For many of us, the tv show Portlandia is less of a parody and more of a documentary.
When asked about where this attitude originated, many old timers talk about Governor Tom McCall and Vortex I.
In 1970, America was embroiled in the Vietnam War, and it was rapidly losing popularity. There had been a series of loud and disruptive protests around Portland and Governor Tom McCall had more bad news. It was announced that the American Legion’s annual convention would be in Portland and would be addressed by none other than President Richard Nixon.
Governor Tom McCall was worried, and rightly so, that there was a high probability of violent conflict between protestors and police. But, instead of calling for more armed security, or for the National Guard, or doing something which would escalate the situation, McCall did something drastic. He called the Grateful Dead.
McCall organized a FREE concert 30 miles outside the city on the same day and at the same time as the convention. He guaranteed the participants that the police would leave the concertgoers alone. He also made sure that the parking for the concert was a mile or two away from the concert, ensuring that no one would be able to leave early and quickly get back to Portland to stir up trouble.
The convention went off without a hitch. The concert went off without a hitch, and Portland became a city where problems are handled just a little bit different.
Now the Dill Pickle Club is creating a comic about the event and organizing a Kickstarter campaign to fund it. The Dill Pickle Club has previously produced a series of Oregon History comics which skillfully dig into the interesting and off-kilter stories of Oregon’s past. I’m glad that they are back, digging in and telling stories which might be lost to time.
Head over to the Kickstarter page and show them some love!