By Midge Pierce
Ah Portopia. Put a bird on 2017 and send it on its troubled way.
Yes, there were high points. Totality was a moment to never forget. So too, the max train heroes who turned hate back on its tracks. And holiday lights on Peacock Lane’s new national historic designation pierced political fog and tribalism.
Yet the year reminded us how we long for times when neighborhood meetings were a bore. Nary a car horn honked. Main streets were funky, not shiny and neighbors waved from stoops of affordable bungalows with good bones, not profit margins.
Once upon a time petlessness was something to end not Humanities 101 at Reed. Guilt-shaming was for those who parked cars facing the wrong way. Homeowners were people who raked leaves, not greedy capitalists. Public schools were about education, not teacher’s unions. No one suggested selling public universities for PERS.
Then, the Gorge burned and the Arctic melted. Men faced with Me Too hashtags quaked as if the Big One had struck. Bible thumpers peddled pedophilia. Church pews were gutted instead of guns. Paradise papers failed to drain the swamp. Fox networkers lip-flapped Hillary and called her President. She promptly resigned and hit the woods.
The woke awoke in the Upside Down. Portopians longing to party like it was 2016, lost voices screaming into slimy voids with tangled webs of morally bereft and Russian connections. Truth was so tarnished that Occam’s razor dulled rubbing against fake news, faux patriots, anarchists, anti-fas and untruths in zoning. Happy lamps lost power. Terms like visitability, filtered down housing, kettling, kerfuffle and complicit gained traction. Fish became known as sea kittens.
Portland nice gave way to Absolutism; our golden age of weirdness became a dark age of intolerance. Equity became a bludgeon. Everyday interactions were as fraught as office parties. Riot-garbed police spent millions on overtime to keep zealots apart. In playgrounds, children stepped gingerly over needles. Cars and bikes continued their deadly dance on roadways thinned by street diets.
Progressive Portopia, unable to fill its potholes, welcomed all comers as the County shut Wapato’s doors to those needing refuge from the rain. To make up for past gentrification, the City shopped plans to RIP apart stable neighborhoods in the name of diversity, density and unproven affordability. Power shifted from current taxpayers to a quarter million newbies, some not born yet, destined for backyards, basements, driveways and the multiplex next door.
Black Lives Matter signs sprouted in neighborhoods where blacks had long been banished. Longtimers felt elbows of well-heeled millennials muscling too much stuff into micro-units where housing with period details and mini-Coopers once stood. Those with no possessions squeezed onto street corners, sidewalks and poorly lit porches.
In everpresent calls for diversity, City Hall overlooked that gray is a color too as bond measures overburdened silver-tipped little ladies bearing wisdom of the ages and ability to see nuance.
All is not lost. Pumpkin spice is still the new black. Portopia reigns as the best place in the cosmos to nurse all day lattes. Hairdyes, vibrant as rainbows, are, for awhile, a corner drugstore away.