One Great Big Neon Festering Distraction

Once again the idiotic citizens of Portland are all up in arms over the giant, “historic” neon sign that sits on the west side of the river over the Burnside bridge. Around 10 years ago everyone freaked out and shit themselves when it was changed from saying “White Stag” (an old outdoor clothing company) to say “Made in Oregon” (a company that sells things only made in the state). Now the University of Oregon owns it and wants to change it to say “University of Oregon.”

Honestly, why the fuck are we even talking about an ugly neon sign? I hate to use the old “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” saying but come on people. The salmon are rapidly going extinct right in front of us. Street names? Neon Signs? Really? This is what you’re spending your time talking about while land that gives us life withers under the destructive, imperialistic agricultural regime? This is what you’re choosing to emotionally invest in while dams, logging, commercial fishing and pollution are wreaking havoc on the innocent lives of plants and animals with which we depend?

Oh wait, I’m sorry. No, let’s sit around and debate what we should name a street. Grand Avenue or Cesar Chavez Ave? Oh and if you say Grand you’re a fucking racist! If we are looking towards quality of life, I see no way in which a neon sign adds more quality to my life. I see that sign every once and a while and it leaves no impression on me, anymore than any other grotesque Clear Channel billboard, only it’s a vintage advertisement so it’s like, totally cool or something. What the fuck is wrong with you people? You know what leaves an impression on me? Stands of Black Cottonwood that stood 200 feet tall with a width of 7 feet, lining the shores of the Willamette river. Camas fields so dense that the valley looked like a great sea of purple. Land that was so rich from indigenous, sustainable land management that it baffled the agrarian fundamentalists who first encountered it.

While my family does not belong to the Native American populations who tended the lands here for 8,000 years, we have lived here longer than Grand Avenue, longer than that disgusting neon sign. As a fourth generation Portlander, and a recovering agrarian fundamentalist, I can tell you that I would rather have that funding go to life-giving historic monuments, like say, salmon runs so thick you can’t wade through the river than old energy consuming advertisements. As the climate crisis heats up, as economic collapse melts our society down, we need to restore the local, sustainable food systems that humans had in place here for thousands and thousands of years.

Shame on you Multnomah county, with your so-called “green technology” and “sustainable development.” You’re supposed to be the most liberal, environmentally conscious, eco-forward county in this country and yet you quibble over the most meaningless bullshit, spending tons of money, time and energy, distracting yourselves from doing something sincere for the future generations. Here is an idea, let’s just change the sign to say “Fuck the Planet.” That way you’ll be able to clearly remember every time you look at the sign where your priorities lie. Either way, it will be very clear to the generations of people that come after us, that the people of this land cared more about pretty little bright lights than rewilding our ravaged lands.


10 Comments on “One Great Big Neon Festering Distraction”

  1. Excellent.
    And fucking stupid.
    But thank you for saying this, and so well.
    I don’t have to tell you how many times in a day I feel and think these same things.

  2. I heard a quote the other day from some famous economist whom I did not recognize because I don’t care about the economy:

    “Energy technology is about saving the US, not about saving polar bears.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  3. i just attended my first planning and zoning meeting in the small town i live in… THREE HOURS were spent on whether another point of entry should be allowed for a gas station to accommodate the large RV and truck pulling boat customers expected (so they can turn their fat asses around easier). it was even said that it would “BE A BURDEN” for those folks to have to drive down the road (less than a mile) to one of two other gas stations to fill up their precious vehicles. it was painfully fascinating.

  4. I was in a car in a parking lot recently, just looking at the sprawl spawned by car culture. In the center of the lot was about 7 portable newspaper containers–some for free, some for purchase. I kept thinking how many trees, what forest, gave their lives for this hideous representation of “voices” a la newspapers… And instead of a forest, there’s a pile of newspaper containers, representing how many trees for the newspapers? how many lives for the plastic containers manufactured for the containers? how many mountains stripped for the minerals, etc., for the paint on the containers?

    Take the whole thing down, and get the fuck out of the way of the forest.

  5. Fucking right man. Thank you for saying something. I was thinking the same thing when I first read about this in the local corporate media (KATU I think). I think its funny that Portland calls itself the most “sustainable” or “green” city, in the country. Psshhh, no city, including Portland will ever be sustainable. Maybe when the people decide to rip up the roads, and tear down most of the buildings to allow plant life to grow back, will it be anywhere close to sustainable.

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