Readers of Hattie's Web will know that the traveling grandparents convened in that bigger place than Portland. We learned of a certain self-consciousness here in Rose City about that home of Microsoft--faster cars, bigger museum, more famous sites (Bill Gates' home, Pike's Place). Our former home in Baltimore was kind of that sort, second city to Washington, D.C. (until its murder rate soared).
But now, Portland, Oregon, is firmly on the map of the cognescenti. Began with anointment by the New York Times in very regular stories--food, music, sustainability awareness. It seems to have reached its apotheosis with the new IFC series, "Portlandia." In the interest of "real reporting," that stuff political blogsites claim we'll get when print disappears, I was going to watch the entire first program. Too elusive (had to sign in and thought I'd be tempted to leave a comment), so chose this one about a feminist bookstore. Watching this scene sent me down memory lane to Baltimore in the 1970s. John Waters, the filmmaker, gay man whose movies have put funky Baltimore on the map, plays a straight guy here. Could have been the long-gone feminist bookstore, 31st Books in Balto. For a moment in time, yours truly was the token straight woman on their board. [Never, never agree to be "the one."] And I'm embarrassed to confess, swept up in the fervor of those promising days, outfitted in my Indian blouse/jeans/cowboy boots, I stood behind the counter and indicated to the man standing before me that he was someplace he was not welcome. The fervor remains; the behavior is mellower.
But why? Because 90 per cent of me no longer believes that I can be an agent of change in troubled, patriarchal American society. On the drive to Seattle, we listened to a program on Canadian broadcast about competition among young girls, bullying, and its effect on their grown-up lives. If you have granddaughters, "It's a Teen World" could be startling--unless you know it already. [I've only heard the first of the three so far.]
Seeing Marianna and Terry in suburban Seattle was delightful as always. We treasure those few with whom we can have intense conversations about ideas. And we laugh a lot thanks to Marianna. This trip she walked us to closeby Ballard Locks. Always entranced by both rolling and still waters, the views in the dying light were perfect. And keeping up with Marianna's stride was a boost to the body's system--10,000 steps that day on my pedometer.
Yes, as M reported, we saw "True Grit" in a vintage movie house filled on a Saturday night. Ron had been wanting to see it perhaps as a remembrance of all those many, many boyhood hours in a Brooklyn movie house known as "the Dump." Among us, I was the one who unequivocally hated the whole thing: violence through guns and fists and attitudes toward women. Why wasn't the sheriff impressed with the 14 year old heroine's determination? Why do I ask questions unrelated to screen fantasy? Announced this was the final western I'd ever see! The only ones I can recall from the past-- unlike my spouse's rich repetoire--are odd ones from the 20th century, "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "High Noon." On "True Grit" Stuart Klawans nails it in The Nation:
"...the experience cancels itself even as you watch, given the indifferent curiosity with which Joel and Ethan Coen call up and then skim over the themes that have long haunted the western, as if they were mere outmoded superstitions to be ticked off a list. Finally the Coens have achieved the goal toward which their cinema has always tended: a perfect void."
Being resident now in the northwest, I'd like to shift away from my narrow view, much like that famous magazine cover, "New Yorker's idea of the United States." But it's hard, people, when Utah may have an official state gun by the time you read this.