Thursday, February 28, 2008

South Side - Represent

Quadrant: One of the four parts into which a plane is divided by the coordinate axes.

We were adventurers, explorers, sailing the asphalt sea in a 1973 Chevy van. Like Columbus, Vespucci, Magellan and Cook, we ventured out into the unknown, seeking new land and places to get good tacos.

We would drive out into greater Los Angeles, without a map. Without a destination. The point was to get lost. Then, find our way back. That was the game, and it was fun. We always found our way back, but first, we always seemed to find our way to LAX.

It is a true, but little known fact; all roads in LA lead to LAX.

The benefit was, through trial and error, we all learned the full functional layout of a very large place, which is necessary, because, down there, no one actually lives in the city where they live. For instance, you may live in one city, like Glendale, and you may work in another city, like Culver City. Maybe your dad lives in West Covina, but your band has a gig in Pomona.

If you live there, like some of you do, you know that you really live in the place as a whole. If you have to go shopping, maybe you go to Santa Monica, or Pasadena, or Newport. If you're going to the beach, you have literally hundreds of miles of choices. In LA, "LA" means anything from Malibu to Palm Springs to Dana Point. It's all the same place, and folks wander, subject to traffic restrictions, across the grid.

Portlanders, on the other hand, look at the world in a much less-adventurous way. The Portland metro area, for folks who don't know, is essentially divided into four quadrants by the Willamette River and Burnside Street: NW, NE, SW and SE. Of course there is an area just called "North Portland" or "NOPO," but there is no such thing as a "fifth quadrant," so most folks, including the city council, just pretend that NOPO doesn't exist.

In Portland, however, very few folks cross the arbitrary lines. Eastsiders do NOT go to the Westside, and Westsiders do NOT go to the Eastside. Downtown is technically on the Westside, but it has been declared neutral. Oddly, there is less discrimination between North and South.

What's worse is, even though most all of Portland is suburban-like, with very few actual urban dwellers, folks who live within the city's suburbs like to think of themselves as urban-savvy, street-tough and oh-so-metropolitan. Ironically, they deride and dismiss those "folks in the burbs," as they themselves sit in the landscaped back yard of their single-family row house...

The divisions are silly, but frustratingly quite real. It is like pulling teeth to get a Westsider to drive anywhere East of the Willamette River or to get an Eastsider to travel West of the Washington Park Zoo.

I'm not kidding. The fear, anxiety, prejudice and obstinance is palpable. Look, folks are entitled to their opinions, but I really just cannot understand it.

As I live at the southern tip, along a major freeway, with social and financial interests in every quadrant of the city, I dwell in the whole place, as I did in Los Angeles. I am as comfortable at Clackamas Town Center as I am at Washington Square. I am surrounded by three equidistant Costcos. I feel fine to dine in the Pearl, or I will wander Hawthorne looking for a meal. I can play darts on the Westside at the Dublin Pub, or I can play on the Eastside at the Horsebrass. My office is on the Westside but my bank and my wife's office are on the East.

Portland is not just any one quadrant. It is the flavor of the city soup when you mix in the artsy yuppies from the NW, the pot smokers from the SE, the earthy soccer moms from Lake Oswego, the Asian frat-boy techies from Beaverton and the gentrifying gay men from NE... Portland should be taken as a whole...

Well, all of Portland, except Gresham. Nobody likes Gresham. That place sucks!

11 comments:

  1. That's because Portland itself is about the size of a pack of gum, sport. You separate gum into sections, too.

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  2. Oosje7:17 AM

    I spent a year in Portland... long before the G&T family got there. It was the only city I could ever find my way around. The quadrants work. To this day I can know where anyone I meet lives in Portland when they tell me their quadrant. Maybe it's because I lived with a bunch of artists but I never felt the division. I moved freely from SE to NE and SW to NW. My friends lived all over. And to get to the food, which is all good, you've got to go to all the quadrants.

    Mr G&T did not metion how Portlanders give directions. Perhaps he can in another blog. You've never gotten directions from anyone, anywhere like you do from a Portlander!

    and, by the way..I disagree... Laguna Beach is NOT L.A.!

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  3. ...and not one mention of the fact that Portland has more nudie bars per capita then any other city!

    Well, they cant touch you so what's the point.

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  4. Since when could they not touch you? I thought that was just the excuse they gave the old married guys they didn't want to....


    Oh. Ew. Um. Never mind, you're right. They don't touch you.

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  5. Hopefully the quadrants all have their own cool gang signs too...

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  6. Same for Salem. I dont leave South East Salem. If I do, it is usually to fly to another country.

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  7. Anonymous8:18 AM

    Let's be clear about one thing. Mr. G&T lives in the burbs. Mr. G&T is a suburbanite. You need to acknowledge that....own it. Your house has lots of grounded plug-ins in every room, plumbing that is not pre-WWI and similar amenities. Nothing character building there in the burbs. Anyone that identifies their local geography by proximity to malls and Costco's is a suburbanite. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with being a suburbanite, but just because you are equally comfortable in two different malls doesn't make you the Cortez of the 503.

    Also, anyone who is equally comfortable in a strip mall as SE Hawthorne is too comfortable with strip malls.

    What is odd about the places you choose to live is how far they are away from strip clubs. Really, you can't just pop-out for a stripper from G&T's house. I think you have to cross a county line. And when you do, it isn't one of the quality establishments Portland offers. I guess you can take a man out of the suburbs but you can't take the suburbs out of the man.

    Besides, I thought this blog was shutting down?

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  8. Husband grew up in NoPo. I think ie might be interested to read this. lol Personally, I like hanging out downtown. Or by the Lloyd's center, which isn't downtown. Which confuses the heck out of me, because it all looks like it's part of the same downtown metropolitan area!

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  9. Yes I clerarly live in the burbs, but if you live in the Portland area, and unless you live Downtown or in the Pearl, you live in the burbs too.

    As for strip clubs, I am five minutes from the Dolphin...

    AND.. Lloyd Center is clearly NOT downtown..

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  10. You have stripping dolphins? ewww..

    Happy St David's Day to all the loungers (google it....)

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  11. princess6:27 PM

    This is all a little too true. My crazy 50 something always single multiple cat owner bitter neighbor once got pissed offed because my kids had the audacity to play in our front yard. And what does she yell at me? "Move to the suburbs where you belong." Huh?!?! If this ain't the suburbs, I don't know what it is. I think its more that Portland has "degrees" of suburbs. The G&T's are uber suburb, whereas we're more urban suburbs. All depends on how far you get from DT.

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Be compelling.

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