Saturday, November 21, 2009

The O: Trying to pretend the fringe is mainstream

I shouldn't EVER read the "How We Live" section of the Oregonian. I almost never do.

I usually read the front page section, laugh at the Business section, read the Metro section and the editorial page, and then on to Sports. The "How We Live" section is so reliably inane that they have trained me to not even glance at the front page, but rather to just turn to the comics where the Bridge Column is printed, and then head off for my morning constitutional to be reminded why I will never be a world class contract bridge player.

But tonight I made the mistake. Late night snack, paper already read, sat down with my re-heated soup at the table where the paper still lay. I'd already read the rest of it, so it was all I had left. I was immediately sorry.

The article took up almost the entire front page of the section, and continued on to a back page. Which would be fine if the story was at all interesting in the journalism sense.

What was it? An glowing article about a new kind of transformational lifestyle, "CoHousing."

Oh brother. How many stories do we have to read in the Oregonian about some alternative lifestyle that they claim is so much better for our health, our environment, our community, our culture? Here we go again.

So it seems about two decades ago some latter day hippies bought five houses in NE Portland and created a little urban commune. Now about 25 people live there, and they share all the usual stuff in tried and true commune style.

Only now, the fact that they can claim to have a much lower "carbon footprint" gives them all sorts of cache that the Oregonian just can't resist pretending deserves a huge Friday edition multiple color picture story about how morally superior this way of life is to the selfish, high carbon lifestyle we all want to live.

There are a few laugh out loud parts of the story. Like the part where it is revealed the founder lives in the main house with her significant other, their 15 year old daughter and "another couple."

Any takers? Mom and Dads out there - any of you clamoring to share a space with your daughters and another couple? Of course the story doesn't mention any sensitivities around such a situation. Rather, the very next sentence explains that the house gets "40% of its energy needs from solar panels and water heaters."

Great! My daughter is at risk of being molested by a non family household member, but at least we are sustainable!

The story tells of all the usual commune-style arrangements, which might have been interesting back in 1968 when communes were actually kind of interesting. But it is really irritating that the Oregonian tries to pass this stuff off as either innovative, or as some kind of wave of the future, or anything other than what is: just a small fringe of people living in a way that almost nobody wants to live.

But that is what the Oregonian seems to desperately want to pretend is mainstream. Even though their own reporting proves otherwise:

It says that 5,000 people live in such arrangements in 100 communities in 21 different states. But they have their own national association, which wants to boost that number, "focusing on baby boomers and "cultural creatives," a demographic estimated to top 50 million."

Good luck.

One resident, a 25 year old PSU music student says living with all these different people makes the "human relationships more durable." Really? More durable than a nuclear family living in a single household? I somehow doubt it.

But that really is the point of the whole story. They really are trying to push new social arrangements and claim they are mainstream.

Hey, if people want to live like this, I could care less. Go for it. But why does the Oregonian pretend it merits this kind of fawning coverage as if this is some kind of superior arrangement for how we should live?

The fact is, we don't want to live like this. Normal people want to get married, raise a family, and have a household with their family and nobody else living in it. That is what people overwhelmingly want.

The Oregonian just alienates itself more and more from the vast majority of people by pretending that this kind of lifestyle is anything more than the fringe that it has always been.

And mysteriously, their circulation continues to plummet.


Me said...

I really see this as a shining example of the ultra stupidity of the Oregonian staff. The same stupidity echoed throughout the yammering Oregon liberals-progressives seeking societal justice and equality for all things human, animal and plant. Remember, trees have rights.

Can't you just imagine many of them reading that story and nodding in warm admiration? And wondering to themselves, "If only far more people would chose this lifestyle, the benefits to the community and human kind would be so elevated. Thank you Oregonian"

Perhaps the City of Portland can promote this approach at the tax subsidized hippie farm in SW Portland.

How's that working out anyway?

Personally I thinks it's gross. The thought of all those other people smells and habits is really yucky.

Roadrunner said...

Gee, I thought "conservatives" were all about "freedom".

It turns out that they're all about getting cranky about people living lifestyles different from their own. You know, actually exercising their freedom.

Here's news for you, Rob, this actually is mainstream. While the number of people who live this way for most of their lives may be small, the number who live some form of this lifestyle for some amount of time is quite large.

For a group of people who claim to be for freedom, conservatives sure do spend a lot of time getting worked up about people who live differently than themselves.

MAX Redline said...

The story tells of all the usual commune-style arrangements, which might have been interesting back in 1968 when communes were actually kind of interesting.

Well, there's your problem right there, Rob - a lot of these folks weren't around in the 60's, so it's a fresh, new, "sustainable" concept to them. They've never used a rotary-dial phone, nor a typewriter. They've never gone into the stacks in a university library to do research. There have always been computers, though for some of the oldsters, those computers may have had to link to the Internet by dial-up.

It's likely that the writer has never heard of a little thing called the Rajneesh.

Anonymous said...

Roadrunner obviously didn't read the post. It's a total lie that "the number who live some form of this lifestyle for some amount of time is quite large" unless you're counting people who have roommates between college and getting married.

Ironically, I was just watching "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" On Demand last night. The whole "free love 60s" sensibility of the thing is so anachronistic it almost seems totally made up rather then based on the actual experiences of real people. The opening scene in "The Institute" is unintentionally laugh-out-loud hilarious although the "feel, don't think" philosophy has clearly enjoyed on-going success in the progressive/liberal/socialist community for 40 years.

Anyhoo, the Oregonian is failing precisely because of articles of this sort. "We don't read the Oregonian"

OregonGuy said...

Odd behaviour is odd behaviour. I personally have no problem with those who choose odd behaviour over normal behaviour as long as those choices don't put others, especially children, at risk.

I think the point in Rob's post is, that lionizing odd behaviour forms part of a modi operandi that seeks to demonize, or at least diminish, normal behaviours. It suggests that "here is odd behaviour, yet there are benefits to this odd behaviour that non-odd behaviour doesn't produce." An interesting syllogism which might not fare well under scrutiny.

Rob attempts to highlight at least one of the major concerns normal people might have with such a living arrangement. There are others. But most of these would fall under the category of adult concerns and as such are not of interest to those with whom are dubbed the epithet, odd.

How well have the odd faired over time? An interesting question, and yet one seemingly of no interest to the editorial board of a major metropolitan newspaper. This speaks volumes.

And, declining volumes, as evidenced by their current circulation numbers.

Rob Kremer said...

How can you possibly take what I wrote as saying in any way that I don't think people should be allowed to live this way? In fact I said exactly the opposite.

I'm not "worked up about people living this way." I'm worked up about the Oregonian once again presenting fringe lifestyles as mainstream.

You claim that the number of people who live "some form" of this lifestyle is large? BS.

This isn't a bunch of youngsters sharing a house. It is an urban commune. There is a difference, and it is not mainstream in the slightest.

Don't try to claim the point of my post was to object to people who want to live this lifestyle. It wasn't.

It was about the O-rag pretending that this is anything other than what it is and always was - communal living, which then, now and forever will be attractive to only a small slice of the populace.

Roadrunner said...

The point, Rob, is that you're upset that the Oregonian gave them coverage.

And here's news for you--it's not just "youngsters" sharing houses these days. And it actually is a form or re-creating a small village within a large city. Odd that you find that "out of the mainstream."

And here's more news for you--the "nuclear family" is "traditional" only in the last hundred years or so. The real "traditional family" is the extended family.

Anonymous said...

The real point is that Roadrunner is projecting his deep-seated self-anger in these center-right blogs. His H8tred always reflects poorly on his Progressive side and yet he never realizes it.

He thinks he is saving the world from conservatism by terrorizing center-right blogs but it's really just 'bat crap and worth no more than that.

Obviously the Progressive side has no use for him, or he would be working on something constructive instead of wasting all his time on center-right blogs.

As if Roadrunner will really solve his problem this way. He needs a lot more help than he can get by 'bat crapping at center-right blogs.

Rob Kremer said...

The Oregonian "gave them coverage" in the same way they have for years tried to cram all the same counterculture crap down our throat and try to pass it off as mainstream.

THAT is the issue here.

And that is how and why the Oregonian has made itself so irrelevant to its readers, and its circulation is spiraling down faster than almost every other major daily in the country.

Communes are now and always will be a fringe lifestyle. And there is nothing at all new about them. So why this big deal story?

Because they are trying to change our culture here. And guess what? Even here, the people are rejecting it. As evidenced by their shrinking circulation.

Traditional family, nuclear family - so what? It is family! As if that is any kind of counterargument to my point!

Roadrunner said...


I don't think your readership is reflective of Oregonians or Portlanders--you're also not in the mainstream.

I guess I don't see how running a story about them means they are "cram(ing) (it) down our throat."

It seems as though you have a fundamental misunderstanding of media--the different is inherently interesting, and so will gather more stories than the ordinary.

Their circulation is shrinking for many of the same reasons that the modern family has changed from what it was 25, 50, and 100 years ago--we're far more mobile than we used to be, and also more active. Also, more people get their information online, and the O has a notoriously bad website (which, amazingly, they've neglected to improve).

And, again, Rob, you don't understand how many people have lived in some form of a household with other unrelated adults. It's actually a very common phenomenon. Yes, these folks have taken it to a much greater level than most, but the basic idea is in fact quite mainstream.

But it is amusing to see you have your panties in a twist over such a minor issue.

Anonymous said...

you are so funny! Different and interesting? What is different or interesting about another stupid commune?

That is what Rob has been saying all along.

Roadrunner said...


My point is that Rob is offended because a different lifestyle was presented in a non-judgmental way in the newspaper.

And that is really what "conservatism" has come to be about--fear and loathing of the different.

Rob must have a tremendous amount of insecurity about his lifestyle, that he sees presentation of another lifestyle in a positive manner as a threat to his own.

Rob Kremer said...

If that is really your point, then I have to question either your cognitive ability or your basic honesty.

You are just making stuff up. Usually you at least have a logical thread to your arguments, even if I disagree with your conclusions.

But if that is your takeaway from what I wrote, then perhaps I have overestimated you for some time.

Conscience of a Moonbat said...

What took you so long, Rom?

IasonD said...

The effect (perhaps even the purpose) of such articles is to soften public opinion with a few extreme hammer blows. What they are saying is: “This would be a more ideal sustainable arrangement. But don’t worry! We will not impose co-living on anyone, no matter how noble and elegant. We are reasonable people, we respect freedom, so we just ask you for a small “compromise”: Don’t complain too much when we make everything more expensive through cap and trade or carbon taxes”. Support Copenhagen.

Anonymous said...

Cranky at other people's way of life? No. Those people can live anyway that pleases them and that's cool with me.

Cranky at a newspaper that repeatedly puts this sort of thing on a pedestal? Yes.

Do I want to read a paper that pretends "the way we live" is something it's not? No.

Do I enjoy living with my in laws? No. It's congenial, but I still wouldn't feel content living with a friend or neighbor. I am getting out of there at my earliest opportunity, as would nearly anyone else. NEVER have I been told, "You live with your in laws and their kids, AND they grow their own veggies, AND they use solar power?! Lucky you!"

Roadrunner said...


The whole point of your post is complaining about what you call "fringe" behavior being "crammed" down your throat.

This from someone who proudly proclaims that he's on the fringe at the top of his blog, with your complaint of a socialist invasion.

Like many on the fringe, you're oblivious to the fact that you are.

In fact, your reaction to this human interest story also shows that you're on the fringe. I suspect only those on the far, far right, such as your self, would complain about this story being run.

Anonymous said...

Can't sleep. 'Bat crapping H8 mongers like Roadkill are so far out of the mainstream of center-right American life that their left hand doesn't know what their extreme left hand is doing.

Roadrunner said...

Oh, one more thing, Rob. When it comes to "pushing fringe crap" on people, you live in a glass house, since you regularly appear on the same radio station as war-crime advocate Michael Weiner.

Why don't you work to clean up your own house before you whine about the mess in others?

Roadrunner said...

Oh, and you may want to mention to your allies who comment here that name-calling isn't part of normal adult behavior, and tends to put people off.

Anonymous said...

Any rebuke of Roadbat is well-deserved. He works hard to earn it, and Soros pays below minimum wage, and doesn't even cover health benefits.

In the end, Roadbat has a bad case of what Michael Savage terms 'a mental disorder'. He is truly pathetic.

While I do not read Roadbat's comments, I am interested in others' comments who describe his condition.

Anonymous said...


How can you be so asinine?

KXL which carries the Michael Savage radio show is not Rob"s "house" in need of his "cleaning up".

You do have a disorder.

Huck said...

I live in NoPo and a very nice, upscale condo building was recently completed near my house. They claim to be co-housing, and to me it seems no different than any other condo development, except there are some common spaces available for use by all the tenants.

I understand, Rob, that your problem is primarily with the O (which seems so silly that you care what the O chooses to print or say - it's a business, when was the last time they or the NY TImes claimed to be purely objective?), but even I took your comments as somewhat derisive of the underlying concept of cohousing. I HAVE NO DOG IN THIS RACE, as I don't even know anybody who lives in cohousing, or a commune for that matter, but how do you suppose it is any different from a condominium or home-owners' association with a more eco-conscious set of regulations? It's private units with communal areas, usually, not communally owned housing.

And finally, Rob, are you saying you have no friends who, as a couple, you would trust living with your family for a time? Seriously, that is even more strange than having two families live in the same house.

And finally, your negative and derisive commenters are sad. If those are the type of friends your ideology attracts, no wonder you'd be worried about molesters.

Anonymous said...

The O has a history of ignoring FACTS which don't agree with it's politics. I am simply wondering why it continues on a self destructive path. It's not what I would call good business.

MAX Redline said...

And finally, your negative and derisive commenters are sad.

I agree - I don't care for Roadbat any more than you.

Roadrunner said...

Anon 7:25,

Rob has a radio show on the same station that carries war-crime advocate Michael Weiner. If he's going to complain about the Oregonian "pushing" ideas outside of the mainstream, he should take a look at the station where he appears, which broadcasts ideas much farther out of the mainstream (and, if they were carried out, are illegal).

An odd part of all that is that many of the hosts on KXL fancy themselves as law-and-order types, yet they appear on a station that carries a man who advocates the breaking of laws.

OregonGuy said...


You guys in P-town are crazy.

In rural areas we call "co-housing" being poor. Nobody wants it, but sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do.

Adults take charge of their lives. Living on your own is a mark of adult independence.

That you guys can quibble over co-dependency says a lot about you guys.

A word of advice; don't move into a small town. We can smell fakers and cons a mile away.

Roadrunner said...


Very typical "conservative"--it's diffferent, so it must be bad.

Again, the right talks about being for "freedom", but it's really only about freedom for business owners to do as they please. It's not about individuals living their lives as they want to, even when it's different from the norm.

Anonymous said...

'Bats may not realize it but their favorite politicians want the power to tell you what you must do and what you can't do.

Freedom is not a primary concern. Thus, they are not familiar with this concept.

'Liberalism is a mental disorder.'

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