In this piece I share some of my favorite Twitter tweets that kicked off our semi-fair city's video response to "Portlandia" -- Salemia. Over on my HinesSight blog I've chronicled this appealingly strange happening here, here, here, here, and here.
"Salemia" video aims to Strange Up Salem
In early February “Salemia” touched off a craze among Salem’s Twittersphere. It all began when filmmaker Mike Perron tweeted, “Salemia. Opening scene: five hipsters fighting over a half smoked cigarette outside Chelsea's place...”
(For those who aren’t tuned in to all things social networking’ish, on Twitter you share thoughts about whatever in 140 characters or less -- a tweet; other people subscribe to your Twitter feed, as you do in turn, leading to a sort of communal consciousness.)
Perron’s creative notion was to imagine what a local version of the Independent Film Channel’s “Portlandia” would be like. Portlandia pokes fun at our oh-so-cool neighbor to the north.
Classic line in the opening episode: Portland is the city where young people go to retire.
Keep Portland Weird is a rallying cry for residents who want to preserve their city’s uniqueness. Since I feel an urgent need to Strange Up Salem, my guess was that when other Twitter’ers started sharing their own “Salemia” scene ideas, boring would be a more common theme than bizarre.
I was right. Here’s some of my favorite tweets from the first wave of Salemia sharings.
Woman choosing the right pajamas for going to Winco. At 12:30 in the afternoon.
Visitors mistakenly believe zombie apocalypse has hit the town because shops close and streets empty before dark.
Man with Decemberists ringtone receives call downtown after 6 p.m. Arrested for noise violation.
County also changes motto from “Where Good Things Happen...” to “Where Good Straight Things Happen...”
New York Times feature 36 Hours in Salem only features must-hit pawn shops.
National Guard called out for crowd control after opening of 148th Subway Restaurant in Salem creates frenzied joy among locals.
Stylish NY woman in high heels and designer miniskirt arrested in downtown Salem for streetwalking. Also, breaking blue jean law.
(The last two tweets came from me, so it’s no wonder I like them.)
Humor is a terrific window for opening up a view of someone’s or something’s essence. What makes us laugh often is an exaggerated insight that makes us think, “over the top, yet so true.”
The Salemia Twitter frenzy has pointed out a lot that is strange about our city. Problem is, much of that strangeness isn’t adorable. It’s irritating, depressing, a downer.
What we’ve got to do is embrace, foster, and magnify the uniquely creatively quirky side of Salem. Our city never will be as weird as Portland or Eugene. And that’s fine.
After all, our comparative normalcy can be honored as the stabilizing force between two Weird Poles, keeping the Willamette Valley I-5 corridor in balance.
Salem just needs to be all the strange that it can be. We can turn up the Wow! and Far Out! dials of our CityVision set a lot further without running the risk of getting an over-bizarre picture.
Together we can Strange Up Salem. Become a Facebook fan and Twitter follower.