Andrew Earles

What if the cutout bin of 2010 was a mid-sized city?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Earles on September 20, 2007

Slate ran this piece about Portland being a destination for indie rockers. The title is a slightly misleading. A city being described as an “indie rock mecca” implies that it is choked with fans and bands alike, when this little exercise focuses on established (term used relative to the genre discussed) names…..I hope you have some padding back there…..living next to normal people in a mid-sized city!!! Silly me, I thought that Stephen Malkmus lived in a home made entirely of tropical aquariums, fanned with palm leaves and fed grapes by that redhaired girl that used to be in Verbena. Guess what? You know what’s coming! I haven’t even read the piece.

I will do so now.

I’m back, and I was wrong about Malkmus’ home. It’s just huge. No aquariums.

This passage should irritate the guys in Pond.

If there’s any alluring indie mystique to Portland, it’s most likely due to the late Elliott Smith, who attended high school on the west side of town and recorded his most-loved work here. (Mercer even owns Smith’s old house.) Before Smith, Portland’s primary musical contribution to the universe was the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.””

There’s also a chance that it may irritate those tired of hearing about the late Elliot Smith and his marginal-at-best songwriting talents. Yes, it was a depraved tragedy that continues on open-ended (I can envision the first Mumblecore conspiracy/crime film being based on his death).

And let’s peruse this passage:

…it’s probably just proof that musicians like him (Malkmus) moved to Portland for the same reason as the rest of us: It’s easy to live here. In the words of a friend of mine who used to be the music editor at the local alt-weekly, Portland is like a resort community for indie rockers who spend half the year working themselves ragged on tour. You can venture into public dressed like a convicted sex offender or a homeless person, and no one looks at you askew. It’s lush and green. Housing is affordable, especially compared with Seattle or San Francisco. The people are nice. The food is good. Creativity is the highest law. For young, hip Portlanders, financial success is a barista job that subsidizes your Romanian-space-folk band or your collages of cartoon unicorns.

Read the last two sentences and try not to destroy your laptop with a vomit tsunami.

I imagine that it IS easy to live in a community that’s largely devoid of racial variety (they usually make up for this by screaming RACISM!!! at the rest of the country…over such things as the proven fact that 95% of the politicians nabbed in the Tennessee Waltz sting are black). And the people that perpetually walk in from of my moving vehicle, on a daily basis? They are rarely white. These are proven facts. Yet to some, they sound like the rantings of a Grand Wizard of the KKK.

That’s the PCeeeefic Northwest for you.

Lastly, I do not bemoan the sudden Mayor Giuliani-style disappearance of the crustie punks from Memphis’ streets (back around 2001). I did hear rumors of an underground Memphis-to-Portland railroad. The boarding fee was a Disrupt patch and a half a forty.

One Response

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  1. your friend k said, on September 23, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Hmmm. I can’t figure out what was my particular standard for financial success: $24K to work in Hurt Village helping some crackhead in a tattered teddy keep her 2 year old’s mitts away from the wide open oven (Memphis) or the $32K for hand-holding cokehead/junkie strippers to detox at Good Sam Hospital (Portland). At least in Portland, I could see Janet Weiss hold court in front of Stumptown. Damn, that coffee is really good.


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