The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

January 30, 2013
Jack Ohman, the new Sharpie in town...

After having spent my entire adult life in the lovely, damp confines of California's northernmost county, Oregon, I was a bit concerned that my new adopted state might not have, you know, any exciting political events to cover.

(Insert irony here).

After all, in Oregon, we worry extensively about things like the spotted owl, the wanderings of wolves, and, if there's big action, maybe a Japanese dock will wash up on our beach we can have our pictures taken in front of. So when I came to California, I was thinking that, sure, they're a faster league, but how much different could it be?


--We didn't have the Maloofs. Our basketball team owner, Paul Allen, was just like Steve Ballmer but more dashing and charismatic (really NICE pocket protector!), so he built Portland its very own arena, relieving Portlanders of the responsibility to do anything other than lightly observe the Blazers at their leisure. People in Portland don't really talk about the Blazers with any more passion than they would discuss the gas company. The Blazers are like a utility: they're there, they work, and, snore, get me another cup of overly-engineered coffee.

In Sacramento, the Kings are revered, and The Maloofs not only are caricatures, it's like they were developed by Pixar. I hate to say that I'm probably the only person in Sacramento who wants the Maloofs to stay forever.

--The governor of California and his father have been either running for president, running California, or kicking Nixon around anymore since before I was born (1960, like when Eisenhower was president, cars with fins, chimps in space, public cigarette smoking). So, naturally, I had heard of this Jerry Brown person before I had come down here. And he has not disappointed me; his state of the state speech reminded me of my last exam in Western Civ ( I think I got a C minus), and when he isn't driving me to my classics dictionary ( Oregon's governor is far more likely to quote Norman Maclean than Montaigne), he's rolling out his cute dog. If Oregon's governor has a dog, he doesn't tell us about it. We wouldn't care anyway. We've got to call the moss removal guy about our roof. And have you people ever actually slipped on a slug? I have.

--I'm always a bit uncomfortable talking about people as great subjects for caricature ( we all have our flaws--mine is my tendency to reduce people to a caricature, and my physics-defying hairstyle), but I think there's a good talent pool. When I first came down, cold, from a place I had been commenting on for 29 years, my first task was to quickly determine who the Possible Recurring Subjects are. I'm still kind of working my way around this subject, but I will welcome your always kind thoughts and suggestions.

My friends in Oregon had expressed some light concern about someone like me going to California. After all, I had not seen any direct sunlight since October 24, 1983, my first day at work in Portland, and, to compound the shock, I was originally from Minnesota, which is the photographic negative of California. I recalled this anecdote from my 20th high school reunion in the Twin Cities:

GUY WITH HEAVY MINNESOTA ACCENT: Jack Ohman! How are ya! How's it goin'?

ME, ACCENT MUCH DIFFERENT FROM 1978: Doug! Great. How are you?

DOUG: So. You're a political cartoonist in OreGONE.

ME: Yes. It's great. I really enjoy my work.

DOUG: (Expletive redacted), what happened to your accent? You sound like you're from California.

I guess that's a start.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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