Dispatch From the Peoples’ Republic of Portland

Did I put that apostrophe in the correct place? I wonder if I’ll change it – or more to the point, how many times I’ll change it – before I post this.

See? This was gonna be a quick post because I feel bad that I haven’t written in a while and here I am, letting my neurosis dither on and on for 200 words. <face palm>

Anyway, one of the things Portlanders do well – especially natives like me – is passive/aggressive behaviors. Case in point, my building has new plantings around its front entrance.

Olive trees, no less. RIP: Olive. Update: Olivier is doing well, although Myrtle is munching his leaves like she’s part goat.

How is olive trees at my front door passive/aggressive? Well, you have to pull back the curtain – or column, in this case – a bit to understand.

You see, those plantings were strictly passive/aggressive self-defense. Specifically, the plants take up a fairly private camping area for our randomly occurring houseless neighbors. The cute little bike sculptures attached to the bike rack ensure no one opts for the “close enough” next best option.

The inspo for this idea is becoming more and more popular in the urban core of the city. There’s at least a dozen that have popped up on or near the three to four blocks framing the park in front of my building.

Go another block or two away from the North Park Blocks and there’s even more. An art gallery on the corner of Broadway probably has the oldest – and most successful – crop of planters. They’ve been there for over two years and the plants are thriving on the busiest N/S street in downtown.

Go another block further across Broadway and you have businesses on the Transit Mall lining their sidewalks with planters to keep the tents away and the foot traffic customers coming.

It’s not always successful. The art gallery – what, it’s Portland…we have a lot of art shit around here, ok?!? – on the corner diagonally from me has some cheaper looking planters that have largely died off. Luckily, the weeds are thriving. The gay strip club on the other side of the block from the park lined its outdoor area with plastic fig trees in 55-gallon drums, as if they’re campaigning to prove not all gays have taste.

Then there’s the corner of my cross street –

– at least they’re keeping the big tents away? The other side of this street is an empty storefront and there’s a solid row of tents from the corner to a driveway halfway into the block.

While it’s all a pretty flower icing on a crap cake type of a situation, I’m glad that this is how our civic displeasure manifests over this situation versus anything more aggressive and less passive in nature. Oooh, foreshadowing!

But it’s not for lack of “trying”.

One of our old money family scions has loads of empty real estate holdings downtown. His first attempt to keep people from lining Broadway with tents in front of one of his empty buildings was to install bike racks.

A very Portland solution. Except it was twenty-six bike racks. Even if that building was leased at some point, there are likely not going to be enough bike commuters stationed there to create anything close to a reasonable bike-to-rack ratio.

Plus, he hadn’t checked permitting, so our local weekly rag did it for him. Willamette Week has taken down our current governor’s predecessor, at least one state senator – anyone remember the Bob Packwood skit on SNL? – our first gay – and shockingly couldn’t keep it in his pants or ID his paramours – mayor, local congresspeople and god knows who I’m forgetting; so this bike rack thing was just them passing the time between scandals or the upcoming midterm elections. Oooh, more foreshadowing!

Undeterred, our scion switched gears and leased some of his empty downtown office space to a city council candidate – that’s who I left out of WW’s hit list! – for $250/month. When they broke that story, the guy claimed he couldn’t rent it for market rate, which was probably true. Still, you don’t have to know commercial real estate to know that if you can’t rent a space with a $6800/month market value that your fallback isn’t $250/month.

I can’t believe they could put that press release out with a straight face.

Worst of all? It was a conservative candidate for city council. I’d say it simply isn’t done, but that’s kind of where the City’s dysfunction over the past 2-3 years has led us. Not that I’m opposed to more middle ground and less extremes of one side or the other.

Let’s do it.

But if you have to lie to do it, you can fuck right off. That’s both my hardline and my $.02.

And it’s not just at the city level of politics, either. Our Governor is term limited, so that job is up for grabs. It wasn’t, but now it is a literal tossup.

That’s thanks to a rural congressperson refusing to let the heir apparent just have the nomination – leaving the Democratic Party to run as an Independent against our lesbian Speaker of the House who we’d all thought was a like it or not shoe-in.

I gotta tell ya, she made me think about voting Independent this cycle, just because she’s been such a centrist Democrat her entire career – go figure, a Democrat from a timber family is centrist. The big surprise is that she wasn’t a Republican. But like I said earlier, I’m not opposed to more middle ground and frankly, at the local level, the far lefties have not gotten things done.

Anyway, that was all well and fine to consider…until the Republicants somehow managed to avoid nominating one of their usual milquetoast-perpetual-loser candidates like they normally do. Usually it’s like they are either not trying to take the top job in the state at all or they are strictly trying to please/fleece their base by running on crazy shit the red counties with more cattle than people care about, candidate be damned.

Well, not this time.

And it’s a perfect storm.

Because it’s not a normal election year. We’ve already got the opposing Democratic split vote candidates issue.

Then there’s the whole the Republicants didn’t run a non-starter candidate from their usual roster of losers. They ran a newcomer, who’s quite a firebrand. With only three years of experience holding public office – so there’s no record to run against.

And to make it all just perfectly awful…it’s another woman. Don’t be surprised if our ballot drop box is only located on Themyscira.

Go ahead and Google that. I’ll wait, non-nerds.

Yup. It’s a three-way, all-female race for the governorship between a lesbian, a septuagenarian and a fair-haired Sarah Palin.

Hold onto your goddamn hats, people, because I can’t tell you what’s about to happen in the Peoples’ Republic of Portland. In a state where the GOP can’t get a job holding doors, one might be holding the top office for the first time in 40 years come January.

If that’s the case, I’m thinking the best thing we can expect – and, surprise…it’s not getting tents off the sidewalks – is the second coming of Portland’s “Dream of the 90s” heyday following the Ds retaking the governor’s manse. Because without our last round of Republican governors in the 80s, we wouldn’t have had the collective spirit or financial incubator that created the environment that made Portland such a unique place to be.

Plus, the tents will be gone. I don’t know how, but I’d put even odds on it being chartering a plane to fly any of them with Texas or Arizona IDs back to their home state.

Whatever the solution is, won’t it be great that we have so many cool sidewalk planters?!?

Dispatch From the Peoples’ Republic of Portland

11 thoughts on “Dispatch From the Peoples’ Republic of Portland

  1. We aren’t shipping “homeless”. We’re shipping Latin Americans with a proven ability to swim. Why y’all don’t rope off some shallows and throw in some rubber rafts and start a Espanol Solo swim team is beyond me. The homeless have discovered the benefits of citizenship that allow them to start small cities under freeway overpasses and avoid eviction by claiming the open and nefarious clause of adverse possession. Since no one has ever bothered to determine an exact time frame for “open and nefarious” all the powers that be can do is pass legislation. We know how well that works. As far as the rental rate goes property owners everywhere are shamelessly leasing for less, FAR less than 2 years ago. I asked the woman who owns several places where I used to baby sit phones and what was once $1,200 for crap is now $250 and negotiable “Beeekoz, Meester Feel, my usban ee say some monies eez buttuh dan no monies, you knew?” And her husband is absolutely correct. Better some money from anyone, regardless of all the ones you ran off for “religious” or race reasons, than no money from your cultural niche. Capitalism has a way of saying “Hell, if it’ll pay my daughter’s cable bill, bring it.” I’ve lived in San Jose, Hollyweird and Austin and I’ve learned the dance over the sleeping bodies and little rivers of pee. When you’re young you can do it alternating your legs like football practice. Now, sometimes I have to step on to step over. The sad thing? There but for the grace go we all…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You definitely nailed it on that last line. 100% agree.
      As for rental rates…I think you, me and that source of yours all have our heads screwed on right. People who live and breath commercial real estate, though? They think about it differently. Somehow, in their minds it is always preferable to leave it vacant versus lower the going rate. We’ve got the empty street-level spaces to back it up, too, including many of Mr That’s-All-I-Can-Get-For-It’s places. Strange he only made that offer to *one* person given all his vacancies, so I call BS. Although, I should have given his number to the three guys I just walked by “doing business” in my building’s fire exit, at $250/mo, they can afford an office! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If they can afford the write off, they let it sit. Not like it’s coming out of their personal pocket. Some poor schoolteacher is taking a hit on the stock value. You know, pay phones were the go to office for that sort of business. They got rid of pay phones to get rid of the undesirables. Now the good guys have no idea where the bad guys are doing business. I say license them, give them store fronts. A couple pool tables and meth vending machines.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes, the political situation in this country completely baffles me. I’m not one who accepted or even acknowledged the last president of this country and am doing the same for our current governor. Your city is – at least – respected the environment! Have fun with the rundown for election day underway! 🙂 Naked hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I was intrigued. I learned you are very skilled at witty backstories and asides. I am guessing people like you but you would not admit that on your Blog. I should also mention that I am rarely right about anything.

    Liked by 1 person

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