Laughter. Great mostly vegetarian food. Interesting people. A gay-themed wedding cake.
Republican fund-raising events might have some of these, but almost surely not the latter. And not as much of the former, I bet.
My wife, Laurel, and I thoroughly enjoyed a benefit last Saturday night for Carl Wolfson, he of "Carl in the Morning" on Portland's XRAY FM station.
My favorite part of the evening was listening to Carl's humorous, heartfelt, edgy, politically-savvy remarks in the living room of Wayne and Claudia Baum, who generously hosted the fundraiser. A long-time comedian, the guy was wonderfully entertaining.
Carl introduced his partner, Gary Thill, on the left. (Photo was taken by Helen Caswell.) He related how they got married when Multnomah County briefly allowed this some years back. Then their marriage was "annulled" by same-sex marriage being termed illegal in Oregon.
Now that it is definitely legal, their marriage is on again.
Carl related that when he first took Gary to meet his conservative mother, during dinner she looked at them and asked, "Now which one of you is gay?"
Another high point for me was when the sixty or so guests gathered around the food table where a pre-wedding cake in honor of Carl and Gary awaited cutting/eating. The "not from 'Sweet Cakes by Melissa'" reference refers to the Gresham bakery that famously refused to sell a wedding cake to lesbians.
Carl was bothered by how the figurine on the right reminded him of Ronald Reagan. It must have represented Gary, since the other figurine was bald. Though Carl looks fine in his baldness, he creatively used a smooshed cookie to hair-up his doppelganger.
Aileen Kaye, along with husband Roger, was a prime organizer of the event. Aileen is a tireless promoter of progressive causes. A fan of dragons, I liked her long-sleeved t-shirt.
Suzanne Devlin crafted two large gift baskets which went for $125 each, helping to keep Carl on the air. Along that line, he talked about how, a few days after the 2012 reelection of Obama, Clear Channel converted Portland's progressive talk radio station (KPOJ) to sports talk.
Which is why Carl is now limited to XRAY FM and podcasts. Someday, I hope, he'll return to having the bigger talk radio presence he deserves.
I told Carl that comedians like him make the best political commentators. Pete Dominick has a similar liberal/agnostic sensibility on satellite radio. Along with television's Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, of course.
My overriding feeling about the evening was pride in being a progressive. Everybody at the gathering shared my general political views, while being marvelously unique in other ways.
To see Carl and Gary standing by their wedding cake, joking about their upcoming marriage... priceless. Oregon has come a long way, as has much of the rest of the country, thanks to progressive ideals. And now we have legal marijuana in Oregon!
Carl said this puts a different slant on the biblical injunction: instead of stoning men who have sex with each other, now we know that they're supposed to be stoned.
Everybody tried to sing a song in honor of Carl and Gary with lyrics handed out on sheets of paper. But the music was inaudible due to a smartphone mini-speaker malfunction, and the result was chaotic disharmony. Carl observed:
"This shows why everybody should hire a gay wedding planner."