“Keep Portland weird.” That’s the slogan found on bumper stickers and signs all around Portland, Oregon. And the city of 600,000 lives up to it as well, offering a richly bohemian lifestyle, bristling with coffeehouses, bookstores, sidewalk artists, nightclubs, and other features of a progressive, free-thinking society. The city is renowned for its environmental focus; indeed, it is referred to as the “greenest city in the U.S.”
But venture much beyond the city limits and you will find a near polar opposite in attitudes. In a state comprised mostly of ranches, logging camps and fruit tree orchards, many rural residents cringe at the thought of what goes on in the state’s largest city, and fears its expansion. One need not travel far to witness the scorn directed toward the city.
“Just a bunch of granola-crunching, Birkenstock-wearing libtards,” griped Sam Farston, a cattle rancher in Baker City, some 300 miles east of Portland, near the Idaho border. “Me and the little woman went there for a weekend trip a few years ago. We saw a nekkid bicyclist going down the street! In broad daylight! Can you believe that? We couldn’t get out of that town fast enough.”
Oregon state tourism officials take an equally dim view of the metropolis. “We want our visitors to see Mount Hood and Crater Lake,” said Melissa Barnes, assistant director for visitor services. “Walk on our seashores, go fishing or camping. Enjoy our good clean lifestyle out here. But if we send them to Portland, they’ll get some crazy ideas about our state. They’ll tell all their friends back home what a bunch of weirdos we are. Then we all get tarred with that bad image.”
“I don’t even want to tell you some of the strange stuff we saw in that town,” said Farston’s wife, Liz. “People dressed in funny clothes, spending their time in cafes that serve strange-looking foreign food. And those odd little Prius cars they drive. And don’t even get me started on all the potheads. Scary place, I’m telling you, a cesspool of moral decay.”
In the minds of those in Baker City, a dusty ranching and logging community on the far east end of the state, Portland could just as well be on the other end of the earth. Very few of the residents of this remote village have ever ventured west to the city. And they’re fine with that.
“I can handle Boise,” added Sam Farston, as he spit a wad of tobacco on the ground. “We go there to shop at the new Super Wal-Mart. But Portland is a bit off the charts for regular folk like us. Maybe we can hand over that town to Washington. They might find some use for it.”