Cogen, pipe smoking, and the Portland Public Water District! The Mercury Letters section: always and imperfect litmus of the city's mind. Here's what we got:
—Daniel has something to say! About the Jeff Cogen scandal—sorta. He also takes the honor this week for the longest sentence on the entire page at 59 WORDS!
—Let's talk some more about what young men who are not philosophy professors are thinking when they take up pipe smoking (not the marijuana kind). I think they have a daddy complex.
—There are several good points to be made on the position that yanking control of our public water away from city council might be a bad idea, and reader Davey also points out that the outrage over Randy Leondard's spending habits isn't even that relevant in the financial scheme of things... things like your giant fucking water bill.
—Maybe, just maybe, the police actually love Last Thursday because they get to make money. Say...
—The future of the record industry: Wring your hands!
—You guys like Erik Moen too! That's so cool! Yuki says even as much as Dan Savage...
Read, respond, and you could could end up on the letters page too!
The temps are up and inhibitions are low, so let's see what we've been getting hot and bothered over this week in the Mercury Letters to the Editor!
—Surely by now you've noticed that big, fancy Scientology building downtown, surrounded by pretty girls handing out free tickets to Dianetics? Brian writes in to say, again, because it really can't be said enough: KIDS! STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM THEM! Seriously. (With apologies to Emperor Klaktu, who is really kind of adorable.)
—Again, Clay riffs off a music preview to plug East Portland regulars Ron Ruedi and the Hurricanes. That was your last one, buddy.
—What do you think about the case of an Office of Neighborhood Involvement employee's son getting manhandled by the police, followed by his mother's well-connected quest for justice? Jarhead thinks mommy shouldn't be fighting his battles, and PS thinks he's lucky he didn't get shot.
—Ian ghostwrites his own column in the voice of a moron. Not everybody gets it.
—Unbarbed sympathy for an I, Anonymous author two weeks in a row? You people are getting soft.
—Chris Onstad's review of Old Salt was pretty favorable, right? "Clearly woven with strands of genuine talent"? "Of a vision and of a design"? "A comfort-food bull's eye"? No? I'mrightyourwrong calls that "faint praise."
—Ryan shredded up his Mercury tiger shirt in what we can only assume was a tiger-related encounter. We're giving him a new one because despite what some people say we are a kind and generous people.
We often videotape our Mercury editorial meetings in order that you, the reader, can take a peek into our process for producing our newspaper and blog every week. Here's a videotaped interaction I had with News Editor Denis Theriault. As he was leaving to cover a press conference at city hall, I tried to stop him—because he had accidentally taken my lunch out of the fridge instead of his. Here's what happened: I'm on the roller blades, he's in the white car. (BTW, R.I.P. Denis Theriault.)
This week's Letters to the Editor page is kind of all over the place, but you know what? That's cool. It just shows your range. First up:
—Have you guys ever heard of Ron Ruedi and the Hurricanes? They play every Saturday at Lydia's on 183rd and Burnside, and according to reader Clay they make the "true sounds of liberty." More so than Radiation City, even. Field trip to East Portland, anyone?
—"Randy the Pig Dog" is "all black and fat as hell and has a pig face," and hangs out outside the Pearl District Whole Foods with his master selling Street Roots. Richard suggests we do an interview. First question: How do you feel about being called "Pig Dog?"
—A very nice steampunk artist wrote in to reassure me that it's A-ok not to understand steampunk because nobody understands steampunk, being that it's "the history of a future that never was but should have been." Okay then.
—BJ (haha) wrote a succinct, mean, and sarcastic—but funny!—little ditty about Steve Novick's conversations on health care reform.
—There's been a lot talk about this whole reservoir thing, but Mt. Tabor isn't the only park stirring controversy. When's the last time you drank illegally and did some really cool graffiti in Colonel Summers Park?
—Hey look, soothing words for the author of an I, Anonymous. Unicorns do exist.
We're always looking for new ways to update the Mercury and its many public-pleasing features. Recently we decided to hire a media consultant company to write and direct a video "theme song" for our very popular daily blog feature, "Good Morning, News!" We insisted that the intro must have "drive, excitement, and a sense of urgency" that reflects the seriousness of the day's world events. After paying $20,000 for the intro, we were disappointed to discover the media consultant company was actually a grifter by the name of "Cheats McScamartist" (should've been more suspicious of that name) who skipped the country with our money.
On the upside, we found this on the internet, which is a better opening theme anyway. SO! Introducing our newest opening theme to... GOOD MORNING, NEWS!
Naturally the day I'm telecommuting from home the head shop connected to the building that houses the Mercury offices catches on fire! WHY DO I MISS EVERYTHING??? Here's a couple of pics courtesy of Merc freelancer Joe Streckert of the Kind Supply fire (a business furnishing Portland with glass pipes, hemp supplies, incense oils and more, located at 120 SW Ankeny):
So far no reports of injuries (phew), and we'll supply more deets as we get them. Currently everyone in editorial is working over at Floyd's coffee shop if you want to stop by and harass them.
UPDATE: Still no word on how the fire started, but it seems to have been contained to the Kind Supply store which received a lot of smoke and water damage. As our on the scene videographer Joe Davis aptly noted, "It smelled just like you would think a burnt head shop would." Check out his video of firemen walking around with their shirts on after the jump.
This week's Letters to the Editor page is all about lists, as in listing off the ways in which someone else is getting burnt.
—But first! Reader Benafan suggests t-shirts made to commemorate Portland As Fuck (whose author, Ian Karmel, will soon be moving to Los Angeles Like Fuck) with some limited edition t-shirts! Yeah man, go for it!
—Then someone named Megan picked the wrong day to suggest we "change our whole paper" to be like the weekly in Burlington, VT. She probably predicted we would decline the suggestion, but perhaps did not predict Editor in Chief Wm Steven Humphrey's five-point list of counter suggestions/burns. Sample: "(2) Ditch your holier-than-thou rural attitude."
—CGW addressing this whole Last Thursday madness with a handy list of things that Friends of Last Thursday—or whoever—might want to take responsibility for, including "(5) costs associated with mitigating any action that places people, property, or reasonable and contextual social order at risk." Boy, that sure sounds like a lot of responsibility.
—And lastly, the sad tale on Bonnie the blind, missing pet rabbit. Ima go cry into some carrot juice.
Oh, it was a hot one this week alright, and the Letters to the Editor were no exception! Speaking of exceptions, let's see what our readers took exception to this week:
—The band Drunk Dad had a show that we plugged in My, What A Busy Week!. So what's their problem? Well, there was a small oversight, and we sort of ran a photo of a different band, AntikYtherA, instead. We fucked up, and we will cop to that. (Although, to be fair, by the rules of cross-pollination we came pretty close, since Drunk Dad's bass player "totally boned" AntikYtherA's old drummer's girlfriend. The world feels very small.
—We can jigger with the results of various racial impact statements all we want, but when it comes to the disparities in the racial makeup of Oregon's prisoners, reader Jim points out that we really need to focus on the root cause of the problem. Doy.
—It seems that someone thinks our Art Director and Photographer might be better at composing photographs than grilling food:
I don't get it. I would totally eat that. Oh, except ew, I don't eat chicken.
—While she may find some of the authors' methods a little extreme, Dawn gives a partial thumbs up to our Street Harassment article, saying we're "on the right path and mean well." Hey, we'll take it.
—Magnus has deep feelings about the jousting between City Hall and Mayor Charlie Hales over Last Thursday. Can you feel anything?
—David has the best advice so far for the over-60 woman who asked us for advice on where to meet men in the same age group. His suggestions? Strip clubs! Specifically, the strip club he's hanging out at. Right now.
Today's quote from the proud patriots over on the I, Anonymous blog is well timed with the Fourth of July holiday fast approaching:
Next time before you light illegal fireworks in an apartment complex at 2am waking up your neighbor (who gave you a fucking turkey at xmas last year), you should take managements note off your door that explains fireworks of any kind are not tolerated.
Playing dumb when you get caught with illegal fireworks by the police (thanks to a tip from your pissed off neighbor) is one thing, but be careful not to go full dumb out there tomorrow, kids! Better keep a 10-count on those fingers, ya hear?
The I, Anonymous blog: Where vengeful attitudes abound.
You never really know for sure how and what people are going to react to in this business, and so it came to be that:
—One Jeffrey Winters took great offense at Ned Lannamann's unfavorable review of the latest Vince Vaughn/Own Wilson teamup, The Internship, saying that he "wasted a large paragraph on you, and you're just not that interesting." :( Commenter melogna then wonders if this could be the same Jeffrey who once wrote that "Wedding Crashers is a total departure from the many summer films that don’t even attempt to be funny. Funny is good and we need more of it." Hmmmm.
—FLUORIDE JOKES! It's too soon to be funny, I think, but nice try, willman13. As for some real issues....
—Some people are turning on Ian Karmel! He's "a privileged white guy who lives in a bubble and doesn't at all represent Portland," according to the brave words of one "anoNYMous Raven."
—How's your physique, bike riders of Portland? Are you suffering from "buff legs and a wet noodle upper body?" You'd better check.
—An anonymous woman in the over-60 bracket wants to know where the eff all the single men are in her age group. Uh... Jubitz? The Overlook? The Mouse Trap? The Multnomah Athletic Club? Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... help us out, here.
GAHHHHHHH!!! Only one hour left (until noon today) to take the PDX Approved Survey and make sure stupid people don't decide what the greatest restaurants, shops, and awesome stuff are in Portland! Plus if you finish the majority of the survey, you'll be entered to win some wicked hot prizes!! GAAAAAHHH! ONE HOUR LEFT!! GAAAAAHHHHH!
What are we talking about this week? The subject tags on our weekly letters section are always an interesting way to take the temperature, and this week they read, "labiaplasty, sit-lie, KBOO, Lloyd Center." Okay then! Let's dig in.
—Reader Carina is aghast at an ad placed in our pages during the month of May offering labiaplasty services for women who feel self-conscious or uncomfortable on a bicycle... because "if men found riding bikes uncomfortable, no one would ever suggest they CUT OFF PART OF THEIR GENITALS." On a somewhat related note, I just found out yesterday that my nephew was given a partial circumcision without pharmaceutical anaesthetic.
—That goddamn "sit-lie" business again! We've been talking about this for years. It's been beaten back again, but ws and Patrick Nolen think the argument in favor of it might have some merit, were it to be framed realistically.
—There's all sorts of rumbling down at KBOO, which, as Ed Kraus points out, gives us all a moment to think, "Oh yeah! I almost forgot about KBOO!"
—Ian Karmel thinks you would enrich your experience of the city by riding the bus. Catbot sees that bus, and raises it a Lloyd Center. Agreed!
Letters: Just like looking into a funhouse mirror.
Guys! Noon tomorrow is your LAST CHANCE to fill out the PDX Approved Survey, where you—the not-so-average expert on everything Portland—choose the very best of everything Portland! Plus if you complete a healthy section of the survey, you'll be entered to win fabbo prizes. Tell your friends and fill out the survey NOW, capish?
Tomorrow night is the World Naked Bike Ride—and while the idea of you shooting your HUMP! film in the midst of 10,000 nude people might sound terrific initially... I don't know... I JUST DON'T THINK IT'S IN THE SPIRIT OF THE EVENT. However, maybe I'm full of crap. Maybe it's the best idea EVER! (No, seriously, it's not.)
Regardless, you're hot, you're horny and this weekend will signal perfect weather to shoot your quickie 5-minute film for the HUMP! amateur dirty movie festival! Check out the deets and BIG PRIZES below!
Let's see what's in this week's mailbag o' tricks, shall we?
—Everyone's an expert on condom testing now, I guess! Reader "jc" offers us some sage advice on "a more accurate method to test a condom's overall ability to withstand failure." These condom thingies are really starting to make me nervous.
—Are we over the F-word thing now? Can we go back to being relatively like minded, generally good willed individuals who enjoy a spirited intellectual spar and/or political debate now and then? Here's another F-word for you: Friends.
—Portland is a city with big hopes and dreams... but are our appetites more active than our businesses? Most def, says reader "ws."
—Remember Occupy Portland? Of course you do.
—You love it, you hate it... and we kind of loved it. What are we supposed to think about this restaurant??!!
—And lastly: the great debate about... greeting cards. I guess we have moved on, you guys!!! <3
As sadly expected—because good things must always come to an end, and beautiful butterflies must be allowed to fly free—Ian Karmel, Portland comic genius and author of the Mercury's super popular "Portland as Fuck," is moving to Los Angeles to seek his fortune. Here are a few questions we had for him:
MERCURY: WHY? WHY? WHY? WHYYYYY???
IAN KARMEL: The time is right... well, the time will be right pretty soon. I wouldn't leave Portland if I didn't feel like there were opportunities waiting in Los Angeles. This isn't an easy city to leave, but if I'm ever going to own a home here and live in that, instead of a series of oranger and oranger American Property Management apartments, I need to go down to LA and make some things happen. You know how Jay-Z had to go buy drugs in Virginia so he could sell them in New York... I'm doing pretty much exactly the same thing.
When are you moving, and on whose couch will you be sleeping?
I'm not leaving until August, so I've got one last summer in Portland! I'll be putting on a bunch of shows, including one big going-away show on August 1st. I'm getting a place with a friend of mine when I move down there.
How much longer will you be writing "Portland as Fuck"—which is to say, when do our tears of laughter cease and our tears of sadness begin?
I'll write "Portland as Fuck" right up until I leave and then for a little while after I move just to upset people at the Willamette Week.
Any plans to come back? Like in two weeks?
I'll be back all the time! I hope to keep doing shows here when I can and I'm close with my family. I'd love to end up living here again someday. I'm going to be pitching a lot of TV shows with "So it takes place in a city like Portland, Oregon!"
Do you have any idea how cool you are, and how much we'll miss you?
I love you and like I said, I'll be back all the time! Don't make that face at me with the sad lip.
Over the three day weekend I took some acid, burned my clothes, covered my face with the blood of a menstrual alley cat, and sent one too many emails.
One of these too many emails was to illustrator Joseph Harmon. I accidentally sent Harmon an illustration request that I had previously sent to a different illustrator, Cam Floyd. The illustration request was for a news story about mayor Charlie Hales, and his "two faces"—the public and behind-the-scenes face. Read all about it here!
So this week we had two illustrations rendered for the same story. But what's cool about my mistake is that now we can see how different pieces of art can effect the way we perceive what's being written. Example: Harmon's piece feels super fun and playful, and welcomes people into reading the story pretty effectively.
We ended up running Floyd's art in print. Was it the right one? I don't know. Both pieces work—but for different reasons. One thing is for sure, I shouldn't try to work when I have a busy weekend!
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.
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