Sorry about the Anna Marathon. After this I'll shut up and someone else can take the stage.
When choosing a college major it's important to consider the impact on your sex life. Guys who choose such fields as engineering, computer science or (as in my case) forestry will enjoy few opportunities to hit on classmates; just as girls who choose to major in English Lit won't meet many straight guys.
My forestry class was about 70% male and the women looked like they should reside under a bridge. Therefore my carnal life consisted mainly of choking the chicken.
There was one exception named Linda, who I met at a party. It was awkward because she was 5'9" and I'm 5'6". I played Barney Rubble to her Betty, Napoleon to her Josephine. To bridge the gap I'd wear boots and she'd wear flats. She'd walk around with that compensatory hunched-shoulder posture so common among gangly gals who lack self-confidence.
I spent a couple weeks at her parents' house. I remember how silly it seemed that I had to stay in their guest room. Every night she'd join me and scurry back to her room before sunup. I recall a mishap on a raft in my parents' pool. And that is it. The relationship didn't so much sour as fizzle out due to lack of interest, much like Michael Jackson's career.
I never gave Linda a second thought after graduation. Dad was dying and greedy developers were poised to raze his landmark restaurant once he'd drawn his last breath. Whore Hey was on trial for CCE, facing life. I myself faced DWI charges. It was a stressful time. I'm at the restaurant sipping beers as an infant sips breast milk.
The hostess tells me I have a call. It's her. She's in town and wants to get together. She claims she's never stopped thinking about me for all those years. Now even if I hadn't been happily married the last thing I wanted to do was rekindle our Mutt and Jeff relationship. So I tell her about my lovely wife and that was that. Well, almost. She forlornly asks if my marriage is a happy one, as though if it weren't we could still hook up on the sly. That was one of the most pathetic things I'd ever heard, and I told her so. She hangs up sobbing.
While she was a study in nonchalance, you just know it was one of those indecisive deals where you dial the number and quickly hang up. Said hostess confirmed my suspicions. There had been some telltale dial tone calls prior to this one. Much ado over nothing, I thought.
By way of contrast, I had what I thought was a pretty intense relationship with a girl who owned a two-seater sports car. A friend of ours was driving it and she was perched on my lap. Out of nowhere she says she wants him and starts kissing him on the mouth at a stoplight. Horns blared and I bailed.
I impart these woeful tales not just to make you cringe but because they illustrates a point. Most of us have three categories of past relationships: Long-forgotten trysts, vaguely recalled ones as the one with Linda and those we wistfully view as the one that got away. In the case of the latter, it's doubtful the person could pick you out of a police lineup full of dwarves and you.
Why it is that something so trivial to one person could mean so much to another remains one of life's little mysteries. Or does it?
"We don't get fooled again!" --- George W. Bush.
On Tuesday a monumental event will transpire. Few will notice, fewer still will care. Read on to find out what it's all about.
In 1999, Bill Clinton waged a bloodless (no combat-related casualties on our side Yay!) war against regional bully Serbia and its strongman president Slobo Dan Milosevic. The new government wasted no time in turning Slobo Dan over to world authorities. A special tribunal was created just for him.
His trial began in February 2002. It began with his 18 hour marathon of an opening statement; in which he showed Dream Works-quality videos, ranted, raved and in general denounced the august proceeding as a blatant sham. Despite numerous delays in part due to Slobo Dan's roiling blood pressure, hi jinks and stalling tactics, it continues to this day. It resumes Tuesday, after world-appointed doctors gave him a clean bill of health. You can follow it here. Or you could travel to Serbia and turn on the TV. It is one of the highest rated shows there.
Compared to this endless ordeal, the OJ trial was like contesting a parking ticket. While the World Court doesn't mete out death sentences yet, those same doctors have expressed fears that the frail but dapper Dan might literally be "tried to death."
During this time Dan has run for and easily won a seat in Serbia's Parliament. He has also gained support among the citizens of his nation. More and more people believe he's being railroaded. He is.
The thrust of Dan's argument is that the World Court has no legal jurisdiction over him. He claims to be a citizen and the duly elected leader of a sovereign nation, just as Sad Am did when they fished his scruffy ass out of that spider hole. And folks, he is 100% correct.
I loathe the whole idea of being a world citizen. I dwell in mortal fear that any day now, shadowy world cops will barge into my home and haul me off to The Hague to face some trumped-up charges of war crimes or genocide or something. They will make me pay a world fine to further line their coffers. Then they will throw me into their world jail and throw away the key. I might as well be a W-designated enemy combatant thrown into a legal black hole, for all the recourse I'd have. I mean, to whom do you appeal once convicted by this kangaroo court---God?---Galactic Court---OJ?
Think I'm kidding? This phony court once issued a stern edict condemning Arizona for whacking two German muderers without first consulting with their consulate. A lot of good it did them though. Ha!
GODDAMIT, ONCE AND FOR ALL, I AM ONLY AN AMERICAN CITIZEN. I AM NOT A CITIZEN OF THE STUPID WORLD. HOITY-TOITY WORLD COURT, BENIGHTED NATIONS AND ALL THE REST OF YOU CAN KISS MY ASS. WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, KISS SLOBO DAN'S TOO. AND STOP TAKING UP VALUABLE MANHATTAN REAL ESTATE.
Isn't it strange how the people with the least are always clamoring for a shared world, a communal brotherhood of man governed by one set of universal rules?
This summer I've had the pleasure of spending a week each in the two premier beach resorts in the mid-Atlantic seaboard, Outer Banks NC and Wildwood NJ. Thus I'm in a position to bring you a blatantly generalistic critique of both populations.
The southern parents were laid back with their kids, mostly. Occasionally they will slap them cross the face but most seemed pretty lax. The little rug rats are allowed to run wild and get underfoot. This is most annoying. Northern parents are constantly badgering their kids about what seems to be inconsequential tings like not running in traffic.
Northern men are hairier, like apes with stubble up and down their arms and backs. Both have tatoos, but the northern men seem to prefer more tasteful ones. You rarely see any NASCAR or cigarette references in northern guys' tatoos.
The northerners seem like they're having trouble letting go. I saw this one guy pretending to play shuffleboard with his son while jabbering on a cell about some project at work. The kid was all ecstatic about scoring a ten and his dad didn't even see it. He was wearing one of those short sleeve shirts with a collar. Never wear those at a beach resort.
Everyone in NJ is born middle-aged. Everyone in North Carolina appears bent on a lifetime childhood.
There are pretty women in both places, but not nearly as many as there used to be. Also, it's a different brand of pretty. The southern gals are cute in an unassuming, girl-next-door kind of way. The NJ/Philly gals seem like they aspire to some sophisticated, New York kind of beauty, with wildly uneven results. A steady diet of pasta doesn't lend one to teetering about on suicide heels.
The people in the South are all pretty conservative and likely to vote for Bush. The people in the North are all pretty liberal and likely to vote for Kerry.
Oddly, the northerners had better developed, richer tans and overall, better physiques in general. They seemed to say a lot of things about gyms and grams of carbs. The southerners smoked. And smoked some more. It is legal to smoke while you pump gas in North Carolina and everybody does.
So it's set. This coming Tuesday, I pack as many of my worldly belongings into my little Civic as will fit and head out West. Still looking for a job, but I have a place to live, so that's good.
I'm terrified. Stark, raving, shaking, terrified. I'm not too sure if it's moving to a new place and starting a new life, or just having to grow up. I mean, now I leave school behind and actually enter the real world. Now I'm no longer a "college student," cradled in the sheltering bosom of academia, but forced to endure the harsh realities of Life.
I'm driving from Waterloo, IA, to Lawrence, KS , where I'll be hanging out with a friend for a day or so, then on through Denver, I think, to Los Angeles. If anyone wants to meet for coffee on the road, let me know.
Wish me luck.
I've been hearing a lot of noise about John Kerry's criticism of the Vietnam War, and I have to admit that even after hitting myself repeatedly in the forehead with a mallet I don't understand what the fuss is about. Are there still people in this country who believe that the Vietnam War was a good idea? Let's make a little tally:
Number of US Troops Killed: 47,378
Number of South Vietnamese Troops Killed: 223,748
Number of Communist Troops Killed: 1.1 million
Number of Vietnamese Civilians Killed: 4 million (approx 13% of the population)
Other Countries Destabilized: 2
Number of Civilians Dead in Those Countries: unknown, estimates range from .5 million to 1 million
Number of Democracies Preserved: 0
Number of Democracies to Begin With: 0
Ok, so lots of us got killed, millions of other people, both soldiers and civilians, got killed, and we succeeded in ... what? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We supported the bad guys in a popular revolt, ignored the advice of every single one of our allies, and got our heads handed to us by a third-world country.
Why are we still arguing about this? The Vietnam War was an incredibly bad idea, perpetrated by blind old men who couldn't admit that they were wrong. John Kerry was RIGHT to criticize our participation in that mess, and if he played a part in embarassing our government enough to pull out, then bully for him. And more to the point: he wasn't some hippy talking about peace and love. He actually went there, and when he came home he wasn't talking in hypotheticals, he was bearing witness.
This is 2004, and we still don't understand one very important thing: it's the right and the duty of a citizen in a democracy to let our elected leaders know when they're doing something stupid, and to yell louder if they're not listening. You're not a traitor for objecting to idiocy, and in this country the president isn't a king who is above answering for his actions. He is first only among equals, and we have no duty to follow him to ruin.
When I was a youngster I lived in a neighborhood with a group of kids that happened to all be around the same age. We used to play whatever sport was in season which, to us, meant football and baseball. Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring we were out playing until dark or sometimes after. The after dark times would usually be broken up by one Mother or another shrieking at the top of her lungs for her child to get home or face the God of all punishments, grounding. All of us, as a collective, would have taken a whipping rather than the drawn out agony of being grounded. Whatís my point? Well, Iím not too sure yet but I think it hinges on how different kids are today.
When visiting my nephews, I notice a lack of outdoor activities until my sister kicks the kids outside to play. Hell, you used to have to threaten us with punishment to get us to come inside. The X-Box, Playstation, and the like have taken over our youth. We had Pong, Atari and such but those were games to be played when the weather didnít permit outdoor activities. Now, I watch my nephews wasting perfectly good days sitting in front of a TV playing video games. Have I become an old fart? Maybe, but it just doesnít seem right in some way. It could be the generation gap but the things I did as a kid and the things my Father did as a kid arenít that different. Sure he had to milk cows, herd chickens, and walk to school uphill both ways before he could go out and play but the activities, once gotten to, werenít much different than the ones my friends and I enjoyed. Tennis ball, whiffle ball, (both variations of baseball minus broken windows), baseball, football, smear the queer, hide and seek, war, kick the can were all activities my Dad and I both played during our youth. If it doesnít involve a controller, game system and a TV most kids today arenít sure what to do with it.
I have also noticed another thing. My Dad has coached little league baseball since I started playing, twenty six years all told. My coach quit one day so I asked my Dad to coach the team and he accepted. Games, when I played, were fiercely competitive and we took things very seriously. There were bragging rites at school and which girls were going to go out with the star players to consider. I went to help my Dad coach a couple of times this past summer and couldnít have been more disappointed. It seemed to me that there were, maybe, two kids who really wanted to be there and play but the rest couldíve cared less. They were more concerned whether their swings looked like Derek Jeterís, on one video game or another, than whether they even made contact with the ball in reality. I even caught one kid, while playing the infield, practicing that Derek Jeter swing during a game. Has youth baseball fallen to this level of mediocrity during the years between my youth and the present? It seems so. And whatís up with the lack of chatter during the opposing teamís at bat? Those kids hardly made a sound during opposing at bats. I remember, when I played, that opposing batters would have trouble hearing their coaches over our chatter. I guess Iíll just have to face it. I have become an old, outdated relic. I can still break-dance and pull off a mean worm though so there, take that you young bastards.
Our travel plans got scuttled, so here I am with some sage advice for the lovelorn among you.
When asked why he robbed banks, John Dillinger said, "Because that's where the money is." Since his heyday was in the Great Depression, when everybody but the Rockefellers was broke, this was truer than ever. What does this have to do with hooking up? Well, the bank is also the place to go to find potential sex partners.
Think about your bank teller. He/she speaks English, a definite plus these days. Most likely they're young and single, as teller is an entry level job. Many are attractive and friendly, if only in that perfunctory, mouth-only smile way that companies expect of their employees who interact with the public. (I prefer flippant and disinterested, but that's another story.) And you can slip them pieces of paper without it seeming too odd or junior high schoolish.
So here's what you do. Hit up a friend or parent with money. Get them to give you a large chunk of it and promise to pay it back in a week. If necessary give them collateral. Deposit all of it in your checking account. Keep an eye on the bank until the teller of your fancy is on duty. March right in and fill out a withdrawal slip. Attach your business card with some kind of catchy come-on phrase. Behold them intently as they pull up your account and their eyes light up. Watch their initial skepticism about dating you melt into total willingness as they realize that you're not only rich but so carefree you leave large sums of money in your checking account rather than in the stock market or bonds.
Works like a charm. Every time. Though you do have to avoid the friend or relative after you've squandered all their money lavishing gifts upon your new teller-pal. Materialistic people can be very demanding that way.
I think everyone here feels the same way about Iranian judo champ Arash Miresmaeili backing out of his match with an Israeli opponent: totally bogus. Not only did he back out, but he escaped the punishment generally meted out to athletes who choose the Olympics to make political statements because he was, ahem, too overweight to compete.
It seems that Iran backs out of EVERY international athletic match that requires that they compete against the Israelis. The Iranians portray this as some sort of grand patriotic gesture against the Zionist Entity, but I think we all know the truth: they fear The Hebrew Hammer. Seriously, the Iranians know that they're not 100% guaranteed to win, and couldn't stomach a possible defeat at the hands of their enemies, so they bail. For a bunch of big, burly dudes, that's a pretty wuss move.
The reason most wedding receptions aren't as fun as MG's is that there are too many requisite old people that must be invited from both sides. Usually you can only invite so many people and Uncle Charlie, Aunt Ruth, Grandma and the parents are all a given. This crowds out the rowdy friends that make for a better party. Alas.
My wedding was held 7/23/88 in a small country chapel with no AC. You could hardly breath. The reason we had it there is because my folks' country home is 3 miles down the road. We too were nervous. One of her friends generously offered us Valium---big mistake---this isn't a day for being overly relaxed. It shows in the pictures. Mellow isn't the word. Maybe dazed.
We had a poolside reception with one of those humungous tents over the buffet in case it rained, which it did. Well, it misted. I'd promised to go easy on the drinks but you combine a few of those with the sedative and whatever to counteract that and you're a mess. But I held myself together well enough.
My old friends were all under strict orders to keep things cool. No convening in hidden rooms in the basement, no hitting on my wife's sisters and friends etc. I have pictures that prove they ignored the latter rule. Sis didn't seem to mind a bit. As for the first one, it seemed to go as well as could be expected with this group. (See prior posts about Whore Hey and his crew i.e. us.) But evidently, after we jetted off to Lake Tahoe, things got a little dicey. Luckily some of my closer pals were able to keep things from getting way out of hand as it well could have in a house with twenty five room, 8 of them bedrooms with locks. A good time was had by all. And Tahoe was great: Dining, drinking, gambling, dancing by the waterside by night, hiking and horseback riding in the mountains by day (all financed at the tables.) But to swim there you need a wetsuit. Brrr!
I've been thinking about it lately because we were so poor the only engagement ring I could afford was a 1/4 carat speck from the floor of the diamond factory. For our last anniversary I supplemented it with one of those anniversary bands. It looks pretty good but it would look better with a 3/4 carat solitare. I offered it, but she would rather have a riding lawnmower. Or a bobcat. Not the animal, silly, the earthmoving machine. Really.
Well, I know you've heard a lot from me lately. I shall be mum for some time as we're beach bound once again.
...continued from the other day.
So, despite the fact that we were already married, and despite the fact we have a two-month old child, we decided to have a “wedding.”
I wasn’t down with the idea from the beginning. For one thing, we’d have our two-month old child with us. Nothing might spoil a wedding atmosphere, especially when marrying into a very religious family, that an out-of-wedlock conceived child. Plus, children and weddings are very expensive. And if I had to pick one, I think I’d prefer to keep the kid in diapers than cater dinner for a hundred.
But even more than those really logical reasons, is the purely emotional response I get whenever I think about being the center of attention. It makes me uncomfortable thinking about it even now. I hate being the center of attention. I don’t like giving presentations in classroom, and you expect me to profess my love in front of a room full of people? I also don’t like throwing parties. I’ve thrown maybe two parties in my entire life, and in both cases I freaked out the entire time that either no one would come, or no one would have fun. And you want me to hire caterers, florists and invite a hundred of my closest friends and family, the whole disaster to be documented by a professional photographer?
But, the wife.
She is a woman, you know?
And women dream about weddings in the womb. I’m sure, from the moment their male genitalia fail to develop, in-utero, they begin to think about what their wedding dress will look like, what flowers they’ll put in their bouquet, and all that other stuff no guy who’d actually want to marry a woman would ever think twice about.
So, as much as I didn’t want to have the damn thing, I know she did. And I love her. If I can’t marry my wife, just to make her happy, then what kind of a husband am I?
This wedding we began planning last winter, which seemed so far away then, began rapidly approaching the last couple weeks. Rapidly approaching like the grill of a Mack truck. Rapidly approaching like a guided missile at one of the Hussein boy’s mansion.
It got to be pretty stressful between the wife and I. At one point, she was ready to cancel the whole thing. I wanted to laugh and say, “And then what, get in your time machine and not get married the first time?” Luckily, I thought better of it, and eventually we worked things out.
The day before the big day arrived, and man was I nervous. People kept saying “Why are you nervous, you are already married?” I wanted to laugh and say, “Try telling that to the death row inmate – 'Why are you worried about getting electrocuted to death, you already have brain cancer?'” Luckily, I thought better of it. I also thought better of my idea to skip out on the wedding, remember that I don’t have a time machine either.
And then, the day of the wedding, and all the nervousness faded away. We had so much family and and so many friends around. I saw my beautiful wife in her beautiful wedding dress (which was designed and hand-made by her mom) for the first time. This was good. I began to get “it.”
Suddenly the wedding part was over and it was time for the party. I quickly got a few drinks in me. I sat at the “bad” table with Snaggle, Jerry and Jamila, Suja and her new hubby, and Julia (all of whom have garnered mention here in the pages of BadSam, in one way or another). Of course, I also mingled throughout the reception hall like I’ve never mingled before (and never hope to again).
I danced. My family danced. Amanda’s family doesn’t dance, apparently, but finally even the booty-shaking beats of Outkast’s Hey Ya got her grandfather out on the floor, which was about the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while.
The baby got passed around the hall, from table to table, from loving hands to loving hands.
This was good. I got it.
Now, I can’t wait for my next wedding.
Golden Palace.com hates us. We're smalltime gamblers who risk pittances.
We're constantly cashing out small winnings and then calling about where our check is. Lately this has been a problem because we moved and got new email accounts that don't work. They've required that we send them bills from the old house, bills from the new house, front-back copies of IDs, debit cards, bank statements, corneal scans and a DNA sample. At last they've sent what's been accumulating in our account all these months. We can now pay for those handsome side and coffee tables we've been eying. Well, actually using as we bought them on credit.
At first I was leery of online gambling. How do you know it's not rigged? How do you know they'll pay you? What if the casino just disappears? What recourse would you have? And many of them are a scam. Golden Palace is not. It rocks, providing us with a steady if modest stream of income. And it's going nowhere.
I know what you're thinking: nobody wins at casino gambling. Au contraire, anybody can. Here's how: Don't play slots or any complicated games you don't totally understand like blackjack, bacharat or craps. Play roulette. Play it smartly.
Back when I had a physical presence I used to frequent casinos. I hated all the smoke, nervousness, security and surly dealers. I hated seeing old people toting their pathetic plastic coins tubs around. I hated they way they force you to bet more than you want and on every spin. And I was always puzzled by the reckless way these grim-faced people play. They get a stake and start spreading chips all over the board, numbers and random side bets alike. Every spin they'd win something, get a little thrill and soon be back at the ATM. This will never work.
You need to understand that each roll is an independant event. This means there's roughly an equal chance of any given number coming up each time. But the one thing you do know is that it will only be one number.
There are 36 numbers on the board, plus either one or two 0s. Online, you can find European games that only have one 0. Go with that. Still, if you do hit a number they'll only pay you 32-1 at best. This is the house's advantage that you need to turn against them. The way to do this is as follows: Put in enough money to tide you over. Decide on an average bet (no minimum online! Debit cards accepted!) and stick to it. Your stake should be 30 times that amount or you'll get wiped out before the system has a chance to work. As you start playing with house money gradually increase your total bet. Once you've doubled your money, which you will, cash out and demand they send your check immediately.
Pick one number each roll. Keep an eye on the ticker that lists the recent ones and pick the same ones. Every table tends to cluster around certain parts of the board. But here's the key: Correlate your side bets (which actually have better odds---1st 12 actually pays 2-1, eliminating that extra 4 point advantage they have with the numbers, for instance) with your chosen number. Pick the 12, pick the rows, pick the colors, odd/even, it doesn't matter. Just be sure they all tie in with that one number with no exceptions.
Other players will no doubt hit more numbers but they will never receive the full 32-1 (plus all the side bet payoffs) due to their wasted bets on other numbers on the same spin. And when your number does hit, you will often receive 65-1 once the side bets are included. This gives you a chance to get up on the house temporarily. Also, the side bets will keep you afloat as you wait for 2-3 numbers to hit. Once they do, hit the cashier button and laugh all the way to the bank.
Golden Palace will come to hate you like they hate us.
Gamble responsibly. Drink like Paula Poundstone. But leave the kids out of it.
I’ve always meant to tell this story here, but I don’t think I ever have.
As you might be aware, I’m recently married. By recently, I mean since November. So, it is only recent if you consider something that happened nearly a year ago to be recent. It doesn’t seem that long though, which is a good thing. I’d rather feel I was married just yesterday than wondering when I woke up each morning how long my nightmare had lasted, and how I was going to stand another day with my harpy of a wife.
Luckily I don’t have to worry about that. I’m gloriously happy. I think we might actually still be technically considered in our “honeymoon” period, but we’ve been together for the better part of a decade, and have a kid, so lets be serious about that and say the honeymoon has been over for quite a while.
Though we’ve only been married for less than ten months, we should have been married for a year, last Saturday. Last summer Amanda and I had our “elopement” all planned out. We’d fly down to Miami, where we had reserved some space in her family’s time-share resort. We’d hop on a plane Thursday, walk into the courthouse, get hitched, and then walk out to the beach to spend a couple days of our “honeymoon” soaking up the sun, Cuban food, and all South Beach’s gay culture has to offer a hetero couple .
But, the day before our flight was scheduled to leave we were walking around Steinway Street doing a little last minute shopping when the power went out. It didn’t occur to us that anything was wrong. “It is summer,” we thought, “sometimes the power goes out.” Especially when all the stores on Steinway run their A/C with the shop doors open, cooling each doorway from an otherwise unbearable 90 degrees, to an otherwise unbearable 40 degrees.
We walked home and the power was still off. With no TV or radio, the news began to filter, through our neighbors, that the power was out for most of the eastern seaboard, Michigan, and parts of Canada. For some reason, we still didn’t worry.
The next morning, with the power still out, well, then we began to worry. We don’t have a phone that doesn’t use electricity (and seriously, they say to keep candles and food around in case of a blackout, but you would be well served to keep a non-cordless phone around too), but I was able to use my laptop (running off batteries) to check out the airline website to see if our flight was actually going to take flight. The website said it’d be taking off on time, which seemed a little south side fishy, but we trekked out to the airport anyway.
The night before had been pretty creepy sleeping in a totally dark and quiet apartment, in a totally dark and quiet city. You’d think you wouldn’t notice the lights are out at a time you’d normally have the lights out, but you do. Well, it was even creepier driving down Astoria Boulevard to Laguardia Airport and seeing no traffic. No traffic lights. No people, pretty much. It was like an episode of the Twilight Zone.
We got to the airport and, of course, our flight was cancelled. The airport had no power, and no ability to update their website. Which we totally would have realized if we weren’t such pie-eyed optimists, hoping our plans to be united in holy matrimony (by the Dade Count Clerk-of-Court) weren’t heading down the crapper faster than a quart of ice cream melts in an electricity-deprived freezer.
We didn’t end up leaving NYC until two days later. We tried not to take the Blackout as a sign that the universe was telling us, personally, that we shouldn’t be getting married. But, how can you not?
We decided maybe this eloping thing wasn’t for us, and were sitting in a bar drinking mojitos and eating crab cakes while beginning plans for an actual wedding.
But then we got knocked up, and changed out plans again, so our beautiful child wouldn’t be born a bastard.
Last Saturday, August 14th, would have been our one-year wedding anniversary. Instead, it was our 262 dayiversary, and the day of our Wedding Vow Renewal. Which, I’ll have to tell you about tomorrow.
I am not certain that I can find the words to adequately describe just how truly fortunate I've felt for the past few days. I've had several "there but for the grace of [insert name of your particular deity here]" moments. It's not exactly a leap to realize that what has happened in SW Florida could just as easily have happened here in Miami.
Punta Gorda is just on the other side of the Florida Peninsula from Miami, perhaps a 3-4 hour drive away. If you look at a map, it doesn't take long to see that the difference between Hurricane Charley hitting Florida's southwest coast versus it's densely-populated southeast coast is the width of a metaphorical eyelash.
As of this morning, the official death toll is 19. By the time all is said and done, the death toll is expected to rise as emergency workers break into apartments and mobile homes in a search for the dead and/or injured. It seems that not everyone took the evacuation orders seriously, and some folks paid for their ignorance with their lives. Trying to wait out a Category 4 Hurricane is not something to be done lightly, or with any reasonable hope for survival.
Trailers vulnerable despite safeguards: Mobile home safety regulations imposed after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Central Florida's killer tornadoes in 1998 still can't guarantee the safety of the residents.
There are a lot of folks in Southwest Florida who live in trailer parks. Yes, there have been improvements in the construction and design of trailers, but there is only so much one can do with the design of a mobile home. "Mobile" by it's very nature means light- relative to what you might expect in a conventional home, and light is NOT what you want when a storm packing 145 MPH winds bears directly down on you. There isn't much that will stand up to the kind of force, particularly a mobile home.
Once emergency and rescue workers finish picking up the pieces, the suspicion is that many more bodies will be found in the rubble of trailer parks. People in brick-and-mortar structures barely survived Charley in some cases. I can't imagine how anyone in the residential equivalent of tin-foil could have reasonably expected to come out alive- and yet some folks apparently did expect exactly that. Bad decision.
At least 13 people are dead and thousands more newly destitute. Hundreds are unaccounted for in the wreckage of mobile home park and isolated coastal communities. Police pried open doors and peered beneath collapsed walls and roofs, searching for the dead and injured. Entire communities that once housed hundreds of retirees are leveled.
Charley left behind a swath of wreckage that included century-old buildings in old rural Florida, modern suburbs and the upscale enclaves of the rich on exclusive islands like Captiva and Sanibel. Authorities face a huge task in comforting tens of thousands of people -- many of them 60 and older -- without electricity, water and shelter during the hottest time of the year.
As the extent of the destruction became clear Saturday, police, fire and ambulance crews from Palm Beach and Broward counties and around the state rushed toward the scene of the worst devastation in southwest Florida. Federal emergency officials organized relief efforts, and the Florida National Guard mobilized 6,500 troops.
They were greeted by a landscape of gutted buildings, flipped cars and splintered trees on a scale that hasn't been seen in Florida since Hurricane Andrew leveled Homestead in 1992. Even the most storm-savvy Floridians were unprepared for the scale of destruction from Charley, which surprised many as it jumped in size and swiveled off its predicted course at the last minute.
"Our worst fears have come true," said Gov. Jeb Bush, who surveyed the wreckage by helicopter. As he looked upon Punta Gorda, a small town of 15,000 in Charlotte County that was ground zero, the governor said, "It's just hard to describe seeing an entire community totally flattened."
It is difficult to find the words to adequately describe what might have happened here in Miami. Living as I am in a top-floor apartment in a three-story building, there is a very good chance that I would have a newly-installed sky light courtesy of Charley. The destruction and devastation probably wouldn't have been as bad as it was after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, because this area is much better prepared now. Still, there is only so much a city can do to prepare for 145 MPH winds.
The devastation and loss of life here in Miami would have been extensive, to say the least. It could easily have happened here, and there is really nowhere anyone could have fled to in order to get out of the way.
A day or two prior to Charley making landfall, the forecast was for Charley to head directly into Pinellas County and right over the top of Tampa Bay. Local officials there ordered the evacuation of almost a million citizens- a monstrous task by any estimation, but made doubly so by the threat of an approaching hurricane.
When Charley made an unexpected right turn into Charlotte County, many were caught unaware and unprepared. Hurricanes are comparatively rare in this part of Florida. The Miami area and the state's Atlantic Coast are, statistically speaking at least, much more likely to suffer the visit of a hurricane or tropical storm. Southwest Florida is much less sparsely populated and economically well-off than the Miami area. Hence, more people live in mobile homes than you'd find here in Miami. Put all of these factors together, and it was quite possibly the absolute worst place Charley could have paid a visit.
The death toll from Hurricane Charley rose...as millions of Floridians in a 200-mile stretch from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Ocean struggled to put their homes and lives back together.
At daybreak, many stunned survivors of Charley's wrath got their first look at the damage and began adjusting to the prospect of days without electricity, water, phones and television. Trees were felled; roofs were ripped off homes, schools and businesses; buildings crumbled; traffic lights were downed; and utility poles tumbled.
In Central Florida, an estimated 1.5 million people remained without power, and utility officials said it may be a week before everybody gets lights back on. Statewide, an estimated 2 million customers had no electricity.
We could easily be dealing with almost unprecedented death and destruction here in the Miami area. Instead, we have another beautiful, sunny South Florida day on top of us, and life couldn't be better. Just three hours to the west, it's a much different story.
Yes, we dodged a bullet, and it's difficult to adequately give voice to the relief I feel. The truly sad thing is that in this case, I know that my relief is another's despair, and there is plenty of despair to go around Florida right about now.
Sometimes, the distance between life and death can be measured in just a few short miles. I tried to play things cool when I would talk to my wife back in Texas, but when I see the pictures of the devastation, it's difficult not to realize that I should have been much more concerned than I was. Perhaps a few people in Charlotte County would still be alive if they had been similarly concerned.
This weekend was easily the best one I've had in months. I went to a show in Williamsburg on Friday and didn't get washed away by the waves of irony that the band was generating. I went to the Gap on Saturday and won a new pair of pants at the register, and I never win anything. Then I took my sister and her husband out for dinner and dessert, and we actually had a good time! No one fought/got killed at all! Later I went out to a club, didn't get hassled by the bouncer, had a few drinks and still woke up the next morning without a hangover. Seriously, just a great weekend.
Oh, and I got engaged.
Perhaps you've heard of this girl. She caused a big furor round these parts by posting about her sexual affairs with a number of highly connected government types. There is no industry more stodgy than lawmaking, so this constituted Big News for a day or so.
So she loses her lousy 25k gig for misusing government computers, as if everyone doesn't surf the web @ work. She is vilified not so much for her promiscuity but for having the balls to brag about it online. All six of her lovers suffered no consequences (and prompptly dropped their plaything like a hot potato.) This, despite the fact that they were married and she wasn't, and thus arguably free to couple with the pope if she so chooses. And of course, it takes two or more to tango.
Although she did accept money from them, she didn't solicit it. Her understanding was that the payments were in lieu of actual dates. Her female boss arranged some of the liaisons, in effect pimping her out. Yet she too flitted away without so much as a stern reprimand.
The usually staid Washington Post ran an article about her Sunday. It contained one line that floored me: "She was a blog slut but she was our blog slut." The author also made a point of branding her as an example of the postmodern, angst-ridden slacker daughters of feminism and blah, blah, blah. Not once did he consider that maybe she was just young, confused and looking to have a good time. That and help makes ends meet like the rest of it. Authors are always trying to read too much symbolism into mundane things.
It had a real salacious tone to it. Case in point: One post in which she described turning down a handsome sum for anal. In so doing she demonstrated that she has principles. She also dispelled a common stereotype about Asian girls.
While it's undeniable that today's young women are nonchalant if not aggressive when it comes to sex, they continue to get the short end of the stick. (Oh wait, that didn't come out right.) A gal accepts cash for head and she's a gutter slut. A guy gets paid and he's called a gigolo. A gal juggles six guys and she's a whore. A guy does the same thing and he's a freaking Lothario. In Muslim countries, male whoring around is sanctified in the state religion. It's called a harem.
There was also a digression about blogs in general and the fact that the last people you'd want to read your online musings inevitably happen across your site. The author mentioned this Mormon chick who's parents were horrified to learn of her sexplay, drunken exploits and dope use. But I would think the odds of that happening are minimal.
Whenever mainstream media mentions blogging, they always act like it's some newfangled fad that hardly anyone has even heard of. Never mind that there must be a million blogs out there, counting those weird orphan blogs that just seem to end one day. They always have to point out that the term blog is a contraction of Web log. Which is like saying that can't is a contraction of can not.
Speaking of which, you can not peruse Jessica's shortlived, X-rated blog. She deleted it from her work computer in what turned out to be her last activity at work. And she posed for Playboy. And inked a six figure book deal to write about her naughty exploits. I guess it all works out in the end, no?
I'm eating my lunch at Boston Market. The place is small and crowded. A line snakes halfway around it. Patrons are cranky and touching one another and not in a good way. A sleak BMW oozes up. From it emerges a woman who looks like the embodiment of Barbie; swiveling in that hyper-girly way popularized by Marilyn Monroe. I don't find her look in the least bit attractive. It's too much information, like a bad acid trip. Others would evidently beg to differ.
Her hair is tinted with streaks of honey blonde as you might see on a hair dye box. She's wearing a considerable amount of makeup, seemingly pricy, but not distasteful. She is what I call girl-chubby, fat in some fashionable girl's eyes but fine to most guys. Maybe 5'7" 130 lbs. She's sporting spiked heels, but nothing garish. Well, there was the slit animal print dress and lots of flashy jewelry (no wedding band.) Her figure was of a type God has yet to produce, almost cartoonish in its dimensions. She strolls in engrossed in several cell phone conversations at once. All eyes are upon her.
She's slathered in perfume. Her tan is even, salon even. She's peering out over Wayfarers perched upon her surgical nose. The slightest push would send her top-heavy ass reeling to the ground.
The already uncomfortable temp rose perceptibly. Guys threw down their newspapers to stare at her intently and openly. Just as overtly, women glared at her like some kind of criminal. The guy behind the counter keeps fumbling her order. She takes it in stride. Some other guy in line tries to strike up a conversation with some lame remark like, "I see you got the white meat quarter chicken. I usually get that but today I went with the meat loaf. Something different." She says, "I always get the chicken. I'm watching my figure." Trust me, she's not the only one. His eyes are glued to her chest the entire time. You could feel his pain. And you got the feeling he felt compelled to blurt something, anything, out to her.
A lot of good that did. She gets her order to go and hurries away. I surmised that this was of necessity. Nothing like trying to eat a quarter chicken daintily with dozens of eyes on you. Then it occured to me: This person is being deprived of her basic rights based on her looks alone.
Why were the usual rules of ogling conduct (a quick, discreet once-over at most) suspended? Why all the cold and catty glares from the gals? I concluded that when you sculpt yourself into some kind of exagerated fem-bot, enriching plastic surgeons, stylists, tanning salons and jewelers in the process, people consider you fair game. It may not be fair but that's the way it is. Oddly she didn't really seem to mind, or even notice. Go figure.
These meticulously groomed and sculpted women are never married or even visibly attached. Maybe guys don't consider them marriage material. Maybe they don't want to be tied down. Or maybe once they do wed they stop paying such slavish attention to every detail of their appearance. I dunno. Do you?
This'll be short. I just want to say that I watched the end of the Olympics Opening Ceremonies, and was very happy with the lighting of the flame, because it had a lot of nice vaginal imagery. Yup. At first, I thought it was phallic imagery, because a man holding a torch ran up a ramp and lit an enormous, 102-foot high torch that was standing on a big black base. You can see a picture here. Then that huge torch swivelled upright so that its flaming tip was in the sky. "This is not a penis," I thought to myself. But... when the triumphant erection was followed by fireworks all along the edge of the big, er, oval, er, open stadium, like this and this, I decided that what I was looking at was actually the most like a big ol' vagina. Cool.
Today the Summer Games kick off. Yet already there has been Drama, with lightly regarded Iraq thrashing powerhouse Portugal 4-2. The squad won't need to worry about being castrated by Uday Hussein tonight. Oh wait, he's dead.
But let's face it, most of the Summer games are a huge bore. Weightlifting, wrestling and especially track and field put me to sleep in a hurry. The marquee event is basketball. In years past, that has meant a fierce competition for the silver and bronze as Team USA had the gold locked up. No more. Last time the Americans barely survived a rim-clanging, buzzer-beater by Lithuania to win the semifinals. This year they've been dismissed by Italy and edged a German team that didn't even qualify. They'll face stiff competition from Croatia, among others, including a Chinese squad that boasts 4 players over 6' 11".
The problem is that international play emphasizes zone defense and outside shooting. Dribbling and penetrating, the NBA players' forte, won't cut it. What they need is a team comprised of 12 of those lone skinny white guys NBA teams put on the floor in the waning moments. The one who never misses free throws and can nail the 3 pointer with icewater in his veins.
That and Kobe, arguably the best all around player in the world. But of course he couldn't commit to play for his country because he was scheduled to be on trial on rape charges. A trial that has since been postponed (i.e. cancelled) due to technical difficulties posed by the fact that the alleged victim is trying to empty Kobe's bank account rather than seeking justice.
This, coupled with the fact that the judge agreed to allow defense lawyers wide latitude in presenting evidence of her sexual activity immediately before and after encounter with Kobe, effectively crippled the criminal case against him. And you can bet the civil case will be swept under the rug as well. a six figure wire transfer is taking place as we speak. Thus one might conclude that no rape took place.
It goes without saying that rape is heinous. This is particularly true today, when sneaky rapists slip roofies into your drink rather than waste time lurking behind garbage cans as in days of yore. But what about false allegations of rape, as above? Why would anyone do that? You know it is going to be a huge ordeal. My theory is that in those cases, the encounter totally sucked and they are pissed. Probably there was scant foreplay, rough and perfunctory intercourse, no female orgasm and no spooning afterwards. Perhaps Kobe was rude to her, saying, "Alright bitch, I'm done. Now get the F out so I can get some sleep."
Or else maybe he raped her. And if so, I hope he burns in hell like OJ and Scott Peterson if he too walks as all California murderers n' rapists seem to do these days.
As the new person in my office I am the low man on the totem pole as far as selecting when I get to go on vacation. Accordingly I only get a couple long weekends over the summer, and probably a week or two in the fall. Ah well.
This weekend coming up (fri, sat, sun) is one of my long weekends, and I am going on a little roadtrip with my girlfriend and one of her buddies. Whoo...
The parks straddle the US / Canada Border, with Waterton in Alberta and Glacier in Montana (see map). They offer some amazing scenery, and a amazing high country road through Logan's pass known as the Going to the Sun Road. I've been over the pass a couple times, but I am amazed every time I go over it. The pass is spectacular, although not for those that are afraid of heights. The road has some sections were it seems like you're looking down a thousand feet to the bottom of the cliff your on (although it's probably on a few hundred).
Last year we attempted to go over the pass, but were unable to due to forest fires that closed over 1/2 the road. This year has been more rainy, so the pass is open as of today. Good good.
A trip I'd heartily recommend to anyone, almost as good as the comparable highway in Canada, the Icefields Parkway.
I love my son dearly, like, well, a son. But he does have this unfortunate tendency to make off-the-cuff remarks to which there is no ready rejoinder. Thus they just hang there in the air like a lingering fart. We've talked about it and he is getting better though.
It's like some posts you read. They are brilliant, erudite and all of that. But you can't for the life of you think of anything to add in the comments. I've found this to be the case when I've shared intensely personal stuff from my past. And that's why I rarely do that anymore.
The local paper once ran a contest wherein readers sent in conversation-ending, rejoinder-less, room-clearing remarks such as those of my son's. I believe the winner was: "Well, I've got to go feed my hostages."
Once, after some automotive intimacy, a girl said to me: "That tasted terrible." I mean, what can you say to that? Let's here some of these from your archives. Don't be shy. It can't be worse than that.
The Dolphins want payback from Ricky Williams. Literally.
An angry Wayne Huizenga will try to recoup more than $5 million paid in incentive money to the retired Williams over the last two years, a source close to the Dolphins owner told the Miami Herald on Saturday.
''Wayne is incredibly [angry] about what Ricky did,'' the source told the newspaper. "He has his lawyers together, and he's going after all the money the team paid Ricky. He wants to make sure this never happens again."
The opening kickoff of another NFL season is a bit more than a month away, but the exhibition season began last night with a sloppy Hall of Fame game from Canton, Ohio. What we'll see on the field is merely the tip of the iceberg. What we won't see is the ugly reality that is life in the National Football League.
Those of us who are football fans often lose sight of the fact, if we recognize it at all, that the sport of football can be a brutal, exploitative, and severely compassion-starved bottom-line-oriented business. In a line of work where the average player's career is less than four years long, we who sit in the stands or watch on television tend to be blissfully and willfully ignorant of what a player endures in order to earn NFL money. It ain't pretty....
We may love the drama, the competition, and the controlled violence of the NFL. Is it any wonder, though, that those who suit up on Sundays often have a much different view of the proceedings?
It hurts, doesn't it?
That our football players don't seem to love their fun and games as much as we do?
We paint our faces in team colors, and we look forward to the tailgating all week and all offseason, and we escape our dreary jobs and heavy responsibilities to feel good for a few celebratory hours on Sunday.
We envy them and their youth and their money and their grace and their glory even as we live vicariously through them, and we get profoundly disappointed when they hold out, cash in, screw up, shut down or waste it all away....
But we never get our hands bloody, of course, which is part of what makes it so much easier to applaud.
These football players can't love this beast the way we do.
They know it too well.
A lot better than we do.
And you don't love a monster this cold and cutthroat.
You tolerate it. You use it for financial gain. You suffer the searing pain and redundant boredom and dictator coaches in exchange for the three-hour rush on Sunday and a fatter bank account. You do awful things to your body, run the risk of paralysis or dying early, get your brain routinely concussed and munch on enough painkillers to tranquilize a herd of elephants. But you do all this for the dollars, not the joy.
Three hours on Sunday may seem to those of us on the outside to be a glorious diversion, a chance to get behind something that feels important and dramatic. What we don't see, though, are the other 165 hours in the week. We don't see the players who are knicked and dinged from Day One of Training Camp until the last second ticks off the clock of the season's last game. We don't see the injuries that never heal, the pain and the physical dysfunction that often lingers long after a career ends.
We don't see this, so it is a lot easier for us to criticize holdout Adewale Ogunleye for being selfish and greedy than it is to feel how he does on Monday mornings. The surprise isn't that some of our football players drink and drug. The surprise is that more of them don't.
(Marijuana use is a lot more prevalent in football than anyone knows. The NFL's testing policy is a laughable scam meant to give the illusion of policing to a Puritanical public that wishes to believe what it's seeing on Sundays is pure. Nate Newton spent 14 years in the league without us hearing a word about possible marijuana use. You think his first dalliance with it was in retirement, when police found 213 pounds of it in his van?)
These are games in name only. You probably get tired of hearing rich athletes say, ''It's a business,'' but it is an Arctic and absolute truth. The Oakland Raiders waived loyal employee Rod Woodson and the Denver Broncos waived loyal employee John Mobley after they both failed physicals. Hmmm. Wonder how that happened? Could they have hurt themselves, oh, I don't know, on the job? Football's savageness obviously isn't limited to the field.
We see athletes who complete in what is arguably the ultimate team sport. We see the grace, the athleticism, the violence, and the excitement. What we choose to ignore is a system that casts a player aside in a heartbeat when he loses a step or his nerve. We castigate players like Ricky Williams who walk away when he still has much to offer us and his team (and we couch our disapproval in terms of "betrayal", as if he somehow owes us something).
Now Wayne Huizenga wants his money back? This is the same man who would have kicked Williams to the curb without so much as a pang of guilt if his performance dropped off. The sad thing here is that Huizenga feels perfectly justified in his righteous indignation. After all, it must suck when an exploiter has the tables turned on him.
How would you like to hurt yourself at work, giving your body to your employer's cause, and then have the final years of your lopsided and nonguaranteed contract discarded? How would you like to be ex-Miami receiver O.J. McDuffie, suing from early retirement because your career was cut short, as was your gait, by pain and botched surgeries and the noble need to care about a team more than it cared about you?
Ah, but we don't like to bring business standards into the sacred cathedral we've made out of sports. We trump logic with utopian talk of ''loyalty'' and ''sacrifice'' and ''good of the team,'' as if somebody on your sales staff would trot out any of that bunk if he felt underpaid and underappreciated.
Loyalty? Sacrifice? Good of the team? That crap may still hold some cachet in the college game, but the NFL is as cutthroat as cutthroat gets. Players are commodities, milked and marketed and packaged until their performance declines, in which case they are tossed aside like yesterday's newspaper. What players are often left with is a broken body and, all too often, a broken spirit.
Don't believe me? Consider the case of Randall Godfrey:
He was a Titans linebacker. He took a $2.5 million pay cut for the good of the team and its salary cap. And a few months later, when most of the jobs had been taken all over the league, Tennessee waived its honorable and loyal employee.
There's a good reason men such as Godfrey don't love this relationship the way the rest of the cheering people in the wedding party do.
He knows what a witch he has married.
Take one for the team? Sacrifice for the greater good? Noble concepts, to be sure, but when you think about the brutal realities of a career in the NFL (think of Thomas Hobbes' description of the lives of cats- "nasty, brutish, and short"), can we blame players for looking out for themselves first, last, and always? How many of us wouldn't do the same thing?
She was sucking cock backstage at the armory in order to get a pass to see some big rock group for free
It's election season and you know what than means: endless blather about "safer streets" and "first responders." I'm sorry but to me 100,000 more cops just means more speed traps, drunk driving checkpoints and a run on donuts at the Dunkin' Donuts. And oh sure in DC and NYC they make it out like terrorists are poised to strike at any moment. But what the hell can I do about that?
I think a much more laudable goal would be a return to civility, maybe even some chivalry. We need less bitterly divisive figures like Bill O'Reilly, Michael Moore, George W Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Susan Sarandon, Madonna, KKK spokesman Daniel Carver, Jesse Jackson, Babs Streisand, Osama bin Laden, Al Franken and Doctor Laura. What do all these people have in common? Not much, except they're all part of my regrettable generation.
You hear much talk these days about a coming "clash of civilizations" between the modern, hedonistic West and the pious, backwards mullahs and emirs of Islam. And I don't doubt it. But if you think about it, what is needed (again) is more civility and tolerance, not strident, self-serving and ultimately pointless prattling from pundits and preachers. On both sides of the ideological fence we need to face the fact that we really can't co-exist unless we agree to disagree and tolerate one another's views.
Youth are the key. Under the most repressive Muslim dictatorships in the world (Iran,) one of the youngest demographics in the world have basically started thumbing their noses at the holier-than-thou shitheads who run the show there. They wear sexy burqas, drink and dig Western culture. Controversial movies are banned but everyone already has a bootleg copy they've downloaded. It can happen other places as well. We don't have to accept this shit. And if we do, we're all toast.
So what's it gonna be, boy? The future world (if there is one) will be shaped by you whippersnappers, not us old fogies. Before long all those folks listed above will be dead and gone. Will it be a world populated by such cynical, depraved, overbearing, opinionated zealots, malcontents and ideologues? Or will we see altruistic, tolerant, flexible, circumspect secularists coming to the fore? In other words, can we extract what is useful from the world's great religions and throw out the outdated dogma, preachiness, prejudice and so forth?
It's all up to you. Perhaps John Mellencamp said it best: "A million young poets, screaming out their words. Maybe someday those words will be heard. By future generations, down the highways that we built. Maybe they'll have a better understanding. Maybe they'll have a better understanding. Let's hope they have a better understanding."
I have to move. Again. The house where I've been living since May is clearing out at the end of the month, so I've got to find an apartment, house, hut, shack, or teepee to call home while I hunt around for an apartment to buy. I've had my eye on Flushing, in Queens, for a while. It's convenient to Long Island, where I work, convenient to Manhattan, where I play, and there are 24-hour Chinese restaurants. What more could a guy want?
So the plan is to live in Flushing in a share for a couple of months to make sure that I'd like living there, but there's one problem. When I look for apartments to share in Flushing on Craigslist, I keep finding things like this:
$560-Large Masterbedroom available, utilites included:call 718-888-XXXX ask Jen
New hardwood floors, 2 windows in very nice view and very nice quiet neighborhood. Located in Northern Blvd and 147th Street.Everything is nearby including deli, laundromat is inside building, pharmacy, and restaurants. Share of kitchen, dining area and bathroom only with one professional and friendly man.
Bus station is just in front of the building, (Q13, Q28), 10mins to #7 train, 25 minutes by Express #7 Train to Mid-town Manhatten.
Seeking one quite and friendly person (Asian only). Rent is $560, TV cable is available, phone line is available, High speed internet cable is available, utilities included. One month rental and 1.5 month deposit.
Did we catch the important part of that ad? I'm not terribly tolerant of this kind of thing even in personals ads, though I can understand where it might come from there. But to announce to the world that you only want to live with people of one race is, by any reasonable definition, racism. And for those who are going to stand up and say, "But some people are only comfortable living with people of their own race!" I say, yes, that's called pre-judgement, which is basically what racism is, but thanks anyway for proving my point.
Gee, it only rained a little bit in Miami this morning...what a shock. Silly me; here I'd thought I was coming to some sort of tropical paradise- you know, sun, palm trees, warm tropical breezes. Yeah, right. Apparently, I've arrived in the middle of monsoon season, and I'm developing an unnatural urge to build an Ark and begin collecting two of everything.
The people in the office I'm working out of seem to think I'm solely responsible for the crummy weather (You know, it WAS sunny before you got here....). I don't know if that's true or not, but the end result is the same. I'm beginning to understand why mildew is the state flower.
Adding to the fun is that I'm in northwest Miami, and there really is not much of anything up here, at least from what I've seen. Unless you enjoy strip malls and streets that flood easily, there just isn't much up in these parts in way of diversions. Traffic being what it is, I'm not terribly inclined to be doing a lot of joyriding after work.
It's good to know that conspicuous consumption is no stranger to Miami. Indeed, it seems to be a time-honored activity here. The city's newest and wealthiest resident, Shaquille O'Neal, has reportedly put a $20 million bid on a home on Star Island. This, of course, begs the question: how many bedrooms does one man really need?
Driving in this town seems to be a quasi-combat activity. Yesterday, I saw a woman zip across three lanes of crowded traffic to make a U-turn- while talking animatedly on her cell phone. Apparently, this is not at all unusual, because I didn't hear so much as a single horn honking. Out of pure self-preservation, one learns quickly to pay close attention, because you never know where the next %$*&@!# moron is going to come from. Bievenidos a Miami...keep your eyes open, y'hear?
I hope this doesn't come off as borderline racist or overally generalized, but what is it about Cuban woman and the way they argue? The modus operandi seems to be to keep repeating the same argument over and over and over from different angles, perhaps in the hope that you will overwhelm your opponent and wear them down (OK, OK...you win... now, will you PLEASE just shut up???). Facts, or the possession of them, seem immaterial. What matters is the ability to keep hammering at your adversary until they cave out of sheer frustration (or boredom). It must work, because I've seen so much of it. Thankfully, I can be as stubborn as any Cuban woman, albeit not nearly as emotional. That's probably a good thing.
I think I'm learning to like this place....
I'm not one for idle chitchat. I relish intense philosophical debate, which is why I dig Chris, MG, Linz and Mr. Blank so much. I leap headlong into them every chance I get. In fact, I believe we got pretty deep the night Ezy and his lady friend came a-calling at the House of Anna.
It happened again the other day. I'd called a guy to discuss payment of a hospital bill and some travel expenses he'd incurred in Singapore. Seems he'd contracted some vile lung disease in Indonesia. He took one look at the local hospital with patients dying in squalor on the floor and hopped the first flight to Singapore ("Disneyland with the death penalty.") I should note that he had just a hint of a Brit accent, like an Englishman who'd spent most of his life overseas.
Me: Dude, what were you doing over there?
him: We were on an underwater film shoot in a bay. There are 16 islands but all the rest are Moo-slim. The locals hate us and want to kill us. It's naught like the old days when we could film anywhere we bloody well choose.
Me: So you chose this particular island because it was Muslim-free?
Him: Oh no, there are Moo-slims there as well. The island is hoff Moo-slim and hoff Christian with a few Jews and Hindus thrown in for good measure. But everyone treated our crew cordially.
Me: What, no Druids?
Him: Naught to me knowledge.
Me: How'd you get this infection?
Him: Well, there are no septic systems to speak of. The locals just pee along the shore and when it rains everything washes into the water. Must've been (pronounced as in lima) some kind of virus cause antibiotics wouldn't touch it. Wasn't a tall pleasant, I'll tell you.
Me: That's nasty.
Him: I think the reason the natives are so cordial is cause they have jawbs.
Him: You know, like gainful employment. They all work like 60 hours a week. They don't have time for jihad.
Me: Yeah I guess they're too tired to behead anybody.
Him: Well, naught really. The youths play football at all hours of the night. That and get drunk on homemade berry wine, which isn't hoff bad once you get used to it. There's a brothel that's open...
Me: Or maybe they figure they've got too much to lose to go around on pointless suicide missions.
Him: There may be some element of that. All I know is that they're peaceable and let us go about our business.
Me: Is that so unusual?
Him: Yes it is. In most parts of the world they hate us and want to kill us. It makes for quite the arduous shoot. Savages, they are.
Me: Yeah you mentioned that. But do you mean Americans, Brits or everyone?
Him: They despise all infidels. Well, it's been (lima) nice chatting with you. Now when might I expect my cheque?
Me: It's in the mail. So how was the brothel?
Him: Filthy. Have you ever seen a whore in a burqa?
Me: No. Good day, mate.
Him: I'm naught Australian, you know.
Me: Oh. Then, ta-ta.
Good jorb Missouri! You've just demonstrated that the this country is filled with people who neither understand nor appreciate the value of the separation of church and state. The news had interviews with people who voted for a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and most of them boiled down to the same thing: 'I voted for the amendment because I'm a religious Christian, and God's plan for marriage involves only one man and one woman'.
Let's leave aside for the time being that outside of Christendom, polygamy and polyamory were fairly common in this world. Let's forget as well the irony of using faith, which the faithful hold up as proof of their righteousness, to discriminate against and demean one's fellow citizens and deny them equal rights. If you believe that your religion belongs in the law books that apply to both believers and non-believers then you are no better, none at all, than the mullahs in Iran, no better than the Taliban in Afghanistan. If your vote in civil elections is based on religion rather than reason, then you don't believe in America.
This country is not based on Christian values, it is based on the values of reason, on the philosophy of liberal democracy. These are specific to no religion; they are the property of and the promise for the whole world, and by attaching them to one faith we deny their universal value. We demean ourselves by allowing religious bias to control the political process, and we give comfort to those who would call us hypocrites by proving that our belief in equal protection under the law stops at the borders of our own superstition.
Why the recent sausage party around here? Perhaps it is time to do one of those long forgotten Bad Samaritan casting calls, and this time only look for new writers who have actually vagina's, and are not just pretending like some people who I wont mention by name but you know who you are.
I'd try to be more cleverer, but I'm tired, and have no time (more on that later). So, I'll just end this useless post by saying: "If you are a woman (or girl, (or grrl)), and would like to join the BadSam staff, please drop me an email." And I'll get back to you in like six weeks. No, seriously, I'll try to get back to you sooner. Like, in three weeks.
I've been walking around with a funny feeling in my stomach for the last several days. I thought it might be gas, but now I'm pretty sure that it isn't - it's emotional overload. Between screwing up the already nasty scene with J about as much as it was possible to screw it up on Saturday, normal work-related stress, my roommate not speaking to me for the better part of a month, probing questions about the nature of our friendship from my best and oldest friend, and the check I just wrote as part of my bid on the first piece of property I've ever tried to buy, I'm a mess. I feel like the pot of ramen noodles that is my emotional well-being was put on "HI" on the stove, and the cook walked away to do their laundry, leaving the pot to boil over.
So I've been walking around on edge all week. Checking my email causes my eye to twitch, for fear of anything that could pass for bad news. Every time someone at work calls my name, my immediate response is, "I didn't do it!" I walk around making eye contact with random strangers, hoping that they say something so I can unleash 180 pounds of Hebrew fury upon them. I *can't fight* and I'm trying to pick them! My co-worker's husband, a corporate trainer, came into the office and mentioned team-building exercises, and I actually said, "Teams are for people who can't get anything done on their own." I've only been working for six weeks, but I think I need a vacation. Any suggestions for good weekend Escapes from New York (tm)? (anyone who mentions Hawaii is in BIG trouble)
More random observations about life in Miami:
- So what have we learned on our first full day in Miami? Well, how about ALWAYS TAKE YOUR UMBRELLA! Apparently, it rains a hell of a lot here in the summertime. Who knew? One good soaking is all it took for this lesson to take hold.
- It appears that I got into MIA just in the nick of time. With the flooding from the torrential rains Sunday afternoon and early yesterday, 76 arrivals and departures were cancelled yesterday, stranding several thousand unhappy travellers at what is really a rather depressing excuse for an airport.
- The great thing about staying in a corporate apartment is not having to pay the air conditioning bill. Call me irresponsible, but I LOVE air conditioning- just ask my wife. It drives her nuts that I'm always wanting to turn the air conditioner down to below 70 degrees. Guess what? It was 61 degrees in my apartment when I was eating dinner and watching the news. It wasn't heaven, but it was as close as I'm probably going to get in this town.
- The traffic in this town really can be a pain in the @$$. It's not as bad as Washington, DC or San Francisco, but it's not a day in the country, either.
- I can honestly say that, from what I've seen so far, Miami drivers are even more reckless, inconsiderate, and self-absorbed than Houston drivers could ever hope to be. These people are f*****g crazy. I saw someone zip across three lanes of traffic this morning- just to make a U-turn in front of oncoming traffic. (Who knows, maybe that's legal in Cuba....)
- The sun seems to be little more than a rumor. I actually had to use my sunglasses when I went to lunch, but that little tease was followed by a torrential downpour. The color du jour seems to be Gunmetal Grey.
- I decided not to bring my golf clubs with me, and it's probably just as well. I'm not sure I'd want to subject myself to the gawdawful humidity for 18 holes- even though the office I'm working at is less than a mile from Doral Country Club (Yeah, like I, a card-carrying member of The Unwashed Masses, would be allowed to even sniff the first tee at Doral....).
- Ricky Williams has filed his retirement papers with the NFL. Can we please stop talking about him now? Besides, isn't Shaquille O'Neal in town? If this city is going to obsess about a pampered, over-hyped, and obscenely-paid athlete, shouldn't it be obsessing over one who is actually going to PLAY this year? Thank you. That is all.
- The people-watching here is fascinating. Whilst munching on my salad at a McDonald's this afternoon, I just sat and listened to the people around me. I heard nary a word of English. All I heard was Spanish, and this seems a common phenomenon. I'd hazard a guess that Miami can be a frustrating place to live if you're not bilingual. Huevos Rancheros para todo el mundo!!
- What would for most people would be an ordinary trip to the grocery turned out to be a fascinating exercise in the beauty of cultural diversity. I bought a loaf of Cuban bread, a Cuban sandwich for today's lunch, and I could have pretty much gone hog-wild buying an amazing assortment of Latin American foods. Man, I cannot wait to check out that Venezuelan restaurant down the street....
All things considered, this is a fascinating place. I think I'm going to like it here.
And the fun is just beginning....
We immerse ourselves in work or school. We meet obligations. We amass an amalgam of things. We maintain those things as best we can. We chase tail. When at last we land that special someone, we don't take advantage of the convenient live-in situation as often as we should.
We're sorely dissapointed when all those things that were supposed to make life more convenient only serve to complicate matters further. And yet amazingly, seldom do we give due consideration to cutting it all loose to pursue some whimsical dream, like this chick did.
It's also amazing that these stuffy stores, which won't even let my wife train her pit bulls in there, would allow this lady to construct her sculptures. My thought is that they're probably too taken aback to stop her. Usually if you just act confident that what you're doing is acceptable, no one will try to mess with you.
Given that she plans to erect her paver-sculptures in all 50 states, it's likely you might encounter one while you trudge into Lowe's intent on finding the right color of grout. Or better yet, you might behold a work in progress.
So if you could, and if you think about it you could, what manner of whimsy would you pursue?
I'm in Miami for a month-long business trip. It's the first time I've been here, so I'm trying to get used to things as quickly as possible. It's going to be an interesting month.
OK, so I've been in South Florida all of 16 hours. That's plenty of time to draw some quick conclusions (which, once I've been here awhile, will probably be proved horribly wrong):
- Taking a shower seems a decidedly pointless endeavor. As soon as you step into the Great Outdoors, you're sweating as if you've just gone 4 rounds with Marvin Hagler.
- The radio stations in this city SUCK.
- There really ARE a lot of senior citizens out there who drive 20 in a 40MPH zone. This seems like a recipe for road rage writ large.
- I'm staying in a gated luxury apartment community. So how come the only gate that is shut is the exit gate? Any Tom, Dick, or Raoul can cruise right in the open resident's gate. Anyone want to tell me why it's called a security gate?
- The lightning 'round these parts is SERIOUS.
- The humidity here is going to take some getting used to- if that is even possible. This stuff makes Houston feel like a meat locker. I go outside, and I sweat just thinking about it....
- I was tired of hearing about Ricky Williams before I got here. I'm REALLY tired of hearing about him now. It seems as everyone in this town has an opinion about what Williams should do- and of course it involves coming back to play football for the Dolphins. Get over yourselves, already...the kid may be a flake, but his life and his career are HIS domain, not yours. Let's get to the truly important issue: A.J. Feeley or Jay Fiedler?? Besides, isn't Shaquille O'Neal in town?
- The Miami airport is a dump. Of course, it IS an airport, and airports by their very nature are depressing, sterile environments. Still, does dingy and smelly have to be part of the package?
- Guess what? Texas isn't the only place where people drive as if they're on crack and turn signals are optional equipment.
- Palm trees, palm trees, palm trees...I just LOVE palm trees....
- The sun does shine here, right? I know it rains, and apparently a lot, because that's all I've seen in the few hours I've been here. I've yet to see the sun.
Job One is finding my way around. Thankfully, my apartment is only 3 miles from the office I'm working out of. I think I'm going to find this a fascinating place, (it makes me wish I'd paid closer attention in Spanish class) and I can hardly wait to check out the Venezuelan restaurant down the street.
I have lusted in my heart. -Jimmy Carter to Playboy magazine
In an ideal world you'd never see your former sex partners again after the fling is over. But of course, the more of them there are the more likely it is you will chance to meet them as you make your daily rounds. They will be fully clothed, perhaps extending their hand for a polite shake, or offering a perfunctory hug or even that Euro kissy-kiss thing they do on each cheek.
You will picture them in the most compromising if not depraved position you ever saw them in. You'll hear not their greeting or what they've been up to lately. They say, "Work has been going great." You hear: "Oh, oh that feels so great. Don't stop." They're wearing a tasteful dress suit. You see them in only a skimpy thong or a sweaty wife-beater T-shirt. You're lucky you're not Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar.
It's a fact of life. While you can and should exert control over what you say and do, there's no controlling your libinous mind. Just ask Carter. Or Carrey's character. Who could forget that scene in the elevator with the buxom neighbor?
These sensual memories of bygone trysts are forever embedded in your mind. Well, maybe not forever. I can't remember any details of the vast majority of encounters I had in my single days. Just a few unusual situations pop into my mind from time to time. As a happily married man, I squelch those thoughts immediately. But I can't deny that they've occured any more than the god-fearing Carter could.
I have one coworker whom I dated many, many years ago. Every so often we pass in the hall and say hi. Up pops this most unwelcome image in my head. It isn't a good one. In fact it's rather embarrassing. I wonder if this happens to her too.
Another time I met an old GF at a gathering with her parents. It doesn't get much worse than that.
Or maybe it does. Growing up my parents ran a restaurant where most of the locals would hold their wedding receptions. I'd sit on this veranda overlooking the reception hall. Sometimes I'd wander downstairs and mingle with the guests. If I chatted up someone from the bride's side, I would say I knew the groom and vice versa. I would know their respective names from my mom's records. I'd enjoy champagne toasts, Swedish meat balls and shrimp cocktail. Sometimes I'd enjoy more. You know how it can be at wedding receptions. (Think page 27 of The Godfather.)
One time the bride turned out to be someone I'd dated years before. She was a free spirit, what used to be called a real firecracker. Her favorite song was She Wants a Pearl Necklace by ZZ Topp. She explained what it meant to me. At her wedding she sported a pearl necklace. The First Dance was to that very song.
I went to duck out of there post haste, but she spotted me first. Her and the new hubby come over and she introduces him. He's like, an investment banker or something. It is simply awful. I'm trying to act all suave and nonchalant but there's this image that won't go away.
Am I alone in this?