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Off Brand Portlandia
February 28, 2014 1:22 PM   Subscribe

What happens when your neighborhood gets overrun with upscale stores and the rich posers move in? You make fun of them, of course, and realize that the good old days there are fuckin over
posted by josher71 (51 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not sure what their exact point is but I dig the tune anyway.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:38 PM on February 28


Not sure, but the 1990 timestamp and the part with the baby made me laugh.
posted by josher71 at 1:42 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


This is perfect.
posted by bird internet at 1:44 PM on February 28


Whaaah! We're no longer enable to live out our fauxhemian fantasies! It's too upscale now!

People fail to understand that the economy of Portland has two essential stages of history:
prior to the 1980s, the economy of Portland was based upon separating lumberjacks form their wallets.
From the 1990s on, the economy of Portland was based upon separating trustafarians from their wallets.

I hear them complaining, but the music sounds like it was cut from Rent to me. Damn that Benny and his gentrification!
posted by LeRoienJaune at 1:44 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


Wait which people are we supposed to be making fun of? The people from Trading Places or the tape deck canoe car guys?
posted by chococat at 1:48 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


I have mixed feelings about railing against gentrification. Mainly because the people in this video lived where they live because their predecessors moved onto once Native American land and basically did a more violent form of gentrification.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:49 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


This is what happens when all of Cedar Rapids moves west to be in a band but they end up in dishwashing careers instead.
posted by Madamina at 1:51 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: "Wait, which people are we supposed to be making fun of?"
posted by The Bellman at 1:57 PM on February 28 [43 favorites]


All of them.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:58 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


I've always wanted to ride in a canoe on top of a car. So jealous.
posted by peeedro at 2:00 PM on February 28


The RV by the meth house was a nice touch
posted by thelonius at 2:02 PM on February 28


I can never decide if I'm sad that I moved away from Portland, or happy.
posted by aramaic at 2:05 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: I have mixed feelings about railing against gentrification. Mainly because the people in this video lived where they live because their predecessors moved onto once Native American land and basically did a more violent form of gentrification.

I realize this is an old (feeling) video and all, but I think the violent gentrification of which you speak was more than a generation or two ago.

Also, why not get annoyed at those upstarts who trudged across the ice bridge and ruined the pristine nature in the first place?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:11 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


I've always wanted to ride in a canoe on top of a car. So jealous.

I've done that (well, in a kayak) once when I was a kid. We were going about 5 MPH down a smooth dirt road, but it was still pretty fun.
posted by JiBB at 2:26 PM on February 28


I have mixed feelings about railing against gentrification. Mainly because the people in this video lived where they live because their predecessors moved onto once Native American land and basically did a more violent form of gentrification.

Eh, i'm native american and i feel perfectly fine railing against it.

The neighborhood i live in used to be affordable and full of weird interesting artists and stuff. Not people who were there for the "atmosphere", but people who were actually fairly low income and just congregated in that area because it was cheap(via being semi run down, or as the people moving in put it "authentic") and all the other likeminded people were there.

The area i grew up in had exactly the same thing happen.

Systematically in both places every local business that couldn't pay the new massively inflated rent(or afford to reopen their shops in the newly rehabbed or new construction buildings) and more importantly every "interesting" resident that made the area desirable in the first place for it's ambiance has been driven out.

And what replaces them? a bunch of yuppies from tech companies, a bunch of chain stores, a bunch of carefully crafted boutique trendy shops, and a bunch of cookie cutter "dive" bars as all the real dive bars and local restaurants are driven out.

They're quite good at doing it too, they do it just slow enough that there's an intermediate step where the rents have raised enough that only the new people can really afford it unless some of the old people are grandfathered in to cheaper rents, and just enough of the original shops and buildings are left that people still think the areas cool. Then once they all move in "well we need more housing!" and everything else gets plowed under.

The process is i'd say, 90% complete in my old neighborhood. and at that midway tipping point in the area i live now.

Fuck it. It's cargo culty and gross.

Especially when you get in to the fact that it often takes neighborhoods that were at least somewhat diverse(or seemingly, quite diverse for what's a pretty damn white city) and makes them like 90% white dudes who make more than 50k a year.
posted by emptythought at 2:40 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


Emptythought, are you talking about Capitol Hill and Ballard?

I lived in Portland from 93-97 and I'm also not sure if I'm happy I moved away or not.
posted by josher71 at 2:52 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


I can never decide if I'm sad that I moved away from Portland, or happy.

Off Powell and SE 26th back in the 80s. Guess I'm sappy. Or had.
posted by hal9k at 3:06 PM on February 28


but people who were actually fairly low income and just congregated in that area because it was cheap(via being semi run down, or as the people moving in put it "authentic") and all the other likeminded people were there.

These people are also gentrifiers, they're running businesses, starting to fix the windows, etc. They're just the early gentrifiers, the beginning of reviving the neighbourhood again, displacing the squatters and paving the way for increasingly higher-income people. Then the new buildings get built, it's all very upscale for a while, then the buildings get old, and the down side of the cycle starts, the rents get cheaper, people move out to nicer areas, maybe an economic downturn accelerates things, buildings get run down, maybe some are even abandoned or become squats or crackhouses or drug dens, no-one wants to live there, so the prices are low, which draws in low-income people who need a place but can't afford anywhere else, and they start gentrifying it and on and on the cycle repeats.

It's all a big continuous cycle, and saying that the people moving in are the gentrifiers as if the people getting priced out aren't, is kind of missing the big picture.
posted by anonymisc at 3:12 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


So, here's my question about gentrification: what now? Why is it OK for the previous people to have been there and do their thing but not for the new arrivals to do the same thing? How do we preserve housing for all income levels without removing the ability to buy and sell freely? Am I a gentrifier for buying a house in a "soon to be trendy" area because it is the only place I can afford even though I'm white and work in the technology field and the majority of folks who currently live in that area are not the same color as me?
posted by fireoyster at 3:13 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Oh, and most importantly, I like chain stores (can't I just have a regular cheeseburger without an "artisinal twist" or "down home, hole in the wall"-style?), so fuck me, right?
posted by fireoyster at 3:17 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Oh Portland, where a street on which you can still find 1000 sq ft 2 bedroom apartments and town homes for less than $900/month is "gentrified".
posted by roquetuen at 3:22 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


the Oregon Theater closed?
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 3:50 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


I eat at the restaurant across the street from the Oregon Theater sometimes (Cibo, good happy hour pizza!) and it looked pretty open a week or two ago. Then again maybe someone's turning it into condos or a New Seasons or something. Neighborhoods, they always are a changing, and sometimes you lose something special (so long, Brooklyn of yesteryear, I couldn't afford to take a pee there nowadays), but fear not, Portland still has plenty enough skeeze left to go around! I'm looking at you, felony flats (home sweet home), lents, north portland, east portland all the way out to gresham... Plenty left to go around!
posted by eggkeeper at 4:05 PM on February 28


I have an office on Ballard Ave. in Seattle, and the gentrification makes me kind of ill. My previous landlord sold about 5 properties, and they've been gutted and are being upgraded. The only empty lot, used by the Sunday farmers market, is scheduled to have a four story building plopped onto it, and all the industry that existed on the street is being shoved out for trendy restaurants and bars. The rents in my building, that was cleaned up a bit but not gutted yet, have gone way, way up. Makes me sad to see. It used to be a unique place. Now it's generic hipsterville...
posted by Windopaene at 4:38 PM on February 28


It's all gone to hell since Tom Peterson's closed.
posted by delfin at 4:50 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


The Oregon Theater is like a cockroach that will be going strong when we're all dead and gone. The thing about Division is not that is was gentrified, it IS being gentrified, as we speak. This video is just begging for a mashup with Spike Lee's latest rant.
posted by dubwisened at 4:56 PM on February 28


Are ukuleles still affordable?
posted by thelonius at 4:58 PM on February 28


The neighborhood i live in used to be affordable and full of weird interesting artists and stuff.

you're not the only person that thought that. So demand went up, supply stayed the same, and prices went up. It's not anymore complicated than that.
posted by jpe at 6:30 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


These people are also gentrifiers, they're running businesses, starting to fix the windows, etc. They're just the early gentrifiers, the beginning of reviving the neighbourhood again, displacing the squatters and paving the way for increasingly higher-income people. Then the new buildings get built, it's all very upscale for a while, then the buildings get old, and the down side of the cycle starts, the rents get cheaper, people move out to nicer areas, maybe an economic downturn accelerates things, buildings get run down, maybe some are even abandoned or become squats or crackhouses or drug dens, no-one wants to live there, so the prices are low, which draws in low-income people who need a place but can't afford anywhere else, and they start gentrifying it and on and on the cycle repeats.

It's all a big continuous cycle, and saying that the people moving in are the gentrifiers as if the people getting priced out aren't, is kind of missing the big picture.


Ok, so i've had this discussion before.

The difference is that a lot of the people who were in there before were either literally the same people who have been there for 20 or even more years, their children, or their friends/etc just passing places around.

Is it wrong to pick an obvious point on the slow, continuous stable with inflation/etc price of rent where it suddenly SHOOTS up and go "ok, that's gentrification".

Reducing it to some kind of "we're all gentrifiers" seems to be about the same as making some kind of "Well we're all from africa after all" type of argument. Rents staying the same for decades and then suddenly going up 100% or more is something fucked and blatantly not the same.

A lot of these neighborhoods never reached the "oh everything is fucked and full of squatters" stage you're supposing here, and one of the neighborhoods is actually the one my dad grew up in and can talk about since the freaking 1950s.

I've watched places triple in price and then the building being recertified as condos. I've also watched people, and friends who used to be able to afford their own studio or live with one roommate be forced far into the outskirts of town into sharehouses with 4+ people.(at which point yes, they are the gentrifiers pushing someone else out, i get that).

I don't even know what to say here, or how to perfectly articulate why this bugs me. But i don't think that means my point or upsetness should just be dismissed, and i really don't think that the two kinds of "gentrification" are the same thing at all. Taking an area that was historically XYZ group of people going back to the 70s and transitioning it to a new group over the space of maybe 5 years is not the same. it just isn't. Transition A may have happened gradually over a decade, transition B you can watch seriously happen in the space of one year. It's like fastforwarding through a tape, and it fucks people over a hell of a lot harder and doesn't really give things a chance to organically redistribute.

I mean, i can definitely say that a hell of a lot of the DIY art/music community has just been fucked to pieces here in both neighborhoods. And it didn't really reform anywhere else with the exception of the people who could afford(now expensive, especially as studios and practice spaces are being plowed under nearly every month) studio space, and then everyone isn't in the same place anymore and it's just not the same damn thing at all.

I don't know, go ahead and make fun of me if i'm just splitting hairs or drawing an artificial line to make a point or something.
posted by emptythought at 6:44 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


filthy light thief: pics or it didn't happen?
posted by lon_star at 6:47 PM on February 28


Folks, what do you expect? In our North American culture where a "family" is just a couple and a dog (kids optional), and the old folks have either made it to Florida, or have been shuffled off to a dismal subsidized 'senior's residence'... you have thin roots, and it's a fact that you don't stay put for more than a generation; everyone hopes to buy cheap and sell expensive, and that necessarily means gentrification.

We bought a shitty house in a sweet location, have poured about a quarter-century of effort and capital into making it a sweet house in a sweet location, and finally, the housing market has found us. We hope to stay put for maybe 5+ more years, then cash out, because we're relying on our house for at least 50% of our retirement nest egg. Is this wrong?

The only way around 'gentrification' is to limit and regulate development, and force the creation of mixed-income neighbourhoods. Do you see this happening in the US anytime soon?
posted by Artful Codger at 7:10 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


The difference is that a lot of the people who were in there before were either literally the same people who have been there for 20 or even more years, their children, or their friends/etc just passing places around.

Is it wrong to pick an obvious point on the slow, continuous stable with inflation/etc price of rent where it suddenly SHOOTS up and go "ok, that's gentrification".


Either these sentences bear no relation to one another or you contradicted yourself, I honestly cannot tell.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:18 PM on February 28


Hey, I know one of these guys! The video is kind of funny. And Division Street is completely whack. But I hear the porno theater is still alive. (Why? How?!) So there's that.
posted by amanda at 8:32 PM on February 28


It's ok. Soon enough the middle class will be gone, and even though we'll still be fighting, it'll be over chicken bones and salvaged drone batteries rather than hipsterification.
posted by benzenedream at 8:37 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Every place I've ever lived has been or is becoming gentrified. I'm a 1st wave player usually. The upside to it is that the city starts fixing your pot holes. They put in bike trails. You get street lights. They send people out to clean up your park.

Grocery stores. The food desert you've been living in gets an oasis. Crappy ones at first, then better and better. Soon there's bakeries and other weird stuff. Like fresh bread could be considered weird.

Not condoning gentrification; just noting a few things.
posted by artof.mulata at 9:39 PM on February 28


I think these guys maybe are confusing gentrification with civilization?

The only time I visited Portland, it made Twin Falls, I-da-ho look good by comparison. What an armpit. Rust and filth and sun-faded business signs, weeds and utter decay Tumbleweed for crissakes. Course, that was in '70. It probably upgraded since then. I guess so, the only other option was to blow away.

Anyway. I'm old enough that I remember when people complained about living on the other side of the tracks - rather than get all nostalgic about it. I'll betcha there's some funky suburb these filk haven't found yet. Get some brewskis, pile in the woody, and get huntin.
posted by Twang at 10:10 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Artful Codger: "Folks, what do you expect? In our North American culture where a "family" is just a couple and a dog (kids optional), and the old folks have either made it to Florida, or have been shuffled off to a dismal subsidized 'senior's residence'... you have thin roots, and it's a fact that you don't stay put for more than a generation; everyone hopes to buy cheap and sell expensive, and that necessarily means gentrification.

We bought a shitty house in a sweet location, have poured about a quarter-century of effort and capital into making it a sweet house in a sweet location, and finally, the housing market has found us. We hope to stay put for maybe 5+ more years, then cash out, because we're relying on our house for at least 50% of our retirement nest egg. Is this wrong?
"

If doing that is wrong then I don't want to be right because that's exactly what I'm doing. Hell, I've owned my current house two months and already get letters in the mail asking if I want to "sell [my] property to an investor for cash." They're not junk mail letters, either; they're hand-signed with an actual stamp.

I don't think I have thin roots, either, but I do reserve the right to pick up and move to wherever I like. I lived in my hometown area for 30-odd years, then my employer said "hey, you're at one of our field sites; would you like to move to the Mothership for a 5% raise and all expenses paid to get here?" You're damn right I would. If I could have stayed at home, I would never have owned because the houses are crap, the soil is crap, the politics are crap, and the temperature is 107F. I'm actually more invested in my "new roots" than I am where I came from and I love my home state.

To me, gentrification is another word for "shit's happening that I don't like." Just like how Chili's is cool to hate because it represents consumerization (in addition to some people genuinely not liking their food) even though it really is a preference that people can have that others disagree with. In the South, we say "well, there goes the neighborhood." In the northeast and west it seems to be "oh, hell, gentrification is happening."

This isn't a case of "fuck you, I got mine." I genuinely want others to have theirs but I also want to have mine. I see zero problems with a willing buyer and a willing seller trading openly in a public market. I'm also genuinely sorry if that means that some long-term residents can no longer live there but I don't see an answer unless, like Artful Codger asks, we slap strict controls on the real estate market in this country and I don't think that's a good idea, even though I know full well that the day will come that I'll get priced out of living in the house that I just bought.
posted by fireoyster at 10:11 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Gentrifier: the next person to buy in your cool neighborhood after your sale closed.

Yeah, well, I resent that I've been real-estate taxed out of my people's ancestral lands in Portland's West Hills by all those jerks from California and Seattle. I remember when even partners in small law firms could afford to live there. Not anymore!
posted by ADave at 10:16 PM on February 28


: )
posted by ADave at 10:17 PM on February 28


Taking an area that was historically XYZ group of people going back to the 70s...

So you are at the height of white flight when cities were going broke, when energy and resources were still so disgustingly cheap that living in super low density suburbs made some sort of twisted sense, that inner cities, places that have every reason to be the centers of wealth and stability, were run down and ignored, and now that that trend is reversing and these same cities, places that had a huge, underutilized investment in infrastructure are now popular places to live? I wonder why?

I get that gentrification can suck, but the 50s-80s were a very strange time for cities in America, there's a reason that in most countries the major cities were always the expensive places to live and the suburbs are poorer.
posted by aspo at 10:24 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


I've lived in an apartment a block off of Division Street for almost 10 years and have been a Portland resident for almost 20. The sentiment of the video is correct in that Division has undergone drastic changes in the past half-decade. The Wild Oats grocery store closed and was vacant for most of the late '00s (except when it was the '08 Obama campaign headquarters), the knitting-friendly coffee shop became a bicycle-friendly one, and the vacant insurance company office is now a restaurant. Yes, there are lots of condos/apartments under construction within a very small area, but the footprints these buildings are going on were mainly parking lots, lousy "vintage" stores, and so on.

This is a very white part of a very white city so the only gentrification happening is the thirty and forty-somethings who bought arts & crafts houses from seventy and eighty-somethings 10-15 years ago now have to vie for on street parking with twenty-somethings living in uninteresting condos.

It's worth nothing that the guitar player used to be a barista at Stumptown Coffee, whose founder Duane Sorenson owns a handful of the restaurants on Division that the song is railing against.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 11:55 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Not to downplay the larger issue of gentrification that is being discussed in this thread, but I think the video is pretty light-hearted. It's not like a Rage Against the Machine song or anything. Division has changed a lot, but it's gone from one kind of middle class to another. Don't get your panties in a bunch about SE Portland, not in the face of what is happening in North.
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:19 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


But i don't think that means my point or upsetness should just be dismissed, and i really don't think that the two kinds of "gentrification" are the same thing at all. Taking an area that was historically XYZ group of people going back to the 70s and transitioning it to a new group over the space of maybe 5 years is not the same. it just isn't.

First of all, I'm not dismissing your upsetness. I have been uprooted many times, I hate moving with extreme passion, and I believe that cities and communities should do more to help alleviate the pain that comes with rapid gentrification, but I don't believe they should attempt to halt it - that's even more destructive. My point was against the blame-game you seem to have bought into. (At times it was almost as if describing a conspiracy against you.) Even here, you talk about "going back to the 70s" as if that indicated a neighbourhood not in cycle, but buildings and infrastructure are built to last and each part of the cycle can last 50 years or more. (Though it's often quicker). You mention other areas that were only constructed withing the last 50 years - places that are too young to have gone full cycle yet and thus you can point to them having no history of being cyclical, but the cycle is still happening.

If you are making a neighbourhood better, you are making it more expensive. And if a neighbourhood is your home, you are almost certainly making it better.

As you pointed out, when gentrification accelerates, it feels like much more of a thing. But even then, it's still just people like you - people finding an area where they can afford to live. The reason for the acceleration is likely to be bigger than all that, such as shifts in the national economy, or in the international marketplace. It feels them-vs-us, but I don't think that is a good perspective. (It ignores the people you displaced while othering the people who displace you) I prefer to see it as all just us and how can we organize or change the city to help even out instability and take care of everyone. (Not a popular attitude in the USA)
posted by anonymisc at 10:48 AM on March 1


At least there's enough of Division Street that it takes a lot of ruining. When Mississippi Avenue, all four blocks of it or so, got targeted in the early aughts it took maybe a week (okay two years give or take) to turn it from one of the best places to be into the same place the hipster-following speculators create whereever they go.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:49 AM on March 1


By the early 1960s, much of the area had been razed to build Memorial Coliseum and Lloyd Center. Interstate 5, known as the Minnesota Freeway because it was built over the route of North Minnesota Avenue, cut through the heart of the Albina neighborhood and resulted in the destruction of scores of residential blocks.

This brings to mind the once-vibrant African-American community in Portland. They had their neighborhood gutted by urban renewal, not gentrification per se. Although if you scan the line at Tasty 'n' Sons on Williams on a Sunday morning, you will not see many non-caucasian-hipsters.

So these folks can whine all they want, but much worse has happened in that city.
posted by Danf at 11:08 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Any discussion of urban renewal policy and "gentrification" in Portland should keep well in mind that racial exclusion laws were part of the Oregon state constitution until the 1920s.

Portland's African American community was originally based in the Northwest quadrant of the city. Albina was predominantly a European immigrant community until the 19-teens, at which time the European immigrants left the neighborhood and the even more marginalized black citizens of the city moved in. African American population growth increased dramatically in Albina after the Vanport flood of 1948.

What happened to the Albina neighborhood with the construction of what's now called the Rose Quarter, Lloyd Center, and I-5 also took place in the predominantly Jewish and Italian neighborhood of South Portland in the late 60s and almost happened to the then-predominantly white working class Hosford-Abernethy and Richmond neighborhoods (where Clinton and Division are located) in the 70s.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 3:58 PM on March 1


Folks, what do you expect? In our North American culture where a "family" is just a couple and a dog (kids optional), and the old folks have either made it to Florida, or have been shuffled off to a dismal subsidized 'senior's residence'... you have thin roots, and it's a fact that you don't stay put for more than a generation; everyone hopes to buy cheap and sell expensive, and that necessarily means gentrification.

The problem with saying that "everyone hopes to buy cheap and sell expensive" is that if everyone really did that, then the concept of gentrification wouldn't even exist, because everyone would be constantly moving around. Some people actually don't hope to buy cheap and sell expensive, they hope to buy cheap and then stay there forever and give the place to their kids when they die.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:01 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Ugh, thanks for the earworm

WHUT HAAPIN' TO DI VISION STREET
WOAH OHA OH

posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 7:19 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


The problem with saying that "everyone hopes to buy cheap and sell expensive" is that if everyone really did that...then the concept of gentrification wouldn't even exist, because everyone would be constantly moving around.

Alot of folks were doing just that, til the real estate bubble burst in 2008. Other than in bubbles, a house is less of an investment vehicle and more of a place to live, simply because you won't make money by quick flips. But everyone hopes for a good return.

Some people actually don't hope to buy cheap and sell expensive, they hope to buy cheap and then stay there forever and give the place to their kids when they die.

A small minority. For most of us, there's too much retirement savings captured in the house that we could even consider 'giving' the house to the kids. And in a country as vast and varied as the US, it's a longshot that your kids will stay in the same town and want the same housing.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:32 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


I dunno. It bothers me that we treat a basic human necessity such as housing as an investment...

My house is where I live. That's it.

Please don't raise my rent...
posted by schmod at 10:11 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


> It bothers me that we treat a basic human necessity such as housing as an investment...

For most home-owners it's both.
posted by Artful Codger at 4:44 AM on March 2


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