The "weird Portland" myth

If you've spent time in Portland, maybe you've seen the "Keep Portland Weird" bumper stickers. In part, they're big middle fingers directed toward mainstream, corporate culture that proud Portlanders are fiercely opposing. They're also an ode to a Portland ethos that is slowly slipping away as the city as a whole becomes more and more homogenous.

Coming from San Francisco, I can't say that I've been particularly overwhelmed by the "funkiness" that Portlanders proclaim to characterize their city. I think the notion of "keeping Portland weird" is also lost when those sporting the stickers all look alike (sort of contradictory): anti-war, pro-choice, Suburu driving hippies. However, that doesn't go to say Portland isn't weird. Indeed it is. I was just lucky enough to live in another city with similar funky/radical qualities. Portland is definitey weird in its own right; it is unique and certainly bucks a lot of trends.

I think a lot of Portland's weird and funky attributes get overlooked by more obvious attention-grabbers. For example, public pillow fights in Pioneer Courthouse Square make the news every year. So, too, does the drunken Christmas revelry that is Santacon (imagine hundreds of drunkards dressed like Santa, roaming the streets of Portland while handing out handmade sex toys). Both of these events get a lot of attention and solidify Portland's reputation as being weird. However, it is the smaller stuff, the more commonplace things, that really bolster this reputation. Often times it is taken for granted. Case in point are the numerous theaters around town that play films such as the one pictured to the left. I mean, seriously, "Suppressed Vicious War Cartoons!!!" I'm not even sure I know what that is. However, somebody does. And apparently they think it would be a big enough draw to fill up a movie theather. In most cities, they would be completely wrong. Not in Portland, though. For Portland is weird, and weirdos live here...and they go to see movies about suppressed vicious war cartoons.

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