Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Someone Failed to Save My Life Tonight

That damned Elton John song keeps playing, no matter where I go, it seems. Someone saved his life that evening-preventing his suicide? And then he calls them, "Sugarbear", unless I'm really, really misreading that one.
In fact, H.O.C. contest! : What is the actual lyric, do ya' think? If you go to any of those Yer Fave Lyrics to Songs U Like as Translated by Others Just Like Yerself sites, I'm not sure what you'll find, but I suspect it might be another mis-hearing, or we might find that the actual lyric is every bit as insipid as "Sugarbear".

The last few months have included nice, long falls for two of our city's worst offenders in the Are You Still Here? category: Diane Linn and Michael Pomeroy (or Hebb. Or Hebberoy).

In the case of Ms. Linn, she had been wandering around for some reason consolidating enormous power for years, largely on the basis of hot-button emotional issues like Smoking, while actual public health issues like Portland's ever-worsening air quality went unaddressed. To be fair, maybe no one can really do anything about the air.
I always considered her a cheap hack, and apparently a lot of other people did too, but she just seemed to fall ever higher up the food chain, until we come to her Waterloo: the queer marriage coup.
See, she had been taking what seemed to be gutsy stances on many an issue like this for years, and I'd always wondered when her casual stridency would finally show her for the oppurtunistic bungler she actually was.
On the day that she announced that she and a few others had basically declared queer marriage legal in Multnomah County by Commissionatorial Fiat, I was immediately depressed for what I knew was inevitable. My queer pals would rush to marry (and they did), only to have the whole damn thing overturned not too much later by a higher court, since Diane and her posse had gone about the whole thing in a manner that was incorrect and frankly, illegal.
Again, she had tried to be a hero in the dumbest of ways, and actual people suffered for it. There is always a trace of sadness in there when my "married" friends refer to themselves as such. Because they're not really married. They stormed the Bay of Pigs that week, only to be stranded on the beach by their leaders.
I did find the statewide referendum to be both sad and predictable: Benton County providing the one moment of comedy when they stopped issuing marriage licenses Altogether, until the matter could be cleared up. The thing was, due to the hubris of a few county commissioners here, the issue was then pressed on the state at large, who had always wanted to vote Against Homosexuality, basically.
We'd come close, on several occasions before, but Portland always dragged our shit out of the fire, and besides, Measure 9 for instance was so poorly written that even the relatively bigoted could see how it opened up Everyone's Bedroom Door to the Law.
Worse yet, it gave the Republicans such fantastic ammunition-a slow pitch, really-to do what they always do: detract from actual issues by appealing to the always-there hatred of the Other. This happened at a nationwide level, and was at least partially Diane Linn's fault.
So in the most recent election, we, the most votin'est mothafuckas this side of the Cascades, went and handed her ass to her. I know I'm not the only one who voted for Ted Wheeler just because he wasn't Diane Linn.
I try to avoid ever doing that sort of thing, but it just felt good. This was despite the good advice of the geniuses at Just Out, who recommended a course about as well-reasoned as my voting Only Against: they said, But she's our Frieeeend...
They went on to make 'the case for loyalty', which should make all thinking observers yawn and turn away. Loyalty isn't a decent reason to hold on to someone who may very well have single-handedly done more damage to a movement than any number of tax cheats out in Wilsonville ever could.

Michael what's-his-name, on the other hand, distinguished himself as the latest Portland Restauranteur Flavor of the Month. For a while there, it seemed he could do no wrong with clarklewis, ripe, and later the Gotham Bldg. Tavern. Now, he's just this year's William Henry (remember him?).
clarklewis had this awful habit of employing people on the prestige plan: come in and work a trailing shift tonight, and you'll have a job-in theory- at the hottest new joint in P.O.
But at the end of it, you would be rewarded with a plate of mediocre pasta, a glass of wine and no tips, certainly no assurance one way or the other whether you had a job, or had just done a night's work for free.
As to that mediocre pasta, clarklewis was a masterpiece of hype. To hear the press on the subject, you would think that the eternally angry and drunk top chef Morgan Brownlow was changing the entire idea of food altogether. That's just the way we operate around here though; we want to be special, and feel sort of insecure, so we congratulate those who pick up on culinary trends that the rest of the country began on long, long ago. The trend in this case being comfort food served in haute cuisine-sized portions that also cost too damn much. I saw more than one self-satisfied table look a bit shocked at the amount of food on their (to be fair) beautifully arranged plates.
When I asked the floor manager, "So, I get tipped out or something, right?", he said, "Ohhhh..."
And I said, "'Ohhh...'?"
"Call Michael tomorrow."
(How do you like the abrupt shift from Objective Perspective to Full Disclosure, by the way?)
And I did. See, I had done about as well as anyone was going to do wandering into a very busy restaurant he'd never set foot in on a Saturday night, and trying to work there. Was I perfect? Of course not, but I also figured that I wasn't going to get brutally... Well...
When I spoke to Michael, he had heard that I'd asked already about compensation, clearly, since as it happened, I hadn't 'worked out'.
I pointed out that it was still illegal to work people with no compensation at all, and he said that it was 'industry standard'. Oh? Where? "It's industry standard in New York, anyway..."
This, I said, was not New York, thank God, and if he was really going to continue with this practice, he'd need to be very lucky.
"Well, it's how we've been doing it so far."
"I see," I said, "well, that's just awful. Good Luck, now." And I hung up the phone, realizing that I had used a curse even older than 'May You Live In Interesting Times', 'May All Your Dreams Come True', or even, 'If There's Anything You Need, You Just Let Me Know, Okay?"
And lo, a year or so later, my curse has come to fruition. The guy's marriage is in the toilet, he's fled town and his creditors; he's a joke, or at least another Cautionary Tale.

I just marvel at the power of words sometimes. It's not even Karma; more like good old Cause and Effect.


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