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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sno-pocalypse Now

The screaming people across the street have a boy I believe to be teen-aged, and I suspect is a little on the simple side. He is doing something over there that involves a shovel.
His- mother?- is telling him, "You're just gonna mess up the lawn more, and make a bigger mudhole!"

No more than you parking your car on the lawn, more often than not, I'm thinking. But I'm surprised by the boy's response, which is, "I'm building THIS IGLOO!"

It now sits in a half-constructed state over there, looking like ruins. The guy down the street managed to make a pretty respectable snow berm just out of what he had shovelled out of his driveway and adjacent sidewalk.
That's how it is around here; there's actually a good side and a bad side of the street.

Now, since it never snows here, when it actually does, it's a problem. Generally, it's a problem that is solved by most people proceeding to walk to bars, meeting and greeting their neighbors along the way. Portlanders love a snow day.
Last time I saw it snow so much, it was twenty years ago. With the majority of my friends living in an unheated Victorian downtown, I made it a point to all the rest of us who had heat to take at least one of the resta them in for the next couple of days.
It worked out well. Bartley Shithead (don't look at me like that; that was the name he gave himself) and I sat around, smoked pot and wandered the streets in what was freezing though sunny snow day weather. Wonderful.

I myself have made the acquaintance of the next door neighbor, a jolly black man who I believe is a preacher. He was proudly displaying a Luis Palau sign in his front yard earlier this year while I was busily building a stage for the same Mr. Reverend Palau in Waterfront Park.
Our neighbor tends to drive down the street thumping hip hop, pulls into his driveway and if the song is not done, sits there and respectfully waits for it to finish. On Sundays, he dons an immaculate white suit and thumps gospel tunes.

On Wonkette the other day, I wrote:

"Yeah, so okay. It doesn’t ever snow in Portland, so much. Therefore one can give us a little fucking leeway, yes? I know how to drive in snow, but lots of people don’t, and they are the true menace, though largely only to themselves. The bars are packed, though, most people are walking and enjoying themselves, it looks like. Sorry we’re not tough like Queen Anne up there, or someone stupid enough to live in Minneapolis.

And: that wookee had a flat-screen plasma teevee, dammit!"

'Queen Anne' refers to some blowhard from Seattle who was crowing about how much better he and other Seattelites are at weathering the snow, and of course was joined by some bright bulb from the Twin Cities. This is part of an annualized ritual of discourse about how Portlanders can't deal with snow, which again, we almost never have, and so lack the equipment to properly clear the streets.

The 'wookee' reference is to the YouTube clip that accompanied, from 1978's A Star Wars Christmas, which actually celebrated a traditional Wookee holiday called 'Life Day', you'll remember. The clip itself features (I think) Harvey Korman as a weird Julia Child/Oompa Loompa hybrid that has a cooking show, which a Wookee housewife is watching while trying to prepare loin of Bantha.

Had the whole family here yesterday, plus The Provost, who was slowly making the rounds of several Xmas parties. And while the overall effect was good, I feel like I may not want to ever do that again because our kitchen is so damn small. It's big enough for two people that are not cooking, or one person who is.
The kitchen is where you wanna be at parties, or -as my pal Norberg put it once- "The Stronghold". I always liked his mis-appropriation of words, and knew exactly what he meant.

The intersection outside is routinely clogged with cars getting bogged down in the increasing slush, and if a person was of a mind to help people out of a jam of their own making and all day long and most of the night, they certainly could.
I went out to help one clueless lady with child who just kept spinning her wheels, digging deeper and deeper in so doing. I was assisted by a young boy and a somewhat older man with a shopping bag. We rocked the car back and forth until she tore off down the street, only to get dug in again a block later.

At that point, the man with the bag kept asking me where "the apartment" was. I tried to get more information from him, and he just kept on asking me this surreal question. Unable to help, I then turned my attention to the chief Yeller across the street, who was helpfully shouting to me that the driver of the car shouldn't keep spinning her wheels like that. I responded that I think she knows -even though she clearly didn't and in any case was no longer my problem- and that perhaps the time for that piece of advice was not now, when she had already gone away, and I was going inside.

I sometimes think Otis Redding got off easy, dying when he did -and leaving behind as his legacy one of the nicer, catchier tunes about suicide I think we've seen. I think this because he left very little in the way of Christmas music in his catalog, but he did leave some. This is too bad, if mandatory. I think I've even seen a picture where they've got Otis all dressed up like Santa -lookin' like a clown, that is. Poor guy. Sometimes having your plane fall into a frozen lake is the wisest career move . Otherwise, instead of tragically martyred Soul Man, you end up like B.B. King, pitching for Burger King and various dia-beet-us monitoring devices.
Or as Digable Planets nicely put it -not at all referring to the recording industry, by the way- "Don't die in their death trap. Fuck that." Like I said, they weren't talking about how you shouldn't let your corporate overlords dress you up in a Santa suit, they were talking about how thug life is for idiots, but I think the line is appropriate for lots of things.

We spent a lot of yesterday listening to "World, Have Your Say". It was a great, if sort of misinformed, debate about whether political change is better accessed by direct action, or by participating in the democratic process. The answer certainly changes a great deal depending on what country you're talking about, but it always helps to remember: if you want to get people all riled up, go riot in the streets. But remember that the people with the money and the power actually will do whatever they feel like -regardless of you and your riot- and if you want to change anything you need to join them. But also; by doing so, you yourself will be changed, largely by the necessity of fund-raising, and...There is no such thing as change?
No: there is such thing as change, Virginia. It's just a lot more multi-faceted than you might think.

Before that, Oregon Public Broadcasting had on "Think Out Loud", which is their version of "World..." The topic was about individual Oregonians' take on spirituality, since we're so famously unchurched around here. There was a professor from Connecticut being interviewed who kept making strange generalizations about Oregon that sounded suspiciously like everything he knew about Oregon came from a history text from the 1920's.
Oregon was largely the creation of a bunch of Methodists, but also largely the creation of the Hudson Bay Trading Company, so make of that what you will. I myself wanted to call in and say that the acidhead perspective was being underrepresented here. Especially in Oregon where I can say that lots and lots of us had our best moments of communal with the universe because of hallucinogens.
Like I'm fond of saying, if you take acid and talk to God for eight hours, you're crazy. But if you're religious and you talk to God for your entire life, that makes you...

Anyway. The day before that, they replayed an interview from a few months ago with poor goddamn Terry Toedtemeier and the other curators from the art museum, just as what would turn out be Terry's last exhibit went up.
While it is true that he died doing what he loved to do -talking about art that portrayed something he loved- it is also true that saying it that way opens you up to an uncomfortable joke.

Or, here it is:
"He died doing what he wanted to do."
"Oh? He always wanted to have a heart attack?"

Credit to Bee on that one. This is part of why I love her: she's a realistic voice in a world I largely find shrill and idiotic.

Other Seattle tough guys include Disco Boy and Girly Girl, who live on a hill steeper than Queen Anne, and still managed to make it out of the city, and onto a plane that apparently took them to Mexico. Lucky bastids.
Today: read some more of Gore Vidal's latest (last?) book of essays. I want to see Frost/Nixon, Milk and maybe The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Note to F. Scott Fitzgerald: could you do something about that name?



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