Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hebe on the Range

Dateline, 5770

Shanah Tovah
I said to my friend Elon.

Not exactly big news (though perhaps big nose), one Jew wishing another a Happy New Year.

Except that it was happening in the VIP room at the Pendleton Round-Up.

Elon expressed some concern that I was going to get us killed, revealing our shared tribal identity.

I tried to reassure him that with any luck, our furrin jibberish would be mistaken for another tribal language entirely.

Not the kind of Princess who attended High Holiday Services at the Dix Hills Jewish Center, back on Long Island

Apparently, in Eastern Oregon, tribal dancing does not refer to the Hora.

Still and all, if you want a reason to say the Shehecheyanu (i.e., the blessing for new experiences) you really can't do better than Jew at a rodeo.

The entire weekend was very educational.

This is not a slick lick banker from the city, come to talk simple farm folk out of their land

This is the Cheez, in his homemade string tie (Recipe: buy string. tie string. good to go.), sitting with Young Joey Smallwood and not-s0-Millie Vannelli, in the lobby of the Balch Hotel in scenic Dufur, Oregon, where our party spent Erev RoundUp.

Half our party had rooms with a Mount Hood view. The other half had rooms with a private bath. Suffice it to say, Mount Hood is breathtaking, but a bit far to hike when you need to take a leak at 2 am.

Nevertheless, I do recommend the Balch Hotel. Especially over the alternative.
Alleyway "Suite," The Dalles, Oregon
No Mount Hood view, but you can pee just about anywhere,
including on the mattress. You probably wouldn't be the first.

I realize rodeo is not without controversy. I mean, just because I'm pro-seal hunt, doesn't mean I can condone a "sport" that involves animals being prodded and herded through a chute.
Oh, wait, those are the patrons.

So if you're wondering how a nice bleeding heart Jewish pescetarian like Macaronimaniac ended up Rounding Up: it was really an act of international diplomacy. Because Little Joey Smallwood had arranged for us to share the event with Hannu Penttila.

Hannu Penttila being not a pineapple-glazed Hawaiian pork dish (so not Rosh Hashana), but rather the Deputy Mayor of Helsinki.

Of course, the Finns being known for their wild and crazy ways, Hannu really taught the otherwise dour and sedate Pendletonians how to cut loose.

When Ken Isley, aka the Rodeo Clown, announced to the thousands of gathered fans that the crowd included a couple who had come all the way from Finland, someone in the stands greeted them with the welcoming shout, "At least they're not from France!"

I am not making that up.

The Finns were not the only ones having trouble crossing the cultural divide. When Cheez went off to the Little Cowpokes room, I asked him to pick me up a vegetarian snack on the way back. Alas, he spent twenty minutes waiting in the Beer Chips line.

Still, plastic beer tokens might have had more culinary appeal than some of the weekend's other offerings.
Of course, any event whose tagline is Let 'Er Buck offers fascinating gender politics as well.

I hadn't seen anything quite so manly since . . .
hmm, well . . . I guess that would have to be, since I lived in West Hollywood.

Seriously, I had no idea that when they announced which bareback rider had won the purse, they would mean it so literally.
Yes, men compete in grueling physical activity, and then the winner rides around the arena with his new handbag and new blanket. How butch is that?

Okay, not very. But I wouldn't mention that in Pendleton, any more than I'd wish them a great big L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu, and a rousing Vive La France.

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