All images, Portland postcards, Summer of 1920.

Consider – who do you know in Portland who isn’t from California, either physically or metaphysically? I mean – it’s just about everyone now. We eat California food, watch California stars, read California books, grow California plants, maintain California expectations, have California body mods, have California concerns and diagnosis.

Possibly the whole damn world is California. I thought explorers from the Mercury found stuff which isn’t California, but on second consideration, the notion of perusing funky groceries for shelf-stable imported food seems about a most California exercise.

Now you may say, I went to Bennington and came here for the theatre (you’d be a special sort of fool), or, we moved to Portland for better schools (gentrifiers, house flippers, and thoughtless racists – how San Diego), or, we couldn’t afford San Francisco anymore. Fact is if you could, you would.

One secret is Portland peaked – not in 2002, but in 1920. Much which is dreamy and funky and wild and weird about Portland comes from just after WWI. Certainly our best public art.


Mayor Tom Potter’s visioning project is drawing to a close. My guess is readers could substitute “Portland” with “San Jose” and draw the same conclusions.

What makes Portland Portland – unalterably and without which the city substantially is weakened? What makes this town wonderful and not San Jose?

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