A Glaring Oversight in the New York Times' Coverage of Portland's Karaoke Scene


"Is it possible that one of the most exciting music scenes in America is happening right now in Portland, and it doesn’t feature a single person playing an actual instrument?"

Maybe he should he gone to Karaoke From Hell.
He did! Read the piece. It's good.
Allow me to elaborate. I read the piece. While well-written, it does not deviate from the NYT formula of fawning over some just-ever-so-quirky-and-precious-thing-about-Portland, and it falls into the same trap all of those articles do: pretending that this is both somehow unique to Portland as a place, and trying to convince the reader that this is also a cultural scion in this community that binds people together in some profound way.

But it's KARAOKE. Before that it was coffee, before that it was craft brewing, before that it was planning, before that it was food-not-lawns and so on. The tone that these articles inevitably take on is just so insufferably doting that there ends up being no there there. There isn't a look at how this fits into a cultural scene that has many, many stratifications and unifying factors, and there isn't a good reason why karaoke in Portland merits a magazine feature.

I just don't buy it, and good writing won't change that. It's not the old golden journalistic goose of taking a boring story and making it interesting but rather taking something the writer or his editor thinks is WAY FUCKING NEAT and turning it into a glowing puff piece that oversells its subject matter without the subject being given the opportunity to tell its own story.

So, counterpoint, Alison.
Twee4Lyfe, muthafuckas.
This piece surprised me. I braced for impact against another cloying and heavy-handed piece from the NYTimes "discovering" Portland and then it was... not that. It was, actually good. I enjoyed the feeling of reading it. That felt a little weird, but not unpleasant.
Agree with the Rev, also liked: "Portland is the capital of America’s small ponds."
And as long as we're all doing the most Portland thing we can do (i.e. talk endlessly about Portland), we're all winners.
D&W - But Kois' enthusiasm for Portland's karaoke scene is so genuine, and it's mixed up with this wistfulness about how Friday nights just ain't what they used to be—that's what I like about it. He's getting old and he lives in boring Virginia now, and he came to Portland and hung out with weird karaoke kids and just had the BEST TIME. Does our karaoke scene reflect something real and true about the character of the city? Probably not. Who cares. But I like this piece quite a bit as a travelogue. Also I just turned 30 so I'm really into articles where writers reflect on their lost youth :/
Fair enough. I did appreciate the enthusiasm for it, and how excited he was about it.

To be honest, too, these articles always remind me of Agent Cooper arriving in Twin Peaks and finding out just HOW AMAZING this pie is.
I LOVE karaoke, but I always feel like I'm not cool enough when I go to Baby Ketten, which probably has more to say about me than about Ketten.