Thursday, September 29, 2011

Call me, Pauly

Last night, I met a news writer and her friend, who is also a reporter and blogger. They both have interviewed Pauly Shore. As they traded Pauly Shore stories, all I could do was feel like an underachiever.

"So, yeah, I've seen Son-In-Law. And In the Army Now once or twice."

I'm just glad my other friend from the UL Vermilion wasn't there. He interviewed him too.

Am I the only one who hasn't?

Or...a third option...


• That totally would have been the rallying cry in World War II, if the Pledge of Allegiance had mentioned God prior to 1954.

• This may be nitpicking, but that's technically three options.

• No one epitomizes America quite like a cranky, closed-minded cartoon character.

• "And while you're at it, the 'indivisible' part can bite my ass and just leave too."

• In her old age, she can't tell if the Pledge of Allegiance says "One Nation Under God" or "bite my ass and just leave." She's just asking, folks. Though, come to think of it, in a way they're saying the same thing.

My immediate reaction to this picture...


25 years ago, we had Guns N Roses, Johnny Paycheck and Red Buttons. Now we have Nickelback, no paycheck and no buttons! 

But we do have guns.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Desperately seeking Superdome

Several years ago, a bill to rename the Louisiana Superdome after late governor John J. McKeithen failed spectacularly. I remember being surprised and somewhat impressed by this, because it seemed like one of those rare instances of good sense. McKeithen supposedly didn't ever want his name to overshadow the arena he helped build, and it bucked the common convention that a stadium's name is as interchangeable as the ad space in between closing program notes of the local news.

Well, so much for that stand. A much worse prospect looms now, because apparently the Superdome's name is up for rent to corporations. Great. This is the worst trend in sports, counting steroids. Naming or renaming a stadium in memoriam of an integral person is one thing; selling it to highest bidder is another plane entirely. It's not only naked greed, it's streaker greed. I realize that's an affront to the overcapitalized world we live in, where every timeout and trip to the red zone has a corporate sponsor. But as awkward as those sponsorships are, I can live with them. Sponsor signs in the Superdome? OK by me, especially since fans can also brandish signs of their own. But I draw the line here. No arena should be named anything not related to the sport, team or city. At the very least, the name shouldn't exude an air of, "This space is for rent and we aren't picky about who pays for it." Will anyone ever get misty-eyed over youthful memories of watching their heroes at First Bank Auto Parts Arena? Or was it galleryfurnitureinvestments.com Stadium that year?

That's why I'm here to help my pals at the Louisiana Superdome get the most for their desperately sought dollar while sort of preserving the legacy of one of professional sports' few remaining arenas with any integrity to its name. I don't seek compensation for my efforts; I'm all about the love of the game.

Luzianne Superdome

Lou-Ana Superdome

Super Valu Dome

Facebook Superdome

Campbell's Chunky Souperdome

The Black and Goldline Superdome

Superdomino's

Louisiana Hot Sauce Superdome

The Deuce McAllister Nissan Dome (stolen from @skooks, but too good not to list)

The Albert Connell LifeLock Superdome

Hubig's Superdome Pie

Café Dome Monde

Super 8 Dome and Motel

Da Bobby Hebert Supadome, Yeah

The Marc Morial Memorial Superdome

Delhomme Funeral Superhome

The Every Artist in Jackson Square Pooled Their Money to Buy Naming Rights For a Few Minutes Superdome

Jax Beer Tulane Stadium

Vicks Formula Super Bowl 44 Champions Square

Louisiana Super-Blitzed-on-Abita Dome

The VooDoome

Louisiana Corruptdome

The tombenson.com Honda Chevrolet Mercedes-Benz of San Antonio Superdome

And of course, there's always the proud French Quarter tradition of having strippers beckon passersby into the Dome. But that might be too subtle.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

For the record

The Republican governor of Texas just said he always errs on the side of life.

Again, the Republican governor of Texas just said he always errs on the side of life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Home just got a little less sweet home

Like most people, I have a life that at times causes me stress. And like most people who are new to a city, I don’t have a whole lot of outlets to channel that stress. For me, one way of doing that is swimming. I’m not a great swimmer, but I love being in the water. No matter how bad I’m feeling, a dip in the pool always hits the spot. And given that fall is rapidly approaching, I go as much as I can while I can. With big deadlines looming and a clear, sunny Wednesday afternoon, I was looking forward to the cool, soothing waters. 

That is, until I got home at 5:30 and read the notice slipped into my door. 

Apparently, some kind of vandalism has occurred. Of course, they don’t tell us what it was so that we can be vigilant of future incidents. No, instead, they’ve announced that effective immediately, they are going to close the pool and fitness center at 6 p.m. sharp every day “for a short period of time.” Oh, and “we apologize for the temporary incovenience.” 

Yeah, sure. The last time I heard something like this was temporary was when the vice principal of my high school insisted that we were going to have to start wearing our IDs on our shirts until no longer needed. It was a broad, misguided fix for a non-problem then and this is now. 

On the other hand, the notice did come with a flier for a $30 health club membership down the street. So there’s that. I wonder if they’ll let me pull that from my rent? Oh, wait, reading the fine print...that rate doesn’t include use of the pool. Facepalm. 

As I’ve said many times before, I hate when good people have to suffer for the bad. It’s a masochistic philosophy and it only teaches the lesson that being good means your behavior has no bearing on how you do or don’t get screwed. I guess I could get over the fact that I, with my work schedule, have effectively been blocked from going to the pool or fitness center five days a week. Though it does piss me off to no end that I’m no longer getting what I pay for through no fault of my own (as is the case with hundreds of others now). 

No, what makes me madder is that this is going to serve no purpose. It pushes people out of the facilities, thus leaving them even more ripe for vandalism. It doesn’t address what we all want to know, which is exactly who did what, when and where — information that might protect us and save us from future damage and danger. Closing the pool and fitness center (which previously opened until 10 p.m. and 24 hours, respectively) is exactly the kind of pointless bullshit I expected in high school, where it’s the administrators' jobs to look busy without having to get dirty digging into the real causes of our problems. I don’t expect it in a place where I pay rent in exchange for a living unit, amenities and the general assurance that the staff will treat these incidents in a fair and mature manner. 

I actually went to the office to ask about it, but they’d left well before typical closing time (which, to their credit, they typically honor). I’ll bet I’m not the only one utterly pissed about this, and they know it. And they’ll hear it from me too. 

God, I hope no one ever breaks into my apartment. I’d be evicted for sure. 

Sorry to rant. But I had to let out this steam somehow. They’re not letting me do it any other way.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New rules

Rule #176: Straight in Arrow 
If you are sitting at the front of a protected left-turn lane and the arrow turns green, TURN. Whether or not you meant to be in that lane is irrelevant; pausing will not teleport you to the lane you meant to travel upon. Go with the flow — or, in this case go make the flow. Be a driver, not a tampon. 

Rule #177: Taxonomy 
At some point, you have to raise taxes on somebody. It seems a bit too convenient to slash taxes on the top income brackets over several decades and then declare that it’s wrong for them to ever go back up for any reason. Especially when the economy crashes around such cuts and the solution is said to involve blood being drawn from turnips. You know, because it’s more fair. 

Rule #177.5: Stay Fair 
Fairness in taxes comes from people paying their fair share, not from everyone paying in. I guess it’s no surprise that many Republicans insist the problem with income taxes is that, by golly, all those poor people skate by! Michele Bachmann said that it would help even if they just paid $1. These are the same people who see a map full of red 3-electoral-vote states as proof that the whole nation is behind them. Maybe we ought to worry less about attacking the poorest among us and more on getting some badly needed revenue out of those most in position to provide it (and used to). And it better be way more than a dollar.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Decepticonstitutionalibertarianism


We’re in the thick of an era where people feel entitled to their own facts. This is why, instead of tackling actual issues, candidates for president of the most powerful nation in the world are talking about how American they are, or how much/little/not at all they care about science. Also, there’s the race to see who can most convincingly proclaim their Christian spirituality, and God forbid if a candidate doesn’t say “God Bless America” enough. Or equate wearing a flag pin to sporting an Autobot symbol so that we know they aren’t an al-Qaida-aligned Decepticon. 

This can flourish because the American public is convinced that patriotism is some rigidly defined concept unique to a specific subset of Americans. And that those Americans who don’t fall within those exact parameters either don’t care or actively despise everything that their true countrymen stand for. And that finding the right leadership is a matter of filtering out these pretend Americans and rolling with the real ones. 

We can’t even concede that our opponents are on board with our greater principles, but differ on how to address the issues; we have to be the sole guardians of national principles — or, more specifically, our conception of said principles. It’s not about conservative and liberal anymore; it’s about American and un-American. How un-American! 

And it doesn’t get any worse or more ridiculous than the Constitution stance. Candidates such as Ron Paul insist that they alone are the ones who will uphold the document. Ask most libertarians what they believe, and the first thing they’ll tell you is they adhere to the principles of the Constitution of the United States of America. Listening to Paul and his supporters, you get the feeling that you have to be some kind of rat-bastard not to fall right in line with what they stand for — and they stand for the Founding Fathers, freedom, the flag and America, goddamn it! 

I’d say that's an admirable stance, but it’s not even a stance. It means absolutely nothing. 

Is there anyone living in America, let alone those in or aspiring to office, who thinks the Constitution should be revoked? Maybe a few underground terrorists think so, but I can’t imagine that’s a key demographic. So it seems stupid to mount a defense of the Constitution. How much armor would you have to wear to that fight? 

Are they talking about defending the document against those who wish to change it? Because the last time I checked, the Founding Fathers installed an amendment process. It’s a slow, tedious process by design, and it’s been used successfully fewer than 30 times in our nation’s history. But it’s also given us some of America’s most defining principles, like the Bill of Rights. 

(And, by the way, I think most libertarians are referring to the Bill of Rights when they say Constitution. If you’ve ever read the Constitution itself, you know it’s largely a dry document outlining the federal system of government and various elections. It’s important, to be sure, but we don’t hear much complaining about how the House and Senate are ignoring the outlined number of seats each has in Congress.) 

Oh, and Founding Father Thomas Jefferson said that each generation should draw up its own Constitution. 

Oh, and Ron Paul wants to repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments. You know, because he’s a strict constructionist. 

And that’s what the Constitution argument comes down to: strict constructionism — the idea that the Constitution must be interpreted exactly as written. So if it doesn’t specifically say in the document that the U.S. can have a Department of Education, for example, then having the department is an affront to freedom. (Curiously, this literal interpretation doesn’t extend to general welfare, which is literally in the Preamble.) If you think the Constitution is a living, breathing document intended to grow and adapt with the times, well, you don’t have a difference of opinion — you hate the Constitution. 

Ironically, nothing represents the flexible-fact era we live in more than idea that a single, inflexible view of the Constitution has become shorthand for standing up for the principles of the United States of America. We deserve better than this. And that’s a fact.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Status symbols

Facebook has a new feature that looks back on past statuses. While it's a little scary this exists (after all, I have enough record of what I was thinking years ago here), it's nevertheless fascinating — and in my case at least, it's going to get really interesting once another year or two passes.

(Side note: When you click on the status sidebar, you can see the whole comment thread, and in turn who has since defriended you and comments/friends you forgot about.)

Here are some of the more, I won't say compelling, but typical, statuses from years past. Enjoy.
On Sept. 14, 2009, I attempted to buy a new Mac laptop at Best Buy. Not only did the sales kid seem to have a few chromosomes missing, but I was denied credit, which almost never happens. I really did never set foot in that location again, though I've since been back with others in other states. Instead, I saved another $300 in cash and bought one a month later at an independent shop. By a year later, I'd cooled off, but it probably took that long.
From Sept. 12, 2009. You can see how my Best Buy mood had changed in two days. And I'm not sure why I ever bothered posting when I lost a flag football game. Winning was the news.
On 9/9/09, President Obama gave a major speech on health care.  It came at a difficult time for him, and my feed was pretty much a chorus of my liberal friends spelling the end of the world and all but calling for a new election. Though my friend list was growing more diverse and I was laying off on political statuses a bit, I still felt I had to say this. Some people were appreciative. It marked the last time a liberal friend of mine ever called for Obama's head.
From Aug. 29, 2009, the mother of all predictions. Also, something about a dryer.
From Sept. 6. I think it speaks for itself on both counts.
Also from Sept. 9, which is apparently a peak time for statuses year after year. This was the night of the Saints-Vikings rematch, and "Skol Vikings" is a common Minnesota cheer. And again, I don't know why paperwork dreams merit any status. That's like every night for me.
From Sept. 13: Workplace safety cannot be overstressed.
Defense!

Godspeed has its limit

One of my neighbors drives a Mercedes C240 with the personalized license plate, "PRAYER."

Last week, I saw it stalled on the side of the highway.

My first thought was, "No one in Louisiana ever took the PRAYER plate until this guy?"

My second thought was, "I'm going to hell for all the ironic observations I'm about to think."

There was no third thought.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What's saddest about this picture?


It's hard to say. Is it that the majesty of the free market has claimed yet another bookstore?

That there isn't one book in sight, as if they've been banned?

That the religion section is suspiciously bereft of variety?

That the Sarah Palin Book Club seems to have gotten under way?

That this looks like every public school library in America if you remove all the books from before 1974?

That, despite being closed, nobody turned out a single light?

That it's literally closing the borders?

That's it...it's every Republican platform plank come to life! This is what it looks like, folks. Feast your eyes. Ain't that America?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I have to defend the Patriots now?!!


There are two types of people in the world. Tedy Bruschis and Chad Ochocincos. And other types as well. 

I’m a Chad Ochocinco kind of guy. Goofy, funny, approachable, sometimes inappropriate, always good-natured in my humor. Also, effortlessly handsome. And not historically affiliated with winning teams. And often misunderstood by the Tedy Bruschi types. 

Tedy Bruschi types, to paraphrase Robin Williams as Patch Adams, think you have to be assholes to get things done. Well, OK, maybe not assholes, but humorless prigs. I can see how he fit in with Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots. 

Nothing pisses me off more than a winning dynasty that sees personality as a sign of weakness and a stain on one’s character. Jesus should not let teams like that win, so they know that’s not cool. But I digress. 

Even Tom Brady thinks Bruschi’s going overboard with this. After all, it’s not like Ocho did his usual dastardly field theater to draw attention to the fact that he is a sentient human being who occasionally acts sillier than the amorphous mass with whom he shares uniform colors (deep breath) — all he did this time was say his quarterback, Tom Brady, was good. And saying Tom Brady is good is about as controversial as saying education is good (while not being Rick Perry). 

I have to go with Brady here. Oh, that hurt to say. 

I don’t want my football players to not be fans. It shows they have some connection to the game they play. It shows they can give credit where it’s due and that it perhaps inspires them to be better themselves. We’re reminded all the time that pro sports is a business. But maybe money shouldn’t be the only motivator. Maybe it’s not so bad to have someone who can toss off some real awe, showing a wide-eyed passion a lot of us can only dream about. 

Beats the crap out of whatever world Bruschi lives in. His Twitter feed HAS to suck.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Car note

According to my newest statement, I owe $335.95 on my car.

Back in the 1920s, a new Ford Runabout cost $265.

So if this were then and that was my car, this would be like owing $2.

Also, I'd probably be too dead to blog.

We never have it all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Obligatory anniversary post

Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. As if you don’t know that. 

I’m really not that gung-ho to talk about it. I feel like I exhausted everything I had to say about 9/11 years ago. Apparently I’m in a minority in that regard. 

A remembrance of that tragic day seems to imply that we haven’t been thinking about it or otherwise feel its effects every second since it happened. But we have. Should it make a difference that today is the 10th anniversary? Maybe. But I imagine it’s like reliving a molestation, a devastating fire or particularly traumatizing combat. It’s a horrible event to which a statistic adds very little. And it’s certainly not something I would want to watch on TV in real time again. 

From the start, 9/11 retrospectives have done nothing for me. I only needed to see the World Trade Center buildings fall once before it was so burned in my brain that my memory could be admissible as evidence. Where I was didn’t seem important because my insignificant story added no insight to the magnitude of the day. I wasn’t there. What I remember is what I felt for the victims, and I’m not sure I possess the constitution to relive such heartbreak. 

It hit most of us immediately, as was so often said, that “things will never be the same again.” And not for the better. That was evident in the aftermath. I didn’t live in the most tolerant place to begin with, but seeing classmates yell at each other and many people energetically preach hate and revenge that seemed retrospectively to have been bubbling below the surface, well, I never stood united behind that.

And I hate that there are massive chunks of this country that want 9/11 to stand forever as the essence of America. When they say “never forget,” they mean, “never move on.” And while we should truly never forget, we must move on. Because that’s the biggest victory the U.S. could have over terrorism. Keeping calm and carrying on. The trauma was very real, but it can’t be the be-all-end-all of our nation. We should be defined by our freedom and our resilience (and how both tie into each other), rather than by our most devastating moments and by the poisonous collective mindsets and disastrous political decisions that followed. 

The latter traits are what come into mind whenever I see yet another endless loop of the Twin Towers falling. The sinking feeling I had on that day hits hard again. I’m reminded of all the people I know who credit the horror of 9/11 with shaping their political and social views. I’m reminded of the obsession with overkill security measures and the almost glee with which many Americans said we’re now at war. That was (and is) a blight on American history and it can never vanish too soon. 

That’s not to say a lot of positive things came out of 9/11. They did, in droves. Amid the political and social divisions, we saw a selfless outpouring of humanity, good will and sacrifice that in many ways has continued. For all the socially acceptable prejudice and territorial flag-waving that’s been prevalent ever since, we’ve also heard from thoughtful Americans vehemently opposed to those same things. 

Which makes it especially poignant that, 10 years later, the United States of America remains in economic and political despair. We’re a nation constantly on edge. Austerity can be seen everywhere you look, except among the richest. Excessive security, and required deference to it everywhere, is a fact of life. We’re not only not innocent, we can barely remember innocence. 

When people say that 9/11 made America better, or more proud, or more aware of the world, my heart sinks all over again. Because this is an improvement only for a select group of people who are vile, selfish, standoffish and xenophobic. The rest of us (most of us, I like to think) didn’t need to start paying attention. We didn’t have a rotten core of superiority that was just waiting for the right moment to rear its ugly head. We didn’t need an enemy against which to define our love for our country. We understood our rights before and didn’t see them as peacetime indulgences. 

But 9/11 changed everything. 

I remember. We all remember, in our own unique ways. Every single day. But every day doesn’t have to be 9/11. And as long as I’m an American, I won’t let the tragedy entirely define my way of life. Can’t we all unite under that notion?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Overdue Saints-Packers observations

• Working out all season while your opponent doesn’t gives you no edge.

• “On paper” is an expression for a reason.

• Uppercuts have negligible consequences.

• Gambling always fails.

• Both my neighbors and God are very tolerant people/deities.

• The Saints will meet the Packers in the NFC Championship, assuming they mount a defense at some point.

• When the defense does come to pass, there won’t be a lot to complain about. Except maybe for how long the season’s going to be.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A terrible blog

As someone who lives in Louisiana and occasionally leaves the house, I often find myself bombarded by people who assume I share their opinions. And that’s almost never the case, because Louisiana is a highly conservative state. And it’s not like living in Missouri, where most people are conservative but are at least vaguely aware that liberals walk among them — here, you guzzle the tea until proven un-American. 

I used to be very open among people about my beliefs, until the first time I was open with my beliefs. These days, I mostly confine my political discussion to this blog, among friends and when I reach a breaking point (which these days I tend to channel into humor rather than anger, so it rarely happens). 

Because of all this, I’ve learned how to deal with attempted choir-preaching if I’m not in the mood for a debate. It takes only one phrase. Not only does the phrase help you stand your ground, but chances are the other person will interpret it as an affirmation as well. Win-win! 

So what is the phrase? 

“That’s terrible.” 

Here’s an example of how it works: 

“Obama is a joke of a president who can’t get anything done! I’m glad the Republicans take a stand against everything he does.” 

“That’s terrible.” 

Also: 

“We need to drill for more oil! Have you seen alternate energy sources? They suck!” 

“That’s terrible.” 

And: 

“This country is going to hell in a handbasket!” 

“That’s terrible.” 

“God bless Rick Perry. He’s the man in 2012.” 

“That’s terrible.” 

“What, Rick Perry?” 

“It’s terrible that this country has gotten so poisonous and extreme.” 

“You’re tellin’ me!” 

“Terrible.” 

“TERRIBLE!” 

It’s almost too easy. 

Oh, and you conservatives out there in liberal havens (such as nowhere I’ve ever lived) can use this too. Let it never be said that I’m not fair and balanced.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

My Buddy

Tonight, Buddy Roemer made an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I thought he did pretty well, much better than he'd done on The Colbert Report a while back. His message that there's too much money in the political process was so apt that Stewart jokingly (?) told him there's no way it would fly.

Over on Facebook, a friend of a friend said sarcastically that Roemer's plan came down to, "dealing with all of these things." And I thought to myself, well, isn't that an improvement over the rest of the Republican field? Who else among them is dealing with anything besides spite and obstruction?

Maybe Tim Pawlenty, who was downright charismatic tonight on Colbert. But he's already gone. 

It's as if the best are being flushed out first. That's to the detriment of both the GOP and anyone interested in a race between qualified presidential candidates. And/or ones named Buddy. 

Barack vs. Buddy? That's golden. But I guess not frightening enough for reality TV.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Why am I a journalist?

Because no one wants to hear this.

Thanks to Venessa Lewis for the emo-fied design!

Pointless posters






Mo money, mo fabrication

I have conservative friends who often refer to “the rich” in quotations, as if it’s a made-up group of people. 

That’s rich. 

Whenever I say we need to raise taxes on the rich, they ask me who the rich is. I’ll admit I was stumped the first time someone asked me that — but only because it’s one of those questions that leaves you thunderstruck in its audacity. You know right away that no answer you give will ever satisfy them. It’s like arguing government spending priorities with someone who considers government (or even society) an artificial construct. 

I guess it’s supposed to be similar to the argument that a corporation is just a bunch of people. The Koch Brothers’ billions are just lots of $1 bills, no different than the cash you and I carry! 

Still, I find the answer to be simple: the rich are the people who compose the highest-income brackets in this country. We can argue about what constitutes wealth, i.e., where the line is drawn. But I don’t want to draw it where some people making high six figures want to draw it. And I certainly won’t defend the historically low tax rates of the Bill Gateses and Warren Buffetts of the world (even Gates’ billionaire father and Buffett don’t do that). I’ve been accused of being jealous of the rich, but I’m not. As our leaders often tell us, these are tough times requiring tough decisions. So why are the poorest among us always the ones who suffer? Are some more equal than others for economic sacrifice? I don’t think it’s jealousy that drives our piss-poor economic policies, but envy — envy for the rich and the delusion that a little elbow grease is all we need to reach that peak ourselves. It’s messed up that we even aspire to that, because you almost have to be rich these days to not struggle. And by repeatedly supporting right-wing policies that screw most of us sideways, we perpetuate that cycle. 

Americans need to reconsider our tax policy with a quickness. At the very least, we need to stop fluctuating between envying the rich and pretending they don’t exist.