Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Overwhelming Influence of Home

My creative writing teacher at UConn wrote a story (and screenplay) called The Secret Life of Houses. I don't remember much of it, except that Jackie from Roseanne starred in the movie, and a main concept of the story is that houses have unique spirits. Not floating, drinking spirits like in the classic 80s Gutenberg comedy High Spirits, or conniving, womanizing, trickster spirits like Beetlejuice. Just a certain energy and vibe that is imprinted on the house by its tenants, its pets, its visitors, its neighbors, and anything else that made contact with it.


The energy of each individual home has an impact on the people living there as much as they have on it. Some of the influence boils down to nostalgia. Houses are a living memory. Looking at a picture can bring back specific memories, but being inside a house you grew up in, whether it's a friend's childhood home or your own, is like floating inside a cloud made of memories. The memories can be so overwhelming that it's hard to focus on just one. When I go to my parent's beach house, memories flood back from great vacations as a kid with friends and family and birthday gifts and dogs and beaches. Entire days and years come rushing back as familiar scents and sounds and sights fill my senses. Sometimes specific memories pop up, but mostly it's just an overall sense of peace and happiness.

Every place I have lived had a different energy and made an important impact on me. I still have dreams that take place in the first house I grew up in Hartford. I see the layout clearly. It is literally providing the framework for some dreams. It has subconsciously become part of my identity.

That phenomena occurs not only with our childhood homes, but with the state, town, and neighborhood we grow up in. Americans like to think that we, as individuals, are completely in control of who we are and how we perceive the world. The reality is that where we grew up and where we live has an immense effect on who we are and our perceptions of reality itself.

In addition to providing a literal and figurative structure for our lives and memories, our homes are extensions of who we are. The pictures we put up, the color we use to paint the walls, the choice between hard wood floors and shag carpeting. They all reflect something about us (especially the shag carpeting) and our homes retain that reflection long after we leave.

Growing up, my mom had a small pillow with a phrase stitched on it: A house is not a home without a cat. I always thought this was propaganda from the Cat lobby, but as I got older I recognized the truth in the statement, and it applies to more than just cats. A house is just a building. A home is a safe place full of love. Pets help give a house its character, its spirit. Pets need love and attention, so when there is a pet in a house, that means there is love and affection in that house, which creates a home.

Pets help create that "lived-in" feeling, a term that has a positive connotation even though it literally means there are signs of wear in a house. Beyond the literal meaning, the term refers to a place that feels like people have made into a home. It feels comfortable because there's a familiar energy to it. People even want that lived-in feeling in a new home, which, logically, doesn't even make sense.

A major part of the impact a place has on us is the people we interact with there. My parents still live in West Hartford, the second house I lived in, so it still feels like home when I go there, even though they completely renovated my bedroom. When I moved out of my parents house, I lived in a condo in Newington for 7 years, with 3 of my best friends (at separate times). It was small, but it was comfortable, and it ended up being the foundation of countless incredible memories. My friends and roommates are largely responsible for those memories, and those memories and those relationships will stay with me forever. When you occupy the same space with someone for an extended period of time, an unspoken bond forms. Movies portray that connection with the military and sports, where soldiers and teammates start to respect and trust each other after being in close quarters. But sports and war aren't necessary to create that bond. Simply living together, enjoying each other's company, learning each other's routines, creates a connection that lasts well beyond the time spent living together.

The same applies to the living space itself. The memories I have from the time I lived in that condo are intricately linked to the building and the location. I can't imagine them occurring anywhere else,  because quite literally, they would have not occurred or they would have been drastically different. Think of your favorite vacations. We go to certain destinations because we want to experience certain things. The people you meet, the food you eat, the activities you experience all contribute to your memories, of course. But the foundation of all of that is the location. The same is true of your home.

We talk about "home field advantage" in sports; players usually do better at their own field, and there are many reasons for that, but a main reason is "environmental familiarity." We are more comfortable at home. When we played tag as a kid, "homebase" was the safe space. You could always go back there to avoid danger. That's true of home as well. Kids often rush home from school to avoid bullies or to simply get comfortable. When the bullies are at home--parents, siblings, or spouse--home becomes a place of dread, which reflects the immeasurable impact "home" has on our psyche, whether positive or negative. That's why children who move around a lot often have difficulties with relationships and an overall poorer quality of life as adults.

I only moved once as a kid and that was incredibly difficult. Thankfully I wasn't too far from where I grew up, so I could see friends and hang out in familiar places, but it took me a while to adapt. I liked my original home and everything that came with it. I only truly considered the house in West Hartford "home" when I went away to college. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, as they say. I absolutely loved college, and each place I lived at UConn has incredible importance to me (my memories of college are organized in sections according to where I lived) but sometimes, we simply yearn for the familiar. And home cooked meals.

Most recently, I lived in a house in New Britain affectionately referred to as Corbin Frat. There was no fraternity (I paid rent, not dues) but the house itself became a meeting place for and symbol of friendship. If you lived there or spent a significant amount of time there, you were initiated into the Corbin Frat for eternity. The President of Corbin Frat always steered the energy of the house. He set the tone. But the pets (RIP Bay and Deucey) the roommates, and the visitors all contributed to the spirit of Corbin Frat. The music we listened to, the food we ate...those scents and sounds are embedded into the fabric of the house. The living room floor isn't just a floor, it's the place where Bay would purposefully spill people's beer so he could lick it up. It's a place that birthed FRIENDSHIP, the greatest kickball team known to man. There is a sentimental value to everything within the house because our energy is infused into the building.

The energy of the previous tenants was there as well, making its presence most obviously felt through the stark patterns of the wallpaper. That wallpaper told a story. There was time and effort put into deciding the pattern and then sweat and hard work to put it all up. That energy remains.

One day when I was living there, a former owner knocked on the door. It was just like in the movies; he was nervous and embarrassed to just show up at a stranger's home, but once we started talking I could almost see the memories washing over him. He was happy just to be there, to feel the energy of the house. And I think he was satisfied with the energy we brought to it. I know that I will be forever influenced by my time there, and I'm truly grateful.

Now I'm living in a refurbished zipper factory in Berlin. If you listen close, you can hear whispers of "YKK" coming from the vents. It's actually a really cool building. Brick outer walls give an old-fashioned, sturdy feel to it. The ultra high, wood ceilings inside make it feel extra spacious.

Plus, I live with my best friend, the love of my life. It was her home first, so she chose the interior; it smells pretty, everything is soft, clean, and organized. It's like being on a white sand beach with no flies or annoying tourists or sunburn. It's pristine, but lived-in, and I feel right at home.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Coma for Christmas

A coma for Christmas
No hope for the New Year
A mom in the hospital
A son's greatest fear

Time comes for us all
That's no surprise
But that knowledge means nothing
When she can't open her eyes

Machines give her breath
When her body can not
Doctors, nurses, robots
The only chance that she's got

They say she can hear me
I don't know if it's true
Besides, don't they know
I just want to hear you?

Just talking or singing
Or laughing with cheer
I'll take you yelling at me
Just as long as you're here

Two long days later
No tube for your breath
Your eyes start to open
You will not take her, Death.

A few days later
You're awake, you're talking!
You've seen the other side
And told Death to keep walking

Yet death is just one
Of many possibilities
What is life without cognizance
Without control
With senility?

It could be the meds
Or it could be confusion
A temporary adjustment
Or permanent delusion

Sometimes you're right here
Sometimes you're in the past
Sometimes you're in your own land
How long will this last?

I want to be happy
That you are alive
I want to smile and be strong
To see you survive

But the problem is,
The fact of the matter,
Is that my heart is ripped out
Stomped on

I'm barely holding it together
Because this is my worst fear
To see you living
But not really here

But each day there's progress
Not much, but its true
Because nobody on this planet
Is tougher than you

Except maybe Dad
I've never seen such love
He's got me believing
In angels from above

A tender kiss on the hand
A whisper in her ear
A gentle rub on the shoulder
To let her know that he's near

He's been through so much
But damned if he'll show it
Yet it takes a huge toll
And we all surely know it

Because we all feel it, too.

It's the saddest thing
That I've ever been through
A step forward one day,
The next?
Step back two

The one saving grace,
For which I'm so thankful
The strength of my family
And the friends in my circle

I can't imagine my life
Without those around me
The sadness and pain
Would honestly drown me

Her friends are there, too
It's amazing to see
The love that's been shown
Is overwhelming to me

One moment I'm inspired
The next crippled by fear
The one thing I know
I'm glad she's still here

Some days she's her self
Funny, caring and smart
Some days she's...not
And it just breaks my heart

But she's coming home soon
We're thankful for that
She'll be in her element
With Dad, the dog, the new cat

For 20 plus years
She's battled a disease
That eats at her brain
And there's only one release

But she's not going down
Without fighting like crazy
I hope I have the courage
When the time comes for me

I love you Mom
I love you Dad
I love you friends
I love you family
These are not just words
It's the truth that defines me.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Roy Moore's Victor--No Wait! Concession Speech Playlist

Stoned Willy reportin live from Twitter. Whattup.

Now yall know me as tha Houndiest of Poonhounds, but ya also know I only get down wit my dime-pieces after Extreme Consent is established. Contracts n cameras gotta be involved. Acceptable positions gotta be determined. Anyways.

Alabama Good Ole Boy Roy Moore Disgustin By Tha Day might become a US Senator. (EDIT: He didnt!)From a state known fer bangin cousins, even this is a bit much.

But it's 2017 bitchez! Anythin fuckin goes! He'll probly win! If he does, I got a few suggestions for tha victory song  concession speech music. I bet Ol Roy has a favorite or two on this list that he can choose from.

The Police: Every Breath You Take

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you

Oh can't you see
You belong to me
I'll be watching you.
I'll be watching you.
I'll be watching you.

How'd we let Sting become a sex symbol after this song? He shoulda been on a registry. As for Ol Boy Toy Roy Boy, he aint really known for stalkin specific young girls, he's more inta stalkin all tha girls. Especially at the mall. Roy's a Mall Rat. Or a Mall Weasel. A Mall Vulture.

Ironically, fer years, tha police were watchin evry move Roy made.

The Temptations: Running Away (Ain't Gonna Help You)
Running away sure ain't gonna help you
I'm gonna get you girl I'm gonna get now
Running away sure ain't gonna help you
I'm gonna get you girl

Could it be, could it be
That you're afraid of me?
If so I never recall giving you a reason
You know how much I love you

Uh, Mr Ruffin, ya don't recall givin her a reason ta be afraid? Ya don't remember two sentences ago, where ya said "running away ain't gonna help you, I'm gonna get you now"? Chill, man.

Roy Moore's victims never had reason ta be afraid. He was tha Assistant District Attorney! He was a well respected adult! N jus like Roy told 'em, if they got afraid n told someone, nobody would believe 'em anyway! So dont run away little girls, Roy Boy will take care a ya!

The Beatles: Run for Your Life

Well I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won't know where I am

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end ah little girl
Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I've said
Baby, I'm determined
And I'd rather see you dead

Damn! I knew John's "peace lovin hippy" image was mostly a crock a shit he used ta help sell enough records fer him n Paul to buy more pools, but man, I had no idea tha Beatles were so fuckin hard core. John musta written this before beatin tha shit outta a girlfriend or wife.

This was George Harrison's favorite song on Rubber Soul. He probly wished he could say all this ta his ex-wife as she was bangin Eric Clapton. Jus a lotta shit happenin here.

I bet Ol Roy's got a soft spot fer this song. He's not an alleged abuser, but he yearns fer tha days when women knew their place n didnt try ta do things like speak up about sexual assault or vote. Who needs tha 19th Amendment!

The Crystals: He Hit Me
He hit me
And it felt like a kiss
He hit me
But it didn't hurt me
He couldn't stand to hear me say
That I'd been with someone new,
And when I told him I had been untrue
He hit me
And it felt like a kiss
He hit me
And I knew he loved me

This was produced by Phil Spector. Ya know, tha guy who murdered his wife n looked like an even more coked out Kleinfeld in Carlito's Way.

This song's like a transcript of an abusive asshole's fantasy. A beaten, broken woman so brainwashed n tortured that she loves him fer his abuse.

Again, Roy Moore aint an abuser. He doesnt beat women. He doesnt murder women. He molests little kids. Big difference. He hasn't killed anyone, so how bad could he be?

Ringo Starr: You're Sixteen

You're Sixteen, You're Beautiful And You're Mine

Ol Roy's team (it was a Breitbart News editor, but, come on, that's like tha Propaganda Machine fer tha Literal Worst People on Earth) actually tried ta use this song as an example to take heat off him. Like, a musician made a song talkin bout bein with a 16 year old, so Roy shouldnt be held accountable fer molesting 14-17 year olds while he was in his 30s!

These fuckin people are in positions a power. Let that sink in.

I'm not defendin Ringo. Maybe Ringo was young at the time, or maybe tha "character" he plays in tha song was young, but thas beside tha point. It's creepy ta fixate on tha age like he does, but it's not illegal in most states. Age a consent varies, but its usually 16. That's...kinda why it's so creepy tho. He's hyperfocused on tha age. Like, were you countin tha days til she became "legal"? Would 17 be considered an old maid, Ringo?

At least 16 is legal tho, unlike several of Roy Moore's accusers! A grown man with a 16 year old is kinda gross n morally questionable, but a grown man with a 14 year old is really gross, morally repugnant, n fuckin illegal!

Sidenote, did yall know that there were over 160,000 child brides in tha US between 2000-2010 alone? Its popular as hell! N not just in Alabama! Thas why Roy Boy still has a chance. Its not that his supporters dont believe tha stories. Some dont. But most jus dont give a fuck! Theyd give their own daughter ta Roy Boy as long as he bans abortion n kicks out "illegals" n sticks it ta tha libtards! The child bride situation works like this: An older man wants ta fuck a young girl. Usually this man is religious, most likely Evangelical. He knows its wrong in every way, so he asks permission from tha parents ta marry her, cuz marriage is a get outta jail free card. He explains that tha girl will be taken care of fer life, n so will they! Tha parents, usually religious themselves, usually Evangelical, will marry their child off ta this kind, respected adult. They dont gotta worry about her or pay fer her anymore, n they'll get several beautiful grandkids.

Aint love beautiful?

Boogie Down Productions: 13 and Good

I always thought this was a statement against pedophilia, so I wasn't sure Roy'd like it. But then I listened again. Holy shit.
Tha song ends with KRS One saying: The moral of this story? There is no moral... And thats 100% accurate.

For years, I considered this a cautionary tale about child predators. Or maybe it was about scheming girls. It turns out, it's just a confusing story that ends with rampant homophobia. Tha girl was pretendin ta be older, tha guy finds out n kinda doesnt care, then she calls her dad ta come get her. Tha dad shows up n says tha older guy, KRS, can bang his daughter, with a catch. KRS has ta let tha dad bang him. So KRS gets his gun.

Ohhhh. Kayyyy.

As KRS says, there is no moral, n there is no point. Except maybe that crazy shit happens?

N with Roy Moore, crazy shit is gonna happen bitchez! Maybe he'll outlaw homosexuality! Maybe he'll bring back slavery! There's no tellin what awful shit Ol Roy is gonna do!

Gary Puckett and the Union Gap: Young Girl Stay Outta My Heart

Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl
You're much too young, girl

Beneath your perfume and make-up
You're just a baby in disguise
And though you know
That it's wrong to be
Alone with me
That come on look is in your eyes

Gary at least knows his behavior is wrong. N he tells her ta get away n run home ta momma. He's no Roy Moore, thas fer sure. Roy Moore would never admit that hes wrong, n Roy Moore would never send a girl away fer being too young.

Benny Mardones: Into the Night

She's just sixteen years old
Leave her alone, they say
Separated by fools
Who don't know what love is yet
But I want you to know
If I could fly
I'd pick you up
I'd take you into the night
And show you a love
Like you've never seen - ever seen.

Even tha imaginary people in tha song are tellin this guy ta leave her alone! It's kinda like all those people who worked with Roy Moore n all tha police in his town. "Leave those girls alone Roy!" they'd say. But he wouldn't! Not Ol Roy! He persists!

ZZ Top: Francine

If I ever caught her with Stevie P
I'd throw her back in the Penitentiary, now
And if I caught her with my mother's son
I'll call her daddy and get my gun

My Francine just turned thirteen
She's my angelic teenage queen
And I love her, she's all that I want
And I need her, she's all that I need

Holy shit! These are tha "She got legs" guys right? Sharp dressed men with tha long beards? Damn, even Roy Moore wouldn't obsess over a 13 year old. He'd wait a year.

The Crests: Sixteen Candles

You're only sixteen but you're my teenage queen
Oh, you're the prettiest, the loveliest girl I've ever seen

This creepy obsession with 16 year olds has a long history. N what is it with "teenage queen"? Why do grown ass men keep usin that as a term a endearment?

This song probably won't work fer Roy though. 16 is elderly ta him.

Neil Sadaka: Happy Birthday Sweet 16
This is probably more appropriate for Woody Allen, but I think Roy might like it, too.

Tonight's the night I've waited for
Because you're not a baby anymore
You've turned into the prettiest girl I've ever seen
Happy birthday, sweet sixteen

What happened to that funny face
My little tomboy now wears satins and lace
I can't believe my eyes you're just a teenage dream
Happy birthday, sweet sixteen

When you were only six, I was your big brother
Then when you were ten, we didn't like each other
When you were thirteen, you were my funny valentine
But since you've grown up, your future is sewn up
From now on you're gonna be mine, so

If I should smile with sweet surprise
It's just that you've grown up before my very eyes
You've turned into the prettiest girl I've ever seen
Happy birthday, sweet sixteen 

This dudes been scopin this chick out since she was 6 years old!! That's dedication, n hopefully, isolation in a detention center fer a long time. Take Ol Roy with ya n ya can share stories about dealin with pryin parents.

All a tha songs here were from long ago, but that doesn't mean this problem is in tha past. In 1987, Bell Biv Devoe was talkin bout

Backstage, underage, adolescent
How ya doin', fine, she replied
I sighed, I like to do the wild thing
Action took place
Kinda wet

Then there's Tyga, who started datin Kylie Jenner when she was 16 n he was 25. In 2016 he told us

They say she young, I should've waited
She a big girl, dog when she stimulated

That's fuckin gross. Then Kanye West praised Tyga for "gettin in early" which is even grosser. 

There's this idea of purity (I got her first!) mixed with tha thrill of toein tha line of legality. This fixation on young girls is a pervasive, n perverted, aspect a our society. That's not excusin it, but it aint uncommon. Roy Boy jus takes it a step further, n younger, n he acts on it. N he was a District Attorney. N he might be a US Senator. Fuck.

Most a tha guys in tha songs above acknowledged that what they were doin was wrong. This idea that it was accepted back in tha day is bullshit. It was just as wrong back then, women jus didnt have tha voice that they do now. N there was no support fer survivors. Now, tha momentum has shifted against abusers n harassers.

We're goin thru a moment of reckonin. We gotta reckon with our culture as a whole n that starts by not lettin creepy child molester fucks in positions a power, where they can make laws fer tha whole country.

Reckonin with tha Roy Moores n Matt Lauers n Bill Cosbys n Bill Clintons n Donald Trumps is ta reckon with common behaviors in our society n throughout history. We recognize this shit as wrong when someone we dont like does it, but we gotta call it out when anybody does it. Even people ya love.

Ya broke my heart, Kev.

We gotta call it out when it happens (easier said than done i know, especially when its yer boss or a district attorney). N we gotta support tha victims when they come out, instead of callin em all liars n threatenin em.

Or, we can embrace tha depravity n say fuck everythin (n anybody). Your choice Alabama! 

EDIT: Ya did good, Bama! Ya jus barely didnt vote in a child molester. Yay.

Spread World Peace...Stop Wylin, Perverts

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Politics is Personal

The other day I hung out with my friend, a refugee from the Congo. I don't mean to sum up his entire identity as "refugee" but I was advised not to use his real name or post pictures of him for his safety. Sadly, I don't know if it's to protect him from people back home or from people here

My friend is a refugee because his whole family and the majority of his village were brutally murdered in the Republic of the Congo, during either the first or second Civil War in the late 90s. He escaped to Tanzania where he lived in a refugee camp. After many years, his mentor, a pastor at the camp, was going to sponsor him and pay his way to University. When it was approaching the date to go, the pastor was brutally murdered. 

Finally, after 20 years in a refugee camp, which is not an ideal place to live for a week, let alone 20 years, he met with an organization that helped refugees come to America. They would only talk to people who had lived in the camp (with a spotless record) for more than 10 years. 

Following a 2 year immigration process, with extreme vetting (no matter what some people want you to believe) he arrived in Connecticut in 2016. He lives in an apartment complex with another refugee, an older man from a different African country in turmoil. My friend speaks Swahili, French, and passable English. He works full time at a bakery. He reads the Bible. He is signed up for classes at Gateway Community College. He recently passed his driver's license test. He wants to help other refugees settle in America once he gets his degree. He asks about my family whenever I see him.

The son of our President compared him to a poisonous Skittle.

Our President tried to ban all refugees from America. That ban was determined to be unconstitutional, so now he's drastically limiting the number of refugees we take in and banning immigrants from 7 countries. He has lifted the refugee ban in theory, but in practice he has effectively banned all refugees from 11 (mostly Muslim) countries and made it even more insanely difficult for refugees to come here

Sadly, the opposition to refugees is only getting stronger. It doesn't matter if they're from Muslim countries or Latin America; Americans don't want to help black and brown people in need. Trump ended a program that specifically helps Central American child refugees fleeing from violence. Did anyone even hear about that? No, because nobody gives a shit.

There's a lot of talk about "getting outside your bubble" and engaging with people on the other side of the political spectrum. Weird how that usually only goes one way though. "Liberals" have to engage with racist Trump supporters. How many Trump supporters have even met a refugee? There's a reason support for them is low: most people have never actually met one.

It disgusts me that our country is denying refugees (in particular from countries where we have caused much of the destruction and chaos) and demonizing immigrants. I'm not surprised, though. It's not the first time our country has accused refugees of being secretly villainous.

I'm not religious myself, but I know all religions have commandments or guidelines about helping immigrants and refugees. It doesn't shock me that many religious folk pick and choose what they believe within their own religion's teachings, but the hypocrisy is striking.

From Leviticus.

Where is the morality? Where is the compassion? 

There's also the problem of horrible foreign policy. Denying refugees isn't helping to keep us safe or win the War on Terror. Unless, of course, the goal is to extend the war infinitely, probably the goal.

I've talked before about how our politics help define us and that it makes perfect sense to judge someone based on their political viewpoints. When people say things like "we shouldn't let politics divide us," it's never really clear what they mean. It mostly boils down to a misunderstanding or a misuse of the term "politics." Politics isn't some abstract notion, and it doesn't just refer to electoral campaigns or politicians; "politics" is a blanket term used to describe important issues that affect real people. Paying attention to government policies is overwhelming and frustrating and tedious, but when people don't pay attention, we end up with worse health care, higher taxes, lower wages, a polluted environment, and endless wars.

You care about your healthcare and your money right? Well, guess what? You care about politics! You care about being able to drive over a bridge safely and having access to the internet. You care about politics!

Education. Health care. Jobs. These are basic aspects of politics. Gun control, immigration, even gerrymandering. They affect us all to some degree.

A policy that limits the number of refugees isn't "just politics," it's a policy that will affect my friend and people like him. Not to mention, it's simply bad policy based on a false premise.


319 days later:
•0 Attacks
•0 Deaths
•4 Travel Bans

•56,863 Shootings
•14,335 Deaths
•326 Mass Shootings
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) December 4, 2017

Our politics is an extension of our personality, our concerns, our beliefs. If someone has conservative beliefs, such as there should be less government regulation on corporations, I'm not going to dismiss them as a person. I can and do have conservative friends. However, if someone feels that immigrants and the poor are less deserving of respect and care than rich white folks, or if they want to ban all refugees, or if they think all Muslims are murderers, that's not "just politics." That's a fundamentally different way of approaching life and looking at the world. 

This text image sums up my sentiments:

When people talk about refugees being dangerous, they're talking about this man and his family. They're talking about my friend. I take it personal. 

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

Friday, December 1, 2017

#ImNotRacist is Racial Unity Fantasy Porn

You might have seen this video floating around the web...

I'm not gonna even start on the visceral disgust I felt watching a fat wannabe Chuck Johnson MAGA moron mouthing the n-word and doing rap hands; let's focus on the content and the fact that this seems to be getting universal praise for its message.

So, what is the message?

The message is supposedly that we're just not listening to each other. We're not coming together to hear each other out on the important issue of race relations. If we did, we'd understand that our differences are just simple misunderstandings. Hug it out bitch!

I feel like I'm missing something when I see the praise for this video. It seems to me that people are just so thirsty for racial issues to go away that they'll applaud anything that remotely addresses the issue and proposes that deep-rooted, systemic white supremacy isn't a major issue that requires more than an argument and a hug to solve.

I think Joyner Lucas has a lot of skills as a rapper, but I think he missed the chance to truly say something meaningful. Here are some issues I have with the song and video.

1. The white guy is racist as hell.

2. The intent of the video is supposedly that we should listen to each other. But this guy is simply spitting out every well-worn stereotype about black people. There is nothing insightful here. We've all heard this bullshit before. Now it's just centered around Trump.

3. Maybe it's meant to be irony. There's a moment that almost has to be ironic. The white guy screams the n-word (with an "er"!!) and then immediately says "I'm not racist." That's funny, ironic, and true! There are definitely people who feel this way. But then the verse ends with a sincere, "But there's two sides to every story, I just wish I knew yours." That cancels any claims of irony, and reality, because no white guy with those beliefs wants to "understand" black people.

4. The hug at the end completely kills any chances that this was meant to be ironic. But it gave me a good laugh. Honestly, a hearty belly laugh. Not as hearty as that MAGA guy's belly, but pretty hearty.

5. The black guy doesn’t dispute the claims strongly enough.

Here's a section from the white guy's verse:

"I see a black man aimin' his gun
But I'd rather see a black man claimin' his son.
I work my ass off and I pay my taxes for what?
So you can keep livin' off free government assistance?
Food stamps for your children, but you're still tryna sell 'em
For some weed and some liquor or a fuckin' babysitter
While you party on the road 'cause you ain't got no fuckin' goals?
You already late
You motherfuckas needa get your damn priorities straight
Wait, it's like you're proud to be fake
But you lazy as fuck and you'd rather sell drugs
Than get a job and be straight, and then you turn around and complain
About the poverty rate?"

Wow. Ok. So here it all is. The typical racist belief that all black people are lazy, gun wielding, welfare recipient, drug addict deadbeat dads cheating the system, while white people work their asses off to support them. And Lucas barely refutes him! In the black guy's verse, he says the White Man is keeping black people down so that's why he sells drugs, and he doesn't pay taxes because he doesn't make money. Huh? If you're gonna give the first two minutes of the song to those bullshit ideas from the white guy, you have to dispute them much more forcefully than that. At least tell him that more white people are on welfare than any race. Tell him that black people and poor people pay taxes. Oh, and all black people aren't poor! And all people on welfare don't cheat the system! And fuck you MAGA dork! What the fuck Joyner?! 

5) The black guy actually says, "You don’t know about fried chicken and bar-b-q.” What? Did you see the white guy's gut? He knows about fried chicken and bar-b-q. 

6) But seriously, he makes some legit claims justifying black people's anger (which is a problem in and of itself; why are you accepting the premise that all black people are angry?) then he starts talking about black culture, which consists of fried chicken, loose change, 2 Chainz and...Kool Aid? Seriously? Ok. Then he yells at the white guy, "You don't know!" But what he just described as "black culture" is the exact thing a racist white guy would say! It just makes no sense. 

6. Jimbo would’ve shot Jamal when he flipped his MAGA hat. (Wait, am I racist for calling them those names?) And on a more fundamentally flawed level, Jimbo would never want to hear Jamal’s side, so the whole concept is flawed. He sure as hell wouldn't hug him.

7. That hug provided a damn good laugh, though. Damn good laugh.

8. At this point into the Trumponium Error, the bullshit idea that if we just hear the other side out we will all get along simply pisses me off. What black person hasn’t already heard all the racist shit the MAGA says? And do you think MAGA morons haven’t been told about systemic racism and white privilege? They have, they just don't believe in it!

9. The song, and the video especially, makes racism about "both sides." The two views expressed here are not equal and should not be treated as such. Racism is not about “both sides.” That’s literally a Trump line of logic. The fact that several Trump supporters attacked me on Twitter for criticizing it only proves my point.

Don't ask me to explain what is going on here. All I know is that this guy loved the video. 
Clearly I am right about this. 

There are definitely people of all ethnicities who enjoyed the video, but the only people who attacked me and told me I was "missing the point" were Trump supporters. Dudes with Pepe profiles love this video. One dude literally tweeted 5-6 times about how great the video was, right after he retweeted Ann Coulter shitting on immigrants. The video has basically given MAGA morons a pass for their horrible beliefs. They are literally posting #ImNotRacist while calling for a border wall and a Muslim ban. They want to be able to say all this racist shit with the assurance that they are not racist, and that's essentially what the video does. I hate to break it to you MAGA might not mean to be racist, but you are. 

Here is a typical MAGA moron's response to the video, along with his stance on sexual assault victims.
You don't want these guys as fans of your racially charged video.

10. People want a fairy tale world where all our differences can be solved with a hug. Well, we can't hug away racism. We've fought a war over it; we've had several social movements dedicated to stopping it; we've talked about it and written books about it and made Disney football movies starring Denzel Washington about it. Yet it still exists. I know Mr. Lucas isn't proclaiming to stop racism with this video, but the idea he puts forth here that both sides just need to hear each other out is naive. We, white people specifically, need to do a lot more work to dismantle individual and systemic racism.

11. The pseudo-intellectual statement at the end of the video reinforces the idea that this is all just a big misunderstanding (we're all just humans underneath it all, man!) and that's simply not helpful in any way.

12. Fuck Trump and his stupid red hat minions. Ain't no hugging up in here.

13. Watch Joyner Lucas's video for Ross Capicchioni or any other video. He is talented. This song and video miss the mark. When you have MAGA morons praising you, something has gone terribly wrong.

14. If you want to hear a great song about unifying the races, check out this classic:

I Love You All (Not You MAGA Morons, though)...Class Dismissed. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

5 More Activities That Shouldn't Exist in 2017

It's time again to look at popular activities that exist as anachronisms in a society that is finally beginning to confront the abhorrent behavior of its most powerful people. These are activities that can not and will not last in an era with access to the truth about their consequences. The list was going to simply be 5 different types of sexual assault,because apparently a whole lot of people need to learn what is and what is not acceptable, but I'll leave that discussion to HR and the court of public opinion. Let's look at some other activities that, while maybe not on the level of sexual assault, still have no place in an advanced society.

Football, Specifically the NFL

I haven't watched football at all this year. It's not because the Dolphins are garbage. It's definitely not because I oppose the players expressing their free speech and highlighting racial inequality. It's not the NFL's obsession with and glorification of the military or the fact that they serve as a propaganda tool. It's not because of the owners' bullshit showing of "unity" after Trump's comments attacking them despite the fact that most of them support him. It's not because of Papa fucking John. It's not because of their obvious blackballing of Colin Kaepernick. It's not because of their denial of CTE for years and their slow, almost non-existent approach to addressing concerns of CTE now. It's not because of their horrible policies in regards to domestic violence. It's not because players aren't guaranteed a contract if they get hurt. It's not because of how the owners treat taxpayers and cities as pawns in their efforts to build new stadiums and enrich themselves even further.  It's not because more and more youth players are getting seriously injured or dying. It's not because playing youth football guarantees later health problems.

Well, it's not any of those things individually. It's the combination. For the past few years, I've only watched RedZone because entire games are excruciating. I don't have RedZone anymore and I'm definitely not watching a long, boring game considering all the awful elements of the NFL one has to look past to enjoy it.

As a society, though, I just don't believe we will accept a sport that inflicts this level of long-term damage on its players. It makes too much money right now to really change, but that will only last for so long. When Bob Costas says the future of football is bleak, I tend to believe it.

Or not. I mean shit, we lose 30,000 people to gun violence every year and the gun lobby just gets stronger so what the hell do I know. Besides, Bob Costas's foresight might still be affected from that conjunctivitis.

Image result for bob costas conjunctivitis
Hard to see the future when you can barely see the teleprompter.


Has anyone over the age of 12 actually enjoyed a carnival? "Carnival" in Brazil, yes. Maybe even a Carnival cruise, when the toilets don't back up for 2 weeks. Otherwise, very doubtful. But much like Daylight Savings Time and pennies, carnivals are a relic of a foregone era that have somehow stuck around and convinced people they are part of the social fabric of America.

This one seriously mystifies me. Maybe people in towns that have carnivals are just absolutely, devastatingly bored out of their minds. And they don't have internet access. Or heroin. Nothing else explains the existence of carnivals in the age of Netflix and the Opiod Epidemic.

Or maybe everyone at carnivals is high out of their mind? That would actually explain a few things.

People can't be going for the rides. Even if they weren't rusty, dilapidated death traps, they still aren't fun. Maybe you'll find a Tilt-a-Whirl style ride that will at least evacuate all the greasy fried food you just ate, but that's the height of excitement.

Speaking of the dumpster remnants that they fry up and serve as exotic creations, I guess it's possible that some people enjoy the taste of fryer oil and despair, but the feeling that immediately follows has to make you question your life's decisions, no?

Maybe it's the rigged games that offer an opportunity to win dusty stuffed figures of children's movies from the mid 2000s. Maybe it's the knick-knacks that your great aunt Susan sells there every year. Yes, you could make gum wrapper earrings yourself, but at the carnival you get to spend $15 on a pair!

Plus, carnies! Everybody loves carnies, right?

Image result for simpsons carnies


Ahhh, the Olympics. Every 4 years we come together as a nation and cheer on our most gifted athletes in the hopes they dominate the Russians in the javelin toss. It's a blast.

The Olympics are always presented as something more than just a collection of sports that for the most part nobody watches for 3 years and 11 months. It's about national pride! But how much pride can we take watching NBA players decimating the JV high school team of Kazakhstan? We already call our championship teams in our sporting events "World Champions," why do we even bother competing against countries that have fewer citizens than Delaware? Obviously our pool of athletes is better than most.

That "national pride" is how we convince athletes to throw their lives away to train for multiple decades just for the honor of competing for free. Sure, Michael Phelps is ballin'. Now. Sure, Simone Biles is the face of US Gymnastic and gets to meet her celebrity crushes and probably doesn't lack for sponsorship money (then again, she probably had to deal with predatory coaches and trainers). But those two athletes reached the pinnacle of their sport. They took home gold. What happens to the hundreds of athletes who don't medal? Even silver and bronze medalists are met with contempt for not coming in first. Unless they won a gold as well, they may as well have come in last in the eyes of corporate sponsors: "For every athlete that ends up on a cereal box, there are hundreds of others that do not get paid for their sport and have to struggle to make ends meet." Imagine being the 4th best in the entire world in any given sport and never receiving a dime for it or even a glowing profile in the paper.

So, good luck supporting your family while you train for 12 hours a day for 10 years in the hopes of maybe getting a sponsorship that can at least pay for your equipment and training.

Oh, but at least the city that hosts gets an economic boost that lasts for years and years and obviously I'm lying to you right now. Host cities for the Olympics end up in shambles. And it doesn't even take long. If they can even get the stadiums and everything prepared in time for the Olympics, they generally fall apart immediately after. Cities in solid economic shape before hosting tend to manage, but cities hoping to boost their economy end up further in the hole with unused facilities taking the place of historic sites or diverting major waterways that provide clean drinking water to entire countries.

Gender Reveal Parties

Through the miracle of social media, I have discovered the existence of "gender reveal parties." Not all knowledge is power.

What the hell are we doing here? Baby showers aren't enough, we need "gender reveal parties"? Is a woman's value inherently tied to her ability to pop out babies? Stationary companies certainly think so. Call me crazy, but maybe we don't need a party for everything. Or maybe we don't need to come up with all of these reasons to get together with friends and family and drink and eat cake. Just get together! I'll come over for a "listen to music/watch tv/sit by the fire and drink" party over a gender reveal party any day.

Unless you're coming out as trans, keep your damn gender reveal party. I'll support the hell out of your decision to live your truth, but when it comes to your baby, knock it the fuck off. These parties only confirm gender binarism and gender biases. But maybe you only believe biological sex matters and gender is not a different concept. You're wrong, and that's fine, but intersex humans exist. Like, that's not semantics or a liberal manifestation. Approximately .05% of all live births are intersex. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it equates to about 1 out of every 1500-2000 babies. Almost 4 million babies are born every year in the US alone. That's about 2,000 intersex babies every year. Surprise! Put those pink cigars away! Nope, put the blue ones down, too! Honestly what the hell are you doing smoking around a pregnant woman anyways?

It's bad enough that we conflate biology and gender, but we're seriously still equating "girl" with pink and "boy" with blue? Did Killa Cam really teach us nothing?

Image result for camron pink
Between this and his decimation of Bill O'Reilly, we really need to be listening to Cam'Ron more. 

Maybe one day we'll be as advanced as Germany when it comes to gender. Man, "progressive Germany" is still really weird to say.

Early Start Times for School

I can't remember the beginning of high school. I don't mean the first year. I mean, the beginning of every day for four years. I know I was in school, I just don't know what was happening before 10am. My first 2 classes were inevitably my worst grades. It was a full time job just getting out of bed.

It turns out that my struggle was not unusual and it wasn't simply because I'm not a "morning person." In fact, my brain simply could not function at the time it was asked to every day for 4 years. I have called high school torture since the first time I was forced to choke down cardboard cafeteria pizza, and it seems my hyperbole was a lot closer to reality than even I realized.

So why so early? Maybe it's so parents can get their kids to school before they go to work. What about after school? If the parents job starts after school starts, it undoubtedly ends after school ends. We have created a nation of exhausted latch-key kids.

Well maybe it's so they can play sports after school? Besides the fact that connecting athletics and academics is possibly not such a good idea in the first place, they could practice before school (hockey already does, and they'd be able to push practice back a little so parents don't have to wake up at 3am to take the kids to the rink). After school sports might be pushed back a little, but is that such a problem? What are we prioritizing? Athletics or academics? At the very least, isn't school supposed to make children better people? If they can't focus half the day, what are they learning?

I'd hope there was more reason for keeping early start times other than "it's tradition," but sadly, I know that has become the main reason we keep a lot of very stupid practices. And way too many people have the mentality of, "if I had to do it, they should have to as well." That is one of the most damaging mentalities when it comes to social progress. Forcing other people to go through the same torture you did doesn't benefit you in any way. Let the kids sleep!

I Love You All...Class Dismissed. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Uncle, The True American Hero

My uncle Jim died Sunday. He was 85. He lived a good life.

He was an FBI agent into his 50s, the oldest agent in the country when he retired. He served in the Air Force and Army. He was stationed in Korea and Germany and several other places. He fought in Vietnam in the late 1960’s, some of the worst years of the war.

He was also a husband, father of three, an uncle, a granddad and a great granddad. He was the real life version of the stereotypical perfect American military family man from the movies. He was the True American Hero.

For my childhood years, my uncle Jim and his wife Charlotte (my Dad's older sister) and their family lived right outside of DC. He worked with the FBI at the time. We’d visit semi-frequently and see all the historic DC sites. Once we toured the FBI headquarters. I thought it was so cool to have a family member in the FBI. I remember watching Silence of the Lambs when Clarice is at Quantico and being so excited that I had been there.

I remember his chair at his house. It was in either a den or a furnished basement; there was a tv and sofa, I think there was a bar there, too. But what really stood out was my uncle's massaging recliner. I remember how amazed I was by that chair. It seemed futuristic at the time. I’d sit in it whenever he wasn’t there and giggle as my whole body vibrated. 

I remember watching old movies there with him and my family. There was one movie we watched about the Holocaust. It was very graphic, nude bodies walking to the gas chambers, etc. I felt like I was too young, but I also felt a sense of pride that they were allowing me to watch it, like they thought I was ready. I think my uncle and parents wanted me to start understanding the realities of the world.

My aunt and uncle moved to Florida in my early teen years. We spent one Christmas down there (I’ll still never get over palm trees and 75 degree weather during Christmas but it was a great time). One year he took me out on his boat into the intercoastal behind their house and let me steer. I remember the manatees that came up to his deck one year. I remember how he’d have the water in his pool at 90 degrees. I remember falling into the sea of catfish at a seafood restaurant (inside family joke).

I haven’t seen him in a couple years, and I never really saw him that often, but family (and I include true friends in that category) is family no matter the distance, which was long, or the differences in opinion, which were many. The love is there.

I know he never knew it, but he influenced my views in many ways. He suffered and eventually died from blood cancer caused by Agent Orange in the Vietnam war. He also essentially had PTSD before it was identified as PTSD, which led him to drink heavily for a while. He didn’t talk about the war much, he mentioned losing buddies over there a few times, but he did talk about Agent Orange. There were times when his platoon would be eating and US planes would drop the chemical on a target nearby, coating their food in a mist of the poisonous chemical. The government never admitted how toxic the chemical was and how much damage they were doing to their own soldiers, which rightfully pissed him and a whole lot of people off. His experience helped shape the way I feel about the military. I learned to love and support the soldiers, but never the war and never the military as a whole. It was apparent to me that the military just didn't care about its own. And the government certainly doesn't care about individual soldiers. We talk about honoring veterans in this country, but don't do nearly enough to actually support them. It's a cause I have become greatly invested in, and I attribute that directly to my uncle's experience. I remember the first time I went to the Vietnam memorial in DC. I figured he would come with us. He didn't, and it turns out, he never visited the wall. He couldn't handle seeing the names of his buddies. That stuck with me forever. I never looked at war the same. 

Of course, he also helped shape my understanding of what it meant to be a man. He was one of the three male role models in my family. My father and my two uncles helped me establish the definition of manhood. My uncle Jim did so through his service to the country, but moreso through his dedication to his family. And his wit. I remember I always thought he was funny as hell. People would be having a regular conversation and he’d say something kind of goofy. Sometimes my aunt would get flustered and "upset" with him but she obviously loved his irreverence just as much as I did. She put up with it for 61 years. (61 years!) I remember sometimes thinking that with his past, he would be more serious and intimidating. But he never came off as the uptight military guy. He'd always have a sly, knowing smile, crafted through eight decades of pain, joy, service, and love.

I hope he's enjoying warm weather and cold gin and tonics somewhere. He deserves it more than anyone. 

Rest in Peace, Uncle Jim.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.