Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wars and Lechery

So I'm driving to work this morning and, working where I do and living where I do, I pass the Acropolis "Steakhouse Plus" down in Southeast Portland just north of Milwaukie.First let me explain something; Portland is the nation's Strategic Titty Bar Repository.

I'm dead serious. I'm lived in some of the United States' most noxious hives of scum and villainy, from Balboa when it was part of the Canal Zone to Southern Pines, North Carolina, where cousin-marriage is both sport and tradition. And most of these places featured the usual line-up of scummy businesses; tattoo parlors, dive bars, pawnshops, check-cashing and payday-loan grifters, and girlie joints ranging from just dive-y-er bars with a pole where the bored employee would occasionally perform a bit of indifferent gyrating in hopes of attracting an otherwise unused five-spot into her undies...all the way up to the full-on, all-nude skanky juice bars where a former grocery cashier from Kuala Lumpur will attempt to corkscrew herself onto your belt buckle for a hundred bucks and an overpriced glass of Jamba Juice.

But not one of them had as many topless and nude dance places as Portland.

Because...well, first of all, because the Oregon state constitution of 1859 says "No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write or print freely on any subject whatever." This has been interpreted by Oregon's courts to include public performance, and to include public performance whilst clad only in Nature's garb. A number of attempts have been made to variously limit or regulate the ecdysiasts working across the Beaver State, but the beaver has resolutely remained...unclad.

And then, of course, there is the inexorable Law of Strip Joint Supply and Demand; men with money will demand women's saucy bits, or at least a look at them, and women with that equipment and no money will supply them, or at least a look at them, in return for money.Talk about the Invisible Hand. Sheesh.

I should say up front that I've never really enjoyed most of these places. The food is usually bad, the drinks are, too, and expensive, as well. The women clearly either pity you, loathe you, or could care less about you which, in my opinion, is a fairly sound attitude seeing that you've turned up for no better reason than to look at them naked for money.

Anyway, that's not really the point of this post. The point is that no matter where you go in Portland, you're going to pass these places. You just get used to them, which is either sad or just sort of expected, but there it is.(The above photo is of the old "Sandy Jug" that is now one of them called the "Pirate's Cove". Last time I drove up Sandy their sign said "You'll treasure our chests". Well, okay, then.)

But the thing I noted as I went by today was that, along with the typical "Steak Special $5.98", and "Wow 54 Taps!" and the "Cherry Girl School Teacher!!" (okay, I made the last one up...) the Acropolis sign advised that they were "Open at 7".


Let me say that while I don't consider myself some sort of satyr I suspect I'm as lusty as the next guy, and that while my wife is not a supermodel I believe, and my casual observations reassure me, that her breasts are as lovely as the next woman's.And as it happens in my marriage as in most marriages, several relationships, and even more than a few casual hook-ups, I have had the rather pleasant experience of encountering my bride while un- or barely-clad in the early morning not long after waking.

And I am afraid to admit this, but as ravishing as she is, sashaying down the hall in Eve's raiment on the way to the bathroom, the sight of her pulchritude is unlikely to get more than a brief grunt of appreciation out of me before my first cup of coffee.

So I can't imagine why I...I can't imagine why anyone...would drive down McLoughlin Boulevard at 6:45 in the morning to look at some stranger's breasts at 7 o'clock. My inamorata's breasts? Maybe. Sure. But some boobs-for-hire? A pair of rent-a-breasts?I just don't get it.

Maybe I'm missing something. But I can't think of what.

And speaking of missing something...

The woman who works in my office is a Boston Bruins hockey fan, and that is how I come to know that after the Vancouver hockey team lost this year's Stanley Cup a part of the hockey crowd there tore up the center of the city and had to be chased off by the local constabulary after doing some free-lance burning and looting.Apparently they were upset about the outcome of the series.

You all know that, in the words of the song, I am a Timbers fan and I am an Oregonian. I know I want the Boys in Green to win, and I'm disappointed when they don''s a game, for fuck's sake. A hobby, a pastime, an entertainment. I don't actually KNOW any of the Timbers, I have no deep emotional stake in their fortunes. I love the sport, I love the team, I love to go to matches and sing and chant for them.

But to burn up my town, the city I love as much as I love both sport and team, because they lost?

There has to be something deeply wrong with you to do that. I'll bet the LaBatt's helped. And the hard times; if I was out of work and on the dole I'll bet there's a lot better chance I'd use the excuse of a lost championship to try and stuff the red flag up your hole...but...probably not.Perhaps I'm a bit overcivilized. Perhaps I'm just unwilling to spend the night in the carcel with the other drunks. But, like staring at titties at seven in the morning, there's something there that just seems deeply wrong to me.Let me know if you can figure it out.

I should add that one worthy thing did emerge from the flaming wreckage of downtown Vancouver; this snapshot.I've heard that some viewers have already stated that they dislike this image intensely, and when a friend of mine posted it and the link to the Vancouver Sun story about it on her Facebook page it drew some fairly scathing comments about drunken hoolies, public indecency, and the general decline in Western Civilization.

Again...maybe it's me, but I love this little image. The way I see it, the moment it captures helps restore my faith in human nature.

Here these two people are, caught, possibly by intent but just as likely by accident, in the midst of a sudden outbreak of violent stupidity. Just moments ago they were part of some sort of liquored-up mob whose intelligence, like all mobs, is the intelligence of the stupidest individual in the mob divided by the number of the people in the group. The mob was angry, the cops were angry, the cars are burning, the (from what I recall) pleasant city of Vancouver has become a fucking mess...and what can a man and woman do about that?

Make love, of course.

There's never a bad time to kiss, never a wrong moment to gift your lover with a tender word, a fierce embrace, a warm, strong hand, whether that hand is on a cheek for comfort, or a thigh for lust.

There's never a wrong time to get a little sugar for your bowl.So maybe there IS a reason to get up and drive down McLoughlin to see breasts...if the breasts belong to the one who can make you forget everything around you except how they make you feel. Perhaps these two felt that way. I hope so.

And I hope that perhaps they will grow old together, pass through the hard times and the dark times together, make themselves a mainland together, and in the end look back at this moment when they were the only sane and sensible people in a world gone mad and share a smile as full of savor at the memory as a midnight is dark and a silent pool is deep and still.


Pluto said...

"Open at 7"

Hopefully they mean 7:00 PM? Nothing else makes any sense to me. I can't imagine that the number of customers would make it worth the expense to be open that early.

For starters the women on display would probably want extra cash to be up that early.

FDChief said...

Pluto: Nope, it's 0700. Good time for PT, or coffee. For staring at some employee's bolt-ons? Not so much. For me, anyway.

Upon further reflection, I think the thing that makes it so skeevy for me about the idea of strip club morning hours is the atmosphere of forced sexuality in these places. The women work their ass off trying to manufacture this faux...hotness (for lack of a better word) mulct more jack out of you. I have a hard time eating in these places (and some of them actually DO serve some decent food) because you're stuffing your haggis-trap whilst some barely-dressed siren is staring at you with these hoked-up bedroom eyes.


What would be kind of funny, and what might work (for me, anyway), is if the girls were to accept it as "morning" and just schlump around with their bathrobes open, or instead of stripper heels and lingerie, come sit at your table dressed in a T-shirt and fluffy slippers with their hair all frowzy, no makeup, and a cup of coffee. You could make the T-shirt see-through if you wanted to, to keep the while idea of "strip club" going.

And they could make the sort of half-awake conversation you have mornings, and scratch their backsides, and yawn.

It'd be funny and sorta-sexy, but in an appropriately morning way.


The whole strip club thing just doesn't work for me. And especially not before noon.

Leon said...

"most noxious hives of scum and villain"

I'm shocked, shocked that Washington DC is no longer the leader in that field. I blame the Democrats for Washington slipping on the scum meter.

As a Canuckian (though a Torontonian who cheers for the forever hopeless Maple Leafs) who's seen similar riots following playoff games (see Montreal, repeatedly) the games featured massive gatherings of twenty-something males fueled by lots of alcohol (technically it's "Labatt", no need to capitalize the "b") and probably would have happened even if Vancouver won. Just @sshats looking for an excuse. Hopefully the police track them down and throw a heavy phone book at them.

Also, I like the photo. Amidst all that destruction something constructive happening. Cue the


Don Francisco said...

7am breasts - that made me chuckle. Authentic morning dress strip show? Could be a new kink!

I once had to go to strip club in a professional capacity and got a good look behind the scenes. If the forced sexuality and overpriced drinks didn't put you off then observing the lengths of two-way mirrors with security guards watching everything would.

rangeragainstwar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

Thank you, Chief.

I shall pose an advice column request: What is one to make of a senior citizen who still wants to go to titty bars? Or, is that a large part of the viewing cohort?

FDChief said...

Leon: I'm kind of fascinted that the Sun and the B.C. pols seem determined to pin this on "anarchists" when the vast majority of people in the photos are wearing Canucks kit. Looks like drunken hockey yobbos to me, but, then, that's me.

And we've seen this everywhere; it's a human thing, not a B.C. thing. Just sad, and stupid.

DF: That DOES make it even nastier. Ugh.

Lisa: si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait...

Pluto said...

FDC: "Looks like drunken hockey yobbos to me, but, then, that's me."

Isn't that the modern definition of anarchists?

Lisa said...

C'est vrai!

Leon said...

Hmmm, my reply to you Chief seems to have disappeared. I had said that blaming it on "anarchists" lets everyone absolve their "ordinary law-abiding" kids off without some serious reflection.

Funnily enough, today's Globe and Mail has an article confirming that some of the identified rioters were middle-class twats with no criminal records. One idiot was an academic star heading to university in the states on a scholarship (which is probably disappearing right now). Original article here:


FDChief said...

Lisa: But IMO that just makes it sad. The demographics suggest that as us Y-chromosome types age we become a valuable commodity; you start outliving us by a significant margin, and if we were smart (which, as we've discussed, we're generally not...) we'd realize that we could practically have a hareem of lovely ladies.

But we're obsessed with our self-image as the glossy young studs we still think we are; we are incredible at overlooking our sags, wrinkles, and hairy bits and are fastidious about yours. The savory charm of a grown-up woman can't compete with the taut protuberances of a pair of rent-a-boobs.

And so the sad old guys line the rail at the titty bar trying to buy the love of the cynical young things who are despising them..when they could be making actual love with a woman their own age.

Stupid. Stupid. But then we are...

Lisa said...


Yes -- so silly. Such a waste, if we consider true fraternity to be a good (and I do.)

Our society loves rock stars -- the more the merrier. I suspect many of these men (and women) never learned to value a heart connection. Bumping sexual bits, yes, so they bow at the altar of Viagra.

Like you say, a good man should age well, like fine wine. If he is smart (and fortunate), he may always have the love of a good woman. Yet such a simple thing seems so rare; people are more likely to commune with their pets than their humans. This may be because one party has loosed its ego.

FDChief said...

Lisa: Or perhaps not so much ego as id; we've become all about the immediate scratching of our simian itches. The notion that we should subsume our sexual gratification into a more complex relationship of ideas, emotions, give-and-take...that's SO last week.

Instead, we find ourselves leering at some anonymous fake gahongas in some sleazy joint; it's easier and quicker than finding the time and substance to get to know a REAL woman...

Lisa said...

Yes, and I think this is why the ego-less animal is so attractive. He meets us directly, and makes no sham of his drives (though I have seen some dogs who rise the level of dissimulation in the service of getting treats, methinks.)

So we must aggrandize this id, and the only way is to get bigger, better and more. Quality of communion is not so important, as that cannot be flaunted. In fact, it requires a humility and vulnerability which we disdain. We want power moves and power brokers, and we want to to be the button-pushers.

To know someone requires the correlate, and self-knowledge requires a fortitude not all have. (BTB: I was just watching a bit of Harrison as Henry Higgins tonight, and I just love his persona -- so distasteful and self-involved, until he realizes his need for the other.)

FDChief said...

The interesting thing about that character, Lisa, is how much more unsparing the original is. In the Shaw play that the musical is based on Eliza DOES leave, and Higgins realizes only too late that he's "accustomed to her face". But he doesn't change his distasteful, self-involved (and self-satisfied) self.

The musical version is "sweeter", in some ways, because Eliza humbles herself. But where I see the fail is trying to imagine them as a couple; in "a year or so" she's either a beaten-down little mouse of a woman or she's a raging fury...because he's not going to stop being a smug, entitled jerk about herself, her origins and her lack of a penic, since obviously no one who comes from the slums, who is a woman, who is not HIM can possibly have anything intelligent to say...

I'd like to think that she has the steel to face up to him every time he's a jerk, and that he has the strength to admit that an back off it...but people being people? I dunno...and that seems like a hell of a long, hard slog, beating your man into some sort of reasonable civility day after day.

Mind you, her "alternative" (Freddy) is a weak, fatheaded sap. She doesn't really have any good options, other than being by herself. Maybe that's what Shaw is saying - that a woman can choose to be the appendage of a man or her ownself but alone. No "happy ending" there, though, so no wonder the Broadway producers wanted a different ending!

Lisa said...

Good point. Even in the song "You Did It!", Henry must co-opt Eliza's achievements. He cannot bear HER being charming. You're right -- he will always disdain her, and maintain the need to tout his own excellence.

Eliza seems to supplicate at the end via her mock reversion ("I washed my face and hands, I did!"), and her "power" is to know how to deftly manoevere around Higgins. As you say, it will be a constant battle to balance her dignity with his ego needs.

It is all about him -- HE'S grown accustomed to her face; it will always be a hymn to him.