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

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The List

When MacBeth and I got to The Dalles yesterday, my phone started ringing.
I don't like to talk on the cell when I'm driving, and ignored it. Besides: that's Portland business, and all that was on hold until I got back.
It was a guy who works for a local rock show promotion company, and had been calling me up to see if I could work last night.
When I called him back today, he pointed out to me that my name was on The List, and though I hadn't been able to work the show last night, he'd keep me in mind.
"Are you available for Casual Labor?", he asked.
'Casual Labor'? Does that mean I can show up wearing slippers and a smoking jacket, drinking a martini?
This marks the second time in a month that someone has called me because I'm on The List. That weird three days chronicled in the postings "Dogs of the Road (pt. 1&2)" was the other. It's interesting, and ominous though it sounds to be on anyone's List, this is good.
I took MacBeth to this natural rock amphitheater, up around Beacon Rock, where the tidal influence in the Columbia River ceases to be felt (though I think that's silly: they just say that because a big rock is right there). We went and got some food over in Stevenson, stopped at a liquor store that is also a used clothing resale joint, went and bowled in The Dalles, hung out in Hood River at my favorite joint, the Red Carpet.
Behind the bar that evening was a casualty. She was a very funny lady, but she was clearly damaged from years and years of self-inflicted brain injuries. At some point, she asked me if I worked at the hospital.
"Yeah, but not here. In Portland, but that was '91, '92..."
"Well, when I saw all those Mexican babies being born there, I thought, 'I better get crackin', if I wanna keep up!'" She went on in this manner for a while, making it clear that white culture was in grave peril from the influx of brown people blood, invited here by our agricultural industry.
So many things to say, 'Funny, I've never noticed any shortage of you around here,' or 'I think that stupid white trash with substance abuse problems are here to stay, actually, so don't you worry your pretty little head about it!' No, but what I said was:
"I noticed all kinds of Pieces of Work being born up there." Thus did I not piss off the woman serving me booze, and still kinda made my point.
It reminds me of the time at Ham n' Jam, or Jim Delancy Day, in Hulett, Wyoming, 1998. Fifty thousand bikers and their mamas had descended on a small town in northern Wyo., as an adjunct to the Sturgis rally. A man named Jim Delancy (I had a beer with him, in his kitchen, on the day named for him) had come up with the idea that the bikers could be lured down from S. Dakota with the promise of laxer law enforcement on things like open containers and public nudity, with the added enticement of free roasted pork on every street corner.
Sharing the house with The Kid, the lady who owned the house and I were Rick and Buddha, two Nazi bikers from Chicago. Unbidden (as we hadn't been discussing race), Rick almost immediately lets fly with this one: "I know the solution to The Race Problem!", and throws up his arm in a Nazi salute.
The Kid just leaves the damn room, pointing out that he wasn't going to put up with that shit at all. I didn't spook so damn easy. I sat right down with them, smoked a sacramental something-or-the-other with them, let Rick play my drum a little, spoke of our mutual respect for the music of John "Ozzy" Osbourne.
Then we got back on race. He was a one trick pony, this guy, and kept on trying to turn it back that way. I finally responded, taking a heroic stand by countering his racism (I now realize) with classism. I pointed out to him that black people weren't the ones taking his job: the people he needed to be mad at were the top five per cent or so of the economic pyramid in this nation who we all, one way or another, were working to further enrich. And again, I pointed out that it sucks to be poor, no matter what color you are.
Amen to that, said the lady of the house, who got the house in a divorce settlement from her rich ex-husband, and this was echoed by Rick and Buddha, who between them owned six cars and what sounds like an accumulated forty-two motorcycles.
Matter of fact, I couldn't help but chide them a little: "You guys rode up on BMWs! What's that all about?"
"Are you kiddin'? Would you wanna ride a thousand miles on some goddamn Harley bullshit vibrating your ass to sleep the whole way?"
He had a point. I left out any further comments about only Buying American, which I 'm pretty sure Harley isn't, anymore, anyway.
Later, under that endless ball-lightning that graces Wyoming summer skies, The Kid asked me what I was doing letting those racist bastards touch my drum at all, smoke with me, etc.
I pointed out that we were gonna be stuck with them anyway, all weekend long, and what exactly was he planning to do next morning at breakfast, exactly, when he'd just have to see them again...
And ultimately, isn't it always better to seek the common ground (even if it's Ozzy)? Remembering as always that the basis of all totalitarianism is that there is an Us, and there is a Them, and no matter what, that sort of reasoning is the enemy. (Or the ultimate 'Them', if you will.) He sorta heard me.
We got up this morning and drove up the Hood River valley. Bought ourselves some apples and pears straight from the orchard (from a Mexican, in fact). We then took a road across the hills, eschewing the Interstate. We eventually came to a piece of land owned by a couple friends of hers.
They're Portland people, but they have this amazing piece of land out there in the existential blankness of the cliffs, with two yurts they have constructed on it. They're from the liberal part of the state, with a home they are striving to maintain right where the conservative part begins.
I pointed out that I spend a lot of my time talking on line with people whose political opinions differ greatly from my own. I was asked why this was.
Said my usual, about how it all ends when we stop talking to each other, and how I'm not on some sort of Conversion trip here: I just want to hear what they have to say, and want them to hear what I have to say. "For that, I compliment you, " said the lady of the house (yurt).
After that, we drove back into town, got lunch. MacBeth asked me if I had ever invited a lady out there, and had been turned down.
"Well, I've never invited one out here who I thought wouldn't wanna come. And if she did, I know I wouldn't wanna date her. It's okay to have seperate interests, but with something like this, where I'm so rooted in this kind of place, it would kind of be a waste of time."
She's already that way though, and that's why I like her.



Blogger rich bachelor said...

And the show I would have ended up working, had I been in town? Ashlee Simpson.

2:05 AM  
Blogger Jacq said...

Your stories are very interesting..uh, Mr. Story-Teller. Okay, I like Raconteur better.

6:38 AM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Why thank you.

5:09 PM  

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