I took myself to a movie at the Laurelhurst last night, Monday being my night on my own that I often use to see my girlfriends. I visited Vicki and her sweet but depressed dog Ruby, but then she had to go teach a community college class helping women find jobs in the current economy. (Vicki, not Ruby. You have to wonder why Ruby is depressed when she doesn’t even need to find a job.)
So I proceeded over to Laurelhurst Theater on East Burnside and 28th to see Slumdog Millionaire (I’m the one who hadn’t yet seen it). I’ll get to the movie later. Walking in, I noticed a wind turbine decal on the glass door, notifying all of us that the theater buys renewable energy.
For once I was early to something, so I had plenty of time to get a slice of New Deal pineapple-jalapeno pizza, a chocolate-chip cookie and a tall glass of water. They have beer and wine, but I find that foregoing the wine feels great and certainly boosts one’s attention span when you get up at 4 a.m. as I tend to do.
I watched the local screen ads as my mouth gained that lovely jalapeno glow, and learned that Michael “Wally” Wallace is a licensed massage therapist here in Portland. My community has a store called Gilt that will sell me estate engagement rings among other treasures; Audio Cinema, a lively venue under the Hawthorne bridge; and a shop named Rock n’ Rose for my vintage clothing needs. If I were a man in need of antique eyewear, wigs or a tuxedo, Hollywood Vintage would be the store for me. There were lots more, too. All of this evidence of creative small businesses tickled me, because it means that my town has lots of people doing what Malcolm Gladwell calls meaningful work in his latest book Outliers. Being self-employed is typically a big struggle but also a big joy. And the people who work for you generally have a better work-experience than they would working for WalMart or a fast-food chain.
You may have thought I’d tell you how much I liked Slumdog Millionaire. Sorry. I found it violent, chaotic and upsetting from start to finish. What I appreciated about Slumdog was that the United States embraced and gave an Academy award to a movie about a different culture than its own. That is rare. But look at the hyper-individualistic theme and ideology of Slumdog: a person with a tragic childhood becomes overwhelmingly rich and famous on a game-show, literally overnight, completely on his own. He ends up with exactly one person in the world to love and share it with. How fragile is that? Where’s the community that will help them know who they are in the world? This was just U.S. culture, transplanted into India. I felt sad, not uplifted as I left the theater.
The best things I took away from last night was the knowledge that Laurelhurst Theater buys renewable energy, Portland is rife with creative small businesses, and my friend Vicki Lind is helping women find work. And, if you’re open to something new, a pizza place called New Deal makes a good pineapple and jalepeno pizza.