Thursday, October 30, 2008

Episode 65: How to Vote

Back on Election Day 2000, before the coup, Sister Meg and I were lucky enough to snag tickets to the Gore/Lieberman victory rally in downtown Nashville on Legislative Plaza. We arrived early and parked far far away and made it through three levels of security and pat-downs and purse-investigation. We stood on the granite plaza in front of a giant bank of journalists and TV screens, all ready to listen to President-elect Gore come out and we waited and waited and waited. Hundreds of people were gathered and roped off in different access-level areas. Lots of "No New Texans" lapel buttons. I saw one that said "Gay Men Hate Bush." There were giant TV screens on either side of his eventual stage and they kept blinking in and out so we couldn't really follow the story of what was happening. Evey now and then, we'd see some good news - Hillary over Lazio in New York, Gore takes Florida, etc. Then Florida was un-Gored and the journalists on the tiers behind us were going apeshit.

Being 2000, not everyone had a cell phone so there were just a few people on the phone for several hours, relaying the news or the not-news or whatever. Hours went by without us knowing what was happening. Never-was-been Marilu Henner came out - though as far as I know, she was not on the ticket - and sang a song from Chicago where all the lyrics had been changed to reflect politics and Al Gore and it was mind-bogglingly bad, though everyone smiled and laughed that way you do when a child tap-dances to "The Good Ship Lollipop" and doesn't fall on her face. Then another hour went by and Cher came out - also not on the ticket, though maybe she should have been! - and gave us a cheering-up speech, telling us we'd pull this out, but she didn't sing. More hours went by.

Al Gore never came out, though we had heard rumors he was staying in the hotel beside the plaza, watching from a penthouse window. It started to drizzle. It was 11:00 or so and the crowd started dwindling and eventually we broke up and trudged back to our cars, dripping wet, denied a victory speech - or indeed a presidency, though we didn't know that just yet - by Al Gore.

I guess that's my Woodstock, the thing I can say "I was there" about. It was a terrible night, all the way around. But mainly because of Marilu Henner and her idiotic song.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Episode 64: How to Go to an Art Show

So this one time, my friends Beth and Thom and Griffin and I went up to Chicago for a weekend of art and eating. I think we might have gone up specifically to see this big Monet show at the Art Institute but maybe not because even though we did go to the Monet show, I've never been a huge Monet fan. I mean, I like him fine but I find that like licorice and the novels of Hermann Hesse, a little goes a long way. So in other words, I have no idea why we went up there.

When we got there, we checked in with our friend E* with whom we were staying the first night. We made our way to whatever side of town he lived on and Griffin and I were shown to our quarters in the basement, where we were to be sleeping on two giant black leather sofas arranged in an L shape. We were exhausted so we went right to sleep without even turning on the light. Five hours later, at the crack of dawn, cock-a-doodle-doo! cock-a-doodle-doo! Now I was pretty sure I had not been transported to a faraway homestead in the middle of Iowa during the dark of night so I opened my eyes and hmmmmmm. There, staring at me from the laundry room door, was a full-grown rooster, leashed with a sad little string to the washing machine. Turns out our friend E's mother was a high priestess of Santeria! And our little cock-a-doodle-doo-ing friend was set to be that night's sacrifice. Which is a lot of information to wake up to, let me tell you.

Later that day, we went to the Monet show. Long lines of people who pretty much just wanted to get to the gift shop. We were all standing in the octagonal room that had different examples of Monet's hay-stacks on each wall so you could see how he had painted them at different times of day to capture the different qualities of light. A lady swept in, sniffed, and declaimed quite loudly, "I don't get it; it looks like a big muffin!"

And that, my friends, is how to not go to an art show. Even though it totally does look like a big muffin.

*name obscured because I don't want a menacing, doomed rooster in my laundry room

Monday, October 13, 2008

Episode 63: How to Select an Airplane Seat

Okay, so I just got back from a vacation in Palm Springs and other than riding on an airplane out there (and coincidentally on the way back as well), this fascinating anecdote has nothing to do with actual flight. But it's a good story and I don't really want to call a Psychopedia entry How to Be Racist because some people have found the Psychopedia through Googling and I'd hate that to show up at the top of a search result.

On the first day that I was in Palm Springs, I went on a tour of the stars' homes. I know, you're thinking this must have been the most glamorous thing imaginable but in actuality it turned out to be a cross between hilarious and appalling. First off, our tour guide Ed (his quotations will be in parentheses) was a hundred and eleventy years old and his idea of a movie star was Marie Dressler. Marie Dressler! ("Yes sir, here's where Tugboat Annie lived!") So I just went and looked up Marie Dressler and here's something: she was born in 1868 and Tugboat Annie was made in 1933, which was in fact the last year whoever the hell Marie Dressler is even MADE movies. Who exactly did Ed think was on this bus? Grandma Moses? Methuselah? Joan Rivers? Though I confess I would like to see her 1918 opus, Red Cross Nurse.

ANYWAY, that was Marie Dressler's house. We also saw a house Marilyn Monroe lived in for twenty minutes ("I used to come here and watch her get the mail. Or male. If you get my joke") and Madonna's Palm Springs cottage ("there goes the neighborhood") and also where Liberace died, which was just this funny little house with a GINORMOUS candelabra in the front and Elvis' honeymoon house ("I didn't get Elvis.") We drove by one of Paul Newman's places and everone on the fucking bus "awwwwww"ed like he was their freshly-dead uncle or something so then when we drove by Lucille Ball's house, I "waaaaahhhhh"ed appropriately, but no one laughed because people just don't get me.

We also visited some famous mid-century modern buildings ("I guess all I can say about modernism is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.... now, have I told you about Marie Dressler?") and sites of old hotels and racquet clubs that aren't there anymore - seriously, we were parked in front of a hospital for twenty minutes while Ed told us about how he and his friend the tennis pro used to "do the joints" and run into Eddie Cantor or somebody and it was all just insanely tedious in a smells-like-mothballs way.

But things got verrrry interesting when he started in on the Indians. And that's what he called them, Indians. Only he sped up the middle syllable so that it really did sound like "Injuns." Actually, he only called them Indians when he wasn't calling them "lowly savages," and no I am not making that up. But it turns out that this particular band of lowly savages is like the ONE band America didn't exactly get to cornhole ("all the other Indians are poor and alcoholic!"), because they ended up with a ton of land in the Palm Springs area and according to Ed, they have whitey by the shorthairs because they don't pay taxes or have to abide by building codes or even, I don't know, wear pants if they don't want to. Ed was quite worked up about them and really, he did go on quite a bit ("They're sitting pretty and don't pay taxes! And we GAVE THEM the land!") Which of course made me snort out loud since we took it from them in the goddamned first place. Ed must have had a particularly painful Indian-burn or Indian -giving-incident in his past.

Then Ed went on to tell us a "hilarious" joke about former Palm Springs mayor Sonny Bono that ended with "I've Got Jews Babe." The whole thing really made me want to go put on a headdress and some moccasins and hatchet Ed to death. Which if I had been on Indian land I probably could have gotten away with. I should have asked Ed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Episode 62: How to Pack a Suitcase

I'm in a suitcase-pack-y frame of mind because I am in the last stages of packing for my trip to Palm Springs for a long weekend. I think that in the face of a nationwide-possibly-worldwide economic depression the best thing to go do is spend a bunch of money on cosmopolitans and expensive tee-shirts! I'll be hiking around in Joshua Tree National Park a little bit with my friend Carol, who won the trip because she's GOOD at her JOB and she decided to take me with her. So we have to hang out with all of her co-workers and I have to pretend to be all interested in what they're saying. I'm sure I'll say something that gets overheard incorrectly and misinterpreted and all sorts of misunderstanding will occur so in other words it's like I'm Mr. Jack Tripper from Three's Company.

I'll be back next week, tanned and rested...unless drinks aren't included and in that case, I'll be yellow and shaky.

By the way, my mother says she once saw a Miss America contestant pack a suitcase live onstage as her talent show talent, but I just can't believe a thing could ever happen. Though in 2002, I did see Miss Nevada, Teresa Francisca Benitez, recite the father's courtroom monologue from The Laramie Project. She came in third. While I'm gone you should think about that.