Saturday, October 11, 2014

The "Keep Portland Weird" Mural

I grudgingly realized I couldn't do a project about Portland murals without touching on the big Keep Portland Weird sign at SW 3rd & Ankeny, across the street from that one donut shop all the tourists have to visit. You know the one I mean. I'm pretty sure this sign's for the benefit of tourists too. They can take selfies with it, and they love it because it confirms everything they saw on that one Portland-based IFC sketch comedy show. You know the one I mean.

The first thing to know about the whole keepin' it weird thing is that we stole it from Austin, Texas, and they came up with it as part of a "support local business" campaign. At least the local variant had the common decency to change the font, since Austin's seems to use Comic Sans, which is entirely the wrong kind of weird. Yech. I've never been to Austin, and all I know about the place comes from the movie Slacker. The movie certainly made it seem weird, but the movie's going on 25 years old now, and was made before many of today's hipsters were even born. So I can't venture an informed opinion about Austin's present-day weirdness. They have us beat in the bat colony department, but as far as I know hipsters had nothing to do with that.

The second thing to know is that apart from a few neighborhoods (you know the ones I mean) this is not a particularly weird city. The suburbs have the same suburban people and chain stores you'd find anywhere else around the country. The only clue to what city you're in would be the occasional "Keep Portland Weird" bumper sticker on a hulking Lexus SUV, put there without a trace of irony.

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