“Portland is sort of the last frontier,” says Thomas Lauderdale, who grew up in Portland and returned after college with fellow Harvard alum China Forbes to found the wildly popular cult band Pink Martini. “%u don’t have to jump through magical hoops or be born into an old money family to make a direct impact here; as long as you have talent and are willing to get involved, you can.
So I think it tends to attract peoplı with pioneering spirits, people who want to make their mark.” Forbes, for example, abandoned life in Manhattan in 1996 to settle in the bohemian Northeast section of the city and never looked back.
“New York was too difficult a place for me to be Creative,” she says. “There was always this pressure to go out, whereas here, it’s very easy to just stay home and do your thing.” Transplants have even embraced the less pleasant aspects of life here. “In some ways, the rain in Portland is great, because it forces you to stay inside and do work,” says Malkmus, formerly of the band Pavement, who moved here from New ^ork four years ago. Most of the Creative activity in Rartland has centered on the once decrepit warehouse neighborhood known as the Itearl District.
A decade ago, the area was home to the sort of bohemian drifters that populate Van Sant’s Saucebox, another of the city’s new wave of trendy hangouts. “But to be honest with you, I never expected to do it on this scale. I just never thought that the dty would explode the way it has över the last couple of years.”