Uber and PDX: A Not-Exactly-Love Story

two of the giants of our age, Portland, OR, and Uber, duking it out for dominance

“Freelance Money Isn’t Like Other Money”

This aggrieved response, in Salon, to the NYT magazine piece about Portland — why people move there, what they do then, and how the city is changing — makes some sobering points about how our culture views freelance work and the money that results.

In 2013 my husband had a salaried position and did some freelance work — freelance work he has been doing for the past 10 years — on the side. In 2014 he quit the salaried job to pursue freelance full-time and is making roughly three times what he used to. Had he left that salaried job for another, we’d have no problem. We’d produce his last two pay stubs and even though it was a new job his work history would demonstrate some indelible quality about him and we’d have our mortgage.

But it doesn’t work like that for freelancers. The invoices we send out every month, the checks we deposit, the estimated taxes we’ve already paid — none of it really means anything until we file our tax return. Freelance money, we’ve come to realize, isn’t like other money. At a time in our economy when a salaried worker can lose his job without warning and then be unemployed for months, if not years, he’s still seen as a safer bet than a freelancer. Our money doesn’t count, and neither do our jobs. This is cultural, I understand, and there are countless ways — from healthcare to the tax code — that our culture is set up to favor salaried workers.

No one who reads this site could mistake freelancers for slackers. But it’s true that when Ben and I both jumped off the freelance cliff, we didn’t consider the long-term ramifications in terms of things like mortgages. (Move somewhere significantly cheaper and buy in cash?) Anyone have experience convincing banks to lend to you as something other than a FT employee?

The Rise and Fall of an Independent Video Store

My video rental store career began in 1999 when I briefly worked in a tiny outlet. It was an awkward experience because I soon discovered that I actually hand't been hired. Things worked out later after I did get hired at a newly opened Hollywood Video chain, and when I finished college, I snapped up another job at a small town establishment in Western New York run by a wonderful young couple with a baby. I later moved to Portland, where I was hired at a local video store/gym chain called Videorama. Starting as one of the weeknight clerks, I eventually opened a new store and redesigned and managed another in Portland's hoity-toity Pearl District.

My Last Hundred Bucks: The Swifts Were Great Though, Top Notch Swift Performance

Where’d your last hundred bucks go, William Foster?

Will Spoon You For Money

A woman opens up the world's first professional (and platonic) cuddling parlor. It's in Portland, of course.

Making Paper in a Paperless World: An Interview With Pulp and Deckle

In 2012, Jenn Woodward and Gary A. Hanson started a papermaking studio. Based out of Portland, Ore., Pulp and Deckle manufactures paper and gives workshops and classes about the process. Recently, I had an opportunity to chat with Jenn about her studio.

In a paperless world, you’re making paper. What was the impetus to start such a business? A lot if it came from living here in Portland. There’s a vibrant small business culture, and there’s such an emphasis on “green.” The types of papermaking we’re doing (recycled paper, plant-based paper) is a slow, sustainable art form.

For me, a major part of the appeal is having a connection to how something is made. It transforms your understanding of it. When you go to the farmers market, or go to a woodworker’s furniture store, you’re voting with your dollars to say you want to connect with your food or your furnishings on a deeper level. You want to know who planted it, who carved it, etc. That’s what we’re all about.

I think papermaking is kind of magical. It’s one of those art forms that not many know about. I like showing people that something they take for granted in their everyday environment can be special and imbibed with meaning, beauty and purpose.

How’d you get into papermaking in the first place? I first learned about papermaking while getting my MFA at the Museum School in Boston. I was doing a lot of drawing and mixed media work and got interested in making my own surfaces to work on. I got really into making onionskin papyrus…

Who Makes Those Karaoke Tracks?

Dan Kois answers the question, I wonder whose job it is to make all those karaoke tracks for karaoke bars.

Airbnb: Bad For New York, Great For Me

I guess like most things in this new disrupted world of ours, I think Airbnb is bad for New York, but when family is in town and needs a place to stay, that's exactly where I send them. On her last visit, my mom stayed in a place one block from us for $60/night.

I Bought a House When I Was 21

When I tell people that I own my house, and that I bought it when I was 21, they always want to know how could she afford it? I can see in their faces that they're wondering if I'm a trust fund baby, if my rich boyfriend bought it with me, or if I secretly make money doing something tawdry. Nobody ever asks me that question, but if they did, I think they'd be disappointed in the answer. My secret: I just saved my money.

My Summer Selling Death

The job was selling cemetery plots over the phone. Essentially, the worst telemarketing job you could possibly imagine. I took it.