Au revoir, Washington

We passed over the Columbia River at about quarter till 1 and bid adieu, in some sort of permanent way, to Washington state.
Max was pretty excited. I remember him going bananas back in April when we crossed in the other direction after a long, winding trek from Pennsylvania. It was a Friday night, and we were right on schedule (such as it goes for us). The mad dash from Minden, Nev., was nearly complete and we’d be there by morning in time for the 6th birthday swaree for his buddy, the incomparable Cassius Via.
The emotions were more bittersweet this time around, accented by the autumnal Northwest graygloom. I looked to the east as we entered Oregon and noted the remnants of the old Red Lion Inn, which had obviously been razed by fire. The scene evoked a bit of trivial nostalgia: I stayed there once, way back in 1995, during an expedition for a Poynter writer’s conference.  I don’t remember much, though I’m sure we drank too much and learned too little.
I couldn’t have learned much, as my “career” followed a vaguely parabolic arc from mildly ascendant to utterly dead in less than 16 years in the Northwest.
So we say goodbye for now to Washington. I wonder our departure is just another case of poor timing. Only last week, Washington buffed up its progressive bona fides by passing statewide initiatives legalizing gay marriage and recreational use of marijuana.
And the endgame? A backsliding Pennsylvania ruled by corporate implant Tom Corbett and his court of co-conspirators who dominate the Legislature. All power to the Mother Frackers!
Of course, we’ve got a safety net of family and friends to cushion whatever blow is forthcoming. We can’t wait to see them all.
This little dispatch comes from the public library in Tualatin, Ore. Adorning one of the walls in the lobby is a scoreboard for the “Civil War food drive.” The top-ranked Oregon Ducks play bitter rival Oregon State on Nov. 24, and the locals are using the game’s high profile to wage a battle of donations in the names of the respective schools.
All I want to say about that is I admire Oregon’s stubborn refusal to genuflect at the alter of political correctness. Some folks might see using the nomenclature “Civil War” to describe a rivalry football game as an exercise in trivializing the real-life horrors of war.
I say fuck ’em.
They’ve been playing this game since 1894, and calling it the Civil War since 1929. As long as nobody’s getting killed or exploited too egregiously, let them have their tradition.
The more insidious problem lies elsewhere: What should we make of a culture and media colossus that polices its use of language more vigilantly than it polices its elected officials and corporate titans?
The trivializing of war is not the problem.
The war is the problem.
Sorry for mini-sermon.

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