Friday, April 28, 2006

The Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty Second Reason I Love Congressman James P. McGovern: Civil Disobedience

Okay, for REAL people, I love Jim McGovern.

Why, you may ask?

For many reasons...for getting me interested in politics, for letting me get involved, for writing my recommendation letter, for representing the hell out of my interests, for being a fantastic political role model, for being kind of a dork, for sitting in his swanky Cannon Building office and explaining that the problem is that this issue of the Congress kind of sucks, but most of all...for putting his money where his mouth is.

A lot of political folks talk and talk and talk about World Issues, but never do anything about it. What does Jim do if he, say, feels that the US should step in in Darfur? Well, I'm glad you asked, because the answer is that he goes out to protest and gets arrested.


Also? Ted Kennedy on The Daily Show. Fantastic. Just...exactly. If all Democrats could express themselves like that, there would be less bickering.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

"This Is Not America's Next Top Best Friend."

"I haven't gotten to have an issue-based conversation with you in a while (unless, of course, you count ANTM or stupid idiots everywhere). What do you think about the immigration stuff going through right now? (This includes the rallies, legislation, everything.)"

Commentary on why I spend more time discussing America's Next Top Model with Anna Karenina than we do discussing things of a graver heft will not be entertained at this time.

(However...the house they live in? SO GORGEOUS. And also! Former home of suspected Black Dahlia killer Dr. George Hodel. And this season rules.)

So anyway.

The rallies came, and I suspect that they have not really gotten to the "went" part, nor will they until this dippy business has been dealt with, which unfortunately, with this Congress, will happen exactly never. I love and I hate the rallies. The latter part is based on the fact that I do not like the reasoning of them, and I'll get to that in a sec. But I love the rallies because they show hints of the civil disobedience that is required for actual ground-up change. People take out permits for rallies now. They are sophisticated planned events. But here's the thing about rallies and demonstrations for social change...they are about sticking it to The Man. When you have a portion of the population that disagrees with something established and/or codified by the lawmaking body, be it a formal body or not, that dissenting portion is sparring with The Man in one form or the other. If you want to stick it to him, then you cannot play by the rules he sets out. You have to make a statement, and that does not happen anymore, because everyone is afraid of what might go on their Permanent Record. Remember how scary that was in like...elementary school? "Young lady, you'd better think twice about throwing that meatloaf. If I have to pick meat fragments out of Little Jimmy's hair, your parents are getting called and it is going on your permanent record."

People. You are all grownups now. This is a government driven by the people. If you have a problem with the way things are going, you have a right to CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. Sack up, and do it. What these folks are doing is actually the way to do it...cut the hell out of work, don't buy shit, don't go to school - make. your voice. heard. Make your presence felt. So on that count, rock your little illegal immigrant hearts out, guys.

On the other hand, shut up, illegal immigrants.

I will freely admit that the undercurrent of this debate is one of xenophobia. A lot of times when people say "illegal immigrants have to stay out" they mean "immigrants have to stay out" which is a whole other -ism that leads to an entire other anger and grossed outtedness, but in this case we'll pretend we don't know that, because it unsettles the racist, xenophobic assholes when they start thinking you know what they're trying to hide. However, the point is that in this debate we're talking about ILLEGAL immigrants - people who chucked the finger towards the INS and came running over the borders making a conscious effort to not get caught.

Here's what it comes down to for me. This is not a new issue. This is something we have a system for, and while that system may have been adequate at one point, it now sucks. Thanks not only to an incredible increase in volume since the creation of the INS, but also a scary, creeping xenophobia that is getting worked into the system itself (...gross.), the process is incredibly obnoxious and difficult to get through, and from what I can tell, full of catch-22s as well.

The jobs filled by illegal immigrants are jobs that no American wants. They do it cheap, they do it long hours, they do it long past when others would quit. These are NOT, I would like to point out, the jobs that the xenophobes bitch about foreigners stealing from Americans. (...Gross.) It would be devastating to the American economy to suddenly lose so much of its labor and buying power, etc., and as much as I would like to say "yes, illegal immigrants out, period the end," it makes no sense. What NEEDS to happen is for the INS immigration system to be revamped and streamlined, and then the people who are here illegally need to get in the pipeline or get out. It's not like they aren't nice people or that they don't deserve a chance to live wherever the hell they want, but citizenship is a club, okay? And sometimes that sucks.

As you may know, I once worked as a lifeguard at the Worcester Country Club. This is a good example. When you belong to the club, you can play the beautiful course, lounge around at the pool, attend functions at the club itself, and generally rent your own little country estate. However, you also have to pay dues, put up with the kids splashing each other at the pool, and take a triple-digit number to hold your own personal events at the club. There's good and bad, just like American citizenship. You can't just take the good - free speech, available jobs, land of opportunity, etc., etc., etc. - without the bad - taxes, medical insurance, rule of law. These people are skipping the shitty stuff, and let me tell you that I would LOVE to skip the shitty stuff, but I choose to live as an American citizen, so I just remember that the Constitution is neat and run through the Gettysburg Address in my head and stuff, and I figure I'm getting a good deal.

It'll be interesting to see how all this shit goes down and all, but then again, it's one of those things like the war on drugs that will never be resolved because it's worth too much to politics financially to have a war to fight. God politics are gross sometimes.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I Thought I Was Ready

So, a movie about September 11th is coming out.

Let me tell you about my back-page news story of September 11th. It's nothing compared to so much of America, but maybe telling the story - again, for the first time - will help me figure out why this movie is both grossing me out and making me terrified.

I was adding a class to my schedule, a 9:30 class I believe, some time in the morning, and I was starting it on September 11th. I woke up early, and Top Gun was still sleeping. I got online to check email and, but before I got opened a browser, an IM popped up. It was a friend of mine from home, asking me if I could believe it. I turned on the TV, with the tension of not wanting to wake up Top Gun, waiting for the screen to come up and the first flash of sound so I could hit mute. It looked like a movie, although anyone who saw it knows that. "A plane hit the World Trade Center"...yeah. I thought they meant that a small plane had crashed and more or less bounced off...for some reason, my brain told me that such things happened all the time, little Cessnas merrily pinging off the upper floors of the Twin Towers. I don't know. About a minute later, I watched the second plane crash into the second tower. I never saw the one that crashed into the Pentagon, or the one that went down in Pennsylvania - Flight 93. When the plane crashed into the second tower, I made a noise and woke up Top Gun. We watched together until the phone rang, maybe two and a half hours later. By then, classes had been cancelled and everyone's doors were open, but it wasn't like when we watched baseball or TV shows with the doors open. It was silent, and tense silent, not calm. No one knew what to do.

The phone call was the hair salon in the Tunnel. I had a hair appointment later in the day, and they were asking if I wanted to move up the appointment, since everyone else had been cancelling. I said sure, why not, mostly because I just had to get out of the room. When I hung up, the Rockette's voice called across the hall to see if everything was okay. When I answered her, I could feel the whole wing listening. I went to the appointment in boxers and a white tee shirt. I'd had the boxers since I went to Girl Scout camp years, with cows on them, more shorts than underwear. I wore yellow flip flops that were dirty from the mulching on campus - they blew it with huge guns, and the dust that resulted drifted into every crack and crevice. I still wore my hair short then.

Top Gun had left when I came back, and she didn't return until later. I talked to Mom and Dad online, since phones were down. When she came back, I had just seen the first footage of people leaping from the buildings. She had brought friends with her, and I was sobbing. She bugged out pretty fast, and I don't blame her. I went up to the roof with everyone else, and watched the smoke rising from the Pentagon. It all seemed like some kind of crazy, completely out of hand movie had relocated right down the street. I don't know when I went to bed.

The next day there was a bomb threat. Nothing ever works the way emergency plans say they should, and this wasn't an exception - the RD came running down the hall beating on doors and yelling that there was a bomb. When the panic settled down, Top Gun and I were outside with Captain Southern America in the Nebraska Avenue lot, trading stories and statistics with everyone else. I called Mom from the church and told her we decided to check out the morning service, so as not to freak her out if the threat and evacuation hadn't made national news. We found some flip flips for Top Gun, who had run out the door sans footwear, and went back outside, only to learn that we would be outside probably until 5, without ID, money, cell phones, keys, anything. I went back inside and called Mom back to explain what was happening and ask for her friend's number who lived nearby. She drove from work to pick us up and take us to her house with the old school Nintendo and the happy dog, and introduced us to Booeymonger. About midway through the day, though, we heard that things had cleared up and we were allowed back in, so we got on the Metro - the station manager took one look at us, said "AU?" and let us through the gates - and went home.

I didn't know what else to do, so I went in to work. It was about 1, and by then, they were allowing volunteers with Congressional ID and first aid and CPR certs to go to the Pentagon to relieve some of the first responders who were still there. I went and handed out water and helped bandage people's cuts and watched bodies and pieces of bodies pulled from the smoking hole in the building. The hole could have eaten my dorm. Over the course of the day, most of the blood drained out of my body, along with the sweat, and by the end I was absolutely ashen. On the taxi ride home, the driver told me stories in a frantic, if-I-stop-something-bad-will-happen tone, trying to keep me awake and calm, and kept asking if I was okay. Halfway home, I had to have him pull over so I could throw up on the side of the road, and he rubbed my back while I spackled the guardrail and cried.

I am sitting here with tears on my cheeks, finishing this at work after three attempts over the span of a week, in 2006, five whole years after the fact. This entry has turned into an epic for me. I thought I would just blaze through the account of it and get to all the various things that bothered me about this stupid film...the advertising, the tacky fundraising, the greasy sounding director's pep-talking. But instead I'm a wreck, which is even worse, because what right does this goddamn movie have to make me relive this and to feel so awful and helpless and small? My part in September 11th is so infintesimally tiny compared to so many other people, and I am still wrecked just thinking about it in this kind of detail. I know that a lot of the families are okay with Flight 93, but it's not really them I am worried for. I am certainly glad that they have given it their blessing, but it's the rest of us I am worried for. They have the benefit of being clearly entitled to grief. It's okay for their world to stop, and for them to go into therapy, and for them to meet with support groups, and to work towards stability while the world gives them a wide berth. There's quite possibly no group of people who I feel worse for than the survivors of September 11th and the victims' families - it was horrible unexpectedness on the grandest scale - but I feel sorry for all of us, too, who DON'T get considered survivors. No one escaped that day, and only some have grieved properly. I think this movie is going to be so much more traumatizing than anyone expects.

Jesus. God help us all. This is too much.

Monday, April 10, 2006

...It's The Other People.

When I was living at home and my driving time relied mostly on my ability to wheedle the car keys away from Ma and Dad, I got a certain line a lot. That line was usually in response to Rainmanesque declarations that I was an EXCELLENT driver, and the line was, "it's not you I worry about, it's the other people."

As I get older, there are more and more phrases that I thought my parents made up that have gained a lot of credibility. Today was a good example of the Other People On The Road Principle, not that there's ever a shortage of exhibits when you have a half hour commute on two major highways that starts in Holden ("A town 1741, a town packed full of crazy-ass drivers, 1742."). But this was a particularly good one given the pure idiocy of it all and the contagion it seemed to have.

An SUV sort of halfheartedly cut me off on 290...I had to apply brakes, but not slam them on. Look, the fast lane, in the morning, on 290, is generally about 80 miles an hour. Be ready for it. And no matter what road you're on at what time, if you're getting into the fast lane? SPEED. UP. Don't get into the lane about four feet off someone's front bumper and then go 5 miles slower than EVERYONE ELSE IN THE LANE. So anyway, this dope cuts me off, and sigh a lot, throw my hands in the air, and glare at their rearview, fine. They hop back out of the lane, then into the far right lane, then into the middle lane again, and I think, "you idiot."

Just before the 495 exit, I see them headed for the far left lane again. This time, they cut off another SUV, by even less distance. Wanted to be a hood ornament, is my point. Brakes go on, and I assume that SUV number two did the same cranky dance that I did, then swerved HARD into the middle lane. And kept pace with the Cut Off SUV. And then cut THEM off. At which point they hopped into the middle lane. And kept pace with the Cutee SUV. It was great, like watching dogfighting. This continued until I could barely see them from my standpoint waiting to get onto 495, and just as I lost sight of them, I saw an angry little hand fly out of the Cutee SUV, middle finger extended. I can only assume that it only got more awesome from that point forward.

I don't know what it is about driving that makes people so crazy. I'm not talking about bonehead moves, I'm talking about the legitimately nuts, all-crazy-all-the-time, batshit drivers who are incapable of driving in a reasonable kind of way. Everyone has gone a little too fast because they were going to miss an exit, or not used their blinker, or cut someone off, or any number of ditzy little mistakes. But then you have the driver who cannot adjust speed appropriately, and is allergic to their blinker, and never stays in one lane longer than three seconds. Those people scare the hell out of me, because I could be doing everything right, and still get Smreked into a guardrail or off a cliff or whatever. I guess the fam was's the other people you gotta worry about.

In other things that bother me, I was toodling around the other night and came across a blog entry from an ex of mine, pissing and moaning about not getting a call back from me around the holidays, after I had TOLD him that I was going to be cutting communication. Which I most likely should have done immediately after he dumped me. Or cheated on me. Or went through a multiple month relationship telling me he loved me exactly once. Or any number of reasons I SHOULD have told him to go fuck himself, but ignored in the name of civility. So! Aggravating! You only make yourself look like a douchebag when you ignore the facts of the case and then go on to piss and moan about how I done you wrong. "Oh, wah, when someone who told you she was going to cut communication doesn't return a phone call, it makes it so hard to be civil 'in the future times'," like, what does that even MEAN, and by the way, YOU DUMPED ME FOR SOMEONE ELSE, YOU RIDICULOUS ASS! I know it's all poetic and shit in your head, but let me tell you this - we do not live in a romance novel. If she was a flaming c-word before, she'll do it again, and she did, didn't she.

You know what, he's right. I didn't call him back, because I have an entire life that has exactly jack shit to do with him, that gets disrupted when he tries to shove his foot in the door to keep me as an option - which is what he's doing, whether he realizes it or not, because that's how he relates to women - that he doesn't deserve to have any part in. Besides the black and white obnoxiousness of it all, there's the fact that all of this crap comes from a completely unconcious and completely off-putting superiority place. Get some therapy. Get some emotional maturity. Get some flexibility. You're fucking fired.

God, I don't know why that pisses me off so much, but it does. Tried to be nice, tried to forget the incredible burning hurt of that breakup, tried to be civil because we have friends in common - and I still will be, if the occasion calls for it - but seriously. What I get in return is "right, but besides the breakup where I stomped on your heart and made you not want to eat for a week, what did I do that was so wrong" and whining about why I won't talk to him. Cut me a break.

Speed was right, as he always is. I don't know why I am so goddamn stubborn sometimes, all "but we can all get along" with every single person I meet. Blah blah blah believing everyone is good, well maybe it's time for me to drop the damn idealism and start getting that some people are conniving, soul-sucking assclowns who will only ever make you feel shitty about yourself. AUGH.


In the midst of writing this, the douchenozzle of a contractor we have been trying to talk sense into but who REFUSES TO READ WORDS just faxed us something that's supposed to prove the burner he installed meets efficiency standards, and all it does if prove exactly the opposite. So I call him, gently explain to him that it doesn't work, and he hangs up on me. I hate people hanging up on me more than almost any other social faux makes me teeter ever closer to the brink of homicidal behavior. Hate hate hate! Here's what the MANUFACTURER'S SPECS say about what it takes to reach an 86.1% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency and thus, eligibility for the program:

*Chart saying the gallons per hour needs to be 0.60 with an asterisk next to the figure*

Asterisk says: Nozzles for these firing rates not provided as standard equipment. Consult factory for price and availability.

Above the asterisk: "Peerless provides Beckett burners as standard equipment. Contact factory for availability of Wayne, Carlin and Reillo burners."

On manufacturer's website: "This firing rate can only be achieved with a Riello F-3 burner. Consult Peerless for details."

And yet, he believes that we are taking kickbacks from Riello to promote their burners. WE DO NOT CARE! We just want you out of our lives! Christ! He's hung up on me once, Receptionista twice, and The Boss Man twice.

I have a feeling this is going to be an immensely long day...and my honey isn't even going to be home until late. BOO MONDAY.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Martin Luther King, Jr. Thinks Ray Navin is a No-Talent Assclown

Listen up, people who vote for elected officials because they happened to be in office in a time of need - no, not should have, but NEED - a new theory of voting.

Let me tell you a few home truths about politics. It is so, so easy to Be A Leader in a time of crisis. It is so, so easy to climb on top of a pile of rubble and say something, anything about how we are going to bounce back, and we are going to be whole again someday soon. And plenty of people are probably thinking, "no, wrong, crises are the roughest times for society." That is exactly why it's so simple to Be A Leader when they happen - everyone is feeling the same pain. It's not like an average day in the life, it's a day when EVERYONE is hurting, and EVERYONE seeks some kind of vengeance or retribution. When everyone feels the same, you can be a candle in the dark with a few sweeping generalizations. This is why Bush goes to speak in front of Young Republican meetings and Kerry or whatever other lame-ass the DNC vomits up for 2008 goes to talk to Young Democrats...those in attendance all feel the same way about whatever the topic at hand is, and they are going to ask questions that are gentle setups, not hard spikes. It's just the way it is.

You may have noticed that I said it's easy to Be A Leader, not to lead. I did that on purpose, because there is not a single person on the planet who doesn't think they are some kind of leader. That doesn't mean shit, unfortunately. Actually leading - the part that comes after the bullhorn-infused chest pounding - is the hard have to temper the rhetoric with productive action. It means diplomacy. And that's why as much as I would like to beat Jill back into the womb, I won't ever do it. It solves nothing, and only means that now there's someone out there who actively hates you. You need less of that. You need to THINK, and you need to take the actions that will SMOOTHLY get your towards your goal. Hitting things with sticks has never done anything for anyone in the field of government. At least not in the past thousand years or so. This is the problem with Israel and Palestine, it's the problem with the Tutsi and the Hutu, it's the problem with Post-9/11 America and the Arab World...the frantic pace of today's business has begun to seep into government (think about the influx of business people into the government positions of the Clinton and Bush Administrations alone to realize this), which was created with slowness built into it for the express purpose of producing reasoned, well-thought-out, deliberate actions from government agencies. It's fine if you want to adopt being an utter douchebag as your business strategy, because the worst that can happen is that other businesses refuse to cooperate with or use you, but when you apply the Douchebag School of Business to government, you're aggravating not only whole countries, which are armed, but you're also doing it in a very public way, which can make other countries, who have nothing to do with the initial conflict, take issue with you and the way you do business, and THAT, my friends, is nothing but trouble.

It goes without saying that Bush's inability to effectively lead is extremely high on my list of things that absolutely disgust me about him. Most probably do not realize that I think he handled the actual immediate reaction to September 11th perfectly. We needed someone to stand up, in that horror movie that was on the TV screens, someone who we recognized, someone, anyone who we knew was in charge of SOMETHING, and we needed them to say that we were going to find those fuckers and bomb them back to the stone age. We needed that to shake off what we felt, and we needed it to wake up and take action and start asking questions. And Bush did it perfectly. He didn't wear a suit, and he let his accent play up, and he stood up there and held that bullhorn, being everything romantic about that piss-and-vinegar, Wild West, manifest destiny, ass-kicking, hell-no-the-Oregon-Trail-ain't-gonna-keep-me-from-my-65-hectares-in-Nevada-the-hell-with-dysentery American cowboy thing that sold so many cigarettes and is associated so broadly with us by the world's citizens, and told all the creepy-crawlies hiding under the bed that we were coming with a flashlight and a monster-beatin' stick, and it was ON, because you do not pull this shit in AMERICA and get away with it.

Five years later, he's still doing it.

And Osama bin Laden is still out there.

Because he's got shit for oil.

And you know, I really am not all that pissed about going after Saddam Hussein, because you know what? That man is an evil human being. He deserves to be ripped out of power, and his people deserve to have a chance to form their own process. He deserves to have been shot right there in his pathetic little hole. But the thing is, you can't force democracy on people. They have to want it. It's the power of the PEOPLE, and if those people, who are supposed to be in charge, don't care, or want the control...then they will return to whatever they had. There will always be a new Saddam Hussein. Diplomacy is all that can help that. Put them out of business. Take the money away. Bolster the United Nations so it actually has, you know...power. Those are the things that will change the world.

This is all so far away from Ray Navin right now. I digress.

So Ray Navin thinks that God wants New Orleans to be black. Wait a sec, strike that, start with Katrina. I watched the Katrina aftermath footage with a dropped jaw, as, I assume, did a lot of people. A lot of the jaw dropping was Navin-based. Some of the crap that would spill out of that man's mouth, I swear to God, made me want to kick puppies. Again, he started out okay..."we'll get life back to normal, just you wait, blah blah blah." And again...didn't tone down the rhetoric. So then he started emitting crazier and crazier statements until he was doing things like trying to reopen the French Quarter when there were still multiple feet of horrendously contaminated water in LARGE areas, most of the hospitals were still duct taping their day to day operations together, the police force was quitting en masse, and NO ONE HAD A HOME. Look, the tourist industry is important. But when your people have no homes, and your hospitals don't work? Places to booze it up are really not what should be your primary concern. And then there was the finger pointing binge, that's still really going on today, and FEMA fucked up and the state fucked up and yeah, that's fine, but...hello. Make. Do. Every second you spend bitching about how wrong you been done is a second that you are NOT getting someone a house. (Confidential to people making a stink about trailer parks being built near their neighborhoods: THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. YOUR PROPERTY VALUE SUCKS NOW. I KNOW YOU YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT, BUT THIS IS REALITY. YOU KNOW WHAT RAISES PROPERTY VALUES? NOT HAVING BATTALIONS OF HOMELESS PEOPLE ON HAND. Jesus.)

Anyway, the really offensive thing, to me, is the whole "God meant Louisiana to be a Chocolate City" line. I am lucky enough to be white, okay, so no matter what I say or think, it's true that I will never understand how any minority individual truly feels, or what they need to deal with on a regular basis. And that sucks, not only because I would LOVE to understand, so that I can better address the various redresses of my actions and those around me, but more than that, it sucks because...who cares? Who cares if someone is black or white or red or yellow or hot pink? It doesn't change who they are, and it doesn't change the fact that they are human, so who. Cares. Obviously a lot of people. But seriously...there are fucked up black people and there are fucked up white people. There are wildly successful white people and there are wildly successful black people...which, yes. Black people in this country started with a hell of a disadvantage. If your parents were poor and their parents were poor and their parents were poor and their parents were poor...that's a lot of history to fight. And it's the same for black people, but it sucks even more because there are still people out there who think that black people are inherently trouble, and that's gross.

But part of it is also an insularity (is that a word?) that develops when a group is persecuted. That's a daunting obstacle in the process of breaking down a barrier. It's like the gulf between the popular kids and the nerds in high school...a nerd would be terrified to approach the popular kids, but I think that in reality, the popular kids would be just a terrified to approach the geeks. When there is an entire culture thriving without you, it's very hard to leap into the middle of it. You don't know the rules, you don't know the in-jokes, you don't know anything. Hard. Ideally, what everyone would do is keep their pride, but present it in an unaggressive way. Pride in who you are is so beautiful, when it is simply there, resting for other people to discover it, but when it's forced, it repels. That's what this Chocolate City business is, and it bothers the hell out of me. You also kind of need to pick a side of the fence. You can either bitch about prejudice, and force everyone to face it head on, which I think is legit and possible, or you can say you want to segregate yourself in a Chocolate City, where black power can reign supreme, blah blah blah, which I actually think would also work, but only if you accept that it means inevitable distrust and prejudice. But you have to pick one. You have to pick one because you can't make any forward progress by trying to do both. I know it's sort of a random and semi-off-topic example, but it's much like the reason that Anakin Skywalker as a character in the newest three Star Wars installments sucked. Sars at Tomato Nation said it a hundred million times better in her article on it, which I highly reccommend that you read, along with everything she has ever written (In the Star Wars vein, don't miss the Darth Vader article.), but the gist of it is that no one ever could have presented a decent performance of a character with two completely different motivations, i.e. one, that he turned to the Dark Side because he thought it would save Padame and two, that he did so because he's a douchebag looking for a shortcut to power. It didn't work for Hayden Christiansen, and it isn't going to work for any minority ever. When I worked in Dupont Circle, I saw the gay community doing the same thing. Be proud, don't shove it at people. Let them discover it themselves, and most importantly, BE WILLING TO HELP THEM UNDERSTAND! No one is born with an innate knowledge of everything. Someone's gonna do something stupid. Help them, and we'll all be all right.

This has gotten a little rambly, but the upshot is that Ray Navin is a jackass who thinks he's helping blacks and in reality is pissing on any and all progress by pulling this "the world hates black people" crap and then turning around and saying they need to make New Orleans back into a "Chocolate City." Martin Luther King Jr. got it, and he would have BITCH SLAPPED Ray Navin. I hope that the people of New Orleans have the sense to elect someone better this time around, someone who will do them right.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Sudoku Must Die

Okay, I will be the first to admit that I do not understand sudoku, and that I have not made much of an effort in the direction of mastering it.

That being said...what the HELL, man? I am NOT having this whole "crossword taking a backseat to sudoku" business. The crossword is a venerable institution, enjoyed by legions of fans for legions of years, as it were. I get it, it's a popular game. But the day it starts usurping the crossword's power over the entertainment pages is the day I buy myself a pitchfork and head on out to the National Sudoku Headquarters or wherever the Powers That Be are. I expect this kind of disloyalty from the Telegram & Gazette, but I expect better from the New York Times and the Washington Post. That is all I will say about this. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, tolls for thee.

So, the saga of the fortepiano.

A while back, I mentioned the piano that Grandpa built in the mid eighties. It's a Hubbard kit fortepiano, and he built it in about 500 hours from 1983 through 1984. He kept a log of the construction and took pictures, which I have. The log, I do not. My grandfather's second wife has been avoiding my occasional phone calls looking for information on the sale of the piano so I can find it and get it back. Fine. Fuck her. I started looking on my own, as did Speed, only really meeting dead ends. You'd think a distinctive piece like that fortepiano would be easy to find - especially whereas it has his name on a plate above the keyboard - but this is not the case. It's wound down to the point where I have little hope and only a blurb on MySpace about it. I was starting to give up.

But this weekend, the day after Creep, La Lobo and Azucena came over for sushi (which ruled), I got an email on MySpace. "FYI, your grandfather's piano is here in Columbia, SC." WHOA! A guy from SC had bought the fortepiano on EBay in early March and had been restoring it ever since. He has gotten it to the point where it's playable again. He seems like a nice guy, and we're talking over email at the moment. I can't wait to hear about the piano, how it is doing, all that. It's so exciting.


So today, Speed tried calling the EBay seller - we looked up the EBay auction - to see if they knew anything about the piano, or if they had gotten it from his second wife. They said they had gotten it from a storage place in New Milford. Cool. The guy gave Speed that number, and he gave them a buzz.

This is where it got good.

Turns out that the second wife was behind on her payments to the storage place. They called her and called her to figure out what to do, and then she signed a release for them to destroy the contents of the unit. In the unit was a car, which the storage guys decided to have junked. When the junker guy came, he happened to look in the back of the car, and told them that he didn't want or need the PIANO that was in the back. The storage guys took it out and almost threw it away but instead decided to kick it over to their friend at the We Sell Your Stuff On Ebay type place to see if anyone would buy it. Obviously this guy did, and than goodness, because it seems like it's in really great hands.

Now here's the thing. This whole release signing business took place no less than three months after I asked the second wife for the piano and after I had called her repeatedly asking for ANY way to track it down. She lied straight to my face about having sold it before, and then acted like a complete asshole by not returning calls. All she needed to say was "I don't have any idea," which still would have been a damned lie, but at least I wouldn't have WASTED MY GODDAMN TIME CALLING HER PATHETIC ASS. All she needed to say was "it's in my storage unit, and I'm behind on the rental"....I would gladly have paid the back rent. But no, she decided to be a complete and utter bitch and lie and jerk me around.

Fuck. That.

Thank god that fortepiano is in good hands.