IS PORTLAND STILL "PORTLANDIA"?
THIS SUNDAY ON "60 MINUTES"
Portland, Ore. Changing into a Different City as TV Portrayal Nears Its End
Perhaps it's fitting that "Portlandia," the IFC comedy series lampooning Portland, Ore., is in its last season. The city famous for its quirky, liberal citizenry seems to be changing into an edgier - and more expensive - town than the cuddly one satirized on television, reports Jon Wertheim. His 60 MINUTES story featuring the city's mayor, the founder of the town's indie rock band The Decemberists, and the people behind the television series "Portlandia," will be broadcast Sunday, Jan. 14 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, part-time residents of Portland, created and star in "Portlandia." They tell Wertheim they use their art to make fun of themselves. Clips from the comedy sketch series help Wertheim tell the city's story.
The city's unofficial slogan, "Keep Portland Weird," can be found on public buildings, bumper stickers and signs. Portland earned the name after artists and free spirits flocked to the city for its jobs and low rents. It became a comfy nest for eccentrics and a fertile ground for music and art. "The real ideal was to work as little as possible to afford, you know, your basic living costs, and then have as much time left over to write or to play shows," says Colin Meloy, founder of Portland's indie rock band The Decemberists.
The city holds an annual adult soapbox derby and naked bike ride and is known for its specialty shops, food carts, microbreweries and generously tattooed residents. Across from a building sporting a "Keep Portland Weird" mural sits another local landmark: Voo Doo Donuts.
The last few years have seen a change in the city, with two events in particular disrupting Portland's calm vibe. Two men were stabbed to death - allegedly by a white supremacist - on the city's light rail system, and Hillary Clinton, for whom the town voted overwhelmingly, lost to Donald Trump. When protests erupted among the liberal population, far-right elements were attracted to the scrum, and violence broke out in a once peaceful place.
A booming economy has changed the city as well. The average monthly rent for a studio apartment in Portland is now $1,200. When Meloy moved to the city in the 1990s, his rent was approximately $180. Some of the artists and free spirits drawn to Portland are homeless now. "I think that there are cracks in that - in that sort of facade of cute and precious Portland," says Meloy. "And... people are sort of frustrated and angry in the city, as there are in any city."
Follow 60 MINUTES on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.