This Week in the Mercury

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Beard Revue.

Posted by Alison Hallett on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 5:14 PM

I'm no fan of facial hair. But who cares what I think, I'm just a single, fertile woman of child-birthing age. The Beard Revue is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a limited edition beard poster. Only $20. It's a really nice poster. If you like beards.


Happy Birthday, beardos. Buy here.

Ricardo Montalban, 1920-2009.

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Go See Happy Go Lucky

Posted by Alison Hallett on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 4:12 PM


I almost cared about the Academy Awards last year. There were so many great movies up: No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Persepolis, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. This year it's back to indifference as usual, with poor Oscar courted by a gloomy procession of dreary, self-important films (although, gosh, I've seen neither The Reader nor Revolutionary Road....). Doubt, Frost/Nixon, the ridiculous The Curious Case of Benjamin Button—after seeing a few of these in close succession, I was starting to worry I'd forgotten how to enjoy the cinema. (Last Chance Harvey did not help.)

But then I caught Happy Go Lucky at the Laurelhurst last night, and all is well. Capacity for enjoyment=intact.

I was a bit worried that Mike Leigh's film about a relentlessly cheerful 30-yr-old teacher would be a quirk fest starring a British Manic Pixie Dream Girl—some wacky, ditzy, "OMG she's so crazy and adorable!!" protagonist. But what's impressive about Happy Go Lucky is that while the main character, Poppy, is unusually upbeat, she's also a grownup—she's got a job, deep relationships with her friends and family, and generally good judgment. And when her racist, crazy driving instructor tests her good humor, the scene doesn't unfold in the way you'd expect.

The film is really intelligently written—Poppy's relationships with her friends ring particularly true. (I saw it with my best friend since grade school, and we agreed that it's an unusually honest and affectionate depiction of female friendship.) And it is, swear-to-god, life affirming. And funny. Did I mention funny? It's funny. Go see it. It's at the Laurelhurst. See it. Do it.

Get on the List: Renegade Dinner Club

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Okay, all done teasing. I wanted to triple-clarify with Colleen French before opening the floodgates of Blogtown, but if you'd like to gain entry to her new Renegade Dinner Club (brunches too!) she's give me permission to spread around her email address. Just drop her a line and say you want on the list, and prepare yourself for tempting emails about Saturday morning crumpets and weekend dinners with friendly strangers.



Salvation Army on Grand

Posted by Matt Davis on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Send your recession pics to

Roadtripping on Anti-Guantanamo Tour

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 3:40 PM

I am sitting on the balcony of a Quaker meeting hall in Brighton, England, which packed with 200 absolutely silent people listening to former Portland resident Chris Arendt. Arendt grew up in a trailer in the middle of a corn field in rural Michigan and along the way of his life so far, he joined the National Guard, got deployed to Guantanamo Bay, tried to kill himself, helped start the Portland branch of Iraq Veterans Against the War and wound up in the pages of the Mercury for writing a zine about his experiences. And now, in another bizarre life step, he's roadtripping around the UK on a speaking tour with well-known released Guantanamo Bay detainees, including Moazzam Begg — sharing a squished minivan with the men he used to guard and eating falafel with their friends and families.


Arendt and former detainee Jarallah Al-Marri in London's Al Jazeera studio

As Matt mentioned yesterday in the morning news, I'm here in the UK for all of January keeping track of the fascinating backseat conversations between the ex-guard and prisoners. These guys are working through some of their incredibly complicated personal issues from Guantanamo right as Obama is working through the complicated legal and political issues around Guantanamo policy. There's a lot of important stuff going on here. In between speaking to over 900 people and 20 news agencies in the past seven days, Arendt and Begg have discussed among themselves everything from dehumanization of foreign cultures to the best tasting MREs. We've also driven at speeds topping 100 miles an hour, examined Jackson Pollock paintings with a man who spent six years in American military prisons and introduced Arendt to the man he feared most in Guantanamo.

Here's an excerpt from one of Begg and Arendt's recent conversations. I'll post more on Blogtown about the trip and Obama's policy later in the week but in the meantime check out the blog I'm keeping of the trip:

Chris has never been to England and the conversation inevitably turned to cultural differences. “We do everything big in America,” says Chris, “except cell sizes.” Moazzam and Jarallah crack up, but Chris looks quietly out the window for a moment. He turns back around to Moazzam.

“Is it okay to make jokes?” Chris asks.

“Yeah, it’s okay to make jokes,” replies Moazzam, smiling.

Chris thinks for a few moments, watching London pass by outside the taxi window. “We’ll be figuring out what’s okay for former detainees and former guards to discuss which each other,” he says, “That book hasn’t been written yet.” Chris pauses again. “We’d better make it awesome.”

"Why Are You Leaving, Gary?"

Posted by Matt Davis on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 1:53 PM

City Council agreed this morning to May 19th for a special election to replace outgoing City Auditor Gary Blackmer, and thanks to behind-the-scenes work by City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the discussion was remarkably relaxed and uncontentious.

Mayor Sam Adams kicked things off by asking Blackmer why he was leaving.

"Is it Dan [Saltzman]? It's Dan, isn't it...Randy [Leonard]'s out of the's Randy, right?" he joked.

When Leonard returned from a bathroom break, Adams continued with the joke: "I'm pleased to hear that Randy Leonard chased you out of office," he said.

"It was the result of a rather painful back room session," Blackmer said.

"In which I was getting the pain, obviously," Leonard shot back.

Joking aside, the subject of voter-owned elections (VOE) is potentially divisive for city council, even though it's designed to "keep corporate money out of politics," (why should that be contentious? oh...yeah...I get it...) and is likely to succeed when the idea goes before voters in 2010.

City Commissioner Randy Leonard has been an outspoken opponent of the concept, ever since it came along. City Commissioner Nick Fish, meanwhile, was philosophically opposed to instituting a VOE system before it went to the voters.

But while Fish and Leonard could easily have taken the opportunity this morning to squabble over the VOE concept, it seems that behind-the-scenes negotiations by newly elected VOE commissioner Fritz have been sufficient to placate the pair, for the time being. More after the jump, including an ill-conceived illustration of Gary Blackmer on the theme of Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe...go know you wanna click through...

Continue reading »

Serosorting: Slowing the Spread of HIV, Speeding the Spread of Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia...

Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 1:21 PM

It seems like every year we get a new alarming stats to set on top of last year's alarming new stats—we've got eight years' worth of alarming stats to pour over now. And the news for gay and bisexual men isn't good:

U.S. syphilis rates rose for a seventh year in 2007, driven by gay and bisexual men, while chlamydia reached record numbers and gonorrhea remained at alarming levels—especially among blacks, health officials said on Tuesday.


[Syphilis] rates rose 15 percent from 2006. Syphilis rates dropped by 90 percent in the 1990s to a record low level in 2000, and officials thought it might disappear as a public health threat before its resurgence this decade.

Syphilis has increased each year since 2000—its rate is up 81 percent—with gay and bisexual men representing 65 percent of cases, the CDC said.

Douglas said many cases are occurring in HIV-positive men who are choosing other HIV-positive men as sexual partners. "Within that relationship, they are less concerned about the transmission of other conditions. They're not using condoms. They believe that their partner already has got the worst they can get—they've got an HIV infection," he said.

So... gay and bi men who opt to have sex with other men who share their serostatus—poz guys with poz guys, neg guys with neg guys—because it allows them to skip the condoms are fueling a nearly decade-long spike in syphilis rates. I've praised serosorting as an effective method of HIV prevention—here's a good primer on the practice from the SF AIDS Foundation—and it is. But its been clear for years now that serosorting carries other risks. Serosorting is only an effective HIV-infection prevention strategy—particularly for neg guys—if people are 1. honest and 2. aware of their HIV-statuses. (Lots of men are infected and don't know it; some were infected too recently for their last HIV test to detect their infection.) It is extremely foolish for a negative guy—particularly one seeking multiple, casual, or anonymous sex partners—to put a great deal of faith in a stranger's professed HIV-status; a poz guy can know for sure he's positive but a negative guy can never really know for certain that he's negative. Some guys who are positive don't know, some are in denial, and men will lie. (And by stigmatizing HIV+ guys, it has to be said, HIV- guys help create a climate that encourages other men to either not know their status or to hide it.)

But even when it works as planned—neg guys skipping condoms with neg guys, poz guys skipping condoms with poz guys—serosorting obviously encourages the spread of other sexually transmitted infections. Many of these infections—like syphilis—are treatable. Since some men have syphilis without realizing it, because they didn't notice the initial symptoms, and because the consequences of untreated syphilis are pretty dire, anyone who has multiple sex partners—serosorting or not, condoms or not—should get regular STI screenings.

And now my annual Cassandra moment: Yeah, serosorting may be effective for preventing the spread of HIV. It can make it possible for two neg guys to have sex without condoms without risking HIV infection (provided both guys are actually negative), and it can make it possible for two poz guys to have sex without condoms without spreading HIV. But serosorting does nothing to protect gay men from other STIs. Rational people can conclude that those other STIs are no big deal and that if they serosort for HIV and seek treatment for the treatable STIs and put up with the untreatable ones, they're in the clear medically and morally.

But the emergence of HIV should have made one thing very clear: a new STI can burst onto the scene and kill you and all of your friends. So, yeah, serosorting can allow guys to have unprotected sex without having to worry about the potentially fatal sexually transmitted infection we do know about. But what if there's a new fatal STI out there that we don't know about?

Radio Rant

Posted by Logan Sachon on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 12:22 PM


emily harris and david miller, hosts of opb's think out loud, the newest of the dreaded call-in shows

I love NPR, PRI, OPB, whatever. Robert Siegel, Michele Norris, Terry Gross, Lisa Mullins, Melissa Block, Ira Glass: I could listen to them all day, and I often do.

But something has got to be done about the morning lineup. Between 9am and 1pm, listening to 91.5 basically makes me want to kill myself. Think Out Loud, World Have Your Say, Talk of the Nation - it's like a suicidal triple header, and I can't take it anymore. In college, I hated discussion groups because it meant I was forced to listen to eager coeds prove that they had read the textbook. I read the textbook. I came to class to hear people older, more educated, and smarter than me talk; give me a professor or let me sleep-in. Likewise, I listen to public radio because I want to hear people older, more educated, and smarter than me talk. I want to think, and I want to be smarter. Listening to Mary in Rockaway call in and talk about her unemployment woes does not make me smarter. It makes me smug and snobby, and I really don't need another excuse for that.

Does anyone out there enjoy these shows? Have you ever heard someone call in that had anything of value to add? Am I just a huge snob? These things I wonder.



Posted by Erik Henriksen on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 11:59 AM

I'm not sure why Willamette Week film editor Aaron Mesh apparently has a Google news alert set up for the keywords "Brendan" and "Fraser," and I'm not gonna ask him, but via the WW's non-blog comes the news that HOLY SHIT HARRISON FORD AND BRENDAN FRASER ARE COMING TO PORTLAND! EEEEEEEEEEE!


Pictured, left to right: Harrison Ford, Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser.

Harrison Ford is most famous for being in the Indiana Jones movies, while Fraser is most famous for his films that unashamedly rip off the Indiana Jones movies. They'll both be in Portland in April to star in a "fact-based medical drama" directed by the jackass responsible for What Happens In Vegas.

Fraser will play John Crowley, the father of two children who were diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder for which he's told there is no cure. Unbowed, he seeks out an experimental and sometimes irascible doctor (Ford) who works to find a way to save the children's lives.

Ford being irascible? Fraser being all doofy-and-likeable-despite-his-terrible-choices-in-starring-roles? Count me in! And by "count me in," I mean, "I'll be hiding behind dumpsters near the shooting locations, desperately trying to get Brendan Fraser to autograph my VHS copy of Encino Man."

Via the WW and Reuters.

Liquor's Magical Effects

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 10:30 AM

If you need any further proof of sweet, sweet liquor's magical effects, look no further than this St. Louis ad for "Dirt Cheap" and… OMIGOD, THAT'S A GIANT CHICKEN!!

Hat tips to BWE!

Street Fighter IV: The Ultra Moves: The Montage

Posted by Earnest "Nex" Cavalli on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 10:04 AM

With the possible exception of Tawny Kitaen humping the hood of a Jaguar, nothing says "1980s Americana" like a stirring montage.

Capcom's Street Fighter series was introduced in 1987, which, as you'll recall, was during the 1980s.

And with that, my tenuous link is established. Roll the clip:

Street Fighter IV is currently in arcades nowhere near our fine city (thanks Capcom!), but is also scheduled to appear on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in mid-February.

Want more? I've also attached a bonus montage of all the game's Super Moves below the jump.

Continue reading »

Good Morning, News!

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 9:03 AM

Stocks tumble after the government reports that retail sales SUCKED in December. Retailers respond, "No 'S', Herlock!"

In more optimistic economic news, a co-ed is selling her virginity and the bid is already up to $3.7 million. You hear that, automakers? BEND OVER.

In less optimistic sexism news, a senior Saudi cleric has given the okay for 10-year-old girls to marry, adding that anyone who opposes the idea is doing the girls an injustice. WOW. At least the priests in our country keep their pedophilia to themselves.

In more optimistic child abuse news, police have taken 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell away from his parents.

Osama bin Laden broadcasted his latest message (urging Muslims to wage a holy war against Israel) and then spun a few tunes from his vinyl collection of female Broadway stars of the '50s.

PETA wants to rename fish "sea kittens." Seriously. Just ignore them.

Newsweek: "Upper Classes are More Likely to Commit Suicide During Recession." Happy days are here again!

It was the season premiere of American Idol last night, and while a blind guy made it to Hollywood—who cares about a uggo blind person? Check out this hot chick in a bikini who passed with flying colors even though she sings like someone's strangling a kitten! Idol, I'm glad to see you're maintaining your priorities!

Mirah - "Gone Are The Days"

Posted by Ezra Ace Caraeff on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 8:39 AM

mirah.jpgPhoto: Steven Dewall

Stereogum has a brand new track from Mirah and her new record, (a)spera. Out on March 12th, the album finds Mirah—or is it now (M)irah?—once again working with Phil Elverum on a few tracks (the same combination behind the flawless Advisory Committee, among others), plus a handful of notable Portlanders (Tucker Martine, Adam Selzer, Chris Funk, Tara Jane O'Neil) and Spectratone International cellist Lori Goldston.


Mirah - "Gone Are The Days"

What a lovely song. I wonder what it's about? Love? Cuddling? Kittens? Um, perhaps not.

"...that song is about the loss of industrious, bright energy, about the lethargy that modern life and technology has introduced to our lives, about the forceful human greed to which so many planetary resources have been subject, it's about loss, and the struggle between wild perfect nature (perfectly wild, destructive even) and human control."

Oh, I was this close to guessing forceful human greed and planetary resources. Damn.

End Hits: The music blog responsible for the lethargy that modern life and technology have introduced to our lives. Plus we have MP3s, too!

Most Popular I, Anonymous Best of the Merc

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC

115 SW Ash St. Suite 600
Portland, OR 97204

Contact Info | Privacy Policy | Production Guidelines | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy