Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Eat Your I ♥ NY Out

You know how sometimes, though you've eaten enough, and maybe more than enough, you just can't help but go back for more?   Even though you are already really, really, really full, and whatever else you intake is just going to make you feel sick? 

(If you have no idea what I am talking about, you clearly are not Jewish.  Not even a little bit,  three generations back, on your father's side)

Well, that going back for more even though you have clearly already had too much—that's what I did last week.

With the whole city of New York.  

Yes, I (swine) flew back from the Big Apple in May, then turned right around in June and took another bite.

And lest you think gluttony was my only indiscretion, I also am guilty of balling students. Plural, I know, how bad is that?  Older.  Younger.  Male.  Female.  How can MacaroniManiac do such things?

I'd like to blame it on the Martinis, and the Mets.

The Martinis being the Pink Martinis, who were playing Carnegie Hall.  And the Mets being the baseball team that even though I grew up thirty miles from Shea stadium, I'd only gone to see twice in my entire life, until a certain Joey Smallwood-wannabe convinced half of Portland to trek across the continent to celebrate his birthday.  

And while we were in the neighborhood, I figured we might as well have a knish.

(for those of you who do not order your meals with a side of Maalox, let me just explain that knish is a two-syllable word, beginning with a hard "k" and ending with the most nostalgic case of heartburn)

So between attending the swanky concert and the soggy ball game, I took a passel of Portlanders and their stray pals on a nosh n shlep of ethnic eats across lower Manhattan.  

It was a light midday grazing, at least by Jewish standards:
  • three flavors of falafel    
  • north Asian dumplings  
  • arepas (for the Maalox-swillers in the audience, arepas are like an Andean hamantaschen.  Except they're made with corn meal instead of white flour.  And savory rather than sweet filling.  And not meant to be reminiscent of chewing anyone's body parts.  In other words, nothing like hamantaschen)
  • kasha knish 
  • the world's greatest doughnuts (listen, when you live with a Canadian, doughnuts count as ethnic food)
  • and the piece de resistance: takoyaki, just like Mama used to make.  
Provided you had the kind of Mama who'd whip up octopus balls whenever you needed a nosh.

Perfesser, will this be on the test?

Only on the taste test, Joey, only on the taste test.

I did enjoy the food.  And the concert (despite lack of martinis in liquid form).  And the fact that the baseball game ended early due to rain.  

Still, I was glad to get back to Portland.  Where, while you can't just walk from arepas to octopus balls, you can bike to almost anything, (including to the annoyance of snobby New Yorkers, who can damn well kiss my hot knish).  

And so, home from having octopus ball-ed Joey Smallwood,
 I proceeded to hop on my favorite two-wheeled conveyance to seedball the city.

Seedballing being not, as the picture on the right might suggest, a chocolatey snack,  albeit still a quintessentially Portland pursuit.

in which a woman who proudly boasts of wearing vegan shoes (you can always tell a Reed graduate) instructs a gaggle of do-gooders in the ins-and-outs of guerilla gardening.

Because while we may not have anything as fancy shmancy as New York's new High Line way out here in provinces, we do have a bunch of high on life along with, well, let's just say that what that vegan shoe trods upon is not the only grass to be found in Colonel Summers Park young persons, willing to flout the law just to make the flowers bloom.

So yes, I've been balling my students.  

And spreading my seed.  

But still, there are worse crimes to commit.

Like having that second donut.  

Forget the Martinis and the Mets.  I'm going to blame it on the Canadian version of the Twinkie defense.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Celebrityation of Life

Icons may come and go, but irony will last forever.  

Despite Melissa Joan Hart's direst concerns, upon dropping Farrah Fawcett won't get the cover of People after all.

Yes, cruel fate has done what Jacklyn Smith, Kate Jackson, Cheryl Ladd, and Lee Majors' divorce lawyer never could. 

Upstaged Farrah.  

Farrah had her place in American pop culture, to be sure.  But even she could be outshone . . . at least by a certain someone who shot to stardom young, even hobnobbing with political bigwigs—only to have his career compromised by allegations of sexual misconduct with minor, which in turn set off a downward spiral that included financial mismanagement leading to foreclosure on a beloved home, and incoherent public behavior sparking suspicions of alcohol/substance abuse.

But who really cares which dead celeb is on the cover of People?  

Well, given the 3.75 million print copies in circulation, with up to 50 million website hits in a single a day, apparently more Americans than you can shake a glittery glove at.  

Why are People Who Need People so plentiful?  Because all those great literary tomes you can find at the checkout stand embody the two things we yearn for in the great nation of ours:  

1) the opportunity to be famous (witness the deep humiliations suffered by Reality TV celeb-wannabes just for their fifteen minutes of not yet voted off the island fame) 

2) any crumb of gossip evidencing how incredibly f*ed up and unhappy famous people are

Read all about it:  famous people have affairs, get divorced, do drugs, ruin their lives. And god love em, don't you wish you could too?  

Of course, regular non-famous people can do all those things, and they do, but not with all the glamor and attention of Britney Spears.  

Breaking news:  I just googled Britney Spears to see if I'd spelled her name correctly, and the first story to come up was about Britney twittering a memorial to Ed McMahon.  The second story was about Britney mourning Michael Jackson.  Apparently the reason we churn out new celebrities is so we can have someone emote over the death of the old celebrities.    
Because seriously, who ever even heard of Melissa Joan Hart until Farrah nearly dropped dead on her People parade?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Loud Pushy Author, Deal With It!

I have a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase

It was a gift from my friend Kent's boyfriend.  I think he meant it as an insult.  But screw him. Because I love that shirt.  

When I used to wear it in LA, people would go wild.  I'd get compliments on it constantly.  I remember the time when a woman stopped me on the street and tried to buy it from me to send to her daughter.  Or the evening the guy behind the counter at the frozen yogurt store loudly announced when my turn came, Can I help the next loud, pushy Jew, please?

Actually, when you work at a dessert-selling establishment on the border of Beverly Hills, there is pretty much always another loud pushy Jew waiting to be served.

In Portland, alas, people plotz when I wear the shirt.  And the worst part is, they don't even know what plotz means.

There are so few Jews here, merely identifying someone as Jewish is presumed to be an act of anti-Semitism.  Even if you are the Jew you're identifying as a Jew.

Actually, just the word Jew itself freaks people out.  They seem to think it is a slur.  So in case anyone of you reserved goyim are still confused about this, let me set you straight:

The word Jew is perfectly fine WHEN USED AS A NOUN.  

When used as a verb, no.  Under no circumstances should you EVER say Jew someone down. Unless of course you want to be anti-Semitic, in which case, go right ahead.  But trust me, you'll pay for such prejudice.  

And I do mean pay retail.

Also not so kosher is using Jew as an adjective.  As in Jew lawyer or Jew neighborhood. Let something like that slip out, and chances are, you are going to offend.  Maybe not every time, but play it safe. Go with attorney of the Hebraic persuasion, or geographical enclave of the former Israelites, and you'll probably be better off. 

I guess it is confusing when a perfectly legitimate, non-derogatory word gets dragged down just because some people use it as a slur.  I once spent a whole summer working with high school students, trying to get them not to use the word "gay" as pejorative, as in that shirt is so gay or that song is so gay.

Years later, I moved to West Hollywood, and let me tell you, it is a city packed full of men in gay shirts blasting gay songs.  

They are, in the words of a certain Jew author, quite regularly gay there.

West Hollywood, that is so gay.  

Not to be confused with San that is so gay by the Bay Francisco.  

Or Vancouver  that is so gay, ay? British Columbia.

Every place I have lived since graduating from college is so gay.   Including, of course, lesbiriffic Portland.  

Today, my squeeze the Cheez and I spotted the same two sensibly-shod women biking together three different times across southeast Portland, with a canvas Pride Festival tote bag dangling proudly from one set of handlebars.  During the final sighting, Cheez overheard the women speaking to each other in what you know I cannot help but describe as a foreign tongue.  

They're German, he said.  That explains their (lack of) fashion sense.

Oh I said.  I thought they were just lesbian business casual.  

Those German lesbians are so gay.  

But what is even gayer than German lesbians (aka dykes auf bikes), or a WeHo gym bunny in a metallic shirt gyrating down Santa Monica Boulevard to the extended dance remix of I Will Survive?

Well, according to the Oregonian:  me!  To be fair, they actually meant me and the rest of the contributors to the new Portland Queer anthology.   But I'm a loud pushy Jew, why shouldn't I elbow (glove) my way to the head of the line, just like it was the fro yo of homo?  

Anyway, if you want to know more, I'll be reading my piece not one, not twice, but thrice (that amount is so gay) in the coming weeks:

Reading Frenzy – 921 SW Oak St, Portland – Tuesday June 16, 7 p.m. 

Powell’s City of Books on Burnside – Downtown Portland – Tuesday, June 30, 7:30 p.m. 

Q Literati! – Q Center – 69 SE Taylor,  Portland – Wednesday, July 8, 7 p.m.

I promise, if you come to any or all of the readings, you'll be entertained.  And I guarantee that once you hear my piece, you will surely proclaim, that is so Jew.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Furange County

Perhaps you have wondered from time to time about what Macaronimaniac does for a living.

So have I.

All I know is, today I am doing it in Orange County.  Or, as the snide liberals of West LA, the UK Financial Times, and Gwen Stefani (not a group that usually have much in common) all like to say, Behind the Orange Curtain.  

Before the plane even landed at John Wayne Airport, I knew things would be different here. 
When I glanced over at the dozing aging businessman in the aisle seat, I couldn't help but notice his chronometer.  

 Clearly, this wasn't just any Mickey Mouse operation.It was the world's leading Mickey Mouse operation.  

I, however, was not headed for Disneyland.  I was headed for the Irvine Marriott.  I made my way from the airport on foot.  First step (well, first 100 really fast steps):

Cross the street.
All ten lanes of it.
That's four whole lanes more than the drive-thru JavaHut
 I passed in an office park on the way to the hotel.

Although when you are too lazy to walk from your car to the coffee stand, your lifestyle may be less  Java Hut than Jabba the Hut.

The person working the front desk at the hotel happily informed me I was getting an eighth-floor room with balcony.  

Imagine my joy when I pulled open the curtains, slid open the door, and looked out upon the wondrous land named for its beautiful citrus groves.

Talk about Room With a View.  Although I'm not sure parking lot, concrete "water feature," and glimpse of freeway is quite what E. M. Forester had in mind.  Merchant and Ivory, meet Marriott in Irvine.

I did have a great night's sleep, what with the constant rush of the 405 Freeway surviving as a kind of white noise machine.  Up early, I joined my colleague Nick, with whom I actually bummed across Europe after our freshman year of college, for a slightly shorter and less inspiring jaunt across the parking lot to the nearest office park.
We were charmed to notice a bunny lurking next to one of the indistinguishable beige office buildings.  What a lovely moment.  I only wish the Rose City Rabbit Fanciers could have seen it.  We did kind of wonder what the rabbit was doing in an office park bounded by a 10-lane street and the 405 freeway.  Until we noticed another rabbit.  And then we figured they were probably doing what bunnies usually do, and we'd best avert our eyes and hop off to our own less re-productive meeting.

After ten hours in a windowless meeting room, we returned to the hotel, and I headed down for a swim in the indoor-outdoor pool.  Which, like everyone who's ever done any online cruising, mysteriously looks a lot better in the picture on the website.  As I swam my first lap, I was somewhat alarmed to notice what seemed to be a gaggle of Hell's Angels-wannabes gathered poolside.  

At least, that's what I, swimming without my glasses on, thought they might have looked like.  I mean, I'm pretty sure that one guy was wearing a black leather vest with no shirt.  That rest of the crew all had on red t-shirts adorned with some acronym I couldn't quite make out.  Except for one guy who was wearing a short sleeve plaid flannel shirt (kind of defeats the purpose) and a yarmulke.  

I had assumed this would be the strangest sight of my trip to the pool, but, as so often proves true in my life, I was incorrect.  Because just as I got in the elevator to come back up to my room, who should come rushing down the hall for a ride skyward but a thin, young twenty-something clutching a Wii.  

They got pissed off at me for playing in the lobby he explained.

Uh huh I nodded noncommittally  before taking the plunge and adding you probably know this but um you seem to have a tail.

Yes he said There will be a lot of us here this weekend.  We're having a convention.
I began to wonder if this explained the rabbit in the office park.  

As it turns out, that rabbit was a little too, well, actually animal for this crowd.  This crowd being Califur.  

Yes, I am sharing my Orange County experience with a hotel full of Furries.  Security provided by those acronym-clad Hell's Angel-types (who hopefully will not turn this into some kind of Fuzzy Wuzzy version of the Altamont Speedway Free Festival).  

As Nick and I headed up to our respective rooms after dinner, we crowded into an elevator that was dominated by another guest maneuvering a bell hop cart loaded with his personal Califur gear.

Why do you think he had that large electric fan?  Nick asked, once we were safely ensconced on our floor.

I can only assume it gets rather hot inside those costumes I answered.

Now, as I toss and turn trying to sleep in the same hotel with hundreds of horny (in perhaps multiple senses of the term) furries, I'm left wondering:  did that mild-manned sixty-something businessman on the airplane have something in his carry-on that lets him wear his Mickey fetish on more than just his wrist?