Sharon “The Afrovivalist” Ross is Prepared for the Worst. Why Aren’t You


When shit hits the fan—World War III, the detonation of a nuclear bomb, whatever crazy shit Trump does—don’t come knocking on Sharon Ross’ door.

“Don’t come to my house,” she warns. “I’m not having it. If you can’t take care of yourself at this point in time—to put some food away for you and your family—what makes you think I should? So don’t come to me. Because you’re going to be greeted with a shotgun or a pistol.”

Sharon Ross doesn’t give the impression of the stereotypical doomsday prepper. An African American woman in her early-50s, Ross has a warm and youthful smile. She checks her smartphone, takes sugar in her tea, and laughs often, even while describing the myriad ways civilization as we know it is veering toward imminent destruction.

I first learned about Ross through her website,, which she created three years ago as a place to educate others—particularly people of color—about prepping and survival skills like foraging, water purification, archery, and handling firearms. She faced swift derision, not only from the African American community, but also from close friends and family. They called her “crazy,” “paranoid,” “koo-koo.” But in light of recent developments, she tells me, people are beginning to think differently.

“It’s changed,” she says. “And a lot of it is due to Mr. Trump. They’ve realized, 'Oh, holy crap, that crazy girl just might be right. I guess I should start preparing.’ I’ve got more and more people going to the website. They’re starting to think, 'Maybe we should get a group together, so we can protect ourselves.’”

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Portland Police Refuse To Check Their Guns At the City's New Mental Health Hospital. They've Done It Elsewhere.

Jason Sturgill

ON A WALL just past two locked doors at Portland’s new facility for people in acute mental health crisis, a small silver sign sits above three beige lockboxes.

It’s easy to miss, but a top administrator at the Unity Center for Behavioral Health says the placard conveys a valuable concept. "We do not allow weapons at Unity," it reads. "Law enforcement, please store your weapons in these lockers before entering patient care areas. Thank you for helping keep our patients, staff and visitors safe."

The message reflects a longstanding practice in Portland of hospitals asking cops to stow their guns before entering a psychiatric ward. And it’s especially resonant in a city still grappling with the federal government’s 2012 conclusion that police have a pattern of using excessive force on people with perceived mental illness.

But those Unity Center lockers are doing little more than collecting dust.

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Can The Portland Culinary Scene Help Strengthen A Community?

Katy Millard Minh Tran

Award-winning chef Katy Millard is convinced that serving unassuming meals made with locally sourced ingredients can bring communities together in more than one way.

Katy Millard spent the better part of a decade perfecting her culinary skills at Michelin-starred restaurants around the world.

After successful stints in places like Guy Savoy’s bistro in Paris, the Mirabeau in Monaco, and Coi in San Francisco, it seemed like Millard was destined to build a name for herself in the world of fine dining—but one small thing was holding her back:

“Working in those restaurants taught me a lot, including a deep respect for my profession and a sense of what professionalism looks like in a kitchen,” she says. “But in the end, I wanted to cook food that people could eat every day, not only on special occasions.”

That’s why in 2010, after helping Daniel Patterson open award-winning Plum in San Francisco, Millard decided it was time to try something completely new—so she packed her bags and moved to Portland.

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Rapid-Fire Reviews for New Cannabis Products

Black Rock

As a cannabis columnist, I receive a fairly large number of cannabis products for review. This week, I’m going to knock out some quick reviews for a bevy of items. Most of them are real, but one is fake.


When I saw the shipping label for this, my first thought was, “Is this a cannabis-based S&M spanking tool?” Thankfully, I was wrong, mostly due to the fact that those things don’t exist, and it’s a stupid idea. In reality, CannaSmack is a line of hemp-infused lip balms and body and skin creams. It’s high-quality stuff, free of parabens, gluten, sulfates, THC, and cruelty, and made here in the US. They have a variety of strain-flavored lip balms, including Blue Dream, Pineapple Express, and Maui Wowie. The company is woman-owned and Utah-based, and has a very cool list of company values. You want to support a worthy small business that has some great products? Of course you do. Smooth lips and skin rule.

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Girlpool Takes Risks Without Losing Their Radical Vulnerability

GIRLPOOL The band that eats strawberries together stays together.
GIRLPOOL The band that eats strawberries together stays together. Kacie Tomita

There’s a moment in the middle of “123”—the stunning opening track from Girlpool’s new record, Powerplant—that crystallizes the 28 minutes to come. As the second verse draws to a close, crashing drums announce an ambitious step forward for the formerly percussion-less duo. But Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker still sing with their signature abandon: “Keep on walking back outside to see a sigh under nice light.”

This line broadcasts Girlpool’s maturing voice, and nestles their sophomore effort firmly between feelings of awe and disappointment. The band’s coming-of-age studio debut, Before the World Was Big, centers on the realization that age is perhaps the only thing you’ll ever have to show for getting older. Powerplant pries open this sentiment, and burrows inside to seek comfort.

Crucial to Girlpool’s charm is the obvious bond between Tividad and Tucker, who met as teenagers in Los Angeles. Now 21 and 20, respectively, their songwriting, performances, and public personas are bolstered by this strong friendship.

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Máscaras' Glorious, Chaotic Energy Courses Through Their New EP, El Morán


If you put musicians in a room and tell ’em to jam, you’re going to end up with fewer hits than misses. But sometimes, you end up with something like Máscaras, the Portland instrumental surf-psych-punk trio of Papi Fimbres (drums), Theo Craig (bass), and Carlos Segovia (guitar).

Máscaras was borne from a series of jams, and they went so well, the band took a bunch of the resulting songs and turned them into a debut album, 2015’s Máscara vs. Máscara. It’s explosive, urgent, and fiery—a carnal collision of wild-eyed rhythms, fuzzy bass lines, and tightly wound electric guitar riffs.

Which brings us to Máscaras’ new five-song EP, El Morán. Let’s get right to the point: The band’s glorious, chaotic energy still courses through these tunes. The recording process took a lot longer than Máscara vs. Máscara, largely because Fimbres moved to Germany for a year after tracking the drums. But those circumstances sucked none of the joy, spunk, or attitude from Máscaras’ music.

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Tonight's Screening of The Big Lebowski at the Academy Theater Is for a Good Cause


The Academy Theater has been showing the Coen brothers' cult favorite The Big Lebowski for the past few days, but tonight's screening is a special one: All ticket and concession proceeds, along with those from a silent auction and raffle, will benefit Academy Theater manager Patrick White.

White, who was in a coma for several days following complications from surgery, is expected to recover. But in a note to neighboring businesses in the Montavilla neighborhood, the Academy's general manager, Dannon Dripps, noted that medical expenses "have stacked up to a considerable amount, even with insurance."

So at tonight's Lebowski, all proceeds from tickets, concessions, the raffle, and the silent auction will go to Lebowski fan White for his medical expenses.

"The community has really come together with items for the auction/raffle, and we have a lot of great stuff," Dripps tells the Mercury, noting that Academy staff member Chris Dowling's framed, original art for the event's poster, pictured below, will be one of the items available at the auction. Other items for the auction and raffle have been donated by Montavilla Brew Works, Pistils Nursery, Oregon Bike Shop, Roscoe's, Flying Pie Pizzeria, Townshend's Teahouse, Guardian Games, pFriem Family Brewers, Swift Cider, Hop Valley Brewing, Beer Bunker, Ya Hala, Oni Press, and many more. The list of items from "amazing businesses and artists," Dripps tells me, "keeps growing as we speak."

Art by Chris Dowling
Seeing The Big Lebowski is pretty much always a good idea. Seeing it at the Academy—one of the best parts of Montavilla, not to mention one of our favorite theaters in Portland—is also a good idea. And seeing it tonight, when the money you spend for a ticket, a beer, and a popcorn will go to a good cause? Well, that's an excellent idea.

The Big Lebowski, Academy Theater, 7818 SE Stark, Wed May 24, 7 pm, $8

Good Morning, News: Parasites in Our Water, Trump Budget Hurts the Poor, and the Pope Meets the Antichrist

GOOD MORNING, BLOGTOWN! I need a soldier that ain't scared to stand up for me. Known to carry big things, if you know what I mean. LET'S GO TO PRESS.

Thanks to that rainy, rainy winter we had, parasites have found their way into our drinking water—and you're gonna have to pay for that.

Yesterday's power outage downtown seems to have been cleared up, according to PGE.

Oregon Health Authority has discovered they may have given Medicaid health benefits to 32,000 people who no longer qualified for them.

A man who threw beehives (!) off the roof of downtown Nines hotel has been sentenced to 150 days in jail—where I'm sure he will keep himself "buzzy." Heh. No.

The person behind Manchester's Ariana Grande concert bombing had ties to Syria and Islamic State, which suggests he may have had help.

President Trump met with the Pope today, and I never thought I'd say this, but... POOR POPE.

Former CIA director John Brennan testified yesterday that he had been concerned with the evidence he saw that Russia and Trump campaign people were having suspicious contact. Drip, drip, drip.

In other "drip, drip, drip" news: Trump has hired a private outside lawyer to help him not hang himself as the Russia collusion investigation continues. Good luck with that, private outside lawyer!

As shocking as it may sound, Trump's new federal budget—which makes deep cuts that will directly hurt impoverished Americans—isn't sitting well with Congress... and that goes for Republicans, too.

Hiding deep inside this budget proposal is Trump's idea to sell off publicly owned transmission assets, such as Oregon's Bonneville power station? OH HELL NO.

Fox News has retracted their story about Seth Rich who they claim was murdered after he leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks instead of the Russians. Conspiracy theorist/Fox anchor Sean Hannity isn't happy about it.

Thousands of protesters marched in Chicago last night protesting McDonalds' low wages and accusations of sexual harassment.

Speaking of workers being ripped off, Uber has admitted they underpaid NYC drivers by millions of dollars.

A sequel to the '80s hit Top Gun is "definitely in the works," according to Tom Cruise, who apparently doesn't have enough money yet.

In case you missed it, actor Roger Moore—the longest running person to play James Bond—has died. Here are some of his greatest clips.

Now let's look at the WEATHER: Cloudy and cooler today, but OH LORD look at that glorious Memorial Day weekend ahead!

And finally, for the latest in Russian dog news, let's go to special Russian dog correspondent, Ygor the Dog.

The Thorns Are Back; Win Free Tix to This Saturday's Game!

Nadia Nadim swoops in to save the day with two points! GET THIS WOMAN A CAPE!
Nadia Nadim swoops in to save the day with two points! GET THIS WOMAN A CAPE! Photo courtesy Portland Thorns FC

Slather on some sunscreen and tighten those scarves! After two weeks of playing in some other substandard semi soccer town, the Portland Thorns will take on the Boston Breakers this Saturday at your very own Providence Park. MY FACE IS SO HAPPY MY EYES COULD SHOOT LASERS!

Want to win two tickets to this Saturday's game? Fill out the widget thingy below by 5 pm today to win two tickets to the Thorns/Breakers match courtesy of the generous folk over at the National Soccer Coaches Association (@NSCAA)!

Now... let's chat about last week's match, shall we?

Yes, we played in Boston just last Friday. While many of you were faking illness and leaving work early to find room on a sunny deck in Portland, some of us were faking illness, leaving work early and wishing the windows were shuttered at a bar called River Pig in the Pearl District.

Look, I thought that this was going to be the game where the Thorns would win most convincingly. I thought for sure this would be the game where the Thorns would flex and blow Breakers back to the Boston Tea Party. Instead, I watched anxiously as the Thorns came from behind to end in a 2-2 draw. The Breakers scored their first of two goals in the 37 minute after Boston’s Natasha Dowie headed a cross right past Klingenberg and into the net. BARBRA FREAKING STREISAND HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

“Don’t worry,” I thought, “The Thorns have been scored on first before... in fact, Seattle scored on us first at the last home game, and boy did our midfield turn on the jets after that!” When the Thorns returned for the second half I was excited to see what kind of soccer KUNG FU the Thorns would lay upon the Breakers. But just a few minutes into the half, Breakers' midfielder Rosie White nailed another one in. Our KUNG FU HUSTLE was turning out to be a KUNG FU KERFUFFLE.

Thorns with a header. Breakers with a Dab.
Thorns with a header. Breakers with a Dab. Photo courtesy Portland Thorns FC

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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.”


Savage Love Letter of the Day: The Italian Job


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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The Bachelorette Recap: Now with Diversity


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

MJ Skegg

I, Anonymous Classic: Spank You Very Much


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!


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


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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