11 Abilities Portlanders Have Over Everyone Else

Portland Culture
by Alex Scola Aug 8, 2015

1. Admiring your quirks and celebrating how you personally contribute to the weird fabric of the city.

What “keeps Portland weird” is certainly not the city itself, which on its surface is actually pretty normal, if a little small. It’s the people… the folks who may work as a barista 3 days a week, run an indie web comic in their off time, and be the mandolin-and-harmonica-playing frontman in their costumed super-hero-themed band on the weekends. It’s the folks who borrow the industrial welder from their construction gig to fuse 4 individual children’s bikes into a single creation that’s both bizarre and grand (and which you’ll then see them riding naked down Burnside the first opportunity they get). Each person, no matter where they fit in on the weirdness spectrum, is what makes Portland, Portland — and we reserve the right to celebrate you for your contributions.

2. And with that, unflinchingly accepting that sometimes, “it’s just another day in Portland”

When you bring enough weird people together, really weird things are bound to happen. And as a result, we seasoned Portlanders have grown a bit desensitized to the sheer gravity of the oddness that happens here on the daily. For example, if they made a bingo card for stuff you might see while in town, it would definitely include things like: a flaming-bagpipe-playing Darth Vader on a unicycle, hula-hoops u-locked to bike racks, dogs trained to trot alongside their leash-wearing humans, and a person in a chicken suit serenading other actual chickens with a violin. And as if that wasn’t enough, our newspaper is basically a police blotter featuring such colorful headlines as: “Man tries to strangle wife with his own dreadlocks” and “Naked man hit by car while doing push ups in the middle of the street.” But you know what? That’s just another day in paradise.

3. Seeing past the hair and tattoos to the rich and complex human being beneath them.

Think of it as a sort of X-ray vision we shouldn’t need but have anyway. We recognize that a person is so much more than their appearance, and let people express themselves any-which-way they choose. But then again, just because we choose not to judge people on these attributes, it doesn’t mean we’re completely blind to them — we just *actually* appreciate a finely waxed moustache and the killer color work on your elaborate shoulder piece.

4. Prescribing the perfect beer for you based on your personality and meal.

In Portland, most things are elevated to an art form, and one of the grandest expressions of this is in our beer culture. Yes, you’ve heard it a billion times: we love beer, we drink it while doing everything, and if the apocalypse happened tomorrow we as a community could subsist on it until it was time to repopulate the Earth. But more important than our abundance of beer, is our respect for it — which is why any good Portlander knows exactly when to recommend you dabble in an IPA, and which Hopworks seasonal will pair perfectly with your easy-breezy attitude and those insanely delicious cheesy pretzel sticks.

5. Taking all of your dietary restrictions in stride.

Are you: vegan? Gluten allergic or gluten intolerant? Morally opposed to eating anything that’s not grass-fed, cruelty-free, free-range, cloven-hooved, purple, or grown inside a castle of cheese? It doesn’t matter what your dietary restrictions are, we’ll still find a way to whip you up something that’s delicious… and will do so with a smile.

6. Having the steely resolve needed to endure the long gray season (without letting it permanently harden our hearts).

I would never say that Portland sees more gray sky than Seattle during those 10 sunshine-less months between September and July… but I can say with utter confidence that during that very first sunny break in the cloud cover (sometime in February), Seattle will never have anything on the widespread communal ecstasy experienced in Portland. It’s almost like you can hear Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 playing as the darkness parts and all of us Portlanders emerge from our hidey-holes like thousands of soggy gophers full of playful wonder.

7. And a certain lack of water-solubility.

We’ve accepted wetness as a fact of life, and don’t fear the water here. We won’t shut down any of the major roads just because “it’s not safe to drive in this much rain”, and we certainly don’t need no namby-pamby raincoat-and-galoshes-and-an-umbrella getup to keep us dry during our lengthy wet season. All we need is an extra flannel on our backs, and a good minute to shake it off like a duck when we get wherever we’re headed.

8. Harboring the complete and utter inverse of road rage.

We Portland drivers are a friendly but meek breed. And yes, it’s true that many of us are also objectively pretty bad drivers… the kind that view signaling as optional and merging as something that’ll just “happen if I keep driving straight.” And yet, hearing a car horn (even living literally off a major thruway like Powell, which I do) is an inexplicably rare occurrence usually reserved for just after an accident has actually already occurred. The paralyzing fear of being seen as a Californian behind the wheel often leads to backed up traffic in all directions at a 4-way stop… after each driver has politely relinquished the right of way in what winds up resembling the lamest game of Hungry-Hungry-Hippos ever. And yet, still, not a horn is honked nor a naughty finger raised, and any expletives are muttered silently (and typically come from the mouths of native Californians).

9. Knowing and appreciating objectively “good” food.

If it’s true that “everyone’s a critic,” in Portland everyone would be a food critic. PDX is a massive foodie city, which means that we not only value good food… we expect it. It’s hard not to, when even our everyday cart food has notoriously next-level flavors and will almost always contain exotic ingredients we can barely pronounce and/or didn’t know were legal (foie gras, Romanesco broccoli, and goat cheese marionberry habanero ice cream, anyone?).

10. Having the boundless courage (or madness) to make virtually any length commute by bike.

Portland’s unofficial motto (which I’ve admittedly just made up) is “the City of Sculpted Calves,” which we forge on our 15-25 mile daily commutes to and from work, in all types of weather, and in what always seems like the mad-pedal-uphill in both directions. And then we go on even longer “scenic” rides over the weekends, just because we love our bikes (and being a “biking city”) *that* much.

11. And finally, developing a patience that even saints would envy.

Portland is also a very sleepy city, which honestly has a lot more to do with the weather than it does all the weed people think we’re for smoking. But as a result, Portlanders take their own time doing everything, and opt for a very laid-back, “let it be” attitude toward the pace at which things get done. We “live life, man,” even when living life means waiting half an hour for a cup of coffee. And if we get stuck behind a couple of older folks ambling at a snail’s pace down a sidewalk in Sellwood, we’ll just consider it an opportunity to stop and smell the flowers.

Discover Matador