Category Archives: Rantswagon

So, what happened?

I was browsing through some old music yesterday and came across a recording of Gil-Scott Heron doing a cover of the classic Marvin Gaye song, Inner City Blues. While I listened, smile fixed firmly, I started thinking of the general feel of the world back then.

I have a young cousin whom I believe thinks that his generation has invented social outrage. I think that a lot of his generation think that, just as my generation thought that we invented it. What struck me was the fact that whenever we speak, I find myself sounding more like “the establishment” than the revolutionary I was way back when.

So what happened?

When did I go from screaming “off the pigs!” to becoming a supporter of the police even in these troubling times. When did I change my views on social programs to being the guy yelling for mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients? When did I change my thoughts on the way the penal system is run? More importantly, why did everything change?

Why was I suddenly on the same side as my parents? I have to admit, I was really confused at that point. Then it hit me. The world just got really stupid. Really, really stupid. I’ll show you an example.

In the 60s and 70s, racism was at a peak. Blacks trying to get to be accepted and whites fighting it tooth and nail. But my generation knew how to fix that. We simply accepted each other and figured that when we were older, things would be different. Change from within right?kittens

Wrong!

When we got older, we suddenly became overly sensitive. We suddenly became politically respectable. Keep that word in mind…it’s another way of saying douchebag. So now, we’re not content with just living and treating each other according to the golden rule of treat others as you wish to be treated. Now, we have a whole set of rules. We can’t say this word, we can’t talk about that subject, we can’t, we can’t, we just can’t.

So instead of fixing the situation by making everybody equal, we have succeeded in putting people back on islands. And this is where it gets really stupid. Now, if I say I expect welfare recipients to be drug tested, I’m a racist. Notice, I didn’t say Black welfare recipients or Asian recipients…it just stands to reason that white people don’t use welfare. Which anybody can tell you, is complete and utter bullshit.

Within the penal system, again it goes to the use of my tax dollars. Why do I have to keep paying for murderers and rapists…of any color…to be incarcerated for life? Or career criminals for that matter. I’m sorry, but if they pull your file and it looks like a copy of War and Peace, I don’t think you need to be around in any society. My ideals changed due to economics. My economics to be more precise. Now that I needed to make money to keep a family alive, I was all to aware of taxes. Taxes that we as a whole, let get ridiculously out of hand. Stupid.

I have a saying I’m fond of. When asked how I feel about other races, I tell people that I’ve been screwed over, hurt and maligned quite a few times in my life. About 99% of the time, it was a white guy doing it. So, if I’m going to make generalizations based on isolated incidents, I’ll have to go with being prejudiced against whites.

But now that I’m on the working side of the payroll, I’m not so inclined to give my already taxed to death money away. I’m not against welfare, I’m against people using it to keep a drug users life going. I’m not against curbing police violence, I’m against you being stupid enough to antagonize them into being violent. I’ve been stopped by the cops a lot…I’m no angel so it wasn’t a Mr. Squeaky-Clean white man stop. I’ve been thrown against cars and walls but never lost my composure. If they say put both hands on your head, guess where my hands are? I’m not stupid enough to argue with an armed man or woman.

So, I’m blaming stupidity for the changes in my stand. Politicians get greedier and people just blindly follow them. Stupid. Racism is stronger than ever but people accept it as political correctness. Stupid. For all we fought for, nothing has changed except the outward appearances. If anything, things have gotten worse. Sure, we have a few good victories…women’s rights have improved, abortion issues have improved, religious issues are better…but there’s a good chance all those small victories will be gone tomorrow.

Because of stupidity.

clever

So here’s the deal. You can’t change things with peaceful protest. You can’t change things with lawful assembly. You can’t change things with petitions, town hall meetings, letters to your congressman…you can’t change things. All you can change is yourself. Look at the world differently and hope that you’ll find enough people that see what you see. Keep true to your ideals and maybe someday they’ll be a reality for more than just you.

You don’t need rules and regulations to tell you how to behave with other people. What you need is morals. There are no differences among races other than the ones we allow to mark us. Same goes for religion, sex or sexual orientation.

Don’t sweat it if your ideals seem to have shifted. They might have, but mostly you’ve just had enough of the dumbed-down world around us.

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Something Completely Unexpected

So, we are now looking for a couple of good cars. Used is fine and the car I need doesn’t have to be especially new. We’re both hard-core Jeep people so that puts us in a narrow corridor for buying. Last week we went to our first lot here in our new home in Miami. I was immediately drawn to a very nice looking ’04 Liberty. Yeah, yeah, I know all about the Liberty being a “chick jeep” but I don’t care. I like them.

As I looked it over, right there behind the spare was the tell tale wrinkle that told me the car had been rear-ended. This is how the conversation with the dealer went;

Me: The car has been in an accident.

Dealer: No it hasn’t.

Me: Here’s the damage. I was in an accident in my previous Liberty and had the exact same damage.

Dealer: There was no accident report put in…so, no accident.

2004_jeep_liberty_limited_gold_in_palm_harbor_florida_100645220869495304

Hmmmm…something isn’t quite right about that. We moseyed around the lot and fixed on a 2010 Patriot. As I circled it, I saw that it was really low. Bad shocks I imagined. Then I saw the dent on the front passenger side bumper. Around the front, the grill and headlight housing were pushed out.

I really hated to do it, but I had to speak to the dealer again. Here we go for round two;

Me: This has been in an accident too.

Dealer: The air works great in this one. Let me show you… (the car was wheezing during the slow start)

Me: What about the accident?

Dealer: Feel how cold it gets.

Me: I don’t care about the air. I care about the accidents.

Dealer: This is Miami…everybody cares about air. No report, no accident.

Me: OK, what about the damage then? How much are you willing to take off to fix it?

Dealer: What damage? These little cosmetic things?

2010_jeep_patriot_sport_29125979

So as my wife and I walked out, me fuming and her giggling, I wondered if every lot we go to will be like this. I wondered if all used car salesmen in Miami will be so asinine. I wanted to go back and explain to him that if I punched him in the face and broke his nose, that he would expect me to pay for this little cosmetic thing.

Our next stop will be at a larger dealership where the sales staff wear white shirts and long pants. Where damage to a car is considered more than a little cosmetic thing. Where hopefully, the cars don’t sound as if they need a hand crank to get them going.

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Bugs! WTF is it with bugs???

OK, so I grew up in Philly, traveled all across America, spent the last 10 years in New York and I need to know one thing…WTF is it with these Florida bugs??? They fly right into your face. Gaaaaaaaah. I mean they fly at you everywhere, but they always swerve at the last minute. Not these bastards! These bugs fly right into your face and start hitting.

And the selection. What in the wide world of sports is this shit about? They have bugs here that belong in Jurassic Park! There was a roach on the wall outside last night. I figure, before he comes in, let me kill him. So I swatted him with my hat. Hit him hard too. Little bastard caught my hat, pulled it out of my hand and threw it on the floor. Then he called me a Puta and told me to get moving. If that wasn’t bad enough, he made a pass at my wife as we ran away. “Hey Mamita…dun run bebe.”

crabspidersmall

Then I see a spider web with one of these in it. One of THESE!!! What level of hell did this crawl out of? I was pretty sure that even though it was small, just one spec of venom could bring down an elephant. Thankfully, I looked it up and it’s not poisonous. I still don’t want it near me. I think it might be in cahoots with the roach.

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And don’t get me started on lizards. I have lizards out the wazoo here. Toads, skinks, geckos, iguanas…you name it, we got it. I have toads that can pull my car if need be. And that little orange-throated terror above is a Cuban species. When you get to a certain point he flashes the throat thing. Then he starts bobbing his head at you. Like “What’s up puta? You gonna do anything? No? Keep moving!”

I’m not used to this shit. Really. The wildlife is crazy here. The birds fly straight towards your face, the bugs fly into your face and the reptile just…well, they just are. I’m going to buy a stun gun next week. See if I can sneak up on that roach. I hope to hell it puts him down…

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Memorial Day

Memorial Day, an American Holiday set aside to do what the name suggests. It is the day we are supposed to remember the fallen heroes from wars past and present. The history of America is its wars. The country was founded within a war. Statistics are mind-boggling.

  • 1775-1783 – The American Revolutionary War – 50,000 dead and wounded
  • 1785-1796 – The Northwest Indian War – 1,881+ dead and wounded
  • 1798-1800 – The Quasi War – 556 dead and wounded
  • 1812-1815 – The War of 1812 – 20,000 dead and wounded
  • 1846-1848 – The Mexican-American War – 17,435 dead and wounded
  • 1861-1865 – The Civil War – 750,000 dead
  •         -1898 – The Spanish-American War – 4,068 dead and wounded
  • 1898-1913 – The Philippine-American War – 7,126 dead and wounded
  • 1917-1918 – World War 1 – 320,518 dead and wounded – 3,350 missing
  • 1941-1945 – World War 2 – 1,076,245 dead and wounded – 30,314 missing
  • 1950-1953 – The Korean War – 128,650 dead and wounded – 4,759 missing
  • 1955-1975 – The Viet Nam War – 211,454 dead and wounded – 2,489 missing
  • 2001-Present – The Afghanistan War – 20,904 dead and wounded
  • 2003-2011 – The Iraq War – 36,710 dead and wounded

You look at that list and see a good number of years with no conflict, but this list is by no means complete. There is hardly any time when the U.S. is not engaged in some type of occupation. That’s a total of 2,645,547+ dead and wounded from this very short list. What a waste of life. It makes Memorial Day seem small, as if one day couldn’t possibly do it.

UtphotoL

Viet Nam was my war. It was the first war that was broadcast into American homes on a nightly basis. It gave us haunting images like the one above, pictures that will be burned into our minds forever. A friend of mine, Chipper went long before me and was lucky to come back. A lot of our friends didn’t. He lost his left leg at the knee and his right leg at mid-thigh. His life could have gone into the bitter world like Captain Dan of Forest Gump fame.

But Chipper was a fighter. He was the kind of guy that took set-backs and diversity and looked them right in the eye. He didn’t back down from anybody or anything. So how did America pay back this man that sacrificed his legs for her? He was rewarded by a lifetime of bureaucratic red tape from the V.A. on every single thing he tried to do. And why the tape?

Chipper was instructed to wear his prosthetics. They were uncomfortable and hurt. He was not ashamed of his wheelchair, never caring what people thought when they saw him in it. He was told that “Americans didn’t want to see returning soldiers missing limbs”. What? They watched the ravages of war on television, saw executions, burned children and an endless supply of caskets being loaded onto C-133 Cargomaster planes. They saw all of this, and yet they didn’t want to see one of their sons in a wheelchair? What did they think was happening there?

iraq-special-force_2510090k

When Viet Nam was done, they labeled the returnees as sick, demented and dangerous drug addicts. Protesters blamed them for taking part in a war as if they had a choice. The Viet Nam era veterans were cast aside by the country and made invisible. Such is the cost of losing a war. Thankfully, today’s troops have it slightly better. They still get screwed by the V.A., but not as bad as back then. Today we understand what war does to people, things like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. It strikes me as odd that it only took 240 years for it.

But today is Memorial Day. Sit back, pop a beer and light the bar-b-que. Just take a minute to remember the many that have died in wars for this country. Don’t take the time to wonder if the wars were just or warranted, because a great many of them were not. Remember instead, the ordinary man called on to do extraordinary things. The soldier that just takes orders because he was trained to do that. The soldiers that faced death and kept going. The soldiers that paid the ultimate price for this country. Raise a glass to them and if there’s a vet at your party, thank him for what he did.

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Rant Around the Camp

August 16, 2013

Maybe I’m being harsh or maybe not. Does it piss anybody else off that J.K. Rowling actually tried to pass herself off as a “new” writer? Or the pseudo-anger at being found out?

Let me explain something. How many “new” writers have a publisher? Not Harvey Finkel who for $2000. will print enough copies to distribute a handful of books to the press, but a real publisher who throws himself into your work? A publisher who would take a bullet for you because you’ve made him a rich man under your real pen name? Simple quick answer is none.

So that starts the anger. If you truly wanted to “start fresh” you would go the route of agony that other new writers go. Submissions, queries, denials…the merry-go-round of psychological beatings handed out by the literary world.
To be fair, she did try other publishers at first…and was rejected. But unlike real “new” writers, she ran to her own publisher to get it out.

So let’s move past that appetizer of bullshit and on to the main course. The books are not that good. They opened to mixed reviews that leaned more towards the “disappointed” side and sales were not phenomenal. A lot of critics panned the book. It sold less than 500 copies. Yes, the book was dismal.

So now, mysteriously in the muck of all these reviews and bad sales, the New York Times says “the book seemed almost too assured and sophisticated to be a first novel”. Really?

Then they launch a full investigation for a book that had sold under 500 copies and mixed reviews. Yeah, that happens every day.

“Ms. Rowling was unmasked by The Sunday Times of London, which, acting on an anonymous tip, embarked on a sleuthing mission of its own and published the result on Sunday. In the article, Ms. Rowling confessed to the ruse and spoke somewhat wistfully of her brief, happy foray into anonymous authorship.”

The last line in particular made me laugh. Happy foray? The book was being used to line bird cages.

And so the great J.K.Rowling was revealed and what happened? Well now, sales are through the roof with a more than 5,000% increase. You can’t find an article anywhere about the book that doesn’t mention her name. She’s once again the reigning queen of literature…and she’s angry?

“To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced,” she added.

Yeah, I know how angry I would be if my book went from mediocre to best seller.

Russells said it had contacted Rowling’s agent as soon as the story emerged: “We, Russells Solicitors, apologise unreservedly for the disclosure caused by one of our partners, Chris Gossage, in revealing to his wife’s best friend, Judith Callegari, during a private conversation that the true identity of Robert Galbraith was in fact JK Rowling. Whilst accepting his own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly.”

It added: “We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither JK Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved.”

Now why would you have to add that statement at the moment the story was released. That’s like walking into the kitchen, seeing your 3 year old with a cookie and not seeing the cookie jar and hearing her say “I got a cookie but I didn’t break the jar.” Riiiiiiiiiiight.

I don’t begrudge J.K.Rowling’s success. But try to remember what it was like before Harry Potter took off. How the faith in your work was chipped away by every rejection letter, every closed door. Don’t stand there and say you’re a “new” writer. It’s an affront to every one of us struggling to try and make it like you have. You got discovered and made it and that’s great. I know how much you give back to the world as well. I know you’re a decent person.

Now just remember how it was before 1997.

Quotes from:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/boo…

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-ent…

Accurate sales from:
http://www.dnaindia.com/world/1861314…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nielsen_…

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Driving In The Big Apple or Just Eat The Worm And Shut Up!

Before you start to read, you must understand that this is an old article and I am now living in Southern Florida…hopefully, there will be no follow-up to this…

Driving In The Big Apple or Just Eat The Worm And Shut Up!

Re-posted from another blog of mine.

OK, I’m from South Philly so I know how to drive. In South Philly about 90% of the streets are small, 1 lane, 1 way, and have cars parked on either side…so I know how to drive.
I moved to NY a few years back…a form of self-flogging I think…and even though I live on Long Island, my work brings me into Manhattan almost daily. So what’s the problem with New York and its drivers? For a start, over 7 million people on that tiny rock. Add another 8 million on the bigger rock Long Island. With me so far? That’s the equivalent of trying to stuff 80 pounds of shit in a 20 pound bag!

My shop is about 45 miles from Manhattan. That means I should cover the distance in less than an hour right? WRONG! It generally takes 2-2 1/2 hours to get through the tunnel into Craptopolis. And here are some reasons why:
Lets start with the asshat who drives in the far left lane till his exit is 20 yards away. Even though he drives this road every day and knows exactly where the exit is, he decides to wait till the very last second to cut across 3 bumper to bumper lanes. Now just one of these jerks would be bad enough, but I’ve seen 3 and 4 of them lined up one right after another.
Lets take the chooch who thinks the passing lane is the lane you drive in to be passed. Yup, adding to the late-lane-changers are people driving 10 MPH under the speed limit.
Now the look turns to the design of the roads. On ramps onto the LIE (notice the initials…stands for Long Island Expressway but to think you’re getting anywhere fast is a…LIE) are spaced a whopping 40 yards from the off ramps. So you have maniacs trying to enter the highway, lunatics trying exit the highway, and lets not forget the dribblebrains that are coming from the far left trying to get into the exit lane as well.

Meanwhile people coming onto the highway will bypass 3 or 4 spots good enough to merge into traffic and instead they will travel that merge lane till it runs out and then force their way in.
Now lets add road-work crews. Unlike Philly, all roadwork is done during the day so as to optimize the displeasure of the drive. My favorite is when they close a portion of a lane and have nobody working there. Brilliant maneuver just in case traffic actually starts to flow. Then we finally get to the Mid-Town Tunnel. A wondrous place where the highway opens up into 8 lanes…sweet huh? Until you pay your toll and then the 8 lanes must collapse into 2 lanes over maybe 50 yards. By now 2 hours or more have passed and about 99% of your humanity is a forgotten memory…but hope looms…

And now we’re finally in Manhattan. Hurray! Well, it’s hurray for about 100 yards. Driving in Manhattan is unique to say the least. Every corner has a sign that promises eternal damnation in hell plus 2 points if you block the intersection. Apparently this does not apply to taxi cabs. While you wait patiently at a green light for a spot to clear so you can make your turn the cabbie 2 lanes over decides to fill the space behind the cab you’re already waiting to move. And then they seem surprised that you get mad and yell things like “Your mother drives a pickle wagon” at them. I dunno. Then you look pleadingly at the traffic cop on the corner but he doesn’t notice you because he’s on his cell phone. Amazingly enough though, he can hear you when you mutter he should choke on his next donut.
So after waiting for cabs and buses to move, driving around trucks and limos who have an inalienable right to double and triple park, avoiding the pedestrians who just walk into the street while texting their BFFs, and lurching left and right from potholes big enough to hide in, you get to your destination. And look!…it’s only taken you an hour to drive 3 miles! Today is your lucky day, traffic was with you.

Ten to fifteen minutes to do the work you actually came here for and now it’s time to do the whole thing again. Maybe the ride home will be different. Maybe, since it’s only 4:00 PM, I’ll get home at a decent time. Maybe, I’ll even get to watch a little TV. Maybe my dinner won’t…wait…why is the sky all orange ahead? What does that sign say? ROAD WORK?!?!? SUNUVA….
Yes, don’t envy me…I know life is good here on the Island!

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