In January, I posted a link to a documentary film about pro-Trump minority students at Portland State University. The director was a graduate student at PSU, at that time on the staff of the student newspaper, the Vanguard. His name: Andy Ngo.
In February, I ruminated about social life in the hipster ghetto:
I like Portland, and I mix well with the hipsters here, culturally speaking. We can talk about books, art, music, exotic food, whatever, and it's all good. The minute we get into politics, though, everything changes. It's always the "elephant in the room" - so to speak - and there is just no getting away from the fact that I simply don't see the world the same way they do. This is what I mean when I affectionately refer to Portland as "the hipster ghetto". It's a densely populated place with a certain culture, a very rich culture to be sure, but it is a walled garden. There's this whole world of social norms, social signals, social codes, that you have to navigate. And politics is very much a part of that world. Deviate from the codes at your own peril.
Go outside of that walled garden, though, and the picture changes rapidly. A hundred miles to the east, across the Cascades, lies another Oregon entirely. It's a land of ranchers and Tea Partiers and Three Percenters; travel east from Bend and you're in John Day, the site of a recent memorial rally for LaVoy Finicum. And to the north, across the Columbia River, you're in Vancouver, Washington, a town I've so far only briefly visited but which seems more moderate and down-to-earth than my beloved Portlandia.
Portland kept right on delivering. There was a riot on May Day. I wasn't there, but the late Leo Stratton, our side's premier videographer, captured footage of it.
Meanwhile, Andy Ngo was fired from the Vanguard.
In July, there was a conservative rally in Portland and I went.
I saw Andy [Ngo] there, and finally got to meet Athena and Leo [Stratton] and a number of other local people that I'd only interacted with online. Marco and Harim came up from Cali and I got my picture taken with Harim. A street preacher talked about sin and forgiveness, and a trans activist [Amber Gwen Cummings] stomped on a communist flag. This big, friendly Polynesian guy named Tiny started the whole thing off with a warrior dance.
The folks on the other side tried to make trouble for us, but they didn't even make a dent. The Portland police did a good job of keeping order. I had been a bit apprehensive about the event, and didn't decide until the last minute that I was going to go at all. But it was incredible, energizing, and a great chance to build bonds with people I hadn't met before but needed to.
That was also my first year working IT help desk. I had three gigs during the year, but by December I had hit a dry spell and money was getting tight - and besides, I was ready for a break from living in downtown Portland, which didn't seem to be headed anyplace good.
So, I took a job in a live-work situation with an elderly couple - the parents of a friend from the synagogue - in the hills outside of Scappoose.