DEAR PORTLAND MERCURY: Thank you for the opportunity to fill out the sex survey [Jan 23]. My concern, however, is when you combine "Human feces/urine" in the same category.

As a guy who can and has enjoyed water sports many times, and finds it very erotic I take exception to it being next to feces, which is something I never do, or am interested in. I think it's a real disservice to your readers to put the two together as if it is the same. It isn't. Thank you for your attention to the above.



DEAR PHIL BUSSE: Thank you for exposing the Portland Business Alliance ["The Alliance," Feb 6], but why the "shock" at discovering their real control of Portland's government?! The old sayings, "He who has the gold makes the rules," and "Money talks, bullshit walks," apply to our current situation. But will someone have the "intestinal fortitude" to challenge the usurpation by the PBA of certain governmental powers by the passage of an initiative to restrict the PBA to lobbying?

David Brock


TO JUSTIN SANDERS: I happened to see your "review" of my novel Boonville when I was in Portland doing a reading at Powell's [Book Reviews, Jan 30]. Without wasting too much of my time, I would like to correct the most obvious of your errors, and possibly shed some light on your dim perspective.

You write about my novel that "The feminists are the kind of nightmarish man-haters that only a writer who doesn't actually know any feminists would create."

Well, I consider myself a feminist. To what degree I know myself is open for debate. But then there is my mother, who has not only marched for the cause (N.O.W., E.R.A., Free Angela Davis, Free Choice, etc) but has also toiled in the trenches of the workplace as a registered nurse for over thirty years while raising three children as a single parent. Then there is my wife, who is on the board of the Woodhull Institute. And my stepmother, a Mt. Holyoke grad Naturally, the list goes on and on.

But as a last example, let me cite Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth, who I know personally, and wrote the following for the dust jacket of the hardcover version of Boonville: "Boonville heralds the debut of an engaging, clear-eyed new talent. Robert Mailer Anderson has achieved an engrossing vision of tangled lives on the edge of the world, and done it on an ambitious scale [Since no one gives a shit what Naomi Wolf thinks about this self-absorbed gasbag, let's skip to the end of his letter.--Editor]."

As for the rest of your wrong-minded assumptions and assessments, I would suggest you read a little closer, and make the distinction between what characters say and what an author believes. Otherwise you'll soon be calling Grace Paley a "sexist" and Mark Twain a "racist." Also, try not to move your lips so much.

Robert Mailer Anderson


TO THE EDITOR: How can the Mercury possibly give away the "Letter of the Week" award and free movie tickets to a guy who incorrectly defines the word "ghetto" and then gets outraged because white kids are (horrors) appropriating words from urban minorities? ["Letters," Feb 6, RE: the seemingly endless debate on whether it's okay to use the word "ghetto" when describing something.]

First things first:

ghet-to 1) A section of a city occupied by a minority group who live there especially because of social, economic, or legal pressure. 2) An often walled quarter in a European city to which Jews were restricted beginning in the Middle Ages. 3) Something that resembles the restriction or isolation of a city ghetto: "trapped in ethnic or pink-collar managerial job ghettoes."

Source: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.

Isn't it amazing how a word can have more than one meaning? And that the English language can change?

Mainstream America has spent the last 200 years appropriating language from minority cultures (cool, hip, dope, fly, etc.). Let's not forget that the word ghetto was not invented here in the U.S.--it comes from Italian, after Ghetto, an island near Venice where Jews were made to live in the 16th Century. Did the Italian Jews living in Venice write angry letters to the Mercury when they found out that the word was being misappropriated in Warsaw Poland and then here in the U.S.?

Dan Kelley, Reference Librarian

HEY DAN: You don't have to be intellectually or morally "right" to win the Mercury "Letter of the Week"--you just have to think you are! Enjoy your two free passes to the Laurelhurst theater!