Portlandia: We Put Birds on Things

Portland, "a city where young people go to retire," is the star of a new series on IFC. Will any car-driving carnivores be watching?

When the media flier for the Portland premiere of IFC’s new sketch comedy show Portlandia promised red carpet arrivals with “celebrity guests,” I’ll admit that I felt a twinge of giddy curiosity at the thought of Tinseltown glitz descending momentarily upon our drizzly city. Real celebrities? In Portland? The idea boggled the mind. So when I arrived outside the charmingly dilapidated Hollywood Theater on Friday evening and found no red carpet in sight, I assumed I’d missed the glamorous festivities. It was only after I waded through the tide of thrilled indie-chic Portlanders and ventured to the media room that I realized my mistake. In this case, “red carpet” referred to the actual worn carpeting of the room where local media members huddled excitedly around Carrie Brownstein, one of the show’s two stars and the only celebrity present.

Of course, this experience was perfectly in keeping with the theme of the show itself: Portlandia lovingly satirizes the hyper-liberal, defiantly insular culture of the Rose City. As Brownstein and fellow star Fred Armisen (of Saturday Night Live fame) see things, Portland isn’t so much a city as it is an unusually large commune, packed with idealists whose zeal for sustainability is matched only by their unparalleled ability to slack off. (As Armisen puts it in the show’s first few minutes, “Portland is a city where young people go to retire.”) Portlandias citizens are broadminded and tolerant only until someone breaks one of the community’s innumerable unwritten rules, at which point they transform into avenging furies of liberal outrage. In one hilarious sketch, Armisen and Brownstein reach DEFCON 5 after seeing a dog tied up outside a restaurant, its owner missing; “Who puts their dog on a pole like a stripper?” shrieks Brownstein. So you’re damn right Portland doesn’t do red carpets: haven’t you heard how the production of red dye damages lemur habitats in Madagascar? You haven’t? What’s wrong with you?

At least in Portlandia’s first two episodes, all of this makes for very funny television, and Armisen and Brownstein show an improbably solid chemistry throughout. (We knew Armisen was funny, but the fact that Brownstein, who came to prominence in the not-exactly-humorous punk band Sleater-Kinney, also has legitimate comic chops comes as a pleasant surprise.) What remains to be seen, however, is just how amusing Portlandia will be to those who don’t actually live here. Sure, all of the recognizable Portland stereotypes are on hand—the bike-riding mayor, the feminist bookstores, the pathological fixation on locally grown food—but the show’s cupboard may be overstocked with inside jokes as well. The audience laughed riotously at "We Put Birds on Things," the second episode of sketches featuring a motorist-abusing bike messenger and a television duo who specialize in stenciling birds on every kind of consumer product imaginable, yet for those who haven’t witnessed Portland’s belligerent cyclists and bird-obsessed indie crafters firsthand, I’m not sure how funny these bits will be.

Not that Portlanders care whether you get it. I mean, you shout at drivers as you bike to your sustainable vegan body piercing classes, too, right? You don’t? What’s wrong with you?

Portlandia premieres on IFC on Friday, January 21st. Photos by Scott Green/IFC.

via Jason S Campbell / Twitter

Conservative radio host Dennis Prager defended his use of the word "ki*e," on his show Thursday by insisting that people should be able to use the word ni**er as well.

It all started when a caller asked why he felt comfortable using the term "ki*e" while discussing bigotry while using the term "N-word" when referring to a slur against African-Americans.

Prager used the discussion to make the point that people are allowed to use anti-Jewish slurs but cannot use the N-word because "the Left" controls American culture.

Keep Reading

Step by step. 8 million steps actually. That is how recent college graduate and 22-year-old Sam Bencheghib approached his historic run across the United States. That is also how he believes we can all individually and together make a big impact on ridding the world of plastic waste.

Keep Reading
The Planet

According to the FBI, the number of sexual assaults reported during commercial flights have increased "at an alarming rate." There was a 66% increase in sexual assault on airplanes between 2014 and 2017. During that period, the number of opened FBI investigations into sexual assault on airplanes jumped from 38 to 63. And flight attendants have it worse. A survey conducted by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA found that 70% of flight attendants had been sexually harassed while on the job, while only 7% reported it.

Keep Reading