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Friday, November 21, 2008

If you’re goin’ to San Diego. . . .

Well, actually right now I’m in Washington for an AAUP meeting, but I have to leave early (like, mid-afternoon) and head out to San Diego to the National Communication Association conference to debate Anne Neal of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.  This should be fun!  A lot more fun than the NCA’s original plan for the event, that’s for sure.

And there’s a strange coincidence here involving a tiny tangent from last week’s trip to Nebraska with Jamie.  You’ll recall (perhaps) that I took Jamie into the mountains of Colorado and the deserts of New Mexico last month, driving around and seeing stuff.  I was trying to broaden his horizons beyond the usual trip-to-the-zoo-or-aquarium thing we’ve done so often, now that he’s more mature and willing to visit museums and mountains and things.  Well, one of the places we stopped in Santa Fe was the New Mexico Museum of Art, which was quite cool, and which for some reason kindled in him a desire to ask the people in the gift shop if they had anything “about the Sioux.” (It took Jamie six or seven tries before anyone, myself included, understood his request; he was, as always, wonderfully patient about this.) I assured him, as he picked out a book about Kachinas instead, that although the southwest was all about the Navajo and Hopi and Zuni and such, there would be plenty of stuff about the Sioux in Nebraska and South Dakota. 

Unfortunately, you really can’t get from Omaha to the good stuff in western South Dakota—Wounded Knee, Deadwood, the Badlands, Rapid City, Mount Rushmore—in one day.  The state is too damn big.  We had planned, more modestly, to drive to Sioux Falls and back for a day trip, after stopping off first at Omaha’s Durham Western Heritage Museum, which, as you can plainly see, Jamie enjoyed.  (Irony alert: it turns out that the Omaha Zoo, which we visited on Friday the 14th before seeing that hockey game, is absolutely fantastic.  Wish we’d left more time for it—we only spent two hours.) But after driving approximately forever and getting only 30 miles above Sioux City, I saw two road signs: one said “Sioux Falls 48 miles” and the other said “University of South Dakota 6 miles State Museums 7 miles.” So, after deciding I didn’t want to drive seven hours round trip in one day, and then after getting Jamie’s approval, I bailed on Sioux Falls and went to USD where we stopped in at the very tiny and very cute W. H. Over Museum.  Jamie loved this too, I’m happy to say, and you know, it had some really strange stuff, too.  Like this in a glass case and this gazing down at you from the wall and this in the children’s “discovery room.” You don’t see those every day, now, do you?

And the important thing is that we got to South Dakota at all.  Now I have only Seven Unvisited States left:  Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Utah, Arkansas, Mississippi, and South Carolina.  Hmmmm—wonder if there’s a pattern there somewhere.

But there wasn’t much else to see in southeastern South Dakota, save for signs like this on roads like this.  So we drove back to Omaha, where we learned that we were crossing the Mormon Trail.  Yes, the Mormon Trail—on which, as your National Park Service will tell you, “roughly 70,000 Mormons traveled from 1846 to 1869 in order to escape religious persecution before settling down in Utah and spending $20something million to make sure that gay people can’t get married in California.” Which is great, in a way, since the last time I checked in on Mormons In The News, it was all about this weird statutory rape farm in Texas.  Good to see the Church of Latter Day Saints has straightened itself out!  So to speak.

So yes, Omaha, Mormons, Proposition 8 . . . how does this have anything to do with debating Anne Neal?

Well, Proposition 8 is also one great big huge mess for the National Communication Association, as you can plainly see.  Yes, that’s right, the conference is taking place in the Manchester Hyatt, and the owner of the conference hotel, Doug “Papa Doug” Manchester (yes, his nickname really is Papa Doug.  I don’t make up stuff like that on this blog—I’m not that creative.  Is his son Baby Doug?) has dropped $125,000 of his very own money to protect heterosexual Californian marriage in its moment of maximum danger.  This was matter for controversy long before Prop 8 passed, of course—and now NCA members have to go and patronize this hotel and replenish Mr. Manchester’s pockets.  Unless, of course, they join the boycott.

Sigh.  This really sucks.  Many departments are moving their events elsewhere, but the big me-and-Anne-Neal debate takes place in the Homophobe Hyatt.  Where, of course, the NCA booked me a room, as well.  Well, I canceled the room, at least, and booked one at a hotel down the street instead.  That’ll save the NCA a few bucks, and I get myself a little suite.  It’s a win-win, I suppose.  Except for gay and lesbian couples in California.

Anyway, the debate is Saturday at 11 pacific.  Wish me luck.  As for Prop 8, I note that Moloch has already granted my morning-after-Election-Day wish that Gordon Smith and Ted Stevens be returned to private life.  We’re still waiting on Coleman and 8.

Posted by Michael on 11/21 at 06:58 AM
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