July 18, 2016
Like you, I have countless memories of my youth or childhood.
They are crisp and easily recalled and, as I get older, I seem to rely on them more frequently.
Also, as I age, I often worry that there may come a day I’m unable to so I’ve thought to begin a series where I recount these precious tales to myself, as one would a child.
The following, is one of those.
As a small boy, you had an incredibly vivid imagination.
Not necessarily more than any other boy your age, but at least in one case, significantly less. And you were green with envy.
Playing Cowboys and Indians was required for any boy from your era and you were no exception. Your parents were exceptionally generous in outfitting you in every manner of True Grit accouterment. The cowboy boots that you were rarely out of, holstered cap guns, U.S Calvary Outpost sets to be assembled with corresponding threatening Indian figures placed outside, laying siege. Or the coon skin cap, if remembering the Alamo was the tragedy to be played out, with varying outcomes.
Frontier Land in Disneyland, and especially the Army Fort on Tom Sawyers Island, were places you dreamed of living, forever. Hoping your parents would somehow forget you there and you’d be free to wander, once the park had closed.
It was not an unfamiliar sight for you and your Friends to be seen prancing around, attempting to simulate a horses gait, even holding imaginary reigns to your chest as you tried to calm your feisty steed as it reared and bucked.
Yet there was another boy who was not among your Friends, who played alone, rode alone. You’d see him and keep your distance because you, your posse, thought him strange. He had no interest in joining your own group of outlaws, playing whatever lawman or cattle rustler you would insist he’d portray.
No, this kid had his own Spaghetti Western playing out in his head and was not about to forfeit the lead role to be relegated some minor figure, on someone else’s western plain.
While you scoffed with the other boys at this kids dismissal of any camaraderie, secretly, you understood and were jealous.
You were jealous, but with Friends, pointed and snickered.
But secretly, you wished you could be that kids Tonto.
Because, as a little boy thriving on TV westerns and comic books, you understood that this kids game was at an entirely different level.
While he, like you, clutched imaginary reigns to his chest and lifted his feet as a horse might do, that kid wore wood clogs when he did, sounding just like a horse might.
Fucking clogs. A little boy. And it was glorious.
That kid gave zero fucks about you or what your Friends might think. Of how strange it was to see a little boy in wood clogs, when only girls wore them.
That little boy wasn’t content with the meager beast you rode. That kid rode a magnificent stallion and you fucking knew it too.
You remembered that kid and his ingenuity but you also remembered how brave he was and how you would never have been so daring, so carefree.
You often wondered what became of him but how he probably did very well.
You often thought to be more like him as you got older.
April 16, 2016
There are three industries that immediately come to mind when I consider how technology has radically changed the face of doing business. They are not premier examples but simply ones that I’ve had the chance to be witness to. All three relate to transportation or logistics.
The first is the taxi industry, in the wake of Uber.
In SF, the licenses that allow an individual to own and operate a single taxi were called medallions. Until recently, a driver could put their name on a list and, after an average of twenty years, their name would come up and the City would hand them a medallion that they could choose to either operate independently or, more commonly, lease to one of the major cab companies.
This system was pretty cool because it amounted to essentially a decent pension for a driver who had worked their ass off in an otherwise unforgiving, dangerous, and thankless job for twenty years.
At some point, that changed.
If I understand correctly, the City got greedy and decided to start auctioning off the medallions and that allowed the large cab companies to eliminate any average Joe who could never hope to compete in a bidding war.
In an example of almost perfect cosmic timing, Uber was conceived around the same time and fundamentally changed the game. Suddenly, those large cab companies were scrambling to compete themselves in a market they were wholly unprepared for.
The Uber model addressed every aspect of what the public detested about hailing a taxi and the taxi industry had absolutely no response to the coup.
…And Devil take the hindmost.
Another example, and perhaps sadly, are the Mom and Pop travel agencies.
A good Friend of mine’s parents, in the 90’s, had scrimped and saved their whole 9-to-5 careers to open a small travel agency to operate in their golden years, only to see it fail almost immediately with the advent of Priceline, Expedia, and booking directly online with the airlines.
Lastly, is the eradication of plague and scourge upon the City that was bicycle and motorcycle messaging.
Not completely, of course. You can still spot an occasional throwback adeptly navigating bike lanes downtown, Architectural blueprint tubes sprouting from tattered and threadbare sling bags, sorrowfully harking back to a time when their brethren ruled the streets with iron fisted, and fingered, tyranny.
In their heyday, I lived above Zeitgeist, the undisputed bastion and sanctuary for any newly arrived patchouli reeking dope fiend, Northwest gutter punk, or Mid-West rebelling college dropouts to drink cheap beer, score dope, and commiserate loudly and ad nauseam about the deplorable condition of the motoring public, with other like minded over-achievers.
This is the very demographic that represented gentrification during and after the Dot.com bust and why I yawn and roll my eyes when it’s own remnants are heard these days bloviating about how todays tech workers are ruining the mission and City in general with their healthy lifestyles, perfect hygiene, large incomes and relative tax liabilities. How Google and Apple shuttles have made their daily excursions to the methadone clinic pure tedium, with the masses of chambray clad, white earbud adorned, sidewalk cast, scooter wielders.
Admittedly, I am biased and have an axe to grind.
I hate the bicycling class.
I hate their disregard for the axiom that one must at least acknowledge what is bigger, the careening tons of metal that dominate our roads. That they seem to think themselves entitled to some reverence or particular consideration for their pursuit of carbon hippie-toes.
My own willingness extends to not throwing it into reverse, reveling in the satisfying “thump thump”, as I imagine the spandex form beneath me exploding from its seams, the losing contender in the battle for blacktop hierarchy.
This visceral angst was left unsatisfied and festering with bike messengers going all but extinct…until this new breed of motorcyclist, the roaming gangs of sport bike acrobats and petulant enthusiasts began to make themselves known, and despised…
But that’ll do for tomorrow.
April 11, 2016
Imagine you are a teacher, in a one room schoolhouse. You only have one student and that poor child is dimwitted.
There you are, at the head of the class, pointer in hand, chalkboard behind.
The dimwit sits in the center of the room, bulging from the small desk because of being held back and is clearly much older than should be for this class.
Your mission is to somehow get though to this pitiful creature, with heavy brow, low ears and dull eyes.
Your mission to explain the inexplicable, to someone lacking the capacity to comprehend even the simplest of terms.
You are the learn-ed, the instructor. The purveyor of truth and enlightenment.
I, am that student.
Your task daunting, I wish you luck.
let us begin…
Riddle me this, Professor.
You detest religion, of any stripe. While you make meager and halfhearted boasts of wanting to protect the right to practice it, let’s be honest, you’d prefer to see it abolished. You think it base and, though a suitable opiate for the masses, we as an evolved species would certainly be better off free of it’s bonds of ignorance and superstition.
Karl Marx said so and, dadgummit, that fella was about his business.
Except for Islam.
Somehow Islam escapes your scrutiny.
You’ve never met a Muslim you didn’t love or feel the need to protect.
This is the inexplicable part, so pay close attention…
While I cannot see past the fact that 98% of all terrorist acts are conducted by Muslims, you obviously can, and do.
But the part of this lesson that should earn extra credit, that really has this student wrinkling his heavy brow with consternation, the super duper paradox and where you must earn your frightfully low wage, is how, just how, you ignore every other professed tenet of Islam that runs afoul of your learn-ed ideology.
How is it, with convenient “What would Jesus do” quips, “the horror of the crusades” and, “those child molesting devil priests” at your ever ready disposal and on quick draw…you somehow skim past homosexuals tossed from high-rises? How do you ignore the espoused position on Women in Islamic countries and culture? How, exactly, do you rationalize child brides, stolen from their villages in Africa and sold into slavery, genital mutilation, honour killings? For such an imbecile, I’m curious.
With the Hijab as a constant reminder of the subjugation and second class citizenship of Women, how does one conjure a defense for those that insist on it, Men and Women alike?
If, that “one” is you.
At the head of the class, constantly bleating on about the “war on Women”, square that for me, will ya?
Cuz, I’m kinda struggling here.
See, I at least I get that religion, unchecked, can be very dangerous.
I get that my Church in past centuries is guilty of horrific crimes against humanity.
But not this century, Son. Or even the last.
This century, not only have we to counter those that would see us, the infidel, wiped from the face of the earth but we get you in the bargain, willing to completely ignore the red tide of extremism, out of some noble quest to discourage, what, profiling??
Listen, I’m probably going to fail your class, again. Another big fat F on my report card because, for all your efforts, I still don’t get it.
Because, I would call for an old timey crusade tomorrow. I would condemn every Muslim that remains silent, unwilling to finger their extremist, Jihadist buddies.
I would opt for turning every third century Islamic shithole into a glass parking lot.
Here, switch with me for a sec and take this seat.
Class, repeat after me…
“Islam is a religion of peace”
“Islam is a religion of peace”
You’re an idiot.
April 10, 2016
Perhaps I should be flattered.
The Universe, feeling particularly randy yesterday, thought to seek me out for it’s unsolicited attentions. Bending me over and wearing me out the day through.
What could a guy, like me, who pretty much has everything they could hope for: my health, a nice home, a beautiful, wonderful and devoted Woman, Friends, purpose, liberty, groceries, and every conceivable modern convenience…have to complain about?
Well, do take your inevitable “first world problems” cliché and do choke on it.
Thoughts of the swollen bellies and fly encrusted eyes of mournful Ethiopian children, do nothing to stem the tide of rage that engulfs me when everything, every single thing, I touch turns to shit.
When that happens and I’m in the throes of unrestrained choler, the plight of all third world nations become inconsequential to me.
How could they not when the only supplied washer for the thing I’m bloodying my knuckles on trying to assemble, has vanished into thin air, vaporised.
I saw it fall, heard it, and replayed it in slow motion again and again, as I searched in vain.
Leaving me reflecting on hours of now fruitless effort and staring down at parts unassembled, completely useless.
So don’t come at me with starving masses, Bro. My struggle is real.
A sane person, would have known what was to follow. That the nature of wanton inexplicability is the harbinger of bad tidings.
A sane person, would have repaired again back to bed, grasping the futility and resigning to begin again, afresh, the next day.
Needless to say…
The Universe had Viagra’d up and I, it’s little bitch.
The rare times I’m of a mind to ponder it, I often consider that God is trying to teach me patience. A good lesson to learn but, for me, possibly my greatest hurdle.
Like my Father before me, I am not a patient man.
Nor am I mellowing in my old age. Quite the contrary, much to Gods disappointment.
I can’t say if it’s a matter of temperament or if, feeling the press of time, I suffer fools less gladly. Either way, I suffer them barely and make it plain enough.
But today, a new day, haltingly I rise and swing my legs out to put them to the floor, hoping to find it still there and not having fallen away.
Today, a new day, I will reflect, as the morning wanes and petrichor wafts, on my countless blessings, of how fortunate I am to only face the minor trials of misplaced washers.
That, if the Universe, sated, could move on to it’s next lover, I would strive to be a better Man.
Because if I think, even for a moment, it’s hard being me, it’s pales compared to being with me.
Apologies, my Dear, you are a Saint.
April 10, 2016
If you were to stop reading here…I wouldn’t blame you. In fact, I’d suggest it.
Because what follows will be nothing short of a hate filled rant.
Lying might be forgiven were it a gut reaction, a defence mechanism in hopes of staving off an onslaught of accusation and criticism but that one usually regrets having done so.
We all have, God knows.
Deceit, on the other hand, is by design. Premeditated to fool or misguide it’s intended target.
For that, there should be no forgiveness. It should be ranked among the many notorious mortal sins that invite eternal damnation.
Advertisers and marketers would surely be at the head of that illustrious gang, bound for the fiery pits of hell. And good fucking riddance.
I was not forged in the Golden Era, when small businesses ruled the roost, but I’ve heard stories.
I’ve heard tell, of a time, long ago, in a land far away, where shop keepers cared about the satisfaction of their clientele. That they banked on it. That the wares they peddled were backed by their own good name and reputation.
A land where the Maytag Repairman really was bored shitless.
No, I was forged in a much more cynical time. Where chain stores had long since replaced the local grocers and “fresh” is nothing more than a means to grab the always fleeting attention of a passerby and millions are spent on studies of just where “fresh” should be placed, what font, and how bold.
Today, “fresh” is encrypted to mean “sucker”.
I’m not a total moron, I know that there have always been charlatans. Selling everything from snake oil to religion. But I don’t think it was the standard. I don’t think it was just understood to be the way of conducting business.
I’ve been staring at the blinking cursor now for at least twenty minutes, unsure in which direction to go here.
One direction would have me detail my own excruciating experience at the hands of a lying, sack of shit, retailer today…or bemoan how surprised I was to learn that even the company I contract for, employs the very tactics I condemn here.
“Oh no!, that’s horrible! I’m terribly sorry for your trouble and let me put you on hold while I investigate”
“Why no, we are not aware of the problem, this is the first we’ve heard of it and thank you for bringing it to our attention!”
Sadly, whoever that person is that just fed you that line of total horseshit, is likely very nice, maybe even Canadian. Probably very upstanding. A Good parent. Church going and long time Rotary Club member. They could be very active in their children schools or even revered PTA presidents. They attend charity drives, watch dog rescue videos on Facebook and cry.
They are the best of neighbours, always there to lend you a hand or watch out when you’re away…but let me tell you, without blinking, I would nail them to a fucking cross or light the faggot that melts the fat from their bones, watching contentedly as they scream in agony from the stake, for the frustration and grief they caused me today.
I kid you not.
Are they to blame? Maybe not.
Maybe the advertiser, marketer, or customer service person simply accepts the direction insisted on by their employers and believes that were they to balk at it, question it, “but..we DO know about the issue, there was that service bulletin that came out a fe…oh… Yes sir, I understand”, that they would be replaced.
Or, perhaps they just assume the rest of us know it’s total horseshit and will adjust accordingly.
More likely, I’m afraid, is that they think us simpletons, too stupid or lazy ourselves to question or doubt.
Even worse, much worse, is that they don’t think at all.
For that, they are to blame.
And must burn for it.
April 1, 2016
If I see a Corvette on the road, I generally assume the driver is a pecker.
Much as I do when I see a guy my own age riding a brand spanking new Harley-Davidson.
Invariably, I am reminded of the South Park episode where a bunch of middle age guys go around town making deep throated motorcycle noises and unnecessarily revving their engines at every opportunity.
“you guys know that everyone thinks you’re total fags, right?” Cartman asks.
Why yes, yes I do. Please enter me in the thinking-they’re-fags column.
I can’t stand Harley rider culture. I detest the logo plastered on everything they own, from their keychain down to their underwear. I don’t even like their bikes.
But I’m getting one, a brand spanking new one, this month.
And I can’t wait.
I’ve not had a motorcycle now for three years.
My last bike was a BMW and while I couldn’t stand that obnoxious, over-reflectored, neon wearing culture either, unlike Harley-Davidson, I loved the bike.
I did my best, while I had it, to dispel the prevailing notion that all BMW riders were fairy boot wearing Euro-trash.
I’ll do the same with the Harley.
I pledge to never display the logo beyond what is included on the bike. I pledge to not congregate en masse with other Harley riders or sign up for charity rides, riding tandem down the highway, flags unfurled into the wind, desperate to feel a part of something.
I pledge to quietly honour our Nations veterans with a moment of solemn reflection at home and not in DC, horribly snaring traffic in one of the most congested cities in the Country, just to get attention.
I swear to never know or care exactly where, or what, Sturgis is.
I pledge to wear no more leather than absolutely necessary and, never, never, employ fringe of any variety.
This is my pledge.
I’m getting a Harley because My Girlfriend wasn’t comfortable on the BMW and I want to take some long trips with her. The bagger I’m getting is literally the only bike they sell that I would ever consider. It’s big and has storage, audio and navigation gadgets, and is very comfortable.
And low key.
I’m also getting one because I’m older now and I just can’t take the neck and back position of a sport bike anymore.
I seriously still have no feeling in a big toe from a pinched nerve in my neck, after a ride four years ago.
So, I’m all ready.
Like a schoolboy preparing for his first day, I have everything laid out.
New glasses, helmet, gloves, jacket…
All I need now is the bike.
Until then, you can find me driving my Girlfriend crazy, going about the house making deep throated motorcycle sounds.
April 1, 2016
A good Friend of mine recently commented that perhaps the GOP should revert to dueling, Hamilton/Burr style, to resolve differences and indicated how pleased he’d be with either result of such a meeting.
There are so many things wrong with what he believes was his little witticism, that I don’t know where to begin.
I’ll start here.
I don’t think he was serious for a number of reasons. Firstly, dueling is illegal, as it was when Burr shot and killed Hamilton, as it was when Hamilton’s Son was also killed in a duel a number of years before.
And we all know that legitimate laws will stop that kind of nonsense from happening.
My good Friend especially knows and supports that ideal.
Secondly, and more importantly, he’d likely be among the first to be eating grass before dawn.
This because the premise of dueling is to gain “satisfaction” after having been offended or for have given offence.
Now, just imagine.
The numbers of offence mongers laid waste on dewey, early morning fields for demanding “satisfaction”, would be handsome.
Liberals would finally be afforded the means to address the gross inequity perpetrated on them by bottom feeding, flat earthers, without needing to fiddle with my First Amendment rights.
Now, while my good Friend thought he was just being clever, I actually think it’s a capitol idea.
I mean, let’s be real for a second. There is zero chance that the greater percentage of my good Friends contemporaries would survive such a meeting and, consequently, after initial numbers calls for “satisfaction” begin to subside, so would outrage in general.
Though, if we’re being honest, I would naturally be inclined to give grave offence at every opportunity, if just to see Charlie Darwin prevail.
Glory be. There’s to be a reckoning.
April 1, 2016
I’ve resisted writing about the pending November disaster but given that even my Girlfriend doesn’t read me, I’m think it safe territory to put my thoughts down and perhaps it’ll actually help me sort them. Which is really what I should be aiming for anyways.
There are two things I’m very solid on.
1. Never Trump. I’d vote for Deez Nuts before I’d toss his direction.
2. I’m very torn about both wanting to see this Great Experiment go down in a huge ball of flames, for which it richly deserves at this point, or hoping a contested convention might see a unknown and completely unexpected Phoenix rise from the ashes to save the day and Country.
What’s new for me is that I’m actually hoping for complete and utter chaos at the GOP convention. We need it. A reset. If we survive it.
I must believe we will survive because what keeps me up at night, eyes wide, bunched up and grabbing my knees close to my chest, is the thought of potential SCOTUS seats that might become vacant in the next administration and if any of the current field of candidates were to get their grubby little fingers (yes, exactly, Trump as well) on them…it’s over. Really over.
The William F. Buckley, Jr. strategy of voting for the most electable has failed us, I think.
The idea being that even if not perfect, we’d likely get more accomplished with a moderate than a true conservative and that, otherwise, you’d just be throwing away your vote.
After decades of pursuing this tactic, it has resulted in the GOP becoming virtually indistinguishable from the Democrats, moving further and further to the left to be palatable.
Well, helloooo Trump!
Trump is by no means a conservative, which makes his rise that much more curious, but it’s completely predictable, reasonable even, to see how after decades of incremental gains the progressive, politically correct, agenda has made, there would be a radical shift in the other direction, by a largely ignored and discounted middle America.
No doubt my liberal Friends would insist the average Trump supporter simply uninformed or rather, just simple, but I like to imagine I am neither and there is a certain appeal to a candidate that lends voice to what certainly the rest of us are thinking, but too chickenshit to air.
This is all too apparent in the spate of recent episodes of the Left eating their own. Where overbearing, intrusive, policies or agendas are now targeting the very demographic who instituted their organic (yes!!, been hoping to use that word to this effect!), viral spread.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you inappropriate appropriation!!
Now if I were to generalise, and God knows I love to, I’d guess that poor bastard with the dreads is wondering just how the hell he got there.
Why, no doubt some of his best friends are black. He’s all for legalization, he’s pro-choice, Meat is murder, safe spaces, Mother earth, Palestine.
A quick look at the back of his Prius would have easily fended off this would-be attacker, had she just noticed that he had all the right bumper stickers, his bone fides.
He’s on your side. He’s in the club and obviously “irie”!
~psst, good story, bro. How’s Trump sounding now?~
Well, it’s just a thing of beauty to witness. Seriously.
So here we are.
A clown, an old white dude, and a harpy walk into a bar…
God help us.
Remember, remember, that day in November.
March 30, 2016
At last count, I own 314 documentaries.
They range on subject matter from Ken Burn’s Baseball to Sir David Attenborough’s, epic, Life series. What you will not find in this library, nary a one, is any documentary produced by the History Channel.
Because the History Channel is to recounting history, what Ross Dress For Less is to haute couture.
The History Channel is where battle reenactors ply their trade because no one else cares to.
So, you can imagine my scorn when a Friend recommended the series “Vikings” (a subject matter of huge interest to me), once I learned what network it was a attached to.
Yet, there I was again, one Spring evening, fresh out of content for viewing pleasure and, also, unwilling to make better use of my time…tuning in. For roughly ten minutes.
I lasted only that long because in episode 1 of the 1st season, we are introduced to a character played by Gabriel Byrne, of whom I’m a big fan.
Sadly, he was not enough to carry the day. Once they threw Lagertha The Shield Wife at me, adding the distinct, unpleasant, odor of Xena Warrior Princess to it, I was done.
Fast forward another year, another Spring evening.
Needless to say, I waded through enough to commit and, at times, didn’t regret it.
The central character, Ragnar Lothbrok, played by Travis Fimmel, is genuinely well delivered and almost worth the effort. He will unavoidably remind you of Charlie Hunnam‘s character, Jax Teller, in Sons of Anarchy but, surprisingly, with less camp.
The actual history portrayed is loose at best and why, once having watched BBC’s Last Kingdom, I felt shame for ever being a party to it.
Now, BBC’s Last Kingdom…
That’s some Viking history right there.
Based on the Bernard Cornwell Saxon series, of which I devoured, this worthy endeavor has us joining the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons at the start of Alfred the Great’s reign.
It’s a fine adaptation of the novels and really the only complaint I have is that this guy…
is played by this guy…
Not by any stretch a deal breaker but once seen, it can’t be unseen.
The first season finished way too soon, and if BBC does what it has with Peaky Blinders, it’ll be years before we have another. Sadly.
As far as “Vikings”, I’ll likely finish this season if for no other reason than to see Loki die a horrible, slow, death.
As I wait for the start of Game of Thrones sixth season to begin in April, I am currently only watching three other series regularly.
All three are grossly subpar in comparison but even if made to answer for themselves, they are all found wanting.
As TV is largely the reason I find to avoid facing the challenge of sitting down to write, I thought I might incorporate the two and write a number of reviews. Allowing me to both continue mass murdering brain cells whilst devising convenient, made to order, topics for this absurd challenge I’ve accepted.
The first of the three and the more popular by far, is The Walking Dead.
I’ve found that I am only current on this network (AMC) production because, as it’s been through all six seasons, I only catch up out of desperation, when, during the Spring time lull, there is virtually nothing else to watch.
This season finds Rick and largely the same crew from last season, save a few Alexandria residents of note who perished during the last siege of both Wolves and undead, doing much the same as they’ve been doing for six seasons.
Rick is humping Michonne. Abraham is humping Sasha. Carol is humping the road.
This season seems to be trying to get us closer to the core characters by revealing more of their psyche and motivations beyond simple survival. Yet, beyond perhaps Daryl, there isn’t a single other character I care to know more about and, even less, who they might be humping.
Even Carol, who had showed great promise as the nurturing cookie maker by day/step up on me and I’ll end you by night baddass, seems to have come unstuck and is pursuing a Morgan-esque hugs all-around, no matter the cost, personal re-invention. We’ll see, I suppose.
The single redeeming season six change in direction, for me, would be a scaling back of the gratuitous Walker gore that, by the end of season five, just seemed silly.
I have quit watching TWD mid season a couple of times, picking it back up later, as I said, out of desperation, and so far this season has me wonder why I bothered.
It’s Sister project, Fear the Walking Dead, was much more compelling with it’s premier and I’m looking forward to it airing again in the second week of April.
I’ll let you know.
Tomorrow, the History Channel’s Vikings.