Alan Rhodes

Rescued by Rachmaninoff

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Recently, I was looking over the slate of candidates in next month’s local primary election.  There are some really excellent people running, but the appearance of three names on the list left an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach.

While he was on Whatcom County Council, Tony Larson—who was supposed to be representing the citizens—was secretly working for a rightwing PAC called Clear Ballot Choices. CBC was up to all sorts of mischief. For one, they were assisting the company that wanted to build a massive coal terminal at Cherry Point, a concept that was not universally loved by folks around here. CBC was also working on a redistricting scheme to render Bellingham voters irrelevant in all future county elections. Larson got caught at his stealthy deeds and was handed a maximum fine by the state’s Public Disclosure Commission. And now he wants to be county executive. The arrogance is appalling.

Kathy Kershner is running for County Council in district four. Back in 2015 she lost an election to Satpal Sidhu. She followed this loss by publicly questioning Sidhu’s U.S. citizenship and demanding to see his papers. This kind of low-road race-baiting and xenophobia is contemptible and speaks volumes about Kershner’s character.

Brett Bonner, after sexually harassing a 23-year-old woman, quietly admitted to the Whatcom Republican party what he had done and resigned his party office. The young woman intended to leave it at that, until Bonner then filed to run for County Council At-Large, as if his transgression somehow shouldn’t matter. The young woman went public and Bonner suspended his campaign.  But his name is still on the ballot. On the basis of name recognition alone, Bonner could win in the primary. This would be a disgrace.

In fact, all three of the above could end up on the general election ballot, and some might even win in the general election. This thought left me very depressed, which I didn’t need since I was already feeling morose about the possibility that Donald Trump could actually get reelected. This could never happen, of course, in a rational society, but rationality doesn’t appear to be thriving these days.

I tumbled into a blue funk that even over-indulging in Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups couldn’t cure. That’s how bad it was.

Later in the day I opened the Seattle Times. This didn’t help my mood. The first item I read concerned Donald Trump and his bromance buddy Vladimir Putin joking about Russian election interference. How amusing, a foreign attack on American democracy. On the weather page, I saw that the previous day’s record temperature in Southern France was 115 degrees, hotter than Cairo or Baghdad. This reminded me that Trump is a climate change denier, possibly the stupidest opinion any person could hold, except maybe a belief that Trump should be reelected in November.

I considered shooting myself in the head, but I don’t own a gun so I’d have to stab myself in the head, which sounds quite painful. At this point my wife reminded me that we needed to start getting ready to go out. I was so engrossed in my existential dread that I had forgotten it was the opening night of the Bellingham Festival of Music.

That evening I settled into my seat at the Performing Arts Center as the music began. A couple of bars into Glinka’s overture to “Russlan and Ludmilla” and I was already smiling. During Prokofiev’s pyrotechnic Third Piano Concerto I was bouncing with new energy, and by the time we got to Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony I was ecstatic, recharged, cleansed.

None of this made the fraudulence and dishonesty and rancor of current affairs go away, but I felt chipper enough to discard my inky cloak, if I may borrow a phrase from Shakespeare, and do something.

The following Monday I called Whatcom Democratic headquarters to volunteer in any way I might be helpful. Then I sat down to write this column, remembering as I typed some good advice from my editor Tim Johnson: “Push on the things that can be moved, apply pressure to the things that will yield, and laugh at the absurd.”

I don’t know what your remedy for shedding gloom and getting energized might be, but for me music—sometimes Mozart, other times Muddy Waters—can do the job.

The primary election is August 7. Local elections are really important. These people will very directly affect our lives. Vote.

Past Columns
The Lilliputian Gazette

November 20, 2019

Election Elucidations

October 15, 2019

Buying Sedro-Woolley

September 4, 2019

Hurrahs and Harangues

May 8, 2019

Ranting and Raving

March 6, 2019

Bellingham 2050

February 13, 2019

Looking Backward

January 2, 2019

Joy to the World

December 19, 2018

A Second Spring

October 3, 2018

Dog Days Deliberations

September 12, 2018

Mr. Cranky’s Files

July 11, 2018

Can We Talk?

June 20, 2018

Midnight Musings

May 16, 2018

April Fools

April 4, 2018

Rollo and Me

March 7, 2018

Egregious linguistic offenses

February 14, 2018

Events
Today
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

The Naughty List Market and Cabaret

2:00pm|Broadway Hall

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Connelly Creek Nature Area

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Holiday Craft Bazaar

3:30pm|Lynden Library

Drayton Harbor Shellebration

4:00pm|G Street Plaza

Gingerbread House Making

4:30pm|Ferndale Library

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Photos and Stories with James K. Papp

5:00pm|Gallery Pegasus

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Kids Night Out @ Western

6:00pm|Western Washington University

Lost Feast

7:00pm|Village Books

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Christmastime is Here with Skagit Symphony

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Tomorrow
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

NSEA Work Party

9:00am

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Sedro-Woolley Community Center

Winter Faire

10:00am|Whatcom Hills Waldorf School

Winter Arts & Crafts Festival

10:00am|Pioneer Park Pavilion

Old-Fashioned Christmas Market

10:00am|Friday Harbor Brickworks

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Fairhaven Winterfest

10:00am|Historic Fairhaven

Sumas Book Club

10:00am|Sumas Library

Mastering Wisteria

10:30am|Full Bloom Farm

Award-Winning Book Club

10:30am|Lynden Library

Snow Geese of Skagit

10:30am|Christianson's Nursery

Your Life is a Story Writers Group

10:30am| South Whatcom Library

Saltadena Celebration

11:00am|Saltadena Bakery

Winter Wonderland Gift Gala

11:00am|Carnation Building

Holiday Craft Bazaars

11:30am

Holiday Maker's Market

12:00pm|Terramar Brewing and Distilling

Holiday Joy with Fidalgo Youth Symphony

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Holiday Tea and Crafts

1:00pm|North Fork Library

Festive Feasting Reception

1:00pm|Good Earth Pottery

Teen Art Fair

2:00pm|Blaine Library

Big Holiday reds tasting

2:00pm|eifert & Jones Wine Merchants

Shrinking the Worry Monster

2:00pm|Village Books

Birding for Kids

2:30pm

Bowman Bay Holiday

3:00pm|Bowman Bay

Noel Ensemble

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

A Deep Dive Into Eve Deisher's Psyche

3:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

One Meditation

4:00pm| Boulevard Park

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Early Railroads of Whatcom County

7:00pm|Village Books

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Center Into Solstice

7:00pm|Cafe Blue

Holiday History Hi-Jinks

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Winter Solstice Concert with SeaMuse

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Cidertails with Alexine Langdon

7:30pm|housand Acre Cider House

Heralding Christmas with Skagit Valley Chorale

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

The Kelley World Tour

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Sunday
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Winter Wonderland Gift Gala

11:00am|Carnation Building

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Heralding Christmas with Skagit Valley Chorale

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Sedro-Woolley Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Celtic Yuletide

3:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Scarlett and Dicey

4:00pm|Village Books

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

see our complete calendar »