1. Because Portland Sort Of Is One GIANT Episode Of Portlandia. (Sorry, locals!)
I went to Portland for the first time last weekend to do some stuff at a college in the area. Wasn’t really sure what to expect when I got to town but I kept telling people that I planned to watch a bunch of episodes of Portlandia just, you know, to be up to date on my Portland pop culture and what not. I’m sure I annoyed a lot of locals when I said that, though, because I know whenever I see representations of New York on TV I’m always like, “Shit’s fake! That’s not New York.” Well, people, I’m here to tell you that Portland is actually an episode of Portlandia. Case in point: the friend I stayed with had a kayak rack on top of his car, a kayak in his apartment and all kinds of outdoorsy “gear” in the bathroom. Also on the flight there I sat behind some white dude with dreadlocks and next to me was a middle-aged white guy (hot) covered in tattoos who wore a pork pie hat and was reading a script. Really? I was thisclose to asking if he was maybe an extra in an upcoming episode of the show.
2. Because There Are A Lot Of Fabulous, Radical Queers
Saturday night I got invited to a vogue ball/queer dance party in some big ass abandoned warehouse and it was so full of awesome queers! The party was called “Critical Mascara,” and with a name like that you know those queens are NOT kidding around re: their mascara!!! It was sort of a costume ball, with people dressed in all kinds of interesting drag. But the thing that struck me the most was that the approach to drag was kind of dirty, ugly even. Drag in the New York downtown scene is often about putting together a character and being somewhat rock and roll. At this “Critical Mascara” party one guy I saw wore a red strapless bra, panties, high heels and his body was totally covered in gay slurs and epithets, words like “cocksucker” and “faggot,” written on him in black marker. Another queen — the Emcee — spread blueish paint on her arms, here eyeballs were bleeding and her wig was sort of crooked. Fabulous!
3. Because Nature!
When you live in a city like New York or even Chicago, you get pretty used to concrete and skyscrapers. It’s really easy to scoff at nature. Like, there’s nothing anybody can do to get me in a kayak, sorry. In Portland, though, you’re constantly reminded that nature is 10 minutes away. My friend took me to a vineyard that was 15 minutes from his place and we tasted wine there for hours, all while flirting with the super hot and lumberjack-y dude who kept pouring our glasses and flashing those ice blue eyes #domenow. On the drive to vineyard land you go past mountains and all sorts of beautiful greenery. You have the city and the country, minutes away from the other. Plus you’re not far from the ocean and on a clear day you can see Mount St. Helens!
4. Because It’s Big But Not Huge
I wasn’t really sure what Portland would be like. Well, I thought maybe there’d be a couple cute little streets with stuff on them. But actually, the whole city is hot. A sex shop that’s open 24 hours. An 80s dance party held in an old theater. Whether you’re downtown in The Pearl or strolling through one of the many other neighborhoods, you really feel like you’re in the “center” wherever you are because there are so many eating options, so many exciting corners to see and discover.
5. Because Powell’s Books Is Literally Insane
Omg, book porn. Powell’s is the shit — I’ve never felt so overwhelmed by a retail environment. It’s not huge as in tall, but more that once you go inside there are so many corners and shelves and rooms full of books that it is very easy to get lost or, worse, forget what you really came for. How a bookstore of that size can stay open in an expensive neighborhood, when even Barnes and Noble is having a hard time, is a mystery. A local told me that the city was considering turning it into a Historic Landmark. Seems interesting.
6. Because Everything Is Just A Little Bit Weird
I met a guy who told me he was a graduate student in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. How awesome is that! And not that colleges are necessarily the place to take the temperature of cities, but when I was at Reed College I saw that there is a Fetish Club on campus. Yes that’s right — a FETISH CLUB. According to the campus activities registry, the club promotes “safe and consensual kink” via stuff like Kinky Crafts, a Fetish Ball and BDSM 101/102. WHERE WAS THIS WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE?