I made my choice to live in Portland as someone who grew up in a rural small town in Oregon. I am the quintessential Country Mouse who became entranced by the offerings of the Big City, and the wonderful bright and flashy things that a down-home kid can find. There are books and records and rock shows and strange things to watch and listen to, and if you are into that kind of stuff, then this is the town for you.
Portland, in and of itself, loves to accentuate its “wackiness.” This is nothing unusual; when has a town ever tried to “sell” people on the idea of their own town being “normal” and “just like everywhere else.” I appreciate the strangeness that this town tries to embrace, and I would feel a bad if there came a day when the town just threw up its hands and said, “Actually, we want to be more like Salem, Oregon.” The eccentricities keep me interested.
But really, putting live bands all along the route of the Portland Marathon – and having them start at 7 AM – is probably the most insane thing I can think of at this time. This goes beyond just being “eccentric” and moves into the territory of just ham-fisted and misguided. I awoke this morning, after having worked until far into the night, to crowds of people camped out in my yard, with a band playing on the sidewalk two houses down, cheering and screaming for their friends who are running down my street. A quick glance down the non-marathon side of where I live has also revealed that all the vehicles of my neighbors have been boxed in by the friends of all the runners who have all driven to this neighborhood to watch people run through it. And, if this one holds true to the marathon from last year, then there will be a huge mess left behind by the spectators who will leave and completely fail to clean up after themselves.
This is not “wacky.” This is not part of the way that people keep this city “weird.” This is just annoying to me and my neighbors, and fails to cultivate any pride in the city and what it does for the runners, or what cause these people are running for.
I am tempted to go outside with a broom in my pajamas to yell at everyone, but from what I can see through my windows, there are at least 50 people on my block, and several cops running everything. I want to complain and yell, and then have them offer me some form of sleep aid, so I can go back to sleep. But at this point, my vitriol will have to be reserved for scathing blog posts. No one will ever convince me that this is a good idea, for the simple fact that as a resident who lives on the physical path of the marathon, where people are camped out on my porch to watch, not a single person from the city asked me (or my neighbors) how we feel about being woken at 7 AM by live rock music, cheering crowds, and suburban lame-os invading my home.
Fuck the Portland Marathon.