RE: "Shot on the Street" [Feature, March 1], regarding the recent, seemingly random shooting of two men sleeping under an overpass in Southeast Portland and what the incident indicates about Portland's treatment of its homeless problem.

DEAR MERCURY—A tremendous thank you for the above article throwing light on the plight of the homeless and giving credence to the effort of everyone who either serves or lives at "Dan Saltzman's Recreation Area," the R2D2 [unofficial homeless encampment Right 2 Dream Too], at NW 4th and Burnside. Special thanks to the goodwill of some great samaritans who, unlike our elected city officials, deem this place as providing a societal need and therefore are very generous with any and every donation they can think of. With the utmost respect, since Dan Saltzman has been extremely kind and generous with naming this site a "recreation area" and also ardently believes that it is indeed a recreation area, after a lot of considered thought, I feel that he ought to be equally as generous to provide the means and or make available resources for the payment of the fines he is so vehemently advocating and/or imposing on the landlord of this site.


There seems to be this quixotic notion that R2D2 and other forms of urban camping are going to do anything positive about homelessness. Like any other development, there are standards, and this campsite blatantly violates the basics of those development standards. Also, is anyone else concerned about a business' ability to do well in the city in the face of unregulated, unmitigated camping and endless homelessness in the city? Would people feel bad knowing that a Chinese restaurant went out of business due to mercurial potential diners choosing a place with, shall we say, a bit more ambiance than a homeless campsite next door? A better solution is getting more permanent housing, treating illnesses, and going from there. Give the housing to the mentally ill and disabled first.

-posted by ws


RE: "Chasing the Dragon" [Last Supper, March 1], in which food critic Chris Onstad uses the word "niggardly" in his description of the man who first introduced him to banh mi.

HEY CHRIS—I'm not particularly politically correct, but can you please stop using the word "niggardly" for the word "cheap"?


HI KIM—"Niggardly" is not degrading to any particular race or culture as it might homonymously sound, due to its similarity to an unfortunate ethnic slur of near-same spelling. Here are its origins: 1325–1375, Middle English nyggard, equivalent to nig, niggard (Scandinavian; compare dialectal Swedish nygg; akin to Old English hnÄ"aw, stingy) + -ard.

-Chris Onstad

CHRIS—Growing up in all-white Oregon, I learned the meaning of the word "niggardly" in grade school as stingy or miserly. I never looked up the origin of the word, nor was it explained in class, but assumed it was a racist word that described a negative characteristic of black people. Now, even knowing the possible origin of the word I'm feeling this whole thing is a "white privilege" attitude. An example of the way I'm experiencing the conundrum I'm feeling was if the word "fat" were considered offensive and someone used the word "fattish" and it was explained to me "fattish" had its origin 600 years ago in Norway to describe a large cod. Would I use this word in the company of large people even though it has no reference to them? In one article I read, a reporter said, "He would not use the word among black people, especially among less-educated black people, out of politeness and to avoid causing someone to feel uncomfortable, regardless of any non-racial meanings he would intend." Maybe the word should also not be used around ignorant white people as myself. Supposedly, the origin of "niggardly" predates the word "nigger" by 500 years or so, and the word "nigger" possibly was not a pejorative word until the 1900s. So considering the recently charged similarity, can't you use another, more modern word?


THANK YOU KIM for bringing your concerns to the table in measured fashion, and cheers to the evolution of language and the conversations it necessitates. We offer you two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater, where you can broaden your vocabulary through the exposure to such films as Mission Impossible 4 and The Adventures of Tin Tin.