East of the 205

from Say Their Names by David Rovics

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I have tromped all over the city of Portland with a staple gun, as a part-time eviction defense organizer with Portland Emergency Eviction Response (PEER). The only part of town where white men in pickup trucks yell out their window that I should "get a job!" is in the part of town with the highest unemployment rate, where the trailers are small, and the American flags are huge, and numerous.

lyrics

East of the 205

If you live in this city you can explore it for years
See all there is to see, hear all there is to hear
A decade might pass by before you'd ever deign
If you're driving down the highway, to take an exit lane
That doesn't bring you to the airport, or Multnomah Falls
But to the neighborhoods along the way, with the rotting walls
Go on, park your car, and take a walk when you arrive
East of the 205

If you live in this city you might have sampled all the wine
You've been to Salt & Straw and Pok Pok, waited patiently in line
Gone to every strip club you ever heard about
Tried all the espresso, all the porter, all the stout
Without ever having reason to cross that road
Beyond which so many are crushed beneath the load
Where you can meet a lot of folks just trying to survive
East of the 205

If you live in this city and you think it's so high-tech
You think it's full of hipsters with tattoos on their necks
IT experts and house-flippers, cold brew connoisseurs
Shopping malls, poke bowls and segue tours
Far beyond the bridges as the tent villages grow
As the trees decline in number, and as the stats all show
So many die so young as they try to stay alive
East of the 205

If you live in this city and you're looking for pickup trucks
American flags and trailers full of folk down on their luck
Cheap motels with residents breathing fumes all day
From all the cars speeding down the highway
You don't need to go to Texas or the Chesapeake Bay
If, before you reach the suburbs, you stop along the way
You'll find a secret city if you go and take a dive
East of the 205

credits

from Say Their Names, released October 3, 2020

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David Rovics Portland, Oregon

"Absolutely brilliant. David Rovics says exactly what needs to be said."
Ian McMillan, BBC

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