Upper Left Cities

by Hunter Shobe and David Banis. Rose City Geographers, 2021.

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From Jonathan Leeper's blog:

My project was of born of nostalgia. I’ve lived in this town through two economic booms and busts, Portland alternating between being the media’s darling and pariah. Long enough to look down the street and go, “We used to hang out at a dive bar patio where they’re now slurping ramen. That designer boutique was once a dancing night-time sea of sweaty bodies. And if people staying there knew what used to go on before it was a hotel….”

Memories….Memories I encounter much more with the passing of my youth, my energy, and the dismantling of locations which are at times the only tangible connection I have to people who are no longer here.

But these memories I share with an entire community by virtue of their creation at social venues. The memory of the LGBTQ community isn’t always listened to or recorded. And the silencing of a generation due to the AIDS epidemic wounds this community greatly, a loss experienced just as its voice was beginning to be heard from the social liberation movements of mid-century.

So I took the benchmark of that Stonewall Summer of 1969 (the compilation of Upper Left Cities coinciding with its 50th anniversary) to begin collecting these memories of where we used to enjoy life outside of the 9-to-5, sites that were the scene of countless dramas, fateful or inconsequential meetings, where began or ended love and friendships.

But memory can be shadowy, as is the nature of nightlife. Sometimes an online review is the only mark of a club’s opening or closing. In yesteryear it may have been an advertisement in a single edition of a now defunct newsweekly. And people living say, “Didn’t we used to go to a bar near there? What was it called?…”    

Upper Left Cities is available through Amazon, at Powell's, Indie Bound, and Barnes & Noble.





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