Monthly Archives: July 2013

Ryan Armstrong…uh Lance Braun…the Kings of Hubris

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Does it really matter? These two clowns are cut from the same cloth.

Dopers. Cheaters. Liars.

The Kings of Hubris.

There have been several MLB players that have admitted to doping and taken their medicine. Remember their names? Me neither. Know why? They did the right thing when confronted, cleaned up their act and moved on.

Which brings us back to the Kings…

When confronted with the evidence…they fought like caged raccoons to clear their “good” name and attack anyone with the gall to call their character into question.

Doping is cheating. End of story. It’s not right in professional cycling and it’s not right in Major League Baseball.

These athletes, whether they like it or not, are role models.  Some clearly better than others;  but simply by the nature of their profession, they influence millions of young men and women. I have teenagers who have more integrity in their pinkie fingers than these two charlatans.  The wouldn’t THINK of doping…or cheating in their careers…their passions.

Both these guys said they made “mistakes”. A mistake is when you choose letter “C” on the multiple choice exam instead of letter “B”. They didn’t make mistakes. They made calculated decisions with malice aforethought to cheat…to gain an unfair advantage over their fellow competitors.

I’m heartened to hear the outrage from many MLB players towards Braun, but until their collective bargaining unit agrees to LIFETIME bans for doping, this will go on.  That these millionaires have no real incentive to stop cheating is an outrage and an indictment of the organizations they represent.

It’s time to stop playing little league…you dope, you lose the privilege of competing…forever. End. Of. Story.

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By the Skin of My Teeth

I escaped. I got out. My sentence was commuted.

Well, I still have 9 days left of the obligatory two weeks notice.

I got a new job. A real career. Something I WANT to do.

And I got out of my old one with enough of my sanity intact, that scientists may be able to stem-cell match the remnants of my DNA and return me to a state of “normalcy”.

I worked retail.

For those of you who have traveled this path…waged this war, you can stop reading. Everything from here forward will be redundant.

For those of you who have not, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

I was a Personal Wardrobe Stylist at one of the top three department stores in the country…an immediately recognizable name associated with luxury clothing.  And my fashion and sales background consisted of saving lives and putting out fires.  In other words…none.  I was able to acquire the knowledge in a relatively short period of time and was blessed with an eye for spatial and color relationships…and I was smart enough to listen to folks who knew more than I.

I applied for the job because I was an unemployed man in his late forties whose savings was running out and for whom the State of California fortuitously decided would be better off without a driver’s license for a year.  And this place was close enough that I could sling my suit jacket over the back of my bicycle and ride to work.

I am forever grateful for the job and the opportunity it afforded me. The company was top-notch and I met some wonderful people along the ride.

But it was retail.  And the greater the heights in the retail scale you go, the greater the level of entitlement of your clients. One more caveat before I launch into my rant…I met some incredibly decent human beings as clients and hope to retain personal relationships with them all.  But…

There is the clearly dysfunctional man with money that walks in and unconsciously laments the regrettable size of his penis and hopes to rectify it by summarily abusing the “help”…in other words, the sales staff.  He’s the guy who generally doesn’t have a clue about fashion or fit and has stumbled through his shopping experiences by pissing off all who are unfortunate enough to greet him. He is the ultimate douche-bag.  The guy looks down his nose at you (though he is often vertically challenged) as he barks out his demands.  He is never satisfied and is not clear on the concept that he is buying off-the-rack clothing. It was not made by a higher power specifically for his dimensions and yes, there will be some imperfections.  He will not hesitate to point them out.

There is the celebrity or athlete that demands your immediate attention, and after having busted your ass to accommodate their “needs”, will unceremoniously return said merchandise, resulting in yet another deduction from your paycheck.

Oh, did I forget to mention it’s a commission gig?

There is nothing quite like the highs of a big sale, or the soul-crushing low of yet another return.  Our favorites were the women who bought several of the same or similar things and flat-out told you most, if not all of it, was coming back.  “No problem ma’am, we’ll gladly return it” and you can go fuck yourself under my breath…

Other than douchebag #1, described above, the worst possible customer is the guy coming in to buy a suit for his son. It’s a rite of passage that Dad feels the need to demonstrate complete and total control.  And for me, this generally entailed keeping my ego at bay as best I could for an hour or so as Dad turns the experience into a train wreck for all involved, because A) He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and B) Because he’s too proud to admit it in front of his son.  These always turned out bad.

In general, men were much easier to work with…were willing to listen, didn’t return as much…and didn’t see shopping as a sport, like a lot of women do.  I hated serving most women.  These soulless retail leeches would walk in with their vacant stares and black Amex cards and proceed to slam the retail version of heroin…all while using you like a spoon and a bic lighter while they heated their black tar hauls and fed another spiritual fix.

I was a drug dealer. I provided a route and a product for a lot of mentally and spiritually ill people.

It was sad.

On August 6th I begin an entirely different journey in a critically important field and I am so excited. To the co-workers I leave behind I say this: I worked as a Paramedic and a Fire Captain for 21 years and my 5 years in retail were, by far, the most physically and mentally demanding years of my life.  Hang in there and get an exit strategy. To those of you with no ethics and whom are driven by fear…you are living in hell already…Karma is a bitch and I implore you to find some peace.

There is life after retail…


The Next Time You Judge

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Take a good long look at this young man’s face. It’s the face of addiction. It’s the face of a young man who had a disease.

Had…until the disease won, and he was taken from us.

We all do it…we judge. I’m guilty of it too at times and I have the disease. It’s a sad and misinformed prejudice in our society that consistently treats people with this disease as social lepers, outcasts, prisoners. We have created an entire prison-industrial complex to profit from the pain of their disease.

Now this. Cory Monteith was a bright young actor with a genetically altered brain that made it harder for him than others to say no to the substances that both brought him relief, and cut him down. An allergy of the mind and body that creates cravings that only the alcoholic/addict can understand. Bill Wilson understood it and addressed it masterfully in 1935.

1935. And we have done little since then to, as a society, call this what it is. A disease. It’s recognized as such in both the legal and medical communities but it’s given short shrift in the political arena.  It’s easier to accept money from the prison builder than it is to spend money for social services and critical health care to address this disease.

I’m sick of it. Not my own disease but the malaise of my fellow countrymen that turn the other cheek when it comes to getting real. Seeing it for what it is and treating it as such. Sick people who need help.

Look into this face and tell me he didn’t at least deserve that…


If You’re Looking for Justice…

 

courtesy AP

courtesy AP

…please don’t look to the courts.  The so-called “Judicial System” is not.

I haven’t followed the Trayvon Martin case very closely because A) I had a feeling this was where we were headed and B) It became the kind of media even that I loathe.

So frankly,I’m writing from a position of limited information. I’m writing from emotion, without all the facts.

Trayvon Martin’s killer was acquitted tonight of murder. He claimed self-defense and the jury bought it.

Except for one thing…the killer created the scenario requiring him to claim self-defense. Zimmerman doesn’t intervene…Martin lives.

There are a million nuances that can be parsed in this case and in this verdict, but I know this:  “Justice” wasn’t served tonight. What I also know is this: if I’m on that jury, from everything I’ve read to date, I vote not-guilty too.

Is it right? No. Is it justice? No. Am I following the proper jury instructions and considering only the evidence presented and objectively evaluating that evidence as it relates to my jury instructions? Yes, probably.

Folks, this isn’t about the jury anymore than it was the LAPD/Rodney King jury. I watched that trial every day until a verdict was delivered and I too would have found the cops not-guilty. Again…justice? No. Following proper jury instructions? Yes.

Until our legislators craft laws that allow a jury to consider real-world, common sense, yet objective evidence and legal procedure, we will continue to witness these grave injustices.

If you want justice, take that passion and contact your senator, your representative…get involved. Don’t sit on the sidelines and chirp away at how “unfair” it is.  You’re damn right it’s unfair but until you are willing to affect REAL change…it’s all just white noise perpetuated by the lazy to make themselves feel better.

Justice was most certainly not served tonight. What are YOU going to do?


Projectile Blogging…

I haven’t posted in a while as the result of an extremely busy “IRL” life but also because I’ve been overwhelmed recently with events in the news and have frankly had the urge to post multiple times each day…but no time.

It hurts my brain. Hence the title of today’s blog. When a person has a head injury, one symptom is what’s called projectile vomiting…explosive and long-range expectoration of the contents of the patient’s stomach.

Consider this my brain’s version of that…

  • Snowden: Just read he landed in Venezuela, accepting that country’s offer of asylum. As mentioned in a previous post, my support for him ends when he starts sharing secrets with hostile governments. This is close enough. As acutely aware I am of the despairing nature of long-term incarceration, if Snowden’s sole motivation was to uncover a grievous wrong being committed by those in power, then I would respect him much more if he returned to face the consequences of his actions and let the court of public opinion help shape the national debate on the NSA. As I recall, Mr. Ellsberg didn’t sail to Cuba in the 70’s.
  • SFO Plane Crash: From everything I’ve seen so far, an extremely coordinated and professional response to the crash from first responders. I caught just a blurb on video of their triage area outside the crash site and it was textbook. That it now appears that one of the victims may have been run over by a responding Crash Rescue truck should not take anything away from this. As any soldier will attest, in the fog of war, your best effort is all that can be asked, and it appears that they did a remarkably good job in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Media: On two fronts…1)CNN continued to run a “Breaking News” chryon a good 12 hours after the crash, while providing absolutely nothing “new” or “newsworthy”, much less “breaking”. I have long since given up on CNN as an actual news organization, but this one really got me discouraged. It would be much more informative to the public if they just ran raw video of news with no audio and no crawl. 2) The fact that many mainstream news organizations have either become TMZ-like hounds trying to locate Ed Snowden or de facto shills for the government in this matter. And that no mainstream news organizations are screaming to the heavens 24/7 about the actual “content” of Snowden’s disclosures. The Big 3 (ABC/NBC/CBS) and CNN/MSNBC/Fox are well documented extensions of the corporate interests that they work for. Even PBS/NPR have begun to fall victim to their corporate donors. At the end of the day, I blame us…the consumers of “news” for not putting an end to this cycle of infotainment that began in the 70’s. Idiocracy is indeed at our doorstep…
  • The tragedy in Arizona: 19 lives were lost among an elite “Hot-Shot” hand crew fighting a dangerous wildfire. When I heard the news, I was crushed. As an ex Fire Captain, this news hit me in the gut. I have read the accounts provided of the incident so far and it appears that the crew operated within their normal safety guidelines and had lookouts, escape routes and safety zones in place. What they also had was swagger…the pride that comes from a combination of training and battlefield experience. Did they put themselves in a position of danger as a result of this. I have now way of knowing and it is presumptuous of me to assert that they did. I wasn’t there. But I have seen this swagger cause men and women to take one step closer to the edge of danger than might otherwise be prudent. Again, I have no way of knowing what occurred and most genuinely do not want to say anything that can be construed as criticism of these heroes.  But what I am concerned about is the fact that 19 men were positioned in the line of fire, literally, in front of a housing project, to save those structures…those…”things”.  Those homes will be rebuilt. The loss the families of these men suffered is beyond the pale. I don’t want to see this happen EVER again and strongly urge those in both the political and command and control structure to frankly study this incident and make strategic and tactical changes to both safety and operational procedures to see that this never happens again. RIP guys…
  • Sports: Congrats to the hated Chicago Blackhawks on your theft of the Stanley Cup from my LA Kings. And kudos to your organization for taking out a full-page ad in the Boston papers thanking the city for their hospitality. Class act all around. And yes, Yasiel Puig is for real. If this young man doesn’t brain himself on another outfield wall, or blow out his ACL or wrist eluding a tag after another crazy base-running stunt, this guy will lead the league in excitement. And he’s ours…

There, I feel better.


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