‘Portlandia’ recap: A song for Portland
Let’s return to Portlandia, shall we? That foggy land shrouded in hipster-dust and Zooey Deschanel clones. When last we left, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein made sure their chicken dinner got to roam free, and were enchanted by a local chicken-farmer in the process. (It helped that the chicken-man was Floyd from 30 Rock.) Who were they wooed by this Friday? An organic tomato-harvester played by Amy Poehler?!?
As it turns out, no. But they DID get to put birds on things. Carrie and Fred (wearing a dazzling array of clip-on bow ties) became She & Him Etsy twins, invading a local boutique to “put a bird on it.” They slap brightly colored bird appliqués on sad, dull merchandise, exclaiming things like, “There’s a bird! It’s flying! It’s free! Did you see this bag before? I DIDN’T.” Then real birds invade in a Hitchcockian terror spasm, shattering pastel plates freshly shellacked with bird silhouettes. It was deliciously dark and clattery, like Black Swan set in a cupcake store.
Then Fred and Carrie go visit the mayor, making me wish I were watching Tom Goes to the Mayor instead because then dogs can marry each other. But instead the “mayor” of Portland whizzes in on his bike, landing on a big red rubber ball he uses for a desk chair with the oomph of a man full of Seattle envy. Fred and Carrie have Big Ideas for him but instead, the mayor presses his inspirational tribal sand print into their sweaty palms and tasks them with creating Portland’s new theme song. Doesn’t he know Carrie was once in Sleater-Kinney? Doesn’t he? How can he not know this?!?
Watch out, biker-types, because you’re mocked next: Scary Ear-Gauge Fred rides a bike and sports such wizardly, unkempt facial hair that you really COULD put a bird on it. He pedals through Portland, yelling all the way, “Watch out! Bike bike bike bike bike!” and “Whole Foods is corporate!” Tooting his whistle and wearing a pink-and-green cap swiped from a Cabbage Patch kid, Biker Fred announces his every move, talking to birds and passing the biking mayor. All is fine and dandy in vigilante biker-land until his gaping ear-hole catches on something, making him whimper like a baby owl. (Pierced bikers, take note.)
Next we return to Women for Women First, the dear feminist bookstore where service is worse than at the bottom of a well and people are about as eager to leave. When a student of Marilyn Candle comes in looking for Vaginas: An Owner’s Manual, Fred and Carrie Longhair say, “We could order that for you, but it’ll take a year to get here. It has to be written.” The student finds her book on the shelf, but the two make it harder for her to get it than making a sandwich inside a butter submarine. LadyFred does his best zombie arms but he can’t quite reach it, flimsily grazing his fingers over its spine like an octopus trying to push a shopping cart. Sadly, the book is out of reach. Just like the matriarchy.
Then normal Fred and Carrie write a Portland jingle, suggesting refrains about native plants. In a grungy gray bathrobe, Fred clips his toenails and shout-sings a rejected Devo song, then plays a gentle, twee melody on a xylophone while sitting on the toilet. In a truly odd twist, Carrie absent-mindedly sings while hairdrying her still-in-the-bathtub lover until she accidentally drops the hairdryer in and kills him. Disturbing. Only Carrie could put the “cute” in “electrocute.”
REI Hiker Carrie and Polo Shirt Fred eat breakfast al fresco but become alarmed at an unattended dog tied nearby. Where’s its owner? “There’s an animal tied up to a piece of metal. I’m sure it wasn’t born there,” exclaims Carrie. The dog faints and Fred wants to feed it fried stuffed olives, but it doesn’t like the café food. Carrie’s hysteria escalates to Teva-strapped rage until they set the dog free, telling its too-late owner, “Who puts their dog on a pole like a stripper?” Then they pick up their own kid, tied to a pole down the street and wearing a monkey backpack. THE TWIST!
Back at the mayor’s office, he tries to download Fred and Carrie’s Portland song, but the humorless bouncer of Technology stands in his way. Thankfully, Carrie’s Gibson is on hand, as is a drum from the Portland High School Marching Band. As the credits flash by, Fred and Carrie sing about “hippies of endless variation” with enough oooh-ooohs to make the Go-Go’s proud.