Zinester’s Guide to Portland, The: Edited by Shawn Granton 129 pgs. By Craven

Nov 26, 2007

This book is cute and full of great illustrations. It will definitely provide the zinester with plenty of things to do in Portland, Oregon. It definitely serves as a hip, cool, Portland version of a Lonely Planet guide. A lot of effort has been put into it. And I’m sure that it definitely serves a purpose to the Bohemian masses that come into or already live in Portland and find themselves screaming at the overcast sky, “What the hell am I going to do with myself?”

That said, I’m trying to simply review this book and don’t want to go into a critique of zinesters, but I’m finding it hard not to do so, because it seems necessary. So please allow me some room to break it down. I am not a fan of zinester culture at all (but I love zines and self-publishing; I find them to be distinctly different). Zinesters tend to be the type of folks who like to throw around the term “zine community” and fetishize the medium itself; rather than being obsessed writers, illustrators, journalists, and journalers or whoever that make zines because it is an available medium. Meanwhile, they’ve placed strict controls (both consciously and indirectly) on the content of what the “zine community” is all about and take it for granted as being universal to everybody who does zines. These things usually revolve around vegan food, bikes, coffee, and the like. They thrive in a city like Portland, which encourages such behavior and passes it to the über-cool in a locally made basket, but is often stifling to anybody else.

Allow me to refer to a review of this book I found online on the publisher’s website: “Portland, Oregon is one of my favorite cities. First of all, it’s hipper than anywhere, and that includes San Francisco and Paris, France. Trust me, Portland is hipper than both. It’s got more cool anarcho-purple haired mellow stoner smash-the-state people running their own companies out of their bedrooms than any berg in the Universe.” This is the type of person that this guide is intended for, people who love having everything handed to them and can appreciate a town that is overly cool and provides it to them with the barest minimum of struggle. Now there’s a book for them. And, oh, the choices they’ll have.

For the rest of y’all, like those who like to seek out their own secret places and make their own fun or the punks who have trouble doing what everybody else is doing, this book isn’t really necessary. Nor is Portland for that matter. –Craven Rock (Microcosm Publishing, PO Box 14332, Portland, OR97293, www.microcosmpublishing.com)