Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Dazed

Memorial Day. A solemn occasion for remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

Not to mention an excuse to party for three days straight, to kick off the season during which Americans party for three months straight.

Giving your life so that a bunch of yahoos can go powerboating while shitfaced, that truly is the ultimate sacrifice.

Though we did not go powerboating, my squeeze the Cheez and I did enjoy some full throttle fun.

Where? you ask.

Well, here's a hint: the slogan was It's a Family A'Fair.

No, not the Poor Spellers for Incest Association.

The 103rd Annual Multnomah County Fair. No kinky sex in that. Unless of course you count the Rose City Rabbit Fanciers' Double Open Show

I'm not sure what exactly "double open" refers to, but I'm sure whatever it was, they were doing it like bunnies.

An organful of mood music for all your rabbit fancying needs

The Fair exhibits were fascinating.
Though not necessarily impressive. Unless you are impressed by how much a giant vegetable can resemble a wiffle-ball bat.

Note how this lovely display of prize-winning roses nicely camouflages a Fair-goer in bright floral polyester top.

Think of it as the Magic Eye Can't Believe You Wore That Out in Public

The fair is held at Oaks Park.  

A name which might conjure up Frederick Law Olmstedfast bucolic delights.  But is actually a semi-seedy amusement park.

Not to say Olmsted didn't have a fluming good time on an E-ticket ride himself from time to time.  

Whilst the Multnomah County Fair is free, the rides at the amusement park, which although permanent exude that aura of rusting hazard usually associated with a weekend carny on the most rundown outskirts of town, are not.

Luckily, as we arrived, a departing park visitor offered me his only-slightly-torn ride bracelet.  In other words:  Free Memorial Day Not Quite Carny Rides!!!!!!   

Just one more indicator that Barack Obama has truly brought socialism to our nation.  

And since we were all in the Spirit of America, our first stop on the midway was the Lewis and Clark Big Adventure.  Which turned out to be animotronic proof that George Santayana was right:  those who cannot remember the past are condemned to be haunted by it.  

Warning:  this cannot accurately be called a "Thrill Ride" inasmuch as it is fairly boring, even after I edited out half the ride.  I think it is most enjoyed by those Oaks Parks attendees who have enjoyed a Portland-style puff on the old peace pipe to celebrate their encounter with the Shoshone.

We wound up our visit with me conning Cheez into going on an actual scary ride.  

Of course, when you are so prone to motion sickness you feel vomity if you try to read a map while you are riding shotgun in the Macaroni and Cheez Mobile (aka, our  '99 Saturn), just about any ride is a scary ride.

Confident that centripetal force would cause Cheez only to puke on his own lap, and not on mine, I dragged him over to one of the park's newest rides, the Spider.  Here is how it is billed on their website:
The Spider  Don't get caught in this Spiders web of fear.  Keep your bug spray with you at all time.  A very serious ride!!  
Clearly, the copywriter had had a little too much of the old peace pipe.  Or maybe not enough.

In any event, we waited a quarter of an hour, got on for the last ride of the night, spent ninety seconds screaming, and about twelve hours waiting for Chuck's nausea to pass.  

We might as well have been drunkenly powerboating, sick as he felt.  

And really, nothing goes with the Red-White-and-Blue Patriotism of a Great American Holiday like a little Green-Around-the-Gills.  

I(pecac) can hardly wait for the 4th of July. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

SWAK (Sealed With a Kitty)

Ever since I gave away my car with the I'm Pro-Accordion and I Vote bumper sticker, I've worried that people may have trouble gauging my political leanings.  

So in case you're wondering:  I'm a feminist-environmentalist-urban dwelling-lifelong vegetarian, and I'm pro-seal hunt.

You heard me right.  


Oh, wait, was it the pro-seal hunt part that surprised you?

Yes, I'm pro-seal hunt like the Rock is pro-wrestling.  Really, it's the least I could do.  Because while I am from the great state of I New York my squeeze the Cheez is from the land of  I ♣ Seals.  

Not that he's ever clubbed a seal.  No indeed.  He's a gentle sort.  Bookish and computer geekly and not much of a hunter.  So instead of clubbing seals, he just gets out the can opener and opens himself a tin of seal meat, when the need arises.

Which luckily is none too often, on account of how hard it is to find the canned seal meat over at the Trader Joe's.  

Actually, Trader Joe's doesn't stock any food from anywhere in eastern Canada, due to outrage over the seal hunt.  Chocolate produced by enslaved child labor, that they have. 

But a little organic produce from Moncton, New Brunswick, no dice.  Too tainted by the several-hundred-miles-away proximity to seal hunting.  

Which is a little like boycotting Duke University because it's so tainted by what happens in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Now, I understand that seals are all white and fluffy and adorable (unlike enslaved children, who tend to be malnourished and scabby).  But you know, so are lambs and marshmallows.  And the Trader has no problem pushing those.

So what's the deal with seal?

Well, for one thing, as one of my favorite Rumbolts put it, you take anything out on the snow and kill it, it's going to look gruesome.   Martha Stewart's beet salad would come off like the Manson family supper.  

Luckily, beef slaughter always happens in an attractive manner.

But seal, they make for a picture-perfect Greenpeace fundraising campaign.  

Not that Harp seals are endangered.  There are over 5.6 million of them frolicking about. Frankly, Harp lager is in greater danger of being completely annihilated by Newfies.  

Cod, on the other hand, which seal eat, are kind of screwed, numbers wise.

Which is what has the good people of Newfoundland, who depended on the cod fishery for centuries, until overfishing by international fleets in the North Atlantic caused the entire collapse of the cod fishery, equally screwed.  

And now, they can't even sell their seal to the Trader Joe's.

Luckily, the Japanese are still buying.  Because the Japanese know first-hand that sometimes something that seems  fluffy and white and cute and adorable really ought to be bludgeoned to death ASAP.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

PDX v NYC, a Catty Analysis

I love New York. It's the sort of place where you can hear a resident assert, This is the cultural capital of the world with no hesitation. And no irony.

Even if that person has never lived anywhere except New York and Waltham, Mass. Not to diss the fine cultural assets of Middlesex County (sorry, typo there . . . should have been asset singular), but maybe a broader perspective is in order.

Sure, New York has Broadway theaters, the Whitney, MOMA, Carnegie Hall, countless galleries, and of course the Met of the opera persuasion and the Met of art museum persuasion (not to mention the Mets of baseball playing persuasion).

In a week, I saw work by Jenny Holzer, Chuck Close, Pablo Picasso, Claes Oldenberg, Sophie Calle, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, and zillions of others. My feet hurt just thinking about all that art I shlepped around seeing.

And my throat hurts just thinking about all the friends in NYC I told about seeing it. On account of they never get a chance to cash in all that cultural capital for themselves. Because their time is spent elsewhere.
Like standing on line to get into the Trader Joe's.

Now, no one is mistaking Portland for the cultural capital of the world (well, no one who hasn't also mistaken an architectural landmark for a good place to put a minor league baseball stadium, a car turning right for a car turning left, and a seventeen-year-old for a consenting adult).

But still, I want to proclaim the glory of the arts in Portland, even at the risk of sounding like a rube from the provinces. Or a reporter from the New York Times.

Because everyone in Portland is a freaking artist. We may not have the Algonquin Hotel, but still, any friend of Dorothy (Parker) can be moved by my musings in the new Portland Queer anthology. My squeeze the Cheez is singing in the flash choir. The neighbor who was caring for our cats while we were in New York? She was also frantically finishing up the paintings for her first demi-solo show. The gallery had actually offered her a solo show but she didn't have time to do enough work to fill the space; apparently showing an empty kibble tub and a well-scooped litter box did not suffice as art.

But, you may be thinking, the artistic endeavors of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Perhaps you're wondering about the rest of the city, the public servants and the transportation advocates and the newshounds and the like. Can they too really all be artistes?

Keep your hat on, Humphrey, and cast your peepers on this:

Yes, that's Metro President David Bragdon, Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Scott Bricker, Oregonian reporter Peter Ames Carlin, Deputy Secretary of State Barry Pack, and (er, I don't know what he does for a living and I forgot to bring the program home so I can't check) James Harrison, donning cat toys on their heads and dancing to the choreography of the inimitable Linda Austin at Cabaret Boris and Natasha at Performance Works Northwest.

For a bunch of guys with no dance training and only two rehearsals, they were pretty good. But what made the evening purrfect was the festival of feliness fineness known as Cattitude.

And apparently big fans of transfats.

This is what it looks like when doves cry. And the audience laughs so hard they nearly pee their pants canary bird yellow.

I'm going to quit my day job and follow them, like people used to follow the Dead I remarked to a fellow audience member.

Then I remembered I don't have a day job. Because I live in Portland, the where-we-work-just-enough-to-support-our-creative-endeavors capital of the world.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Went to Yael's Bat Mitzvah, and All I Got Was the Swine Flu

Wednesday, April 29, 7:00 pm:  As Cheez and I, newly arrived in New York City, emerge from Penn Station, he is reminded of something he read years ago, about how coming to New York after a long absence feels like you've just gotten out of in prison.  

Saturday, May 9, 9:45 am:  As Cheez and I lumber through a subway tunnel on the way to meet some friends for brunch, I remark that after ten days, being in New York feels like we're currently serving a term in prison.

When I was growing up, there were commercials that played frequently on suburban TV to promote tourism to the Big Apple.  The tagline, delivered by a rotating cast of celebrities, was I love New York!  It makes my heart beat faster!

Of course, so do anxiety, heart disease, rabies, scarlet fever, and sardine poisoning, but you don't see Sandy Duncan or Lauren Bacall starring in jazzy little commercials about them, do you?  

Not now that there's TiVo, you don't.

Just walking down the street our first full day in New York, we felt all the rush of excitement that Times Square and Broadway have to offer.  Indeed, I could almost hear Julie Andrews belting out some strange rendition of These Are a Few of My Nut Jobby Things

Giant white kitties

And guys with light sabers

Hassids with cell phones
seeking Middle East flavors

Or maybe the song to be singing is just
How much is that friar in the window?  The one with the thoracic stigmata . . .

But really what makes the New York City so special are the great people who live there.  

And their pet pigs. 

I spotted these pink-trimmed porkers (and no, I am not referring to that lady's track suit per se) while we were enjoying that May 9 brunch.  Before Cheez could even say, "Cancel that side order of bacon," I'd run out from the restaurant to take some pictures.

Since I was in New York, among my pushy element, I was not the only one.  My friends are not going to believe this said a very nice Jamaican immigrant, shaking her head over how these crazy white people in America carry on.  

Even the guy at the Watchtower Society table pulled a camera out of his pockets to take a few snaps.  Apparently, Jehovah you can witness any time, but a pig on a leash Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, now that is a true sign the end times may be upon us.

Or if not the whole end times, at least a real bad outbreak of H1N1.