Saturday, June 14, 2008

That is the question

If the British suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, perhaps sublimiating their annoyance with a bit of harmless whinging over a pint of bitter, then the Americans, by contrast, take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. Or make them a bit worse, it doesn't really matter. And, let's face it, the sea is optional.

I seem to have acquired a backlog of photographs, and no time to string them together with a plausable narrative; so let's simply celebrate this, my 100th post, with pictures...

All will be mine!

My bike, parked outside the Lotus Inn.

Leon's birthday tart (and Auntie Jeanne).

I was strangely drawn to this monochrome plant.

Stickers on a bike rack.

In the 'hood - a typical Portland fire hydrant.

My munchkin nephew Max summits his father's ample stomach.

Seen here in-situ, my latest weapon in the arms-war between father and toddler. Since our kitchen drawers are not child proofable by ordinary means, I drilled holes in the side and inserted pins, so that the drawer cannot be opened without the pin first being removed. So far he has worked out that the pins are removable, but has failed to correlate the absence of the pin with the ability to open the associated drawer.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

City Hall

I certainly don't have anything against the chap, but you'll have to forgive me for failing to be swept up in the quasi-religious zeal surrounding Mr Barack Obama. Exhibit A: the picture to the right, the cover page of local rag Williamette Week. OK, so it's a tawdry publication, only a few grammatical errors short of the Portland Mercury, but the fact that they could get away with this sort of nonsense at all is an indication of the general political weltanshauung, which, as usual, veers towards the barmy, albeit in a more agreeable form then the recent Fourth Reich vogue. I'm not sure I can pinpoint the exact source of my complete indifference to his campaign and indeed sense of discomfort with regards to the whole gaudy spectacle, though I expect it may be a combination of the following:
  • The usual British contempt for politicians.
  • Remaining bitterness over Blair's sell-out of the Left, flagrant disregard for the truth and human life; this alone drove me from disenchantment to full-on apathy and despair - and I didn't even vote for him.
  • The general irritability commonplace amongst middle aged men.
  • An innate contrariness sparked by the vision of 75,000 Portlanders showing up to watch him speak the other week (or, in reality, hear the faint ripple of Obamania in the distance, ebbing and flowing with every predictable and vacuous repetition of the word "change")
  • Quaker distaste for the reverence accorded to authority figures.
  • Ideologically, Barack's about as radical (and leftist) as John Major.
  • Abject boredom with the prolix insanity and inanity of the selection process.
As I'm sure the good Rev Jeremiah Wright could have told him, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Indeed Obama is the very much the poster child for vanity and vexation of spirit, qualities still held in high esteem in the United States, where dignity is afforded to everyone except Hollywood starlets, who are afforded none whatsoever. As my Irish friend Derek remarked following the now normative vote-rigging section of the Eurovision Song Contest (rebroadcast at a party at our place last weekend), "thus it shall remain until the new republics of Eastern Europe get over themselves." US politicians are not expected to "get over themselves," are largely unaccountable, are held in unreasonably high esteem and, when not picking up men in airport toilets, ponce around like courtiers in the age of Louis XVI, only with private jets.

On a more positive note, he is certainly a more electable candidate than either Al "charisma bypass" Gore or the prize nob patrician Francophile Kerry, and, though he inherits the poisoned chalice of a flagging economy and at least one disastrous war, may do something to repair America's reputation abroad.

More parochial matters were at play in my first trip to City Hall the other week. I was preternaturally excited at the prospect, an excitement that was drained from me - and then some - over the course of an hour's reiteration, procrastination and stalling. I wouldn't have minded so much if it wasn't for the fact that a) I believe I'm personally (though not single-handedly) paying their salaries, b) I was only there to do them a favour in the first place - my firm had offered to take on a completely non-strategic project at zero margin, and c) they intimated that they were actually doing me a favour. I left the expensively restored Italianate interior feeling squalid.

In entertainment news, the feature-length follow up to Sex in the City - a series which I had assumed to have no US viewers but was being bankrolled by the Saudis as an extended al-Qaeda recruitment vehicle - has apparently topped the box office this week.

Pioneer Square: underutilised public space lacking heart, perhaps due to the architect's literalist interpretation of the term 'Square'. Popular with tourists and the homeless.

The Hawthorne Bridge on a sunny afternoon.

They don't make them like this anymore. But maybe they should.