Instead of bringing you up to date on what’s been going on in my life, or finishing cleaning my apartment (my mom is visiting for 11 days and is arriving late Friday night—yay!), I’m going to tell you one of my favorite true stories. The below is taken almost verbatim from my written account at the end of March 27, 1998 (though I’m editing for clarity).
Pete, especially, is going to love this.
I woke up late this morning for work and left the house at 8:01 am. (I’m supposed to be at work at 8.) I drove down Gorham to University Ave. to Midvale, as usual. Traffic was tight. On Midvale, I attempted to change lanes (left to right) and hit not one but two orange “school zone” cones. Swerving back into the left lane, I was greeted by five honks of a neighboring car horn. Looking into my rear-view mirror, I witnessed the middle-aged, female, bespectacled crossing guard waving her arms and attempting to run into the street to right the toppled cones.
I learned a lot about the company I work for today. [Note: I have no idea what that means now.] Working on web & print production, I didn’t live up to productivity expectations. Via email, I made plans to see “The Big Lebowski” at 9:30 pm that night at the Majestic Theater in downtown Madison with several friends.
The Story: “Mary Driscoll’s Number”
I met Pete around 8 pm at his place. I entered the high-rise building, I called up to his apartment, & he buzzed me in. Just as I walked up to the elevator, the doors opened & out came Bryan, Pete’s roommate, with whom I had a brief chat. I described our conversation minutes later to Pete as “transitional dialogue,” observing that my entrance was scripted much like one in a TV show: walk in, have some transitional dialogue, and come into the apartment. I guess I thought it was funny.
Banter ensued and Pete and I headed to Paul’s Club for some pre-movie beer. We sat and drank our beer without incident. On the way out, I commented that it would be fun to sit in the empty bouncer chairs, check people’s i.d.’s, and deny them admission or ask very personal questions.
We walked to the Majestic and bought our tickets, popcorn, soda, & Junior Mints. After a few minutes, the aforementioned Bryan & his girlfriend (both co-workers of mine) showed up & joined us. We went up to the balcony and sat in a row of seats that didn’t have a row in front of it (though it had at one time). The movie was highly enjoyable. We had a few minutes of indecision regarding post-movie activities after we exited the theater, but the four of us walked together as far as Johnson and State. Bryan and his then-new girlfriend went off to engage in some rather predictable necking. Meanwhile, Pete & I headed to the Union Terrace, where the real story begins.
I commented on the names of the bands that were playing—”Verb with guest Doll.” Pete didn’t understand what my words meant (he hadn’t seen the sign) until we actually got into the Union and discerned that Verb was (were?) playing. We liked the band somewhat.
We walked through the Rathskeller and exited onto the terrace, where we saw Lara, an acquaintance of mine from Model UN. Lara & I chatted for a few minutes while Pete excused himself for a moment.
When Pete returned, we went back into the Union, bought 46 ounces of New Glarus Spotted Cow Ale, and went back out onto the terrace. We then saw Ryan (another co-worker), his friend Alison, and a number of their friends, sitting at tables. We greeted them and, for a few minutes, we joined a game they’d apparently been playing for an hour. It was a simple name association game that soon became tiring. Their group disbanded and reformed as we all made our way into the Rathskeller again.
Varied chatting ensued, including comments about the band (Verb). Ryan speculated that I liked the “go-go action” (his words) of the back of the singer, who was dancing in a horizontally striped dress and shiny black boots. We were amused by the slight, 5′ tall Asian man of roughly 60 years of age, dancing alone in a pinstriped shirt, gray trousers, and white walking shoes. We also noticed a woman, whom we dubbed “Vinyl Girl” (since she was wearing PVC pants, a sheer black shirt, and a clearly visible black bra), improbably (we thought) dancing with a bespectacled guy wearing a printed white t-shirt and blue jeans, a look perfectly suitable for a computer programming class. Vinyl Girl beckoned specifically to Alison (who was looking incredible in dark eye makeup, a black hooded sweatshirt, baggy jeans, and combat boots with 2-inch soles, and I mean it) to dance with her. Alison did not take her up on the offer.
Their group left our group of 2 without fanfare (or goodbyes), and Pete & I were abruptly left alone to watch Verb (including the flautist with wavy medium-length blondish hair, an infectious smile, and a black diaphanous dress with an image of the Buddha printed on front and back), the Vinyl Girl, and the Asian dancing man (who soon afterwards pulled off a passable moonwalk).
Pete & I had a brief exchange with a man I had an art class with:
Verb singer: Buy our CD, it’s six dollars….
Pete & I (simultaneously): Six dollars?
Ivar (from art class): It’s probably got one song on it.
[Pete buys a Verb CD.]
Jason: How many songs does it have on it?
Jason: That’s a dollar a song.
Ivar [reflectively]: Six songs.
Pete and I took note of the names of the band members in the CD liner notes. I remarked on the unusual nature and length of the drummer’s name. The flautist was attractive and just Pete’s type. We noted that, on the CD insert, Mary Driscoll was credited with “flutes and snacks.”
“Ooh, they live in Madison,” said Pete, a little giddily. “I have a chance.” He paused. “If I ever see her again.”
“No,” I said firmly, “you’re not going to leave it at that.” I led him over to the area of the Union with many phones and phone books. He laughed when he realized I intended to look up her phone number for him.
I flipped open a Madison phone book to the D’s, looking for Mary Driscoll. I turned to a page just before the Driscoll page and noticed a long, somewhat odd name as one of the corner index names. I looked down to the bottom of the page and said aloud to Pete, reading the name, “You could call Lana Doxtator-Massaro.”
Pete replied, “I don’t think so.” A brunette wearing a white blouse and black skirt—who had just passed us—approached us.
“You know, I have to tell you guys this—that’s me,” said Lana Doxtator-Massaro, looking directly at us.
As she walked away, I replied in utter shock, “You have got to be kidding.” As she turned the corner, I yelled, “That is the strangest thing that’s ever happened to me in my life.”
We never did find Mary Driscoll’s number.
Pete and I marveled at the randomness of the event repeatedly as we left the Union. (What else were we going to do at that point?)
While making our way to the exit, we actually caught a glimpse of Ms. Doxtator-Massaro twice and considered going back and asking her if she really was who she said she was, but (probably wisely) decided to leave well enough alone. Pete, for his part, was in serious denial.
We saw a car get rear-ended on Gorham on the way to his place.
That’s it. That’s where the story ends. Good, isn’t it? It’s written on both sides of two pieces of plain 8.5″ x 11″ paper, and I suspect there was a fifth page at one time (since the last sentence actually ends “on Gorham on the way” with no punctuation). If there’s anything else, we’ll never know (unless Pete remembers, but I suspect his memory of the event is less complete than my account).
I found it in a notebook I uncovered since at least my last move, and I thought it was too good to keep to myself anymore.
Okay, all right, all right. Everything here is fine.
As of January 6, I’m now an elected member of the California Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC). This gives me the right to go to the California State Democratic Convention April 15-17 in Los Angeles (more on that later). The last week of December, while I was in Wisconsin to celebrate Christmas, several members of East Bay for Democracy worked with the outgoing vice-chair of the Assembly District 16 Democratic Committee to choose five “grassroots activists” to complete a “unity slate” of twelve, along with seven incumbents who wanted to be re-elected. I was the only person who represented the Oakland Democracy for America Meetup (something I’ve been involved with for about a year); two others were from the Alameda (city) Meetup and two were from the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club (ironically based here in the East Bay).
In order to get elected, I basically said “yes, I want to be on the slate.” Then I went to a Saturday morning meeting about a mile from my apartment, schmoozed a little, and (after attendees cast a secret ballot) I was in. I didn’t get the most votes out of the 12 slate candidates (out of 14 on the ballot), but I didn’t get the least, either.
This past Saturday, March 5, I went to a “first-time delegate training” put on by some of the main East Bay for Democracy (EB4D) organizers and several old-school grassroots-friendly long-time Democratic leaders. It was enjoyable and informative enough, though I was (and still am) getting over a fairly bad cold (exacerbated by allergies).
Unfortunately, the whole weekend of the convention would cost me somewhere around $400. I just pieced that cost together tonight when I opened my registration packet. $275 for the convention ALONE ($70 registration fee, $45 yearly DSCC dues, $60 for a “luncheon,” $100 for a “dinner” [?!?]), not to mention probably $25 to help pay for gas, miscellaneous food costs, and $50-100 for cheap lodging (unless I stay with an as-yet-undetermined friend-of-a-friend or LA-based co-worker). I figured I would volunteer my time, but (naïvely) I didn’t exactly plan to spend this much money getting involved with the existing elitist power structure. Gee, what a surprise—they don’t expect the cost of the convention to equal about a week’s worth of take-home pay for delegates.
I have to figure out whether it’s worth it to me to see how this shit works (as if I don’t know already… it’s not what you know, it’s who you know). I’m getting increasingly disenchanted with the whole fucked-up political process, despite the draw it clearly has for me, and becoming disengaged and doing something more creative and satisfying is looking more and more attractive every day. I have to really examine why I’m doing this and what I really would hope to accomplish by going. To be honest, the stuff that is going on at the federal level and at the upper levels of both major parties freaks me the hell out. Still, I have a lot of hope for Howard Dean’s involvement. Actually, thinking about Dean’s integrity and compassion reminds me why I want to be involved. Do I have the courage to stay involved?
I’ve also continued to be involved in the Democracy for America Meetups, though I missed the last Steering Committee meeting.
I’ve also missed the last three baseball games (the ones we play in West Oakland). That’s a bad thing.
Things have been going well at work, though. I recently designed a site for CLCV’s tax-deductible arm, the CLCV Ed Fund. Pretty good work. Wednesday I’m going to Sacramento for CLCV’s “Lobby Day,” which I went to 2 years ago. Should be interesting.