Friday, September 24, 2010

New to the Area

Here is a piece I wrote back in 2003 for people who plan to move to this area.

Here is a Public Service Announce for all who are new to this area from the East Coast.

So you’ve moved to Clatsop County. There are many things you should be aware of before you try to assimilate yourself into the culture here. First you must make yourself aware that if you have come here from the East Coast, you have relocated yourself close to three thousand miles away from what you are familiar with. That would be like moving from London to somewhere in central Russia. Imagine the cultural differences. Sure we are still in the same country, but that’s the only link you will now have to the outside world. Here are the things you will need to know:

As for the Geography:
The geography here is a lot like that of Maine, and some of the coastline is like Long Island, N.Y. However there are no moose, black flies, annoying Down East accents, annoying Long Island accents, sugar maples, Bass Shoe outlets or snow.

As for the Food:
Do you like lobster and soft shell crab? Forget them. The closet you will come to that sort of eating will come in the form of dungenous crab. It’s not a bad substitute, but it still isn’t same. Forget snapper blue and flounder as well, here you will get salmon, and you will get sick of it after the first two parties you attend.

Luckily, products that you are used to have finally made it out here in the last ten years. You will be able to find Bryers Ice Cream, Thomas’s English Muffins and Yoo Hoo, but you will be hard pressed to find a bakery that can live up to your standards. Bagels? Forget them. There are some places here that make good bagels, but you will not fully appreciate them until you’ve been deprived of a real bagel for about a year. As for good bread forget it. Pizza? Learn to make your own. They do real bad things to Pizza out here. You don’t want to know about it. It will just make you sob and wish you never moved here. Also forget about French Onion soup. Get used to clam and salmon chowder.

As for the Language:
Get used to words like “ruff” that is the thing on top of your house. “Ruts” are what we know as roots. “Pop” is soda, a “sack” is a bag, a “rig” is a truck, a “snag” is what’s left of a dead tree, “Sex” is the number six, and “Sea-meant” is cement. Also get used to no one ever saying, fugetaboutid, douche bag, and fuggin-A. If you hear someone talking about Eye-Talian food, they mean Italian.

As for You:
Be prepared that people will think that you are in the witness protection program until they get to know you. Then they will finally accept you even if you are.

As far as Them:
There are many cultures here, some of which are Loggers, Fishermen, Good-Old-Boys (not the red neck type, but rather old time locals), Religious Right Wingers, Old Hippies, Artists, and Coasties. Each is an exclusive club, and impossible to get into unless you are able to do a convincing job of hiding your past identity as an outsider.

As for Clothing:
So you used to shop as Lord and Taylor, and at Barneys. The best thing you can do is to donate all your old clothing to a thrift store and buy blue jeans, flannel shirts and muck boots. Jeans, flannel and muck boots is every-day wear here, and it is also formal wear. You may want to get a hat as well. Diners at the best restaurants are dressed as though they just spent the day clear-cutting forests. It is only an illusion because real loggers wear lace-less shoes and rip out the cuffs off their pants so they can run away from falling trees and not get hung up in the brush. Their formal clothing resembles their work clothing, but it doesn’t smell like engine exhaust and bar chain oil, or fish. People who do not dress like this are usually outsiders, and are viewed suspiciously.

As far as Housing:
Forget about stone or brick cottages. Forget about having a basement, if you are lucky you’ll have a crawl space, however most houses are built on slabs of concrete. Forget about divided light windows that are slid upward to open. Here windows slide from side to side. Forget about finding a house with nice siding because most are sided with T-111, which is like exterior plywood paneling. Forget about colonial, saltbox colonial and Cape Cod houses. Get used to manufactured homes or stick built homes that look like triple wide trailers with shingled roofs. There are some older Victorian, Queen Ann and Italianate homes here, but the expense of owning and repairing one of those is prohibitive. Nothing in them is square, level, or of a standard size, and dry rot is a constant companion.

As far as Events and Activities:
There are several annual activities here:
The Crab and Seafood Festival: a good place to get drunk and meet others who are drunk.
The Sand Castle Festival: locals only attend this event once, and no one ever builds a sand castle.
The Fisher’s Poetry Festival: locals attend this event only once, then they return home depressed and attempt to take their own lives.
The Scandinavian Festival: is where locals get to show outsiders that they come from a place where their ancestors dressed in funny clothing and ate bad food.
The County Fair: is for locals who just can’t get enough of the smell of pig shit, and kettle corn.
The Monster Bash: an event that is used to keep your little monsters from defacing local store fronts.
Regatta: Fishing boats on parade, and it has about as much charm as a prison bus.

As far as Fascination:
People will be truly fascinated by you if you tell them that you’ve ever been to New York City. They will tell you that they’d love to go to NYC to see a real Broadway play. People also seem to think that New York is a safe place to visit. They may even try to fake a New York accent. Try to be tolerant. Remember these people only know what they’ve seen in movies and on TV. They do not fully understand doing business with the mob. They have never witnessed Wilding in Central Park. They have never driven through the South Bronx. A squeegee guy at the 42nd street entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel has never confronted them. They have never been asked to play three card monty, or offered the opportunity to purchase a thirty-dollar Rolex. They have never seen nicely dressed businessmen masturbating in the bathroom at the Port Authority. The best advice you can give them is to tell them that they should go to New York and see it for themselves. Then watch how their behavior changes when they return to Clatsop County. They will close their shades, bar their windows and add more dead bolts to their doors.

As far as Vacations:
Never make the mistake of telling anyone here that you are going on an exotic vacation. Exotic is not acceptable to locals, especially if you are going to California. It’s OK if you have made exotic trips before you moved here, of if you visited these places while you were in the service.
Acceptable places to go are: Alaska, Idaho, Washington State, Minnesota, Reno and anywhere in Oregon. You start getting into boarder line exotic places if you go to Victoria BC, Montana, Utah, and Vancouver B.C. If you boast about going anywhere else you may as well put a bumper sticker on your car that says “I like spotted owls, sea lions, and I think they should outlaw hunting, logging and God.”

As for Who To Dislike:
On the East Coast you probably disliked anyone from the Deep South. Here you will be required to dislike anyone from California. The term for anything from California is Californication. However when you want to sell your house and your real estate agent tells you what the true market value of your house is you will be bummed. You will try to sell the house yourself for twice that price, and hope at a Californian comes along to buy it. If there’s been a recent disaster in California there is a good chance that one will come up and buy it from you.

Good luck with your assimilation and welcome to Clatsop County.


Blogger Tango said...

LOL....Clatsop County sounds like a great place to live.

5:05 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Yup, that's pretty much what it's like. Some day I may have to write something about Mizzery. You'll never want to leave Oregon again in fear that you might end up here accidentally.

8:04 AM  
Blogger richpix said...

I've been an outsider my whole life. It's one of the prices to pay for being a State Department brat and growing up all over the world. I've come to realize that wherever you go if you're not from there you won't fit in with the locals. People are inherently distrustful of strangers and resistant to change.

I live in Northern Virginia (note the caps). It is regarded by the rest of the state as a separate, mostly evil place. Similar to how Portland is considered by the rest of Oregon.

When I lived about 50 miles south of here there was a bumper sticker which read, "Don't Fairfax Fredericksburg." It was too late. People didn't realize they couldn't stop the march of greedy developers and the influx of strangers with different ideas. Tilting at windmills I think would be a most apt allegory.

12:19 PM  
Blogger g said...


The only thing I saw that didn't seem right was that homes are built on slabs. I'm not aware of any homes that are built on slabs!

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know in the neighborhood I grew up in no houses were built on slabs, some are over a hundred years old and currently selling in the 2 million dollar and up range. I dont like Californians moving up here and never have. And I been here a hellu'va long time

10:51 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Tango, It is from time to time.

Darev, Somehow I think evil corn fields will be featured.

Rich, since you live in NoVa, let me know if you ever want to buy a Scion. I can hook you up. But you are right. It seems everything gets better or worse. Nothing ever seems to stay the same.

g, you are from WarINGton and you never saw a house on a slab? It could be that I saw them pouring the crawl space in concrete so the owners didn't get too dirty when they have to crawl in the 18 inch space provided to fix a pipe under their houses. But somehow I do seem to recall some duplexes on slabs in the area.

Anon, how long is hellu'va? I agree, this would not be done in a proper older home.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Tango said...

LOL, Guy :)

10:42 AM  
Blogger qandlequeen said...

WINDOWS! I never made the connection, but you're right, everyone else opens their windows up and down!

9:23 AM  
Blogger longlivelovedesigns said...

Thanks for this post! My husband and I moved here 3 months ago from NYC and so much of what you've mentioned is true... I ABSOLUTELY miss the pizza and bagels... but we are also enjoying our simpler coast life. My husband has a show at Lunar Boy right now... check it out — it certainly turned some coast heads...ha!
By the way, I found your blog by googling "places to get your hair cut in Astoria, Oregon"... i think for now i'll just cut my own..

10:22 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Welcome to the area. The simpler coast life means living on a third of the income you are used to. Somehow I've survived here for over 20 years, but it takes a total realignment of values.

As for getting your hair cut, I've found that local practitioners are pretty good, but watch out many will want to dye your hair red. I still can't figure that out.

5:34 AM  
Blogger Qoddess said...

You've been quoted!

4:57 AM  

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