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Thursday, March 29, 2012


     carrie and fred

Hello again. I've taken a few days off from writing you, hoping the BUGS have been exterminated in the computer program behind this new writing format blogger has put in to make things better. So far, after one sentence, it hasn't pulled any of its tricks of suddenly stopping the printing as I continue writing. The cursor mysteriously went away to some mysterious no-place. Retrieving it was another adventure. I've cussed myself into hell and back a dozen times per piece I've written since this change. Can't call it for the better. So far, the problem has not recurred. I didn't believe they'd leave it that way on and on. My complaints plus 10,000 more complaints perhaps keep the programmers working on it. The bug eradication process takes a little time. Maybe something like building a new city, then having to go through and find all the cockroaches. I'm sure it is quite an involved process. Because the bugs made me crazy, I thought I'd wait a few days and give myself a break from cussing fits to see if a couple days at their end would fix the issue. Evidently it did. Thank you, blogger computer programmers, or whatever you're called.

Coinciding with this couple days of not writing to you, I've had company from Portlandia. That's the post-hippie youth-centered aspect of Portland, Oregon, where once stood a redwood forest. Eric, my friend of 35 years I first knew when I think he was 9. When I came to the mountains and worked the farm, Eric was grandson of my employers, who lived essentially in Baltimore and all over the country with his mother, a single mom married multiple times, on the move from this husband to the next. At a certain point, Eric grew into self-sufficiency and discovered Portland, where he found his real home, like I've found my mountain home to be my real home. I suppose it could be said he tapped the vibe that is his. He turned me on to an online sitcom called Portlandia. It is hilarious. It is the present day American coffee shop set concentrated into one place, Portland. A post-hippie culture has come into being there, even post-punk, post-grunge and post-modern all the way around.

Portlandia strikes me as a culture of style, everybody having their own individual style. I'm seeing an expression of American individualism, which has been seriously threatened since mid-20th Century by trends of conformity coinciding with factory living at work and at school, another brick in the wall, another cog in the wheel. In this time that has been Huxley's Brave New World, now transitioning into Orwell's 1984, Portlandia is appearing, to my way of seeing, to be putting its roots down as an outpost for the Brave New World set. Like today we see old hippies in white ponytails, feedbag print skirts that sweep the ground, John Lennon glasses, long straight Joan Baez hair in white, tie-dye tshirts, tshirts that say the Grateful Dead, shod by Birkenstock, what you see down front at a Rolling Stones concert now. In Portlandia I was seeing hippie dress-up style as it has evolved through punk, a place and time where people who want to are free to dress up like they're going to an lsd party in their tripping outfit. I see tripping outfits as everyday apparel in Portlandia.

I heard myself say to Eric while we were watching it, "I hope the future is all of America like Portlandia." It appears that Portlandia is what the styles of the last half century have evolved to, and will go on evolving through. It's like the counter-culture's grandchildren. What was important in counter culture looks to me to be important in Portlandia. Recalling a moment in the Sparta coffee shop, a high school girl there with a bad, half-assed, not completely committed punk hairdo that merely looked like she'd come in out of the wind. She was wearing a black tshirt with a long name of a band I'd never heard of going over the roller coaster humps of her fully formed breasts. I caught myself having to focus to figure out the lettering, white on black. It took so long, I knew she'd glance over and see me totally focused on her tits, which, I have to say, rated notice. Maybe it's why she likes that shirt; makes you focus on her tits to read it. Thought I'd approach it directly. I asked her what it said. The answer was what you say when you're consumed by a television style in high school and an old turd older than your grandparents in white hair makes a remark about your style. "It's a band." Duh, I thought: Baby, your outfit is about 35 years retro, if you want to get into who is uninformed about style. So I asked the name of the band. It was a long name I don't remember. I pictured a Britney Spears with black hair and black fingernails, screaming goth punk and the band dressed in tight black leather, going by the style of the girl wearing the shirt.

She was Portlandia. A large number of people who go to the coffee shop in Sparta are of the Portlandia style. I'm seeing the Portlandia style is all over the country, even in the small towns now. Not that they're freaks, but that the people all around them in the world they live in think little to nothing about it. They watch tv too. It is becoming a television youth style. If the girl in Sparta with the halfway punk look lived in Portland, her hair would be dyed some hair-dye coca-cola truck red or dead black. Another day in the coffee shop I asked her why she didn't go all the way with her hair and do what she wanted to do. "My mother would kill me." Her mother follows the tv anchorwoman style. When I say the people at the coffee shop are Portlandia, they are what I think of as American individualists in some and American conformist in others, everyone dressed in their own style, albeit seldom "freak" style, except in the teenagers wearing 70s outfits that speak individualism in a world of conformity. I see this paradox in a lot of the young; political correctness conformity to the max, shamelessly to the max, mixed with individualism in apparel as worn in commercials, where it makes a difference if the label in your tie says Nieman*Marcus or Penny's. That's individualism today.

Portlandia is two actors, male and female, playing a couple of different Portland kinds of characters living in the world of the youthful styles every episode, interacting in restaurants, coffee shops, at work and a variety of other places in Portland where the grandchildren of the counter culture live and work and play. Here's a link to see what I saw:  I can't say if it will be to your liking or not, but for myself, it satisfies with a John Watersesque view that makes no concessions to anyone who doesn't get it. Kind of like South Park and Beavis and Butthead, Simpsons, satires of present trends without judgment. More like using our present American culture as resources for comedy, as done in every culture. I've never been one to watch sitcoms, but have to confess, I'll be seeing some more of Portlandia, Laurel and Hardy slapstick a century beyond.


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