The title of this blog post reminds me of writing a fourth-grade paper on "My summer vacation." Except, I'm now 68. And I used Adobe Spark to share photos and a video of our visit to the Safari Park. Which was in March, not the summer.
Last night my wife and I saw comedian Lewis Black do his thing at Salem's Elsinore Theatre. His profanity-laced, darkly-intense, rant-filled brand of humor was strangely healing for us and the other mostly-liberal audience members.
I'm a big fan of Black's appearances on The Daily Show, where it seems a miracle that the top of his head doesn't pop off from the display of steaming outrage. (Click here for a comparatively mild example.)
I was wondering how Black would act during a lengthy stand-up show. Answer: pretty much the same, but more entertainingly. He's adept at handling shout-out comments from the audience. So adept, I quickly resolved to keep my mouth shut lest I find myself on the receiving end of a Lewis Black zinger.
(Though this would have been an honor. Of sorts.)
My main takeaway from the show was this: being a blogger who frequently takes shots at local politicians via Salem Political Snark, after seeing Black blast Trump & Company for the fucking idiots that they are, using that marvelously descriptive word more times in five minutes than I do in five months (publicly, at least), I no longer am going to give a flying shit if some aggrieved denizen of our City Hall considers me a "bombthrower" -- a term intended as an insult, but which I've appropriated as a compliment.
Compared to Lewis Black's virtual nonstop detonation of verbal nuclear weaponry against clueless politicians, mostly of the Trumpian variety, because that's who is in power now, my citizen activism outbursts are akin to a tiny firecracker with a wet fuse. Black, of course, is from New York City. People in New York have a much different conversational style than we do here in Oregon.
It seemed pretty clear that Black didn't know much about Salem. But he had quite a bit to say about Portland. He loved the mass transit system there, compared to which Salem's lack of even freaking evening and weekend bus service is a major embarrassment for Oregon's capital city.
Black spoke about how Portlanders will vote for improving some sort of public service (like the art tax), then some other group will say, "hey, this needs help also," and Portland voters will approve money for that also. He saw Portland as an appealing blend of capitalism and socialism, so much so he said that Portland really was the capital of the Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark.
A couple of times he joked about not wanting to praise Oregon so much that people from other parts of the country are going to want to move here, being one of the few refuges from Trumpist Republicanism. (Oregon is one of just four states where Democrats control the Governorship and both state houses.)
Lewis Black is cynical about politics, while also being darkly hopeful in a "this too shall pass" sort of sense. That's the power of political humor.
As Black's profane tirades against this-and-that idiocies being promulgated by the incompetents currently in charge in Washington, D.C. washed over me, a deeper realization of the ridiculousness of what the Trump administration is doing felt like a healing massage of my politically frazzled psyche.
I mean, it didn't cure what ails me -- kicking these fools out of office is the only thing that will do that -- but it felt good to have Black say so loudly and powerfully what is obvious: the line between politics and satire has almost completely dissolved with the election of one Donald J. Trump.
Black repeatedly said, "The jokes write themselves." Which is clear whenever I watch a Sean Spicer press briefing, or read Trump's tweets. You couldn't make this stuff up, because no one would believe it. Yet it's true.
The Elsinore show wasn't 100% political, just mostly so. Black also had apt observations about religion from his "Jewy Jew" perspective, and some almost-serious riffs about mental illness. This video is similar to some of what he said last night.
But that One Experience was so irritating, I jumped at the chance to complain about it when an emailed visitor satisfaction survey arrived in my inbox today.
I've done some Googling to see if anyone else who took a Safari Tour to see animals in the quasi-wild from the back of an open-sided truck had ever experienced the weird event we, and the other people on our Caravan Tour, did.
Didn't find anything.
So it may well be that our bureaucratic bummer was a rare event. Heck, maybe this is the only time Safari Park visitors spent 45 minutes of their 2-hour tour stuck for no good reason between two gates that linked several field enclosures.
All I can say is that one time was too many. Thus I feel completely justified in making the complaint that I did, and in sharing it below.
Now, I readily admit that I'm (1) a citizen activist who regularly gives the folks who run things at our Salem, Oregon City Hall an earful when I consider that they've screwed something up, and (2) someone who dislikes bureaucracies and rules that don't make sense.
I probably was the most-bothered person by what happened on our Caravan Safari tour.
However, judging from the comments of other people on our truck both during and after the Stuck Between Two Gates fiasco, I certainly wasn't the only one who felt this episode was handled badly.
After registering my complaint this morning, I did get a voicemail message on my cell phone from someone in the Customer Service department that was encouraging. Interestingly, it appears that this someone was one of the supervisors I roundly complained about in the complaint below.
He said that he'd like me to call back so he can discuss our bad experience and describe how they'll take steps to prevent something like this from happening again.
Yet I still feel like I need to publicize this bit of bureaucratic bungling, if nothing else than to have it serve as an example of how not to make an easily-solved problem into an exasperating experience for customers.
I didn't take a photo during the Stuck Between Two Gates 45 minutes. Here's a photo of a happier moment in the truck prior to that happening. As I say in my complaint, our guide (in blue shirt, leaning against rear railing) was great. It was her supervisors who messed up.
------------------------ This was what I said in the Customer Satisfaction survey about our Safari Tour.
Our 2-hour tour actually was more like 75 minutes, because for about 45 minutes we were stuck in between two gates, absurdly waiting for Park supervisors to deal with a non-existent problem.
Which was, our truck was 3/4 though a gate when the metal gate closed and hit the side of the truck. The driver and other guy in the cab got out, inspected the truck and found no damage. Obviously none of us on the tour experienced any problem.
But we sat motionless in-between the two gates. When our guide asked the guys in the cab with the walkie-talkies what was going on, they said "We reported the incident. They [supervisors, I assume] want us to sit here until they get back to us."
Then we sat some more.
We'd been told that our 1:30 safari tour would be back in plenty of time to see the 3:30 Cheetah run. I began to worry that this wouldn't happen. Our guide asked several more times what was going on. Answer: nothing. At one point she told the guys in the cab, "We're going to get complaints." I said, "For sure." Which has come to pass.
It took about 40 minutes or so for the two supervisor types to show up in their pickup truck. They slowly got out of their truck, opened the gate, and looked at the truck with the two guys who had been talking with them.
"There's no damage to the truck," one supervisor guy said. I muttered to myself, "That's what you were repeatedly told."
"Anybody hurt? (or words to that effect, maybe it was "bothered) Obviously not. I think i said something like, "The only thing we're bothered about is sitting here for 45 minutes."
It was a ridiculous display of bureaucratic incompetence.
The three Safari Park staff with us on the tour knew there was no damage to the truck, and no harm to us visitors. The harm came from the supervisors not trusting the staff, and forcing those of us who had paid $111 each (if I recall correctly) to spend 45 minutes of a 2-hour tour sitting in a truck that was stuck for no reason in-between two gates, which prevented us from experiencing about 40% of our tour.
My wife and I live in Oregon. Other people on the tour were from Georgia and Michigan.
Several of the Georgia children were very interested in the animals and asked some excellent questions. I felt bad for them. This probably was their one and only chance to experience the Safari Park tour, but clueless Park supervisors made them unnecessarily sit between two gates for 45 minutes of a 2-hour tour.
I have nothing bad to say about our guides or the driver. The problem lay with the supervisors and the nonsensical Safari Park policy that required us to sit between the gates for 45 minutes so two supervisors could confirm for themselves the obvious: that there was no damage to the truck and the only harm to us paying customers was not being able to experience the tour that we had paid a bunch of money for.
I plan to post this complaint on Yelp and will be sharing it on my blog. We enjoyed the rest of our one-day visit to the Safari Park, but I haven't been shy about telling our friends about the ridiculous "stuck between the gates" episode. I'll continue to use it as an example of how incompetent bureaucracies operate.
Yes, I realize that we live in a litigious society, and it may well be that the Safari Park's attorneys have required this absurd over-reaction to an inconsequential incident. But that doesn't assuage the irritation I and others felt at not being able to experience the full 2-hour tour that we had paid for.
If the truck had broken down, or there was some other good reason for missing 45 minutes of the tour, I would have felt much differently. However, this was just a case of Supervisors Acting Badly, since they took 45 minutes to deal with a non-problem that could have been handled in a minute or so.
As in, the guys in the cab call in and say, "Hey, Joe, a gate closed and hit the side of our truck. There's no damage and nobody on the tour was harmed in the slightest. Our guests and us want to keep on with the tour. Are we good to go?"
A "Yes" was all that was needed. Instead, it took 45 minutes to get the "good to go." Absurd.
The abbreviated tour was the 1:30 outing on March 7. Again, our guide was great. She did her best to keep us entertained and informed during the lengthy wait between the gates. She deserves a promotion. The two supervisors deserve some retraining in customer service.
With every passing day, Donald Trump's astounding incompetency to serve as President becomes more obvious.
His lies, blunders, and disrespect for the office he won with the aid of Russian meddling in the 2016 election make it perfectly clear that Trump is on track to be the worst president in our nation's history.
His dismal approval rating, 43% as of yesterday, is an accurate reflection of the low regard most Americans have for our Idiot In Chief. By comparison, Barack Obama had an 62% approval rating by March of his first term in office.
I proudly voted for Hillary Clinton. Her campaign arguments regarding Trump being unfit to serve as president are becoming more evidently true with every new Trump tweet.
So I'm wondering:
How many Trump voters here in Oregon, and particularly in my home town of Salem, are willing to publicly defend the guy they favored to lead our country?
Being a progressive, I mainly talk politics with people who share my liberal views. We detest Trump, for many excellent reasons. But 39% of Oregon voters cast their ballot for Trump; 38% of Salem voters did the same.
Thus there's a lot of people out there in my area of the country who thought Donald Trump would be a good president. At least, a better president than Hillary Clinton. I'd like to know if they still defend Trump.
I don't see many signs of this.
On my Facebook feed, conservative friends or acquaintances aren't standing up for Trump. Right-wingers in Oregon, or Salem, aren't making obvious statements of "I'm still a strong supporter of the man I voted to be president."
But maybe Trump-lovers will come out of the closet. If you're one of them, leave an I love Trump comment on this post with your real name. Show the world that you're still proud to have put him in the Oval Office.
Defend Trump's recent Tweet-accusations that Obama "wire-tapped" his phone before Election Day, despite the fact there is zero evidence to support this ridiculous claim.
WASHINGTON — It began at 6 p.m. Thursday as a conspiratorial rant on conservative talk radio: President Barack Obama had used the “instrumentalities of the federal government” to wiretap the Republican seeking to succeed him. This “is the big scandal,” Mark Levin, the host, told his listeners.
By Friday morning, the unsubstantiated allegation had been picked up by Breitbart News, the site once headed by President Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon. Less than 24 hours later, the president embraced the conspiracy in a series of Twitter posts accusing his predecessor of spying on him, setting in motion the latest head-spinning, did-he-really-say-that furor of Mr. Trump’s six-week-old presidency.
This is the latest, but certainly not the last, highly outrageous WTF action by the fool who was voted into office by a minority of Americans -- who still constituted a large proportion of the electorate, even here in liberal Oregon.
So Trump voters should either admit to the rest of us that you made a BIG MISTAKE, or publicly support the man who is now bringing disgrace on the highest office in the land.
It'll be interesting to see how many of you take me up on this offer to leave an I still love Trump comment with your real name. Maybe there are more people willing to go along with Trump's falsehoods and screw-ups than I suspect.
Which would be disturbing. Because the only way we're going to be able to get our country back on track is if citizens stand up to the demagoguery of the Man Who Would Be King, or even Dictator, rather than "merely" President.