Wednesday, January 21, 2009


In case you hadn't heard, we have a black president.

I celebrated this fact by waking up on Inauguration Day and donning my BLACK IS THE NEW PRESIDENT t-shirt.

Then I put on about sixteen other layers on top of it. Because damn it was freezing out, and I was biking over to the Lesbians of a Certain Age Watch the Inauguration Party being hosted by my friends Barbara and Madeleine.

They were kind enough to invite me even though I am neither a lesbian nor 'of a certain age.'
Can You Play "One of these Feminists is Not Like the Others"?

The party started early. Which means we had to watch a lot of that nothing important is happening yet footage. Like when they showed the split screen of the dignitaries arriving at the Capitol and the moving trucks arriving at the White House.

They can't really be moving all that stuff in just a few hours one of the Lesbians of a Certain Age said, eying the large boxes being unloaded.

It's only their clothing I pointed out, explaining those were garment boxes.

But the L. of a C. A. seemed unconvinced. Perhaps, extrapolating from on her own wardrobe, she couldn't figure out why anyone would need such big boxes just to move two turtlenecks, a fleece jacket, and a spare set of Keens.

Listen, another L. of a C. A. said, the crowd on the Mall is chanting O-ba-ma.

Actually, I said, I think they're changing I'm-Real-Cold.

There we were, true patriots, beaming in the defining activities of our proud and inspiring democracy: channel surfing and eating.

Activities captured in this lovely still-life, which I assure you was not arranged intentionally but merely sprang forth from the masses like Lady Liberty herself springing from the jet fuel-soaked waters off the Jersey City shoreline.

Sure, it was a historic moment. And an auspicious setting. Who could watch the scene on the Capitol and not think of Dr. King, his aura seeming to echo across from the other side of the Mall?

Which makes it sound like he was the Cinnabon in the Food Court and the Swearing-In was at the Sears Appliance Center.

Still, as tributes to legends of the Civil Rights movement go, it was surprising to hear Dianne Feinstein signifyin (not a typo - look it up white people) on Malcolm X.

Compare and contrast:
Speaker 1: This is why I say it’s the ballot or the bullet. It’s liberty or it’s death. It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody.

Speaker 2: Those who doubt the supremacy of the ballot over the bullet can never diminish the power engendered by nonviolent struggles for justice and equality, like the one that made this day possible.

Okay, so maybe she's a little wordier than he is.

But really, wouldn't Denzel be great for the lead in her biopic, too?

And speaking of oratory, as Biden was being sworn in, I found myself given to the audacity of hoping that he wouldn't break into any spontaneous declamations about Scranton. Or his mother. Or anything, really.

As Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, Anthony McGill, and Itzhak Perlman played John Williams' Air and Simple Gifts, I was
struck by how quiet and reflective the crowd of millions became.

They seemed to be reflecting on how much cooler it would have been if Springsteen had gotten this gig, too.

And then there was Elizabeth Alexander. What a thrill it must have been for her! The only poet in the world to have ever read before such a ginormous live audience.

Nearly all of whom were headed to a Port-A-Potty.

It was unfortunate that this historic day, viewed in true Portland fashion amidst a sea of graying Sapphists, had to be marred by that gruesome perpetrator of anti-homosexual stereotyping, a man who has done so much to undercut the political ascension of gays.

And by that, I do not mean Rick Warren. I mean the nation's first openly gay mayor, Portland's newly elected Sam Adams.

How did Sam put his foot in his mouth this time? Neighbor Grandpa Dawg asked that evening, as we gathered at our Neighborhood Neighbors Gather to Watch the Neighborhood Ball gathering.

Well, I explained as judiciously as I could, let's just say, it wasn't his FOOT. And it wasn't HIS mouth.

We spent most of the Neighborhood Neighbors Gather to Watch the Neighborhood Ball gathering not watching the neighborhood ball. Although there was a spiffy laptop hooked to a projector aimed at a screen, there was one insurmountable technical glitch: host Claes couldn't remember his wifi password.

Neighbor Charity tried to hack into one of the other available wifi networks (we do alright on the love-thy-neighbor stuff, but where we really excel is the guess-thy-neighbor's-password). Unfortunately, the signal kept shorting out.

Yes We Can Obama supporters would shout.

No We Can't I'd shout back, call-and-response style, as the picture froze.

This is so much fun Grandpa Dawg noted I haven't even gotten stoned yet.

Thereby proving it really was an exceptional day in American history.
Why can't we find anything streaming on the internet? Neighbor Somebody-or-Other muttered in frustration.

Probably because it's past midnight in DC by now I said. What were we hoping for, the Rocky Horror Ball?

That's it Charity announced in frustration. She charged across the street and came back waving a set of rabbit ears. Claes fished out a tiny TV from some forgotten corner of the house.

We tuned in and turned on.

And began complaining.

We already saw this at home two hours ago Grandpa Dawg said as we watched Barack and Michelle dance.

That was another ball Charity said. She's just wearing the same dress.

Michelle Obama wore the same dress to more than one ball? Holly said. She herself was wearing a stunning black gown.

Which I kind of took as a bad omen, since she'd worn it to her sister-in-law's wedding last year. A marriage that lasted about as long as Fred Thompson's presidential candidacy.

Meanwhile, everybody's favoritest president ever was being all inspirational, for a change.
We got the idea for the Neighborhood Ball because we are neighborhood people he was proclaiming from the itsy bitsy TV screen I cut my teeth doing neighborhood work.

And then capped them while working at various corporate law firms.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the red carpet interview with Cher.

Who looked like a monster out of some scary-ass science fiction film entitled Attack of the Way Too Much Plastic Surgery.

As soon as she appeared on screen, Holly's three year-old daughter screamed a blood-curdling shriek and ran from the room.

Several of the adults soon did the same.

Okay, okay . . . I know governance is really about policy wonks and not about celebrities.

Still, it was amazing to see everyone getting down to Beyoncé, and Alicia Keys, and Mary J. Blige. Historians can argue the specifics for years to come, but for now, let's just say, I'm pretty sure it was way, way blacker than W's inauguration.

Monday, January 19, 2009

If It Quacks Like a Duck

I know I'm behind on blogging.

Really, I'm behind on everything.

Just last night we finally got around to having the neighbors over for latkes.

Sure, we missed Hannukah.

And Christmas.

And Kwanzaa.

But damn, we got those latkes out in time for celebrating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

As it happens, it really was a proclamation of a woman's right choose: Edith, not born into the Tribe, chose to put ketchup on her latkes.

This is a slippery slope. You let the convert put on ketchup, next thing you know, the Newfie will be putting on scruncheons.

Still, it was a lovely evening. Don tried to goad their son into saying Copacetic, but the wily three year-old refused.

How are you? Don asked, in that smug parent-of-a-kid-with-an-impresssive-vocabulary way.

Ducky! Adiv answered, in that oh-for-a-moment-I-thought-I-was-Noel-Coward way.

Not only was it freakin' adorable, it was also the perfect opening for me to segue this blog entry into the requisite Martin Luther King, Jr./Civil Rights Movement/Barack Obama-is-about-to-be-president content that any media produced in this country in the past 72 hours has had to hit.

So here goes.

Yes, Adiv, ducks are adorable. But it hasn't all been ducky for kids who love ducks.

Cue the NPR excerpt:

I'd like to say it was the onions I was shredding for the latkes that had me all weepy last night. But that would be as phony as pouring ketchup on a potato pancake just to celebrate a Supreme Court decision.

I was weepy because I was listening to all the NPR coverage on The Profound Symbolism Denoting How This Nation Is Not As Totally Whacked When It Comes To Race As It Used To Be.

Yes, in Barack Obama's own lifetime, there were segregated fountains and segregated restaurants and segregated housing and even segregated duck ponds, apparently.

Here in Portland in 2008 things are different. Little black children and little white children not only get to see the ducks in the park together—they get to make art about the ducks in park.And, super bonus if you are five years old, they even get to give the grown ups guff about the ducks in park.
Yes, , as we discovered when we took a walk in the park yesterday afternoon, Portland is so wholesome kids who shouldn't even know how to write yet are posting public service announcements to protect the water fowl.

It may seem like innocent fun, but parents be warned: environmental awareness is just a gateway drug . . . to human rights activism! Let your child protect the ducks in kindergarten, and the next thing you know, she could be running with this crowd:
Although not running very fast with that crowd, since moving around in those boxes is rather cumbersome.

Pardon me,
I said upon noticing the box-clad gaggle of teens, I couldn't help but notice you are wearing boxes.

Yes, the teens said, we are.

Might I inquire as to why? I inquired.

They're book collection boxes one of the teens answered, waving her arms emphatically. Or as emphatically as the cut-out armhole allowed. Do you know about the Christmas massacre?

I was tempted to point out that I am only just now getting around to the Hannukah gluttony, surely I shouldn't be expected to be up on seasonal slaughter as well. But instead I just shook my head while she explained about Uganda and mass murder and child soldiers and . . .

Well, actually, explained is the wrong verb. She vocalized about all those things. And about the book drive her school was doing. And how they were in the park making a movie to promote the book drive. Which is why they were all wearing book-drop boxes.

It seemed awfully sweet and wholesome, even if I still have no idea how book drives will help child soldiers.

What I do know is that all those kids doing their intrapark public service inspired me to try to find some service project to volunteer for today.

Please don't tell Barack.

Or Michelle.

Because really, I am not a bad person.

I volunteer! I am a board member on a non-profit! I try to do work that makes a difference in the world!

But yeah, I was kind of a slacker about the whole National Day of Service thing, and by the time I logged onto all the sites with volunteer opportunities, every damn thing was full to capacity.

The best I could do was some spontaneous trash pick up as I walked past the library on the way to Fred Meyer. Of course, since I was wearing a full-length fake leopard coat accessorized with the wacky Japanese mittens my college roommate gave me for my birthday last year, well, I realized as I walked down the block in that get-up carrying handfuls of garbage, I pretty much looked like a crazy homeless lady.

When as everyone knows, I am not a crazy homeless lady. I am a crazy lady with a big green house called Dutchboy.

Anyway, I was going to the Fred Meyer because I figured if I couldn't save the planet I could at least make a nice gift for the friends who are having me over at 8 am to watch the inauguration.

And since we are all planning on balling like [red diaper] babies at the momentous occasion, I figured I should commemorate it appropriately.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Official Barack Obama Inaugural Tissue Holders!

Also marketed under the alternative name I Have a Sniffle.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Judge Not, Lest Ye Not Get a Cocktail

If there were any justice in the world, then the punishment for war crimes, genocide, or any other truly heinous acts would be . . .having your junior high yearbook photo published worldwide.

Because junior high is the most cringe-worthy and soul-crushing of all the ages of our species.

My junior high was called West Hollow,
which I suppose was meant to sound bucolic.

As though we were but a bunch of voles frolicking along the grassy vale.

When in fact we were a bunch of pimply adolescents torturing ourselves and each other through three years of hormonal hell.

And what humiliation and indignity we couldn't inflict on ourselves or each other, the school system as a whole was good enough to serve up for us, deep-dish style.

Like the time they had us take a D-cell battery of standardized tests to determine our professional aptitudes. Every homeroom period for a week was spent applying our #2 pencils to sheet after sheet of dots, assessing our abilities with analogies and spatial relations and multiple-personality questions — oh wait, I guess I mean multiple-choice personality questions.

And then, three weeks later, came the day they handed the results back.

I remember very distinctly a cherubic-looking kid whose last name was alphabetically near mine but whom I barely ever saw in school, because we were already being tracked based on our innate intelligence. That is, those of us smart enough to be born to really pushy mothers were put into "enriched" classes.

The cherub, alas, was the offspring of a not-pushy mother. He was sitting in the back of the room when the packets with the test results were passed out. As we each read through our packet, he raised his hand and asked, What's a worm farmer?

Seriously. Someone, somewhere in the world, saw fit to give a twelve year-old the summative evaluation that he should be a worm farmer.

What could be sadder than that?

Aside, of course, from someone having to ask what a worm farmer is.

So, yeah, I guess the cherub didn't do so well on logic section of the test.

I know you are wondering how I, macaronimaniac, did on the test.

Well, suffice it to say, I was recognized for my fabulous fashion sense, which does run to floor-length black gowns, and my penchant for telling other people what to do.

Unfortunately, the aptitude test thought this meant I should be a judge, rather than the wittiest of guests at a really swellegant cocktail party.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Can You Picture This

Seriously, I never, ever, in my sweet macaronic life, even knew those end-of-year-recapping-how-accomplished-our-family-is Christmas letters existed, until I started receiving them when I was in my late twenties.

Presumably, I never knew because I am a Jew.

And Jews don't send end-of-year-recapping-how-accomplished-our-family-is Christmas letters.
Not because we don't celebrate Christmas.
Because there is no way Jews are going to wait months and months and months just to brag about ourselves.

I spent the past three weeks opening those damn letters and wondering how anyone can be so self-absorbed as to believe the rest of the world cares about every picayune detail of her/his life.

It was so time consuming, I haven't been able to blog you with every picayune detail of my life.

So instead, here's a little pictorial overview of the year past.  These are some of the digital photos I took in 2008 (my camera is the size of a pack of cigarettes—easy to carry and just as addictive).  
Random moments, in random order:

Here's hoping your 2009 is full of picayune details of whimsical weirdness.  

'Cause heaven knows, this blog will be.