Kevin Sampsell, Karen Karbo, Luciana Lopez, Ariel Gore, Floyd Skloot, Dan Deweese, Jonathan Selwood, Monica Drake, Bill Cameron, Jamie S. Rich, Joëlle Jones, Jess Walter, Chris A. Bolton, Justin Hocking, Zoe Trope, Gigi Little, Megan Kruse, Kimberly Warner-Cohen

Portland Noir

The Akashic Noir Series




I wonder how people think of Portland from the outside. Is it a hippie haven where everyone reads Ken Kesey and hangs out at open mike night? Is it the gray, grungy, junkie-riddled streets of early Gus Van Sant movies? A cheap, trendy town full of myopic record labels and zinesters? Sex worker paradise? Bookstore heaven? A place where New Yorkers come to feel important and/or relaxed? Some wet old logging town that somehow became “one of the best cities in America”?

Yeah, it’s all that and a fancy coffee spilled on your Gore-Tex jacket (the same one you soiled with microbrew last night).

People who live in Portland love being here, despite its imperfections. We tend to love our mayors (even the currently scandalous Sam Adams) despite the sketchy police force, and we cherish the great public transportation even when every other neighborhood is being torn up for renovation. The restaurants are amazing and the music scene seems like it’s in a perpetual heyday. If Portland was Seattle’s kid nephew in the past, these days it’s more like Seattle is our creepy old uncle. (Sorry, I didn’t mean to get off track.)

I moved here in summer of 1992. I grew up in Eastern Washington and lived in a few places before this (even Seattle). I’m not ashamed to admit that I moved here partly because of Powell’s, the giant bookstore, where I eventually started working. I wanted to live in a city that valued reading and geeked out on books.

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