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Tuesday, July 23, 2013: Portland, fame and Dzhokar Tsarnaev

Portland’s golden age

The June 28 BDN article “Next 10 years could hold a billion dollars in new construction in Portland” failed to mention one critical component of a healthy and prosperous Portland — our locally owned and independent businesses. Portland Buy Local’s board of directors and more than 400 members look forward to great prosperity in Portland over the next 10 years and beyond, and we believe that much of the growth and expansion of the tourist market is directly related to our unique blend of food, shops, arts and people.

Portland’s “eclectic nature” extends beyond our architecture and lighting to a robust blend of retail, cultural and restaurant options crossing every price point. Our strong membership is a critical piece of what makes us a vibrant city and a special destination for people seeking diversity, creativity and a one-of-a-kind experience.

Portland’s original and unique businesses are what will attract repeat visitors to fill 400 new hotel rooms and provide jobs that will attract and retain talented new residents. We believe any comprehensive vision for the city’s future must welcome and embrace our locally-owned independent businesses and value our community’s merchants, artists and entrepreneurs. That for us is a real golden age.

Kristen Smith, president, Portland Buy Local



Peace, not fame

“In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Since childhood, I have heard references to Andy Warhol’s famous quote. This or that social climber in the news would hear the phrase, “he’s just looking for his 15 minutes of fame.” This was said with cynicism, as if only those with no class would support these graspers.

In recent years, reality television has prompted ever increasing outrageous acts in search of fame. Our heroes have become those who are famous for sex tapes, outrageous political views, wealth or merely for being famous.

The search for 15 minutes causes adulation. Now, mass murderers are equated with rock stars, and all anyone needs to do for their 15 minutes is shoot someone, have money or make a sex tape. It is not until hearing Warhol’s actual words that one can understand he was not predicting a future in which everyone’s dreams would come true but a future in which people would strive even harder to be noticed for something, anything.

I believe this has caused a sharp increase in both suicides and murders. We glorify violence while shaking our heads at bullying. We worship athletes while shaming their victims. We treat our news as another form of entertainment while manufacturing outrage over the increasingly polarized opinions of our entertainers.

This is why I object to the latest cover of Rolling Stone, don’t watch the Kardashians and strive to balance my politics. I choose to seek peace, not fame.

Rachel Booker



Cover of the Rolling Stone

The July 19 editorial about the controversy of the Rolling Stone magazines’ coverage of Dzhokar Tsarnaev was well-balanced and informative. It did not provide any answers, but I think it did miss a central point of the public issue.

The criticism of the publication is not really so much about Tsarnaev. The article itself may well have drawn an accurate picture of what allegedly drove an otherwise unremarkable teenager to engage in that tragic act of terrorism in Boston, and in doing so it is helpful. However, the photo on the cover does glamorize him and gives him “celebrity treatment,” as Boston Mayor Tom Menino said.

The important point of the controversy, though, is the effect that the photo, as the song goes, “On the Cover of the Rolling Stone,” has on youngsters, who are the most likely to see it. The great majority of the public may well be discerning enough to simply view the coverage as an interesting piece of news.

However, there could very well be some teens who, feeling unappreciated and alienated in their own lives, get the impression that all they have to do to achieve the fame and glory Tsarnaev received is to commit a crime. Should that happen, it would magnify the tragedy of Boston enormously.

The magazine could have printed the story without the cover photo. I would suggest that editors of all news outlets might want to consider not only what they say, but how they show it and the effects that portrayal can have.

Steve Colhoun


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