When the excavators uncover the fantastic ruins and archeological remains, they will gasp at our last poses; our grimacing visage frozen forever like a Polaroid in black molten lava–thin waifish young men crouched under long boards to protect themselves from the fiery onslaught, post-Slacker jaws agape and Christ-like hair pulled straight backwards like a solid wave. We will walk in museum awe beside the preserved and labeled human forms, the androgynous male/female pairs standing in awkward contrapostos holding iced coffees. The Kias, Subarus and Zip cars all scattershot through the street, their drivers facial features reduced to the simplicity of stone golems–two charcoal holes for eyes and a contorted, gaping line for a mouth, a maw-like cave opening in the death masque–a car accident was inevitable, cancer, of course, a bad fall, alright–but who expected this?
The businesses and box store logos are indistinguishable now, the commercial details lost, like in the folds of those sensational and decadent Christo wrappings from a past epoch. The commerce corridors and bland two-story buildings are drawn across the landscape like some dusty unbroken plateau, blank now without the freshness of products and fluorescence, no longer containing within them the certainty of a mutually beneficial interaction between the buyer and the seller. No more cell phone rings or soothing background music, no more "Welcome to Chipotle, what can I get for you?" No more gushing conversations about gluten, soy, and vegan ingredients in the co-op grocery line. Now, just the dusty silence of the dead earth, the sound of shoots of weeds sprouting up after long rains. The Revivalist City Hall looks canonized and dignified, like a chocolate-covered Easter bunny of some Grecian temple. There’s no more government to run, no more order to keep, deficit to close, no more media to corral. The faces of the last bureaucrats (not that there were many of them in Portland) look the most disappointed of all–they had built up the tax base by attracting the mobile, left-leaning white middle-class interested in white picket fences and vegan restaurants. They had put in bicycle lanes and installed glorious public water fountains, and made it really easy to get food stamps, instituting all the modest policy ephemera of the welfare state, but perhaps no one was more disappointed by the end than these policy wonks who thought that human happiness could be engineered, tweaked, by these tiny institutional changes.
All of the urban farming initiatives and afterschool programs, dust. All the water conversation posters and the biodiesel filling stations, the energy efficient refrigerators and automatic shut-off hand dryers and sinks. All the recycling programs and gyms and healthy organic food wasn’t enough. “Rose City” imprisoned forever in black rock and muck like some massive LEGO architecture that got caught in a house fire—smeared and melted plastic faces, whole record collections, money, useless. The excavators who declare the site archaeologically sensitive will never know our brand names or quite understand what we were looking at inside those thin little boxes with cords coming out on tables that so many of us perished in front of, staring into with blank faces, as if trapped in cryogenesis.