... is for one of our whippersnappers to grow up and get famous. But not too famous. (Hipsters are touchy about such things.) Wait... What I mean is, check out this article from Slate. It's all about Portland, Oregon, and how all the indie bands are moving there. Why are they moving there? Glad you asked:
So what's luring them here? The rockers themselves have somewhat confusingly praised Portland as a city "entrenched in juvenilia" (Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein), a place with a sense of "calm longevity" (chief Decemberist Colin Meloy), and a home of "really great public transportation" (the Shins' Mercer, who, it's safe to assume, didn't come here for the bus routes). If there's any alluring indie mystique to Portland, it's most likely due to the late Elliott Smith, who attended high school on the west side of town and recorded his most-loved work here. (Mercer even owns Smith's old house.) Before Smith, Portland's primary musical contribution to the universe was the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie." But Smith, on albums like Roman Candle and Either/Or, sketched a virtual map of the city with his whispery voice, and he went so far as to adopt a local street name, Elliott Street, as his first name—his birth name was Steven. For fans like myself, Smith's music made Portland seem infinitely more romantic than it ever could be in real life. (Case in point: 45 consecutive days of rain = not actually romantic.)
But in the end, which is the cart and which is the horse? Check this out:
One could easily view the walrus mustache, short-shorts, and calf-high socks Malkmus was sporting last summer as evidence for such decadent, regal motivations—"I'm Stephen Malkmus, and I lengthen my shorts for no one"—but really, it's probably just proof that musicians like him moved to Portland for the same reason as the rest of us: It's easy to live here. In the words of a friend of mine who used to be the music editor at the local alt-weekly, Portland is like a resort community for indie rockers who spend half the year working themselves ragged on tour. You can venture into public dressed like a convicted sex offender or a homeless person, and no one looks at you askew. It's lush and green. Housing is affordable, especially compared with Seattle or San Francisco. The people are nice. The food is good. Creativity is the highest law. For young, hip Portlanders, financial success is a barista job that subsidizes your Romanian-space-folk band or your collages of cartoon unicorns.
So is creativity the law because all those other factors encouraged creative people? Or did creative people bring good food and cheap housing? Now I'm all confused again.
I would only add that, even though I haven't checked the numbers, I bet Pittsburgh is cheaper than Portland. Does that mean I should get some short-shorts and start painting unicorns? If so, I think I would rather live someplace a little less creative.