Cover photo by Anouk Van Kalmthout. Back cover photo by Aaron Lee at Erizo. damedeeso / getty images

Now, I’m not saying the Mercury only receives mean letters—but I am saying that the Mercury receives mean letters 99.99999 percent of the time. Hey... speaking of percentages and mean letters, check this out!

“Dear Mercury: Does your crappy rag now consist of over 75 percent advertisements, or is that a goal you’re still working towards? Love, Denis.”

URRRRRGHHHHH! This drives me INSANE! Okay, Denis, listen carefully: It’s “working toward” not “towards.” Sure, one could argue that both are grammatically correct, IF one lived in England or Australia—but ya don’t, dingbat! You live in AMERICA, where we spell “colour,” “favourite,” and “towards” correctly! (On the off-chance you’re writing from Brisbane, I apologize—but on second thought I don’t, because WE NEVER SEND OUR “CRAPPY RAG” TO BRISBANE, LIAR!)

Now that we’ve established Denis as a person of questionable morals and judgment, let’s address his primary complaint, wherein he wonders if our “crappy rag consists of over 75 percent ads,” or if that’s something “we’re working towards” (shudder).

In response to Denis’ first question, the answer is no, the average issue of the Mercury does not contain over 75 percent ads—it’s more like 60 percent. And are we working “toward-S” hitting 75 percent? The answer to that is also no—however, if you want to buy all the ads yourself and pay double or triple for them, then you can pretty much have whatever advertising percentage you want!

Here’s the unfortunate truth of living in a capitalistic society: You don’t get shit for free, Denis. Also, generally speaking, people prefer to be paid for the work they do. (But maybe you’re different. Maybe you show up every day at Brisbane’s “Superfluous S at the End of Toward” factory and work for free just because ya love it.)

As I’ve discussed in previous columns, producing a print product—even a crappy one, like ours—costs an obscene amount of money, and it ain’t getting any cheaper. And over the years, we’ve discovered that employees tend to be more productive when they’re paid enough to be able to afford both food and housing. So... yeah! Selling ads and making enough money to live on is pretty important when it comes to making crappy rags!

But trust me when I say, NOBODY IS GETTING RICH IN THIS BIZ. And that’s too bad, because I think I would really enjoy being rich. However, the upside is having a job where I can go to sleep most nights safe in the knowledge that my company did its best to make Portland a better place (or at least didn’t fuck it over too badly). In fact, most of the time I sleep like a goddamn baby when I’m not fretting over the fact that mean Australian immigrants are flooding the country and massacring our grammar by forcing a gratuitous “s” on the end of random words.

So anyway, thanks for writing, Denis, and I hope you now have a better understanding of how the Mercury works, and the goals we’re working towardssssssssssssssss.

Yours in appreciation of American grammar,
Wm. Steven Humphrey
Portland Mercury