Tracking Trump's "Tortured Syntax"

Words from the most powerful person in the world
Words from the most powerful person in the world

STAT—a national health and science publication—published an interesting piece today, examining the obvious decline of Donald Trump's linguistic abilities.

The publication reviewed video of Trump speaking without scripts since the 1970s and compared them to Q&A sessions he's held since he was sworn in as president: "The differences are striking and unmistakable."

"Research has shown that changes in speaking style can result from cognitive decline," journalist Sharon Begley wrote. "STAT therefore asked experts in neurolinguistics and cognitive assessment, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists, to compare Trump’s speech from decades ago to that in 2017; they all agreed there had been a deterioration, and some said it could reflect changes in the health of Trump’s brain."

The meat of the story, which you should read:

In interviews Trump gave in the 1980s and 1990s (with Tom Brokaw, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Charlie Rose, and others), he spoke articulately, used sophisticated vocabulary, inserted dependent clauses into his sentences without losing his train of thought, and strung together sentences into a polished paragraph, which — and this is no mean feat — would have scanned just fine in print. This was so even when reporters asked tough questions about, for instance, his divorce, his brush with bankruptcy, and why he doesn’t build housing for working-class Americans.
...

Now, Trump’s vocabulary is simpler. He repeats himself over and over, and lurches from one subject to an unrelated one, as in this answer during an interview with the Associated Press last month:

“People want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it — you’ve been to many of the rallies. OK, the thing they want more than anything is the wall. My base, which is a big base; I think my base is 45 percent. You know, it’s funny. The Democrats, they have a big advantage in the Electoral College. Big, big, big advantage. … The Electoral College is very difficult for a Republican to win, and I will tell you, the people want to see it. They want to see the wall.”


SEX

Savage Love Letter of the Day: The Italian Job

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Hi, Dan, 26-year-old woman from Australia here. I am flying to Italy on Saturday for a three week visit with my 29-year-old boyfriend while he is studying there for three months. Problem is, I want to break up with him. What's the right way to do it? Before I leave? While I am there? When I get back home to the other side of the world? We have been together for a year and a half.

Can't Impersonate Amorousness Obviously

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How One Band Is Trying To Put The Spotlight On Portland’s Hidden Diversity

Orquestra Pacifico Tropical Katie Summer

Orquestra Pacífico Tropical does much more than make you dance: the band gives a voice to the growing number of Latinos that call Portland home, creating stronger communities in the process.

David “Papi” Fimbres still remembers how his childhood home in Los Angeles would often overflow with the enchanting rhythms of cumbias, bachatas, and guarachas—three of the most popular music genres of Latin America.

The music would spill out of a small radio that Fimbres’ mother kept on the kitchen table, and flood the house – and Fimbres’ heart – with its contagious joy.

“Growing up in L.A., I listened to all different styles of Latin music,” he says. “I’m Mexicano-Americano, and that music became a part of who I am.”

In L.A., Fimbres would hear those Latin beats wherever he went—on the radio, in his home, on the streets—but that changed when he moved to Portland in 1999.

“The first thing I noticed when I moved to Portland was that I was missing my culture,” Fimbres remembers.

That’s when an idea started bouncing around the young drummer's mind: to start his own cumbia band in Portland.

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TV

The Bachelorette Recap: Now with Diversity

DIVERRRRRRSIIIIIIITY!
DIVERRRRRRSIIIIIIITY! Courtesy ABC

Welcome to this edition of The Bachelorette recap! For those unfamiliar with the show, the Bachelorette can best be described as a show that encourages polyamory with the ultimate end goal being monogamy. This season is highly anticipated due to the fact that it's been in existence for over a decade and a Black competitor has never made it past the first round—let alone into the final rose ceremony. Rachel Lindsay is the show's very first Black Bachelorette. She made it to the final round of last season's Bachelor and has returned to give love (if that's what actually happens on these shows) another shot.

This is without a doubt the “Most Diverse Cast” of 31 singles the show has ever seen.

Only time will tell how problematic the show will be. While Rachel is a lawyer (as well as freaking gorgeous and simultaneously adorable) she is still a Black woman. Historically, dark skin Black women are rarely depicted as desirable or demure in entertainment, let alone framed as marriage material. Nevertheless we as Black women are here for it, and will be rooting for her as she wades through this sad pile of struggling competitors.

Last night the action began with Rachel emerging from the limo in a knockout shimmering white sequin mosaic dress, bracing herself to “let the journey begin.”

The bachelors to watch include slightly slutty Brian who makes sure to mention he’s “Columbian," while introducing himself with some super saucy pick up line in Spanish. Not even 30 minutes passes before we see him literally shoving his tongue down the Bachelorette’s throat. It’s shocking... and hey, also pretty steamy for ABC.

Then came the arrival of fetishizing turd Dean who said he was “ready to go black” during his first introduction on #AfterTheRoseCeremony.

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NewsCity Hall$$$

A Tiny Parasite Is Probably Going to Cost Water Customers Tens of Millions

The Bull Run Watershed: Now with more poop.
The Bull Run Watershed: Now with more poop. City of Portland

You've now got two new treatment plants potentially coming to your water bill, Portland.

The Portland Water Bureau (PWB) announced this morning it will finally need to treat the city's water supply for a microscopic, poop-loving organism called Cryptosporidium, at a price tag that could well exceed $100 million.

Crypto can cause violent stomach illness if ingested, and can kill people with depleted immune systems. A particularly awful outbreak in Wisconsin in 1993 killed nearly 70 people.

Cities around the country already routinely fry Crypto in their water supplies—they're required to do so under a 2006 federal rule—but Portland's had something of a hall pass for the last five years. By showing the Oregon Health Authority that the Bull Run Watershed where the city sources much of its water maintains acceptably low levels of the parasite, Portland became the only city to get an official variance to the federal rules.

That string of good luck ended this winter, when the parasite popped up more than a dozen times between January 1 and early March. The repeated detections—often attributed to the ultra-hard rains washing more animal feces into the watershed—caused officials to temporarily draw water from a secondary source. But they also led the city to a conclusion: It could no longer qualify for the waiver.

Officials revealed today that the PWB sent a letter to the state on March 8, saying that the repeat detections of Crypto had made it "infeasible" that the city could prove the parasite was no longer a problem.

"We said that our water untreated was safer than systems that treated their water," says City Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the PWB. "It became hard for us to say that this winter. That’s what changed."

In order to even try to prove by January 2018 that the parasite was sufficiently dilute in the water supply, the PWB letter said, officials would need to test thousands of more liters of water per week than they already were. "This volume is infeasible to sample and test over the remaining period of demonstration monitoring due to logistics, personnel resources and laboratory capacities," the letter read.

Fish wasn't clear on what such testing might cost. The upshot is that, instead of trying to beat the rule, the city's now facing down a treatment project that will cost tens of millions. On May 19, the Oregon Health Authority sent formal word that the city's variance to the Crypto rule had been revoked. The city has until August 11 to come up with a plan for how to treat its water and eliminate the threat.

Officials have had that conversation before. Prior to applying for a variance in 2011, the city had extensive conversations about how to treat for Crypto. It's preferred option at the time: A treatment facility that would use ultraviolet light to kill the parasite, and might cost up to $100 million. That price tag has likely increased in the years since.

"I was on the council when we fought for that variance," says Fish. "I oppose spending money unnecessarily."

But he notes: "If we were to have Crypto health outbreak that resulted in significant health problems like death, people would wonder why we were slicing this so thin."

It's not clear that the current city council will decide ultraviolet treatment is the way to go again—or even that a majority of council won't just opt to flout federal rules. Expect that conversation to play out in relatively rapid fashion in order to satisfy state deadlines.

And also count on your water bill increasing. The city is already talking about spending something like $15 million on a water treatment facility to help contain lead exposure in the city. Any plant to treat for Crypto would be separate.


The Camp Option for Memorial Weekend

Thursday is National Wine Day (I had no idea either until a message from a helpful PR appeared in my inbox). I think the concept is to get people to drink more wine, if any encouragement was needed. Uncannily, Wine Day neatly flops into Memorial Weekend, which is when wine country whirs into life for the summer. With blue skies and fiery temperatures predicted, elbow space will be at a premium at the popular wineries.

My recommendation is the recently opened Day Camp, which is home to Day Wines (featured in this week’s Lush Life on the streets tomorrow) and 10 other small producers, including Fossil & Fawn and Jackalope. When I visited there was a storm raging and power was out, but the charm of the tasting room was apparent—cedar paneling, a broad copper bar and flowers everywhere. I imagine the large patio will be a crowd pleaser. It’s probably the best place in the valley to try such an intriguing and broad range of wines—there’s a lot more than five shades of Pinot here. $20 buys a tasting from 10 winemakers, plus there’s hotdogs and brats from Olympia Provisions, music and games.

Day Wines, 21080 North Highway 99W, Dundee, May 26-28, 10 am-6 pm

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MJ Skegg


I, Anonymous Classic: Spank You Very Much

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STEVEN WEISSMAN

Here's another I, Anonymous Classic from the archives! And it involves spanking, which is a subject that interests you.

Are You Just Going to Watch or Are You Going to Join In?

Hey Peeping Tom neighbors: I'm glad that my partner and I impressed you with our loud BDSM display with a riding crop the other night. I live in an overpriced micro-studio because it's all I can afford, and we had the window open (with the curtain closed) because it was warm, not for your benefit. How about just yelling up if you can join us next time, instead of coughing passive-aggressively, and very obviously watching us through your window? I hope you enjoyed my girl mooning you, 'cause that's all you're gonna get from here on out.—Anonymous

Have you got a rant or confession to get off your chest? Drop it off in the I, Anonymous Blog, where it might be chosen to run in a coming week's paper, or featured in our I, Anonymous comedy show now at its new location at Curious Comedy Theater, coming at ya on Wed June 7! Get yer tix here!


TV

In the Spring of 1990, Twin Peaks Premiered, and My Mom Started Losing Her Mind

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MIKE FORCE

In the spring of 1990, two major events occurred simultaneously: Twin Peaks premiered on ABC, and my mom started losing her mind.

I was 10 years old.

I don’t remember being particularly upset about my parents’ divorce. It happened when I was seven, and I didn’t have any sisters or brothers to use as a barometer on how I should be feeling. I realize now I acted out. I was daddy’s little tomboy, and I quietly pitied him; he seemed so lost and angry after the split.

I self-righteously blamed my mom, who seemingly came off just fine—she moved out of the house, went back to school to get her master’s degree in psychology, and even started dating. When she would pick me up and take me to her place (I never really thought of it as my own), I’d inevitably throw a screaming temper tantrum, and she’d fail at disciplining me (her spankings felt like nothing and her threats were mostly empty). Eventually, I’d be returned to my dad, who paid her the necessary lip service but never punished me after she left.

As angry as I was, however, she was my mom, and we eventually settled into a routine. She’d sometimes offer me chocolate bars to behave, she didn’t enforce a “bedtime,” and she pretty much left me to my own TV vices—which meant I watched whatever I wanted, as late as I wanted, often staying up well after she’d gone to bed. And I tended to dig some dark shit.

While Unsolved Mysteries and America’s Most Wanted were particular favorites, I was really drawn to Twin Peaks, the David Lynch-helmed show that premiered on April 8, 1990 (and which gets an 18-episode reboot starting Sunday, May 21). Compelling, shocking, confusing, and downright strange, the ABC show was about the murder of Laura Palmer, a high-school girl beloved by many in her small Washington town but full of secrets that were unraveled during the investigation of her death. But it was also about the town’s eccentric denizens and all their secrets, and the supernatural quality that seemed to pervade the place, replete with the dreams and visions that beset FBI special agent Cooper and gave him clues about Laura’s death. The setting was beautiful and mysterious, and the music was expressive and haunting, especially the main instrumental themes—the counterparts of hope, doom, and resigned melancholy that pervaded the music, with their dark bass undertones and swells of synths and keyboards.

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TV

Point: Am I The Only One Who Didn't Like the Twin Peaks Revival?

Agent Cooper, 24 years deep in the Black Lodge
Agent Cooper, 24 years deep in the Black Lodge

There was a story to be found threaded into the eerie-weird revival of Twin Peaks, though it proved exhausting to figure out, and sometimes it was downright Lynchian incomprehensible.

Showtime premiered the first two episodes last night, then made the next two available on its streaming site; but watching all four hours in one long binge is not recommended. Because this isn’t the sort of revival you can understand all at once; you need to watch an episode, digest a bit, then hop online and read everything you can find about it to try to piece together what the fuck just happened, and figure out what you maybe missed or didn’t understand or something in the mythology you’d forgotten.

RELATED:Counterpoint: I Watched the New Twin Peaks And I Guess I Just Won't Be Sleeping on Sunday Nights Anymore

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TV

Counterpoint: Am I the Only One Who Likes Feeling Uncomfortable? I Watched the New Twin Peaks And I Guess I Just Won't Be Sleeping on Sunday Nights Anymore

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SHOWTIME

Though four episodes of the newly revived Twin Peaks were available last night, I only got through three. It would maybe have been none if I'd been watching alone, but luckily I have a solid Sunday night crew of fellow ladies who love Lynch to shriek along with.

I'm glad for this, especially after the terror of the first few episodes. There's no way that's a spoiler, because shit's usually fucked with David Lynch, and all the more so when he gets to do whatever he wants, with none of the regular teevee constraints that kept the horrors of the original series primarily folded into subtext, with just a few genuine scares.

One of the challenging things about loving David Lynch is that much of his work is hard to watch alone. I have only ever watched Mulholland Drive in the company of other people, and I've only made it through a few episodes of Twin Peaks by myself, though I've watched it multiple times, usually with friends who will entertain my interjections during the show's more baffling moments—and there are many. I yell at Twin Peaks the way most people yell at sports. (Don't go into the bedroom with the door ajar! Don't run into the woods!)

I know I like the new series because it makes me feel uncomfortable and confused, but also completely sucked in; thanks to the creepy machinations of David Lynch, I had weird dreams afterward and slept extremely badly. This morning, a friend reported the same thing. Though I normally get a strict eight hours, it felt oddly comforting to lose sleep over fiction. It made me realize how long it's been since I've done that, how even my sleep has been rudely hijacked by the too-real horrors of following the daily stupidity of our current political leaders.

RELATED: Point: Am I The Only One Who Didn't Like the Twin Peaks Revival?

Last night, I slept poorly, paying no them no mind, thinking only of bizarre creatures like the monster behind Winkie's in Mulholland Drive, newly grateful for Lynch's interest in looping into the subconscious, his commitment to letting narrative unfold (however slowly and frustratingly), and of his baffling, soothing juxtaposition of abject violence and pain with an almost innocent view of good and evil.

In other words: For three strange hours, I escaped into fiction. It's nice to be reminded that that can still happen, and that next Sunday, it's happening again.


Live Review: Fleet Foxes at the Crystal Ballroom, Thurs May 18

Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes Veronica Rose

Last Thursday night, Fleet Foxes hit the Crystal Ballroom for one of their first shows in six years. The folk band—which formed in Seattle in the mid-'00s, then went quiet after releasing and touring the Grammy-nominated Helplessness Blues in 2011—performed a mix of old and new songs from their forthcoming album Crack Up. They brought with them everything fans love about Fleet Foxes: layered harmonies shepherded by Robin Pecknold's still-incredible voice, pastoral lyrics, and an almost religious-seeming intensity that made the Crystal feel like a cathedral.

The sold-out concert's audience reflected this fervor; I've never seen a group of people pump their fists into the air as triumphantly as they did when the band played the first notes of "Mykonos." Clouds of weed smoke puffed up throughout the crowd like the chimneys of distant hamlets. Some attendees whispered lyrics with eyes closed, while others sung (or maybe yowled) each word with guttural force. Between songs, a few audience members even did the excited "WOOF WOOF WOOF" thing sports fans do at tailgates, which was met by scolding from violent shushers. Meanwhile, as images of deep space were projected behind them, Fleet Foxes ventured into jam-band territory with tracks like "The Shrine/An Argument." I couldn't help but wonder: Are they my generation's Grateful Dead?

There were moments when I wished I could teleport back to the Arlene Schnitzer in March 2016, when Pecknold opened for Joanna Newsom with solo, acoustic songs. But most of Fleet Foxes' Crystal show was glorious and filled with joy—a grand return that Portland welcomed with mighty fist-pumps.

Veronica Rose


Veronica Rose


Veronica Rose


Veronica Rose


Veronica Rose


Veronica Rose


Veronica Rose


Veronica Rose


This Week in Appropriation: Kooks Burritos and Willamette Week

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AlexPro9500 / Getty

Portland has an appropriation problem.

This week in white nonsense, two white women—Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connely—decided it would be cute to open a food truck after a fateful excursion to Mexico. There’s really nothing special about opening a Mexican restaurant—it’s probably something that happens everyday. But the owners of Kooks Burritos all but admitted in an interview with Willamette Week that they colonized this style of food when they decided to “pick the brains of every tortilla lady there in the worst broken Spanish ever.”

“...You can eat $5 lobster on the beach,” Connelly said, “which they give you with this bucket of tortillas.” The “they” she was referring to were probably the Mexican “abuelitas” these two women preyed upon in order to appropriate the secrets of their livelihood. Suitably impressed, these tourists began asking the locals questions about how these tortillas were made. “They told us basic ingredients,” Connelly said, adding “[but] they wouldn't tell us too much about technique.” Hmmm. Wonder why? This is where things go from quirky to predatory if you haven’t already guessed.

“…We were peeking into window of every kitchen, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look,” she said. So let’s recap the story thus far: These two white women went to Mexico, ate tacos, and then decided they would just take what the locals clearly didn't want to give them. If that wasn't bad enough, they decided to pack up all their stolen intellectual property and repackage it in one of the few places where such a business could plausibly work: Portland, Oregon.

While describing themselves on their Yelp biography (which has since been edited), Connelly claims to have “a mean tortilla flip” while Wilgus anointed herself as the “director of vibes” and “our little abuelita with recipes from the heart”—even though the recipes were stolen.

Week after week people of color in Portland bear witness to the hijacking of their cultures, and an identifiable pattern of appropriation has been created. Several of the most successful businesses in this town have been birthed as a result of curious white people going to a foreign country, or an international venture, and poaching as many trade secrets, customs, recipes as possible, and then coming back to Portland to claim it as their own and score a tidy profit. Now don’t get me wrong: cultural customs are meant to be shared. However, that’s not what happens in this city.

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Twitter Founder "Sorry" If He Helped Put Trump in Office

Not laughing so much now that Twitter played a role in a very bad thing.
Not laughing so much now that Twitter played a role in "a very bad thing." David Paul Morris / Getty

This has been kicking around for a couple days, but in case you missed it due to beautiful Portland weather interrupting obsessive device-checking: Evan Williams, the guy who owns Twitter and Medium, is sorry about the whole Trump thing.

Via The New York Times:

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Sometimes I Think Donald Trump Is In a FemDom Relationship


I mean.


Chuck Goes a Step Past Rocky

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Within the pantheon of American boxing movies, from On the Waterfront to Creed, none stray too far from the template: You have your working-class, punch-drunk dullard with aspirations of being a champion. Nobody believes in him, but he plans to overcome the odds and be one of the greats. He falls in love with a neighborhood girl, and/or finds a spiritual mentor in a trainer. Miraculously, he finds himself faced with the fight of his life! Whether he wins or loses “the big fight,” he’ll defy the odds, gain success and/or celebrity, and likely spiral into a pattern of nefariousness or poverty. Sometimes he can dig himself out and be great again. Sometimes it’s too late.

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Good Morning, News: Trump Worships the Glowing Orb

GOOD MORNING, BLOGTOWN! Hip to hip, lip to lip, and then lock it. Big fat feet means big fat pockets. LET'S GO TO PRESS.

The Timbers lose an ugly game to the Montreal Impact, check out our Abe Asher's recap of the match here.

President Trump has arrived in Israel as part of his world tour to meet with foreign dignitaries, and hopes to close the biggest deal of all: peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Not so Ha. Ha.: Trump's new budget plans to slash Medicaid, and would give states the ability to cut anti-poverty programs.

Trump laid his hands upon a glowing Saudi orb—and Twitter had fun with that.

Trump's son-in-law and top adviser Jared "JARED!" Kushner says there's no ethical problem with him keeping nearly 90 percent of his real estate holdings while working for the government.

It's expected that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will plead the fifth when asked about his ties to Russia while serving under Trump.


Bill Cosby's trial for sexual abuse starts today and the jury is being selected.

First Richard Spencer was sucker punched for being a white nationalist, and now his gym membership has been terminated! HOW IS HE SUPPOSED TO DEFEND HIMSELF FROM NAZI PUNCHERS??

In more schadenfreude: A big game hunter was crushed to death when an elephant he shot fell on him.

Now let's check out the WEATHER: Put on yer thongs because the temp is expected to hit 92 degrees today!

And finally, Dwayne Johnson and SNL presents the greatest erectile dysfunction commercial you will ever see. (Sure there's not a lot of competition, but this is really good.)