It's the 20th anniversary of 1988—and to celebrate, the Mercury is taking you on a trip back in time to that fateful year when... well, okay, not a lot of stuff happened. However! For those of you (and us) who have only recently arrived in Portland, a glimpse 20 years into the past reveals that our town was a very different beast indeed.
Nationally, 1988 was the year when Bush Sr. and Quayle fought for the White House against Dukakis and that creaky old guy whose name nobody remembers. Mike Tyson married, abused, and was divorced from Robin Givens. Christians picketed Scorsese's controversial The Last Temptation of Christ (without seeing the movie first). Geraldo Rivera received a chair to the face and a broken nose during the "Teen Hate Mongers" episode of his syndicated show. Diver Greg Louganis smacked his head on a diving board, yet went on to win three medals in the Summer Olympics. Oprah lost 67 pounds! Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart tearfully admitted to God, "I have sinned against you," after romping with prostitutes. And Joe Camel taught our kids how to smoke again.
In Portland, 1988 was a launching pad for the accomplishments and tensions that exist today. While Portland maintains its pioneering streak, the town was far more insular and gritty in 1988—a place where misfits were, if not welcomed with open arms, then tolerated and ignored. While drugs and racism were rampant, so were amazing feats of artistic expression in music and literature. Half the town was jealous of Seattle, the other half couldn't give a shit. There may have been a dark undercurrent of violence, but it was balanced by an equally strong current of personal freedom—Portland was where you came to get lost or to get things done.
So are things better or worse now? Well, it depends on who you're talking to. In this Best of 1988 issue, we have interviews with the movers, shakers, and muckrakers who were here and lived through it. We'll recall the biggest stories, the most influential artistic movements, and piece together a patchwork quilt of all the bizarre stuff that made Portland such a contradiction in terms. And whether Portland is better off now than in 1988... that's for you to decide.