As I write, it’s just after two in the morning on a Sunday night, and I am in Portland, Oregon, traveling with a band who played tonight at the Hawthorne Theatre here. It was a good show. Afterwards, groupthink led to a bar called Chopsticks and when we walked in well after one in the morning, the karaoke was going and a smattering of local hip youth were basking in unashamed irony, the kind that’s the new sincerity. If you can go for it, you can.
While I watched a young woman take on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and belt out its zombie lyrics with what can only be heartfelt aplomb, selfies being taken all around by a diverse group of people if by diverse you mean white and middle to upper-middle class, my thoughts turned to James Rensenbrink, the founder of this paper, recently departed. He lived in Oregon. Made his home here in his retirement, in the southern part of the state. I watched dancers come and go from a cleared-out floor as Chinese food was brought to patrons including the band with whom I’m on the road on the West Coast all this week and wondered if this was the idea. If this was what the hippies wanted and it just turned out to be their kids who got it. This is some generation’s moment. It’s not mine. I’m not of it and I don’t think I ever could be. Just don’t have that in me. But that crowd, in that room, that space, this time, this street. It’s all theirs. To be young, and drunk, and to have elaborate hair. I don’t think I could live here, but that’s me and apparently I get off on being weird. It’s why I’m in the van typing instead of inside nailing “Move On Up” by Curtis Mayfield or something off the first Funkadelic record.