please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Destiny's Red-headed Stepchild

The Show is dead, long live the show. Yep, much like my short-lived time as Master of Operations at a studio that broadcasted for five radio stations in southern Oregon and northern California, my time as Lighting Director, and calling myself something far more important than it actually was, has come to an end. I ran into Schmidt the other day, and he tells me that the boys on the show have gone back to doing it in a live context. I mentioned that it was really unfortunate that this odd combination of hubris, poor communication skills and unrealistic goals had led to this place where we would no longer be on TV. "Do you really think we can't be on teevee anymore, without Funland's help?", he asked. Yep, I assured him.
I know for a fact that they can't, with or without my former production company's help. My ex-boss, Coach Z, last time he sees me, he says, "It's all gone, Rich. All gone.", and hung his head in a world-weary way.
"Whaddya mean?" I asked. "You've finally gone bankrupt? The boys on the show don't want to work with you anymore? You're not getting any work making commercials?"
He looked at me like I had taken a shit on the sidewalk. "No. Where'd you get that idea?"
"I believe it was your line about 'it's all gone'."
But it is, in fact, all gone. The boys on the show were not realistic, the folks at the production company were awful businesspeople, and enough of us were not getting paid often enough to feel like the entire operation was unstable. I ran into one of the former cameramen today, in a small coffee joint in NoPo. We shared our stories, and I realized that I had previously had no idea why he'd left the show. Turns out they weren't paying him, either.
Then I consider my other job prospects: my stagehand gig is fairly rosy looking, unless you count the fact that the person who initially hired me is one of the poorest communicators I've met in my life. When I initially asked her where she'd be, so I could fill out some paperwork and therefore get paid, I had made it clear that I knew where the theater was, and where the office was. I just needed to know at which of those two places she would be.
"Well, the theater is at the corner of-" she began.
"I know where the theater is. I just wanna know if you're gonna be there, or the office."
She then provided me with at least two seperate sets of instructions for how to reach her at the theater. This only happened after we had undergone this agonizing process in which she had said that I needed to fill out all my paperwork again. I pointed out that the time card itself had not been included in the packet I'd received, so I understood that I'd have to fill that out, but...
"No, Rich. The first form wasn't signed."
"Yes it was. By me. In your truck. By you and me."
"But I'm not really your supervisor. You need to have Theeeera (or whatever her name is) sign it."
"Okay, fine, but-"
"And you didn't fill out your W-2 or I-9 forms."
"Yes I did. Just look around. You'll find them."
"Okay, but you didn't fill out your time card."
"Which you didn't give me, explaining that I'd get it later. Is tomorrow later?"
"Yeah, are you free?"
I almost wanted to begin the theater vs. office debate again, just because at this point it had become absurd enough to be fun.
What else? Well, I'm actually going to have my first piece of real live pro-fessional journalism published next month: a review of my favorite I-talian restaurant. This is due to that two weird weeks I spent following around that girl from the local weekly (Check 'Disorder' from the March archives), after she dumped her deadbeat boyfriend and decided to see what it's like to be a rich bachelor-ess. This is, in theory, good, since I will now be paid to both eat and write, two things I really like doing.
I come from a long line of small town newspaper-people. They were known, in their day, for their fairness and willingness to not rile people up for no good reason. It remains a historical fact that the reason McCarthy era loyalty oaths never became law in Oregon was due to my grandfather and a number of his editor pals lobbying the state legislature. It was a smaller state in those days, and everybody knew each other, even more so than they do now.
Can't you just see it? 'Look, we all see that this is the political reality of the moment, but later generations will view us as fools if we cave to this petty, whoremongering bullshit, and you owe it to yourselves, if not all who follow, not to do this silly-ass, soon-to-consume-itself thing.'
Nonetheless, the picture of myself at age seven speaks volumes. My grandfather has just explained to me where our family money comes from, and pointed out that the whole enterprise falls apart without people who are willing to sustain it. The picture, taken by my mother, has me pausing, tongue literally in cheek, before I say what I said.
With gravity far beyond my years, I explained to him that none of my family members seemed happy with their lives, and that I could say in particular that I knew that their family lives suffered due to the long hours, harsh deadlines and time spent travelling. That above all else, I considered it far more important to be happy than it ever was to fulfill the role that destiny had, for some reason, felt like throwing me.
That happened on the deck of the Bachelor ancestral beach cabin, where I will be going next weekend, as always, to reflect. He's dead now, grampa, and when he went to ground, all manner of high mucky-mucks-judges, ex-governors, current representatives, etc.-came out to praise him as a great man, which he was. He didn't know shit about family, but he was in all other senses a good guy. He used to tell stories about being beaten by his father in the woodshed for such heinous crimes as speaking at the dinner table, and chuckle, as if he never saw any reason why such practices were suspended, among the general run of society.
After the service, I asked my dad if he felt just a little bit, you know, like he was standing in someone's very long shadow. He explained the necessity of not judging one's own life and achievements in the context of somebody else's. I felt a little deflated: I had introduced that idea to him some five to seven years previously.
Every now and again, I note to myself the path that I have taken and note further that I've largely deprived myself of that High Place To Stand and scream so that everybody can hear me. I could perhaps have the ear of every fisherman and dry land farmer this side of the rockies, but I have to remind myself of the truth.
My dad, until recently, edited a farm weekly that went to four states. When he suggested, in the meekest of ways, post-9/11, that we ought to actually figure out who actually attacked us before going off on some big rampage, the better part of his readership decided that he was the devil Itself. This is due to the fact that they want the easy part-who do we get to kill?-and questions are for the sissyboys. The fact that they do not see their own ultimate fall in this is testament to just how not terribly far from apes we really are.
And my uncle? Oh, he's that guy that no one listens to anymore because he's a liberal newspaper editor in a largely conservative county. He likes opera and cigars, and is a pretentious son of a bitch, largely because he has no idea that the world around him has changed. He also has been in some sort of weird walking psychosis since 1991, by my estimation.
But the real reason that the good people in that county don't trust him? Some small-time Rush Limbaugh wanna-be claimed that my father's brother was a pedophile, on the radio.
Now, since no proof was offered, and it was a legal assertion made in a public forum, you'd think that a fairly clear-cut case of slander could be made there. Nope.
Folks there just don't like him. The defense brought in one Dummy Smith, who used to represent The Beaver State at the federal level, through the '80's. He pointed out that my uncle often had said, in print even, that he was a bad representative. Of course, just like you or I have the right to comment on the shit job done by a bad plumber, there is nothing slanderous about that. If we claimed the plumber also molested our children, we'd need to prove it, but those good folk out there in Bob Seger County just basically didn't like my relative, which is his fault, but they found his accuser not guilty, which is their fault, and eternally to their shame, whether they realize that or not.
So let's see: do I care that I haven't really taken up the quill here? Naw. It's a lot easier to rile up these assholes on the internet, as I suspect you've noticed. Note how they lie even to themselves about the nature of their religion. The old saw that religion has caused 90% of the wars in history is not entirely accurate: economics is a far clearer culprit. However, religion (no matter which one) certainly provided a handy excuse, in every case. So now they content themselves by saying that their god is a god of love, and somehow Islam's (which is the same god, by the way) is somehow persuading the irrational camel-jockeys of the oil-fields to do things that they know for a fact will just lead to more bombing, starvation, and torture-followed-by-jokes (and by the way, let's never hear that 'why do they haaaaate us?' question again, shall we? the question is answered in those last four words).
And I like the fact that I am not high profile at all. I like my anonymity, my lack of a credit card or bank account. I like the fact that no one knows I'm here, except for this perhaps-fictional account of my life. That means that if I drop out of sight, I could turn up anywhere, and nobody'd know about that, either, at first.



Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

You have been tagged, sir, with a book meme, to be found at my joint. I triple-dog dare ya. (Yes, a social faux pas.)

4:24 PM  

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