Welcome back to America! Huge stores, friendly employees everywhere, giving you their names and life stories. A clerk in a Starbucks told us his plans for the weekend (it was his birthday), found out what we were up to, and reassured us that he was really happy with his co-workers and job, all within the time it took to hand over a cup of coffee.
So much choice and variety of food and everything. Partly it’s Portland – Thai, Vietnamese, deli, amazing bakeries, all within a block. And so much variety in the clothing people are wearing. It’s especially heavy on the hipster look. After months in the countryside, I can’t get over how cute and creative everyone looks.
It used to be hard won, looking “interesting”. Thrift shops were vile, scary places not for the faint-hearted. A certain level of commitment was required to come up with a look that wasn’t ordinary. Now in a place like Portland, it’s the normal people who stand out, visitors most likely.
We booked into the same Jupiter Hotel we’d stayed at last time and vowed to avoid. They take an old motel with tiny, poorly insulated rooms and slap white paint on everything, put some mid-century style furniture around, place a condom by the bed and blast music all night long. It makes me long for a nice bland Hampton Inn. I once thought being hip meant wanting to upset the straight people. But there aren’t any of them around anymore, in places like this.
Still, it was close to the club, and since it was a weeknight we thought things might be a little quieter. The club was another hipster haven. Great music, the best shag haircuts on everybody, but disorganized and chaotic. We were trying to soundcheck in the dark because no one could find a light switch. Our rented amps were hard to deal with or barely worked at all, there wasn’t time to figure out the new keyboard (which magically arrived on time)and a late show was scheduled for after our set, meaning the hallway next to the stage filled up with other people’s equipment.
We made it through okay though. There has to be a first show somewhere and this was it. Even managed to sleep alright. I think they must pipe in some kind of gas in the night because when I woke up I felt like maybe I too could fit in. Maybe, by my very proximity to all this hipness, I too could be one of them?
“You guys heading up to Bumbershoot this weekend? I grew up in Seattle and I usually try to go up there for it. So much fun! I have to work this weekend though, but y’know, it’s good to make money. You have a great time, okay?” said the desk clerk.