Upsetting
Monday, September 30, 2002
  Billets-doux to my 2002 Fantasy Baseball World Series champions
3B – Scott Rolen, Phillies-Cardinals – Though your fantasy output was sometimes inconsistent this year, you have the honor of finishing the season as my favorite player. To endure toss-bag Larry Bowa fucking with you by changing your spot in the order every day and calling you out in the paper is a feat few men could accomplish without being charged with a felony. Your final va fanculo to the fans of Philadelphia – a group whose sports ignorance is legendary – by not taking a curtain call was brilliant and heroic.
And then with the way you finished the season in St. Louis, I couldn’t be happier or more proud. You deserve all your future successes in the Gateway City.
 
  Billets-doux to my 2002 Fantasy Baseball World Series champions
SS – Derek Jeter, New York Yankees – I would be dishonest if I said I have not cursed your name this season. I just felt that you would’ve been a lot more productive, and I thought you were a steal when you fell to me at the 16th overall pick.
Perhaps I expected too much of you, because I see that your numbers aren’t that different than the last couple of years. Only your 1999 season stands out as world-beating.
Plus, since you made the single greatest athletic play I’ve ever seen, last year against the A’s, you have a little leeway.
And you’re a champion.
 
Sunday, September 29, 2002
  Billets-doux to my 2002 Fantasy Baseball World Series champions
2B – Jose Vidro, Montreal Expos – Aside from Jeff Kent and the historical hiccup of a season that Soriano had, I wouldn’t want anyone else as my second-sacker. Thanks for filling up the stat sheet in a variety of ways, including with that late-inning grand slam you hit when I was in Rhode Island in June.
And, true to your clutch nature, you had a huge last week of the season.
 
  Billets-doux to my 2002 Fantasy Baseball World Series champions
Today was the last day of the 2002 Fantasy Baseball season, and my team won the World Series, luckily edging out the more-superior squad run by my brother Bill. To acknowledge the men who got me where I am today, I thought it appropriate to drop praise on each member of my squad.

C – Mike Piazza, New York Mets – Mike, I acquired you in a midseason trade because I thought there was no way you’d just middle on through the year – and because I saw a photo of you backstage with Slayer. You didn’t scuff along, I must admit, but the fact that you only played about three games a week will certainly cause me to steer clear of you in the future.
However, you did a hit a home run on the last day of the season – when Bill and I were neck and neck – and that 2-run shot not only scored points for you, but it helped ensure a victory for my pitcher Steve Trachsel.
So, tonight we drink Citrona.

1B – Jason Giambi, New York Yankees – The other teams in my league did everything they could to block my acquisition when I traded Frank Thomas and Mike Lieberthal for you in the second week of the season. Yet, the trade went through and you were a champ.
Your numbers were consistently spectacular, and I thank you, too, for homering on the last day of the season. As you, yourself, like to say:
Rake Like an All-Star, Party Like a Rock Star & Hammer Like a Porn Star
 
Saturday, September 28, 2002
 
We are chanting in the streets of Washington, THIS IS WHAT A POLICE STATE LOOKS LIKE. A girl who’s taken her clothes off in front of The Gap is sweating in the cool fall afternoon, pulsing with driven anima. I don’t look at them, but I can see her nipples through her bra.

At the same time, as I’m holding my sign and waving my fist, I’m wondering what’s going on with my Chevron stock. I can’t really figure out this war business with Iraq, and I heard earlier that the stock market was getting killed.

That’s the rub.

I don’t want to live in a capitalist society ruled by corporations that slaughter and exploit millions of voiceless people.
But I do.
And I gotta look out not for my future, but for my kids.’

I’m confused.
 
Friday, September 27, 2002
  From the White House Web site: (I'm becoming obsessed.)
George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States. Formerly the 46th Governor of the State of Texas, President Bush has earned a reputation as a compassionate conservative who shapes policy based on the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, strong families and local control.

President Bush was born July 6, 1946, and grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas. He received a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He served as an F-102 pilot for the Texas Air National Guard before beginning his career in the oil and gas business in Midland in 1975, working in the energy industry until 1986. After working on his father's successful 1988 presidential campaign, he assembled the group of partners that purchased the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in 1989.

He served as managing general partner of the Texas Rangers until he was elected Governor on November 8, 1994, with 53.5 percent of the vote. In an historic re-election victory, he became the first Texas Governor to be elected to consecutive four-year terms on November 3, 1998, winning 68.6 percent of the vote.

President Bush is pursuing the same common-sense approach and bipartisan spirit that he used in Texas. He has proposed bold initiatives to ensure that America's prosperity has a purpose. He has also addressed improving our nation's public schools by strengthening local control and insisting on accountability; reducing taxes on all taxpayers, especially for those Americans on the fringes of poverty; strengthening the military with better pay, better planning, and better equipment; saving and strengthening Social Security and Medicare by providing seniors with more options; and ushering in the responsibility era in America.

President Bush is married to Laura Welch Bush, a former teacher and librarian, and they have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, who are college students. The Bush family also includes their dogs, Spot and Barney, and a cat, India.

 
 
The headline today reads that Delta’s gonna lose $350 million this year.
These airlines, if there was ever a group of posh boys who deserve no one’s sympathy, it’s them.
Sept. 11 destroyed the bloated airline industry, we’re told. So what? They’ve been knifing us for years, they had it coming.

You’re waiting in Philadelphia for your flight to Boston in three hours.
The same flight is leaving in 45 minutes, and you notice no one getting on. The flight’s empty, and you ask the airline person at the counter if you can just take the earlier flight.
We love to see you smile.

The lady tells you, No problem, it’s just a $100 fee to change your ticket.
Wanna fly to Newark at Christmastime? Sure, $650.

They ply you with frequent-flyer miles that have so many restrictions on them they’re practically worthless. Terrible, unfriendly service and uncomfortable seats.

Good riddance.

But the real problem with the $350 million in losses is that though Delta’s chairman was nice enough to take a pay cut to only $600,000 a year, the human beings most affected will be the real people who do the real work.
My guys who throw suitcases and drink pitchers at The Waterfront. Their brethren mechanics, the few polite people at the front counter.
They get thrown in front of the bus.

Delta’s problems are not mine, and they shouldn’t be yours, either.

 
 
No nation has produced more "weapons of mass destruction" than the United States of America.
Period.

Why isn't there a call to invade our country?
 
Thursday, September 26, 2002
  Paging Dr. Strangelove
Checks and balances are the constitutional controls whereby separate branches of government have limiting powers over each other so that no branch will become supreme.

Says the U.S. president:

The Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people.

The Senate is not interested in the security of the American people?
Paging Dr. Strangelove.
 
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
 
Today I got some junk e-mail with a subject line of CAN’T YOU MAKE LOVE LIKE I DO?
I was at my desk reading it when my boss came over to tell me I needed to do something about my hair. I like my boss, and I don’t have a problem with my job. I have a door I can close, and I listen to Bad Religion while I work. The amount of work I do and my salary are perfectly proportionate.
For the most part, they leave me alone.
Until my boss came to talk to me about my hair.

“Really?” I asked. “The clients never see me back here.”
Rumor has it the guy has only one testicle. I don’t know where this story came from – I’ve never heard anything about cancer – and I imagine it’s somewhat apocryphal. I think he’s straight, but I don’t have any evidence either way.
I like him. He’s intelligent.

“I know, and it’s not really a big deal,” he said. “But it’s part of the face we want to put on the department, so to speak. All I’m asking for is a periodic brushing.”
We both laughed at that one. I knew he wasn’t breaking my balls.
“No problem,” I told him. I felt the back of my head with my left hand. “I guess it does get a little unkempt. Maybe I’ll water it down.”

He stood up and again said it wasn’t that big of a deal.
“I’ll fix my hair if you let me ask you one question,” I said.
“Okay.”
“Why would you put a cartoon character peeing on a Chevrolet logo on the back of your car?”
“I wouldn’t,” he said.
“No, I know you wouldn’t,” I agreed. “But why do people do that? Urinating on the logo of an automobile. It seems so strange to me.”

He clenched his lips while he thought about it. I guess that's what they call pursing your lips.
“Well, it’s like you mentioned yesterday,” he said. “It’s a way for people to Do Their Thing, only here it’s kinda at someone else’s expense.”
“So if I drive a Chevrolet and see that piss landing on a Chevy logo, can I assume that the owner of that vehicle would like to pee on me?”
I couldn’t believe the thought I was putting into this.
“That may be a bit extreme, but I guess you could say that,” he said as he stepped back out the door. “But I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’ll stick to my hair.”

But what a cycle, I thought as I started The Gray Race back up on the computer CD player.
If I’m getting peed on, am I supposed to just let it rain down?
Or should I poo back?
 
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
 
Apparently, not everyone agrees with the Times reporter, Keith Bradsher, mentioned in the post below.
Here are two reactions I took from Amazon (needless to say, sic throughout):

i invite you stand in front of my Jeep. Since I'm so insecure and vain i probably won't stomp on the gas pedal with all my force....
but then since i lack confidence in my braking ability, you probably should run for the hills.
(a reader in Hartford, Conn.)

This second one, from a man in San Marcos, Calif., requires a little more effort.

This book is based on a very dishonest thesis. Having closely covered Detroit and the U.S. automotive industry for the New York Times, Mr. Bradsher knows full well how and why sport utility vehicles (SUVs) gained the popularity they enjoy ... >Automakers and consumers, however, trumped the Car with the SUV. The CAFE Standards Act exempted light trucks. Hence, put a passenger compartment on a light truck frame and, voila, the result is a tougher, larger, and safer version of the station wagon that is not subject to the CAFE Standards Act. It's no wonder that the SUV became an instant hit with consumers. It took the idea of a station wagon and improved tremendously upon it, resulting in a very practical, rugged, versatile vehicle. Plus, it preserved the option of a larger vehicle for consumers despite the Car Nazis' imposition of "the incredible shrinking car" upon the American car-buying public. The free market spoke, loudly and clearly--much to the chagrin of the Car Nazis.

Bitter that their plans to impose CAFE standards on the public had been foiled by the champion of individual freedom--the SUV--the extreme environmentalist movement, with the complicity of the liberal press, has been working overtime to besmirch the reputation of SUVs. Witness ridiculous, persecutory headlines such as "SUV Jumps Sidewalk, Injures Three," and "Police Say SUV Responsible for Three-Car Pile-Up on Interstate," frequently appear in our nation's newspapers. (It's as if the drivers of the SUVs themselves had no hand in these incidents.) SUVs are statistically involved in no greater a percentage of accidents than any other class of vehicle, so why do such stories get printed at all? There is a thinly veiled anti-SUV agenda being pursued by a majority of the left-leaning media, obviously. Mr. Bradsher's long-winded diatribe of a book serves only to add to the mythology of the "Monster SUV"--a creature so foul and devoid of compassion that it has set out not only to destroy human life and property, but the entire world! (Insert loud scream here.) ... But thank God we are not obligated to pay attention. The bottom line is, this book is not worth your time or your money, not even for the comedic value it provides.



 
 
Maybe if I had a kid I’d wear a telephone on my waist like so many people I see do. Parenthood might be the threshold where I would consider such a thing.
But not any time soon.
I may be insecure or out of place in the world, but when I see these guys with the telephones attached to their waists, I think only one thing:
Tool.

My credo is Do Your Thing. I think it’s healthy, and I think people should be who they are (at no one else’s expense, of course). You want to spray your hair and drive a convertible, by all means Do Your Thing. You want to listen to terrible music at full volume when you drive by, Do Your Thing. I don’t mind, because I know you’re a temporary presence in my life – and you are Doing Your Thing.

Some folks like to express themselves via their attire and possessions and music they listen to.
Some like the vehicle they drive to be their signifier.
A lot of people drive sport utility vehicles, and I am not one of them. Ramona thinks I’m crazy or a rapist when I tell her that I’d drive an old-school Econoline van before an SUV.
They’re just not me. They may be someone else, and that’s how those people Do Their Things, I guess. Maybe I’m reading too much into the type of vehicle someone drives representing what type of person they are.

I found this book about SUVs, which the reviewer described as polemical. In it, the author, a New York Times reporter, writes this of SUV owners:

They tend to be people who are insecure and vain. They are frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills. Above all, they are apt to be self-centered and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors or communities.

Now, I haven’t read the book and I don’t know the reporter’s research methods, but apparently there are other people out there who don’t hold SUVs and their owners in the highest regard.
 
Monday, September 23, 2002
 
A guy was attacked the other day for telling another man that the firefighters could’ve done better if they hadn’t been so impulsive.

A girl asks her mom why the family vacation couldn’t be to Egypt or Algeria. The girl’s father wonders, too, and recalls how he fell in love with Camus’ Algiers.
Maybe we can.

But what about Baghdad, Tehran or Damascus? The cradle of civilization.
Should we go to Sudan or Zimbabwe?

Black hawk down, black hawk down, black hawk down below.

The State Department forbids anyone under “U.S. jurisdiction” from visiting Cuba. The state restricts the movement of its citizens

The guy said something about respect before he slammed his fist into the other man’s head. Their families’ tears haven’t dried.

Not everyone in the world likes America, sweetheart. Not everyone thinks it’s as great a country as we do, the mother says.
The father thinks about that one, the bright skies of The Stranger warm in his mind. The naps in the afternoon.

They don’t like America, and they don’t like Americans, the father concludes.
Is it because of something I did?
Or was it someone else.

How can he explain to his daughter something he doesn’t understand?
 
Saturday, September 21, 2002
 
I don’t have debts that an honest man can’t pay, but I got things I need to take care of.
I wanna put a ring on Ramona’s left hand, and I need to get the government off my back before I catch a tax-evasion charge.
I want to put a little dough together so Ramona and I can get a place of our own, somewhere we can walk barefoot in the yard.

So I work a lot. Too much, some might say.
I work every day. Every day of the week I am at work, trying to pull in a little extra so I can take care of these things in my life.

Funny thing is, I never cared about money – I still don’t, really.
I figure I’ll keep working ‘round the clock until I get these things squared, and then I’ll quit and drive a bus five days a week. That way, Ramona and I’ll have the things we need and be able to spend weekends together.

I think it’s a good plan, and Ramona’s patient.
She doesn’t think all this work is romantic, but she tolerates me, nonetheless. I tell her not to worry, that I’m not doing it all for her – I’m doing it for us.
 
Friday, September 20, 2002
  Conversation with an Alleged Terror Mastermind, Part I
Because I have connex all over the world, I got one of my men in Khartoum to get in me in touch with Osama bin Laden. There were a few things I wanted to ask him, and I was afraid that any intermediary would water down – or inflate – his responses, kinda like that guy Tariq Aziz spins all things Saddam Hussein.

“Yes, Yousef, I can put you in touch with the sheikh,” my man told me. “He knows of your open mind, that you have no political agenda.”
“I only want to ask him a few questions,” I said. “No more than five minutes.”
“Agreed,” he said over the AT&T line. “I will have him call you in the next 24 hours.”

My phone has connected to it caller ID, a digital recorder that stores my conversations on my PC, and a translating device like they use at the UN so I can speak untrammeled with people of all languages. I turned the dial to ARABIC, though bin Laden speaks in a dialect more pure than those of the streets of Cairo or Baghdad.

A woman in a light-blue dress was shoeless and smiling when the phone snapped me from sleep. My room was dark, and I sat up before taking the phone.

“Hello, is that you?” I said.
“By the beneficence of The Prophet, I am here, Yousef,” he said. “Please respect my situation.”

“Yes, sir. I would like to ask you, first and foremost, why? So when my children ask me I will be able to explain.”
“Very well, Yousef,” he said. “We declared jihad against the U.S. government because the U.S. government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical.”
“Do you know that many Americans would agree with that position if it existed in a vacuum? If there weren’t photos and buildings and airliners. If it were said in a classroom.”
“Praise the enlightened, for their eyes see through the fallacy of their rulers,” he said. “But seeing is not always enough – action must be taken.”

“But then you had some stronger language, right?”
“I said, ‘We – with God's help – call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.'”
“That’s pretty harsh, don’t you think? Does the death of a farmer in Iowa or a soccer mom in Cleveland serve God?”
“We are fighting an unconventional war, Yousef,” he paused. “We can’t line up our tanks and battle the mighty American military machine. That would not be practical. We must find other means to attack.”
“Some would call that cowardice, slaughtering people who’ve never heard of you.”
“Others would call it cunning, Yousef,” he said. “And rest assured, they will know my name.”
 
Thursday, September 19, 2002
 
USA! USA! USA!
 
 
Willy's got the brothels,
Willy's got the speed,
Willy's got the friends, they have everything you need.
 
 
D.L.,

I appreciate your sincere and professional response to my letter – it indicates you are quite serious about running a successful business. Your interest in your customers separates you from your peers.
Also, I’m thankful for the gift certificate for a complimentary wash. Should my next visit to your business take significantly less time than it did last time, you will have in me a customer for life.


Best,
Joe Smith
 
 
Re: My letter to the car wash.

Joe,

I am in receipt of your letter dated Sept. 13, 2002 regarding your experience at my car wash. It appears the service we provided was not acceptable to you and for that I apologize. We certainly strive to provide the best customer service possible and unfortunately it takes input from customers like you, as negative as it may be, to help us improved where we need. It appears you were more concerned with the time element than you were with the quality and we continuously work on ways to speed up the process and not sacrifice quality.

Joe, I would invite you back to the carwash, at my expense, and will do everything in my control to make your experience a more pleasurable one. I appreciate your input and once again “apologize” for your inconvenience.

Sincerely,

D. L.
President
 
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
 
They knew.

Now begin the spinning. No one will accept responsibility.
Not blame, responsibility.

I am sad for my country.
 
 
My girlfriend bores me.
I was thinking about it when I was walking over to her apartment this afternoon. She laughs at everything I say, and I don't think I'm that funny. I catch her checking out the books at my place, and I want to tell her that I've read The Firm and Sports Illustrated, too.

On Seventh Avenue downtown, the wind in the concrete canyons whipped the trash around and blew up the smell of the gym soap off my skin. I don't know a whole lot about scented soaps, but it didn't smell bad.

Oh shit, she's coming over to the computer. I'll get back to this later.

 
 
Because I got slammed in the face last week and I now have night-vision issues in my right eye, I went to the optometrist this morning to see if I detached a retina or dislodged the flap that seals my laser-corrected cornea. In order for the good doctor to determine the extent of the damage to my right eye, it was necessary to dilate the pupil in only that eye.
As a result, I now look like this.

But I'm going to be okay, the doctor said. My night vision might be forever fucked, but my retina appears to be in fine fettle.
 
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
 
The brown-skinned young men from Chicago are on CNN being attacked by a man wearing a United States of America flag pin on his lapel.
“Are you calling this woman a liar?” The man asks, incredulous and accusing.

The men say they are not calling anyone a liar. They tell the man with the flag of the United States of America on his lapel that they did not mention terrorist attacks at a diner in Georgia. They say they paid at a tollbooth in Florida. They were fully cooperative with authorities while they were detained for 17 hours, they tell the man.

The man on CNN can’t believe these guys – one of them was even born here!

The young men say they want to be doctors.

I want to tell them there’s no cure.
 
Monday, September 16, 2002
 
If you watch this space, you will see that I will not again leave you for three consecutive days. Unexpected and inexcusable, my absence the last couple of days was not without reason.
See, we had to lay low because we got caught up in a little violence.

It started last week at the Padres game, when third baseman Phil Nevin made the most Caminiti-esque throwing error in the ninth inning of a tied, unimportant game against the Giants. (The Pads, you see, begin each baseball season with nothing to play for – unless there’s a sweet downtown stadium deal in the offing, as there was in 1998 – and this year is no different. Idle tonight, the home team sits 29 ½ games behind the first-place Diamondbacks; alone in the NL West cellar, the Padres are six games behind fourth-place Colorado.) As he was walking off the field, a fan near the Padres’ dugout voiced his displeasure with the third baseman.
Nevin, who recently signed an extension that will pay him about $8 million a year, extended his middle finger toward the fan, a gesture seen by a multitude of home fans who weren’t heckling the third baseman, including several children. (Nevin, by the way, has 12 HRs and 54 RBI as of press time.)

So my big queen friend Gary – who was wearing a brown-and-gold feather boa at the game – yells out at Nevin from our seats along first base.
“Mary, get off the cross!” He screamed. “There ain’t enough wood.”

To which Nevin reacted as someone whose body’s roiling with anabolic steroids would:
He jumped into the stands and charged toward Gary.
But he didn’t make it, because I dove over the row in front of us with both fists extended like Superman. As my flight path neared Nevin, I joined my fists into one wall of eight knuckles. I hit him dead in the goatee and knocked him cold.
I landed twisted between the brown plastic seats, looking to see if I’d made it on Diamond Vision. Gary was yelling something at me, but before I could process what he was talking about, Padres first baseman Ryan Klesko hit me in the face with a left cross with the force and fury of someone on a cycle of anabolic steroids.

I woke up on Saturday with Ramona holding a steak on my face. She said it was nice that I stuck up for Gary, but that girls still don’t think fighting is cool.

And sure enough, that night we went to drink whiskey at a bar in North Park called The Office. A band was supposed to play, but they didn’t get there until like 12:30 a.m. And then they had the potatoes do a sound check.
They were called the Tori Cobras, and they weren’t bad, at all. They brought with them the heroin set, which is always boring, but surprisingly, a fight broke out right in front of Ramona and me.
I was a little bent, so I don’t even know who started what or who. It was the usual bar fight: flurry, separate, cheap shot, repeat.
I held Ramona behind me and thought of breaking a glass over someone’s head if she got hurt. But she didn’t, and I didn’t.

After the band scolded the crowd, they played on. Three or four songs later, we got a cab and left.

Now I’m back.
 
Friday, September 13, 2002
 
Dear Anthony,

I just wanted to let you know that it took more than 30 minutes for me to get a regular car wash at your shop the other day. I came in shortly before 3 p.m., saw that there were only a couple of cars in front of me, and figured I’d be in and out after about 10-15 minutes.
I was wrong, and perhaps what’s most irritating is that there was no appearance of hustle on the people working at the wash. Everything was nice and casual with the workers, and the people waiting for their vehicles looked like they were in a doctor’s waiting room: They were spaced-out and restless.
The wash itself was adequate, I guess, but certainly not worth the wait – or the $15 I paid.
I harbor no ill feelings toward your wash, and I will not badmouth it when given the opportunity. However, I will not ever return – my time’s just too valuable to me.
I write this because the sign at your wash read something to the effect of: IF YOU ARE SATISIFED, TELL A FRIEND – IF YOU ARE DISSATIFIED, TELL US.
Have a nice day,


Joe Smith
 
Thursday, September 12, 2002
 
My favorite player on the Lakers is Robert Horry, partly because of the unending frustration he would cause Chick during garbage time. Horry’d always be laughing with the refs, playing grab-ass with George McCloud and the brothers Barry as the Lakers were up by 30 midway through the fourth quarter.

“This is really Robert’s time,” Chick would say with no small amount of derision. “Robert excels in garbage time.”

And, of course, Chick hated garbage time because it’s everything that basketball’s not supposed to be.
Stu would just laugh.

My second-favorite player on the only professional sports team I root for might be Shaq, but I’m having to rethink that a little bit today.

Some time ago, I read along with the stories about the Big Fella getting deputized in L.A. and just figured it was another of his iconoclastic endeavors.
But today I read that Shaq’s actually become an honest-to-goodness, kick-down-the-door Cop, that some folks in Louisiana complained that Fella committed a couple of flagrant fouls during a “drug raid.”
A kid said that Shaq put his head in a toilet, punched him and choked him.

For years, I worked among cops, so it was no surprise to me that Shaq was cleared by his law-enforcement superiors.
Lemme know the last time the District Attorney ruled that an officer-involved shooting was not justified.

I’m not a teen-ager anymore, so I don’t "hate cops."
But I also know that before America fell in love with the boys in blue last fall, a man in a Brooklyn police station was sodomized by a police officer and his billy club.
That officer then paraded the offending nightstick around the precinct, boasting of breaking the man.

That cop was not Shaq, and that cop may not represent the majority of police officers.
But Shaq is a cop.
And that’s the way it is.

It’s one more thing that makes him different from you and me.
 
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
 
Nothing has changed.
We are united as an enemy.

There are still child molesters, soldiers killing their wives, and greedy opportunists. They yell and yell and yell, grinding us down to sand.
Just gotta get through intact. It’s walking on the mouths of alligators, life is.

Yes, we have learned about ourselves in the past year. It is an unpleasant measure that has been taken, to be sure. Forced patriotism, blind adherence to policy. Put your hand over your heart and trust. Wave a flag to wash it all away.

God fed to us like castor oil: It may not be what you want, but it’s what you need.
God, after all, is responsible for everything, including what happened a year ago.
This god against that god. The followers of one god didn’t like the behavior of another god’s followers and decided to do something about it.
In the name of the god.

Pity the unbelievers, for they are merely uncomprehending witnesses and unbelieving casualties in this clash of the titans.

It’s Un-American to ask questions.

Why.

Did it happen?
Wasn’t it stopped?
Haven’t the journalists been allowed to tell the whole story?
Us?
U.S.?

Why haven’t we learned?

Tears of blood run from my heart for those who lost loved ones, including the families of those who took over in the sky. To be born in Saudi Arabia, such is their lot now.
Dallas remains stigmatized by Kennedy and November of 1963.
Those spouses and children and parents and lovers – those are my heroes.
I want to lie in all the empty beds. I want to shake hands.

But nothing has changed.
 
 
Just a reminder:

We will observe a moment of silence tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. PT.

We encourage you to wear red, white and blue tomorrow and
to help “build” the American Flag filled with your thoughts and reflections.

Thank you.
 
Sunday, September 08, 2002
 
A lingering late-summer cold led me to watch "The Godfather" trilogy this weekend, and in doing so, I learned the following:

It turns out that Part I is actually my favorite, not Part II. The sequel lacked the crispness of the first film, and though it remains excellent in its own right, it’s perhaps overly ambitious and too long.

Part III isn’t as bad as everyone says it is.
But Sofia Coppola is.

Pacino’s acting in the first two films is of the highest order, like shit that hits the screen every 20 years or so. However, in Part III he does not play the role of Michael – taciturn, self-assured and decisive – but that of Pacino, unpredictably explosive and resigned to fate.
Actually, I think since Part III, Pacino’s acting has been reduced to self-parody, a series of tics and gestures and a pinkie ring.

For that matter, has James Caan ever played anyone other than James Caan?

Robert Duvall was a damn handsome man in the early 1970s.

I miss Italy, and I want to go there with Ramona.

It is true that they don't make 'em like they used to.
 
Friday, September 06, 2002
 
An unemployed truck driver in Berlin wants to name his newborn son after alleged terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.

“Osama bin Laden is a great man,” the man told a German television station. “He’s a good man for his people, for my culture.”

The man, a resident of Germany, is Turkish.
The capital of Turkey is Ankara, not Istanbul. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, and it was previously called Constantinople. Before that, the city was called Byzantium.
Constantine the Great changed the name to Constantinople in 660 AD.

The area where Joe’s office is located is called Titanium Valley because of the nearby golf companies like Callaway, Taylor Made and Cobra.
Joe doesn’t play golf, but he knows a lot of people who do. He thinks that he doesn’t understand these people. Not that he doesn’t understand the game of golf; he doesn’t understand the people who play golf.

Joe has never been to Istanbul, and it’s unlikely he’d name a child after the alleged terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. Or Adolf.
But what is that about using the name? Overusing it, rendering its stark power ineffectual?

Cunt, nigger, Osama.

Take the power back from the words. Diffuse them.

That’s not what the man in Berlin wants to do by naming his child Osama bin Laden.

Maybe, Joe thinks, those words should retain their power. Maybe they will be afforded the appropriate reverence.

What do you think? is a call to action.
 
 
Eds: Sic throughout.

Dear Employees,
The events of September 11th changed the way most of us look at life and that effect is far reaching. As we approach the one year anniversary of this tragic day we would like to reflect on 9/11 and what impact it has had on our lives and the lives of others. To do this we have erected the Twin Towers in the hallway between the call center and the mailroom. We would like to transform the two tall black towers into a spectacular American flag filled with our thoughts. To the left of the towers you'll find red and white stripes - take a moment to fill one out with your thoughts, prayers, poems, etc. Then affix your part of the flag onto one of the towers. You do not need to put your name on your stripe, just your thoughts. Once completed we'll see that we have rebuilt the twin towers into a beautiful freedom flag.
If you are an offsite employee, please feel free to email your submissions to either myself or ____ and we'll see that they are added to our flag.
Once the towers are transformed we will take a picture and send it out via email so we can all see what a difference our thoughts have made.
In addition, we will observe a moment of silence on September 11th at 1:30 pm Pacific time when President Bush will be placing a wreath at Ground Zero. ____ will say a few words over the paging system prior to the moment of silence.
Together we can make September a little easier to bear.
If you have any questions, please contact us here in ____ - we are always happy to help.
 
Thursday, September 05, 2002
 
Julia told me she’s never had good sex with a Republican.

“Not that I make it a habit of sleeping with ‘em, but they fuck like they drive,” she said. “Fast and without regard for anyone else.”

Just ‘cuz, I asked her what she thought of Democrats.

“As a whole, they make better lovers,” she answered. “But sometimes they try too hard.”

For the record, I don’t ally myself with any political party. It’s just too darn messy.
But I do believe in telling children the truth, and in condoms.

A comedienne said something to the effect of not wanting men who can’t achieve erections telling her what she could do with her body. She might’ve said, “A bunch of guys who can’t get it up.”

Another bumper sticker reads: NO U.S. INTERVENTION IN WOMEN’S WOMBS.

Maybe I am liberal, because those sentiments kind of make sense to me.

But the church and state are not separate, and so it goes.
We know what happens to children when they go to church.

According to the New York Times, which some people call biased, 10,000 teenagers a day contract a venereal disease.
Should they practice abstinence or have access to condoms?

Did the legislators skip adolescence?

Julia is an adult, but she embraces her youth.

“The past two presidents each did drugs, only they couldn’t really admit it. Clinton fudged about pot, and Bush Jr. did coke.
Not everyone experiments with drugs like they – and you and I – did, but sex? Come on.”

 
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
 
Bush vowing to seek Congress' OK on Iraq is different than Bush actually seeking Congress' OK.
 
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
 
The foreign car had three bumper stickers.

The first one, on the far left, read:
PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!

On the opposite side of the bumper, the sticker read:
UNITED WE STAND.

Those stickers were bracketed by American flags.
The middle sticker did not have any flags. It read:
TRUST NO ONE – DENY EVERYTHING.
 
 
Blinking my eyes open in the white sheets, I make a neat little swim move to get to the phone. It’s not a freestyle crawl stroke, per se, but the kind of thing a defensive end might do when he’s hunting quarterback. I drag the phone out of its cradle and say “Hello” before I get it to my ear.
The most recognizable noise ever: a dial tone.
What fucking time is it? Pivot to the LCD clock on the other side of the bed.
And who on earth is calling me at 7 a.m.?

The caller ID on the phone reads: (619) 486-2110 JIM BLANK
And what, I can’t wait to ask him, is the big fucking deal calling at this hour?
Torn between checking to see if he left a message and just calling him back right away, I push the receiver into the pillow and move onto my side, easing the tension in my bladder.
7 a.m.
I call the voicemail, which is actually accessed by calling my own number and entering a semi-secret code (really, what’s secret anymore?).
Jim’s message goes like this:
Have you seen any of TV? It looks like your guy. Fucking unreal. Gimme a call.
My guy?

After I pee, I go to the kitchen to put on some coffee. Because I like it so much and can’t wait to have it when I wake up – and because I am a compulsive spastic – I put the water, filter and coffee in the machine the night before so I only have to flip the switch when I get up. I pull up one of the blinds in the kitchen: gray, for a change.
TV.

For a reason I was still too sleepy to fully comprehend, I walked all the way to the television instead of hitting the remote. Perhaps unconsciously, I thought the proximity of the set would enhance the immediacy.
As the set warmed up and I stood there waiting, listening to the coffee get going in the other room, I hammer-pressed the channel down button, watching it go from 48 (Comedy Central) to CNN at 31.
Everything all over the screen, too much to make any sense of. These networks with the tickers and weather maps and stock quotes and celebrity birthdays and crisscrossed headlines, the anchor’s head a button in the corner, the CNNs and FOXs peppering the pixels. You can’t see anything, a thousand colors.
You have to fasten yourself onto the TV for it to make sense, overcome the fact that your ever-diminishing attention span is ill-equipped for the task. And then, finally, when you’re about to change the channel, it hits:

The cover of the Delillo book, Underworld. The tower and the church. A seam cut into the middle. Smoke coming from one of the towers. My friend works right there, I wonder what he’s doing. White noise scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Air space. Pentagon. American Airlines. President. Pointing in the mad skies of Manhattan, a plane – everyone said it looked out of place – circling the skyline behind the smoke flow, disappearing. The TV person losing composure, the pitch in his voice rising to AVERAGE CITIZEN. A second plane has hit. A second plane has hit. Black tears, running cell phones, dust.
 
Formerly GOD'S LONELY MAN

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