Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's only schmear if you're a Jew.

I am disheartened. I am disheartened because I have enough on this particular subject to say to facilitate an entire blog.

Taking mudslinging out of politics would be like taking fighting out of hockey, or even like taking mainstream media out of politics; the process would be much less entertaining, but wholly more efficient.

The particular talking point I am addressing is the picture that is being passed around of Barack Obama in a turban and traditional North African garb. I am not outraged by the photo, I am not outraged by the fact that Clinton's team passed it around so quickly. I am enraged by the media and it's biased approach to the situation. The Clinton/McCain media outlets, who I fear share a hive mind, have spun as such; "How could you elect a black dude who's middle name is Hussein and has, at one point in his life worn a turban? We may as well vote for Joker/Penguin in '08!"

...and then the Obama supporters, instead of standing tall and appearing mature, respond with a stack of photos of Hillary in a head scarf, and George W. Bush in what appears to be an Asian woman's dress. We all know that politicians will do some pretty crazy stuff to garner support from other countries and different cultural groups. One case in point would be Bush and Condi's fantastic dancing, another one would be Bush Sr. flipping the 'V For Victory' to some British folk taking photos of his caravan, shortly after the end of the first Iraq war. On a slight side note, I've had dreams of Margaret Thatcher coming to America and smilingly flipping me off for years and I can't wait for that one to come true.

But, in seriousness, I love it. I love that Clinton is using what her team calls a kitchen sink approach to, what appears to be, the last ditch of her campaign. The trend that I notice about her staff, is that the higher up you get, the more childish and underhanded the people seem to be. The upper echelons of her staff are guerillas, and Clinton herself has the beret most populously festooned with medals and pins. It's too easy for her to sling mud...

"We've seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the
experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our
national security, we can't let that happen again."

Wait, didn't you vote for the war, Hil? Let's see how David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, words it, I'll bet he's slightly more eloquent and less inflammatory.

"On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect
for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful,
offensive fear-mongering we've seen from either party in the election,"

Ok, so he's not really taking the high road, but from what I remember of being a youth, the guilt trip was always a highly effective way to chastise.

And then to top it all off, Maggie Williams, Clinton's new top aide, had this to say:
"If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing
traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. This is nothing
more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues
confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they
claim they decry."

Wait, who released the photo? If it wasn't meant to be divisive, then what were you trying to accomplish? Were you trying to show the country how bad he looked in Somali clothing? Or was it an attempt to make him look foolish? Were you trying to show how photogenic Obama is? Because we all know he's a handsome dude. Every other angle you can take on that photo, that I can see anyway, would be positive.

So yeah, you all got me now. I support Barack Hussein Obama. I support him because he's the closest thing to a conservative in the race, but beyond that, he's the only one who's policy will once again make a conservative, a TRUE conservative, candidate possible again anytime in the near future. Also, Barack wants change. Yes I know that Hillary wants change too. The major difference between the two is that the things Obama has proposed make sense and could possibly be accomplished in two terms. He's not an idealist, he's a realist, and I am smart enough to understand that I don't know enough about politics to know what is right for the country. What I do know is that in order to really influence and change a large system, like our political system, you must be willing to take one thousand small steps without getting overwhelmed or flustered by the amount of work it might take.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Moment? Minute? Millenium? Stevie's all of 'em.

I've been playing with the idea of starting a bit of a serial post here on this blog. I've gone as far as designing a logo for it, but not much further. The logo is a man with a mullet, and instead of a face the letters CotM are stylistically implanted. Since I had a hard time moving this logo from paper to gIMP [open source is awesome] I kind of scrapped the whole idea, but something happened to me today that totally changed my mind.

CotM was supposed to stand for Customer of the Month, but when I realized that I have way too many crazy customers, I decided it should stand for Customer of the Moment. Well, today I really had to consider exchaning Minute for Millenium, because today, Stevie came into my life.

Stevie is a discheveled looking young woman. She swears like a sailor, her hair is falling out in clumps and she hasn't yet been able to get her herpes in check. She's wearing a dingy scarf, a fake fur-lined buck skin jacket and distressed blue jeans. She's a closet ginger, with freckles covered up by cakey make-up and a piss poor auburn dye-job on hair that looks more translucent than red. She's what I'd call your typicall hot mess.

She wanders around the store for a bit, before coming up to the counter with a small list written on a sheet of three-hole loose-leaf paper.

"I need everything on this list," she blurts.

So I scan the list in my usually haphazard style. I see some tune up parts; spark plugs, ignition wires, air and fuel filter. The list is topped by two items that require further inspection. The messy blue ink seems to say 'stamps', succeeded by the cryptic 'mail p. papers'.

I quip with a smile, "uh...we don't sell stamps," choosing, for purposes of disclosure, not to mention her legal woes. I try to shoot from the hip, as far as humor is concerned at work. Well, her humor comes down the barrel of a .357 aimed right at the back of my head.

"Yeah, I bet you won't mail my parole papers either, huh?"

No smile. No giggle. Bam. I didn't even see it coming.

So I take a few deep panting breaths to regain my composure, and start to look up her parts. All the while, I am having flashbulb memories of the night that Jim Carrey hosted Saturday Night Live. If you remember that episode, you'll surely remember Jimmy Tango's Fat Busters. The premise is pretty simple; Jimmy Tango's Fat Busters is Crystal Meth. One of the female cast members is giving a testimony on how effective the program is and it's rolling through my conscious though. My hair falls out in clumps, I sleep in the oven and when I wear black, I look like a closed umbrella but thanks to Jimmy, last weekend at a party I made out with Scott Baio! And all the while I am looking up her parts, she is monologuing at me.

"I don't understand why I should pay for all of this from a mechanic. The last time I had my car tuned up, it cost me $500.00. Now that I can do all of this myself, because now I know how to do it myself, I can do it myself and save a couple hundred dollars!"

I then explain to her that some of the parts she needs, I have to order, and that they need to be paid for in advance [read: I don't want to get screwed].

"That's not a problem." The word 'problem' causes a problem. She spits on my hand. I withdrawn and she dives into her purse, presumably for a tissue, and I respectfully decline. I've got my own.

"I'll come and pick the stuff up tomorrow around nine. I have to do all this work myself, because now I know how to do it myself. I guess I'll save a few hundred dollars that way. Oh, you know what? I better get an oil drain pan as well, I don't want to have to spill my used oil all over the mall parking lot."

Double take.

She then presumes to stand around and make idle chit chat with me, boredering on flirtation, as I carry on with my regularly scheduled tasks of the afternoon.

At some point, seemingly hours later, I muster up the courage to say, "well, you're all set, have a nice day."

The response? "Ok, well I'll see you tomorrow..." are we friends now? "...You'll be here, right?"

I nod sheepishly.

"What's your name?"

At this point, the very end of the Fats Waller song This Joint Is Jumping is playing at one million dB in my head: Don't give your right name, no, no, no..., but I can't stop, I'm out of energy to think up anything on the fly. "I'm Alex," and I am totally fucked.

"Oh, I'm Stevie, see you tomorrow, Alex."

I'll probably file and update tomorrow, and if she doesn't show up, I'll be cruising the blotters.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Story of Levon Helm, Howard Johnson and others.

Last night was a surprising night, and today is one fucked up morning. My original plan for last night was a pretty simple pattern...

Leave work

Pay my father

Play World of Warcraft


...but shortly after completing my first two objectives, things went awry, and my night ended up looking something more like this...

Leave work

Pay Dad

Go to The Electric Factory

Watch Dr. Dog Ollabell and the Levon Helm Band

Drink five beers and a fistfull of Gin

Note the total lack of relaxation in that night, yet all in all it was a fantastic night. I, in all honesty, had no idea who Levon Helm was. My father asked me if I wanted to go, and I said yes. I wasn't aware that this was going to be a DadRock concert. I don't think I've ever seen more salt and pepper goatees in my life. I guess I just don't get the whole goatee thing. I mean, what's the concept? "You know, I'd like some facial hair, but only in a place where it can be really inconvenient." Further convincing me that I was out of place, was the venue. The Electric Factory, in my mind, is a place to see Gwar; a place to see loud acts with rowy fans that spit on stage and leave drenched in a mix of sweat and somebody else's blood, but when Levon Helm comes to town for his fortieth year of performance, The Factory changes completely. The bouncers don't stick their hands between your ass cheeks, they say things like, "please," and, "thank you," and they don't even card you to go up to the beer balcony!

The show was fantastic. I was easily able to look past my company and really enjoy the show. Levon is up there, as far as I am concerned, with Ringo. He's one of the few drummers who's really able to find the right beat for a song and be happy not playing anything more or less. I don't know The Band beyond 'Weight,' and I know even less Levon Helm band music, but I must say I was impressed.

His lead guitarist, Larry Campbell, whom my father pointed out as Emmylou Harris' band leader, made me lose my mind after playing his first guitar solo. The guy could obviously make the guitar do what ever he wanted, and what he ended up asking it to do was quite pleasing and interesting. Then the man picked up a mandolin, and I think I came in my pants a little bit. At this point, I passed this comment to my father; "He's got more country in his right hand than all of [pop country radio station] 92.5 XTU!" So, yeah...the guy's got skill, and he's got my respect, then he picks up a fiddle, and I totally lose controll. I'd fuck him.

The other guitarist was non other than Jimmy Vivino of the Max Weinberg Seven. He was good too, but he didn't kill the fiddle like Larry Campbell.

I guess all I can say about this whole experience is that it's not wonder why Levon won a Grammy.

Levon Helm

Jimmy Vivino

Larry Campbell

Dirt Farmer (Levon's new record)

Monday, February 11, 2008

...no, this is me in a nutshell.

I am, eventually, going to start this entry. At some point, it will expand on my actual political standpoint in relation to the current election. You will consider it a definition of my platform and it will be as close as I can get to one, but first, I am going to have to dive into the past. My previous entry, in regards to primaries, was a complete and total awkward mess. Now, keep in mind, I am taking full responsibility here even though, at first, I might be looking like I am assigning blame on someone else.

When I was a boy, I felt as if my parents were smart, hip, and had the answers to everything. I am sure everyone else, who had a childhood in any way mirroring mine, held the same belief. Before I was old enough to have my own opinions, I held my parent's as my own. When I was starting to come into social awareness, for this instance let's place it in and around the '96 presidential election, I was attempting to build a vast base of knowledge in a short period of time by reading and asking questions.

I had a vague and fuzzy memory of talking to my mother about primaries and her telling me why she didn't vote in them, and I will assume that she explained to me a true and meaningful reason to avoid voting in primaries. I, in turn, forgot or , what's more likely, associated it with something else and scrambled the two up in my young impressionable mind. I would like to point out that, even though voting in a primary doesn't lock your vote for your party in the general election, it would be a point of contention if you did vote against party lines if you ever planned on running for office in the future, and even considering that, my position on voting in primaries doesn't change. So I apologize. I am no republican pundit, I can admit wrongdoing.

Ok, so it was a bit of a jab, but my intentions were in the right place.

Now on to bigger things;

I don't keep to many issues on my radar, but the one's that I do, I am pretty adamant about. For the most part, in order to get my vote, you've got to take care of a controlling percentage of these items, in order of importance: general fiscal policy, the war in Iraq, environmental issues, social policy.

Fiscally, I am a conservative. I mean a real live actual conservative. I believe in a small, efficient centralized government, I know, not your typical libertarian, but follow my path here. I feel the elimination of most of the bureaucracy in this country will lead to a huge deficit in government. In the implementation of a true conservative government, the states will have to become more self sufficient. I do feel that over time, having more self sufficient states will lead to an overall smaller government. I feel like right now, the federal government has a square hole, and the states all have round pegs, and they are fighting to be the first to make the interface work. The gap between the hole and peg is hemorrhaging money like nobody's business. I work in a business, where the word 'universal' generally means it requires a blow torch and a hacksaw to make it work, and while this works in the auto parts field, what's right for California isn't right for Missouri.

My position on the war in Iraq has changed a little bit over time. I was adamantly against when this whole thing started, and I slowly started to understand why we were there, but then I hit my head and regained sense. I support the troops, for the most part. I, as a matter of principle, I don't support people who tie yellow ribbons and have bumper stickers. Generally, those people piss me off. I feel that the war is at a point now that the only real way we have to get out will look more like the road to Saigon than the road to a Republic. My vote goes to the guy or gal who can get us out of Iraq and allow them to start their hundred years of civil war as soon as possible, so that that conflict can be over as soon as possible.

I love the environment. I love it so much; I choose to live inside of it. I have come to terms with the fact that the path we are on right now has us using fossil fuels until they run out, at which point, we will calmly look around and realize how fucked we are. If for no other reason than the fact that fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource, we should be seriously looking into alternative fuel sources. We should be more heavily subsidizing research on alternative fuels than research on finding new ways to further our petroleum habit. We should be preserving the environment in a way that doesn't affect the natural growth of society, but still leaving enough open space so that I can still go camping and shit. Farms are good too, but I don't believe our agricultural subsidy system is working.

Socially, I am what you would call a God Damned Hippy Liberal. I am pro-choice, anti-capital punishment, I love arts in the schools, and I feel like church and state should only ever come in contact when they are streets.