Is Portland a progressive city? According to city council votes, not so much


Here’s this week’s episode of The Port City Chronicle, the continuing serial novel of Gretchen, a 46-year-old criminal defense lawyer, and her family and friends, seeking love and happiness in Portland the hard way:

“Did you find that sign on the ground?” Tim asked a sweet-looking, young blond woman marching near us with a sign saying “Never fuck a Republican” — except that on the sign it was spelled out, “I’m having trouble reconciling your sign with how you look.”

We were at the Women’s March in Washington D.C., staying with friends of Ethan’s. Or rather, we were corralled in a fenced-off space a block away from the march, inching along in a large crowd that seemed to be going in circles.

“We need to be in the march,” I said, desperately looking for a space in the chain-link fence where we could break through. “Otherwise we might not get counted.”

Meanwhile, Angela was desperately trying to prevent Henry and Marcus from reading the signs.

“If you grab my pussy, I’ll bite your dick off.”

“This shit smells.”

And leaning against one of the Port-a-Potties: “Take a Trump Here.”  

Besides the signs, Angela was worried about whether the boys would be okay in the large crowd.

“Where are the cops?” she asked nervously. “There are no cops anywhere.”

“They’re hoping we’ll trample ourselves,” the blond woman snickered.

As if to help out with that, a stream of big, square-headed men in Trump hats came through on their way to look at weapons at the Air and Space Museum, wearing t-shirts reading: Gun Owner Victim

Not that anyone couldn’t have told that from their general hostility. The rest of us had to crush ourselves to avoid ending up in that other box.

Of course, we’re getting used to that. There are a lot more of us than them, but as we’ve seen, you can win the popular vote in America and still lose the election.

“I thought Neanderthals were extinct,” the blond woman said.

“Yes, but only 50,000 years ago,” Tim said. “That seems like a short time when you think about it.”

The blond woman wasn’t feeling that philosophical.

“You’re orange, you’re gross, you lost the popular vote!” she shouted with the crowd.

I saw her point. We need to stop musing and take action. Especially overeducated people who tend to be too philosophical to be activists.


As we found out the hard way, the electoral college is not like other colleges: education doesn’t lead to success. It’s anachronistic, same as the Neanderthals, but apparently, we can’t get rid of it any more than our Neanderthal genes. All we can do is fight to have the homo sapiens part dominate.

But it wasn’t going to be easy.

“Look,” Angela said, trying to focus Henry and Marcus away from the more radical signs. “See that one? 'Without Hermione, Henry would have died in Book One.’”

But they were a lot more interested in “Mind Your Own Uterus,” “We Need to Talk About the Elephant in the Womb,” and “Get Your Filthy Laws Off My Silky Drawers.” They had better pictures.

“I’m going to take the boys home,” Angela said to Ethan. “Anyway, I need to get back to make the Bolognese sauce for dinner. It’s supposed to sit for a couple hours before we eat it.”

Ethan didn’t say anything.

“Your friends are kind enough to put us up for the weekend and I don’t want them to think we’re not good guests.”


Still no response.

“Are you okay? You haven’t said anything all day. Are you feeling claustrophobic? Maybe you should leave too.”

Ethan shook his head. “I don’t have to talk.”

I knew what was going on with him. He may have been physically present, but all he was thinking about was the Patriots game, based on the brief conversations I’d overheard between him and Tim on the side.

“I have to recite all the players on the active roster before anybody interrupts me or else we lose them and it’s all my fault,” Tim was telling Ethan.

“Do you have to say them out loud?” Ethan asked.

“No, but I have to at least whisper them.”

Ethan was obviously doing it too, judging from the fact that his lips were moving and nothing was coming out.

“If I’m interrupted I have to start over from the top,” Tim said. “That’s why it’s all on me whether the Patriots win or lose tomorrow.”

Apparently, Ethan was taking some of the pressure off him. But the attractive blond woman was helping pull him back a little in the direction of the march.

“Build bridges, not walls!!” she shouted. Ethan shouted it too.

“You know where they should build a wall?” he said. “Between the blue states and the red states. They should do it when Trump’s out in Kansas sometime so he won’t even be able to get home. Sure it’s unconstitutional, but who cares? Might makes right.”

That got the blond woman’s attention finally. She laughed.


“We shall overcomb!” she shouted with the crowd. Only Charles didn’t repeat it. He didn’t approve of the fact that the march seemed to like Ethan and Tim better than him.


“Female anger makes me very unhappy,” he said, taking cookies out of my pocket. “Male anger makes me very unhappy too. Oreos don’t make me unhappy.”


But I wasn’t paying much attention to him. We had finally broken out of our cage and were marching in a sea of signs and shouts down the mall.

“Are we going to push over the Washington Monument?” Marcus asked, seeing it rising before us.

It really felt like we could do it, but instead, we turned right toward the White House, shouting and stomping. That was enough for Angela.

“I better head home,” she said to the blond woman. “We’ve done this. I have to make a Bolognese sauce for dinner.”

But when she was out of sight on a side street, the blond woman had a comment.

“Fuck the Bolognese sauce.”

That certainly got Ethan’s attention again.

“Just so you know, I’m a Democrat,” he said, gesturing to her sign. “So.”

She laughed. “Yeah. I also know you’re married to Bolognese. So.”

Then suddenly we saw the Trump motorcade making its way up the next street and the joke was over. We ran in a mass across the lawn shouting and shaking our fists. I lost sight of Ethan and Tim and Charles, and only the blond woman was still next to me, screaming “Dump Trump!”

And a single cop across the street with a gun stared us down.

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