Portlandia goes from TV show to real life tourist destination

Dave Masko's picture

Outside of Powell's Books, along NW 29th Ave, is an eclectic poster for the “Portlandia” TV series that states: “In Portland, we can pickle anything; what can you pickle?”

While the cult TV comedy series “Portlandia” is now on summer vacation from its IFC network; fans can still watch Fred & Carrie shoot season three episodes in and around Portland, Oregon, where the name “Portlandia” comes from a statue that hangs over the famed Portland Building in downtown Portland on Fifth Avenue. In turn, both seasons one and two of Portlandia are now available on iTunes and DVD; while season three has been renewed, states the IFC network with new episodes set for airing in late 2012. In the meantime, the show’s creators and stars - Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein (Wild Flag) - have been reported “around town” hanging out, and filming bits and pieces for the return of Portlandia that recently was honored with two Primetime Emmys in both writing and directing categories. Also, this eclectic and “cult” TV comedy has previously won a coveted Peabody Award this year when it was praised for its “funhouse mirror reflection of Portland” and “satire that is fresh, organic and cage-free.”

Portlandia now a travel destination

The "Portlandia" TV show is so popular in this city that Portland major Sam Adams – who also appeared on the show – even proclaimed “Portlandia Day,” with the proclamation including a decorative bird that references a joke from this TV series.

Thus, visit Portland this summer and learn all about this now famous “local show” that features the quirky people of Portland, and plenty of “cool” spots where they hang out.

Moreover, a local bicycle tour company recently began recent summer “Portlandia” bike tours of the city where many of the Portlandia episodes from season one and two were filmed; while new episodes for season three are now being shot during the month of August.

Finding “Portlandia” muse in just about everything Portland

Portlandia revolves around the word “quirky,” with the famed writer Harriet Beecher Stowe offering this view of quirky that certainly rings true when describing the people of Portland featured in the hit TV show Portlandia. Stowe wrote that “Every man has his own quirks and twists.”

For instance, Portland based writer Craig Thompson writes at the end of his award-winning book “Blankets” that he thanks the quirky people of Portland “for tea and walks, bike-rides and skateboarding, sledding, swimming at the river, the entire Gracie’s experience, for rocks to jump off of and water falls to swim in, moonlit hikes, thunderstorm hikes, free yoga classes, running in the forest, skinny-dipping, dancing mostly naked in the rain, pajama parties, home-cooking, and for Portland strangers that hand you a bottle of wine when you’re shivering on an icy stoop with a lover.”

At the same time, Portlandia star and co-creator Fred Armisen also notes how some of Portlandia’s most loved and notable characters from both seasons have produced such catchphrases as “Put a Bird On It” and “Cacao,” or visits to the feminist bookstore, “Women and Women First.”

In addition, the show has featured numerous fun guest stars will also partake in Portlandia's satirical interpretation of this earnest Pacific Northwest community; including Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day), Sean Hayes (The Three Stooges, Will & Grace), Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know), Penny Marshall (Laverne and Shirley), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption), Andy Samberg (SNL), Amber Tamblyn (127 Hours, House) and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, SNL) as well as musicians Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), Steve Jones (guitarist, Sex Pistols), Johnny Marr (guitarist, The Smiths), Joanna Newsom (singer/songwriter) and Eddie Vedder (songwriter/ vocalist/ guitarist, Pearl Jam).

Portlandia is shot entirely in Portland and the surrounding area, with season three now shooting scenes in city parks and even at the nearby Oregon coast.

In fact, one local Portland parks employee got a real first hand involvement with a recent "Portlandia" production. “They wanted leaves,” quipped Mark Gazzaniga during a recent July 29 Huliq interview in downtown Portland where the “Portlandia” TV crew recently filmed a scene with Fred & Carrie walking through a park with plenty of leaves.

In turn, Gazzaniga explained that here in Portland “we have plenty of leaves with all the trees and such. Although it’s mid-summer, the fall season comes early for us and we were able to get plenty of leaves for the Portlandia actors to play in.”

Portlandia wins Emmys and Peabody’s for its characters

While other TV reality shows rely on sex, greed, violence and other vulgar subjects that appeal to many in mainstream America these days, Portlandia recently earned both Emmy nominations and the coveted Peabody Award for simply good writing about quirky people who do nothing much but live their lives.

For instance, the recent end of season two “Brunch Special” featured Fred and Carrie standing in a long line for brunch; while encountering funny Portland folk and just chatting about nothing in the same way as the “Seinfeld” television sitcom did, with friends simply hanging out together and musing about their lives.

Moreover, Portlandia’s director Jonathan Krisel told local media in Portland that this special was a personal quest for him to find the best marionberry pancakes on the planet; since Portland is known for its organic and fresh marionberrys that are a key ingredient in local pancakes the size of dinner plates, and MMM good!

Along with close friend and co-creator Carrie Brownstein, Fred Armisen and the show’s other producers have made TV history with this cult TV “Portlandia” on IFC; while it not only won a coveted Peabody Award during the first season of the show, but is also making locals in Portland very happy.

“It’s delightful, fresh and always funny,” says a local Portland artist named “Hugo,” who says what’s even cooler is “running into Carrie and Fred at local music venues or donut shops. They really live around town, and now are Oregonians too. You can’t say that about other Hollywood types who just cruse in to make the bucks and then run back to the Hills or New York. They’re both the genuine article and that comes through on the show,” adds Hugo while making a quirky keening wail in the same way as locals do when caught on the Portlandia TV show.

Portland people love their “Portlandia”

While the view from others in Portland is “we couldn’t be happier,” says a local named “Bear” who says he lives near “Fred and Carrie,” when pointing to a karaoke stub autographed by the Saturday Night Live cast member Fred Armisen.

In turn, Bear explains how the Portlandia producers were “checking out the karaoke band scene” at Portland’s Tiger Bar on North West Flanders Street “when Fred signed this for me,” adds Bear with a blush of pleasure rose to his cheeks.

Although Portland locals are not “really” as quirky as Portlandia makes them out to be; Portland locals say the show offers a “wonderful sense of going home.”

Others also say “Portlandia” gives voice to Portland’s wistful side.

People who call themselves “Oregonians” - from the Portland and this region of northern Oregon – really seem to enjoy Portlandia’s tour of the “hot spots” in this indie-rock paradise that’s become the muse for Fred & Carrie to simply have fun.

For instance, such Portland landmarks as the Roseland Theater, Music Millennium (the oldest record store in the Pacific Northwest) and the famed Doug Fir Lounge are featured as some of the backdrops for new season three episodes of Potlandia that will begin airing on IFC this winter season.

Armisen likes Portland because you can wear a jacket

Moreover, Armisen recently told David Letterman on CBS “Late Show” that the Brunch Special is simply about one of Portland’s favorite pastimes and that’s “standing in a long line at a brunch.”

In turn, Letterman said: “Oh, my God, this is just the right kind of strange,” when sharing with Armisen that he’s a big fan of Portlandia; with Armisen revealing how he now lives in downtown Portland.

“I just had a couch delivered, and the delivery man refused a tip,” explained Armisen during his Letterman interview; while then explaining how that’s the kind of place Portland is – “it’s where people hand you bread when you’re walking down the street and nobody seems to have a job there.”

Also, Armisen said the response from people in Portland has been most positive by saying: “They’re so nice about it,” and “the city of Portland lends itself to it.”

Armisen then told Letterman that he visited Portland for years “little by little,” and then decided to move there because, among other things, Armisen says “it rains all the time but it’s nice because I like rain and wearing jackets.”

Image source of Mark Gazzaniga (in truck) and partner showing how they gathered leaves for a recent season three episode of the cult TV show “Portlandia” that’s currently on a TV summer break, but filming in Portland. Photo by Dave Masko

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