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11/11/2008

I've noticed more often than not when you are dealing with the uninformed or perpetually lost, there are certain habits to look out for. You'll notice, for example, a constant sort of bond to a particular phrase or saying whenever posed with a given question.

Now, maybe it's because of the Governor of Alaska I've noticed this more and more (like I couldn't pick it up in the Bush Administration), but I see it... well, hear it, actually, all the friggin' time.

What better way to show the world how truly one-dimensional you are than to go "broken record on steroids?"

A better question is this: am I the only one who notices this habit? It's a big world out there, surely I can't be the only one who encounters the incompetent on a daily basis.

Now let me just say by "incompetent," I don't necessarily mean "ignorant." I simply mean someone who is ill-equipped to tackle their day-to-day responsibilities and tasks. Now whether that consists of complex practices like balancing a budget or rudimentary procedures like wiping oneself, I guess that depends entirely on the individual. But the fact of the matter remains there are some humans out there who are just not fit for their profession or path.

So in order to mask that blatant smear, they adhere to catchphrases. I don't necessarily mean a particularly cute or novel saying. Rather, it's simply a term that is recycled so frequently it becomes as much of a staple in their vocabulary as "good morning," "thank you" and "the heat is on, mothafuckah."

I've found these catchphrases tend to emerge when challenged on something they simply don't know how to address. Typically it's a question, occasionally a critique. To use the above example of Governor Palin, you would typically notice her egregious overuse of "you betcha." Even the term "maverick" was used as a smokescreen to shield everyone from the fact she was clueless.

Listen to people in your office who seem like lost puppies. Tell me you don't notice the same behavior.

I guess my question is why don't more people notice this behavior? As in, people who can change it? Time and again we excuse people for their quirks when in reality, said quirks are the result of them being unfit. And we just brush it off as, "well, that's the way they are."

Remember, "Manny being Manny" ultimately turned into "Manny being an obnoxious pain in the ass" for the Red Sox. So it should come as no surprise if a case of "Joey being Joey" turns into a case of "Joey holding up progress."

Folks, I'm not belittling these people; I really do feel for them. They're in over their head and don't have the courage to simply say "I don't know," even in cases when that's an acceptable answer. I do however, take issue with the proper individuals with influence not doing something to curb this behavior.

There are some people whose habits and competencies will never reach beyond a certain barrier. You encounter that in life. That doesn't necessarily mean you put them in a position of importance. At the end of the day, it's not their fault, nor should they be held completely (partially, perhaps) accountable for their failings. Someone put them there. Someone thought they could get the job done.

Someone was dead wrong. Someone needs to wake up.

And ultimately, most people do wake up. Hey, we elected a guy who is walking away with the lowest approval rating in history. Twice. We decided not to go for someone who would follow all his policies. We learned.

I guess it's sad then when people don't learn. That's how you know someone is genuinely incompetent.

11/05/2008

The following post is comprised of excerpts from my personal journal written more than 48 hours ago.

I’m not really one to write about messages of hope and faith on this blog. I won’t be including any campaign lingo for either party. Cries of “Yes we did,” “Maverick,” “Alaskan Hockey Mom” or “Joe the Plumber” will be off-limits for the next few pages.

This is as pure as it gets.

11/3/08

Where do we want to be in four years? Or eight? Do we wish to be in the same position socially, economically, culturally? Do we really want four more years of a cockamamie joke of an administration? Would we prefer a driver for change?

These are questions I have asked myself these last nine intriguing months as I have bore witness to the most amazing political scenario of my young life. For the better part of the year, I have sat back as an observer rather than a commentator as usual.

I have felt a rush of energy, enthusiasm and something long-absent from our national dialogue: hope. There is a strange vibe going on in the air right now that no one can deny. There is a surge of young, engaged, passionate energy out there. It’s mobilizing. It’s already manifesting itself in the form of early voting and purportedly record-breaking turn-outs based on the polls.

But I’ve been fooled before. I’ve had my own hopes dashed along with nearly half the American public. Some things are too good to be true.

In the last year I’ve been fortunate enough to travel at length throughout the United States. One such visit actually took me to the White House, remarkable as it may seem. I sat in the same room with the incumbent President of the United States, biting my tongue painfully throughout a half-hearted, hokey speech that mirrored the empty look in his eyes. No doubt this gaze also reflected the absence of gray matter between his ears.

I sat thinking about where we’ve been, where we’re going and what could be next. I knew full well this man would no longer be in charge in less than a year’s time, but still the mere sight of him made my blood turn cold. I couldn’t bring myself to applaud for him; I feigned clapping by wedging my camera between my palms. I couldn’t and still can’t give this man the courtesy when he has not given our country the courtesy.

Twisted as it sounds, I was sitting in that reception room wearing a bear of boxers purchased online bearing the visage of the Democratic candidate, who at the time was still holding down the fort in a vicious primary battle.

I have since joked that would he win, I would write him to let him know I was warming a seat for him in the nation’s capitol. I hope the next 24 hours will afford me such an opportunity.

11/4/08

This morning, Yahoo News showed projects of Obama winning by 318 electoral votes while ESPN postulated on the Redskins’ loss being able to predict the election after their first ever “miss” in 2004.

In the midst of all this, news broke last night on the death of Obama’s grandmother “Toot” while the GOP unleashed a media onslaught of Anti-Obama ads on all major news networks in an attempt to paint him as too radical. They’ve been hard at work trying to link him to purported terrorist sympathizers while hardly talking up their own candidate.

I got a free coffee at Starbucks on Broadway when asked if I voted. I told them I hadn’t, but planned on it (which was true), and they gave it to me anyway. Last night, street urchins were selling Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin condoms in a last ditch effort to milk the merchandising aspect of this historic affair.

By the end of today, such promotion will be gone. But the ramifications will tell the real story. Normally such absurdity would bother me, but there was something all too different in the streets. An indefinable aura, if you will.

Walking down West 48th Street, there is a different flavor in the air. Perhaps it is because of the sheer anticipation of what’s to come. People are walking, talking, behaving less like automatons of yesteryear and more like true human beings.

There is an air of hope.

I remember four years ago watching a map on TV aflame with crimson, denoting the Bush Administration’s criminal activities would go on for another 1,518 until January 20th, 2009. And I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach, a sensation I can only assume was my heart, heavy with fear and disillusion, plummeting internally.

“There is no hope.”

How could we be so stupid? So naïve? Were we seriously siphoning Kool-Aid off this joker and asking for seconds? What kind of a country do we live in? Do I live in?

The week before the 2004 election, I remember joking with a friend that I could rest easily even if Bush won because the Boston Red Sox broke their 86-year-old curse and lifted the hearts of millions. Looking back, I’d prefer another 86 years without a ring to our name than four more years of Bushian nonsense.

I lost hope in our collective sense of reason. And now, I get the impression that it’s not dead. I feel as though many Americans are clawing to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

Could we be learning at last? Maybe this is why I find myself writing less and less these days… common sense seems to be prevailing, and hard lessons learned are beginning to register. There is less to infuriate or irritate the more I watch the news or read the paper. Less to marvel at.

I don’t care how long I’ll have to wait to vote tonight, even though Obama is certain to win Connecticut. I have a sense of excitement instead of repeated defeatism as I did four years ago this time.

I hope by tomorrow there will be something good to report.


I didn’t have to wait until today, I got my answer last night. History was made in no small terms.

This election serves as an amazing representative of the notion that we Americans are starting to smarten up. Starting to loosen up. Things are stale and scary. Change was inevitable, but the question was what kind of change would we get? Would it come in the form of the more experienced war hero? Or the largely unproven freshman senator? Oh, and the latter just happened to be African-American.

I thought it would be a tight race. I really believed this had potential to be another Bush/Gore scenario of “too close to call” for over a month. My fellow Americans have so graciously (and thankfully) proven me wrong.

Every barrier was broken. Fear, uncertainty, reluctance and above all, prejudice. During the primaries, my father told me a joke from his era:

“A man has a conversation with God and asks, ‘Father, will there ever be a woman in the office of President?’ God replies, ‘Not in your lifetime, son.’ The man then asks, ‘Father, will there ever be a black man in the office of President?’

“God replies, ‘Not in my lifetime, son.’”

Now to all the Christian conservatives out there, don’t panic, the above was an anecdote and not a genuine account.

However, it speaks volumes to our growth. In four years, we went from being scared to change the game to giving an overhaul of epic proportions. As I type right now, the final electoral tally is 349 to 146, and 52 percent of the popular vote in favor of the current President-Elect. We didn’t just crave change, we embraced it. And broke every standard and conventional line of thinking present in this nation’s narrowest minds.

It’s history. This is one of my generation’s watershed moments. And what’s more, it comes in the form of a person who, though unproven and with lots of ground to cover, has managed to unite a large chunk of the populous, motivating people to take action, but also serving as the catalyst for many to change the way they think.

Inflexibility is one of our greatest human faults, especially in this country. Last night proved a lot can change.

We’re late the game on a lot in this nation. Whether it’s technology and science or classic cases like the space race, we fall behind a lot of the time. This is one of the most massively progressive steps in our history, and it comes at a crucial time.

How Obama will perform clearly remains to be seen. He could be a hero, he could be a dog. That’s true of any candidate, no matter how magnetic. However, the glass ceilings have been shattered. Convincingly. I personally feel this man has a lot to offer, and I hope he lives up to his promises. Like anything I will let time determine that.

What is certain for me is that my faith in humanity has been restored. Cliché as it may sound, I honestly never thought I would live to see a day like this, and I’m thoroughly impressed that minds once timid and bound to old ways are now shifting dramatically.

I started this blog November 27th, 2002. Two years after the controversial election in which Bush forged a family legacy, and nearly fifteen months following the nightmarish attack on our nation that fateful day in early September. In that time, I have sat back, like many of my heroes, and watched. And I’ve seen ignorance displayed on every level imaginable. From the mundane to the staggeringly massive. For too long I thought this would just be an ongoing trend, a downward spiral from which we would never steer off-course.

And yet the celebration that has been taking place since last night at about 11:30 PM shows no signs of letting up. It carries with it an unprecedented energy and passion… for so many, it’s as though nothing in the world can possibly faze them, and the day is won for millions. It's like a mass euphoria; I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Actually, I think I have… October 27th, 2004. The Red Sox break the curse. How ironic…

Two songs have permeated my conscious the last 48 hours… yesterday in Grand Central Terminal, I found myself walking behind a young black man listening to his iPod and singing, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight… oh, lord. I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life… oh, lord.” Even though I didn’t know him personally, It was crystal clear why this particular tune was on his playlist.

The other song came on my iPod this morning… out of 6,542 tracks to choose from on “Shuffle” mode, I was graced with “The Times They Are A-Changin’” by Dylan.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

11/04/2008

History was made tonight. Forget what party you're associated with... times they are a-changin'.

More tomorrow. Sleep well.

10/23/2008

I feel the need to take some time here and pat myself on the back for holding my tongue since the end of August on the Republican Candidate’s running mate. While the rest of America has been voicing their formulated opinions, justified or nonsensical, I’ve been sitting from afar (for once) to take it all in and really get a firm grasp on this so-called “Alaskan Hockey Mom.”

Now I’ve long-cemented my opinion on the woman. And I’ve still held my tongue, because my thoughts seem to be mirroring those of the pundits far and wide. So why comment if I can’t even host an original thought that hasn’t been projected in the media?

And yeah, the media blows most things outta proportion, but at the same time when you watch the footage of this AHMILF (Alaskan Hockey Mom I’d Like to… y’know) in action, it’s hard to at least not get a whiff of Kool-Aid in the air. Because she’s not only mixing it, she’s practically serving it up at the same time.

Like my thoughts on Governor Palin, I’ve had my mind made up for quite some time on my pick for the next President. Since the primaries, as a matter of fact. That said, I have nothing but the utmost respect for John McCain and his tenure as a U.S. Senator. He clearly has devoted himself to his party and his country, and that’s outside of his service to our nation during a most tumultuous war. But I cannot fathom for the life of me what he and his associates were thinking when they picked Governor Palin for his running mate.

There’s a multitude of bullets that just don’t add up. The immense lack of experience, the reliance on warm, fuzzy phrases and winks to entrap the soft-brained, the proficiency to dodge key questions with dainty-yet-vacuous responses, I could go on and on.

But in looking at the cold hard facts, any way you cut it, Senator McCain’s running mate is a walking, talking marketing decision. An attempt to lure in disenfranchised female voters who were internally crying the blues over Hillary Clinton’s loss in the Democratic primaries. A means to connect with Middle America vis-à-vis Governor Palin’s folksy tone and colloquialisms, bundled up in a voice that lies somewhere between Marge Gunderson in Fargo and the mother in Bobby’s World.

But this is not North Dakota, nor is it a cartoon. It’s one of the most critical eras in the 232-year-old history of this country, and certainly the direst period of the 21st century thus far. This is an important election for U.S. citizens. There’s a war overseas in a country where we have no right to be, and an even more vicious bloodbath on the financial battleground; one that could best be described as a “war of attrition.” This is not the time for marketing decisions.

Especially not marketing decisions gone wrong. Sarah Palin, originally viewed by pundits and commentators (and I can only venture to guess the inner circle as well) as the buoyant life jacket for John McCain’s hopeful presidential venture is now dragging down his campaign as though her offerings of “you betcha” and “don’tcha know” were loaded with concrete. To paraphrase her SNL doppelganger Tina Fey, this material writes itself.

But the humor only lasts so long. Much like the antics of the cast members of Jackass, it initially evokes peels of hard laughter only to soften as time marches on with the realization that something about this scenario is disturbingly sad. In the case of Governor Palin, the realization is that she has no business being in a post this prestigious, a mere rung away from the title of most powerful person in the free world. She can distance herself from the so-called “inner circle” and offer up cutesy zingers like “Say it ain’t so Joe” until the king crab fishermen come home, but it’s not going to up her stock any higher in a race this pivotal.

I’ve long felt the notion of electing candidates who are “just like” the public is a poorly-conceived concept. In electing a President, I yearn to see an individual who is above the general public. That is not to say a wealthy elitist, the sort of disconnected Jay Gatsby that John McCain has attempted to frame Barack Obama as being. But rather an individual of dignity, composure and savvy. Someone who can guide this country through difficult times while legitimately serving as a sound representative for our collective voice. This comes in stark contrast to the admitted firebrand that is Senator McCain and his bespectacled punchline of a running mate.

Given my uncharacteristic silence up to this point, with a mere twelve days away from the election, I’m sure one might wonder what brought on this outburst. Like a tick, this debacle has gotten under my skin and proceeded to burrow deep until the end result is a fire in the brain. Adding fuel to the blaze is the barage of shocking news stories over the last several days, resulting in a grand slam of shame that cannot bode well for the GOP candidate as November 4th draws closer.

First, the appearance on SNL in hopes to embrace the parodies that have propelled her very name into the buzzword of the year. One cannot blame her or the McCain camp for trying to capitalize on such rampant popularity. However, the end result comes off as the would-be Vice President embracing the caricature perfected by Tina Fey, and only reinforcing the comedic image rather than attracting swing voters.

Second, the answer to a third grader’s question regarding the VP’s job, claiming that the Vice President is more than just the Commander-in-Chief’s understudy, but that the role also includes running the Senate. Perhaps in some crazed Alaskan Bizarroworld this is the case, but not in the real, my friends. I prefer my candidates to understand the job description, not invent it.

Third, flipping the bill to the state she governs and adores so glowingly for her children’s transportation. Being a parent is a wonderful thing, but it is predicated on the ability to love and provide for your children along with your husband/wife and close relatives. Taxpayers and the general public do not fit into the equation, and this should be heavily weighed before decrying Senator Obama as a leftwing “elitist.”

Finally, and most damning in my opinion, the $150K receipt for Governor Palin’s wardrobe, including stops at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. It’s great the Republican Party can spend $18K a week on fine attire while the rest of the nation is clipping coupons to shop for groceries. Perhaps this is why the McCain campaign is running in the red financially. It’s also further evidence that the ideological quagmire between the McCain-Palin ticket and the general public is greater than the distance between Anchorage and the White House.

In the tavern of the absurd and ludicrous, Sarah Palin’s cup runneth over, and the contents only threaten to drown any hopes Senator McCain has of becoming President. Indeed, one can only assume he is beginning to regret his choice more than Harry Frazee after selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919; an event that supposedly spawned a curse only slightly older than John McCain himself. At that age, you’d think he’d know better.

I guess you can’t blame him for trying to bolster his standing a bit. It’s only natural to work the public and try to connect with them. However, the plug was kicked out of the socket some time ago, and it will take a Herculean effort to reach the cord at this point.

Y’know, I actually feel sorry for Palin. Truth be told, I think she is on a plane different than the “Washington Insiders” she so frequently demonizes. It could be why she responds like a smiling deer caught in the headlights. She really has no idea what she’s stepped into, and hey, we’ve all been there. But about 99.9 percent of us haven’t experienced such pressure at the executive level. I wish her well, because in the event McCain does rebound, she’ll need all the luck in the world not to become the female answer to Dan Quayle.

Appearances only go so far, don’t they? It seems perfectly suitable that the decline in McCain’s numbers is now being attributed to Governor Palin… because if his decision-making process as President were to mirror the one he employed in selecting a running mate… well, I’m not sure I feel comfortable voting for that.

And given the projected record turnout for voters (that is to say, "highest possible visibility"), you can bet I'm not the only carbon-based lifeform drawing that conclusion.

10/21/2008

Reading this piece, it's very hard for me to feel sorry for anyone on Wall Street who is suffering from the current economic crunch.

Now I'll be the first to admit, I know very little about finance. My brain is not structured that way, it never has been. However, I'm intuitive enough to recognize true crime when I see it.

The level of dishonesty, gluttony and monetary bloodlust has only escalated over these last few years in Corporate America. The Enrons and Wal-Marts of the world have proven this on countless occasions.

One of the biggest reasons I struggle with working in the corporate world is because I have these weird things called "ethics." Thankfully, I rarely encounter questionable practices in my line of work, but I'm sure dirty deals have gone down around me in my "past life" for sure. I'm so damned close to New York City, I know how the Big Apple's "business mentality" runs northward into Fairfield County, Connecticut. I'm not gonna be a Pollyanna about that.

I also know how art imitates life. So when I see Gordon Gecko in Wall Street, I know he's not a pure fabrication; a fictitious medium spurned from Oliver Stone's imagination. He's based on someone real, or a composite of true life individuals. So in perusing the headlines and seeing these would-be Boiler Room desk jockey's getting their asses handed to them, it's hard to have pity.

Many of them have admitted to criminal activity. Just because the collar is white doesn't mean it should be treated any differently than if the crime were committed in a blue shirt. If nothing else, I think it should be punished more severely. Maybe it'll serve as a nice wake-up call.

Want an idea of how far displaced these cash crocks have positioned themselves from reality? Visit www.bankergonebroke.com and view an entry dated 9/29/08 on cooking in your apartment. This lowly scab has to actually detail how to cook for oneself... not by giving a recipe, mind you, but by listing the standard issue household amenities one needs to actually prepare a meal.

How sad is it when you have to tell one of your own ilk they need to keep Saran wrap and tin foil around the house? Remind me not to cry when Nobu rejects your MasterCard.

Folks, whoever coined the phrase "money is the root of all evil" may have been far wiser a sage than Confucius himself. The amounts of cold hard cash these characters tend to have locked up may be enough to feed some needy families, cure a disease here or there, maybe even fund the war.

Yet they choose to squander it on whatever goods will tout their status the most. It makes you wonder what else Ellis got right when he wrote American Psycho.

Now I know these things are cyclical. I'm not obtuse naive enough to think all these clowns will be forever bankrupt (though it sure is nice to dream). Even so, I certainly hope their shortcomings and faults in this life serve as lessons learned to the next generation.

And if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you. Given real estate prices right now, I don't even think you could afford it.

7/24/2008

This past weekend, an interesting twist occurred in the increasingly popular and highly exposed sport of MMA (mixed martial arts). The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) aired a free "Fight Night" event on Saturday in response to a pay-per-view supercard courtesy of former UFC sponsor and clothing manufacturer Affliction and its newest partner in crime, Adrenaline MMA. The event, "Affliction: Banned," drew roughly 100,000 buys and featured several former UFC competitors and champions. It was the first big swipe at UFC's PPV crown.

But, this was far from the first attempt at making a splash in MMA. UFC has reigned for the last three years since its rise to prominence, even earning enough monetary assets to purchase former rival (and purist favorite) PRIDE Fighting Championship out of Japan. Yet this was not their first acquisition. That would be WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting), a promotion focusing on smaller weight classes. Rumors are now abound that UFC will purchase IFL (International Fight League), a financially troubled promotion that offers a "round robin" approach to matches featuring teams of three.

So for a promotion to challenge UFC so boldly is a big move in the world of MMA. You can't easily move an 800 lb. gorilla. But despite UFC's powerful alphabet soup of promotions, there have been others besides Adrenaline MMA just this year to try and make a splash.

EliteXC (that's Elite Xtreme Combat) immediately comes to mind, as they have scored a deal with CBS and have tried to ride high off the brand equity of YouTube's favorite brawler, Kimbo Slice. Strikeforce has also struck up a similar network deal with NBC. HDNet Fights has been airing for almost a year now, and even one of UFC's co-founders managed to develop and establish YAMMA Pit Fighting in hopes of grabbing a piece of the pie his baby failed to produce in the early days.

This sport really seems to be taking off, huh? Used to be only the big names like Chuck Liddell were known in the mainstream. Now the likes of Anderson Silva, Fedor Emelianenko and Georges St. Pierre are trickling in as well.

It shouldn't surprise the unbiased observer too much, MMA is, for most intents and purposes, providing jaded, mostly casual boxing fans with an alternative to the sweet science. I know many boxing fans are die-hards never to be swayed, and that's great for them. For many others who are not loyalists, however, the sport is becoming a fair haven for fights. It's also generating a new generation of die-hards all its own.

But MMA serves as more than just a fun beat-'em-up sport for half-hearted fight fans. I don't think people realize, but it also provides an interesting metaphor for success in life.

Versatility and flexibility.

See, in boxing, there's clearly technique and different styles involved. But in MMA, it's more than just punching. It's Muay Thai (kickboxing), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (submission grappling), wrestling and many, many more styles that go into the mix. To truly be a great competitor, you had best be versatile. There are a few guys who do one thing but do it really well. Then you take a guy like Anderson Silva who not only has great striking ability, but phenomenal Jiu Jitsu to boot, and you have a true winner.

Silva is a perfect example of versatility. Not only is he the current UFC Middleweight Champion (185 lb. limit), but he just made his Light Heavyweight (205 lb. limit) debut this past weekend in dominating fashion. You try packing on 20 lbs. of additional muscle in, oh, six weeks and see how it affects your speed and timing. It's not easy.

That is the thing we really lack in life: versatility. We do the same thing day in, day out with no adjustments to our routine. It makes for stagnation, which leads to mental, physical, even emotional atrophy. We need to stay sharp in all aspects of life. Sure, relaxing is great, but staying active provides many more benefits.

Most importantly, we need to be versatile and especially flexible in our thinking. If we become to structured, our brain becomes more of a template than a working tool, doesn't it? Sure it does. How hard is it for people of older generations to break the mold of "old school" thinking on certain issues. People, the times change, and we need to change with them or else you'll find yourself writing an early will.

It's tough to keep up with the technological and scientific advances in the world today, but keeping up with the thinking is a true challenge. There are no constants anymore, and really there never have been.

And we definitely need to be flexible emotionally. I mean, life throws you curve balls, people. You can't sit and wait for the ball to careen into your shoulder. You have to be ready to duck, catch, hit it, do whatever you can to avoid getting beaned. MMA teaches you there are more than one ways to skin a cat, but also more than one ways a cat can get skinned as well. If you find yourself in the middle of a clinch and then suddenly on the ground under pressure, you need to know the methods to escape or reverse your predicament. Sticking to "what you do best" won't always work.

If life really is a fight, permit me to put it in a context that fighters and fans can understand: know how to dodge a punch when you're standing, take down a problem when it's vulnerable and block when mounted fists are reigning down.

Sure, the violence in the cage can get ugly... but then again, so can life sometimes. Be prepared and stay on guard, folks.

6/23/2008

And then there were none.

For once I'm really not sure where to begin. This is one of those moments for me where I struggle with structure in my writing, because it's just about pointless. I got emotional reading the headline today, and I don't do that often for anyone in the public eye.

I find myself thinking back to the first moment I encountered the work of the person in question. Perhaps it's best to start there.

I was working for my uncle in the spring of '96, helping him out at his restaurant in New Haven during a bad cafeteria worker's strike. I stayed with him that entire week. One night after a long day's work, we watched HBO together and happened upon George Carlin's most recent stand-up: "Back in Town" from that same year.

My uncle, not a fan of most stand-up, fell asleep. I stayed up laughing hysterically. I was entranced, just really taken by the material and how sharp Carlin was (he maintained that quality until his passing). It was his mastery of the English language, his way of tying things together seamlessly, his outright admonishment and disdain for authority and conventional institutions.

He was so goddamn cool.

From that moment on, I was pretty much locked. I mean, I had seen him in the Bill and Ted movies and had seen his short-lived sitcom for Fox a couple years prior, but to really appreciate the man was to see him unfettered: up on stage in his natural environment.

So from '96 on, I did what I always do when I have an intense interest in a subject or artist... I delve deep into history and pull up every single article or finished work I can find. With Carlin, it was no different.

I went back and found all his old album's on CD, some even on tape before his entire catalogue was reissued a few years back. I memorized his bits and can still quote them word-for-word, measure-for-measure. I laughed harder than I have at any other human being's material--short of my own father's.

And most importantly, I listened.

I paid damn close attention to what he was saying. Carlin was like stand-up's answer to Rage Against the Machine. He lured you with his song and exposed you to a bigger world. More so than any other human being in the 20th or 21st century, he cut through the bullshit with ease, using his mic as a machete to hack through the brush. He called it like it was, and much like the greatest comic minds of history, he served as a pundit as much as a comedian.

Honesty was the only policy. Nothing was taboo, no matter how suggestive, risque or outright disgusting.

His body of work stands for itself... I'm not going to sit here and sing its praises for the sheer humor involved. Rather, like John Lennon himself, the message came through loud and clear in the art form. This is something that very, very few comics could ever hope to duplicate in their careers.

Of the Holy Trinity--Bruce, Pryor, Carlin--I always favored Carlin. I still favor him. Sure, Bruce broke the ground that needed to be broken and Pryor exposed the societal and racial inequalities we all knew existed, but Carlin took taboos and made the term itself dirtier than his list of seven words. Just his "outside-the-box" look at life and the way it undulates into the weirdest, most fucked-up patterns of behavior and existence.

As gut-churning as some of his topics could be, they were also profound. You have to give humanity credit... He didn't come up with the material, we simply spoonfed it all to him.

And naturally, his stance on politics and the system in this nation (shit, in this world) is legendary. His honesty in life will hopefully be echoed in death, and his unique style influenced a generation of comedians.

Find me a comic who does not list Carlin as an inspiration and I'll find you someone who has no business being onstage.

And you'd be hard-pressed to find a harder working man in show business... certainly not in comedy. For a guy who spent 50 years plus in comedy, he toured, wrote and recorded relentlessly. That's impressive given his age and health scares over the years... in the mere 12 years since I could call myself a devoted fan, he's had five big HBO specials (each with a corresponding album), three books and has appeared in eight films (either onscreen or as a voice talent). Chances are if he remained healthy, he'd be doing this well into his eighties.

He probably felt there was just too much to say to stop. I'd tend to agree with the old fuck (not a slam on him... listen to his '08 special "It's Bad For Ya," you'll get it).

So things right now are a little blue for me. While I'm no comic (I sure don't get paid for this shit), I'm more than a fan and follower of Carlin's work. Suffice it to say were it not for him, I damn sure wouldn't be doing this blog. For that matter, I probably wouldn't write nearly as much as I do, vote the way I do, talk the way I do or think the way I do.

And to think, he's responsible for all that while still making me laugh.

My only regret is that I never got to see the man live. It was just one of those things I sorta brushed off. Either that or I consistently had scheduling conflicts during his many visits to Foxwoods. And one of the gifts on my longterm Father's Day wishlist was to always get tickets for me and Dad to go check out the Maestro himself. I'm beyond saddened that this will never happen.

I can at least take some solace in knowing that his material will be thoughtfully dusted off by longtime fans everywhere both casual and diehard. And even if they make the iPod playlists for just a month, that's more than enough time to get people's brains moving in the right direction.

The funniest part of it all is the fact so much of Carlin's material focused around death, including a piece regarding celebrity deaths. He grumbled profusely at the requisite outpouring of adulation in the wake of a celebrity dying. At the time he mentioned how much he wasn't looking forward to Sinatra buying the farm for this very reason.

Far be it from me to offer the very same sentiments he so strongly detested, but c'mon... he had to have some idea. Even for an old fuck.

I'll be sure to make it up to him, though... this week at the bank I'll ask if they can make change for a nickel. Just to jog some gray matter out there.

5/29/2008

I recently had an invigorating conversation with someone about the state of the nation. I’m not just talking politically, I mean socially, economically, where we stand in the international scene, the full nine, cross-category.

It occurred to me at one point in this conversation, when we touched on the social influence of celebrities, that we don’t have those public figures to ignite our minds and educate us on the various inequalities we coast through daily.

See, at one point, the name John Lennon came up. His influence during the 60’s and 70’s as a driver for change was nearly immeasurable. Granted, his execution could sometimes leave room for consideration, but that said, his undying commitment to the peace movement drove people to protest and be vocal.

Do yourself a favor. Go rent The U.S. vs. John Lennon this moment. It’s a startling indicator of what can be (and has been) done at the executive level, but also provides substantial insight into Lennon’s influence during his lifetime.

Put it this way… the song “Give Peace A Chance” turned out to be the initial catalyst for Richard Nixon labeling Lennon a marked man. When you see the reasons why, you’ll be impressed.

Point is, in 2008, a point where America is facing new challenges daily, there isn’t a single public figure trying to energize the masses and make them understand the relevance of what’s happening right now. Nary a soul.

It’s interesting, back in the 60’s, there were a bevy of musicians who used their star power to inform the public on what was going on, specifically with regard to the Vietnam War. What amazes me now is that the laundry list of actors, musicians and socialites who spoke out so avidly against the Iraqi insurgence and the plight of the Bush administration have now gone largely silent. All those puppets who met their untimely demise in Team America haven’t made a peep since around the time that very parody hit the silver screen.

In fact, many of them and their kind have moved onto other causes. George Clooney has decided that Darfur is where we need to focus our efforts right now. Sharon Stone has spoken out so strongly against China’s treatment of Tibet that she’s proposed the recent earthquake was a Karmic force of destruction. Even the almighty Bono, once famous for prank calling the senior Bush during concerts and proudly bearing the stars and stripes in the lining of his jacket during the 2002 SuperBowl is fighting the good fight for South Africa.

Yet not a soul seems to care about what’s going on here. Gas prices are escalating while third world countries are paying mere pennies per gallon for petrol. The economy is taking a massive hit and people are losing their jobs left and right. And of course, our misplaced occupancy in the Middle East has cost us an unnecessary amount of loss with little relief in sight.

Have we all moved on? Do we just not care? Are we that apathetic that the pages of People magazine carry more importance than The New York Times?

I don’t necessarily think that’s the case, but I do think that as Americans, we tragically find ourselves constantly living and thinking within our respective silos. That is to say, we exist with little knowledge of what goes on around us, let alone outside our borders. I wish it weren’t so, but sometimes we need a wake-up call, and more often than not it needs to be very, very loud.

And very, very visible.

The days of the modern revolutionary are long gone. Figures like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin don’t fit into the scheme of things these days. At least that’s what society tells us at this current point in time. And this generation has yet to have that Lennon-esque entity who can redirect minds into more selfless avenues. I personally wonder if it will ever happen at this rate…

It’s remarkable how far we’ve fallen. We’ve gone from hopeful musical artists like Lennon to entertainment showcases such as Hannah Montana. We’ve gone from purposeful, convicted athletes like Muhammad Ali to grandstanding showboats like Floyd Mayweather. And politically, we’ve gone from energetic, believable leaders like JFK to the sad pissing contest that is the current primary election.

I think that last comparison offers a nice segue in that it recalls my prior Hill-Dog-inspired rant, in which I lamented the “Cult of Me.” I really think that we allow our interests to become self-serving and hardly look outside to get a whiff of what’s wafting around out there. We need an observant parent to tell us to go outside and play sometimes.

Unfortunately, we’re beyond unsupervised at this point. And I couldn’t even point you to one public figure who could take the reigns and lead our carriage to the truth.

I wish I had a better ending for this entry other than to say I refuse to sing or quote “Holding Out For A Hero.” That song makes me nauseous.

5/20/2008

While I have not voted for or endorsed her, I have begun to feel that Hillary Clinton is the perfect representative of the American attitude. It pains me to admit that, but as the weeks and months have dragged on, I feel it's all too true.

For the record, I don't mean that as a glowing endorsement... rather, it's a sad realization.

Y'see, Hillary is in a position right now where she is hard-pressed to obtain the Democratic nomination, and it's highly unlikely she will. Nevertheless, her dogged determination to press on is a perfect representation of one of our nation's biggest traits.

Not perseverance... rather, selfishness.

Yeah, I said it. Hill-Dog is being incredibly selfish right now. From where I sit, watching her work the scene, listening to her speak about how she won't stop, I get the impression she feels this is almost her birthright.

Meanwhile, she's been warding off accusations of arrogance by waving her 1,718 delegates as though they were a cudgel.

Yeah, she's close, but much to her (and I'm sure her husband's) dismay, no cigar. Whether or not Obama goes over tonight is a non-factor, quite frankly. Hillary should have pulled out a long time ago for the greater good of her party.

However, when have we as Americans (in general) ever been willing to do something for the greater good? How often do we put our own agendas on the shelf to make way for something collectively better for all? I'll bet you're scratching your head as hard as I am.

Folks, we cannot hold ourselves in such high regard. Yes, it's important to do things that are right for us, but we seriously need to abandon the "Cult of Me" and get selfless, for Chrissake. I see it all to often, professionally, personally, even amongst friends and family. Everyone has their best interest in mind and few of them have the well-being of others floating around in their noggins.

The phrase "it's all about me" has become one of those irritating cultural buzz terms, being emblazoned on coffee mugs, bumper stickers and t-shirts, filling the void of the long-outdated "have a nice day." Even the shift in phraseology is unique... we went from wishing others well to trumpeting our own importance and value.

However, it's created a real ugly mindset that we have to break soon. We are in no condition to think selfishly right now when the economy is in the crapper, the environment is gasping for air and the political climate both domestically and internationally is as volatile as ever. We need to put ourselves aside, roll up the sleeves and do what's right for the greater good.

And this is why Hillary has never had my vote, nor will she ever. I know candidates love touting themselves as "average Americans." The term "man (or in this case woman) of the people" has been tossed around so much, you'd think it were a Frisbee. While I appreciate the sentiment behind that intent, I can't stand the thought of mirroring one of the plebeians' worst qualities. Not that Hill-Dog would ever admit to it, but c'mon. It's there. It may as well be her campaign slogan at this point.

Her single-minded goal to push on until there's nothing left to push isn't admirable, it's detestable. You can't put the Party's reputation at risk just because you're close. Not only will you damage their status, but you also walk away with egg on your face that many people won't forget.

Any surprise John Edwards finally stepped up to support Obama after months of non-commitment? Any surprise that many of her previously pledged superdelegates have jumped ship?

See, that's what happens when you work in your best interest only. Everyone else becomes disinterested. Life lessons, people... throw out that stupid coffee mug.

4/28/2008

Recently at a family gathering, there was a comment made by one of my relatives that caused a stir with my father and I. Now, I hate being diplomatic and concealing names to protect the guilty parties, but family is a bit of a touchy subject, so you'll forgive me if I don't delve too deep into the back story.

Anyway, this comment evoked a strong reaction from Pops and I. And it wasn't a contentious thing by any stretch, but we smelled something offensive and made the unconscious joint decision to weigh in on it. It didn’t even cause an incident or anything, but my mother, being the saintly peacemaker she’s known for, kept quiet only to tell us later that we crossed the line.

However, when we asked if we were wrong, she declined to comment. Folks, as a great man once said, the phrase “no comment” is a comment. And it speaks volumes. What she was essentially saying was that she agreed with us but felt it wasn’t our place to remark on.

Now, color me crazy, but I honestly don’t feel there’s ever a “bad time” to call out bullshit. For that matter, I think it’s all the more imperative to do so in this day and age, especially when hypocrisy is factored in.

It seems sad to me that so many humans, particularly Americans, are quick to comment without all the facts and even quicker to clam up when their opinions are debunked and their ignorance is proven. I’m a big fan of taking responsibility for one’s feelings and comments, and an even bigger fan of seeing both sides of the coin. I try to do it as often as I can and even though some things will forever be black and white to me, I will still make an effort to understand the juxtaposed hue.

So when narrow minds speak loudly and tunnel vision opinions spew forth their misinformed, predisposed rhetoric, you can rest assured I will champion the cause to not only clean up the bullshit, but to put it in its place. The sad fact is that our society is not only rife with bullshit, the pot’s overflowing. To make matters worse, most people buy into it and take it for fact. Not so, folks.

Buying into and believing the bullshit is part of the reason this nation is in the rut it’s in right now, whether we realize it or not. I hate to say it, but if we did a better job as a collective of smelling the bullshit and avoiding it, we would not have elected certain leaders who have systematically run our country into the seventh circle of the Inferno.

So my honest opinion is this: when bullshit becomes apparent—and make no mistake, you never have to look long or hard before it starts wafting around—it’s important to acknowledge it and proceed with cleansing the landscape.

Now if that means you have to call someone out and challenge them, I really don’t see a problem with that. The one thing we lack in this world is honesty, now more so than I can ever recall. We live and die by euphemisms and short-sighted claims, which isn’t difficult in this 3,000-message-per-day world. It’s hard to focus in on the truth sometimes when there’s so much else that’s more appealing to blind us.

This is why it’s all the more necessary to be real and be honest. I don’t mean to be argumentative or even confrontational. In fact, I pretty much hate confrontation (funny, since I’m a blossoming MMA fan). But there’s a difference between confrontation and debate. Folks, debate is healthy for the mind. It keeps the cogs in motion and prevents the degeneration into group-think, alright? We can’t be afraid to challenge others on their opinions if we see flaws.

And more often than not, there are heavy flaws at stake. However, this isn’t to say that there are some very rational, reasonable humanoids out there who, despite a difference in opinion, may actually be fun to converse with while completely avoiding critical disagreement. Despite being a registered Democrat, I’ve found myself able to hold good discussion with diehard Republicans without getting the least bit frustrated or getting into pissing contests about minutia and personal belief.

Know why? We disagree, but we both make an effort to be informed and steer clear of the bullshit. For every point there’s a reasonable counterpoint that could make the other pause and think, “OK, I’ll give ya that.” However, I find these blessed folks to be in the single digit percentiles of the populous. Most people just rattle off whatever they please without so much as a lick of data to buttress their thoughts.

Hey, people, I’ve got news for ya: making strong claims without strong evidence is a sign of gross ignorance. And clinging to them while being debunked is a sign of a hypocritical, narrow mind. And a hypocritical, narrow mind makes you a prime candidate for prestigious purveyor of prime poo-poo. In my book, that makes you a target for cleansing.

Now I’m sure there are times, places, and yes, even people that we should avoid when it comes to our honesty. However, I don’t think we can afford to limit ourselves too much right now. We cannot fear speaking the truth if we know it.

And to all those who would go so far as to incriminate themselves, let me say this: it is better for your friends and loved ones to fill you in on being full of shit as opposed to others, so thank them for being genuine with you. Otherwise, you’re really gonna sound stupid.

God, I am so my father’s son…

2/29/2008

Tell me if you know this guy...

You're in a public place that has several TV's around set to the news. Let's say a gym or perhaps a bar/restaurant. Suddenly, the local TV weatherman comes on and announces that your cozy little northeastern community is about to get hit with a snowstorm that could gum up your AM commute.

You're sitting there, watching this, taking it all in quietly as you plan out tomorrow in your head to avoid any sort of problems when some complete stranger turns to you and says, "So much for global warming, huh?"

I don't know about you, but I just wanna slap that guy.

Look, not to sound like a bleeding-heart liberal, because I do realize that global warming is a problem. And whether you label him as a one-man propaganda-machine or a highly visible environmentalist, Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth has brought the topic of the environment to the forefront of the public consciousness for the first time since the early 1990's when we all got those recycling bins from our local waste collection organizations.

That said, it's pretty real. It's hard to argue science. Yet there are still some nimrods who think that 2-4" of white stuff is proof positive that it's not an issue.

My response to such statements is always, "Oh really? Where's your degree in meteorology, Al Roker?" Seriously, until I see some fuckin' credentials, I'm in no mind to hear Joe Barfly wax scientific on the environment and how it's just fine. Sing that song to the people down in New Orleans and see how far you get.

I love how we as humans make generic, blanket statements like this as if we really do have it all figured out. News flash: we don't.

Doesn't matter what your stance is politically (and I say this because I'm relatively certain that one guy who actually said this to me is a staunch conservative angling for digs at Al Gore and anyone else hoping for Blue State-approval), you need to know the facts in life. I don't mean to date myself (despite only being in my late 20's), but I remember when we used to get several feet of snow, not inches. So you can take your sorry attempts at sparking conversation and stuff 'em, Jimmy Gymrat.

Don't try and be a smart-ass or a know-it-all, because you come off sounding like a putz. I can think of no better way to describe you given these circumstances. One more outburst and I'll pour sugar into your SUV's gas tank and rip your Huckabee sticker off your bumper.

Motherfuckers.

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

2/15/2008

I’ve been following this election season with particular interest. After such a long period of disdain for the current administration by most of the American public, I’m really curious to see how the nation votes.

Specifically, I want to see if there are any trends. With such a large voter turnout, I think it's important to examine certain patterns. And lo and behold, I think I found one.

This past week, in checking CNN.com following Obama’s momentous eight-in-a-row sweep, I encountered an image of Hillary Clinton perched at a podium, speaking into a microphone and holding a pair of boxing gloves high in her hands. The absurd nature of this memorable photograph is amusing to me, as there is actually something rather frightening about that image. As I told a close friend, I would rather go toe-to-toe with Floyd Mayweather.

The headline was simple: “Clinton sharpens attacks on Obama.”

This made me come back to a notion I had last month as I watched and read about Senator Clinton’s ongoing assaults on Obama’s character. I noticed that whenever the media summarized the multiple debates between the two with the term “trading barbs,” to me it seemed more like Barack Obama being forced to go on the defensive. Now in lieu of her recent string of defeats in key states, Clinton proceeds with once again unloading on her opponent.

Yet somehow, part of me feels such tactics are what got her in this predicament to begin with.

Now I don’t intend to be an official spokesperson for my generation, but I can pretty much say with a clear conscience that when I listen to candidates speak, in any political race, I want to hear what they’re going to do. I want to know what Candidate X is going to do for me… I don’t want to hear them go on and on about how Candidate Y will not live up to the hype.

The message is clear: enough of this muckraking garbage. It’s passé and offensive to me as a voter. As a marketer, I have a few ingrained notions with regard to acknowledging competition. In one course I took, the instructor specifically said that outwardly claiming your competition is inferior results in a certain cognitive twitch in consumers. The thought: “Why are they even mentioning the competition if they’re superior?”

It comes across as somewhat underhanded and disingenuous to me, and one thing I’ve learned about my generation through various studies is that today’s youth are very savvy, and can see through a lack of integrity like glass.

Think about it… you’ve seen the SuperBowl ads the last few years, right? When’s the last time Pepsi mentioned Coke in their commercials? Or can you recall Bud Light taking a swipe at Coors? This doesn’t happen anymore, and with good reason. Consumers want to be told one thing, plain and simple: “Why you,” and not “Why not them.”

I really do believe the same thing holds true for voters. If you look at the trend, Obama has been fairly consistent in promoting himself and campaigning hard. And once Hillary eased up on the attacks, he was afforded the opportunity to further promote himself rather than defend himself. Now he’s earning massive points with key demographics that Clinton herself has dominated in past primaries.

Now, stuck in a do-or-die moment, Hilldog has broken out the gloves, apparently ready for war. I wonder who among her political advisors will be the first to tell her that her haymakers could be what led her down this road to begin with. If she keeps it up, she could be the one sporting the shiner.

Oh, it’s going to be very interesting to see where this one goes.

Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

1/31/2008

I’m goin’ old school with this one… time to rip a page out of my everyday life and see how ridiculous life can be sometimes.

So I’m checking my mail a few weeks ago on a Monday night at the mailboxes outside my complex. As I’m doing so, a fellow resident approaches.

“Checkin’ your mail, huh?” he inquires.

“Yep,” I simply respond. There’s a silence of about 10 seconds as he does the same. Suddenly, he turns to me and issues the following statement:

“You know I’ve lived here 15 years.” This is the moment where I am forced to treat one of my fellow residents like many of us may have treated that one really disturbed or drunk homeless person you encounter on the street. I keep my head down, proceed about my business and refuse to engage/acknowledge. Kid Zippy proceeds to detail how much he likes it here and thinks it’s a good, clean place to live.

Before you go off on me for my arguably callous negligence of this man, let me offer you the following nugget to digest: Every time I have met this guy, he has told me the exact same thing. Typically of his volition, rarely provoked. In fact, just scroll up and reread that transaction. Notice the pause between the exchanges.

I wasn’t even attempting to make conversation with this man and he still felt compelled to give me his life story.

This event, coupled with my past dealings with life in the average condo complex has led me to conclude that such an environment is the perfect sampling of the American psyche. Seriously, if it takes all types, then you’ll find ‘em in an apartment complex for sure.

Here’s another example of life in the Twilight Zone: this past spring, I ordered some promotional shirts for my company. Somehow they were delivered to my home rather than my office. I didn’t even know I had a package until I got a letter from the resident in Unit 24 telling me he had a package waiting for me. Several trips to his apartment left me at a loss as there was no response despite the noise of a TV inside. A note asking him to leave the package at my door also went unaddressed. I thought little of it since it wasn’t a huge issue for the office, but then it happened again a few months later.

This time it was more personal.

See, this package happened to be for a friend of mine who had just become a daddy for the first time. So I got him and his wife a baby monitor set from Babies R' Us. Once again, the package never made it to me. It was once again accepted by the mysterious Samaritan in Unit 24.

After I found out about this through a series of twists and turns, I thoroughly chewed out UPS, then once again ventured to the eternally locked door of Unit 24. I wasn't too shy about keeping quiet with my knock. From within, I heard some kind of a grunt from someone telling me to "hold on."

When the door opened, there was a dead ringer for Samuel L. Jackson in last year's feelgood cinematic opus, Black Snake Moan. In a towel. That's right, the culprit in Unit 24 not only resembled the main character from an unforgivably bad movie, but was also in the process of cleansing himself.

I can't begin to tell you the immediate humor I saw in this.

I queried Black Snake about my packages, only giving him my unit number. He immediately nodded and took me out to the hallway, unlocking a storage room rife with untold treasures... and my packages.

Oh yeah, he went in and put on his briefs before giving me my property.

What's the point of this?

I'm not even sure, but I swear, sometimes life is a ride that throws these amazing characters at you, and you can't help but laugh. Honestly, an apartment complex is the perfect gathering point for all of them. Heck, in my building alone I live across from and above two functioning alcoholics. Then there's Kid Zippy the proud tenant, Black Snake, and I'm sure there are even more where those cats came from. I've been half-tempted to go on some sort of a safari through the inner workings of my building to see what other unique indigenous organisms I can find.

At the end of the day, I'm just here for the show. I'm putting my feet up and feasting on popcorn and soda. Encore, baby.

Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

1/30/2008

I have a favor to ask people... I know that Super Tuesday is upon us, and after that, the big 2008 Presidential Election. I know it's an interesting landscape that's growing more curious by the microsecond. With that said, I'm well aware that many of you fervent party members are doing your best to promote your team and see to it that we're all aware of the facts.

That said, please do me a favor: count me out.

I've had my mind made up for a while. I won't tell you what my thoughts are on the matter, because I don't have the time/energy to debate and engage right now like I did when I was 23. At least not at this stage in the game.

But I'm going to ask you as kindly as I possibly can... please spare me the forwards, the long chain letters, the endless laundry lists of bulletpoints as to why I should vote for Candidate X.

My mind is made up, I'm not a swing voter, and there is not a damn thing you can do to change it.

I think my school of thought regarding politics right now is really this: if you're unaware of what's going on, then I'm willing to share with you my feelings. If you have your mind made up, then God bless you an may the best party win.

I really no longer believe in the militant, shove-it-down-their-throats guerrilla campaigns that have become all the rage by the hardcore pundits. I respect passion to no end, but with that said, such zealousness can really be a turn-off.

I remember during the 2000 election, there was an intense Green Party presence at Skidmore College. So intense in fact, I felt like I was being force fed information at a rate quicker than I could digest. The group was so in-your-face, it led to a substantial backlash from the swing voters on campus. Myself included. It was my first presidential election as a potential voter, and not only did I not vote, I didn't even register.

You can chalk that one up to ignorance if you please, but before you judge, be sure to remember that there is a significant sample of the population who will withdraw due to frustration or disgust rather than stick it out and choose a "lesser of all evils." Case in point: my own mother didn't vote in the 2004 election for the first time in her life as a U.S. citizen. Chew on that, dear reader.

Besides, not only will you turn off people to your party, you may just turn them off to you. No one likes a hard ass.

So please think twice before you click send on that e-mail, kids. Keep thy policies to thyself.

Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.