TO THE EDITOR: Though a photo essay by definition is composed of no set minimum number of images, I found "How The Other Half Lives" [News, Feb 25] incomplete, much like a photograph that is cropped too tightly--an incomplete thought, if you will. I expected, to see at the bottom of page 7 the directive "continued on page X," but alas, no.

A few things stood out:

1) The editor's note, ending in a socially conscious yet self-serving manner, was almost three times the length of the photographer's introductory statement.

2) Debbie's quote, though great, has a questionable place in a photo essay without a photo to accompany it.

3) Without a greater context and/or proper substantiation, there is irony in the image of Virus; if she holds her name tongue-in-cheek. Many readers may not be able to see the self-imposed irony (hypocrisy?) that her name reflects in relation to the message of her personal statement.

4) Without a greater context and/or proper substantiation, there is irony in the image of Tim; presuming he is the man at the extreme left, the "Hail Satan!" statement on his cart does little to encourage people who think him "dysfunctional" to think otherwise.

Do my last two statements suggest that Virus and Tim should not honestly portray themselves? No, emphatically. Do my last two statements suggest that Virus and Tim were presented dishonestly? No, emphatically. Irresponsibly, though? Perhaps. There is great responsibility in how a story and images are edited, and I can't help but be disappointed in this presentation--it could have been so much more with minimum effort.

That this piece attempts to give a voice to these folks is a great step in the right direction. I'm just suggesting an attempt be more thoughtfully and thoroughly realized.

John Blodgett


TO ANN ROMANO: I love your article [One Day at a Time, pg. 5]. I read it EVERY WEEK. I just wanna say that if I have a crappy week or something, your article makes it all better, because then I know someone else had a crappier week then mine. Now I feel adequate!



TO THE EDITOR: OK, it was kind of funny that Vera asked the Mercury what they were smoking [Letters, Feb 22]. I must admit that was well-placed humor I didn't expect she was capable of. But beyond that it was too easy for her to bash the Mercury for its left tendencies. Duh! Everyone knows the weeklies in the vein of the Merc are liberal and eco-conscious, with slight hippie tendencies. In my opinion, she wrote off criticism of her administration in this publication for these reasons and took the easy way out. All she did was call a duck a duck and then say that because this paper is a duck, it can't be a bird. No one said she didn't do any of the things she said. In fact, that is half the problem. The self-involved wannabe socialite is just like the Merc said: out of touch. It seems that Vera has the potential to be somewhat down to earth, and thereby effective, but her tender ego can't take criticism.

Vera's programs may be innovative, but she is skipping steps. You can't give a man a lamp before he has electricity. The damn retreat-loving, report-writing, mission statement, dialoguing new-age management crap is a lot of hot air. DO SOMETHING. GO BACK TO THE BASICS. Support a few homeless people's SIMPLE desire to be WARM and DRY. You can't force someone to do it YOUR WAY. If they don't want to stay in your damn shelters and go through your employment programs you shouldn't try and force them. Maybe they don't want to because they're YOURS and not THEIRS!

Amber Lauer


TO THE EDITOR: Here is a poem dedicated to the Portland Mercury and Julianne Shepherd:

Your teats are filled with black milks/i kiss you like a fist kisses the man of his dreams/ our machine is covered in warm scabs/so we rest in the mucus, invisible/when i was 16/i kicked my dad in the balls/but he did not fall/instead, i felt his pain/and screamed/he just laughed and walked away./but now it is dark/you wipe my dirty face clean/it was black from thee milks of thou'st teats./thousand teats on the wall/walk on the wall/portland oregon is thee great occluder "y'all"/but the fountain of youth ist inside me/so drink my piss.

Matt Hopper