I don’t watch much Portlandia, because I live here and it’s redundant. I don’t need television to deliver whatever airy spirit inspires someone to brake unexpectedly on I-5 for a longer view of a rainbow. Never mind that there are rainbows every 10 minutes in Portland. We have rainbows the way the Midwest has rust. But by all means, please, slow for the Instagram.
I don’t need Portlandia, because I have lived through the Great Fluoride Wars, and I have seen Darth Vader in his kilt on his unicycle blowing flames from his bagpipes.
I haven’t seen a copy of Kinfolk, but I don’t want to. If even the New York Times—Portlandia’s paper of record—thinks Kinfolk represents peak “Rustic Artisanal Twee,” well, fuck that.
Portland weird has turned slowly into Portland Weird, a particularly self-conscious brand of preciousness calibrated for maximum media coverage. We’re playing to type, or at least we’ve allowed ourselves to be typecast. I had an overgrown beard this winter, too. I like folk music. We’re all in this together.
But then along comes Damian Lillard to put a little steel in our civic spine.
You saw the shot. I saw the shot. Everyone saw the shot and then we watched it again, and again, and again. All the angles, all the reactions. I don’t even have to link to it, because you know it. (I’ll link to it anyway, because it’s fun—all the audio, too.)
That shot, that deep three drifting hard to his left with the game on the line? The one that never bothered to even acknowledge the rim on the way to pushing the Trail Blazers to the second round for the first time in 14 seasons?
That shot didn’t care about feelings, or hats, or mustache wax. That shot didn’t give a shit about fair trade, free range, or fluoride. That shot was not ironic. That shot honked its horn at you for being an asshole. That shot didn’t want to be on your kickball team.
Lillard hit that shot and he scowled a scowl he might well have been born with. Imagine: 8-year-old Damian Lillard on Christmas morning unwrapping the perfect present, and scowling. Damian Lillard learning to ride a bike, and scowling. Damian Lillard bringing home an A on a test, and scowling. Damian Lillard at prom, scowling.
Or, as my favorite Blazers game day follow put it after the fact:
A DAMIAN LILLARD TED TALK ON HOW TO STOP BEING SUCH A COWARD AND FINALLY ASK OUT KATIE— Portland Brocialite (@pdxbrocialite)May 3, 2014
That shot asked out Katie while she was having dinner with Dwight Howard and then streamers fell and the Moda Center erupted and, on the radio, Antonio Harvey went all caps: “BOOM! THAT BOY IS SPECIAL!”
We all went ALL CAPS. That shot turned Portland, a city with a Comic Sans reputation, into hoarse pack of bold New Times Roman badasses.
Lillard was on Portlandia. He played himself, incredulous over the lack of seriousness, less than amused by the level of cute.
Damian Lillard is the first thing to come out of Portland in a long time that makes sense to my Midwestern pals. (That and the beer. They love the beer.)
It’s great that Robin Lopez is here. He likes comic books and hashtags tweets “goonies.” Lopez is awesome. LaMarcus Aldridge is fantastic, a superstar whether he fits Tony Kornheiser’s strange definition of superstar or not.
But Lillard. Lillard and that shot. That shot. That shot was mean. It was cold-blooded. That shot didn’t have a fuck to give about anything other than winning. That shot was perfectly launched ambition.
This town could use a little more of that shot.