Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Monday, September 04, 2006

It seems to me that if this is a day to celebrate an honest day’s wages for an honest day’s labor, then politicians should not be allowed to take this day off.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:39 AM •
Sunday, September 03, 2006

For those of you who knew Debbie Strode and wondered, wonder no more. SHE’S ALIVE!  Due to federal law, I am prohibited from saying anything else.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:02 AM •
Saturday, September 02, 2006

FBI agents raided legislative offices across the state yesterday collecting evidence they apparently feel may show an unholy closeness between some Alaska legislators and Veco, our very own pipeline support company.  And all I can say is, for this they needed the FBI?  Seriouly, stop anyone on the street and ask them. It’s cheaper.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:47 AM •
Friday, September 01, 2006

The only words you need to define Alaska.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 04:34 AM •
Thursday, August 31, 2006

The article in the paper today says the government is not doing enough to stop our gowing obesity.  And all I can think is...when the hell did the government become responsible for how much I weigh!????

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:02 AM •
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

And so another piece of Alaskana bites the dust.  No longer will Alaskans be able to head to Spenard for some fried Spam and sleazy humor interspersed with juvenile political jokes that often were the only comic relief available during our seemingly interminable political seasons. We are left we nothing but the Daily Show and they don’t do song and dance half as well as Mr. Whitekeys and company. Besides, they never mention Alaska unless it involves Ted Stevens and, no offense to Uncle Ted, but he is hardly our funniest or most outrageous politician.  In Alaska, you have to fight yearly in a very crowded field to earn that title.

I will admit to being a bit of a FBN groupie.  Going to the show each time it changed pretty much constituted my social life.  Unless, of course, you count the fact that I religiously watch Anchorage Edition every Friday night on KAKM because it makes me feel like my weekend has a purpose.  Ok, Ok, I’ll admit it. I watch it because it is almost as funny as Mr. Whitekeys. I just don’t think it means to be.
Whitekeys started this questionably tasteful enterprise in 1980. Ever since, he has been our chronicler of the bad taste that follows sudden wealth when coupled with an Alaskan attitude.  It is not for nothing that Alaska views duct tape as a universal antidote despite its somewhat high price tag.  We may have money, but we refuse to have taste. And so for 26 years Whitekeys and company have set to music that spirit of Alaska that refuses to grow up, get classy and dispose of the multiple motorized vehicles that sit in our yards in varying degrees of degradation covered by a torn blue tarp.
On its website, the Fly By Night makes this opening statement: “Mr. Whitekeys’ Fly By Night Club is World Famous---we are known as well in Cairo as we are in Havana!! The club is the home of The Whale Fat Follies - The Alaskan Show that the Department Of Tourism Does NOT want you to see.”
In actual fact, it was the one show anyone with summer visitors made sure to attend with their visitors.  Because it was the only place where, when asked who was there with their summer visitors from hell, you could safely raise you hand amidst the laughter without totally insulting Aunt Mary and Uncle Pete.  Or your husband’s college roommate who you’d neither seen nor heard from in forty years until he showed up with his RV and family of five in your driveway in July.  Perhaps best of all, with very little explanation, visitors from all over the country got to laugh at some of the best satire to be found anywhere. Maybe Uncle Ted and Lisa are our particular senators, but the humor they engender is understood by anyone who actually has a senator.
Whitekeys over the years also introduced us to a supporting cast that will live on in Alaska history for so long as there is even one of us who thinks Alice Welling’s impression of Bill Clinton is without rival or that the late, great Sourdough Mike made the Alaska State Song something so beautiful it brought tears to the most cynical of eyes.
When I first moved here from Barrow, my friend Kate and I made a standing date to go to the show each time it changed.  Yes, some of the songs got repeated so often that we could mouth along with the cast. But who cared? The new material was almost always a dead hit on some ludicrous moment playing out statewide, the food and drinks were surprisingly good for a sleazy Spenard bar, they actually served a sugar free dessert, and you felt like you were part of the in-crowd as you laughed at references all but real Alaskans might find obscure.
Kate’s oldest son celebrated his rite of passage to the ripe old age of 16 by going to the Fly By Night with us. I’m not sure what we thought he’d learn there but whatever it was, we felt he was better off learning it with his mother around.  His brother turned 16 this year but we called too late to get one of the last reservations so he will have to learn from the streets whatever it is he was supposed to learn at the Fly By Night.
Goodbye, Mr. Whitekeys. We’ll probably not see your kind again in Alaska. You belong to an age we are regretfully outgrowing. Sleaze on!


Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:12 AM •
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and most of Conan O’Brian made the Emmys bearable.  Other than that, YAWNNNNNNNNNNNNN

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:15 AM •
Monday, August 28, 2006

Yes the man married to Britney Spears is as annoying as holy hell. But no more annoying than his wife. And after all, shouldn’t we pretty much feel sorry for them both for being so inane? 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:07 AM •
Sunday, August 27, 2006

I give up. Each summer for the past few years I’ve saved money by turning my heat off sometime in early June and not putting it back on till early September. But this year it has been a battle of putting the heat on, feeling terrible that I’m such a wimp I’m putting the heat on in the summer, turning the heat off, getting cold, turning the heat on again...well, you get the picture. So now I give up. I concede.  Anchorage is not planning to have a summer this year and I’m a wimp who needs the heat on when the temperature outside hits the 40s at night.  My heat is on, my gro lights are set, let winter begin.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:15 AM •
Saturday, August 26, 2006

Today is my sister’s birthday. She is officially older than dirt. Congratulations, Judy.  Just remember not to get too drunk tonight at Nightmare in Strathmere.  At your age, you can’t handle it as well as when you were young.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:20 AM •
Friday, August 25, 2006

OK, I’ll give you all your chance. Nominations are now officially open for people, places and things that annoy you the most.  Remember that Tom Cruise has been retired into the Hall of Fame so he’s not eligible. Nor are political elections in general, though I will give some consideration to specific ones that warrant extra special attention.  And please leave Donald Trump’s hair. Scientology and ANYTHING to do with ANYTHING that at ANY TIME may include the words Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie.  We do need to establish some standards.
This year’s winners, and new inductees into the Hall of Fame, will be announced before the end of the year or whenever I damn well feel like it. 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 04:38 AM •
Thursday, August 24, 2006

After the results of yesterday’s primaries came in last night, I realized that for the first time in forever I will go to the voting booth in the fall and know that no matter which candidate for governor wins, I’l be happy because we’ll have a good governor.  I thought for sure I would die before that would come to pass.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:33 AM •
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ah yes. It’s my favorite excuse in the whole world, right up there with “the dog ate my homework”.  It is, of course, “Alcohol made me do it.” Isn’t there any personal responsibility left in this world? If we do something wrong, must we always find a scapegoat on which to fix the blame?

And so Mel Gibson comes out with the trite old saw that he isn’t anti-Semitic.  It was the alcohol talking.  Yet the words came out of his mouth.  Do you think there might be a reason alcohol chose Mel’s mouth for those remarks as opposed to someone from, say, the B’nai B’rith?
I’ve lived in Alaska a long time and have heard alcohol blamed for everything from child abuse to cultural degradation to unfortunate marriage proposals. I fully expect that the next thing we will hear is that alcohol was the cause of the pipeline leaks that necessitated a shut down of half of Prudhoe Bay by BP.
Alcohol has often been called a social lubricant. But it can’t lubricate that which isn’t there.  Few of us have not, at one time or another, imbibed a tad too much and said or did things we later regretted. But if we were being brutally honest with ourselves, something most of us are loathe to be, we would see that our words or actions represented something deep within us that needed only the lifting of a few inhibitions to come to the surface.
All of us have these little dark spots that we long ago learned to keep secret.  In our sober, sane and rational moments, we know they are inappropriate. Society has taught us that they do not belong in what my mother referred to as “polite society”. And so we hide them until that one drink too many causes our guard to slip.
For those of you who question this truth, let me put you to a test I learned many years ago.  Everyone reading this column who has ever gotten drunk, or even just a little tipsy, raise your hand.  OK, I see lots of hands up out there. But now comes the real test. All of you who, while drunk, raped someone, molested a child or committed any other felony, keep your hand up. Hmmm...seems like just about all hands went down.
And that is the best indication of just how much credibility we should give to the excuse that alcohol made me do it. The alcohol may have lowered your inhibitions enough to act on an impulse or make a statement about your boss’s intellectual capacity that you would otherwise have kept secret, but it didn’t cause you to do or say anything that wasn’t somewhere inside you to begin with. 
Our laws and courts recognized this years ago when they stopped allowing it to excuse the murder and mayhem on our roads caused by drunk drivers.  That attitude soon spread to other criminal matters and it is now commonly accepted that being drunk does not excuse any crime you may have committed while in that state or relieve you of your responsibility for your actions. 
Mel Gibson would have been better off admitting that what he said was wrong and that without alcohol he would never have actually expressed those thoughts even though they were obviously somewhere inside him. He would then have committed to not only sobriety, but to working out the hate that seems to lurk somewhere in his darkest recesses.  After all, there were not words that automatically come to most people’s minds when drunk.  They are, in fact, very specific, ugly and scary. 
Let’s repeat that test.  All those who had their hands up before admitting to having perhaps been intoxicated at some point in their misspent past, put your hands back up.  Now all those who spewed forth hate filled statements against a specific group of people based on their religion, color or national origin, keep your hands up.  Hmmm...a few more hands stayed up this time.  Maybe that’s telling us all something we’d rather not know about the dark places in our souls.
The sober Mel knew those statements were not acceptable to society. The drunk Mel used them as his first line of defense against whatever imagined enemy his inebriation caused him to see. Maybe we all should examine our dark places.  Exposed to the light of day, we can at least hope they will wither up and die away.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 08:33 AM •
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Today is primiary day and we actually have choices in this election with some credible people running. So go vote and make sure the assholes don’t win again.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:05 AM •
Monday, August 21, 2006

I’ve been sitting here e-mailing with my friend Sherie about our trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and I realized that even though I have traveled to every continent in this world except for Antarctica, and visited every exotic place I could reach by land, sea, air or legs, Best Friends is still one of the greatest highlights of my life.  Anyone who loves animals, or believes in the idea of gentleness and kindness as an antidote to hate and violence, should treat themselves to at least one trip to this place. It will heal your soul in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 08:23 AM •

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