For over a decade I have been away from Portland, and in that time North and Northeast Portland have seen incredible gentrification to the degree that I am now no longer ashamed to admit that I grew up there. North Portland has gotten rid of the skeezy atmosphere thanks to the art galleries that served as homesteaders on the nasty Alberta St. They moved in, prices went up, and many of the poorer families who owned wonderfully large houses riddled with two kinds of cracks found that their “sitting on the porch yelling at cars” was no longer considered the primary pastime of their neighborhood.
I used to work on Alberta back when it was a shithole filled with imbeciles that walked out in front of traffic for no goddam reason. Our building was tagged 5 times during my one year employment, and two failed break-ins set off our alarm thrice, and let a cat in once that set the alarm off twice.
Interstate Blvd, which used to be the main…um…interstate before the development of I-5, was a pipeline in perpetual movement, squeezing shit back and forth between downtown Portland and Vancouver in the form of meth-heads. They would raid the recycling bins in Washington and bring them down to Oregon for its sweet, sweet, 5 cent redemption. A light rail line was installed, and investment came into the area. Prices rose, and the area became nicer. What used to be seedy bodegas that sold beedies to pregnant high schoolers were transformed into fantastic restaurants run by big friendly queers that brew their own beers.
The incredible transformation spread all the way down Mississippi Ave, which used to be one of the most trendiest places to be a homeless bum. Now it is full of hipsters that look like homeless bums, all claiming that they were homeless before it was cool, which is a lie since Oregon rarely ever gets hot.
It’s so nice seeing Portland change in ways that affect me positively. However, I don’t own a bicycle which means that I cannot take full advantage of the new “bike streets”. Also, I’m not a complete dick, so I cannot ride my bike, blast through stop signs, weave all over the road, and yell at cars while wearing tight pants.
These improvements in North Portland are all well and good, but where did all of the white trash and their love of broken American cars end up living? Good question.
It would appear that all of the people with neck tattoos and jail stints have uprooted their families and pulled their children from what little school they participate in to move out to 92nd and Killingsworth. These are the people too stupid to wear clothing properly – shorts on backwards, hanging off their ass, visor on upside-down and backwards, and sunglasses hanging from their mouths – so I’m not sad to see them go ruin a part of Portland, which is further away from all the good parts. They can go to their little corner to fuck and shit all over their shitty fucking area, blasting out multiple kids, getting degrees from Heald and ITT Tech, buying teal 2002 Ford Tauruses using credit cards with 28% APR, and whatever trashy shit they enjoy doing. It’s just a shame that they all didn’t end up going to Vancouver, so at least they could be a burden on Washington’s welfare program instead of Oregon’s.
Portland is quite an interesting city. The expression “Keep Portland Weird” is a wonderful testament to Portland life that strikes outsiders as something almost derogatory. The guy riding the unicycle while playing bagpipes, on his way to a British pub to market his homebrew is a wonderful sight, especially when drunk. I’m honestly perplexed what single stimulus was the greatest factor in creating Portland’s “weirdness”, especially when drunk. With all of the interesting points and rapid changes seen in North Portland, it no longer feels like my hometown, but rather an exciting new place to live, especially when drunk.
Over a very short time span, Portland has seen portions of itself reinvented in largely positive ways. North Portland is seeing a revamping of its image and population, and is ever-increasingly becoming a wonderful place to live, especially for hipsters. Unlike the droves of hipsters injecting new life into the area, I can say “I lived in North Portland before it was cool”, because I lived there before it had homebrews.