I am usually keen on Slate’s perspective on news, sports, politics, culture and such, so I was bemused when contributor Taylor Clark spent 1300 words inexplicably raving about how cool Portland, Ore., is.
Clark name drops residents Isaac Brock, James Mercer, Stephen Malkmus, Elliott Smith, Janet Weiss, Britt Daniel, Colin Meloy, Chris Walla, Johnny Marr, Corin Tucker, M. Ward, Carrie Brownstein and others to justify selling Portland as the “Indie City.” It’s nothing new to read about the mass of musical trailblazers (pun) who have hunkered down in The City of Roses, but I’m probably atypical of the average Slate reader.
Still, if you have no idea who these people are, what their music sounds like or why they’re celebrities in the indie rock realm, Taylor’s narrative is utterly meaningless. What’s more, the piece does an awful job explaining what it is about Portland that appeals to these musicians. Clark’s best guess: “Portland’s combination of affordability, natural beauty, and laid-back weirdness is an independent artist’s dream.” As if no other locale on this rock has that oh-so elusive recipe.
The account comes across as little more than a transparent (and desperate) plea for recognition, which diminishes the indie cred Clark so emphatically peddles about Portland and its teeming musicians.