Monday, March 29, 2010
As the health care debate rages on and TV pundits froth at the mouth, one thing remains clear to me:
It's time to wake up and realize what an incredibly vital resource General Practitioners are. These Family Doctors not the bad guys. They don’t make a ton of money. They work hard. They live modestly. And they’ve been screwed over by insurance companies for years. It’s no wonder most med students have chosen to specialize rather than become GPs.
I'm not a medical professional, but take this issue personally. The doctor in the photo above, calling his patients back with their results? That's my dad. The funny looking girl in velour pants standing in front of the sign for his clinic? That's me.
Whenever I had a cold as a little kid, my neighbors on Whidbey Island would say to me,
“But your dad’s a doctor!” as though this connection alone would keep the sniffles away. People trusted my father to do everything, since he was a General Practitioner. And he did. He treated Strep throat and head lice, stitched up construction men, lanced moles, and served as a friendly person to talk to for old ladies with no real complaints except loneliness.
His patients loved him like a relative, and our house would always be filled with homemade cookies, fresh vegetables from gardens, and hand knit sweaters from people who wanted to express their gratitude. I think they felt closer to him than I did. Even now when people ask if he’s a good dad, I always say, “he’s a great doctor.” I have never had the privilege of seeing a doctor with as much genuine concern as my father had for his patients. Nor have I met one so willing to explain medications, side effects or just listen as you ramble on about disturbing nightmares that rob you of sleep.
My dad didn’t practice on Whidbey Island for his entire career. His first solo practice was in the rural town of LaMoure in North Dakota. It was here that a teenaged boy was rushed into his clinic with severe head injuries from motorcycle accident. The closest hospital with proper facilities was two hours away, and he would have died. With no other options, my father performed brain surgery with a drill from the local hardware store. The boy survived, experienced no subsequent mental problems and after a few months got back on a motorcycle.
From LaMoure, North Dakota he moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. These were the heady days of the late 1970’s, and he practiced in a clinic ensconced in a Waikiki hotel that looked like a cross between a bordello and a disco. It was here that he diagnosed his first AIDS patient, back when it was called GRID.
But I was far too young to understand what it meant to be a doctor until he started his practice on Whidbey Island. It was a real mom and pop business. I worked there after school sometimes, filing charts and moodily answering the phone in the front as my mother took x-rays and did lab work in the back.
I’m not going to lie. I hated being there. I hated most things when I was a teenager. But I loved his office, lined with hardback books ranging from Tropical Medicine to Somerset Maugham. On the right wall was a chalkboard where he would draw diagrams for his patients to fully explain their medical issues. The wall behind his desk showcased his degrees. There was also a hockey stick, a Lucite plaque with a hemorrhoid encased in it (a joke from the doctor who removed it from his butt a day before my Dad ran the Honolulu marathon) and pictures of me.
Doctors like my father are nearly as extinct as carhops or paying for groceries with a check. For the majority of his career, he went on house calls with a beat up leather medical bag, traveling down winding, Douglass fir-lined roads in a Chevy Blazer. As he drove, he’d blast Willie Nelson or Puccini’s La Boheme, whichever suited his mood at the time. He’d knock on the doors of cabins, trailers and mansions overlooking Puget Sound. In these diverse homes, he’d soothe allergic reactions and calm colicky babies.
Every year he gave free physicals to all the kids doing high school sports. He was also the high school football team doctor, running up and down the length of the field in a ratty trench coat, cheering the loudest of anybody for the South Whidbey Falcons, and cringing when a kid would get hurt.
He worked on the barter system when people couldn’t afford to pay. So in exchange for medical treatment he’d accept window washing, lawn mowing, fresh salmon and sock eye fish, and (since we lived in Washington State) chainsaw carved totem poles.
He was on call 24 hours a day, and many nights was awakened at 2am, 3am, or 4am to stitch someone up at his office. He’d grumble a little, pull on a sweat suit and a University of Washington Huskies cap over his balding head and head out.
He was entrenched in the community; invited to graduations, weddings and family potlucks. He truly loved his patients, and they loved him back.
All these years later, I wish I had that beat up old doctor's bag of his. It amazes me that the contents of that bag and the man who carried it used to save lives. Me, I'm not that noble. I'd use it as a fashion accessory. But no matter what side of the health care debate you're on, that bag is a symbol of a medical era that really should return to style.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Sometimes when I have to explain Mama D's Arts Bordello to someone who has never experienced it, they get a little perplexed. This was particularly problematic when I accepted a position at a Business News Network and we had Orientation Day. They asked us to introduce ourselves and provide some personal information.
For whatever reason, I brought up Mama D's Arts Bordello...This did not go over well. You've never seen more uncomfortable, confused-looking assholes in sad suits.
(P.S. I barely lasted 2 months at that dismal place. I did manage to steal a stapler though, which I still use to staple the famed Mama D's Trivia Contest quizzes together.)
But I digress.
The point is, there really isn't anything else like our show, so it's tough to describe. It's a live show that's bawdy, literary, spontaneous, cinematic, weird, funny and loud. You just have to get your ass to the bordello to understand.
But as a public service today, I thought I'd present you with a list of songs that sonically define Mama D's Arts Bordello. Our show is authentic. It's not rehearsed. It's a party. These songs reflect Mama D's joyously rude and raucous vibe.
So take a listen to this set list. Play it loud. Dance in your underpants and you'll see the murky bordello light:
1. Bad Reputation-Joan Jett
2. Rocks Off-The Rolling Stones
3. Orgasm Addict-The Buzzcocks
4. Fuck You-Lily Allen
5. Rebel Rebel-David Bowie
6. Mixed Bizness-Beck
7. How You Like Me Now?-The Heavy
8. All Day And All Of The Night-The Kinks
9. Get It On (Bang A Gong)-T. Rex
10. Gimme Danger-Iggy Pop
Monday, March 22, 2010
I recently stumbled across this picture of SPAM flavored macadamia nuts.
To anyone outside of Hawaii, this concept sounds appalling. Criminal, even.
But if you've ever lived in Hawaii, it makes perfect sense. Military personnel stationed in Hawaii during World War II introduced the locals to the canned delight that is SPAM. It was an instant hit and remains so to this day. I think it's because the salty flavor blends well with some of their traditional foods.
Then I started to think about other concepts that only make sense in their own environment.
I came up with this list:
1. The Prytania Movie Theatre in New Orleans. I'd take my seat and notice other patrons would bring in their dogs, parrots, massive plates of spaghetti from home, and daiquiris from the drive-thu daiquiri place around the corner.
2. Young couples in Rome. It's tough to find a parking spot in Rome, so you tend to circle around and around the city until you find one. The first time around, you'll see a couple screaming and yelling at each other. You'll go around again and see the same couple, except one of them is crying. The next time you see them, they're practically fucking in the street. All of this happens within 15 minutes.
3. English men and their profound need to get naked for no apparent reason: "Let's have a naked race down the High Street! Let's ride motorbikes naked! I took a photo of my penis during your wedding reception! Look at me and my mates--we're naked in the pub!"
4. The nonchalant Washington State attitude towards rain.
5. St. Urho's Day. I keep trying to spread the good news on the East Coast. But no one's buying it.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Greetings all you Icon Butchers and Slaughterhouse Champions!
We have an official date set for the next Mama D's Arts Bordello show at Parkside Lounge.
It's Friday, June 18th.
Save the date you ruthless bastards. Book your flights. Cancel your previous engagements. Patch up your front bicycle wheel.
You can't miss this stellar event.
There will be blood in the aisles as we slaughter some of culture's most Sacred Cows.
We'll be taking down these hallowed heroes in prose, song, burlesque and film.
We're talking about people beyond reproach--like Shakespeare and Bono.
No fucking mercy!
But that's not all--whole segments of the populace will be massacred!
No one, not even Martin Scorsese will be spared.
One mystery Sacred Cow just might be spared. That will be up to you. We're putting this famous person on trial, with two capable lawyers arguing for the Defense and the Prosecution. You the jury will decide if this Sacred Cow will face the chopping block or roam free.
Plus...there's gonna be a meat raffle.
You read right.
A MEAT RAFFLE.
Prepare for a night of bloodthirsty entertainment on Friday, June 18th.
Stay tuned into Peon Confidential for more details.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I woke up this morning, poured myself a cup of coffee in my favorite pink Moomintroll mug and sat down to read this article:
CORPSE DISAPPEARS WHEN MINIVAN IS TOWED
Now that's pretty disturbing.
But why doesn't this funeral director have a proper hearse? There's no respect for tradition these days. It seems completely inappropriate that you can just cart corpses around in any old vehicle with a laminated sign stuck to the windshield. Especially a minivan for fuck's sake. I'd even back a new law preventing this from shit from happening again.
Then I started to think about other activities that are best not done in a minivan. I came up with this list:
1. Going to the Oscars with Jack Nicholson
2. Tantric Yoga Sex
3. Transporting Promiscuous Koalas
4. Fleeing the Law and Gunning it Across the State Line
5. Pulling Up to the Playboy Mansion