Monday, May 24, 2010

Couch Potatoes in Sucky "Paradise"

Many, many years ago, when ol' Blackdog was just a newbie in Bend, the local daily newspaper ran a front-page story under the headline: "Couch potatoes in paradise."

The story described how somebody had done a nationwide survey and discovered that Bend was Number One in America in per-capita video rentals. (They were VHS tapes in those days.)

I don't know what the current stats on DVD rentals look like, but I'd wager Bend is still right up there at the top, or near it.

Why? Because (Chamber of Commerce and tourist promotion propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding) there really isn't much else to do here.

The local media are always hyping Bend's "healthy outdoor lifestyle," but if I had to bet, I'd bet that no more than 40% of Bend residents engage in outdoor recreation on a frequent (i.e., once a week or more) basis.

In the first place, the weather is too shitty about three-quarters of the time for enjoyable outdoor recreating.

In the second place, downhill skiing and golf have gotten insanely expensive, and even pursuits like mountain biking, cross-country skiing and fly-fishing require a pretty heavy initial capital outlay. And (again, propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding) most people in Bend are not rich.

In the third place, most people in Bend are too busy working multiple jobs to try to pay the mortgages on their overpriced houses to have much spare time for playing outdoors.

Based on what I've observed, the favorite "outdoor recreation" for most Bendites seems to be getting in their SUVs on weekends and driving around from one shopping mall to another.

So what's available here in the way of indoor recreation? Not much.

There are no good museums, no good galleries, no good live theater, very little good live music. If you want to enjoy that stuff, the nearest city of any size is a three-hour drive away. (Longer when the mountain passes are snowed in.)

That pretty much narrows your indoor recreation choices down to five: movies, TV, DVDs, bowling and drinking.

And hey, if that's your preferred lifestyle, that's fine with me. But please don't try to tell me what a "recreation paradise" Bend is. Because when it comes to recreation, like just about everything else ...


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fake Surprise and Real Suck

It is May 20 in Bend, Oregon. The temperature is in the low 40s, with intermittent light snow flurries. (For comparison, it currently is 77 degrees in Minneapolis.)

And everywhere I go in town, people are talking about the "weird" weather.

"Did you see that snow this morning?" says one.

"I know!" replies another. "Isn't this the craziest weather you've ever seen?"

Of course, there is nothing weird or crazy or unusual or even noteworthy about this weather. It is perfectly normal weather for Bend at this time of year, or almost any time of year -- i.e., it sucks.

Having suffered through 26 miserable, depressing, gray, cold, rainy, snowy "springs" in Bend, I am no longer surprised when the weather sucks. I am not surprised by anything the weather does here. (Well, except for those rare intervals when it doesn't suck.) I would not be surprised to see ice floes in the Deschutes and flocks of penguins waddling along Wall Street on the Fourth of July.

But other people in Bend -- many of whom I personally know have lived here for quite a few years, some even longer than I have -- still profess astonishment when the weather sucks in May.

What's the reason? These people are not imbeciles; at least, they give no other outward indication of being imbeciles.

The only plausible explanation I can think of is that longtime Bend residents are masters of denial (they have to be or they wouldn't live here) and pretending that horrible weather in May is "weird" and "crazy" is one of their well-developed denial mechanisms.

I'm cool with that. Hey man, whatever floats your boat, y'know?

But if you're thinking about moving to Bend -- maybe you're here looking for a house to buy -- and you ask about the suckerrific weather and the locals tell you that "this is really unusual" ... DON'T BUY IT. It's as big a lie as the "300 days of sunshine" claim.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April Showers Bring May Suckiness

It was a more or less routinely sucky April in Bend, with 12 days of sunshine and 18 days of suckiness recorded. Adding to the overall suckitude, the month was cooler than normal -- about 3 degrees below the average. Bend experienced only 16 days during April on which the temperature climbed above 50.

The big milestone of the month was the recording of the 66th sucky day of the year so far on April 16, meaning it is already mathematically impossible for Bend to attain the mythical "300 days of sunshine" that it supposedly enjoys per year.

As I post this it's relatively unsucky in Bend -- sunny and breezy, with temperatures in the mid-50s. Things will rapidly revert to the sucky spring norm, however: The forecast calls for another storm to hit Monday, bringing rain and dropping the thermometer into the 20s overnight, much to the chagrin of the foolish newbies who set out their petunias and hanging fuchsia baskets this week.

April Totals

Days of sun: 12
Days of suck: 18

YTD Totals

Days of sun: 36
Days of suck: 72