I wanted to comment on a small piece that was published in Willamette Week ["Beer Bash," Feb. 1, 2012]. The piece in question was, in and of itself, a relatively small portion of your publication that week.
The premise, I think, was to inform the readers of an upcoming beer and movie film fest, complete with tongue-in-cheek summaries of well-known movies, and perhaps participate in some sort of inside joke along the way.
What I find so curious about this selection was the way it was featured in your newspaper. When I first picked up the Feb. 1 edition, I saw running vertically along the left-hand side [of the cover] a banner advertising a "curdled romance between an autistic man and a gay computer." I was intrigued, and then extremely disappointed once I found that the article this came from was some sarcastic interpretation of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I find no reason why such a reference would be used as a slur, in this day and age, and in a supposedly progressive newspaper. Last I checked, the conventional wisdom was that it is inappropriate to call somebody "retarded"—so why would using the name of a specific condition as an insult be appropriate?
I'm sorry if I missed the inside joke here, but perhaps this is a joke that was perhaps better left "inside." I don't understand why a joke like this would make it past an office email and all the way to publication. I will continue to read Willamette Week, but I will do so with a great deal less respect.
Aaron Mesh, WW movies editor, responds: The 2001 review was indeed a bit of an inside joke—an attempt to puncture the hallowed reputation of films at my Beer and Movie festival—but its revisionist intent was unambiguous. Matthew Korfhage's description of director Stanley Kubrick's astronauts as "autistic" was meant as a straightforward description of affectless, unemotional performances. It was not intended as a pejorative.
LOCKING IN ON A KEY BIKING ISSUE
I read with interest and delight your recent article ["Bikin' in the Rain," WW, Feb. 22, 2012] regarding how to make it through Portland on a bike in the rain (which is essentially, let's face it, nine months of the bloody year). But, zut alors, what's this? You forgot the most important bit of information many consider sacred to any bicycling newbie: LOCKING YOUR BIKE.
If I see another bike worth twelve hundred smackaroos chained to a tree sapling with a cable lock I could chew through with my teeth, I am going to cry. Always, always lock [your bike] to something that can't be chopped down, kicked over, sawed through or chewed off. And even more important, for heaven's sakes, invest in a solid U-lock. You can cut through the average cable lock in about three seconds with a pair of garden clippers.... Consider yourselves warned.
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