Bringing Down the House

Shame on Jason Cherkis! Shame on the Washington City Paper!

It's shameful that the City Paper provides a platform for the slanderous rant of staff member Jason Cherkis ("It's a Shame About Ray," 4/4). Too-cool-for-rules-in-the-house-or-the-'hood Cherkis is apparently too lazy to leave the confines of the house to pursue a real story, or to bother interviewing past housemates for this one. So readers are left with his view of his struggle to protect his adolescent right to be irresponsible.

We all lived in Ray's house, some from the early '90s until 2000, others in the late '90s and after 2000, and we all lived with Cherkis. The reality that we saw is very different from the one described in the article. For a long time, it was a great place to live. As Cherkis correctly stated, Ray kept the rent low and maintained a largely hands-off relationship—asking only that we make some modest effort to keep the place clean and not damage the beautiful hardwood floors that he had refinished. What Cherkis misses in his article, however, is that the Achilles heel of group-house life is that it's easy for a parasite like him to take advantage of the casual environment.

Cherkis forced most of us to play the role of "chore czar" at one point or another. With a roommate as breathtakingly self-absorbed as he, someone has to. In his article, Cherkis admits that he is lazy and slovenly, but that doesn't convey how unpleasant it is to live with him. Too-cool Cherkis was never much for chores, preferring to sit on the front porch and smoke while any kind of housework was going on. On the regular occasions when we could not find a single glass in the kitchen, we knew that we could find them all in his room, filled with cigarette butts.

Maybe we shouldn't have been surprised by Cherkis' behavior—he probably hadn't done many chores during his comfy Rockville upbringing. Maybe we should all feel bad for him. Could it be that he has a lot of pent-up anger because no matter how much he poses, he is still a suburban white boy waiting for life to be handed to him on a silver platter? It is laughable that the City Paper chose to include his personal rant in an issue about gentrification ("We Shall Not Be Moved"), given that many of Mount Pleasant's second- and third-generation residents would consider people like Cherkis to be the vanguard of gentrification.

Given Cherkis' admitted "any tactic" approach in his ongoing battles with Ray (and Kevin), it's not surprising that he would write this article, but why on earth would the City Paper publish it? What kind of journalistic credibility does someone's rant about his personal life have? What kind of factual documentation did the City Paper's editorial staff (or legal staff for that matter) demand from Cherkis before publishing it? And, finally, given that Kevin's trial was scheduled for the Monday following the release of this article, how does the City Paper justify allowing its staff to air such slanderous and clearly manipulative grievances in its pages?

D.C. deserves real journalism, Ray's house deserves better tenants, and Ray deserves an apology from both Jason Cherkis and the City Paper for your article.

Peter Goodman

Oakland, Calif.

Brad Hicks

Athens, Ga.

Dana Holland

Philadelphia

Joel Levin

San Francisco

Adam Mendelson

Chicago

Ann Swinburn

Capitol Hill

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