I would like to state publicly, for whatever record exists, that my love for Portland predates the national news media’s. I feel it’s necessary to point this out because of an Oregonian article a friend sent me back in late December, not long after my wife and I decided to put our tiny Brooklyn apartment up for sale, crate our things, and settle in the City of Roses. Life as New Yorkers had become intolerable. We’d grown weary of our neighbor’s music rattling our walls (avant-garde jazz, no less), fed up with teeming buses and tardy subways, troubled by the soot and smoke drifting from the expressway up the block, and, worst of all, alarmed by the mounting costs of living there. It was time to get out.
The article, titled “Portland Home Prices Fall by Double Digits,” told a now-familiar tale of economic misfortune—bleak numbers hinting at still-bleaker human stories, the whole of it illustrated by a photograph of For Sale signs clustered like mutant daisies on a Portland lawn. What caught my attention, however, was not the story itself. It was the comments appended to it, particularly those in response to a reader (user name: “kougar14”) who innocently announced of her (or his?) family, “We are moving to Portland from New York City.” The response was probably not what she expected. One reader replied, “kougar14: do us all a favor and stay in new york. We don’t need any more eastcoasters moving out here and ruining things by overpaying for their homes, crowding the roads in the luxury cars, and being rude to staff in our restaurants. Don’t you see that you are not WANTED here????”
Another was less direct but more imaginative: “Why are you coming here? A) because you are [a] creatively thinking progressive who will start new green business to protect our green forests and blue skies? B) because you are leaving behind the apocalyptic hellscape you’ve helped to create on [the] east coast, moving to un-ravished lands [to] pillage and rape and then move on?”