Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Last night's debate

So who won? It doesn't matter. McCain won just by showing up and Obama won since people have spent six months talking about how he is an incompetent punk so all he had to do was not hurl his feces at the moderator and he would be fine. So they both won. Ain't that nice?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wall street never had a chance with me

Many, many, many and oh did I say many years ago, I had an interview with a headhunter who was looking to "groom" investment bankers. Now, this was a surprise, since investment banking is not something you interview for- rather, investment banking, much like the Republican party, is something you have to be born into. The interview went well, except for one hitch: Nobody could tell me what investment banking actually is. See, there are banks. These are the places where you keep your money. Then there are investment houses, where you hope to put your money to work. (Your odds are better than at a casino. Sometimes.) But what the fuck is an investment bank or an investment banker? My feeble mind couldn't quite grasp it. All I knew was that I would be paid up the nose (and not in coke), work 130 hours a week, buy new undies because I wouldn't have the time to wash the old ones and make pie charts. Lots and lots of pie charts. In Excel. All day, every day. Monday through Saturday, sometimes Sunday. Oh, and because this was back when the U.S. was a capitalist country, I could be fired/laid off/shitcanned any second. Sounded like a great way to spend the flower of my youth, but sadly it fell through because recruiters generally have morals that resemble canine fecal matter.
But just think. If I played my cards right, I could be unemployed RIGHT NOW.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why Democrats never win anything

Because they don't have the imagery (two guys drinking coffee in anytown, USA) and don't have the ability to demagogue so effortlessly. "Boulder Liberal" is a great catchphrase. Vapid but great. (Sure it writes off 1/3rd of the state but meh...)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What's the reward for winning a pie eating contest?

More pie.
What's the reward for a great audition? A callback.
On another note, more confirmation that the religious can be as scuzzy as the rest of us: no, insulting me won't make me more likely to wire you 40 grand for a property I have never seen before.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Back in my Harlem days, my stoop sitting neighbor Edward encouraged me to 1) be an actor/stand up comic in L.A. and 2) give up on relationships and go for hookers instead. 1) is a modified success right now because I just wrapped up an audition for Birthright Israel's monologues project here in NY. It went well, or so I thought. As for 2).....lemme snooze on that one.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Super duper busy

I'm stating at the City U of NY on Tuesday as a "non matriculating" Ph.D. student. The idea is that if I wow them, I'll get admitted in the spring, hopefully under a research grant. I also put together a website for a friend, and spent my spare time pounding the pavements of NYC. If nothing else, being here does wonders for my social life.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Oh Gross

Nebraska 'Safe-Haven' Law Allows Abandonment of Teens
The Christian Post ^ | Aug. 24 2008 | Jean Ortiz

Posted on Monday, August 25, 2008 11:41:10 AM by Between the Lines

OMAHA, Neb. - Nebraska's new "safe-haven" law allowing parents to abandon unwanted children at hospitals with no questions asked is unique in a significant way: It goes beyond babies and potentially permits the abandonment of anyone under 19.

While lawmakers may not have intended it, the month-old law raises the possibility that frustrated parents could drop off misbehaving teens or even severely disabled older children with impunity.

"Whether the kid is disabled or unruly or just being a hormonal teenager, the state is saying: 'Hey, we have a really easy option for you,'" said Adam Pertman, executive director of a New York adoption institute and a frequent critic of safe-haven laws.

Nebraska's approach is surprising because it is the last state in the nation to adopt a safe-haven law.

But instead of following the lead of other states, which focus on the abandonment of newborns, lawmakers here wanted to extend the protection to all minors. And in Nebraska, that goes all the way up to age 19.

"All children deserve our protection," said Sen. Tom White, who helped broaden the measure. "If we save one child from being abused, it's well, well worth it."

White said it doesn't matter if that child is an infant or three years old or in the care of a parent or baby sitter. As for what constitutes a minor, he refers to common law, which interprets it to be anyone under age 14.

State Sen. Arnie Stuthman, who introduced the original bill dealing only with infants, agreed to the compromise after the bill became stalled in debate.

"The main interest I have is that it gives the mother or a parent another option of what to do with a child before they do something drastic," he said.

The measure, which took effect July 18, does not absolve people of possible criminal charges — for example, if a child had been beaten.

And since the law does not specify, it technically allows anyone, not just a parent, to legally surrender custody. Most other states narrowly define the role of the person surrendering the child.

Some hospitals have fielded questions from the public about the law, but no children have been dropped off.

"I hope there never is one," Stuthman said.

Pertman, who directs the New York-based Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, said his research going back several years shows safe-haven laws are not accomplishing what they intended. Women who are distressed enough to want to abandon their children are not the ones reading billboards or getting the message about these laws, he said.

Pertman finds Nebraska's law particularly alarming because it is not focused on infants and parents.

Casting such a wide net "circumvents every rational practice in child welfare that I'm aware of," he said. "That's as nicely as I can put it."

California, for example, allows parents to legally abandon a child at a hospital or other designated safe zones within 72 hours of birth.

The brevity of the law could trigger litigation over its meaning, said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor.

"This law is obviously written in almost skeletal form," he said. "Drafters will sometimes try to say as little as possible so they don't create ambiguity, but drafters here succeeded in writing the law in such a limited fashion that the entire provision is ambiguous."

Nebraska lawmakers acknowledge the courts will have to sort out the details, and they have said they are open to revisiting the legislation if necessary.

The Nebraska Hospital Association has been working to help its 85 member hospitals statewide establish procedures for dealing with abandonment cases.

Sen. Ernie Chambers, who voted against the law, said he would prefer to address the reasons that parents abandon their children rather than offer them safe haven.

"I don't think such laws are wise," he said.

Kathy Bigsby Moore, executive director of the child advocacy group Voices for Children in Nebraska, said she also worries how the law might affect adoption rates.

"The sad thing is we have plenty of other mechanisms for people to use," she said. "I'm not sure the safe-haven law is really going to help in a majority of cases."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Unlikely to be Mr. Louisiana anytime soon

Just a hunch. In other news, my new place is gorgeous, coney island is lovely and there is curry all around.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

53 men and a path of self destruction

So it only took four years or so, but I finally met Desiree Burch in person. We first spoke on the Onion, which has succeeded in demolishing the line between truth and parody. Since then, I have been busy being 12000 or so miles away (although recently only 1425 miles off base- an improvement) which gave me, "Not Dave", a chance to be close enough to see her show 52 man pickup down on Hudson street. It was one of those small audience gathering and when she walked up on stage between rows of chairs I thought to myself "behave...." And I actually did.

Good thing too, as 52 man pickup mixes that age old card game with stories of dating in NYC. I won't spoil it for anyone but while listening I marveled that she has not become a lesbian. After the play we hung out at a bar where I resisted alcohol and the lusty misadventures alcohol shall bring. I don't want to wind up in her monologue one day, even if I am an ace.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

NY is much easier the second time around

I first moved to New York City in 1999, having decided that I was going to live in a place where I was no more of a weirdo than anyone else. It was hard. I spent nearly two months in the Flushing YMCA while the (now mercifully defunct) New York City Board of Education tried to send me to various warzones around the city on a temporary basis.

I finally wound up in Harlem, teaching at a school where students majored in metal detectors and living in a neighborhood which was not yet "gentrified" [a fancy term which translates to "safe for middle class white people from Omaha".] I got on fine in Harlem, perhaps due to a combination of relentless politeness where I called everyone Sir or Miss, like a good European and the mere novelty of a white guy in a suit and headgear who actually lived there. My eventual landlord named me his "shwartze grandson" and all was well on the home front. Before finding that studio however, I had to endure about 4 months in an SRO or single room occupancy. An SRO, which is New York's answer to the cardboard box, is a room the size of a casket. Perched unsteadily on the second floor of a brownstone, mine was connected to a bathroom shared by myself, a dull witted german lad and a guy who called himself a doctor but something must have gone wrong in his medical career to have lived there at the age of fiftysomething. I caught a glimpse of what that something may have been when he attempted, several times, to hop in the shower with me, dissuaded only by my razor blade.

The school was the sort where there were no textbooks or parents. The principal had vague notions that I should teach reading, though how this was to be without books was a mystery. Not having a classroom didn't help either.

Contrast all that with my return. After a few days of being hosted by the participants of Couch Surfing, I landed on the third floor of a beautiful town house in Queens for only twenty dollars more than the Harlem spot. And yes, interviews are coming.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You mean they got laws here?

I know, I know. I'm shocked too. I mean this is the state where Edwin Edwards was once elected on the slogan "Vote for the crook. It's important." But appearances aside, they do have laws, including the Louisiana Public Records Act. Which I will be putting to good use shortly.

That means you, Jack Da.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Uh, no

In the course of the spring, I got to chatting with a woman in northern Louisiana. She didn't do much in terms of practical help but did hook me up with the school's first [and likely last] Black football coach, who, in turn, is now [probably] trying to hook me up with his attorney. And, in the meantime, I am preparing for my northern migration. The lady, whose interest in me is sustained I think by the hope that I will soon join her church, has advised me to remain in my favorite southern town and wait to see what the litigation will bring. And what, pray, tell, will this 30 year old with a Masters in Education do in the meantime?
"Well you could be a waiter downtown."
Uh, no.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I always enjoy that look

Sometime before Independence Day, a lad and I got to chatting. He tells me that due to my "ethnicity", it was pre determined by my professor [who shall go nameless] that I will fail his course. It seems that Jack [I did not say how long he shall go nameless- consider this a warning] decides, in consult with the dean of the graduate school, who passes and who doesn't, well before the student shows up for class. The deciding factor, according to Jack's colleague, is whether the student has the right ethnic makeup to earn a doctorate. An interesting methodology and one I did not learn about when doing my Masters in Education.

Not being totally bereft of brains, I put the "ethnicity" thing and the failing mark together and came to the conclusion that Jack D. [seriously, pay attention] doesn't like my schnoz. And so, for the second time in my life, I'm going to harp on the yid thing.

The first time was in the tenth grade, when I took a class- temporarily- from a lad named Chuck Yeager. Chuck bore a smile that seemed fixed to his face with nails and an attitude that conveyed the sort of insincere hospitality many down here are famous for. When not mocking my accent, he would call on me every chance he could. Surprisingly, my grades went from D's and F's to B's when I finally put my foot down and changed classes.

Putting my foot down with Jack D. was not an option, hailing as he does, from an old line Sicilian family around New Orleans and thinking that he owns the department by birthright. Also, he had the neat setup where only he taught the course required to graduate. I went in, knowing before I ever did, that I would fail. I knew this because his very first [electronic] words to me inquired about where I am from and he called me "son". I was sorely tempted to let him know that unless he hung out at the socialist housing blocks of Budapest in the late 1970s', it was highly unlikely that we were filial relations. I had also considered telling him that I was not his boy, kid, little fella, fella, or any such endearments but I held my tongue. [Yes, even I can hold my tongue.]

I also knew this because I decided to take his temperature in advance and send him a bit of research which got me an A in my masters program. Not surprisingly, he called it unpublishable drivel. So I bucked up for an F.

Ten weeks go by. No grades. At all. Then, one day before the end of the semester, I get a D. Not cool in grad school. I get a dismissal letter 3 days later. Then I find out that the department chair is no longer the chair. Then the phone call. With names.

So now, I use brutally honest shorthand:

"Are you in school?"
"How come?"
"I got kicked out because a prof failed me since I'm Jewish."

And that, is when I get the look.
There are actually two looks. The first look is sympathetic. The second is astounded. It's the second one that I enjoy. Where their heads whip around, their eyes widen and they just...look.

"No way."





Some kids are more worldly than others. Not surprisingly in the deep south, the worldly kids tend to be black.


"I can believe it."

"Yeah I totally see that happening."

I enjoy the look. Maybe because I'm a cruel bastard who enjoys disillusioning the youth of today. Or maybe because being disillusioned is a necessity at times.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

An awesome night

I got invited to see belly dancers downtown. And they were mostly really good- one was a friend of mine from school, so she, her friend and her mom joined me for a movie- Get Smart [side note: Anne Hathaway is drool worthy] and then we got home. The dancers were good, the girl was super cool and being with her mom wasn't as creepy as it sounds. Awesome.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Best Jesse Helms obituary ever

this says it better than I ever could.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Points for honesty

I had a lovely chat with a lad who informed me that my "ethnicity" (Jooooo) informs my course grade and, shockingly, not for the better.

Happy 4th of July Y'all.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This story might offer some clues

Before coming to the southland, I was completing an M.Ed. in Eastern Europe and earning my keep as an EFL teacher at a University- and I use that word loosely- in Gliwice, Poland. It was there, in Gliwice, that one of my students wrote the following charming short story:

The story of the goblin, the goat and the hermaphrodite princess
(As told by the goblin)

Once upon a time there lived a beautiful Pricess in a lovely castle surrounded by a garden of pretty flowers. It was a beautiful time. However, the Princess, who was a hermaphrodite, suffered from constant diarreha. Such an affliction was brought about by having eaten a poisoned banana given to her by the goblin who guarded the garden, the castle and the princess.

Why would she eat the poisoned banana, especially since the castle had no bathroom, only a window for her to do her business? Well you see, this princess was not very smart and she would eat most anything a man or creature offered. Soon, she was afflicted with diarrehea day and night as she waited to be rescued from the goblin and the castle.

Her rescuer was neither a prince, princess or combination thereof. Rather, it was the zebra who had escaped from the zoo to munch on grass throughout the countryside when he happened upon the garden and goblin. He and the goblin fought ferociously over a patch of dead grass when the zebra knocked him over with his own horns (it was a special kind of zebra straight from Chernobyl.) The creature charged the castle and was soon inside the castle and the princess with whom he or she lived happily ever. Or at least this was the story my class told me when I was a fledgling student teacher in Silesia.

The more I think about it, the more likely it is that this story holds some clues to my present predicament.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fucking Disgusting

I don't generally get political and definitely don't get into Israeli stuff on this blog- i leave that to Yaeli but this story caught my eye earlier. It's about a lad named Samir Kuntar. Samir, a famous freedom fighter, struck a blow for his oppressed brothers by, as the blogger Sandmonkey puts it,

the coastal town of Nahariya, the terrorists shot dead a policeman and
forced their way into an apartment building, where they captured Danny
Haran and his daughter, Einat, 4.

While the terrorists rampaged
through the apartment, firing weapons and detonating grenades, Haran's
wife Smadar hid in a crawlspace above the couple's bedroom together
with their other daughter, two-year-old Yael, and a neighbor.

an effort to prevent Yael from crying out and alerting the terrorists
to their whereabouts, Smadar kept her hand over the child's mouth, and
accidentally smothered her to death.

Meanwhile Kuntar and his group took Danny and Einat Haran to the beach.

according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so
that his death would be the last sight she would ever see," Smadar
wrote later.

"Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar."

Two years ago, Samir's pals kidnapped three Israeli soldiers, and have been proposing a trade. No, not exchanging the soldiers for Samir: Rather, as CNN put it ""We'll have a final answer when they are returned," Regev said of whether they were alive or dead." In other words, Samir's release will secure information on whether these guys are even alive. What a deal! I could understand [not accept]. releasing Samir in exchange for the soldiers. They have families after all. But that's not the deal. The deal is releasing Samir in exchange for confirming whether the soldiers are even alive. Assume, best case, that they are. Will they be released? No. But maybe, somewhere, another child killer can be released in exchange for the soldiers.

If they haven't died by then.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I want what they have

So after eating some sushi in the Japanese restaurant that employs the other resident Heeb of Lafayette, I settled in to watch Harold and Kumar go to white castle. Take it from someone who has never touched a joint, it was still an awesome movie- and one I could definitely relate to. There is a moment when Harold and Kumar watch their Jewish neighbors scarfing down some hot dogs and Harold says "I want what they have." It's what Jews said 40 years ago. And no, its not about the hot dogs.

A good many years ago (not 40), I went to a fast food place that was similar to the hot dog joint in the movie. The food sucked, but that was beside the point. Everything was a production: from getting a drink ("Water please." "Wa...what?") to a menu ("You want a menu?") to ordering. Actually, I didn't get to ordering because by that time I was so pissy, I just up and left. And, partly because of that day and partly because of many, MANY similar days, I never set foot in Johnny Rockets again. But yeah. I want what they have.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose: at least here

My quasi reintegration began when the great state of Louisiana, ecstatic over a bit of unexpected state funding, posted an ad on Linguistlist, hoping for a few adventurous souls to hop on down and do a Ph.D. Yours truly, then sampling Slovakian cuisine, was one of the applicants. This was so since he wanted a doctorate very muchly and the offer- free tuition and a graduate assistantship stipend- was greatly to his liking. However, your intrepid reintegrationst was mindful of the fact that because the docs didn't do such a hot job at his delivery and left him with hand tremors and a shitty memory, he would need accommodations to make it through school. In fact, Northwestern U. had mentioned that he should stay away from them for this exact reason. And so, taking the risk that he would be left to munch on carbs for another year, he sent off his many medical documents with his application.

But behold, if you will, a letter of acceptance which led to a hastily arranged departure from the quasi-motherland, leaving behind his 90something grandmother [whom he was very fond of- a rarity for him] to sample the delights, savory and otherwise of his newly adopted home state. Of course, he was used to adopting new homes, but that's neither here nor there.

And so it is, that he arrived on a rainy summer day, to the warm southern hospitality of the only other New York Jew on the premises, an anti-social lad who liked the idea of helping much more than helping. And in 2 days time, faced, again, with homelessness, he secured a place on campus, but not the place that most locals thought an "international student" [which he is not- which is neither here nor there] should occupy. Though a grad student, he was given a roommate- another international student. [The university housing survey's first item? Ethnicity. The Louisiana voter registration form's penultimate question? Religious affiliation.]

Sadly, all was not entirely well in La La Land. That accommodation thingie? Never happened. Of course there was a chat or three with one of the professors, which is how your intrepid academic wanker learned, much to his surprise, that his English may not be good enough for graduate school. The first semester ended on a definite downer, having secured a C+ average- not what grad school calls for by the way- and nearly getting kicked out.

Fear not though, for a letter high on legal mumbo jumbo earned a trip back to the cauldron of higher education. Sadly, some were displeased by this show of gumption and responded by saying many mean things about yours truly, and, much more importantly, setting about screwing him over grade wise. Which he does not appreciate. At all. So, for example, when his class ended after ten weeks without a single grade, only to learn, one day before the deadline, that he had failed, your newly minted Louisianan got grouchy enough to file all sorts of papers. (He got even more grouchy when learning that the lad who admitted him has been demoted from his position and that a friend of his was threatened by the faculty.)

And so it is, that your earnest blogger is once again on the outside of the tent, pissing in, rather than inside the tent, pissing out. This is quite liberating however. For example, I now wear a yarmulke, confident that my situation here can't detoriate any further. Should anyone ask why I do not live with the international students, or why I haven't been to church, or where I am from and when am I leaving [all questions I have gotten] I am free to respond with a stream of dirty words I have not previously uttered but very much wanted to, especially to the young man who still does not know my name but insists that I attend bible study.

Freedom rocks. The insecurity that brings about said freedom? Meh.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Another close one?

I don't have any stories like this myself- and for this i am incredibly, incredibly grateful- but my godfather had a bunch and now a former classmate of mine is on his very own pregnancy death watch.

T, a lad with flowing auburn locks, whose Marine background prepared him superbly for the Poland-based Masters program we met in, a Masters program where we lived on the edge of penury for two years, a Masters program ran, on the local level, by a crooked priest who tried to sell us on an excellent tax evasion scheme- you know, that kind of program, the EFL kind- has, unlike most other males, stopped counting the number of women he bedded [i never even started that count but then, i AM weird]at 100. One of them was one of my former students in Poland. T, ever the student deflowerer, was also seen in the company of a well endowed lady whom i was briefly in lust with until i heard her speak. He then relocated to the swamps of New Orleans, three hours due east of my cosy spot. An amiable wanderer, he lives- in stark terror at the moment- in an elevated house in the garden district. Sharing his abode, on a hopefully temporary basis is a perky midwestern fundamentalist who, bless her sheltered heart, was taken in by his considerable non-fundamentalist charms. I thought the whole thing rather peachy- she did grate on me, at one point inviting me to "a real American church" [why not a sham one God?]- but i cut her youthful spirit some slack and am a sucker for domestic bliss anyhow.

Sadly, all is not well, as John Lennon, imagining a world with no religion, is not liked by the potential Mrs T. She IS only 22 though, so perhaps with time, she may open up to new experiences. Until then though, I gotta conceal my devil worshipping. She also imagines teaching overseas, which should be a real eye-opener for her so I totally encourage that. Not in the Medina though.

T himself seems to be running out of patience and no wonder- his whole world in perfect harmony pitch, while totally awesome from my perspective, is not going to find a happy audience with Mrs. T. But who knows? A few years in East Bumfucktownia, Africa, may do wonders. And I say this with total, absolute, sincerity. 22 is way too young to be absolutely certain of everything.I am seriously hoping that T sticks it out for a bit, because, as Uncle Kracker would say "You polished up my halo
And I dirtied up your soul"-- that would actually be healthy all around.


I always wind up surrounded by guys with names like Smitty or Bucky. I don't know why this is so. While in Memphis, I averaged a car wreck every six months and was tended to by Smitty, a jovial six foot tall tobacco chewer. Decked out in overalls and a baseball cap, he took a liking to me that was dampened only by the following convo:

"You go to church little man?"
" but I go to a synagogue if that makes you feel better."
"Nah. Go to church little man."

I declined and while we got on fine, I sensed a definite chill. The newest clone is Bucky, manager of the local computer repair shop. Since my screen is busted, I have been waiting for a replacement since mid-May. Various screen-related convos included:

"Is the screen ready?"
"Uhhh...I uhhh asked for the replacement but ordered the wrong part."
"Well my eyes are really bad and I can't read them little numbers."

"Is the screen ready?"
"Waiting for the delivery."
"Since when?"
"Why..ummm...last week."

"Is the screen ready."
"It will be. Totally."

It is moments like this- and there are many moments like this- when I consider salmon fishing in Alaska.

Oh and something educational is brewing as well, but this being an uber small town, I'll hold off on blogging it. I also have an interview next week for a Project Manager position. That's right. Being a Bossy Hermit. In Joisey no less.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My rap career is on hold

Because I can't compete with these guys.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

So true

I found this funny story online and had to post it:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family. The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs...I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?"

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your grandchildren, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A first lady, two stalkers and a pothead walk into a Korean restaurant....

True, the wicked witch of the west [or east] is gone. But in her wake, we can savor this tidbit about her marriage/business partnership:

"During the early Clinton years, political adviser Paul Begala, who had spent countless hours on the road with the couple during the 1992 campaign, told friends he had discovered the secret of their relationship: Both looked at each other in mystery at how the other person had married someone so undeserving."

In quasi-related political news, I trekked up to Memphis recently at the invitation of a friend who had taught at the same "University" [deliberate quotation marks] that I did when gathering my M.Ed. Said "University" was located in southern Poland, spread out over two campuses, one in Czestachowa and one in Gliwice. Serenly looked upon by myriad statues of Catholic figures (such as the Virgin Mary) and presided over by a crooked priest who tried to sell us on a really excellent tax evasion scheme, the "University" was endowed with a library that didn't allow books to be loaned out and an administration that had no idea what scheduling classes meant. Still, a good enough time was had by all, especially the young lady who called me at 4 AM one morn to confess her love for "teacher." Adorable in a certain psycho way. In a few years she may be fatal attraction material.

And speaking of fatal attraction, Glenn Close proved timeless when my former hometown's Congressman, Steven Ira Cohen [Yes. Really] compared Glenn's character to Hillary Clinton. I always adored how socially malfunctioning Steve was. When not showing his pot plants to reporters or comparing himself to black women on national tevee, Steve is always up for a Hillary as murderess analogy. That man rocks.

But not nearly as much as Korean food, which is one of the few (maybe only) foods to taste better outside of Korea. This was proven by my friend and I visiting a Korean restaurant on Mendenhall in southeast Memphis and lunging for tasty grub. I still refuse to eat kimchee unless it's been grilled, but the rest was outstanding. It's just that this stuff was way different in Korea because a) I had to eat it 3 times a day and b) Korea and health inspectors don't go together. (I refuse to elaborate).

The Memphis visit concluded with a trip to an excellent blues joint called Wild Bill's which is in North Memphis, exactly the kind of neighborhood where it should be. Anyhoo, good music, good grub. A fetching young lady, who only outweighted me by two hundred pounds or so, and had pupils the size of grapefruits wanted to get me on the dance floor [and in other places] but I was too flattered and terrified to move. Good thing too. Didn't we already discuss what happens with me on a dance floor?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What's in a name?

When I was getting my citizenship in Philly, I had a chance to change my name. My father and mother both did. I took a pass and never regretted it. It's not that I hate America or that I don't like the sound of John Q. Smith as it whizzes by my ear. It's just that to change my name would have been to change myself, to shrug of my past and my roots. I didn't want to do that. And when I read this, I felt again that I made the right choice.

Especially when I read this part:

"Fritz and Otto excelled in their studies in Vienna. However, like other Jews, they suffered greatly from the anti-Semitism that prevailed in Europe at this time. As a result, both Kohn brothers abandoned their Jewish heritage and converted to Roman Catholicism.

In addition, in 1897, Otto decided to shed the Jewish-sounding name of Kohn. He chose a new name by dropping a pencil on a map. The pencil landed on Ireland's County Kerry. In 1901, Fritz followed his brother’s example and officially changed his name to Frederick Kerry.

Fred, who worked as an accountant at his uncle's shoe factory, married Ida Loewe, a Jewish musician from Budapest. Ida was a descendant of Sinai Loew, a brother of Rabbi Judah Loew, the famous Kabbalist, philosopher and Talmudist known as the "Maharal of Prague" who some say invented the character of the Golem. Two of Ida's siblings, Otto Loewe and Jenni Loewe, were killed in Nazi concentration camps.

Fred, Ida and their first son Erich were all baptized as Catholics. And in 1905, the young family immigrated to America. After entering through Ellis Island, the family first lived in Chicago and then settled in Boston. Fred and Ida had two more children in America, Mildred (1910) and Richard (1915).

Fred and Ida and their three children lived in Brookline, where Fred became a prominent man in the shoe business and regularly attended Sunday Catholic church services. Fred did not tell and no one would have guessed that the family had Jewish roots.

In 1921, Fred Kerry, at age 48, entered a Boston hotel and shot himself in the head. Some say the suicide was due to financial stress or depression. Perhaps the transition from Czech Jew to American Catholic was too great and unsupported a spiritual, psychological and social change."

I have mentioned before that many, many and have I said...many here have been making not-so-subtle overtures to have me convert to the local flavor. When I tell them to pound dirt, I'm doing them a favor. Because the new and improved me wouldn't be me.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bye bye Hill

Hi Hillary,

I feel for you. I really do. You have foresaken your own happiness in order to spend the prime of your adult life cleaning up the messes of an emotionally wrecked man-child. I get that. And I understand that your marriage was always a business proposition. No doubt, you felt, after 8 years of Bill and his girlfriends (well 30 years) that you deserved compensation. And since you had all the money in the world, you wanted that compensation to be more than that- you wanted respect and power.

So, after a period spent agonizing over whether you were a Cubs or a Yankees fan, you showed up in New York, waiting for your crown. Except that Lazio, that little schmuck from Long Island, actually wanted to have an election- a move that seemed so quaint in 2000 that I ponied up 50 bucks for his effort. It was touching.

You were offended. No doubt you figured that you deserved something. No doubt, you still feel this way, which is why you weren't going to spend your prime boomer years sitting on the Committee for Aging Ex First Ladies or something. No ma'am. You deserved better. Which is why, in a display of arrogance that seems second nature to you, you marched off to race to the white house as the presumed Democratic nominee. And they almost went along, which is why they are called the stupid party.

But then, out of nowhere, this young black guy from Chicago came along and actually campaigned. Against you. The nerve of some people. Didn't he know that your husband was the first black president? [I believe it was Toni Morrison who said that Bill was black because he grew up poor and liked fried chicken. By that standard I'm black too. Neat huh?)

So anyway, not only did he campaign, he started winning. True, he didn't say too much that was daring or original but he did have the singular virtue of not being you. Also, he was black but not Al Sharpton black so that helped. Nobody likes being told all the time how mean, greedy and evil they are and Obama didn't do that. [Off on a tangent, I met Al once. He struck me as the sort who would drown his mom for a nickel.] So that was nice, even if his pastor is a fruitcake. Meh. Given Black American history over the last 400 years he is entitled to be a fruitcake. To a point. [Not that being a fruitcake is something to aim for.]

Let's talk about you. See, the thing with you is, you are inspirational. You inspire people to hate you. Why? do I say this? Jon Stewart once called your face the place where boners go to die and that's part of it. But there is more to it. See, i know this Lady who is drop dead gorgeous- inside and out. Usually (not always) that's a package deal. I have known pretty women whom I wouldn't come near. Over time, that sort of prettiness usually fades. And after a point they become you. Everything about you says "I wanted to be president since I was five, I deserve to be president, and if I don't become president my life will lose all meaning." This is an unattractive quality you share with Al Gore. NOT a good thing. Plus, whether it's Hillary in tears or Hillary fighting terrorists or Hillary bowling and doing shots, there never was a real Hillary. Like your husband, you have no core. You are whatever you think people want you to be. Not a good thing.

And that, ultimately, is what's causing your meltdown, rambling on about how Obama can't win white voters like you can. This is probably true but he doesn't need your kind of white voters anyway. You won western pennsylvania counties by 70, 75%. Hill, I've been out there. No chance that those people will vote for a democrat in the fall. They're pro-life Catholics who hunt and eat lotsa pierogies. That's all good but those guys will NOT vote for a democrat. Ok? They voted for you because they are (ancestorally) registered democrats and because they don't like Obama's age, suits, fancy city talk or skin color, in that order. But McCain has them anyway because McCain can relate better to them than either of you two. So your argument is "I should be the nominee because I do better with voters who will never vote for me again." Kind of absurd, no?

Go home. Kiss your kid. Kick your husband. See a therapist. Look forward to doing something worthwhile in your twilight years. Bye.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Slowly grinding on

I finished a paper that actually turned out to be tons of fun (I know- geekazoid) on Chinese education in the 19th Century. It let me dig into all sorts of stuff (online at least) like letters to the editor from 1903 and court decisions from the late 1800s. A part of me wants to be an archeologist when I grow up. Linguist may work tho.

I have 2 (maybe more like 1.7) papers left to write. It's more drudgery at this point than anything. Some may have noticed that I tend to be the emotional sort, no matter how much I hide it (or try to). And honestly, this semester I have just been sleepwalking (emotionally) through it.

On the bright side, there are some signs that even this state may, possibly, show interest in complying with the law and giving me testing accomodations, like they were supposed to all along. Which would be neat and may make me expulsion proof.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

There is no forever

Young'ins, lend me your ears. As we speak, you may be tempted by words like always, forever, eternally, everlasting and so forth. The person speaking these words is likely a fetching young lady (early 20s or so) who has grown up on Cinderella and is IN LOVE. Not with you tho. She is in love with the idea of love as she saw it on tv. That has very little to do with real life. Love is easy when prince charming is behaving himself. When he is tall and slim and has nice clothes. Love, to be fair, is also easy as long as Cinderella has an hourglass figure and the mind to use it.

However, love starts getting very sticky when other, less savory, less idealized aspects of this happy couple creep in. Say Prince Charming is depressed or loses his job. Say Cinderella gains weight. Say the two find themselves eating out of take away boxes instead of dining at Bertulli's. This, my friends, is when love is a bitch.

Now, some say that's what true love is made of. You see a person at their worst and accept that as part of who they are because you love them unconditionally. This is nothing more than a self-serving fairy tale. The truth is, both you and your loved ones put on airs to appear a certain way. You wear hot clothes. He drives a nice car. Neither of you shares other, less ideal parts of yourselves, the parts that scare even you, because you know that they don't REALLY want to see that side to you no matter how much they insist. So you both go on, pretending that these parts don't exist.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

first time

Yes, even at my decrepit old age, I can have firsts and a few nights ago was my first visit to a hookah bar. Hidden away in the back of what I must summon all my generosity to call a pizza place, I gathered with a dorm mate and his friend over a bowl of sweet melon flavored stuff. And no, it wasn't wacky tobbacy. I'd never touch that since most of the high school elite back where I went to high school were stoned out of their minds and communicating with them was no fun. At all. Usually, the best I could get would be them raising their heads, sniffing loudly, looking at me with bloodshot eyes and then going back to sleep. In Poland, I saw many of my wasted classmates hunched over the equipment [pipes, lighters, tweezers, etc], tooling away like mad scientists, enveloped by the foul-sickly sweet stench of weed and two week old pirogies and wondered if weed makes you an idiot savant. So no weed. I have this fear that if I ever touch it, I will turn into a pot bellied, bald-headed forty-five year old eating pizza in his best friends' moms' basement.

I also never had any sort of tobacco before so I was actually getting slightly high (and sick) by the second bowl. Ahhh irresponsibility. Good bad times.


Yep, I'm off tomorrow. I had gotten 200 bucks from the student government but my hearing must not be what it once was since I distinctly heard three hundred at the meeting. If I were the ornery, unpleasant sort, which circumstances force me to be, I may just have to get a hold of the meeting minutes to check whether I need a cochlear implant or not.

In any case, Minneapolis promises to be a balmy 50 degrees. No crocs there. A friend tells me that St. Paul has a fun arty vibe so I'll see if I can check that out. Also, I may want to throw together a powerpoint for the presentation. Just a heads up to self.

I haven't spoken to the cousins yet and chances are, I probably wont. Somehow, stealing money from your grandmother while she is on her death bed strikes me as uber uncool. I have this tendency to basically cross people off- to decide "nah". Sometimes I even go out of my way to test their loyalty because to be honest, loyalty is in very short supply, especially loyalty without bounty. (Have you ever heard the phrase "I am invested in this relationship?" No? Good for you.) I know that's a naughty thing to do of course and I'd really rather relax and hold hands across the globe while singing kumbaya but usually when i get into those moods, I notice a pickpocket in the middle of the kumbaya circle.

Monday, April 21, 2008

One month

I no longer think about her every moment. I no longer walk around in a daze. I no longer look like a train wreck. But....the world is moving on around me and I need to stop.

30 years. 30 years of hugs, unconditional love, kisses, affection. I no longer think of her every day like I used to. Just images here and there. Her smile. Her upcountry accent. Her fingers, bent by men who had no right to call themselves men. Her cooking. Her blue eyes. Her presence. Her apartment. Her little metal box which was inscribed "from the "night school" of survivors, 1949." I don't think about those last months except for one moment: When she was laying in bed and talking. She hardly ever talked about the camps or the deportation. But that day, she did. She told me how, in the village where she was born and lived her whole life, they showed up and rounded up all the Jews. Put them on the trains. And as the Jews were prodded with machine guns, their so-called neighbors and friends gathered around on both sides and cheered. They threw rotten eggs. They cackled. And then she looked at me, raised a finger and said "But I don't hate them. And I don't hate Christians." Because that's who she was.

And the kids she spent her life doting on got together with their dipshit father and decided to rob her blind as she lay dying. Classy huh?

One month. I need that month so I can go away. So I can be in a place where no one else is. So I can cry and scream and throw things. So I can get all that out of my system and then lay back, close my eyes and dream of her.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I hate money

One time I saw this guy on the upper west side of manhattan. He had on a stained blue coat. A long, dirty, white beard billowed around him as he pushed a shopping cart, laden with garbage bags. And as I saw him, it hit me that I could be that guy.

I didn't know him. I didn't know if he drank, or did drugs, or was mentally ill. Or if he simply gave up on modern society. But if he did- I can understand.

My grandmother, after a lifetime of savings (and reparations for the Holocaust) scrimped together somewhere around thirty thousand dollars- a fortune in eastern Europe. She had visions of diving it equally between her two daughters and three grandsons. It was not to be. Her daughter died of cancer, leaving behind a drunken fool of a widower, a semi-literate anti-Semite whom I once considered beating to a pulp after he told my grandmother that Hitler didn't do enough. He helped raise one son who is a functional alcoholic and another who is blessedly oblivious to his surroundings. And together, they decided to steal every last cent as she lay on her deathbed.

I don't want to be like the guy with the shopping cart. But honestly, I can understand where he might be coming from. We are all mercenaries. Relationships are usually an exchange. Here, if someone speaks to me, chances are better than 2:1 that they want something. Once, when I was talking on gmail messenger, my father asked me "How much time do you spend on that and what do you get out of it?" I don't blame him. It's what's expected.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yes, yes, but tell me something I didn't know

Why Beautiful Women Marry Less Attractive Men

Jeanna Bryner
LiveScience Staff Writer

Choice quote: "Men are very sensitive to women's attractiveness. Women seem to be sensitive to men's height and salary," said Ariely, who was not involved in the recent study."


Add to that the pearl of wisdom imparted by a divorced lawyer in Lake Charles ("women want you to be mean to them") and you got the makings of true marital bliss.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Next stop: Minneapolis

The asiatown express, barrelling away on rickety tracks towards a hazy doctorate has taken a few detours lately. When invited to speak at a conference in Madison, Wisconsin, the minor matter of cost was neglected. Just as well since Madison does not, as I had already mentioned, draw me in. Still, so much of this business is about making connections and being noticed that I am constantly looking for new opportunities. Well that and I'm a ham. My next projected stop, well outside of the Borscht Belt, is (probably gobbobly) Minneapolis. I've never been there but next to Chicago it's probably the biggest city in the midwest and sounds like a nice time. The mall of America is there and y'all know how incredibly greedy and materialistic I am.

Speaking of being greedy and materialistic, I squeezed 300 bucks from the SGA for this noble cause, but paypal buttons are your friend. Really.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

It's official: We're all dogs looking for a bone

I went clubbing last night. This was at the invitation of a friend, a construction worker from the Bahamas. Laffy's swankiest (ahem) nightspot is a lounge on the edge of downtown called KaBoom or KaBamBa or some such thing. The cover was six bucks- more than the five that others charge because it's swanky, right?

I had on a white dress shirt and black pants (had to sit through a hemorrhoid-inducing presentation that day on how people should actually talk to other people and how we can help them do this: only in America can someone parlay that advice into a career) so I was, yanno, swanky. My hair was at its Jewfroiest. And yes, that's an asiatown word. Anyhoo, after entering, I got a text that my friend was upstairs. He was sitting in the corner, drinking. Then he wandered to another corner and drank some more. A lass came by with vials of stuff and asked if I wanted any which inspired my wittiest line of the night "No, but I'll have you if you'd like." My comic material exhausted, I caught up with Bahamarama and his friends who were trying to talk to four black girls. Trying to talk to someone is of course no easy task. I had seen warmer ice cubes. (Can ice cubes be described as hot?) Gamely, I tried my sweet-innocent thingie but these ladies were not the sort I imagined who would like clever lines. They were the sort who were hot, knew they were hot and wanted to spend the night rejecting others as a way of flaunting the power of their hotness. Prince could have pulled up in a little red corvette and they would have ignored him on principle. Eventually, after much sighing and eye rolling, they left in a stream of ice water. As we speak, they are likely complaining that all men are dogs.

Which is sort of true. As a rule, I never go out to a club or bar or whatever with women on my mind. The more you push for something the less likely you are to get it so I try to go out dreaming of swanky tiles and flashy lights. Still, the theory goes, you got some boys, you got some girls, you got a recipe for a good time. What you got, at least in this town, is a bunch of girls dancing with each other and comparing purses as boys sullenly stand by and drink. i decided to jump into the fray and join maybe three other guys on the dancefloor. Asiatown on the dancefloor is NOT a pretty sight. Nevertheless, i had a nice enough time until I tried my "game" (I don't actually have one- how about being myself? Is that a game?) and a lass, whom I have known for 45 seconds, asked me how I would like to go shoe shopping with her.


After about an hour and a half, I decided that the marathon non communication was enough for the night. As I texted Bahama this he dropped the following wisdom:

"Why so early"
"Tired of rejection"
"Me too but its part of the game"

Asiatown don't play. Afterwards, I went home and called my godfather who reacted to the shoe shopping offer by saying that she was worse than a hooker. True. At least with a hooker you know what you're getting into. Not that I would know mind you. So anyway, Asiatown went. Asiatown saw. Asiatown learned again about something for something. Asiatown took his marbles and went home. Asiatown is darned proud.

Asiatown has enough shoes.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Paying respects

My aunt died last year and my grandmother died last month. Since they (and I) are Jewish and my grandmother was religious (she sent me a book of illustrated bibles right away after Communism ended) I want to pay my respects to both. When in New York, I usually go to the Carlebach Shul on W. 79th so when I manage to get there I'll be able to do so and ask the Rabbi say Kiddush. It's not closure (there is nothing like that) but it's...something I guess. Remember the way they may want to be remembered. And my Lady friend, who has been surprising me in all sorts of wonderful ways over the past 15 months has agreed to be there with me. She's not Jewish but I don't care. She means a lot and it's something I have to do. I'm glad she agreed to share in it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Continuing on the theme of absence

Specifically, my absence from the southland. My grandmother died on February 29. Today is the first day i could even think that thought without crying but it still makes me nauseous. There was of course a wonderful Woman who has helped me through it all. The crying, the sickness, the impulse to self destruct. I will never forget it. Still, I simply could not spend spring break in Louisiana´s patented isolation booth. Could not. So instead, I took up the offer of a friend here in Mexico City. Yes, Mex City, D.F., the so called navel of the world.

Actually, I am staying in a tragically unhip urban wasteland called Toluca, where New Jersey´s refineries, Arizona´s desert landscape and El Paso´s barrio feel meet. I do however spend much time in D.F., indulging in creature comforts like art exhibits and Indian grub. So yay!

More to come post yayness.

Friday, March 7, 2008

As always, Japan leads into the apocalypse

I just blogged about being ensconed in a virtual world with virtual kids and virtual nookie. And doing all this only because I'm a hypocrite- or rather, virtually virtuous. But now you can read about some very real consequences of virtual living in the deliciously title When freaky-deaky equals hara-kiri an article which discusses how Japanese men are averse to real sex and prefer electronic and uh....manual stimulation. The money quote has got to be "Self-pleasure is a hell of a lot less demanding than trying to please somebody else", which is most definitely NOT a uniquely Japanese idea. Never fear for Japanese men tho, since, we are assured that "Some of the masturbation aids coming out nowadays are absolutely incredible."

And what might some of these masturbation aids be? I'm off to a (real) meal with (real) people so I guess I'll just leave you guys hanging until my next post.

Really, this virtual nonsense has to stop

I'm a hypocrite. I'm a hypocrite because I blog. Because I'm on facebook. And have dormant profiles on friendster and myspace and linkedin. And yet, hypocrite or not, I am here to say that this virtual crap has to end.

Facebook, which I joined because speaking to someone in person is considered taboo on campus, has a new "socially conscious" campaign where you- yes, you- and I could become "virtual parents" to any one (or two or three) of thirteen million orphans out there. And by virtual parents, I mean give money to them.

This initiative, spear-headed by our very own Fearless Leader, the man who puts the G in G.W., a/k/a he-who-must-not-be-named, wishes to "save 13 million orphans lives and get 25 million HIV/AIDS sufferers treated to reverse the pandemic." Noble of course and this is where you can be a virtual parent. I am sure the the internet-savvy youngsters of rural Chad will be heartened to know that 4,000 miles away, in the comfort of your own home, you too care about them.

Of course this is just an update of those old Sally Struthers come ons- you know the ones where she speaks over photos of African babies without actually spending time around said babies- and how you too can "monitor the progress" of your "virtual orphan."

Now, on the one hand I'm totally in favor of helping orphans, African or otherwise. On the other hand, this is just another way to pretend to "care". You send out ten bucks and tell everyone how you're a virtual parent. Oh well. I suppose that after virtual sex, virtual kids are the next step.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cheesing it up on my own

So I took a look around and was told that the school could help me out with this stuff. (I will need to either fly or walk to Wisconsin- pick one. Also, I could swim or fly to Spain.) Having dutifully filled out numerous forms and obtained even more numerous signatures, I was informed on February 25th, that no help would be forthcoming as...ummm....they had spent their entire budget for '08. Which is totally understandable. As such, I am putting up a paypal button so that my thousands of readers, supporters and admirers can do what the school can't. This goes out to haters as well. Think about it- if I get sent to Spain, I'll be in a remote location about 10 miles from Africa. No blogging. At all. Sweet ain't it?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cheesing it up

I have two invitations in my mailbox. Three actually.
These invitations are for conferences where I am to present GROUNDBREAKING AND VERY IMPORTANT RESEARCH THE LIKES OF WHICH HAVE NEVER BEEN PRESENTED BEFORE. The GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH concerns second language acquisition or how someone else can learn a foreign language so you don't have to. Anyhow, these invites are to Madison, Wisconsin, southern Spain and Long Island, New York- all within an 8 day span in April.

I have had the chance to visit Madison, Wisconsin previously. What brought me there can best be illustrated by this graphic:

This was a visit to a lady I fondly refer to as potential ex wife #3, and I had the chance to explore Janesville, Racine and Whitewater as well. Not much needs to be said of these places except that once you have seen them you will either move to North Dakota or cross the entire upper midwest off your travel list. I saw them in December. Guess what I did.

But now I will have a chance to see it in April, with the cheese trees in full bloom and the scent of beer flowers everywhere. I may visit some Amish. We can watch their home movies.

Nevertheless, to my regret, I can't stay long since I am scheduled to be in Long Island that exact same weekend. How this will transpire will be most interesting to see. I do so like the impossible. Anyhow, as a warmup for all of this, I will probably (depending on the benevolence of my local benefactors) make a stop south of Barcelona, Spain the previous weekend for another presentation. This appeals to me very much as my cousin, who wised up and did a Ph.D. in economics instead of the namby-pamby social sciences, spent many summers on the spanish coast and, when he can be coaxed into human interaction, expresses the view that it was not the most loathsome experience of his life. As such, I'm looking forward to it. If I get there.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What in the hell is....

systemic functional linguistics? What projects are being researched there? How can I show off my lack of knowledge in this area? Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ray Bradbury was half right

Many moons ago, Ray Bradbury (author. What's an author? Nevermind. Whoops, here come the troops. I gotta hide.)

-resuming from the bunker-

predicted that as people are no longer reading very much, we are "creating a nation of morons." As the present and forever occupant of the Extremely White House illustrates, RB had a point. However, I would like to upgrade his thesis thusly:

With the advent of the internet, we are creating a nation of moronic sociopaths. See, the internet has made it possible for us to have close non-relationships with each other whereby we send IMs (instant messages) to each other for ever and ever and ever (and ever) while emailing (also forever) and text messaging cell phones (guess for how long) all without ever meeting the other person face to face. Just imagine. A friendship in this brave new world could, theoretically, exist over the course of a decade or five without the "friends" ever meeting, shaking hands, hearing each other's voices doing anything together or even knowing their "friends" names. Of course this means that any emotional attachment is impossible as "friends" can turn each other off with the click of a button. On the upside, it is absolutely no problem to acquire 49,999,999,999 friends without ever remembering a birthday or even a name. In fact, after a while, all 49,999,999,999 friends will look pretty much the same and they will all be called Joanie. This new world is so gonna rock. Now if my friends will excuse me, I gotta go do stuff. Text ya later Joanie.

Monday, February 11, 2008

See, what we have here is a failure to want to communicate

The South has a peculiar notion which goes something like this: We are special and unique. We are better than you. Because we are better than you, we get to decide whether or not we follow the law, not you. If we choose not to do what we have to do, suck it up. Got that? Good. Now go pound dirt you g-dless swine! And don't forget your station, boy!

Right off the bat, I have two problems with this, maybe even three: First, I happen to be the G-dless swine in question. This is, as you might imagine, bad. I'd much rather be inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.

Secondly, Louisiana, which has been a U.S. State since 1865 (or at least 1964- theoretically), is bound by all the laws of the U.S. So when you point an enraged finger at me and say that I am not entitled to certain things under the law until "this school says you are", you may be just a bit mistaken. Don't worry, this happens a lot.

Finally, I have a hunch I won't be able to correct this mistake diplomatically.

Oh and by the way, has anyone else* noticed that all the janitors here are black and all the professors are white**? It tells ya something.

*this assumes that I have local readers and may be discovered soon. Angola awaits?

**yes, there may be some professor of African-American lit around who is black, but face it, he'll fill the quota of one. And yes, I am aware that without Asian profs and students, there would be no Science departments here but since they are segregated into the Conference Center, it doesn't really count.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happy fried baby day

'Tis the season in Southern Louisiana for Mardi Gras. A French-originated festival where once upon a time the King rode through the villages on horseback, tossing jewels, cash and unpasteurized cheese at the masses, it has evolved to the point at which regular folk toss about beads and also cook gumbo. Mardi Gras also offers the opportunity to consume king cake. King cake is a cinnamony concoction which, much like the foods of Hong Kong (where nothing is served unless it's endangered) features a tasty surprise in the middle, namely a plastic baby which is supposed to represent the king. Psychologists, far more qualified than myself, will need to explain the symbolism of a charred plastic infant in relation to royalty, although if the French/Louisiana monarchs were anything like the current British ones, I can certainly understand.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ding dong the witch is dead?

So a few states away, Barack Obama won the South Carolina primary. Does that mean that Lady McBeth is done? That Caligula will be buried once and for all? That after twenty-eight years a nation of 300 million, a nominal democracy, will have a president/vice president team that does not include anyone named Bush or Clinton? Or, and I hate to raise this idea, will Obama be RFK'ed? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Louisiana handshake

It's time to be introduced to another social custom here. The Louisiana handshake.
The Louisiana handshake is something like this: extend your index finger and thumb to grasp the tip of the other person's index finger for a nanosecond. Make sure your facial expression shows your opinion that you are thoroughly disgusted during that moment- but conceal your disgust with an insincere smile. Drop the other person's index finger and pull back your arm. In other words, the Louisiana handshake- so called because i have never encountered it before-is the handshake for people who don't want to shake hands. Ladies of a certain class-the ones Evita Peron railed about- are experts in this. It's fascinating because it conveys so much so quickly. Disgust, distance, reluctance and an air of unjustified superiority can all be felt. Sometimes, this handshake is accompanied by speech that indicates that the speaker considers you to be a fairly dimwitted two year old. When Chris Tucker first meets Jackie Chan at the airport in Rush Hour and says "do you understand a word that is coming out of my mouth?" he is providing a window into my daily life here. Except that the people who say this to me look nothing like him. And he really shouldn't go where they live.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

getting back into the swing of it all

Charles Bukowski said that nobody who is happy can write anything worthwhile. Since I met a lady (who shall remain nameless) my happiness quotient increased significantly, even in the face of my non reintegration. As such, I have been dormant. However, my new years resolution (one of them anyhoo) is to prove the late (ahem) Mr. Bukowski wrong. In the process, and as a tribute to my quasi reintegration, this blog will taken on a slightly more professional sheen and as befitting its newfound gravitas we will discuss the two books now on my nightstand. The first one features naked photos of Supreme Court justices while island desolation and rotten fish figure prominently into the second one. Both are quality materials to be sure. The first, highly academic in nature, suits one who is on his way to Turkey (and before that Madison, Wisconsin) to give scholarly presentations on topics that large numbers of people will feign interest in. The second suits one who is slowly, oh so very slowly completing a book about his own experiences in South Korea and is perhaps hoping to find a publisher for that.

When not reading porn disguised as literature and when not nursing literature related delusions of my own, I spend time trying to improve my photography. In that vein, I met with an art gallery owner in Lake Charles, an artsy laid-back town on the Texas border where, befitting Democrats, I spent a cozy eve with the party chairman, drinking beers on his porch. (If this was a Republican party gathering, I would have waited tables at the country club where the chairman was sipping sherry while ogling the underage Black woman in his employ. Note the subtle difference.) At some point, I had a chat with the gallery owner who would like for me to send her some good examples of my work. Note the term "good". And so, I turn to my loyal readership (anybody?) for pointers. In the coming days I will do my level best to update the gallery here and while I do, please leave comments regarding which 4 or 5 I should send off. Quality over quantity people. That's the watchword.