I just returned from a visit to the Portland area to visit family, and came back to see this Zócalo conversation on the merits of Portland versus Los Angeles. Director Gus Van Sant and architect Brad Clopefil, both based in Portland, spoke at UCLA's Hammer Museum about these West Coast cities and why they live in Portland instead of L.A.
Van Sant said that he lived in Portland because he wanted to avoid some of the ways his work could be influenced by living in L.A., while Clopefil said that the connection between L.A. and film is similar to the connection between New York and architecture, so living in Portland allows him to be outside that insular community. In Portland, "You're just hunkered down, able to do your work. It rains a lot," Van Sant said. "Down here, you feel like you need to go out and play in the sun."
They're both cities with a romantic appeal; Portland has become possibly the hippest city in America, or at least the most filled with hipsters. It's a bit like if all of L.A. was Silver Lake. It's been expertly parodied by Fred Armisen and NPR's own Carrie Brownstein on IFC sketch comedy show "Portlandia."
Meanwhile, L.A. is still home to glitz, glamor and baristas hoping to be actors/writers/producers/reality show contestants. Both Van Sant and Clopefil started their careers in L.A. before winding up in Portland (Clopefil by way of New York).
Personally, I left the Pacific Northwest for L.A. in order to work at your friendly neighborhood public radio station; for those of you not originally from L.A., what brought you here?
Highlights of Season One of "Portlandia":