As Donald Trump is elected with promises of retracting reproductive rights, Emily Witt has been charting the places sex has been heading in an age of relative freedom, collected in her new, oddly moving book Future Sex (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 210 pages, $25), which I now want to buy for everyone I know. We can only hope the new frontier of free love Witt wryly explores through research and personal anecdotes—more open, honest, female-centric sex, assisted by New Age ideals and the tech industry—can continue to exist. Here are four of the most interesting moments and insights from Future Sex.
1. There is something called orgasmic meditation, propelled by San Francisco company OneTaste, whose mission is to “bring female orgasm to the world.” The woman lies on a towel while the man puts on gloves with a dollop of lube and rubs her clitoris for 15 minutes. The practice is meant to allow for an intimate connection but preserve an emotional distance: “Her partner needed only to know what he was doing and respect the boundaries. She did not have to love or even like him,” Witt writes.
2. Match.com was created by a self-described “kind of loser” computer scientist, but had a sexist reputation because the early internet excluded women—so he hired a team of female marketers. They forbade sexually explicit content, included questions about relationships and children, banned the mention of biological clocks, and published content offering women safety advice. They gave the site its clean interface and heart-shaped logo. Now, it’s the most-used dating site in the country.
3. A 1984 early feminist porn video shows a woman having unfulfilling sex with “an uncaring bodybuilder type” before asking him to leave. She sits alone underneath a Georgia O’Keefe-style painting before having sex with someone else “over animated backdrops of autumn leaves and lotus flowers.” Climax is depicted by “an explosion of early-1980s computer effects with a roiling saxophone accompaniment.” Today, there’s a feminist porn video depicting “a woman being turned on by watching a man assemble IKEA furniture.” Hot.
4. On a website called Chaturbate, Witt watched 19-year-old Edith who, for hours, “seduced her audience by dressing like an American Apparel model, revealing the depth of her existential despair,” discussing Camus and talking about why she was celibate. “For more than 1,700 viewers, she sat on the floor naked next to a pair of ballet slippers with an unlit cigarette in her hand.”
SEE IT: Emily Witt reads at Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 503-228-4651, powells.com, on Thursday, Nov. 17. 7:30 pm. Free.
From his early bizarro science fiction to best-selling New York-obsessed novels like Motherless Brooklyn and Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan Lethem dives headfirst into topics often ignored or disdained by mainline literature, whether alternate-reality conspiracy theories or genre fodder like sci-fi futures and comic superheroes. His newest, A Gambler’s Anatomy, is about a Bond-like professional gambler—backgammon is his game—who also has brain cancer and possibly ESP, pursued by a once radical leftist but now nefarious billionaire childhood friend.
WW: The dissolution of 1960s radicalism seems to be a theme for you.
Jonathan Lethem: It’s probably my own hurt spot. It’s the world I grew up inside. I feel implicated in its loss. I’m really drawn to any flicker of it. I lived in Berkeley in my 20s; the place was so compelling to me. There was a trapped-in-amber quality; it spoke to me in a garbled way. I put myself in a position to recapitulate that arena of fear and desire—I’m old enough I can actually recall marching against the Vietnam War. That was as a little kid.
There’s an old Leonard Michaels short story, “In the Fifties,” in which a little boy throws marbles in front of police horses.
That was pretty much me—I wasn’t the one doing that, but I was at the same protest. That piece was like a talismanic charm. I had it up on the wall while writing [my ’60s anarchist novel] Dissident Gardens. Together with Anatole Broyard’s Kafka Was the Rage, it’s an astonishingly good snapshot of the state of New York counterculture on the door of the 1960s.
Are the funny character names—Garris Plybon, Madchen Alplanalps—a nod to Thomas Pynchon?
I was into strange names before I read Pynchon—I was already a fan of Philip K. Dick, and I associate them with Charles Dickens. It’s very simple for me: I had trouble remembering character names. It’s a place to develop meaning and interest, to elevate language that is neutral or flat. I’m part of the goofy names club. The world is littered with crazy names. They’re really out there: Jordany Valdespin [of the New York Mets].
You got a rooting interest in the World Series?
I gave up in 1977 when [the Mets] traded Tom Seaver. My kids are really into baseball. They slip from one affiliation to the next. They were Dodgers fans when the Mets were eliminated. Now my sons are rooting for the Cubs. They’re anti-curse. They don’t yet understand that we’re all cursed. I spent my entire life rooting against the Cubs.
You know what your next book will be?
It’s probably going be set in a giant sand pit about a mile from where I live. There’s this thing called the San Antonio Wash where the water is supposed to run down, so a lot of homeless people live there. I’m staring at my subject matter while standing at this airport.
Why is everyone listed as a doctor on your acknowledgements page?
The top four are legit. I had three medical doctors. But it’s amazing. People will believe anything you say in the acknowledgements section. My publisher, my copy editors—no one said anything.
The only dalliance Rivka Galchen indulged along her path of Ivy League study (first as an undergraduate degree at Princeton and then as an MFA at Columbia) was to knock out a quick M.D. at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She’s since published a novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, and a short-story collection, American Innovations. Her newest book, Little Labors, is devoted to Galchen’s experience as a new mother, which she describes in terms both visceral and wildly unfamiliar—describing the child as being like a puma or chicken, an animal loose in the house. ZACH MIDDLETON.
WW: You’ve written you found the topics of babies and mothers “perfectly not interesting.”
Rivka Galchen: Babies can be misleadingly cute, which masks the strange power they have (even as their powerlessness is part of their charismatic power). But in literature—or at least in the literature that I have come across—they mostly come across as monsters, and mothers mostly come across as miserable. I think this makes sense, because that used to be the “secret” story—the official story was that it was all sunshine. But these days I feel, in certain demographics anyway, the official story has been reversed. Babies and motherhood are “officially” anti-intellectual and difficult, and the nuance that gets left out is the mystery, the strangeness, the gold, the little teeth.
Does your medical degree give you a different perspective on motherhood?
In medicine, there’s a lot of emphasis—appropriately—on pregnancy as a healthy and normal state. There’s a lot of emphasis on remembering not to think of it as a disease state. All of which is true. But once I was pregnant, I was interested in it as a kind of derangement. Food tasted different, but all my other sensations were different, too. Being in love is also a derangement. We don’t have to think of derangement as negative; it’s actually the beginning of art and philosophy.
Your references are incredibly diverse, from Japanese literature to I Love Lucy to Toni Morrison.
Sometimes I worry that literature hardly has a language in the culture at all. I grew up with very little literature, so it’s natural to me for it to match up with cookie brands and syndicated television. And I like pulling literature into the net of overwhelmingly dominant pop culture. I feel like it makes little pockets where rare birds can nest, birds that wouldn’t survive in the broader ecosystem.
Have things changed since your baby is a toddler?
She’s now of a species that more resembles my own; there’s less confusion and more sleep. I feel less intoxicated and associative, but more able to work.
You’ve written in a lot of different forms. Will you return to fiction?
I used to write interesting emails! I haven’t written an interesting email for about three years. But probably I won’t return to that form. But I do hope to return to the other forms.
Portland comics writer Matt Fraction was well-known for his Marvel Comics (X-Men, Hawkeye, Thor) and for his prolific, wisecracking Twitter account. But he didn’t think his Chip Zdarsky-illustrated comic-book series Sex Criminals—the story of Jon and Suzie, a bank-robbing couple whose lovemaking literally halts time—would last more than a few issues. But since its first issue in 2013, it’s become an epically popular crime saga that’s also a soulful meditation on relationships and sexual identity. And Fraction became the rare comics writer to get interviewed on The Tonight Show. We talked to him about volume 3 of the Sex Criminals series, released this year. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON.
WW: What research did you do for this volume?
Matt Fraction: I talked to some mental health professionals, I talked to a few asexual friends of mine, I talked to some science people and just kind of thought a lot. But as much as there’s research done and facts checked, a creative act is an act of empathy. I genuinely care about all of these weirdos that we write about.
There are a lot of meta-moments in this volume where you reference the fact that it’s a comic book.
Comics are so resilient and versatile a storytelling medium, capable of so much more than what we tend to put them towards. If that’s the part of the book that loses somebody, then it’s not the book for them—if they feel that, “Oh, everything else is fine, but I don’t like where he wrote, ‘I don’t want to write this scene because it’s super-boring and we all know what’s going to happen anyway.’” There’s no reason that the narrative train is derailed.
This book questions the very premise of Sex Criminals by having Suzie lose interest in robbing banks.
It’s not drama if there’s not obstacles. I don’t know what’s a better obstacle to Bonnie and Clyde than if Bonnie ain’t into it anymore. Two people figuring out that they’re going to be with each other is one thing—“We’re going to go out to dinner a lot, we’re going to move in together.” But what if suddenly Suzie’s not into it? That’s a big part of moving from a transitory to a long-term or permanent relationship. This volume is about, “What do we want? What are our goals? Not just for life, but what do we want out of each other, what do we want out of this relationship? Where do we want to grow as people?”
Kate Carroll de Gutes
The first book Kate Carroll de Gutes published is also the last piece of writing she ever worked on with her longtime mentor, novelist and poet (and Ovenbird books publisher) Judith Kitchen. Near the end of editing de Gutes’ memoir Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear—which won the 2016 Oregon Book Award for creative nonfiction and the Lambda Literary Award—Kitchen passed away after over four years battling cancer. The collection of reverse-chronological essays deals with (among other things) de Gutes’s divorce and accepting her “masculine-of-center” gender identity. De Gutes is already putting the finishing touches on her follow up book based on her blog the Authenticity Experiment, and is in planning stages for her third book about her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. SHANNON GORMLEY.
WW: What was Judith Kitchen’s role in the book?
Kate Carroll de Gutes: We both kind of knew that she didn’t have a lot of time left. Judith’s hand is all over that work. Judith—like two days before she died—she finished the edit on this, and she wrote me a big, long note about the changes that she thought needed to be made. I made some edits to the book after she died, and that was kind of the first time in nine years that I had done any work that she hadn’t looked at. She’s a huge [literary] figure, and she was my buddy, and she was my editor. So the loss of her was pretty significant for me. And that’s partly why putting this [second] book together is so scary—Judith isn’t in the world to bounce ideas off of.
How’s it feel to have your first book so late in your career?
Of course, it’s totally satisfying to have a book in your hands. The great gift of that was, the book came out in June of 2015 and my mom died in August. So I could put the book in her hand, and she was so thrilled for me and so happy that it happened. She kept saying over and over again, “I’m so happy that this happened before I died.” I kept saying, “Me too.”
You write a lot about how clothes have affected your gender identity.
It’s evolving every time I get a nice new bow tie. Clothes were incredibly important to me, because as a teenager and as a young adult living with my parents, I couldn’t ever dress the way I wanted to dress. So to finally be able to embrace that and embrace who I was, which is masculine of center—I identify as a genderqueer, butch woman—is incredibly liberating. I’m wearing a black shirt right now with French cuffs (so I have little cuff links) and a purple bow tie, and feel like myself. I finally feel like in these clothes, with these clothes, I’m myself. That identity was always in there. It just wasn’t expressed.
GO:Wordstock will host 100 authors and up to 10,000 attendees at the Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave., and many other venues, including the Portland’5, Oregon Historical Society and Old Church, on Saturday, Nov. 5. 9 am-6 pm. $15-$18, free for guests under 18. For full details, including an author list and reading schedule, visit literary-arts.org.
Cain is the author of hugely popular mystery novels, including a series called Heartsick. She recently branched out to author Marvel’s Mockingbird comic book, which ended on Oct. 19 with its eighth issue. The comic book was praised for its relatable woman hero and its explicitly feminist agenda.
On Oct. 17, she tweeted, “Mockingbird is cancelled. But we need to make sure @Marvel makes room for more titles by women about women kicking ass.”
In the same vein, the final “Mockingbird” cover shows the main character with a shirt that reads “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda” with Portland artist Joelle Jones’ artwork.
It was also the reason for some of the harassment.
Cain, a New York Times bestselling author, wrote that she never blocked anyone on Twitter until she started working in comics. On Oct. 21, she wrote a series of tweets expressing the frustration, which is directly related to the comic industry.
Cain was not immediately available for comment, but the situation is still playing out on Twitter and comic blogs.
Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso wrote a tweet expressing his support for Cain, as did former Image Comics Director of Trade Book Sales Jennifer de Guzman.
I stand w/ Chelsea Cain, condemn online harassment, and think the MU, and the industry, benefits & grows from diverse creators & characters.
Throughout The End of My Career (Perfect Day, 240 pages, $10), something is making Martha Grover very ill. The lack of a functioning thyroid gland causes her hormones to surge and abate, she can barely hold down a job, and she spends a hell of a lot of time on the toilet.
This collection of autobiographical stories and essays at times stirs up sympathy for a person who just can’t seem to catch a break. Along with romantic and financial woes, Grover suffers from a series of horrifying ailments—the majority of which are due to idiopathic Cushing’s syndrome, an endocrine disorder that lays waste to her most basic bodily functions. If she were to take a normal shit in the book, she would tell you about it. And it would be cause for celebration.
Grover spends much of the book watching the Portland she grew up in change, as Southeast Division Street is “altered beyond recognition” and the Chinese restaurant next to her laundromat gets bulldozed. Which is not to say this is another Portland ode to nativism. “I’ve lived here my whole life and I call them hazelnuts,” she says to a friend who insists real Oregonians say filberts.
Still, one minute she’s disgusted by the privilege of a New Yorker who buys a house only to leave it vacant most of the year, while the next she’s bemoaning her own hardly unprivileged options. “I could move in with some kids in St. Johns or Montavilla,” she writes, “or with some uptight people my own age who are allergic to everything and require me to be spiritual or vegan.”
But her sense of loss is nonetheless palpable. Despite having a master’s degree and obvious writing ability, Grover has trouble holding down lasting work even as a house cleaner. Wherever she ends up, Grover acts as the detective—literally a private investigator, in one piece—with her dating life providing some of the best fodder. Early in the book, she meets a man from OkCupid, and ends up having casual sex she immediately comes to regret. After sex, she writes, “He got on his computer and started looking at photoshopped pictures of cats on Reddit, periodically tugging at his penis through his pajama pants.”
In the longest piece, “The Women’s Studies Major,” Grover begins dating a handsome older man who has a women’s studies degree and says all the right things. But one night when she gets high on edibles, she paranoically Googles his name and discovers he has a past of abusing women. Those narrative fragments make for some of her most moving work.
And as the book progresses, it becomes clear that what’s causing Grover’s illness may not be physical—or even quite emotional or spiritual. It’s seems as systemic as Cushing’s, something almost inherent to the world itself.
see it: Martha Grover reads at Tender Loving Empire, 3451 SE Hawthorne Blvd., on Thursday, Oct. 27. 5:30 pm. Free.
Civilian control of the military is a tenet of American democracy as basic as one person, one vote—and as old as Gen. George Washington relinquishing command of the Continental Army in 1783. And as a Republican nominee for president threatens to use our military to kill the wives and children of suspected terrorists, it couldn’t possibly be more relevant.
Threescore and five years ago, this principle endured the ultimate test during the Korean War when President Harry Truman fired his chief commander, Douglas MacArthur, in April 1951. As historian H.W. Brands recounts in his new book, The General vs. the President (Doubleday, 448 pages, $30), the showdown ended the distinguished career of one of history’s greatest generals, and effectively doomed Truman’s presidency. But it also amounted to our nation stepping back from a precipice.
As caricatured as MacArthur would become, Brands reminds us what an iconic figure the general was at the time. As supreme commander of Allied forces in the Pacific, he administered the occupation of Japan so brilliantly—giving women the right to vote, for instance—that he was worshipped by the Japanese as much as by Americans when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950.
After rescuing a faltering South Korea with landings at Inchon that no one thought could succeed, MacArthur made two fateful errors as commander in the Korean conflict. He brushed too close to China with U.S. troops in North Korea—something he’d been warned not to do—and publicly castigated Truman’s moves to limit the war.
As Brands demonstrates, Senate hearings after MacArthur’s recall exonerated Truman’s decision. MacArthur testified he had wanted to bomb Chinese forces even before they crossed the Yalu River to aid North Korea. The hearings also revealed that a limited war hampered China as much as it did the United States: If U.S. forces didn’t bomb bases in China, neither could China justify bombing U.S. bases in Japan.
The Truman-MacArthur clash forever painted the career soldier as the villain. One can’t help but wonder what would happen if civilian control of the military were tested today but in reverse. What if a top U.S. military commander urged caution in some far-flung corner of the world, but the president (whose name rhymed with, say, “rump”) wanted to wage all-out jihad on Islam—or Mexico? Would we pull back from the same brink?
Ultimately, Truman’s decision to sack MacArthur was his alone. Brands recalls how a junior aide urged Truman to say in a press statement that the ouster was backed by his top civilian and military advisers. “Not tonight, son,” Truman said with a twinkle in his eye. It was as if the former haberdasher from Missouri were sending a message: Let MacArthur stick this in his corncob pipe and smoke it.
SEE IT:H.W. Brands is at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, 800-878-7323, on Wednesday, Oct. 19. 7 pm. Free.
The show will be called The Nib. Uncoincidentally, that’s also the name of the political cartoon website Bors recently relaunched with journalism startup First Look Media, showcasing political cartoons from artists like Tom Tomorrow, Jen Sorenson and Matt Lubchansky.
Details are slim at the moment, but the Pulitzer-shortlisted political cartoonist will be teaming up with Dan Powell, co-creater of the Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer. That show just picked up an Emmy award for best sketch comedy series—beating out Key and Peele,SNL and Portlandia.
Bors says that the show—likely to be a short-form online series—will offer “everything you’ve come to expect on The Nib, but animated.”
To give you an idea what that entails, the website currently features an epic battle between Donald Trump and an avenging uterus, an American soldier who despises “all life on earth except my white daughter,” and a bizarro-world Hillary Clinton tweeting out Nazi frog memes.
The Nib animated series will bring in in a number of artists and writers from Bors’ site, as well as his own work.
“There will be a lot of different Nib contributors making appearances, along with new artists and new writers,” Bors tells WW. “And of course, my work will be a regular part of the series as well.”
“Modern science fiction,” Isaac Asimov wrote, “is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us.”
So should it be surprising that when local writers were asked to write alternate-reality stories about our town for City of Weird: 30 Otherworldly Portland Tales (Forest Avenue Press, 318 pages, $15.95), they often wrote about the price of rent, the fear of resident aliens from next door, the feeling that “Portland” is something passing into the mists?
Sometimes it’s a laugh line—a comic by Jonathan Hill about Martians gentrifying at gunpoint. But more interesting is the sense of loss that pervades so many of the stories in this book, as in Stefanie Freele’s “A Sky So Blue,” in which the last fleck of blue is stolen from the Oregon sky, or Kirsten Larson’s meditations on the “liquefaction zone” beneath our feet. In one of the collection’s best pieces—“Vampire,” a deadpan commentary on hipster aging by Justin Hocking—the “vampire seriously regrets not buying a house in Portland when real estate was affordable, back in 1896.”
But City is a mostly breezy experience, with parodic monster attacks that turn out to have internet dating or Tumblr humblebrags as their true subject, and a healthy dose of tossed-off jokey schlock. But there’s also an oddly lovely bit of myth creation by writer Rene Denfeld about the murderous Sturgeon Queen that stalks the Willamette—which becomes, in part, an elegy for the loss of cultural memory.
The book’s most fully realized story, perhaps, is a literal miniature ripped straight from Borges, in which an old man named Melquiades creates his own tiny version of Portland in the Shanghai tunnels for his own amusement—snatching Portlanders from the Salt & Straw lines to live in his little city, where the little citizens beg for craft beer and Stumptown coffee, and for Cheryl Strayed to join them. In a tiny city without power, he writes, the Bicycle Alliance is finally happy. “They keep talking about how we’re not contributing to global warming,” the narrator complains.
Meanwhile, in the year 30,000 B.C., a series of letters to The Oregonian—presumably, very heavy letters, made of stone—angrily decry the changes wrought by the invention of fire. “Fire’s OK, I guess,” Mark Russell writes in the voice of caveman Grub. “I just don’t want it to change who we are. More than anything else, people need a place to fail gently. To me, that’s what Portland is all about.”
Fail gently, Portland. Fail weirder. Fail better.
SEE IT:Authors from City of Weird read at Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St,, 503-228-4651, powells.com, at 7:30 pm Wednesday, Oct. 12, and Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway, 503-284-1726, broadwaybooks.net, at 7 pm Tuesday, Oct. 25. The Broadway reading will feature an octopus-shaped Voodoo doughnut.
More than any other living American novelist, Nell Zink is subject to strange mythologies. What’s stranger, they seem to all be true. She didn’t have a novel published until her late 40s, but then churned out three in as many years. She’s been living in Germany for some reason. She was discovered by Jonathan Franzen after she wrote him lots of emails. She wrote two of her novels in the span of about six weeks.
Zink is also one of the most exciting people writing books right now, springing out of the firmament with a fully formed voice that feels at once controlled and completely batshit. Previous novels were about tourists who go rogue as eco-terrorists (The Wallcreeper), or a white woman who escapes her obsessive husband by passing as an albino black before raising her very blond child the same way (Mislaid). Her newest, Nicotine (Ecco, 304 pages, $26.99), likewise follows the sociopathic dream logic of early Gus Van Sant or ’70s French anarch Bertrand Blier.
On its first page, a middle-aged American discovers a 13-year-old Colombian girl as she “stands in a landscape made almost entirely of garbage, screaming at a common domestic sow.” By page 5, she’s his wife and the mother of his daughter—but is nonetheless sleeping with his son, who is older than her. And by page 11, Amalia’s daughter, Penny, is watching her father die at a religious hospice run by nurses who refuse him painkillers, because the internet made them believe he is a drug-seeking Satanist. They are afraid of making mistakes, because the hospice is “run like one of those brothels that are nominally strip clubs. The license affords no protection to the dancers.”
But amid plot that seems chaos, Zink’s voice throughout is gentle and restrained—a strong and sad chain of unlikely insight and sideways metaphor—and the world her book describes seems like ours.
Actually, it seems a lot like Portland. After her father’s death, Penny goes back to the family home to discover it’s become a well-maintained activist squat called Nicotine—ostracized from the other squats in their collective because everybody there smokes cigarettes.
“They wouldn’t even let me smoke at a NORML smoke-in,” complains a girl named Sorry. “They said nicotine is a nerve poison, and they were drinking beer.”
“It’s activism that’s poison,” says another.
But, of course, rather than take charge of the home and evict them, Penny falls in love with a man there who claims to be asexual. We’re at, like, page 60 now. Like The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, the book seems to change its subject almost every 30 pages in a way that alters almost everything before it. It is a series of catalyzing reactions that leaves the reader, finally, feeling like the one who’s changed.
GO:Nell Zink reads at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., powells.com, on Tuesday, Oct. 11. 7:30 pm. Free.
On Tuesday night, WW put up a post saying that feminist bookstore and community center In Other Words—famous as the setting for the Toni and Candace sketches on IFC’s sketch show Portlandia—had apparently ended their relationship with the show and placed a “Fuck Portlandia” sign in the window.
Today, however, In Other Words has put up a blog post explaining how their relationship with Portlandia came to an end:
“This was a direct response to a particular egregious filming of the show in our space which saw our store left a mess, our staff mistreated, our neighbors forced to close and lose business for a day without warning, and our repeated attempts to obtain accountability or resolution dismissed. It was also a direct response to a show which is in every way diametrically opposed to our politics and the vision of society we’re organizing to realize. A show which has had a net negative effect on our neighborhood and the city of Portland as a whole. Shortly after this decision was made, a volunteer placed the Fuck Portlandia sign in our window.”
We’ve reached out to producers at Portlandia for response as to the circumstances of that shoot—as well as a few other claims on that post—but have not yet received comment.
In Other Words also says they have not made significant money from shooting fees, and have also not profited much from the attention offered by fans of the show. There’s no itemized accounting of any income received from the show in their 990-form nonprofit filings—although In Other Words’ 2012 form does show $600 in “rental income.”
IOW also criticizes the lack of representations of black people on the show, and writes that Portlandia‘s crew asked IOW to remove a Black Lives Matter sign in their window for the shoot, which they write that they refused to do.
And in a phrase familiar from the “Fuck Portlandia” sign, the store cites the “trans-antagonistic and trans-misogynist” nature of the Toni and Candace sketches, declaring “LOL Fred Armisen in a wig and a dress” to be a “deeply shitty joke whose sole punchline throws trans femmes under the bus by holding up their gender presentation for mockery and ridicule.”
For In Other Words’ full post describing the reasons why they no longer allow Portlandia to film there, go here.
In Other Words’ blog post closes with the following message:
“The current board, staff, and volunteers were not involved in the decision, made six years ago, to allow Portlandia to film at In Other Words. We stand behind our collective decision to discontinue our relationship with the show. And we fucking love the sign.”
In Other Words bookstore on Northeast Killingsworth Street has been a women’s community center and home to feminist literature since its founding in 1993.
But to many across the country and even here in Portland, it’s best known as the bookstore Women and Women First from IFC’s Portlandia. For six seasons of the show, In Other Words has allowed Portlandia to film the saga of feminist bookstore owners Toni and Candace, played by Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen.
Well, that relationship has apparently soured.
In Other Words bookstore currently has a sign on its door reading, “Fuck Portlandia! Transmisogyny – Racism – Gentrification – Queer Antagonism – Devaluation of Feminist Discourse.”
Photographs on Instagram show that the “Fuck Portlandia” sign has been up as far back as this spring—while Season 6 was airing.
We reached out to In Other Words to ask the reasons behind the “Fuck Portlandia” sign.
A representative from the store who identified themselves as Mickey Karnage wrote that In Other Words would likely be willing to answer questions. In multiple e-mails, Karnage then repeatedly asked that WW post a link to an online fundraiser by the bookstore. The bookstore also raised $14,000 in a previous online fundraiser in 2014.
WW sent questions via e-mail—including what specific content had spurred the store to put up the sign after a six-year association with the show. WW declined as a matter of policy to promise a link to the store’s fundraising platform in exchange for an interview.
Karnage then sent the following message:
“After some consideration and research we’ve decided to officially tell the Willamette Weekly to go fuck themselves. Your paper has absolutely zero journalistic professionalism and you are scummy rape apologists. Thanks for the opportunity tho! Have a great night.”