Culture vulture

Photo By Andre Welling

Belly laughs
Hard to believe that it’s possible to spend an evening getting laughs out of the fact that a good friend has a recurring and apparently eradicable tumor growing in his abdominal cavity. But, hey, we’re humans; one of our most valuable survival mechanisms is a sense of humor: the ability to laugh off the horrors that afflict pretty much every aspect of living in the material world.

That, and the fact that the event in question, The John LaPado Celebrity Roast, was a Merry Standish comedy production, pretty much guaranteed that genuine laughs would be had despite the grim facts underlying the reasons for that laughter.

Being packed into a capacity Women’s Club crowd surrounded by people gathered together to give support to a friend is a great way to refresh a sense of community feeling. And watching a panel of non- or semi-comedians from within that community take humorous potshots at each other to raise money for a friend’s medical bills is a way of attaining living proof that, while not all people are created equally funny, the vast majority of people are created equally funny looking.

Culture Vulture’s favorite bit of the night was the grand finale (and not just because it meant the thing was over), which featured the honoree having a conversation with his excised tumor in the form of a raspy-voiced, glittery, many-veined purple mass. By the time LaPado soft-shoed it off the stage, glittery tumor tucked under his arm, singing “Me and My Tumor” to the tune of “Me and My Shadow,” the standing ovation was well-deserved and drenched in absurdly tweaked good vibes (and lots of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale).

Hats off to Liz, Aaron, Roland, Zack, Debbie, Stevie, Roger, Matt, Kevin, Chris and especially John for proving that humor trumps tumor and laughs do provide healing relief.

Time-trip tubing
Speaking of common experiences, the past weekend saw the lovely I. Daphne St. Brie and self, along with our friends Robert and Cathy, gliding along the gently rippling surface of the Sacramento River on a quartet of large black inner tubes. An ice chest of canned Coors Light was bungee-corded to Robert’s tube, a plastic grocery sack of water bottles to Daphie’s.

Culture Vulture last tubed down the river in about 1992 and remembered it as a nearly interminable rite of passage involving being surrounded by intoxicated adolescents on tubes, buffeted by the wakes of passing jet boats, and getting a painful sunburn on the tops of my feet.

This trip was different. Entering the river at the Hamilton City bridge at about noon, there were no other tubers in sight. We adjusted to the combination of icy water and breezy, sunny air quickly, settling into our tubes for what we anticipated as a leisurely spin down the river of our collective memory and imagination, being wafted along by a smooth current that steered us around all obstacles with a minimum of paddling and a maximum of relaxed appreciation of the beautiful sound of leaves whispering in a breeze punctuated by bird songs and the distant whine of jet skis.

Absolutely lovely. And yet it seemed that we’d barely gotten comfortable in our tubes before Daphie pointed to a waterweed-choked inlet surmounted by an old Budweiser trailer and asked, “Is that Scotty’s?”

We couldn’t believe it. And yet there it was. We barely paddled to shore in time to escape being swept along to the washout. Elapsed time: A little over an hour. No sunburn. No drunk college kids. Only one gentle boat wake.

Did the river between the bridge and Scotty’s get shorter, or has my memory gone awry?