The next school year will not be like the last one. Next year I will not attend any “PSU” parties.
Sometimes I kick myself for being down on this fair city for being so insular and provincial, but all I have to do is look into the world of PSU for a few minutes (a night in this case) to realize my ire is not unfounded.
We were attending the birthday party of a peer mentor in the super great, oh-so-wonderful award-winning University Studies Program at Portland State University.
I’m sure it was OK, as far as parties go. There was a keg, I think (we brought a big-ass bottle of cheap French wine). There were guys spinning records in the basement, although no one was dancing. It seemed that these were PSU’s “cool” kids. It seemed OK.
I spent a lot of time on the porch smoking awesome little South American cigars (as I am a recent cigarette non-smoker), and it was there that a couple of kids started telling jokes. Right away it was bad. The first joke ���� it was bad.
“How did the Mexican blah blah blah …?”
There was no laughter. Everyone on the porch was silent. People looked into their laps, into their beers. I sighed heavily and looked the culprit in the eye.
“It’s cool man,” he said. “my daughter’s half-Mexican.”
I got up and walked into the house.
Later, I was accosted by a throng of kids who were all out of beer and who spied the big-ass bottle of red I was trying to conceal, thinking it was the “wine” being bandied about by others. In fact, what they wanted was the rack of Sutter Home inconveniently wedged behind me in the riotous mess of a kitchen.
Later still, we found ourselves in the living room, perusing a fairly well stocked baby-boomer record collection. After listening to the first side of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way, we thought we’d put on something a little more upbeat.
My friend Jim found a Kinks’ greatest hits collection and popped it on.
Me: Have you heard Arthur? That’s my favorite.
Jim: Yeah, that record’s so good. Do you have Lola vs. the Moneygrubbers?
Me: Yeah, but I never listen to it. I need to check it out.
PSU Kid In Black Hoodie: This is white people music.
I didn’t say anything about the Duran Duran they were getting funky to in the basement.
People easily forget that others might be offended by what they have to say. That kid doesn’t know that I was listening to hip-hop when he was still using training wheels, long before he had heard of the wheels of steel.
People forget that there is a big world beyond Oregon and that just because you listen to music that was born in the Bronx doesn’t mean you’re any less white. Or that “community-based learning” is going to turn assholes into palatable persons.
I wasn’t going to argue with the kid over whether or not the Kinks have soul, or tell him that Miles was a fan of Iggy and the Stooges-something tells me he doesn’t know who is more important, Miles Davis or Michael Diamond.
I already let the joker know what I thought, and he was still jokin’ the last time I stepped out for one of those South American cigars.