This is song that I think of as the theme song for the show Portlandia. (I’ve only seen the one episode so far so I don’t know if it is or not, but if it isn’t, it should be!). This song is so indicative of the show that, if you like the video, you’ll likely enjoy the show too. Portlandia is written by and stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein (of Sleater-Kinney).
Although this song is meant to be evocative of the 90s (the chorus is “The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland”), musically, it’s not a 90s-era song (despite the comment that flannel still looks good in Portland). It is actually a keyboard-only song, kind of discoey (dare I say Pet Shop Boysish?). It’s a simple musical motif, with a catchy chorus and spoken verse, but really you listen for the lyrics:
Remember the 90s when they encouraged you to be weird?
Portland is the city where young people go to retire.
It’s like Gore won, the Bush administration never happened…. Portland’s almost an alternative universe.
It’s all tongue-in-cheek (with a surprisingly catchy chorus). But, oh to dream. Sleep ’til eleven…
Watch the video here.
[READ: January 24, 2011] “Always Raining, Somewhere, Said Jim Johnson”
This second Harper’s story suffered from a similar problem as the previous one. This story felt like several snippets that never tied together. In any way.
We see a student at the Iowa writer’s program (this sent up red flags immediately for me–not a story about being in writing program). And we read a lengthy section about rain. Except it’s not really about rain, it’s about a pub in Iowa City. And the concreteness of it is very cool. You can really see and smell the bar. The bartender’s routine is so exact you can win bets on when he’ll finish. He ensues that everything is tidy and that everyone gets the hell out. Cool, I’m with you.
Then there’s more rain and the narrator and a guy named Rich crash at Rich’s place. Rich’s wife, Liz is also there and we learn a word or three about her. And then the narrator starts really checking out Liz, who is completely naked on the bed with Rich. And there’s some interesting intense moments where he thinks he’s caught.
Then we jump to another bar scene and some pretty funny comparisons between Liz and Gayle Sayers. These come from the titular Jim Johnson who is apparently dead by the above scene. (You don’t have to know who Gayle Sayers is to get the joke, I don’t think. But if you don’t know who he is, he was a football player).