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In Polite Company

Politeness I'm plan-crazy, pretty much because it's a way to procrastinate pressing matters, and my latest time-waster involves researching what to eat and drink in my hometown of Portland, where I might possibly go for a short getaway in late summer. It's not as if the scene will radically change in the next three months.

In the 11 years I've been away good ol' Stumptown has apparently morphed into the epicenter of all that's twee, do-good and cloying. I mean, it was always an indie-spirit type of place but full of poor downtrodden folks who couldn't get their shit together if they tried where now it's teeming with transplants with the emotional and financial stability to make good on their dreams.

I don't know what to think. Frankly, I'm scared of the place, which is probably why I've only been back twice in over a decade (the real reason is that with limited funds and vacation days I'd rather leave the country than visit the west coast). But I'm alone in my wariness judging from number-one-ranked, "Frugal Portland" being the most e-mailed story in the New York Times on Sunday. (For the record, Portland also takes the number one spot in depression and suicidal tendencies as well as general unhappiness)

As I explore restaurants online, I've noticed a growing trend (ok, two so far—I'll only need one more example to seal the deal) of passive assholiness at the bottom of menus.

Beast and Le Pigeon both use the phrase, "Substitutions politely declined."

Now, is that really polite? I don't have any problems with chefs putting the kibosh on substitutions (I've never asked for one in my life) but New York me wants them to just say what they mean, no need to be all squirrelly and Northwest about it.

Image from Chinglish

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  1. portlandgrrl #

    I saw that article too…and what struck me is, again, over and over, how the article stressed how *cheap* everything is!

    Why are there not articles in the NYT on how everything is so *expensive* in NYC?

    Yes, we are depressed and suicidal in paradise…

    Yes, come back and visit, Krista…but be prepared, you won’t recognize it here anymore. Many (most?) of the old landmarks are gone! Like, not just remodeled…but GONE. Wiped out.

    On the flip side: there is still *some* of that old Portland here that hasn’t been completely overrun yet. You might have fun trying to find it.

    And also, it would be awesome to get a native Portlander/NY transplant’s perspective on the whole foodie thing. In fact, that would be effing priceless!!

    Come back! We miss you!!



    May 13, 2009
  2. portlandgrrl: It seems like I’ve been on a Portland bender recently, but it’s only because the poor city can’t seem to stay out of the media spotlight. The comments on that NY Times article are priceless, though. There are so many angry Oregonians, but angry over the oddest things. Everyone wants to keep newcomers out even though they were mostly likely newcomers at some point.

    A friend (originally from California) just visited the NW. She liked Seattle but the only thing she really had to say about Portland was “cheap rent.” I totally get the city’s appeal to outsiders but things aren’t so cheap if you make $12/hr part time (I made $10/hr in late ’90s so I’m adding two bucks for inflation).

    Also, Portland is a bit of a vegan bike-happy anomaly. The rest of the state can be a very scary place if that’s your only NW frame of reference.

    May 13, 2009

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