Portland is its own place, that is, a place where the book store is a still a hangout and where people dress and think differently than in other places. They are called “hipsters,” some of them anyway. I don’t know how to define them, but do recognize them when I see them.
When we were looking for houses in Colorado, I made it a point to check out book shelves to see what people read, to get a sense of the current owners who wanted us to buy their house. Most houses had no book shelves and few books and so I got no sense of the people who lived within. In Portland there are books and shelves and ideas and attitudes. The TV show Portlandia captures it I suppose, but understand this: There would be no TV show unless they grasped that something is different about this place.
It’s an attitude about life, optimism and possibilities … people seem to think that acting together to achieve common goals matters, so there are constant efforts at organizing. It is on signs and repurposed buildings. Silly little fools they are, they want to matter. They know some things. They redefine the American, and the new citizen speaks up and out, does not bow before power. He demands a different response from compromised government officials and the greedy corporations who also occupy this space.
Maybe it is all silliness – it is hard to navigate this place for all of the bike paths, green lanes, trains – it is as if the roads are designed for everything but cars, but cars dominate. Portlandia wants to be different, and there is a critical mass of people here who can make things different. It really does work that way. So power, though deeply embedded here (the Oregonian is as devoid of content as any newspaper anywhere in this land), is more masked than in other places.
All if this leads to my complaint, and this is serious: Where we live in Colorado we are given two options for pizza: Anthony’s, and Madoff’s. Neither are good. We could go down the hill to Old Chicago, but that is a thirty minute drive, or an hour of our life with the beer buzz worn off by the time we get home. So we live without pizza.
Pizza matters, and so while in Portland, given this opportunity, I Want Pizza! We found a place on Sunday evening, Hot Lips. They know what pizza is. We were going back there last night, but nooooooo … I am told that Oven and Shaker has the best pizza, so we go there.
There is no pepperoni. I am not kidding, and what I am about to tell you will shock you, so gird your loins: One of the ingredients they offered was duck eggs. Duck eggs! I end up having sausage and fennel. It is the only ingredient that I am certain is meat. I forsook the arugula.
People of Portland! That is not pizza! That is tapas! If I wanted mascarpone and yellow foot and hedgehog mushrooms, speck, leeks, chives, and fricking duck eggs, I would go out to the local commune and mingle with the hipsters and learn the names of the animals while holding hands and singing Kumbaya! Or I would go to the continent and lean against a railing and spend two euros for a little blob of God only knows, fish eggs or the like with some cheese I cannot pronounce.
It’s simple: dough, sauce, spices, cheese, and pepperoni. Portland, when did you lose your way?