Thursday, June 30, 2011

We saw this slo-mo train wreck from the 1st day... The Big Lie?


The prosecution of the victim in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case started the very first day when The New York Post thought it prudent to "remind us" that she lived in housing reserved for HIV+ people. This, of course, raises questions about her credibility that the subtleties of being a woman, a minority, and an immigrant may not.

Not two months later we learn that the prosecution has uncovered startling evidence that will blow the case out of the water.

CLICK HERE FOR THE STORY

Now, I realize that we are never going to know the truth about what happened in that room, but the case against the victim is already sounding a bit... remarkable, if not fantastic. Call me a cynic, but she seems to have some pretty big connections for a hotel housekeeper living at least to some degree on public assistance. Where is the defense going with this? Well, that's easy enough to see but it brings to mind an age-old strategy for swaying public opinion:

"…in the big lie…the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying."

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

The first quote is from Adolph Hitler's Mein Kampf and the second is an expansion from Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels. Yes, I went there.

"There" is where I will stay. I don't like this one bit. It stinks.

H&H Bagels is closed


But this is not a tribute... It's a... cry for help?

I have been trying very hard to spend the remainder of my days in this mortal coil within the spirit of "live and let live." Some days are easier than others. I am, at best, a simple man. Some would say I'm too tightly wrapped. There are many things that I don't understand. I am learning that my growth really depends on letting some things go.

THINGS LIKE THIS (CLICK HERE)

Okay, you're young. You're hip. You want to make a bold statement to the world proclaiming that you are... a bagel? That the inside of your head is made of cream cheese and smoked salmon? That your parents neglected you?

I told you. I'm simple. I don't understand self-mutilation.

Start a band. Write a book. Put crazy shit on your Facebook page. Adopt a pet. That actually works. I was lonely, and now I haven't gone to the bathroom alone in several months!

Do something.

File this under: Things I Didn't Need to See

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Put this argument the F**K TO SLEEP!

The term "politically correct" is the most obnoxiously misapplied and most overused phrase in the English language. It is most often used by half-bright, cruel-spirited cretins with the IQ of Forrest Gump and the heart of Leona Helmsley, to discredit criticism of statements and actions that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, or all of the above. I'd like to declare a referendum on its use/misuse, starting right after I use it here.

We recently witnessed the release of a delightful parents' lament titled GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP. There was an equally delightful audio version featuring Samuel L. Jackson, that nearly redeems him for Snakes on a Plane and Black Snake Moan.


It was short, sweet, hilarious, and struck a chord with parents worldwide. We knew, in a sense, that it was "wrong," but it was harmless. Innocuous. No blood, no foul, as they say in professional sports. It was too good to be true.

I sort of knew there would be a backlash from some self-righteous, imperious twat somewhere, but it still came as a surprise when I read this today:

WHY SO ANGRY, DAD?

And then this:

GO THE F*** TO SLEEP NOT FUNNY

Consider this an appendix to yesterday's missive about over-parenting. It's the sort of entirely disingenuous manure that comes off more as a cry for attention from the author than it does about the subject. Hey, look at me! I'm setting myself apart from the pack, because I have seen things you simply cannot imagine, and if you saw the world like I see the world... and blah blah blah off into the realm of indignant, egocentric blathering. It comes from a place of self-ordained, moral superiority that has no place in any kind of intellectual social discourse.

It is politically correct bullshit. I say to these authors:

We've all thought on this hard and long.
The jury's in and you are wrong.
Your argument is neither pithy nor deep.
Please, please please... Go the fuck to sleep.

Thanks for listening. I'm going off to read horrible things to my kids, and then maybe whip the stuffing out of them, because I have such latent anger.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Is Happiness Is Overrated?


Lest anyone think this is going to be yet another bout of deranged, middle-aged vituperation, it's not. I am the same man who has accused most parents of believing they gave birth to the Baby Jesus, but these are just some thoughts generated on reading this article that was the talk of the Baby/Mommy Blogs last week:

HOW TO LAND YOUR KID IN THERAPY (CLICK HERE)

Dont worry. You can click it. It is safe for work. It's a very thoughtful article on the much-discussed subject of the deleterious effects of raising your children with too much affirmation and validation. It raises some interesting points, many of which I agree with wholeheartedly. My reservation may be that denying and depriving them of such affirmation and validation is worse, but that doesn't negate the salient points within. There is probably a balance somewhere but even that is probably more dependent on the individual child than any rule of applied, sustained parenting technique. It's not a one size fits all situation. I have witnessed in my own children, the need for very separate approaches. It may be argued that this recognition came far too late, but that's another story. I am sure that there are as many ways to fuck up your child as there are children, and maybe more.

One of these ways, I am also certain, is to raise them in an emotional terrarium, protected from not only the outside world, but from the consequences of their bad instincts.

We are also doing ourselves and our children no favors when we suffer under the pressure and delusion that we can right every wrong, thereby guaranteeing them the perpetual happiness we are convinced that we deserved but were denied in our own childhoods.

The article put me on a train of thought, though, about the premium we put on our own perpetual happiness. We actually STRUGGLE to find happiness and to be happy, and that presents a conundrum. How can we be happy if we are struggling, firstly? What is it that we think we need or deserve that we are struggling for? Secondly, how do we inure ourselves or reconcile the inevitable obstacles we face during this struggle? How do we reconcile failure to achieve the goals that we have convinced ourselves we need to achieve? When do we let go and find out how happy we can be without these things?

I'm not talking about settling, nor complacency. I'm talking about letting go of what might be driving us beyond our abilities to attain. I'm talking about contentment. I'm talking also, about accepting that things don't always work out the way we would like them to.

We then, as we become parents, combine these drives into a double helix. We are genetically engineering our dissatisfaction as parents, dissatisfaction for our children when they discover to their dismay that the world is bigger than each and all of us... and we predict their unhappiness as adults just as certainly as if we sold them into Dickensian servitude at 11 years old.

Again, the article, despite it's Apocalyptic title, raises some very good points. It merits mention, however, that we cannot protect our children from the realities of the universe with any more certainty than we have protected ourselves. We are ultimately not responsible for their happiness, and we'd better think hard on what happiness really entails before we shoot for it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Let's Make a Deal


There are odd twists in the road in any journey, and with inner voyages even more so. You do the work. You look long and hard at life as you've known it, and you're moving forward, and you reach a checkpoint where your progress is halted. You come to the realization that you're going to have to move farther away from your comfort zone than you had originally expected when you left home base.

The world can be funny that way, like a primetime gameshow. You're standing in front of Monty Hall. He's holding a check for $100,000.

Monty: What's it going to be MacGregor? You can have this check for $100K and walk away a richer man. OR, you can have what's behind Door Number 1!

MacGregor: JESUS MURPHY, MONTY! THAT'S A LOT OF SHEKELS!

There's a voice whispering frantically in your ear. It's a lot of money. You can pay some bills. Get some things straightened out. Have some left over for...

For what? You could take the check. It's guaranteed. Money in the bank. You could really use it. You could buy a lot of instant peace and comfort with that money. It would take care of quite a few immediate problems.

You also know it's not all that much against the greater scheme of things. There is the upside that you know how far it could go. The downside is that you know how far it will go. You spend it, and you're pretty much right back where you started.

You have no idea whatsoever what Monty and the producers have behind Door Number 1. It could be nothing. It could be everything you've ever dreamed of. It just might be everything you need. Something you need more than that check Monty is dangling in front of you like a carrot.

Consider now that you haven't come this far just to fall back on the familiar and comfortable. You've done too much work to opt for the easy way out.

Keep the check, Monty. Give me what's behind Door Number 1. I know from watching night after night that the contestants rarely go home empty-handed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Fickle Nature of Pop



I'm through with trying to explain why I like what I like. I may still suffer from this odd affliction whereby I feel compelled to explain to others why they shouldn't like what they like, but I'm a work in progress.

That said, I am really very fond of FITZ & THE TANTRUMS. It matters very little to me what anybody else thinks. They are relatively popular. This confession isn't going to do anything for my street creds, but I'm growing comfortable in the knowledge that I never really had much of that anyway. It might have been nice if I knew sooner, but so be it.

Yes, Fitz sounds an awful lot like Daryl Hall, which is funny because beyond Sara Smile I never liked Hall & Oates.

I'll shut up now. I'm just sharing something I've been enjoying.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stay in the day...

That's what we're told. Live in the day. It's rather a slippery concept in a very complex world, even with the knowledge that many of the complexities are constructs of our mind, and have very little to do with reality.

I read somewhere yesterday, that depression is caused by living in the past, and that anxiety is caused by living in the future.

Again, slippery...

It often seems that the good things go by so quickly that we barely notice them before they're gone.

Whereas the weird shit... the often unpleasant things... are the things that are prolonged across a long period of time.


And of course we prolong them with worry. I will readily admit that I have spent months fretting the outcome of things that once passed, really weren't so messed up at all.

This is just an observation. I DO find that when I can let go of outcomes that I can more easily recognize and appreciate the fleeting moments of joy that ride the second hand of a racing clock.

This discipline of letting go is antithetical to everything I've learned until recently. We are a culture obsessed with clocks and calendars, each measure of time imbued with some totem of significance. I have, at times, felt infected by time... by a mathematical measure.

There must have been a serene point in the distant past where people lived in freedom from this time virus. It took a godawful long time to get anywhere, so my guess is that there was less hurry. Ecclesiastes makes it sound so peaceful. Born, die, sow, reap, dance, cry, gather, scatter etc. It all sounds blissfully spread out, one thing at a time.

Anyway, just an observation. I need to release myself from this time prison.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Apologizing in advance...

My 30 free New York Times articles per month ran out a few days ago, and I'm running out of real news to make my standard pointed commentary on. You know, the good shit you've come to expect from this blog.


So you're stuck with this, from The Daily Fail in the UK. We can always count on them to feed us back all the weird stuff that our tabloids miss. Even if our people do cover it, it's seldom with the panache and flair of the English. For example:

'I thought she was 13': Amish sexting pervert 'busted after driving horse and buggy to meet 12-year-old girl'

Okay then... He thought she was 13. Well, that certainly explains everything!

Except maybe the haircut, but I guess the Dutch Boy still gets a guy a lot of play in Amish circles. Or maybe not? So will he get a chance to go the same rehab as Anthony Weiner? (Have we ever figured out exactly what Weiner will be kicking?)

I'll say this: This little girl's parents showed remarkable restraint in involving the authorities. I'd have been sorely tempted to set Willard up and then used his own horsewhip on him when he arrived.

Just for starters...

Where do we go with this? Is there any lesson we can take from this, as parents, or as anybody who is inclined to believe that sex with children is wrong? Keep an eye on your kids? Get into their business? Is it invasion of privacy to monitor their text messages and e-mail and such? How do we instill trust in them if we don't grant them some kind of leeway first?

Ah hell, I can't pontificate on this. I'm putting this story up because it's scary and weird and if you share my prurient interest in such things, that's great!

And the guy has a really bad haircut! And he went on a booty call in a horse and buggy. That would have been a hoot had his intended target booty hadn't been a child.

The Burning Question: EVOLUTION!!!



Yes, I admit that beauty pageant contestants are an easy target, but given that one of our front-running presidential candidates (though undeclared) started her career representing her home state in this capacity, they're fair game. Deal with it.

Firstly, why do the pageant folk persist on asking quasi-intellectual questions when everybody watching is really just wondering three things:

a) When are they going to cut the crap and get to the swimsuits?
b) What does she look like naked?
c) When is this chick going to crash & burn and end up in the tabloids?

Secondly, just listen to a few of these women. Some of them seem quite unaware that most public schools are already teaching evolution theory. Sort of makes me wonder if they are aware that math is taught in public schools.

It's also curious that so many of them say that there are "so many different theories and we should give all of them fair time!" (And they say this so passionately it's almost cute... almost.) Um... as far as I know, there are only two theories in contention for the hearts and minds of American school children. If there are more, can someone please let me know what they are so I can hear them all and make up MY mind???

There are a few among these young ladies that sound like solid "B" students. Okay, well, maybe B-minus. Still, maybe these arguments are best left to the thinkers in our society.

And what does any of this have to do with beauty? Unless of course they are still promoting the idea that inner beauty and intelligence are sought-after qualities in our culture. All evidence from everything else on television suggests the contrary. There is, of course, PBS... but I suspect that none of these ladies, nor the men watching, are sitting home on Friday evening enrapt by Masterpiece Theater or the re-broadcast of Equus. There may be exceptions.

I'm not even going to pretend to understand Beauty Pageant Culture... or the national fascination with Figure Skating. Don't get me wrong! I'm waiting on pins and needles for next week's season premier of Ugly Americans. I'm currently punchy from staying up too late watching Hoarders. There are limits, though. Beauty pageants to me, have always seemed fraught with dishonesty, promoting a manufactured ideal of a something that never really existed in the first place. I can't buy into the the affected (seemingly) wholesome, virtuous stage-lit aurora, that to me comes off as an irksome glare... similar to highbeams in the rearview mirror. I can't speak for other countries either. I don't know if they cloak their beauty pageants in the veil of national "goodness" that we do here... again... the dishonesty. It's the sort of thing that creeps about when I'm lying awake at night thinking...

Something is not quite right.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Art of Invisibility

Alternate title: We are all magicians!

Alternate title: Blindness is epidemic!

Douglas Adams, in his HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, described a perceptual/contextual phenomenon he called The SEP, shorthand for Someone Else's Problem. The phrase has since been adopted in Pop Psychology circles and is described thusly:

Various areas of psychology and philosophy of perception are concerned with the reasons why individuals often ignore such matters. Optimism bias tends to reduce the subjective importance of some matters. Where multiple individuals simultaneously experience the same stimulus, diffusion of responsibility and/or the bystander effect may release individuals from the need to act, and if no-one from the group is seen to act, each individual may be further inhibited by conformity. On a wider basis, all members of society are exposed to so many messages about pressing matters of concern that information overload may play a part. There may also be a tendency to argue that "I can't fix this problem, so I need do nothing to reduce it" (a perfect solution fallacy).

However, taking responsibility for negative events that are outside an individual's control can lead to depression and learned helplessness, particularly in adolescents.[2] Part of the solution is to help the individual to realistically assign a proportion of responsibility to herself/himself, parents and others (step I in the RIBEYE cognitive behavioral therapy problem-solving method).[2][3][4]


In short, if nobody else is going to say something, I'm going to pretend it's not there. Or... I'm already so overwhelmed by other things that I simply don't see this otherwise really twisted event occurring right next to me.

This latter angle may or may not be a legitimate defense in THE CASE DESCRIBED IN THIS NPR PIECE that was posted on my Facebook page earlier this morning. (Thanks, T... for getting my wheels spinning. My first thought, upon reading of how a policeman on the chase might have failed to see another crime in progress, was The SEP Field. But is it a reasonable argument? Perhaps. I really can't say.

I know the human brain is a wee, funny machine. We do tend to operate in constructs and contexts. We may fail to recognize a neighbor when we see him in Target. He is outside the construct/context in which we usually place him. Alternatively, we can read words and sentences where letters are scrambled and some omitted, because enough of the familiar context is there to know what it is. Educators have found that elementary school children grasp mathematics more readily when teaching is accompanied by constructs like block groups and number lines. It is simply how we are wired.

Who is to say for sure if Officer Conley saw an undercover colleague being beaten by uniformed officers, except for Conley himself? I can affirm that I have missed all kinds of things going on right next to me because my limited brain power was otherwise occupied. I remember taking no end of pleasure in watching the quota-rabid traffic cop writing moving violations, while countless dope transactions carried on unchecked on the adjacent corner, in plain view.

I firmly believe that we have unlimited capability to render objects and events invisible for a variety of reasons... we do it as individual, and as groups. Sometimes it's rampant denial. Other times we just have our heads jammed firmly up our asses.

HOWEVER... BUT... in the case of the hapless Officer Conley, my experience... my familiar contexts and constructs based on what I have witnessed all too often, leads me to one conclusion. IF... and I repeat IF, he didn't see this crime taking place, it's because he is so accustomed to seeing his colleagues delivering what they believe to be a righteous and fully justified ass-whipping to a black man (and they seem to always believe it is righteous and fully justified), it's because such a thing is fully within what he considers a normal context, and therefor it has, in effect, been rendered invisible.

Pro-WTF?

I'm still catching up after the WEINER-INDUCED NEWS BLACKOUT of recent weeks. The dick was flying around so hot and heavy it was hard to keep abreast (no puns intended) of the world beyond. I don't have any confirmed measurement of big it was, but it seems to me that Weiner overshadowed THE RAPTURE!

Astounding headlines aside though, I don't see how I missed this one!



Having viewed the trailer for THE LIFE ZONE twice, I suspected that it was a hoax. My instincts told me it was a bit of dark humor. Poorly executed, but just some Hollywood Shits 'N Giggles.

It's not.

The Pro-WhatTheFuckever Movement have really outdone themselves with this gem. It goes so far beyond the streaming stills of aborted fetuses (with crying baby accompaniment) of yesteryear, so ambitious that it's hard to even say what side they're on. It travels very closely to the edge of Saw VII, with a little bit of Touched By An Angel thrown in for good measure (don't even ask me what the title TBAA invokes in my 14 y.o. brain). It's so stupid that I'm legitimately baffled.

And as an aside, WTF is Robert Loggia thinking? I can see the bit o' fluff from True Blood getting involved. She's too young to be held responsible, even if her handlers might have steered her off. But Loggia? Anyway...

How is that sound that Lurch makes spelled? I keep thinking that I've been Punk'd, but this appears to be "next-level" assholery from our friends on the right who I'd thought out-sphinctered themselves years ago.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day


I am famous (semi and among friends) for taking music and film clips out of context, and on this Fathers Day I am hung up on a bit of dialogue from Barcelona. It's hard to say exactly why it resonates, but it has something to do with how the day has always been more about reflection than celebrating myself...

"Sometimes we think ... we almost always assume, we're going through life surrounded by people. Then something happens and you realize: We're entirely alone."

He continues very seriously and pausing often, gazing into the room, as Marta listens musingly,

"Tonight, while shaving, I always shave against the beard, for a closer shave, I remembered this razor ad on TV, showing the hair follicles, like this." (He says the following as he mimes a razor cutting hair follicles with his hands) "The first of the twin blades cuts them here. Then the hair snaps back and the second blade cuts them here. ... 'for a closer, cleaner shave'. That we know."

"But what struck me was, if the hair follicles are going in this direction and the razor is too, then they're shaving in the direction of the beard, not against it. So I've shaved the wrong way all my life. Maybe I misremembered the ad. The point is, I could have shaved the wrong way all my life and never have known it. Then I could have taught my son to shave the wrong way, too."

Not understanding, Marta asks "You have a son?"

"No," he answers, "but I might someday. Then, maybe I'll teach him to shave the wrong way."

"I think maybe my English is not so good", Marta concludes."

Nobody taught me to shave. In all fairness, I was sort of a late bloomer and by the time I needed to shave even weekly I had long since fled the nest. Shaving became an exercise in tedium, trial and error. Much blood was shed. There have been many times when I have been tempted to just tie off my neck with a tourniquet and forget about shaving for good.

I have not taught my sons to shave either, and if I had, I can't say for sure that it would have been the right or wrong way. Parenting, like shaving, is often an exercise in trial and error. You never know the outcome of any lesson until blood has been shed, or not. If you haven't learned yourself, then you really have nothing to pass on. This isn't a case of letting myself off the hook for errors made. It's merely the conundrum of parenting. You tell them what you know, or what you think you know, and if you're a really good parent you send them to someone else to learn what you admittedly cannot. These admissions don't come easily though, and you can catch yourself making it up as you go along.

Making the best of what you've got... It can be a pain in the ass. No, it is often a pain in the ass. There will be blood.

Happy Fathers Day to all of you guys out there, and to you women also, who are doubled up. Can't leave you out of this equation.

Black Death Vs. Hairless Weiner

I'm still catching up on news that fell by the wayside while we were being beaten senseless with WEINER. As a woman on NY1 said, "Every time I pick up the paper all I see is Weiner, Weiner, Weiner!" And now you shut up! It's impossible NOT to make a pun with this name. Just try it.

There were most certainly other things happening in the world. Wars still raged. People across the tornado-belt are still digging out of the rubble. Joblessness still plagues us... wait... plagues us. Here's news:

PLAGUE IDENTIFIED IN BOULDER, CO.

Whistling... images conjured...

Thats right, folks! The Black Death! With a capital B and it rhymes with... Tea?

Whose idea was it to preempt the world for that other nonsense? I mean, The Plague (La Peste in French) pops up here and there every year. The first confirmed case this year was in New Mexico in mid-May. It's still news though. Did you hear about it. Can anyone confirm that Boulder is still out there? I'll take it for granted that it is, because I havent turned on the television and been told otherwise. Yet I wasn't told a hell of a lot FOR TWO DAMN WEEKS BECAUSE SOMEONE THOUGHT I WAS MORE INTERESTED IN STUPID SHIT!

Exhaling. Deep breath through the nose, exhale slowly through the mouth.

I pretty much count on the news going for the lowest common, sensationalist denominator. That's been the rule for long enough. It's just caught me off guard, this plague business aside, that I missed so much.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Bricks

These bricks have a relationship. They are like objects. They share the same space. Their many uses are under-realized. They might ostensibly be used as weapons.

coughcoughGazacough

hackwheezeBelfastsnort

But I digress...


These bricks have a partnership.


We are not bricks. We may, if we like, choose our role in the world around us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oh look! I'm in a box!

Crap! I'm lifting weights! I'm playing tug of war!


Have I have mentioned that I don't like mimes? I've just never been able to make that leap to willingful suspension of disbelief.

Illusion...

Don't get me wrong! I'm really big on delusion, and have on more than one occasion, found myself in imaginary crates, clean & jerked crushing weights, battled at the end of imaginary ropes, and shadowboxed opponents that don't exist. I've mimed for an audience of one! Er... without the makeup and beret, thank you very much.

Fear is a funny thing. Fear is the magic ingredient that makes doubt gel. It opens the door to the willingful suspension of disbelief. You see the box. You feel the weight. There is someone at the end of the rope.

Until you stop being afraid. You let go of the rope and step back. You look over to where you thought the other end was, and there is nothing there.

I still find mimes tedious to the point of annoyance.

Overexposed


WEINER IS OUT

Not mine, clowns!

The word is out that Congressman Anthony Weiner is bowing to the pressure following his self-imposed over-exposure, and resigning. Is he still capable of doing the job he was elected to? I believe he is, but that's not the point any longer.

This would have been a minor distraction in a more mature political climate, with elected bodies capable of offering meaningful solutions to real problems. The people we've put into office, however, don't seem capable of that, so the focus has shifted to unrelated, non-political issues.

What exactly is it about Weiner's digital pecadillos that render him incapable of doing his job effectively? The most common answer is, "Well, if he lied about this..." And so on...

Can a surgeon or an accountant or a stockbroker who has done the same things still be capable of performing his work duties? Are we holding Anthony Weiner to a higher standard with this than we would ourselves or someone we loved?

Too late to worry about that, at least with this case. That just leaves me with one very big question.

Do I un-friend Weiner on Facebook?

ATTENTION ANGRY STAT GEEKS


I usually try to maintain a degree of levity in these public missives. There is little more tedious than an endless runner of bile strung out from the shuddering jaw of a dyspeptic, middle-aged man. There is none of this levity here, unless you find humor in the idea of my spleen exploding. I can find no humor whatsoever in this topic:

DISPARITY OF WEALTH DISTRIBUTION IN THE UNITED STATES

A fellow from University of California at Santa Cruz put together this report. The figures are from 2007, but it's pretty obvious that the housing crisis and Wall Street collapse haven't improved the situation. This report is really very telling.

Your favorite political candidate can tell you that cutting capital gains taxes will help, but you can look at the charts at periods when capital gains were lowest and see that it didn't. You can look to 1976 and see that wealth distribution for the lowest 80%, having peaked then, has been spiraling downwards ever since, NO MATTER WHAT PARTY WAS IN POWER! Consider the lowest 80%, which includes those on public assistance, the union members that your favorite political candidate may have convinced you is the whole problem, and everyone in between. Remember that most of our country's tax revenue comes from the lowest 80%.

DON'T BUY THE LIE. FOLLOW THE MONEY. LAUGH IN THE FACES OF THOSE WHO TELL YOU THAT TAXING THE TOP 20% IS PUNISHING PEOPLE FOR HAVING MONEY! REMEMBER THAT WHEN WE CUT THEIR TAXES TO CREATE JOBS WITH THAT GODDAMN TRICKLE DOWN THEORY, THEY TOOK IT AND RAN AND JOBS HEMORRHAGED TO FOREIGN SOIL.

Whew! Look! I don't want to punish anybody. I want them to pay at least the percentage that I pay. Isn't that fair.

We are broke. We are in crisis. The evidence is in. It's not the burden of a "welfare state." It's not abuse of credit in the working class. It's not the unions. It is the people at the top of a food chain that we allow to continue unchecked.

When you are at the beach and someone yells shark, you don't go in and start treading water. You get the hell out! Why are we still in and flailing away, awaiting the next bite?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

KNEEL BEFORE ME, PIG!


There is very little more gratifying than bloviating about one topic or another and then AND THEN HAVING THE NEW YORK FRIGGIN' TIMES come along with a tangential article that however minor the connection, you feel supports your... my... wind.

Argumentative theory is what they call the subject. Why have I spent so much carrying on to friends and strangers far and wide about issues that none of us truly care about? We do it to win!

Ego!

It's a humbling day when you discover than winning an argument is more important to you than what the argument is about.

Sad, but true. I think I'm getting a little better. Damn shame there isn't some spiritual TUSSIN I can rub in and make it go away.

I'm not beating myself up. It seems to me that national politics have become much more about winning the argument than about the argument, or finding a solution to any number of social ills than plague us. When they find themselves having won an argument on some pseudo-moral issue and then get caught with their pants down powerless to make any change... you change the argument.

He wasn't born in the U.S. Etc.

Click the first link above though, about the Friggin' Times. It was like looking in the mirror for me. Oops. Ya got me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Naked Lunch

No, not this one, but bon appetit, gentlemen.


This one:


More specifically, this part:

"The Talking Asshole " David Turley Reads William S. Burroughs from Yves Roy and the Wacky Ballerina on Vimeo.


I first read Naked Lunch at 18 or so, because that's what "cool" young men are supposed to be reading at that age. It would be dishonest to say that I had a vague inkling of what was going on. It took decades of living, and trolling through dark places, both externally and internally, before it started to make sense. That could be considered a good or a bad thing, depending on how willing you are to integrate your weird stuff with your day-to-day practice of getting by.

The Man Who Taught His Asshole to Talk... strikes me as a metaphor for... something. Perhaps the parlor tricks we practice to make ourselves more palatable to the world at large, when we are afraid that just showing up isn't enough. There was a movie trailer some years ago that stated in an ominous voice, "IF YOU PRETEND TO BE SOMETHING FOR LONG ENOUGH, YOU BECOME IT," or something of the sort. That's the gist of it anyway.

Naked Lunch was not a book I "got" all at once. It came to me in fractured bone splinters, at times as an epiphany, and others a nightmare. I read somewhere that Burroughs had taken the original manuscript and tore it in two, shuffled the pages, and put it together as published. It can read like that, until you are lying in bed one night having read it for the tenth time, and you realize that life is just like that... torn, shuffled, and reassembled. Parts of the narrative are cohesive, and others surreal, and you are left to sort through it all and accept it as is.

Iced, Iced Babies...

JACK KEVORKIAN'S DEATH IS OLD NEWS, at least by the rapid-fire, disposable infobyte standards of The Internetz, but I'd like to revisit it, just briefly.

That's right, we're back to The Grim Reaper. No, I don't have a morbid fascination with death, but I don't share the belief that its something we don't talk about in polite company. I harbor no superstitions (nor social graces) which would render the subject off-limits.

The euthanasia argument, at least as presented in the press, was always an either/or proposition. It's either right or wrong. You are either for it, or against it. My position was more or less on the fence. The moral implications eluded me. The legal implications seemed even more slippery. There were no hard-set religious beliefs preventing me from considering the notion. There is no compulsion to impose an opinion on this topic on anybody. It's just too... vague, at least for me.

I'm not sure that THIS ESSAY FROM DISCOVER brings me any closer to an answer... not that my life and death at this point hangs in the balance if it remains in the fuzzy regions, but it brings up some interesting points. I must admit also, that the thought of people living forever frightens me far more than the thought of people who want to choose how and where they kick it.

Two sides of the same coin, really, though it had never occurred to me. One side wants to, in slang terms, ice themselves. Then there are the cryogenics adherents who want to be iced until technology catches up with their pipedreams. Why does the former seem okay to me, and the latter give me the willies?

Hell, someone hire me... I'm not bright enough to face all this time in my own head.

Class War



This song resonated when the depth of our problems with class and race in this country were only just creeping into my consciousness. You can sit in one place and just sort of take it things for granted. Get out and see the world, they say, but when you do you're presented with the conundrum of disparity. You want what "they" have, but you're not sure if you want to do what it takes to get it. By that I don't mean work, because the average Joe works his tail off his entire life and never gets much farther than his backyard for a weekend barbecue. What I mean is that if you have any conscience, the idea of jacking a crampon into the back of your neighbor's neck becomes less palatable, and you might start to ask some questions. Certainly, turning on the television and watching people just like you sucking up to a malevolent, cannibalistic shitheel like Donald Trump brings up more bile than amusement.

I took the train into downtown Manhattan this morning to arrange a debt payment. No big deal really. I owe the money. I can still, despite being unemployed in a dire job market, make the payment. Next month is next month. Sitting in the waiting room, however, with a bunch of other people was a grim reminder of how many of us are in the same situation. Maybe we all could have avoided the situation by making the detour around our consumerist tendencies. Perhaps there were things we didn't need. That's all true enough, but it doesn't change the fact that we're all sitting in the same place trying to do the right thing, and facing the same hurdles. What's already transpired... well, there isn't much to do about that now.

I got off the train at Jay Street on the way back to run some errands. There are, as most Brooklyn residents know, a half dozen military recruitment centers around the Fulton Mall. There are strapping men in full regalia standing out front of each luring young men, mostly unemployed, with all sorts of promises. We've all heard them, and depending on your frame of mind, these promises can sound... well... promising? I'm familiar with the argument that military service is a viable way out for those with few other opportunities. It just doesn't ring true for me. It never has and does less now than ever.

This is the option they're giving our children? It's essentially, "We haven't offered you a fair shot at a decent education that will make you competitive in the job market. The job market is crap these days, even for those who have been fortunate enough to get a decent education. BUT, if you're willing to lay your life on the line securing the interests of American companies abroad, we'll throw you a bone. When and if you make it back with all your limbs, maybe the job market will be better."

The situation is no different, and often worse elsewhere. Many states are hammering away relentlessly at unions, which have brought about the only meaningful, significant improvements in the world of working class America in the last 100 years. Minimum wage, despite having increased a little, isn't enough to keep a teenager living at home afloat. The attitude of many employers (and business owners are under the gun also so I'm not condemning anyone) is that we are expendable. For every one of us who can't get the job done under increased expectations, there are a dozen waiting in line for the spot.

It's no longer a question of what we want. It's not about luxuries. It's not about chasing the elusive "American Dream." It's about staying afloat whilst the water is rising rapidly. It's raining really hard and most of us, regardless of race, creed, or color, live downstream from a faltering levee.

Call this the daily gripe, but somebody needs to start paying their share into this economy. We need an awful lot more than the opportunity to go to some place we can't find on a map and get shot at, by an even more unfortunate critter than ourselves.

They see your every move...


FBI GIVING AGENTS NEW POWERS IN REVISED MANUAL

I wonder if they happened to consult the Constitution this time.

Wasn't The Patriot Act enough? And furthermore, does it strike anyone else as odd that a Congressional Member got more press than further egregious violations of our rights? This goes back, I suppose, to what I was pontificating on in an earlier post. What do we believe in and how far are we willing to go to protect these beliefs? It's not that I'm calling for armed rebellion. This is more about pointing out inconsistencies.

Most Americans will, on the one hand, blather endlessly about their sacrosanct Constitutional rights. Four airplanes and 3000 casualties later, there were no more sacred cows. Forget my rights and save my ass. Pretty please. Granted there have been no further large scale terrorist actions on American soil, but the jury is still out on how effective the anti-terrorist measures were, here or abroad.

Same for crime--there are those that still extol the virtues of Rudy Giuliani's anti-crime campaign, despite that in the same time period, cities with less stentorian crackdowns had greater reductions in crime. Let's talk about those reductions though. With crime lower than it has been in decades, what are these latest FBI moves about?

This is just another comment on the pool of cognitive dissonance that I float in. Like... we are ostensibly "exporting democracy" far and wide, but curtailing liberties here.

Blah blah! Will someone from a major media outlet PLEASE write something really pointed and angry about this new manual.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Exhaustive Study Yields This Sage Advice

Essentially, don't feed it or it will keep coming back...

Duh!


This is really tangential to my confession that I have, in the past, engaged in infuriating exchanges with strangers online. It's not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but it's stupid, the spiritual equivalent of eating styrofoam peanuts. There are few greater wastes of time... one would think.

I did happen upon this particular gem today though, a prime example of pseudo-intellectual roadkill:

Trolling in asynchronous computer-mediated communication: From user discussions to academic definitions

Seriously... Someone was paid to slog through 9 years worth of messages on a horseback riding forum, trawling for data and examples of internet trolls. As strange as it seems...

A) That a horseback riding forum can carry on for 9 years
B) that people troll and flame on a horseback riding forum
C) that horseback riders respond and get upset... etc.

Someone was actually paid to study it, only to come up with this (and attach a ludicrous title to it and publish it):

"Whilst computer-mediated communication (CMC) can benefit users by providing quick and easy communication between those separated by time and space, it can also provide varying degrees of anonymity that may encourage a sense of impunity and freedom from being held accountable for inappropriate online behaviour."

And the solution... ignore it and it will go away.

Look, it's not that it's not easy to get caught up in it. It's probably not any better to argue endlessly over socio-political issues or assorted philosophical bullshit.

Well, I guess what I'm saying is that I want to get paid to write about bullshit.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Before you go and kill yourself, have something to eat.

I recently learned a coping tool commonly called H.A.L.T.

Hungry
Angry
Lonely
Tired

When my emotions are running wild, or when I find myself overreacting to stimulus that would usually leave me un-phased, it is suggested that I take a brief moment of self examination. Have I eaten anything in the last eight hours? Is there something entirely unrelated to the situation at hand that is pestering me? Am I simply lonely? Have I run myself ragged, to the point of needing to go face down in the linens? It's usually something related to the last category, and believe me when I tell you... it's a strange moment when you're pushing 50 and you come to the realization that most of your biggest crises could be immediately diminished by a sandwich or a nap.

Having gone through this inventory a little while ago I decided that an early evening would work. The Good Humor Man had other ideas, and when I'm lying half-asleep after 9 p.m. on a Sunday evening, every fucking ice cream truck tinkering down the block enters my twilight monkey brain looking like this:


Ouch! Count to ten. Say the Serenity Prayer. Give it to The Universe. Adjust your plan of action.

Have a hot fudge sundae.

How far do you want to take this, pal?


"Tell me how you deal with your fear of annihilation, and I will tell you about your philosophy."

THIS ARTICLE means more to me as it applies to the layman, like myself, than as it pertains to the heroic martyrs throughout history.

We, as a people, have never been shy of strong opinions, or reticent about expressing them. The internet, if anything, has opened up a much larger forum for voicing any number of headstrong ideas on any number of topics. Every newspaper and magazine has opened comments sections in articles published online. The comments are often more interesting than the articles themselves, if only to witness the venom and rage contained therein. I have to wonder if people are more angry these days, perhaps projecting the fears and frustrations of living powerless in an increasingly complex world... or if we've always been pissed off and we just have an outlet for it now. How, if it's the latter, did this anger manifest itself before the web?

The article suggests, probably quite accurately, that philosophy and opinion become more elusive when confronted with one's demise. It is one thing to "believe" something, and quite another to be willing to go the distance for that "belief." We might do ourselves a favor by considering how far we might go before insisting with fervor that something is absolutely right, or absolutely wrong.

I've foolishly taken part in online arguments in chatrooms or message boards, which having degenerated into flame wars, get me to saying, "you wouldn't say that if I were standing next to me, because I would..." And they probably wouldn't. Similarly, I would most likely not be in a conversation with a person with such a differing opinion. We do tend to choose our company based on like ideals, and we do that for a reason.

But I digress...

We do make a lot of moral and ethical judgments on this or that, and probably many more of these than we need to. They're also cheap and easy. Most of these judgments will never be put to the ultimate test.

It has been easier for me, to divest myself of many things I used to fight about. To not only choose my battles more wisely, but unburden myself of the egocentric practice of putting a moral pricetag on everything I profess to stand for. It's an ongoing process and there is a lot of baggage yet to leave by the side of the road. Let someone else take it if they like. One man's trash... and all that. Picking up my cast-offs isn't something I would recommend. None of it served me particularly well. Most of it was kryptonite.

Selah

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Moral Dilemmas


Let's talk about fantasies.

No, not those, pigs!

I've long entertained this one specific fantasy, of moseying down the street on one of my walkabouts, and finding a huge sum of money, perhaps dropped by a careless, armored carrier. You read about such things from time to time in stories like this, where some working stiff, not unlike you or me, is graced with such a find...

AND THEY GO AND RETURN IT!!!

STOP! Roll back the tape. Yes, they return it to its rightful owner.

Pause.

I suppose there are a few ways to look at this. Perhaps the finder suspects that in this day of the ubiquitous security camera that they will get busted. Perhaps they are simply fearful of karma. Or that it's a test from their higher power. Or maybe it's just a person with a conscience.

My confession: I would have a really, really hard time not seeing this as a gift from God, The Universe, or a stroke of unimaginable luck, depending on where I stand spiritually on any given day. I would be fearful of being caught on tape, or witnessed by a jealous stranger... or whomever... whatever. There is definitely a side of me that would be nagged by guilt. I'm not beating myself up. There is a heart an a conscience buried under the leathery exterior. I know, however, that there would be a tooth-and-nail internal struggle though, to do "The Right Thing."

I'm fairly certain though, given my current financial situation, which side would be victorious. $17K would go a long way towards straightening out some issues. The question "at what cost" remains, but I"m not sure how much sleep I would lose.

There are certainly less apocryphal moral dilemmas that the Average Joe faces daily. You do the moral inventory at the end of the day, if you are one so inclined to inventory such things (I do it grudgingly as part of this wee journey I've embarked on), and if you've been mindful... Well, there are days I am weighed and measured and come up wanting. There are better days. Even now, as I re-read this story of Honest John in Chicago, I am shaking my head and can't decide if I want to pat him on the back, or thump him on his head.

Still shaking my damn head...

Selah

Friday, June 10, 2011

ISimplyCant.com, dot.net? dot.org?



Every so often I'm confronted with a news byte that defies my ability to process. There are just too many issues in this one to wrap my head around.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED COWS PRODUCE HUMAN MILK

The argument presented by the scientist in the video appeals to my utilitarian sensibilities. Feed people first. Ask the moral, ethical questions later. There are more than 6 billion of us on this little globe. Feed them all first. Moralize later. Ugh! Why isn't this enough for me? Am I feeling the same sort of fear that people felt when told the world was round? Am I a flat-earther?

My ego balks, right here, right now. Yet the fear remains. I cannot answer any of the questions. The science is beyond my knowledge. The moral implications elude me.

And quite frankly I'm surprised that the American Dairy Association hasn't jumped on this... or maybe they have and just haven't told us yet. I'm also surprised that someone hasn't suggested genetically modified humans to produce cow milk. This is where my brain goes when something is so much greater than my understanding.

Laugh it off.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Pornography & Mathematics


I think we need an injection of honesty into the feigned shock with this whole Weinergate scandal and matters concerning internet usage for sexual gratification. The NUMBERS IN THIS ARTICLE show a bit of a disparity between actual usage and the number of people who feel very strongly about regulation and enforcement. It would seem to me that a lot of people are... well... lying. These aren't the most recent numbers, but it's still very telling.

I could find no recent polls on the percentage of users who had indulged in cybersex or exchanged "lewd" photos (lewd rhymes with nude, which we all are beneath our clothes), but recent surveys cited on news programs of the number of mobile users who have shot off pics (no pun intended) are pretty high.

Maybe a bit of perspective. Slap the goon on the wrist and tell him to go back to work. Were he a doctor, or a lawyer, a barber, or whatever, using his private computer, he would not be terminated, would he?

Grow up, folks. And try to be honest.

That's it! I am revolting!


I've officially "had it," and I'd like to point something out. Weather is NOT news. Not in the Northeast. It's a public service announcement at the end of the news. Barring a tornado watch, a hurricane warning, or an impending blizzard, it is NOT news. We don't need it as the lead story every time it gets above 90F.

Guess what. We can find out when we walk outside. Rain? We can look out the window. Cold? Oh snap! I forgot it was January here in Brooklyn.

How is Wall Street doing today? Is there a serial rapist loose in my neighborhood (this may take priority over the heat, right? Wrong). Is my president signing an important bill that will effect my life? HAS SOME WORLD POWER DECLARED A FUCKING WAR?

Okay, I'm done. I don't know that I've said anything but that I really need a job, but I needed to say it.

Thanks.

I must have one of those faces.


The capper on an already strange day...

One of a string of strange days...

In a very strange time...

In an increasingly strange life...

A MORBIDLY OBESE MAN informed me that to beat the summer heat, he has his wife NAIR his entire body except for below the elbows and knees.

The parts that show in shorts and a tee-shirt.

But then he pulled up his tee-shirt and showed more.

I hadn't asked for proof.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

If he's elected I'm moving to...


I would imagine that this grinning chimp isn't truly CONSIDERING A RUN FOR MAYOR. It is not unlike him to run off at the mouth... What is it they call him? The Bloviator? His immense, sotted ego aside, he certainly must know that he can't win. That if he did win it would be disastrous to any cause he claims to support...

I'll be more that a little irked if I find that he believes we're really that desperate.

It's not that it would be the first time that AN ENTIRELY UNQUALIFIED HOLLYWOOD BUFFOON RAN FOR OFFICE, but the thought that he has a remote chance of winning is still bothersome.

I guess perhaps I'm feeling a little less than confident in the clowns that are entering the political arena. Is there another profession, other than entry level positions, where people with absolutely no related experience listed on their Curriculum Vitae have a shot at a job? It just doesn't happen unless nepotism...

Oh. I'll shut up now.

Taboo

New York Congressman Anthony Weiner Seen in Public With Mistress


He finds no support amongst peers or constituents. MacGregor Rucker of Park Slope, Brooklyn says, "I will probably vote for him again, but I'll be damned if I'm shaking hands with him this year at the 7th Heaven Street Fair!"

Much ado about nothing? This is towering irony. People will say it's because he lied, but when push comes to shove (and push never came to shove in his private life), this is 8th grade stuff. Nobody wants to admit to... self-love. And can there be anything more embarrassing than getting busted with your hand on the trigger?

Let's get back to this nagging little embarrassment called joblessness.

Please.

Really.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

MACHO MACHO MAN!

NAZI FROM EARLY INCARNATION OF THE VILLAGE PEOPLE FOUND DEAD


Shush! Yes, I know. Wrong. Whatever. After a week of the cognitive dissonance that is WEINERGATE, I needed a jump-off to any unrelated stupidity... a palate cleanser.

Cognitive dissonance is rarely more profound than in cases of White Supremacists. It is a phenomenon most often perpetuated by parties that have the least justification to be proud of anything. It's hard to wrap the head around, yet there it is. I always want to ask...

Me: Why?
Nazi: Because I hate black people.
Me: Really?
Nazi: And Jews.
Me: Oh... (blank stare)

It's easier to handle emotionally in an entirely different context. There was, of course, no Nazi in the Village People (as far as I know), but the conversation would have ostensibly been quite different:

Me (as reporter): So at what point were you asked to leave the group?
Nazi (Frank Roch): Our manager suggested that mainstream audiences weren't quite ready for a Nazi. I tried to explain, but...
Me: You didn't see the sound reasoning in that?
Nazi: Look, Man! We had a Black guy! We had an Indian! I just wanted to make sure my people were represented! We are always being marginalized!
Me: And the biker and the construction worker didn't cover those bases...
Nazi: (blank stare)

And silence... Frank Roch, having been on the brink of international stardom, and then rejected, spirals downward and embarks on a life of heroin addiction, crime and imprisonment. An American Tragedy.

Oh Hell, I'm sorry... but just look at that mustache. What year is it? Aryan Brotherhood? Really? Are we really sorry this guy is gone? Is it really such a mystery anyway? He's dead. Seems to me that there is a town in Texas that smells just that much better.

Good morning.

Ego Fail?

Oops! No, it's not nice, but yes,I laughed. Sorry.


I don't know. It seems to me that it requires no small measure of ego to chain yourself to the back of a car, confident that you're clever enough to escape before it takes off AND DRAGS YOU LIKE A RAGDOLL down the track, in front of your family, friends, and onlookers... Many of whom I suspect are secretly hoping that this will happen. Those hopes are less secret these days in the Roman Coliseum of Fail that has come to fuel the internet. You succeed and it's "like a boss." You don't succeed and suck pavement, and it's "FAIL!" It's the latter category that comprises the larger portion of viral videos on the Internetz.

Ego can very quickly put a person in harm's way, and I suspect that it's ego behind our desire to see someone else wipe out in any number of horrible ways. Do we really want David Blaine's stunts to be successful? Or do we quietly sit wringing our hands awaiting the inevitable moment when he's carried away on a stretcher?

The first famous televised FAIL was probably in the intro of The Wild World of Sports. Nobody I've asked remembers what clip accompanied "The Thrill of Victory," yet EVERYBODY remembers Jean-Claude Killy cartwheeling down a mountain during "The Agony of Defeat." We have hazy memories of Evel Knievel clearing 20 buses, but the image of his rocket-bike spiraling into Snake River Canyon, in another early, televised example of FAIL, is crystal clear.

I've always preferred to perform my death-defying feats in some degree of privacy. The opportunity to be stupid in private, however, has become rare. Everyone has a phone. Every mobile phone has video capability. Every mobile user who is not an exhibitionist is an amateur filmmaker. Or it would seem so. It's not that my ego isn't zeppelin-esque. It's just that it's more of a stealth zeppelin.

I suspect though, that when I join The Realm of Fail, some tit will be right there with a camera. Karma... payback for laughing.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Words fail me...


It's a rare day that I don't consult DICTIONARY.COM, either looking for the meaning of a new word, or in search of a word to describe something that defies my monkey-brain vocabulary. Some may argue that if I talked less I wouldn't find myself at such loggerheads with my ability to express myself. That doesn't seem to be an option. We can discuss that, or not.

This free site has one particular service that fills me with unspeakable joy! That is their Word of the Day, usually something outside of common daily usage, and often something utterly arcane. Either serves me well, filling a gap in my daily glossary, or amusing me to no end. It doesn't take much I suppose.

Today's word fills the latter column. It's unlikely that I'll have find the opportunity to lob this verbal grenade into the arena of conversation, but it's there nonetheless.

PECKSNIFFIAN.

It's awkward. It's hard to imagine it falling off the lips of even the greatest orators, even Mario Cuomo, of "nattering nabobs of negativism" fame. Yet there it is in all its glory! It's like a dare.

"Go ahead, Monkey. Try me."

Okay.

The GOP, having long ago eschewed discourse on any meaningful political issues, have rebuilt their entire platform on rabid, bloated, pecksniffian monologues.

Okay, I think I've sprained something.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Have a nice day! Thank you!

And so another Sunday morning in Brooklyn... It's not hard to find gratitude on a sleepy Sunday morning in the cool, breezy pre-summer world. The sun is up and very few people are. Cops, grocers, donut makers and the odd jogger have ventured out, but other than that it's quiet down in the area that ambitious realtors, several years ago, dubbed South Slope.

I like to use the early morning hours for solitary meditation, whenever circumstance allows solitude. I had some fear that the responsibilities of dog ownership would interfere with that, but oddly (or perhaps not) it has enhanced it. I am up and out earlier in whatever weather. You don't sleep in when you've got a broad, hairy skull flattened against your face and a tail drumming a steady pattern on the nightstand... feet dancing a bit (probably with back legs crossed), claws clicking like high heels on the tiles. She is otherwise quiet, and staring with eager eyes. "Wake up! Pay attention to me." Then it's a splash of cold water and we're off.

This is the best time of day. There is little distraction out there and it's easy to feel thankfulness and connectedness to the little bit of nature that's fed to us in measured doses here in the city. This is the time for prayers of thanks, and blissful semi-silence. This is the time to make the casual considerations that will steer the rest of the day... a glorious, private time when private time can be so elusive... when alone doesn't mean loneliness.

And of course there is, what I find to be hilarious, the irony of walking down the street with a plastic bag of dog shit, emblazoned with a big smily face, that reads

HAVE A NICE DAY! THANK YOU!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Doctor Death Takes a Holiday



JACK KEVORKIAN HAS DIED OF OLD AGE.

I had wondered how it would be for him when he faced his own demise. Would he try to hold on, or simply give up the ghost?

My feelings on his work have been, over the years, varied and complex. It seemed horrifying at first. A moral outrage, the Hippocratic Oath and all that. Years passed and I got to know a few people suffering terminal illnesses. That tends to change one's perspective, and it did mine.

I'm not aware of anyone picking up the flag on Jack's crusade. If someone has, they have been roundly ignored by the media. It seems such a basic human right, to decide how you want the second most important event of your life (after birth) to transpire. I've heard all the arguments on either side, and the cons just don't move me reverse my beliefs on this.

And so, one of the more unique voices of our time passes...

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Behind every great man...


There has been a great deal of press in recent years concerning men behaving badly. Lengthy essays have been published and blogged about the corruptive and morally corrosive influence of power.

Bill Clinton
Newt Gingrich
John Edwards
Elliot Spitzer
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Dominiquetrix Strauss-Kahn
Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar
Anthony Weiner
to name a few...

And sadly, as it turns out EVEN THE MAN OF STEEL IS NOT EXEMPT!

Of course, men of no status whatsoever exhibit a sense of entitlement where women are concerned. One might think that power and influence, in and of themselves, might be enough... but it's still there, and often worse.

Is power Kryptonite? Apparently, it can be.

Surf's Up!



We need a preface here. What is THE DAILY MAIL? My best guess is a mutant hybrid of an English newspaper, People of Walmart, and questionably attractive slags in ill-fitting bathing suits.

I can't get enough of it. There is something wrong with me.

Further evidence that I need to find a job and get back to work soon--I'm poring over THIS ARTICLE ABOUT MEMORIAL DAY BEACH VIOLENCE, and actually wishing I was at one of them. Yes, there is something wrong with that. I had a perfectly enjoyable, if quiet, weekend in Brooklyn with friends, family and dawg, but being involved in an alcohol-fueled riot in the sand sounds kind of... Well, you don't live in my head so it's not going to sound the same. It will probably sound about as appealing as a live-ammo reenactment of D-Day. Yet for me it's the same appeal as a beach volleyball tournament.

It's like Fyodor Dostoevsky shares a dorm room in my head with Ken Russell. Check out the map though, and the casualty report. Folks sure do love to party. Maybe Harold Camping was right after all.