Friday, July 29, 2005

Health Care: A Proposal

The health care in this country is awful.

And for a fussy guy like me who keeps a clean desk and immediately recycles all junk mail, I have very little tolerance for inefficient tomfoolery.

Today, I received in the mail three bottles of medicine I did not need. Medco claims they received two faxes from my allergist for a nasal spray. They sent the first three bottles, which I expected. And then, just eight weeks later, after I did not even finish one bottle, they sent three more. Why? "Because," they told me on the phone, "the doctor faxed us twice. And so we considered this double fax as two prescriptions."
When I told them I had checked online for the status of the first prescription over eight weeks ago to make sure I would not end up on their "automatic refill" list and assumed I was finished with this drug (which I no longer seem to need, thanks to allergy shots), the woman on the phone told me that my checking and making sure had nothing to do with this fact that the doctor had sent in two prescriptions. So this second package of three bottles was not an automatic refill, but a completely new prescription.

Okay, fine, I'm not paying for this. I don't need it. Who do I send the drugs back to?

Of course, they won't take them.

I told them, "You credit my 30 dollars because there is no way I will pay for this."

She told me she couldn't do that. She doesn't have the authority.

Next, I'm all snake necking and I told her, "Give me someone above you who has some authority and stop wasting my time."

So, she did.

Someone called a "conflict resolutionist".

Jesus.

So, I go through the whole load of shit with this next woman. She tells me that if I had read the letter that they sent me, I would have known that they were going to send me this next batch of drugs. I told her I received a letter but the wording was so abstruse, it was impossible to decipher what they were even saying. And, I told her, the Rx number on this letter, which I had right in front of me, did not match any of the Rx numbers listed in my profile online.

She said to me, "Well, when the prescription is filled, the Rx number changes."

So I asked her how the hell anyone would ever know that. And her response was, "Frankly, if I didn't work here, I wouldn't know it."

And it just went on and on. I was supposed to know, apparently, the exact date to check when the Rx number changed. And then what? I would have known what?

When I asked her why her office, upon receiving two replica faxes, would just go ahead and start typing them in. She had no answer for that other than, "We received two prescriptions."

I told her I was looking at my prescriptions online and it wasn't until today that I now see two prescriptions for the same thing, she said, "When you got your letter, you should have looked."

I told her I did look, because I thought the letter was about putting me on the automatic refill list. So, I looked to make sure that I wasn't. And I wasn't. And there was not a second prescription listed. So, at the time of the letter, everything looked just fine."

She had no response to that.

I then asked, "So, the letter you sent to me, which you say alerted me to the fact that there was a second prescription, and I'm looking at the letter right now and the wording is so vague, it could be interpreted as, 'Your vascetomy has just been remotely reversed.' and furthermore, again, the Rx on the letter matched nothing so I just went by what was online and there was one prescription and I did not want it refilled, ever."

Her response: "You should have called us."

"Why? When everything online looked fine?"

Her response: "It changes once we fill the prescription."

"So, why have a phone conversation, a web site and a letter where none of the numbers or stories match?"

Her response: "If you look at this other place on the web, I don't know the name of it, you would have seen there were two prescriptions."

When I told her that when I got the letter I checked online and saw that there was only one prescription, she said, "You have to go to a different screen to see all your prescriptions."

No matter what I said, she had an answer that just confirmed how preposterous Medco is.

The upshot? She had the authority to credit me a maximum of $25. Which she did. And then, she said she would put through a request for a reversal of the remaining $5.

I told her to put a request into the "employee suggestion box" that the Rx #'s remain the same from beginning to middle to end. And also, to maybe check the faxes that come in for duplicates. I also suggested that perhaps the corporate culture there is to crank out drugs willy nilly to maximize profit. She didn't deny my claim.

This is ridiculous. What if you were someone with real health problems?

Here, in our house, we've had two very minor health things this year. A nose and a shoulder. The follow up paperwork has been torture. Almost every single event for both of us has been a complete mistake that required phone calls and arguments. And we have the Cadillac insurance.


I'm done.


So this is my proposal:


The state picks up catastrophic. Forget the Feds, they'll never do it. The rest: Complete free market health care. Everything you have to deal with outside a catastrophe is as simple as shopping around for the cheapest patio furniture. Enough.

This is the one place where I believe a completely free market system will work. And that includes buying your drugs anywhere on the planet.

Enough with this terrible system. It's a huge waste of money and time for everyone.

And both the Left and the Right can agree on this. Free market healthcare. Goodbye middle man. We’ve had enough of you.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

KPCC's AIR TALK: A heads up for Friday

I am further broadcasting this announcement because I am certain there are not many of you out there who get the Friends 4 Expo update emails.

As you all know, our mayor has also crowned himself the transportation czar. No one stopped him. He's pushing hard.


Check this out on Friday morning:




*** FLASH! -- Friends 4 Expo on KPCC's AIR TALK (89.3 FM) -- Friday, July 29th

"L.A.'s Transportation Future: Will we ever get there?" Join AirTalk this Friday at 10:00 a.m. for a special live remote broadcast from the L.A. headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Host Larry Mantle will convene a panel of experts to examine new L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's vision for the transit system. See http://www.scpr.org for more.


It could be interesting. It could be utter foolishness. However, if you never go to Norway, you'll never know if you like it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lentil Soup

Though this is not a culinary blog, there has been some inquiry into my peasant lentil soup recipe (Hi Megan) and in compliance with the wishes of others, I offer this tasty dish.

It is to be remembered that my old grandma, affectionately known as Nanny, was a great cook in the tradition of hardworking hill people in the goaty villages above Naples near a town called Ariano Irpino, see below. And traditionally, there were no measuring cups, just good Italian eyes and hands that felt their way through every meal preparation.

Please enjoy this soup. It’s extremely inexpensive to make, tasty as a farm kitchen in the rocky hills outside of Naples and as Nanny used to say, “It’s so good for you. It’s loaded with iron.”

Lentil Soup

Fill up a big pot of water about ¾ full. Don’t use a lobster pot. That’s too big. Don’t use the vegetable pot. That’s too small. Use the big spaghetti pot that you usually use to make a pound of spaghetti.

Rinse a bag of normal cheap lentils in a strainer. The usual sized bag you find in the bean aisle of the grocery store. Dump them into the pot of water.

Chop up two good sized cheap yellow onions...wedge type chops that are about the size of a table spoon...throw them in the pot.

Chop up a bag of celery after you wash it...you know, one normal bag of celery, like a full clump of it. Make the pieces about the size of a table spoon. Throw them in the pot.

Now the carrots...peel as many as you like and chop them up table spoon size and put them in. I only put in like four carrots because I’m sugar phobic. You can put in ten carrots, easily. Nanny put in at least that many. The carrots are great.

That’s all the big ingredients.

Add a couple splashes of olive oil. Cover the top of the water with ground pepper. Really cover it. This soup needs pepper. Then, add as much salt as you think a pot of food this big would need. Don’t over salt. In about a half hour come back and taste. You can add a little salt then if necessary. It is essential that the soup tastes a little salty but not too. I usually do two big shakes from the Morton container.

Stir all this with a wooden spoon, bring to a boil and then turn down the flame to a light boil and let it cook about an hour and fifteen or thirty minutes, or until the celery is soft (but not pulverized). This soup should not become thick like a bean paste lentil chili that so many American restaurants offer. The soup should retain a bit of a watery look to it. The lentils will certainly release their beany goodness into the water, but the whole thing should end up with the consistency halfway between a light vegetable soup and the lentil soup you are usually asked to eat.

Meanwhile, on the side, make some spaghetti. Break the spaghetti into about two inch long pieces before you make it. Cook normally in boiling water. You can also use Whole Wheat pasta if you are watching your carbs. Tastes fine in this soup. Don’t overcook the spaghetti or Nanny will come back and hit you with a wooden spoon. Strain and put in a separate bowl, adding a little bit of the soup to it so the pasta doesn’t stick together.

When the soup is ready, put a little handful of pasta at the bottom of each soup bowl, cover it with the soup and shake grated parmesan over the top.

Delish.

Store the extra soup and pasta in separate containers in the fridge.

You’ll have enough soup for a week and it will cost you under ten dollars. “And it’s loaded with iron.”



*52

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I Get Russell Crowe

That hotel clerk responded Whatever to a complaint made by Mr. Crowe, hot head. I read it today in The New Yorker.

In my day, we had just two bits of slang. Cool and beat.
For good and bad. Nothing passive aggressive there. Everything was very obvious. Perhaps we were less angry?

Now, with these x, y and z generations it's all about dismissal.

Whatever, which seemed at first to have the same poetic connotation of Nirvana's big CD title Nevermind, ultimately became the Tourette's cry of many o' emotionally retreating kid and now even adults who would rather not deal with your request/displeasure/disfiguring disease.

Of course, you can't hit someone for saying whatever, and Russell should be thrown in jail, but don't the people who say whatever realize the implied insult of such a dismissing term?

Whatever.

Okay, I get it. Whatever. Fuck it. Whatever. Who cares? Whatever. Whatever.

You say whatever enough times and you just go into a state of detached depression. It's just bad for the culture all the way around.

So let's toss the word, not the phone. Enough.

And any time the throngs want to give up the overused dude, I am so ready. I'm no cowboy. Whatever.

Monday, July 25, 2005

To Do List: Paperless Billing




It's time, friends.

Almost all your bills can come to you via email as opposed to dead tree mail.

As each paper bill comes in, just log on to their website and make the switch. Often, you will have to sign up to be a user at a site for say, your credit card or your phone bill. But that's always quick and easy. Once you are signed up, you can then usually click a paperless billing option.

Why not do it?

In Los Angeles, it seems like the utilities don't offer such a thing, which I find ironic since this is exactly what they should be offering in order to help conserve energy.

On the other hand, it is always good to have at least one bill that comes to you in paper format, especially for renters, in order for you to prove, when necessary, that you are a citizen of a certain city.

But in most cases, you can choose paperless billing.

Call me a martyr for Momma Earth, but the time is NOW.

Added bonus: Less chance of a mail thief pulling identity theft on you.


Bills are forever. It's not the trees' fault. Why not let them give us oxygen instead of pulp?

Friday, July 22, 2005

July 22, 1974

Camp was alot of fun. I'm very tired. It's 9:45 July 22nd. 1974- years from now that will sound funny.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Coasts: Old and New


*51


Though the world may seem to be a bit filthy and children in the Central Valley of California may be suffering from extremely high rates of asthma and though it took me fourteen days to drive across town in Los Angeles today, and Max Boot (Fascist columnist) continues to sully my newspaper with fears of the Chinese and our president is a liar and ringleader of greedy bullies and my dog has taken over my life (and I let her) and severely Orthodox Religionists keep building huge, disgusting houses in my neighborhood I still believe, like Anne Frank, that in their hearts, people are good.

As I was driving toward Beverly Hills today to get my allergy shots, I noticed people driving in their enormous cars and I just felt bad for them. They only drive them because they are tricked into it by some sort of collective lunacy expressed by some nuts in Detroit who really want to make money. And the expression on the faces of so many of these drivers is that of wanton fear and unhappiness. I can only just feel bad for them.

But there is hope...and it is in the form of two things: One real, one imagined.

The real one:

From a missive in today's mail:

One of my favorite examples is the New York State Forest Program which started early in the last century when new rail and canal systems sparked an exodus of farmers to the prairies. Beginning with the reforestation of abandoned farms, New York increased its forest cover from about 20 percent in 1890 to 62 percent today.


The imagined one:

As I sat on Venice Boulevard, idling, my old car spewing particulate matter, Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide, and who knows what kinds of animal membrane destroying heavy metals into the atmosphere, I thought:

Great, our new mayor is going to really try to get this public transportation thing going on. How about this idea: AN ELEVATED TRAIN OVER VENICE BOULEVARD. Why, you ask? Because Venice Boulevard could not be made any uglier, anyway. In fact, some cool train up in the sky along the already established median strip would only beautify this road. Plus, the boulevard is so extremely wide, I don't think the elevated train would bother the denizens living and shopping along its edges. And, this monster road goes from downtown LA to the beach and is not far from the airport. Furthermore, as long as there are terrorists, it's less scary to be in the air than to ride below the ground. The Venice Skyway. Call it the Aqua Line.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Murder By Choice

Logically, one must turn the following corner.


I have decided that abortion is murder. But I just don't care. I am not being facetious.

A fetus in the late part of the third trimester would certainly die left alone outside the womb.
But also, a newborn baby would certainly die if it were left alone outside the home.
A small child would certainly die if it were left alone in the mountains.

In summary, it is not very hard to kill a child and the exact moment when that child really is an actual child is very hard to pinpoint.

So, abortion is murder. But who really cares?
It's a murder of convenience and I'm all for it.

And that's not even the point I am trying to make.

This is my next point, and I shudder to think that I have turned this corner, but turned it, I have, at least for now on this unusually sultry night with the full moon over Los Angeles.

If abortion is murder, and it seems to me it really is, and I have no qualms about it, then, frankly, I should really have no qualms about the death penalty.

Therefore, if I am pro-choice, then I guess I have to be pro death penalty.
Because honestly, killing criminals is just a murder of convenience, again.


I guess what makes no sense, is to be pro choice and anti-death penalty like most liberals.

And it makes no sense to be pro life and an advocate for the death penalty like most conservatives.

The thinking in both these camps is actually illogical.

Why be fifty percent hypocritical by picking the standard liberal view or the standard conservative view?


So, murder is cool, if it's convenient for a society to enhance efficient operation. Sorry, but this harsh reality seems to be the only rational way to look at it. I have turned this corner.

We, as a society torn in two with liberal and conservative polarities chomping for control over the life wars, have already come to a decision. We do not live within a culture of life. We live within a culture of death. All debates are futile since this culture of death has been adopted and accepted for the convenience of all American citizens. Above all else, Americans are a convenience loving bunch. We kill for convenience. That is our choice. Grisly? Nah.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Are You a Bright?

Recently, the Kaufman Brothers and I were trying to figure out a name for Non-Religionists, and lo and behold, in the L.A. Times today was a tiny blurb about The Brights. This is an umbrella organization that is for individuals who describe themselves as having a world view that is naturalistic and not mystical nor supernatural.

The great thing about this group is they wanted to find a name that was not in response to the Religionist names. Therefore, Atheist, Agnostic, etc., are all out the window. Though a name may seem like a silly thing to worry about, it actually is a very important issue, considering that non-religious people are often marginalized in many cultures and labeled with some anti-name. Having a name that is not in relation to religion is empowering.

This is an interesting website and one worth checking out if you see yourself as someone who believes in a wonderful world that is actually a natural place that exists.

There is a bit of hokum to the site, sort of, but it is not unpalatable.

Poke around. There are actually sane people in the world who don't believe in corpses rising from the dead. They are The Brights.

The Brights

Monday, July 18, 2005

Grand Intervention

Downtown LA is about to explode. There's a huge plan for Grand Avenue and all the empty lots South of Disney Hall that run to City Hall. It's happening, the forces are in place, here it comes.

Question is:

Will it be just another frigging mall? Or will it be a frigging mall plus?


The cool thing, is, The LA Times and Norman Lear's little group over at USC have decided that the public should weigh in. Which is pretty cool. It's kind of sweet that this is happening. Of course, it could be a purely cynical move to get people busy doodling while the bulldozers of already rich corporations start moving in to set up shop. Like the wretched trinity of Bush, The royal Saudi Family and Halliburton, it is hard to imagine that development will be established by any process other than old fashioned cronyism...

Yet, one has hope that with Norman Lear, the LA Times, a host of big consulting firms, architecture stars and the people of Los Angeles all jabbering away on the subject that maybe something unique might happen. Maybe it won't be just a promenade surrounded by California Pizza Kitchens and Banana Republics.

So Click around the links below... and when you get a great idea for the future of this monstrous public/private work (fitting within the confines of the area), send it via email to:

www.learcenter.org


Norm promises to send the best ideas forward to the people who decide on what's going to be what.


Maybe we'll end up with a public arena for sauerkraut wrestling?


Grand Intervention


Master Plan

Friday, July 15, 2005

Fifteen Pounds

I’ve lost fifteen pounds of blubber.

And do you know what I found under all that fat? More fat.

There’s just layers of the stuff.

You know how so many women have body issues. Like, no matter how thin they are they always think they’re fat?

Well, I am the opposite. I was always so thin that when I got fat, I honestly kept thinking of myself as a thin person. I just didn’t have a fat man’s self precept.

But recently, when Adam and I got our life insurance policies, the nurse came to the house, pulled out her punishing scale and made me jump on it. When I saw the tonnage, I was embarrassed to the point of making self deprecating jokes for the rest of the evening. The nurse, who was pretty rotund herself, was not a very interested audience. Officially, I was 25 pounds overweight (according to ideal BMI –body mass index—charts). Nasty. But let’s remember, those BMI charts are for perfect conditions and they also assume you don’t pack on the muscle the easy way I do, just by picking up a newspaper or walking across the room. But that pesky chart does exist...and from what I can tell so far, it’s pretty right on.

The packed on muscle that I easily acquire has stayed with me my whole adult life, so underneath my hog layer, I always felt kind of strong and thin. I was a thin man trapped in a fat man’s body. Plus, my skin stayed pretty taught across all the suet. So I never had that jiggly thing going on. In fact, I really was all solid muscle with great skin tone. But between the muscle and the skin was an enormous layer of dense lard.

Anyway...as the fat comes off, I am still fat, but what is so interesting is it’s like an excavation. When I see each layer, I can remember back in time when I was that particular level of fat. Right now, I’m at about the fat I was five years ago. And I remember then how I thought, well, I can always lose this little bit. But I had no plan. And when nature encounters someone without a plan, she loves to make a fat guy.

I really want to be ten years ago fat. If I keep on this trajectory, I could be there in another two or three weeks.

At the very beginning of all this, when I lost the first five pounds, I also became aware that I was extremely contracted and stiff. My body had become the letter C from sitting so many hours in front of the computer eating loaves of bread covered with jam. And that letter C was getting super encased in blubber...it was like I was shrinking into a tiny ball and getting bigger all at once. I had to change that. I became consumed with turning my C into an I. Every night, I stretched using stretches I remember from Yoga, workout classes, dancing days, etc. I felt like an alchemist. Changing from one letter to another is like turning Strontium into Gold.

As the weight keeps coming off, I keep stretching. And as I keep not eating bread, pasta, sugar, processed foods, etc., I feel incredibly healthy. So although I am naturally a pig, I can now honestly say, I’m a pig with a purpose.

As a young, thin person with enormous energy and a love of huge challenges, I always thought it would be kind of fun to get fat so you could then have the big project of getting thin. I was so vain I figured I would just do that the minute the encasement of adipose rendered me hideous. But a man’s vanity can be subsumed by ├ęclairs and bottles of bubbly. And let’s face it, aren’t all mirrors distorting? It took the nurse with her nasty scale of truth to tell me, “You better put down that donut!”

I bet she just wanted it for her fatass self.

Being fat is much funnier than being thin. As I try to excavate to ten years ago fat,
I hope I don’t lose my sense of humor.


Cow:




Even the eyelids are fat in this grotesque specimen that was me at my fattest, two years ago. To enlarge and shriek, click on the pic.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

September 20-22, 1974

We went to the Poconos and it was pretty shitty. Oh well goodnight.


We had a weekend house in the Poconos for about three years. In my family, it was not the highlight of anyone’s life. My father thought it would be great for the kids. My mother hated the mountains. My sister and I spent our days trying to find places to smoke cigarettes without getting caught...which was often up on the little balcony off the upstairs loft.
My brother chopped a lot of wood.

We did get to ski there during the winter months. And there were a couple swimming pools, one indoors, and a clubhouse with a huge open fire pit in the middle of a bunch of tables where you could order food. It was fun when we were younger, you know, back in 1972, before the house was built and it was exciting to just visit the land, ski and swim.
As we got into the mid-seventies, my sister and I just wanted to stay home so we could hang out with our friends, smoke pot, drink cheap wine and go see Tommy every Friday night. Eventually, we children (with no protestations from my mother) staged an emotional coup against Pennsylvania. We won and the house was sold.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Let's Get Corny

Okay, okay...so you need water to grow it and you need chemicals to make sure it gets big and doesn't get eaten by insects...but friends, let's just get behind this corn thing anyway.

How hard will it be for agro-geneticists to come up with a strain of corn that repels all vermin? Make a bitter tasting kernel that's as thick is my big toenail---that'll keep away the corn weevils.

And furthermore, wouldn't it be better to throw used corn based household products into a landfill than to eat the same corn as high fructose corn syrup which does nothing but fatten your ass?

While Rove learns that Machiavellian principles may have been fine for some old version of Italy but not for the present day world and Georgie Bush holds fast to his daddy-please-love-me-and-approve-of-me war and Condi runs around in her come-fuck-me boots when she isn't playing at piano recitals and Cheney's cronies keep hoarding as much oil money as possible for Dick for when his "public service" has ended and all sorts of Religionists blow up public transportation because they don't want anyone in their holy land, the rest of us could simply ignore them and their projected inner dramas that do nothing but kill and sadden people and just focus on our corny future.

America is the land of corn. Let's do what we do best. Let's consume it like crazy.

Corn, it isn't just for hogs anymore.

We are a corn culture!

Proof:


I'm as Corny as Kansas in August.

Jubilation T. Cornpone.

The Corn is as high as an elephant's eye.

A Star is Corn.

Corn Free.

The Corn Identity.

Come Blow your Corn.

There's Got To Be a Corning After.

September Corn.

Corning Becomes Electra.

Making Corn.


BUY CORN!!!


Biodegradable Corn Based Products

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Religionists

As the God fearers look at we who fear not and label us atheists with the implied putdown that the label engenders, I say, let us look back at these righteous, yet sometimes gentle folks and label them Religionists.

I think I have four religious friends. Two are Catholic. One sways with the Christian breeze. An old friend from high school is a pretty die-hard Lutheran.

I really do like my religious friends and I could care less that they are religious. And furthermore, they could care less that I am not only without religion but also willing to die into the abyss with no comforting notion of anything other than becoming a pile of waste. (I say, turn my whole mess into hydrogen and use it for a fuel. On me.)

So, this is not a swipe at religious people. They do what they do for good reasons. The world is an ambiguous place that is fraught with all sorts of hells. Poverty. Ignorance. Abuse. Disappointment. Loneliness. Disease. Bad Breath. Shoddy sexual partners. Reality Television. All of it bookended with the forceful propulsion out of a vagina and the eventual nasty transition into the dead state. The need for some big defining rule book, something that makes up for all this at the end, helps to mollify the conflicts and dreads that torture their terrified minds and contort their stressed out bodies.

So let them have it. It’s either that or morphine and the Afghanis are busy enough. But from now on, I think I will refer to these people who need all this religion, the Buddhists, the Christians, the Muslims, the Jews, the Hindus, the Sikhs, the Shinto, the Zoroastrianists, the Unitarian-Universalists, the Scientologists and anyone else who needs to project basic life/death impulses outside their somatic material ephemeral reality into a soothing stratosphere of symbolism, abstraction and dogmatic fairy tales as the Religionists. All of them. This makes reference to them more efficient in the world of taxonomy and levels the labeling field, which brings the Non-Religionists up to the task of facing these hoards on equal footing.

Though the Religionists are many and fight and scratch for their existence under the names of various sects, they are all fundamentally operating by a process of denying the wretched yet riveting reality of living into codified rules that actually pertain to human relations (sex) and the afterlife (death), both of which hardly need any real explanation. Being that all this explanation is a waste of energy, the laws of nature should see to it that these modes of operation will cease to exist.

The Religionists are a dwindling breed. See the link below.

According to this chart, though the Christian religion is in wopping first place by a good margin and Islam holds forth in second, guess what is in third place? No Religion at all. Following that are all sorts of wacky, fun religions that include ancient Chinese secrets and White Witches.

The Religionists. They’re a large group, but they’re a divided bunch. The Non-Religionists are a much more cohesive breed. Let’s respect the Religionists as human beings. But let’s not let them treat us Non-Religionists as anything less than the future for all mankind. And certainly, there is no need to argue with a Religionist about the future. Just watch them fall out of their minority fold into the majority mindset of Non-Religion. You’ll be too dead to ever see the complete conversion of the billions, but so what?


Religionists, Non-Religionists Pie Chart


More Reason to Live in Scandinavia

Monday, July 11, 2005

Why all the Cynicism?

The new mayor of L.A., Antonio VillageGarossa, or whatever the hell his name is, has appointed himself Commissioner of Transportation. This is serious stuff.

The guy wants trains, trains, buses, buses, left hand turn lanes, you name it.

And my friend, Dan, wants a biodiesel car:

Cars Running on Deep Fry Waste

I just want to get to Santa Monica on a red line that won't blow up.

When the vote comes for us to pass legislation that will free up money for the RED LINE under Wilshire to Santa Monica, why not simply vote "Yes"?

Friday, July 08, 2005

War of Three Centuries, Couplets of Disappointment

H.G. Wells and Steven Spielberg have come together as a couple and it seems to me that Stevey really, really likes it. Too bad for us.




First of all, in his writing career, Wells was a bit of a diviner of the future. He predicted a lot of the weapons that would be used in wars in the twentieth century, including nuclear bombs.

Steven Spielberg predicts nothing.



The unification and militarization of Germany in response to Napoleon and a general rise in European nationalism during the late Nineteenth Century is mostly what spurred Mr. Wells to write this story. It was his little way of saying, “Looks like we’re all going to be going to war soon.”

Steven Spielberg, again, predicts nothing. He looked backward at our little terrorist problem in 2001. This obvious nod was revealed at the beginning of the movie before we get to any facts about an alien invasion. Shoehorned right up front. More than once Dakota Fanning screeched, “Is it the terrorists?” What an abuse of recent history and children. And the nod continues with images of hundreds of notices all over public areas, similar to the ones that asked, “Have you seen my husband?”—that were posted all over New York after the terrorist attacks. Steven Cheeseburg will stop at nothing to get a cheesy American response to anything. This was beyond insulting and had absolutely nothing to do with the story. For this, he should be hanged by the clutching metal octopus arm of an alien spaceship over a hot vat of limburger.



Seems to me, the recent understanding of microbial level Darwinism was a very interesting area of science at the end of the late Nineteenth Century. And so, H.G. tossed this in as the finale for the whole story. Lazy, yes. But at the time, microbes were probably as interesting and heft making in a story as Hydrogen fuel cells are today. Or a jet pack powered by corn.

Steve was just lazy. He used the microbe thing, too. But with no spin. No fuel cells. No flights by maize.



In H.G. Well’s day, there were some very fine actors.

Tom Cruise was just awful and wonderfully paunchy. Dakota Fanning, though, was amazing in her weird little way and she looks exactly and spookily like my nephew.



Tim Robbins was a sort of tardo in Mystic River.

Tim Robbins is a sort of tardo in this dreck, too.



If you have the time and money, use them to do anything else but see this ridiculous movie.
Or just find that nice guy with glasses you know who likes to point a camera at obvious, trite, exploding moronia and hang out with him at the Scientology Celebrity Center. Or maybe give blood?

P.U.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

June 14, 1980 The next day

Today's mom and dad's anniversary. I got up late. I worked today- 12:30-11:00
I talked to Doreen about Boston the whole time. She's cool. After work I went to B's for a BJ. We had an excellent time. Today was just like any other Saturday. H.S. being over hasn't set in yet- Oh well- gotta go to bed. Goodnight.

mom
+
dad

22 years.



I worked at a 7-11 for a couple of months in Hillsdale, NJ until I was fired because I couldn't cover my shift on a Saturday night and I just went to the James Taylor Concert in Tarrytown, anyway. Doreen was a year older than me and was going to B.U. and I was about to head off to Tufts, so she filled me in on Boston. She was a huge stoner and we used to get really high working the 8PM to 4AM shift which we were happy to switch to because we could get really fucked up and steal. We ripped the place off like there was no tomorrow. All you have to do to rip off a 7-11 is not ring things up...just leave the cash register door open, but lean against it so noone knows what you're doing. Someone comes up with milk and eggs...you know it's $5.07, so you punch in 5.07 so it shows on the screen...you ask for the 5.07, they give it to you, and you put the 5.07 all the way over to the left-in the section for the fifty dollar bills, of which you have none. This spot becomes your special section. If you have to make change with the customer, no problem. Just put the unrung 5.07 in your special section after they leave. Once they leave, press clear. Nothing was rung up and you now have $5.07. Do this for a while, always making sure you put the money you make in the special section...when no customers are in the store, you count what you have in your special section...every time you get up to twenty bucks, you put the loose mess of bills and change from the special section back into the main part of the register and pocket a twenty dollar bill. Total theft. Continue the procedure all night (or until the owner's wife comes in the next morning), and with any luck, you can pull in about $140 in 1980 money.

I eventually visited Doreen (and it turns out, her name was actually Dorian) at B.U. one night Freshman year at Tufts. My new friend and dorm mate and fellow engineering major from Ohio, John Rosa, came with me and we used his sister's car and we got all messy on weed and on the way out of Boston, John made a lefthand turn into the trolley tracks that ran in the middle of the street. For some reason, there were no rails in the cement pad, only slots where rails once sat. The four wheels of the car landed in the slots and the chassis of the car landed on the cement slab. We had to call his sister to get us a tow truck. I remember we didn't have a quarter, it was 3AM and we had to get one from a stranger so we could use the payphone. It was winter and we were really cold.

But back to June 14...


Apparently, that night, I went to B's for a BJ. B is Barbara, my long suffering girlfriend of the era. Poor thing. As you can tell by what I wrote, I most likely did nothing but get a beej that night. Sad tales of a seventeen year old guy who was not so into girls. Poor B.

My parents had their 22nd wedding anniversary this day, Flag Day. I imagine we sat around at dinner and listened to the tales of 1950's Yonkers and how poor my parents were and how they got married and they were just kids and how my father ended up with pneumonia because he worked so hard and how my mother went to Kansas to live with an aunt for a year in high school because her mother and father were fighting all the time and when she lived there, she went out with all these other guys because she was something exotic outta Yonkers but she only did it to make my father jealous because she heard that he was dating that tramp so-and-so (another Italian tomato) and she'd show him. They were engaged not long after her return from Kansas.

"I Learned the Truth at Seventeen."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Friday the 13th, 1980

Well-my last day of H.S. It's so unbelievable. We watched French projects in French (my last class in French) then during gym, I went with Wayne to Pakula's-he had to get cookies for a teacher (an inside joke) then during lunch-at 11:05 A.M., the cafeteria broke out with flying food, it was all planned, what a freak out-teachers got pizza in their face, girls got milk on them, the cafeteria was a mass of food. It was hysterical. During Study Hall (It was in the gym because of the cafeteria) I talked to Larry up in the Home Ec room. We had our last test in Physics. The regents is Wednesday. School was so strange today. After school (me and Peggy took the bus for the last time) I went to Caldors, the bank, and tonight I ate at McD's. We had cabaret tonight. It went well. I said goodbye to Mr. Austin, He's such a great man, then Doobies and me, Bruce, Sarah, and Megan went to see The Shining, a freak movie. It was good. We went to Sarah's afterwards. well-13 years down. 4 to go.

What can I even start to say with this one? First of all, I completely remember the food fight. It was scary and weird and kind of epic. The pizzas that flew were actually pizza buns--melted plastic type white cheese and sauce on hamburger rolls. They were served on Fridays. A total treat...both in the culinary and projectile arts. I remember chocolate milk flying out of the cafeteria into the hallway and covering Gail Abraham's creamy white, long, pleated skirt. In general, Suffern High School was actually a pretty tame place. This thing was a huge surprise, obviously spurred on by Animal House. So I guess movies can make you do awful things. The main office went into lockdown.

In French, I remember the valedictorian of our class, Susan Golden, doing a verbal report on New Wave Music--La Nouvelle Vague. She even hopped up and down as if on a pogo stick. Brilliant. If it was this day, I don't know. But I think it was.

I remember a bunch of the Lipson-Gibson gang, which were mostly good, smart kids, of which I was a member in the final year of high school, used to hang out with this Home Ec. teacher who was like some sort of Student Council guru. It was all really nerdy and all really sweet. Most of the members of this gang are happy, successful adults. Larry was our class president and I thought he was a great guy and I was really sad we weren't closer friends in high school...but I always assumed when someone wasn't friends with me it was because I was a "faggot." Years later, at a high school reunion, he told me he was a bit intimidated by me and my gang(not the Lipson-Gibson gang, but my steadies)...which he referred to as "the beautiful people."--- What that particular gang was, was, the smart, gorgeous girls with really good hair and very bright personalities that I was friends with in High School. I was their skinny little gay pet, a role I took on gladly after being their skinny little gay boyfriend, just one girl at a time, in Junior High.

I did love Mr. Austin. He was a great man. And besides being the cabaret guy, I usually sat near him in study hall and yacked away...because he directed most of the school plays and he tried to be an actor in his twenties and he used to give me all this life advice, like, "Make sure you drive across the country when you're young. You have to really experience the world." And on the subject of acting, "It didn't work out for me. It's a hard business."

The cabaret thing.... It was sort of a somber goodbye situation with low attendance. We often met on Friday nights and did skits and improv things and we were just the total diehard drama kids. I guess we went to the movie after cabaret.

Sarah and Bruce were a year older than Megan and I. They were back from college. We used to always hang out at Sarah Schultz's house because her parents didn't care if we smoked or drank. And when her parents went out, which they always did, all the bedrooms became dens of torrid teenaged sex...except maybe one of them, if Sarah was locked inside because she was going to kill herself with the huge carving knife from the kitchen because Kevin Kern wouldn't leave his girlfriend for her which he should have done because the sex with Sarah was definitely so much better and Sarah was, obviously, the one he should be with.

The Shining? Explains itself. I can't believe that movie is that old.

I got a 100% on the Physics Regents. First kid to do that in sixteen years. I was extremely proud of myself. I loved Science. I remember when I got the score, two of my very close aforementioned fabulous girlfriends were with me and I was so happy and they were so jealous and just had nothing to say to me, sort of looked the other way and changed the subject. Nasty. But I still love them to this day.

I got all my styling clothes at Caldors. For the West Coast: that's Target, but just a little worse. And certainly no groovy commercials.

Doobies: I know a guy on the lot at CBS-Radford who totally still calls them Doobies. Hilarious.

High School...it did end.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Three Day Weekends

What is it about a three day weekend that makes it seem so much longer and so incredibly fulfilling?

Could it be that extra day?

Could it be, you plan for it, you look forward to it, and then it happens and you’re so happy you had control of those three little days for your own good time?

Or is it, simply, you have three days and you can really go somewhere, do something, make a difference!

People travel all over the world on three day weekends.

People do things that are romantic on three day weekends.

People sell their old crap on ebay on three day weekends.

People go into the woods camping with old friends and listen to the blues and get stoned on three day weekends.

People do some of that extra gardening on three day weekends.

People find time to have a little sex on three day weekends.

People decide big life decisions on three day weekends, even when they are unaware they're doing it.

People clean house on three day weekends.

People have affairs on three day weekends.

People have malaria on three day weekends.

People drink a little bit extra on three day weekends.

People shoplift on three day weekends.

People run numbers on three day weekends.

People get all sunburned on three day weekends.

People cry about their lost childhood on three day weekends.

People have barbecues on three day weekends.

People want three day weekends, every week.

Why don't they just take them?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Independence Day


*50

We saw March of the Penguins.

First of all, it’s quite something. The cinematography is, you know, amazing. And how often do you get to see Antarctica? Plus, these penguins are so silly and beautiful all at once. At times you cry. At times you laugh. At times you wish Morgan Freeman didn’t have to say some of the stupid things he had to say.

But what amazes me is I was going to go on and on about how obvious it is that Intelligent Design is not even remotely possible...based on the penguin alone. No intelligent anything invented this beast. With its reptilian feet, the weird way the mother has to transfer her egg to the father and how if the egg touches the ground for more than a few seconds all is lost, the months on end that both sexes don’t eat because of the mating schedule, the penguins puking up their eaten food for the cute little babies to eat, all in a crazy locale—this is one animal that was made by mistake, for sure, as Antarctica evolved from a tropical paradise to a frostbitten torture rack.

But my point is, why in the world would I even think that I would have to defend Evolution at all?

Who the hell am I preaching too?

I look forward to the day when the idea of refuting Intelligent Design won’t even cross my mind.

Happy Independence Day Weekend.

I will be spending it pretending I don’t live in this country.