Sunday, November 26, 2006

it’s about removing the layers

I did a few things differently this thanksgiving. First of all I shaved. I also put the store-bought chocolate-pecan pie into a glass pie plate instead of bringing it to nana Mahalo’s house in its original plastic container. (It’s all about the illusion). I didn’t fool anybody by relocating the pie, (because my family knows that my past performances are almost always an indicator for how to predict my future performances).

Nevertheless, I still felt I’d upped my game considerably this year, particularly since I’d given myself such a close, smooth shave… (Ordinarily I show up with a growth on my face as unruly as my uncle sol’s chest hairs, while donning black polyester pants, a white tee shirt, a sheepskin vest, leather flip flops, and a khaki fishing cap with a few lewers dangling from the brim).

This year, however, I kept it simple and wore a plain embroidered kaftan and a pair of cheap sandals…(you just can’t beat the comfort)

Dinner conversation with my family has always been an oblique and opaque experience, and this year’s dialogue was certainly no exception…

before the Tofurky was even sliced, nana Mahalo was mentioning her fondness for dark rooms…drawn curtains…black walls…and staying under the covers… “My mood sank so low,” she said. “I was admitted into a sanitarium and was treated for melancholia…do they still call them sanitariums these days? Do they still call it melancholia?”

(There was a silence as long as our faces)

Then sis, who sometimes has a knack for saving the day, said, “they do…I’m sure somewhere they do…”

but it was papa Mahalo who topped us all.

“I’ve converted to Christianity,” he said. “I’ve also become an Eagle Scout…”

“He’s joking,” nana said.

“The hell I am,” papa said, storming out of the room and returning with his eagle scout medal, a burlap bag with something moving inside of it, and an autographed copy of pastor Joel Osteen’s book, “your best life now.”

“Does it look like I’m joking now?” papa said.

Nana looked at papa for a few seconds and then moved her gaze toward the rest of us. “He’s had too much schnapps…”

“Oh yah?” papa said. Suddenly his eyes rolled back into his head and he began speaking in tongues.

“mamzer mashugga megillah nafkeh narish nisht geyfloygen nishtgutnick nudnik nudjen kaneh chazzer chazzerei ech mir!…”

Then papa reached into the burlap bag, pulled out a garter snake and began handling it…

“shlimazel schleppen shlecht veib plagen pitshetsh pisk-malocheh!”

Nana shook her head. “He’s not speaking in tongues,” she said. “He’s speaking in Yiddish…”

Then nana started yelling at him in Yiddish.

The only phrase from her entire tirade I understood was, “you moron, you’re supposed to use poisonous snakes…” and I’m pretty sure she called Joel Osteen a charlotan and accused papa of being a self-hating Jew…

Then papa said he’d been schtuping some thirty-four year old bible school teacher from new Rochelle for the last year and a half and how his soul had been delivered ever since she introduced him to the king james version of the bible, and besides, he was goddam sick and tired of being thought of as a Christ-killer and that was why he converted and dammit, if he wanted to convert, that was his own goddam business, and if we didn’t like it, we could all go to hell!

Well, what was there to say to that…?

We all just sat there…

even the snake…

Three or four minutes later, sis attempted to employ one of her famous tactical diversions… “Who wants pie…?”

but nobody said anything…

Nana stood up from the table, picked up her plate, brought it into the kitchen, set it in the sink, and began scrubbing some pots and pans…

Papa pulled a flask of schnapps from an inside pocket of his jacket, took a strong swig, and returned it to his pocket… “Let this be a lesson to you all,” he said…

Sis gave him her famous confused look. “And what lesson would that be…?”

“If you have to ask, then you haven’t learned it yet…” he said, putting on his hat and coat and walking out the door…

As Sis sliced up that store-bought chocolate pecan pie (served in the glass pie plate), the snake slithered back into the burlap bag…

And I thought, next year I’m just gonna stay home and eat one of those Swanson hungry man turkey breast dinners and I’ll probably serve it on china, just for the hell of it…

Thursday, November 16, 2006

just another flawed, byronic hero

When I was in junior high, my parents made an appointment for me to see the school psychologist because I wasn’t performing up to their expectations. I hadn’t been “applying” myself…that was only because I was so friggin’ bored…but of course they didn’t wanna hear any of that crap…

So I walked into the psychologist’s office, who was this very nerdy sort of stuffy, humorless guy, and I must have sat there for about five minutes before he even acknowledged me; he was so engrossed in whatever the hell he was reading or writing…

Finally he looked up at me over the tops of his glasses because they were sliding halfway down his nose, and without even trying to establish any kind of rapport whatsoever, he said very morosely, “do we have a problem here…?”

and being the total wiseass that I was when I was fourteen, I said, “puberty’s a bitch, but other than that, life’s peachy…”

…he was not amused…

I didn’t care…I wanted to piss him off, I didn’t wanna be there, anyway…

So after a litany of ridiculous questions, to which I answered “don’ know” to about ninety-nine percent of them, the good doctor finally came to the conclusion that I was an “underachiever.” I lacked “motivation.” “Direction.” “Focus.” he suggested I might want to consider changing my circle of friends because they might be having a “negative influence” on me. perhaps I needed to be in the company of more “positive children…”

Now…when you’re fourteen and an adult refers to you and your peers as “children,” you get a little defensive. I thought to myself, ooh-kay, it’s time to really make a nuisance of myself… so I took out a pack of cigarettes…and I tamped it against my hand and pulled out a butt and put it between my lips and he was just very calmly and casually watching me and I lit the cigarette and took a really long drag on it and blew a huge puff of smoke in his face and the man didn’t flinch…didn’t cough, didn’t wheeze, didn’t even blink, he was just his usual deadpan, monotonous self. After all, this was all just in the interest of science to him. He was observing me for clinical purposes; he wanted to find out what made me tick. Naturally, he was going to reserve judgment…

So we sat there, not saying anything, completely poker-faced for several minutes and I was just puffing away, having a good old time, and the good doctor, god love him, he was trying so hard to find an opening so he could begin chiseling into my psyche…

He suggested I might have some hostility toward “authority figures” and “the rules of the game”…no shit, Sigmund Freud, for that brilliant insight into a fourteen year old punk who’s been blowing smoke in your face for the past five-minutes…and I had thought I was being so subtle…

of course, now I can look back on those days and laugh…

till I cry…

hell, I’m not bitter…c’est la vie and all that bullshit…

but the thing that really pissed me off was that moron narc'd on me for smoking in his office and I ended up getting suspended for three days…

Saturday, November 04, 2006

time is short



Pres Dubya can’t really believe what he says. How could he? How could he have possibly thought he could have worked himself into the nether regions of the Middle East and accomplished the peace love dove mission…?

Let’s review the major conflicts in that heavily lusted after area which have occurred just within the lifetime of this self-described war pres…

1948 Arab-Israeli War
1956 Suez War
1967 Six Day War
1970 War of Attrition
1973 Yom Kippur War
1982 Lebanon War
1982-2000 South Lebanon conflict
1960-1979 Jordan-Syria tensions
1970-Jordan Civil War
1975–1990-Lebanese civil war
1973-1977-Libya-Egypt conflict
1973-1990-Iraq-Kuwait clashes
1980 Iran-Iraq War
1990-1991 Gulf War
2000-2006-Coalition Invasion of Iraq
2006 Israel-Lebanon crisis

Now I’m no policy wonk. I took one political science class at a community college, barely escaping with a C- and ended up dropping out so I could play in a punk rock band called Bloated Scrotum. Pres Dubya attended Phillips Academy, Yale University, and Harvard Business School, and became the 43rd and current President of the United States of America…

You’d think with credentials like that, he’d be able to figure things out, come to some sort of sound conclusion…

I knew we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq and the closest I ever came to Harvard Business School was drooling over a photograph of my best friend’s hot sister who was posing “like a virgin touched for the very first time” in front of the Baker Library…

Is it that Pres Dubya, Admin Ass’t Rumsfeld and Vice is Nice Cheney are really that much smarter than you or I…?… Are they so much more culturally competent than the rest of us…?…

Personally, I don’t see a major difference between the intellect of Pres Dubya and his cabinet members and the intellect of anyone else I know; other than the fact that he and his minions would probably do a whole lot better on a job interview than me or any of my underachieving, civilian friends…

It seems like the we-best-not-punch-too-many-holes-inside-the-beltway columnists and pundits are always telling us that we want our leaders to be smarter than us, while at the same time reminding us that the feet beneath their silk socks are still made of earthenware…

So what does that mean…? We want them to be able to whip our asses at Jeopardy? No, we want them to be able to keep our asses out of jeopardy.

And, hell, if they are such mental giants, shouldn’t they also be committing some really lofty sins…? Sins that would cause God to do a little research…? I mean what’s the point if they’re just up there committing the same old pedestrian sins as us…?

Monday, October 30, 2006

She sees it everyday…

“These parents expect their kids to grow up to be lawyers, doctors, firefighters…But when they don’t they’re surprised… So what I say is how can you expect them to have dreams when you’re snoozing and boozing…Yes we all live on the Southside and a lot of us receive WorkFirst…But do we use it the same? When I say do we use it the same I mean are we using it for a stepping stone or do we use it to get weed, beer, hair, nails and forget about the important things like rent, insurance or what have you… I’m one of the few that stays to myself, teach my kids with hard work you get anything that they desire…But do they get up in the morning and go to school, work or look for work? No!…Everyday when I leave for work they’re sitting in the same spot they were when their kid’s school bus arrived to pick them up…Doing the usual cussing and fussing, living in their own misery…

The only time I ever see them do anything different is when the first of the month gets here…standing and waiting at the mail boxes for those checks…Yeah I’m about to get to the point… They like to talk real loud and let the whole neighborhood hear that if their child’s teacher or someone of authority calls them and interrupts them, how they’re going to call them everything accept the child of God…Even when they know their child is wrong; skipping class, stealing, smoking, and drinking…The first thing they want to holler is ‘I didn’t raise you that way’…But they’re living lies and telling lies…What I’m getting at is how can we as parents expect our children to be honor roll students if we never even got past the ninth grade ourselves…

Never really had a job…And when we get one we think we can come and go whenever we please… Telling your girlfriend on your cell phone, ‘I don’t care if they fire me, girl, I can go back and get my check…’ And the check they’re getting from WorkFirst they spend on their sorry behind baby’s daddy who don’t even take care of their own children that he got with them…Then turn around the rent’s due and they don’t even have all of that…start calling that same girlfriend they were talking to, ’girl, you think I can get a couple dollars on the rent ’cause I can’t cover it all right now’…

Her girlfriend’s reply is ‘girl, I don’t even have enough to cover my entire light bill…’ But then she says ‘I going to Social Services first thing in the morning, you can ride with me if you want to…’ They get up early, be the first one in line for a hand out, but be late as ever for a job that could have covered their rent and their light bill…You all messed up…you want to get up to get to the hand outs, but you can’t get up to be at work on time so you can teach your kids good working ethics…But when your daughter comes home and say ‘momma I’m pregnant,’ at the age of twelve, then what? Here you go again, ‘you know better than that…’ But how is she to know when you had her at the age of thirteen yourself?…when she turns 18 she’s living in public housing just like you, snoozing and boozing…You should be ashamed of yourself!…Cussing out teachers and people of authority, telling you about your child…

So this is the thing: Shut up! Don’t say a word about your child’s life ’cause you made it for them…If you want the best for your kids show them by striving to do better…Get a job, go to school, use what you learn along the way for a new move…And your children will follow in your footsteps…I will strive for the best and my children will too because that’s the kind of education I’ll give them and they will never be ill-educated because I won’t allow them to…Be mindful of how you live because somebody’s always watching you!”

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chosen people envy

It’s funny. When you’re part of a minority group and there’s a crisis or an incident going on somewhere in the world involving the particular minority group in which you belong, you suddenly become the point person for others, who are not affiliated with any minority group, that want to know your opinion on these crises.

“What’s going on over there in Israel?” Someone recently asked me.

“Same thing that’s been going on over there for thousands of years,” I said.

“Which is what?”

“The seven deadly sins…different god…different values…different politics…different culture…”

“It’s all in the prophecies…it’s all playing out…”

“Ya think…?”

“…do you believe in the prophecies…?”

“don’t really give em much thought…”

“do Jewish people believe in the prophecies…?”

“i’m sure some of them do…”

“really?”

“uh heh…”


Yesterday a reader left the following comment on one of my posts: “what are your thoughts on El Gibson? I am curious to know a Jewish perspective?”

Well…whether he merely “tolerates” Jews or would like to see us all die a fiery death, I suppose, is his call…either way, he’ll have to deal with it…the way we all will have to deal with whatever demons are haunting us…would I watch a movie that he was in? Probably…would I be thinking, “does he really hate Jews?” as I’m watching it? Maybe…but it will be but a fleeting thought…and I won’t spend any time obsessing over it…and I’ll have a good sleep once the movie is over…

I know that sometimes my answers don’t always satisfy people… they expect me to say more… be more thoughtful, tie up loose ends, not leave them hanging…

I’ve never been much of a debater… if you put me on McLaughlin Group, you wouldn’t even know I was there…

The discussion of the minutia of issues just bores me…

My only goal when I write is to entertain myself… and if I entertain others along the way, I guess that’s okay, too…

I wish Mr. Gibson a healthy rehabilitation…

I wish that the bloodshed and the tears and the pain in the Middle East would stop…

I wish a lot of things…

but mostly, I wish for this profound sadness in which I’ve been battling with for most of my life to, one day, be lifted, and that I’m able to believe in myself again…and hopefully through that process, I’ll learn to believe in you, too…

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

No nudity but tons of violence

Some of you grew up believing the difference between the democrats and the republicans was that the republicans were for the big guy and the democrats were for the little guy...but you just bought into the sales pitch, the rhetoric... that's the only thing that separates the two parties.

It’s one party up there in the district of taxes and revenues, the party of the rich, white, predatory alpha male.

When you get right down to the nitty gritty of those boys in Washington city, you realize that the Dems and the Repubs are beholden to the same special interest groups, the same political action committees, the same corporations, the same oil sheiks, the same congressional pages...

and they all break the same rules...

they have to; most of them are lawyers.

When they're campaigning, they pander to the side of the party which is the most vocal. When they're elected, it's right down the middle of the road...we have never elected an extremist president in this country; they were all front and center, with the possible exception of FDR, who was the text-book definition of a big D democrat.

I wonder...if the press never covered the Prez, if they never publicized his name or revealed his political persuasion, would we be able to tell whether he was a democrat or a republican?

Our constitutional rights are slowly and methodically being eroded more rapidly than Louisiana’s coastline and far too many of us have abdicated our individual responsibility...and part of that responsibility of being an American citizen is to educate ourselves, to examine, to scrutinize, to investigate...and unless we educate ourselves and begin challenging those whose job is to placate us by serving us stale bread and entertaining us with their two-hundred ring circuses, we'll have lost the fight... what fight?... the fight for free will, for the individual and his right to live his life, to have the freedom to choose his own destiny...

the threat is real...

and it's spreading like e. coli and the more you deny it, the more you're never going to know what hit you...and nobody's paying attention because they're all sitting around saying, “it can't happen in America! We’re too sophisticated, too informed to be manipulated! we watch CNN and C-SPAN and listen to Bill Oreilly and Rush Limbaugh and Katie Couric, we'd never allow it to happen here!”

Sunday, October 15, 2006

In this corner : Chico Mahalo

When I first set out with the idea of expanding Less Idiots and Those Bastards writing corps, I had only a few goals in mind, but I was firm about what few goals that I had. I absolutely wanted to have great writers, and most certainly people with well defined styles. I wanted to maintain a balance; I did not want the content tipping too far to the right, and I certainly didn’t want to lean too far to the left. There are too many people with the mistaken impression that I am way out in left field, while in reality I am just a tad bit to the left of the center of the dial. I am apt to float to either side, primarily because I attempt to approach issues logically. With this in mind, the only real demand I have placed on these new columnists, was if they went after one side or the other, they had to have their facts straight, and they left their bias at home.

Chico Mahalo is as close to dead center as one could possibly align themselves. While his first post may be a tad bit rusty, as it’s been awhile since Chico has worked in the editorial opinion sector, right from the start, Chico walks the middle a road with his inaugural post. While I have my suspicions about what directions he may take his column, I am quite certain he will leave his bias at home.

Does this mean that Chico does not possess a personal bias on any subject? Positively, absolutely not, however this individual has perhaps the most refined control over what he allows to rise to the surface, of any writer I’ve ever read. Chances are if you detect a bias in his writing, it’s because you do not have the capability to accept that there are any faults in your ideology, and you’ve just read a piece of his that exposes a flaw in your dogma. If this concept sounds foreign or new to you, this sort of standard is what used to be expected in the field of journalism.

As for his writing capabilities I have only to point to the writing of one Lingo Slinger, to validate the competency of Chico as a writer. Lingo spent several months dutifully studying, as well as intensely playing with Chico on his own blog. If you visit her blog now, you will detect the influence of Chico in her writing. Lingo Slinger regularly lays down truly fantastic essays, and she has her own well-defined style. She charts off in her own direction, and marches to the beat of her own drum, but take the time to ask her how she sharpened her pen, and I promise you she will point a finger in the direction of Chico.

As in the case with Reverend Gillmartin, Chico’s column will run once weekly, but if he decides to write more he’s quite welcome to. If you’re smart, you’ll check this thread daily just in case he does.

Note: Chico’s first column will appear tomorrow.