what i watched last week
#14: the earrings of madame de … (max ophüls, 1953)

politics, and taking a leak

Salon had a brief piece yesterday where political journalists and analysts offered their favorite “campaign-related fare”. What got my solipsistic attention is that I know two of the people who were asked for their choices, which instantly made me think of the article as somehow “mine”.

The problem is, I don’t have much to contribute to the topic beyond my peripheral connection to the writers. I thought long and hard, and this is what I came up with as my best campaign-related moment. Congressman Ron Dellums, who was my favorite politician for so long I can even forgive him for his time as mayor of Oakland, stopped by the Berkeley campus when I was at Cal. I forget why he was there, but it was during a presidential election, so it was probably 1988. I happened to be walking across lower Sproul Plaza and saw the Congressman and a couple of “aides” (i.e. bodyguards) ahead of me. I had to take a leak, so when Ron stopped into the men’s room, I followed suit, and found myself standing a couple of urinals away from Representative Dellums.

So, of course, I asked him to convince me to vote for the Democratic candidate for president.

It was the typical dicks-in-hand conversation common in men’s rooms across this great nation of ours, albeit with one of the participants being a bit more famous than the other. I suppose I had visions of Hunter S. Thompson asking questions of George McGovern when both were taking a leak early in the 1972 campaign. I was going to get a scoop! Nah, let’s face it: the truth is, I was star-struck, and wasn’t thinking about much at all.

As I recall, Dellums cussed more than once as he explained the standard “sure, the Democrat leaves a lot to be desired, but anything is better than the Republican” line. I thanked him and said if anyone could convince me of the rightness of that argument, it was the politician I most respected.

The point of the story, in 2012, is simple: I have nothing but lame campaign-related tales to tell.

There is a follow-up to this story, or rather, to Ron Dellums and me. There was a guy who used to hang out on our block occasionally. He was convinced that he was the illegitimate son of Ron Dellums. His “proof” was that his mom … ah, why bother, it was so goofy it didn’t even qualify as “proof” with scare quotes attached. This guy did not look a thing like Ron Dellums, although he thought the resemblance was clear. Some of us dream of winning the lottery; this gentleman dreamed of being recognized by his “real” father.

Here’s a clip from a long-forgotten movie that relates to all of this, if you happen to have taken a hit of acid this morning: