In 2014, at the suggestion of fellow pop scholar Phil Oppenheim, I took a paper to the Western Lands, Western Voices 50th Anniversary American West Center celebration in Salt Lake City. The ideas in the paper were a continuation of those published in Its The Ignonimy, Stupid: Portland, Portlandia, and the cultural legacy of Robert Johnston’s radical middle class. The 2014 paper was called Who Makes Pop? How Robert Johnston’s theory of Portland’s radical middle class both explains and predicts Portlandia.
Here’s the first paragraph of the summary of the paper.
Robert Johnston’s The Radical Middle Class: Populist Democracy and the Question of Capitalism in Progressive Era Portland, Oregon, describes a West filled with streetcars, printing shops, bicycles, Wobblies, and cheap electricity. The anti-elite values of the confident, self defining, self accepting middle class Johnston examines are the same ones Carrie Brownstein, herself an East Portland resident, both embodies and lampoons in the IFC comedy television show, Portlandia…..
I will be giving a much abbreviated version of this talk at UNDERGROUND USA, on Oct. 15, 2016.
UNDERGROUND USA is a public history/art education event made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. It is presented by Oregon Cartoon Institute in partnership with UO Comics & Cartooning Studies and PSU Comic Studies, with support from Oregon Historical Society and McMenamins.
Comic City USA, the first exhibit to look at Oregon print cartooning history, is at Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Avenue, through Jan. 31, 2017.
“People who read them when they first came out remember the initial impact — like getting whacked in the head with a two by four.” Patrick Rosenkranz, on underground comics