May 31, 2003

Oregon Now Less Weird, Albeit Only Slightly

Mental-health officials in Multnomah County, Ore., have decided against hiring a Klingon-speaking interpreter, commentator Michael Nevin reports. It seems the county, in which the city of Portland is located, has now declared the move to hire such a person was not only a mistake, but an "overzealous attempt to ensure that our safety net systems can respond to all customers and clients."

Despite the obvious crack we could make about the inmates running the asylum, we will refrain from doing so. For one thing, the county made the right decision in the end, and for another, it is likely that the person who thought up this dim idea has been properly chastened. As such, we at The Rant now declare Oregon to be less weird a state than it was previously. However, in doing so, it must be noted that among the fifty states, we still believe Oregon ranks second only to Vermont in terms of its inherent weirdness.

"But wait," some readers will say with a concerned look on their faces. "I've never thought of Oregon as weird. How can you say that?"

Well, that's a reasonable question, even if I would venture to guess that many of these same readers would privately admit they have never thought of Oregon period. However, we here at The Rant were forced to once travel to Eugene, Ore., on business during one long lonely weekend back in 2000, and the experiences we had therein scarred us for life cemented our view of that state in perpetuity. We're sorry, but they did.

For one thing, you can't pump your own gasoline in Oregon. Now that's just weird. New Jersey is the same way, we might add, but at least in New Jersey we can chalk it up to protectionism and graft. We would note that there is absolutely no reason why a man should not be allowed to pump his own gasoline in this day and age; but such a rule is even stranger when one considers how rural Oregon is. Gad. And it's not like you get the old Fifties-style treatment at Oregon gas stations either, when some friendly clean-cut gent offered to change your oil. No! With the service I got while I was in Eugene, I'd say I was lucky the gas cap got correctly replaced.

For another, everything in Oregon -- or at least Eugene -- seems to have a forest-green/bright-yellow colour scheme, right down to the municipal airport. This is weird. The colour-scheme exists because green and yellow are the (weird) colors of the University of Oregon. The University, we might add, has a correspondingly weird name for its sports teams: the Ducks. (Good gravy, what were these people smoking when they came up with "Ducks" as a sports-team nickname? I mean, not only is it not so weird as to be pretty cool -- e.g. The University of California-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs -- no respectable athletic squad would be stricken with fear or desperation when they learned they were playing the Ducks next week).

Please realize that we could go on for hours, discussing everything from Oregon's Government to the state's fanatical dislike for Californians, as reasons for why the place is just weird. But this would be time-consuming and psychologically ill-advised. So, instead, we would also say we believe Oregon to be caught in a strange time warp.

You see, when we visited Eugene, we didn't think anyone had bothered to do any redecorating since the Seventies. Certainly our motel, with its faux wood paneling and hideous decor, was Straight Out of Seventy-Eight. The one Chinese restaurant we saw? If we recall right, the one that was painted bright yellow? That screamed Seventies. Other parts of the city were similarly faded and worn-down. And we won't even mention the University itself, where most folks probably wished we were all still back in the Seventies. But that is neither here nor there. Just take my word for it -- the place is weird.

Weird, weird, weird.

Anybody know how to translate that into Klingon?

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:52 PM | Comments (1)