I Live in a Church

Politics, politics and more politics. I once was a canvasser for a few environmental groups (Clean Water Action Project, Greenpeace). To canvass used to mean knock on doors, commence a very polite discussion about a variety of issues (with your foot wedged in the door to avoid slamming), have an occasional squirrel scale your leg, avoid getting bitten by dog and having to hold some weird guys “snake,” collect some cash, a few signatures, increase public awareness about the toxic waste dump down the street, maybe drink something cold (beer!) and get a glimpse into the lives of fellow humans.

The trend today seems to be “let’s stand outside the cool coffee houses and shout things at people walking in, and then make disparaging remarks when they don’t respond.”

I mean how does one respond to some disheveled activist holding a clipboard shouting “Do you want to help defeat George Bush?” A “NO not at this moment” doesn’t seem quite right, a “YES” not so apropos since I’m already registered to vote and would really like to wrap the damn clipboard around the shouter’s neck. Could go for a “Vote Nader” just to be contrary. I guess I just don’t like shouting pre-coffee, and well an “excuse me, do you have a moment?” might be a tact. Besides they are supposed to be registering voters. Because everyone should vote. Regardless of whether or not I agree with your political slant. In India, elections are won and lost because the people living in slums — these are nothing like what we believe slums to be in the US — these are acres and acres of humanity living in cardboard shacks, washing in muddy streams with fecal contents unimaginable in the West, cooking 1/2 a cup of rice over small charcoal burners for the families one and only meal — line up for days and days to cast their vote.

But at least here in Portland people are talking about their government.

On the MAX Friday on my way to the Airport avoiding the traffic from the Bush and Kerry rallies, I found myself surrounded by “average” people talking politics

Well sort of average.

The primary discussion was between a man? in a flowered shirt-waist dress with fish net stockings, high-heels, bouncing a multi-racial baby named Anthony on his (?) knee, the man sitting in front of him had the look of one of those former Vietnam vets you see wandering around the streets and sitting on the steps of substance abuse recovery centers smoking cigarettes, conversing in exclamation points about their ex-wives. It was a sane, fairly informed conversation. Mr./Ms.? fishnets was voting for Kerry because he/she? was worried about his constitutional rights — particularly since Anthony was his adopted son.

Soon the very large black man (ok I refuse to use the term “African American”, if you want to know why I’ll tell you sometime) sitting behind me started weighing in with his opinions which seemed to be of a more economic slant. He then laughed out loud and related an old skit from Living Color.

Soon the primaries disembarked leaving Mr./Ms.? fishnet, who commented to his traveling companion:

“No one seems to mind about the gay thing.”

At that moment I remembered the greatness of this thing we have going in the US, and the complete and utter strangeness.

end politics

So am no longer inclined to go sit in the nice park just down the street. At first I spent a lot of time there — amazed by the lack of insane creatures drooling on the benches. Unfortunately, my “oh come speak to me weirdest of the bizarre” magnet seems to have kicked in, it could also be due to the “I haven’t had a job in almost 2 years” look plastered on my face — the corps think I’m one of them.

Thus, I’m finished commenting on nice shoes found in the dumpster up on 23rd and how much improved the feet are looking.