Saturday, April 08, 2006

Okay, Which Is It?



Reading the Oregonian editorial this morning about the steel in Dan Saltzman, was not easy. I was laughing so hard my office chair wouldn’t stay still. I thought Superman was the Man of Steel? You mean Dan Saltzman is Superman? This could be the golden era of comedy in Portland. A daily newspaper that has no clue how ridiculous it's being.
Meanwhile the Trib headline was a classic yesterday: “Meltdown in P-Town.” That could be the sequel to “Portland Confidential”, Phil Stanford’s book about city corruption in the 1950s. The cast of characters back then had serious cinematic possibilities, but we’re beginning to get there in a more amusing way. Ours is a group of lightweights.
In fact, if this city ever gets in real trouble, we’ll look back on these years as golden. Dan Saltzman's flip-flop on the tram decision is fun campy, B-movie-style comedy – it’s not the real thing. Thousands are not dying in misery or anything like that. This is amusing stuff as long as it continues to play out right. It would be a damn shame if he gets reelected, for example. Most people want to see what the backend of the deal was. No, wait. Superheroes don't make deals. Unless it's a comedy.
To propel a comedic plot you must have characters who are convincing when they do or say silly things. That hasn't been a big problem with this group. Besides, we know it’s real so it all just adds to the mirth. The chief of police writing sexy emails? Beautiful. The city newspaper turning out at least one silly editorial a week? Outstanding. While the head guy on the editorial board sleeps with the PR hack for OHSU? Even better. How about Erik Sten, Sam Adams, Dan Saltzman, Randy Leonard, and Tom Potter as the perfect comedic council? No group will ever come near the Tonya Harding gang for screenwriting excellence, but it’s getting to where I can’t think about this council without smiling. They are so caught up in their own foibles, they are a wonder to behold.
Yesterday, Sam Adams came out with his new plan to put parking meters on Hawthorne and other parts of the city, and he had 4 or 5 classic one-liners in a single paragraph. He didn’t realize he was being amusing, but I was laughing like it was a set by Richard Pryor. If you have the right perspective – someone attending a comedy film – then Sam Adams is hilarious. How about Randy Leonard, the hothead? I can’t wait to hear what this guy’s going to say next. That’s the charm of this group. The potential for screwing up is immense and they have no clue – they’re so serious while the calamity occurs. Portland is now a Leslie Nielsen movie.
We owe this all to the tram. The tram is the vital linchpin of a great comedic plot. Sure, you might be steamed right now about some aspect of it, but you’re in the movie, too. Having the townspeople upset is an integral part of the story. This is not a real meltdown. This is not misery and death. The key to life is to realize the golden aspects of a situation while it is happening. Too often we look back and wish we could return to some lost time and have that set of problems again. This is one of those times. Don’t forget to enjoy them. “Meltdown in P-Town starring Dan Saltzman as Superman - the Man of Steel” – coming to a comedy film festival near you.


At 12:51 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

You're giving Saltzman the bidness for flipping his vote; are you going to give Sten the credit for sticking by his refusal to vote more money into the tram?

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Yes, Sten's going to be Batman.

At 8:15 PM, Blogger true_slicky said...

I'm nearly as surprised as The Oregonian having an unsigned editorial praising Saltzman's "leadership" as, well, no one else is....

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Jack Bog said...

are you going to give Sten the credit for sticking by his refusal to vote more money into the tram?

Yes, now that his vote doesn't matter, he'll put on quite a show.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Frank Dufay said...

...are you going to give Sten the credit for sticking by his refusal to vote more money into the tram?

Torrid, the vote ain't happened yet. Lex Luthor, I mean Homer, isn't done with this one, not by a long shot.

Someday I may even tell what hapened with Homer's streetcar assessments...I mean, tell somebody who cares, since the City Auditor and HR at the City sure didn't.

I've learned you have to use your kryptonite judiciously.

At 5:54 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I was mainly amused at the Oregonian's editorial brain trust, looking at a guy who had flipped his position. There are a lot of ways to describe that but steel isn't one of them. What happened here was that they had the price of the steel idea, and they forced the other half of the equation. It was mediocre writing and only made Saltzman appear ridiculous.


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