On summer nights, when the air is soft and sweet-smelling, you could be fooled into thinking Portland has always pushed an eco-utopian agenda. Walking where the light from streetlamps is dappled by coniferous trees, you’ll pass green buildings, fair-trade shops, and, every few feet, solar-powered curbside meters that reject your money at times when parking is free. But stay awhile—close a few bars in the Belmont district, or chat with some punks playing hackysack downtown, and you’ll learn that Portland is also a perverse and obstinate place: underneath its crunchy exterior are the living relics of a once-booming logging town that never went bust. It’s this side of Portland, honest and funky and more than a little weird, that’s made the town a magnetic dot on the indie circuit, drawing writers (Chuck Palahniuk), filmmakers (Gus Van Sant), and multitudes of now mainstream bands (the Dandy Warhols, the Shins, and the Decemberists, to name a few).
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