Wednesday, July 26, 2006



"Portland needs an ism," I announced at a recent artist's opening, a Gertrude Stein-style salon that also featured a storyteller and a poet. "Something that defines the culture of this city."

The crowd around me (which included a milliner and a self-proclaimed "creative conduit") disagreed. Author Cai Emmons spoke for the group: "Our interests are too different to be defined by one movement. Everyone just does their own thing."

"That's it," I said. "We're defined by our refusal to be defined."

That's Portland Bohemianism.

The term Bohemian comes from the erroneous perception that Gypsies came from Bohemia in central Europe. In the 19th century, the idea extended to any artist or intellectual who flouted conventionality.

Portlanders are good at that.

For instance, the staff at Rimsky-Korsakoffee House once found a customer so fascinating they tied him up in the kitchen so he couldn't leave. Another time, owner Goody Cable mistook The Oregonian's Margie Boule for an employee and made her wash dishes, starting a 20-year friendship.

That's PoBo.

Am I the only one that finds this unecessary and honestly..dumb?

Why do we need a name for such stupid shit as this?