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Once More, In the Name of Love

Proud HeterosDamn, the planet just seems to circle the sun a little more quickly every year. Here we go again.

Lots of folks showing their pride today, of course. It’s difficult not to be gay for people out and about, enjoying the sun and such, but …

It seemed to me that there’s an undercurrent of sadness in the event that wasn’t there 20 years ago. In the Gay 90s, when the parade was up on Broadway, there was still something countercultural about the event, a cross between Mardi Gras and St Patrick’s Day and maybe Women’s Suffrage—an opportunity to release all that pent up libidinal energy, or at least imagining more of it, but also to stand up for one’s God given disposition and to go public with it for political recognition. Now there’s a lot of corporate sponsorship and parents, gay and straight, walking around with the kids, and the energy seems as manufactured as a high school pep rally.

In addition to tutus and unicorns and lots of sparkles, a lot of people wore a look of sheer boredom on their faces. Along the lines of, Let’s be good sports and dress up, like we do for Halloween. Or, What now? Oh yeah … Rights! More rights!

Having spotted a number of priests and nuns, if only in costume, I wanted to see a group of women in black burqas show up and just stand there, silent. And/or see a float with an SUV sized cock ejaculating big soap bubbles or something. But no: a huge inflatable plane, emblazoned “Alaska Airlines” and King County Metro … who gives a rat’s ass? Yeah, yeah everybody’s on board now and along for the ride, we get it.

This sounds vaguely familiar…

But I could swear it takes place on the West Coast – in a place like Seattle or something…

Race Relations in Seattle

So I’m waiting for my ride at 5th and Jackson, when my bus driver friend Gary (older black gentleman, very nice, but very formal) drives up in the #14. A lady with tattoos on her face staggers towards the bus as I’m talking to him, so I step back to let her on, rolling my eyes to let Gary know he’s got a real winner coming on board. She’s just trashed, and being Caucasian, I guess that makes her White Trash (in this part of town, it’s probably 50/50 odds the inebriated person is black or white. The Asians are rarely wasted, or they never show it, and I won’t even mention the Native Americans).

Anyway, after the drunk Caucasian lady stumbles past Gary, he looks at me and says, “That’s one of your people, Finnegan.” Then he closes the door and drives on up Jackson.

Maybe you’d need to know Gary, but it was funny as hell.

Now, if our roles were reversed, could I say the same thing, and would it be funny? Obviously no, and I think it could be justifiably considered a racist comment. Doesn’t that mean that Gary’s comment is racist as well? What’s fair (or unfair) for someone on the basis of race must be fair or unfair for someone of a different race, right?

Only if you’re an idiot. The manner in which people of different races, especially blacks and whites, view one another has a long history in this country, and ignoring it, or trying to ignore it, turns us into fools. People are different. We treat different people differently, and that’s just the way it is.

No, it doesn’t mean racism is a laughing matter. Neither, in most or at least many circumstances, are drunkenness and tattooed faces. And I’m not sure how well this story would play in front of a crowd, told by a comedian. In fact, this seems like a pretty good illustration of the difference between what’s funny for professional comedians, and what it means to have a sense of humor in the midst of whatever life happens to throw at you. The former can be enjoyable, but the latter is necessary so that life doesn’t become unbearable.

Meet the Mariners new coach…

Scott-Servais-2-1020x680

A veteran with a long career, the roots of which run back to a place near another place that begins with an S.

Walter Isaacson on Walker Percy’s Theory of Hurricanes

In yesterday’s issue:

Walker Percy had a theory about hurricanes. “Though science taught that good environments were better than bad environments, it appeared to him that the opposite was the case,” he wrote of Will Barrett, the semi-autobiographical title character of his second novel, “The Last Gentleman.” “Take hurricanes, for example, certainly a bad environment if ever there was one. It was his impression that not just he but other people felt better in hurricanes.”

Percy was a medical doctor who didn’t practice and a Catholic who did, which equipped him to embark on a search for how we mortals fit into the cosmos. Our reaction to hurricanes was a clue, he believed, which is why leading up to the 10th anniversary of Katrina, it’s worth taking note not only of his classic first novel, “The Moviegoer,” but also of his theory of hurricanes as developed in “The Last Gentleman,” “Lancelot” and some of his essays.

Percy lived on the Bogue Falaya, a lazy, ­bayou-like river across Lake Pontchartrain from my hometown, New Orleans. He was a kindly gentleman whose face knew despair but whose eyes often smiled. With his wry philosophical depth and lightly worn grace, he was acutely aware of his alienation from the everyday world, but he could be an engaged companion when sitting on his porch sipping bourbon or holding court with aspiring writers at a lakefront seafood joint named Bechac’s. “My ideal is Thomas More, an English Catholic . . . who wore his faith with grace, merriment and a certain wryness,” he once said. That describes Percy well.

Indeed it does. Thank you, Walter

But will it also be true of earthquakes, when the really big one comes?

Two Short Poems about the Barbeque Pit

o-1

The Barbeque Pit’s Sweet, Sweet Style
With awe, she regarded my bib—awe, pity
and even distress at my swelling gibbosity.

Not So Sweet Aftermath
To me, as she licked her thumb,
“It’s hard to disambiguate
between the pig you’ve become
and this damn pig you ate.”

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Frank Sinatra, Live at the Seattle Civic Auditorium in 1957, Full Concert

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

In the Billie Holliday post from last week, I noted that one of her biggest fans was Frank Sinatra, who even picked up some of her style by dropping just behind the beat in some of the phrasing.

So: in an effort to bring Big Jon back to the site, here is a complete recording of Frank’s 1957 concert at the Seattle Civic Auditorium (where McCaw Hall presently sits).

Several commentators have remarked that this is an even better recording than the famous show at the Sands a few years later, and I completely agree. Nelson Riddle conducts the orchestra through a fantastic set list, and Frank works in some pretty good jokes along the way. He’s clearly having a great time.

1. Introduction / You Make Me Feel So Young
2. It Happened in Monterey
3. At Long Last Love
4. I Get a Kick Out of You
5. Just One of Those Things
6. A Foggy Day
7. The Lady Is a Tramp
8. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
9. I Won’t Dance
10. Sinatra Dialogue
11. When Your Lover Has Gone
12. Violets For Your Furs
13. My Funny Valentine
14. Glad to Be Unhappy
15. One For My Baby
16. The Tender Trap
17. Hey Jealous Lover
18. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
19. Oh! Look at Me Now

ἀναζωπυρεῖν

is perhaps my favorite Greek verb, meaning as it does “kindle anew”. This has not so much to do with newfangled reading devices as it does the second letter of Paul to Timothy, in one of my favorite passages from scripture:

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

That’s 2 Timothy 1:6-7 in the New International Version, which I have here because that’s the way I first memorably read it on a readerboard outside Seattle’s First Presbyterian Church on the corner of 8th and Madison. That’s where I was walking one fine day in 1987 on my way to meet my mom for lunch, when she was working at the Federal Courthouse on Sixth and Madison, across from the Seattle Public Library. If the passage seems somewhat self-serving (as it does to me—now, anyway, which I realize is a perverse way of reading scripture) say a prayer for the twenty-two year old who was trying to find his way even as he would soon so very badly lose it. Even after reading those very words.

I mention all this because it is the festival day for Saints Timothy and Titus. Timothy happens to be the name of my brother, which is another reason that passage stood out for me way back when.

Say a prayer for him as well, while you are at it. And for the fifty year old, too. Happy Feast Day, and God bless!

from the Seattle Transit Blotter

2014.09.20 17:35 Route #13 Third & Bell, Northbound

A couple in their mid to late 40s board the bus. Both are slender, fit, well dressed and in reasonably good spirits. Not at all down and out. He says, “for both of us,” and tries to feed a five dollar bill into the fare box, which the fare box refuses to accept.

Looking on, she says, “Must be one of them bills you got at a strip club!”

The bill is in fact the color of boiled spinach, a fairly sodden greenback that has lost any stiffness it once had, even as he pushes it forward.

“Yeah, right, when I was picking you up from work.”

“Phhh!” she says, rolling her eyes. “I wish!”

Clearcut Logging and Its Discontents