Form of oppression: Cooking
The reasons for the oppression of James Brown are numerous. First of all, there's his name. He is not the singer James Brown, but simply shares the name.
Secondly, there's Mr. Brown's occupation: cooking. He's a line cook at the Kingston Bar and Grill, off W Burnside. On the hot summer day I interviewed James, it was 95 degrees outside, and 130 degrees inside. This is not an exaggeration. "We have thermometers," said Brown. "It is actually 130 degrees."
After moving here during one of our state's worst economic periods, it took Brown four months of pavement pounding to find his job at the Kingston. "This was the only place I could find, even though I've got years of experience as a sauté chef," Mr. Brown explained. "And then I had to grovel to get it. So that oppressed me."
Then there are the patrons of the Kingston, who are extremely oppressive. Everytime there's a game at PGE Park--located right behind the Kingston--annoying, drunk, hat-wearing sports fans overrun the place. Plus, these patrons love to order items from the appetizer menu, such as tacos and nachos, which are only $1. Therefore, while Brown is cooking his ass off, he gets tipped almost nothing. "They're so labor intensive for being $1, that I'm thinking to myself Taco Bell's right over there, and they serve better and cheaper tacos," he said.
There are some things that are not oppressive about Brown's life; the Kingston is one of the only restaurants he's ever worked in with a retirement plan, he loves the people, and makes decent money.
The saddest, most oppressive thing about James Brown, however, is he's been living apart from his fiancé for eight months. She's attending college in Washington, D.C. "We talk every day on the phone at 8 am," he explains. Still, his overall feelings about this form of oppression are still very negative.
"It sucks ass," says Mr. Brown.--KATIA DUNN