Friday, November 02, 2007

All Politics is Local

Well, it's Friday, or as we like to call it here at the Fire Direction Center, "Rant Day". When I get to blog about something of import, usually political, and pontificate my opinions to you, the hapless reader. Fundamentally it's my opportunity to call a battalion three on some fucking fathead, usually a Republican, who is pissing me off. But today's post has a little to offend everyone, and it's a sad fact that it begins with the fella up top there. Recognize him?
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César Estrada Chávez. Yep, the labor leader, Chicano rights activist and (from all accounts) generally decent guy. But right now, he's kinda pissing me off.
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This may seem like such small things when you look at a world dealing with wars, rumors of wars, poverty, racism, peak oil, deforestation and "Bee Movie"...but several months ago a group of largely Latino community reps showed up in North Portland with the announcement that North Interstate Avenue would soon become North Cesar Chavez Ave.
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Now North 'State ain't exactly the "Miracle Mile", Portland's "Great White Way" unless the "white" you're referring to is milked from the furtive groins of the johns down at the Palms Motel or mixed in a syringe and taken interdermally by the tweakers in the parking lot outside the Alibi. It's not the Strip in Vegas, or Rodeo Drive in LA. But in North Portland, it's what we've got.
My parents, hardy souls, knew Interstate when it really was "Interstate". They would pile in the old Ford Twodoor with me scrabbling in my mom's lap (no sissy carseats back then!) and off they'd go, selling CMC for Hercules Powder Company up the West Coast along Highway 99, the main route from Yreka to Seattle back in the Fifties, when the motels were more than trick-joint fleabags and the restaurants more than local greasy spoons.
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Okay, well they may still have been greasy spoons but they were interstate travel-catering greasy spoons. Some, like the Nite Hawk, still remain as a ghost of travelers' past.
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So, okay, it's not much. And surely the city of Portland can afford to name something after the Latino MLK, right? But the problem here wasn't the message; it was the delivery.
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The "Chavez Avenue" folks pretty much swaggered in with the attitude that this was a done deal. Game over, motherfucker, and you dumb-ass NoPo crackers don't like it, it's to bad for your racist ass. Needless to say, this isn't a good way to sell soap to anyone, and in North, where we'd just had one of these "wake up and your street name's different" deals where North Portland Blvd became North Rosa Parks Way (which, for the record, I was fine with, although I thought it would have been much more appropriate to honor this woman , or this one - Oregon has no lack of great female African-Americans - if we felt like honoring an African-American activist here in Portland).
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So, not surprisingly, this blew up in the committee's face, with a truly ugly Overlook neighborhood association meeting generating talk of racism and know-nothingism. Portland's mayor, a touchy character with little negotiating skills, has essentially neutered himself for the rest of his almost year-long term by walking out of a city council meeting over this nonsense.
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Look, I'm all about naming something for Cesar. We don't have a good ravine (although Sullivan's Gulch could do in a pinch) but hey, a street, a park...whatever. But the smart way to do this would be to start by ASKING the people who live there to talk about the idea. Does that make me a racist. Well, okay, then. But it gets on my wick when people do a smart thing in a stupid way and THEN get all pissy when the people they piss off get, well, pissed off. Doing the Right Thing by starting off by kicking people in the ass is not a good idea, folks.
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Duh.
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And speaking of bad ideas, here's another little gem from the minds of the kind of greedy, selfish Republican bastards that brought you your pitiful (but expensive) private health insurance and FEMA's Hurricane Katrina: the "No on 49" campaign (and, no, I won't link to these pricks).
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The arguments in favor of this measure are plain to anyone not blinded by their own avarice or numbed by too much Rush. Here's the 1000 Friends site explaining it all. But the real proof for me is the anti-49 campaign's weak-ass boogity-boogity scary wolf poster. Just look at it, ferchrissakes.
"A wolf in sheep's clothing"? Oh, pul-heeze.
Sorry, Bill Sizemore, Dave Hunnicut, Don McIntyre and the pack of rapacious corporate SOBs out there hoping for the pot of gold to be had turning Oregon's terrific farm- and timberland into crappy little tract houses, strip malls and 24Hour Fitnesses. It was you wolfish scoundrels who dressed up like Grandma back in 2004 and conned Oregon's Little Red Riding Voter (who, admittedly, is dumber than a fucking bag of hammers) into passing Measure 37, the land-use gutting legislation that put y'all on the fast track to casholalaland...
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The sad part is that it seems like a ton of people around here don't really care that the "me-firsters" of groups like Oregonians in Action would like to make as much of Oregon as they can like this:
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Rather than like what you'll see below. Just to give you a sense of the place: I had a job of work out in North Plains this afternoon, at their cute little elementary school. I got to have a lovely long drive home through the beautiful Washington County countryside. Even in the waning autumn, winter's chill already in the air, it looked lush, the soil dark and fertile.
Why the hell would any sane person want to trade this to look like the friggin' San Fernando Valley? Have we earned nothing from California's wretched example?
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Here's another pretty vista, this a lavender farm east of North Plains.
I loved the flame-red maples outside this little farm.
I'm guessing that this is an old schoolhouse. It's north of Rock Creek, and about a stone's throw from the McMenamin's Rock Creek Tavern, which is a damn fine place for a cold beer.
I loved this intersection outside of North Plains. This is the real Oregon Country.
This lovely little barn along NW Skyline...
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...and then on home.

3 comments:

Meghan H said...

by the way, if you type in noon49.org or .com, you get immediately redirected to the "yeson49.org" site. There's nothing like pre-buying your opponents' URL to make the campaign really fun! My little black heart leaps with joy when I picture the no on 49 people realizing that they were beaten to the punch.

Kelli said...

Ooh I was at the 2nd neighborhood meeting on Cezar Chavez/Interstate Ave renaming...yikes. I've never heard such vile insults to my neighborhood as those thrown about by the "pro re-naming"- not only were we called racists but we were compared to the KKK. Which is absolutely absurd, considering every person against renaming the street said, "this was a good man, let's find a way to honor him that we can all agree on- let's find a uniting solution instead of a divisive solution"- and every time, the response from the "yes to renaming" group was "you are all Racists!" Not exactly the way to win people over to your way of thinking...

Anonymous said...

i say we call for public action. sten needs to change his mind.