RE: "Juggalos vs. Gentrification in North Portland" [Blogtown, Nov 18], regarding threatening signs posted on 14 North Portland businesses by a person or persons claiming to be "the Juggalo family."
DEAR MERCURY—Personally I find these incidents of aggression toward North Portland's gentrification really fascinating. While it would be easy to write off this behavior as just dumb [Insane Clown Posse] fans being idiot dumb fucks, I think there is more to it. The group does come from Detroit, which has been the epicenter of urban blight for about 30 years following extreme white flight, and is now facing the same "urban renewal" projects, which are the secret language of gentrification [that] urban planners and city officials have been using all over the country to build on top of already existing, poor, typically black communities. In my experience, Juggalos are representative of those straggler poor white kids whose parents couldn't move out of the 'hood when white flight was as popular as gentrification is now. Whether you buy my explanation that some ICP fans may be politically informed, the fact is that this is A REAL RESPONSE TO GENTRIFICATION and does speak to its far-reaching emotional impact on the existing community.
RE: "A Hollow Icon" [Feature Nov 19], an overview of the controversial and problematic Portland Building, home to the Portlandia statue, as well as leaky walls and other structural and aesthetic issues.
DEAR EDITOR—When the Portland Building was first built, you could see it from across the Willamette, and especially while crossing the Hawthorne Bridge into town, and it was a thing of beauty, looming like a Swiss-cheesed Sphinx. Then came the one-stop "Justice Center," and most of the view was blocked, with the coup de grâce provided a little later by the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse. Now, to get a glimpse of the diminished glory that once was the Portland Building, one must stand on SW 3rd and look across Lownsdale and Chapman Squares, preferably during wintertime, when the leaves are gone. Portlandia, the second-largest hammered-bronze statue in the nation after the Statue of Liberty, has always been sadly displayed on narrow [5th], further obscured half the year by the leaves of the trees in front of her, when she'd be better deployed at one end of Waterfront Park, facing the length of the park, where she would represent Portland womanhood in all its glory—muscular, armed...
Brian Allan Cobb
In all fairness it would be nice if you posted a pic of the original design by Mr. [Michael] Graves. It looks nothing like the eventual result. This is a perfect example of "design by committee." Much like the Edsel. What we have today is a watered-down version reworked to please the local politicians and built on the cheapest dime possible. No wonder it's a mess. The engineering issues were brought to the attention of the city as it was being built, and ignored by the folks in charge. Many major permits were never taken out until after it was finished. It should have been built as it was originally designed. At least it was interesting to look at.
posted by Jo Haemer
I've done time in the fetid guts of this building (trust me, "done time" is the proper phrase). It is hell, and made of the cheapest materials imaginable. The argument should not be about Mr. Graves and his abilities or lack thereof. The building is ugly (it is on numerous "World's Ugliest Buildings" lists after 30 years), needs millions of dollars of work, and becomes more decrepit each year. It is one thing to bemoan the tearing down of buildings [built] in, say, the 1940s like the old Oregonian building; these buildings were constructed by master craftsmen with stone, marble, wood, and brass. Not by fly-by-night construction crews working with plastic and sub-standard concrete.
posted by Dizzy
CONGRATULATIONS on surviving your time in the belly of the Portland Building beast, Dizzy. You win this week's Mercury letter of the week, with two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater, where you can wash away the memories through the magic of moviemaking and beer.