15th April, 2011: Tales from Stumptown

I discovered Portlandia the other day – actually, I rediscovered it, as I’ve known about it for a while.

Portlandia is a sketch comedy show set in Portland, Oregon, which gently pokes fun at the hipster image the city has. The series stars Saturday Night Live comedian Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, late of one of my favourite bands, Sleater-Kinney, and current member of another Portland combo, Wild Flag. Portlandia is a little patchy, but the good bits are well worth sitting through the bad bits for.

I’ve never been to Portland, but it reminds me a little of my home town, Auckland, and it kinda draws me in. A large proportion of my favourite music – including three of my favourite bands, Sleater-Kinney, The Dandy Warhols and Quasi – come from Portland, which has a rich musical heritage. A couple of years ago I went around as many US city official tourism websites as possible and requested brochures and booklets (hey, a man has to have a hobby), and it was the one from Portland that really caught my eye (Portland and Salt Lake City, actually). The Portland guide was full of bookstores, and music, and arts.

I do have a couple of friends who live in Portland. Apparently the traffic is terrible and the unemployment rate is quite high. But I think it would be a cool place to check out, one day.

Maybe when I’ve finished all this damn editing. Actually, Tales from Stumptown (one of Portland’s nicknames) would be a great title for a short story anthology about the city.