Trump Yanks Back Protections for Transgender Youth

Sara D. Davis / Getty

Every day one thinks, "President Trump cannot sink any lower"—and yet? Once again he distinguishes himself as simply a terrible human being without an ounce of compassion for those who need our help the most. From the Washington Post:

The Trump administration on Wednesday revoked federal protections for transgender students who sought the right to use the public school restrooms that match their gender identity, taking a stand on a contentious issue that has become the central battle over LGBT rights.

Trump officials notified the Supreme Court that they should ignore the memos sent from President Obama that pointed out it violated anti-discrimination laws to forbid transgender students from using the restroom matching their gender identity. Unsurprisingly, supporters of the LGBT community are absolutely right to be furious:

Expect a LOT more screaming, and hopefully another courtroom loss in the near future for Trump. Interestingly, according to the New York Times, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos reportedly fought against the rollback of protections for these students.

Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order and told President Trump that she was uncomfortable with it, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions.

Mr. Sessions, who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought Ms. DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent. The order must come from the Justice and Education Departments.

But Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, these Republicans said, telling Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her objections. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the choice of resigning or defying the president, has agreed to go along.

More on this story as it develops.

Put Down Your Dystopian Literature! The Mercury's Spring Arts & Culture Guide is Here!


I don’t know about you, but in November, my capacity to appreciate complex art and culture took a nosedive. I reread A Wrinkle in Time and Matilda and temporarily banned myself from my beloved Sunday New York Times. I watched A LOT of Parks and Recreation. I no longer felt inclined to see live theater or comedy or visual art—and going to see those things are a huge part of my job.

I can only imagine what it’s been like for you.

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Oregon Lawmakers Will Consider Strong New Protections for the Homeless This Year

K. Marie

Oregon's housing woes have been great at attracting attention to the plight of renters, but that hasn’t always translated to compassion for the folks who’ve already lost their homes.

Consider: As the state was in the teeth of a widely acknowledged housing crisis last year, the city of Roseburg adopted a new “exclusion zone” policy that critics say allows officials to ban people cited for homelessness-related crimes from setting foot downtown.

And in the Central Oregon town of Prineville, leaders took steps in September to more easily exclude homeless campers and others from city parks.

Of course, similar laws—Portland’s camping ban comes to mind—have been on the books for decades. Now, with legislators in Salem promising to drill down into the housing crisis during this year’s new legislative session, advocates for the homeless see an uncommon opportunity to give those policies the boot.

“Sitting down, sleeping—these are minor fucking crimes,” says Paul Boden, executive director of the San Francisco-based Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP). “The history of local governments using and criminalizing the presence of people they don’t like and discriminatorily enforcing laws against people is as old as this country is.”

For the second time, WRAP this year has convinced Oregon legislators to consider the Oregon Right to Rest Act, a multi-pronged piece of legislation that would bolster protections for homeless Oregonians and effectively roll back local laws that can criminalize people for not having homes

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Bands I Pretended to Like for Boys. Part Nine: Dave Matthew

This one's a little different, but I think it's important.

I was 9, in that blissful last stretch before puberty, skidding down California streets on my two-wheeler, Walkman clipped to my jean shorts. I may have started having crushes on boys, but they were undirected. I liked a boy named Noah, but if Noah had tried to hold my hand, I would have run screaming and climbed a eucalyptus tree like a goddamn koala.

Also, Noah didn't like chocolate or Disneyland, so that crush lasted all the way through computer playtime when I outlasted him on Oregon Trail.

But the biggest thing to happen that year was that the song "Crash Into Me" (off album Crash) hit the airwaves in our sunny town of Redondo Beach, and everyone was listening to it. I mean everyone. But more importantly, my brother and his cool friends were listening to it.

My brother had this one friend who was at least nine feet tall. He let me dance on his feet when the Chicago Bulls won their third straight championship and all those mysterious teenagers whirled around me in a swirl of laughter and energy. And as my brother detailed his white Toyota pickup, his friend would pull up on our street under the spreading leaves and would blast Crash.

I never tried to impress my brother's friend. I didn't know how. I didn't even know what that was. I would climb up the stucco wall of our patio and hide my face in my hands and peek and listen as Dave Matthews hit the high notes and my brother's friend laughed and talked about surfing, all the sounds and feelings as tall as the trees. I would go inside and steal my brother's copy of Crash and put on my headphones, starting to look into the murky future and wondering what it would sound like.

What I Think Now: I don't think I need to rip on Dave Matthews at this time. In all his iterations (the band, plus Tim Reynolds), he does very well for himself commercially and has outlasted most of those who shared the airwaves in the 1990s—perhaps because he created a sound not easily put into a genre. Not quite jam, not rock, not pop. His fans are easier to target: a tableau of yuppie culture, the inverse of the counterculture faction that was cool when his music flourished.

Dave Matthews dared to be chirpy, happy-go-lucky even, in a Northwest climate and time that bore Nirvana, Sleater-Kinney, Beat Happening, and many other punk, grunge, and alternative bands. But Dave Matthews wasn't merely happy. He wasn't feel-good like jam bands. He wasn't political. He was chill—taken out of time and space, as though his music was written in an alternate universe where only the personal matters.

That's why people hate Dave Matthews.

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A Visit to Portland's "Shawarma Square"


MANY YEARS AGO, when I was backpacking across the Middle East, I discovered there was a subject that divided its citizens. This time it wasn’t about religion, but rather the profoundly bitter and deep-seated debate over who makes the best shawarma. Even the spelling of shawarma can elicit confrontation, as the parody website Pan-Arabia Enquirer observed with this pitch-perfect headline: “Violence erupts at Middle East spelling bee over spelling of ‘shawarma.’”

According to Ali Qleibo, a cultural anthropologist, the word shawarma comes from the Turkish word çevirme, which means “turning.” Typically a shawarma is made from beef, chicken, or lamb and is prepared by rotating marinated meat for hours on a vertical spit. It’s most often served in pita bread and topped with yogurt or mayonnaise.

Thankfully for Portlanders, if you want to engage in the timeless tradition of bickering about which country makes the best shawarma, you can sample a wide range of options from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey in a single city block of downtown Portland. I call it “Shawarma Square” because of the remarkable fact that between SW Washington and Alder on one side, and SW 9th and 10th on the other, there are 10 shawarma food carts. For less than 10 bucks, you can buy a shawarma, a soda, and a baklava. Even better, a trip to Portland’s shawarma square won’t land you on any TSA no-fly list.

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Portland Mercury's Highball Drink Recipes Are Here: Fireside, Fortune, Gold Dust Meridian

It’s almost time for... HIGHBALL!

Brace yourself for over 40 specially crafted cocktails… for only $5 each!

All of the tantalizing drink recipes are available online! Check out what your favorite neighborhood bars and restaurants have in store for you March 6-12 HERE!

For a full list of participating bars and restaurants and more information check here.

Here's a few teaser cocktails...

The Fireside's Viva La Playa

The Firesides Viva La Playa
The Fireside's Viva La Playa MINH TRAN

1 oz Sauza Blanco, 1/2 oz Cruzan Black Strap rum, 3/4 oz house blood orange & thyme shrub, 3/4 oz house coffee shrub, 2 dashes Fee old fashioned bitters, soda. Garnished with an umbrella and a fresh blood orange wheel.

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Weyes Blood's Front Row Seat to Earth Is Doomsday Folk


NAMED AFTER Southern Gothic novelist Flannery O’Connor’s book Wise Blood, Weyes Blood (AKA Los Angeles musician Natalie Mering) plays anti-Americana that feels all too appropriate in this age of uncertainty.

“Land of Broken Dreams,” the opening track of Mering’s 2014 record The Innocents, is a perfect introduction to her brand of doomsday folk. “My family, my country, and my school have all left me dry,” she sings, “To wonder why we are just born to buy then die/And change nothing.” As Weyes Blood, Mering writes songs about resisting the urge to self-sedate when you’re constantly “put through the failure of some man’s world.”

This theme is fleshed out on last year’s bewitching Front Row Seat to Earth. The entire album reflects the theatrical nature of observing our world collapse—it’s like bringing camping chairs to watch monolithic glaciers crumble and crash into the sea.

“It’s kind of referencing our perception,” Mering says, “how we perceive the world around us, and how that might be the biggest flaw in human suffering—our perception being somewhat limited in understanding the magnanimity and the full scope of existence. Being a first world country, technically, we’re kind of the first row to witnessing what’s happening on a global scale. But at the same time, we end up witnessing what’s happening around us like theater because it’s so colossal, it’s so big and beyond our control.”

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Demonstrators, Calling for Ted Wheeler's Resignation, Once Again Shut Down Portland City Council

Activists called for Mayor Ted Wheelers resignation this morning in front of City Hall.
Activists called for Mayor Ted Wheeler's resignation this morning in front of City Hall. Dirk VanderHart

As promised, a group of demonstrators upset over Mayor Ted Wheeler's early term shut down Portland City Council this morning, demanding Wheeler resign immediately.

The catch: The mayor wasn't on hand to listen.

Instead, Wheeler had reported for jury duty as activists pledging to "shut down the #shitshow" made their way to the front of council chambers just after 9:30 am, prompting council to recess almost as soon as their meeting had convened. Leading the way were Mimi German and Star Stauffer, two local activists who've repeatedly shut down council meetings in recent weeks, in protest of the city's handling of the homelessness crisis.

Earlier in the morning, Stauffer, German, and around a dozen others had gathered in front of City Hall to tear into Wheeler for violent police responses to recent protests and what they say has been his lax response to their calls for additional homeless shelter space.

"We are asking for your job today, Mayor Wheeler," German said. (Just to be clear here: That's not going to happen.)

The apparent goal of asking Wheeler to resign: Giving City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly mayoral status. As president of the city council—an mantle that passes to each commissioner on a set schedule—Chloe has power to preside over council meetings when Wheeler is gone. The City Attorney's Office in the past has said the council president gets all the mayor's limited power in the event of a resignation.

Eudaly, in her limited experience presiding over a council meeting, reacted to the disruption in the same way Wheeler has. After warning audience members at the outset of the meeting that disruption wouldn't be tolerated, she immediately recessed the meeting when demonstrators walked to the front of the room.

"We're really tired of you doing nothing," German said, speaking, to an absent mayor, into a microphone at the table used for public comment. "It's time to resign. We're gong to interrupt every single city council session from here on until you resign. If you make this not our building, we will come to your house."

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The Portland-Shot, Sundance-Winning I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore Defies Categorization


Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) isn’t asking for much: She just wants people to not be assholes. Unfortunately, she’s surrounded by them—from the racist patient in the hospital where she works, to the people who cut in line at the grocery store, to the dog owner who, every day, leaves his pup’s turds on her lawn. When someone breaks into Ruth’s house and steals her grandmother’s silverware, something snaps.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is the directorial debut of actor Macon Blair, who appeared in longtime buddy Jeremy Saulnier’s movies Blue Ruin and Green Room. Like Green Room, I Don’t Feel at Home was shot in Oregon, and it shares Saulnier’s gritty, Americana-noir qualities. Last month, Blair’s movie won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and—following an increasingly popular distribution model—is forgoing a theatrical release to go up on Netflix this weekend. Regardless of where you watch it, I Don’t Feel at Home is a small, marvelous story that defies easy categorization. The first passages play like an oddball, character-driven indie comedy, but as Ruth tracks down the thieves—in the process enlisting her impulsive, nunchaku-wielding neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood)—it becomes simultaneously scarier and funnier. As it progresses, I Don’t Feel at Home evolves into a taut pulp thriller about an unlikely vigilante.

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Savage Love Letter of the Day: Overcoming Abuse & Finding Partners Who Aren’t Pieces of Shit


Do you have any advice on how to develop healthy sexual boundaries when you have a long history of people not letting you?

I was sexually abused by a relative starting when I was a child and continuing until I was fourteen. My first relationship wasn't until after I finished college, and it wasn't a healthy one. I've dated a little since then, but not much, mostly because: (1) pretty much no one is interested in me and (2) frankly, I'm not sure I'm healthy enough to be dating these days.

As a fat, disabled, gay trans guy, I pretty much feel like my options are to either not have sex at all or to have casual sex with guys who it often turns out don't treat me well. I don't think there's anything wrong with having casual sex, and it has sometimes been a positive experience for me. Far too often, though, I've met up with guys with whom I've agreed to have one kind of sex only to have it turn into something violent or very different from what I consented to. Yes, rape would accurately describe several of these experiences. Help?

Haunted, Unlucky, Recovering Trans Individual Needs Guidance

P.S. Talking to a counsellor about at least some of this seems like the obvious answer, but that's currently not something I can afford, nor have I ever been able to find someone I could talk to about this stuff who has been helpful instead of judgmental or traumatizing. I live in Vancouver, if that’s helpful to know.

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Good Morning, News: Trump Goes Deportation Crazy, Wheeler Admits Cops Overreacted, and Actual Good News

Mayor Wheeler is ready to admit that Portland Police have been overzealous with protesters.
Mayor Wheeler is ready to admit that Portland Police have been overzealous with protesters. Doug Brown

GOOD MORNING, BLOGTOWN! If it's not a letter sent from you, then I don’t read it. If it’s not a gift sent from you, then I don’t need it. LET'S GO TO PRESS.

Finally noting that sending overly aggressive riot police to peaceful protests isn't making him any friends (except with the usual gang of hateful jerks), Mayor Ted Wheeler admits that police response on President's Day was overzealous and vows to rein it in.

In related news, a protest march to Mayor Ted Wheeler's house has been cancelled, BUT! You can expect a lot of rowdiness at today's city council meeting. Follow along with News Editor Dirk VanderHart on Twitter for the blow-by-blow.

Governor Kate Brown is calling for stricter gun control measures—in particular, new legislation that requires completed background checks.

Police in Beaverton shoot and kill a man who they say was on top of a house threatening people with a rifle.

Four more of the Malheur Refuge hillbillies are on trial, and this time prosecutors are taking a different legal tact so they don't slip off the hook.

Today in OH HELL NO: The Trump administration has laid out their plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants. From the New York Times:

Documents released on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security revealed the broad scope of the president’s ambitions: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations.

Despite those assertions in the new documents, research shows lower levels of crime among immigrants than among native-born Americans.

That being said, Trump's deportation plan would not include "dreamers," AKA those born in this country to undocumented parents. CORRECTION: I got the definition of a dreamer wrong. Hot tipper Jenni wrote in to say, "Any persons born in the United States and residing here is a citizen, with very limited exceptions. A 'dreamer' is a resident that came to the United States as a young child, but without proper documentation, and has lived nearly all, or most of their life exactly as a citizen. Citizens cannot be deported, as they are citizens and you get deported back to your country of citizenship—no matter who your parents are—and thus would not be in danger of deportation no matter what changes the president makes." Thanks for educating me on that, Jenni! My apologies.

Meanwhile Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his country will continue to accept people crossing their border seeking asylum.

By the way, if you've been wondering why we haven't heard much from Rex Tillerson and the State Department about how they've been explaining Trump's policies to other countries... well, they have not been saying much. Like, at all.

If you enjoy reading about furious constituents giving their Republican reps hell at town halls, then read this. And if liked that, you're going to love this.

Also if you enjoy reading about the swift and forceful downfall of fucking awful internet trolls (like Milo Yiannopoulos), then don't miss this one.

And just as a reminder that there still plenty of good, ethical people in the world, Muslim activists have raised $60,000 to help rebuild a desecrated Jewish cemetery.

Have you caught yourself thinking, "This weird story about the Kim Jong-nam assassination could not possibly get any weirder," well, it just got weirder.

And now? THE WEATHER REPORT: More showers and a high of 48—but a mostly sunny weekend!

And finally, Donald Trump sounds incredibly drunk when you slow his voice down slightly. HERE IS THE PROOF.

Upcoming Benefit Shows Will Donate Proceeds to Local Musician and Label Owner Jonny Harbin, Who Was Diagnosed with Cancer Last Month


Earlier this month, a GoFundMe page set up by Jonny Harbin's partner Tina Lucchesi announced that the Jonnycat Records founder had contracted cancer. Though Harbin has Oregon Medicaid, he still faces growing medical bills and missed earnings from his job as a Radio Cab driver while he's undergoing treatment. So far the GoFundMe page has raised just over $45,000 of its $100,000 goal, but the Portland punk community has also responded by organizing a series of benefit shows to raise money for Harbin's recovery.

“He's very enthusiastic about supporting young bands and also great at preserving the legacies of scene veterans,” says Rose Lewis of Sloppy Kisses. Jonnycat’s Portland Mutant Party compilations documented a streak of Portland’s weirdest and wildest acts, showcasing early cuts by Mean Jeans, Piss Test, and Guantanamo Baywatch, among others. Releases by relative newcomers like San Francisco’s Quaaludes sit alongside repressings of Portland stalwarts like Clorox Girls on the Jonnycat Records catalog. Colin Sanders of local bands like Defect Defect and the Observers describes Harbin as “aware of our past and a vital part of our future.”

For years, the Estacada-based Harbin has acted as more than just a tastemaker—he's archived the scene and pushed bands to build legacies. “He has pushed many bands beyond their basement and into legitimacy on vinyl,” says Samantha Gladu of post-punk gripers Piss Test. Lewis notes, “He's an extraordinarily generous supporter of a wide and weird range of Portland bands.”

Lineups for the upcoming benefit shows read like a primer to Portland’s punk scene of the past decade. The most notable night features the Observers reuniting for the first time since 2005 (it'll also be the Bi Marks' last show ever). Proceeds from all of these shows will go to Jonnycat’s GoFundMe, which you can donate to directly here.

2/22: P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S., Long Knife, Andy Place and The Coolheads at the Liquor Store

3/12: Hurry Up, Sex Crime, Suicide Notes, Lovesores at Lombard Pub

4/1: The Observers, the Spits, Clorox Girls, Bi-Marks at the High Water Mark

Mayor Ted Wheeler: Monday's Police Response To Trump Protest a "Mistake"

Portland police officers during the February 20 protest
Portland police officers during the February 20 protest Doug Brown

A day after Portland police forcefully arrested 13 people accused of standing in the street during a protest of President Donald Trump, Mayor Ted Wheeler, the police commissioner, released a statement acknowledging yesterday's police response was a "mistake."

Wheeler—who campaigned on a promise to "actively demilitarize the police force"—has overseen a handful of highly-criticized and suppressive police responses in his nearly two months in office, including the January 20 Inauguration Day protest where riot cops set off flash-bang grenades, shot less-lethal rounds, and set off tear gas at nonviolent protesters. Riot cops also showed up for a march and vigil last week for Quanice Hayes, the 17-year-old killed by a PPB earlier this month.

Yesterday saw more riot police downtown, making these arrests of nonviolent protesters:

Here's what he had to say about Monday's protest (actual comments addressing yesterday's protest bolded by the Mercury):

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Photos from February's I, Anonymous Show!

Last night's I, Anonymous Show at the Secret Society was another split-yer-pants night of fun, confessions, senseless rants, and most of all, LAUGHTER. Hosted by Bri Pruett, and with special guest panelists Derek Sheen, Lucia Fasano, and Marcus Coleman, the audience was treated to lots of witty banter and philosophical discussions about selling one's panties, yelling at loud La La Land moviegoers, sneaking into your ex's email, and other various sins against humanity. In short, it was SUPER FUN. Check out a few photos from the night taken by the wildly talented Michelle. F. Mitchell, and if you like laughing, don't miss the March edition of the I, Anonymous Show!

Michelle F. Mitchell

Michelle F. Mitchell

Michelle F. Mitchell

Michelle F. Mitchell

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Savage Love Letter of the Day: Ex-Mormon Wants to Come Out as Poly to Mormon Family


I was Mormon my entire life, Mormon missionary, married a Mormon girl, both families intensely Mormon. For multiple reasons, I left Mormonism about a year ago. One of the more weighty reasons was because of their stance and views regarding homosexuality and how they treat LGBT people.

My wife and I started exploring polyamory 3-4 years ago. The first year was mostly mental exploration. For us, it came from a place of feeling really confident in our relationship, and our ability that love was not a limited resource, even if time was. Then we felt comfortable enough to explore intimate and sexual relationships with others. Polyamory including multiple romantic relationships (not just sex) really seems to resonate with our emotional make-up and has so far been a great enriching aspect to our marriage. To the point, it’s becoming somewhat painful for us to not share that aspect of our life with our very Mormon families. Our closest friends know. My current girlfriend is very polyamorous as well. And came out to her family. That was a mixed bag of awesome, and bad. Her family is significantly more liberally minded for the most part.

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