DID YOU READ

Made in Portlandia

Made in Portlandia (photo)

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In 2008, the dream of the ’90s brought me to Portland. At the time, of course, I didn’t realize that’s what drew me here. I’m 29 years old; in the ’90s, my dreams were usually about Neve Campbell, hanging out with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or, for some reason, fronting a dancehall reggae band. Even just before moving here, I wasn’t totally cognizant of what relocating to Portland “meant.” All I knew is I wanted to finally get out of the Southern California beach town I grew up in and go to a place harboring big-city culture within small-town geography, and San Francisco was too expensive. A job opportunity put Portland on my radar. The job never materialized. I ended up here anyway.

Over the last three years, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that Portland is where I’ve always belonged–and not only because the weather is more conducive to my wardrobe. “Portlandia” introduced itself by having Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein define the culture they would be lampooning via a synth-pop song-and-dance number, but “The Dream of the ’90s” didn’t register with me as a skewering. For me, it was a valentine to all the things that have made me fall in love with Portland. I don’t have any piercings or tattoos, I didn’t study clowning in college (though in retrospect, it might’ve been a better decision than majoring in journalism), and despite what my subconscious used to tell me, I’ve never had much desire to be in a band, reggae or otherwise, but I’m glad to live somewhere in which those things are part of overarching value system. I enjoy being surrounded by people living absurdly. And there’s no place in America that accommodates absurdity more than Portland.

I’m aware that makes it seem as if I’m romanticizing the notion of delaying adulthood. I would argue, however, that what Portland is about is redefining what it means to be an adult, not shirking it all together. That whole thing about this being the city where “young people go to retire” is funny but not totally true. If Portlanders are unambitious–and that’s a relative term to begin with–at least they are passionate about their lack of ambition. You know what offends me far more than artisanal light bulb manufacturers and adult dodgeball leagues? People whose only goal is making enough money to afford to live in a region where the temperature dropping below 75 degrees is considered a “cold snap.” I would never fully slander my hometown–Oxnard, California, known for producing strawberries, underground hip-hop producer Madlib, and gang violence of both the Latino and surf-punk variety–but that’s the prevailing attitude of a lot of my peers who never left. It was a beautiful, culturally diverse place to grow up, but it’s not where I wanted to spend my late 20s. I wanted to spend them in a place where my neighbor works 15 hours per week at a local co-op and the rest of their time in the basement recording a ukulele folk album.

I didn’t really know that about myself until I came to Portland, and despite conventional thought, I think that’s true of most of the city’s transplants. Contrary to popular belief, Portland does not put out a Bat-signal for freaks, weirdos and (ugh, I hate to use this word because it’s lost all meaning at this point, but it feels obligatory) hipsters. People wind up here for whatever reason, and the weirdness gets yanked out of them and added to a culture that’s still being defined. “Portlandia” straddles a line between mocking and celebrating that culture; to hear locals discuss it, the side to which it leans is a matter of interpretation. So I prefer to think of it as a tribute. And that’s how I plan to treat my space on this blog: As an homage to those who dare to live absurdly, in the most absurd place on earth.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.