Monday, July 29, 2013

Confessions of a Tired Fan

Okay, let’s get this out of the way right at the top – I am a Cleveland Browns fan.

I will wait for the snickering to stop.

Still waiting.


All right, that’s enough. Look, I had no choice in this matter. I was conceived in Akron and raised in Northeast Ohio. They are pretty rabid about their Beloved Brownies. And I embraced that rabid…, uh, ity, and proudly donned the seal brown and orange right about the time the team was in the last throes of yearly dominance while that team 125 miles away rose to prominence. That ushered in a reversal of fortunes for the two teams, as the Browns went into hibernation, occasionally coming out with seasons like the 1980 Kardiac Kids and the unfathomable teases of the late 1980s Bernie Kosar teams which always got slapped back in the AFC Championship by John Horseteeth. The 1990s brought us Bill Belichick before he was a genius followed by the unthinkable – the team was taken away.

A new team masquerading as the ‘Cleveland Browns’ resurfaced in 1999 pushing the envelope of putridity to depths never before experienced.

Meanwhile that team 125 miles away got six Lombardi trophies.

Oh, and the team that left Cleveland in 1995? They got two.

My God I’m tired.

Yes, training camp has just begun, and yes, I am reading every bit of information about how Paul Kruger is looking awesome, how Barkevious Mingo is ready to decapitate opposing quarterbacks and how Trent Richardson is ready to churn out twenty touchdowns this year. And I am really trying to get my ‘tude on and go toe to toe with fans of other teams, about how THIS year it is going to be different.

Here come those snickers again.

And they have every right to snicker. 1964. Nineteen-freekin-sixty-four. That was the last time the Browns were the champs of the NFL. Forty-nine years ago. Jim Brown. Frank Ryan. Gary Collins. Names I have read about, but since I was only six years old at the time, never got to see play. I have proof in black and white footage of Collins catching three TDs in the title game as the Browns laid the lumber on the Colts, 27-0. My dad said it was awesome.

But me? I got Earnest Byner’s fumble and Art Modell’s greed as my memories.

I give up. Y’all win. There is nothing left in the smack tank with me anymore. We suck. We have sucked for a long time. Point your fingers and laugh. You will get no retort from me. I got no room to talk. What, am I gonna say how good Derek Anderson looked for half a season in 2007? How I thought Lee Suggs was going to win the rushing title?

Laugh away.


Just because that’s the way things were doesn’t mean that’s the way things will be.

Remember that when we hoist that motherfucking Lombardi Trophy one day.

Then it will be my turn to laugh.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

America The...Salad?

I love my country.

But, as many know, this does not mean I love everything about it. I love the concept of our country – the idea of a government of, by and for the people. However, in practice, we fall well short of this ideal. More accurately, this country is of, by and for the powerful and connected. Money rules. And it always will.

But anyway. I want to talk about a phrase used to describe America, which I believe, is totally inaccurate. That we are a ‘Melting Pot.’ That somehow, people from all over the globe come here, become Americans, and get added into this purported roux with the rest of us resulting in an altered, refined mixture.


For starters, for that kind of alchemy to occur, those who are already here would have to accept and respect the cultures of those who recently arrived and, further, embrace them. This does not happen. It never has. Whether it were the Irish who came here in the mid-nineteenth century, the Europeans in the early twentieth century, the Cubans who came here in the early 1960s, or the Haitians soon thereafter, each was met with scorn and resentment. They were exploited, ridiculed, considered less than equal in the eyes who were here before. It was only after a long period of time, usually stretching to two or three generations later, did these groups gained acceptance. And that’s where our purported charity stopped – eventually their numbers became so large that people finally said oh all right. I guess you’re here to stay.

But never does the overall ‘mix’ of this country get adjusted due to their presence.

So, we are not a Melting Pot, so stop with that description.

So what are we? What is a more accurate description for this nation of people from somewhere else?

A fruit salad.

Think about a fruit salad. It is pieces of various, well, fruits, each individual in its taste, texture and color. Sharing the same container.

That is America. The blacks are over there, the Hispanics are down the street, and the whites are behind the guard gate. They each occupy a space in the overall container, and sometimes rub against each other, but a piece of pineapple remains a piece of pineapple. It is not overly affected by the piece of cantaloupe next to it, or the grape next door. We all go to Walmart to buy our stuff and see each other (and that’s where the overlaps occur – we all buy Walmart shit), but each gets back into their shiny metal box and heads back to their turf in the salad bowl.

So please. Let’s stop glamorizing a vision of America that does not exist. We are not tolerant people. New pieces of fruit appearing (What is that? What’s a kiwi fruit? Get it out of here!) are barely acknowledged until too many of them appear, at which point the established fruits rail against their existence in the bowl. They want them expelled for fear of contaminating the salad.

But…what makes a good quality fruit salad? Uniform pieces of melon? No, that would be a melon salad. What makes a great fruit salad is the variety of fruit.

And that’s what makes us a great country. New pieces of fruit, each with its own flavor, which adds to the overall awesomeness of the salad.

But each piece still separate. Grapes taste like grapes, melons like melons. You never get a hybrid Grapelonapple. There’s no ‘melting together’ going on.

Maybe I should conduct diversity training. Because that’s what diversity is.

And that’s what our country is.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dancing With Myself

I have a pretty good life. Good job, live in a nice place, I have my health. When I take an inventory of how I am, what I have and how I interact with people, and the world in general, it comes out on the positive side. Most know me as a somewhat intelligent, friendly person. On the minus side, I can be overconfident to the point of being arrogant. I have a strong personality that turns off some people.

So where am I going with this?

Here. I am 54 years old and single. Not even in a relationship.

And I don’t know how I am supposed to feel about that. I know how I do feel about that, and that is, ninety-five percent of the time I am okay with it. The other five percent of the time is when I ponder the next ten to fifteen years of my life, when age will catch up to me, my looks will deteriorate (not that they’re all that at the present), and I might move into senior citizenship without a partner. I think about that scenario for a bit then fire up and check out personals. After a few minutes of that I move back to the ninety-five percent mindset and go grab my golf clubs.

I like being single. Which may be simply a different way of saying I suck at relationships. Both are, undoubtedly, true statements. My track record speaks for itself – twice divorced, many ex-girlfriends some of whom have severed all contact with me. And it bears noting at this point that I have never laid a hand on a woman – I have never abused, either physically or emotionally, a mate. I’m just a difficult person to be with…I guess.

And as I get older that will just become more difficult, as I do what I want to do when I want to do it. Kind of goes with the territory of being alone. So when someone enters my life and suggests something I don’t want to do, I bristle. I simply am not used to sharing my life.

So this begs the question – what’s the problem, Jer? Are you saying you want to be in a relationship?

And here is the answer. I don’t fucking know. Societal-speaking, I am somewhat of an aberration – a mid-50’s guy alone. But I do not want to live my life based on what society expects of me. Shit, for that matter, I don’t live my life based on what anyone expects of me. I did that for too long, and it made me feel uneasy, uncomfortable with myself.

One of things I have realized about, well, life in general, is that it is unscripted. It’s weird. You cannot say ‘Okay, this is how it is going to be,’ and then it turns out that way. Further, past performance is no indication of future events. If you flip a coin fifty times and it comes up heads all fifty times, the odds of the fifty-first flip is still 50/50 of coming up heads. The point being, I try not to worry about what will come, and further, cannot control it. So why worry. I could meet the love of my life this afternoon.

It is those types of thoughts that get me back into my ninety-five percent comfort zone.

Then I grab my golf clubs.

So now, you’re probably thinking, ‘Gosh thanks for wasting five minutes of my life reading all that. Your point, Jer?’

Eh, nothing. Consider this one of the thoughts that hangs up in my brain…much like those cheese doodles in the snack machine.

And like those cheese doodles hanging there, it will remain until action is taken to move them. Or to let them hang. I guess that’s what I am dealing with, with this whole ‘lack of relationship’ issue I have.

But in the end, it’s only an issue if I wish it to be. Which gets back to my perception. And you know what? If I am okay ninety-five percent of the time, that’s a pretty damn good percentage. But I am also open to whatever life may toss at me in the future – I don’t ever want to get into a situation where I feel ‘compelled’ to get into a relationship so someone can call 911 if I keel over in my recliner. If I get into a relationship, it has to be organic.

Much like how I am now.

So, that’s all. Welcome to life inside my brain.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, America.

Today we mark 237 years of existence. Nice run.

There is no doubt, at least in my mind, that we live in a country where we enjoy certain freedoms not available anywhere else in the world, and for that I am grateful. To think that I could have been born in, say, Iraq or North Korea, but instead was conceived in Akron , Ohio, and therefore by birth I am granted the benefits this country offers, is quite humbling of a thought.

If you feel a “but” coming, you’re right.

Those who know me know I tend to not only see the positives of a situation, but also what could be improved. And in today’s America, there is much that can be improved. But on this day, July 4, I will respect the country’s birthday and not go into what those areas of improvement are.

But (there it is), I will say this: I am no less an American for wishing for a better country than those who quickly slap back with the ‘Love it or leave it’ mantra. I don’t have to love America in order to stay here; that’s not a prerequisite to my citizenship. I don’t have to stay silent on issues such as veterans sleeping on the streets or children going hungry when the nearby grocery store bulges with food. We can do better, a lot better.

Which leads to my main point – Patriotism in not a political issue.

Yeah, well, tell that to the two main political parties.

My good friend, who is a veteran, just posted on his Facebook page the Lee Greenwood video ‘Proud to be an American,’ which I would certainly expect from him. What sickened me about it was Sarah Palin standing next to him smiling.

Yes. It is sickening to think some public figures use patriotism for political advantage, as if to say, I am more patriotic than those whiners over there. Vote for me.


Look, we are all Americans. By birth, therefore by default. And you would certainly think anyone running for political office simply wants what is best for this country, regardless of political affiliation. Some think that means government should get out of our lives. Some think that means government should help those too unfortunate to help themselves. Some think people should pick themselves by their bootstraps. Some want to offer boots to them first.

Whatever. That’s all in your political beliefs.

But none is ‘more American’ than the other.

We hear from certain groups that, if the policies of the other party are followed, the country will be ruined. I doubt that. Fortunately, we have a governmental structure which divides up power evenly such that no one person – or party – has too much power. In other words, no one group can screw things up.

What can screw us up? Simple.

We. The People.

How? Again, simple.

By turning on each other. By believing the hype and paranoia of elected officials who claim that ‘The Enemy” is people who don’t think like they do. You know, other Americans who are doing nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights.

That’s our Achilles Heel. Those who would divide us, who would like us into ‘Us Versus Them’ camps. Who would then say, if you don’t think like we do, then you’re not as patriotic as us, and, therefore, not as American as us.

Those are the people who scare me.

So, on this birthday of the country of my birth, I wish us a future of common unity based on our founding principles – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And dissent.

Because people who don’t think like you are patriots too.