Signage at the Fat City diner window, and a lit neon sign reading OPEN

You Would Hate My Neighborhood

Published 2004-06-23

There are no post-ironic dive bars where you can show off your foam trucker hats and drink PBR. You can only have a dog if it’s a cockapoo or Scottish Terrier and has a name like “Snowball” or “Alabama”. There are no breakfast joints where you have to wait 45 minutes in the street before you get an omelette containing weird crap like wild mushrooms and goat cheese. The streets are too narrow for your SUV but too wide for your Cooper Mini. The hills are hateful for fixed-gear bicycles. There is nowhere to salsa dance. There are no punk clubs. Every night is craft night, but only at the senior center. The street corners are completely unsuited for drum circles. The only place to get a mixed drink closes at 11 pm.

The residents are old but not cool old. They are themselves exactly, completely without postmodern self-awareness. They wear matching sweat suits with tourist slogans but never polyester and they do it entirely without irony. The people who aren’t old have families. But not alternative magnet-school type families who make their own peanut butter or tattoo/cateye-glasses-wearing moms with bumper stickers on their strollers and I have never seen a little girl in a soccer uniform. The single people here are all into their mini-vans and Friends reruns and Monday Night Football with old college buddies at the sports bar and Tae-Bo and dressing up their cats for Christmas which they love because they are very churchy. They may be single but they are profoundly uncool and project rays of overwhelming uncoolness miles in every direction. Only the West Hills stand between downtown/inner eastside Portland and a tsunami of horrifying Houston-style uncoolness.

Did you know that if you live in Multnomah Village your address is actually “Tigard?” And your area code is 360? And it takes an hour by bus to get to Nocturnal? And the west hills block all reception of Adult Swim? And you can’t load certain webpages, for example Flickr? In fact, there is no broadband Internet access whatsoever! All the coffee is Maxwell House! The vegetables in the grocery store contain EXTRA pesticides! The ultra-violet rays will dissolve clothes from American Apparel!


The last thing I want is people living on SE Ankeny or Division or St. Johns or NE Fremont noticing my neighborhood and moving here with their hoodies and tribal tatoos and $200 sneakers and Arcade Fire records, making it “hip” or “with it” or “rocking.” I want everyone in Portland to know that Multnomah Village is kind of boring and staid and has no nightlife and nowhere to hang out wearing white belts or dreadlocks reading Chuck Palahniuk and smoking clove cigarettes. It doesn’t rock at all, it’s actually [what’s the opposite of rocking?]. I love it.