By Aaron Warner
I am a flatlander. Let’s get that out of the way. Born and raised in the beautiful Willamette Valley in Portland, Oregon, the majestic City of Roses where micro-brews flow like wine and millennials instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. On a sunny day from the west hills you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Ranier pressed up against the sky with towering evergreens as far as the eye can see.
Short drives would take you to the Columbia River Gorge to find wind-surfer covered water resembling afternoon traffic. Head east to find day-trip adventurers at nearby Multnomah Falls. Head west up highway 26 to travel through small towns like Clatskenie until you reach Astoria, made famous by the movie’s Goonies and Kindergarten Cop. Astoria is now bustling with tourists and boasts as a stop for a major cruise line. Much of the natural beauty remains at a glance, but as you take a closer look it’s not what it once was.
“Black Lives Matter has made sure downtown businesses don’t. The area where I grew up transferring buses on the nation’s #1 bus line is now a dystopian ghost town with plywood boards covered in hastily written graffiti. A stroll through my old neighborhood found BLM signs in nearly every yard, not from support so much as out of fear that a protest will end up destroying their property. BLM is now local mafia, with even more power over the local police. Not even Orwell could have imagined this living nightmare.” – Aaron Ward
I just got back from a visit there. My first in ten years. A lot can happen in ten years, and not all of it good.
Despite the obvious gentrification of the neighborhoods where I grew up, ten years ago there were no tent cities scattered along the city-scapes. Now there are too many to count. Trash and garbage were rarely an eye sore along the shoulders of the inner-city freeways. Today it appears as though little to no money is in the budget for keeping the roads clean.
One had to go in search of graffiti, but back then when you would find some it had an artistry worth pondering. Hardly the case these days. In some neighborhoods it’s as if they’re passing out spray paint cans for sport and daring people to paint something recognizable. 7-11’s and Starbucks are less easily found than the new spate of pot-shops (re: marijuana). Portland, long known for its plethora of strip bars, now includes, I’m told, clubs that have even taken to performing live sex acts. Down in old town where Baloney Joe’s served the homeless free meals you can find Voo-doo donuts, made famous for their satanic and phallic sweet treats (don’t believe me – check their menu on-line).
Black Lives Matter has made sure downtown businesses don’t. The area where I grew up transferring buses on the nation’s #1 bus line is now a dystopian ghost town with plywood boards covered in hastily written graffiti. A stroll through my old neighborhood found BLM signs in nearly every yard, not from support so much as out of fear that a protest will end up destroying their property. BLM is now local mafia, with even more power over the local police. Not even Orwell could have imagined this living nightmare.
Oregon also recently voted to decriminalize hard drugs – something that also has been gingerly discussed in Vermont’s state house.
As I visited with friends, many of whom have either moved away from the city or refuse to go into it, I asked the pertinent questions.
“What are they doing about this?”
“They don’t care.”
Somehow the massive profits brought in by Nike, Adidas, Intel, etc. have allowed property values to skyrocket despite the obvious degeneration of the city. Scattered around the city you’ll find box stands with “libraries” or canned goods in them, designed to make people feel good about helping others but doing little to actually solve the homelessness, vagrancy and drug problems.
The local churches have organized to try and serve those in need. Weekly gatherings at private locations under bridges allow for a certain level of dignity for people to get their feet washed, hair and/or nails cut, and a square meal. Bibles with a message of hope are made available and often taken by the needy. Follow-up is hard to manufacture as those in need have to want to get better. The friends of mine who would take food and minister to the people in the tent cities tell me many of the tent dwellers are not bothered by their circumstance but actually enjoy it.
“It’s a big party out here man!”
Welcome to a progressive utopia.
Good luck with that Vermont.
Aaron Warner is a Hartland, Vermont resident and martial arts studio.