As the State Turns: Rain, Soda, and Beer

Goodbye Wildfires, Hello Landslides?
Tired of all this smoke yet? I thought so. The good news is that there’s rain and stuff happening now, which has a tendency to put out fires. I’m not quite sure how this works, but I’ve been assured that it’s a biochemical process and far too complicated to be understood by my readers. 

That aside, when it rains, it pours, no? With the rains, all sorts of scientists and state departments alike have expressed concerns that it might cause landslides, which… dudes, stop complaining. I’ll take a few landslides over the continuation of blazes like the boringly-named Chetco Bar Fire, which has torched something like 190,000 acres at this point. As long as I’m not on the receiving end of one, anyway.

Fire season itself may be over with frostier temperatures and sky tears, though I wouldn’t lower your expectations for smokey air just yet. It’ll take a while for the remaining infernos to fully bugger off.

The Soda Tax Cometh
Or it might, rather. The race for the 18,000 signatures required to get a soda pop tax bill on the ballet next May has begun in Multnomah county. Whee. 

“Knock a friendly knock my little minions, but not a knock that’ll make people think you’re the cops,” says Oregon state Rep. Rob Nosse (sort of), a lone finger tapping on his temple as if to let the crowd know what he said was wise. And it is, so I’m not really sure why I’m being a turd about it.

The tax itself, which is not unreasonably about trying to fight the rising tide of sugar-related disease, seeks to hit the market for about 1.5 cents an ounce – the money intended to help fund pre-schools, physical education, and nutrition… stuff. While this model has worked in other places, raising money and reducing soda and energy drink consumption, opponents see it as just one more added cost to a situation in which people are already being torn apart by skyrocketing rent.

Special Report: Adventures in Oktoberfesting
Every year, us Oregonians and far-away visitors alike are invited to join Mt. Angel for their Oktoberfest celebration. For those of you that are unaware, Mt. Angel is a bizarre little town sandwiched off to the side of Salem that overflows with German-style kitsch all year round. However, things reach a fever peak for the September celebration. I found myself at the fabled event for the second time last week due to request by visiting family, and thought I’d share some observations.

First off, I should note that I spent a few years living in Bavaria. I’m no expert on the German people, but I know enough to say that Mt. Angel’s Oktoberfest is only slightly more German than a to-go box of Chow Mein. Half of the pretzels for sale came from a Super Pretzel brand hot box, the beer selection was primarily restricted to one-ish German brand per beer tent (of which there were three), bespeckled with some Two Towns, a respectable Mt. Angel original, and some other stuff. 

There was a wine tent that we skipped because it was jam-packed, but the wine selection was poor everywhere else so I kind of doubt we missed anything. There was one really incredible band playing some jazzy German folk fusion, but as for the rest of the sonic entertainment… let’s just say that we were treated to nu metal on at least one occasion, while the DJ leaned back in his chair stuffing pretzel and molten cheese into his gaping maw. I’m not sure if it is cool to say “epic fail” anymore, but epic fail.

Still, as I sat there enjoying my sixth or so plastic cup of beer (no glass pint or Maß in sight), I took a look around. People dressed up in Halloween-quality lederhosen dancing like total as*holes to the left. Jerks making themselves sick on deep fried Oreos to the right. Down the path just in front of me? A truly wonderful collection of really old dolls from all over the world. Why was this there? No idea, but it was unexpected and beautiful. 

I was so taken that I made a note about it in my phone, though I was on beer seven at this point and so all it says is “Puts he run in tunnel came.” Point being, whether it was the beer or something else, suddenly I was feeling like… this was fun. I felt good. I may have even done a little dance in the mirror after taking a piss (that was definitely the beer).

Adding my epiphany to the fact that they donate every cent (after paying for the festival itself) to worthy causes transforms this from a “wtf does this have to do with Germany?” joke to one hell of a good time that every Oregonian needs to experience at least once, inauthentic experience be damned.

And now you know.

By Johnny Beaver