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Sunday, August 24, 2003

Help! My Life Is a Succession Of Tasteless Clichés!


If you happened to be out barhopping in the Belltown quarter of Seattle last night you may have done a double-take at your wristwatch calendar. No, it wasn’t Halloween; it was the night of the Bachelorette Party of the Living Dead. Armies of mindless, bloodthirsty zombies roaming the darkness. The only way to stop them is to drive a stake through their hearts. OK, that last bit may be a bit harsh but there were so many bachelorette parties that I stopped counting at around seven.

If you’ve never had the misfortune of brushing up against one of these female bonding outings they go something like this: The bride-to-be wears a veil and a shirt with a bunch of candies attached. Male passersby are encouraged to eat one of the candies off the shirt for one dollar. The soon-to-be newlywed also may be holding a penis-shaped drinking cup or some other type of vulgar paraphernalia. The idea of this dorky ritual is to give the bride one last fling at being single.

All of these veiled party girls looked like deer in the headlights, like they were desperately asking everyone and anyone, "Is this how I'm supposed to do this?" Most of the parties had themes besides the usual dick joke items, original themes like Hawaiian, princesses, and Hawaiian (no kidding, there were two Hawaiian parties). The brides all looked pretty miserable in their role as slut for the night. The bachelorette party is a direct spin-off of the male bachelor party. I’ve never attended a bachelor party and I would tell these gals the same thing I tell prospective grooms when they talk about their pre-wedding orgy of fun: If you need even one more night of freedom then don’t fucking get married in the first place.

The bachelor/bachelorette party is just another cliché amid a junkyard full of clichés that make up the whole marriage ritual in the beginning years of the new century in America. It has been called the wedding industrial complex. Most of these rituals are pointless and serve no real purpose. They don’t strengthen the institution of marriage or underline the seriousness of two people binding themselves together for a lifetime.

I think it is time we start some new rituals but first let’s shit-can all of the old tired ones. I could list all of the rituals that I think are retarded but instead of being so dictatorial (not that I’ve ever been afraid of being dictatorial) I’ll just say this: Think everything through for yourself and decide for yourself just how you want to approach the whole wedding thing. If you really must have a bachelorette party then have one but don’t just do it because that’s what every other girl is doing. Maybe if you think about it you won’t wake up the next morning in a pool of your own Midori Sour vomit.

Instead of the usual ritual of running around the streets of Belltown made up like a wedding ghoul or Miss Haversham, try coming up with a ritual of your own. A girl I know mentioned that she would skip the usual bachelorette party crap and have a campfire at the beach with her friends instead. God forbid that we create rituals in our society that are actually somewhat spiritual.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Hip Hip Hurray for Hippie Hempfest!

Hempfest was this past weekend in Seattle. Hempfest is part celebration for the joys of cannabis and part protest against this nation’s Draconian marijuana laws. As you can imagine, Hempfest draws an unusual crowd of people. Someone less skilled in the art of humor and satire than me might approach an essay on this subject with something like this:

“A huge mushroom cloud hung over Myrtle Edwards Park this weekend of Hempfest. As I walked down the hill from my apartment and merged with the throngs of people entering and exiting the pro-cannabis festival I soon realized that the cloud was not a result of the tons of burning pot but the collective body odor of the hippies making their yearly Hajj.”

I wouldn’t write that because not only is it not funny but it is totally disrespectful towards hippies, a distant, less developed cousins of Homo sapiens on the evolutionary ladder.

I also don’t plan to set up a concession stand for deodorant at next year’s Hempfest. I will not buy a couple of sticks of deodorant and sprinkle them with so much arm pit hair that they look like Saddam Hussein’s upper lip. That would be in horribly bad taste and I just won’t do it.

I would like to report on one item that struck my attention at Weed Fest. There was some sort of chill-out room set up outside with lots of carpets and pillows. A DJ was playing really retarded new age music. And I swear this is true: There was a real hippie lying on a big hippie-sized pillow that looked like a dolphin. The hippie was probably so stoned that he thought he was riding a real dolphin. He probably was imagining that his girlfriend was a mermaid. There is no fucking way I could make that up.

Hempfest is pretty cool in my book because I think it is important for people to stand up for what they believe in. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of pot and hippies don’t like booze because there was no beer concession. I needed to stand up (or sit at the bar) for what I believe in so we stopped at the first bar outside of the park which happens to be the beautiful Waterfront restaurant. Having a mojito at the Waterfront and watching the sun set over Elliot Bay was like finding a pot of gold at the end of a BO rainbow.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Corporate Food: Oxymoron of Obscenity?

I was out in scary suburbia, I had an hour or so to kill, and I was a bit hungry. The two breakfast options appeared to be Denny’s—a corporate assembly line answer to dining—and another place that looked like it was trying desperately to reach Denny’s level of institutionalized awfulness. I chose the upstart joint; I think it was called Mickelstien’s or something like that.

It got weird as soon as we entered. The seating hostess scanned several sheets of restaurant seating maps before taking us to a table. She informed us that she would be our waitress and promptly left before taking my order for coffee. Maybe my coffee drug addiction is talking here but what kind of asshole doesn’t take your order for coffee? A few minutes later another waitress came by and announced that she would be our waitress. I didn’t really care who would eventually be our waitress, I just wanted—make that needed, desperately needed—a cup of coffee.

You could tell the place was micro-managed half to death by the geniuses at their evil world headquarters. The menus had pictures of what the food should look like in a perfect world--always a bad sign. The waitress took our order on some sort of palm pilot. She asked us if we wanted ketchup, as if this is an item too precious to simply leave out on the tables. I imagined her returning to the kitchen to face a tribunal of shift managers. “So, did you at least try to talk them out of the ketchup, Miss ‘Let’s just give out free ketchup to the whole world’?” The total number of customers that the waitress is unable to talk out of using valuable condiments is undoubtedly put on her permanent record.

The food was completely terrible, as you might have guessed. I know what you are saying to yourselves. “Where does this punk get off expecting that just any restaurant can pull off a complicated meal like breakfast?” I really don’t know what I was thinking. Did I actually think that a restaurant, just any restaurant could actually serve edible (eatable?) food? How naïve.

Speaking of Denny’s, they have a new slogan: A good place to sit and eat. No shit, I seen it on the TV. I’ll bet the guys at the swanky Madison Avenue ad agency that created that gem tossed around “A good place to park your fat ass and stuff your pie hole with really salty or super-sweet garbage.” They had to nix that one because it was too long. “A good place to sit and eat” is actually perfect for a dump like Denny’s because it sort of implies that eating is something you have to do, it’s like you are a shark and eating is your only function on this earth, eating is all you do, you fucking pig, and where you do it isn’t of great concern. For God’s sake, you’re close to starving.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Above the Cascades

This isn’t an apology but I have to say that I’m not a big believer in store-bought experiences. If you could buy every great experience then all rich people would be a lot more interesting than the rest of us. I haven’t found this to be the case at all. Most of the best things in this life take more time than money; learning to play an instrument or a foreign language come to mind. With that said let me just say that what I did yesterday was really fucking cool.

I spend a lot of time schlepping around in the Cascade Mountains which lie east of my home in Seattle. Just this past weekend I drove up to North Cascades National Park for a little hiking and sight-seeing. On the way home I drove along the east side of the mountains along the beautiful Yakima River. I have hiked, climbed, and mountain biked through these wondrous peaks at every opportunity. A guy I know is a pilot who is always looking to log flight time so I enlisted him to take me over the mountains for a bird’s eye view of this big playground.

I met him at Paine Field, a twenty minute drive north from my apartment in downtown Seattle. Jaime checked out a Cessna 172 Skyhawk for my reconnaissance flight. The morning haze was almost burned off when we took off and headed east for the mountains. We gained altitude over the God-awful suburban sprawl that dominates the outskirts of most American cities. We kept Mount Baker to our left, Rainier to our right which left Mount Stewart almost directly in front of us.

From Seattle to the Canadian border there are only three roads that cross the Cascades from east to west: Snoqualmie Pass via I-90, Stevens Pass via highway 2, and highway 20 which winds through North Cascades National Park. With so few roads there is a vast expanse of wilderness in this area and I wanted to see it from the air.

We had breathless views of alpine lakes, dense forests, and snow-capped peaks. I could navigate from the air as I know this area rather well, both its natural features and man-made landmarks. One of the most spectacular sites from the air would have to be Lake Serene below Mount Index. I have hiked there before and it looked amazing in the context of the whole mountain around it.

Once again I can say that the best things in life are either free or aren’t that expensive. I’m lucky enough to know someone who loves to fly and is thrilled to have a passenger split the flight time.