A Twee Grows In Brooklyn

The Portlandification of the increasingly bourgeois borough

brooklandia A Twee Grows In Brooklyn
On a cold day in late January, Paul LaRosa, an author and CBS producer, and his wife, Susan, were shopping for cheese at the Park Slope/Gowanus Indoor Winter Farmer’s Market at Third Avenue and Third Street when they struck up a conversation at one of the stands with a tall, clean-cut yoga instructor who had just returned from studying meditation in Thailand.

He had discovered the most marvelous cocoa there, he enthused, and offered them a tiny, wrapped sample of stone-ground, small batch “virgin” chocolate, which he sells in four flavors including Blueberry Lavender and Vanilla Rooibos.

“I had just seen Portlandia,” Mr. LaRosa told The Observer, referring to the indie sitcom. “And as this nice guy began telling us all the trouble he’d gone to to make this chocolate, my head went straight to the first episode, where a young couple cannot order the chicken on the menu without knowing the chicken’s name and whether it had any friends.

“In his eyes it wasn’t a simple chocolate bar, it was this whole thing, it was all wrapped up in Thailand and meditation and yoga and beautiful paper,” Mr. LaRosa went on. “This is a guy you could imagine would be a young Wall Street exec or something but he’s making artisanal chocolate bars in Brooklyn.”

Earlier that month, Brooklynites were passing around a clip of Brian Williams riffing on the ironic glasses frames, homemade beads, shared apartments and gourmet grilled cheeses of their home borough, and the New York Times’s marveling at them. “I’m leaving here to get to an artisanal market that just opened up today!” the anchorman snarked. “It’s a flash artisanal market! The newest thing!”

How often the Connecticut commuter actually gets to the better borough is unknown, but the bit killed. “It was dead on,” said Eric Cunningham, a Carroll Gardens-based comedian, who was inspired to start a website calling on Mr. Williams to run for president.

Heroic though it was, Mr. Williams’s intervention may have been too little too late. Brooklyn’s overwrought mustaches and handmade ice cream in upcycled cups are now well-established facts of life. It’s as if the tumor of hipster culture that formed when the cool kids moved to Williamsburg had metastasized into a cluster of cysts pressing down on parts of the borough’s brain. Around the militantly organic Park Slope Co-op, for example, or Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene, where you can buy rings glued to typewriter keys as well as used, handmade, vegetable-dyed, vintage Oriental rugs for $1,000. Brooklyn is producing and consuming more of its own culture than ever before, giving rise to a sense of Brooklyn exceptionalism and a set of affectations that’s making the borough look more and more like Portland, Oregon.

“Would you like one of my cool little bags?” the chocolate vendor asked after Mrs. LaRosa bought a few bars to use for baking. No thanks, she said.

So it wasn’t until later, when he passed by again, that Mr. LaRosa noticed a sign above the bags. He took a picture because he was afraid he wouldn’t be believed: “Raaka’s packaging is designed by his friends and printed with soy inks on 100 percent postconsumer-recycled, chlorine-free, processed paper that was made from wind-generated energy.” He put the picture on his blog in a post titled “Brooklandia?

Portland was “Brooklyn before Brooklyn was Brooklyn,” as NPR correspondent Ari Shapiro once quipped. His colleague Kurt Andersen, host of the public radio show Studio 360 and co-founder of Spy, put it more starkly: “Brooklyn without black people.”

Mr. Andersen co-founded the Portland Brooklyn Project, a “loose sister-cityish entity” to unite what the organization calls “creators of culture … with an interest in the connection between Portland and Brooklyn,” in 2010; it’s since changed hands. “Both suffered from an urban inferiority complex that during the last decade or so has become a superiority complex,” he explained in an email. “Brooklyn at its best today is in lots of ways probably like Manhattan at its best in the middle third of the 20th century, although with less hard-core, playing-for-keeps, drunken, druggy, up-all-night Bohemianism.”

I lived in Portland for two years after college. It’s a delightful place with plenty of drunken, druggy Bohemianism. But, dear Brooklyn, you do not want to go there.

This cautionary tale begins in December 2008, when your unemployed college graduate reporter wrote a post on Couchsurfing.com looking for a place to stay. “I’d love to show you around (currently underemployed) so weekdays are just fine for me,” replied Laura, a filmmaker who became my first friend in town. She lives with three or four roommates in a vast former church in Southeast Portland, across from New Seasons, Portland’s pricier answer to the pricey-enough Whole Foods. “I can teach you how to properly wipe your tush with just one square of toilet paper,” she promised on her Couchsurfing profile.

I never took her up on that offer, but she gave me a copy of the Zinester’s Guide to Portland—this was before I knew about zine culture, when I thought “zinester” rhymed with “sinister”—and loaned me and my then-boyfriend bikes so we could ride with her to the Green Dragon, a warehouse-turned-bar known for a rotating selection of 50 microbrews and geeky gatherings such as Beer and Blog. We rode back tipsy and crashed on a pile of mattresses in a corner of the church.

We wound up sharing a house with a yoga instructor and an underemployed deejay. Our rent was $195 each; we spent about four times that on food and beer. I bought a bike immediately and talked about it a lot; I developed a highly discerning palate for gourmet coffee and I.P.A.’s. We bought local and composted impeccably. I carried around a Kleen Kanteen to which I’d affixed a map-of-Oregon decal with a green heart over Portland. We were irreproachable environmental stewards with one guilty exception: the gallons and gallons of water we used to fill and refresh a 12-foot inflatable pool in the front yard, a gift from the Israeli backpackers we were hosting during the summer heat wave of 2009. We had a video projector in the living room for movies and Nintendo. Pot was $30 an eighth and very potent. We indulged frequently on the front porch, splayed on the full-size couch we got for $25 on Craigslist.

One of Portlandia’s catchphrases is that it’s “where young people go to retire,” but that doesn’t fully capture it. Rather, think back to the moment when you realized you were grown up enough to buy candy whenever you wanted. Then imagine extending that phase indefinitely, for years.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Though this is really well written and reported, this thesis feels really “yikes” to me.
    Brooklyn is a lot more than the enclaves of white 20-somethings who live in lofts off the L train. Like, a LOT more. Half of Brooklyn doesn’t even speak English at home. Calling Brooklyn “precious” is to elide a generationally/racially/economically diverse group of people into one of its more insufferable minorities. 
    I’m sure Portlandians (is that what they’re called?) would feel the same. 
    I mean, I really appreciate the new thinking around “what’s going on with these crazy rich young white people in Brooklyn?” but, especially from someone who’s been here for less than a year (?) it’s hard to take any of this seriously.

    I remain, as always, your biggest fan.

    1. Except these people are taking over Brooklyn. Look at the Census data:  http://t.co/1cFlmWf

      1. (where white people are actually on the decline)
        not sure what this data is supposed to be proving.

      2. While I wait for my hilarious image to be approved, I just wanna say that that data doesn’t say much, except that white people are moving towards North Brooklyn and away from South Brooklyn. 

      3. Of course there is more to Brooklyn than this… just sayin’ shit looks like Portland up in here and it’s spreading.

      4. Fair. :)
        I hope you’ll come to my hemp beer tasting next week.

      5. PDX Since '96 says:

        Is it organic, vegan and gluten-free? 

      6. Gentryficayshun says:

        You’ll like the Gluten Free. Your farts dont smell so bad.

    2. Sean says:

      It’s a free country.  Don’t like it?  Move!  Whenever I see angsty 90′s-bound internet whinefest about hipsters it always seems it’s coming from people who should have tried harder in school. 

      They’re different than me!  Their parents were successful where mine weren’t!  I’m jealous!

      I guess if whining makes you happy, have at it!

      1. NotSean says:

        Your’e right it is a free country. And people are free to feel that something is tired and played out. You are free hang on to your pretentious hipsterdom all you want, but it will be you that looks like a dumbass when the tides of public sentiment turn against you (which apparejtently it already is. )

    3. Anonymous says:

      I’m pretty sure she addressed that by referring to these things happening in a “pocket of Brooklyn”. Right? And yeah, it is taking over. I mean at some point maybe it will stop, maybe like the hour-ish commute from Manhattan line. But I’m living in an area that was not full of rich white kids 2 years ago, but very quickly I’m seeing more and more move in here, and I’m sure I’m partly to blame because I look like a rich white kid trying to slum it, although I’m actually just a poor white kid living where I can afford and that wasn’t creepy to me because when I moved in, the neighborhood was not overrun by rich 20 somethings whose parents pay their rent. I’m guessing within a couple years I’ll have to move further out and then the rich white kids will see that other white kids can live in that neighborhood without dying or whatever fear they have of not white kids, and then it will happen all over again.

  2. A2dkelly says:

    There are two typos in this article.

  3. A2dkelly says:

    TYPO ONE: “I never her took her up on that offer, but she gave me a copy of the Zinester’s Guide to Portland…”

  4. Lolz says:

    Paragraph 2 – “Lavendar”; Paragraph 3 – whether it has any friends – should be “HAD any friends” if they’re talking about a dead chicken.

  5. Lolz says:

    Ah, I see you fixed them. Thanks.

  6. Maura says:

    If you actually think New Seasons is more expensive than Whole Foods, please pass me whatever you are smoking.

    Other than that this article is dead on. It only reaffirms why I will never live in Portland again (I spent 18 of my 21 years there). Also–Brooklyn sounds like a horrible place. 

    1. unhipster says:

      Who cares about New Seasons prices? Have you ever heard of hyberbole? Most of Hawthorne doesn’t have a bike lane, either, but the reporters description fits the spirit of the place.

      By the way, Portland doesn’t love you either and Brooklyn doesn’t care if you ever show up. Try Nebraska.

  7. me.nyc says:

    I am positive that Rex Reed wrote this article. Or his grandmother.

  8. Grant says:

    There’s several errors in this article you may want to correct. Such as “I never her took her up on that offer”. No wonder you were unemployed when you moved to Portland. Learn how to edit if you’re going to consider yourself a writer.

    1. Miriam says:

      Also, New Seasons is cheaper than Whole Foods.

      1. Gentryficayshun says:

        Theres a reason why we call it Whole Paycheck. New Seasons is more competative, meaning same stuff, 7-1-% off WF pricing. 

  9. Guest says:

     “It’s as if the tumor of hipster culture that formed when the cool kids moved to Williamsburg had metastasized into a cluster of cysts pressing down on parts of the borough’s brain. ”
    The Portlandish culture you are describing did not begin with Williamsburg hipster culture. You could just as easily say that the Park Slope granola-foodie-artisinal culture conquered Williamsburg.

  10. Brandon S says:

    Great article, Adrianne!  Portland’s paleness is an ongoing thorn in its side. We need to foster some kind of  incentives for people of color to move here. And more jobs too please. Never been to Brooklyn but hope to check it out one day. My impression of the difference between East and West  surrounds the work ethic complex: East-Coasters like to make a big deal of how hard they work, while West-Coasters like to make a big deal of how little they work. In reality there probably isn’t much difference.

  11. Stevie says:

    Pedantic comment – New Seasons is way cheaper then Whole Foods. Boo.

  12. Song Hia says:

    Reading this makes me nostalgic for Baltimore, almost.

  13. Wait. Wasn’t Portland, OR supposed to be like Brooklyn? Not the other way around. I’m confused! Or is the clash of conflicting stereotypes just deafening me?

  14. Embarrassing to admit, but I think that’s the first 4 page article I’ve gotten all the way through in a while

  15. The problem with Brooklyn — or shall we say,
    “Brooklandia” — is that it comes off like someone who’s trying too hard
    while desperately trying not to appear like they’re trying too hard. The
    whole thing is just painful to watch.

    1. MayorDefactor says:

      …which is pretty much the Webster’s definition of “hipster”

  16. This is dumb. You got it all wrong. The problem is that Portland now has to handle the spillover of small rich daughters and their boyfriends tethered to their families in Los Angeles or the midwest who can’t find a cute apartment in Brooklyn for under 1000 dollars a month (or whatever crazy rent you deal with) so they think to themselves, “well I hear it is pretty easy to live in Portland, maybe we could live their for a while, I could get a job as a barista or something, we could save a little money then move to brooklyn” and the dude is like “yeah whatever” so they move the portland and set up an ETSY account where they sell crap they buy by the pound as if it were gold as dense as lead to kids who did have the money to move to brooklyn but are so torn by the anxieties of global post-domesticity that they will adorn their bodies with worn clothing that may have touched the hand of somebody who knows somebody who  has chickens in their yard despite their vegan housemate until the couple has generated enough of cash to open up a food cart/knitting circle where they meet some like minded kids who play the synth and bass really well (or at least broke their modesty long enough to say so) so they start this really cool band that samples vocals from fleet foxes but sounds a bit more like what if nirvana came out with a pop single that was featured on like a sandra pill comp that my friend made or maybe it like couples pan-african polyrhythm with like some real underground post punk and shimmery bells, but it doesn’t matter because the point is that after raising a lot of money through kickstarter or bandcamp or w/e they borrow their friend’s van to go on tour and finally when get on stage at that one basement in brooklyn and say like “hi we’re from portland and we’re called Ghost Kittens” and everybody stands there with their arms folded saying “woo” until the chime sample fades and the groovy bass line filters in and everybody starts dancing “woo” “woo” and its really sweaty and evry1 is like having a really good time “woo” so after the show there is the after party the band is like yeah portland is pretty cool, “cliche cliche cliche” and evrybody is liek “yeah cool” and it’s all cool until somebody is like “nah screaw that, portland sux” and somebody else is like “yeah” “brooklyn was like real until portland started dumping that stumptown stuff on us” and then somebody else was like “wut r u talking about nothing is real fuk’n portland and brooklyn are both hyperreal fantasy lands mutually supporting one another’s authenticity by instituting arguments about realness in newspapers and shizz thus reifying the concept as an object” and somebody else is like “w/e baudrillard is so 2000dead” and somebody else is like “wait, multiplicity” and everybody is like wut/yahhh this portland/brooklyn stuff is adumb duality lets bring LA/berlin/london/tokyo/baltimore/detroit/minneapolis/canada/seattle into this… “canada/seattle????” “wut” “oh” “what was perceived as a portlandification of brooklandia is better understood as a seattlization of portlyn which in turn is really just the canadializiation of seattlandilyn– though in all fairness this can be traced to a pilgrimification of Wampanoagian New Englyndia in 1620 which of course merely the historical outcome of the puritinification of englandification of barbarianification of the Roman Empireification of the  mediterranean civilizationification of the homo-sapien-ization of the primateification of the ification of ification.” “o rite”

    1. Winchesteracademy says:

      what the hell?

      1. Anonymous says:

        Precisely.

    2. Gfr says:

      holy shit you better write for a living

    3. Tim Ervin says:

      This is awesome, and far better than the original piece.

    4. Luckyunicorn says:

      and then they all moved to New Jersey.

    5. Anonymous says:

      Incredible!

    6. This is better than the article. 

    7. Justin R. says:

      kerouac called. he wants his schtick back.

    8. Matthew_leader says:

      Ha ha – an apartment for $1000!

      1. Persnickety2912 says:

        a 38-line-coke-ramble, and that was what i focused on too… $1000 is so 1996…

      2. Ouch I’m sorry. I pay 220 dollars a month for my gorgeous hovel so I can’t even imagine shelling out five times more for one of those closet bedrooms I hear you guys live in. I hope you can “make it” sometime soon. xoxoxoxox

    9. LaLaBella says:

      OH!!! “Ulysses” – hey, I get it. Coz you wrote a really long sentence, right? That’s great, really! So fresh and creative – just like Portland.

      1. Not quite says:

        that’s actually his name, I know someone who knows him

  17. therealdeal says:

    farmer’s markets are te best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. therealdeal says:

      Ulysses doesn’t know what he’s talking about. 

  18. Spot on Addrianne! Big love from PDX.  As a born and raise tri-state area kid who’s been in Portland for 15 years,  I’d say New York always reinvents itself this way. I remember back in the day when the internet blew up, and Manhattan created “Silicon Alley”. They had $500 flannel shirts at Macy’s when grunge was big. And now Portland and “livability” and the preciousness of twee (“whimsy without wit”).  I think it’s actually great that Portland is the latest West Coast trend to hit New York.  The city needs to learn to relax. But I hope in exchange, New York can help teach Portland how to straighten up and get a job.

    1. Gentryficayshun says:

      Hey Neal, ya big palooka! You owe me a beer down  @facebook-1072148331:disqus   Proper Eats Friday nite! ()Funtastic Friday, eh?)

      Community. A sense of place. Maybe what makes the buzz is both cities have enough walkability, enough parks and sidewalks and all that Jane Jacobs stuff that makes it easy to connect. Nobody wants to be a cypher up on the 8th floor. We want to taste life, suck the marrow! (oops, wrong movie) we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Parts of Portland and parts of Brooklyn make it happen. 
      Now if we could just get some good pie here in PDX, I would have no need to go back to Brooklyn.

  19. Spot on Addrianne! Big love from PDX.  As a born and raise tri-state area kid who’s been in Portland for 15 years,  I’d say New York always reinvents itself this way. I remember back in the day when the internet blew up, and Manhattan created “Silicon Alley”. They had $500 flannel shirts at Macy’s when grunge was big. And now Portland and “livability” and the preciousness of twee (“whimsy without wit”).  I think it’s actually great that Portland is the latest West Coast trend to hit New York.  The city needs to learn to relax. But I hope in exchange, New York can help teach Portland how to straighten up and get a job.

  20. Bullseye says:

    This type of stereotyping west coast nirvana isn’t new. (Remember California in the 80′s….Seattle in the ’90′s?)  Besides,  I can assure you that Brooklyn will never be Portland.  The beer, food and quality of life doesn’t even come close…

  21. Brooklandia. Or as the twee shop on Graham Avenue would have it, Brooklinski. Lest it seem like I’m only rolling my eyes, I do like the restaurants, markets, and wine stores that hipsters bring to my neighborhood.

  22. Brooklandia. Or, as the twee shop on Graham Avenue would have it, Brooklinski. Lest it seem like I’m only rolling my eyes, let me say that I do appreciate the restaurants, markets, and wine stores that hipsters bring to my neighborhood. Still.

  23. steve wilson says:

    Really? Jake Dobkin is complaining about hipsters now? This is a guy who used to conduct “graffiti tours” of Brooklyn for rich white kids. If Gothamist isn’t one of the top purveyors of this crap culture than I don’t know who is. It’s probably pretty easy for him to ignore that fact while the money keeps rolling in as long as he can act hard in an interview every now and then.

  24. PDX Since '96 says:

    Portland *was* weird in the 1990s and early oughts – it had the cheap rents and decent jobs that attracted young, creative, and strange people.  The musicians and artists (mostly comics artists) who arrived there in that time have contributed significantly to society.

    Not the Williamsburg transplants and wannabes who’ve flocked to Portland in the past five years, polluting Mississippi and Alberta with food carts that violate the rules of food carts (fast, cheap, and good – I’ve seen more expensive and slow food carts here than anywhere), horribly overpriced “art”, junky fixies, and smelliness and ugliness.

    Not to mention bidding up the prices of apartments and houses so that trust-fund babies who dress like homeless people are the only people who can afford to live in inner NE and SE anymore.

    Williamsburg ruined Portland, not the other way around. 

  25. Anonymous says:

    this generation is going to destroy america.

  26. Brooklynisaplacenotametaphor says:

    I live in Brooklyn because I can afford it and still commute to Manhattan for my job. It was a practical decision, not one based on my floral love of artisinal chocolate and pop-up taco restaurants. I grew up in a city (though not New York) and I am just so sick of the “you think you’re awesome for living in Brooklyn, don’t you?” sneer. No, I don’t. I just need a place to live, and I happen to be white and young. I do think gentrification is a problem, but you know what the bigger problem is? Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs having made Manhattan their corporate playground, leaving fewer and fewer places for working class people and families to live.

    1. therealdeal says:

      What about farmer’s markets though?

  27. Plasticaisle says:

    A lifestyle article in the Observer?  I’m not sure how you could possibly get more twee than that, actually.

  28. anonPortland says:

    How dare you right this entitled piece of shit for how little time you lived here? Only a fucking skidmark transplant would reference the cultural blight that is “Portlandia” in a serious way. FUCK YOU. It’s people like you that have ruined this city for people like me, who have grown up here and seen the destruction wrought by dipshit cunts like you.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Congratulations, you get the Most Incredible Comment award.

    2. Gentryficayshun says:

      How dare you double post. Don’t get in a snit. Portlandia is S-A-T-I-R-E. Satire takes what is true and makes fun of it. There is enough truth in Portlandia to make it satire. There is enough silliness to make it silly. There is an off button on your remote control for the TV. 
      As a 60 y.o. native Portlander, I have found out that anyone with the means to live here, can. Despite your foulmouthed rants and sense of ownership of a City that at best you are 1/400,000ths of. Talk nice and people might interact with you. Continue as you do and most likely they will scrub away every trace of your toady little existence… @* Poof!@*

  29. ladida says:

    Um, Brooklyn is more than just Williamsburg, no? 

  30. Anonymous says:

    This article carries more than a whiff of Armistead Maupin and his relentless outsider look at the hippie-meets-UMC mindmeld of San Francisco and Marin, or maybe some of the characters in Jane Wagner’s The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. The author has a good grasp of setting and character — now maybe all she needs is a plot.

  31. saintpeg says:

    There is an assumption that these Brooklynian or
    Portlandian approaches to living are a pathetic display of immaturity.
    But aren’t they really about utopianism? It’s about people living their
    lives in ways that they want to and are able to (i.e. can afford to)
    and are probably better for the environment. Oftentimes people who
    label this as hipster or twee or precious are doing it from a position
    of being defensive about it, and perhaps a wee bit jealous. I know
    there are a lot of issues with this demographic (gentrification, white
    privilege, etc.) and these should be discussed. But jesus mary and
    joseph, let them have their locally farmed products wrapped in acid-free
    paper. What is the big deal? Let people live the best way possible.
    We NEED idealists because the rest of society is inevitably a compromise
    — some of their practices, like the anti-plastic bag movement trickle
    up into mainstream society to some extent. Yes, I too am sick of seeing
    birds on everything but I’m also sick of people making fun of Etsy.
    (Well, except Regretsy — that site is awesome.) Because it is
    important for people to make things. It makes them happy. And we should
    be able to purchase gifts and wares from places other than Walmart.

  32. smallhill says:

    Please know that your neighbors will kill and eat many of you

  33. Abt Arcade says:

    those oregon stickers with the green hearts?? those are how us life-long portlanders can tell who’s not from portland  / oregon- all 58% of you.

    maybe i just stay away from the smugsters here, or maybe i am one and just don’t realize it, but i think all this “portlandia” talk is just green backlash. what the hell is wrong with upcycling, knowing what you’re eating and being sustainable??

    i think the most ironic part is that ‘portlandia’ is really poking fun at the transplants who move here from the east coast / midwest / california and take things way too seriously.

    1. Gentryficayshun says:

      When the migration to Oregon was Californians, the Cali attitude was ‘ we do it THIS way in CA”. Now the migration comes from the East and there is more of an embrace of our quaint little ways. I never saw so much flannel. My mom stopped canning in 1970, but my (30ish east coast) neighbor across the street brings me fresh canned brocolli.  Goofy as it may seem, I’ll take the East Coasters over the Cali’s. 

  34. Emily says:

     I was playing Human Scrabble, for four hours!  I met a ton of people! It  was a hugely diverse group of people from all over the city, and also the world, who were participating.  And guess what, they were ALL TALKING TO EACH OTHER, and having fun, FOR FREE– making friends.  If that’s what Portland’s like, I hope more places become that way.

    1. Anonymous says:

      That is exactly what Portland is like.

  35. Anonymous says:

    So I guess nobody is allowed to just live the lifestyle they want to live, in the place they want to live, with the people they want to live with. We have to subject ourselves to meta-analysis of every decision we make, from which market we shop at to how we shave our facial hair. Articles like this make me sick.

    Or at least, they did in 2004 when this was a timely topic in either Portland or Brooklyn.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Oh also, the combined population of Portland and Brooklyn is like 3.5 million. This subculture (which you forgot to use your time machine to identify 10 years ago when it was interesting) makes up perhaps 5% of that. There is so much more about both of these places, and the idea that the hipster world is somehow a dominant force in either location is patently ridiculous.

    When I read an article like this, and then read an article about problems with the child welfare agency and their investigations of Brooklyn housing projects, or about Portland’s struggle with distrust between minorities and the police force, I wonder if no one is able to simply accept that these are different facets of vibrant cities that have troubles and joys and highs and lows. Why does the media have to relentlessly highlight this particular subculture? 

  37. Rob the Wop says:

    Lived in Portland for 12 years now. I love it. Why the hell are you trying to imitate us?If I wanted to live in Brooklyn, I would. Oh, and the show- Portlandia- is one of the more pretentious pieces of crap I’ve ever seen. Its just. not. funny. Great you are trying to being eco-concisous but it really doesn’t matter.

    70% of our electric is from clean sources. We have an awesome public transport system. Our buses use bio-diesel. Our best fast food chain uses compostable packaging, all local ingrediants, and free range organic meats. We make great strides in recycling and re-using. But here’s the thing- WE’VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR OVER 50 YEARS. I love Portland because its Portland. The cheap fresh organic produce, the art and music culture, the great beer, incredible yet affordable restuarants, the camping, skiing, constant festivals, etc. Please stop trying to compare us with Brooklyn, we’re a small city in the middle of a pacific northwest rainforest. You are a over-populated city in the middle of a metropolis.  

  38. Tim Ervin says:

    New Seasons is not as expensive as Whole Foods. In fact, this whole essay feels like the reverse of its intended point. Saying there are no black people in Portland is stupid. Pretending that Portland invented hipsterdom is even more stupid. This feels apologist for Brooklyn, like it’s Portland’s fault that Brooklyn is chock full of douchebags. After fifteen years of living here in Portland, I feel like we’ve suffered from bearing the brunt of Brooklyn’s spillover, like those that decided to start a family and live simpler left New York and landed across the street from my house, which is actually true for me, and for many other long-time Portlanders. I really wish Brooklynites would keep their fancy kicks and expensive jeans and stay on the east coast, instead of coming here and overcrowding the city with creatives. It’s annoying, but then again, if I want to start a locally-sourced butcher shop, I guess I need these people, with their acquired expensive tastes, to pay for it. I’ll be sure to ride a recumbent to work though, because we need some kinda balance in this town.

    1. Gentryficayshun says:

      well, gentrification, wrought by real estate brokers and displaced Brooklynites who knew a slum from a neglected neighborhood moved most blacks out of N and NE Portland to East Portland, formerly known as the burbs. IF you don’t consider East Portland as Portland, then there are no blacks in Portland. Except the few that owned their own homes and resisted the urge to bail when all these white Brooklynites showed up.

  39. Portlander says:

    Is this the part where all the kids who wanted to move here to Portland because they heard it was the place to be, showing up with nothing more than some clothes and dreams of living off the welfare of Oregon State since they neglected to notice the abysmal unemployment here, suddenly decide moving to Portland takes too much time/effort and decide to play Portlandia in their backyards instead? As a native Oregonian, I don’t mind. Then those of us who actually do work and live and have families here can pick up that coveted second job as a barista. Thanks Brooklyn, for putting a bird on it at home.

  40. Noway says:

    at least this annoying New York reporter bothered to live outside of NYC, LA or Chicago for more than a week in a hotel.

  41. Brad Morris says:

    How many of these navel-gazing, yawn-inducing “think” pieces are we going to have to endure? Why is everyone obsessed with Brklyn? It’s a nabe. It’s New York. It changes character frequently. Period. Unless you actually have something unbelievably insightful to say about city culture — i.e., unless you’re a Joan Didion or a Jane Addams — this sort of overheated schlock really should go into your diary and remain there. Ugh. Painful.

  42. Brooklynslider says:

    this is dumb
    Brooklyn is the biggest of all the boroughs and yet all people talk about these days are williamsburg, parkslope and other hipster areas.
    The truth is hipster brooklyn is only a small part of brooklyn. As a Brooklynite born and raised in east flatbush I can safely say hipsters do not represent brooklyn.
    There is all this talk of the great hipster farmers market, what about the hatian market on flatbush near church. That has been there for as long as I can remember.
    The reason hipsters are recieving all the attention is because they are looking for it. They try to get as much attention as they can get, which is the opposite of real brooklynites. The reason the rest of brooklyn doesnt get noticed is we dont try and get noticed. Short of representing in some songs and on some walls we just do our thing.
    Portland has nothing on Brooklyn

  43. me says:

    Ok. to set the record straight Brooklyn doesn’t want to be Portland. Real Brooklynites who have been New Yorkers from birth are slightly and quietly outraged at what has become of our city. So, right now most of Brooklyn doesn’t want to be Portland, it wants to be friggin Brooklyn AGAIN! 

  44. Rideurbike says:

    As a Portlander who spent some time in Park Slope last summer and fall, and enjoyed immensely, I don’t see the connection. Maybe I ran in the wrong circles. Brooklyn is Brooklyn. Portland is Portland. Except if you are talking Portland ME, and then you’re talking east coast Appalachia. 

  45. Rideurbike says:

    As a Portlander who spent some time in Park Slope last summer and fall, and enjoyed immensely, I don’t see the connection. Maybe I ran in the wrong circles. Brooklyn is Brooklyn. Portland is Portland. Except if you are talking Portland ME, and then you’re talking east coast Appalachia. 

  46. MW says:

    OMG this is spot on in so many ways, and exactly what I’ve been attempting to convey since my arrival here from Seattle a few years ago.   From now on, when friends ask me “what’s Portland like” I’ll promptly send them this funny and very accurate article.  By the way, I can’t wait to leave.

  47. Gollyaly says:

    Just to throw this amazing comment out there again.

    There is an assumption that these Brooklynian or
    Portlandian approaches to living are a pathetic display of immaturity.
    But aren’t they really about utopianism? It’s about people living their
    lives in ways that they want to and are able to (i.e. can afford to)
    and are probably better for the environment. Oftentimes people who
    label this as hipster or twee or precious are doing it from a position
    of being defensive about it, and perhaps a wee bit jealous. I know
    there are a lot of issues with this demographic (gentrification, white
    privilege, etc.) and these should be discussed. But jesus mary and
    joseph, let them have their locally farmed products wrapped in acid-free
    paper. What is the big deal? Let people live the best way possible.
    We NEED idealists because the rest of society is inevitably a compromise
    — some of their practices, like the anti-plastic bag movement trickle
    up into mainstream society to some extent. Yes, I too am sick of seeing
    birds on everything but I’m also sick of people making fun of Etsy.
    (Well, except Regretsy — that site is awesome.) Because it is
    important for people to make things. It makes them happy. And we should
    be able to purchase gifts and wares from places other than Walmart. 

  48. Vigor says:

    What a dumb article totally missed your point. Sounds like you miss Portland to me.

  49. vigor says:

    Or that you were trying to turn Brooklyn into say.. Portland?

  50. Portlandia seems like as much of a love note as LA Story.  But, much like the latter it’s taken up as a banner by people who hate the inspiration.

  51. Mayor Sam Adams says:

    Useless drivel, my background, under 30, I’ve toured 48 US states plus about 15 countries, 4 continents, I like reading about geography, its my forte.  I’ve lived in Portland, OR one year now.  I’ve toured Brooklyn four times, twice in the summer, once in the fall and once in the winter, in all about 5 cumulative weeks total.  The weird of hip places like Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Portland, Denver, Minneapolis, Detroit, (toured all these cities), is an extremely small subset of the population, probably less than 1% of a perspective metro population.  The vast   vast vast vast majority of Portlanders raise children, buy toothpaste from target and use it daily,  wake up and go to work in the retail/corporate/hospital/wherever but they do work.

      Take for instance, my current city of Portland, one of the most corporate driven cities I’ve EVER lived, and I live in Portland proper ( I can walk to potato champion, whoever gets that reference), not the suburbs.  Car centric, tons of chain stores, MCd’s, burger kings, CVS,  Starbucks.  Yes there are strange events in Portland, last Thursday on Alberta street, but hell every hamlet in north america has at lest one odd dude.  The town could have a population of ten, one of the ten is gonna be non mainstream for some reason or another. 

     Also plenty of black people live in North Portland on Martin Luther King BLVD…I see them everytime I drive by. They came from the deep south to build ships for World War II. 

    Point is, whether Adrianne Jeffries or others want to admit it, the United States has long been homogenized, and within 500 years, the world will be homogenized too (put succinctly in Friedman’s the world is flat).  

    On a side note, I think when Adrianne tours Detroit she will like it, but in many ways its like portland, both were declining manufacturing economies in the 1960s but Detroit fell much further and Portland is finding other ways to stay afloat.  For example Portland is becoming the electric car manufacturing capital of the world.  Point is she needs to stop drifting and pick a career and chip at it until you get a break.  Journalism is a tough declining industry right now, maybe she should try to learn some business skills or get a trade in the medical industry.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Is this really Sam Adams? Why didn’t you get back to me when I tried to interview you for this story? ;)

  52. LAL says:

    My great-great grandparents  moved to Oregon in 1852. Portland used to reflect the state at large and the peculiar braverys and shortcomings of those pioneers and their descendents.

    Not only is the town flooded with these pointless people who also vote (w/passion) but adults pay for all of their wasteful ideas. My sister has 4 kids and a water bill of $1000. It’s scheduled to increase by 80 percent in the next five years. Real people can’t afford to live here.

    Maybe it’s comedy from the wings, but it is tragedy on stage.

  53. Minstreldave says:

    Way to go in upholding the myth of east coast snobbery, elitism and just plain all around stuffed shirts! This article is simply hateful. Thank god I moved to L.A.

  54. Idontgiveafuckaboutyou says:

    this article is stupid as fuck!  being someone born and raised in portland, this is not how it is at all.  this is a small segment of douchebags who move here for two years, be drag on society as well as the economy and then leave without giving anything to the city.  Go home and dont come back!

  55. laughing out loud says:

    You are clueless.

  56. Guest Guest says:

    this should’ve been lopped:  “what was perceived as a portlandification of brooklandia is better understood as a seattlization of portlyn which in turn is really just the canadializiation of seattlandilyn– though in all fairness this can be traced to a pilgrimification of Wampanoagian New Englyndia in 1620 which of course merely the historical outcome of the puritinification of englandification of barbarianification of the Roman Empireification of the  mediterranean civilizationification of the homo-sapien-ization of the primateification of the ification of ification.” “o rite” 

    rest was good.

  57. Scaveloch says:

    I’m curious as to why you blame LA and the Midwest for this, well, sub-cultural happening. When I think of the Midwest, I think of the dirt roads where I grew up, the reports of .22s fired during deer season, and wrestling or football. I have no recollection of ever seeing “artisanal markets” or school houses converted into art museums. I’m sorry, but I don’t think you will find these things in most Midwestern towns, and when I think of LA, I think of something much different than hipsters, but then, I haven’t been there since 1996, so who knows? All I can say, is that if you think most places in South Dakota, Iowa, Indiana or Kansas are going to be filled with wealthy, trust fund living artists, you’re going to be let down in a big way.

  58. Bewareofpapertigers says:

    I have lived in Portland the last 7 years and the Portlandia image is not the life everyone here leads. It is in fact a trend of mostly the last 5, but largely the last 10 years. I moved here with my husband and daughter to escape the growing conservatism of Ohio and family, of course. It was relatively cheap then, temperate, and far away so it was an obvious choice . The cost of living, the whiteness, and the BS have since seemingly quadrupled yearly since then. The city has never had a sizable minority population, but the gentrification that occurred in recent years has forced out those people of color who were living here and the loss of culture has been epic. Neighborhoods are being whitewashed and yuppie strip malls are sprouting new coffee shops, tattoo parlors, and boutiques daily. For some reason everyone I meet now has just moved from Brooklyn. Oddly, I feel that Brooklynites are creating the Portlandia they expect with their hipstered monied fantasies. They all wear expensive “Che” hats, yoga pants, and buy the Oregon Green Heart stickers. It feels like an invading force of  colonial a-holes who are fascinated with their own quirkiness and treat the true locals like peasants. If I hear another Brooklynite tell me how quaint and cheap and like New England Portland is like, I may burst  into tears. The schools are failing here, the unemployment is high, we have more strip-clubs, homeless families, and heroin addicts than anywhere in the nation, and I don’t see the articles coming out about that. We have real and intense cultural problems, which are being exacerbated by the newcomers overriding sameness and lack of desire to create true and lasting community. Please stop coming and just enjoy your Indie, self-congratulatory bacchanal right where you are and let us suffer in peace!