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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

KGW Employee Goes In-Depth On Old Town Poop for Vice

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Old Town Chinatown is on everyone's mind lately.

The Oregonian recently published a series looking at its challenges, and the proposed economic development that could take it from dingy and underused to a haven for "workforce housing." And the city was abuzz last week after Mayor Charlie Hales announced popular vacation listing site Airbnb is moving its North American headquarters into the neighborhood.

Even Vice is chiming in, with a dispatch from KGW employee Evan Sernoffsky titled: "Portland's Iconic Old Town Chinatown Is Overflowing With Human Shit." Therein, Sernoffsky chronicles in great detail the time someone shat in front of Kell's. He talks of alcoves filled with "drooling junkies" and the indignity of having to observe squalor while ordering donuts. (Sernoffsky has taken a somewhat more-measured approach to the issue when reporting locally.) From the piece:

Last week, I ran into Carl panhandling downtown. I gave him some change and asked if we could talk about all the poop in Old Town Chinatown. After he rambled in his semi-coherent drawl, we took a walk to the Pioneer Square Mall so he could take a dump.

I work in Old Town, and have for years. I'm not sure I've ever seen human shit on the sidewalk. But who could be surprised that it happens? The neighborhood—like neighborhoods in medium and large cities the world over—has a lot of homeless people, and even three relatively nearby Portland loos aren't going to attract everyone. Even if Old Town were truly "overflowing," though, that's really worth 1,300 words? Without any substantive discussion about how the situation might be changed or improved? Am I overreacting to/overthinking what is, in essence, long-form trolling?

At any rate, Vice has a decent track record of feces coverage (and, to be fair, the Mercury's no stranger to the topic) so its raison d'etre needn't be much more than sidewalk poop.

Thoughts?

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