Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentines: Jilted by PDX

First off, happy Valentines Day to my beautiful wife and kids or "Valen-Times" as Hank used to call it. Valentines Day has its roots in a seemingly unrelated act by Christian martyr Saint Valentine. According to accounts, Valentine refused to follow Roman law stating that soldiers should not be married and he secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men. Roman Emperor Claudius II jailed him for these acts. Apparently, Valentine and Claudius tried to convert each other to their own beliefs (Paganism and Christianity), but natch the Emperor prevailed and Valentine was executed (Special Christian Miracle Bonus Round: Before his death, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer - hence his sainthood). Based on this story it's perfectly clear why we give candy, flowers, and cards to our loved ones to honor Saint Valentine. You gotta love modern interpretations of weird holidays!!!

{start rant} Recently I spent the weekend in Portland for the 17th annual RecRoomRomp, where 16 brave middle-aged men compete in pool, ping-pong, and bowling for fame and fortune. I spent the weekend having a great time with some of my best friends in downtown PDX - my home town. I grew up in this area and lived in several houses all over the Portland area from the early seventies to the late eighties. Usually I like to visit Rip City, but this stay was alarmingly annoying. Portland is being taken over by hipsters!

Don't get me wrong, Portland has always seen itself as unique and different from other cities. It's rightfully known for many civic innovations - city planning, architecture, mass transit, and more than its share of great restaurants and businesses. I also have lots of friends and family in the area that haven't changed one iota. My issue is with the new "cooler than thou" attitude that is permeating downtown. During our stay there were several instances where my friends and I got the cold shoulder from local merchants and downtown residents overcome by hipsterism. Particularly at one of my favorite coffee spots, Stumptown. Agreed that I'm in my mid-forties and lack a certain youthful appeal, but Portland has always been a friendly town (with the exception of visits from Californians in the seventies and eighties).

This diagram captures it perfectly. In my last visit, I saw several "Mountain Men" and "Williamsburg" folk, and plenty of "Fauxhemians". Maybe I'm finally too old to understand their scene, but I've never seen that kind of attitude in my home town. The recent comedy Portlandia is a sign that the city is taking itself to seriously and I hope Portland turns the corner on this one! {end rant}

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