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

Monday, April 28, 2008

Quotes, totes

It's been a bit long since I've written, as I've got ideas for three or four posts rolling around, and can't make up my damn mind. So, as a place holder:

"It's the great paradox: America is such an amazingly kickass, infallible nation because the mention of any justified criticism will cause it to go into a suicidal despair."-posted by 'Norbizness' on Wonkette

"One reason that I try never to wear a tie is the advantage that it so easily confers on anyone who goes berserk on you. There you are, with a ready-made noose already fastened around your neck."
-posted by Christopher Hitchens on Slate

"x) if this was Ricky, I'm gonna beat your ass, mama told you stop bothering the zoo
y) if this was Gina, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, how many times I gotta say I'm sorry "
- from a New York City posting on Craigslist titled 'Who put the dead bird in my mailbox'?

Oh, and you might as well go look at this
latest terrible thing filmed in Portland.

You're welcome. I'm sorry.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Controversies, filed under 'Stupid'

Ann Romano has written an apology on the Portland Mercury's 'Blogtown PDX'. This is interesting because Ms. Romano is a fictional character played by Bonnie Franklin on TV's "One Day At A Time". The fictional character's column in the weekly is a weekly news roundup called 'One Day At A Time'.
I've been told that 'Ann Romano' is actually the paper's editor Wm. Steven Humphrey, and it is said by Byron Beck (of Willamette Week's 'Queer Window') that other contributors publishing under this byline are a mix, including local author (and household joke) Chelsea Cain.

The problem arose when 'Ann' wrote a short bit about Thomas Beatie, the Bend, Oregon resident who began life as a woman, and is currently mid-way through gender reassignment, but also is pregnant. In short, Beatie is literally a man from the waist up, and this story has received tons of media attention, culminating in an inevitable appearance on "Oprah".
Quote: "Beatie is only a "man" in the loosest sense of the word. While Beatie did take testosterone treatments, had her... sorry, his... breasts flattened into a more masculine shape, and took legal measures to call herself... sorry, himself... a man, she's... sorry, he's... still got all the female parts underneath—including the va-jay-jay and reproductive organs. So while we're big fans of our pals in the trans community, Beatie calling herself... sorry, himself... a "man" is like a Potato Head adding a nose and mouth and asking people to call him "Mister." Sorry! Is that "Ms. Potato Head"?

So you can see how this might very well hurt some feelings, but also how it's really just a not-especially-clever parody of how lots of people might very well feel about this.
And I don't think other people's confusion on the subject is negligible here: I've ran afoul of a tranny or two in my lifetime because I used a pronoun on them that I figured was appropriate, and it turns out that I was wrong. These times include everything from post-ops to one girl who simply grew out her moustache and now wanted to identify as a man.
I hate to say it, but in all of those cases, the burden of explanation lay with the other person. Immediately heading to anger based on an innocent mistake didn't do them any favors, in my book: it made them seem crazy/stupid.

The responses to the apology range from people saying that one wasn't even necessary to people saying that the apology wasn't enough, and now the Merc needed to specifically get a squad of trannies in their office to teach the rest of us how to never, ever offend this particular sector of the population. Unfortunately, one of the latter shares my initials. My response below:

"It's obvious that this was an attempt at spreading hatred out of ignorance" (rb) gets my vote for Most Convoluted Sentence That Also Is Probably Untrue. A stupid joke went awry, and now its author is a fucking nazi. Nice.

And I hate to break this one to you, but no, this paper does not necessarily need to be nice to everyone. It is ethically bound to not openly foment hatred, but doing a short satiric piece mocking what a lot of people might think of trannies is still okay, and in no way means they need re-education.

This one has no resolution, I'm guessing. The actual bigots in my area have weighed in on this one too, saying the usual... Well, Ray Pendleton says it better than I can:
"I have to wonder if any thought at all has been given by the parents as to the well-being of the child and how this situation might affect this child's future."
I dunno Ray; "this situation" is the situation that said child is dealt at birth, just like the circumstances that anyone is born into. We appreciate your 'oh won't someone pl-eeease think of the children' sentiment, but it's a smokescreen, as always, for something else that you know you can't say in public anymore, darn those liberals.
** **

Then, over at Kritik Magazine, editor-in-chief Jennifer Carden writes one of the older complaints in the book, as if it were being said for the first time: The Men These Days Are Wimps.
Like I say, this one's got whiskers. I think it's been said by someone somewhere as long as there's been words and the option of writing them down; long before there was Feminism to conveniently blame for it.

I'm not even sure what Kritik is. I found it in a sidebar at, and followed for some reason. If I had to guess, the site is the online house organ of some Christian university somewhere, though it does not say. Most of the writing is shitty and burdened by sweeping generalizations of the Writing 101 variety.
Check Jen out as she virtually gives us a lexicon of bad arguments, poorly phrased. She seems to be trying to set new standards -hell, create a new canon- of logical fallacies. For instance:

(The Yeah-But-If-This-Existed, It-Would-Be-Terrible argument)
"I believed in the Biblical idea of submission. I wanted to get married, have children, experience the American dream, etc. Instead, society seemed to be pushing an effeminate, exfoliated man, chock full of emotion and sensitivity—the kind of guy who would cry on your shoulder and then compliment the pattern of your shirt. Not exactly the masculine ideal I had in mind."

“'It’s okay to show emotion,' is not code for, 'It’s okay for to cry at anything and everything.'
We obviously have some conception of what is “manly” and what isn’t, but it is difficult to create a set of standards on that basis."

(The 'Prove?' argument)

"But I believe that every man was created by God with the ability to be manly and to model masculine characteristics."

(The This May Be True argument)
"Our society has adopted a practice of equality between the sexes never before known in human history."

"While women want men to be sensitive to their needs, they don’t necessarily want them to be sensitive in general."

"Yet this newly sensitive creation is not what women want. Attributes like leadership ability and confidence are universally attractive."

(The It Is/It Seems argument)
"It is not difficult, when looking back through history, to find times when men seemed to be manly."

(The Not to Painfully Overstate It, But...argument)
"I would have termed this generation the 'walking dead,' so to speak, with little chance of regaining a correct view of the masculine role."

(The We Must [do this categorically generalized thing] because We Must argument)
"Masculinity, said Dr. Mitchell, is a 'habit one acquires by associating with other men who are habitually men.' It must be practiced, and it must be modeled."

"We must resist the modern flaccid diversity that is actually an oppressive conformity.”

(And just laughably bad sentences like these:)
"It was in those conversations my ideology first began to embark on a kind of odyssey."

"Women have undermined, if not destroyed, the counterpart to masculinity—femininity—and with it the basis on which half the population could be skeptical of the excess or lack of masculinity."

"I was not a jackboots-beret-and-goatee-wearing feminazi."

Yes, just recall those days when a man couldn't walk down the sidewalk in public without being jack-booted by all those chin-haired women in berets.

We're finally getting around to admitting that many of the Strong, Silent Types of the past were actually borderline psychotic, generally due to our country's habit of sending off every generation of young men somewhere halfway around the world to fight some war that none of them had any understanding of, then shipping them back home and expecting them never to talk about it -except in the most glowing and nostalgic of terms.
People are also starting to note that the large numbers of families without father figures have more to do with the curious tendency of males to leave and less to do with moral decline. There would seem to be no reason at all to attack something I feel that is largely fictional, i.e. The Constantly Weeping Post-Feminism Male.

Of course, as usual, the forces of bullshit are actively against all of this. Kathleen Parker, who I hate with a vengeance, feels the need to write a book about it titled Save The Males (haw!).
So far, all I have to go on is this mini-review in Marie Claire, and fortunately it's brief, since I was literally having problems breathing while holding the magazine open.
It would seem that she does make a point I consistently made back in the '90's (y'know, while I was being jackbooted): If you assume the worst about men, they're likely to oblige. But then she goes on to say "Guys have no responsibility," and makes the assumption that men have nothing to shoot for, now that the entire power structure of the world is run by women, as we all know.

Again, you wouldn't know it from reading the above authors, but there's lots of places in the world where feminism made nary a dent. There's still lots of places in America in particular where to be a man is to be incoherently angry and violent at all times. Talking it out is not an option, and women are not what you'd call venerated.
So I think it's just precious that a number of right-wing pigeons are trying to get people all worked up about something I'm pretty sure never existed, but then again, that's pretty much all they ever do.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Portsmouth, Mon Amour

We have been living up here in Dockworker's Paradise since last August, and have come to know it quite well. St. John's is every bit the strange mix that I like in a place: this may very well be the most truly diverse neighborhood in Portland, and I mean that in the good and bad senses. Kenton is not without its charms, though it does play home to one restaurant owned by someone I consider to be an awful human being. The Kenton Club had some role in the 1972 roller derby movie/Racquel Welch vehicle "Kansas City Bomber".

But what of the weird stretch of town most immediately around our home? It's the zone that lies directly east of the railroad tracks (really) and west of...Chatauqua? I'm not actually sure.
It boasts Fishwife, which is one of the better names for a fish restaurant I've ever heard, and it's always packed. It boasts several seedy looking bars, only some that I've explored. On the Shell station's sign, there is always some sort of personal message to someone that has recently been born, married, or died, inevitably right under some other message like, "Shell Card Users Get Same As Cash!"

It contains Fortune Avenue and Lovely Street, as well as the intersection of Willis and Drummond, for any "Dif'rent Strokes" fans in the audience.

It is home to Encanto, which is one of yer better New Mexican joints, though I suggest sticking to one of perhaps three dishes on its menu: All the rest are basically you paying too much for a burrito. It is where the Red Bicycle is, which is to say; hipster owned, bike-loving, generally swamped by a million and one hip parents whose children are the most important beings in the world, and god help you if you interfere with someone's little miracle expressing their creativity. Good sandwiches, though.

But this is a strange neighborhood, in that it has no central location that defines it...No 'heart', if you will, unless you're talking about the aforementioned Shell station adjacent to the Eagles 'aerie'.
That Eagles' parking lot hosts a flea market every Sunday, and once a year hosts the most depressing looking carnival, right around the time it really starts raining. This is that horrible moment where you're trying to be romantic about it-hey honey; let's go ride the Scrambler and get a hot dog-and you remember that cheaper hot dogs are available right across the street, and if you want excitement, it's hard to beat the car wash.

The real story of any community though, I think we'd all agree, is to be found in its dive bars. Along the joyless stretch of Lombard that really is the town's center, we have Jack n' Jerry's tavern, the Two Points Inn, the University Grill, Darcy's (All Lottery Games), Nicola's, and the Twilight Room.
Jack n' Jerry's recently was renamed the Sundown, actually, and I haven't set foot in it yet. Actually, I've only been to that place at all just the one time, and I'll say it: it's a friendly li'l beer bar, but it's so damn clear that a small group of perhaps five or six people wholesale carry that place. The dude in the wheelchair? Almost certainly he lives around the corner and goes there every day. Everybody knows each other, and that's fine.

The Two Points is kind of the same thing, except it's not housed in what I'd call a proper building, as such. More like a rail car/shack that is falling over, with attendant freakishly low ceilings, attached to a larger, more stable building.
Your only food choices are hot dogs n' chips. It's so damn small that privacy is impossible, but it also means that if someone wins big at video poker, the whole bar (generally five or seven people) gets a round. They do have Tom T. Hall on the jukebox though; more places should have that.

Darcy's All Lottery Games is pretty much what it sounds like: mostly a place to lose money, with a somewhat emphasis on 'deli' foods. I can't say too much though; I've only stepped in- then walked right back out.
The Twilight is okay. It's kind of a second home to University of Portland students and thereby to be avoided, but that's just at night. Free popcorn. Nice bartendresses.
I haven't been into Nicola's at all, and The University Grill is like the bar at a Denny's.

Today, perhaps a bike ride out to Smith and Bybee lakes is in order. The other day, I had a bunny cross my path twice (which is either very good luck or very bad luck, depending on where you're coming from), and saw a family of turtles sitting on a log.
To reach this place, one must first endure a few minutes of riding past the Columbia Boulevard Sewage Treatment Plant (with its attendant Nuisance and Vector Control center), past some weird golf course, onto what-I-believe-is Marine Drive, wait to not get run over by a car, ride into an eerie section of rail yard, past sketchy Rest Area in the middle of nowhere...Then you're there!
It's pretty standard for Portland: you have your beautiful riparian area completely surrounded by industrial parks. But, I appreciate that they try.

After you pass the lakes, you now have a very long, flat, straight, joyless ride through the Rivergate section of the Peninsula, right past where thousands of Hyundais make landfall (for instance) each day, past Kelly Point park, and back, eventually, into St. Johns.
Along that section, I found a piece blue plastic with several different renderings of Barney The Annoying Purple Dinosaur. Each of the pictures may have been buttons, and the weird flanging up top may have been your earhole. This, perhaps, was your phone for communicating with the world of Barney, ca. 1996, and here it was laying forgotten under a bridge along the Columbia Slough.
I never know how to feel about toys laying in the middle of some vast area that hasn't seen kids in gawd-knows-how-long. Presumably you don't think about it at length, and that's a whole lot better now, isn't it? In some other ways, it feels nicely metaphorical about this part of town I call home.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Public Health Heroes, Celebrated

By the by, this was my favorite April Fool's joke this year. I fucking fell for it until right around the point that I saw this:
"Our researchers have concluded that allowing each person more than ten pre-dated emails per year would cause people to lose faith in the accuracy of time, thus rendering the feature useless."

And I felt very, very foolish.

A few days before, I worked at the Springsteen show. His road crew were a bunch of very nice folks (especially the audio guy, 'Boo', who I worked with directly), and the band too just seemed to be having a wonderful time. They were nice and relaxed, knowing full well that they could be; although they weren't lazy about it, either.
It was a victory lap- for a group of people older than myself that I suspect I'd like to party with- of sorts, and yet it's not like Bruce is doing Bruce's Greatest Hits alone; he still writes new stuff...
But truth be told, I noted that he was intending to do 'Rosalita' as part of the encore, and that was what I most wanted to see. I didn't get to. I don't know how: That song is like twenty fucking minutes long.

The crowd was almost entirely people in later middle age, with the exception of about ten women in (I'd say) their twenties wearing home-decorated t-shirts that read, "LESBIANS LOVE BRUCE". He acknowledged them in the middle of the weird, requisite faux-Celtic number he did.

But above all else, there is this unabashed sincerity about the whole thing that somehow utterly fails to make it stupid. The Rose Garden was more packed than I've ever seen it: even the nosebleed seats were full, and that never happens. I mean, Ozzy's fans loved Ozzy every bit as much, but if you asked any of them, they would generally acknowledge that his best work is several decades behind him.
Here with Bruce, you get this feeling of easy competence and still being On It. It might not be my favorite music in the world, but at least it doesn't embarrass me.

He managed to do the 'I'm aware of what city I'm in' number well, too. At some point shortly after introducing the band, he starts yelling the name of our town at the crowd, who respond by saying his name back at him.
Unfortunately, an entire basketball arena full of people yelling 'bruce' sounds a hell of a lot like several thousand people booing, so it went a little something like this:


So it was nice, anyway. I'm going to disappear into that Shoe Manufacturing Concern I occasionally work for, for the next couple of days. Of the next forty-eight hours, I will be working for twenty-two of them.
Best of all, this company, already unpopular for their labor practices in (what I assume is) the past, is doing this celebratory thing for some upcoming world-wide athletic events in the capital of a despotic regime in Asia, this summer. Hated Behemoth, meet Hated Behemoth, in short, not that they haven't already met.

Meanwhile, the banners-hanging-from-lampposts proclaim this time period as being sacred to an overlooked sector of the populace. 'CELEBRATING PUBLIC HEALTH HEROES', they say.
As Bee was wondering the other day, are the people under discussion here The Double Handwashing Guy and the person who came up with the delightful phrase 'wrap that rascal'?

No matter. This will be the most fun you'll have until Greek Heritage Days. Enjoy, and see you soon.