jon raymond

Jon Raymond

By Brian Libby

It’s a bright late-May morning at southeast Portland’s Stumptown Coffee as Jon Raymond is interrupted from eating his bagel by drummer Janet Weiss of the great alt.rock/riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney and its successor, Wild Flag (each fronted by Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein). “We were doing a show at the Crystal [Ballroom] across the street that same night,” she says about Raymond’s recent reading at Powell’s, “and  I wanted to peel back the curtains and listen for you.”

Raymond, the writer behind such acclaimed books as Livability and acclaimed movies like Meek’s Cutoff and Wendy & Lucy, embraces the friendly conversation, but after Weiss leaves he discourages my suggestion that this was a quintessential hip-Portland moment, or that together he and Weiss represent creative-class royalty in a city teeming with young musicians, artists and writers eager to make their mark.

“It’s funny: when we first moved here in 2005, Emily had not lived here before,” Raymond says, referring to his partner. Raymond, a Lake Grove, Oregon, native, had lived with her in New York while receiving a graduate degree in creative writing from The New School. “She said, ‘I can’t believe how much people in Portland talk about Portland. I think this may just be an exceptionally navel-gazing small city.’ I’ve definitely gotten bored of the whole creative-class conversation. The world has become interested in Portland. It’s not fun to talk about something being talked about that way. We’ve lost whatever underdog status we might have had.”

But don’t expect the author to leave anytime soon. “I’m too West Coast of a person,” he explains. “I feel sort of entrenched here. But it waxes and wanes. Portland can be that way. Now that the summer’s here people are out and it’s more exciting. But you can go through experiences where the walls close in. I think that’s the way it is with one’s home.”

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