ILLUSTRATION BY FRANÇOIS VIGNEAULT

ADVICE FOR THE ADVISER

RE: "Coming Clean" [Savage Love, Jan 28], in which a reader asks columnist Dan Savage for advice on a new girlfriend who wants him to "choose between her and the photos of [his] late first wife."

DEAR MR. SAVAGE AND MERCURY STAFF—I am writing to express an ongoing concern about the occasional content included in Savage Love that is out of line and hurtful. This last week, Mr. Savage replied to an inquiry from a young widower about his experience of a new girlfriend's rejection of his deceased wife's photographs, asserting that she asked him to choose between these pictures and her. Mr. Savage referred to the woman as "a psychotic piece of shit" and advised the man to dump her. Some months ago, Mr. Savage offered nearly identical advice when a man wrote in to ask about his girlfriend's apparently fierce jealousy over his use of porn. The theme inherent in both these replies is a hatred of straight women with insecurities in their intimate relationships. Mr. Savage promotes himself as a beacon of tolerance for those in minority status who need support and kindness, yet he is given free rein to trash and shame straight women because they express fear about their partner's commitment or attachment to them? He is a sex columnist whose primary focus appears to be giving individuals support around their various kink interests. This is a far cry from possessing the credentials to analyze emotional problems and offer sound counsel amid the complexities of human intimacy. Yes, perhaps ending the relationship in either situation was appropriate, but without further exploration, Mr. Savage rendered hurtful and shaming judgment that he would otherwise reject if targeted at a group with whom he identifies. It is painfully ironic to me, as both a straight woman and a therapist, that a gay man who has done such good on behalf of select individuals who feel marginalized and ashamed would perpetuate those very sentiments toward a population of individuals who are also marginalized and ashamed. I would greatly appreciate if Mr. Savage would stick to what he knows and does best and would leave the depths of emotional insecurity and attachments to others.
Kristine Munholland, Ph.D., MSW

FRICKING DISTINCTIONS, PEOPLE

RE: "Is Picnicking Illegal?" [News, Jan 28], regarding a judge's questions regarding distinctions in the application of Portland's camping ban.

Common sense, people. We should absolutely have more than enough free, easily cleanable, lockable tiny overnight furnished sleeping rooms, weekly storage rooms, and common private showers for use by anyone between 20:00 (8 pm) to 12:00 noon every day all year long. Eight hours is easily enough time to clean up for the next night's sleepers. The cleaning jobs can be paid in cash by the city on a daily basis. Sleepers can sign up when they check in for the paid cleaning work. No clean and sober rules of Big Brother excluding people based on their own personal choices of consumption. The point cannot always be the long-term goal of changing behavior. However, we as a society should also have the dignity to admit and enforce rules against what we all damn well know is a homeless person making public space into their private space. People wash their fricking clothes in city water fountains. It's gross and it should be illegal! If you can't tell if the person is on a picnic or homeless, you're a fricking idiot in denial.
posted by Timothy

SOMETHING STINKS

RE: "Trader Joe's Fallout: Housing Bureau Posts Plan for $20 Million in Anti-Gentrification Cash" [Blogtown, Jan 26], regarding plans for traditionally African American neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland.

Building affordable (low-income) housing is one thing—and they've already been building that on MLK for years as it is. But it's not going to bring back a lot of black-owned businesses, because the population has dispersed all over the metro to the point that you're not going to have a bar or music club or soul food restaurant that caters to black people and be able to afford N Williams or N Mississippi these days. Hell, on N Williams everything new has to meet the new well-scrubbed yuppie vision, [and] condo developers wouldn't include an already popular Ethiopian restaurant in future plans, because they thought "people wouldn't like the smell."
posted by Deezus

CONGRATULATIONS, DEEZUS! You've won this week's Mercury letter/comment of the week! You get two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater, where people definitely like the smell... of the PIZZA!