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You’ve seen a few episodes of Portlandia, so you think you can navigate the quirky culture of this town like a pro, right? Better read this first–here are 15 things never to say to a Portlander.

1) Where can I buy an umbrella?
Grow a pair, rookie. Portland may be like Oz in many ways, but you will not melt if a raindrop touches your perfect hair. Popping an umbrella is a surefire giveaway that you aren’t from around here. If you want to blend in, do what we do: Pull up your damn hood.

2) Will you hold my place in line at Voodoo Donut?
Look, we are all very happy that Tres Shannon graduated from all ages punk scene advocate in the ‘80s to millionaire king of the Voodoo Donut empire. He deserves it. But standing in line for mediocre maple bars just proves that you are a tourist and you watch the Travel Channel. Locals swear by old school spots like Heavenly and Annie’s. And if you want to get serious, try the Beignets with salted habañero rum caramel dipping sauce at Dig A Pony.

3) This place is just like it seems on Portlandia!
Ugh. The Portlandia TV show has some funny moments. And it’s not like we take ourselves too seriously to enjoy it when the joke’s on us (actually, yes, we do). But there’s a point when exaggeration ends and propaganda begins. We liked being a best kept secret. Please forget you ever saw that show and go back to thinking that Oregon is a territory.

4) Hi, I just moved here from [insert city name here]

That’s… unfortunate. Well, you have about six months to find a job, or party til your savings run out, then move back into your parents’ basement. Meanwhile, please tip your bartenders and enjoy your stay.

5) Hi, I’m aboutto move here!
That’s… unfortunate. Can we show you the time of your life and convince you to go back home and forget everything we’ve shown you about our little paradise? You’re getting very sleepy…

6) I need a good cup of coffee. Can you direct me to the nearest Starbucks?
Listen here, friend. In Portland, we have Latte Art Championships and our baristas win trophies and date strippers. From Stumptown to Albina Press to Coava, Heart, and Extracto, there are so many local options for sampling the finest coffee inthe world, why would you even mention the occupying force from the North? We pretend it doesn’t exist until we go on a road trip. And then it’s straight to the drive-thru in Kelso for a secret Frappuccino.

Plus: Find out the 15 things you should never say to a Chicagoan.

7) At 4-way intersection: “You go.” “No, you go.” “But by all means, indubitably, you go right ahead.” An hour passes…
To say that Portlanders are passive is an understatement. You’ll find out the first time you get to a flashing red light. Then all atomic motion ceases and a battle of wills begins. Everyone tries to lose by letting someone else go first. The fact that we all had to pass a driver’s exam at the DMV explaining how to properly yield right of way is meaningless.

8) We just got done shopping at Wal-mart and we are now at McDonald’s.
Hiss! It’s great when family comes to visit. Lord knows we can’t afford to come visit you. But please keep your lowest common denominator American consumer habits to yourself. When Wal-Mart or McDonalds try to open new stores here, we take to the streets with pitchforks. And we usually win. Not even kidding.

9) Can I get a plastic bag?
Not anymore! In our crusade to save the Earth one city at a time, we have outlawed the use of plastic bags. Which is really wonderful, until our dog leaves a present on someone’s lawn and we have to pick it up with a wad of toilet paper.

10) Sorry, we can’t do vegan.
Not gonna work, son. Unless you are Podnah’s (the best bbq joint in town), that will not fly here. Special diets are spreading faster than the zombie virus. If a restaurant wants to stay in business, it had better offer vegan and gluten-free options. It’s also probably a good idea to offer a side of bacon that can be inserted into any dessert or smoothie, just to cover all the bases. Even vegans fall off the wagon sometimes.

11) What’s all this fuss over keeping fluoride out of city’s water supplies? Paranoid much?
While 72% of American municipal water supplies are flouridated for the purpose of cavity prevention, the people of Portland have continually <ahref=””>voted down having fluoride added to the city’s water. Now that we don’t have to worry about that, there’s more time to focus on the chemtrails crisscrossing the sky every day. And autism-causing vaccines. And the men with black gloves standing outside my door. Help! (But seriously, we have great water and would like to keep it that way. If you want fluoride, grab yourself some Colgate.)

12) Which way to Cowch street?

Here’s a handy pronunciation guide:

Couch = Cooch (Yeah, that’s right. Deal with it.)

Willamette = It’s the will-AM-it, dammit. (Hear the rhyme?)

Oregon = OR-uh-gun is correct. Or-ee-GONE is not.

13) Who’s Freddy Kroger?

In the unlikely event you guessed horror movie villain turned grocery store tycoon, you’d be half right. Way back in 1922, a full 40 years before the first Walmart crawled out of the depths of Hell, a Brooklyn entrepreneur named Fred Meyer opened the first superstore in Portland: Groceries, drugs, apparel, jewelry, garden center and more, were all sold under one roof. While Fred Meyer stores are still ubiquitous here today, Meyer the man passed on in 1978, and by 1998 the company had merged with the Kroger supermarket chain. Now locals irreverently refer to the deceased as Freddy Kroger.

14) Meet me out. There’s a cover.
Paying money to go out is a deal breaker for most of us. The reason we live in Portland and work part time is so that we can concentrate on our ART. Paying to support someone else’s art goes entirely against that principle. But buying $20 worth of drinks after getting into a club for free is no big deal. Booze has value. Art is everywhere. Wheeee!

15) Does it REALLY rain that much?
Yes. It really does. 368 days a year here. So much that you might drown. Do not visit. Put your face in a toilet and flush it. That’s what it’s going to be like if you move here. Just look at all those other cities you thought about moving to instead. Austin is nice three months out of the year. Have you Googled the urban gardens in Detroit? Did I mention that you should not move here?

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Nathan Carson

Nathan Carson

Nathan Carson is a professional writer of fiction and non-fiction, drummer of the internationally acclaimed band Witch Mountain, and owner of the boutique booking agency Nanotear.
Nathan Carson
- 21 hours ago
Nathan Carson
Nathan Carson

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27 thoughts on “15 things never to say to a Portlander”

  1. I am a native Portlander, and this list is the biggest bunch of bull I’ve ever read. You are basically describing all the douche-bag people that moved to Portland (and are ruining it). Wrong on all points, especially the umbrellas.

  2. It’s people like this writer that make you want to leave Oregon. Was raised there my whole youth and finally moved at age 21. Oregon is about the lamest state I’ve ever been to and resided in. Since I’ve left I’ve only visited twice and that was 8 yrs ago. Seems like it’s getting worse and worse. More drugs, and wannabe gangbangers moving into the burbs. My beloved Gresham looks like an urban city now. And you can’t blame it on people moving into the state. Keep oregon weird slogan should also be an embarrassment.

  3. Right on the money–you forgot the part about “don’t pick anything”–flowers are for everyone to enjoy!! And be careful of the trees–they’re sacred! And NEVER ask ” what’s a Duck?” “or a Beaver??”

  4. Ah, Portland!
    Oregon is a very beautiful area of the country, except for the people of Portland
    My observations:
    1) The people of Portland are almost as friendly to visitors as the people of Tehran. Strike that. I’ve been to both places, and the people of Tehran are a LOT friendlier. (seriously)
    2) The people of Portland are composed of two groups: those on “disability” and those complaining that they are not.
    3) The people of Portland produce a lot of really BAD art, but they think they’re Michaelangelo
    4) The people of Portland think they have “the world’s best coffee”, but they haven’t been to Europe (particularly Italy), or Turkey
    5) The people of Portland think they are sophisticated, but are more provincial than just about any decent sized city in the U.S. The people of Huntsville Alabama are a lot more worldly, and friendlier, too (seriously)

    1. Hi John – I’ve lived in Portland for 29 years and it’s clear that someone took you to Vancouver when you visited, not Portland. You should visit Portland. And why pick on Tehran, Persians are some of the most educated, worldly, and friendly people of the world – coming in second to Tehran would still make Portland better than most US cities.

    2. Yeah, John. They need to check their Portland Privilege. Note to any southerners making the pilgrimage, they will be extremely condescending with absolutely nothing to reinforce that hubris. You guys live in a perpetual cloud of pot smoke and northwest-centrism. There are forty nine other states. You may not have a sales tax, but that doesn’t mean you guys don’t have your own flaws and frivolities.

  5. In my eighteen years as a Portland resident, I’ve never heard the Freddy Kroger thing, but that’s funny. I might have to use it now. Also, I set up an impromptu chili dog stand at a street fair years ago. I caught so much shit for not having vegan chili dogs. I also didn’t care, but I certainly caught that shit. Thankfully it was well before people started buying into the gluten bullshit. Oh, Portland.

  6. Portland and its inferiority complex. Portland is nothing but a poor mans “Seattle”, and they’ll never be as weird as Santa Cruz. Poor PD – no true identity! But keep dreaming!!!

    1. Um, PDX. As in the Airport. That’s what we call Portland. Have you tried the airport – it will take you lots of other places. 🙂

  7. #12 – born and raised here. Since when is it “OR-uh-gun?” It’s ORygun. Move back to where YOU came from.

  8. It may be difficult to move to Portland, as there aren’t any available houses, and rentals are pretty hard to come by these days, too. We are a lovely, weird, introverted city. We love everyone…from a distance.

  9. Never ask anyone in Portland for Directions, they don’t know the information. Most of them never venture far from their home and they will get you lost.

  10. lol, it’s OR-eh-gun, not OR-uh-gun or OR-y-gun. :p As for that other post: Provincial? You say that like it’s a bad thing… Not friendly? We’re all VERY friendly. We just have no patience to deal with idiots, snobs, or people who want to move here and change us. As for good coffee, I’ve sampled coffee from all over the world in Portland. I’m a bit of a coffee snob, but not so much of one that I would discount good coffee just because I’ve been to the source and am a “purist”. I don’t personally know anyone who lives in Portland and is, or wants to be, on disability, so I question your use of the word “everyone”. I also question your attitude toward people with disabilities. Art is subjective. What you call Art, I might call trash. I’ve never been to Huntsville, so I can’t verify or deny your claim, but it’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. If you don’t like it here, don’t come back, it’s that simple. 🙂

  11. Yea keep those dang outsiders out. Keep those losers from my sister (shes mine) can’t have those evil doing outsiders invading the gene pool. It’s time to keep the Portland bloodline pure. Keep those wallymarts out of my adobe because i don’t want chains n corps taking away my fred meyers.

    We need to build a wall around Portland and keep those beady eyed tainted things out of my city.

  12. What a load is bs. Portland is very friendly. but I guess people who want to feel special cus they spent more than 5 years or grew up in Portland will keep trying to deter newcomers.
    . I looked for a job here for a month and have had 5 job interviews and turned down two job offers. Nice try guy.

  13. I love the 4 way stop comment. That is so true. I love it how everyone tries to be nice but someone needs to take the initiative and just go. I love Portland though and love living here it is an awesome city.

  14. I live here for a long period of time and must say that only kind hospitable people live here and there are no questions you`d better not ask them. When I came here for the first time, my movers answered all my questions with great pleasure

  15. “When Wal-Mart or McDonalds try to open new stores here, we take to the streets with pitchforks. And we usually win.”

    Funny, I saw every kind of food chain in every other town when I was there. Maybe those pitchforks have been dulled from stalking so many people on Facebook?

  16. “Paying to support someone else’s art goes entirely against that principle.” – Do you know how vain that makes you people sound? Paying to support someone else’s art goes against your principle of vain self worship. But those same people are starting Patreons and Kickstarters every time I turn around to get other people to pay for their art.

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