Thursday, June 29, 2006
As much of a blessing as technology is to our regular lives, it really brings down the human spirit. There's not one fucking yard of this Earth that isn't mapped and traced down to the inch by satellites, and the new "PATRIOT" act has made it legal to spy on anyone who the government pleases. Things like cell phones, Myspace, Facebook, and email have made it impossible to hide from anyone- everyone now has the excuse, "Well, I (called, emailed, sent it) to you, what happened?" All kinds of privacy are gone, and your soul is nothing more than that password that you always remember away from being taken from you completely. Hell, even on this fucking blog, I have to worry that the things I write are being stolen from me nightly and called "My own" by someone else. This new age really is a shitty deal.
The fire of adventure that has driven maknkind since the beginning has been extinguished with all this new shit that has come around. With everything linked by computers, it feels like there is nothing new to discover, that all horizons have been breached, and all foriegn lands settled. If Mozart breathed today, how many of his computer synthesized symphonies would have been passing thoughts if lightning had struck a transformer at the wrong time?
There are good parts, of course; at the same time that I'm bitching about this, I'm watching things like Bob Dylan's absolutely amazing, inflamed performance of Like a Rolling Stone from 1966 on Youtube.com, and be made to move to tears by the abandonment that he was singing with in that one video.
At this point it is a Pandora's box of possibilities that can never be retracted. The funny part is that the older I get, the less that people remember the times when you couldn't email someone for your homework, and when you actually had to be home to watch a TV show, not watch it on Youtube 40 years later. I can't tell whether that's good or bad.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Unfotunately, rap seems to be losing its way as well. The popularity has soared so high that it is in the stratosphere of not only the money, but power in the pop world, and it is inheriting the misgivings that Rock N' Roll already had. I'm always a day late and a dollar short as far as pop music goes, and I never watch MTV anymore. I was messing around on Youtube.com and I found a video from last year with 50 Cent and G-Unit's performance on the MTV Video Music Awards, and what I saw was indicitive of the dark path rap is following.
The performance wasn't bad- some of 50's more famous songs made into a collage of sorts. He was as good as he can be live...which isn't really that good, but at least he didn't suck like he normally does. Anyway, at the end, he and Tony Yayo started mouthing off about how Fat Joe was "fuckin' pussy", and yelled some other shit that ended up getting censored in the clip that I saw. I've seen a few interviews with Fat Joe, and he seemed pretty disinterested in feuding with 50 about anything, so I don't exactly know where this newer round of shit talking came from, but 50 was pretty adamant about calling him out for whatever happened.
Rap is a thing different than any other kind of music that has risen to prominence, mostly because it is made mostly by blacks from the cities. The Blues was made by blacks, of course, but they were doing just that- singing the blues. They were a visibly oppressed people with no other way to express themselves, and that's what they sang about (albeit indirectly). Rap is different than this.
In rap music we don't have the lamentations of older blacks who are tired of the life they were forced to lead, no, that's long gone. In it's stead we have young blacks who don't know shit about life and what's really important in it. They talk about murdering each other, they talk about stabbings, jail, shootings, gangs, and whatever else they think is going to prove them as men. I'm not going to lie, I dig this music. It's also more than just music to lift too; it's one of the few kinds of music left that is truly ragingly angry, and being what some people would call an angry guy myself, I can see where they're coming from. If I was a young black kid raised in the city, my outlook on life would be drastically different on the world itself. If I was still as smart, I would realize that American history has really been aimed at keeping blacks down for the last three hundred years, and that only in the last thirty years has any real progress been made at all. That anger that these men have has been fed like a fire tearing through a drought ridden forest, and it shows no signs of being extinguished.
A lot of what rappers do to each other seems to stem from shit that happened back in the day on the streets of Brooklyn or Queens or Compton. Some of it is because someone was in the wrong video at the wrong time, or rapped with someone they shouldn't have; other stuff is just ridiculous bullshit that goes on among the upper echelons of the rich and famous. They've brought that street mentality to the top
What's cool to me is that the rapping "community" is now the outlaw culture that rock n' roll once was. Older people hate rap music nearly unamimously, and if you pull up beside them on the street blaring a rap song, their windows go up immediately. They ask how we can listen to this shit, and that it's not music. Politicians whine about how rappers address women (even though they're cheating on their own wives) or how violent the songs are (just like they did about Judas Priest so many years ago).
The difference, of course, and that it's not only the songs that are violent, it's the guys making them. They're not like Lemmy Kilmister getting into a brawl at the end of a show, or Vince Neil challenging Axl Rose to a fight- it's LA gangs shooting rappers through the windows of their limos with AK-47s because they belong to a different gang. They attack each other in songs, and then, when they see meet, pistol whip or shoot someone. Redneck comedians will ask why Toby Keith doesn't roll up on...ahh whoever the fuck sings country music, and shoot them. Well, if Toby Keith came up in the North Ward in Newark, he'd be a lot less happy; if he was black, he'd be a lot more pissed.
The violence that is inherent in rap music is a sympthom of societal ills, not of stupid ghetto trash murdering each other and thinking it's cool. The music is the result of three hundred years of oppression, and these guys don't even know where to take their anger out, so they murder each other. Eminem's buddy got shot a couple months ago, and it always seems like 50 is one second away from getting killed too. I wonder how much more talent needs to be extinguished for these guys to realize that they're not helping their cause, and that Martin Luther King, Marvin Gaye, and all the others they idolized are rolling over in their graves everytime another talented black man is added to the ever increasing ranks of martyrs.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
We were sitting at my buddy Campbell's apartment, maybe six or eight of us in all. We're sitting around drinking, playing video games, or whatever.
Suddenly, my buddy Harry whacks me, and says, "Look at this shit".
This beer can is bubbling over, for no reason whatsoever. This beer had sat on the computer desk for at least a half hour, hanging out and not causing trouble. Harry had gone to drink it, thinking that it was his beer, and all of a sudden, it started foaming and bubbling to the point that it spilled over the top of the can.
This had only happened once before, and it was in Campbell's apartment. He was sitting there, playing video games, when all of a sudden this beer on his table started overflowing. He thought immediately that it was Ryer, saying in his own special way that Campbell was a fucking nerd for playing these games as much as he did.
All I can do is sit and wonder whether it was actually Ryer who made those beers overflow, whether out of spite of us, or of the fact that he couldn't be there to join us anymore. What I can say is that this is the third fucked up thing like this that's happened to me, and I'm starting to believe it isn't a coincidence anymore.
The humourous part is that after further inspection, this beer had a cigarette put out in it. So, as Harry went to drink it, it started foaming over. Maybe, just maybe, this was Ryer doing him a favor.
Or maybe I'm just drinking and hoping too much.
The Holy Beer Can
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I feel healthier in the summer too, somehow. There's something about the bitter winter air that plays hell with my lungs, and smoking just aggravates this even more; I hack like a mother in the cold. This never happens in June, even though I tend to smoke more working outside all 50 hours a week. I guess the moral of the story is that I should quit smoking, but I'll ignore that one.
The Yard at Night
Now that the season has slowed down considerably, the quality of customer drops enormously. Instead of the normal people who come out to Garden centers looking for pavers or stone, we get the old fucking pain in the asses who will come around simply because they have nothing better to do. They come in droves, driving their Crown Victorias or their Mercrury Grand Marquis, wearing those huge black sunglasses they give you when you have surgery for cataracts. They drive slowly, so slowly that you wonder why they're not walking (at least it'd be good for them), and they look out the window with their mouths agape, looking in vain for the Propane Shed, or wherever it is that they are looking to go. The old men walk with their hands behind their back, and their women shuffle after them, yelling for them to slow down. If not for the normal height difference, you'd never be able to tell the men from the women...same short haircuts, bent frames, low, slow voices.
They're always looking for a deal, somehow, someway. Ripped bags of mulch are half off? They'll rip three of them and say they were like that when they came. It kind of amazes me; I mean, you're so close to death, and yet you want to save every dime that you can. It's ironic. If you lived as long as some of these bastards have, you'd think that they knew that you can't take the dough with you, and that the guy with the most of it does not win in the end. Maybe they have some noble cause that I'm not aware of, such as giving the money to their kids as an inheritance. Regardless, it seems strange to me that they're so old, yet so cheap. Christ, if I have enough money late in life, I'll be giving the shit away.
They can never hear too well, so you have to speak louder than you would normally. My great-grandmother was half deaf, so this never really bothered me. For the first ten years of my life I dealt with a woman who could barely hear, but loved me anyway (maybe why I can't really be that harsh). Either way, you have to raise your voice for them to hear you, and, subconciously I think, I make my lips movements a bit more pronounced, so if that's what they're good at, they can figure me out.
When I look at these people, it makes me cringe. Everyone tries to avoid dying young, but when you get old, this is what you get. Trying to pass the time, hoping that you die before your significant other...it seems like such a shitty way to end a life that may have once seemed so meaningful.
When we're children, we're taught that we can do anything, and that the sky is the limit. Of course, no one ever wants to tell us the truth, which is that we have a limit- time. The years pass so quickly that before we know it, we're middle aged and wondering what the hell we were supposed to do in our lives. They say that after 21, the years pass like nothing. I never believed it until my buddies started turning 25; then it dawns on me that I'm really the youngest, and I'm still 22. This shit has flown by.
It's kind of like a cruel joke that the gods play on us, this aging thing. These people gimping about are the remnants of "The Greatest Generation", the ones who saved the world from the greatest threat to freedom in the history of the world. These are the survivors of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge. This is why I can't be too hard on these old fucks- eventually, I'll probably be like them, and they accomplished quite a bit in their lives. I hope I'll be a little bit cooler than them, and that I'll tip better, but I suspect I won't. Scarily enough, it seems like I'm going to know far sooner than I want to.
I assume this is the reason that so many old folks go to Church. When you've watched everyone you know die, what more do you have except for some outrageous hope that we live past our natural death? All we can hope for is that we somehow live on, and that all that shit they told us in Church is really true. I myself take pride in ghost stories; instead of being scared, I think that it's proof of a God, and that we have somewhere to go after we die. I'm actually happy when I hear a place is haunted, or that those fucks on Ghost Hunters can't explain what's happening. It makes me believe, like no book of fairytales could (read, The Bible) that things are happening around us that we don't understand and can't comprehend. It makes me think that what I am doing on this planet will not be lost in the old, tattered pages of history, but might actually impact my life after death. It gives me hope.
These questions bear down on me every waking hour of every day. In the end, I keep coming back to the simple quotation of one of my favorite guys anywhere, the mighty Apollo Creed, and what he said to Rocky in Rocky IV.
"It's a shame we gotta get old, Stallion. It's a shame we gotta get old".Yea buddy.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Saturday, June 17, 2006
TV's steal souls...
Two broads at Caseys. Thought the picture was cool because of the way the light blurs as you get away from them, and fades into a scene that could be "Any bar, USA"
The view from the back yard of a house I did a delivery to in Cedar Grove. A massive house with an incredible view, but of course the cocksuckers didn't tip me. Fuck, they barely even spoke English.
Yeah, so I'm no photographer. But I thought they were cool. Fuck you.
Friday, June 16, 2006
If the bar has all naked girls, the club can't serve beer. If they have girls in panties and bras, they can serve all the beer they want. What fucking sense does this make? What throws me for an even bigger loop is that they can't serve booze, but I can bring in a 30 pack. I mean, honestly, who the fuck thought this law up? This is another one of those old laws from the Victorian Age, I bet, just like those laws that ban slurping your soup in public (I actually mean slurping your soup, not blowjobs or something. Although I bet they got a law about that too).
I can be drunk and rowdy regardless of whether there's beer for sale on the premise. Of course, the size and number of all those fucking bouncers in there makes me think twice, no matter how drunk I am.
The last time I was at Lace, I think I saw the bouncer interrogation room. It looked decievingly like a closet, but I know the're just trying to fool us into thinking that. I bet beatings went down in here that make Abu-Gahrib look like just a playground fight.
Check it out.
Honestly, I was so fucking drunk that I don't even know that this room was in the strip club, but I can assume it probably was. I don't know how I got there, and I probably wasn't even supposed to be there, and I think that's my shadow in the picture.
How drunk was I? Drunk enough that the very hot blonde stripper that gave me a lap dance couldn't get my dick to even come close to moving. I was not happy about this, and I bet her confidence in her stripping ability was crushed. But hey...I drink a lot.
It's kind of funny with this camera phone, because now, not only do I have to see who I called when I was drunk, but I have to see if I took any good pictures. So far, I've come to the conclusion that I'm a terrible fucking photographer, and that I should stick to writing and lifting heavy stuff.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
We started drinking pretty early at my buddy Campbell's apartment, pregaming for the bar. We started at 7, and by 11, we were already seriously drunk. Anytime you've been drinking for four hours and it's still before midnight, you know the night is going to get out of hand.
I walked into the Grasshopper, and it was already crowded. I've described the place before- a typical Irish joint, with dark wood walls, dim lights, and a dart board in the corner. The place can get rowdy sometimes, which would make some uncomfortable, but makes me happy. Bars are the outlaw culture where violence is always a step away, and the air can seeth with tension over something trivial that no one else would bother with.
I was already drunk, so I kind of just did my thing. Find a spot at the bar, order some beers, gaze around for exceptionally good looking women (not that I'd do anything, of course). Some girl is trying to get through where me and Paul are standing, and she's being pretty nice about it. She's not bad looking either, and giving the common courtesy of "excuse me" while she's walking sideways through the place. Paul looks at her, and with a pretentious tone that he's mastered over the years, smiles, points at her, and goes, "Honey, there is no excuse for you". I couldn't tell if he was complimenting her or insulting her. Apparently he was insulting her, because she gave him an icy look and the evil eye. I laughed.
Without warning, a fight broke out at the bar. A guy I know from Fairfield had started mouthing off to a couple guys, and whacked one of them. Three guys took him down to the ground as the bouncers raced over to try and get them apart. The guy I know apparently got whacked a couple of times when he was down there; it's a good thing I didn't see this, because I liked the guy and probably would've started kicking the other guys (this is why I wear work boots to the bar, and never, ever where sandals. Ever).
I was loaded, of course, so I don't remember all that much. Hell, I didn't even realize that it was this aquantince of mine that had started the fight. I ambled over to the window to see what was going on, as these bouncers threw people outside left and right. My buddy was pushed outside, along with a couple others. The guys he fought with were coming out also. This wasn't done.
In a stroke of genius, this guy tells the bouncer that his hat is inside, and that he wants them to find it. The bouncer agrees, and walks back inside; as he is walking in, the guy that my Fairfield buddy fought with is walking out. This poor bastard is fucked, and I'm just watching it through the huge window in front.
As soon as he opens the door, Fairfield catches him with a right handed haymaker right in the eye- the kid falls back into the bushed, right on the other side of the glass pane I'm staring out of. I cheered, of course, because I love a good brawl. Fairfield took the fuck off after that, lighting out across the parking lot with a trail of very drunk, very pissed off guys after him. I walked outside also after this, because it was just too awesome to stay away from...plus there was potential for one of my buddies to get involved, so I wanted to be there just in case.
The kid who got laid out is on the ground, screaming about how he's going to kill somebody. He doesn't look very threatening though, being as he's got blood streaming out of his eye, and it's already starting the swell up. He looks like he might have caught a couple other shots besides the overhand right from the guy I know. After a while, he gets up and is stumbling around the parking lot with a dazes look in his eyes. He bumps into my girlfriend, and just as I start staring, she whacks me. She's right, I guess...this guy's had enough.
A couple of off duty cops tell me that I should hit the guy because he bumped into us, "That's simple assualt man". I don't trust them, because even though they seem like cool guys, they're still cops, so I just laugh it off.
The bouncers evidently got back at my Fairfield buddy by setting up his friend. They took him outside and told him to wait there (for what I don't know)...and the bouncer walked away. A group of shady looking fellas later approached, and robbed the guy for around $200 bucks. Makes me glad the bouncers like me.
I never got into any scraps, but I had a good enough time watching them. I was tanked near the end of course, so I probably wouldn't have been of much use anyway. Again...here's to drinking.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
I was amazed in that first year. This show, this bullshit TV show, managed to portray us working guys in a way that had never been done before. It showed how close we all tend to get when we're on jobs together- firefighting, construction, hell, anywhere. There's a difference between your "job that you hate", and your "job that you hate but can deal with because you like working with the guys you're around". I can't understand it, but it seems to have more effect on blue collar jobs where you're with the same five or six guys all the time, and you just get very used to each other. They trust me to not kill them when I have their lives in my hands, like when I'm driving the forklift while they teeter precariously on a pallet fifty feet in the air, and they yell at me when I slip on the clutch because the pallet sways a foot in either direction when I do it. They trust that me that I'm going to break the shit up when the bosses are pissed, and that I'll defend them if I think they were right, or that I'm not going to break their balls when they're banged out from coke or drinking.
Personally, I believe this bond can only be achieved when you've got all males working together. One female ruins the honesty, and therefore, everything. You can't talk about sex, you can't talk about women...so pretty much, you can't talk about anything. This will burn that "male bond" out quicker than a match lights the air in a gas fire. I've often heard that women bond while talking, and men bond by doing. I can't sit and have a heart to heart with a buddy without offering the disclaimer of, "Dude, you know I'm not a fag, but...", and a lot of guys reading this will know what I'm talking about.
No, we learn about each other by working together, by lifting heavy shit, by building something. We're not fond of talking about our personal feelings, about the little shit that pisses us off, mostly because we're either scared (deep down inside), or we just don't think it's really all that important. It's a lot easier to light a cigarette and just say, "Aaahh, it's some bullshit" than to sit there and whine about it. We don't want counseling, we don't want to fucking talk about it, and no, you can't help us.
No other show really showed that until Rescue Me came on. Fuck, here were these guys who were in one of the ballsiest jobs in the planet...and they were no different from we who work in the stone yard at my job. They were tough fucks, drinking guys, smoking guys, fighting guys. The shadow of violence hung around all the time, especially because they rarely knew who they'd be dealing with that day. It was a few guys who were like brothers, and they all knew it.
Like them, a few of us had worked together so long that we knew exactly how each other thought. Myself, my buddy Ryer, and this guy Mario formed an odd triumverate where we trusted each other to run the yard when the others were gone. Me and Ryer were more blue collar white guy types, while Mario was your typical New Jersey guinea- waxed eyebrows, juiced up, and about 5'3 when he was on stilts...kind of like a more violent and drug loaded Danny Devito.
We were close. I had been friends with Ryer since high school, and got him the job at the stone yard; Mario had just arrived one day looking for part time work in between going to high school and getting arrested. Immediately we were all kindred spirits. The same drunken violent nature, the same sense of humor, the same sarcastic arrogance that defined us. If you mix that with the shitty fact that garden centers never fucking close (your holidays are our busiest days), then you get three of us getting pretty fucking close.
Once in a while, me or Ryer would hang out with Mario after work, go see a movie, or go to a party. We could bullshit about just about anything, as it was three guys that liked weightlifting, boxing, sports, women, drinking, and breaking each other's balls. When you know each other as well as we did, the ballbreaking would get unbelieveable, as there was no line to cross to get the other guy really mad at you; we'd have other guys laughing their asses off at our sessions.
I remember a cold winter day where Mario came in bragging about buying a hat that was worth about $90. The asshole should have known better, but he went and said something to Ryer, who immediately told me. For the next two days, while we moved thousands of Christmas trees in the brutal Decemeber chill, we doggedly attacked him about being a spoiled rich Wayne kid, because only one of those would buy a hat worth $90. His comeback was the simple statement of, "Yo....fuck you. It's baby blue, you know that's my color". Writing this now brings a smile to my face.
Another time, we had to convince Mario to turn himself in for committing a pretty ugly crime...no one else would have had the effect that we had on him when we tried to explain the seriousness of what he'd done. It worked, and saved his ass. Ryer was the oldest, so he exerted a lot of influence on me, and I, being the middle, exerted a lot on Mario. Me and Ryer tried as hard as we could to set the fucker straight...we were literally the older brothers that he never had. Ryer, in turn, was the older brother that I never had.
Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Years' Eve, we all worked. I saw those two assholes more than I saw my own family, and far more than I ever saw my girlfriend. Of course, by now you can realize that somehow, in a fucked up way, they were my family, or at least a part of it. I'd have laid down in traffic for them, and they'd have done the same for me.
On January 19th, I called Mario. On that terrible day, I called and told him that I needed to tell him something, something I could not say over the phone. He had to come to the garden center.
I met him outside with tears in my eyes, pretty much to tell him that our oldest brother was dead. I couldn't stop smoking cigarettes, and my phone was ringing off the hook as the NJBA slowly began to rally for this, the most shocking news we'd ever seen. But for that moment, I had to tell this guy that Ryer was dead. It's hard seeing men cry, seeing us all lose it. I won't remember his face that day.
By the end of the week, we would both look down at his cold body in that casket, staring through hungover eyes, praying that this was a dream. It wasn't.
Now, all I can remember is watching those first episodes of Rescue Me, and thanking God that we were men. I knew that my girlfriend, or Ryer's girlfriend, just wouldn't understand how guys are, but that this show would explain it to them. I smiled to myself, "Yes, this is how men deal with this shit. We drink, we fight, and we don't talk. We keep it in. Yea, we're men..."
Somehow that definition changed. Although I'm drunk right now, so maybe it hasn't.
See you in hell brother.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Maybe it’s the outright age of baseball that gives it its supremacy over the other sports; so many legends over so many years give baseball an edge over every other sport- there’s a reason its called “America’s Pastime”. In a world so full of brutal complications, the game of baseball has remained unchanged through the ages- it is still nine guys, a hitter, and a wall in the back. The fields of Fenway smell exactly the same on the warm spring days as they did in the 1930s, and, though the batters have changed, the goal is still to knock it over the Green Monster in far left field.
There was a time once when I sat in box seats at Yankee Stadium, and they were by far the most phenomenal seats I'd ever been in. Great view, free food, and, most importantly, free beer. (they even had a bartender in the damn box). What was cool thought was the height of the seats- far enought that you could see the whole field, but close enough to actually know what twas going on. From this vantage point, and in my beer induced haze, I was able to look past the fact that I was watching the hated Yankees, and see baseball for what it is. A guy hits the ball, the people cheer, the runners take off. A throw home, a safe call by some fat umpire, and the crowd goes wild. That's it. So simple, so easy, yet so hard to master.
Some will say that the sport goes back to a simpler time. As I think about it, even a cynic like me has to admit that in a way, they're actually right. The sport is slow and suspenseful, there are no time limits, and it certainly doesn't translate to TV well. In a fast paced world where basketball and football have risen with dancers, halftime shows, quick action, and big plays, baseball remains that old man's sport. No cheerleaders, no smoke and mirrors, just a guy hitting a ball. The simplicity of the game itself reminds us, I think, of what has come to be known as "a simpler time".
Now, though, things are getting complicated. Dark clouds have come over my beloved sport, and are ruining the mystic aura that has surrounded the game for the past 110 years. This is the steroid scandal, and the face of this crime is that of Barry Bonds. This one arrogant, selfish, condescending prick of a guy has managed to turn the entire game into a joke. Sure, other asses like McGuire and Sosa have had their hands in it, but Bonds has more blood on his than any of these other clowns. If anyone has destroyed the dream that was baseball...it's this dick.
Barry is a bad guy. Let’s get that out of the way. He treats his teammates like garbage, he treats the fans like garbage, he treats the media like garbage, and he does massive amounts of steroids. Regardless, he’s going to break that record if he plays this entire year, there is no doubt about that. Do I like it? No I don’t. But more importantly, do I not like it because he’s black? Ha. No, I don’t like it because 1) he’s on steroids, and 2) he’s on steroids. His being black, or being a bad guy, has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I don’t want him breaking the home run record. Hell, most of the time I like guys who are mavericks, who don't sing bullshit songs for the media, and who aren't nice just because they're supposed to be; I dig people that play their own way. I think there's also a good amount of people that think like this, but Bonds has turned so many off in the past year that this actually plays against him now.
In the past three weeks, I have heard all over Sports Radio that whites don’t want him to break the record because he is black. Bonds himself has stated that he thinks white America does not want to see him take over Ruth, because Ruth is white. Hey Barry – get a fucking clue you arrogant prick. Babe Ruth has 708 home runs, and he is number two on the career list. Hank Aaron has 755, and he is a black man. A black man already holds the record- so what the fuck is Bonds talking about?
Does he really think that whites don’t want him to break the record because he is black? Is that really how his mind works? Bonds has said himself that he only wants to pass Ruth’s record because he is white! So who is being the racist here? If a white man said that he wanted to break Aaron’s record because Aaron was black, there would be riots in a hundred cities, and would ruin the career of said player.
Either way, I don’t want to get into the semantics of what a person can and can’t say regarding race- as a bleeding heart liberal myself, I understand the reasons why blacks can say certain things that whites can’t; if that’s the price white Americans have to pay for three hundred years of oppression, then we should consider ourselves lucky.
But there is a reason that Bonds is making this a racial issue: to hide the steroid scandal. When being attacked for a crime, the best thing to do is pull the race card I guess. The more Barry Bonds can make it seem like the media is going after him because he is black, the more he pushes the argument away from the true question, which is that of steroids, and, particularly, his own use of them. This is a great tactic, and apparently, it works wonders. The more he can get people to fight over the non-existent race issue, the less people are going to pay attention to the fact that this guy broke laws left and right to get to where he is. It is, in reality, a classic slight of hand; while you're looking over here, something is happening way over there. I have to say that I'm truly amazed that people don't realize this, and that the media, who do seem to hate him, are even playing a part in it.
Bonds should have learned from the old aphorism that I often quote when talking politics: “Its not the crime that gets you in trouble, it’s the cover up”. If Bonds had done steroids, he should have owned up to it like a man, and said, plainly, that he made a mistake. Now, it is too late for that. He’s so far into the shit that there is no way out except plowing right through; this means continuing to deny everything. And it is a shame, because had he come clean, he might even be able to dispel some of the ridiculous falsities that have come with the steroid scandal, and even, maybe, been a spokesman for some kind of testosterone replacement, which I believe would benefit males later in life.
But no, he was a jerkoff to his teammates, to the press, and, most importantly, to his fans. He's an outright cheater and a closet racist. In effect, it is twenty years of terrible karma that are coming back to bite Barry Bonds right in his GH filled ass, and I can’t say that I feel sorry for him. Not in the least.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Bitch, if you want to not look like shit, put that fucking twinky down. Lose some weight, and then worry about your goddamn fancy clothes. Christ.
He staggers in, and saying that he’s visibly drunk is an understatement.
“Where the fuck were you?” I ask him.
“Drinking Hennessey with niggers in Bloomfield. I got back in like 10 minutes, I set my cruise control to 90 on the Parkway. People were getting out of my way, they were like, “Watch out for this guy, he’s partyin!' Christ, I am fucking loaded. Let’s go somewhere”. I could only smile and shake my head.
This is my buddy Harry. What a maniac. He’s about 6’3, and on the better part of 300 pounds. He digs being so big, mostly because he knows that he scares the crap out of most regular people. He’s got a tattoo of a cross on his left shoulder, and a red and black Chinese character on his right shoulder that he thinks means, “Bad Man”, (but he wasn’t paying attention when he got it, so he’s not quite sure). Across his back, he has “Veni, Vidi, Vici” in black ink, and on anyone else this might seem strange, but it somehow fits him.
He works mostly shit jobs that don’t pay very well, and has been completely broke so many times in the past couple years that he’s bought cigarettes with bags of pennies on many occasions. The guys at the gas station HATE him for this. He says “Nothing for nothin” all the time, and I don’t have the heart to tell him that the real phrase is, “Not for nothing”. Not that it matters of course, because he’d say it even more if he knew it irritated me.
You’ll never hear anyone in Wayne say, “Yea, he’s ok.” He’s not ok. He’s either one of the best guys you’ve ever met, or one of the worst, depending on how you view the world. He drinks like the rest of us drink, which means copious amounts which stretch the bounds of what you think “drinking” can be called (you might think I’m exaggerating here. I’m not). He does, of course, have the dubious distinction of being on of only three guys I know that can drink a thirty pack in a night, and still go out to the bar.
I guess he intimidates people as soon as they see him; a big guy like that, tattoos, dressed like he just walked off a construction site, smoking cigarettes faster than Marlboro can make them. Hell, he intimidated me when I first met him, and that’s not easy to do to a short guy who’s got balls like I do. But yes, even me. When I walk into places and its just me and him walking through the door, I always wonder if people think I’m in the mob; this short little guinea walking in with a guy who looks like hired muscle. If they don’t, they should.
You might think, from reading this, that the guy is scumbag, or a waste who won’t ever do anything good with his life. Ironically enough, however, he is one of the smartest among us. Not in the conventional school way, and he’ll be the first to tell you that; he once got thrown out of a class in high school for challenging a teacher when she said that she was the dictator of the classroom- he grabbed the American flag off its holder at the front of the class, and walked out, claiming that this teacher was a fascist. No, it’s a much more creative way that he thinks that I just cannot explain, and have never seen anywhere else.
He keeps the History channel on 24 hours a day, and claims that when he goes home drunk and passes out, he absorbs the facts in his sleep. One might think that this is kind of strange, but when he wakes up, he writes essays that I couldn’t come up with in a year of drinking. He’s got a humorous voice, a sense of irony, and some strange metaphors. But you can’t help laughing.
“Ever get so drunk that you literally can’t walk? Oh I have, like really you can’t walk. You just lay on the ground and curse gravity like Isaac Newton under that damned apple tree. Try to stand, and bang back to the ground, try again and bang back to the ground. Meanwhile that fucking Osmino Robot is running the quarter mile around Japan, while I am laying on my carpet like the Man of Steel blowing through a straw to get my dick to work. Eventually from trial and error you get back to being able to walk again, but not after you knees and forehead are decorated with carpet burns.”
Its crude of course, and forget about grammar. But for some reason, he is excellent at sentence structure, and some of the things he comes up with are amazing. He invents historical events, intertwines them with the slightest bit with real history, and runs with them, similar to a drunken Dave Barry. He’s written essays about beer, Sam Adams, the Civil War, the chupacabra, World War II, Star Wars, Wal-Mart’s business practices, and the Mandogcat (all I can say is that it’s half-man, half- dog, and half- cat, and the “g” is silent. I could not explain this to you if I tried). He got home drunk one night and wrote a poem called, “Ode to Hulk Hogan”; he later sent it in to some poetry contest. He won.
I always tell him to save these things, that he could get a book of humorous essays published in minute. He laughs it off…but I’m serious. I know he will never do it.
The last few times we’ve gone out drinking, we’ve done everything we can to start a fight wherever we are. Between me and him, I can see that we are itching for something like this, and I have no idea why. But after a couple beers, he gets this smile that means he’s going to cause trouble. I always like this, I guess because I know that we will have an interesting story to tell somebody the next day. I’ve finished fights that he’s started before, which is odd when you consider the size difference between us. I always tell him that it’s the size of the fight in the dog. He cuts me off before I can finish with laughter. Bastard.
Its ironic that he drinks so much, being as that’s what killed his old man. He was a Vietnam vet who fought in Saigon during the Tet Offensive of 1968, and I guess he just saw a little more than he could handle. Sometimes I wonder if Harry is going the same way, drinking himself to death, but he seems a little more responsible than that (if you can imagine this). He knows when to put the brakes on and take a couple days sober. I don’t know that he always will, but then I don’t know if I always will either, so its not my place to judge. Between his father dying when he was 18, and our mutual buddy dieing at the age of 22, life can get too hot to handle. I’m just speculating, of course; I can’t get into his head anymore than I can clear my own. However, sometimes I myself wonder what the hell the point of living so perfectly is when you can die in a flash anyway, and it all ends as suddenly as one can strike a match. Poof! And a whole life is up in smoke, reeking of sulfur and sadness. Why not have those last few beers….
He swears to God that a distant relative of his, one who shares his surname, was a stowaway on the Mayflower, and was one of the first men hung in the New World. He’s not sure why he was hung, or even why he stowed away, but he gets a kick out it nonetheless. I’m not sure what his fascination with history is about, or why he knows so much about his own family’s, especially things like this.
For a guy like this, though, I think history is more interesting than real life. Its far more exciting to read about stowaways on the Mayflower than it is to go to work at Stop and Shop or the Outback, just as it’s far more stirring to get loaded and try to start a bar fight then it is to sit around watching TV and fucking around on the computer. Drinking isn’t killing him, its boredom. And it’s damn frustrating to watch.
There's one thing I really dig about bars, and that's that you meet very interesting people there when you're forced to talk to them. Now, in New Jersey, there's a "ban on smoking", which means that all people who smoke are relegated to the outside of the bars. Even though I don't agree with this fascist law, I abide by it, simply because no one else will stand up to it. I was loaded on this fine Thursday night, but I remember parts of it. Eventually, after a few drinks, I went outside for my first smoke... I met some interesting folks.
Some frat boy and his girlfriend were having a cigarette with some tall, lean, rangy looking fucker, and I could tell they were trying to get away from him. I ambled over in that direction and kind of saved the couple from this guy. He seemed interesting, so I started bullshitting with him. I don't know how we got talking about it, but somehow politics came up (although when I get drunk I do tend to yell about how Republicans are fascists). This guy agreed apparently.
"I was in fucking Vietnam man. They fucked us, they lied to us. I'd give my life for my country, but I'd never fucking do it again", he told me, as the smoke curled around his scroungy beard; this guy looked like he was in Vietnam.
Now, this sentence didn't really make sense, but I'm assuming he meant sign up to fight a politician's war. "If this country ever gets attacked, I'll fight. But never anywhere else". I think this guy learned the hard way that the government will trade blood for money. He's the kind of guy that I'll see at an Allman Brother's concert in a few years, and wonder why he looks familiar. This night, however, will not cross my mind when that happens, and I'll probably wander away drunk.
This conversation was ironic, being as my buddy Tosi from Little Falls was sitting inside that same bar. He just graduated college, and the entire time he did that ROTC shit, so he's heading into the Army shortly. I think he was born in Georgia or Carolina or some hillbilly state, and he does look like you would think Southerners should look: tall, blond, and lean. He's got no accent, but you can tell from his demeanor he's at least part redneck. He was a history major who barely made it out of college, and he's surprisingly liberal for coming from the old Army home that he comes from. His father was in the 82nd Airborne, and his grandfather was one of those crazy fucking Rangers that climbed the cliffs at Normandy. It's an impressive resume, and far better than my own family's, although I like to think that my family just tended to live on the other side of the law then his (I'm sure our stories are just as good, in that outlaw way, of course.)
It's kind of funny, because when he comes home, I tend to see other folks from that town that I often lose contact with. They all end up in the Army or the Marines, every damn one of them. The few girls I know through them are always marrying Marines, dating soldiers, blah blah. Needless to say, we all stay away from politics when we're drinking- they tend to be a little more...Pro-America than I. Being a far lefty, I don't want to start shit with buddies who are still laying their lives on the line, regardless of whether or not I agree with the mission.
It can get tiring being around people who are in the Army, but not with this guy. I mean, I'm really close with Tosi, and he never acts like a soldier. He knows the shit that I think will be cool, like the parts about blowing shit up, and he knows that I dig history. However, he never gets out of hand with it, never starts blowing smoke up people's asses about how he's a soldier, and certainly doesn't trust the government. Don't get me wrong, he's a son of a bitch, just like me, but he's not arrogant about it.
It irritates the fuck out of me that my buddy is going to end up over there in that shithole of a country called Iraq. I was diggin the fact that two of my friends got back safely, and now he's going to be taking off soon. I'd say that I'm closer with him than anyone else from that circle of people from Little Falls, and that's what worries me; I can't go to any more funerals for any more brothers. I sometimes get that feeling that I won't make it out of these years without losing another one, and that somehow this Iraq war that I've railed against so solidly is going to have some drastic effect on my own life. It's not a good feeling.
At the end of the night, I was outside talking to a broad that I've known for a while. Her husband is in the Army, but she cheats on him constantly. It's a good thing they got married before he left for Iraq...I used to wonder why she never slept at night, and why she'd always be posting shit on Myspace at the odd hours of the night whining about insomnia. Now, of course, I know why.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Thursday, June 01, 2006
World War I has always been the forgotten war in America's eyes. Maybe that's what happens when you live in the shadow of the greatest war on the face of the Earth, being only twenty years before it. However, I've always thought that WWI was probably the far more brutal war in terms of the human experience.
In WWII, the cause was clear, the enemy was truly evil, and we were under the assumption that if we did not conquer these imperial nations, the world would end. In WWI, there was no such cause. It was simply another European war, the same as any that Napoleon or others started. For America to be involved in it is indeed strange to me.
Politics aside though, that war was horrific. Life was lived in deep trenches. The war itself consisted of charging into the flaming mouths of machine guns, being under constant shellling by artillery shells as big as a man, and having the constant threat of poison gas ripping your lungs out of your chest. The tactics were outdated for the advanced weaponry, and so millions got slaughtered in doomed charges and brutal infighting.
We mortals are but shadows and dust
I take an interest in this for two reasons. The first reason is a family driven one: my great grandfather fought in the trenches in France as an artillerymen back in 1916. My grandmother still has the letters from him back to his family in Jersey City, and some of the letters that my great great grandfather sent him. The two of them were very close, this father and son, and it can be seen in the regularity that they talked. Of course, my great-great grandfather would always sign the letters in the stoical way of writing, "James S. Lynch", even though he sent them to his own son. These old letters don't have many important things in them- mostly the family bullshit that all of us go through. The father wrote of taking "Little Bobby" to see Santa Claus during Christmas time, things like that (ironically, "Little Bobby" is my great- uncle, one that I remember as a 83 year old man who would constantly ride his bike around Point Pleasant).
As the letters passed on, though, the father's handwriting got less and less legible. Eventually, in a cruel twist of fate fit only for the movies, the old man passed away while his son was in the midst of the trenches. The letter came from one of his aunts to inform the younger Lynch that his father was dead. I will wonder forever what that man was thinking at that time...in the greatest war the world has ever seen, seeing war and death and what might seem like Hell risen to the surface, and all you can think about is going back to Jersey City to see your father as he dies. 'Tis a cruel world indeed.
The second reason I'm interested is simply the name it has, a name that belies the cruelty that raged in those fateful years : The War to End all Wars. That name in itself has all of the apocalyptic power that men have dwelling inside them; the ability to start a war so great, so catastrophic, that we willingly destroy the entire world, ensuring that there will never be another, for there will be no people left to fight it. It's the idea that so many men were killed from all different countries that an entire generation was nearly annihilated . It's also a wonder that we could do the same thing twenty years later, and scare the shit out of ourselves when we dropped that bomb on Hiroshima, all the while trembling at our own power.
If I write a novel, than this will be my great endeavor. To embed a single Irishman from Jersey City into the middle of the greatest war in the history of man, and watch him witness the horrific things that men can do to each other, all in the name of God and Country. It will be a novel that makes us realize that war is not tickertape parades after the victory; it is men being blown apart by shells. It will make us realize that the main characters don't always live, and don't get honorable deaths where they can mutter last words about their families to their comrades. It will make us realize that those bullets don't care who they hit, and they have no remorse for the widowed wives, the fatherless sons, and the crying mothers. It will make us realize that the long rows of white crosses decorated with American flags were something that we could have avoided, and something that will never be justified. It will make us realize the ghastly, awe-inspiring, brutal mess that men create. It will make us realize that it truly is the Old Lie, perhaps the greatest lie that we've ever come up with: That it is sweet and right to die for your country.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.
- Wilfred Owen