This week's letters to the editor are a little, mmmm, I'm gonna say "eclectic."
—First off this dude David (last name "Messenger"... coincidence?) went through a days-long phase of sending us his "thought of the day." This included an expression of hatred against drum circles (here, here), the criticization of girls' haircuts, followed by, "I get bicycle activism. I ride every day, since 1988. Locally. I haven't had a driver's license in over 30 years. (Know a woman who finds that attractive? Have her call me—they are few and far between, believe me.)" Hmm.
—Just your garden variety general insult from John: "Your latest issue contains absolutely nothing of value." Yeah, yeah.
—Another sputter of outrage. This time we let "Colemter001" stand by his "flouride" stance without intervention.
—And then oops! Jennifer got her best fuck-you finger stuck in one of our boxes. Frankly I think it just looks tougher this way:
I know it's raining, but try not to be such a bummer next week, you guys!
The big bummer about working on Open Season shows is how jealous I am of everyone who can simply enjoy them without having to deal with language-garbling headsets and endless rolls of utility tape. Audrey Goldfarb is a serial attendee of local fashion events, as well as a documentarian of sorts—she once made a truly amazing film about herself that topped two hours and included copious party crashing and Pabst consumption as well as some rather surprising family dynamics. She makes shorter episodes of various things on her blog, including this freshly edited diary of her experience of last week's shows. Vicarious!
Those of us who took the whole ride through this year's four-night series of Open Season fashion shows are probably still convalescing—I know I am, and so is Marissa Sullivan, whose last recap of each night of shows over on MOD is a tiiiny bit delayed. But while it's still top of mind I wanted to get in a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came, selling out every single night (holy crap)!
It takes a village to accomplish these shows, and most of the people who busted their asses to make this happen did so as volunteers. It literally would not have happened without them, and it really would not have happened without the (mostly) local businesses who stepped in as sponsors: Eastside Distilling, Bishops Barbershops, Gilt, Imelda's & Louie's, Viso, Crossroads Trading Company, and 220 Salon all deserve huge props for pitching in, not to mention the venues, designers, models, hair and makeup stylists, co-producers, rope light/pipe 'n' drape/riser installers, flag makers, musicians and DJs, ticket takers, dressers... you get the idea.
Yes, I just combined a fashion show with a Harry Potter reference. This is how you know I am tired.
But fuck tired! Tonight we're capping of Open Season's successful run of happy hour fashion shows with a secret new collaboration between two heavy hitters on the local scene, called Immaculate Martin. Even I don't know exactly what to expect, but I'm vibing that it's going to be a little irreverent, a little non-traditional, and in the spirit of fun. Clearly others are feeling the same way (or just can't resist their curiosity), because online tickets sold out this morning. But don't freak out! There will be a limited amount of tickets being sold for $7 at the door, and we'll do our best to get as many people in as the fire marshal allows.
That said, doors open at 6 at tonight's venue, Dig A Pony, and while the show won't start until 7, you'll want to get there early to nab a good spot and ticket if you waited too long! Also, stick around for a set from the awesome DJ Cooky Parker and live that "Thursday is the new Friday" dream. We'll sleep when we're dead.
In this week's paper, I've got a feature called "Adventure Time." It's about how fantasy—once the realm of the nerdiest of nerds—is going mainstream. You should read it!
Once you have, here's some DVD-style bonus material: When I was interviewing Powell's New Book Purchaser MaryJo Schimelpfenig for the story, she not only had some crazy stats for me about how Powell's Gold Room is pretty much Powell's Fantasy Room—
"Looking at the past 15 bestsellers in the Gold Room over the last four years," she says, "only two are science fiction, one is horror/fantasy, and the rest are fantasy."
—but she was also kind enough to take some time and recommend some titles when I asked her what books people should try if they were curious about fantasy. Here are her picks, presented in handy list form.
Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones—Yes it was a charming movie, but the book never fails to make me laugh. It's very charming in a non-cloying way, and it's a great story.
Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart—Set in a China that never was, this is a romantic adventure story, full of wonderful characters.
The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch—A pair of thieves and con artists turn the town upside down. So much fun, and Locke Lamora is a character you won't soon forget. Great book to take on a trip.
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss—Yes, it is as good as everyone says, in fact likely a good bit better. One of my favorite books of all time that I recommend to anyone who likes fantasy or wants to try reading fantasy.
"That looks like Sam Lipsyte," I said when I saw the proof of this week's cover. Well, GUESS WHO IT IS??
The photo is by Asger Carlsen, whose creepy modified photos are worth a browse. Our art director Justin Scrappers Morrison explained that he chose the image "for the fucking fantasy of it," adding, "It links directly to the lead story."
(If you're playing "Find the Lipsyte," he also makes an appearance in Marc Maron's new memoir as "Sam," the writer-friend who advised Maron not to leave his first wife. Give that the the qualifier "first" is necessary, you can guess whether Maron took the advice.)
We've had two successful nights of Open Season fashion shows, so why stop now? Nope, not gonna!
Tonight features some of the city's heaviest hitters in Pendleton's The Portland Collection, designed by Rachel Turk, Nathaniel Crissman, and John Blasioli. In case you've been living under a fashionless rock, when Pendleton tapped these local designers—riding the crest of a resurgence in popularity and projects with everyone from Opening Ceremony to Adidas—to translate the historic company's aesthetic for the Rachel Comey and A.P.C. set, it... went really well. Their first collection was hotly anticipated and received with international adoration. Now on their third, I feel like they're getting better and better, and we are so stoked to be hosting the fall collection debut.
Continuing our venue roving, tonight we'll be set up at Rontoms (21+, doors at 6, show at 7 or so—word to the wise: come on the earlier side to get a good spot/drink/ticket. Pre-sale is sold out but there will be a limited number of tickets being sold at the door.) This is also the only show for which there will be live music—in the form of the beloved Lovers! And, the show will be immediately followed by a set from DJ Flash Gordon. And another pair of drink specials using Eastside Distilling's Portland Potato Vodka and Burnside Bourbon. Says Ron of the 'toms, "We will be doing a Moscow Mule with the vodka (muddled lime & ginger, vodka and ginger beer) and a Sour Cherry Old Fashioned with the whiskey (whiskey, kirsch, sugar, and sour cherry garnish)." So there you go.
This evening at Produce Row (21+, doors at 6, show at 7-ish, with plenty of time to get your weeknight beauty rest—or not) we are presenting two up-and-comers on the scene: Lindsey Reif is nipping at the heels of longer-established designers in town, and quickly becoming one of the savviest design talents in the city. Joining her is Brady Lange, who's been haunting the design community for years, but only last summer launched the first of his bright, versatile, sassy collections. This one's going to be fun.
Oh! And there are fashionable drink specials going as well: 1) Fierce Voodoo: Portland Potato Vodka, mango juice, fresh mint, lime, sugar and soda, served on the rocks in a pint. 2) New Fashioned: Burnside Bourbon, St Germain, Amaretto, Dandelion Bitters and Lemon Peel, served on the rocks in a bucket. Now you know!
Ahem, as predicted, this week's letters section is quite the journey. In fact, we doubled the size of it in an attempt to give space to the many, many responses to our endorsement of fluoridation. Whichever side of the debate you're on, it's a colorful read. My two favorites...
TO THE MERCURY VIA VOICEMAIL—I'm a holistic health practitioner, which I know in the article says that we're based on faulty science, which is kind of amusing to me. Putting a Band-Aid on tooth corrosion while ignoring the ravages on these children's bodies from their diet, which is the main issue, is really fucking stupid. And I literally can't believe that anyone would be so fucking stupid as to think that that would help. So I would really appreciate if some people on your staff could have a more holistic perspective on health and maybe get behind some nutrition initiatives like community gardens or something where these kids can get some fucking organic vegetables.
DEAR NEWSPAPER EDITOR PERSON—Your article has inspired a small group of us who believe that Establishing Holistic Regionally Mandated Aquatic Heritage Goals is Everyone's Rightful Duty (EHRMAHGERD). EHRMAHGERD is committed to defending Portland's water not just from fluoride, but also from chlorine and ammonia. Now, you may be thinking, "Wait, if you remove all the disinfectant chemicals, then some people will contract cholera or dysentery!" Well, yes, that may be true, but the sacrifice of an unlucky few is a small price to pay for the rest of us to enjoy perfectly pure drinking water. In the next voting cycle, look for EHRMAHGERD's campaign against vaccinations. Now, again, you might be thinking, "Hey, without vaccinations, some kids will contract polio!" Well, to that we say: We never could've had FDR's New Deal without a little polio. If you'd like to join EHRMAHGERD, we'll be meeting at the bottom of Crater Lake next Tuesday.
—An under-informed, well-meaning, active citizen
A few other missives about other stuff snuck in, too. Like our interview with two of the "street kids" who inspire so much hand wringing during the warmer months. If you ever actually talk to them, you might think about cluing them into places like Outside In, since many of them are just passing through and don't know about it but could use some of this amazing facility's services. (So could their dogs.) And it would help reader and Outside In case manager Heather feel less "bummed."
Also, guys: some people think you're an asshole for holding the door open for women. Some people think you're an asshole for not. You really can't win this one.
Also, FYI, the plural of "haiku" is "haiku."
Oh, and Portland As Fuck made someone cry tears of joy. Great job, Karmel.
But otherwise, yeah: FLUORIDE
On Monday, the first in a four-evening series of Open Season fashion shows featuring some of the greatest designers in the city will kick off (I know, weekdays, but they're early shows, with doors at 6, show at 7-ish each night), and we're giving away a pair of passes good for each night of the shows! To win 'em, email me by 4 pm and I'll choose a winner at random. In the meantime you can find out more about the shows here, including lots of great photos by Ray Gordon. And hey, if you don't win? Tickets are just five bucks!
Look... I don't want you to leave! On the other hand, I'd be a real jerk if I didn't tell you about a sweet job at our sister paper The Stranger in Seattle. (Hey, at least they have fluoride, right?) Here are the deets:
Stranger Tickets, aka The Stranger, is hiring for a new position which we're calling "Ticketing Web Support".
This person will be responsible for becoming an expert in how our ticketing system works, and then handling client requests for new event setups, custom sites, configuration changes, and building and maintaining custom web sites, with a keen instinct for keeping these kinds of things out of our development team's hair.
But still! This week's letters shall not be ignored! Like,
—Botany that smells like genitals. It's still happening.
—Wedding planning is stressful, not least because everyone thinks they should be the one to tell you how to do it.
—We knew that this cover would raise some eyebrows, yet some people still manage to surprise us.
—Alison Hallett tells it how it is about the Stumptown Comics Fest, people appreciate her honesty and criticism, and things are as they should be.
—And! Erika the Haiku Bandit (I just came up with that) returns! Poetry in the Mercury two issues in a row? That's history in the making, my friends.
Seventy degrees is so last week.
I got lots and lots of wedding advice from readers of my hilarious article The Hitching Post and its Blogtown predecessors. Thanks to everybody who commented, e-mailed me, tried to sell me their wedding venue on Twitter, and talked about me on the Portland Weddings Facebook Group.
I've decided I'm going to take ALL OF THE ADVICE. It's the only fair thing to do, loyal readers. Here are just some of the great ideas you've had for me:
 Pay for it myself. Several people were upset that our parents are paying for our wedding. You guys are totally right. I'm going to tell my future father in law to shove his generosity just so nobody thinks less of me.
 Hire a wedding planner. Thanks for the suggestion, wedding planners!
 Stay away from wedding planners. Everybody who isn't a wedding planner agrees, they're not necessary.
 Elope. It's the only way I can guarantee no wedding planners will get near me.
 Taste way more cakes. Thanks for the suggestion, bakers!
 Make my own cake. Thanks for the suggestion, Betty Crocker!
 Have Voodoo doughnuts or pie instead of cake. Thanks for the suggestion, people with terrible taste in dessert!
 Skip the cake entirely. Everybody has an opinion about the cake, including the woman who said nobody cares about the cake. So the only thing to do is skip it entirely.
 Not get married at all. Thanks for the suggestion, single/divorced people!
 Invite one lucky Blogtown reader to my wedding. Email a picture of your butt (or somebody else's butt) to editor Wm. Steven Humphrey right here and he'll pick his favorite one. If you don't hear back right away, send him another picture of a butt.
 Have a good time and don't listen to anybody. I think this one's a paradox, but it was the most popular suggestion so I'll try to take that one while still doing all the others.
Any more ideas? Post them in the comments along with a picture of a butt.
In this week's Sold Out, I finally got to profile one of the Portland designers who originally got me interested in the independent apparel design scene here: Claire La Faye. Prominent at Seaplane and its events, La Faye's party dresses were the stuff of fantasy: romantic and unpredictable, feminine and just the right note of funky—not silly, but unexpected. She did a long stretch in Los Angeles shortly after I began covering the scene here, where she dressed a slew of celebrities for the red carpet, including a stint as Courtney Love's personal designer. Now back in Portland and concentrating exclusively on bridal wear, which takes her design signatures to next-level degrees of creative freedom, Haunt is hosting her on Saturday for a trunk show event, thus giving me the excuse to do the profile of her I've always wanted to. There's an itty bitty version in the print edition to make room for the photos, but check out the online extend-o version for the full scoop.
You're interested in the Mercury editorial process—we're interested in showing you the Mercury editorial process. After last week's very intense meeting, the arguments that usually stay inside the office spilled out onto the street. What follows is some amateur video of Courtney and Marjorie's disagreement over some minor variation in AP Style. I couldn't understand what they were screaming about to tell the truth.
[Note: That's Dirk VanderHart with the leather jacket and scooter, I'm in the gladiator outfit.]
What's on the tongues of the Mercury readers this week? Let's consult the strange world of Letters to the Editor!
—Sometimes you guys go off the grid and just want to get something off our your chest that has nothing particularly to do with us, and that's sometimes okay. Like Brian the professional motorist who gives his professional opinion on the well-trod subject of bicyclists, but you might want to give his professional point of view a bit more weight since he's not just a driver, but a professional driver. Professionally speaking, of course.
—If you buy your pet from a pet store or breeder you are being kind of a dick. No, you are.
—Unsurprisingly even talking about parking spaces is at least as stressful as finding them or—ugh—having to parallel park into them. (Can we all agree it's hilarious when you see someone back into a huge space all wrong, get embarrassed and give up, then speed off all angry around the corner? Good times.)
—Someone (sort of) wrote us a haiku about those trees that smell like semen! They're in bloom now, can't ya just smell it? Breeeaathe it iiinnn!
Letters. Ha! Yeah right. We're all digital now, baby. So what did you guys mostly anonymously internet comment at us this week? "Dandelions are Satan's shiny yellow eyeballs." Well, that's a very interesting botanical observation indeed!
—Charlie Hales. What do you think? You don't know yet but definitely fluoride has something to do with it. And probably rich kids, too.
—Reader Mike C. wants a few more streets in the clubby part of town permanently shut down to cars to create "a welcoming daytime atmosphere as well as a safe party environment." Hmm. Sounds kind of nice, actually.
—How 'bout that spring rain, amirite? You know what they say about weather in the Pacific NW: "Don't like it? Wait a minute." HA! High five! Cuz like, the sun only shines for four minutes out of the year, and let's go stick our heads under lanterns and Vitamin D and umbrellas and weather and boo hoo hoo blah blah blah.
—I am NOT too fat for these pants. I am simply too big for them. Get it straight.
Oh, Letters. I kind of love you.
Blogtown/Mercury reader Mike wrote in with the following:
So when I got home from work today, I had another weekly waiting for me in my mailbox. And as all incoming paper gets thrown on the kitchen table, it quickly joined the current copy of the Mercury. Wow—what an oddball photo op it turned out to be!
As art director Scrappers so aptly put it: "Swagger jackers!!"
Swagger jackers, indeed.
Those of you who attended last year's Open Season—an annual showcase that we've been doing to showcase Portland design talent since forever—will recall how the designers practically blew the doors off of Sandbox Studio. Rather than try and top a huge event like that, this year we've been cooking up something a little different....
Open Season is no longer just a one-day affair. Instead we've tapped some of the most well-respected names in Portland's apparel design field to participate in a four-night series of shows (sort of like a mini spring fashion week, but you know, without the loaded term). You'll be able to see the latest looks from an all-star roster than includes Holly Stalder, Liza Rietz, Emily Ryan, Reif, Brady Lange, Pendleton's the Portland Collection, and! A super-duper top secret, brand new collaboration from two of the hugest names in town. We can't tell you who it is, but you can call them: Immaculate Martin.
It's going down May 13, 14, 15, 16, which—I, know—are school nights, but they're all early happy-hour timed shows (doors at 6 pm!), so you can still get your beauty rest. Here's the full schedule and venues:
Monday, May 13: Holly Stalder, Liza Rietz, and Emily Ryan @ the White Owl Social Club
Tuesday, May 14: Reif and Brady Lange @ Produce Row
Wednesday, May 15: Pendleton's The Portland Collection @ Rontoms
Thursday, May 16: Top secret surprise collection: Immaculate Martin @ Dig A Pony
Ah yes, what were we talking about again?
Here's what this week's brand new batch of letter writers had to say about last week:
—That extremely concerning I, Anonymous about the author's failed suicide attempt? To whoever authored that: People who have never even met you care and are worried about you, and some even know exactly how you feel. Talk to them.
—Somewhat surprisingly, nobody batted an eyelash when we devoted a lengthy feature to Bob Seger. In fact it achieved quite the opposite, uncorking a collective gush of Seger-directed adoration from fans across America. Good times.
—Some guy thinks that it's no so much that god dislikes homosexuals, to paraphrase Michelle Shocked, as it is that god hates all of mankind in general. Or maybe it's just that he likes Slayer? He definitely likes Leprechauns.
—And finally, letter winner Brian gives Mayor Charlie Hales some advice on parking space management that mostly takes the shape of reenacting scenes from Back to the Future, which we could totally get behind, BTW.
In this week's film section, senior editor/film editor Erik Henriksen wrote the following in regards to the BAM (Beer and Movies) film fest:
A fest celebrating Portland's vibrant theater pub culture, this year's Beer and Movie Fest (BAM) has an uneven lineup, but the films worth hitting are really worth hitting—like Woody Allen's Annie Hall, Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers, and John Woo's Hard Boiled, all of which play this week on 35mm at the Academy.
The fest's other, less exciting selections include Road House, Kelly's Heroes, and Where Eagles Dare.
WOW. Wow oh wow oh WOW. Obviously you can pick out the ridiculously contrarian and flat-out WRONG thing he wrote, and like me, your head is ready to explode off the top of your neck. For those just joining us, Mercury film reviewers have two jobs: 1) Go to all the movies for FREE, sniff haughtily, and write, "Didn't like it." And 2) DON'T INSULT THE MOTHERFUCKING CLASSICS.
We know you're curious about why we here at the Mercury do the things we do ("A Bob Seger Issue? Okay... wait... what?!?"), and that's why we regularly videotape our editorial meetings for your educational enjoyment. However, this time, instead of taping everyone in the room, we plugged the camera directly into the USB port in the back of Alison Hallett's neck—so you can actually see what's happening inside her BRAIN! During this portion of the meeting, I embarked on a lengthy, but very interesting treatise on how the media can better serve its readers by developing a more diverse online portfolio that embraces various platforms and niche interests. And here's what Alison was thinking:
The winning email from yesterday's Hannibal Buress ticket giveaway:
I'm a pregnant mortician and could really use a fun night out!
That's how you do THAT.
Everybody else—tickets are still available for tomorrow night's show at the Aladdin.
What are you doing tonight? Hmm let me guess... I don't know... this is just a hazard, but might it involve... DRINKIN'?
Am I right? If so here's a way to make your drinking dollars work for you: In honor of the 2013 Eat & Drink Guide, "Your Personal Passport to Consumption in Portland, Oregon" (which is tucked into the current issue and also here), we are running a contest on Instagram, giving away the grand prize of a PBR package of collectible swag and an all-expense-paid bar crawl with Portland's (affable, charming, super fun) Pabst ambassador Matt Slessler and a grab bag of Mercury employee(s)! (We will only send the nice ones, unless otherwise requested.)
Plus, it is super easy to win.
What are we talking about this week? Hmm, let's consult the old mailbag, shall we?
—You care a lot about the outcome of the debate over new housing developments and parking spaces. Some of you think parking spots are as essential as bathrooms because 'Merica, some say the city is already missing the opportunity to charge for parking all the time and everywhere, and some fret that Portland will begin to resemble the parking spot-starved landscape of New York City! New York City!
—Also, we should be using more solar power if we want to throw our weight around in the eco-friendly high five club.
—How about instead of using fewer cops and concentrating on crime "hotspots," we just let people jaywalk and sleep in dog poop if they want to, eh?
—Did Sam Adams leave behind too many unfinished and questionably feasible programs in his wake? Such as bike share?
—You know what you guys are good at? Coming up with names for band-themed names for food carts. No really, you are super talented. Let's figure out a way to monetize this.
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