Thursday, January 29, 2009
Seattle's Slimy Underbelly Gets A Good Licking
You know things have been crazy busy for me when I go nearly a week without posting anything at all. The stakes at work and home have been unusually high lately. Added to that is the recent notion that regular sleep, or at least making the attempt, may lead to higher productivity. I have not, however, been without ideas.
Last Friday, for instance. I was in my favorite coffee shop talking to my favorite barista on the planet when we got on the topic of drug stories. I shared that the last time I did hallucinogenics was in 1989, and that a small round piece of white quartz pulsed with life in the palm of my hand. The experience was much more than that. On that day, I achieved the Holy Grail of drug experimentation: a bona fide inexpressible moment of mystical insight that stayed with me the rest of my life.
But I had coffee to get and things to get back to and didn't go into all of that. I let it go at the quartz.
In return, my unnamed friend told me about a time she was at a Vashon Island Fair and met some hacky-sack playing moccasin-making hippy named Yum. She sat gazing intermittently into Yum's gorgeously dilated pupils as he put the final touches of turqoise on her new footwear. He asked if she'd like to try some shrooms. "Yes," she said. "Why ... yes!"
As soon as the bits of dried fungus hit her stomach, she thought of something, and it went kind of like this: "What the hell have I done? I'm a mom! I have a seven year-old running around here!"
I tried to imagine myself in that position. Scary. "Shit," I ventured. "If you don't do too much, at least mushrooms are a high where you can kind of maintain. What happened?"
"I hoped so too," she said. "But then I started getting these kind of waves coming in." She moved her palms back and forth beside her head to illustrate. I kind of knew what she meant, but not really. It didn't matter. I was hooked into the story.
"I went with my kid to this fenced in area where there were trees and other kids and things for him to play on, where he couldn't really get into trouble, and just outside of that was an exhibit booth on biodiesel fuel. I cornered the lady there and had the most intense conversation about biodiesel you could ever imagine."
"So, basically," I laughed, "you found the straightest, most boring person in the vicinity, and had her talk you down without her even knowing it."
"Yeah," she said, "that's exactly what I did. After awhile, I felt better and things were OK."
When I walked back to Real Change I dropped in on our editor, and he said something about how when he rides his bike in, the homeless camps in certain parking areas underneath certain overpasses were getting huge.
"I wonder," he said, "what the people in those expensive cars who want to park there think when they can't get a parking space because people live there instead?"
"Who knows," I said. "Most of them probably don't think anything, if they even notice. They're oblivious. They probably just get annoyed and park somewhere else. They're in their little comfort-bubble, and are more worried about the state of J-pod or the size of their carbon footprint."
"It's the slimy underbelly of Seattle liberalism," said Adam.
"Mmmmm," I drooled. "Slimy underbelly."
"Maybe," I continued, getting inspired, "they're licking the thing! And the slimy underbelly is like one of those psychoactive toads! And it changes how they see everything. Mayor Nickels transforms from repulsive pig who kicks around the poor to being a noble environmentalist in a hybrid SUV, and all the people in tents and on the streets start to look like recreational backpackers. And whenever that good feeling starts to fade, out comes the toad, and they lick it again and again until they feel better."
"Yeah," laughed Adam. "It's just like that."
I went back to work, visualizing toad-licking men in nice cars, expensive shirts and designer eye-wear, and thought that maybe it isn't that big of a stretch.