Monday, January 31, 2005
The big Super Bowl news is two-headed: first, Freddie Mitchell, a non-starting wide receiver for the Eagles, was trash-talking – the week before the Super Bowl – about how porous the Patriots’ secondary is and how he’d like to take advantage of Rodney Harrison, who in his opinion is an especially weak link in the Patriots’ pass defense chain.
What is this, the NBA? A sneaker commercial?
This is the biggest one-off game of the year, and these assholes – not even starters, mind you – do more talking the week before the game then they do all year? If the guy has the onions to back it up on the field, then he’s got the right to speak; if not, someone should really make sure he gets hit and doesn’t get up.
The second of the two-headed monster that is Super Bowl week is the news that Terrell Owens practiced today. He had a good practice, according to Coach Andy Reid. He’s not limping, says ESPN. And he seems to be running well, says FoxSports.
Who gives a shit?
Unless he’s the President, I couldn’t care less if his heart rate dropped to a dangerously low level tomorrow and then was chugging at 180 beats a minute by Thursday. The guy either will play or he won’t come Sunday, and this masturbatory, futile speculation really amazes me. Grown men who actually somehow, for some reason, care about whether Terrell Owens plays or not. I’m not referring to the people who are gambling five or six dollar figures on the game: I’m referring to people who don’t have a spare kidney, a lung transplant or their first-born son’s adoption on the line. Who cares?
The last time the Giants were in the Super Bowl, they were dispatched fairly quickly by the Baltimore Ravens, and despite our excitement over the game (prior to its commencement), I’ve found that, yeah, the ads are fun, but getting an erection over a commercial – unless you’re Bob Dole, or you really dig Pepsi – is sad (yes, it's sadder when you wish you could but you can't). Advertisements, by definition, are fillers to occupy the space between things that – in theory – are meaningful. When the space between what has meaning becomes meaningful as well, it’s time to throw out the baby with the bath-water. Or something like that. In the meantime, I will watch the game, odds are, at Brother Jimmy’s in NYC; mostly, of course, because the ESPNZone is too ‘sanitized’ and features too many tourists from middle America or elsewhere searching for a real “New York” experience. Although that last time, a teammate of mine, to whom we refer as “Meat,” clogged up two stalls (over a period of 45 minutes) thanks to three racks of ribs, a burger, an order of potato skins or onion rings (I don’t remember) and about 15 mugs of Brooklyn Lager. It would have been more poignant had he urinated on some of those middle America folk, so they could have gotten an actual New York experience rather than a mall-i-fied, sanitized, vanilla version thereof.
There’s always next year.
In the meantime, I’m keeping my eyes open for anyone who gets excited over hearing Terrell Owens updates. I’d love to hear how Terrell slipped and fell in the shower on rubber ducky and can’t play; but I’d much prefer he came back and played with his ankle at 50% and his mouth at 150% and the Eagles lost in a laugher.
But even better: he doesn’t play, his team loses and he doesn’t get the chance to prove his stupidity with a sideline interview.
Oh, and some guy from New York sneaks onto the field in Jacksonville (during a commercial) and urinates on him.
That would be a meaningful Super Bowl moment. I’d pay for a ticket to see that. At least I know I’d rather see that than Bob Dole hawking meds to alleviate erectile dysfunction.
Oh, why can’t Super Sunday come more than once a year? :-)
Sunday, January 30, 2005
fire-circles dance on walls near and far,
meandering slowly in quiet, staccato patterns
that thrill and soothe, a soliloquy of light and comfort.
Stretching and yawning and reaching for her,
my late morning Sunday, a contented yearning
missing and longing, questioning nothing,
our kisses blind and routine but
intense, important and elegant, memorable.
As we finish and morning approaches,
the world turns upright and day is here,
us knowing our morning is profound,
worthy of blankets and warmth,
a wandering gaze and hopeful that night
comes soon, and never leaves.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
The restaurant was perfect. Nice, open feel and a cavalcade of sights, smells and flavors that really made it an ideal space...and despite the cold weather outside, it was comfy therein. All in all, a major success. And we sang Happy Birthday to the guest of honor at five minutes to 12, thanQveryMooch.
Zoe is a wonderful restaurant, and their Restaurant Week Prix-Fixe was fairly impressive: I personally started off with a yummy salmon tartare, then moved into Kobe Sirloin (unreal) and we all, for the most part, wrapped up with a Chocolate Trio involving chocolate panacotta (like a flan), a bittersweet chocolate ice cream, and a powdered chocolate ganache cake. I passed on alcohol mostly because I had such a long, tiring week, and as much as I was in the mood for a good cab or a vodka tonic, I knew I was having a tough time keeping awake and didn't want to pass out before dessert. During, perhaps -- but not before :-) It was really a very memorable meal in addition to the great company, despite some significant absences.
I noted my other half being in Cali. here and there out loud and was fairly up front about how much I miss her...and went so far as sharing a picture or two of her "with" me on New Year's Eve, much to the delight of the other attendees. We all felt badly that a couple other friends couldn't make it due to bronchitis and other wintertime maladies. While they didn't make it in person, they were with us in spirit.
This morning I woke up and dove into a pile of paper, reviewing everything necessary to ace my meeting Monday and the subsequent follow-up on Tuesday. The day after that is another big one, so I'll nail that stuff shut tomorrow at some point between loads of laundry and upgrading the PC, and from there I'll be ready to handle Monday morning.
In the meantime, however, I'm munching on some hummus -- which seems nuclear this morning, especially after last night's sumptuous menu -- and absorbing some random Steely Dan. I fired up Aja and floated out into space along with the arpeggios and the solos' crescendoes. It's easy to get lost in another world when its construct is so detailed, like a dream that you live for days or weeks. Even if Monday morning is 36 hours away. I just hope this hummus isn't hallucinogenic...
You call me a fool
You say it's a crazy scheme
This one's for real
I already bought the dream
So useless to ask me why
Throw a kiss and say goodbye
I'll make it this time
I'm ready to cross that fine line
I'll learn to work the saxophone
I'll play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whisky all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues
Friday, January 28, 2005
So rather than let on how drained I am, between the ridiculous work hours, the horrific commute and the weather in general, I'll just smile and go in another direction. And try to keep my eyes open long enough to finish this post.
Tonight's a mini-party for a friend's birthday downtown that I set up, and it's at a restaurant called Zoe (http://www.zoerestaurant.com/) -- a very hip, cutting-edge-sorta establishment that I'd been wanting to hit for awhile. When I originally set up the party, I was expecting my other half in town, so the party would have been a nice way to celebrate with friends, despite the weather, and spend time with my other half simultaneously. 'Twas not to be, unfortunately, as our work schedules and our combined lack of sleep were too difficult to overcome. So while I'm still looking forward to the party, I'm barely conscious and not very excited about hitting the 12-degree NYC air. Once we get to the restaurant I am hoping a Belvedere martini -- or a Taser -- will keep me a bit more alert. I'm betting on the latter.
Tomorrow I have work and a family visit on the agenda; I've also got lots of in-apartment work to get done, as well as some PC maintenance/upgrades, laundry, and some friends to see. Sunday's supposed to be another day of sub-temps and ice in all its guises, so I'll be staring down a pile of files, the keyboard, Excel spreadsheets and expense schedules. And trying to keep focus on the fact that the one thing I want -- my girlfriend here with me -- isn't happening quite yet.
Coming from where I've been, and going out tonight with -- among others -- a friend who also was in a lousy relationship for far too long, it irritates me that I wasted as much time as I did. The tenets of a relationship -- a real relationship based on truth, honesty, love, caring and friendship -- include wanting to be with your significant other. In hindsight, which is clearly 20/20, I'm still not sure what I was thinking. I've never been attracted to monotonous, incomplete, disengenuous, dysfunctional people; I've always been interested in people that have something to say; a reason for existence; people who stand for something. It's like choosing elevator music over Led Zeppelin at the LA Forum in 1975 or 1977, or the Fillmore West in San Fran in 1969. Spending time the way I had for the better part of three years, I see now, was me coasting -- wasting time -- not really knowing what was missing, but knowing, in the back of my head, lots -- everything -- was wrong.
Which brings me to today, and tonight...it hit me that I really feel a bit out of place knowing m'lady's in San Fran and not here with me, laughing and smiling and distracting me in such a distinctive, productive way :-) And as I realize how much I'm missing her, I can't fail to note the contrast in the dread I felt each time I had to board a train to see my ex -- someone, in hindsight, for whom I really didn't care. Seeing someone out of obligation, pity or requirement versus wanting to spend all your days and nights with someone...the contrast is striking. I'm just glad I am where I am, and knowing I'll be seeing her soon is almost good enough; knowing those two-ish years are in the past and all the freakish misery is there too with them is a relief I can't really put into words. Except I know now the main thing, which is: simply put -- all is right.
So I am off to shower and head downtown and try not to contract hypothermia or a social disease from a long cab-ride. Having someone in my life for whom I crave, and missing her terribly, is something new for me; not having her here to keep me smiling and on my toes is a disappointment, but I'm still warm knowing she and I will be together soon, and counting the days until then.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Since I have plenty of work to do over the weekend, plus the possibility of an all-day meeting on Saturday, and a few heavy-duty meetings with clients and/or city personnel next week, I know I'll be too busy to enjoy her being here. But knowing that right now we would have been ensconced somewhere in her hotel room, under the covers and giggling like kids or whispering and laughing, I find myself missing her in a way I've never missed anyone before, and it's a nice, albeit frustrating, feeling.
It's a combination of friendship, love, respect and laughter that has been heretofore unknown to me...I've had girlfriends that have had some of those things going on, and I've endured the needy, clingy, whiny, freak-out-if-I-call-ten-minutes-late variety, though thank god the latter have been few and far between. I'm thinking it's a question of self-reliance, self-respect and just understanding it all, and understanding me. Every time I find myself missing her, which is more often than not these days, I hear the Peter Gabriel song "Love to Be Loved" -- the lyric that always hits me is "I'm losing such a central part of me," and of course I'm not losing anything other than time with her; it just seems that, without her around, a part of me is absent as well. It's sort of bittersweet -- being in a relationship with someone I love, respect, admire, laugh with and genuinely like -- and without her here, I miss her. As much as I'm glad I crave her being in my life, I am looking forward to when she finally becomes a full-fledged New Yorker and I can crave her from hour to hour instead of day to day. She's just...cool. She gets it, and she lights me up and recharges me no matter what, when or how. She just is The Real Deal.
And the prospect of mid-town, private, late afternoon lunches that last until way into night :-)
Meanwhile, it's nearing zero degrees in NYC, and trying to keep warm without her here is a losing battle. But I'd gladly endure a year of this weather for a weekend with her -- here, there or anywhere.
Well, maybe not a year...but for a weekend in bed with champagne, candles and her perfume...
A year sounds good...for starters...
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
I'm not even sure where to begin, so I will just say this: I thank the lord for politicians like Marion Barry and this newest member of the Bowel-Movement-In-A-Suit club, Frank Shurden.
I haven't laughed out loud that heartily for quite some time.
Please, please, please...would someone please tweak Mr. Shurden's dose? He needs a boost. Or a lobotomy. Or both.
As of this writing, it costs $2.00 to board a subway or bus. Technically, you could spend an entire day (or a week) roaming the subway system for that two bucks; but most people swipe their Metrocard, walk through a turnstile, get on a subway, go somewhere, get off the train, go through another turnstile, and go on about their day. Two dollars is not a lot of money for a system that, for the most part, works really well.
Except these days, thanks to the inordinate amount of snow that fell in New York over the weekend (and then some), the MTA is, and New Yorkers in general are, apparently, having a tough time coping. Yesterday morning, for example, I went to my local bus stop (diagonally across the street from my building) and waited for a bus...and waited...and waited...and waited. Finally, when a bus finally showed up (twenty minutes later), I got on (along with ten times the normal amount of people who usually board at that stop). When my sister, who lives seven blocks away from me (on the way to the office), and I are on the same morning schedule, I save her a seat so we can have an informal "business meeting" while riding to work. However, due to the lack of buses, there were a shitload of people on the bus that particular morning, so as people attempted to sit in the seat next to me, I said "I'm saving this seat for someone getting on at the next stop," and, for the most part, they were okay with that. However, one large -- LARGE -- woman took exception. She had brown hair, but otherwise resembled Michael Caine's female alter-ego in "Dressed to Kill." This, despite being my honest opinion, is not a complimentary one.
So when she attempted to park her ass on the seat next to me, I said politely "I'm sorry, I'm saving this for my sister, she's getting on at the next stop." Instead of saying "Okay" and moving on, Morticia (my nickname for her) decides to share her ugliness verbally as well as visually. "Saving it for someone?" And sticks her nose up. As she continues down the aisle, I say "Thank you" noting her demeanor and not appreciating same. Apparently she didn't make it very far down the aisle because I heard her mutter something and then someone, a man, asked her "What did he say?" She responded, loudly, by saying "He said he's SAVING the seat for someone. He'll learn -- that doesn't work in New York." And she chuckled condescendingly. So, being that I waited for 20 minutes for a bus, I wasn't appreciating her attitude. And I turned around and responded with: "Neither does putting on a pound of make-up with a spoon, you skank."
She didn't respond verbally to that. Although several people around me did -- by laughing out loud.
When she wound up sitting a half-dozen seats away, in front of me and to the side, I noticed a sarcastic look cross her face when my sister finally got on the bus and sat down next to me. So I gave her a friendly wave.
What I learned from this experience is that being polite is always a good first effort, but once you realize that people are too far gone for rational, respectful, decent behavior, don't hesitate to let them know what you think of them. It's very therapeutic letting people know what you think about them, so I tend to willingly tell people to go fuck themselves, to paraphrase Joe Pesci, more often than not. Doesn't matter if it's a three-nippled nun, a bull-dyke make-up-laden transvestite hooker or The Mayor. In fact, I'd prefer it was Hizzoner...that would make it more rewarding.
This little nugget of experience would have been flushed along with the rest of yesterday's inconsequential events, except this morning, an almost identical set of circumstances occurred, ie a 20+ minute wait for a bus, a lot of people waiting impatiently, and the same she-he-beast boarded the bus. Of course, I was saving the seat, and, of course, she didn't even look in my direction or near the seat when she slowly lumbered down the aisle.
But, like the day before, she was wearing a faceful of Morticia-worthy make-up.
So...the lesson learned...even if you tell people what you think of them, many still prefer wallowing in their own little puddles of worthlessness to changing.
It's always nice to be able to learn something new each day ;-)
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
I've been contemplating a second business; once I hire the spokesmodels -- one guy, one girl, and a baby pot-bellied pig -- I've got it set. I've got the start-up capital, the will, the drive, and I've got the vision.
It's called "www.trailerparkromance.com" -- the world's first online dating site for up-and-coming mobile non-professionals.
Think about it...your cousin Elmer from Frail Bones, Texas, with the buck tooth and the cleft pallete, his trailer a mess and his mystical worship of well water might find a place next to Sheila of Rat's Nest, Iowa, with her hairy breasts, her brown/red/blonde/blue hair shining in the moonlight through the hole in her roof and her ankles ("cankles") quivering as she moves slowly from the fridge to the couch to the bathroom and back to the couch yet again.
Since the site is designed for people who live in trailers, there is no "option" for whether a member is interested in relocating; it's phrased a bit differently. The question is, rather, whether said member is able (or rather, if his/her mobile home is indeed mobile and actually road-worthy).
Instead of those silly criteria (height, weight, activity level), there would be a variety of useful info, such as: Number of Teeth, Drink of Choice, Welfare (Y/N), and a variety of lifestyle choices, including some gender-specific ones, like "Favorite Snack" (with radio buttons indicating yes/no to Pork Rinds, Cheez Doodles, Nose Goblins and Other); "Jerry Springer" (two choices: been on the show, seen it in person); gender-specific questions include, for men, "Showering" (three choices: weekly, monthly, in the summer); "Fashion" (guinea T, shirtless, mesh cut-off shirt); "Underwear" (marble-bag, none, when clean). Women's questions include "Shave vs. Wax" (Boobs Shave, Boobs Wax, Who Can Afford Candles?), "High Heels" (With Socks, Without Socks, Only for Horizontal Use), "How Many Kids in Prison" (One, Two, Three, All), and all respondents are asked about their personal enjoyment of life, eg "Drug of Choice" (Nyquil, Marijawanna, Vicks, Crazy Glue, Elmer's), "Favorite Beer" (Natural Light, Milwaukee's Best, Homemade) and "Favorite Sexual Position" (Inside, Outside, On Top of the Trailer).
I did some preliminary research and response to my concept was very favorable, except most of those I surveyed didn't know what the Internet was. But that's but a small obstacle to greatness.
Once I get a model or two to pose for the pictures, I'll arrange for special on-site demonstrations. I just need to scope out a few Fayva shoestores that are near bus stops and below the Mason-Dixon Line. If you have any ideas, e-mail me. For any ideas I use on the site, I'll be sure to express my thanks with food stamps and Nascar-themed prepaid phone cards.
One more thing: for the first ten people who sign up and have a working computer in their trailer, we'll offer gift certificates for a free Mini Winnie bag of Frozen Tater Tots. Remember: as it says on each and every bag -- oven not included.
Thanks for your time, and good luck in the land of RV Romance!
And don't steal my idea or I'll put a cherry-bomb in your septic tank.
recklessly as it came,
whitish dots on the window,
panes iced over by wind and shear.
The warmth it brings nears and
covers me, holding, cradling me,
guarding against the onset of night, fading
in and out, late and early.
The night is spent in slow, surreal
comfort, the kind of welcome malaise
that brings me to my knees, and you
to yours, as colors fade to sepia and beyond.
Waking is sweet sorrow, given the hour and
the task at hand, but in dreams we live
and in life we wake and take the hours
into the future, if we're lucky.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
So after a quick shower and some provisions (a bagel with butter and strawberry jam and some OJ), I was ready to proceed with more work and more productivity. Except I wound up doing some absolutely necessary apartment cleaning and then finally, after an hour and a half, settled down to work.
I dug through what was left of my paperwork and took a break a bit before two to hit the store (more DC and more -- in other words, better -- provisions) and came back to the sad news about Johnny Carson. After a bit more down-time and a bit more work, I wrapped it up and watched football for the remainder of the afternoon.
I'm not sure when it occurred to me, but, essentially, a combination of being a New York Giants fan and seeing Terrel "He's Gay I Tellya" Owens dancing on the Eagles sideline, pissed me off. First of all, the Giants are miserable -- have been for a few years now -- and I've been largely removed from real interest in the unfolding football season well before December for the last few years. Enjoying football, however, became a non-issue over the past few years because I would generally have to spend time with my then-girlfriend, and watching the Giants lose in an awful way, week after week, was, believe it or not, more excruciating than spending time with her, so the Giants being in the shitter over the past few years coincided with me being in the same place, so to speak.
Now that that yoke is gone, I'm hoping the Giants bounce back. I figure...I did my part, so they should too... Then again, I'm not holding my breath. One miracle at a time :-)
In the mean time, I was relatively tweaked watching the first of the two games this afternoon, ie the Eagles handily beating Atlanta 27-10; the Eagles are a good team so if they do win the Super Bowl, then so be it. I just don't like smug, trash-talking, me-first assholes like Terrel Owens being recognized and rewarded for his talent, despite the fact that he is a legitimate all-star receiver. I was just hoping the next game, New England at Pittsburgh, would be a more enjoyable game, because I like both teams and hope that it will be a lot closer than was its predecessor.
Anyhoo...between the two games, I ventured back out to the store to get a few more things and to get some air and some exercise, and I was coldly greeted by cold blasts of air, biting wind and slushy, crunchy snow-covered sidewalks...not fun. What bothered me even more was walking by the restaurant that's a block from my building; it's a top-notch place that is a hidden gem because so few people know about it (or are willing to go this far East to get there) and, thus, it's a place we've made our own. I've gone there a variety of times with a variety of people, and the last time I was there was with my other half. Seeing the nearly empty main dining room (there was one couple eating dinner less than an hour ago) reminded me of my other half and I instantly got both warm and cold. Thinking of her makes me happy, but knowing she's on her way home from Tahoe and not waiting for me in my apartment left me feeling a bit empty. On my way back from the store, I noticed that no one was occupying our area of the bar, a small "nook," for lack of a better term, where we've logged quite a few late-night hours on one of their couches. Realizing she'll be back in NYC soon got me warm again, and I crunched my way back to my apartment thinking good things and not thinking about tomorrow's cold, busy morning but the days to come, of warmth, happiness and smiles.
All in all, not a bad way to wrap up a weekend.
As of tomorrow, I'm back on the clock...for the time being, though, I'm looking forward to kickoff, my other half and I in bed, and the smell of her perfume resonating in my apartment.
And lime jello.
Only four days ago, literally, I encountered an article about Carson that made me smile: the article, located at http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=entertainmentNews&storyID=656445, reported that Carson would, every so often, send David Letterman a joke to use with the latter's monologue. It also mentioned that he was battling emphysema and that, at 79, he was enjoying retirement. Finally, it added that Carson always privately regarded Letterman as the proper Tonight Show heir.
And then today's news reminded me that, despite being off the air since 1992, Johnny Carson was an icon not just of late-night television but of this country, sort of like a wittier, funnier Bob Hope. While I, like many of my peers, was too young to observe Johnny Carson's rise from small-time to big-time to national to An Institution, I remember watching how many guests expressed their respect and their love and admiration for the man who, for me, defined The Tonight Show, for restrained class, and the high standard by which the other late-night entertainers are and will be judged.
I happen to agree that David Letterman is Carson's heir apparent, and while that may be true, it won't change the fact that, as of this morning, we as a nation lost An Institution.
Time to watch a movie.
So I grab and pop open "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and, having seen it a few times prior, run through it laughing and smiling pretty much the whole way. Hatchet Harry, Barry the Baptist, Big Chris and Rory Black, aka the "little freak with an afro" are among the cast of misfits that populate this movie. And despite the language barrier -- the cockney slang, some of which was completely invented for the film (a la "Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead), is thicker and harder to decipher here than a complete foreign language -- the film is genuinely and thoroughly entertaining. Some of the best on-screen moments result from Vinnie Jones as "Big Chris" pummeling an occupant of a tanning booth, but that's only scratching the surface. A keeper no matter what time of day or night, provided you've got a good home theater system and either solid, insulating walls or easy-going neighbors.
I got some work done and made some foodstuffs, although boiling up a pot of pasta and throwing together a roasted garlic marinara sauce isn't the stuff of gourmet legend. These days, with the minutes growing shorter and the deadlines coming faster and even more furious, I'm just happy I get the chance to do some cooking of "real" food every now and then (without burning down the kitchen). Mission accomplished this day.
So I am off to ring my other half...she having fun at a casino somewhere in Tahoe and me barely able to leave my building. The snow should tail off sometime tomorrow in NYC so I am looking forward to being able to finish up my work tomorrow afternoon right before the NFL kicks into gear and watch a few hours thereof before I get to shut down the weekend and go back into high gear Monday morning.
It occurs to me as I wind down for the night that blizzards should never be allowed to destroy an entire weekend, unless said weekend is going to spent entirely in one's office. So I guess I can't, and shouldn't, complain. Then again, I have a feeling I would have found a way to be out and about at some point had the entire world not been blanketed in white. So I'm heading to sleep, allaying judgement until I see what kind of day tomorrow is. I'm not sure if I want it to just keep snowing, or if I'd prefer if it was smooth and clear tomorrow so Monday morning's commute is easier; in either case, tomorrow is another day (well, it's actually later, but never mind that).
To be continued...
Saturday, January 22, 2005
tense moments between production and daydreams,
she moves with deliberation, aim, purpose of vision and truth.
The scent approaches first, cascading and floating
while time stands still, our eyes locked on the snowfall
and the wind carrying the outside world away beneath it.
We move together and land, eyeing amid the chaos beyond the glass.
Our breathing comes short and stilted, sliding and matching,
our rhythm complete and even and right.
The drums sound in the distance, meandering slowly through,
finding our attention through an ultimatum of distended interruption.
My return, we settle beneath invisible stars for darkness's nightly visit.
So as he described the scene: people scouting and fighting over not only parking spots but shopping carts, which apparently were in short supply, and I smugly advised him that I wasn't too worried, because, short of nuclear holocaust, the Korean deli up the block would remain open. Open mouth, insert foot.
This morning I was working through my files and opted to take a break. I got a call from a friend who had wisely gone marketing yesterday, so I split around 11ish and as the snow started, I met my sister her building (she lives less than ten blocks away) and we headed over to the market: the scene was irascible, irrational chaos (the market, not my sister).
There were five checkout lanes and about seventy-five people on a line that wrapped around the length of the far aisle and halfway back. Meaning that the perimeter of the entire shopping area was covered. Old ladies with shmatas covering their blue hair, their rollie-cart-things filled with mothballs, orange juice, toilet paper and Hungry Man dinners piled thrice high, arguing over who's sicker, Sadie in Fort Lauderdale or Esther in Boca.
As we're attempting to absorb this, there were people pushing and shoving around or through us, toting adult diapers, boxes of pancake mix, hair care products and all other types of weird supermarket paraphernalia. The order of the lines became more and more chaotic with people cutting, crossing over, switching, piling on and switching. I had a bag full of stuff -- some turkey, a pre-roasted chicken, a Portuguese bread, a few bagels, some strawberry jam and Diet Coke -- NYC staples. As I moved my bag o' things along the line, I just watched and took it all in and laughed. A semi-blizzard in New York...what a trip.
After we made it through checkout hell, I got back in, unpacked and talked to mah other half to see how she'd made out at the casinos in Tahoe last night. The good news is she won $40 or so; the bad news I wasn't with her. Next time we hit a casino together I'll make sure she rubs me for good luck -- though it occurs to me as I write this that waiting to employ that strategy until our next casino jaunt might be a mistake. :-)
So I'm aboot to dive back into my temporary world of files and paperwork, with the Foo Fighters album "One By One" pounding through my PC's speakers and shaking the floor. The album starts out with the adrenaline-pulse of "All My Life" (the bridge rides a power D chord that is pure nuclear head-banging outro material) and gets louder and louder. I never was much of a Nirvana fan due to the complete desolation and depression their stuff imparted, but I must say the Foo Fighters (led by Dave Grohl, former Nirvana drummer and the Foo Fighter's chief songwriter and lead singer/guitarist) is a good mix of loud and optimism. Sort of like a more happy-feeling Soundgarden. More and more I'm digging this album, especially because everything seems to have a point other than the grunge-futility of Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and the aforementioned Soundgarden and Nirvana. Another tune herein, "Times Like These," is especially optimistic. I think it had something to do with Grohl's impending divorce, but either way, I got the lyrics and post them below for your perusal...the music is worthwhile on its own but the lyrics definitely found a place in me, given my recent past. Definitely worth a download or trip to the store, whether click-and-order or brick-and-mortar.
I am a one way motorwayEnough procrastination. I've got chicken, chicken soup, Diet Coke, my tunes and my files under which I'll be buried for awhile. If you need me later, I'll be cooking: follow the scent of basil and garlic pasta and, mebbe later, microwave popcorn.
I’m the one that drives away
Then follows you back home
I am a street light shining
I’m a wild light blinding bright
Burning off alone
It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again
I am a new day rising
I’m a brand new sky
To hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
Do I stay or run away
And leave it all behind?
It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again
Aloha for now.
Friday, January 21, 2005
Not the kind of cold that makes you go "brrrr," mind you...rather, the kind of cold that hits you where you stand, pervades your body and makes you wonder how many steps you can take before you say "The hell with this, I'm going back inside." I made it the block and a half to the store to get "provisions" -- water, DC, soup and a loaf of bread -- and holy christ, I swear I dunno how the eskimos do it.
I stopped by CNN.com earlier and read about a man -- Patrick Something-or-other (no, he's not a Native American) -- who weighed over 1,000 pounds -- 1,072, to be precise -- and he apparently was so obese that they couldn't perform stomach reduction surgery on him until he got stronger. But his nine-person medical team -- yep, you read that right, nine people -- finally saw he was improving and now, praise the lord, he's down to a svelte 610 pounds -- and, to quote the CNN article at http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/01/21/half.ton.man.ap/index.html -- "[he] is healthier."
Okay, now, before I wind up and let 'er rip, we really have far too many fucked-up stories in the news these days. There...I just needed to make that statement.
Here goes: nine people had to help a man who weighed over one thousand pounds become healthier (jesus christ) by dropping almost half his body weight? The guy doesn't need stomach reduction, he needs stomach removal. Let him subsist on Flintstone vitamins and Cracker Jacks for a month.
I guess this story should be filed alongside all those stories of imbeciles who get trapped in wells, falling into remote parts of canyons after their handgliders fail, or the couples who become lodged in the backseats of their cars after a bit too much strenuous "activity." It just seems to me that nine doctors trying to help a man that far gone is disturbing. When is enough enough? The half-ton man didn't get that way overnight...so when did he realize, "Hey, I have a serious problem...maybe I ought to seek professional help?" Three-fifty? Four hundred? Hint...once you hit 500 pounds, it's time to pick up the Slimfast and pass on the Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet.
What do you say to someone who loses four hundred pounds? Going from 1,072 to 610..."wow, Bob, you're starting to really look trim! Way to go, dude!"
What you should say: "Bob, you are halfway there. Why the hell did you let yourself get this heavy? And what the hell do you think you're doing with that box of Twinkies?"
The futility facing hockey fans and the NHL Lockout has become more troubling: this past week, the Players' Union representative, Trevor Linden, appealed to the League to meet in order to re-start the process of negotiation in the hopes -- a last-ditch effort, really -- to save the 2004-05 season and, perhaps, the sport's existence in North America. After two days of the higher-ups, minus the head of the League, Gary Bettman, and the Players Union Rep., Bob Goodenow, meeting and trying to get something started, it's nearly official. No progress was made and none is in the immediate future.
Unfortunately, what was clear three months ago -- that the NHL can't continue without some sort of salary cap -- is still the case, and will likely erase the 2004-05 season, and perhaps part of next season as well. What part of the statement "There are teams who lose less money during a lockout than when games are being played" is unclear? The league as it is currently constructed can't continue to operate. The Players Association has offered up several worthwhile concessions, including revenue sharing and salary tax benefits: and the NHL, each time, has responded with "We can't continue to operate as a League without some sort of salary cap."
Whoever said hockey players are, for the most part, stupid, was not a hockey player.
Doesn't change the fact that he was right.
A (former) judge in Oklahoma was recently charged with using a penis pump, in court, on three separate occasions. In addition, he is also suspected of masturbating while on the bench -- during trials. All I can say is this: if I'm Rusty The Bailiff and I see Judge Wapner "pumping up" during a trial, I report it. It doesn't happen again, let alone a third time.
The former judge has also been suspected of "dispensing" seminal fluid as well as urine into a wastebasket while cases -- murder cases -- were being tried.
You know the United States, as a nation, needs help when a suspect on trial for murder eyes his judge pumping himself up and says "That dude's fucked up."
Um...forget drug testing, the right to bear automatic weapons, and abortion -- Washington, Jefferson and Adams are, right this minute, turning over in their graves.
It all started Monday (doesn't it always?) when I got a call from a client to review two files we have pending on said client's behalf. Since the two files represent about $3 million dollars of expense, I didn't balk -- thanQverymooch -- and got to reviewing the stuff because we weren't getting very far with the NYC Agency with which we had been working to get the client benefits. Lost yet? Good.
Anyhoo...so we made an appointment with higher-ups in that agency and -- at the same time -- I got more "good" news in that another matter on which I've been working was in need of a seven-person meeting and that the meeting time would be indicated sometime Monday afternoon. So...I get a call from Client A advising me that we'll be meeting with the higher-ups at 10AM on Friday, January 21st, and then about a half-hour later I get a call regarding Matter B indicating our meeting will be at 10:30AM on Friday, January 21st. PANIC. Then I realize it's time to run to Bathroom C. Sounds like some sort of horrific Chinese menu gone very much awry.
I call back Client A to re-work the meet time, which we do -- to 9:30AM. But then I realize it might not be enough time to wrap up before Meeting B, so I e-mail Client A, explaining the timing and that I will do whatever necessary to get it done, but if not, we'll go back for reinforcement (ie to search for more paper) and go from there. Soooooo....I work until late yesterday night, get to sleep almost immediately upon returning home (and leaving some graffiti on the blog), and wakey-wakey at 5:30AM, out the door at 6:15ish.
The world is a strange fucking place at 6:15AM. There are a lot of people flitting about. There are buses, there are mothers with babies, there are sanitation workers, and there are drivers who aren't paying as much attention to the road as they are their coffee...hence I almost got picked off at 55MPH on York Avenue crossing over to get me a ride to the office. Since I was wound tighter than a nun's cha-cha on a cold day in the castle, I didn't much mind nearly becoming a hood ornament -- although if that ever happens, I am hoping it's a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley that takes me down and not some piece-of-shit Lincoln Town Car (Gypsy Cab model) that almost had my name all over it (and my form on its hood).
So I manage to arrive at my office in one piece -- I don't remember the last time I made it to the office before 7AM but I remember this morning. It was very strange heading upstairs in the elevator at the time when most people (myself included) are just getting out of bed, but whatever -- that's why I get paid (ha!) the big bucks.
I finished assembling all the paperwork I (thought I) needed for my first meeting so I made the requisite copies and headed Downtown. Of course I was loving life when the train got stuck for about ten minutes at 14th Street, leaving me and the roadies wound even tighter than my prior description (okay, if you need yet another descriptive metaphor, I -- and the roadies, too -- were wound tighter than a frog's ass in a toxic swamp. You asked for it, dintcha?).
Needless to say, I got to my first meeting a few minutes late but otherwise no real trouble. I got a good portion of my documentation submitted and that made me happy, but in order for us to not get shot out of the water by Big Bad City Agency Number 1, we had to have more of it in, so, sho'nuff, Boogie's working the entire weekend. Which isn't really a bad thing, because it's going to be a shitty weekend either way -- my woman's going to Tahoe and the weather here is supposed to be awful (how aboot a foot of snow between tonight and tomorrow?).
So...I get a little chiding from my client ("why wasn't more of this material in sooner?" -- but otherwise no problems, and then I get summoned by "the group" assembling for meeting #2, which is a (mostly) good thing, ie it shows I'm not sitting at home eating Cheese Doodles, milking the lizard and watching I Dream of Genie marathons. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Meeting #2 goes relatively well, in that I am thoroughly prepared and Ready to Rock (yep, capital R's on the front and back). Of course my opinion is rarely sought, but I was ready nonetheless. Put another way: better to be prepared than wish I was and be unprepared. Sort of like "better to have a gun and not need it than need a gun and not have it." Sort of.
The meeting wrapped up and I hightailed it out of there, as I was hoping to get to another city agency to obtain some paperwork I needed; as I'm waiting in line, I (and everyone else in the place) hears some guy tearing some attitudinal city worker a new one because she wouldn't let him pay off the City's towing charges (um, his car got, like, towed) and he needed to have his mother sign and return some document (the car was in her name). Apparently, after reaming out said city worker, he wanted -- and requested from her -- the fax number to get the signed document submitted but the city worker -- we'll call her Attitudina -- was having none of it. He asked her "Okay, can you give me the fax number so I can have the paper signed and returned right now?" Her response: "Sorry, I forgot the number and can't recall where I wrote it down." He walked away muttering (loudly enough for everyone in the place to hear) "Bitch." Which was a bad move because she, much like the rest of the city staff in that building, is black, and he, and I would guess, his mom, are white. So he took a bad situation and made it lots, lots worse.
And stuck leaving, without getting the fax number and without resolving the situation.
City workers 1, White Dude 0.
It took all I could to restrain myself from a) laughing; b) shaking my head; c) feeling badly for this guy; and d) not telling the woman working with me and printing the paperwork I needed once I got to the head of the line that she was slow, stupid and inefficient. In other words, (and I wished I could have said this to the car-was-towed guy): sometimes you get a lot, lot farther with honey than with vinegar. And sometimes flipping someone the bird, while a feelgood, doesn't get the job done.
Sooooo....I wrap up my business at City Agency #2, head on over to City Agency #3 when I notice...my cell phone's about to die. Since I went to sleep earlier than most librarians last night, I forgot to charge the bastage so by this afternoon it was beeping and chirping and letting me know it was roughly three minutes from shut-off. So I braved the four blocks from City Agency #2 to a nearby Verizon store, with a middle eastern saleswoman who, of course, wanted to sell me a replacement battery -- that I would need to go home and CHARGE before it could be USED -- so that was a complete waste of time...although I liked her perfume, it reminded me of my other half. Then I had a thought...go to Radio Shack and see if, by gum, they might have a solution.
So I did...it turns out those freaks with pocket protectors actually sell disposable "emergency" batteries for cell phones. Honest to god, there actually is a product for the market that is relatively inexpensive, useful, and does its job efficiently (not to mention saving one's ass). I bought this one: http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=CTLG&product%5Fid=23-701 and it worked like a charm. I had a half-dozen calls to make (two to my other half, dontcha know) and it slipped onto the bottom of the phone and worked perfectly. Granted, it's not going to win any beauty awards, and it's sort of awkward to use, but hot damn, it saved me because I had two or three business calls to make and having a cell-phone beeping at me while on the phone with Client A, Client B or even Client M would have been less-than-ideal. So I whole-heartedly recommend those cheapo use-and-toss cell-batteries. If you want to get me a bunch, I'll give you my address. More importantly, that's one of the few items Radio Shack sells for which I actually have a use and would be willing to walk out of their store with a Radio Shack bag in tow.
Indeed, you learn something new every day.
So here I am, poking through e-mails, navigating about a foot of papers and counting down the hours til my next foray through the snow to the winter wonderland known as my office. And missing my other half as she parties, gambles, skis and lodges (well, parties, gambles and lodges) in Tahoe. It's a short week coming up, though, as she's winding her way into NYC at the tail end of the week, so I guess I could be in worse shape. I'm just glad she's not in this weekend, because I know it'd be a lot harder to get anything (productive) done knowing she was occupying my bed without me being there. Reminds me of a Billy Joel song called "Temptation:"
It's time for me to be on my way I know
I've got business to conduct and I've got places to go
But I can't help looking at her sleeping instead
Another morning I'll have trouble climbing out of this bed
Because...she's such a temptation.
Love when Billy Joel puts things in perspective, perfectly.
In either case, I'm in for an early night, as the temperature in NYC is dropping into the single digits and I don't plan on losing any of my extremities to hypothermia just yet. For the most part, I'll hang with a friend (we've been talking about hitting a bar on the East Side for about a month now), get in earlyish, fire up a movie and then get to sleep by one. In the meantime, of course, I could always find other things to do if I wanted to stay home, but what would I do?
I'm not into eating Cheese Doodles and I don't do I Dream of Genie marathons.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
If you've read his post at the above link and made it back here, you are now aware that the author of the above-linked blog listed the 11 tunes on U2's latest release, "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb." And while it's actually kinda entertaining reading his anti-U2 rant, it's actually sort of interesting, in a sociological, pathological kinda way. Note I didn't include scatalogical, phantasmagorical or cyclical.
Essentially, more than half of the guy's anti-U2 rant centers on non-musical visuals and the aura U2 has espoused in (or been anointed by) the media.
Personally, I've moved past the U2 aesthetic which, essentially, portrays Bono as a latter-day Jesus and The Edge as a really talented guitarist. Neither is true. Bono just speaks his mind and thinks that anywhere in the world where a child or a dissident is, respectively, neglected or abused, he needs to speak up. Personally, I respect people who have opinions that are expressed (along with action) in the attempt to help people. U2's last album featured a song called "Walk On" that was dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese dissident who, despite being properly elected as leader of that nation, has been under house arrest since 1989. Singers and actors and celebrities in general, I feel, should do their jobs and keep their opinions to a dull roar. Do I personally care what Boy George thinks about the giant coins of the Yap Islanders? Not particularly. But hot damn, if Boy George managed to create a keeper of a tune (yeah, I know, not gonna happen) then so be it.
Then the other part of me believes that opinions are like assholes: everyone's got one.
My main thing about U2, whether or not you care, is that their music, for me, is entertaining and worthwhile. I'm not a fan of the ridiculous aura that surrounds them -- no band will ever out-cool the Stones in the 70's and Led Zeppelin in the late 60's, and Bono's eyewear usually makes me nauseous. But what he's wearing on his face is irrelevant if the music is good and the musician (or the group) has integrity. Their iPod campaign isn't a sell-out -- not in my opinion -- and for the most part, I respect them as a group, even if Bono wears stupid eyewear, The Edge looks like a guy who just pulled a robbery of a bodega in Washington Heights and the other two guys (like anyone really cares what their names are) are just sort of bouncing around as a backing duo. So the bottom line is if the music is worth listening to, I listen to it. I have plenty of stuff in my collection that isn't "mainstream" stuff you'd hear on any radio, and I avoid watching videos and MTV (see http://houseofboogie.blogspot.com/2004/12/music-for-rentsort-of.html if you need clarification). In essence, music should stand on its own, and should be judged on its own. If your listening tastes are affected by what kind of glasses a guy is wearing or his t-shirt or what he looks like, then you're just as guilty of lining up (for or against) as some nimrod in Wisconsin who thinks Britney Spears is the ideal woman and Madonna is her mother.
Then again, the Rolling Stone article portraying Bono as Jesus really did irritate me.
Guess I won't listen to "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb." Let's see...what can I listen to? Oh, The Police, "Ghost in the Machine"...naw, Sting looks stupid with his hair that way...hmmm...
Worth a look...and a grain of salt:
singing praise and warmth and silken skin,
soft and electric and dancing in the air.
Beads of sweat and contact, pure thunder,
pulses racing and pounding to a silent
rhythm, the tachometre's incessant ticks
like a metronome astounding, precise,
breaths and insight shared and evolved.
The snow falls and drifts and clouds
my vision obscured, night's gentle tines,
easing me back to the days and the future's
engaging comfort, reliable and rewarding,
my own delight in a life's repast.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
The "little blue pill," aka Viagara, began popping up (no pun intended) a half-dozen or so years ago, and since then, the, um, cat's out of the bag...since then, erectile dysfunction seemingly has become a topic which can be interspersed with yeast infections, halitosis and the ever-popular exzcema. They have morphed into items for discussion at cocktail parties and lunch, instead of closeted jokes mentioned in passing during late-night monologues and the Playboy joke page (or even the occasional Jim Carrey movie).
The majority of the television ads for these products (those I've seen, anyway) usually depict a happy, older couple (say, in their late 40's or 50's) longingly eyeing one another, walking hand in hand, or lounging about in bathtubs set on outdoor docks. I'm not exactly sure why the aforementioned tubs are on docks in the middle of the great outdoors, but I'm sure there's a good reason for same (although that, clearly, would explain the gentleman's inability to "get ready").
I'm not sure when it became fine and dandy to suffer publicly with this problem (usually it was a colloquial description of the issue, ie 'my sex life is like shooting pool with a rope') rather than referring to "ED." I think it began around the time Rafael Palmeiro, a rather sturdy-looking baseball player, began appearing in Viagara ads. The idea, clearly, was to suggest that if Rafael Palmeiro can't get it up, then there's nothing wrong with the viewer in his inability to get it up. Except I think that's clearly the wrong message.
We live in a culture of Maxim, increasingly revealing fashion, porno stars as celebrities and Internet Porn; once we (sic) evolved through the 1980's and the 1990's, we became inundated with more and more skin being shown publicly, whether it was on a PC monitor, in a strip club, on the cover of adolescent magazines or on the street. We live in an age of Hooters calling itself (without snickering) a family restaurant. Strip clubs are now surreptitiously regarded as "upscale" and hookers have been replaced with "escort services."
Nomenclature aside, then, that we have increasingly fostered and/or accepted a dial-up, order in and enjoy (on the clock) sexual gratification, from the virtual (onscreen) to the literal (escorts). And if our on-demand gratification isn't compatible with our otherwise pre-emptive schedules, then we can take a pill (if same is necessary) to insure we can get it done.
I'm not tsk-tsking men who require any of the three aforementioned impotency drugs; I do, however, wonder where the next stop on the kama sutra food chain this is going. Perhaps the rise of AIDS and other serious sexually transmitted diseases are in part to blame; rather than finding gratification outside a marriage, more men are staying home and using drugs to make the situation, and their equipment, work. It just somehow rings hollow when society and technology combine to provide a pill for the pitfalls of daily life, whether it's Prozac and Xanax to make people feel happy, Ritalin to alleviate our miniscule, MTV-era attention spans, or Viagara et al to insure we as a culture can enjoy being intimate with our partners, be they long-term or first dates.
The one positive result of all this advertising for erectile dysfunction is that I rarely see specific, dinner-time ads hawking diarrhea cures like Immodium, aka Liquid Hoover Dam. And even better, I don't remember the last time I witnessed a daughter asking her mother, "Mom, do you ever have that feeling of being...you know...not so fresh?"
I'd continue with this, but I just heard, from the TV playing in the background, an ad for Depends "Adult Undergarments." And I realized that this all is a losing battle. It will never be safe to watch TV while eating dinner ever again.
If anyone needs me, I'll be locked in the bathroom with a copy of War & Peace.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
So upon my arrival to work, I read somewhere that the Powers-That-Be at Fox decided to blur a naked ass (a male character's ass, I believe) on a re-run of The Family Guy. If you're unaware of why that statement just blows my mind, let me first state that the show is a cartoon -- they blurred out a naked ass on a cartoon, despite that cartoon not being an "adult"-oriented show but rather a comedy. They are so afraid of the FCC that they, literally, had to electronically blur a collection of pixels which depict a cartoon character's buttocks. WTF?
Any day now I expect to see the coming of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. Either that, or Mike Tyson will start doing Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much the same thing.
I apologize in advance for what will be a brief but emphatic rant, but it is simply beyond my scope of comprehension when a network has such fear of the FCC or any other government entity that it feels the need to censor a cartoon. To expound on this theory, said cartoon was a re-run -- they broadcast the original episode without altering the "naked ass" and they certainly didn't get any complaints then, as they didn't the other night. What the hell are the Fox people thinking? Or are they even thinking at all? Incredible...
Apparently, their fear of the FCC stems from a $7,000-per-affiliate fine the FCC levied in response to a broadcast of a Fox program entitled "Married By America," which depicted men licking whipped cream off strippers' bodies. Now, whether I have or have not personally enjoyed whipped cream a-la stripper, it seems to me that Fox's broadcast of a show whose sole point was to be prurient, to tittilate and to explore the more base, sleazy aspect of life, should never have been broadcast. Slapping a "Parental Guidance" tag at the beginning of an edgy, adult-oriented show (like NYPD Blue, which showed -- gasp -- David Caruso's bare ass -- and I still have nightmares) is a start. But this is beyond stupidity. It's a joke. And this is why, aside from football telecasts, I don't, can't and won't watch Fox anymore.
A large part of what has led the FCC to become so visible in the last twelve months is their focusing on Howard Stern's morning radio program. Howard Stern is a funny, crude, simplistic radio comedian; his humor, however, is so misogynistic that it borders on being anti-woman. Despite all that, he is funny. But he's in the wrong medium, and, frankly, he doesn't espouse the type of listener that can use their imagination. Across the East River, in Queens, Don Imus, another radio/comedy/morning man, associates with politicos and commentators rather than strippers and foot-long sausage-fellaters, and while Imus's humor can also be construed as crude and base (keep in mind Imus and Stern briefly worked together on WNBC in the 80's), Stern goes for T&A and bathroom humor where Imus focuses on cerebral-ish humor. To wit, whereas Imus interviews presidential candidates, Stern interviews porn star of the year candidates. Put another way, Stern does a fart joke (replete with a half-dozen sound effects); Imus will spend five minutes discussing the sounds which emanated from his butt the night prior.
Essentially, the FCC began going after Stern after he began graphically describing and glorifying sex acts on the air -- keeping in mind that he broadcasts from 6AM to 10AM, a time when many parents (and many extremely uptight adults) are listening, with or without their kids, and the FCC received more and more complaints until they fined Stern's parent company, Clear Channel Communications, approximately $495,000, in April, 2004. It's not about fart jokes, and it's not about being gross: it's about being prurient and inappropriate. While I don't support censorship, I stopped listening to Stern a decade ago because it got very old very quickly. But apparently the FCC didn't stop, and walloped Clear Channel. This led to Howard Stern simultaneously signing a huge contract to relocate to Sirius Satellite Radio (ie no FCC, no censorship) and to launch a campaign against George Bush and the FCC and proclaim his First Amendment rights. The problem here is this: he has the right to express himself, as do we all, but it has always been, and always will be, about the value of the one versus the many: just as one does not have the right to shout "fire" in a crowded theater, Stern's caustic descriptions are inappropriate and should be limited. Would I subscribe to Sirius Satellite as a result of Stern's switch? No. Would I listen to his program were I already a Sirius Satellite subscriber? Probably. Do I like fart jokes? Pull my finger and find out.
Ten days ago, in this very space, I decried the phenomenon known as Reality TV for its goal of getting viewers to forfeit their lives (albeit temporarily) to experience the lives of others, and I maintain that this premise is foolish at best. But this new sense of fear that led Fox to cover up a cartoon character's ass just shows that the people who program this crap are as idiotic as the people who (even temporarily) forfeit their lives for the sake of TV, reality or otherwise. And on a lighter note, last night I managed, while doing some cooking, to catch part of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (the original, not the upcoming updated version starring Johnny Depp). During one of the Oompah Loompah jams (can't think of any better way to describe it), they tsk-tsk people who watch too much TV. As I sadly turned off my own television, I noted that I was in agreement with small, orange-faced dwarfs nicknamed Oompah Loompahs. And I'm not even a vermicious knid.
Not last time I checked, anyway.
Monday, January 17, 2005
banishing privacy, darkness and light,
a colloquial countess demonstrative of truth,
perveyors of accuracy and disenchanted restlessness.
Inside my head she is laughing quietly,
her deep, muted giggle sufficient to stalling my progress,
my delay a hastened response to an otherwise
unforgiving blast and an unremorseful tomorrow.
Her hand down below and her perfume in my nose,
the stalwart engaged speeds forth and teems through
air of cold darkness repelled by the heat inside.
A silent gasp and contact is made, a kiss and a
shouts its missive without warning,
without verbal response,
she finishes as we pick our restaurant.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
I got a few interesting responses from people, many of whom reside, both geographically and emotionally, very close to the heart of this particular issue. Either by default, lack of intelligence, or simple distrust of the monetary factor in the equation (ie the owners must be "dishonest because they wanna cheat the players out of their hard-earned pay"), most of what I've received in response is vehemently supportive of the players and similarly vehemently opposed to the League's position. Unfortunately, many of the people who are such fervent supporters of the players in this confrontation have ignored the fact that without a viable profit system, a team (and subsequently, the League) will just go out of business. It happened with Oldsmobile (and it might happen with Buick if they keep running those damn "Dream On" commercials). Huge conglomerate entities can disappear if the money dries up, and apparently a lot of people supporting the players' position have dried up as well because they're not factoring in the fact that a business will soon go out of business if it is losing and not earning money.
A few of my respondents gave me a virtual shove and suggested that if I was right, then complaining about it wasn't enough; instead, I should be offering a way for the League and the players to kiss and make up and get back to losing teeth and the ability to chew solid food. So here we go:
The League has indicated that it requires "cost certainty," ie a hard number which, at the end of the day, can be budgeted and which cannot be exceeded (at least not without significant, prohibitive penalties). The players have offered a rollback of 24% of salaries across the board, but without a long-term commitment beyond that. So combine the two aspects but make it attractive to both entities for both short- and long-term growth.
Implement a staggered, three-year rollback of salaries for players whose contracts will not expire during the next three seasons. In other words, any player whose contract will not expire until the conclusion of the 2007-08 season will have his annual salary, as determined by the current contract, decreased by 8% over each of the next three seasons. That means that, if John Doe is being paid $1,000,000 annually this season and his contract remains at $1,000,000 for the next five seasons, next season he would be paid $920,000; the season thereafter he would be paid $840,000, and the season thereafter he would receive $760,000. Keep in mind, of course, that most contracts, much like typical corporate annual salaries, increase annually, so this hypothetical player would actually not be getting such a significant decrease in salary so much as he would probably be kept at the same salary. In other words, a player's contract is usually structured so that he'll earn $1,000,000 this year, $1,500,000 next year, and $2,000,000 the year thereafter. So the numbers won't be appallingly shocking.
Simultaneously, the League would implement a salary cap of x dollars, where x represents whatever amount is an average of the salaries of all 30 NHL teams. That means that there will be, for the most part, 15 teams that are paying too much, and 15 teams that are paying too little, to keep their clubs' roster. Set it up so that in the three years of the staggered rollback, teams can use the salary cap as a guide, but without penalties. However, once the third year is up, there will be a hard cap installed for the year following so the pocket-protector GM's (more likely their accounting departments) can ascertain exactly how much they can afford to spend while keeping the club under the cap. In essence, give each team a three-year head start to figure out how to make themselves cap-effective and cost-effective, all the while getting some relief by the staggered salary rollback.
This is a wonderful plan to implement a salary cap, you're muttering to yourself with your right hand on the mouse and your left hand stuffing a strawberry pop-tart between your lips, trying to avoid crumbs. Alas, as you notice the stain on your shirt (you need to do laundry, by the way), you ask the question: "the plan you've suggested is good for implementing the cap and the owners will get what they want on both ends, a roll-back AND the salary cap...what do the players get?"
Since it's clear the players could care less about the future of the game and are almost solely worried about how much they will be earning while playing the game of hockey, the long-term viability of the league isn't in their interest. However, establish a system where the monies current players forfeit through the staggered rollback, as exemplified above, are accounted for down the line. So John Doe, in theory, forfeit $480,000 in salary, thanks to the rollback. Mark down that $480,000 and, as the salary cap rolls on and teams eventually exceed the cap (even if by a little by stretching to obtain a really "special" player), said teams will be penalized. Normally, the monies collected by the league as over-the-cap penalty revenue could instead be in part distributed to the current players, either in small sums or larger ones. This could be a short-term pension for players that are willing to concede this. And players that are not would simply have their current contracts voided with their current clubs retaining their rights. Odds are, however, that most players whose contracts would be affected by rollback would be willing to do so knowing they would get the money back, even if without interest, in order to get back on the ice as opposed to get on the ice in Russia or the Czech Republic (for a tenth of the dollars over which they're currently squabbling).
I'm sure this model is somewhat confusing, but overall, it's a simple problem: how do you re-cast the deck so that no one entity benefits but all involved entities benefit equally, both in the short- and long-term? As long as you insure that everyone gets paid, that cost viability is paramount for League stability, and that everyone involved realizes the NHL is entertainment, not necessity, the recipe for success is back on the table. That in and of itself will allow both the players and ownership to meet in the middle, get things rolling, and get the game back where it should be -- out of the spreadsheets and back onto the ice.
Although I must admit I was kinda looking forward to spending my former hockey time in bed, on the couch and everywhere else with my other half. That, and, if there was any time left over, ogling Katarina, Maria and Holly.
But only if there was any time left ;-)
In fact, it describes the current labor situation afflicting the NHL and its (lack of) ability to proceed with a viable, financially sound product from which all parties can benefit. All relevant parties, that is, being the owners of hockey teams, players under contract with said teams, and fans of said teams and hockey in general.
America, being a country of vast, unlimited opportunity (just ask an athlete in the NFL, the NBA or Major League Baseball), seemingly hasn't shared the wealth with its brethren who skate and bash the shit out of each other for a living (again, not a description, coincidentally or otherwise, of Congress). Hockey is the "Oliver" of The Brady Bunch: it has never quite fit into the placid, calm landscape of American sports, between the reputation as a bloodsport, the rules (what's icing again?) and the overall demeanor of pride, sportsmanship and integrity that the game has enjoyed through the years is all but lost on a public that would, clearly, prefer to watch a January college basketball game than an NHL playoff game. In my existence, I've had to explain the presence of fighting within the game of hockey not as a brutish ritual but as a way for players on each team to protect their "stars" -- because the sport is violent, the high-speed, high-profile, "skilled" players often attract lots of attention from the largest, nastiest members of the opponent's team, so the presence of fighting allows a team to let its opponent know, by sending out onto the ice its "tough guy" or "goon," that if you mess with our guys, we'll mess with yours. For the most part, and for the better part of 75 years, it's worked rather well. I'm sure Donald Brashear (who got clocked in the head with a stick by Marty McSorley) and Steve Moore, who was clocked in the head by Todd Bertuzzi (all of him, not just his stick) would disagree, but for the most part, fighting is actually a way for players to keep each other in line, not cross it. Fighting in the game of hockey is akin to power as its own deterrent, much like the Cold War-era nuclear weapons in US and Soviet arsenals. While the Cold War combatants never used theirs, NHL teams utilize their goons in order to keep the peace. Most of the time it works, and despite its simplistic, violent nature, it works remarkably well.
Back to the dollars: the NHL, realizing its audience cannot expand in a market which is unwilling to allow its expansion (folks in Idaho aren't clamoring for the Boise Spuds hockey club, I can assure you), is stuck with the status quo: a limited, fairly consistent audience which isn't doling dollars as are their basketball, baseball and football fan brethren. The advertising and television revenue that these other sports garner are simply not there for hockey, and, therefore, neither can there be the same excessive, $12 million annual salaries either. The problem herein lies in the fact that some clubs can afford to pay players whatever they ask, and many other clubs cannot. That inequality is shifting the balance and the fairness of the game noticeably; as I've indicated in prior discussions regarding this situation, players are human beings, and human beings age, so players know that they need to play for as much money as they can achieve, which means that whoever pays them the most to play will be able to retain their services, even if the payor is a lousy team that rarely, if ever, wins anything. Like games.
The problems that are inherent in the NHL model are broad but are solveable. Most assuredly, what the League itself wants to do is implement a salary cap to insure all salaries are kept to an amount which keeps spending within the confines of fairness and reality, ie limit the dollars each team can spend so the "little" guys can afford to sign players, be competitive and not lose money by having to outspend a "big" guy to retain or attract a high-level player. As for competition, it seems to be working well as exemplified by other sports: the NFL has a salary cap which insures, especially based on its success, that from year to year, any team has a chance to achieve success. That is partially why there is so much fluctuation from year to year. Players jump around and many teams are beneficiaries of this freedom of movement. To wit: the Pittsburgh Steelers, out of nowhere, are one win (albeit a huge, upset win) from the Super Bowl. They were nowhere near the experts' pick as a possible member of the NFL elite this season. Between injuries and coaching and other variables, from week to week and season to season, each game is a toss-up until the final gun, and that kind of legitimate, pure competition keeps people watching, interested and enjoying the sport.
Hockey players are seeing the short-term in the salary cap model and are therefore, understandably, against it. Instead of seeing the implementation of a cap as a way to expand, build and grow the interest in their sport and the League itself, they see it as a way for them to lose money and to lose revenue. Resistance to the "cap" concept is universal in all sports because it plainly states that each team is limited in the amount it can play its players. However, by evening out the playing field, it virtually guarantees the League as a whole benefits, no matter the sport. More competition -- fair, balanced, legitimate competition -- legitimizes the sport and makes more people pay attention, which in turn produces more revenue from advertising, television ratings/revenue, participation and ticket sales. Which helps everyone. Because, as this is occurring, the salary cap amount is driven up as each team's profit grows. Obviously, whether or not there is a cap, there will be winners and losers, and there is no direct correlation between salary and winning: the Tampa Bay Lightning won last season's Stanley Cup, and they weren't at the top of the higher-paid teams. In fact, on the contrary: they were among the teams with lower payrolls. Conversely, the team with the highest payroll, the New York Rangers, were virtually eliminated from the playoffs (of which nearly half the league's team are eligible) two months before the season was completed. Similarly, the 2002 World Series pitted the New York Yankees (the highest payroll in major league baseball) against the Florida Marlins (one of the lowest payrolls in baseball). And the Yankees didn't win.
The NHL Board of Directors meeting that was originally scheduled for January 14th, during which the season was rumored to be cancelled, was not held because, according to "sources," there was nothing to discuss. The problem is that there is nothing that can be discussed when one side sees only the long-term and the other only sees the short. The head of the NHLPA (the players' union), Bob Goodenow, advised the players to seek employment in Europe for the remainder of this season and perhaps the next season as well. In other words, he believes that not only will there not be a 2004-05 hockey season but there could conceivably be no 2005-06 hockey season either. ESPN published an article relevant to this discussion at http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?id=1967807.
Unfortunately, I don't see any reason to disagree with him that there will likely be no hockey this or next season: and while I lament the loss of hockey in the short- and long-term, I can understand why the games aren't being played. I also wonder how long a lockout implemented by team owners and accepted without concession by players can continue: if players are (clearly) so concerned about short-term salaries (ie their own), how much longer can and will they accept a tenth of their salaries from European hockey teams that typically employ minor-league talent (aka NHL cast-offs)? And how much damage can the NHL withstand before people accept its lack of legitimacy? In other words, will there be similar backlash in the fan returning to hockey as there was after the last baseball stoppage ended? I think there will be significantly less backlash from fans than there was in baseball, because many believe the owners are wrong (since it is them, in theory, that is causing the lockout and not the players). The casual fan will not blame the players, and the players are the reason people watch hockey in the first place. It sure isn't the owners.
Above, in my suggestion that the players have not made any significant concessions, let me clarify: the major "concession" the players offered (in their opinion, a concession) is something they describe as a salary rollback: they proposed a 24-percent across-the-board cut in all salaries (with higher-paid players taking a bigger hit than the lesser-paid sacrificing less). This is all well and good, but of course this is just making the problem less worrisome right now: in three years, half of the current NHL players will be signing new contracts that need not adhere to any rollback or "limited" numbers, which means in the next three years, for the most part, the "rollback" will be a worthless, forgotten gesture with no progress made and no solution achieved, much less sought.
The modern NHL player doesn't quite understand the long-term ramifications of the current financial picture facing NHL owners and the League itself. And as long as said players focus only on their own salaries and not the health of the League, they will be pondering the problem from Europe or the unemployment line. And to jeopardize your own livelihood in the short-term to insure the evaporation of that livelihood in the long-term is, in a word, stupid. There are too many teams in hockey -- 30 -- and the game's lack of ubiquity means that some of those teams might fold; which means that the players who are currently playing (or being locked out from playing) for those teams will either go to other teams or will be out of the NHL entirely. Assuming two teams fold, that means the players on the rosters of the folded teams will then either be out of jobs or take jobs away from others on other teams. Which means fewer players will be paid by fewer teams, and the revenue all around is shrinking. There will be more dollars for fewer players in the short term, but there will be fewer dollars for the League, which means that revenue (ie profitability) will have shrunk. The whole idea is to expand the League, profitability and interest therein, not contract it: but if the League continues on its current path, the next step is to fold two or more teams, leaving more players out of the equation, fewer teams, and fewer fans. I don't understand how this can improve the financial well-being of the League, the game of hockey, or the players as a whole. In fact, unless I'm missing something, it clearly cannot.
I'm just not sure why it's not clear, and why this hasn't been explained properly, to the players.
The one thing I do know is that the longer this continues, and the more people continue to go on about their business without watching or thinking about hockey, the worse it will be for the game once (if) it comes back. And if it is worse for the game, then it is worse for the players, worse for the fans, and worse for the people who commit large sums of money to it. Or there can be some financial structure implemented to insure all teams have the opportunity to be equally profitable, to foster competition, and to broaden the interest in the game.
Or the current player rosters of all 30 teams can just hold out, hope that more money will somehow flow into a closed, unprofitable business model, and stand by while their sport is replaced by figure skating, tennis and volleyball.
I think I've made my position relatively clear. If you need to find me, I'll be watching Katerina Witt, Maria Sharapova and Holly McPeak from the comfort of my living room with the PIP, the remote and the popcorn. It might not be more exciting, but it sure will keep my mind from lamenting the lack of hockey.
Pass the popcorn.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
the warm aura of morning
stifled and quiet, climbing upwards,
dousing ambition and temptation
with the haze of late-night and confusion
and dreams sifting through the prior day.
A tinsel stalk and pounding rhyming couplets
eerily reminiscent of Pixeleen and Babylon Sisters
as she stirs quietly, with a pillow-muffled sigh,
reaching and landing and feeling and eyes knowing.
Relief and laughter, knowing and recalling,
thinking back to Jerry's good luck to George,
I continue the undercover journey
and we are back beneath the folds and
the warmth of morning covered in green, gold and wine.
Friday, January 14, 2005
I think that any time someone is convicted of drunk driving, they should go to jail for five years and for an additional 20 years, minimum, if they kill anyone while driving while intoxicated. If they are arrested a second time for drunk driving, they should be imprisoned for life, whether or not they kill anyone. Incidentally, drunk driving, in my book, is being significantly over the legal blood-alcohol level; being one tenth of a point over after having a glass and a half of Shiraz doesn't quite count. We're talking about people who have been in a bar or their home getting hammered and then somehow opted to take a nice, leisurely drive down a sidewalk somewhere.
Men convicted of rape should get a minimum 10-year sentence with a chance to cut that sentence in half if they are willing to be castrated prior to imprisonment. For repeat offenders, a minimum of 20 years and automatic castration by rottweiller. And not in that order.
While we're in the "penal" phase, I think anyone convicted of murder and sentenced to death who wastes countless hours of court time in the appelate stages should be relieved of the burden of lethal injection and should instead be sentenced to an hour (if they can last that long) in a shark cage wearing a chum necklace and a chum butt-plug. Too many hardened criminals waste too much of our courts' time, so allowing them to spend a number of years on death row, petitioning and appealing and costing the government millions of dollars annually, should come with a risk. So for any of you contemplating multiple capital murder: if you get convicted and you know you've got next to no chance of being acquitted, go the easy route, plead guilty -- no shark cage.
I think the speed limit should vary not only from road to road but depending on when and how crowded the roadway is; doing 65 mph at certain times in heavy traffic is far more dangerous than driving 85mph at others, say, at 2AM along Route 80 East or the West Side Highway. The speed limit isn't about saving lives or preventing accidents, it's about revenue, pure and simple; and as cars are better- and more efficiently-designed, there's no way that 55mph is a reasonable speed limit to anyone but grandmothers who live five minutes away from the market and the Tuesday Night Bingo Club. And any truly incompetent drivers should have their licenses rescinded and their cars painted hot pink so everyone knows to keep far away from them, on the road and off.
I think women who have breast implants should have a tell-tale tattoo of some sort inked onto their ears so there's no debate about which are real and which aren't. I also think that men with small penises should be sporting a similar tattoo on their ears. Fair is fair: just because we're wearing clothes doesn't mean we shouldn't be a free and open society.
Anyone who farts in a crowded elevator should be forced to walk around his or her office without pants for one full workday, including his/her commute, and also be required to wear a brown headband featuring the word "Flatulator" in bright yellow.
I think that if a movie genuinely sucks, you should be able to get back half the money it cost you. That means the creme de la crap, like Ishtar, Titanic and Bed of Roses, could, conceivably, lose money after one weekend of showings. I really don't care that it costs $40 for two people to see a movie with a bag of popcorn and a Diet Coke in NYC; but I pay for my groceries after I've had a chance to pick them out and inspect them, and I pay after the meal at a restaurant, not before. So if I'm forced to dole out the dollars for a shitty movie prior to watching it, I'm coming out of the theater looking for some payback -- literally.
Speaking of theaters, anyone who doesn't disable the ringer on their cellphone and actually spends time during the movie talking to someone via a cellphone should have the phone confiscated and their cellular company notified they are irresponsible and should be prevented from obtaining another cell phone for a period of not less than one year. Further, anyone who brings a child under ten to a scary or disturbing movie -- say, Nightmare on Elm Street or 28 Days Later -- should be forced to volunteer for five hours a week at a local psychiatric ward. There are lots of freaky people in the world, and many are born that way, ie genetically. Parents should have the brains to not try and speed this process along by letting six-year-old Jimmy watch a killer mutant wipe out the human race -- one bloody stain at a time.
I think the President should be forced to give speeches while hooked up to a lie-detector machine, and a split-screen display be implemented so we can tell when he's bullshitting, when he's not, and when he really has to take a nasty leak. Politicians lie with regularity -- so until such time as we are able to figure out when they are and when they aren't, let technology do the work for us.
I think Madonna writing a children's book is akin to Charles Manson writing a book on how to make friends and influence people. I also believe that freaks like Marilyn Manson, White Zombie and Korn should be required to tour with acts like Air Supply, Barry Manilow and Pat Boone.
I think pornstars should be required to also function as census-takers, so that they can mingle with "Mr. and Mrs. America" and be forced to meet their fans up close and personal.
I think sex is best by candlelight, unless there's no matches lying around the airplane bathroom. I also think stewardesses -- the term "flight attendants" is ridiculous -- should at least be relatively friendly. Hiring non "people persons" to deal with airplane passengers with regularity is shitty, but what's shittier is having to find out a particular stewardess is having a really bad day because her PMS is raging, her ex-husband is nailing his secretary and her son is sleeping with the cleaning woman -- at 30,000 feet. No one is happy 24-7, but aside from opening cans of soda and pouring them and passing out plastic trays of barely-edible food, is it really that tough being a stewardess? It's like being a waitress for a limited number of hours at a time, only without tips and better dental coverage. If you are a stewardess and you find that you hate passengers, here's a safety tip: find another career track.
The sports world is an insular, elitist circle of athletes and those who fawn over, preen or otherwise assist them. But while athletes themselves are largely (and understandably) regarded as idiots, their coaches and managers should be held to a higher standard. So any coach that berates or otherwise treats badly a member of the media or a fan without reasonable cause should be forced to wear a Boston Red Sox cap -- and nothing else -- during a September Red Sox-Yankees game in the Bronx while sitting in the bleachers.
Anyone other than college students who gets so inebbriated that they wind up vomiting in public should be forced to endure a 30-minute session of striptease performed by their oldest living grandparent. If no grandparent is alive, then the strip-tease should be performed by Jerry Falwell or Rush Limbaugh, whoever is least preferable by the offender.
Any child -- and by child I refer to anyone under the age of 18 -- who is convicted of possessing and/or selling hard drugs (anything beyond marijuana and medication) and/or guns should be flown and air-dropped into Sesketchawan, Canada, with only the clothes on their back and one penny. And anyone guilty of fleeing the scene of an accident where someone is legitimately injured (ie where anyone needs to go to the hospital via ambulance) should be forced to endure an hour as a hood ornament at the annual Mudpie Demolition Derby held in Chatanooga, Tennessee.
People who regularly use cliches in their everyday language should be forced to spend a week in a foreign country, preferably France or Somalia, provided they can't speak the language of their host country and they have no family or friends therein. Each time they use a cliche while being hosted by said foreign country, they forfeit a tooth -- immediately (without novocaine). And if they use really inane, bizarre cliches, like "two in the hand is better than one in the bush," they either get kicked in the testicles or receive a nipple-tweak, depending on the gender of the offender.
A guest who replaces the toilet paper in someone else's home with the paper rolling upward rather than downward should be sentenced to only using unlit gas station bathrooms for one week, without toilet paper or stall doors therein.
People who actively find themselves enjoying the existence of Pauly Shore, Joan Rivers and/or The Clapper need to be tied to a chair, have their eyelids sewn open, and forced to watch 24 straight hours of infomercials -- in Portuguese. And each hour, on the hour, they should get fish-slapped (either trout or striped bass), as a rule.
Finally, anyone who cuts you off in the fast lane and then proceeds to keep their speed ten miles slower than the speed you were going prior to them cutting you off should be pulled over and be given a crushed-ice enema -- roadside -- and then locked in their car for an hour before being allowed to return to the road (I always like to include at least one item that all people can appreciate).