Monday, October 24, 2011

Hijo


Parents love their children. No real news flash there. Many do because of the inseparable bond, others because they feel obligated to do so. Some are proud, some can't wait until they turn 18 so they can boot them out of the house.

I just love my son.

I was a reluctant father-to-be, as Nick, my only child, was not a ‘planned’ event; I got my girlfriend pregnant in 1993. There was a lot of fear on my part over becoming a father, as I imagined my life forever changing. Well, it did. For the better.

When Nick was born, the bond crystallized the moment I saw that schlock of brown hair as he was placed in my arms, at about two minutes old. Suddenly, all the things fathers told me permanently embedded. I was now a father, and I will protect this little entity with my life. It was an immediate, chemical reaction.

I missed the first few years of his life, as I relocated to Ohio. In early 2001 I returned to Florida, when Nick was 6 years old, and re-entered it. And that began my foray into real fatherhood. I learned to like Spongebob Squarepants, Ed Edd and Eddie, and getting slimed. I learned to be interested in whatever interested him, and adapted when those interests changed. In other words, Squidward was pretty cool when he was ten, not so much now. I used him to pick up girls at the mall because he was so damn adorable. I have a box of about 100 Happy Meal toys collected through the years from our dinners...and I am keeping every one of them. We would sit on the beach and talk. One night we were inundated by hundreds of hatching sea turtles during one of our beach talks.

I tried to teach him golf. He didn’t want to learn it. I took him to football and baseball games, but he would rather sit at home and draw. And draw. And draw. It was this proclivity that both his mom and I picked up on and realized that we may have a mini Michelangelo on our hands, so we enrolled him into summer art schools. Gifts from relatives were of the creative variety – sketchbooks, crayons, magic markers and the like. And Nick kept drawing.

When it was time for Middle School, Nick got accepted into a magnet arts school.  He is now in a magnet high school, the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. He is in the eleventh grade now, and his work is absolutely amazing. Scholarships await.

I have had friends of mine ask if I am disappointed that Nick doesn’t play golf. Not at all. Not even for a moment. He is a talented kid, and I just want him to go with wherever that talent takes him. Like any parent, I just want him to be happy.

Nick is quiet, introspective, highly intelligent, and bit of a wiseass. He is respectful and courteous, but there is mischief in those eyes. In other words, he is just like me. He doesn’t call me Dad – he calls me Padre. He loves classic rock and boasts every Beatles song in his ipod. We don’t so much talk these days as much as we telepathically communicate – we know what each is thinking. I could not be prouder of him if I tried.

I remember being in a time management seminar at work when Nick was maybe three years old. The facilitator asked who had a small child. I raised my hand. She said to me, ‘Jerry, there is a high wire connecting two skyscrapers, 100 stories high. I’ll give you $100 to walk across it. Will you do it?’ Of course, I said no. She said ‘What about a thousand dollars?’ Nope. ‘One MILLION dollars?’ hmmmm…nope. ‘Okay. Your son just got loose and he’s going across the wire. Now what do you do?’

My immediate answer, without hesitation - ‘I go and get him.’

And that’s what being a parent is all about.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Common Sense



Lately I have found myself defending my liberalism, which is fine. I understand that we are a nation of divergent opinions. What irks me are people that have stances that simply fly in the face of logic.

So in this spirit, below I will make four statements that, I believe, cannot be disputed, yet I know they will be. Because many (if not all) have been nuanced to death by those that would attempt to make people see what does not exist.

And you can take these four statements, add them up, and you get a pretty good barometer of where my mind is at. The sad truth is, in this day and age it would paint me as a fringe left-wing wacko. But to me, they’re simply common sense:

If there were fewer guns, there would be fewer gun deaths. Yep, I started off with the one issue that will likely have the most blowback. The initial reaction will be, ‘if you take away my guns only the criminals will have them.’ Well, possibly. But note how I worded it – if there were fewer guns. I am not advocating taking your gun away. The problem is, many do not have a gun...they have guns, plural, and does anyone really need ten of them?

We are armed to the teeth in this country. Sadly, Columbine-like events are becoming pretty common. In fact, I'll predict it right now: Within the next two weeks there will be a story of multiple killings by someone at a convenience store, bowling alley...or a school.

So I am sure that if we had, say, 30% less guns there would still be plenty to go around and we would be a safer country. Those that disagree will say the exact opposite – they would have us believe that more guns means a safer world, and fewer guns would make for a more dangerous world. Well, go ahead and believe that is you wish, but rationale and reason dictate that stance makes no sense. When it comes to guns, less doesn’t mean more. Less means less. It is arithmetic certainty.

If abortions were illegal, there would still be abortions. This seems to be the unacknowledged fact by those that are Pro-Life. In their mind it is a moral issue that would be fully addressed by passing a law. This is ridiculously over-simplistic. It assumes that a pregnant teenager possesses moral equivalency, and further that she would have that baby if she could not legally get an abortion. Doubtful. Improbable. She’s scared. And no amount of pleading or waiting time will convince her otherwise – you can try to fill her heart with whatever religious mores you possess, but she is pregnant. She’s not going to find God. She’s going to get an abortion.

Anyone that does not acknowledge that fact cannot see the world beyond his or her religious-tinted prism. So the difference between legal and illegal should be replaced with the difference between safe and unsafe. Again, that scared teenager is having an abortion. So the question becomes, do we endanger her health as well? I get that Pro-Lifers consider it morally wrong. But this isn’t about morality – it’s about making a medical procedure that will occur regardless as safe as possible.

Whenever I hear Pro-Lifers state that abortions should be illegal, the only question I have, which has never been adequately answered is, how much jail time should the woman get for having one? And don't cop-out and say that only the doctor would get sentenced - that's like saying only the drug dealer should get the sentence and not the drug user. You make abortion illegal and you have created a new, large group of offenders. Better keep building those jails, because they will quickly be filled with this new class of criminals.

Government creates jobs. Here it comes. I can feel it – ‘Government creates work, only the private sector creates jobs!’ Well, I am sure that policemen, firefighters, code enforcers, urban planners, teachers and social workers are thrilled to know that their careers that they went to college for or were stringently trained for aren’t really careers – they are governmental constructs.

To be sure, the country needs a robust private sector in order to push the needle and reduce unemployment – of that I totally agree. But ‘government’ jobs should not be vilified in the process. If Tea Partiers got their wish and “government” was removed from their lives, so would their safety, education, the roads they drive on and bridges their drive over. They may be free from the so-called shackles of government taxation, but the landscape they would preside over would look like Mad Max’s Thunderdome.

The free market needs regulated. Two letters: BP. Many on the right want us to believe that the reason the private sector is not flourishing is due to crushing regulation imposed by an overzealous government. Red herring. Not true. First off, the reason the private sector is not flourishing is demand is down because we are in a recession. Therefore, reducing (or eliminating) regulation will not increase demand. It will just truncate the process of getting goods that aren't being bought to the marketplace; a truncation that could possibly have disastrous results. Do we really want the FDA abolished so that prescription drugs with dubious claims can flood the market? Do we want the EPA done away with so we can return to the day when rivers caught fire? Regulations are there for a reason, very good reasons. And it is primarily this – the private sector is not interested in the public good.  It is interested in making money.

Okay. Fire away. The only ground rule is, fight logic with logic. I used it. You do the same.



Sunday, October 16, 2011

Know-It-All


I have been doing quite a bit of introspection lately. This is due to a number of reasons, but chief among them is the desire to live the rest of my life happy, joyous and free. And it has become very apparent that one of the main roadblocks to that is how I interact with others.

People piss me off.

That phrase – right there – is the crux of my issue. I am arrogant. I flaunt superiority at the expense of others. I build myself up at the expense of others. This makes them upset at me which makes me upset at them. And when they express it I redouble my efforts to show them how wrong they are. In other words, my initial premise is ‘I am right and you are wrong’, and when you challenge me on that, it becomes a contest that I must win. And when you try to explain that it is no longer about the argument but rather how I am arguing it (arrogantly), I will try to win that debate. In other words, if you say I am being arrogant, I will argue arrogantly that I’m not being arrogant.

This helps explain why I am 53 and alone.

Who wants to be around that? Gawd, if I were dealing with someone like that I would tell such a person to go fuck themselves. Which, by the way, is quite an arrogant statement.

Where did this all start? Well, like most of our personality traits, as a child. Being the youngest, I felt I had to ‘earn’ airtime in our family. And to do so required (so I thought) outrageous behavior or statements. I thought my older brother was very smart and cool so I emulated that behavior. And finally, knowledge was highly valued in our tribe, so I embarked on obtaining two college degrees. Add all this up, and I became cocooned in my own smugness. Arrogant behavior became my subconscious and automatic response to most everything. I worshipped at the altar of ego, and equated happiness with being right. So I reveled in the win of the argument.

Well you know what? Oftentimes I did “win”. And then I was alone.

To the victor goes the isolation.

As I got older, I started to recognize that people didn’t like a know-it-all, but I was unable to put the brakes on my arrogance, so I developed a counter-balancing personality trait. Charm. My thinking was, yes, I have this negative aspect of my personality, but if I couched it in a pleasant, flattering persona, it would at least be tolerated. Take the good with the bad, right? I thought I could still be loved with this construct. Well, I was loved. Briefly. The ‘Charm Offensive’ worked for a while until girlfriends figured out it was a fa├žade that hid my true essence.

But what really is my ‘true essence’? If arrogance was a learned trait in childhood and adolescence, that’s not my true essence. So what is the real me? Gosh, I just don't know. I do know I want to be liked by everyone, so the foundation for my behavior is unrealistic to begin with. So, basing my behavior on a ridiculous premise is a sure recipe for unhappiness.

I now recognize that arrogance and flattery were things I picked up along the way, so if those were stripped away, what’s left? Here’s where I am with that. I am human. Sometimes I am right, sometimes I am wrong, but more importantly, who really cares? I am just another bozo on the bus, trying to get through life like everyone else. And one thing I have learned is, I can’t do this gig alone. I need help. And that phrase right there – I need help – is, I believe, the key to breaking through the icy shell of arrogance that I have constructed. I don’t have the answers.

So here I am, and here’s what I have deduced so far. Arrogance was a learned behavior just like charm was. I piled crap on top of crap hoping the sweet smell of one would offset the acrid smell of the other. 

So if you were to conclude that I am full of crap, grab a prize.

So who am I, really?

My gawd. Stay tuned. As soon as I figure that out I will let you know.

And I don’t mean that arrogantly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Deja Vu


“These students have to learn what law and order is all about” - President Richard Nixon, to General Robert Canterbury, Ohio National Guard, at Kent State University, May 4, 1970

“I, for one, am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities across the country.” - Rep. Eric Cantor, describing the Occupy Wall Street movement, October 7, 2011

Quick question. Describe the most important  American value, the most inalienable right that we as Americans have. Life? Liberty? Pursuit of happiness? Yes, those are all guaranteed in our Constitution and are pretty damn important. But I am going to offer up what I think the most important right we as citizens have -
The right to dissent.
Dissent. The right to freely express disagreement with a person, an institution or a government without fear of reprisal; without fear of your life, liberty or pursuit of happiness  being infringed upon. The right to protest perceived injustices. This, to me, is what makes us unique in the world. We not only allow dissent, we embrace it.
That is, until someone in power does not like it.
I placed two quotes at the top of this story to illuminate. The first was how then-president Nixon described the student protests at Kent State University. For context, Nixon had chosen to invade Cambodia five days earlier as part of the expansion of the Vietnam War. This touched off protests around college campuses, and in the instance of Kent State, to students holding rallies on campus that included the burying of the Constitution since, it was concluded, Nixon chose to ignore it by invading a country without seeking Congressional approval first. To be fair, there was some violence - students trashed downtown Kent and set fire to the ROTC building on campus.
Five days later, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on the protesters who were peaceably assembling on campus, killing four and wounding nine.
Fast-forward to 2011 and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Now this movement does not have the same level of starkness as Kent State; in other words, the OWS movement seems more concerned about economic unfairness rather than escalation of a war that students soon saw themselves forced to fight - and possibly die - in. But that does not make their cause any less just. It is dissent over injustice. And it is spreading.
Now, read Eric Cantor’s quote again. Note the use of the word ‘mob’. I do not know about you, but that one word sends a chill up my spine. These are people that, to date, have been nonviolent young people dissenting. They are practicing an inalienable right of all Americans. They are, in essence, patriots. Our country was founded on dissent. They are simply mimicking the behavior we revere when we read about Revere.
The chilling aspect of Cantor’s quote is this is how the table gets set for violence. We have seen it before at Kent State - first you vilify the protesters, then you shoot them. As an aside, there were a number of things the Kent State protesters were being called - “Brown shirts”…”The worst kind of humans”…and this was by the governor of Ohio at the time, James Rhodes. It was no wonder that armed soldiers were placed on the campus at his order. They had to, as Nixon’s quote said ‘learn what law and order was all about’.
Well they did.
So I now have a familiar fear about these OWS protesters. The political propaganda machine, at least on the Republican side, is being geared up. They are not dissenting Americans, they are now ‘mobs’ according to Cantor.
The slippery slope to violence has started. Touched off, not by those exercising their rights, but by those who take exception to their use of them. I fully expect in the coming days of a “report” of these dissenters vandalizing property or endangering the lives of regular folks. Because that will give Cantor and his ilk the ammunition needed to, well, show them what law and order is all about.
And we will have to bury more young people killed at the hands of their government.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

It Ain’t Easy Being Brown

It is October, and we are smack in the middle of the football season. I love October – the weather cools, Friday nights belong to High School football, Saturdays are the domain of the colleges, and Sunday belongs to the pros.
The pros. Ugh.

This is not an indictment of the professional game. Instead I just got that uncontrollable chill go up my spine. It happens when I think about my beloved team, the Cleveland Browns.


Ugh. It just happened again.

I grew up in northeast Ohio, about 35 miles south of Cleveland and about 15 miles from the pro football hall of fame in Canton. The roots of the professional game were planted there. The league was formed in 1921 in a car dealership in Akron, my hometown. As a child in the 1960’s, Sunday afternoons in the fall had the same ritual – my mom would cook a vat of spaghetti sauce and all the relatives would come over to watch the Browns lay waste to their opponent week after week. Like clockwork.

Because, this may be difficult for anyone under 40 to imagine, but the Browns used to be really good. Consistently good. Not catch lightning in a bottle for one season good, but year in and year out in the playoffs good. The saying back then was, there are two things you can count on in December – snow and the Cleveland Browns. They were called the New York Yankees of pro football.

So that was the environment I was raised in, and I fully expected my adult life to be one of glowing pride of celebration of multiple NFL championships. In 1970, when I was 12, the NFL and AFL merged, and three teams from the NFL moved to the AFL – the Colts, the Steelers and the Browns. The reconstituted AFC Central was formed consisting of the Browns and three shitball teams – the expansion Cincinnati Bengals, the AFL-doormat Houston Oilers, and our perennial whipping boys, the Pittsburgh Steelers. At that moment in time, the Browns’ all-time record against the Steelers was 52-9. I kid you not. This was not going to be pretty, I thought – we would own that division for years on end.

Then in 1972 Franco Harris scooped a ball off the turf and the Steeler dynasty was born.

Ugh. It just happened again.

The 70’s and early 80’s featured glimpses of glories past, such as the upstart Kardiac Kids of Sam Rutigliano and Brian Sipe, but hopes were dashed on a ridiculously cold January day in 1981 when the first chink in our psyche, Red Right 88, was planted. The late 80’s brought a string of dominating teams led by Bernie Kosar that could not get past one person – John Elway. The Drive and The Fumble got added to the list of acrid memories.

The 1990’s brought turmoil. We hired a coach you may have heard of. Bill Belichick. But this wasn’t the hoodie-wearing genius Bill Belichick. This was the arrogant young punk version who had the nerve to cut Bernie Kosar. In mid-season. With the team in first place and the starting Quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, injured. That day made Belichick a vilified assbag in the minds of the fans. A 11-5 record in 1994 did not matter – Bill Must Go was the chant.

Well, he did, but unfortunately, so did the rest of the team. After the 1995 season Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore. And all those previous disappointments paled in comparison to having the Cleveland Browns….are you effin’ kidding me? taken away. Three years later, through incessant demands from the fan base, the NFL gave us a new team.

I use the word ‘team’ very loosely in this instance.

It was a team in name only. What it was, was the most horrid collection of truck drivers in football uniforms ever assembled. Just God-awful. 2-14, 3-13…records that we never dreamed of happening to the Cleveland Browns became regular occurrences. We changed coaches and general managers the way people change their underwear. Bust draft picks, overpriced free agents and snake-oil salesman general managers all conspired to turn the New York Yankees of pro football into the Washington Generals – the patsy team that every other team circled on their schedule as an easy win.

The newest incarnation of the Browns appears to be heading in the right direction, but I just don’t know. Not that I do not trust the people in charge, it’s that I cannot believe this team can ever be consistent winners. Somewhere along the way we apparently pissed off the Football Gods and they are making us suffer. As a result, our fan base is probably the most neurotic in professional sport - the only other team/fans I can compare to are Chicago Cub fans. We always assume the worst is going to happen, and often it does. LeCharles Bentley, Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Butch Davis, Willie Green, Bottlegate...and that's just the new incarnation of this team - we already carried Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble & The Move in our psyche before we got the new team.

So we assume the worst. And until 'the worst' stops happening to us, we will continue to go there. Sucks, but that's just how it is. We are like a beaten, abused dog - whenever we hear a newspaper being rolled up, we cower...even though we still love our 'owner' unconditionally. He can beat us and we still love him. Even when he just may be rolling up that newspaper to swat a fly - we think it's coming for us.


This helps to explain our collective psyche. You think Steeler fans think like this? Hell no. They're dogs that have been fed Filet Mignon and sleep on a feather bed. They got 6 Lombardis to ogle at. We get a glimmer of hope, and we think, 'How are we gonna eff this up?'

Here comes another ugh.

Often I am asked, ‘Why are you a Browns fan?’ Great question, and one I have pondered often, usually on the heels of a blowout loss. And I have come to this conclusion:

I blame my parents. They could have conceived and raised me anywhere else but northeast Ohio, and I would have been none the wiser. I could have grown up a Dolphin fan and at least have had two Super Bowl victories in my youth to point to.

But no. Cleveland it is.

And you know what? One day when the Browns win that Super Bowl, which will hopefully happen before I lose my marbles and being fed through a straw and am wearing a diaper, it will be a wonderful day. It will make all those years of mind-numbing catastrophes all worth it.

Go Browns.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Transcending Transience



Frequent visitors to my blog know a couple things about me. One, I was born and raised in northeast Ohio – I have burned a lot of bandwidth writing about my upbringing there. Secondly, I now live, and have for about 25 years, in Florida. From Boca Raton to Orlando, and most places in between. I presently reside in Altamonte Springs, a suburb of Orlando.

When I first moved to Florida in the early 80’s, one of the large knocks on the Sunshine State was its transience-ness. Many lamented over the fact that the state was loaded people from everywhere else and as a result the place had no sense of community – nobody knew their neighbors, and even if you took the time to know them, they’d be gone in six months anyway. That trendy new restaurant down the street? Better hit it fast, because it will be gone this time next year.

My dad used to call Florida ‘The Land of the Hustle’, and he wasn’t referring to disco. He meant it was a place to make a quick buck then get the hell out before the authorities caught up with you. Trying to find a reputable person to tile your roof or remodel your bathroom was like playing Russian roulette insofar as getting someone to actually commit to finishing the job. The shores were teeming with bales of washed-up drugs and Haitians. The growth rate was around 20 percent annually, and with it came anyone that ever swung a hammer, even if they couldn’t pass a background check or a drug test. People were on edge, scared. Looking over their shoulders. Nobody trusted anyone.

But something has happened over the past 30 years. For sure, I got older, so perhaps I view things differently now – it’s one thing to be 24, drinking beer and smoking pot on the beach with my buddy Gary while we took running starts from the road and tried to jump as far as we could off sand-duned cliffs to the beach below, risking broken bones and concussions, to being a homeowner with a good job and a teenage son. Perhaps time has mellowed me.

But I don’t think so. Rather, I think time has mellowed Florida. Things have settled. Tracts of homes became neighborhoods. People got nicer. They stayed. They grew roots here. Schools have dramatically improved, or at least they are on a par with the rest of the country – there was a time that wasn’t so. For example my son is in a magnet arts high school in West Palm Beach. 85% of their graduates receive college scholarships. Palm Beach County boasts two of the top-ten public high schools in the country. Read that again – in the country. There is a lot to be proud of here, and it has nothing to do with Mickey or Mojitos.

This is not to say we do not have our problems, but now they are universal in nature. In other words, problems all areas have – unemployment, scarce jobs and the like. But nothing endemic to just Florida anymore. This stabilization can be felt and touched. Restaurants have endured. My neighbors on the street that my house is on are still there – Rufus and Jocelyn from Miami live on one side, and Butch and Deena from Metairie, Louisiana on the other. People smile now. They ask how you are and mean it. When Hurricane Jeanne hit my neighborhood in 2005 and power went out for days, Rufus had everyone over for a cookout. We helped each other out. In other words, we became a community – one of the main things that we lamented was missing from our until-then dysfunctional slice of paradise.

See, we are all still from somewhere else, but we have all made Florida our home. Not for a summer, not until our parent’s money runs out, and not until the authorities from up north catch up to us. This is our home. And I love it here. I am proud of my Ohio roots, but I am equally proud of my adopted home.

All Floridians should feel the same.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Let There Be Rock


To quote Joan Jett, I love rock and roll.
Which, I know, makes me about as unique as a grain of sand. It is the music of my generation, shared and adored by millions of baby boomers, gen x-er’s. millenials and whatever other demographic is out there of anyone under 65 years old. My son - born in 1994 - loves rock and roll, and now boasts having every Beatles song ever recorded on his iphone. Proud papa me. My song list includes the Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, The Who, Korn, Nirvana, Average White Band, Soundgarden, Fatboy Slim, Prodigy...to name but a few.
Rock and roll came of age in 1995. Why? Because that’s when a Hall of Fame was opened to honor the greats of this genre, on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio. That, to me, defined it's arrival - a shrine built to house the greats.
I have been to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame many times, and I still love going there. You are greeted by a giant ‘teacher’ from Pink Floyd’s The Wall hanging from the ceiling ever reminding you that ‘If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!’ The exhibits are fantastic - under glass is the original manuscript of Born To Run, written on notebook paper by Bruce Springsteen. Over there is Janis Joplin’s Mur-say-deez Benz…the Lord did indeed bought her one. In another section you get the geographical influences, from The Eagles representing SoCal to Booker T and The MG’s representing Memphis. A piece of the fuselage from the plane that Otis Redding tragically died in is on display.
However, the R&R HOF is not without controversy. There are a number of individuals/bands that have not been inducted, such as Chicago and Rush, and others that have been whose induction has been questioned, like Leonard Cohen and Madonna.
It is Madonna’s induction that seems to really make people go postal. Madonna? SHE’S NOT ROCK AND ROLL!
Okay, fair enough. Then I have one simple question for you  -
Define Rock & Roll.
What exactly 'is' it? A sound? A lifestyle? Both?
Unlike other musical genres, rock & roll really has no definition. And when you go to the R&R HOF and see the exhibits of the early influences, you see why. It was the bastard stepchild of gospel, delta blues & country, basically. Poor blacks were creating a sound that was later cribbed by Elvis Presley. Early country artists like Hank Williams (SENIOR, thank you very much) were influencing it. It even has the influences of Caribbean, Afrikaan and Big Band. Throw all that together, shake your hips violently, toss in some pyro and good drugs, and voila. Rock and roll. It's sort of like when that judge tried to define pornography by saying 'I know it when I see it'. That's rock & roll - a mindset on an individual level that changes from person to person.
So what does that have to do with the R&R HOF? Everything. Cuz that's what you find there. A little bit of everything. Including Madonna.
Because, to me, the ‘mindset’ aspect of rock & roll is, it’s an all-inclusive party. It is the furthest thing from intellectual snobbery you can find. It is come one come all, stop that grinnin’ and drop that linen, let yourself GO revelry. Rock out with your cock out. It’s a dead man’s party, leave your body at the door.
And to that I say, effin-a right. Nobody, not even the cops, was ever kept out of a rock and roll party. So hell yes. Madonna should be in there. While you’re at it, put Donna Summer in there too -  she’s up for nomination this year. I didn’t care for disco, but it got me laid. So should Donna get in I will recall my bell bottom polyester slacks, airport-hangar-wide lapel shirts, and Love Hangovers.

Just keep KISS out. Because they suck.
I still have standards, ya know.




Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Best Time of the Week


Quick question – what is your favorite time of the week? Friday at 5pm? Saturday night?

Mine is right now.

What is right now? 10:30am Sunday morning in the Fall. Got Sunday NFL Countdown on TV, a cup of coffee in front of me and a wad of nicotine gum in my mouth. I am going through websites trying to fine-tune the starting lineups of my four fantasy football teams, and am concerned about Beanie Wells’ ankle and Mario Manningham’s concussion. Will Mike Vick be productive with a bone bruise on his non-throwing hand at home against San Fran or should I take a flyer on Flacco Sunday night against the Jets?

And that’s just one of my fantasy teams. Got three more to cogitate over, and two hours in which to do it.

I will then don my autographed Bernie Kosar jersey and head over to Post Time Lounge in Longwood to join my fellow Orlando Browns Backers for this afternoon’s game against Tennessee. The TWO-AND-ONE Cleveland Browns. Tied for first place in the AFC North Cleveland Browns.

Life is good.

Now, by 4:00pm all this hopefulness may evaporate. The Browns may lose. Vick may be on the bench with a broken ankle, having amassed me three fantasy points as I face the prospect of heartbreaking losses.

But right now, it is sunny and hopeful.

For others, Sunday morning is shhh be quiet time due to over-imbibing on Saturday night. That’s fine; I am not about to pass judgment on other people’s favorite time of the week. I am just thankful that I woke up clear-headed and sober.

Hey, when you have to decide between Felix Jones’ dislocated shoulder and Jermichael Finley’s ankle, you better be lucid.

Bias, or By Us?


I have had an interesting last few of days in the blogosphere, mainly due to a couple of stories I posted that generated some comments – thank you for that. Sadly, it seems like only my stories involving politics seem to generate a bunch of interest. Which is too bad, since I think it is kind of cool that Sam Snead never won a U.S. Open.

Anyway, I have been debating about a phrase that has been tossed around for years – “Liberal Media Bias.” It is used by those mainly on the right as a reason to cry foul for never getting a fair shake from the broadcast media. The point has been honed to a sharp point by some, namely Sarah Palin, as a badge of honor; as a way of painting any Conservative as an underdog in any contest – not only do they have to defeat their opponent, but they have to do it with a media machine that is decidedly tilted against their cause. They even take it a step further, implying that this ‘Liberal Media bias’ has been so pervasive (and apparently so subtle) that all us unwashed masses do not even recognize it. Ergo, they are here to free us from this brainwashing.

Thanks much.

I am a Liberal, so much of what I am about to write will be dismissed by many as myopic, since those on the other side of the aisle will claim that I wouldn’t criticize what I agree with, or would not even be able to recognize the bias. To them, I am one of the brainwashed. Fine, if that’s your take then stop reading.

If you’re still here, ponder this. Give the following a bit of cogitation:

A given media source may have a bias, but media, on the whole, does not.

Still here? Good. Time for elaboration: For every Fox News there’s an MSNBC. For every Los Angeles Times there’s a Wall Street Journal. For every Rush Limbaugh there’s a, uhhh…

Okay I’m stumped on that one. There is no bellicosity on the macro level on the left that compares with His Rushness. Based on that fact alone, one could conclude that Rush’s unchecked pomposity would singlehandedly tilt the scale of bias towards the Conservative side. But I am not going to fight fire with fire – I am not going to purport that there is a Conservative Media Bias as a retort to the claims of Liberal Media Bias. Instead, I am going to claim that there is bias everywhere, that, when added up, essentially balances the scale.

If you can’t get with that assertion, then I will offer that you only see what you want to see – if you’re Liberal you scream about Hannity while ignoring Maddow. If you’re Conservative you scream about the San Francisco Chronicle while ignoring the Christian Science Monitor. If that fact escapes you, it is you that is myopic. Media, collectively and completely, has no bias – the myriad of television, cable, newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, added up, equals no bias. Because it is so voluminous and encompassing that there would be no way to assure a commonality along any ideological line.

It is not media bias. It is media by us.

Look, I watch MSNBC. I personally think Rachel Maddow does a very good job at giving her opinion. Re-read that last sentence. I said giving her opinion. I am intelligent enough to recognize an opinion when I hear it, whether it is one I agree with or not. Opinions, by definition, are biased – they are based on the person who is stating the opinion’s paradigm. So, those on the right that claim there’s a media bias and further that it is so subtle that most of us do not see it, you are insulting us. Stop it.

Therefore, do not tell me that, if I watch the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams that Brian is feeding me the news through some left-leaning prism. Don’t claim that Scott Pelley is a moll of the left when he’s doing the same job on CBS. Because it is disingenuous at the least, and insulting at the most. There is news and then there is opinion. I know the difference. Do you?

A blogger took me to task for this claim of no bias on the macro level. His point was that his father was in the broadcast business for 25 years and he experienced this purported liberal media bias, therefore it exists. My reply to that is simple – my dad was a plumber for 40 years but I can’t fix a toilet. As well, what occurred in our parent’s day is not relevant – cable and the internet has made any comparisons to 1968 moot. So don’t tell me that you heard from someone who heard from someone that they were told that someone said there’s a bias. Prove it.

Or, in keeping with the American Way, just change the channel to something you agree with.