Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Worriers of the World, Unite

The last time I went on strike, we won. The employees of the San Francisco newspapers marched around the premises with signs, the readers stopped reading management's sad little scab papers and the owners of the papers lost millions in the 11 days of the strike. Yes, they actually made money a decade ago. These days they lose millions without anybody going on strike.

Now all Americans, or the sane 70 percent, are asked to go on strike against our government. I don't think Bush & Co. will be easier to beat than a couple of lousy newspapers, but what else can we do?

In an desperately eloquent essay in the October Harper's, Garrett Keizer argues that we shouldn't wait until the Bush administration is replaced. He suggests that a citizenry that "believes it is already dead" can revive its ideals by starting a general strike on Nov. 7, turning a local election day into the start of a national diselection year.

Rather, we would re-elect ourselves to our rightful place over an imperial presidency.

We may lose, writes Keizer, but "don't tell me what some presidential hopeful ought to do someday. Tell me what the people who have nearly lost their hope can do right now."

So, until Jan. 20, 2009, when Bush and Cheney are scheduled to exit stage far-right, let's hear the chant. On strike, shut it down.

I don't know how I can go on strike without a job, but maybe it has something to do with what gets mailed on April 15. I also don't know whether this would be a strike or a lockout.

If our cities are leveled by natural disaster, we are told to fix them ourselves. If we get sick without insurance, we are told to just go to an emergency room. If we don't like our country invading others without cause, well, speak slowly into the phone because your calls are being monitored for population control.

Yeah, it's a lockout. And marching around with a sign and chanting is hard. What else can we do?

Maybe I'll hold my breath until the nation turns blue.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

With Two You Get ... What?

When I was a boy there was only one way to order Chinese food. My mom and dad took us to the Toy Sun Restaurant in Providence, R.I., a city of perhaps eight Chinese residents at the time, and we ordered egg rolls, egg foo yung and chow mein. Then I went to college and became sophisticated and discovered the new, non-sticky-red way to order Chinese food. My friends and I in Cambridge went to Joyce Chen's, perhaps, and ordered potstickers, a pork dish, a beef dish and a chicken dish, careful not to repeat meats. There were no Chinese patrons sitting near us to make us feel like idiots.

Now it's hard to order Chinese food and, as much as I like the food, I dread the choices. There are too many, and I always feel like I made the wrong ones. I almost always show up with the wrong number of people, too.

Whenever I go to one of the really good Chinese restaurants south of San Francisco where the rich Chinese have moved, there are few tables for two. The Chinese show up in parties of eight or ten and order all kinds of wonderful looking things, always including a giant fish, while we demographically disabled Anglos meekly ask for a table for two, which wouldn't hold one of those fish even if we wanted to look at it, and it at us.

So what do we do? We try to go to places that serve dim sum all day, so we can see the food as it goes by. The problem is, we always show up hungry and order the first five things that survive the passage of the room to our table. Then, when we're full, the chef turns off the clogged deep fryer and starts sending out the wonderful translucent stuff. Too late, always too late.

Today I have to go to the Veterans hospital out at the end of Clement Street in San Francisco, which means I drive past more Chinese restaurants than Chowhound can shake a memory stick at. For lunch, let's see. The choices are harder than trying to find a parking space near the hospital and the results can be as dreary as the waiting room at the blood lab.

The solution is lunch at nine in the morning. The parking is not impossible and the only places serving food are some formica bakeries that serve maybe ten hot items, all out in the open. I always pass on the noodles congealing on the steam table and go for mercifully wrapped items like sticky rice or stuff that's meant to congeal, like turnip cake. Better than it sounds, white kids.

Or maybe I'll skip the blood work (don't worry, nothing serious), and lunch work (always serious). I can always go to the joint in the strip mall near my house here in the burbs. So what if it has a pun name and it's a combination Chinese-Japanese restaurant. That means I don't even have to consider the raw half of the menu. The chow mein is terrific.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Confessions of a Blogger Spouse

I'm married to a real blogger, one who posts every day and responds to comments. (And yes, you can use the word "real" about a virtual activity often denigrated by the increasingly unreal mainstream media.) "Why don't you go blog," she often says to me when I'm hanging around the house, in the tone of "Why don't you take some vitamins" when I'm complaining about a cold.
Usually I ignore both suggestions, but here I am, confessing that blogging is good. I may not like doing it much myself, but I have seen Vitamin B build bodies, minds and relationships eight ways.

Vitamin B1: The naturally reclusive can converse with numerous people any time they want, preferably all the time.
Vitamin B2: They can do it without showering, getting dressed or even getting out of bed. Okay, so Vitamin B-logy may not build bodies all that well.
Vitamin B3: They can make friends all over the world. My wife has mouse pals as far away as Italy, Japan and Australia, where it's now spring and the little downloading wheels on computer screens spin the other way.
Vitamin B4: My wife is happy. She has people to talk to besides me.
Vitamin B5: I'm happy. She has people to talk to besides me.
Vitamin B6: When she does talk to me, I hear all kinds of good gossip about people all over the world who aren't my in-laws.
Vitamin B7: I get to meet these blogger friends of hers. This is something they don't teach you in mainstream-media school. Bloggers actually get together in meatspace and talk instead of type. They're nice to each other and share food and drink, at least if they're food bloggers. Talk about meatspace. We had a party for some of my wife's blog pals recently, and it was grand. Nobody ranted. Nobody flamed except the guy who dug a pit barbecue in our yard. Everybody linked.
Vitamin B8: "Why don't you go blog." It's more than "Shut up." It's quite a useful phrase, no question mark about it.

Vitamin See You Next Month: My wife said that. She's the blogger.