Guest Post!

I turn today’s column over to the illustrious Dr. Pizza, who is highly qualified to take on questions about being an artist, living in portland, and interacting with a music community. Any questions along these lines may be passed on to him in the future, because he is a wise wizard.

why is Portland so flaky? WTF

grand statements like that are confusing for me to consider, and hard to take seriously. if you are finding a pattern of behavior in widely different people in your life, you must realize that you are the only constant in all of the equations. therefor, the only thing you can actively do to change the outcome is look deeply within yourself, and change your own behavior. its the old adage – “you can’t change the world, or other people. you can only change yourself. and even that is hard and probably bullshit” who said that? jung? deepak?

if you are specifically talking about trying to find new friends and collaborative partners in a new city, well, i think the best idea is to slow the fuck down. relax kid, you’re getting ahead of yourself.
you can’t expect everything to fall into place all at once, and it can become quite exhausting in this period of settling
you’ve only recently moved here and it will take a while for you to fall in with a proper set of friends. you probably know to look for friends at work or at concerts, dance parties, etc.
finding people with common interests means going to social events in that field. it also means networking, jumping from one friend, thru theirs and on and on until you’ve collected a group of people you might actually hang out with in the long term.

if you’re having trouble with people not wanting to become closer friends, or commit to hanging out, working on projects together etc etc, you might be dealing with double newbie syndrom.

as you get to know another person new to the city and they you, just like in dating, some might drift off and you might drift away from them.
i think the best thing to do is treat these new relationships very loosely and with many grains of salt. it would be wonderful if some of them stick around, but i’m sure you’ll know when you actually click with someone on a deeper level. you just have to get into the flow of friendship courtship and butterflying around until something, someone, a particular network sticks.
once you befriend someone, however temporarily, its important to meet as many of their friends as possible, and to share your other new friends with the new new friend as well.
this way, everyone has the best chances at finding a great new friend or two even if you dont become great friends with the initial contact.
but there’s no way to force this to happen. just be open and friendly with those you meet.
coming on too strong, just as in romantic relationships, can send the potential creative partner or friend running.

if i can make a generalization about the portland art and music cultures i participate in, its that its friends first, fun second, collaborative creative projects third.
everyone i know here has some sort of creative hobby or profession or outlet. you either play music or make art or do something craft oriented or you dance. i doubt this is true in general, but its true of the types of people i roll with. perhaps we’ve all selected each other over time and perhaps its because portland is such a “great place for creative people to live”… no one can ever really know the answer to that

anyway, in my networks, people generally expect to be taken seriously, no matter how amateur or professional their thing is.
due to widespread DIY ethics, the punk and grunge movements that swept thru this region, and perhaps because this is the last great isolated west of america, people tend to revere the amateur, and idolize the “pure” non-commercial pursuit of a creative life
just think of all the little shops, the little restaurants, food carts, bands, artists, galleries and boutiques that are everywhere in this city. they all speak to a creative class that is in love with small ideas pushed to market with modesty and a little bit of idealist zeal.
the bands that are the most successful exports from this region are all branded similarly.
the Great NorthWest – life’s different here.
Portlandia, the comedy t.v. series draws from many of these tropes… and, beyond the jokes about sustainability, eco-consciousness and other general hippy jokes, the show is a good way to understand the general temperature of portland’s young creative subcultures.

so i guess people expect that you would be woodshedding and will politely listen to your ideas and your project – as long as you listen back to them about theirs.
just because someone listens to your ideas doesn’t necessarily mean they are interested in collaborating. its just what people tend to talk about.
so in the end that might be why you think people are flaky about collaborating. you’re expected to talk about your projects and ideas, and listen to other people’s ideas, but there is absolutely no expectation to help each other unless both parties realllly want to, and are possibly having sex.
this town tends to move slowly. there isn’t actually THAT much going on, as much as the press would have you think otherwise. and there’s not a lot of outside influence. we’re isolated up here in this little riverside valley bowl.

anyway, to be a bit harsh: it sounds to me like you are probably over-extending, trying too hard to get something going. i understand that frustration and your patience is probably running out.
you’ll either have to find the patience to let yourself find a groove within this city, or you’ll move somewhere else. perhaps somewhere where you already have a few old friends to help you establish some connections.
i imagine, in the end, you’ll be alright.

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