Keep Portland Weird

Hmm, how to describe Portland… Okay got it. Portland is like that kid you know, the one that most people don’t get, and therefor probably gets made fun of a lot. It’s that kid with the goofy rolling laugh who is probably wearing floral pajamas and hospital slippers in public. This kid is the absolute best, because no matter what, he is not trying to be anyone else but him (or her), and you gotta love that. Portland is that kid. Portland is genuine. And we’ve all got a little Portland inside, embrace the weird.

a real campaign to keep portland awesome

  • Lovin’ the bikes – Portland’s bike lanes are almost bigger than the ones reserved for cars. Countless neighborhoods are adorned with streets dedicated to just bikers. In fact, it’s almost frowned upon if you don’t bike to work. Weird.
  • Lovin’ the Beer – Last but not least, let’s talk about micro-brews. Portland has been ranked number one in the entire world for variety of micro-brews in one city. It’s the first American city to have made the top five ever, let alone the number one seed. I mean it beat Germany for cryin’ out loud, where has this city been hiding.
  • Lovin’ the Earth – Our friend Alex once went into a coffee shop (three on every block) to ask for just a cup (which Alex needed for work) and here is the unexaggerated response.

“Hmmm, do you really need this cup man? i mean, i really wish you would go get a mug or something.”

“I actually need it for a shoot that I’m on right now.”

“That’s really unfortunate man, (insert long sigh), okay, but i wish we didn’t have to do this”

Can you believe that? A city that is so environmental, that asking for a coffee cup actually warrants a moral lecture from the coffee kid. This is wonderful. Never in America have i seen (or heard of) such an apparent respect for our environment. It’s like being in a different country 20 years in the future. Portland has all of the natural beauty of Colorado, but still feels like a coastal city, how do they do it? Dubbed “the Greenest City in America,” Portland seems to have its priorities straight.

If what I’ve told you isn’t enough, you may not be human. i am truly infatuated with Portland, and with enough time, i can see this puppy dog romance blossoming into true love. i’ll be back Portland, don’t you worry.

The Second Coming of Alex and Isaac

the boys

As much as i’d like to think that Portland speaks for itself to any visitor, I can’t deny that we saw and experienced the city through the bright eyes of Mr. Alex Louis. You might remember Alex from Chicago (he was our host there as well) and has since moved to Portland to work for OPB, or Oregon Public Broadcasting. I don’t know how it works in your hometown, but in Portland, public broadcasting is hailed king of the airwaves. Knowing Ira Glass in Portland, is like knowing Elvis in Graceland, public broadcasting and everything NPR is huge, and our boy Alex is on the forefront. Keep an eye on this kid, or should I say, listen closely, he’s goin’ places.

Anywho, we couldn’t have asked for a more exuberant and equally excitable young person to be our tour guide for the wonders of Portland. Our first morning together, before heading to “the gorge” for some good old cliff jumping, we stopped to grab some Korean tacos from the downtown food carts, and guess who we ran into?

sandpoint reunion

The one in the middle, the one dress like a southern gentleman, that’s Isaac. If you remember correctly, Isaac was the kid posing for GQ in our group photo from Sandpoint, ID. After spending just over a year abroad in Israel, Isaac returned to the states only to hitchhike from NYC to his hometown in Idaho. A vagabond and a gifted storyteller, Isaac will most likely show up later in our lives somewhere, it’s just a feeling i have.

Reinventing ourselves

Now so far in this trip (as you’ve probably noticed) Henry and i have only worn two pairs of clothes, that’s two pairs of clothes for over two months. This has taken a toll on us. Rejuvenated from sipping the sweet nectar of Portland, we were inspired to find “street clothes” to wear on our west coast adventure. I wish there was a way to describe the wonder of new fabric (Goodwill new, but you get it) on our recently bathed skin, but there isn’t. The only comparison I can make came from my mother. “The only other person that could understand your experience,” she said, “is a pregnant woman. They wear the same maternity clothes for close to 6 months (maybe an outfit for everyday of the week at most) without change. I understand what you’re going through.” That Carine McLaughlin is a wise woman. I feel for all you soon-to-be-moms out there, i now understand a very small part of the mystery behind pregnancy. With new threads, Henry and I feel like we’re finally starting our re-entry into society.

Leaving the West Hills with Uncle Mark

chillin' on Uncle Mark's truck

We waved goodbye to our home in the West Hills, where we were staying with a friend from school, Steven London (the legend). He showed us some great pickup soccer and offered his home selflessly as Henry and i explored the city. We would be leaving Portland to stay with Uncle Mark in Albany, OR. You might have seen Uncle Mark comment on the blog before, he often shares fundraising advice and sometimes even picks up on grammatical errors. He has truly become a “road uncle.” However, even with our constant contact, we hadn’t actually met Uncle Mark yet (he is actually the uncle of a talented musician from college, Suzanne Yoder, who was kind enough to match-make). Together with Alex, we would first meet Uncle Mark over Lebanese food in downtown Portland, where periodic bursts of loud music, shouting, and belly dancing would take part. After delicious conversation, Uncle Mark would offer his home in Albany for our next night’s stay; we kindly accepted. We spent the next evening picking plums from Uncle Mark’s garden and reminiscing about past adventures (Uncle Mark toured New Zealand on a bike in the late 80’s). In the morning Henry and i were completely recharged and ready for some quality biking, and so we said our sweet goodbye to Uncle Mark, but not before handing us an amazing article on earthship architecture (4walls method) and these…


Uncle Mark is an engineer for HP and crafted these bad boys the night before we left. Uncle Mark you are the man. We won’t forget your kindness.

After an intense day of biking, we finally saw the Pacific Coast in all of it’s glory (not hidden behind ghostly fog) and there were no words to describe it, thus, this video was born.

Stayed tuned for more tales from the coast, including our stay with Tony the surfer-dude!


15 responses to “Keep Portland Weird

  1. Sam you are SO weird

  2. Awwwwwwsome! Your video reminded me of the beach. I’m on land lock down. Gotta get out! Gotta go to the beach!

  3. Meeting Sam and Henry (and Alex) has been the highlight of my summer. I was all set to donate to 4walls, but after meeting them I had to double it. To all of you who haven’t yet met them, as inspiring as this blog may be, in person these guys are much, much more so. When the world news gets depressing (pretty much every day, it seems) these gentlemen, what they are up to, and the joy with which they go about it give me much-needed hope for the future. It’s a great pleasure to have been able to support them in a small way.

  4. I like all of your posts you guys but this one, I liked a little bit more for some reason. And I love your love for loving people (Am I saying you love people who are loving, or you love loving people? Why both of course, in one efficient statement!)

  5. Hey we met u guys at ocean view and I lost my bag! Did u guys find a hemp bag with a wallet and passport?

  6. Oh man! Sorry for the frantic message! Some great people found it and tracked me down! I am really fortunate! It was really awesome to meet you guys! Safe travels! Take care!

  7. Mr. Craig and Miss Gayle

    We’ve been following your travels with great interest. Sorry we weren’t in Yellowstone, Jackson, Idaho area when you were, but enjoyed reading about places we just visited in June.
    Good luck & good weather!

  8. I prefer to call the look New American Dandy, but I will let it slide. Also, great work as usual gentleman.

  9. Hi Fellas,
    I just stumbled upon your blog when I was trying to find a picture of the “Keep Portland Weird” slogan to include in my dissertation and I couldn’t find your email address, so I’m commenting on this page instead.

    I’m wondering if you guys would mind letting me use a copy of your photo (with credits, of course) in my dissertation for my phd in sociology out here in New Hampshire. I doubt anyone besides my committee members (and maybe my mom if I’m lucky) will read it, but I forgot to take a photo of the slogan last time I was there. Any chance you would mind? Email me if it’s a problem.

    Thanks! Genevieve

  10. I love Portland!!! I have lived in 7 different states in the past ten years, but I know Oregon is here to stay for me 🙂

  11. I just stumbled on your blog… was feeling a little homesick if you will… need to read every post now.

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