light rail coyote

I've heard it remarked that while Central Park is "a giant park inside a city," Portland can be best understood as  "a city inside a giant park." Of the many palpable tensions that define the civic spirit of Portland is one of urban vs natural; between our heavily curated natural spaces and parks, our stingy fights over the urban growth boundary, obnoxious appropriating of outdoorsmen chic as "lumbersexual," and more obnoxious quibbles about natural purity of our water supply, there are few communities in North America that are so categorically, intrinsically conscious of our attempts to grapple the built environment with the natural environment, however constraining that dichotomy may be. The birthplace of recycling, the home of the "eat local" movement, our not-so-veiled nativist screeds against newcomers moving here, for fear of making it too populated for us to enjoy what nature does remain; it's a very real (and at times problematic) manifestation of the Oregon Exceptionalism philosophy that meant every year in elementary school we studied the life cycle of salmon or posed for photos outside of Camp 18.

As you might know, one early morning in 2002, a lone coyote out by the airport stumbled onto a City-Center bound MAX. The quixotic look on his face in photographs published in the newspaper the next day as he was apprehended by animal wildlife specialists always stuck with me; "what did i do wrong," he always seemed to ask, "is this a two-zone fare?" As in, "hey, don't I live here, too?"

While Sleater-Kinney's song about the Light Rail Coyote is arguably better, I can't stop freakin' watching this new Modest Mouse video, perfectly shot to capture that ever-so-uneasy-tension that permeates every discussion about the civic values of the City of Roses.

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