For the first time since I was too single to really give a blessed fuck, it happened to me again recently. It was the kind of awkward query that had me referencing my inner Rolodex of on the spot excuses, before I realized I had been asked via text . . which gave me enough time to make some shit up.
I was asked to church.
The last time I was asked to attend church, she was a thirty something looker who needed me to attend service with her. And I know this gets me no points with the guy upstairs, but the church thing became a deal breaker. This time around, a little different and much sadder.
I’ll call the person doing the inquiring Barry, since that’s his name. I’ve mentioned this dude before. We’re friends, kind of. He usually delivers up a text, unsolicited, about some stupid shit or other. I’ll respond with the requisite “LOL” or “How goes things?”. The average response time ranges from five and a half seconds to a couple weeks, which is why we’re just ‘kind of’ when it comes to friends.
The church thing caught me off guard, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Barry’s an ex cop, so I’m prepared for all manner of crazy shit to come down the pike. For all I know, he’s been leading a Walter White-like double life and he needs help getting across the border. And really, I would be more than happy to help him with that expedition in exchange for oh . . say a million in cash and a pair of those terribly overpriced AirPods.
If he called to tell me he’d just killed his pain in the ass next door neighbor, I’d bring the shovels and the lime. In exchange for say . . a case of bourbon. And if he got his girlfriend pregnant, I’d drive him to Mexico for ten grand and a taco dinner. Which is wholesale in comparison to the Walter White scenario.
In the event the authorities were to discover this post at some future date, let it be known I wrote this in jest. If I happened to follow through with any of these scenarios in the commission of a crime, I was most likely under duress. So you have my permission to shoot Barry on sight.
So the church inquiry. That was way more awkward a predicament for me than any of the above situations, and the fact that I ain’t kidding about it tells me that Imma have lots of ‘splaining to do when my ticket gets punched to the great beyond. But that’s another awkward conversation for another day . . .
As for this question, I could have taken it to mean the guy was being compassionate. So of course I looked at motive. Did he want some cover for the car ride to and from church, when he’s usually engaged in a steel cage match argument with his lady friend? Was he vying for a “Congregation Member of the Month” prize if he brought in some new recruits? And what did the winner get? Does this church offer sin passes? Maybe he’d get the pastor’s parking space for a month . . . or a psalm named after him. Or maybe . . . I should stop because that lightning I’m hearing as I type this, it’s getting too close for comfort . . .
That’s not my scene, but I’m honored you would think of me.
That was my reply. Which is lame in comparison to what I might have used for a comeback. A top five? Sure, why not . . .
5- I don’t let Jesus take the wheel because I can’t afford his deductible
4- Church? Isn’t that where you vote?
3- I’ll go, but only if you promise not to wake me up until the service is over
2- I watch Filipino death match rugby on Sundays
1- Is it “Water Into Wine” Sunday? Because if so, I’m in . . .
I kept it high road given the subject matter. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment, because it means that Barry probably feels like my soul needs saving. And I like to think that I come across as being interesting like that. And it’s why I had to turn him down. Because I can’t let my personal relationship with God mess with the reputation I’ve been cultivating, basically my entire adult life.
(Tunis Campbell- 1812-1891)
As we draw ever closer to a national election no one seems aware is going to be taking place in the fall, I’m rocking some news we shouldn’t be ignoring. Of course I’m still digging on the yin and yang of our weekly trend, so you’ll pardon me for letting the mulligans swim right alongside the magnifique? Coo . . .
Let’s plate it, kids . . .
First up is radio gas bag Norman “Boomer” Esiason. The former NFL quarterback who almost beat Joe Montana in a Super Bowl back in the day (proving that anything is possible) always manages to outdo himself when it comes to saying stupid shit. Boomer recently speculated as to whether big time college athletes were getting COVID-19 on purpose, so they’d be good to go for the fall. This is where I’m supposed to expound on how out of touch guys like Boomer are, but hey . . he did it for me!
DOROT is a non-profit organization that serves as a bridge for an aging population. It fosters connections, which is a precious commodity these days. Ben Goldstein is a thirty year old volunteer for DOROT, and he’s Zoom pals with Robert Brajer- an 82 year old Holocaust survivor. They talk about everything from politics to pop culture while chowing down on lox and bagels. Brajer says it helps to know he’s not alone, and Goldstein gets a regular history lesson. That’s called win meeting win.
And not for nothing, but DeSean Jackson might have done well to educate himself before posting to social media. Jackson did apologize for his antisemitic comments, and yet that didn’t stop Stephen Jackson from doubling down (you read that right) on the subject. The ignorance shown by these two men serves no good purpose as society continues to struggle with the divide created by prejudice. They know better, and society deserves better.
This next story is a twin bill of the forgettable being cut off at the pass by a fantastic response. I’ll begin with the former . . .
Michael Lofthouse is the CEO of Solid8- a cloud computing firm out of San Francisco. But it’s not his expert acumen that is getting talked about these days, but rather, his Trumpian outburst at Lucia Restaurant in Carmel Valley, California on July 4th. His ignorant fuse got lit when a family had the audacity to celebrate a relative’s birthday with song. Lofthouse told them to get lost, but he didn’t stop there. After flipping them the bird, he followed it up by calling one member of the clan an “Asian piece of shit,” and following that up with “You fuckers need to leave!” before finishing his vitriolic rant by exclaiming that “Trump is going to fuck you!”. And it proves to me how wrong I was to think my vote doesn’t count come November. Because that opinion will ensure more of the same . . .
So thank God for Gennica Cochran- a server at Lucia- who stepped in to diffuse the situation by telling Lofthouse to hit the bricks. Cochran didn’t hesitate to let this asshole know that he had to leave, immediately.
“I felt very protective of them,” Cochran said. “You don’t come in here and say those kinds of things to people. Especially people feel so raw coming out of quarantine. Most of these people, this is the first time that they’ve been out to dinner, and then you have someone attacking them, it was just no, no, I don’t have time for this.”
Go Fund Me pages for Cochran have sprouted up all over the place as a result of her actions. Like flowers, replacing the weed she pulled out.
This last story was brought to us by Monika over at Tails Around The Ranch. And it is the kind of story that helps us to see the forest through all these wicked trees. Because to appreciate the differences rather than vilify each other is how we grow those trees that help us breathe in a better reality.
Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Shawn Dromgoole felt like a stranger in his own hometown.
“Once upon a time that entire neighborhood was our family,” Dromgoole says. “Years later property taxes ran our people out of the neighborhood, they moved out and new people moved in and all of a sudden we didn’t belong. We knew none of our neighbors, which is okay unless you’re a Black American.”
After Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in Glynn County, Georgia, Shawn says he was afraid to even go for a walk through his neighborhood. Imagine feeling as if you’re a suspect . . like, all the time. And so Shawn posted these thoughts on social media, and then his neighbors? Well, they showed up.
To think how a simple post grew into Walks With Shawn, in which hundreds of people from the area do just that. And to think of the impact one young man’s life has had on the community around him. One voice, leading a thousand feet into the kind of movement that has branches. Strong ones.
And so now, Shawn is planning on taking this idea on the road. He wants to walk the same streets in Georgia that took the life of Ahmaud Arbery. And Miami Gardens, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. And Cleveland Ohio, where Tamir Rice was stolen by a bullet before his life even got started.
This is a story about how fear drove one young man to find his purpose in life. And what he came to learn was that the differences in us do not require fences or walls. We are better than all those many ugly places we have been witness to over the past few months, and years, and lifetimes.
“I want people to realize that everyone is someone’s neighbor and we don’t need to be harming each other because of preconceived notions and biases.” Shawn says.
It’s time to walk the walk, for all of us.
One minute I was pondering how we got here from there, and the next I was arriving at the intersection of Jesus and Caramba. The someplace else I dialed back to was 1980. Okay . . maybe it wasn’t the age of innocence. It was inside a time where disco was on life support. We staggered over the edge of a decade replete with post-moon landing meh, and life without torch song heroes named King and Kennedy and life with Nixon. Before Watergate sent him away in a helicopter. And Vietnam. And Kent State and the hostage crisis and inflation and race riots . . .
But if you were to fix 1980 into a lineup of comparables, welp . . 2020 would be the El Chapo to their Sonny and Cher. We took their Paradise Lost and we doubled down into a Full House of Horrors. Their dearth of heroes became our reality television. Their Watergate became our daily trend, where “gate” gets caboosed to the latest scandal as if it were a wicked smart ensemble piece. Their Vietnam became our patriotic mission to spread truth, justice and the American way by co-opting the best laid plans of our Founding Fathers into a drive through dominion where branding is our inalienable right. Kent State became Columbine and Flint, Sandy Hook, Marjorie Stoneman and Las Vegas, and then things got worse when those days no longer shocked us. Their hostage crisis became our Oklahoma City and September 11th, and Boston. Their inflation became our great big heist. Their race riots, well . .we kept that tradition going.
There was plenty of promise to the way things started off, with a bunch of college kids beating the Russians in ice hockey. We couldn’t have imagined that our sports would morph from that quaint little Norman Rockwell moment into a bread and circuses cinema. And then Reagan lied to us about a shining city upon a hill. And George H. had us focusing on a thousand points of light instead of the stupid economy. Or is that the economy stupid? We got lost in the shroud of the cigar smoke from the Clintonian Era, and while we were busy trying not to inhale, an election went into overtime with the Supreme Court serving as referee. And then W became a four letter word before stepping up inside the darkest days . . before turning back into a four letter word.
The rear view tells me it’s been a hot minute since those days were busy happening. And here we are, the numb OG’s of a feckless age where the modern day proverb- Shit Happens- is mired in the muck of our everyday existence. And this isn’t to say that our mast is hurtling to the edge of the world and that all hope is lost. But . . . . damn!
So this is where the voices in my head make their money. Because yanno . . the questions I get to cooking up possess the kind of riptide that circumnavigates all the logical conclusions we’ve been taught to abide to since grade school. And either I’m Randall McMurphy on a stick or there is something happening here, even if what it is ain’t exactly clear.
Because I really don’t know what to make of this place we currently reside inside of. Are we a miserable scrum of beastly conclusions to which there is no honest to goodness fix, outside of a runaway meteor? Is the global script we’ve been reading from ever since fire led to the invention of the cheeseburger one big lie? Is this nothing more than one great big romantic tragedy in which the lovers (that’s us) are destined to lose in the end?
When Higgs met boson inside that celestial tryst and then mass showed up nine months later, was Trump destined to be President from that very moment? Was race supposed to be the great divider in perpetuity? Was Joe Exotic supposed to be the elixir to a global pandemic? And is it too late to call for a cosmic rewrite?
Hunter S. Thompson called.
He wants his fever dream back.
Today Imma take the way-back machine© to the not so way back of times, when the good and the not so good shared this patch of WP grass. Interestingly, none of the plus sides are mine . . which is probably the universe telling me I need to incorporate more fiber into my diet, I’m not sure. All I know is you peeps keep on keeping on with the good stuff, so I ain’t complaining one bit.
And now to this week’s episode . . .
We’re starting things off with the beautiful game, and it’s a beautiful story that Peter from over at Cheers, Govanhill brings to us this week. Borussia Monchengladbac (say that one time fast) is a club in the Bundesliga football league, and they got back to work last month inside a new reality: No fans in the stands. So the club went about the task of filling the stands with cardboard cut-outs. The upside is that these faux fans don’t drink copious amounts of alcohol and scream all manner of artful particulars in the doing. This just so happens to he the downside as well, because yanno . . that’s part of what gives the game its soul. So the boys at Borussia came up with a soulful solution by selling the cut-outs to their fans for twenty bucks a pop, with the profits earmarked for local causes.
“When you first come into the stadium, for three or four seconds you don’t realize that it’s not real people,” Borussia player Marcus Thuram says.
And while the stands may not bring the noise, the spirit is alive and kicking. Which makes this idea a game winner.
Who among us hasn’t crafted a four lettered rebuttal when muscle car owners decide to let everyone hear what’s going on under the hood? But there is such a thing as context, and a Texas woman learned that lesson the hard way recently when she decided to play Sheriff to a caravan of cars in her neighborhood. They had arranged this “cruise” to help celebrate a ten year’s old boy’s birthday, revving their engines in unison as they passed his house. And that’s where the nosy neighbor stepped in to put a stop to the festivities. Which ended up backfiring when word got out that she had stalled the parade and more cars showed up later on, at the request of other neighbors.
Cutting to the chase, the woman’s complaints fell on deaf ears with the local police and now she’s listing her house. So you could say this squeaky wheel got . . replaced?
And speaking of cruising, that’s what Marcus Harvey and Tre’ Jones of Marion, Indiana were doing when they came upon a shroud of smoke. The kids pulled over to find where the source of the smoke was coming from and that’s when they were told that a neighbor’s house was on fire and that a man was still inside. So they went all Superman, breaking down the door and retrieving Guy Tarlton, who was laying unconscious in his living room. Tarlton suffered first and third degree burns and is currently in a medically induced coma, but his chances of survival are entirely the result of Harvey and Jones, who put their lives on the line without a second thought. These young men put the first in responder.
This next story is what George Orwell warned us about more than three quarters of a century ago. It involves the use of facial recognition in criminal investigation and it speaks to a flawed technology that is more dangerous than it is useful. Forty two year old Robert Williams of Detroit found this out the hard way when police arrested him outside of his home recently. Seems that his drivers license photo matched that of a suspect who stole more than $3,800 worth of watches from a department store.
Williams ended up spending a night in jail before the investigating officers figured out they had made a terrible mistake. Which prompted the ACLU to get involved, claiming “the facts of Mr. Williams’ case prove both that the technology is flawed and that investigators are not competent in making use of such technology.” No. Kidding!
Remember that old saying about being careful what you wish for? We’re there . . .
(Thank you to the lovely Dale for providing the capper to her twin bill for this episode).
Most of you know the story of Malala Yousafzai. At fifteen, she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban. Her crime? Pursuing an education, which is obviously a dangerous proposition in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The group perceived Malala as a threat, since she defied their archaic rule at every turn; first in writing a blog for the BBC and later for being featured in a New York Times documentary. She was an inspiration to young women in a region of the world where the idea of getting an education is often met with threats of violence and worse.
Malala didn’t leave the world on that horrible day. Instead, she has flourished, bringing light to the darkest corners of the world while spreading her message of hope and empowerment. She spoke before the UN a year after the shooting. She’s met with the Queen of England as well as President Barack Obama. And at 17, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Almost eight years since being shot in the head and left for dead by the Taliban, she graduated from Oxford with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. And so, what do you give the girl who has done so much for so many? A cake bath, of course. She can have the summer too. To sleep in, binge watch some TV shows and to think back on how far she has come in such a young life. Before her journey begins anew.
“It’s like we have done our activism; we have done enough to raise our voice. And I think the next step is now let’s make the change, let’s be the change-makers, let’s get more involved in this”
And to anyone who has a problem with this sentiment? Let ’em eat cake.
I used to be the life of the party until this virus changed everything. Now, nobody seems to want anything to do with me. What gives?
Depressed in D.C.
Mr Trump, just do what you always do. Inflate the numbers and conveniently ignore the facts.
Am I really as perfect as I think I am?
Little Miss (Yes!) Perfect
Dear Miss Ripa,
I’m not sure what world you’re living in, but umm . . . you probably want to stay there.
I can’t seem to do anything right! My bosses pull me in one direction while my employees pull me in the other, and everyone else just thinks I’m a talking head. And my dog isn’t even talking to me right now . . .
Unsafe at Home
Dear Mr Manfred,
Being the MLB Commish means never having to say you’re sorry. You followed a guy in Bud Selig who pretended that sluggers were getting stronger on fairy dust. And then he followed that up with that “gift for the fans” that keeps on giving in inter-league play. Which is really a gift to the owners, since they get to charge premium prices for regular season games. If you ask me, you’re simply following in his dubious footsteps . . overlooking the pinball game that MLB has become whilst never minding the fans who ain’t getting refunds for the games that were never played. And now you’re pushing through a sixty game season, which would make Joe Dimaggio crap in his dead pants. Yanno what? Give yourself a raise.
I feel as if I am trapped inside the Rockwell song “Somebody’s Watching Me”, and when I tell anyone about it, they just shrug it off and tell me it’s all in my head. I know I’m not paranoid, but how can I prove it to everyone else?
Holed up in the Hills
Dear Mr Phoenix,
Are you aware that some of the most brilliant minds in the history of the world were . . how do I put this gently? Bat shit crazy? Also, not for nothing but you really shouldn’t be eating mayo sandwiches at three in the morning.
What in the blessed fuck is up with people? Is it a lot to ask that you wear a fucking mask when you go out in public? For fuck’s sake, I have to wear a glorified house dress all the time . . and you don’t hear ME bitching about it!
Riled up in Rome
Dear Pope Francis,
I know, right? I guess they really don’t think there’s gonna be a second wave (Already happening) and a third . . . and who knows what after that. But on the positive side of the equation, I don’t have to fake a smile these days.
Hey, it’s something!
This has been the year of living dangerously, and we’re only at halftime. So I thought you kids might appreciate a variant on the tried and true Friday episode. So Imma kick it up with satire, because it’s my middle name. Maybe not my mama given one, but hey . . it still counts.
And now for our . . . umm . . . heroes?
Clueless Joe- As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not missing sports all that much. It would be nice to catch an occasional game or have something to talk about . . but the diversion was answered with a Johnny Come Lately of new kid in town alternatives. And besides, you know what I really don’t miss? Fans. Because more often than not, they’re doing stupid shit. And so of course we had an example come to us from Gatlinburg, Tennessee this week . . and he’s a baseball fan.
I’m guessing he’s a baseball fan by the slide he attempted into home plate. Which may or may not have been Soto, but for the fact he wasn’t on a baseball diamond when he did it . . . he was on a glass sky-bridge. Because I don’t know about you but I always wanted to throw my body onto a piece of glass that sits a hundred and fifty feet above the ground. So of course the slide cracked a glass panel and the bridge was closed for repairs as a result.
If this schmo had been a football fan, the Darwin Awards would have been crowning another champion right about now.
Take me out to the Doll Game- The next story is a month old, but it’s the gift that keeps on, uh . . . giving.
The South Korean soccer team- FC Seoul- was issued a red card in the form of an $81,000 fine for filling their fan-less stadium with sex dolls rather than mannequins.
Sex doll , social media users noticed the substitutions, after which the team claimed it was all a “big mix up”. The team’s soccer league responded by claiming the team “could have easily recognized their use using common sense and experience”. And I really wish the team would have responded to the league’s statement but I guess it would have been too easy.
Reports that thousands of single guys converged on the stadium upon hearing about the fans in attendance could not be confirmed . . .
Ted and Hellboy’s Excellent Adventure- Remember the good old days when the idea of Ted Cruz in the Oval Office was the most frightening prospect imaginable? Yeah, I know the current occupant makes it difficult to remember much of anything, but rest assured that Ted is always happy to remind us.
Senator Seuss decided he was going to chirp in on a Twitter battle between a Florida congressman and actor Ron Perlman. Predictably, the shit got stupid
“Listen Hellboy,” Cruz wrote, “You talk good game when you’ve got Hollywood makeup & stuntmen. But I’ll bet $10k – to the nonpolitical charity of your choice – that you couldn’t last 5 min in the wrestling ring w/@Jim_Jordan w/o getting pinned. You up for it? Or does your publicist say too risky?”
That would be the same Jim Jordan who has been accused of covering up sexual misconduct allegations against Ohio State wrestling team physician Richard Strauss while serving as the assistant wrestling coach for the Buckeyes back in the nineties. The fact that Jordan is a U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 4th congressional district these days is not a shocker. Neither is the idea that Cruz would tag team Perlman by referencing a guy who was involved in a scandal involving sexual misconduct.
The two went back and forth before the former Beauty and the Beast star pinned Cruz down by telling him to leave Jordan home and include McConnell in the steel cage match instead. “All we need is a time, place and a few EMT’s standing by . . .” He tweeted.
Hey, what’s Perlman doing in November?
(If you’ve got a minute, read this piece by Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.)
Two things about the video above, and I’m really kinda serious. For one, why isn’t this a sport? I would definitely watch it on TV for a good three to five minutes. And for another thing . . . the world record is sixteen ping pong balls bounced into a pint glass in one minute. I think I could do this.
Hell, it’s as close as I’m ever going to get to challenging a world record, so there’s that.
Conversely, here’s a world record I have absolutely no chance of breaking . . .
In my best for last, Daniel Thorson gets the Capo di tutti Capper slot this week for doing absolutely nothing and being oblivious to what is going on in the world. And no, he ain’t running for office . . .
Thorson decided to go all Walden Pond on the world back in March by venturing up to a remote Cabin in Vermont for seventy five days. During which time the world was placed under house arrest, toilet paper replaced gold and platinum and face coverings became haute stuff.
When he made his way back to civilization on May 23rd, he took to Twitter with a query that has become a charmingly inimitable punchline for his friends and family.
“Did I miss anything?”
I know there are those among us (yours truly) who envy his blissful ignorance of our COVID-19 encrusted world. Because it speaks to the peace of mind that was ripped away from us all the way back there. After which the universe got busy reminding us that the the simplest conclusions are oftentimes turned into monolithic equations. And so yanno, taking a deep breath and just being? It’s a priceless commodity.
To borrow from the rock band Sublime, I don’t practice Buddhism and I ain’t got no crystal ball, but if I had a million dollars, I might just spend it all on the rent up at Thorson’s cabin. Tucked into the deep embrace of a Vermont landscape where the amenities possess that thing we need most of all right now.