Power Brokers

In Portland, who wants power and how are they getting it?

January 23, 2009

Portland is arguably the most laid-back city in the US. That’s why power raises more fascinating questions here than anywhere. Portlanders don’t wear their wealth or drive Envy Me cars or admit to being ambitious. But everybody here wants something badly; they just don’t want you to know how bad they want it. That’s what this new blog looks at: who wants what and how are they getting it?

I’ve spent most of my life in New York where money shamelessly rules. I’ve lived in DC where every soul carries a price far less than even a discounted Vuitton bag. Portland, in terms of power, is more like an ancient Chinese court: here power gets expressed quietly, subtly and—this is my favorite part—guiltily. Power is Portland’s guiltiest pleasure.

So weigh in: Who’s on top? Who’s not?

Whose butts deserve kissing? Whose tushes are on the line? This is your forum to shed light on the old rules and the new games. “The leaves of a tree delight us more than the roots,” said Tolstoy, because the roots are dark and twisted. But the roots of power determine human actions.

I believe power is the hidden agenda of every encounter, between parent and child, lover and beloved, doctor and patient. Someone always wants to prevail.

Let’s dig.

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