Normally this yearly wrap-up is a fun exploration of silly little things around Portland that are irritating me. Normally. Right now, though, it’s difficult to focus on the little stuff when 46 percent of the country just elected the alien in a farmer’s body from Men in Black to be the president. It was like finding out a huge swath of America secretly loves Comcast. Like finding out the Midwest eats only the peel and throws the banana away. Like finding out the talking phlegm ball from the Mucinex commercials just won The Bachelorette.
As bad as that felt, I disagree with people talking about 2016 like it was the worst year ever. Yes, some wonderful celebrities died, but every year at least a couple musical legends go to the big trending topic in the sky. We don’t elect a dumb president every year, but we have done it about every eight years, so it’s not that weird. And Lemonade came out in 2016. So it wasn’t all bad.
Besides, 2017 will almost certainly be worse.
As challenging as it is, I’m going to push ahead with my annual list of silly jokes about minor local irritants, because if there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over from artists in the last two months, it’s that the most important thing we can do in these tough times is make the same art we were going to anyway.
I’m tearing up just thinking about how brave I am to do this. Okay, here goes. Godspeed, me. Godspeed.
Burglarizing Our Precious Food Carts
One of the people trying to ruin this excellent city was a burglar who robbed at least six food carts in November. Just one food cart robbery would be bad enough, but he went back five times, presumably because the money he stole came in much smaller portions than he expected.
The only thing that makes me feel better is knowing that if he wanted to count the money, there wasn’t any place to sit.
There were also several robberies at local farmers markets. I know how bad it must have felt for the farmers, because I always feel robbed at farmers markets too.
Talking About “The Bubble”
I tried, really I did—but I have to say one quick thing about the election and then I’ll go back to silly things. Since the bad day, there’s been an endless amount of hand wringing from people warning about “the liberal bubble.” I’m starting to worry it’s true; I asked around and not one single person on my adult quidditch league voted for Donald.
Maybe it is a bubble, but you know what else is a bubble? The atmosphere. And while it’s apparently fun to pop outside the atmosphere to play golf on the moon or secretly conduct zero-G sexperiments (looking at you, cosmonauts), the only way to not die is to go in a small bubble with an even smaller bubble over your face, just in case.
If the New York Times ran a story titled “Proof King Obama Is a Gay Robot Muslim,” you’d be getting outside the bubble, but you wouldn’t be any smarter. Instead of complaining, take a second to remember that hanging out with people who aren’t racist is actually keeping you alive.
Okay, back to tiny complaints.
The Satanic Temple started an elementary school chapter in East Portland in 2016, as part of their continuing outreach program entitled “Even When We’re Right, We Don’t Want You to Like Us.”
An organizer insists the club isn’t trying to recruit kids into Satanism, saying, “Our perspective is that Satan is a rebel, a questioner.” Nope. Luke Skywalker was a rebel. Socrates was a questioner. Satan is literally the devil.
Complaints from Anybody in the Pearl About Anything
Another group that doesn’t elicit much sympathy from anybody even when they’re right are condo owners in the Pearl. Back in April, they complained to the city about the number of hypodermic needles they found on their sidewalks. Look, these people didn’t move into your ’hood to do heroin. You built a loft in their heroin warehouse. I’m surprised there aren’t more heroin addicts calling the police on these condos that somebody left lying around in their neighborhood.
Actually, one more election thing: Protest, everybody, if that’s what you’re into. But ruining the storefronts and electrical boxes of our beautiful liberal mecca is not going to teach President Edgar anything. His power doesn’t come from plate glass. And look, anarchists, I know you hate glass. I’m sure a window cheated on your mom or something. But transparent melted sand is everywhere and you can’t stop its reign.
Actually, rioting could help if we did it all the way. If we wrecked everything good about this town—burned down all the delicious restaurants, poured out every keg of local beer, and chased out both decent bands—then everybody would have to move back to the hinterlands where they came from. And they’d vote there. Donald won by fewer than 11,000 votes in Michigan, and we have at least that many people in line for Screen Door on weekends.
Portland Sports Teams Following Good Seasons with Bad Ones
The Timbers defended their 2015 championship by playing like a high school team, and the Blazers are currently following up their better-than-expected 2015-16 season by not playing defense. People keep trying to make me feel better by saying stuff like, “Yeah but they lost a bunch of games at the start of last season and that turned out fine.” You know who else lost lots of games in the first half? Teams that lose every game.
One of the only city teams to do well on the heels of a win was the Rose City Rollers, but this year they beat Australia and that team skates the opposite direction. Hardly seems fair.
Remember when those guys were upset that their bird watching trip had to end, so they decided to just move into the federal building and dedicate their entire lives to glimpsing and protecting the hooded merganser duck? What a fun group of merry prankster ornithologists.
But after federal prosecutors failed to pin so much as a parking ticket on the occupiers, their supporters had a celebratory barbecue in front of the courthouse in the middle of a Black Lives Matter protest. One group was confronting racial inequality while the other was celebrating it with a weenie roast.
Boycotting Things You Don’t Like
Ugh, I’m sorry. Just one more election thing. While I admire the courage of kids walking out of school to protest Your Skin Is Hanging Off Your Bones, it feels a bit too convenient that their form of nonviolent resistance is to skip math class. I’m going to show my displeasure with a special not-my-president day of not eating beets or doing dishes.
People in The Other Bubble had their own version of this, when conservatives called for a boycott of Hamilton after an actor was overly polite to Mike Pence. Sure, you’re boycotting Hamilton tickets; and I’m boycotting Yeezys, Harvard Law School, and a job as a space ninja.
WE DON’T WANT YOU ANYWAY.
(But seriously, if you ever change your mind, we’re totally cool. You can put your boxes anywhere. Need roads? You can have, like, half our roads. What else? Where are you going? Please!)
Dumb Names for Criminals
It almost feels worth robbing a bank just to see what dumb name the cops give me. Recently the “Harry Potter Bandit” knocked off a couple of banks while painted orange. You know, like Harry Potter always did.
If he showed up at a costume party, nobody would have guessed “Harry Potter” in 1,000 tries. Scar? Nope. Robe? Of course not. Dark brown hair at least? Sandy brown at best. Glasses? Well, yes. Small, rectangular, metal framed glasses. Just like Harry Potter never wore.
The worst by far was a guy who robbed a Vancouver bank on February 29 and was nicknamed the “Leap Day Bandit.” That makes it sound like the cops don’t have object permanence yet. If he hit another bank a couple weeks later, they’d be like “Nope, not our guy. Completely different day. Wait... is he a man? He kinda looks like Harry Potter to me.”
My favorite robbery of the year was a woman who tried to rob a Chinese restaurant in Milwaukie, but was foiled when the cashier said “no.” Police are still asking for any leads about the “March 5th at About Noon Bandit.”
Portland Public Schools’ Numerous Fuckups
It was a rough year for PPS. There were hiring controversies, shortages on money for textbooks, and lead in every place you could possibly not want to have lead. I mean, lead is the only thing Portland schools seem to be at the forefront of. If that wasn’t enough, the district recently announced that even though they had 10 years to prepare, they’re close to ready for new P.E. requirements. What have you been doing? Did you just sit on the bleachers in your street clothes for 10 years? Get in the game! Get the lead out! Seriously, where did you get so much fucking lead? Did you build all your buildings out of No. 2 pencils?
Oh, and who could forget the infamous “Bus Rap Memo”? PPS issued a memo saying that bus drivers could listen to jazz, country, and pop music, but NOT rap music because it was inappropriate. Some parents complained the policy was racist, but I think it was just that they didn’t want any kids on a bus to feel cool, even for a second. Also on the “allowed music” list: polka, Christmas music, and whale songs.
That Scary Clown Bullshit
The rash of scary clown sightings across the country made its way to Oregon as people in Redmond and Portland claimed to have been accosted by people in clown masks. So what’s happened here? There are a few possibilities. (A) All the terror clowns that had been hibernating since the ’80s woke up at the same time. (B) At a meeting of creepsters, the board took a vote and decided the “it” thing this year was clown suits, or (C) because so many people liked saying bullshit about clowns being scary, every college kid who wanted to pull an easy prank could simply grab a clown mask and run around. Obviously it was C. And by writing about it, we’re just perpetuating the whole mess, so the only way to stop it is to stop this joke right—
In Other Words’ War with Portlandia
The local bookstore In Other Words severed ties with the show after six years and posted a handwritten sign and blog post titled, “Fuck Portlandia.” It came as a huge shock, since they’re really known for their sense of humor.
The really surprising thing to me is that it took so long. The show was making fun of you—they always have. Did you just get around to watching the first six seasons and suddenly think, “Hold on... I think they’re not actually laughing with us”?
The Duckbill Rock Topplers
A group of national park safety officers random dickwaffles were caught on camera destroying the sandstone pedestal known as Duckbill Rock at Cape Kiwanda near Pacific City. They claimed it was a safety hazard, because they are bad at knowing what words mean.
Just like the concerned Boy Scout leaders other dickwaffles who pushed over that rock in Utah in 2014, the fairest punishment I can imagine is for them to be lined up and then pushed over by Dwayne Johnson.
Lightning Bonus Round!
Running out of space, so I’m going to do these last few rapid-fire:
About Half of the Beer Festivals
Like how death is the thing that gives meaning to life, if every weekend is a beer festival, then the real party is really when there isn’t one, ya know?
The Person Who Arsoned the Little Free Library in Mt. Tabor
It’s clear the theme to 2016 was “This is why we can’t have nice things.”
Jimmy Mak’s Closing
This isn’t a dive bar nobody goes to, this is a legendary jazz club. Somebody please swoop in and buy this so that Portlanders can continue to have a place to see incredible musicians playing cheesy jazz covers of ’70s and ’80s pop songs.
The Super Moon
Chill the fuck out, The Moon. Love, The Earth.
Last election thing, I promise. President-elect “I Need Sugar, in Water” is a dickwaffle, sure, but more Portlanders should respect him because of his slogan “Make America Great Again.” He’s saying, “I like America, but their early work is way better.” And if there’s one thing we can respect it’s a bad hipster opinion.
Alex Falcone is a comedian, one of the hosts of Earthquake Hurricane, and the author of the new teen romance mummy novel, Unwrap My Heart.