Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Blue Pen Creeps Me Out

It's getting close to primary election time. That means it's time for one of my columns full of insightful and astute observations in connection with the Washington State Primary.

My first insightful and astute observation is that the Washington State Primary is happening at all. How's that for a kick in the pants? A while ago there were political parties suing Washington State for having a primary that let nonmembers choose their candidates for them. Then the members of those parties (called politicians) voted for us to have a new kind of primary where nonmembers could still choose candidates for their parties. Then our governor, a member of a party, told themselves that their first choice for a primary system was no good, and that left themselves with their second choice, namely a system that lets nonmembers of the political parties choose their candidates for them.

Here's how you do it: when you go to the polls, you lie and put down that you're a Democrat. That's because this is Seattle, and Seattle is a "blue" city, so your vote has the biggest "impact", vote-wise, if you are a Democrat. Or, let's say this was Bellevue. Then you would lie and put down that you were a Republican. I'm just so glad that the parties now have a primary they like, so they will quit whining about freedom of association and get back to doing politics and making all our lives miserable.

Speaking of politicians making our lives miserable makes me think of Mark Sidran and my second insightful and astute observation, which concerns the "Frankenletter" I received yesterday by email. That is the letter of endorsement for Mark Sidran for Washington State Attorney General written by Al Franken, my hero, sent to me from Al's very own personal email address For those of you that haven't got one of these (maybe you aren't someone Al would know, like I am) Al Franken was a big shot writer and performer on Saturday Night Live who wrote a very funny book about Rush Limbaugh and who went to Harvard the same time Mark Sidran did, and who may or may not have once been in the same classroom with him. Therefore Al is endorsing Mark for WA State AG, even though Al lives in the Bahamas or the Azores or Malibu or someplace like that, and none of us really care who he thinks should be WA State AG, anyway.

My only insightful and astute observation regarding all this besides observing that I wish Mark Sidran had been a Yale grad, is that Mark and Al could have relieved themselves of a lot of that tension by renting a motel room for an hour or so, and that way I wouldn't have to think of the Frankenletter every time I think of Al Franken, my hero.

My third and final insightful and astute observation concerning the Washington State Primary, which will be held on September 14th, is that the pamphlets King County sent out to explain the King County ballots are way cool.

Right away the pamphlet is exciting for me because it has a freaky talking blue lady pen on the front of it, wearing a clicker on her freaking head. She is saying, "There's a change in our primary, not the General Election, just the primary." (I know she's a lady because she's wearing makeup and she has hips and her feet are microscopic. She's definitely someone's hot mama.) On the back page is the ringing endorsement of the Seattle Times, from their July 23 editorial, which said, "Ballots are more approachable than expected." That's what you need, ballots you can approach.

Hint: when approaching a skittish ballot, hold your hand out with your palm up and fingers extended. That shows it you mean it no harm and wish only to "pet" it. Then, when it smells the tips of your fingers, you can grab it by the scruff of its neck, pin it down, and fill in its ovals.

Just above the reassuring Times endorsement is this fantastic quote from Citizen Robert Marum: "No matter how you feel about the open primary system, your vote is too important not to take part in the election."

That's right Washington Staters, your votes mean so much, you should vote them. So don't forget to do that. Obey the freaky talking blue lady pen.

Thursday, August 5, 2004

Old Fart Wises Off

Good news! Thanks to the Democratic Convention occupying the media, there has been no actual news lately.

This gives us here at Adventures in Poetry – meaning by us, me, Copyright Dr. Wes Browning – a chance to take stock of our life. A chance to sniff the winds of our change and dip our toes into the pools of our stagnation. To audit the account books of the psycho-social-biological records of our historic being. To see to whence we have arrived, and from whence we have departed. And to see who or what is all that in the cargo hold, and why is there a woman in our bed wanting something.

Well, first of all, we are old. We just did the dreaded calculation and discovered that our current incarnation has been breathing air for 20,000 days and a little more than an extra hundred. As a mathematician, let us put that number in perspective. That's one more than 19,999. If he saw 20,000 Republicans laid end to end, Rush Limbaugh wouldn't raise any moral objections. Jules Verne talked about 20,000 leagues, but we don't know what a league is, we're a mathematician, not a damn encyclopedia. If you saw 20,000 pigeons flying toward you, you'd wish you had an umbrella, etc.

We once saw a guy walk on the moon live on television. We saw the assassination of an assassin live on television. We saw several wars live on television, so many that we lost count, sometime around about Panama. Most of them we're unnecessary and a huge waste of lives, health, and money.

History used to happen in black and white, but now it's always in color. Conversely Red Square isn't red anymore. There's nothing left for conservatives to be better dead than, which must be disorienting for them.

We have lived to see the amazing Wolf Blitzer ask Jesse Jackson, in Jesse's capacity as a black spokesperson, why did Barack Obama, a black African immigrant running for the Senate, not speak before the Democratic Convention in Boston using the same kind of rhetoric as did Al Sharpton, a black African-American reverend who had been running for president. Why oh why, Jesse?

Just yesterday, after living a thought-filled and examined life for over 5 decades, we arrived for the first time ever at an adequate working philosophy. This was facilitated by the able conversation and intellectual assistance of our regular companion, the afore-mentioned wanting-something woman and person on whose kitchen floor we have sometimes slept, Anitra Freeman. With her help we came up with this: "Good things now, bad things later." When in doubt always refer to that formula. It's a plan of action that can't go wrong. For example, by using it, you will never force yourself to save dessert for after the asparagus again. You will know all the times that it would be better to be home in bed than. You will learn to appreciate the paper plates of life, and the other disposables. You will shower for the fun of it, not because you have to. There is the way of wisdom.

We have been homeless four times in our life. We mention this in part to fulfill our unwritten contract with Real Change and the Real Change Editorial Committee. Every column we write is required to make at least one mention of homelessness, directly or indirectly, or one local politician must be made fun of, or two national politicians, or we must directly advocate for at least two of the following: minority rights, free pizza for Real Change volunteers writers and "editors", free/more/better treatment for recovering [insert addiction here], cats.

Duck licking. Speaking of speaking of duck licking, every column should contain at least one non sequitur, and one abuse of logical accuracy, which may be the same. But that has nothing to do with the unwritten contract. We have digressed.

We have lived in the same subsidized housing for almost 7 years now, the same housing funded by the Housing Agency Formerly Known As Seattle Housing Authority, the housing that was granted after 14 months on a waiting list, the housing that was promised to me as being permanent, the housing that is now threatened by Bush Administration cuts in Section 8 funding, the housing that we will never move from until they haul my cold lifeless never-to-be-homeless-again body out of it. Or until they come up with something better. Like that'll happen.