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Portlandia Was Partly Inspired by Los Angeles

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Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 3:30 AM

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Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein's Portlandia has put Portland on the pop culture map. To quote from the show itself, it's a place where young people can go and retire, all the hot chicks wear glasses, and you can put a bird on anything and call it art.

The Saturday Night Live cast member and the former Sleater-Kinney frontwoman created the show as a love letter to the city, Brownstein says. Still, it's got to sting just a little to residents of that Pacific Northwestern burg, who will have you know it's not Seattle, as Portlandia is also populated by humorless feminist-bookstore owners, DIY musicians, militant bike riders and even more militant animal lovers.

The show began its second season on IFC earlier this month, and the pair is in the midst of a show-inspired tour that includes music, screenings of clips and guest performers. It arrives at the Echo tonight, and goes through tomorrow.

"There's plenty of shows that take place in L.A. or New York," Brownstein says. "We wanted to differ aesthetically. It wasn't a place that people necessarily knew. It's a good substitute for a dream city, the kind of city people romanticize. It's less familiar and iconic."

Brownstein is a Portland native, while Armisen, who hails from New York, quickly became a fan. "I liked how kind of overcast it was and how all the colors are very dark and everything just seemed well built and well designed," he says. "I immediately thought, 'Oh, this is just a great place.' Everything just fit."

Believe it or not, the show was actually written and filmed, in part, in L.A. It makes a certain sense; both locales share an obsession with healthy living and healthy eating. But that's not the only part of Los Angeles that they were inspired to lampoon. One new skit concerns owners of a store that literally sells only two shirts.

"You feel like you've actually insulted the people that own it by entering," Brownstein says. "It's almost like you're ruining the aesthetic of the store by just being there. That, I definitely feel in L.A."

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