Monday, May 31, 2010
"Write a letter."
I write lots of letters. I write letters to everybody. I don't care if they never read them, I write them anyway. I've written letters to the New York State Board of Parole to keep a pair of back-shooting cop-killers behind bars, men who commited their heinous crimes thirty-nine years ago. I have written letters to newspapers, many have gotten printed, some of the angrier, hotter ones have not.
Angry letters have, over the years, become my speciality. I wrote an angry letter to the Bronx Times Herald for plagiarizing a commentary of mine that appeared in another online publication. I wrote an angry letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution after an article in there demonized Fulton County sheriff's deputies who mistakenly conducted a drug raid on a house occupied by a 92-year old woman. When they came charging in, shouting "POLICE!" the grammaw opened fire, shooting three police officers before they fired back, killing her. They didn't print my letter. It was too angry. And too hot. Like the bullets whizzing through the Atlanta air.
I wrote a letter to Nestle UK, Ltd to see if they would consider using a children's story of mine about shredded wheat as part of an ad campaign for their Nestle "Shreddies" cereal. I even used their crazy spelling ("favourable") in my pitch letter. They wrote back, saying they loved the story, but that they were contractually obligated to use a specific ad agency.
I get lots of rejection letters, but some are very nice. The ones from literary agents are often formulaic, but, although Augusten Burroughs' agent rejected my manuscript almost two years ago, he and I still send friendly emails back and forth, and mine to him are often addressed "Dear Faggot."
A couple of years ago, when my career aspirations were appropriately stymied, I wrote to Andy Rooney to ask him for advice, hoping he would be so charmed by my letter he would say, "You know, it's been a while since we at '60 Minutes' had a professional shoe-shiner/staff EMT-- come work for me" but he didn't. This is, however, what he wrote:
"Advice is spinach. It doesnt help. People who give it enjoy doing it butusually dont know what theyre talking about. When I was trying to make aliving writing magazine articles, I read a lot of magazines to see what sortof thing they were using and took my cue from that. I sold a lot of magazinearticles but Id write one Id hope to sell to The Saturday Evening Post for$1500 and it usually ended up in something called PAGEANT or CORONET for$300. Thanks for yout good letter. Sorry I cant help."
Well, Andy, I'm sorry yout can't type. But I still idolize you-- you are everything that I want to be except for handsome, and I'm not handsome, so that's okay. You wear a shirt, tie, sportcoat, sit behind a desk, and complain about things. I want to be you so bad you can probably feel it in your catheter.
I was listening to Pandora a few months ago and a song came on that I had never heard before and it made me cry, sitting in my office all alone. So I Googled the songwriter, Pierce Pettis, and I wrote him a letter and told him that his song, about his grandmother, had made me cry. His song was reminiscent of a personal essay I had written a while ago about transporting elderly people as an EMT, and so I sent it to him-- he wrote back an hour later, a beautiful note:
"I just wanted to say thanks for your kind words --and to tell you how much I enjoyed your poignant and beautifully-written essay. If I may say so, I think you have much talent as a writer, as well as a health professional.
Thank you again for sharing this with me.
take care, --Pierce"
He types much better than Andy Rooney, doesn't he? Without the spinach.
This morning, I scrawled a handwritten note to another singer-songwriter-- Leon Redbone, whom you may recall is my celebrity doppleganger. His website is soliciting photographs of him as a younger man, and I sent him a photograph of me as a joke, because I really do look like the sonofabitch.
"He'll answer," I said to my wife as I popped it in the mailbox. And he will, too.
You should write letters, too. To whomever. About whatever. It's like casting out a line in the middle of a lake. You never know what the hell you're going to dredge up. It's a goddamn hoot.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
My sister's new girlfriend is Paula Begoun, self-proclaimed "Cosmetics Cop."
If that moniker means nothing to you then, congratulations, consider yourself hereby duly certified for one more year of Crazy-Free Living on the Planet Earth (gmail me for your certificate-- $7.95 + s/h). If you are familiar with Paula Begoun and her affiliated works, then, to quote the venerable and venerated Tim Gunn, "This worries me." If you regularly refer to Paula Begoun as "my new guru," well, you're officially inducted into the Fucked in the Head Club. Meet my sister, Chairman and Executive Director. She will be happy to go over your orientation packet with you if you'll pardon the hopelessly creased pages and drool stains.
We stopped by my parents' house yesterday and, lo and behold, only my sister was there. As you may remember, she took up residence at their house back in February when she spotted some mice having an orgy in a bag of ginseng rice in her condominium. She has since deloused the unit and has put it up for sale. Nobody's interested, and I suspect that she will remain at my parents' house until one or both of them die and she is reduced to eating their remains.
It was eleven o'clock in the morning when my wife and I showed up, and Julie opened the door clad in a baby blue bathrobe. We sat down at the dining room table and, through the window to a passerby it might have looked like any normal family gathering (except for the fact that my 43-year-old sister was wearing a bathrobe and pajamas at eleven o'clock in the morning) with us amicably chatting away. Of course, had the passerby been able to hear the content of the conversation, well, any attempt at "normalcy" would go straight down the terlit.
Her first rant was centered entirely on sunscreen. What is the appropriate SPF rating, Australian Sunscreen Standards, UVA and UVB ray protection, how, in spite of all the hype and super-expensive emolients sold at fancy retail stores that the best protection is some shitty-looking cream sold at K-Mart for a dollar.
"A goddamn dollar," she said, her eyeballs rolling back into her head, "a goddamn, motherfucking dollar."
"Wow," I said.
"I love how nobody in this fucking family takes me seriously and everybody thinks I'm such a big fucking riot when it comes to sunscreen-- but fuck all those motherfuckers. I do my research!"
And nobody could ever accuse her of not doing her research. Except my father, of course.
"Why are our BMWs not on the safest cars list?" my father interrogated her one day this week.
"BECAUSE IT'S 2010, YOU ASSHOLE!" she shouted, her neck-vein bulging impossibly, "WE GOT THOSE CARS IN 2009 AND THEY WERE ON THE TOP OF THE MOTHERFUCKING LIST! BUT BMW DIDN'T DO THE FUCKING ROOF-IMPACT TEST THIS YEAR, SO THEY GOT BUMPED OFF THE FUCKING LIST!!! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW!!???"
My father cracked up at this and walked out of the room. I thank God that he finds her obscenity-laced tantrums funny, because I know there are some other fathers out there who would have throw her out the fucking window years ago.
Julie then showed us several one-piece bathing suits she purchased for our nine-month-old nephew. They were pretty stinking cute-- with a shark on one and a bee or some shit on the other, but they looked like they were made to fit a five-year-old. "Mommy said these were the right sizes to buy," she said forlornly, knowing she had bought them too big.
"They're coated in some special material that blocks UVA and UVB rays-- and this one is coated in something that blocks against chlorine."
I'd never known that clothing could be coated in so much shit. I expected it to feel leathery and slippery. Actually, I once owned a tie coated in Teflon to protect against stains. I ruined it with cocktail sauce.
I don't know how we got onto the discussion about Paula Begoun, but, from under a stack of photocopied consumer reviews about baby strollers and car booster seats, she pulled this incredibly huge book written by Paula Begoun.
"This is my new guru," my sister said, gazing into the photograph of the authoress on the glossy cover. I stared at it, too, but not gazingly.
"8th edition?" I said, "are you fucking kidding me?"
"Well, she analyzes and makes recommendations about every single cosmetic product on the market, so, whenever they come out with new products, she is able to write a new edition of her book."
"Genius," my wife muttered under her breath.
I feared my sister might go ballistic if she'd heard my wife maligning her new master, but she just launched into another monologue in praise of Her.
"Before, I had been unenthusiastic about Olay products, but Paula Begoun changed the way I think about my face and my skin and my makeup. That fucking asshole derm bastard that I've been going to for the last ten years has been constantly been putting me on a cream that's bad for people with dry eyes. And a skin cream that's bad for people with digestive issues. That fucking jerkoff knows that I have all that stuff, I talk about it all the time. So Paula has recommendations for people like me-- I've thrown out all my old shit and I'm steadily replenishing."
Steadily replenishing. Good God. I can just imagine my sister trolling the asiles of the local CVS with that crazy-ass book clutched to her bosom, with pen and pencil notations and highlighted passages, doggy-eared pages, just like a bible.
Steadily replenishing. Following instructions.
Of course, who am I to judge? Frankly, her skin has never looked better.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Maybe it's because a big-boy-sized commentary of mine just got published in the B.F.D. newspaper here (still no money, but who needs money?) or maybe it's because I'm enjoying my first three-day-weekend since birds looked like dinosaurs and had big fucking teeth and whatnots, or maybe it's because my Mommy and my Daddy told me that I was cool and coud do whatever the hell I wanted in my room and in my life.
Bear with me here, but I think I want to be the king of some shit.
What do you think? Think I would be a good king? I would totally knight you the fuck up, Bull-- if you kissed my ass a lot and moaned softly while you did it.
I think I would rock out as a king. I'm a pretty snappy dresser, so it's not like my royal wardrobe would be all like breaking the bank and shit. Plus, I dig obstructing the rights of peasants. I would wipe the floor with those oily fuckers, and make the hot female ones hook up and touch each other while I consume muttonous amounts of mutton.
I would run a Muttocrocy. Mutton for everybody! Except for the peasant chicks who refuse to make out with each other.
NO MUTTON FOR YOU, PRUDISH LITTLE PEASANT TROLLOPS! GO TO YOUR ROOMS AND UNDULATE AGAINST THE RADIATORS!
Another reason I think I would make a pretty smashing king is that, as you know, I'm Jewish. There haven't been a hell of a lot of Jewish kings in the centuries that have gone before this one, and I think it's about time we added a kingly notch on our belts. Although we don't exactly bring monarch-like posture to the table, I think we as a people can handle the responsibility of ruling others with an iron schnozz. Count me in, bitches: count me in.
Another reason that I'd knock the world on its tit as a king of some shit is that I'm a twofer: I'm a King and a Minstrel, all rolled up into one sexy-assed package. No need to spend doubloons or schekels or whatever the fuck on some gayboy minstrel toddling around in green gym-socks and a funny fucking hat-- I'll take care of it. As the King's Kingly Minstrel, I'll fucking entertain myself. Or, not. And, if not, I'll cut my own goddamn head off as punishment. I can do it, you'll see. I practice a lot when I'm alone. Got me through high school.
As you can probably glean, I'm pretty stoked about being the king of some shit. I don't even really care what it is. The Netherlands. Montana. This box of staples right here on my dsesk-- I'm not particular. In fact, I may be the least particular monarch since Elizabeth I, and you know how that hoebag skeezapleeza rolled, n'yah mean?
See, here's my reasoning, loyal soon-to-be subjects: for every job that I'm applying for, I seem to be overqualified. All of the jobs, though, that I want to do, require more practical experience than I have. I don't know how, exactly, one gets this supposed experience-- I guess by interning for no money while you're living in your parents' basement-- but I didn't exactly go that route. So, I figure, it's time to aim a little higher, for a job that requires no real experience, for which you can never be overqualified, and for which nobody who's ever held the position has ever been anywhere near qualified:
King of some shit.
Oh, I just can't wait to be King.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Because Dear Abby is hot.
But I'm hotter.
Now let's put on those aprons and split some urethras because it's time for...
My son was married a short time ago. The reception was held at my condo member hall. After the reception, the bride and groom asked me to refrigerate the leftover bottom layer of the wedding cake. They said they'd pick it up the next day.
Six days later, the cake was still in my fridge. They made excuses every day for not picking it up. Finally, I threw it away.
Now I'm the bad guy, and the bride is demanding an apology. Apron, the cake was hard and crusty, and I felt six days was long enough. Was I wrong in dumping the cake? -- FATHER OF THE GROOM IN FORT WORTH
DEAR FATHER OF THE GROOM:
Wait-- I don't believe what I'm hearing. A man doing something inconsiderate, impulsive and thoughtless without considering other people's feelings? Jesus Christ-- this must be a first. Hold on while I bronze the rest of this reply.
Okay, that's better.
You threw out your son and daughter-in-law's wedding cake, you fucking asshole! Do you have any idea how much that thing cost?! And what, pray, do you expect this charming new couple to eat for the first three months of their new marriage? Neither of them are employed-- they're probably both starving, rummaging around the dumpsters and trashcans of their condo neighbors searching for crusts of bread and half-eaten Red Baron pizzas like feral Indonesian dogs. She's a poly-sci major and he's an English major, for God's sake-- where is their food going to come from? Do you think it's just going to fall down on them like rain from the Heavens?
Think again, Dad. Think again.
By the day, Dawg-- if everything in this world that was "hard and crusty" was summarily gotten rid of, well, you and I wouldn't be here today.
I am in my 50s and part of a management team at work. My first name is Mary. Every time the boss sees me he starts reciting that nursery rhyme, "Mary, Mary, quite contrary!" I find it belittling and insulting.
I have expressed my dislike of what he's doing, but he can't seem to stop. Is this a form of workplace harassment? -- "QUITE" ANNOYED IN ALABAMA
DEAR MARY MARY, QUITE CONTRARY:
Well, from the tone of your letter I'd say that this nursery rhyme is right on the money as far as its befitting of your personality. And your name is Mary, so that takes care of that part, too. What should they sing when you come in the room? "Blow, Gabriel, Blow"? That wouldn't make any sense at all. I mean, if your name was Gabriel and you were a raging homosexual with an uncontrollable propensity to suck dick all the time, then I could understand choosing that particular song. Same goes for "Leila (Got Me on My Knees)" if your name were Leila and you had the same aforementioned proclivity.
And, I don't think it qualifies as workplace harrassment unless your boss is singing the nursery rhyme to you whilst honking your breasts with one hand whilst shaving his own asshole with the other.
Now that I have found a job after a few months of unemployment, my boyfriend and I are tying the knot. I work in a very small office and would like to invite everyone to bring a date to the reception. My dilemma? I suspect that two of the men in the office are involved with each other, and I'm not close enough to anyone else to inquire.
I have no problem with their sexual orientation, but I don't want to put my foot in my mouth by inviting them as a couple. What would you think of posting an invitation (postcards and e-vites) to all employees and their dates? I ordinarily wouldn't, but being a little "gauche" seems better than being downright rude. I suspect the men downplay their relationship, and I don't want to invade their privacy. Apron, what would you do? -- BRIDE WITH A DILEMMA
OMG-- GAYBOYS?! At your WEDDING?! Whoa. Gross.
Look, if you must have these... people, if one can call them that, at your wedding, here's what you do. Just send out your regular invitations and, right under the part about "Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at 1:00pm" just write, "Faggots welcomed."
Oh, and remember to keep dad away from that leftover wedding cake. Christ only knows what that asshole will do to it! Come to think of it, keep him away from the cocktails and the hors d'oeuvres, too.
I have been dating "Luke" for about three months. He's a sweet and thoughtful guy who cares about me, and I care for him as well.
My problem is I have never been the kind of person who likes to be touched. It makes me feel tense and uneasy. Luke likes to touch me constantly -- stroking my cheek, rubbing the back of my neck, or kissing my cheeks and forehead.
It isn't that I don't like hugs or kisses, but too much drives me crazy. How do I explain this to Luke without hurting his feelings? -- ENOUGH IN THE SOUTHWEST
Having always been one to eschew confrontation, uncomfortable situations, and overall verbal human contact myself, I would go with a telegram. They're cheap, short, to-the-point and, let's face it, everybody loves those cute little guys riding around on bicycles with their little messenger bags and their hats and their knee-socks and shit. Here's what it should say:
"LUKE. STOP. TOUCHING ME. STOP."
That should do it.
I have a question that isn't earth-shaking, but concerns a lot of people my age. Each year as I grow older and read my friends' obituaries I think about my own and how I would personally like mine to read. I would like to spare my family the difficulty of trying to sort through the details of my life.
I'm wondering just what is supposed to go into an obituary. As a professional, I have information about that side of my life. It's the personal part I'm wondering about. Are there any rules on this? What is expected or accepted? I'm sure there are others who would also welcome suggestions on this. -- THINKING AHEAD IN EAU CLAIRE, WIS
DEAR THINKING AHEAD:
I think about this a lot. Perhaps more than I should. Perhaps more than a terminally ill person probably even should. In fact, I was thinking about it before I even read your letter. At least now I have a legitimate excuse to be thinking about it.
And, since you asked about one of my favorite subjects, this is my advice:
Lie like hell.
It's your obituary, man, and you're paying for it-- what better time could there possibly be to inflate your petty, inconsequential life's accomplishments? Who's going to call you on it? Who's going to know? And, more to the point: who's going to care?
So have a fucking blast, man. You live in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Jesus-- have you ever gotten drunk and gotten DP'd by two members of the local amateur football team? No, you haven't. So, now's the time to pretend to live the life you've always wanted to live but were too much of a snap-crotched housfrau to have actually lived.
Here's a sample:
SMITH, Jean - Beloved mother of Bela Lugosi, faithful wife of Carroll O'Connor, coveted mistress of Woody Guthrie passed away quietly suspended from meathooks on her bedroom ceiling of Cervical Overuse Disorder (COD).
Born in Bavaria, Ms. Smith studied karate with some Asian-looking guy who wore a white bathrobe all the time for some reason and she subsisted entirely on coarsely ground lobster penis for the first fourteen years of her life. She made all her own clothes out of grass and painted her toenails with exploded caterpillar innards every day of her life.
She moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin after she was summarily banished from Bavaria by Harvey Korman after she accidentally hit his Mercedes with a two-by-four.
Ms. Smith began her acting career starring several unreleased "Charmin'" commercials that were banned by overzealous censorship officials in the early 1960s. "I'm convinced that the catchphrase "Don't Assrape the Charmin'" would have been a big hit with families in Eau Claire," said Smith's daughter, Her Royal Majesty Princess Alexandria IV of Prussia.
An avid wrestler of tiny vermin and postal officials, Ms. Smith was frequently observed in various states of undress by neighbors attaching rivets to people's children and house plants. She was a fixture in her neighborhood and was rumored to have a sexual appetite that rivaled that of even the most prodigious local rapists and Sunday School administrators. "She died doing what she loved," reported Ji Adelqvuist, one of her paramours, a blind tobacconist with one leg and seven teeth, "She looked so beautiful suspended from them meathooks," he said, "like a fucking angel."
Thursday, May 27, 2010
One of the great pleasures of living in the suburbs in the month of May is that you get assaulted by all manner of fragrances emanating from the gardens and flowerbeds of your neighbors and not-quite-so-neighbors. Flowers are, I feel, wonderful representations of neighbors-- they're colorful, effervescent, aesthetically pleasing, you don't have to make small-talk with them, and your dogs can pee on them as long as you're furtively glancing around you to make sure no one's looking.
We're trying to grow broccoli, pumpkins, tomatoes, and peppers ourselves. We tried sunflowers in the front garden beds, but I think God has placed a zoning restriction on us growing anything of pleasing color on our property. The mums looked pretty for approximately two weeks last year, but that was about it. The phlox looks, um, flummoxed.
Because we have such piss-poor luck with flowers ourselves, we are left to enjoy the flowering yumminess that our neighbors seem to have no trouble at all exuding for all the world to see. If you Google Earth'd our street (like what I just did with the English language?) it would probably look like a fucking cotton candy village. I don't know how these people do it.
At least, I didn't... until I saw a commercial on television this morning. And then it hit me.
That's right: my neighbors are using Miracle-Gro.
The fucking cheating bastards.
The revelation was so shocking to me, so unalterably clear, so inescapably blatant. My neighbors, these people that I wave to my begrudgingly suburban way, these people whom I have helped shovel snow and these people in whose windows my wife peers to get decorating ideas, these people who park their black VW Passat wagons the wrong way on our street, these people.... these people..... are plant and flower druggies.
Can you picture them? They're the elderly guy in the short-sleeve collar shirt. They're the Vietnamese woman chasing after the diaper-wearing toddler. They're the middle-aged guy with a beer-gut and no shirt. They're the volunteer firefighter with whacker strobe lights all over his Ford Explorer. See them. See them in your mind's eye.
Now, picture them walking, slackjawed, through the Lawn & Garden aisles of your favorite home improvement store with an orange, square logo and a fucking annoying Doing Dial. They're in some kind of spray-feed-induced fog as they reach for 4.5 pound jugs of Miracle-Gro Shake'n Feed All Purpose Plant Food Plus Weed Protector.
Plant "Food" they say? Plant Crack-Attack, I say.
I'm sorry, but check out the "Where not to use" instructions on the product info for this bad boy:
"Do not use on flower seeds, lawns or in enclosed areas such as greenhouses. Do not apply to myrtle as injury may result."
Injury to what? The myrtle? Or is it injury to whom? Is there going to be some kind of explosion where myrtle shrapnel will lodge itself in my eyebrows and/or proboscis? Injury may result, huh? Sounds like fucking drugs to me, pal.
I don't understand how supposedly legitimate retailers can go along their merry way selling these nefarious products whose only purpose is to engorge the stamens and augment pistils to Hulktesticle proportions. Where is the indignant outcry amongst anti-doping advocates? Where are the petitions and the Congressional hearings? Where the fuck is TMZ with their grainy camera footage and why haven't they answered my numerous phone calls? Where are all the beautiful Irish actresses? I mean-- like, don't they have any at all? They got close with Flora Montgomery, but that was, like, years ago. And for those of you who got all hot and bothered, like me, about Natascha McElhone after watching "Ronin"-- that's just an impeccable accent. She's English.
I know, right?
I guess the message here is one of awareness. The next time you're wandering around your neighborhood and you smell the glorious scent of lilac in the breeze, or you stop to admire an impossibly large tulip bunch, think to yourself-- are these sumptuous flora the result of doping? And, if you suspect they are, since Congress and TMZ and Natascha McElhone won't act, I see no other recourse but vigilante justice. Let your dog dump all over that skeez.
Your former D.A.R.E. officer would be proud.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Of course you do-- you're bloggers, and most of you are female. So feeling insecure and not-so-fresh is practically your business, for Christ's sake. You're constantly in a positively feral search for validation, comfort, rote flattery and cuddles if you can get them.
And I don't blame you. I likes me that shit, too.
(Espech the cuddles. Totes and natch.)
It's funny-- if you ever take the time to look back and reflect on why you started blogging (just pretend you're being interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, alone in your room, like I used to do when I was twelve) you might be surprised by what your motives were back then, if you can remember back that far because of all those drugs you did to get you through your early twenties.
I remember vividly why I started my old blog. I did it as a kneejerk response to the anger and rage I felt against the exclusive girls Catholic school I subbed at for a month whose Lord High Penguin found "something on my Google" that contained obscenities and ordered me (on my last day of scheduled teaching) not to return to campus.
"Fuck that cunt," I said to my wife after I had recovered from the shock of my first official dismissal, and after doing, if you'll pardon my self-aggrandizement, a wonderful job with my students, "I'm not changing who I am for anybody-- I'm just going to be anonymous about it."
Aaaaand that's what I did, and that's why I did it.
I didn't know anything about blogging when I started and, two-ish years later, I still don't. Well, I know there are rules and etiquette, about commenting and responding to comments, and there are time-tested theories about cultivating followers and gaining recognition, promoting other bloggers, promoting yourself, scoring book deals, eschewing mediocrity, purchasing domain names and social networking.
But, really, I don't know anything. I just blog because it feels good.
But, is it the clickety clackety of the keyboard keys that feels good? Is it surfing through endless layers of pop culture and anti-pop culture and headlines and family minutae in search of a bloggable blogglette that feels good?
It's the COMMENTS!
Because, in comments, there is validation. And cyber-cuddles. Get over here, Ms. Snuffleschmump! Gimme a squelch!
When I started blogging, I had no idea what comments were, and what their point was. Though my old blog is shut down and forever spirited away, I suspect that, if I were to raise it from the dead and check, it was probably, like, five months before I ever got my first comment. When I did, it was like Jesus rays streaming through the clouds of my mind. It was like when you shit so hard that you see Technicolor spots. It was like an angel tickling my asshole with a quail feather while singing like Eddi Reader.
I was like, "Oh."
Something clicked. And, at the same time, something snapped. This was what blogging was all about, I realized.
And, at the same time, I must have more of it.
Comments on my writing have always been, well, unsatisfying. I used to bang out questionable stories, poems, and sketches on typewriters, word processors and, eventually, computers upstairs in the play room and I would come downstairs all triumphant with my six or seven pages of profanity-laced material about men in suits behaving in bizarre ways, and I would read the material to my parents, seated dutifully in the living room.
"That's very nice," was my mother's stock reply. My father, generally speaking, needed a second or third reading to prompt any response, being Israeli and all.
I routinely fell in love with English teachers and, later, professors. Not in the I-wanna-prematurely-ejaculate-all-over-your-back way (I only wanted to do that to my 11th grade math teacher) but in the I-want-you-to-love-and-respect-me-and-admire-my-talents way. See, I have this thing for intelligent authority figures, of whatever gender-- doesn't matter. I crave their recognition and their adulation, and I began to realize, slowly-- very slowly-- that the reason I wrote creatively was exclusively for the reaction from these individuals. I craved their intelligent, witty, and supportive comments.
When my creative writing seminar professor in college called me a genius, I was seized by an unshakeable desire to legally adopt her daughter.
And now, here I am, bereft of my coveted intellectual authority figures, but still doing the same damn fool old thing-- writing for, well, I suppose it's love. What kind? Well, I don't know. The "That's nice" comments from my mother are conspicuously absent from this blog because, well, I can't show it to her, even though she wouldn't be surprised by anything in it-- she would just be furious that it's out in public. And I doubt that any of my old professors and/or teachers read this blog, though that would make things very interesting.
You're here, of course. And that means a lot to me, as I think I've mentioned. I hope this doesn't give your weirdsies, or put you in the uncomfortable and regrettable position of feeling compelled to comment all or even some of the time, because you know that I'm sitting in my home office or my office office kneading my knuckles and turning my lips into that pathetic, pursed frown, hoping for a glimmer of validation. Because I wouldn't want you to say something nice, just because you think you should. I just want you to know why I blog, because I think that all of us should be asking ourselves that question, even if the answer is kind of odd, or kind of painful, or kind of absurd, or kind of cute.
You... do think I'm cute. Right?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
"Sure, buddy," she said to me, taking a vivacious bite out of her home-made egg & cheese bagel sandwich, "the thing I just don't like about cops is, like, they're really just out there all the time trying to catch people doing the wrong thing."
I popped a piece of turkey bacon into my never-shutting trap.
"Fuckin' aye right," I said, crunching happily.
At my old ambulance company, they called me a narc, and I relished in the moniker. You bet your asses I'm a narc. Of course, I was a narc who stole routinely stole armfuls of nitrile gloves from E.R.s all over Philadelphia, stole bedsheets and blankets from coworkers ambulances and even pilfered a penlight from my own truck so my wife could use it on her practicum. While I would have been petrified if someone had caught me doing the wrong thing, I love catching other people doing the wrong thing. I love holding them accountable for their inappropriate actions. And I love, love, love, love, hearty kissy poo love seeing people get into trouble.
"So, is that why you wanted to become a cop?" my wife asked me one day long ago, "to catch people doing the wrong thing?"
A prime example fell into my lap on Sunday afternoon. We were filling up my wife's car at the gas station when a gold Taurus wagon pulled up to the pump next to us. Some ugly hagitha was filling up the Taurus while the three children in the backseat played impishly around with each other. They were between the ages of seven and eleven and they were jumping around all over the place like Mexican fucking jumping beans.
"How much do you want to bet they don't buckle in when she leaves?" my wife asked me, glaring at the car's occupants. One of the little kids glared back.
"Well, I don't know," I said, trying on optimism to see if it fit, "they are stopped at a gas station.
The hagitha got into the driver's seat and, without a word, put the car into gear and drove away, the jumping beans still at it. As the Taurus wagon passed us, I caught sight of its bumper-sticker.
"Children Are a Gift from God."
I looked over at my wife for the punchline. She did not disappoint.
"I guess they're such a great gift that she's trying to give them back."
I have to think that the joy of being a cop isn't just in taking illegal guns off the streets, or shitheads who bust their wives in the mouth for not having the potroast done on time-- I have to think that some of the satisfaction and pleasure of that job is derived from pulling up behind a fucking hypocritical biatchburger like that, dragging her by her hair to the back of her vehicle and pushing her face right into that bumper-sticker, breaking her nose against the car's sheet-metal in the process. Of course, you can't behave like that, unless you're a rogue cop, which is really no cop at all, but you can certainly pull her over, issue her a citation and, if you're feeling really ballsy, point out the contradiction.
It would have been a wonderful career-- hypocrites and all.
Monday, May 24, 2010
On Sunday, we purchased an antique settee for our living room, so that we can actually have people over and converse with them in a semi-normal way. If we ever had people over, that is. I know this sounds gay, but I love our settee. It reminds me of my wife, because it manages to effortlessly be both beautiful and cute (cuteiful?) at the same time. It's orange and corduroy-- though my wife is neither.
The other purchase we made was neither beautiful nor cute, and it wasn't orange and corduroy either. On Saturday, we went to Sears and bought an air-conditioner.
Pretty fucking glam, no?
But, there are things you buy because you want them in your heart, and there are things you buy because Pennsylvania summers can make your balls stick to your taint. And because the wall air-conditioner that came with your house was so old it was probably blessed by Pope Pius X.
Oh, and you read that right-- wall air-conditioner.
As in, there is a gigantic, rectangular hole cut into the wall of our house, into which an antique television-sized air-conditioner is shoved.
I'm told that, in other parts of the world, people don't have wall air-conditioners. Typically, one-room air-conditioners are stuck into windows, and I don't know that this especially makes more or less sense than shoving them into a hole in the wall because, it totally renders your window ineffective, whereas a wall is not more or less effective for having a huge fucking hole in it, as long as there's an air-conditioner in there.
In any event, and whether it's a Philly thing or not, our dining room has a wall air-conditioner that, we realized last summer, does nothing but infuse the room with room-temperature air, even when placed on the highest and coldest setting. Clearly, Pope Pius X's blessing was wearing thin.
"I just won't come visit you in the summer until you get a new air-conditioner," my mother-in-law said last August as she was melting into one of our dining room chairs. I glanced at my wife out of the corner of my eye, she looked back at me and shook her head warningly. Even though I love the written word, I'm also pretty into non-verbal communication.
So we decided to bite the bullet on Saturday and buy a wall-unit. "Assuming they still make the goddamn things," I said to Mrs. Apron.
Turns out that they do make the goddamn things, but that there was only one on display at Sears. It was bigger than a Volkswagen Beetle, and not as aerodynamic either. The Kenmore wall air-conditioner on display was 13,000 BTUs and it cost $529.00. Now, when things start costing half of one thousand dollars, I immediately develop swamp-ass. A middle-eastern salesman limped over to us. He was approximately my father's age, but much shorter and, dare I say, hairier. His nametage said "Ahram."
"You vont this?" he said to us abrasively. "It's very good."
Right, I thought. Because I'm sure you personally tested it.
"Do you have any other wall air-conditioners?" my wife asked.
"No. Only this one. Do you vont it?" Ahram answered brusquely. He had a thick salt-and-pepper beard and a stye under his left eye the shape of Lake Michigan. He glared at me as if I had just challenged him to a duel with scimitars.
"We need to think about this a little bit," I replied.
"Okay, sir. Ma'am. Thank you. Goodbye," Ahram said, gimping away as his voice trailed off.
"What an asshole," my wife said to me under her breath.
"He can't help it," I said, "too much infidel blood in his tea."
We stared at the card on the display wall air-conditioning unit and my wife noticed an 8,000 BTU wall unit for $369.00. Ahram was nowhere in sight and so I caught the attention of another sales associate, a white-haired guy named Dale. He was in the refrigerator section, so I wasn't sure he would be able to help me.
"I can certainly try," he said with a glint of hope in his eye. He tracked down the SKU number for the cheaper, more efficient wall-unit, guaranteed that it was the same size dimensions as the football-field-cooling behemoth Ahram tried to sell us and the deal was done. As Dale was ringing us up, Ahram suddenly appeared. He hissed angrily into Dale's ear,
"Vot are you do-ink? Dat is my customer!"
"No, 'was', as in past-tense."
Ahram glowered at Dale and, one day, will surely mail Dale's hands to his wife in a Priority Flat Rate envelope. But for now, Dale had triumphed, and so had we.
"Oh, by the way, is this your air-conditioner size pamphlet?"
"Yes," Ahram seethed, "my name is on it."
Dale looked down at it-- there was something scrawled on it in blue pen.
"Your name is Eileen?" Dale asked. My wife cracked up.
"Give me dat!" Ahram said as he grabbed the well-worn pamphlet and stomped away from us unsteadily. I wondered briefly if my father had shot him in the leg back in 1973, in a far off desert in a far off time.
Commission is an ugly thing. It's like the retail version of warfare. When I worked at the eyeglasses store, we never worked on commission. Well, hardly ever. There was one time when Maui Jim, a noted sunglasses manufacturer, created an incentive program to get us to sell their sunglasses. If you sold ten pair of Maui Jims in a one-month period, you could get a free pair of Maui Jims for yourself. I sold the fuck out of those bastards, selling thirteen pair in one month, three pair to the same customer. ("Because, you know, what if you lose two pair while on vacation?") Maui Jim tried to tell me that the offer would only cover a regular pair of sunglasses, not the prescription that I needed, but I created such a fuss with the sales rep that I got my prescription lenses. Of course, I lost them years ago.
They say that working on commission makes your more apt to sell people things that they don't need or want. I didn't need commission to compel me to do that, I did it all the time. My boss at the eyeglasses store and I shared a particularly warped sense of humor, and he and I had a running bet to see who could sell more women's frames to men. Each time I sold a pair of ladies' frames to a man, I won ten bucks. He wouldn't take money from me, so he just got a warm handshake and a lot of laughs. The best sale I ever made of this nature was to a slightly insane man who wore polo shirts and shorts in the dead of winter. I sold him a pair of Sophia Loren wire-rimmed frames with little flowers etched on the temples. With light blue lenses. I'll never forget the day he came to pick them up. When he tried them on in front of me at the dispensing table, I almost shat myself. When he finally left the store, happy as a fucking lark, my boss and I laughed until we cried and my stomach almost exploded.
Maybe one day I will get to sell a pair of ladies' frames to Ahram. I mean, Eileen.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
This is a very appropriate gift, because I am thirty, and I fucking rock.
(I rock, right?)
We're starting all the way from the beginning, and we're at Episode 5 of Season 1, and I have thoroughly enjoyed Liz telling Saree she needs to wear a bra and Jack getting thrown out of the writer's room for interfering with the T.G.S. Show's creative process.
What I don't enjoy, however, are the disclaimers that appear before you're allowed to proceed to the main DVD menu.
There it is, in all of its obligatory, dunderheaded legalese, talking all kinds of shit about how the views expressed in the special features are those of the individuals and do not necessarily represent those of the employees, shareholders, overlords of NBC Universal and any of its conglomporates/parent/red-headed step-child companies.
And then, just in case you're French, or Canadian, or old school homosexual, it's repeated in French.
I hate disclaimers. I think they are for the weak and the spineless. Obviously, if Alec Baldwin's voice over narration says, "I love this scene where Jack McBrayer has to give up his NBC Page Program jacket in the poker game, he looks like such a constipated little ferret," I think we can all generally infer that this is pretty much Alec Baldwin's own personal view and does not necessarily represent the views of a bunch of needle-dicked NBC executives who stand too close to Ann Curry with little mirrors stuck into the toe-section of their shoes on days when she's wearing skirts.
I mean, we get it. We get it.
I realize that it's done so people don't get sued, but, really, do disclaimers stop anybody from being sued? Everybody gets sued-- you're almost a perverted freak of nature if you're alive in 2010 and you haven't been sued. Actually, come to think of it, I haven't been sued yet-- but I'm sure my time will come. I can't believe I worked over a year-and-a-half on the street as an EMT and didn't get sued by anybody. We dropped patients, provided inadequate care, mishandled paperwork, lost psychiatric patients. I mean, there are days where I still expect to get a certified letter in the mail from some attorney representing some patient I transported in 2006 who says that I tore her arm off or something.
I would have liked to have provided patients with a disclaimer regarding the transport they were about to undergo with me. It would have read something like this:
The are about to place yourself under the care of an emergency medical technician (EMT) who is a former theatre major. Truthfully, he has absolutely no business conducting emergent or non-emergent tranports of anything of greater value than a half-dead piece of livestock weighing no more than 47 pounds, defeathered. If you flatline during this transport, know that the EMT in the back with you will perform CPR on you to the best of his abilities, but, in all honesty, he doesn't believe CPR is effective, so he'll probably half-ass it. Not only that, his abilities probably aren't very good, and it is doubtful that his tiny, brittle little fists will do a truly adequate job as they pound mercilessly on your xiphoid process. You are most likely better off in the back seat of a taxi cab. These views are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Joan Plowright, veteran stage and film actress and one-time wife of the late Sir Laurence Olivier."
I also can't stand the disclaimers that are aired after "Law & Order" episodes that are so obviously "Ripped from the Headlines" style scripts, and then they have the nerve to state that any resemblance between people living or dead is purely coincidental."
Yeah, and my ass is made of cotton candy. Come on, now, Stabler. Take a bite.
I was thinking, though, that maybe my blog might be in need of a disclaimer, because I'm not sure that everybody reading quite gets it. And I don't want anybody to not get it, and I surely don't want to get in trouble because someone out there with deep pockets and lots of lawyer chums doesn't get it. And I don't get it.
What would a My Masonic Apron disclaimer look like?
Well-- go on! Give it to me! And may the best disclaimer win. The best one will be posted. And, yes, this is a contest. But no prizes. No giveaways. Because I hate that shit.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Then again, they also say that "Tide 2x Ultra Laundry Detergent" gets rid of even the toughest stains. But it doesn't. That's why they're called stains, assholes.
I'm not so sure that advice is the worst vice. I do speak from a modicum of personal experience, having briefly caught two of my fingers in a vice in wood shop in 8th grade. I'm pretty convinced that was worse than somebody telling me not to wear a brown belt with navy trousers.
Which, by the way, I do because, let's face it: I'm a fucking rebel. A fucking rebel who is listening to celtic women's folk music on Pandora. Oh, and if somebody finds my vagina and eyebrow pencil-- I've been looking for them for, like, weeks.
I got a piece of advice last weekend, and it really stuck with me. I don't know why, especially-- perhaps because I'm not often offered advice. Well, except for Dear Apron, but that's, well, that's different. In real life, people often solicit advice from me, and that makes me feel good, and I like to think I give decent advice, grounded in reality and fact, and a relatively unwarped view of the world.
But, last weekend, I received advice, and it was unsolicited, but that's okay. Here was the advice:
"The train's going this way," I was told, "and you have three choices-- you can either run and jump on board, or you can run like hell the other way, or you can let it run you over. Whatever you choose, just remember: the train's going this way."
And, you know what? As this person was sharing me this little tidtot of wisdom, with his brow furrowed in concern for me, with his hand even on my shoulder in an avuncular, non-molestery way, all I could think about was Asperger's Syndrome.
Isn't it good to know that I'm always paying such close attention when people talk to me?
But seriously-- why trains?
Why does it seem like every kid I know or read about who has Asperger's Syndrome is fascinated by trains? I mean-- where does that come from? Like, why can't they be obsessed with-- I don't know-- pull-tractors or voles or digital camera aperture?
And why is it that Tourrettes Syndrome often manifests itself in the uncontrollable recitation of profanities? Why don't people with Tourrettes say "Aloe!" or "Puff-Pastries!" or "Kashi Good Friends!"
And, while we're kind of on the subject, why aren't there any decent monologues and plays out there written for young performers? Every time I try to find a decent monologue or a scene to do work on with a student, there's invariably a fuck or a cunt or some sort of situation involving a needle in someone's arm or people gayin' it up in a bathtub. I mean, "Our Town" is great, but how many times can you go up to that fucking graveyard with Mr. Stimson, the organist for the congregational church and our friend, Mrs. Soames, who enjoyed the wedding so? Yesterday, I was leafing through a book of "One Acts for Young Actors" and there was a play about a father who molested his daughter every night (Daughter: "All you ever said to me each night was four words, 'Can I come in?' Four words and forty grunts.") and they're fishing together in Hell after he's dead and she's killed herself. At one point in the play, she drives a fishing hook into his hand and then they both crack up laughing.
I mean, that's just great, isn't it?
I suppose giving me advice is not really worth it, because my brain doesn't really stay still long enough to accept, process, evaluate, and respond to it. I mean-- I get it, of course. It's just another, kinder way to say, "Shit or get off the pot." And that's fine, but, when I hear that expression, I can't help but try to remember who famously said that in U.S. politics. I think it was Lyndon Johnson-- or Nixon-- or Eisenhower. It was definitely one of those fuckers in that, like, twenty year period between the '50s and the '70s.
And then I start thinking about my own shit, and how it comes out in those tiny little balls but only after what is tantamount to a Herculean effort and it feels like I'm going to pass this glorious yard-stick proportioned thing, but it's just those disappointing little poo-marbles, and I know it's because I don't eat enough fiber or drink enough water. I mean, I don't drink any water. I drink 20 oz of coffee in the morning, Caffiene-Free Diet Coke with lunch, and the same with dinner. And then I wonder-- well, how am I even alive?
God, life's funny. I just got up to take a shit, and I happen today to be wearing my favorite trousers-- they're shamrock green Dockers-- the kind that you might see a WASP-y octogenarian wearing at a country club and, as I was sitting on the bowl squeezing out my poo-marbles in anguish, I noticed that, along the inside waistband of the trousers is written the phrase "ONE LEG AT A TIME."
Advice, my dears, is everywhere-- it's all in how you respond to it.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Fucking acolytes. They always get into my turtle soup.
My husband had an affair with a stripper. I found out about it because he bought her some jewelry and was stupid enough to have the bill sent to our home.
We have been married more than 20 years and I love him, but this haunts me every day. I am heartbroken, but I'm trying to make our marriage work. He never admitted to any of it and says nothing happened between them.
I don't know whether to keep on trying or leave him and hope to get on with my life. What's your advice? -- WOUNDED HEART IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR WOUNDED KNEE:
Wow, your husband really IS stupid. First of all-- why the hell would you buy jewelry for a stripper? All they want is money. Unless he bought her a pair of Swarovski crystal nipple rings. Oh, or an opalescent clit plug. Strippers just LOVE those things.
Second of all, I wouldn't be too sure that your stupid husband actually had an affair with a stripper. More likely he was just obsessed with one. I mean, you have to be able to get it up to have an affair, and I can't imagine a stripper in Oklahoma would waste her time on some noodle-doodled schlep like your husband. If a stripper's going to have an affair with a customer, she's going to pick someone with a little more panache, and some incredibly deep pockets. Otherwise-- what's the point? Unless this stripper was one of those toothless, forty-five-year-old wrecks shaking her pancakes on the 6am-6pm shift at some place called The Beaver Barn.
With regards to what you should do, well, I think you know what to do. And, after you hide the body I would strongly suggest starting your life over again. Since you will be on the run from the police, the first thing I would recommend is radical facial reconstruction surgery. I know a guy in Juarez-- if you want the info, just drop me G-chat.
Shaving your head is a must. Not only will it aid in appreciably altering your physical appearance, but it will be that liberating, I'm-a-lesbian-now statement that you need to make to free yourself from the bonds of an oppressive, unfortunate marriage.
After you've shacked up in a one room hovel with some black chick and lots of ferrets, become a cab driver in Argentina. Play folk ballads in random people's showers. Eat nothing but shoe leather. Adopt a porpoise. Write death threats to elderly, C-list celebrities. Become a forensic pathologist and make chandeliers out of cadaver ovaries.
And, as a special fuck-you to the past: strip, baby. Strip.
Please answer a question for me. Why do we fall in love with people who we absolutely, positively cannot have? -- HEARTBROKEN IN INDIANAPOLIS
I think this goes back to the ancient story of the tortoise and the hare. See, if you interpret this story correctly, the tortoise was a total queer. All he wanted to do was stick his nasty, green tongue inside of the hare's fuzzy little toothole. But the hare wasn't interested, being a hard-to-get, cock-blocking, straight-acting gay-boy. And so he was all like, "Oh, no! You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!" And the tortoise was all like, "Uuuuuuunnnnnggggghhhhhh!" And the hare was like, "Whatevs, I'm straight!" Even though he was so not. And so then the hare was like, "I'm going to totally tease that tortoisey motherfucker, and I'm going to fall asleep here by the side of the road on my back so my fuzzy gennies will stick straight up in the air and I'll be like all rollin' around on my back and shit and that tortoise will just have to admire me from afar and jerk it with a blade of grass up his butt." But, while the hare was asleep, the tortoise was all like, "Motherfucker, if I can't have you, nobody will!" and he pulled out a TEC-9 from underneath his shell and he murdered an innocent gang of field mice who were playing Four Square and the hare woke up at the sound of the gunfire and the little pathetic mousie squeals and he was all like, "JESUS CHRIST, TORTS, YOU CRAZY FAG, STOP SHOOTING! I'M GAY, TOO! LET'S DO IT! YOU CAN PITCH!" but it was too late and the tortoise turned the gun on himself and basically turned himself into soup. Which the hare ate, because that's how hares roll.
And that, friend, is why we fall in love with those whom we absolutely, positively cannot have. Thank you for asking.
I am a young, single mother of two girls. I work full time and I'm involved in my daughters' lives. I go to all their school functions, coach their soccer team, serve as the Cookie Mom for Girl Scouts and volunteer for anything else I can manage to squeeze into my schedule, but I have a hard time making friends with any other moms.
None of the other mothers wants to get to know me. I wait at the bus stop with my girls and the moms talk to each other, but not to me. I get a weird "vibe" from them, as if they think I'm too young to know anything. I try to join in, but it seems they really don't care for me.
I have friends my age, but they don't have children. I want friends who have families because they face the same kind of issues I do. What can I do to make these moms like me?
-- FRIEND-CHALLENGED IN CYPRESS, TEXAS
My, this is vexing for you, and perplexing for me. What could be the problem here? From the information contained in your thrilling letter, it would seem that you have lots in common with these other mothers-- you are all heavily involved in your children's activities like the obsessive, helicopter mothers that you are, you all live in the same neighborhood and have presumably the same socioeconomic status, and you obviously all have children the same age.
So... what could be the factor that is driving a wedge between you and these other veal cuntlettes?
Oh-- wait a minute! I think I've got it. Are they all hot? Are these the little mommies who drive around in Acura RDX's and wear shiny tennis bracelets and have incredibly tight bodies and do hot yoga and then shower together afterwards?
And are you... an obese redhead in elastic-waist pants with blotchy skin, dubious hygiene and at least one droopy eyelid?
See? That wasn't so hard. Most of these seemingly mysterious questions can be solved by a simple, 3-second glance in the mirror. I think we're done here.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
It doesn't happen often, but, after 468 posts, I guess it's easy to imagine how blogger's block happens from time to time. It usually happens when I blog in the early morning hours (I've gotten smart about writing at alternate times of day and scheduling posts to appear at 7:18am), before I have had coffee, and I sit in front of the computer screen with my mouth slightly agape and my brain sloshing around gently like a serving of rotten applesauce. I'll take a look through the local and national papers to see what there is to comment on, sometimes I check out 20something bloggers or Facebook to see if there is some fecund banality or fecal anality about which I might have something to say.
Sometimes, I'll just have breakfast with my father or get an email from my sister and the blog just writes itself.
The thing about blogger's block is that it's actually very helpful. It reminds you that your brain is not an endless source of creativity and witticisms, that, sometimes, it's perhaps a good idea to just shut the fuck up. Maybe blogger's block is like your stomach telling you that you're full after your eighth helping of mashed potatoes and gravy at Thanksgiving dinner.
Of course, shutting up (and not eating more mashed potatoes and gravy) is not something that's terribly easy for me to do. And so I tend to look at blogger's block in a slightly different way. When I get stumped about what to write about, when I'm not sure I can be funny or poignant, I take the quiet opportunity to remind myself that this blog is my opportunity to share perspectives with an audience, albeit a relatively small audience, to say something that may carry meaning or make a difference in how you view your day or the people in it. This is my opportunity, my only opportunity, really, to make some kind of a statement or a difference-- and why should I squander that chance by being silent for a day, just because I'm not sure I can string together a coherent thought?
I mean, that doesn't seem to stop most people.
As I was exploring topics on which to blog this morning, individually they didn't seem to particularly hold my interest, though, collectively, they did, and they kept bringing me back to a quote that I love very much, a quote that appears at the end of each of my emails, in the signature line.
"If they want inspidity, they shall have it."
Can you guess who said that, class?
If you glowingly smiled, raised your hand energetically, arching your back everso slightly so that your flimsy cotton t-shirt stretched just so over your taut bosom and answered "William Schwenck Gilbert" then, congratulations, dear! You're right! You get to see me after class.
* wink *
But, seriously, my little pervelettes, think about that little quote for a moment. That Gilbert was a sharp wit, an acerbic and cunning social commentator, and his pen hardly ever ceased over the course of his long life.
And I wonder-- if W. S. Gilbert had a blog today, would anybody read it? If he had been born in any other era, would he have been a successful librettist, or could he only have done what he did in Victorian England, and only with his famed, equally brilliant musical collaborator, Arthur Sullivan? What would he have been if he had emerged into adulthood in 2010?
Quite possibly, not very much. It's hard to imagine him staging kittens playing on playground equipment, filming the antics and putting them up on YouTube. But maybe that's what he would have been reduced to. Of course, maybe I'm wrong. Gilbert did love kittens.
I Can Haz Mikado?
If you take a moment to seriously consider what our lives are like today, where we seek our entertainment and what's being offered to us, the word "insipidity" cannot but help to intrude its ugly head into our brains. What have we become satisfied with as a culture? On Broadway, supposedly the epoch of innovation and serious talent, all we see are big name movie stars appearing in revivals or hyper-extended runs of whatever was successful five or ten years ago, or piss-poor take-offs and regurgitations of films and/or T.V. shows. "Addams Family" musical anyone? Just have Thing poke out my right eye, then rip my penis off and skull fuck me with it.
Reality television has, of course, been slowly killing us for years now, providing us with endless doses of insipidity before we're even able to digest and rid our bodies of yesterday's insipidity. It's making us more stupid, more shallow, more intensely disinterested in substance, and more deeply invested in something that never did and never will actually matter. It is insipidity of the highest order, and, apparently, we want it. The ratings, regrettably, don't lie.
This begs the question, of course-- do we want insipidity, or is that just all there is? And, if that's all there is, is that because it's what we want? I don't want to get too much egg all over my chicken here, but I don't really know what the answer is. Another question that I'm a little scared to ask is, is this blog offering anything different-- is it part of the problem or part of the solution? I'd like to think that, because there isn't a colonic full of YouTube clips of fat kids drumming on their desks and singing in falsetto or elderly ladies from the Midwest engaging in celery-carving competitions that maybe this blog is taking a stand against eye-candy and meaningless triviality but, really, I'm not so sure. Isn't it just another masturbatory self-exploration replete with vanity, unhelpful criticisms, profanity, obscenity, libelous slander (sorry, Meredith Vieira) and not-too-creative, mean-spirited modern snark? I'm certainly not out there in the public sphere creating great art. I'm sitting in my office at home wearing a hoodie and I haven't shaved yet today.
Or had coffee.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I may come off as an outrageously ungrateful schmeckdorff for saying this-- but cleaning up after your birthday is a real bitch. It's not just a cruel reminder that you won't be important to anyone of any consequence for another 360-or-so-odd days (and you'll never be as important as you were when you were thirty!!!) it's that when you receive something that's nice enough to require packing peanuts, well, you invariably end up having to clean up packing peanuts.
My mother-in-law bought me a coffee-maker for my birthday. And it's a very nice one, too. It's so nice, in point of fact, that it required packing peanuts. It's Japanese, as nice things often are, like luxury vehicles, cellists, hari-kari blades, and underage prostitutes.
I received this coffee-maker not because I asked for it, but because my mother-in-law decided I need it, because she decided that the one that I already had was defective or, at the very least, insufficient. I didn't see a problem with the old one-- it turned water and dirt specks into coffee and, as far as I'm concerned, that makes it a Jesusinart, but my mother-in-law was unimpressed with the results.
"If it's such a big deal to you," my wife helpfully suggested following one of her mother's rants on the subject, "you can buy him a new one for his birthday."
Dag, yo! Score one for the missus!
And so, a few days ago, a gigantic box arrived at our house, and I received instructions that said box was not to be opened until the thirtieth anniversary of my processional from my mother's vagina.
And so, on May 12th, it was done.
The new machine is black, whereas the old one was white. The new machine has a digital clock, whereas the old one had none. The new machine has six buttons, whereas the old machine had two toggle switches. The new machine makes very nice coffee. The old machine, well, made very nice coffee. Since I sweeten my coffee to the point where it more accurately resembles wet Fun-Dip, I'm not exactly a connoisseur of coffee, so, while the new coffee maker in all likelihood makes a better cup of coffee than the old one, I'm probably not one to say.
Let's just say, to make everybody happy, that it does. There? Are we all happy? Are we all friends again?
Today, I decided it was finally time to throw away the big goddamn box my new Japanese underage coffee-maker came in, tomorrow being trash-day for us suburbanites and all. Now, being alone in the house during this extravaganza, I tried to hold the box over an already over-filled trash bag in a lazy fuck's effort to dump all the packing peanuts into the bag.
Think that went well? Well, the upside is, if it had, there wouldn't have been anything to blog about. I might have had to write about the Thai red-shirt assholes or the fucking oil spill and, really, wouldn't you rather hear about me trying to dump an enormous load of packing peanuts into an already mostly-filled trash bag?
I just spent half-an-hour cleaning up wayward packing peanuts from the goddamn floor.
This is a task that is far more fun than it ordinarily would be when you have two dogs loose in the house, one who is a 9-month-old puppy who thinks that it's funny to eat packing peanuts when your back is turned, madly scooping up armfuls of packing peanuts, the other one who is almost thirteen years old and who stares at you with a look that says, "God, you're such a fucking asshole," in much the same way as an actual thirteen-year-old might look at you in precisely the same situation.
For an asthmatic battling what is probably the fucking whooping cough insanely trying to pick up armfuls of fluttering away packing peanuts before the puppy can eat them, it was quite a work-out. I realize that, on its face, it was a relatively simple clean-up operation but it felt more like doing battle with the Minotaur.
I'm completely fucking spent. And I hate packing peanuts. And I'm not even a goddamn environmentalist.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Why? Do you not have a conscience? Is your heart made of formica or polystyrene?
Probably. And, statistically speaking, you most likely have some form of herpes, too-- but that's okay. I don't mind. You're always welcomed here. You sick, sick little monkeyhumper, you.
Most people who aren't parents or teachers don't know that it's actually okay to lie to children. Well, that's a misapprehension that needs to be corrected posthaste, and, if it needs to be corrected on My Masonic Apron, then so be it.
Lying to children has many benefits, gentle readers, and it should be known that lying to children does not just benefit them, it will also enhance your life in ways you never thought possible.
The best lie you can possibly tell to a child is,
"Everything will be okay."
Now, as adults who have been face-fucked repeatedly by the angry, sweaty dick of the world, we know that this isn't true, but this knowledge should never, ever prevent us from propagating this statement to children with whom we come into contact. This lie is very handy as it is both all-encompassing and nebulous at the same time. No matter what a child is mindlessly fretting about, and endlessly prattling on about while obsessively rubbing a blankie or their own braces, you can pull out "Everything will be okay" and the child, unless undergoing deep psychoanalysis, will most likely shut the fuck up which, of course, is the desired effect.
"She budged in front of me in line."
"I'm scared of being confused for Kim Jong-Il from the back when I wear my tan Osh-Kosh overalls."
"Are you going to die, Mommy?"
"Why does that man in the overcoat stare at me while his pockets tremble?"
"What if I throw up on Grammaw's face when she kisses me?"
"What happened to my teddy's dickie-doo?"
"Does Daddy drink exclusively because of me?"
"Sometimes, when I go to the bathroom, I pretend I'm on a game-show."
The response to all of these pathetic, typical childhood whinings?
"Everything will be okay."
You must, must, must remember to use the word "okay." Because, really, what does the word "okay" mean? Not resulting in a death involving battery acid, epileptic chimpanzees and poisoned apple butter? Not spending twelve years in Catholic School? Not being breathed on by some guy named Melvin wearing a mold-colored sweater-vest? I mean, "okay" is just that-- it's okay. It's not fine, or not bad, or even "meh." It's just okay, and that's all kids need to know about the future.
And, really, it's almost not even a lie. Because, for most kids who have internet access and a debit card by the time they're sixteen, life will be okay. It won't be great, or even good, but it will be okay. Most of them will at least feel or will have gotten felt up before they get to college, most of them will also have broken a bone and/or have been called "retarded" by a peer or a teacher by that time, too, so it all balances out.
My mother always told me that everything was going to be okay. And, really, now that I'm thirty, it turns out that it was part lie, part truth. I own a house, I have a job, a wife, two dogs, a Volvo, and 182 followers, plus-or-minus. The other side of that spectrum is that I frequently experience shortness-of-breath, panic attacks, keeping up with the nosehair situation is almost like a part-time job, and sexual intercourse sometimes lasts about as long as a silent film from the early 1900s.
In short: life is, well, okay.
Another good lie to tell children is, "Wow, that's really interesting!" when they finally get done reciting some enervating anecdote to you. We all know it's bullshit-- really, what could a 10-year-old say to us that would be even mildly interesting? This is why 10-year-olds don't have blogs-- but I feel that this lie is the least you can do to reward a child for actually consescending to talk to you.
Most kids don't feel it's worth their time to communicate with anyone over the age of 22, and, by and large, they're right. I feel the same way.
Present company excluded, of course. Kisses.
An excellent and potentially life-saving lie to lay on kids is, "Those glasses look great on you!" While the aesthetic properties and proportions of children's eyewear have improved by leaps and bounds in the last thirty years, children will always look like fucking morons and social outcasts when they wear glasses. This is an unalterable fact. Nevertheless, if we do not encourage children to wear their medically-prescribed prescription eyewear, we run the risk of some hapless, farsighted child getting eviscerated while trying to feed a dog treat to a steroid-abusing Bavarian midget.
And I know you wouldn't want such devastation on that darling little conscience of yours.
Monday, May 17, 2010
"Oh, well, hold on a second," I said, fumbling nervously for a pair of antique, 1950's horn-rims that were in a supergeek eyeglasses case in my breast pocket. I took off my brown, plastic eyeglasses and put on the horn-rim sunglasses.
"Jesus Christ!" Nathan shouted, loud enough for half the dining hall to hear him, "He's even got the right fucking sunglasses! Has anybody ever told you you look exactly like Leon fucking Redbone? You must get that all the time!"
"Well," I said, deadpan, "maybe I would if I ever hung out with musicians. I don't think anybody I know knows who Leon Redbone is. Most people I know just tell me I look like Groucho Marx or a porn star from the '70s."
By the way, for those of you who are curious, this is famed and strange singer/performer/personality Leon (fucking) Redbone:
Aside from the little pussy-tickler on his chin, I have to say, it's a pretty dead ringer for my current likeness. I'm growing out the 'stache to play Captain Hook, mortal enemy of Peter Pan. And the sunglasses, well, they're my sunglasses.
"Nance," Nathan shouted to an obese, waddling woman ambling towards our table in the dining hall, clutching a plate of vegetarian baked beans in her plump little hand, "doesn't this guy look exactly like Leon fucking Redbone? He could win a Leon Redbone lookalike contest in a heartbeat! Now," he said to my wife and I, "please excuse me while I take a bite out of my hog's anus here." As promised, he lustily sank his Canadian teeth into his bratwurst.
And that, pretty much, concluded my introduction to Nathan Rogers, one of the Canadian folk-music scene's emerging stars, so say I. There were some jokes about haggis and how many transcendentalists midgets does it take to turn on a lightbulb, which I mostly just smiled at wanly-- not really my kind of humor.
Meeting celebrities (I doubt that's how he would refer to himself) is funny. It's a situation fraught with such tension and awkwardness-- for both the apathetic celebrity and the admiring dolt-- that I can't imagine it ever goes particularly well for either party. Even celebrities fuck up meeting higher caliber celebrities. Take Carol Burnett, for instance. When she was introduced to Cary Grant for the first time at a party, she almost had a panic attack, tried to leave the party with her husband before Grant could approach her, and then she ended up blurting out, "You're a credit to your profession."
"Why couldn't the floor have opened up under me?" she mused in her charming autobiography. Well, because then we wouldn't have had this time together, Carol.
In honor of Carol Burnett, I almost shook Nathan Rogers' hand and said, "You're a credit to your profession," but I couldn't even think quickly enough to intentionally embarrass myself before he launched into his enthusiastic and very loud Leon Redbone monologue in the dining hall of the Northern New Jersey Folk Project. This was my wife's surprise 30th birthday present to me. Finally getting me to see Nathan Rogers, who mostly performs in Canada. Finally surrounding me for an entire day in the music I've loved for over fifteen years. Finally getting me to... play my banjo in public.
"Your banjo is in the trunk," she said to me after I'd put the car into Park at the festival's campground."
My toes immediately curled up inside my shoes and I felt my bowels try to release.
"The festival organizers told me to bring your banjo, that there were all kinds of workshops here and jams and stuff."
I squirmed around in the driver's seat like a child who has just been told it's time to kiss Nana and thank her for the hand-embroidered vole sweater.
"No. I can't. My banjo is retarded," I protested.
"Okay, okay," my long-suffering wife said, rolling her eyes. "You don't have to play it, but you at least have to take it out of the car, it's too hot to leave it in the car all day."
"Deal," I said. "But I don't want to play with anybody, and I don't want to talk to anybody, especially Nathan Rogers," I said firmly. "I just want to be here, go to the workshops, sit in the back, and listen to the music."
"That sounds like lots of fun," my wife said, smiling.
And so I took the banjo out of the car, slinging its case over my shoulder and we walked to the sign-in table, milling around with a bunch of thoroughly odd looking hippies with stringy, long hair, no shoes on, varying degrees of Asperger's Syndrome, incredible facial hair (the men, mostly) and a startling array of socially inappropriate clothing.
One of the festival's organizers greeted us enthusiastically-- she had exchanged several covert emails with my wife.
"Sir," she said to me as I hid my banjo in between a guitar and a mandolin on the floor of the dining hall, under a table, far out of sight, "would you mind filling out your name tag while I have a quick word with your wife?"
I was immediately filled with another strong desire to defecate. I knew exactly what was going on instantly, but I wandered over to the table with the little stickers and the Sharpie markers, and dutifully filled out my name, inserting the phrase, "My Banjo is Defective, Not Me" in between my first and last name.
My wife came over to me after a minute or two.
"If Nathan Rogers sings 'Happy Birthday' to me at one of these workshops," I said calmly, rationally, and slowly, holding my wife gently by the shoulders, "I will have to kill you."
"No, it's okay, I told her you would absolutely not want that."
Once I stopped being an insufferable baby, it was a wonderful day. We went to engaging, exciting workshops. Nathan Rogers taught us Tuvan throat-singing, which sounds like what Tom Waits would sound like if he had swallowed a toad with throat cancer. During the last workshop of the day, Nathan led a singalong where he sang "Arthur McBride & the Sergeant," an old Paul Brady tune that is one of my favorites, and my wife and I were the only ones in the room besides Nathan who knew the whole song-- all eight-ish minutes of it. He sang a few songs that his late, great father, Stan made famous, and he concluded with what is arguably his father's most famous song, "Northwest Passage," and the whole room passionately sang along, some people even standing in honor of Nathan's dad, who passed away when Nathan was only three.
And, in between workshops, my wife and I sat outside in the gorgeous sunshine, far, far away from anybody else. I took my banjo out of its case, tuned it for probably fifteen minutes (Nathan: Q: "How long does it take to tune a banjo?" A: "It's never been done yet.") and I played.
Not like Leon, of course. But I played-- for my wife-- the only audience and the only fan I'll ever need.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
The death occured Friday, May 14th, on a New York City Street which was roped off with police tape and marked with film permit signs taped to telephone poles. Police officers at the scene, too distraught over the possible loss of their Actors Equity and Screen Actors Guild Cards, would not comment on the record about the loss. One of them spoke under the condition of anonymity.
"This fucking sucks! How am I supposed to audition for 'Jersey Boys' without a L & O credit after my name? I'll be the only asshole there without one!"
Born in 1990, "Law & Order" lead an exciting existence in a bizarre, fantastical world where every person in a leather jacket is a thug, a New York City police officer fires his gun every day, and Ice-T is considered an actor. It is also a world where people routinely open fire in courtrooms and swear without actually swearing.
Even in its infancy, Gilbert & Sullivan-esque topsy-turvy plot twists were the order of the day for this imaginative show, featuring a mix of wry humor, comical sexual tension, and submental dialogue. The show also introduced to the greater civilian populous the notion that Jews could actually become police officers, an idea propogated by the existence of Richard "The Belz" Belzer.
Way to strike a blow for the Heebees, Belz.
Just when it seemed like Jerry Orbach would never work another day in his life after "The Fantasticks" finally closed after its 4,324,922 performance, "Law & Order" was there to give his career another shot of Thorazine. If watching an elderly man whose face resembled that of Mr. Ed chasing around leather-jacket-wearing unshaven felons down fire-escapes while wearing adult diapers is your cup of tea, then "Law & Order" was the pot that might contain such tea, were you in the mood for that cup of tea at the particular time that a Jerry Orbach episode of "Law & Order" was on any number of 16 stations.
Indeed, the show will be sorely missed for the acting dumping ground that it was by every emaciated, cocaine-addicted, syphillis-carrying ex-theatre major living with eight other knucklefuckers in a leaky apartment in Hoboken. Now, all they have to look forward to is an embarrassing eleven seconds on "American Idol" or getting salad dressing poured into their gaping assholes on the floor of an apartment owned by some obese guy named Genaro who's only wearing a KKK mask and holding a Flip video camera in his right hand and a molasses-slathered pair of French Ticklers in his left.
Truly, without "Law & Order" the world has been diminished. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to "Oh, My God, Stabler's Been Shot in the Shoulder Again" Fund, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit entity.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
.... a cult? (More likely, and getting warmer, too.)
.... a woman's book club? (Like I said, only if I'm allowed to come in drag with impossibly huge breasticles and give pictures of Oprah a Dirty Sanchez.)
.... Alcoholics Anonymous? (They would appreciate my style of humor, I think.)
.... a militia? (No, I like the gub'mint [mostly] and the po-leece [mostly], plus, I've never even fired a gun. I did disassemble and reassemble one once-- but not blindfolded, which is good, because the firing pin probably would have ended up inside my penis-hole.)
.... an I Love My Volvo auto club? (No. I do love my Volvo. But I hate paying membership dues. It's why I gave up my membership to public radio, the Dukes of Hazzard fan club, Hypochondriacs of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and being Jewish.
No, I joined Thirty-Something Bloggers.
It's funny, I wasn't terribly depressed about turning thirty (those of you who read my May 12th blog post may disagree with that statement) but joining Thirty-Something Bloggers definitely made me briefly ponder turning an old pair of boxer shorts into a noose or just something I could attempt to swallow whole and try to wash down with a quart of Dran-o.
Maybe it's just because I have a rackety cough today, or because there isn't enough sugar in my coffee and I'm too lazy to go downstairs to the kitchen to put more in, or because the eczema on my inner-thigh is making a visit to pornhub.com seem decidedly unappealing, but I'm just in a terrible funk about my association with Thirty-Something Bloggers.
Not the people, and their avatars and their pseudonyms, but the site.
Now, it's probably considered poor taste to bash a site representing a group you've just joined, but you know me well enough by now. I have no etiquette. You should have seen me eat a whole lobster for the first time. Forget about a bib-- two thirds of the restaurant should have been under a Gallagher-style tarp.
We won't even discuss the first time I tried to pee standing up in an airplane bathroom. For the sake of the children. And the twenty-somethings.
I suppose what's most disappointing about Thirty-Something Bloggers is the fact that it is completely inundated with Spam. The webmaster says that this problem is being addressed, but I'm not so sure.
Want a sampling of titles of "Latest Blog Posts" by members of this site?
"Buy Cheapest Bar aspirin - Order Now Aspirin Online Without Prescription Discount Free Shipping"
and let's not forget the scintillating and snarky
"Order Now - Tramadol 100mg - Buy Tramadol Online Without Prescription"
The forum? Oh, it's jumpin' like the frog from fucking Calaveras County with engaging discussions on Duprost (Saturday delivery), Ponstel (FedEX'd to your door), and cheap Earwash dog (of course, no prescription needed).
For the hell of it, because, really, I have nothing better to do with my life than complain about how far away the sugar bowl is from my coffee cup, I looked up some of these drugs. Obviously, I didn't check out Earwash dog, because it's use is pretty self-explanatory, if not dyslexic.
Duprost, for those of you who are not in the know, is the easily pronounceable name for Dutasteride, and it's used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. Oh, and hair-loss.
Ah, 30-somethings. Going downhill already, are we?
Tramadol treats pain associated with made up psycho-emotional disorders that 30-somethings, apparently, pretend are actual physical symptoms which they then use as excuses to call out from work, stay home under a blanket reading Nicholas Sparks books and take drugs laced with codeine.
Then, there's Ponstel. Used to treat pain associated with PMS. 'Nuff said. I don't want to lose all my female readers. I mean, all my readers.
I don't, however, have the slightest idea as to what "Bar aspirin" is. At first I thought it must be utilized by people to combat chronic hangovers gained from repeated visits with Captain Morgan. Then I realized it must be for the guy who walks into the bar.
I can't bring myself to rescind my membership to Twenty-Something Bloggers. No doubt the hopeless slackasses who run that site won't notice I'm still there, what with their 12,000+ members and all, rabidly fornicating like the attention-whores that they are, pining for the next comment, the next bit of validation, the next snark-filled remark.
God, I miss you. Somebody get me some fucking Ponstel.
Friday, May 14, 2010
I'll fix that, with a dose of...
I have been married 19 years to a beautiful, accomplished woman. We have two wonderful children. I fooled around throughout my marriage because I could. I justified it by telling myself the women knew what they were doing, and I never made any false promises about leaving my wife. She suspected a couple of times, but always gave me the benefit of the doubt.
My last affair ended publicly with every gory detail exposed. My family, work, reputation -- everything that mattered to me -- have been destroyed. I can't talk about any of it to a therapist because I am so ashamed. Friends, family and co-workers now shun me. I have hit rock bottom.
If you have a hopeful solution, please share it. Otherwise, please print this as a warning to other men like me that when they hit bottom -- as will surely happen -- there's nowhere to turn. I want to end my life. -- SHATTERED IN LOUISIANA
So, was one of the chicks Indian? If so, that's pretty hot. Did you ever happen to film yourselves-- you know-- doing it? If so, and the position of choice was reverse cowgirl, well, you know how to get in touch with me. And I suggest you do.
Before you kill yourself, of course.
My mother and I rarely get along -- mainly because she thinks she's fabulous and I don't. I'm in my 30s, married with a child and have a career. I am tired of riding an emotional roller coaster with Mother.
She is planning her next visit and I don't want her to come. Her visits end up lasting a week or more, and her conversation consists of complaining, making snide comments about my house and how I am raising my child (under the guise of being "helpful"), and then whining because I don't have the time or desire to entertain or placate her.
Can you tell me how to tell her that visits to my house are no longer welcomed? -- DONE WITH THE DRAMA
DEAR DONE WITH THE DRAMA:
Before I address this terribly boring situation with your mother, I feel compelled to address your regrettable grammar.
"My mother and I rarely get along -- mainly because she thinks she's fabulous and I don't."
"...and I don't" what, dear?
Don't drink-and-drive? Don't support the clubbing of baby lemurs? Don't pay your bills electronically? Don't wear Catholic support hose? Or is that that you don't think someone/something is fabulous?
Whom, might I ask, don't you think is fabulous? Do you not think your mother is fabulous, or do you think that you yourself are not fabulous? This ambiguous sentence structure leaves me wondering... wondering, like, who your sixth grade English teacher was, where she might live, and what color, make and model car she drives to that, the next time I see her tooling around in it I make sure to unleash a torrent of steaming, asparagus-scented pee on it.
Now, regarding your complaints about your mother-- I don't know what to tell you. Making snide comments, telling you how to raise your kids-- this is what mothers do. Some day, you'll do it to your own annoying brat, and the poor, hapless kid will write in to this or some other advice column, no doubt in even more reprehensible grammar, to complain about your sorry, leathery ass.
Don't want your mother hanging around your house? Next time she rings the doorbell, open the door and kick her right in the pussy.
I recently took my daughter to an "open house" at our local college. My daughter refuses to ask questions, so I started asking about credit hours, finances, scholarships, etc.
A few people were not happy that I was there. I was told that I was what they referred to as a "hovering" parent and I needed to let her attend the open house on her own. I told them -- very politely -- that because I was paying for her education, I wanted to know what I was getting for my money. I told them if I was going to buy her a car, I feel I'd have the right to test drive it first to make sure it was worth the money.
Should I have left her there on her own and hoped everything turned out OK? I know kids need to grow up and make their own mistakes, but if they do it with my money, they won't learn because it would cost them nothing. Do you think I was out of line? -- QUESTIONING DAD IN ARIZONA
OH, YOU'RE THE DAD?!
Wow. From reading this letter, I could have sworn you were some middle-aged woman from Omaha with '80s hair, a paunch, big glasses and mom-jeans. Yeah, I'll bet you're a "questioning dad" alright.
You and your logic pretty much suck. You're paying for college, so you want to know what you're getting? You're getting your daughter a college education, probably at least one STD, and a lot of unused lunches on her mealplan.
And, if you were buying her a car (which you probably didn't, you skinflint) you'd want to test-drive it to make sure it was "worth the money?" Jeez-- I hope you don't take your daughter to Victoria's Secret to buy her underwear, too. From the picture I'm getting of you, though, you probably do.
Gross, dude. Fucking gross.
Here's a new one for you. A group of friends and I are frequent customers on some of the home shopping channels. When we buy jewelry it arrives in a gift case or box. We hate to throw them away. Any ideas on how we can donate or recycle those gift boxes? -- DIANA IN LAKEWOOD, CALIF.
Here's a new one for you: you're wasting your lousy pension buying shit costume jewelry. Why don't you save all of those boxes, glue them together, and then you and your crusty old friends can live in the little box fort when your home is repossessed after you default on your mortgage because you gave all your fucking money to QVC.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
This one, well, isn't.
It's the 25th anniversary of MOVE today, and, if you don't know what that means, well, you're in for a real treat. I don't think the Philadelphia Tourism Board will be sending me any thank-you letters for this one.
(Though, really, Philly is more fun when you sleep over-- and we have a spare bedroom and an air-mattress!)
All major cities, I feel, have some sort of negative past association. New York City, of course, will forever be dismally associated with 9/11. Dallas will always be known as the city where we lost our coolest, (pre-Obama) president. And lots of people can't spell Cheyenne right, which is annoying.
And Philadelphia? Well, we're just the only city in the United States of America ever to drop a bomb on its own people.
On May 13th, 1985, after a stand-off between the Philadelphia Police Department and members of MOVE, often described as a "radical, back-to-nature cult," after a fire-fight that lasted hours and during which MOVE members and Philadelphia police officers exchanged thousands of rounds of ammunition, the decision was made to fly a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter over the scene, and drop a 4-pound bomb on top of the West Philadelphia rowhouse in which MOVE members had barricaded themselves.
6221 Osage Avenue. Gone. Burned to the ground. Obliterated. Oh, along with 61 other homes.
6 adults were killed, including MOVE founder, John Africa. 5 children perished. One adult and one child made it out alive.
And the City of Philadelphia received a black eye that calls out to the world still today, as a reminder of its stupidity, its brutality, it's recklessness, and its thorough dishonor.
Of course, to understand how things came to this, it's necessary to step back into even further history. Before MOVE inhabited its doomed dwelling at 6221 Osage Avenue, they lived in another West Philadelphia home in the Powelton Village section of the city. Because they eschewed everything that had to do with government, science, and medicine, their lifestyle was not exactly conducive to city living.
Their children ran around naked and defecated wherever they could. Dozens of stray dogs lived in the MOVE compound and did likewise with their bowel movements, and the dogs feasted on raw meat supplied by MOVE members. Trash was not collected and was piled high. Because MOVE did not believe in harming any of nature's creatures, rats and cockroaches flourished and began to infest the neighbors homes. Neighbors got pissed, and this drew the attention of the Philadelphia Police Department, who staged what was essentially a one-year standoff, with a constant police presence around the compound.
MOVE, not to be outdone, set up public address systems and unleashed profanity-laced tirades directed at city government, the neighbors, and, of course, the police. Death-threats were commonplace. MOVE members, well armed, barricaded the front of the house with wooden plank structures. Finally, warrants were issued for violations against city ordinances and a court order to vacate the residence was issued. This was all announced by the police, and MOVE ignored the order, refusing to leave. A bulldozer was brought in to clear the wooden structure in front of the house and police moved into position to take the house when MOVE opened fire.
"Oh my God, they shot a cop!" a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter covering the scene screamed into the phone to her editor. When the shooting stopped, Philadelphia Police Officer James Ramp, 52, a survivor of World War II and the Korean War, lay dead. Seven other police officers, four firefighters, and three bystanders were shot down in the street. Three MOVE members were also shot, and nine MOVE members were arrested. All were charged with 3rd degree murder in Ramp's death. One member died in prison, and now, the parole hearings for the MOVE 8 occur yearly.
In 1981, MOVE moved to 6221 Osage Avenue. After months and months of complaints by their new neighbors about the 24-hour loudspeaker preaches that included "FUCK THE MAYOR!" and "FUCK THE POLICE," and more feces and more stray animals, and more disease-spreading bacteria and filth, the police came again.
As move survivor Ramona Africa defiantly said in a recent interview, "They came to our house with guns strapped on ready to do murder."
Whether the Philadelphia Police Department came do do "murder" is a matter for debate-- but one thing is for sure: this time, they came ready for what MOVE promised: war.
"We will kill any cop who sets foot on our property!" they shouted through the loudspeakers, also stating that the police on the scene should tell their wives goodbye and make sure their insurance policies were paid up, "cuz you ain't goin' home."
With memories of 1978 and James Ramp coughing up blood in their arms, they had every reason to believe MOVE.
The Philadelphia Fire Department used two high-powered water cannons to try to dislodge a wooden and steel structure on the roof of 6221 Osage, which police feared might be a bunker containing MOVE members with guns who could pick off police from above. They poured a deluge of water on thes structure for over an hour, but could not successfully dislodge it. On the ground, while tear-gas was being lobbed into the house, members of the Philadelphia Police Department Stakeout squad entered the rowhome directly next to MOVE's house and attempted to blow a hole in the wall using explosives so that they could insert a pepper fogger (a device to immobilize MOVE members and make for a safe tactical entry into the house) but they could not successfully blast through the wall. And then the shooting started.
To avoid being shot to death, three Philadelphia police officers hid in a small, cramped closet together next door to the MOVE home, barely with room to breathe. Meanwhile, in the MOVE home, members were soaking blankets and hiding under them, to keep from being affected by the tear gas.
And that's when the decision was made to drop the bomb.
The Police Commissioner said that the Fire Commissioner told him his men would be able to control the ensuing blaze. The Fire Commissioner said that he claimed there was no way of knowing. The City Manager said. The Mayor said. They all said. And, those who are still living, say on.
Whatever you say, it doesn't change the fact that eleven lives were lost in one of the most horrific, barbaric events ever to occur in this or any supposedly civilized society. The Philadelphia Police Department's relations with the black community were irrevocably damaged, in spite of the fact that Philadelphia Police Officer James Berghaier risked his own death to go out, completely in the open and in the midst of heavy gunfire, to rescue little Birdie Africa, the only child survivor of the MOVE blaze.
MOVE destroyed Berghaier's police career, and his marriage, and he spent time in a psychiatric institution. One of the largely unknown casualties of MOVE.
Everybody in Philadelphia has a different opinion about MOVE, and being Philadelphians, they're not shy about sharing their opinions with you, if you want to hear them or not. And I suppose I'm no different.
"The cops were animals-- butchers."
"Those MOVE people had it coming."
"It was the shame of the city."
"MOVE got what they asked for."
Me? I don't know what I think. I think MOVE was begging for a confrontation, but did they get what they asked for? No. Nobody asks to be bombed. I think the police had a very lousy plan. In theory, to pepper-fogger and tear gas the basement and the second floor, to force MOVE to come out the front on the main floor sounds like a good idea on paper, but, in reality, well, it was a disaster of virtually unbelievable proportions.
Watching the hearings, watching Mayor Goode and Police Commissioner Sambor defend the decision to drop the bomb-- well, how can you stomach watching someone defend the decision to drop a bomb on a residence containing children? And how can you just let it burn, destroying almost a whole neighborhood?
But then you remember 1978-- four firefighters shot down. How do you let them near the fire? How do you make that call? How do you just send a team of cops through the front door like they're delivering the milk when there are people with stockpiles of guns inside?
How do you do MOVE differently?
And the answer is, of course, you can't. All you can do is sit and shake your head and live with the knowledge that, twenty-five years ago today, we bombed on our own people. All we can do is ask you to pray for us-- for our sins, for our frailties, for our failures.
And, when you meet us, try not to stare at our black eye. It still hurts.