Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow business like yo business

Met a great painter at the grocery store,
snow was falling Christmas eve . . .

Okay, it was actually only noon on the 24th, and Dan Fogelberg was, happily, nowhere in sight.

But it was nice to bump into my favorite visual chronicler of Portland.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is his nostalgic take on our fair city:
Nostalgic inasmuch as it represents Portland before the Ice Age.

Here's a little visual tour of the City of Frozes, as it's been looking these days:

Macaroni: Do I look like my Russian forebears?

Cheez: Well, you look like a Russian bear.

The compost bin froze shut.

But the prevailing leftist sentiments were still apparent.
Yes, there is a Prius under there, somewhere.

They use even less gas if you can't drive anywhere all week.

Perhaps the most Portland manifestation of the blizzard . . .

Free Box Freeze Out

Get your ice-cold used clothes here.

But now the snow is gone, and the weather has returned to normal.
Sog on!

Yoo Hoo, Jew!

Want to get the attention of a member of my tribe? Try the phrase 40% off.

But much as we love a discount, not just any discounted dreck will do.

So I was reminded as my delight at this sign turned to dismay at the merchandise in question.

Because, despite his Yid-esque name, Fred Meyer was not a Jew. Even nuttier—he was Rosicrucian.

Which perhaps explains why the Hanukkah stock at his store is as nutty as a pareve Tishpishti.

Snuggled beneath the 40% off sign are stocked Hanukkah stamps. Hanukkah stickers. Hanukkah salt and pepper shakers.

Not to mention "Chanukah Spreaders." Which you might think refers to any Ashkenazi set of thighs after eight nights of fried latkes slathered in sour cream.
Actually, it's a set of cheese knives.

Apparently meant to commemorate the blessed and burnished weapons with which the brave Maccabees fended off the armies of the evil Antiochus. Not to mention the occasional rogue wheel of cheddar.

What they do not have at the local Fred Meyer, alas, is Hanukkah candles. AKA, the one damn thing I actually need for Hanukkah.

And so the quest began.

My goytoy the Cheez checked at the Safeway downtown. Where they tried to sell him Yarzheit candles instead.

Apparently all you Jewish wax products look alike.

For those of us who can tell the candles that commemorate when Jews survived from the ones that commemorate when a Jew died, well, substituting Yarzheit candles just doesn't seem kosher.

New Seasons, the locally-owned grocery store filled with upscale enviro-hippie delights, has plenty of Etrogs in stock.

Which is great if you want to get your Sukkot shopping done early.

Sukkot being the Jewish holiday for which Etrogs are needed.

And there being only 282 shopping days until Sukkot.

Clear on the other side of the store, nestled among the seasonal displays, I did find some Hannukah candles.

They were mislabeled, alas.

Because they claim to be "Down to Earth."

But at $24 a pack, um, well, for that much, the Earth in question shouldn't just be a tribute to prime Middle Eastern oil. It should be drenched in a barrelful of it.

Listen up (non-Chosen) people: you are trying to sell to Jews. And while we don't drink the blood of Christian babies, and we're not all hook-nosed . . . well, the part about always looking for a bargain—that's not ugly stereotype.

That is genetic/cultural fact.

I still had a few leftover candles from last year's standard $1 box, so I knew I could make it through the first couple of days. And since my college roommate was coming to visit from Semitically-saturated San Francisco, I figured she could just bring me a box.

What I didn't figure was that said college roommate, being an Irish lapsed-Catholic originally from Boston, would have no idea what to look for in Hannukah candles. And yet would take the assignment incredibly seriously.

So while I had assumed she'd just pop into the Lucky's in her neighborhood, and scoop up the usual Manischewitz 144-pack for a couple shekels, unluckily enough she headed to some shmancy Judaica store in Berkeley.

Where she proceeded to buy one of each kind of Hannukah candles that they had.

Which means I now have five sets of hand-dipped, highly decorated Hanukkah candles.

So I am all set for Jewish observance.

And not just because I've got menorah supplies through the first of Tevet, 5774 (or, as those of you paying retail know it, the end of Hanukkah in 2013).

Also because my roommate has refused to let me repay her for the $50-plus so she blew on not-to-be-blown out high-end Hanukkah meltables.

Yeah, I'm feeling guilty. Which is very observantly Jewish of me.

After all, who needs Hanukkah gelt, when you can have Hanukkah guilt? Guilt being the true currency of my people.

actual Todah Raba gift from the Tru Value Hardware store

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Show Must Go On, Weather or Not There's an Audience

Ah, Macaroni and Cheez take an excited stroll in the Portland snow.

That was last Sunday. When Portland was still excited about the snow.

Now it's about as exciting as . . . the frozen bags of dog poop that are lined up in front of my neighbor's house (apparently he's finding it too cold to walk the 30 feet to his trash can to dispose of said bags).

If I log onto one more time only to see that same chipper little snow flurry graphic, I think I may have an inclemental breakdown.

Our friend John is one of those weather addict people. He watches the weather channel constantly, and at work he spends all his screwing around on the internet time scouring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website for the latest meteorological tidbits.

Especially pathetic since he lives in west LA, where the weather is always sunny.

I just use I told him once.

Then you're only getting half the story!
he retorted with the indignation only the superior geek can muster.

Well, John, here's the other half of the story: Oregon's own Jane Lubchenko is going to be the new head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Talk about your superior geeks, apparently Obama is hiring scientists to run the science departments.

I'm sure Lubchenko will bring that special Oregon sensibility to the weather service. Which means we can kiss snow and John can kiss sun good-bye. It will be a steady national diet of gray and rain, yeee haw.

I guess one might as well obsess about the weather as anything else. Although normally, this is the time of year when I start obsessing about having to do my year's worth of receipt filing so I can get my tax information to the tax preparer. Which then starts me obsessing about whether I am saving enough money for retirement. Which gets me obsessing about how I should be investing my savings.

But not any more.

Because it turns out that I might as well be answering emails from Nigeria as investing with a respected former NASDAQ chair.

Well, at least I haven't spent my adult life making a huge fortune, only to discover it's been stolen by some goniff named Madoff.

What I have been spending my time making is art. Of late, a lovely multimedia performance art piece I'll be delivering tonight and tomorrow night at Performance Works Northwest.

There's music! There's jokes! There's my trademark crap photoshop mash-ups!

Now if only it would stop freaking snowing, so that there's an audience!

Whatever the weather, it's lovely to wake up and find yourself a Willamette Week Pick of the Week. So put on your skis and come see me in all my Jew-mocking-Christmas glory.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Flasking in the Glory

This town is our town.
This town, it's so glamorous.
I bet you'd live here if you could
and be one of us.

Alas, though Portland is littered with rocker chix, The Go-Gos are not among them.

We are, however, home to Nurse Band. I met them this Sunday.
Actual Nurse Band "Gig" Binder

We're in a band, one of the guitarists told me, and we all work together.

When I found out they were nurses, five neo-natal nurses from OHSU, all in a band together, I started asking serious questions.

Not about saving babies' lives. About what it takes to rock out.

Do you need to be an RN to join the band? Or would a licensed vocational nurse be okay?

Any nurse could join
they said.

What about a Physician's Assistant?

Long, awkward pause. Clearly the answer was no, they were just too nurse-nice to say so.

Nurse Band was playing at my piano recital.

Yes, I said it. My piano recital.

Although my heart belongs to the accordion, one is lucky to find an accordion teacher with a pulse, let alone an aptitude for teaching music. So last spring I gave up trying and switched to piano lessons.

My piano teacher also teachers guitar, bass, and voice - all the things a nurse needs to know to be a rock star. And this past Sunday, all of her students (except the ones who chickened out at the last minute) joined together for a holiday performance.

The holiday in question being the Feast of the Totally Freakin' Nervous.

Do we dress up? I asked Piano Teacher Jill at my final lesson before the recital.

Just wear something comfortable she assured me.

I opted for leopard overalls.

Which is very comfortable, if you happen to need to take down a gazelle and then fix the engine on your tractor.

I do not claim to have performed my song perfectly. But I did perform it without taking a single swig from my leopard flask.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Milk and Meat

Spring break of my senior year of college, my friend Alan and I went to San Francisco. We were auditioning the city for the role of Place We'll Move to After Graduation.

I don't know Alan said with some tribulation as we walked about the city streets It makes me uncomfortable to see all these men holding hands in public.

I reminded him you're gay.

Well yes
he conceded. But I'm Massachusetts gay.

You'd think my senior year was 1647, and the Massachusetts he meant was the Puritan-run colony governed by John Winthrop.
Still, it was all too much for Alan.

But not for me.

It is never too much for me.

Which is why last week I found myself loading the car with Crisco and heading to the city that, according to politician, activist, and stand up comic Tom Ammiano, is named for St. Francis of the Sissies, whose miracle was turning breakfast into brunch.

For the record, the Crisco was for our Thanksgiving pies.

Which were excellent.

Even if they weren't what everyone who was cruising for a piece on Castro Street was after.

Still, we had a gay old time during our sojourn in the City by the Bay Window.

We saw this man making a rather public show with his rather large organ.

It was at the Castro Theater, where Cheez, our friend Brenda, and I joined 1,404 intrepid souls for the Saturday afternoon showing of Milk.

Intrepid being code for homosexual.

I know there were 1,404 of them there, because I happened to notice the seating capacity sign for the theater, which is 1,407.

It was the gayest sight America has seen since Rock Hudson made pillow talk with Doris Day.

And by that I mean, there were lesbians there, too. I know because the minute the movie ended, the Sapphic Siskel and Ebert seated behind us began complaining This is totally inaccurate. There were a lot more women in the movement.

Cheer up, I wanted to tell them. This movie had one whole dyke in it. Which is more than you can usually say for American cinema. Though maybe not for George W. Bush's cabinet.

In case you were wondering, the movie, though a tear-jerker biopic/typical patriarchal erasure of lesbians from history, is very educational.

For one thing, I learned that Sean Penn can act.

Quite well.

I might have really taken him for a Jewish fag from Woodmere, Long Island.

Just for comparison, the night before, we had dinner at an Italian wine bar with our friend Craig.

Craig is also a Jew from Woodmere, Long Island. But about as straight as can be. Soooo not Milk he broke out the travel pack of LactAid as soon as the waiter set the fennel, bitter greens, and montasio panino on the table.

Immoral of the story: If there is one thing we can learn from Milk, it's that the battle against (lactose) intolerance is never over.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Can a Nice Jewish Girl Enjoy a Naughty Nosh?

So, I'm a radical feminist who opposes the institution of marriage.

Not to mention a pescetarian who hasn't eaten meat since the Carter administration.

Which means it might surprise you that I whipped up this little illustration a couple weeks back.
But really, it's not all that mind-boggling. Or at least no more mind-boggling than the fact that, thanks to me, the Jew and the Carrot, a blog dedicated to the intersection of Jews, food, and sustainability, now links to the Marriage Bed, a discussion board chock full o' sex tips for fundamentalist Christians.

Epi-ethicurious how that came to pass? I thought you might be.

Click on over to jcarrot to read all about it.

And send any ethical food question you have to

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wet behind the ears. With frosting.

Don't try to pull the leopard throw over my eyes.

I didn't just fall off the macaroni truck.

It's not like I was born yesterday.

I was born the day before yesterday.

That explains all the people who were crowded into my lovely home, Dutchboy, on Saturday, drinking my booze and leaving a thin veneer of mushroom paté over an astonishing range of household surfaces.

It wasn't a surprise party per se (I'm way too much of a control freak to leave a whole party to Cheez). But still, there were a few surprises.

Like Susie Bright being in the closet.

Yes, Susie Sexpert, co-founder of On Our Backs, Ms. Sex-Positive Lesbi-bi-feminist herself, in the closet.

Not as an act of repression. As an act of transgression.

As soon as I said guests were welcome to poke around anywhere except the closets, where I'd crammed all the mess, Susie dove for the closet door like it was the last muff on earth.

Only to come out complaining it was too dark to see anything.

I haven't been to a darkened closet party since those junior high days of 7 Minutes in Heaven.

This party was even cattier than an adolescent kissing game. Thanks to all our leopard decor.

Exhibit A: Susie draped over my leopard dresser.

Exhibit B: Susie rolling around my leopard bed.

Exhibit C: Susie giving who knows what body part a quick rub-a-dub-dub in my leopard tub.

What can I say? You have an exhibitionist at your birthday party, you end up with a lot of exhibits.

Something about the evening brought out the sexpertise in a number of guests.

Take Len Neiberg. Mild-mannered Intel engineer by day. But once upon a time, a guy who used to shlep Patty the Plastic Pelvis around the Harvard Campus.

That was back when we were peer contraceptive counselors. Len was kind enough to present me with a birthday gift of his t-shirt from the group (mine having been lost somewhere in the intervening twelve million years since college), bearing our famous slogan, We're There For You When Things Get Hard.

Those who didn't get the contraceptive message might have turned to some of the other guests, ranging from Judith Arcana, a one-time Jane -- as in, member of the Jane Collective -- to Ariel Gore, the original Hip Mama, who came with her knee baby Maximillian, shown here with lovely my-other-mother-is-also-a-lesbian Maria Perez.

Guests also had talents that extended beyond the boudoir and the making or prevention of babies.

Sarah Dougher sang some songs, including one about Bella Abzug, another about Lady Bird Johson, and this marvelous ditty.

Naomi Bishop made me a leopard cake.
This was the best birthday present since America gave me a black president. Or a half-black president.

My party actually had 500% as many black men as the American presidency will have come January 20. For a grand total of 2.5 black men.

They arrived and departed at different points through the evening, so as not to shock the system of Southeast Portland, which does not see too many brothers.

Though it did see my brother, all the way down from Olympia for the occasion.

I was wearing a sparkly pink-orange-blue dress (shown here right after Mary Dzwkwzzndznczdncxzski [okay, maybe that's not the exact spelling of her last name, but it's about as pronounceable] spilled red wine on me). This was a bittersweet purchase from my favorite vintage store's going-out-of-business sale.

Do you think it was originally a prom dress, or a bridesmaid dress?
I wondered to various guests, never having been to a prom nor been a bridesmaid, myself.

Prom! Emily and Cherese declared definitively, explaining no bride would let her bridesmaids outsparkle her.

I guess it makes sense, although personally, I had no worries about being outsparkled that night.
Thanks to everyone for making the birthday and the whole year it topped off so damn fun.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Painting the White House Pink

Over time, many gay couples begin to dress alike.This is not one of those couples.

Which do you think we'll have first, my friend Andrew asked over a rather nice dinner party he hosted last weekend, a homo president or an atheist president?

Andrew often talks about homos. One of his favorite games is Spot the Homo, which we sometimes play at business meetings.

Since Andrew is the type to host rather nice dinner parties, it should go without saying that he is not trying to spot the homos so that he can go after them with a baseball bat.

He is trying to spot the homos because he is a homo.

And a registered voter.

So I felt like I was raining on his gay pride parade when I broke the news to him.

We've already had a homo president.

Ladies and especially gentlemen, I give you James Buchanan.

Our fifteenth president, and the only "bachelor" to ever hold the nation's highest office.

Not that he was sleeping single in a double bed.

At least not during the fifteen years he lived with William Rufus King. (King was an Alabama Senator and later Vice President, though not under Buchanan. Well, maybe under Buchanan in the baby-if-I'm-the-bottom-you're-the-top sort of way, but not in the next-in-line-for-the-Oval-Office way).

I know what you're thinking. Rakish cravat and spiffy curls not withstanding, how can we be sure these two were lovers, and not just a couple of parsimonious pols trying to keep expenses down by sharing the cost of a single kegerator?

Perhaps because King was variously referred to as
  • Buchanan's wife
  • Buchanan's better half
  • Miss Nancy
  • Aunt Fancy
by such notables as Andrew Jackson (who, as the guy whose punim is on a bill that gets tucked into the most deserving of mid-range male stripper's g-strings, perhaps ought to know) and Aaron V. Brown (governor of Tennessee and Postmaster General in the Buchanan administration).

Buchanan and King's co-homobitation was interrupted for a stretch when King was appointed minister to France in 1844. I am selfish enough he wrote Buchanan to hope you will not be able to procure an associate who will cause you to feel no regret at our separation.

We all know good fairies can make wishes come true, and King's apparently did, because while he was gone, Buchanan wrote an acquaintance I am now "solitary and alone," having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.

I believe that's the same personal ad Richard Gere used to land Cindy Crawford.

So why does a perfectly respectable dinner party host and homo spotter as Andrew not know about our great poofdah prez?

Probably because Buchanan was a terrible president. A pro-slavery Northerner, he advocated for acquiring Cuba as a way to expand US slavholding, tried to force Kansas's entry into the Union as a slave state, and completely mismanaged the financial panic of 1857.

His biggest failure by far was the failure to avert the Civil War: he spent the final months of his term twiddling his thumbs (along with who knows which bodily parts of Rufus King) while Southern states began seceding in the wake of Lincoln's election.

Not exactly the guy you want to claim as your role model and great American hero.

Even if he did go to war with Utah over disputes about what household arrangements should be legally sanctified as marriage. Which is pretty much what every homo in California is threatening to do this week. . . if only it didn't mean missing Sundance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

B. Hussein O'Bama

In case you haven't heard, some scrawny guy from Illinois, of dubious filial origins and with less than extensive experience in national office, has been elected to the American presidency.

Despite such drawbacks as "being eloquent."

Imagine that.

According to John McCain, this is one of the most historical events since Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T and the MGs to play at the White House.

I really love this country.

Or what smoldering ruins of it are left after 8 years of W.

Now all the nice leftists can call off their plans to move to Canadia.

One can only hope that, instead, all the rightwing nuts will move to Alaska and, under Todd Palin's ex officio direction, it secedes.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Last February, a guest looked out the window into our backyard, gestured at the deep plum-colored leaves of the smoke tree, and said of our garden, You have winter interest.

No I answered we have year-round disinterest.

Really, I have nothing against nature. I also have nothing against brain surgery. I just don't feel particularly motivated devoting my free time to either of those pursuits.

But Saturday morning, we were up early, to get out of our preferred bed (queen-size, flannel sheets, with a light toping of purring cats) to clear out the less-favored garden beds.

Because these hipsters

needed some place to put these bulbs.
All 1001 of them.

Bulbs, I mean, not hipsters. There isn't enough irony even in my yard for 1001 hipsters.

The hipsters were a volunteer gardening phalanx under the astute leadership of inimitable Indie Rocker Sarah Dougher. Who knew Riot Grrrrls had such Grrrrn thumbs?

Apparently they are the only ones who do. At least the only ones in our yard on Saturday.

How did the earth outside my home come to this bulbous state? Let's just say it all started when I had a gay old time at a charity auction.

Which you might think would have taught me a lesson about the dangers of charity auctions. But no.

Because like a perennial that blooms anew, just hours after the last hipster furrowed the final tulip, Cheez and I were out at ... another charity auction.

A really bitchin' one.

Although I must say, whoever made the call on the cupcake to salami ratio at the buffet table deserves to have his sausage sliced by a ravenous coven of hormonal harpies.

Still, the booze was flowing, even after the last lick of coconut icing was long gone.

Drink early, bid often, I advised a fellow guest, just to show I knew how things work in this world.

I'm afraid I'll drink too much, she confessed, and end up taking home something awful.

We've all done that, I reminded her. Better to do it at a charity art auction than at a bar.

At least if you get drunk and bring home something from an art auction that you don't really want, you can give it away.

If you get drunk at a bar and end up bringing home something you don't want, then give it away, it probably means you're headed for an uncomfortable swab and a course of doxycycline. Not to mention an angry call from anyone (everyone?) you gave it to.

There was no live auction at the Bitch Magazine fundraiser, which meant it was harder to get into heady bidding danger. But I still managed.

Mostly because I really wanted this fabulous pro-drag mockery of matrimony, an original drawing to watch out for by Alison Bechdel.

And so did my friends Daniel and Matt.

I bid.

Matt bid.

I waited until two minutes before the silent auction ended, then snuck back into the room and bid again.

Daniel marched in after me and bid.

I began writing my name under his while he was still filling in his email address, writing just slowly enough so that I finished after him, precisely as the Mistress of Ceremonies counted down the closing of that section of the auction.

Then I made a big nasty X along the rest of the bid form and cackled It's mine, all mine, like I was a 44 year-old bridesmaid beating back every other single woman at the reception to catch the bouquet.

I felt a little bad about how I trounced Daniel, who is a very sweet person and dear friend.

But then again, they don't call it Thoughtful and Polite Magazine, now do they?

Besides, I'd already done my virtuous deed for the day. Or the week, really.

Because that's how long it took me to make 12, count 'em 12, original drawings to donate to the auction.

They sold in sets of 4. (Click on each image to see it in its full glory)

Set 1: Great Moments in Feminist Pop Culture

Set 2: Great Moments in Feminist World History

Set 3 (and the high seller): Great Moments in Feminist US History

Ed Emberley
and Angela Davis - Surely there's some joke in their about the COINTELPRO planting false fingerprints to frame the panthers.

But by the end of the evening, I'd had a touch too much vodka to make it.

Cheez had even more gin than I did vodka. And thus he was the winning bidder on something every queerer than the Mary Transvestite Moore number that I snagged.

Who is the first homo couple most kids know?

Think back to your earliest childhood exposure to "that lifestyle."

Even before the Birkenstocked Peppermint Patty and her BDSM buddy Marcy (how does Patty get Marcy to call her sir?) put something "funny" into your funny pages.

I'm talking pretty in preschool.

Who knew Sesame Street ran through Chelsea?

Or that Cheez and I bore such an uncanny resemblance to its inhabitants?
Or that Bert, Ernie, Mary Tyler Moore, Cheez, and me, Macaronimaniac, could live so happily ever after, just waiting for our bulbs to bloom?