I am so sick of hearing Portlanders whine about the new parking meters downtown ["Kvetchfest III: The Bitch Is Back," WW, April 16, 2003]. The lame-assed complaints make Bridge City sound like a mecca for lazy Luddites. "I can't hear it ticking. How do I know it's not ripping me off?" "They have card readers in them! They could track my every move!" "They have liquid crystal displays--they could be irradiating my DNA!" "I have to walk half a block just to use one, then I actually have to walk back to my car again!" "You put all your coins into just one slot! That's a crime against nature!" "Good lord, it's spewing paper with strange symbols and numbers! Run, for the love of god, RUN!"
The bottom line is that these machines have a coin slot, a card reader, a screen to tell you what to do and a Big Green Button to do it with. The Big Green Button even has a picture of a finger next to it, just in case you're not clear on what exactly to do to the Big Green Button.
Yet despite their simplicity, watching some people use the new meters is like standing behind somebody's great-grandmother at the ATM. It's got one freakin' button, for Christ's sake! What's the big damned deal?!
If it takes you more than seven seconds to use one, you're too fucking stupid to be driving in the first place!
This is not to say that the new meters are perfect--far from it. Where's the bill handler? I don't always have a big ol' sack full of change on me (and contrary to popular belief, that's not a roll of quarters in my pocket). Likewise, as a recent victim of Oregon's limp economy, my debit card is linked to an account that has an average balance of about 13 cents. I do, however, occasionally have a dollar bill tucked away somewhere, but by the time I've coerced some local merchant into changing it for silver, I've usually already got a damned ticket.
Come to think of it, why don't the new meters have a slot for returnable bottles and cans? I always have a couple of those rattling around in my car....
North Smith Street
INDYMEDIA NEEDS INTERVENTION
Your recent article detailing Portland Indymedia ["Corporate Media Is the Disease," April 23, 2003] was spot-on. Like a friend with an alcohol problem, someone needed to come forward and say it: Portland IMC is drunk with its own power.
As a former avid reader and reporter for Portland Indymedia, I vowed last summer never to read IMC again. The final straw? A series of essays, which stated, "The agenda is not equality. The agenda is female domination of political institutions, worldwide" and labeled all males "aggressive, violent, selfish, short-sighted, competitive, cruel, and dumb." This made their front-page feature "news"--six times.
However, when challenged, the dissenting views were censored, with the Portland IMC volunteer explaining, "Fling your sexist shit somewhere else or show some respect. If not, I WILL compost you again."
"A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest," it would seem. Or, to quote the Buddha, "Perceptions tell us more about the perceiver than what is being perceived."
If you want to know about how young, angry, uneducated, unemployed ultra-radicals view the world, by all means, go to Portland Indymedia. But if you're looking for unbiased news, keep looking--independent media is no better than its corporate counterparts.
Northeast 7th Avenue
"Not a Troll, Agitator, Cointelpro operative or 'Puppet of the System'"
Nick Budnick, unawares no doubt, convincingly confirms WW's alignment with the corporate media. Defensive avoidance, finger-pointing and an obvious ignorance of the issues barely conceals his contempt for those lefties, anarchists and sundry nonconformists. His personal values, ethics and intellect are clearly challenged when confronted with all that is "over his head."
The expectation that any media entity--which exists to indiscriminately promote consumer/entertainment trash for profit--should be conscious, aware, forthright and honest about itself is, well, ridiculous. The reality that "more" is the problem and capitalism the cancer isn't readily comprehensible through an embedded, delusional, dream-state denial. Budnick works at WW, and WW sells--anything it can.
They both deny or avoid responsibility because they are unable to take it without shining the big light on "them." If you want to win the war, all the wars, quit shopping, stuffing your guts; avoid the apparently irresistible influences that contribute to your resultant stupidity and confusion, which require more diversionary compulsive gorging and ultimately lead you farther away from "it." And in this case Mr. Budnick, "it" would be you.
Anarchy, not as a political construct, but an expression of archetypal beauty in pure freedom and responsibility, is the horizon of human development. You choose to stay where you are. No responsibility, no freedom--but hey, you get lots of arguments, conflicts and drama.
Southwest Oak Street
NO EASY CURE
After throwing away an evening debating the nihilists on portlandindymedia.com, I must agree with the people in Nick Budnick's April 23 cover story ["Corporate Media Is the Disease"] who believe the valuable Internet resource is being wasted.
Site gurus Deva and spArk successfully executed a power struggle that provided free rein to create a website that currently lacks serious credibility and seems less concerned with "truth, fairness and free expression of ideas" than many of the corporate media they condemn.
The site's anti-media slogans are also a poor replacement for thoughtful analysis of what's really wrong with corporate-owned media. Slogans hinging on oversimplistic conspiracy theories can be easily bleated out by followers and require little gray matter to comprehend. But the truth is that media problems don't easily lend themselves to being solved by simpleton (violent) solutions. Oversimplifying complicated problems does more harm than good.
But I'll bet Deva and spArk are big heroes among the crowd they wish to impress. Kinda like George W. Bush.