I used to walk up John Dalton Street in Manchester every morning to catch my light rail connection. And almost every morning I had Town Called Malice playing. Though it was written about Woking, England it reminded me of Manchester.
A whole street's belief in Sunday's roast beef
gets dashed against the Co-op
To either cut down on beer or the kids new gear
It's a big decision in a town called malice.
The ghost of a steam train - echoes down my track
It's at the moment bound for nowhere -
just going round and round
I could see those sentiments in the faces of people on the street. Times were beginning to get tough again. Mortgage rates were going up as fixed rates ended, Manchester's Co-op was struggling between being affordable and ethical. Alcoholism in the north was rampant as the factories started closing and the redundancy slips were handed out. The trains were breaking and everyone seemed to feel like the government was chasing its tail with the TIF bid.
Manchester was malice.
And Portland is turning to malice now too.
Portland's been going for 150 years, not even a smidge of the time Manchester rolled in. But its industries; shipping, logging, steel and now technology are failing. The demand for products is going down, people are out of work. Interest rates are slashed but without jobs people can't afford their mortgages. Gang violence is on the rise as well as bank robberies and homelessness. And these things aren't necessarily firsts for Portland, but with the economic doom and gloom, it might be the worst. Portland hasn't been through the kind of blows somewhere like Woking or Manchester has. There's anxiety and fear here for sure, but not the reality of miner's strikes, or the entire steel industry shutting down.
But I'm watching the faces around me start to harden, the people that moved here out of idealism rather than practicality face minimum wage disappointment. The ones that were here before are starting to show the same kind of xenophobia as the little island nation. Oregon for Oregonians. Oregon jobs for Oregonians. And depending on how fast and hard we hit, Portland will too be a town called malice.