This Week in the Mercury

Snow Job


Snow Job

The Untold Story of Gil Scott-Heron

Sold Out


Sold Out

An Open Season Preview


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

You're RIGHT About That: Francine Returns... with Things You are RIGHT About?!?

Posted by Francine Colman-Gutierrez on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 11:29 AM


Hi. I'm Francine Colman-Gutierrez. I've been told this column can be a little negative. You're right about that... and here are some more things you're right about.

People who go on and on about "beautiful sunrises" should shut the fuck up. You're right about that.

It's unseemly for adults to ride Razor scooters. Agree 100 percent.

Channing Tatum's face is way too small for his head. That's a very astute thing to say.

There are better careers than modeling. Exactly right.

Dogs are better than cats, with the exception of pit bulls and dachshunds. Hard to argue with that.

Children... am I right? You're totally right.

People with hands bigger than their faces are liars and cheats. Well... 95 percent of the time, yes.

Wearing baseball caps and using the word "hipster" are sure signs of a poor imagination. Preach on, preacher.

Shakira has such a weird voice. I know, right?


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"The Camera is a Superb Liar": Guardian Takes a Swing at that Oregonian Photo

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 10:14 AM

  • Courtesy ABC News; Original Photo by Johnny Nguyen for the Oregonian

It's the photo published on multiple news sites (as seen above) and shared on a million Facebook pages; Oregonian freelance photog Johnny Nguyen's touching shot of a crying 12-year-old hugging a Portland cop after the Ferguson non-indictment. One could see the photo as a hopeful moment in a time of intense anger and confusion... a quick moment of possibility of not where we are, but where we should be.

Or, according to the Guardian's Jonathan Jones, the photo is "a blatant lie." From his column this morning:

In the 1930s and 1940s the dishonest manipulation of photographs was a speciality of state propagandists. Backroom technicians in totalitarian darkrooms removed unwanted faces from pictures and turned emotive images into posters. Today, we don’t need propaganda machines to deceive us because we can make hypocritical and self-manipulating choices ourselves just by “liking” the pictures that show us what we want to see and ignoring those that are more awkward.
Sentimentality used to be the preserve of musicals and Hollywood: now it shapes the news. Photographs are no longer carefully chosen by newspaper picture editors to craft the story. Of course, the traditional media are no strangers to manipulating reality – consciously or unconsciously – with photographs. But when news images are given life and meaning by the number of times they are shared on Facebook, the only editorial control is sentiment. This picture is cute, therefore popular, therefore true.

Jones has a lot more to say about it, and you can read it here. And while I can definitely see his point, he's really over-swinging here. Newspapers (including this one) use photos and images to move papers—no one's denying that. Though to say this photo somehow negates all other images coming from Ferguson is overreaching at best and dishonest at worst. While Jones has every right to insinuate this photo is simply crass manipulation from everyone involved, and that its viewers are using it to blind themselves to the realities of racial tension in America—we also have the right to call bullshit on his simplistic, judgemental reading of the situation.

Photos can't solve our problems, but they can be a catalyst for change. In Jones' defense, the above photo probably won't be the catalyst we need—because that photo hasn't been taken yet.

Hat tips to Blogtown regular Todd Mecklem.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Congressman Earl Blumenauer is Really Upping his Dessert-Bribery Game

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Yep, thats a poster for Fast Five. :(
  • Yep, that's a poster for Fast Five. :(

Sure, we all like to complain about the twee and offbeat image of this city so often beamed to the rest of the country. When that image descends on your place of business on a lackluster Monday afternoon, though, you've no choice but to embrace it.

And so it was that bow-tied Congressman Earl Blumenauer and the folks behind Portland ice cream behemoth Salt & Straw stopped by the Mercury offices a moment ago with a bunch of fruitcake, ice cream, and fruitcake ice cream.

(I have just gorged myself on five types of holiday-flavored ice cream, so the somber shaking of your head means nothing.)

Backing up: Blumenauer goes about town distributing homemade fruitcakes each holiday season. Has for 25 years or so.

Last year, he came 'round on December 18th and, bewildered at the fruitcake that had fallen into my lap, I wrote about it. This set off a series of events that led to the Mercury being Blumenauer's first stop this year, when not only is he bringing fruitcake, but his very own fruitcake-flavored ice cream from Salt & Straw.

It's coming out for public consumption Friday. If you buy some, proceeds will go to the nonprofit Community Cycling Center. Here are your details.

That red shirt, green bow tie combo Blumenauer's got in the video is the very same he donned today. As Mercury staff shamelessly skirmished over ice cream in front of a sitting congressman, Blumenauer gushed over the new flavor—"Earl Blumenauer Fruitcake" is an anonymous sweetness stuffed with some of your go-to fruitcake chunks, and fairly tasty—and also, seemingly sincere, said ice cream could heal our deeply fractured political system.

He even suggested Salt & Straw should whip up a flavor called "Cooperation" for the folks in DC, which co-owner and ice cream maker Tyler Malek theorized would have to contain sedatives. It's intuitive ingredient choices like that that earn Salt & Straw lines down the block. First they're putting bone marrow in ice cream, next they're slipping an entire congressional body a Mickey.

Anyway, we've got a freezer full of various flavors. And while I've got no problem with the Community Cycling Center, if you're going to wait in the rain for holiday-themed ice cream, I say go all out with the Mincemeat Pie (this is an unpopular opinion in these offices).

Yep, thats vodka behind the Peppermint Cocoa. :)
  • Yep, that's vodka behind the "Peppermint Cocoa." :)

Tender Loving Empire Hawthorne's Grand Opening/Christmas Pre-Func

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Tender Loving Empire has been working on its expansion to a second location, at 3541 SE Hawthorne, for months (check out a glimpse of the raw space from back in September). Now they've announced that the grand opening will take place Thursday, Dec 4 (6:30-9:30 pm) and it'll be a hell of a lot more involved than a tray of cheese cubes and Trader Joe's champagne.

It doubles as a release party for one of your holiday essentials, the PDXMAS local-music Christmas album, so you'll have Ritchie Young of Loch Lomond; Colyn Cameron of Wake Owl; Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba; and Bud Wilson of AAN performing live renditions, plus a DJ set by Party Damage Records DJs. Fort George Brewery suds will flow, and every half hour will have a raffle drawing in which you can win such delights as first edition LPs of the entire catalog from bands like Typhoon and Radiation City, TLE gift certificates, and prize packs with everything from clothing to bath products to jewelry, and more.

Take a break from wringing your hands over businesses who form the bedrock of the city's culture closing down, and raise a glass for one that's doing gangbusters instead!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Urban Outfitters' "Bloody Kent State" Sweatshirt: Too Soon? Or Too Late?

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Go wake up your grandparents and ask them if they remember the tragedy at Kent State. (I "remember" it because I was an extra in the Kent State TV movie! My big scene was peeking over the soldier as the primary student activist was making a rousing speech.) Anyway, here's a sweatshirt that Urban Outfitters was selling on their website before they got their buttholes ripped in half:


According to WOW, Kent State officials weren't exactly pleased by this product, and made their feelings known in no uncertain terms:

May 4, 1970, was a watershed moment for the country and especially the Kent State family. We lost four students that day while nine others were wounded and countless others were changed forever. We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.

Urban Outfitters responded with an obvious lie. Wait. Did I say, "lie"? I meant "apology."

Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

So much for owning your jokes. But even then, it's a reallllly old joke. So...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Those Leaked Celebrity Nudes: Have You Looked?

Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Tracy Clark-Flory admits to looking at those hacked celeb sexts—and feels bad about it:

I did it. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I did: I searched for the celebrity nudes stolen by a hacker over the weekend. It was an almost unconscious reaction, like pulling away when touching something hot—only the opposite. There are celebrity nudes? Rush toward them. It wasn’t sexual; I wasn’t looking to get turned on. I just wanted to know. What were these photos? How “bad” were they? As a woman in the world, I am all too aware of the perpetual possibility of being shamed or violated myself. It’s hard not to take such newsmaking events—regardless of whether they happen to a celebrity—as a warning. Besides, unless I searched for the images, I wouldn’t know whether they showed Ariana Grande delicately wrapped in a bed sheet or spinning sequined nipple tassels while juggling baby monkeys. My curiosity and concern, I told myself, shouted down the other voices in my head—the ones saying that these photos were stolen, that it was a violation of their privacy, that these women were being victim-blamed and slut-shamed for having taken these private photos in the first place. Sisterly solidarity, right? No—basic humanity.

I did it anyway.

“Oh, she’s so gorgeous!” I said out loud, when I came across the stolen images of Jennifer Lawrence. As though complimenting a woman while violating her privacy makes the thing any better.

Robin Abcarian says the outrage is ridiculous:

How long has this whole Internet thingy been going on, anyway? How long has electronic piracy been going on? Identity theft? How long have we known about phishing? How often have our public figures been told that if they don’t want to see something splashed on the front page, they shouldn’t engage in that behavior in the first place?

It’s pretty damn simple: If you don’t want people to see your naked body, don’t pose naked for photos that could be vulnerable to theft. No one can protect you from that kind of electronic violation. Isn't that pretty obvious by now?

Bullshit, says Van Badham at the Guardian:

Violation it is, too, because whatever the medium of communication between lovers (whether it’s a telephone call, a text message or the sexual act itself), the conversation is private and to intrude upon it is sexual involvement that has occurred without consent, and it has the same resultant harms. That a mobile phone used to facilitate a lovers’ conversation can also be used as a means of mass communication is irrelevant, because mass communication was in no way agreed to by the lovers, who had every right to believe their security would not be compromised.... There are suggestions that prosecution may result not only for the hacker of the photos, but for those who view and share them. Good. To excuse viewing the images just because they’re available is deplorable.

For my part... I haven't viewed the photos. Because that would be wrong. It helps that they're all female celebrities. We'll see how firm my resolve is when a bunch of male celebs get hacked. What about you, Blogtown?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Intrigue! Read the Staff Complaints that Led to the County's Latest Emergency Management Shake-Up

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 11:17 AM

As we report in this week's paper, the office responsible for Multnomah County's emergency planning experienced something of a mutiny starting in late June. Three separate employees complained to the county's Office of Diversity and Equity that Joe Rizzi, then-director of the Office of Emergency Management, had committed a litany of managerial sins—including skipping out on work for large portions of the day to brunch and hang out with his girlfriend, singling out minorities and women for harsh treatment, and recording his conversations with coworkers without telling them. That last one is a potential breach of state law.

It's important to note that Rizzi denies most of those claims. He says the complaints were part of a smear campaign organized by staffer Rachel Novick (newly married to City Commissioner Steve Novick). But Rizzi nonetheless chose to leave his $122,000 a year position in mid-July, a day after he'd been put on administrative leave due to the allegations.

"If you have a staff that's undermining you, it's really hard," he told the Mercury. "I don't want to be part of the slander."

The county's emergency management office sees a lot of turnover at the top. Rizzi was the seventh person to helm the department since 2000. At least one of those departures was even cloudier than Rizzi's.

Initially, when the Mercury asked for complaints against Rizzi in a formal records request, the county sent back several lengthy complaints filed by Novick, as well as documents Rizzi's administrative leave and subsequent resignation. You can read those records here.

Because we'd been told there might be more complaints than just Novick's, though, we made another request. "If not formal complaints than at least written communications detailing concerns about Mr. Rizzi. Possibly from staffers mentioned in the complaint by Rachel Philofsky: Tina Birch, Luiz Hernandez, or Kristen Baird." We were told none of those existed either.

It wasn't until we filed a third request that the county handed over records of concerns that had been raised—by the aforementioned Baird and Birch—weeks before Novick filed her complaint. Those documents are mainly notes a diversity and equity office staffer took of the women's concerns. They're here.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mutton Bustin': CONDEMN OR ALLOW?!?

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Fri, May 23, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Even as a person with a rather questionable moral compass (and I'm being generous to myself here), I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around Mutton Bustin'. It's scheduled to be featured this weekend at the Multnomah County Fair at Oaks Park, which will also showcase the usual array of pettable farm animals, food, rides, a talent show, an alpaca pavilion (!!) and other fun stuff. But Mutton Bustin'? That gives me pause...

If you've never seen Mutton Bustin', it's a rodeo event for children that's supposed to mimic the adult sport of bronco riding. A large sheep is put inside a chute, a small child is placed on its back, they open the chute and BANG! The sheep takes off and throws the child off in an unceremonious manner, usually within six seconds or less. Here's a video:

Okay, so on one hand, the ASPCA is absolutely right in their condemnation of using rodeo animals in such a way... the sheep have absolutely no choice in this matter. And while it does provide a guilty type of hilarity— especially if you don't like kids very much—putting the children backwards, face down on the bottom of the sheep seems like a particularly weird type of child abuse. Then there's the crowd factor—a bunch of adults who don't really seem to care that much about the safety of the children or the sheep.

BUT! Maybe I'm being a Debbie Downer (again), and this falls under the classification of ATVs, jet skis, and snow mobiles... sports that are loathsome to look at, but actually super fun in practice.

Anyway, like I said, my shaky moral compass cannot be trusted—which is why I leave the final decision in the hands of the only court that I truly think of as "supreme"... YOU, the voters in the following BLOGTOWN POLL.

Friday, May 16, 2014

This Week's Style Events

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Fri, May 16, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Yeah, it's getting hotter around here, but you still have to wear something.


—Furniture store Nadeau is celebrating the opening of their new Portland store (featuring solid wood pieces mostly under $500, which is cheap in the unfathomably expensive world of good, new furniture) with a li'l wine and cheese. Nadeau, 1122 NW Everett, 10 am-6 pm

—It's mini-golf May at Radish Underground, during which you can try your hand at sinking a discount with their store window putting green all month—but come tonight for the proper party. Radish Underground, 414 SW 10th, 4-8 pm

Indie Ella specializes in up-cycled clothing from silk Indian saris, and they're hosting an open house at their new warehouse space with refreshments with which to freshen while your peruse the goods. Indie Ella Clothing Warehouse, 333 NE Hancock Ste 4, 4-8 pm

Blush Beauty Bar is on year 10 of Beautypalooza, offering freebies, discounts, raffles, and more. Blush Beauty Bar, 513 NW 23rd, through Sunday, store hours

—I haven't heard of any of the designers participating in Chance Fashion: The Northwest Collaboration, but trying new things keeps you young. Look for a blend of Portland and Seattle design talent, which probably don't blend enough. Trio Club, 909 E Burnside, 7:30 pm, $10


—Pendleton's Portland Collection is going on super-sale, with the line's only spring/summer collection at 65% off, for one day only. Pendleton, 220 NW Broadway, 10 am-4 pm

—It the annual Black Box block party with discounts, boozes, and bonuses from Black Box building shops including Yo Vintage!, Tanner Goods, Imogene + Willie, Poler, and Mojave. The Black Box, W Burnside & 13th, 1-6 pm


—This month's installment of the Association dinner series at Union/Pine features special guest Kelley Roy of maker hub ADX! Hear what she has to say over deliciousness from Stargazer Farm. Union/Pine, 525 SE Pine, 7 pm, $65 tickets

—Make a whole Union/Pine day of it, why don't you: the Portland Flea block party will be raging outside with over 40 vendors of vintage and food carts. Union/Pine, 525 SE Pine, 10 am-4 pm


—The team that brings you Alley 33 and the Unmentionable lingerie show is making its first foray into bridal events, keeping firm focus on the local and the independent, of course. Check out this week's Sold Out for more on that. Engaged: A Bridal Runway Event, w/DJ Gregarious, Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, Tues May 20, 8 pm, $10-12

Eve in Eden
  • Eve in Eden


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Donald Sterling Is Banned from the NBA: Is That Enough of a Punishment?

Posted by Paul Constant on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 1:59 PM

Huffington Post says that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has announced that Donald Sterling has been fined 2.5 million dollars and banned from the NBA.

“Effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA,” Silver said during a press conference in New York on Tuesday afternoon. “Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices. He may not be present at any Clippers facility. He may not participate in any business or player personnel decisions.”

Silver also said he would try to force Sterling to sell the Clippers.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Rise of the Anti-Liberal Left

Posted by Dan Savage on Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Michelle Goldberg diagnoses what increasingly ails us at The Nation:

It’s increasingly clear that we are entering a new era of political correctness. Recently, we’ve seen the calls to #CancelColbert because of something outrageous said by Stephen Colbert’s blowhard alter ego, who has been saying outrageous things regularly for nine years. Then there’s the sudden demand for “trigger warnings” on college syllabi, meant to protect students from encountering ideas or images that may traumatize them; an Oberlin faculty document even suggests jettisoning “triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals.” At Wellesley, students have petitioned to have an outdoor statue of a lifelike sleepwalking man removed because it was causing them “undue stress.” As I wrote in The Nation, there’s pressure in some circles not to use the word “vagina” in connection with reproductive rights, lest it offend trans people....

At times like this, politics contract. On the surface, the rhetoric appears more ambitious and utopian than ever—witness, for example, the apparently sincere claim by Suey Park, creator of the #CancelColbert hashtag, that Twitter activists intend to “dismantle the state.” But at the same time, activism becomes less about winning converts and changing the world and more about creating protected enclaves and policing speech.

Go read the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#Cancel Colbert: The Politics of Being Offended

Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 9:44 AM

A lady person of color wrote this piece about Suey Park, the Twitter activist who called for the cancellation of the Colbert Report—so it can't be sexist or racist, right? But it's probably totally sexist and racist of me to link to it. There's another good piece on this completely BS controversy at Salon, which has been home to some awful pieces about #CancelColbert.

More from Colbert's response to #CancelColbert below. Worth your time just to watch Colbert deftly and subtly shiv conservative shrieker—and Suey Park supporter—Michelle Malkin.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A More Important Sochi Problem

Posted by Eli Sanders on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 9:44 AM

There's the yellow water. And then there's the wider environmental damage:

In the rush to complete what ended up being $51 billion in construction in just five years, Russian’s Olympic Committee has played fast and loose with the environmental standards it once promised to uphold. To take just one example of many, Olympic organizers make much of the fact that Russia’s first green construction standards were implemented for the Games. But at the same time, authorities have also reversed legislation protecting national parks in order to allow for those green buildings to go up. As a result, construction of the Olympic village ended up affecting over 8,000 acres of Sochi National Park, a strictly protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As the global news agency AFP recently reported, the area’s sensitive wetlands, home to 65 species of birds, were buried under six and a half feet of crushed rock, while reptiles and brown bears have reportedly gone missing from surrounding mountain areas. Water pollution in the Mzymta River, once a major spawning site, threatens a fifth of Russia’s Black Sea salmon. And while Olympic organizers boast that they’ve planted 1.5 million new trees — three for every one that was cut down — Suren Gazaryan, a zoologist and environmental activist who was forced to flee the country, said that the scattered planting can in no way make up for what was lost.

It goes on. As one sustainability consultant has said: "Sochi should never have happened in that location."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fashion's Latest Scandal: The Black Woman Chair

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 3:00 PM

As if everyone doesn't already have Russia on watch, yesterday's MLK day saw Russian fashion publication Buro 24/7 posting this photo of Dasha Zhukova, editor in chief of another Russian magazine, Garage:

  • Buro 24/7

After a Twitter-led explosion of outrage, the publication altered the photo to crop out most of the chair, which in case you can't tell is not a real person but a creepily realistic design by British artist Allen Jones (it also comes in "white woman"). Buro's editor, Miroslava Duma, also quickly responded with an apology on Instagram, assuring that their publication is "against racism or gender inequality or anything that infringes upon anyone's rights... The chair in the photo should only be seen as a piece of art... and not as any form of racial discrimination."

There are obviously a few things working against Buro's favor here, but the fashion world's go-to "art" excuse feels increasingly insufficient when raising eyebrows in a racial context (to say nothing of misogyny). Grumbles over the international fashion world's racial homogeneity are growing louder and angrier (underscored by the revelation of Rick Owens' Spring 2014 show, which famously featured step dancer models who were mostly minority and not of a kind with typical models' physiques). It can certainly be constructive to use art (and fashion, if you'll allow fashion to be included as art by extension) for provocation, but when you're pushing a button that's so obviously and widely sensitive—and the timing here was amazingly bad, if probably oblivious—it doesn't take much of a stretch to assume you'd better be standing by with an explanation that's more nuanced than what boils down to "cool chair."

UPDATE!: Zhukova apologized too.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Tonight in Music

Posted by Courtney Ferguson on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 10:59 AM

The Hamdogs (Via)
  • The Hamdogs (Via)

Duff's GarageThe Hamdogs, 6 pm, $2; Shorty & The Mustangs, Brad Creel & The Reel Deel, 9 pm
Alberta Street Pub–Big Haunt, Adam Brock, Steff Koeppen & the Articles, 9 pm, $3
Al's Den–Samantha Crain, Michael Hurley, 7 pm, free
Bamboo Grove Salon–Nikki & the Pathos, Sean Wagner, Olive Delsol, 8 pm, $5
Dante's–Whitey Morgan & The 78s, 9 pm, $10
Dig a Pony–DJ Survival Skillz, Cali Mike, 5 pm; Maxx Bass, 9 pm
Doug Fir–The Builders & The Butchers, Tiburones, Old Age, 9 pm, $12
Eagles Lodge–In the Cooky Jar: DJ Cooky Parker, 9 pm
Firkin Tavern–The Dandelyons, Tango Alpha Tango, Mike Coykendall, 9 pm, free
Holocene–DJ Melodymaker, 5 pm, free; Ecstasy x Bubblin': DJ Deeon, Massacooramaan, DJ Rafael, 9 pm, $5
LaurelThirst Public House–Joe McMurrian, Woodbrain, 6 pm; Denim Wedding, Carrie Clark & The Lonesome Lovers, 9:30 pm
Rotture–Live and Direct: Rev Shines, Slimkid3, DJ Nature, 9 pm, $5
Saucebox–DJ Beyondadoubt, 9 pm
The Secret Society–Pete Krebs & His Portland Playboys, 6 pm, free, all ages; RAF, Kinked, The Silver Fox, 9 pm, $10
Star Theater–Hovercraft Records Showcase: LA Drugz, Hornet Leg, Charts, Mythological Horses, Burnt Thrones Club, Sealion, Vasas, Honey Bucket, 9 pm, $5
Vie de Boheme–Quadraphonnes, 8:30 pm, $8
The Waypost–Dan Lurie, Nate Wey, 8 pm

Friday, June 21, 2013

Street Harassment: The Other Side of the Coin

Posted by Jay Williams on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 1:44 PM

[You've obviously read this week's feature on "street harassment" directed at women—and you may even have an opinion on the subject or written a comment or two. But there's also the other side of the coin... as described byMercury Circulation Director Jay Williams. Here's his story.—Editor]

In my six years at the Portland Mercury as both a route driver and now head of circulation I have had a lifetime's worth of interesting/awful experiences on the street via Portland's weirdest weirdos and socially maligned citizens. Most of the time it has been harmless, stupid, something to laugh about and a good story. Such as the time I was delivering papers downtown at 10 am and a very drunken man approached me to let me know I looked like a guy that appreciated a good sausage and he tried to force feed me a half-eaten kielbasa then ask me for $36 for a bus ticket. He was so sweet! And so drunk! I wonder sometimes if he fell asleep on the MAX tracks. Seems likely. The grim truth is that I get stopped often, it's not always sexual—but when it is? Portland you really outdo yourselves in being absolute creeps.

More after the jump.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

ACLU Sues Obama Administration to Stop "Dragnet" Phone Surveillance

Posted by Dominic Holden on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 9:44 AM

New York Times:

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its “dragnet” collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program — whose existence was exposed by a former National Security Agency contractor last week — is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged....

This case may be different [from ACLU cases that have been dismissed]. The government has now declassified the existence of the program on domestic call record “metadata.” And the A.C.L.U. itself is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services — the subsidiary of Verizon Communications that was the recipient of a leaked secret court order for all its domestic calling records — which it says gives it direct standing to bring the lawsuit.

I'm gonna send the ACLU a check on my next payday. I'd reckon that if anyone can beat back the Obama administration's overreach—or at least give them a real run for their money—it's the ACLU's squadron of lawyers and cavalry of cooperating attorneys. if you want more, check out the Huffington Post, where they've posted the complaint.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Customer Service Problem at McDonald's Is a Symptom of a Much Bigger Problem

Posted by Paul Constant on Wed, May 8, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Chris DeRose published an article at Business Insider addressing the fact that McDonald's is failing at customer service, with a vice president of the company openly talking about the “rude or unprofessional employees" at some franchises. Here are DeRose's suggestions:

1. Create shared emotion around delivering a great customer experience.
2. Keep simplifying work processes and rules
3. Invest more in tools and training.
4. Reward and recognize great service.

What DeRose doesn't suggest? Paying the employees a living wage. Instead, he spends his time blathering about bullshit PowerPoint terms like "wow stories" and "customer mania" and "creating memories." If you treat your employees like garbage, they're going to treat your customers like garbage. McDonald's shitty pay doesn't even get a mention in DeRose's article, but a program where "employees nominate each other for a series of pins" is suggested as a fix. Fucking unbelievable.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Closer Google Glass Gets, the More Ethical Dilemmas Appear

Posted by Paul Constant on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 10:14 AM

1. Here's a blog post that makes a very good point about Google Glass:

The key experiential question of Google Glass isn’t what it’s like to wear them, it’s what it’s like to be around someone else who’s wearing them. I’ll give an easy example. Your one-on-one conversation with someone wearing Google Glass is likely to be annoying, because you’ll suspect that you don’t have their undivided attention. And you can’t comfortably ask them to take the glasses off (especially when, inevitably, the device is integrated into prescription lenses). Finally – here’s where the problems really start – you don’t know if they’re taking a video of you.

Now pretend you don’t know a single person who wears Google Glass… and take a walk outside. Anywhere you go in public – any store, any sidewalk, any bus or subway – you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Fifty people on the bus might be Glassless, but if a single person wearing Glass gets on, you – and all 49 other passengers – could be recorded. Not just for a temporary throwaway video buffer, like a security camera, but recorded, stored permanently, and shared to the world.

Now, I know the response: “I’m recorded by security cameras all day, it doesn’t bother me, what’s the difference?” Hear me out – I’m not done. What makes Glass so unique is that it’s a Google project. And Google has the capacity to combine Glass with other technologies it owns.

Go read the rest. In the weeks since Google Glass has been announced as a definite upcoming product, more and more problems have presented themselves. To give a personal example: I attend a lot of film screenings. At many of these screenings, security guards collect the cell phones of everyone who enters the theater. What do they do if someone is wearing Google Glass? What if those glasses are prescription strength, and the critic is unable to see the movie without them? What about places like banks, where filming is discouraged? I think we're going to see Google Glass banned outright in some locations.

2. Along those lines but on a lighter note, Dartanion London made a video demonstrating how Google Glass will affect the dating dynamic:


Friday, February 22, 2013

White History Month: Why Not a Totino's Pizza* History Month?!?

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 2:00 PM

For those who are still unconvinced by Ian Karmel's argument that white people really don't need a "white history month," here's ModPrimate who also makes an extremely valid case about this unnecessary month for honkies, and how "equality" still isn't all that equal.

*I was paid 25 cents to include the words "Totino's Pizza" somewhere in this post. You're welcome, Totino's Pizza!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Golden Moment: How I Saved One Invasive Animal From Another

Posted by Nathan Gilles on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Chinese Golden Pheasant In Portland.
  • Chinese Golden Pheasant In Portland.

First came the sound: the loud thumping of a soft body plummeting into hard glass. Then the sight: colorful plumage knocked silly by the cunning entrancement of the ersatz sky, that perfect illusion afforded by a window reflecting the sunlight in just the right way. “Holy Shit!” I yelled to myself.

I’d just seen a bird hit my neighbors’ window. And hard! So hard in fact it appeared that—as if by an occult hand—the chicken-sized animal had been plucked from the heavens and tossed around like some vivid marble. But I’ll give whatever capricious god played with this animal his or her due, because what a bird it was. It’s feathers were a kaleidoscope of pigments that ended in an elongated red tail. It looked like no fowl I had ever seen. And as I marveled at the discombobulated ornithological wonder from my bedroom window this past Sunday, I had to ask myself, “What-in-the-fucking-hell-kinda-funky-ass critter is this?” As of yesterday afternoon, I got my answer.

My mystery bird was a golden pheasant, an invasive "exotic" species native to China, and probably somebody’s exotic pet. (This is not to be confused with the much less dapper common pheasant, also a Chinese native, but now super-abundant in America, especially the plains states—hell it’s even South Dakota’s state bird). Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Audubon Society of Portland, broke the news in an email.

And as beautiful as it is, it might also be illegal. And if that's the case, Oregon probably would have wanted me to let it die.

UPDATE: 5:30 PM Bob Sallinger just informed me the animal is legal to possess in the state of Oregon, with the right paperwork.

Here's his full response to my inquiry.

As far as I know, golden pheasants are legal to possess in Oregon and are not becoming prolific in the environment. They are listed as controlled which means there are some rules governing their possession. However people are allowed to keep them in captivity. If one were brought to Audubon or another rehab facility, we would transfer or refer it to either somebody who is qualified to have them or to domestic animal shelter that could adopt it to an appropriate home. We would not be required to euthanize it. The terminology gets confusing...but there is a difference between an exotic species and an invasive species.

The one place that legality might come into question would be if it was deliberately abandoned into the wild. It would not be legal to just dump a bird like this into the environment if it was not longer wanted..

Continue reading »

Friday, February 15, 2013

Apparently the Words "Press Event" Mean Different Things to Different People

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Food Dude over at Portland Food and Drink got his lobster bib in a knot over our Chris Onstad's blog review of Quartet—posted soon after the restaurant's press event dinner. Here's the nut of Food Dude's post titled, "Is It Fair for a Journalist to Review a Press Preview Dinner?" (Spoiler alert: Apparently IT IS NOT!)

Portland Food and Drink was invited to a friends/family/press event to acquaint us with the new restaurant Quartet, which officially opens today.

I don’t go to press events, but know several people who were there, and from texts and emails I was getting, there were some serious issues.

However, because it was a pre-opening dinner, as in the restaurant wasn’t even open to the public yet, I didn’t write anything about the experiences of my friends – it just didn’t seem right.

This did not seem to be the case with Chris Onstad over at the Portland Mercury, who published a screed this morning, lambasting everything from the decor to the service, the food, and everyone else who attended the dinner – because they didn’t tell the management how bad their experience had been. This wasn’t just a negative piece, it was an all out attack.

Apparently Chris broke some unwritten rule that if press is specifically invited to a food event, the press should not write about it in any form. Now this seems odd to me—because usually, say, if Mayor Charlie Hales invites the press to a "press conference," there's a reasonable expectation that the press is going to write about what happened at the "press conference." BUT HEY! WHAT DO I KNOW, RIGHT?

The comments on this Portland Food and Drink story are fun, you should go check 'em out. NOTE: In fairness, there is an unwritten rule that food critics should wait two-three months after a restaurant opens so the place can get all the kinks worked out. The Mercury consistently does this for all our Last Supper reviews, because that's only fair. HOWEVER, if you've got enough confidence in your product to make a dinner an actual "press event" that does not include any mention of embargos, and if the writer clearly notes that the restaurant is still in its infancy... wellllllll, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Friday, February 1, 2013

North Portland Gay Bar Cancels Drag Queen's Black Face Act

Posted on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 5:32 PM

So the Eagle, a gay bar in North Portland, booked comedian Shirley Q. Liquor—a drag queen who performs in black face. Comedians constantly push social mores and the less politically correct often the more famous the comedian. And as Dave Chappelle highlighted, when done right, poking at racial stereotypes can be hilarious.

That was until Portland unleashed a flurry of protests in every corner of the internet.


The Eagle had the good sense to cancel the show after a major outcry erupted on the bar's Facebook page—and bloggers criticized the bar by noting “community anecdotes have shown that the owners are racist, transphobic, desire controversy, and operate out of white male privilege.”


Whether or not the last part is true isn't clear. A bartender at the Eagle wouldn't comment and messages left for owners were not returned. I'd say it's unlikely, however, that a transphobic establishment would book Liquor in the first place.

Chappelle wanted his black-face sketch to highlight the terrible nature of racial stereotypes, but that intention was completely lost on one audience member who laughed hardily for the wrong reasons. The incident was so unsettling that the episode never aired and is cited as the reason Chappelle took a break from the show.

Shirley isn't Chappelle (not even in the same universe) and her black-face routine, if you ask me, isn't funny. Liquors has been quoted as saying, “my comedy isn't racist, nor am I,” but the internet has spoken (as has every person with an ounce of common sense) and yes, a white man impersonating a black woman by painting his face black cuts to the very core of racism.

What is funny is that people will pay to see it and there is a significant group of people who don't understand why this is racist. Supporters of Liquor cite her New Orleans roots, as if living in proximity to African Americans bestows Liquor with deep empathy for a culture that has faced centuries of deep-seated racism.

In fact, Liquor herself wanted to open her show up with some dialog and a Q&A session, presumably where Liquor, again a white man impersonating a black woman, would wax rhapsodic about what it was like to have relatives lynched during the 1940s, what segregation felt like according to her grandmother, and the fear of living in a world where the murder rate among African Americans is as much as 10 times that of Caucasians. Ahem.

* I incorrectly identified the performer in the first post, Liquor is the correct spelling of her name.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Would You Shut Down a Robot That Begged You for Mercy?

Posted by Paul Constant on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 9:44 AM

The New Inquiry brought this experiment to my attention.

At the end of the game, whether the robot was smart or dumb, nice or mean, a scientist authority figure modeled on Milgram’s would make clear that the human needed to turn the cat robot off, and it was also made clear to them what the consequences of that would be: “They would essentially eliminate everything that the robot was — all of its memories, all of its behavior, all of its personality would be gone forever.”

In videos of the experiment, you can clearly see a moral struggle as the research subject deals with the pleas of the machine. “You are not really going to switch me off, are you?” the cat robot begs, and the humans sit, confused and hesitating. “Yes. No. I will switch you off!” one female research subject says, and then doesn’t switch the robot off.

The full story is by NPR. Here's video of someone facing the choice:

Based on the high volume of outdated electronic equipment in my apartment, I think I would have a really hard time shutting the robot down. Especially when it got to the sad, stroke-eyed pleading right before the very end.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Big Question: Does Violence In Media Cause Violence In Real Life?

Posted by Alex Falcone on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 10:14 AM

[Alex periodically uses his BA in philosophy to help answer major ethical questions. That's how smart he is, he doesn't need to do it very often to be great at it. -Ed (just some guy named Ed, not an editor or anything)]

Violence in media ABSOLUTELY causes people to be more violent. No question. Don't believe me? Here's my two word proof: Cake. Boss.

I challenge you to watch three episodes of the TLC show about a New Jersey baker and not desperately want to stuff pieces of impeccably decorated sponge into your cake hole. It's impossible. I've watched the whole series and some days I'd kill for a piece of cake. Media is just that powerful.

It's not just me and it's not just cake. The poker world experienced a huge boom in the early 2000s because Matt Damon made it look so cool in Rounders (if I get good at No Limit Texas Hold'em I could sleep with Gretchen Mol!). Glee led to record numbers of show-choir auditions (if I get great at singing and dancing, I can sleep with Cory Monteith!). And MSNBC undoubtedly makes people want to go into politics (if I become a senator I can sleep with people who aren't my wife!).

But this isn't new information. You've known it for a while. Dangerous shows constantly tell people not to "try this at home." Why? Because if it looks fun on TV, people are more likely to do it.

I don't think we need to make violence in media illegal; I'm a philosopher, not a politician. But it isn't doing anybody any favors when we pretend it's harmless. It's clearly not. TV makes it seem cool to shoot guns at people / aliens that look like people / zombies that used to be people we love. Healthy people can resist that pressure but not everybody can. For me, it's easy with guns but not with cake, which is why I remain unarmed and overweight.

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