Monday, July 31, 2006

How Dry I Am

It seems as though New York has finally gotten its head out of its phony moral ass. For years it was impossible to buy alcoholic beverages before noon on Sundays, and now, lawmakers in Albany have decided that as of July 30, 2006, that law will be replaced by one authorizing beer sales as early as 8 AM.

Just how did this travesty of justice come about? Well, it was once decided that it was depraved to drink alcohol, read, talk loudly, scratch yourself and other sundry activities on “the Lord’s day.” No, no, not in this moral land! So, starting around the 1600’s in Connecticut, laws were passed to keep people on the straight and narrow path, at least on Sunday mornings. Violators were heavily fined, and sometimes even whipped and beaten. While detractors of the law might cry that the government was “legislating morality,” the truth is, as many truths are, economic in nature. If people were at home or in the bar on Sunday mornings getting soused, that meant that they weren’t in Church getting fleeced and brainwashed. Can’t have that! The Church, and its exceptionally deep pockets, has always had incredible influence over almost every facet of daily life, including that of governance, and so the laws were passed.

A few states, such as Connecticut and Rhode Island, refuse to loosen their grasp on the outdated superstitions and draconian morality of the seventeenth century, and so, still have their blue laws on the books. But thankfully, we live in a progressive state (one that forces its drivers to wear seatbelts and refuses law-abiding citizens their Constitutional right to carry firearms, but progressive towards fermented hops) and now New Yorkers everywhere can skip the sermon and head down to the ol’ watering hole for a frosty pint. Way to go Pataki (you fucking wanker).

Now on that note, I’d like to relate to you, dear readers, an experience that I had about two months ago at the Super Stop and Shop in Yonkers. You see, I was restocking some essential items (taco shells, transmission fluid, and a desk fan. They really do diversify at Stop and Shop), when I decided to pick up a twelve-pack of Sam Adams Summer Ale. All was going well until I got to the checkout line and the cashier, who was less than intellectually gifted, informs me that she is unable to complete the transaction. Well, not in those words exactly. Think “less syllables”. Since I knew exactly where this was going, and desired to instigate a little trouble, I resolved to claim ignorance of the entire “blue laws” nonsense by disguising myself as an Irish immigrant, (adopting the worst brogue since DiCaprio in Gangs of New York). So here I present to you a short scene detailing the exact exchange entitled "I'm Moving The Fuck To New Hampshire":


CASHIER: (SCOWLING AT ME AS IF I WERE SMOKING CRACK RIGHT THERE ON LINE) You can’t buy no beer.

ME: (FEIGNING BEWILDERMENT) Um, why not?

CASHIER: It’s Sunday.

ME: I know that.

CASHIER: So you can’t buy it.

ME: Because it’s Sunday? Or is there another reason I’m missing?

CASHIER (BECOMING VISIBLY PETURBED): You not allowed to buy beer on Sundays. That’s the law.

ME: Is this an order from Stop and Shop, then, or is this some American thing?

CASHIRE: America. All over. You can’t buy no beer on Sundays.

WOMAN BEHIND ME ON LINE (SHOUTING): Bullshit! It’s just fucking New York. And you can buy it after 12 o’clock.

(A GLANCE AT MY WATCH TELLS ME THAT IT'S JUST AFTER 11:30 AM)

ME (TO THE FEMALE SHOPPER): So is this a religious thing, then?

THE WOMAN BEHIND ME: Who knows? Probably.

ME: Don’t they serve wine at church? Do they not like the stores cutting in on their business?

THE WOMAN BEHIND ME: (LAUGHS SO HARD SHE KNOCKS OVER HER CAPRI SUN JUICE BOXES.)

CASHIER: That’s the law, sir; I can’t sell you no beer. (ACTUALLY TAKES THE CASE OUT OF MY HANDS AS IF I MIGHT RIP INTO IT RIGHT THERE AND OFFEND BABY JESUS)

ME: No worries, then, I’ll be back in a half an hour.


The cashier continues to ring up the rest of my purchases; I pay, trundle out the door, load up my truck and smoke a cigarette. It’s now 11:50, so I head back into the store, pick up a fresh case of Sam Adams, and go directly back to the cashier. As I’m waiting on line behind a woman with two carts who was apparently making purchases for the entire Lithuanian Army, the cashier notices me and picks up the phone, presumably to call the manager. Just a point of information: 90% of the time that I’ve bought beer at the supermarket, the cashier had to call the manager over to get him to unlock something special in the cash register, as if purchasing alcohol required launch codes or something. By the time he gets there, the woman in front of me had left, so I plop the case down on the conveyor belt.


ME: (DROPPING THE BROGUE) Hi! Told you I’d return. (CASHIER JUST GLARES AT ME)

MANAGER (STANDING DIRECTLY NEXT TO THE CASHIER): Will that be all, sir?

ME: I’ve already done the rest of my shopping. Had to wait until the stars were in correct alignment for this though (PATTING THE CASE LOVINGLY).

MANAGER (FORCES A SMALL LAUGH WHILE KEYING THE REGISTER): Well, that’s the law, even if it is a bit silly.

ME: (SWIPING MY DEBIT CARD) I bet you that most people in my line of work would agree with you there.

MANAGER (TAKING THE BAIT): What sort of business are you in?

ME: (CASUALLY) I’m a priest.

(EXEUNT)

I know, I know. I’m going to Hell. But at least there, I can get two-for one Cuervo shots on Christmas morning.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pander Me Out To The Ball Game

You know, as much of a baseball fan as I am, I’ve never gone to Cooperstown to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.

And now, I never will.

And why? Because it’s become a sham. Yet another political staging area for concessions, indulgences, and special dispensations. Is there nothing sacred in this fading republic of ours that can weather the storm of politically correct “privileges” once afforded to only the worthy?

In case you’re not a baseball fan (or are just a bloody moron who doesn’t know that such a thing exists), the National Baseball Hall of Fame is a repository and museum for the players, coaches and other assorted personnel that have made either positive or exceptional contributions to the game of baseball.

In order to be considered for the HOF, eligible candidates are required to garner at least 75% of the votes on ballots cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The process is a little more complicated than that, and I won’t bother to reproduce it all, but if you click here, you can read all about the other rules and regulations.

Here’s a short list of previous inductees:

Babe Ruth
Ty Cobb
Ryne Sandberg
Johnny Bench
Yogi Berra
Carlton Fisk
Jackie Robinson
Willie Stargell, etc, etc.

If you’re interested, you can view the entire list here

Notice something about that list? Right, every single one of them was a damn fine ballplayer and enjoyed both success and popularity. Here’s a sampling from the list of 2006’s inductees:

Andy Cooper
Biz Mackey
Cum Posey
Mule Suttles
Cristóbal Torriente
Effa Manley
Bruce Sutter

Notice anything about this year’s list? That’s right! Other than the fact that their names seem to suggest Faulkner characters or adult movie stars? With the exception of Sutter, the other inductees share two glaring traits:

1) No one’s ever heard of them,
2) They never played in the Major Leagues.

The 17 “special inductees” that the HOF is honoring this year are (at best) arbitrary choices from a pool of players that appeared in either the Negro or Cuban Leagues in the 1920’s.

Now let me point out that I am in no way denigrating the Negro Leagues. At a time that segregation was a blight on our country, Negro League players showcased some fine talent outside of the Majors – they didn’t just “succeed by overcoming racism” or any of that 1990’s feel-good hokum, but did so for the love of the game. And I salute them for that.

But.

These players were never elected to the HOF by the traditional means. Instead, a “special committee” consisting of two people funded by MLB sat in a room and unilaterally decided which of these obscure players would sit alongside Whitey Ford, Tom Seaver, and Sandy Kaufax in the hallowed halls of the National Pasttime. You know, to "embrace diversity." I'm guessing that there aren't any Black baseball players that actually deserve the honor?

Even worse than this, two of this year’s inductees never even played ball in this country! Why is the National Baseball Hall of Fame honoring players from the Cuban National Team? I can’t buy cigars from Havana, but Cuban players are given a distinctly American honor? I know it’s not the Congressional Medal of Honor, but give me a break.

And you want to know the really sad thing? Baseball greats such as Jim Rice, Goose Gossage, Bert Blyleven, Don Mattingly, and Tommy John did not receive the required number of votes, so they’ll have to wait another year for consideration. Their place was co-opted by the panderings of a “special committee.” And the most despicable part of the voting procedure is that players such as Ozzie Guillen and Hal Morris can never again be considered for induction because they failed to earn the requisite 5% of votes from the BWAA.

Will “The Thrill” Clark, first baseman for the Giants who was named MVP for the 1989 NCLS, and batted a career .303 with 2176 hits in 15 years, will forever be passed up for the Hall for lack of three votes. But Cum Posey is going in.

Take heart, Will, maybe in a few years, they’ll be a “Special Committee” for you, buddy.

And maybe me too. Hell, I never played in the Majors, but I tossed two consecutive no-hitters with the Black Roses softball team in the late nineties. Given the current practice of honoring anyone and everyone who ever spent some time between the lines, I should make it to the Hall by the middle of this century.

First round’s on me, Will. We’ll let Pete Rose pick up the rest.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I'm Shocked...Shocked!

I came across this while doing some research for a much longer upcoming article, and felt that I had to at least make a passing reference to it. It must be important because it was right there on Google News’ front page. A member of a “boy band” is homosexual? Wow, watch out Woodward and Bernstein – what a scoop!

The entire country (save for those with IQ's larger than the size of their television screens) was floored by the announcement that Lance Bass, a member of the 1990's semi-successful teeny-bopper musical group “N’Sync” (note the creative, hip spelling), a band akin to Menudo, just lacking in the musical talent department, decided to come out of the closet.

I’m glad that the media is there to keep us apprised of every obvious and insignificant development in the lives of washed-up pseudo-celebrities. Next they’ll be telling us that Michael Jackson likes little boys or Barry Bonds takes steroids, or that Scientology is merely a scam committed to bilking idiots out of their money or that water is wet.

I suppose non-news is good news. It’s not like we’re at war, or Iran is developing nuclear weapons, or millions of illegal aliens are flooding our country, or North Korea engineered long-range missiles, or anything like that. Would you like some bread and circuses to go with your smoke and mirrors?

Stay tuned.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Only Friend, The End

Bless me Father for I have sinned.

It has been 77 days since my last post.

Why? Many reasons. Not in the least of which has anything to do with me not having anything to say. That’s just the problem; I’ve too much.

And quite frankly, I think I’m wasting both my time and bandwidth.

Look, Freud once said that 90% of the people of this world “just don’t get it.” Although I’m sure he said it in German. And I’ve always considered myself one of the blessed 10% who do “get it”. I’ve read countless pieces of literature, traveled to a dozen countries and twice as many American states, I’ve sat on the Great Pyramid and shook hands with the Pope (more like waved from a distance, actually, but close enough) I hold multiple degrees from three separate Universities in English Literature and Education, I studied painting in Venice and archeology in Egypt, I can speak two and a half languages (Spanish is just Italian spoken incorrectly), read in four and curse you to the ends of the earth in six, I can tell the difference between an Italian and an Elizabethan sonnet AND the difference between single malt and blended Whisky by the smell alone, (The Whiskey, not the sonnets. Sonnets don’t have an odor I’m aware of), I’ve had a play produced off-Broadway (off, off off. Like in a different ZIP code), I play guitar and bass and can muddle through a reasonably acceptable version of “November Rain” on the piano, and I can hold a conversation lasting for many hours (and many drinks) on every topic from international politics to the bioluminescence of creatures of the abyssal benthic zone to Hegelian philosophy.

I’m not saying I’m the quintessential Renaissance Man, but it’s not too bad for thirty years of life.

The problem is, that regardless of what I achieve, I feel that it is wasted on a population who is obsessed with the following:

1) Immediate, self-gratification
2) Popular Culture
3) Maintaining the status quo through indifference and / or complete lack of common sense.

So, from this point on I will not be posting articles on global terrorism, global warming, or some kid who got hit by a car in the Bronx. Why bother? The people who agree with me will continue to agree with me, and those who share an alternate view will continue to do so despite all evidence to the contrary. I share a kindred love of all that is logical with the 10% as well as a bitter loathing for the other 90%

My thoughts, my words are in vain. I realize this.

So instead, after today’s post, look for an entirely updated Pantheon Outcast, perhaps one that showcases a little more of my talents, and less of my frustrations.

That being said, it would dishearten loyal readers (all 11 of you) if I didn’t go out in my usual style (ie, caustic, acerbic, and judgmental), and present to you now a collection of biting, indicting, and all together exciting observations, platitudes and cold hard facts.

So sit back, pour yourself a drink, light up the carcinogenic drug of your choice and enjoy:

Valannin’s Semi-Complete Manifesto of Difficult to Accept, but Completely Honest Truths of Life. AKA, “Face ‘em now or rue them later”

Truth #1

There will never, ever ever, be “peace in the Middle East” short of a nuclear air strike. The Jewish people have absolutely no historic claim to Palestine outside of vague directives outlined in a 4000 year old book of fables written by half-demented, anti-establishment mystics. The longer Israel exists, the longer the fighting goes on AND, the longer the United States continues to support Israel, the more we will be drawn into their fanatical self-invented “conflict”. Eventually, the Muslims will win, because historically, they have been the more successful in this field. They conquered the European Crusaders and took the “Holy Land”, occupied Spain for 800 years, and effectively stole all of Asia Minor right out from under the Romans. Plus the fact that they are insanely brainwashed, breed like hamsters, and consider it an honor to die. The last time I checked, the Jews historically have not conquered anything, and whenever they offer up even the slightest bit of resistance, they are herded into ghettos and rounded up into train cars. The American people will ultimately suffer because of our illogical devotion to a dying race.

Truth #2

There is no such thing as “Global Warming.” It is a ruse designed, like all other ruses, to elevate the status of one group (in this case, hippy scientists) and to separate you from your money. The Earth’s climate, like all of its geology, works in an immense cycle, operating in time frames that we as humans cannot wrap our minds around. The scientific community has offered zero hard evidence that the global temperature is rising at anything other than an expected rate within normal parameters, and the skittish, selfish homo-sapiens that we are, latch onto the idea because 1) We’re easily fooled and 2) We hate the idea that our own personal space might somehow become uncomfortable. Tom Brokaw and Al Gore can make as many documentaries as they like, but they are flat out wrong. The only good thing that has come out of the discussion is the possibility of ending our dependence on Arab-controlled oil, but if hypocrites like Gore had let us drill in ANWR in the first place, we wouldn’t have had to sell our souls to the ululating tribes. He’s merely covering his tracks for being economically irresponsible. And speaking of economics, alternate-fuel research is not at the top of the list of priorities for automobile manufacturers simply because it would cut further into their profits than free-trade and NAFTA has ever done. It’s bad enough we allowed Japan to corner the market with tax-abatements and loosening of import tariffs, now we are forcing industries to pour billions into unnecessary research, something that in the business world would happen naturally anyway. They are corporations formed to make a profit, not make you feel good about yourself.

Truth #3

Blaming George Bush or the Republicans for any of the country’s ills is like blaming your gynecologist when your baby is born deformed and retarded even if, during your pregnancy, you smoked a pack of Winstons a day, drank like a fish, and ate nothing but McDonald’s cheeseburgers for nine months. Our “leaders” are neither good nor evil, but indicative of the people that elected them. Democracy does not work. Florida proved that. Anyone too stupid to figure out how to punch a hole in a piece of paper is not worthy in participating in the democratic process. Ditto goes for the people who can’t be bothered to learn the native language of the country they will presume to make decisions for. By the way, Bush-bashers, I realize that you never took political science in college, electing instead to take courses such as African-American Pottery and Homosexual Literature, but here’s some information for you. The President has very little direct power in American Government. Most of the power resides with the Supreme Court and Congress. You want to blame someone, blame O’Connor and Feinstein. These are the same idiots who voted down an anti-flag burning amendment. So now you can burn a flag with impunity, but not burn a cross. Oh, hypocrisy, thy name is America. Oh, and anyone who voted for or will vote for Hillary Clinton in the future should be hunted down and summarily executed. The only people dumber than Hillary supporters are those people who have kept Ted Kennedy in power for over 40 years.

Truth #4

Speaking of education, any degree program that contains the word “Studies” in it is an absolute waste of everyone’s time. African-American Studies. Women’s Studies. There’s even a degree program being offered at some universities called Queer Studies. People who hold degrees in those “fields” are directly responsible for all of the outsourcing going on recently. You want to study Queers? Hang out in Chelsea reading Truman Capote. How do you expect to positively influence the global community if you’re frittering your time away on your own little special interest groups? The problem with these groups is that their constant need for acceptance prevents them from accomplishing anything worthwhile. This is the 21st Century. No one really cares if you are black, female or homosexual. Keep your insecurities to yourself, study something productive that highlights your natural talents and go get a job in a field that will drag our country out of the economic miasma in which it has been floundering. And if you have no natural talents, and the only thing you have going for you is that you are black, female or gay, then go study a trade. We have enough non-profits, activist lawyers, and motivational speakers in this country. Go learn to fix a computer so we don’t have to keep paying someone in India to do it for us. You’re supposed to get an education so that you can contribute to the State and the world around you, not satisfy your selfish desires or shirk responsibility.

Truth #5

This is strictly for the American audience. Shut the doors and reclaim your birthright. Be proud of the fact that in a mere 200 years you and your kind managed to turn a land of swamps, rocky plains and wasteland into the greatest civilization that has ever existed. Americans do not need to constantly hear about the guilt they should be feeling for eradicating a few wandering tribes. They were not noble or strong. They lived in tents made out buffalo hides and worshipped trees. I’m sure they were nice people, but they were weak and even Manifest Destiny couldn’t hold a candle to the inherent superiority of the European culture, technology and above all, tenacity. If the Europeans had left them alone, they’d still be hunting elk with blowguns and sucking down peyote in their sweatlodges. That being said, its also time we shored up our borders. Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to have any more immigrants grace our land with their presence, least of all ones who have utterly failed at their own attempts at civilizations. Give us your engineers, biochemists and, yes, even your artists. You are truly worthy. But we’ll pick our own grapes and make our own beds, thank you. Besides, we don’t actually need immigrants for low-paying, high-labor jobs; we have enough “Studies” Majors to do it for us. And English should not only be the official language of America, it should be the only recognized one. Kudos to Gino’s in Philly for recognizing that. If you’d like to speak Spanish, move to Spain.

Truth #6

An open letter to all African-Americans (read: black people). I’ve got quite a few words of wisdom for you. It’s high time you chose a side. You’re not from Africa, you’re from Alabama, Tennessee, Detroit and The Bronx. You and everyone else need to give it a rest with the hyphens. Assimilate. We know you’re a different color, but that should be the only difference. Slavery ended 150 years ago -- get past it. Many, if not the majority of the world’s cultures have been slaves to another culture at some point in history, and they have let it live in history. Don’t let it become an excuse for your inability to succeed. You want to blame someone, look to your own camps. 50-Cent and the Wayans Brothers have done more to hinder Black achievement more than any plantation owner. 50 years ago, you had the best music. So good that White musicians “stole” it from you. What happened? How did you let it get like this? John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson should rise from their graves, join with Aretha and gun down every last rap “artist” on the planet. Do you honestly think that rhyming about murder, drugs and bitches over a beat stolen from a 1970’s disco song is “art”? Besides, it’s not even your own anymore; the most successful rapper in the world is white. “Urban Culture” is a stone around your neck, and it’s dragging America down with you. Stop buying so many electronics for your car, overpriced sneakers and other pointless consumer products. White people are “rich” because they buy mutual funds and not spinning hubcaps. Besides, they make you look really, really foolish. And by the way, OJ did it, Michael Jackson did it, and Tupac deserved it. Find someone else to get behind.

Finally, some quick truths and advice I’ve learned over time:

If you take away the ability for a criminal to have a gun, he’ll stab you. Take way the knives, and he’ll mug you with a sharp stick. Put the criminals in jail, or better yet, kill them, and leave my guns alone.

Standardized tests are biased against the stupid. 65% should never be considered a passing grade.

More people in this country will die from breast, lung, and prostate cancer than died in the Holocaust. We need to stop subsidizing museums and start funding research.

AIDS is not an epidemic. It only affects illegal drug users and people with questionable sexual proclivities. I fail to see the problem.

If people who hijack planes are Muslim men between the ages of 18 and 40, then the airports are jeopardizing national security by “randomly” searching 75-year-old white women in the name of “fairness”. If you lose your wallet in the bus station bathroom, don’t look for it in your neighbor’s vegetable garden.

If you put down your iPods and cell phones for a bit, you’ll notice a bit more about the world around you. They are tools and toys, not necessities.

People who pour coffee into cups at Starbucks are not “baristas.” They are minimum wage employees probably majoring in Post-Modern-South American-Literature Studies. Stop inventing labels for your menial life. And no, I’m not going to tip you.

The civil war between Religion and Science is coming, and Science will win. You can’t claim to be a rational human being and believe that our 6 billion year old planet was created in 6 days by an invisible man who made humans out of dirt and impregnated a virgin who eventually gave birth to a man who could walk on water and rise from the dead. You might as well believe in elves, minotaurs, dragons and driads. Faith is a nice thing to have, but try putting that faith in your innate human intelligence and wisdom. Leave the fantasy to Tolkien and let the educated teach the science classes in high school.

Some guy who wraps a tree in bright orange fabric is not an artist. He’s a con man. Same goes for a “magician” who holds his breath for a week. Stop being fooled, people. Hold your awe for people who truly deserve it.

And finally, I’d buy a ticket at hotel mini-bar prices to watch Dave Winfield beat Barry Bonds in the kneecaps with an aluminum softball bat at the Meadowlands until he admitted to a live audience that he took steroids.

Oh, and don’t leap into the East River at midnight to retrieve your book of poorly written poetry…

*Finis*

Valannin