In Portland, Every Day is Casual

Anywhere else in the country, this man is labeled a hippie. In Portland, he could be labeled a certified public accountant.

I was trading messages on Facebook a few weeks back with my friend and former colleague Drew Lyon, who I first met writing for my college’s newspaper. Drew wanted to let me know he was coming to Portland to visit family and see some of his old stomping grounds from the five months he lived here a few years back.

Drew had rightfully assumed I hadn’t become a hipster from my many denouncements of the culture on this here blog. He wrote,

“OK, so you’re not a hipster. I figured. They love their tight jeans, huh? Question is: have you grown the requisite beard yet? I like to call Portland the facial hair capital of America, one of the few places where you can grow a beard and not be labeled a hippie. Plenty of hippies there too, of course.”

It dawned on me I haven’t shaved my face down to the flesh in a good eight months. Not since my last job interview, at least. And what a good eight months it’s been. I’m good for a weekly trim, but it’s true that Portland pays no mind to a little scruff. In a city that’s usually cloudy, no one gives a damn about a 5 o’clock shadow.

This is a city without a dress code. I work on the eighth floor of One World Trade Center downtown, yet I get to wear jeans to work every day. We still honor casual Friday, but it’s hard to get more casual than the status quo. I guess I know Friday as the day I get to wear running shoes to work.

I talk a lot of smack about Portland — which is sometimes deserving — but this city’s attitude regarding appearance is flat-out awesome. And mature, I might add.

When I was 14, I started bagging groceries. Back then, the dress code required I wear a white button-up shirt, a tie, dress pants and dress shoes. Earrings were unacceptable and facial hair needed to be approved by a manager. No visible tattoos were allowed. So, as a 14-year-old, I had to dress like a lawyer just to ask paper or plastic.

Now, I’m a working professional and I’m dressing the same way I did in college.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — look good, feel good, play good. OK, at times, I’m sure I look a little haggard strolling into work wearing an old pair of jeans, a flannel button-up and a pair of Patagonia slip-ons. But I look comfortable, I feel comfortable and I produce results on the job.

Take that, establishment!

So, what’s your dress code at work? What do you do to bend the rules?

We Need to Socialize Public Restrooms

Portland might be winning the War on Drugs, but it’s completely undermining the War on Public Urination.

Here, just like in other metropolitan areas, I imagine, public restrooms are at a premium. Thanks to junkies who’ve abused the privilege over the years, most of the restrooms in Portland require you either a) purchase something from the store b) find someone to let you into the locked restroom and sometimes c) have a security guard. For instance, the Fred Meyer across the street has a security guy whose job, among other things, is to monitor the restroom.

This is America. We found a way to allow astronauts to go No. 2 in zero gravity. We put restrooms on airplanes! There must be a way public restrooms can exist in a city full of syringes and capsules.

The case in Portland is particularly desperate because of a few factors:

Need a drink? Find a Benson bubbler anywhere downtown. Need a restroom? That's crazy talk.

  1. There’s water everywhere. Between the Willamette River, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the Salmon Street Fountain and, oh, I don’t know, the seemingly constant rain, it seems impossible to hold it in a city where free flowing water is part of the geology, infrastructure and climate.
  2. There’s public water fountains — Benson bubblers, they call them — located throughout downtown. So, you can stay hydrated and get yourself nice and water-logged, but good luck trying to find somewhere to relieve yourself. That’s putting kerosene on the fire.
  3. Downtown is where the beer is. And sure, you can use the restrooms at any establishment where you might be drinking, but if it’s a good jaunt home, you’ll start seeing mirages of Porta Potties. Suddenly, a dark alleyway won’t look so bad, and before you know it, you’re disgracing the Rose City.

What’s most grating is local businesses are completely justified for guarding their restrooms. There are a few public restrooms smattered alongside the river that have been used and abused. In most cases, if the toilet is a basketball hoop, the average field-goal percentage is about 54 percent. If you walk out without bleeding, catching a high or gagging, you’ve survived. You can’t be expected to run a business dealing with those types of conditions. Frankly, I would limit public access, too.

This could be the most elitist thing I’ve ever proposed, but bear with me. What if the city created public restrooms for downtown with keycard entry? To attain the keycard, you would need to be pay $15 per year and pass a drug test. The money from the keycard would go to the construction and upkeep of the restrooms, while the drug test would keep those more likely to abuse the restrooms from getting in.

Seriously, astronauts can safely defecate on space shuttles. You know that started with an idea crazier than mine!

Does anyone have any better ideas?

Look Good, Feel Good, Play Good: Twins Edition

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As part of an irregularly updated series, I’ll be blogging about trends in sports fashion from the big leagues. As the old mantra goes, “Look good, feel good, play good.” This series will highlight the best of the best when it comes to cutting edge sports uniforms and all-time classics.

As a way of biding farewell to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, my beloved Minnesota Twins will be sporting an alternate throwback uniform this season that harkens back to the Twins of the 1980s. It’s a great move for the Twins, who are lucky to work with the best colors in baseball anyway. It’s also a big improvement from the tired sleeveless alternates they’ve tried the past few years.

This isn’t my favorite old school Twins jersey, though. For that, I’m going back to 1965, with the tasteful pin stripes and inverted Twins logo (blue inside, red piping). That’s followed close by the 1984 road alternate in powder blue — a look the Twins should strongly consider using at some point this season.

Looking ahead to next season, the Twins should try to inject even more hype into the team by revamping the current uniforms (while trying to keep the old “TC” logo). There’s nothing I would love to see more than red alternates on that first day at Target Field. I’m sure Target would support the move, too.