The time of the year between late December and early January always brings back various locals who have decamped from Boston to other scenes and locales over the years. This year was no exception.
In the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I ran into friends from the area who are now based in cities all over the world, from my soon-to-be-home of Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, to NYC, Philly, Baltimore, various parts of California -- and even Berlin! When the conversation turns to my impending move, the first question they usually ask is: “Why Portland?”
The first reason that comes to mind is a pragmatic one: the cost of living there is about half of what it is in a lot of similarly-sized cities. Although like most artistic types, I am unconcerned with saving, investing or buying things for myself almost to a fault. The real reason I want to live somewhere cheaper is simply that it decreases the amount of time that I have to spend working at a “real job” every week, thereby increasing the amount of time I can spend on my music and writing.
Of course, there are a number of locations (i.e. just about everywhere) that are cheaper to live in than Boston, so again: Why Portland? Of all the cities on the West Coast, it’s definitely the one where I already feel the most in-touch with the local scene. The place is crawling with Boston expats! From Portland-based acts like JIZZ WISARD and the BATMEN (both featuring ex-members of Boston’s dearly departed PROTOKOLL) to the BOO JAYS and GAY GHOST (both of whom were at one time Boston-based projects).
Working in the Boston scene has also put me in touch with a large number of touring bands from the Portland area. I’ve booked or opened shows for various Portland-based acts, from THE THERMALS to THE PHARMACY to THE PRIDS (Editor's note: The Prids are fucking incredible) to PURPLE RHINESTONE EAGLE. It’s a city where I can start playing out and getting involved immediately, without having to go through the hassle of finding all the cool spots on my own and then meeting an entirely new set of acquaintances.
There’s a third reason worth mentioning, which I suppose I would term “The Portlandia Effect.” I know it’s something of a stereotype that every single person in the city is the sort of radical, car-hating, tree-hugging, vegan-friendly, local-produce-loving, work-hating rock and roll feminist type lampooned in Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen’s IFC sketch show... but not much of one, by most accounts! It actually sounds like a great change of pace after nearly 30 years spent in such cold, cynical environs.
By the time I update this blog again, I will have left Boston and can comment from firsthand experience on such matters, or at least on my first impression thereof. Stay tuned for the next installment in this, the ongoing saga of a displaced Masshole!