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Friday, February 22, 2013

"Dude Rules" - A Life Lesson

I was speaking with a friend today and the idea of "dude rules" came up in the conversation. Her son had a set of rules - a code to live by - which I thought was admirable, since he's only seven. I did not have a code until I hit my teens, and even then it was at best questionable and mostly based on one day getting laid. "What kind of rules?" I asked. "Don't yell across the house at your mother," she said. "That's a start...Your rules, or his?" I asked. "Open doors," she said. Hers, I thought. This made the rules slightly less admirable. The fact that he was willing to embrace the rules at all at his age was still rather remarkable - when I was seven, all I wanted to do was play with dirt and pee out of doors.

When I was a younger man and had yet to enter the caged octagon known as "Fatherhood", I imagined that all I ever really wanted in a child was someone I could cuff in the head when they were stupid and to teach how to master throwing and hitting a hanging curve ball. And to impart all my fatherly wisdom, especially when it came to things like common sense, etiquette and the delicate heart-shattering minefield known as "the fair sex". When I was in turn blessed with not one, but two lovely girls as my only offspring, I figured all the grand knowledge and man-wisdom that I had accrued over the decades would most likely go to waste, which was a grand tragedy, pure and simple.

Then, blogs came along.

I now have a way to share my wizened perspective with others and I try to do so at every opportunity. When I am not busy writing about Doomsday, the dangers of wildlife, the sea and circus clowns, or taking an introspective look at my digestive system and its seriously faulty wiring, I try to offer helpful tips and common sense strategies for maintaining a civil society. This includes being a decent human being and not a savage - which is more difficult than it sounds, apparently. I read every day about rape and murder and senseless assault in our own backyard and around the globe and I wonder what in the name of Jehoshaphat is going on here?

Then I realized: We have no distinct moral compass - no code. In a world that is now based on instant gratification and an obsession with worldly goods and money, there is seemingly no room for common sense and decency, nor the time to teach it. Kids are learning their grammar by texting, their manners from cartoons and their ambition from video games.

I began to think about rules and codes to live by and figured that I had ought to try to sit down and write a set - a sort of Constitution For Boys, to give a road map for behavior and perhaps provide some much-needed guidance for the wastrels that are growing up like stringy, half-witted weeds all around us. The youth of our nation weighs in the balance.
  • Keep your junk clean. Clean junk is the only kind to have - it makes you feel better, it doesn't itch as much and you never know when an emergency might come up and you might need it to save a life.
  • Put the lid down. This might not save a life, but it's just good form, like chewing with your mouth shut and taking your hat off at the dinner table.
  • Don't scratch your nuts in front of others. We're not animals, after all. Find a counter, or a couch to stand behind, then take care of the business. You'll look retarded, but you won't look like a savage.
  • Spit only outside. Unless there is a sink or garbage can close by, try to refrain. Same goes with covering a nostril and blowing snot out the other - you never know where it's going to go. Just do it outside.
  • Don't call women "bitches" or "ho's". Especially around women. Have a little respect.
  • Remember, your friends' nuts have feelings, too. That's right, calm the fuck down. Until you've been kicked there yourself, keep your Keds on the floor.
  • The Vagina is magic - treat it with reverence. But do not make eye contact.
  • Baseball is as fun as football, simply more subtle and less violent. Learn baseball and you learn life.
  • Don't fart when there are girls around - unless you are absolutely certain that it will be silent. Even then, make sure there is a dog handy to blame it on.
  • Breasts are fun - treat them with reverence. But again, don't look them in the eye.
  • Learn to palm a quarter - it will eventually get you laid. This is a throwback to my teenage code, but it has served me well, lo these many years.
I believe that this is enough for part one of this ongoing series. Stay tuned, learn and share. This knowledge is too valuable not to pass on.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jerry In Stir - A Life Lesson

I just spent two days in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Tent City for making the questionable decision to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of the demon rum and its sundry sister ales. There has been ample written about the facility and much fear served into the hearts of would-be miscreants who would dare dream of driving while inebriated. Unfortunately, when one is impaired, one is not usually thinking of these articles, or available videos and billboards - one is simply attempting to maneuver their way safely and without incident to their point of origin. Or a brothel, or another dram house. I am not one to judge - my point is this: If one is not prudent in these choices, one will pay the price in dollars and cents for legal advice and fines, extra fees for counseling (whether it is your bag or not) and assorted other fancies such as a monthly charge for an interlock device (or Car BJ, as it is known in the business), towing and reclamation of your life in the name of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. A costly affair.

Tent City, in itself, is not bad in February. I have made a vow to myself that I fully intend to honor, that I will confine all of my criminal activities to the winter months. The nights are a trifle chilly, but nothing that can't be managed with four of the sheriff's pink blankets and a sturdy pea-coat. I imagine it is unbearable in the summer. The process of submitting one for incarceration is a seemingly simple one that is drawn out to take hours of time and years off the processee's life. I am nearly certain that I could streamline this clunky assembly line with little more than a decent project manager, two data entry individuals and a fully-charged tazer. It took me 12 hours from the point of recognition by authorities to the time when I was delivered, issued two blankets and cast into the shallows of Tent City. 12-Hours. That's three holding cells, a van that has no "off" switch for the heater and forty-five minutes of tap-dancing by the staff to tell me where the toilets are and to not put my penis through the fence for the delight and satisfaction of the female inmates on the other side. Seriously.

I was warned by my counselor not to touch the food issued and upon espying the vittalia decided that he was spot-on in his recommendation. I ate 7 grapefruit from the lunch sacks in two days, forgoing all other options, augmented by two RC Colas and a bag of peanuts and some cheddar pretzels from the "Commissary", which consists of six vending machines in a tiny room. I was told that all items - from the striped uniforms worn by those in the "General Population" to the lunches in the bags and the snacks in the vending machines are donated by others and that the proceeds from the commissary are handled by Sheriff Joe's daughter who has, incidentally, been arrested. I am not one to complain - America was built on this kind of opportunity. Sounds like a fantastic gig.

I met and organized a posse while in the holding tanks, mostly made up of young men - aged 19-28, who appreciated my take on the situation and my random suggestions for improvement. They called me "Boss", which I appreciated and each other "homeboy" or "homey". I nicknamed them, respectively, "Speedbump", "Kickstand", "Play-Doh" and "Bric-A-Brac". They seemed to enjoy these names and took to call each other by them, an act for which I took great pride. They asked me how jail was run in the Civil War and I obliged them with lofty tales of intrigue and espionage and they in turn filled me in on pills - narcotics, uppers, downers, muscle relaxers and speed, for which I had no intelligent reply. They did not hold this slack-jawed confusion against me and brought me goods from the commissary, so that I need not risk "breaking my hip". Cute little bastards...

There was a tall, soft-spoken black man who looked exactly like Larry Holmes, minus the space in his teeth and the lisp who had been "in the system" since he was eighteen and dispensed infinite wisdom, free of charge, about the court system, jail, release, protocol and cautions throughout my stay. I declared his knowledge so valuable that he should have an "ESQ" after his name. Henceforth, he was known as "Esquire". A seedy little fellow, with a huge nose and large brown, shifty eyes darted about the tents trying to sell cigarettes (not allowed on premises) for $2 each and claimed to be dealing in the pill trade with which the youth seemed to be so indoctrinated. His Modus Operundi was to sell a cigarette for two dollars, then bum a puff off the person to whom he had sold the smoke. "No way," Kickstand told him in no uncertain terms. "You've got a sore on your lip." He was called "HERPES" from that moment forward. Herpes later got his ass kicked by another individual in the lockup for attempting to shave some ciggie-money. I heard about it later.  So it goes for thieves in the stir.

If there was a single horrific aspect of being confined to the tents, aside from the affected assholishness of the staff (who did nothing that I could see, aside from berate those below via the loudspeaker and scoff at those who addressed them face to face) was the stink that enveloped the premises late at night. Located near the landfill, I had assumed that the smell was methane escaping from the chimneys that pocked the fill to allow for the lethal gas's escape. I was told, however, that the stench was that of animals being incinerated by the humane society. I pulled the blanket up over my nose every night to escape the noxious aroma and thought about the pets facing their final solution. It was in the air and inescapable and thoroughly disgusting.

I approached Mark Grace (Former Cub/Diamondback first baseman), who happened to be starting his four months in the joint the weekend I was there and he couldn't have been nicer, I introduced myself as "Jerry Ford" (which always gets a second look), told him I was a big fan and told him that if he needed anything, he should simply ask my boy, Bric-a-Brac. He nodded politely. I then told him that I had lived in Chicago for ten years and had followed him for most of those. "I am so sorry," he said. I went on to tell him of the saloon on Rush Street that we had visited from time to time which had a poster-sized photograph of Mark Grace mounted on the wall. It was one of those pictures that was taken with the horizontal lines longer than the vertical ones that pictured Mark Grace stretched out to gather in a throw from first base. He was stretched into splits worthy of Nadia Comeneche, with his nutsack nearly dragging in the infield dirt, his glove reaching out to accept the toss from the first baseman or the short stop. That in itself was poetic, but the look on Gracie's poster-face was nothing less than magical. Never had I seen such a serene character, simply smiling and waiting for the throw. It was majestic and we spent the rest of the evening in the tavern trying to figure out a way to steal the poster to mount in our home. We ended up leaving emptyhanded, but with a keen buzz and I might have turned something over on my way out in my frustration. It is my way.

"I can't even stretch to tie my fucking shoes," Grace told me after the story. I thanked him for his time and walked away and called Bric-a-Brac off from shanking the former major leaguer when the lad thought he had been disrespectful. "It's okay," I said. "He's gotta spend his whole life being Mark Grace - this has to be tough..." Bric-a-Brac watched Grace fold himself into his blankets early and nodded. "I suppose so," he said. I wondered if he understood. Bric-a-Brac and his kind were a bloodthirsly lot.

The rest of the weekend went smoothly and it took six hours for release. Again, I made mental notes regarding the necessity for a good project manager and scribe. The rest could be upgraded by force and rechargeable tazers.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Pope Benedict XVI, otherwise known as "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God" has decided to retire. This is unfortunate - I had always been told that "God Hates A Quitter" and personally, I think the Pope, if anyone, should be leading by example. That said, I have often thought that I would make a fine Pope and could enact some much-needed change in the beloved, if rather stale and dowdy global enterprise known as The Catholic Church. And now is my chance.
When I have brought this thought up in the past to my wife, who is from Mexico and raised a staunch Catholic, the idea was always meant with a hearty "NOOOO - you can't be the Popa!" I would pout, mutter to myself and go back to minding my own business. Apparently, my run at the office of Pope would have to be mounted a bit more surreptitiously than via a broad proclamation. There would apparently be some opposition, what with me being neither a Cardinal or a Bishop, or even a Priest, for that matter. Hell, I'm not even Catholic and don't believe half the fairy tales in the bible and generally scoff at the idea of an omniscient God that rules over the world of man. That could be a problem when running for head of an organization built around propagating the tales of the bible and all. Or half of it... Or whatever.

However, when I typed in "do you have to be Catholic to be the Pope" into my Google Search, this answer came up: "The Pope is elected by the Cardinals, who are the top officials of the Catholic church. Under the rules, they could elect anyone they wanted to as Pope. And there have been some cases where the person who was elected as Pope had no religious or priestly background. It appears that they purchased the office (something called Simoney)."  I considered this a promising start. I could find a way to tapdance around the atheism and bible-as-fairy-tale-thing when the time came, like any good preacher or politician.

This also from the internet: "While it is possible that a non-Catholic could be elected Pope, it is very unlikely. Consider the power that the Pope has today in the Catholic church and over the world, it would make no sense for the Cardinals to elect someone who was not in agreement with their beliefs, agenda, etc." Okay, a little stumbling block, but I think that with a couple of strategically-greased Cardinal-palms and a thinly-veiled threat to some Cardinals with the world-renowned and much-maligned Skewed Moral Priest-Compass, I believe I could at least get a foot in the door. After that, I would have to rely on my natural charisma and unerring sense of right and wrong to convince the rest of the Cardinals that I was the man for the job, in spite of being married (for the third time) and an atheist.

I would bring change to the Catholic religion - amongst the changes I would enact:
  • Change the hat. Too gaudy - go with an elegant fedora. The look is timeless.
  • Increase attendance to the Catholic church mass worldwide, by offering a refund of money previously donated to return visitors. But how will the church make money, you ask? Volume. And by selling off some the ostentatious candlesticks and jewels. They are often referred to as "priceless", but give me a week and a secure Amazon account and we can clean up this decorating disaster in a hurry.
  • Upgrade the Pope-Mobile. I want a car like the Batmobile for parades and such. It looks cooler and makes for a quicker getaway in case I'm attacked by rabble.
  • No more of the up and down during the course of the mass. Have a seat, get comfortable. I would also add a sports segment - a lot of good events happen to take place on Sunday and I believe that worshipers would appreciate an update. Another positive, along with the dollar beer and free popcorn, that is guaranteed to drive attendance.  
The fedora - elegant and timeless. And perfect for Pope Jerry I

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kinkajou - A New Name For Terror

Meet the kinkajou. While it appears to be a devilish, lively cross between a ferret and a monkey, the kinkajou is actually from the same vicious nocturnal family tree as the raccoon. I, for one, have never heard of the kinkajou before this week, when an article appeared in the news about one of these feisty creatures causing trouble while rooting around on the rooftop of a family home in rural Texas. While the animal was eventually captured, it was only after it had bitten a deputy through a bite-proof protective glove. Once captured, the little bastard also escaped and terrorized a group of housecats and had to be re-captured. There is no word on whether anyone was bitten during the second capture. Apparently, lots of other people have heard of this animal and some have even raised them as pets.If you are at all familiar with my irrational fear of animals, nature, the sea, out-of doors, circus clowns, certain types of wood and children with two different-colored eyes, you probably realize that this wily little biter is simply another one of God's creatures that will torment me in my dreams. It has claws and raccoon-like fingers (which have always seemed creepy to me), sharp little teeth and quite a temper when riled.

How is it that there are new animals (mostly vicious) that keep coming into the picture that I have never gotten wind of before this? Where the hell have they been? I have a feeling that they have always been around and that they are being doled out one at a time to keep us on our toes. I read about new types of bear, monkey, rodent. spider, sea creature, Sasquatch and deadly new varieties of fire ant and honey bees that can decimate entire civilizations. Perfect.

I have given everyone fair warning that we need to start thinking about defending ourselves against these creatures - and I don't mean simply capturing one or two and tossing them into a cage at a zoo or loosing them in a "wildlife preserve". I say if they are not needed to provide me with prime rib, chicken tenders or pork chops, get rid of them altogether. Do you really think that there is a purpose for the kinkajou, other than to bedevil me in my dreams? I say feed the kinkajou to the fire ants - maybe if we can fill their ant-bellies with kinkajou meat, they will become logy and easier to exterminate.

I understand that there are do-gooders out there who want to make certain that no species of life on the planet goes extinct and I have a solution for them as well: Throw them to the kinkajou and the honey badger. When they get their bellies full of do-gooder, perhaps they too will become logy and the fire ants will be on them that much quicker. Circle of life, you know? Only to my own comforting end. Away with the badger and the sloth, the kinkajou, its raccoon cousin, rats, the smaller mice-rats, bears (unless they are tasty - I have never eaten bear), spiders of all ilk - especially those that fly, snakes, armadillos and hedgehogs. And I know they're teeny and seem harmless, but let's get rid of the mole. They are creepy, eyeless and hairless. Fuck them. And fuck the big cats and wild dogs while we're at it. They're mean and carnivorous and need to have the African Honey Bees set upon them.

Basically, what I am proposing is a world populated by people (us), their domesticated pets (reptiles excluded - fuck them, too) and friendly, docile animals that are tasty when served with potatoes or a green vegetable of choice. If ranch dressing or ketchup is needed to make the animal palatable, then we need to consider setting the fire ants to them. Once we have suitably dealt with these beasts, vermin, varmints and pests, we can get to work on the circus clowns. We just need to be sure we have some fire ants and honey bees left. It pays to be judicious when cleaning up a planet.