Friday, July 30, 2010

The Gentleman from New York Is Recognized...

Sometimes Congressman Weiner leaves me absolutely speechless, as in the footage above from yesterday.

He actually smacks the mic on exit.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Emancipation Proclamation

Random thought for the day: Magic Johnson and Michael Jordon need to shut the fU@K up about LeBron James and his decision to sign with the Miami Heat. First of all Magic Johnson happened to end on a team with two of the fifty greatest players of all time. Of course he wouldn't have tried to play on the same team as Larry Bird. Why should he? He came out of college and went right to a team that was ready to win an NBA championship. In Magic's first year in the league, he played alongside the MVP and eventual all time scorer in the NBA. He was joined by James Worthy two years later. He also had the benefit of a perennial first team all defensive player in Michael Cooper. If Lebron James had the fortune to be drafted on such a well stocked team I think his decision would have been a little different. So Magic STFU!

As far as Michael Jordan goes, he didn't win shit in his first seven years in the league and that was after playing 3 years in college. By his standard, Lebron James still has two more years before he has to produce a championship. Michael Jordon didn't win shit until he got teamed up with another top 50 player in Scottie Pippen. And as MJ showed in his hall of fame speech, he is a classless man. For what reason, I'm not sure, considering he has been given a pass by the public for all of his failings as a husband, father and frankly as a human being. However, he couldn't wait to say that he would never have done what Lebron had done. MJ STFU!

And frankly Charles Barkley needs to STFU too. He unsuccessfully chased a ring at the end of his career by going to Houston and teaming up with fellow top 50 players Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwan. He also had to chime in and say that he wouldn't have done what Lebron had done. Really Charles? Really? You need to STFU!

Last time I checked Lebron James was a FREE AGENT. Do these people not understand what that means? He wanted to go and play with his friends, who just happen to include one of the best 3 players in the league and the best big man available. It's that simple. His decision doesn't diminish the legacy of those who went before him, but some of the greatest players of all time sure did jump in to make sure that they got their two cents in to try and diminish Lebron's legacy. There is nothing worse than an old ballplayer telling you how much better the players and the game were when they played. That's what Magic, MJ and Charles are doing now. They just need to STFU! I haven't heard from Larry Bird yet, but he should remember that he also played alongside Kevin McHale, who just happens to be on that list of the 50 greatest players of all time.
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brief Respite

The president is still learning on the job. He makes mistakes (sometimes horrendous ones), but I honestly believe that he is as good as it's going to get in this political atmosphere. There is nothing I would like more than a real progressive president, who makes bold moves and helps the people who need help the most. However, we vote for President and not for king. Was health care, financial reform, etc. a lot less than we could have hoped for? Of course, but would it have even been on the agenda for a Republican president? I don't think so. And spare me the, "what we need is a real progressive in the office" language. First of all, a "real progressive" couldn't win the office of President. Anyone with a record of pushing a true left leaning agenda would be destroyed by the right wing press before they even got a chance at the White House. We live in a country where millions of people can be convinced to vote against their own self interest by lies and slogans. And if by some miracle they were elected, they would face a Congress who care more about being re-elected and sucking up to the money men and women who line their pockets than helping those among us who need help the most.

I do not live in the dreamland where this perfect leader exists. I can be disappointed in the President, but I am under no illusion that someone else would be pushing through bolder initiatives. The Congress is ineffective at best and crooked at worst. How exactly would this supposed messiah push through single payer, meaningful wall st. reform and economic stimulus when he's facing a bunch of people who only care about covering their own ass? It's disappointing to have people talk about sitting out the next election. That's perfectly fine, but if you do sit out then you should lose the right to complain about what comes next.

Do I think the President could do a better job? Do I think that the people in the White House should be smarter than allowing themselves to be duped by the noise machine at Fox news? Of course I do, but that doesn't mean that I'm ready to jump ship. I live in the real world. Anyone want to join me?
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010


There has been a lot of death, disappointment and worry in my life and the lives of my friends in recent years. More so than seems fair, all told, and there seems no shortage of challenges up ahead. My friend Tom barely survived being shot by a sniper in Iraq a couple of years ago. My friend Beth was killed in a horrific car accident in 2008.
Friends are out of work. Friends are coming back from wars to a jobless recovery. Personal debt seems to be spiraling out of control as the American taxpayers who saved the financial industry and the world economy look up in horror at the giant banks now driving them to ruin again. Half the country cannot even bring itself to agree on reality, lest it cede some annoying truth that it fears will keep their favored party or leader from power.
These can be called fairly shitty times for a number of reasons in my personal life and the world at large.

However, I would not say that I am unhappy. This is not because I’m a moron, or a deluded optimist. I should point out that this also does not mean that I’m “happy all the time” either.

In the media over the last few days, in radio, on television, and in magazines, I’ve noticed one of those possibly sinister synchronicities.
You know what I mean, -those days when you hear 5 different news stories in one morning about how coffee may help you stay younger because of some report somewhere, by some bunch of dicks you never heard of at some fuck-all institute somewhere… and then the next day you hear 6 more reports that say just the opposite, only to then start noticing an omnipresent ad campaign about some new coffee substitute called “caffeine water” that will give you the bullshit anti-ageing benefits you think you heard about on the drive in to work but with none of the health risks you think you might have seen on the TV late last night…
The synchronicity I think I may be picking up on this time is a confluence of research, studies and findings on “happiness” and the lack thereof in the modern world. The last straw and the thing that led me to write about this slippery theme was this well written, well researched New York magazine article on the conundrum of parenting’s joys and horrors. To read it you would think that no parents, anywhere on Earth (except in Denmark) are happy in direct proportion to how many kids they have had. Raising kids is no fucking picnic, but I’ve seen my friends with their children and when the tantrums die down, -and when the kids aren’t being out of control monsters there is happiness. I know. I’ve seen it despite what this article maintains with its numerous sources and decades old research.

By the way; I’m pretty sure I never want to hear the words “counterparts in the industrialized world” ever again.

In the past days I’ve seen news items about Danish people laughing through their kids terrible twos and the high rate of suicide in Scandinavian countries/ stories on the modern male’s search for identity and the good times their fathers had that now seem to elude them/ many more stories on women in the workplace and the misery they have earned in the place of the comforts they had pre-feminism/ and on, and on: One lousy fucking story about abstract misery in contemporary life after another. I tell you this is the kind of nonsense that made Camus flirt with ideas of suicide before a car accident took him right out of this world in 1960.

How can we continue to have so much handwringing and anxiety about happiness when nobody can agree on what the fuck happiness is?

Is it purely an emotion? Is it a thing you get or achieve and maintain; is it an outlook, a philosophy? Maybe it’s all of these things but I can tell you this:
-regardless of what it means specifically to you, no one is “meant” to be happy all of the time.
That is not reality, it’s not sensible and it’s not even desirable when you really think about it. The only people who are “happy” all of the time are heroin addicts (if they indeed can get heroin all the time) and idiots, -particularly those half wits on earth whose stupidity allows them an escape from deliberation, reflection, nagging regret or conflict.
And if happiness were freedom from pain?
-Doped up hospital patients in intensive care units would be envied the world over for their state of happiness. I don’t think they are envied by anyone.
I think part of the problem is that the word we are actually looking for when we often speak of happiness (which is only a momentary thing) is satisfaction (which is a lasting thing). Somehow we have relegated satisfaction to imply “barely okay,” or “moderately acceptable.” These are not even parts of the meaning of the word: Satisfaction means having your needs met, or arriving at some means to fulfill them. Satisfaction is a kind of “winning.” Satisfaction is defined by the need and want it completes.

Satisfaction is underrated, and people who don’t think so probably don’t have any. That is in fact why they are “unhappy” and not because they cannot find “happiness.”

Happiness is in fact easy to find. Happiness is everywhere.

Just look at the shiny new cars, the tits on some beautiful girl walking down the street, the smell of a brick oven slice of pizza, a favorite TV show, the bright blue waves on a sunny beach, your pet dog, your neighbor's pet dog, or cold beer. Happiness isn’t hard to find, merely hard to keep permanently. Such is its very nature, it would cease to be happiness if it were everywhere all the time.

Happiness is nothing without its novelty, but satisfaction has no such precondition.

If you want to make yourself happy, go get a bucket of ice cream.
If you want satisfaction, make yourself a hearty Italian meal in your own kitchen from a recipe you’ve never tried before with fresh selections from a butcher you can trust and vegetables from a local green grocer.

I can remember the first time I truly experienced a sense of satisfaction, of genuine fulfillment. I can remember when I realized that, craving happiness all the time is for suckers and juveniles.

One night, after just having moved away from home in the winter of 1990, in the early days of that November, I lay awake in the factory space a friend and I were renting in Williamsburg Brooklyn. It was an enormous late 19th industrial building with 25 foot high ceilings. We had a freight elevator the size of my childhood bedroom, we had a woodshop with table saws, band saws and drill presses. It was freezing. It was cold. It was dark. It was my new home. My first night there, we had no heat. Lying in my loft bed, some fifteen feet in the air, I was looking up at the skylight that hung above. It was a dilapidated steel and glass model that was probably held together at critical points with nothing better than years of coagulated roofing tar. Through the odd spots that had no rust spattered panes I could see the night sky, with its dearth of stars thanks to the city’s bright lights. I stared up, my mind growing increasingly blank at its terrifying independence, listening to the deafening pulse of my own temples, and the beating of my own young heart in the dark…
I thought to myself: “I have to remember this feeling.”

That feeling was freedom.

I think I still believe this, and maybe I even know it. That is to say, I know it the only way you can know anything my friends; I know it to be a fact: It is a lack of satisfaction that murders people the world over century after century, and not unhappiness. With no hope or means toward satisfaction, fulfillment or purpose, life is dim, joyless and scary.

Just ask the Rolling Stones.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Basterd! That's right with an E!

I guess my random thoughts aren't all that frequent. Trust me, I'm trying, but apparently my brain is a rocky place where interesting thoughts can find no purchase. Anyway, I recently watched a few of the best picture candidates from last year and came out with the distinct thought that Inglorious Basterds was the best of the bunch. The Hurt Locker didn't strike me as anything particularly new or original and Avatar was "Dances with Smurfs". Up in the Air was quite entertaining, but didn't really have the weight of something that I would consider as best picture material. Tarantino has always been the most original of directors working in the big budget world of Hollywood. His movies are always the sum total of his ideas. If he wants to make a kung fu movie with an homage to every bad 70's Shaw brothers movie, then that's what he does. If he wants to make a movie based on all the bad action drive in movies that he saw growing up, then that's what he does. He has been more successful in converting those ideas to the screen in some of his movies as opposed to others, but he always hits the target that he's aiming at. Inglorious Basterds gives us an alternative view of WWII and while you'll be reminded of movies like "The Dirty Dozen", the actual execution of the movie is something entirely different. I won't give away any plot points, but it was surprising on many levels. It was also fun. And Hollywood definitely needs a little bit more of that.
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