Portlandia

I’m writing this as a stream, just because I woke up thinking about it…it’s just some notes…but since I haven’t written on the blog in a while, I thought I’d just pen them here…

I love Portland, Oregon. Love it.

My entire life, I have gone to the greater PDX area to visit close relatives, great friends, and shop without paying sales tax. Nothing but great memories.

But I have read several commentaries lately that Portland has become “the new, hipper Seattle.” (Or to that affect.)

After living near and working in Seattle for years and years, frankly, I think that’s getting it wrong. Seattle grew up. And most of these commentators skip right over the breeding ground that was my area of influence.

And I can tell you exactly the moment Seattle realized that it didn’t want to be…wait, let me go back…

Seattle isn’t the birthplace of grunge. Roughly an area from Spanaway to Aberdeen, including Tacoma and Olympia, was the birthplace of “grunge” and the whole casual world that the rest of the country thinks of as grunge. I mean, I can’t drive 15 minutes south and not pass the Sleater-Kinney (Ahem, “Portlandia”) exit. This was true in our attitudes and music and style and priorities. That was in the late 1980s. We all looked like loggers but had aspirations bigger than our fathers. But we really could beat the hell out of anyone, and there was a lot of other funky stuff. Giant swath. No gigantic military influence, no hard drugs, and lots of fights. But in the morning, you brushed yourself off and went to school. Wearing whatever. We were dressed like Spicoli, facing Mr. Hand with attitude, with the work ethic of loggers. Scrappy and slothy, but hard working and talented.

You have to remember, that this same area that brought you Chet Atkins and The Ventures…one changed country guitar licks and the other changed electric guitar period. Both ended up in halls of fame. This was the brew.

So, that’s all important three-minute background…

You had an entire culture that was a few decades old, had a vibe and an attitude, and was pretty damned cool.

Hello, Seattle!!!! One record label (Sub Pop) just killed it by signing all of these bands from the South Sound and Southwest Washington. Just nailed it. It was brilliant. Suddenly, everyone we heard in high school was getting famous by college graduation in 1993. We were hip and cool and “grunge” was the new thing. (Whatever.) But we needed jobs and needed to grow up and get a life. To the people that grew up around here, we were thinking about marriage and kids and acting like adults. To various degrees, we were still well educated, talented, and wore the same crap we did in 1988, but…

And this is important…we realized we needed real jobs to earn real money. But now, Wall Street was on board with Grunge…along with the major labels and Madison Avenue. It was the most super cool thing ever to have a job in a high rise and go to a garage Pearl Jam concert that night. ┬áIt was the hippest place. It really was nirvana to be 20-something in 1990s Seattle. Making a great living, being hip, acting flip…and then…

W.
T.
O.

1999.

Buzz kill.

All of the people that seemed to have been drawn to Seattle for all of the correct reasons turned on the city itself. And we all got old…fast.

(I’m getting to why Seattle is better than Portland in the next part. I just want to read it after a night’s sleep and decide if I like it so far.)

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