and restaurants in all areas of the city.

So why does everyone move?

My guess is that the two things Portland doesn't have going for it are the people in general, and the lack of "buzz." For example, walk downtown New York and you feel alive. On the cutting edge. Walk downtown Portland and you see a lot of parks. It's nice, sure, but it's a park. You don't have the massive urbanization of a downtown area like most cities have. Downtown Portland is very limited, the buildings aren't very high, the shops close down early, and there are no real "main areas" to hang out besides Pioneer Square, which we'll cover when we get to the "people in general" section. There just isn't life in any part of the city at night. Downtown Portland at night will have a few rabble-rousing idiots, but there isn't any vibrance. Everyone who is effusive might as well be saying "Yeah... but I wish I was partying in any other city! WHOO!"

There's no "draw" other than livability, and for most people, livability is boring. They want a rush, they want excitement, they want to be able to tell people of the cool thing their city has. Seattle has that stupid space needle and a really urban downtown, Los Angeles is LA, Vegas is Vegas, New York is everything you'd want, San Francisco has a number of draws, Alcatraz, that place where they place chess... blah blah blah. Even cities in shitty states like Louisiana (Hey, no offense, but it's shit) have draws, Baton Rouge and New Orleans both have "draws", even if they are the social decay of everything good and proper. I could go on and on, most city have a hook. A feel. A draw.

Not Portland, we're just livable. Damn livable. When people ask me about Portland, I usually go on about how livable it is. They can't fool me by feigning interest, I can tell their E-eyes are glazing over by my lush descriptions of livability. No hook.

And the people stink. For example, Pioneer Square, which city officials try to tout as our "Draw" (How the FUCK a red-bricked over-hyped pseudo-COURTYARD is a DRAW is beyond me, small-minded fucking city officials) is filled with moron skateboarders, heroin fiends, anarchists and annoying homeless people. And that's the best part of the people of Portland. A composition of the most two-faced, talking out both sides of your mouth, feigning interest at anything you say, can't get the truth out of them if you beat them with a goddamned hammer, ponderous, think they're trendy but actually are the exact fucking opposite, vegan fucking hippy-ass peace peace peace peace peace peace blah blah blah socialist anarchist moron blah blah blah blah blah blah blah... fake. That's the word. People here are so fake. People say those in LA are fake, but I would tout Portlanders as the fakest people on the planet. At least in LA, they can treat you like shit.

People here will hate you and be nice to you. It's terrible. You can't form real friendships with people here, because you never know if they're full of shit or not. They could hate you, but they'd give lip service if you wanted to go to a movie or some shit. "Oh? Yeah? I don't know... what's playing? Oh, that... yeah, that sounds good. Well, we'll see." JUST SAY NO. SAY NO. Don't say "We'll see", say no! Nice to every fault.

No draw, shitty people.

Okay, I guess it's not so much of a mystery after all. It still feels odd though, to have people look at you in somewhat-surprise when you say yes, you were born here, and that you grew up here, and that you still live here. In fact, after this semi-rant... fuck.

I'm probably looked at as a little crazy due to that.

Yet I have the greatest reason to live here. You see, it's livable. It's very livable. Which means that you can have all the convenience of a city, pay pretty decent cash for living expenses, and live a near-total hermit lifestyle. All the amenities and none of the social responsibility. Nothing to draw you out of the house, no hook, no energy out in that city... no reason to leave often. At the end of the day, this is a great city.

A great city if you're hankering for the lifestyle of a hermit.

And that's why I'm not moving.