In the pinball machine-filled hallway next to the restrooms at Northwest Portland bar Paymaster, there's a sort of kitsch emporium for the soul. There, in the bar's darkest corner, a vending machine sells obscure salves for the wounded human spirit: herbal cigarettes, remaindered copies of The Catcher in the Rye and packages promising to furnish bargoers with their own personal spirit animal.

But the machine also offers a more earthly form of therapy: a note card inside a stamped envelope pre-addressed to Donald Trump. My card featured an angel baby, and the envelope was decorated with pickup truck stickers so it might just get opened. It's addressed to Trump Tower in New York.

A letter to the nation's current president is now a bit like crying into the wind—for confirmation, see the Republicans' obsession with gutting health care coverage despite the fact only 12 percent of Americans share their goal.

In the words of the Saturday Night Live version of NBC reporter Lester Holt: "Nothing matters? Absolutely nothing matters anymore?"

(Henry Cromett)
(Henry Cromett)

But I dutifully pen my own letter on the little angel-baby card, if for no other reason than a promise becomes more real when you write it down. Mine is also a tribute to a former mentor—The Village Voice muckraker Wayne Barrett, who wrote a book about Trump when the now-president was still just a garish, ethically challenged real estate developer.

July 4, 2017

Dear Donald,
How relieved were you that Wayne Barrett died on the eve of your inauguration?Don't be: Journalists he mentored are everywhere.
Take care.