Begorrah, what a dump


Portland made the Irish Times this past week. And not in a good way.

If you think Dublin has a homelessness problem – and it does, of course – you should see Portland, Oregon. During a literary conference there at the weekend, I went wandering the streets of the city centre. And used as I thought I was to scenes of urban life gone wrong, the state of the place shocked me.

One busy street, not far from the high-end department stores, had seven or eight tents pitched along the footpath. But there were tents in ones and twos almost everywhere. Drug addiction is equally obvious. Without looking hard, I saw several of the occupants shooting up. They didn’t try to hide it. And not everyone who needed one had a tent. Overladen shopping trolleys were another common sight, pushed through the streets by people in between addresses, who store everything they own in bags.

Tents and trolleys aside, meanwhile, although surely also a big part of the problem, the other instantly striking thing was the number of people with psychiatric problems. The bare-chested man prowling a square near my hotel, shouting at no one in particular, was not untypical.

You see such people in Irish cities too, just not as many, or in such a confined space. When I arrived back in Dublin on Monday morning, it seemed – even on Halloween – a calmer and more civilised place than I remembered.

I'm glad he got out of town in one piece, at least. Some tourists who walk around Old Town are not so fortunate.

Comments

  1. Was in Oklahoma City last weekend. No graffiti and saw less than a half dozen vagrants camped out on the streets.

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  2. High end department storeS….where?

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    1. Uh let’s see......Target for one. And since the author mentioned Powell’s, maybe he took a leisurely stroll up the street to Fred Meyer? Can’t get much more high-end than those two.

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    2. Apple, Nordstrom, and isn't there some pretentious stuff still in Pioneer Place?

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    3. Those are not technically “Department Stores”. Macy’s, M&F, and Lipman’s were, but they are all gone.

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  3. While waiting for a delayed flight, a fellow traveler found that I was from portland and asked “why do you put up with that carp”

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    1. Well first of all the locals know better than to eat the carp because the carp eat the crap at the bottom of the Willamette.

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    2. Willamette River Carp is good with a side of Stove Top stuffing and a little Willamette Valley Chardonnay. Just gotta watch out for the bones, and check for cancerous growths before sautéing.

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    3. I recall when I worked downtown years ago there was a bunch of Eastern European immigrants who would fish for Carp off the dock at the Riverplace development and as a kid growing up in Milwaukie we used to fish off the docks for Carp but we never had any intention of eating them we did it for sport.

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    4. I spent many an afternoon fishing for carp downtown in my youth. They do give up a good fight, but yeah, no one eats them. Almost 50 years later and I can still smell those wretched things.

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  4. Wow, we got a write up in the Irish Times. Does that mean that we are vibrant once again?

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  5. The big problem for the Irish is they are being replaced by mostly Africans that are being ushered in by the thousands year after year. They are talking about having to give up their houses if the government deems their house is too large for a couple. Good times.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, yes, the African immigrants, who make up .5% of the population. Without them, there would be so much housing that landlords would be paying tenants to stay in their homes, just to look after them.

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