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Greetings, Sweet Peas!

Woo-hoo, let’s dip into the mailbag! Here’s a letter from Richard B. of Portland, who takes issue with a recent “crudely casual” story written by the Mercury.

“FYI: I would never consider subscribing or otherwise supporting any ‘news’ organization that casually uses the word ‘Fuck’ in their reportage of a store (Gucci) opening downtown. It is unprofessional, vulgar, uninformative, crudely casual, and demonstrates indifference to the sensibilities of your wider potential audience. Please let me know should your editorial policies choose to adopt a more mature and professional standard.”—Richard B.

Fuck.

I hate it when this happens. Even though the Mercury has been around for more than 20 years (and using “crudely casual” language since day one), we are apparently still having trouble breaking through to certain demographics—in this case, the “people who have a Google alert set for the word ‘Gucci’.” So when our Blair Stenvick wrote a hilariously acidic report about a Gucci store choosing to open in downtown Portland in the midst of a pandemic and historic ice/snowstorm—that, full disclosure, did include the word “fuck”—I guess this was Richard’s first exposure to the Mercury. (And possibly the word “fuck” in its written form?)

Now, I’d like to make it clear for those reading us for the first time, the Mercury rarely uses the word “fuck” in its articles. Well, okay… maybe “rarely” is an understatement. But we absolutely do not say the word “fuck” more than 35… possibly 45 percent of the time—46 percent if you include this article.

Would I say “fuck” more often if I could? Fuck yes, I would! Abso-fucking-lutely! “Fuck” is a great way to apply emphasis to any sentence when italics don’t cut the mustard. Example: “Richard B. was incensed to learn Costco no longer sells Bibles,” vs. “Richard B. was incensed to learn Costco no longer sells Bibles,” vs. “Richard B. was fucking incensed to learn fucking Costco no longer fucking sells fucking Bibles, and he’s right, because FUCK THAT!”

Folks, that’s just “Dynamic Writing 101.”

But let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of “Oh fuck… this COVID-19 thing is for real!” Since that time, things… have not been great for me.

Besides being locked away from my friends and the extracurricular activities that keep me sane, I had to lay off more than half of my Mercury beloveds, spent more than six months trying to find a therapist to help me process the guilt I experienced after laying off my Mercury beloveds, battled recurring bouts of depression, worked 12-18 hours a day during last summer’s protests only to be repaid by cops and federal agents who shot gas canisters and various munitions at my head, wore the same protest gas mask while walking my dog during the weeklong wildfires, repeatedly attempted and failed to keep my kids engaged in online learning, spent eight hours a day doomscrolling horrifying news stories (cuz that’s my job), was too busy to take "cry breaks" which meant I wept while stand-up peeing, and… OH! Tried to keep my family from freezing during last week’s ice storm/power outages, which reminded me that disasters (like the wildfires) are going to be regular occurrences from now on, which then led me to pencil in March 15 as the probable date of Portland’s long-overdue mega-quake. So yeah! Not a fucking great year.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you had it worse. I’m absolutely fucking certain other people did—especially those not as white and male and employed as myself. So here’s a question for Richard B.: What the FUCK is wrong with you?

Why—of all the overwhelming and horrible shit that’s been burying us in a daily landslide for the past year—are you so fucking concerned about the Mercury using the word “fuck” in an article about fucking Gucci, of all fucking things?

Now, in Richard B’s defense, he might respond, “Actually, I can be concerned about the 500,000 people in America who’ve died from COVID, mass unemployment, growing homelessness, national food insecurity, and lying Republicans (of which I may be one) actively trying to destroy democracy WHILE AT THE SAME TIME being unreasonably disturbed by a news organization that uses the word 'fuck' in the same sentence as my favorite store in the world (and a triumphant and enduring symbol of capitalism), Gucci.”

Well, if that’s the case, then congratulations to Richard B.! I wish I had your ability to compartmentalize. But apparently I fucking don’t.

Because after the year I’ve had… that we’ve all had… there’s no word that better describes the trauma that we’ve all endured, and continue to endure, than this:

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

That said, I hope everyone reading this will continue to take it easy on themselves and each other while dreaming of better days to come. And if you don’t mind the Mercury occasionally using the word “fuck” while also appreciating the hard work we do to keep Portland fucking informed, please consider making a recurring contribution to help us keep the fucking lights on.

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As for Richard B., thanks for fucking writing! And as for your request to “please let me know should your editorial policies choose to adopt a more mature and professional standard,” I only have this to say:

FUCK YEAH, WE WILL.

yer pal,
Wm. Steven Humphrey
Editor-in-Chief
Portland Mercury
(he/his)