Let’s first look and then think

Let us all stop.
pay the attention that the rest of the world deserves. travel.
puts our own life into some sort of matrix with the rest of the world.
We have our one percent, god bless em,
and then there’s the true reality of our
one world.
I once read that one in seven people on our planet is a Chinese peasant.
Think
create some semblance of equality, fairness and decency
in the most basic of all human needs – the care of ourselves,
our loved ones
and our families’
health.

Perspective from the Mini Van

I was driving the other day with my daughter in the back seat when she asked, “Papa, are we rich?

I looked around me at the cracked and worn interior of our ten-year-old rusted Mazda Protégé, glanced at the 126,000 miles on the odometer and noticed the always-on engine light. My mind wandered to our other 10-year-old mini-van, our 1,100 square foot house in need of windows, siding, and roof among other repairs and thought about the piles of debt our family had, laughed a little sarcastically, and said, “No, Olivia, we are not rich.”

Then it dawned on me and I added, “Actually, we are rich.”

“We have our own home with a roof over our heads, that we can keep 70 degrees when it’s 30 below and 68 degrees when it’s 100. We have more than a thousand square feet in there – plus the basement! We have two cars that run – with just two drivers in the house. We have a pantry, refrigerator and freezer that are bursting with food – there’s no room to put anything more! We get new clothes constantly. We have so much stuff that we get to go to the Goodwill twice a year and give a box or two away to people who are not as rich as us! We have computers, an iPad, smartphones, internet access, and cable tv.”

I was just getting started.

“We have a brand new street in front of our house, and roads to take us anywhere we want to go that are lit at night. We have free parks, schools, and libraries all around us. We have wonderful family and great friends who love us and we love back. We have amazing neighbors. We have our own business that provides six darn good jobs. We are surrounded by great little Vietnamese, Thai, East African and good old American restaurants that we have enough money to enjoy!”

“Yeah, there are a lot of people with much more than us and many with much, much more, but there are a hell of a lot more people on this planet with much, much less! We are blessed! So, hell yes, Olivia, we are rich!!

I half expected some applause to accompany my goose bumps, but when I looked in my rear-view mirror, my little girl was just gazing out the window of the van at the world passing by.

“Pretty sweet, huh?” I asked, and she turned, met my eyes in the mirror and smiled.

“Yeah.”

Joe Six Pack is Dead – in Praise of a Nine-Pack

Joe Six Pack was something other than a real man.

The kind of guy who would flinch. Step aside. Protect himself

when the damsel’s distress got ugly.

Sure, he was buzzed, but also cognizant of his own mortality and I think a drink should conjure immortality.

Save that girl.

Step in front of the bullet.

Or you’re just Joe,

just plain Joe.

And a twelve pack is a bit much, ain’t it? A six pack gets you up the chair lift,

but a twelve pack will lead you                    astray,

a ski stuckinarut,
and off the peripheral cliff,
crashing
onto the rocks
below,
the end of Joe.

Much too much.

A nine-pack would give you the gumption to get up the hill and then

drop

down

over the lip,

through the moguls and flats, over the jump into a Steamin’ Streamin’

(daffy, tip-drop, daffy, if I recall),

then back into moguls, dips, flats, and whatever the mountain had to present.

Represent, mountain, it’s our challenge now.

So let us all call unto the brewers, the big boys and the small taps. Give us a nine pack, we ask,

or give us death – or trepidation. We need neither, but the sweet spot in between, the middle, the fiddle-de-diddle.

Let us fight the tyranny of the six and the twelve together.

Fire and Flintstones

I was reading something about the ineffectiveness of various youth programs around the United States and was struck by a thought that rarely enters my mind: oh, t’were it we only had more fire and brimstone! Well-meaning liberals (and some conservatives surely) put their grand efforts into turning troubled and disadvantaged kids around at every corner. And they mostly fail, but that is not for lack of effort. There is such a giant stew of reasons – ranging from rap music to broken homes to lack of jobs to under-funded schools and missing parents – that something like after-school basketball just can’t make much of a difference. The kids spend a couple of hours a week in some well-planned utopia and then the other 165 in reality. And reality sucks for most of those we are trying to help.

But back in the day, see, religion had an iron grip on many kid’s minds. Yes, they were also more likely to be from two-parent homes, the union kept dad working, there was no such thing as thrash metal and Facebook, and watching too much Flintstones was what parents feared most about the effects of the media, but it was the Sunday sermon that often prevented the slide from good boy to juvenile delinquent. The real horror of burning in hell for lifting a pack of bubble gum held some sway back in those days. And while my own opinion is that it was (and is) tall tales long ago concocted by men wanting to control other men, women and children, Jesus man, it worked!

Just because!

We do lots of things and believe lots of thing without really thinking about them and sometimes someone else shines a little light on the strangeness of it all. To wit: I came into the bathroom and my eight-year-old daughter was holding one of the large bath towels. The area between her two hands – an eight inch circle – was soaking wet. She was obviously washing her face with it.

“What are you doing?”

“What?”

“The towel – it’s soaked!”

“So.”

“That’s a towel!”

“So.”

“You should be using a wash rag!”

“Why? It’s the exact same material.”

“Wash rags are for washing!” I was getting a little snarky. “Towels are for drying!”

“Wet things.”

“What?”

“Drying wet things so they get wet – like this.” She held up the towel.

“Not like that they don’t!”

“If it’s wet enough they do.”

“Yeah, but now…”

“It has to dry.” She finished my sentence. “Like it always does when it gets wet. And then it gets dry and everything is fine.”

“But that’s too wet!” I said and just then realized how ludicrous this all was. Two pieces of the same material – one two feet by four feet, the other six inches by six inches. I’ve always known that the smaller piece could get really wet and the bigger one could not! Period. End of story.

But why? Just because!

the republicans have been robbed!

Part of me wants to say “Hip Hip Hooray for Rob Portman!” The republican senator from Ohio came out yesterday in support of same-sex marriage – which is gutsy in a party that generally thinks homosexuals are deviants, the earth is seven thousand years old, and all you need are bootstraps to be as fat and happy as Wall Street CEOs.

It seems Rob’s son came out to him and that is what changed his mind. This is all still laudable, but when you are unable to have empathy for any sort of person until there is one of those sorts of people in your own family you might be lacking a sufficient amount of empathy. I’m not even sure empathy is what we feel for our own children considering the absolute closeness we feel with them. The sadness and joy we feel when our own children feel sadness and joy seems closer to some sort of Vulcan mind meld than something called empathy.

Either way, I’ll go with “Hip Hip Hooray!” And add, “Welcome to the enlightenment, the 21st century, and common human decency!”

We’re just buggin’ the shit out of each other

It started out with stopping by, droppin’ in and poppin’ over. Cave to cave. Cabin to cabin.

Then we learned to write with letters and along came letters written to drop in the box and on to whomever.

The telegraph turned letters into tweets – instantaneous and terse.

The telephone turned everything else upside down, inside everywhere – voices over lines of metal – spoken in Spokane heard in Japan. Conversations across the universe. There was nothing more to say. And when they got into homes, there was nowhere to hide. They had you in your house. The perfect crime.

Then phones divided into cellphones and proliferated. Popping up everywhere, public spaces, intimate places. Joined at the hip. Cool shit. The crime perfected.

Emails hail down upon your desktop, your laptop, iPad and cellphone. Damage occurs.

But that was not enough – we’ve rebuilt the telegraph from man to man, phone to phone. Tweeting everything. Leaving out nothing.

We’re dropping by all the time.

We’re just buggin’ the shit out of each other.

andiwaslike

My kids say, “I was like…” all the time. And it fucking pisses me off. [Full disclosure: I say it all the time.]

“I was like…”

Whatever happened to “I said…”? or “I turned to her and replied…”? or “I looked at him and basically screamed that…”?

It’s all, “I was like…” now.

It’s a verbal simplification that will destroy the minds of man. Over time.  All of us.

The simpler we make things, the stupider we make things. Consider the tweet or Ikea. We find so that the mind doesn’t matter more and more. Design for the dumbest among us. The quickest fixes. The quality falters.

And what? Hope for the best?

Geographical Chauvinism

Duluth looks down on Two Harbors. Rochester looks down on Duluth. St. Paul looks down on Rochester. Minneapolis looks down on St. Paul. Chicago looks down on Minneapolis. Los Angeles looks down on Chicago. New York looks down on Los Angeles. London looks down on New York. Paris looks down on London. And Two Harbors knows Paris is just a bunch of queers.