Bashing your hometown seems to be a popular activity among some Spokanites.
I’m an unabashed Spokane fan. In fact, one of the best gigs I get as a freelancer is writing about our city for Alaska Airlines in-flight magazine. The feedback I get from folks who see my byline when they fly is fun and universally enthusiastic – until recently.
It’s one thing for natives to bash Spokane, but when Oregonians do it, well that’s another thing entirely.
A couple of weeks ago, Bill Oakley, co-executive producer for the TV show “Portlandia,” picked up a copy of Alaska Air magazine during a flight. The publication failed to impress.
In particular, he took issue with the Spokane section and posted a picture of the story on Twitter with my byline prominently displayed. Oakley wrote, “This is the kind of thing you find in the Alaska Air in-flight magazine and it’s like a 20 page ‘special section’!”
Now, his scoffing didn’t offend. Any writer who can’t take the slings and arrows of literary criticism won’t last long in this business, but his next tweet rankled. He said, “I’ve been to Spokane and it ain’t worth no 20-page ‘special section’.”
Them’s fightin’ words.
Especially when others responded to his tweet with comments like, “Spokane is home to over 20 sets of married cousins,” and “You don’t bring a spouse to Spokane unless you’re planning on returning home alone and collecting the insurance.”
Idaho didn’t escape notice, either. Said Oakley, “One of the weirdest things about living in the Pacific NW is that you have to start taking Idaho seriously as a state.”
So, tongue-in-cheek, I replied, “It’s true Spokane is no Portlandia. The whole women with facial hair thing never really caught on here.”
Then I retweeted his comment about Spokane not being worthy of 20 pages with this addendum: “Portlandia producer NOT a Spokane fan!”
Oakley quickly responded, “That is an exaggeration! I am a Spokane fan but just not for 20 whole pages.”
This was too good of an opportunity to miss, so I pressed him. “Ten pages? By the way, Matthew Modine LOVES Spokane. I think you need to pay us another visit. The garbage eating goat is awesome.”
This tweet drew the attention of Modine, who replied, “True.”
By this time Oakley may have been regretting live-tweeting his flight. “Okay,” he said. “You’ve convinced me. Back to Spokane for spring break!”
“Atta boy,” said Modine.
Upon landing, Oakley graciously tweeted, “Guys I landed in LA and I’m sorry I offended Spokane and Idaho and Alaska Airlines magazine during my short flight.”
This doesn’t mean he gets out of spending spring break in Spokane.
In fact the following day, Modine tweeted, “Roll out the green carpet – show them what good people you are!”
So, I’ve been busily compiling a list of must-sees for Oakley’s visit. A Facebook friend weighed in with a few suggestions, including a city pothole tour and 20 minutes of sign flying at the Division off ramp to make enough coin for a Whammy 5 at Dick’s.
He also suggested some late-night naked burgling, but that just seems like showing off.
I especially enjoyed another suggestion offered via The Spokesman-Review’s Facebook page, “Take him on a Modine tour of Spokane. Break into the Ridpath. Wash some dishes. Run across bridges. Drive some back roads. Give him a nose bleed. Go to the Onion.”
Really, there’s no end to the excitement Spokane offers visitors.
The moral of this story is simple; don’t bash my city on Twitter because Matthew Modine has Spokane’s back. In fact, Modine tweeted, “If Bill goes to Spokane, he may change his show to Spokanlandia.”
Stay tuned readers. We’ll make a 20-page Spokane fan out of Bill Oakley, yet.