9 Portland Habits I Lost in Brooklyn

by Henry Miller Aug 11, 2015

1. Admonishing people for not recycling.

I mean, Brooklyn does recycle and most people take it seriously. But when you are living in a city oozing with residents who have long been comfortable with walking through piles of garbage on their way to just about anywhere, picking on someone for throwing a plastic bottle in the overflowing trash instead of the overflowing recycling bin seems pointless.

2. Loving animals within city limits.

Yes, animals are beautiful and important and we ought to do more to protect the environment that we share with them, but they need to get the fuck out of our cities. Once I moved to Brooklyn, I realized that animals and human beings on a large scale should not coexist — they just contribute to the “sidewalk feces problem” that we have to clean up. In Portland, seeing deer on my driveway was comforting because it helped me feel closer to nature. In Brooklyn, seeing a dead rabbit in a cemetery was a reminder that we lost the privilege of being part of nature a long time ago.

3. Wearing shorts and/or sandals anywhere.

My first big job interview in Portland was conducted by the company owner who was wearing Tevas. In 2015. Something that Brooklynites understand is that clothes are meant to protect you, whether from the fierce judgment of your peers or the toxic sludge you stepped in underneath the el train on your way to work.

4. Standing by my “healthy” smoking habits.

Oh Portland, your care of your bodies means that you really don’t like smoking tobacco all that much. And good for you! Really, keep at it. In the meantime, Brooklynites are desperately trying to find an eighth of weed for less than sixty bucks that isn’t brown/mostly seeds and stems. It’s a hard life for a pothead in these parts, so pardon us if we sprinkle some rolling tobacco in our joints.

5. Being afraid of strangers.

Granted, nobody is a stranger in Portland… so it isn’t that I was really afraid of strangers before I left as much as I was completely unexposed to them. In Brooklyn, where “Spanish”, “Hebrew” and “Polish” are still used on many store signs, you have to embrace the reality that your neighborhood is a community shared by many different cultural and racial identities (something the whole of Oregon could, frankly, learn a thing or two about). To live in Brooklyn is to realize that not everyone is like you, very few of them care to pretend to be like you, and you simply have to deal with it.

 6. Dancing like a complete jackass.

Growing up white in “the most racist city in the US”, dancing was not something I was very good at before living in Brooklyn. But you just can’t make too many friends in Brooklyn without being able to throw down some merengue, New York-style salsa, or Brooklyn hip-hop moves (and while you’re at it, learn how to do the Jewish Bottle Dance and you’ll be golden).

7. Being straight-up addicted to nature.

Portland is the home to some of the best outdoor activities you could ask for. I can’t count the number of times I went biking, hiking, kayaking or climbing when I was a kid — during which my parents were always eager to remind me just how special it was to be able to do so. When I moved to Brooklyn, I quickly realized that such natural splendors are few and far between. But what was lost in trees and rivers was made up for in parks, museums and some of the most beautiful architectural neighborhoods in the country — so I learned to love these “urban substitutes” instead.

8. Opting for anything “artisanal.”

I mean, Whole Food’s hilarious attempt to try to sell 6-dollar “asparagus water” wasn’t the first time I started questioning the current health fads of F-T-T and gluten intolerant veganism. In Brooklyn, it is pretty clear that more often than not, the “artisanal” eating option is really just an attempt to screw you into buying a cheap product that you could easily make at home. So I don’t buy it, and instead use my Portland habit of “cooking for myself” to, well, cook it for myself.

9. Being excited over new restaurants and bars.

Anyone who remembers Portland ca. pre-2005 (before both the Pearl existed and anyone ever considered drinking on the East side), has good reason to be excited about that new tapas restaurant next to the authentic pupuseria… but it is almost taboo to be excited over new things in Brooklyn. This is mostly due to the knowledge that for every new froyo spot and café, a ma and pop that was probably loved by locals for decades was forced to close its doors. Fatalism is easily the most common attitude encountered in Brooklyn these days, and this is coming from a guy who has only here for three years.

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