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Portlandia: It's Ba-ack!

Our beloved IFC sitcom mock-u-ments the city’s glut of day-jobbing DJs and their relative scarcity of fans, then exposes our special breed of TV-watching homebodies.

By Anne Adams December 16, 2011

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DJ Night

Last year around this time, the inaugural flickers of Portlandia pronounced our town “a place young people go to retire,” and the abiding home base of “the dream of the 90’s,” aka a preference to slack off, work part-time, and make crappy art. Culturephile took issue with this depiction, not only because it foreshadowed a scene-suffocating influx of “industry types” a la 90’s Seattle, but also because it failed to credit our city’s myriad arts upstarts for their tireless (albeit selective and self-directed) work ethic. Contrary to the assumption of last season’s LA-based characters from “Dream of The 90’s”, the denizens of Portland don’t just work part-time, they work overtime, knocking themselves out to try to stand out in what amounts to a giant arts parade that everyone is marching in, and until recently, nobody’s been watching.

The second season’s flagship (below) gives more acknowledgment that local artists* are working pretty hard at their self-styled second jobs. The follow-up question is of course, “Why?” It’s Stumptown’s version of a mind-bending zen koan: If everyone has a DJ night, and no one shows up to any of them—do they still make a sound? Sure, it’s silly, but it’s also mildly profound. Portland, will we ever recruit enough arts appreciators to validate our exhaustive self-expressive efforts?

Whatever the answer, Portlandia sure lets us enjoy the question. This one’s a genuine giggler, with director Jonathan Krisel (red sweatshirt, above) good-naturedly taking one for the team.

Battlestar Bender

Friends and neighbors, I know we all say we never watch TV…but it’s time to ‘fess up: in the depths of our long wet winters, many of us hole up in our homes and vegg out to some variation of the boob tube. We usually find a way to justify our viewing choices on the grounds that the shows are well-written, hence reinforcing our city’s “bookish” persona even when not reading books. Here, Carrie and Fred call our bluff, also demonstrating the classic Portland Flake Phenomenon by blowing off a friend’s birthday party to indulge their secret sci-fi obsession.

For more Fred-and-Carrie hijinks, check out a multi-page photo spread in our January issue and view exclusive video of the Portland Monthly Portlandia fashion shoot , coordinated by PM’s resident fashion blog editor Eden Dawn.

*Some would argue that spinning records is not artistry, but fanhood. You are welcome to wage that debate in these comments.

For more about Portland arts events, visit PoMo’s Arts & Entertainment Calendar, stream content with an RSS feed, or sign up for our weekly On The Town Newsletter!

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