Portland vacation and cultural reflection

Last weekend we went to Portland, OR for a little vacation. It was a great and relaxing trip. I’ve been to Portland on business dozens of times, but it has been several years since I went purely for fun. It was depressing to have the boring conservatism of my community thrust in my face. There’s just no cool stuff where I live like I found in Portland. Powell’s books, of course was a destination, and the excellent stores nearby (Reading Frenzy, Palookvaille, and others). Besaw’s for brunch, Il Piattoand Thai Orchid for dinner.

And, we got to see a great deal of public access cable programming in the late evening, good for a laugh. And, I got to see once again, the horrific Jim Spagg show. He’s this dude who tries really hard to provoke and annoy, and then of course, tries to use your reactions to justify his point….whatever that is. The most bothersome part of the show is just how dumb he acts. I mean, the show makes no sense, whatsoever. At one point, he is standing next to a toy crocodile that is talking. He is looking at the camera with his eyes wide open and his mouth agape, in an attempt to look astonished (he looks like someone who can’t act but doesn’t know it, trying hard to overact). The scene continues for a very very long and uncomfortable time period. He looks at the crocodile and back at the camera. You can’t tell what it is saying. Or why he is reacting so. And he’s just so overdoing it, that it’s annoying.

Of course, the provocation on the show supposedly comes from the sexual or nudity content. A theme seems to be that nudity is not dirty, and that if you are offended, it says something about you. Yet this dude has exotic dancers (i.e., strippers) come in to the set and dance in their fashion. So we’re not talking about playing frisbee naked, we’re talking about bump and grind. Meanwhile, the host, with that same look plastered on his face, strips off his clothes and flaps his arms as he runs around the set. It’s not really dancing. And we still don’t know why he is astonished.

Meanwhile, various slogans that seem to come from an R. Crumb-type mindset, with an ogling focus, are plopped on the screen.

In another scene, the camera plays about his naked body, looking up at him from the ground, between his legs. Cut, to an extreme closeup of the details (and manipulative possibilities) of an uncircumcised male.

It’s visually gross to me, and I can handle that. It’s really the annoying cheesy overacting stuff and the ridiculous attempt to have this self-indulgent exercise be “about” something that bugs me.

But enough soapboxing, a great place to spend a little time if you have the chance (Portland, not Jim Spagg’s scrotum).

Update: Jim Spagg passed away in 2004.


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