Friday, September 21, 2007

Oh, for fuck's sake.

It's the 21st again.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Welcome back to the world - continued

Part II - The Land of Rape and Honey

I don't know why I titled it that... I just really like that album and was listening to it recently. Scroll down for Part I.


So I zip down to the airport. I stand in line for what seems like weeks to go through security. My hangover has kicked itself into a higher gear. I'm crying on the inside, because
a) I'm missing the Pats game that night
b) I'm missing the Sox game that night (IDON'TWANTTOTALKABOUTIT!)
c) Remember, the hangover.

But I make it through security and.... waitaminnit.

Wait just one goddamn motherfucking minute. Some of you may remember my retardo-trip through Lagaurdia with my sister a few years ago. Remember? When I got searched like 87 times? Well, this time went off without a hitch. Which was great. Except for the fact that I was carrying the following things in my carry-on luggage:

1. A lighter (no flammables!)
2. A bottle of iced tea (no gels or liquids!)
3. A book of matches (no flammables!)
4. Hair gel (no gels or liquids!)
5. A pocket knife (no knives!)

Great. I feel really fucking safe now. Just super.

ANYWAY. Blah blah blah waiting waiting waiting. Finally, an hour after the flight was supposed to take off, we board the sonofabitch. And I... all 6'2", 200 lbs of awkward, gangly, hungover TK... am in the middle seat in a three person row.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to TK's private hell # 436.

Sold out flight. No other seats. I walk past an exit row with two people who couldn't possibly be over 5'8". Let me tell you something, folks. If you are under six feet tall and you request to sit in the exit row?

Go fuck yourself. I hope you catch syphilis and die. I hope you get hit by lightning while falling down a well filled with venomous snakes. You are, to borrow from Shepherd Book, going to a special hell, reserved for child molesters and people who talk in the theater.

So. I elbow and knee my way into the middle seat and prepare for 5 1/2 hours of torture. My only saving grace is that there is no one in front of me, so the seat will stay upright. And the people next me are small, so I can monopolize the elbow and leg room. Which I did. But sweet merciful fucking Buddha, was it torture.

But I get into LAX without further incident, other than an aching back and ruined knees. I check into the hotel at around 12:30, check SportsCenter briefly, and fall asleep like I fell into a hole.


I begin our conference. It alternates between being very interesting, and incredibly boring. No middle ground. I'm dead tired, and in the middle of it, I go back to the room and take a nap. That night, I meet a friend who is also in LA for business and have a great dinner. I conclude that yes, LA is still a shitty town. Particularly if you don't have a car. And the cabs are basically legalized extortion.


I saw Floyd Mayweather. Other than that, nothing even remotely interesting happened.


I skip the entire morning session of our conference to sit in bed and watch Superman Returns. Mainly because I am a lazy bastard, but also because they weren't covering anything useful in that session. I then pack my shit, head downstairs and wait for the shuttle bus. Everything goes smoothly. I get to the airport, and thank the supreme baby Allah, this flight is NOT sold out. I get an aisle seat. In an exit row. I dance a little jig. The guy at the counter looks at me funny. I dance a little jig some more, then carry on before I get my dancin' ass arrested.

I go through security. I'd tossed my lighter and matches earlier, not wanting to press my luck. My knife and hair gel makes it through. Despite still feeling a little uneasy about our lax national airline security, everything is going smoothly.

I get to the waiting area. I read my book. I eat a sandwich. I listen to my Ipod. Everything is going smoothly.

The plane is slightly delayed. The guy on the loudspeaker at least has a decent sense of humor about it. Everything is going smoothly.

We board the plane. I have the entire row to myself! I dance a little jig again, this time while sitting in my luxuriously spacious seat. Everything is going super smoothly. The plane takes off. I'm happy. I'm on my way home. They serve drinks, and I have a celebratory vodka tonic. Everything is going smoothly. I start to get hungry. Of course, in the modern air travel age, they no longer serve meals, instead making you PAY for them. I'm temporarily pissed, but so pleased with my good fortune so far, I splurge and buy an eight dollar salad.

I open the salad and promptly spill it on myself.

"Hmmm..." I think to myself. Oh well. I've made it for three days without spilling anything on myself, which is a personal best. That's not a sign of anything, right?


My salad is surprisingly tasty. It's some sort of Asian chicken salad thingy, with a thick brown sweet and sour dressing. The dressing comes in a little plastic cup, with a peel-back lid. I'm trying to apply said dressing. The lid is giving me trouble. I get it partially peeled back, and figure I can just aim the small hole I've opened, squeeze the cup, and squirt the dressing onto my salad.

Can you see where this is going? Well... you're wrong. It's so much worse than that.

I'm still having trouble. My monkey hands cannot cope with this little dressing cup. I squeeze the cup a little harder. And then... well, folks, then the wheels come off this bitch.

I squeeze too hard. The lid pops straight up into the air. The thick, brown dressing comes firing out of the cup, shoots diagonally across the aisle, and hits a random stranger right in the neck.

God, I'd love to say I'm making this up.

He now has a splat of dressing on his neck, and it is dribbling down his collar. He's freaking out, because he has no idea what happened. He jumps out of his seat, slapping at his neck, and spinning around, trying to figure out what the hell just happened. He is also inadvertently smearing dressing all over his shirt. I want to die. I want to pop the emergency exit and just leap out of the plane. He catches me, frozen in time, the offending little cup still crushed between my stupid monkey fingers. I bolt up from my seat, but I still have my belt on. I spill more of my salad onto the floor. I gently place the salad on the seat next to me, unbuckle my seat belt, bolt up again, hit my head on the overhead bin, and begin apologizing profusely (and slightly dizzily). We have now officially Drawn Attention To Ourselves. I am dying a little bit with each passing second. I give him my napkin. I think about taking my shirt off to help with the cleanup, then decide it would make a bad thing worse. The flight attendants come and provide him with extra napkins. I apologize some more. He says "it's fine. It's fine. IT'S FINE!!!"

I sit down again, and quietly, with flushed face and bowed head and salad-y shirt, finish eating. The rest of the trip is an exercise in awkward, shameful dread.

We land without incident. I hurry off the plane without making eye contact with anyone. I rush outside, run to my car and realize... I left my goddamn glasses on the plane. As of 90 minutes ago, they still can't find them.

So yes. The newly christened American Airlines Salad Dressing Incident of 2007 shall now take its rightful place next to the Batteries and Water-Spitting Debacle of 2001, and the Great Safari Ketchup Fiasco of 2006.

It's good to be home.

Welcome back to the world

Well, I'm back from my oddessey into the wilderness of central Massachusetts and the artificial land of plastic and pretense that is Los Angeles. I did not get eaten by bears. I did not get assaulted by Sean Penn. All in all, with a few minor quirks, it was a good few days. Do you want to hear more details? Settle down, don't all put your hands up at once. Here's the quick version.

Part I - Into The Wild


The plan was to meet at my friend Tim's house to gather up the group, pack up the cars, and barrel down to Munro State Park in Florida, Mass. We were supposed to meet at 6:00, except that I got a call from Tim at 3:00 saying he'd gotten home early and was already drinking. So at 4:00, I quietly stood up, glanced around, nonchalantly announced "I'm going for a cup of coffee", and walked out of the office, down to the parking lot, got in my car and headed for Tim's. I got there and two more friends were there, playing darts and casually sipping beers.

The bachelor and another friend arrived at 6:00. The six of us then piled into two cars (the remaining two friends had left that morning to start setting up the campsite) and took off. The drive took about three hours, and was uneventful except for two things:
1. I almost shredded my brakes on a wicked hill that felt like it was ten miles long.
2. My two passengers, upon learning that I didn't mind if they had a beer in the car, proceeded to get ROARING drunk over the course of the trip. Here's to designated driving.

We got to the park at around 9:30. It was PITCH BLACK. We all strapped on back packs with tents, sleeping bags, a cooler full of beers and whatever we could carry in our hands, and proceeded to hike for about an hour and fifteen minutes. On a narrow path that was next to a ledge that fell straight into a river. In complete and utter darkness, except for our headlamps. We each got blinded at least once. We each fell down at least once. We each drank at least one beer over the course of the hike. No one died or was (seriously) injured. I know, I was surprised too.

We arrived at the campsite at around 11:00, and it was absolutely awesome. Our advance team had done fine work. A fire was roaring, sausages were being grilled, a tarp had been set up as well as a couple of tents and two camping hammocks (also under tarps). We pitched the remaining tents, ate, and then hastily hammered down all the beers we'd brought, dipped into the bottle of Bushmills, and got raucously drunk. At some point I made it into the tent. I do not remember the when or the how.


That morning, I woke up as three friends came in to tell me they were going to hike back to the parking lot to pick up the remaining gear and the remaining beer. I told them they were the greatest friends ever, rolled over, and went back to sleep. I woke up a couple hours later, excited that everything we needed was now here, and ready to crack my first High Life. Except when I got out of my tent... no one else was there. No one else was awake. There was no beer. There was no additional gear. And then I had a terrible realization:

I'd dreamed it. Seriously. I'd fucking dreamed it.


I wandered around in the wilderness for a while until my next friend woke up. We shot the shit, until he got bored and decided we should wake up the rest of the gang. I agreed. He produced a bugle (A BUGLE!) from his backpack and proceed to desperately bleat through it. It sounded somewhat like an elk being sexually assaulted by a bear. Cue cries of dismay and hatred. But it worked. They rose like zombies buried in tents, to consume water and Advil. Finally, three of us sacked up and strapped on empty backpacks and hiked back to the cars. I must say, the hike in broad daylight was much nicer, and muuuuuch safer. We emptied out the cars, made it back to the campsite, and felt much better with the only major task of the day taken care of.

The rest of the day was composed of more hiking, creating campsite B on a small island in the middle of the river, me taking a nap in a tree, grilling, more grilling, and then, by nightfall, staggering around drunkenly making empty threats at each other, bullshitting and laughing our asses off. At one point we tried to cook eggs by putting them in the camp fire, thinking the theory was the same as hard boiling them. Aaaand then we spent ten minutes running around, dodging exploding egg bits. All in all, a day supremely well spent. And I once again succeeded in not hurting myself, other than a minor incident when I fell into the campfire.


Woke up. Wanted to die. Realized that I had to hustle because... I had a fucking plane to catch. Proceed to complain incessantly. Pack up my shit, break down the tent, load up as much gear as we can, eat three strips of bacon and hike back to the car with Tim, leaving the rest of the gang to amuse themselves for the remainder of the day. Tim... he looks bad. Like I-might-have-to-drag-him bad. But he soldiers on, deathly pale and sweating profusely, each of us carrying about 50 pounds of gear, and we make it to the car. We load up, and head out. Twenty minutes later, Tim looks no better. I ask him how he's doing. His response: "I'm trying to keep it together... I might be losing the fight." I get nervous. We drive past a different park entrance.
Tim: Hey, let's look at what's over there!
Me: You betcha.

I pull into the lot, and before the car is at a full stop he's out the door and... um... well, you can probably figure it out. I sit and listen to music, he gets back in and looks slightly less awful. We get back on the road, and I eventually drop him off, swing down to my house, unload the car, kiss the wife, unpack, take a shower, check my email, pack again, kiss the wife again, get back in the car and drive to the airport.

Stay tuned for Part II, wherein I continue my hatred of L.A., suffer through a miserable flight, get very little sleep, and have an "incident" on the plane ride home.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It'll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night... mostly.

I know! Three posts in a single WEEK! It's like December all over again.

Don't get used to it.

But I'm going on a brutal stretch over the next few days and probably won't be near the internet...

Does that even make sense? "Near the internet?"

Whatever. Shut up. I told you not to question me in front of company.

ANYway. After work tomorrow, I'm barreling over to a friends house, packing a bunch of gear into a couple of cars, and heading out to the Berkshires to go camping. It's a friend of mine' bachelor party. I know, it's not the conventional bachelor party, but he's not a conventional friend. The most exciting part will be arriving at 9:00 at night, and then hiking a mile into the campsite with all our booze camping gear in pitch darkness*. And hoping to not get attacked by bears. It's also supposed to rain all weekend. Should be a blast. File this under "it seemed like a good idea at the time".

Look, I'm not scared of bears. And I love my friends. But all I'm saying is that IF there are bears, and one of them starts to feel punchy and come after us... I'm throwing a motherfucker to the ground in front of him. Just so you know. Should any of you meet me and there are bears nearby... I will totally toss your ass at him to save myself. It's important that you know these things.

Did I just use the phrase "toss your ass?"

Fuck it. I'm comfortable with that.

Anyway. Jesus, enough with the sidetracking already! AS I WAS SAYING. I'm going camping Friday, then burning rubber home on Sunday so I can shower, eat a sandwich, pack and drive to the airport and fly to Los Angeles. Where I shall spend 3 fun-filled days at a conference about how legislative changes are causing adjustments into our low-income housing tracking software.

That is exactly as exciting as it sounds. But on the bright side, it's L.A., which is easily one of the worst cities in the union.

So after tomorrow evening, I'm off the grid until Wednesday. Although, since I only post once every week or so, you probably won't even miss me. You rotten bastards.


*Fortunately, most of us have headlamps. Although, eight guys drunk in the wilderness with flashlights on their heads will most likely result in at least one of us getting blinded. And... um... does anyone know if bears are attracted to bright light?

Listening to: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook - Longing (Aki Nawaz Remix)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We interrupt this blog for a very important message:

First, some examples:

Example 1: If I do not like you, you are a loser. NOT a looser.
Example 2: If I am slow, I will lose the race. NOT loose the race.

I swear to fucking God, the next person who mixes up the words "lose" and "loose" - as in "I am going to loose my mind if you people don't learn to motherfucking spell"... that person is going to wake up in the trunk of my car.


As you were.

This message was brought to you by the people who told you that "heighth is NOT a fucking word, fuckbag. It's HEIGHT, goddammit."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Democracy is the worst form of government - except all the others that have been tried.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's been a while since I posted. Shut up. I've been busy. Busy doing what, you ask? Well, I've been... um... er...

Like I said, shut up.

Really, not much blog-worthy has happened. Yes, I went to a couple of great bbq's (if you haven't guessed, that's a summer staple of mine). I had a friend from Seattle come visit. The Red Sox have been on what can only be described as an intermittent tear (and I know that doesn't make sense, but one of you will understand it). The Patriots just dismantled my second least favorite football team.

But probably the most interesting thing that happened was I went to a City Council meeting last week. As a result, I was able to witness democracy at it's absolute worst (hence the Churchill quote in the title). Call it Paralysis by Democracy. So instead of writing something clever or regaling you with further tales of injury or awkwardness, allow me to just bitch for a little while.

I've probably touched upon this in the past, but one of the things I got involved in as a result of my job was to join a city sub-committee tasked with improving community-police relations, and neighborhood quality of life. It is, for the most part, a complete waste of time. But the city council ordered the committee to be formed, and they needed members of the police department, city agencies, and community activists to be involved. Seeing as how I work for a city agency that deals with housing, I got picked to join. I suppose you could say I was volunteered.

So for the past few months, I've gone to meetings every week where we sit around and talk about how to make the city a better place to live, and how people can grow to understand and appreciate the police department better, and how to deal with the perceived escalation of youth violence and crime in our fair city.


Basically 90 minutes of pure bullshit every single week. And to a certain extent, I didn't mind at first. It got me out of the office, and it was an excuse to sit around and basically talk urban politics with city councilors, the chief of police (including my infamous gaffe written about here) and meet people from other agencies. But after a few weeks, I realized that it was a complete waste of time.

A bit of background: I work for an agency that provides housing to low-income families. I think you pretty much have to be something of an idealist to get into that line of work... I sort of stumbled into it about eight years ago, but it resonated with me, and now I've reached a point where I don't really know how to even do anything else. Which is convenient, because I actually love what I do. And the agency I work for is nationally renowned as one of the best. These are all good things. I also genuinely believe that many of the people on the committee with me truly want to help. However, one of the things that helps me be effective at my job is, in addition to idealism, a healthy dose of both honesty and realism.

And this group is not realistic. And they are not being honest with themselves. And that has basically derailed the entire process. Because when you get a group of wide-eyed folks like this together, it becomes this sort of "save-the-world" gangbang (there's that word again), but with people not actually addressing the problems.

Example: One of the problems people keep bringing up is "the youth problem". As in, we need to get young people more involved. We need to keep them out of trouble. We need to keep them in school. We need to stop youth crime. There are two truths to this, and one of them is born of simple ignorance, the other of something more subtle, yet more insidious.

1. There is no "youth problem". Statistics in the city show that over 90% of crimes are committed by men (not boys, MEN) between the ages of 19-26. These are not youths. These are grown-ass men who can't control their temper. Sure, the argument could be made that it is in childhood that these men learn their evil ways. And that's a valid point. But if that's the case, we need to work on education and daycare and teaching people to be better parents. We don't need a new emphasis on policing. And if we want to keep kids in school... we need to have better schools. But those are too hard. And this group wants easy solutions. So we're not addressing education. We're not addressing lousy parenting. Instead, we're picking easy targets (kids and the police department), even when, at the root, this is not the problem. Do we have crime? Absolutely. Shootings, and I think there were two murders this year. But it's not some crime wave being committed by a rash of evil teenagers. Which leads us to...

2. When we say "youth problem" we mean "black kids". This is the uglier truth. Because this group is very careful to never mention race or ethnicity. But they talk about kids hanging out at the park late at night (the park in the "darker" neighborhood) and they talk about rap music, and gangs. And what they mean is we have a problem with black people. Trust me. I've been around. Except that crime stats show that very few crimes are being committed in the parks. And as for a gang problem? A gang problem, as defined here, is basically three kids who get into a fistfight with another three kids, basically because one of them looked at the other wrong. This is not a gang problem. I worked in North Philly. That's a fucking gang problem.

But somehow, society has reached a point where three black kids sitting on a bench and being loud causes people to fear them. The sad truth. How many of us get a quick pang of fear when three black guys walk past you late at night? Be honest. Yeah. I thought as much. And I know that there are a million sociological reasons for why this happens. And in South Central L.A., maybe you can make a case for it. But not here.

Anyway. This all resulted in hours and weeks and months of debate over a problem that is basically smoke and mirrors. And finally came to a head at the council meeting I went to last week. And we had the mayor, and the city councilors and a bunch of other political hotshots there. For a three hour meeting on what to do next. We'd established our (albeit exaggerated if not outright fictitious) problems, and posed some solutions. What to do next?

Well, for starters... it took 90 minutes to figure out where and when the next meeting would be. NINETY MINUTES. Should we serve food? What kind of food? Where should we hold it?

Bear in mind - the MAYOR was there. But he refused to make the call, insisting on a democratic process. Mainly, I think, because if the next meeting was a bust, he didn't want to be the idiot who'd fucked it up (did I mention it's an election year?). After 90 minutes of discussion as to time and place, we moved onto... the next subject. The only problem was, no one had figured out what the next subject was. Seriously. No one knew why we were there. The council had called a meeting to discuss our findings. And to schedule a meeting. But they didn't know how to discuss it, as bizarre as that sounds. And since no one on the council, nor the mayor, wanted to take control and risk ruining our beautiful democracy, we spent another 90 minutes discussing what to discuss next. I swear I am not making this up.

So. I went to a three-hour meeting where nothing happened. People were wringing their hands and getting upset and... accomplished nothing. The final result of the meeting? All issues (including when/where/how to have the next meeting) were tabled... until the next meeting.

Oh, God. I only hope that a meteor crashes into my car before that date. Because if I have to do this again... well... you'll probably read about someone spontaneously exploding in a city in Massachusetts and go "Oh! So that's what TK's real name is. Well, he did warn us..."

Now playing: Tonedeff - Porcelain
via FoxyTunes