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Monday, June 6, 2011

Say it loud, I'm normal and I'm proud

On Saturday, we unveiled a new bumper sticker that should be popping up all over Portland in the coming weeks and months. Some friends of ours came up with it, and they'll surely peddle quite a few of them. So many grownups in town have had it with the whole "weird" thing.

We're putting one sticker on our car, and we've passed one on to a friend, but that leaves two more in our possession that we're ready to give away. How to select the lucky recipients? Let's see if we can build on the sticker's message with an essay contest. Leave your entry in the comments to this post. The topic: "Weird! Isn't Working." Discuss. And as an antidote to all the Tweeters, let's say that to be eligible to win, an entry must be longer than 140 characters.

We'll collect the entries and put them up for a vote in a day or two. Top two vote-getters get free bumper stickers from the first edition, which seems unlikely to last. (Meanwhile, to buy one for $5, you can shoot an e-mail inquiry here.)

Here are some thoughts we've had as we've pondered the sticker: To whom is it directed? The hipsters? Not really. For the hipsters, weird doesn't have to work. To them, the concept of "work" is alien -- Portlandia is, after all, where these young people have come to retire.

No, the message seems more directed to our many local politicians and bureaucrats who earn a nice living and pension pandering to weird. They are old enough to know better, and indeed, they tell us every day that Portland is the city that does, in fact, work. Right now, it doesn't, and weird isn't helping. Weird needs to go back to being the inside joke of a small group of cute, funny bohemians -- and not the official platform for the waste of a nice working-class city.

UPDATE, 6/9, 2:24 p.m.: We have our winners.

Comments (16)

"The topic: "Weird! Isn't Working." Discuss."

Look at the punctuation. Being weird means not working at a job - Creative class or not.

It also isn't working as a slogan. If I was an employer and saw Portland as a place where:
- People retire at 32 (Portlandia)
- All we want is green jobs
- We would rather spend on buying real state for colleges instead of better quality graduates
- The available pool prizes being weird
- All we want is green jobs (like 95% of the other un-creative municipalities in the US)
Why would I want to come here to employ people?

Post the slogan on every non-Bojack website you can get on and make it viral.

The bumper sticker is a pointed rebuke to the Richard Florida "creative class" canard Portland has swallowed hook, line, and sinker: That a city will flourish if you make it more hospitable to fixie-riding, streetcar-hoping, alternative sexuality, Mac-toting, organic-free-range-non-GMO-food-eating, indie-music-listening graphic designers, computer programmers, and other hip, know-it-all youngsters with ephemeral "new economy" jobs. Well, we've been attracting scads of such folks for many years now, and is Portland now a gleaming, world-beating city on a hill (or is it at least weathering the recession significantly better than other cities)? No, no it's not.

Weird isn't working, except for the politicians, their minions, and the slackers.

Bojack normal? You are joking, right?

Yeah, it's great to be "edgy". It's great to be "expressing your individuality" by dressing and talking exactly like everyone else in your pod. It's great to sleep until 11 because you don't have a real job to go to, or sit around all day talking about obscure zines and movies because you're going to get around to doing one or the other one of these days. And you know what's going to happen when the money runs out?

Hey, I'll tell you exactly what happens when the money runs out. You won't have anything invested in the area, so you'll leave. You'll move back to your parents' little suburban enclave, where they'll have your bedroom looking exactly the way it looked when you graduated from high school 20 years ago. You can go back to having a nice big bowl of Cookie Crisp at the kitchen table every morning before going off to brag to your high school classmates (or their kids) about how you lived in edgy, innovative Portland. You can tell pretty much the same lies about your life in Portland that you told when you first moved out there: that you were popular, you were successful, and you Made A Difference.

Yeah, you're all set. All you have to do is wait for your parents to kack it, and then you have a prepaid place to stay for the rest of your life. That is, if they didn't have to sign a reverse mortgage to pay for your little games through your thirties and forties. The rest of us, though, have to clean up your messes, and would prefer if you put on your big-boy pants and stopped acting like Ruprecht in the film "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."

And yes, this can be applied both to hipsters and the City of Portland management. Do I get a cookie?

"Weird" is misspelled "Wired".

The "e" got misplaced because Portlandia is on all kinds of drugs including narcissism.

Sam replaced the shears in their holster. His scalp tingled. He felt liberated. No more lies. No more deception. His path was chosen. He knew the press would be harsh, the public disdainful. But Randy would understand. He always had. The challenges would be many-a different restroom, more complex wardrobe choices on junkets, a new style of bicycle. But it was time. His time. Too long he had labored at keeping Portland weird. But it wasn't the city that was working for him anymore. It was time for a change. Weird just wasn't working. Sam reached for his preferred provider list and found the dog eared page. "Gender Reassignment Therapy". He mouthed the words "This is for Samantha" as he reached for the phone.........

Weird! Isn't Working? Sam was amazed. "I just can't win," he muttered to himself. "Take a look around. We started free Wi-Fi, and just the other day, the United Nations declared internet access a basic human right. We've always been ahead of the curve! Okay, the free Wi-Fi thing didn't work out, but that was just because we were so far ahead of everybody else. What do they mean, Weird isn't working? We have LEED-certified loos, state-of-the-art bum housing, and so much more! Some folks will just gripe, no matter what you do. Heck, we even have a pot-hole Hotline! All they have to do is let us know there's a pot-hole, and we'll get a crew right out there to turn it into a bioswale, or maybe a protected wetland...".

Weird is after decades of neglect the only time the bridge is about to fall down is when a new fee is being imposed to rebuild it without voter approval.

Weird is at the same time planning to take $20 million from the same bridge project for a light rail project.

Weird is passing on a $90 million offer to rebuild the bridge in preference for a bridge that cost's $330 million and has enough width for
a mixture of 12 pedestrians and bikes to cross the bridge side by side.

Weird is plotting to have an adjacent county neglect their infrastructure too.

Weird is allocating $204 million in regional transportation money for Milwaukie Light Rail while allocating not one dime for the bridge that's supposedly about to fall down.

Weird is a city council woman saying "We can't afford to NOT build MLR".

Weird is Metro adopting "Environmental Justice" and "Active Transportation" as the qualifiers for all future transportation allocations.

Weird is a Mayor who says the Lake Oswego should end their council and staff to RailVolution to learn why the streetcar to Portland is a good idea.

Weird is a bunch of weird buffoon activists who make excuses for everything criticized on a local blog that knows what Weird is.


Team Weird Isn't Working is LOVING these comments!

It's all about your grammatical structuring of the sentence: Don't view it as an adjective; see it as a noun. "Weird isn't working." Get it?

Now it all makes sense.

It's such a fantasy to think that everything sums up as being somehow about bike-riding hipsters versus car-driving tax haters. Now we have a single word ("weird") to save us the trouble of even having to write out the shorthand version. Who wants us to stay stuck in these ruts, I wonder.

Car-loving socialist

I don't want a sticker until it's art.

Put a bird on it and call me back.

The dream of the 90's is alive in Portland......

There is weird and there is too weird….

Too weird is general public acceptance of all the things mentioned above by Ben.

Too weird is creating a chaotic system in the crumbling downtown core area catering to every form of recognized transportation other than the automobile, the very form of transportation most likely to bring business there.

Too Weird is defending an elected public official following several obvious behavioral missteps, claiming that character has nothing to do with leading. Kind of like the integrity of the engine having nothing to with the flying of an airplane.

Too weird are efforts to conserve water in this neck of the woods

Too weird is not knowing the difference between helping the less fortunate, and bankrupting everyone to care for the non-productive.

Too weird is claiming public transportation is safe, even though news report, after news report, after news report says otherwise.

Too weird is spending money to re-train an entire city bureau, rather than holding accountable the single public official responsible for misconduct.

Too weird is believing in the idea that soccer will ever be more popular than baseball in this beloved town.

Too weird is anyone trapped at home from the mere mention of snow.

Too weird is an able bodied person unable or unwilling to mow the lawn or rake the leaves in front of their own home. Even worse, choosing to have a farm and chickens in the front yard of an inner city home.

But I still love ya'll in a weird kind of way

I'm with PG the car-loving socialist.

A proper rejoinder is:

Keep Portland Weird
Weird isn't Working?
Well Boring is currently indisposed
And Meta isn't going to win you the culture war.

When my family comes to visit me from my home state of Kansas, they often remark on how "weird" the people in Portland are. And they don't mean it as a compliment.

After their first time riding the Max down to Saturday market, they were genuinely concerned for my safety in this city. I explained that tattoos, piercings, strange eyeglasses, offensive BO and crazy people talking to themselves wasn't dangerous, per se. Just *different*. But I don't think I convinced them.

I'll be honest: I like a lot of the strange things about Portland. I like to *visit* the Hawthorne and Pearl districts. I like to *temporarily* ride on the Max. But weird does NOT equal better, no matter how the hipsters try to spin it. Throw in the absurd politicians in this city who embrace the creed of Keep Portland Weird and my knee-jerk reaction is to run, RUN the other way.

This bumper sticker would look good next to my other one (the only current one) that says "Earth First: We'll Screw Up the Other Planets Later."

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