I've watched the popularity of owning large dogs grow exponentially in the past 20 years. Correspondingly, I've experienced the change wrought upon the city parks as they've been transformed from serene retreats to frenzied dog runs.
In many parks, such as Mount Tabor, the once-significant wildlife population has been destroyed or chased away by the dogs running off leash. Then, too, I've witnessed the incongruent changes in park feature and landscape undertaken by the city in effort to appease the dog owners' belief that parks should be managed as no more than "common back yards" or kennel clubs.
By force of their ever-increasing number, dog owners in recent years have asserted a kind of political takeover of the parks, whereby "off leash" has become the norm (notwithstanding the signage against such practice). Countless times I've been rebuked by dog owners to whom I've complained about their dog running free. They've come to see it as their right!
In response to the recent dog poisoning at Laurelhurst Park [Rogue of the Week, WW, July 16, 2003], the city now seems inclined to indulge the fad of large (and often multiple) dog ownership by ceding more of parks' purpose and area to pet recreation and exercise range. This is akin to opening up the remaining wilderness to off-roading to accommodate the popularity of SUVs.
This is unacceptable. Dogs are social animals and interact as such, forcing upon others in the park some level of social interaction with them, whether experienced as agreeable, threatening or just a distraction. In effect, dogs change the park experience proportionate to their number, not much different from multiplying the density of people usage.
Look, I want parks because escape from overcrowding gets harder as cities sprawl wider and become denser. I hate neither dogs nor people, but I do believe parks function best when they preserve as vestigial experience the wilderness that is beaten farther and farther back from our experience otherwise.
Southeast Spokane Street
I do not approve of poisoning dogs. But this recent incident [Rogue of the Week, WW, July 16, 2003] might have been a fractured, twisted reaction to a phenomenon that is itself quite fractured and twisted.
Over the years, I have watched with sorrow the infestation of Mount Tabor and Laurelhurst parks by the Yuppie Undead, with their dogs. Do they love their dogs, as one would love a living being? I think not. They like the idea of a dog's behavior expressing overtly their own interior depravity. And they like, in particular, dog poop. Dog poop is for them an overt expression of their interior belief that life is excrement, and death a black ending. That, therefore, being self-absorbed, self-pitying, resentful, vicious, cruel and greedy is the appropriate response to the nature of the cosmos.
One can feel compassion, I suppose. These monsters are disconnected from the rest of life, trapped in loneliness. To the extent there remains a human spark down inside there, owning a dog could be a desperate cry for help. Assuming, of course, the Yuppie Undead are, in fact, a DNA-based life form. I suppose next we should verify this one way or the other.
KENDRA CASE NOT OVER
First, the Nose [July 23, 2003] seems to think that because The Oregonian made several errors in the reporting of Kendra James' case, that somehow this releases [Officer Scott] McCollister for his role in this unnecessary killing. I can understand the competitive spirit that exists between the O and WW, but really now, did any of those errors negate the real hard facts that McCollister escalated the danger by violating police rules in placing himself physically into the car in a position in which he had little balance given his size and fat distribution? Is the fat thing and lack of balance a little close to home for the Nose?
McCollister's acquittal by the grand jury [Editor's note: technically, the grand jury declined to indict] does not absolve him of civil liability in Ms. James' death, and the civil standard is not the same as the criminal standard of "beyond reasonable doubt." Consider, too, that the rigged grand-jury system rarely ever finds against a cop. And then there is also an FBI investigation into whether he was motivated to go over the line by racial hatred, an opinion held by a fair amount of the population. This case is by no means over.
This case merely continues the problem that police training and attitudes have created, an "army of occupation" mentality on the part of many patrolling officers in many parts of the city. This targets many citizens as "the enemy" purely by their difference from the patrolling officers and creates fear in the population. With little or no training in nonviolent tactics, heavy emphasis on shoot-to-kill, and pumped-up police urban legends of danger, the James tragedy was bound to happen.
The recent vote by the City Council to disempower the police oversight committee following the James shooting ["Muzzling the Watchdog," WW, July 23, 2003] adds to the reality that Portland is governed by a police state. Every time this committee tries to bring a check and balance into the police system, they are stopped. What are the council members afraid of?
After all this is down the road and public memory gets foggy, [Police Chief Mark] Kroeker will probably reinstate McCollister and recommend he take ballet lessons. Will the Nose do likewise?
Southeast 76th Avenue
Why is Willamette Week different from all other newspapers?
WW editorialist "The Nose" is legitimate questioning Portland Mayor Vera Katz's policies and performance during her 11 years in power. However, criticizing Katz's professional characteristics under the guise of a stereotypical "Jewish mother" was a prime example of thinly veiled anti-Semitism.
The Nose's argument weakens when highlighting Mayor Katz's religion becomes more important than her political legacy.
Southwest Park Avenue
SPEAKING OF CRAP
Christopher Rauschenberg [Mailbox, July 30, 2003], wishing that we become non-discerning when looking at art, wants us "to learn to say 'That doesn't speak to me' instead of 'That's crap.'" How about this compromise: "That doesn't speak to me because it is crap"?
Northwest Kearney Street