Friday, July 24, 2009

Get over it...

A prominent Harvard professor was arrested for disorderly conduct this week. Apparently he was returning from an overseas trip and could not get his key to work in his door. His vigilant neighbors called the police to report what they thought was a break in in progress. A police officer responded in a a timely manner. The professor became angry that a police officer was at his house. He had no idea that his neighbors had called the police. Words were exchanged between the officer and the professor. The exchange grew heated, and the professor was taken to jail for disorderly conduct. This happened in Cambridge Mass earlier this week. What I have neglected to mention is that the officer is white, and the professor is black. As this week draws to a close the incident has made national headlines, drawn an apology from the mayor or Cambridge, and a comment by our president. The president of the United States commented on the actions of a police officer in Cambridge Mass. I cant figure out what qualifies the president to comment on an incident that he has zero first hand knowledge of.

The professor immediately went to the press complaining that he was the victim of a racist police officer who was profiling. The police officer spoke to the press this week saying that he regretted the incident escalated to the level that it did. He further stated that the professor was combative from the very beginning. I can speculate that Mr. Gates (the professor) has probably had run ins with law enforcement in the past. I can also speculate that the police officer has had run ins with black men during his tenure as a law enforcement officer in Cambridge Mass. So now we are looking at the possibility of both parties having a chip on their shoulder. I may be way off base, but I think that is a reasonable theory.

If I look back at our countries history I can understand how the professor would be angry and defensive when a white police officer showed up at his house. And, I can understand the frustration of the officer when confronted with a combative black person in the early morning hours. Could the situation have been handled differently by both parties? Probably...But I was not there so I dont feel like I can make that call. I dont recall seeing that President Obama was there either. So my question is why is it any of his business?

Racisim has been a problem in the past no doubt. Great strides have been made, but it continues to be a problem. I think one of the biggest problems faced by society as a whole is that nobody wants to get over it. I cant imagine the pain suffered by previous must be intense. Mr. Gates, being a part of those previous generations, must have a great deal of fear based anger when confronted by a white police officer. The police officer must have a great deal of fear based anger when confronting a black man in the early morning hours. Look at that dynamic carefully though. That is not one sided profiling.

The problem of racism is not one sided. Stereotypes are perpetuated by people on both sides of the issue. Ths will continue to be a problem as long we ,as a society, continue to see color. It will also continue to be a problem if we keep looking to the atrocities of the past. GET OVER IT! Dwelling on the atrocities of our past dishonors the memories of the leaders that have sacrificed so much to get us to where we are today. Automatically assuming that an incident is racially motivated is a huge part of the problem. Change will never happen as long as those attitudes prevail. I hate to quote Rodney King but he really said it best..."Cant we all just get along?". The answer is yes. We can all just get along. It may take redefining our comfort zones. It may take shedding some misguided notions. It may even take letting go of long held beliefs based on negative experience. In short it takes GETTING OVER IT.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Marion Barry...Again...

In 1979 I lived on Huntington St. in NW DC. I remember that people were waiting in line for gas,there was a place called Iran where American people were being held against their will, and a man named Khomeni was supposed to be scarier than the foot monster that lived in the space between the end of my bed and the wall. The foot monsters only job was to attack, and remove, my toes while I slept. A scary creature indeed. I remember one other event in 1979 very well. A man named Marion was sworn in as the mayor of Washington. I remember this well for a couple of reasons. I was not positive what a mayor was supposed to do, and he had the same name as the mom in Happy Days. I thought that was about the weirdest name ever. But, my parents assured me that Marion was a boys name too.

Being born and raised in Washington DC, I suppose I became politically aware earlier than kids who are not from DC. Now by politically aware, I had a general knowledge that there were people called politicians who were elected to run the country. I became aware of political parties, and what they stood for, shortly before my 12th birthday. Because DC is the capitol of our great nation, our local politics are often followed by the rest of world. When I say “local politics”, I actually mean local political scandals. Embarrassing moments are widely reported when it comes to local Washington politicians. I am pretty sure there has never been a DC politician who has had more “embarrassing moments” followed by the rest of the world than Marion Barry.

Barry was the epitome of a self made man. A black man born in Mississippi in 1936 had the deck stacked against him from the start. Talk about humble beginnings, he actually picked cotton as a child for money. He worked hard, went to college during a tumultuous time in our nations history, and became a student activist working to end bus segregation. His work as an activist is what brought him to Washington DC. His rise to power in the 70’s was meteoric. In a span of five years he went from serving as the elected school board president, to holding the highest office in the nations capitol. That is impressive by anyones standards.

I have often said that anything the DC government gets involved in goes bad. I believe wholeheartedly that Marion Barry is the reason for this. During the 80’s my fair city had the dubious honor of being the murder capitol of the world. I remember watching the news, and the lead off story would always be the running tally of murders. For several years the annual total was well over 300 homicides. The overwhelming majority of murders were drug related. If crack was the equivalent of a train careening out of control towards a congested rail road crossing, then DC was the equivalent of a child with his foot caught in the tracks. The carnage that crack brought with it was epic. Looking back it is easy to see how it happened. The man that we entrusted to take the needs of our city over his own was part of (and possibly the cause of) the problem.

I remember the day I knew the mayor was smoking crack. I was visiting my parents, watching the news with my mom. Marion Barry was heading a very bizarre anti drug rally in one of the many projects that Southeast DC was infamous for. He kept chanting “DOWN WITH DOPE UP WITH HOPE” and would not respond to reporters questions. I turned to my mom and stated ,matter of factly, that the mayor was smoking crack. My mom questioned it initially, but I was steadfast in my belief that the mayor was using cocaine. A few months later my mom called me and told me I was right. The mayor had just been arrested with a prostitute in a DC hotel smoking crack. I will never forget the image of this man, who possessed incredible potential, yelling “BITCH SET ME UP” as the FBI entered the room. Thus turning my hometown into the butt of jokes for years to come.

Barry was convicted, and served 6 months in prison. After his release from prison, and what amounts to urinating on the very concept of common sense, he was elected again. He served for a few more years as mayor, and was finally defeated by Anthony Williams in 1999. Incredibly, he is still an elected official in DC. I cant honestly say I was surprised to see Mr. Barry in the news again. Nor can I can I say that his arrest for stalking was a surprise. It must be getting hard to find a park police officer that has not arrested Marion Barry. Yet, incredibly he is still in office. This is a man who has betrayed the public trust repeatedly. He was using the very drug that caused thousands of deaths, and brought unimaginable pain to the residents of Washington. That alone is unforgivable. If I were him I would never be able to look at my constituents again. He may as well slap the widows of the police officers killed during the crack “wars” of the 80’s and early 90’s. Or, kick the mothers who lost sons to the violence that crack brought with it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in redemption. I believe that a person should be forgiven for his wrongdoings, and be allowed to change. Change is the operable word there though. And, I believe with every fiber of my being that not forgetting the reason that forgiveness was needed is incredibly important. DC residents have been putting up with his antics for years…it is well passed time for Marion Barry to leave office and just go away. It seems the residents of DC are good at the forgiveness part, but severely lacking in the part about not forgetting. Marion Barry is an embarrassment, there is no other way to say it. The voting residents of Washington DC should have said enough is enough several years ago. I can only hope that someone in Ward 8 finally sees the light, and steps up to tackle a job that has not been well done.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Truman Show on Acid...

I have been spending a lot of time in hotels lately, and watching a lot of reality television. It seem that everything is "reality" now. Apparently it sells.
VH1 takes the cake for reality TV. Flavor of Love,I love New York,Rock of Love, and Daisy of Love are the greatest train wrecks in the history of television, and I have to say they are a guilty pleasure. In case you have not noticed I love watching stupid people be stupid. Set an idiot loose in a room full of idiots and video it...that may be the greatest thing ever. Season 2 of Flavor of Love (Think Ghetto Bachelor with Flavor Flav of Public Enemy as the star) highlighted a girl, nicknamed Somethin Somethin, who actually shit on Flavs floor. Should I say that again...SHIT ON THE FLOOR!!! Seriously, you cant script that! That takes gambling and losing to a whole new level. Needless to say she was eliminated. So, watching this is like being on the scene of a bad accident. I know it's going to scar me,I want to look away, but somehow I just cant. There have been several spin-offs of Flavor of Love concept. The most current one being Daisy of Love. Daisy of Love does not feature anyone shitting on the floor but it does have a bunch of IDIOTS trying to win the affection of a ding-bat named Daisy. Daisy is reasonably attractive if you are into B team strippers. The dudes that are trying to win her heart are grade A morons...I love it! I think the VH1 shows are the best out there because they are truly perpetual Jerry Springer moments.
I love watching this crap but I have to wonder...why the hell would anyone allow a camera to film their enitre life???
Which leads me to the next reality show...John and Kate plus 8. I have never actually watched an episode in it's entirety because I have a reaction that borders on rage when I see this couple and what they are doing to their kids. Kate impresses me as a ball busting bitch, and John impresses me as an absolute knucklehead with no spine. And, what is with that dudes melon!?!? His head block out the sun!!! How could they possibly think that it is OK to parade their children around for the world to watch? Don't they read entertainment mags??? How many child stars wind up in prison,rehab, or dead from drug overdoses??? Parents are supposed to set their kids up for success in life. I honestly think John and Kate are setting their kids up for a massive failure. Enough of my preaching...
I would love to make my own reality show...a hybrid if you will. Flavor of John and Kate Survivor UFC Challenge. Take John and Kate, some UFC fighters, the cream of the crop idiots from the VH1 reality shows, and put them on a truly deserted island for a year. I think the carnage that would ensue would be EPIC!!!! I imagine John and Kate would be killed and eaten by the VH1 folks, who in turn would be mangled by the UFC dudes. The winner of the challenge would have to devise a way to make it back to civilization. Now that would be entertainment! Shit they give a reality show to freakin meter maids...parking enforcement people have a show! Very disappointing though. you never get to see someon rage on a meter person and boot stomp them to within an inch of their life! Tow truck drivers have one...a camera follows them around and watches them tow people out of condos and apartment complexes. I think my idea is waaaaayyyy cooler than that! Maybe the public just isn't ready for it. Maybe I am a visionary who's time has not come. Maybe not...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Harvey Danger was right...

Harvey Danger said "Been around the world and noticed only stupid people are breeding"...Probably the most accurate song lyric of all time. While sifting through the "news" on CNN, I came across a little gem of a headline. "17 Year Old Dies While Tweeting on Her Laptop in the Bathtub"...take a minute and let that sink in (no pun intended). Authorities surmised that she went to plug in her laptop (while in the tub) because her battery was dying. I joined Twitter two days ago, and from what I can see it serves no purpose whatsoever. I cant, for the life of me, figure out what the hell could be so important that she just absolutely had to tweet while bathing. Was it a running cyber commentary of bathing?

"Filling tub"
"Undressing for bath"
"Stepping in water"
"Sitting in tub"
"Crap,laptop is about to die"
"Pluggin in la..."

Do you think that the people that were following this person saw what was coming as soon as "filling tub" came through? Do you think they said to themselves " oh shit this is not going to turn out well" ?

I dont have the best impulse control by any stretch, but I am fairly certain that I would not be overcome by the absolute need to tweet while in the tub. Or, do anything else that required an electrical appliance plugged in while bathing! In my mind that is the same as being overcome with craving for toast while I have an idea I will just bring the toaster in the tub with me. That way I can take care of my hunger, and get clean at the same time!

One of my all time favorite bumper sticker says "YOU! OUT OF THE GENE POOL" funny as hell in my opinion. But, if I think about it long enough I realize a couple of things. If all of the stupid people were suddenly taken off of the face of the earth, this place would be REALLY lonely. And, I would not laugh nearly as much as I do now. If you start a sentence with " Hey man hold my beer and watch this" or "HEEEEY I got an idea" a couple of things are going to happen. Your chances for serious injury, or death, are going to rise exponentially. And, your chances of people laughing at your plight for years and years are going to rise exponentially. Being a somewhat sensitive person I would love to gather these folks up and try to show them the error of their ways but damn I would miss out on a lot of laughs. So here's to the idiots in this world! Thank you for being as dumb as you are, and making my world a little bit brighter!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Twitter and the Cult of Rob G

I joined Twitter today. I am a bit fascinatd by it, but not sure what to think of it. I activated my account, created a profile, and posted an update. While perusing the site I found a page that said I have no followers. Followers...interesting choice of words. Jesus had followers,Moses had followers,Jim Jones had followers, and Charles Manson had followers. So I have officially joined the ranks of religious icons and maniacs. I have always thought I would be a good cult leader, so maybe this is a good start. I dont think I will ever attain the skill that Jesus had...the closest I come to walking on water is pond swooping. Turning water into wine would be a fairly handy skill though...I would be very popular at parties. Moses defintely had it going on with the whole parting the red sea thing...but his navigational skills were lacking. I mean the dude did wander around lost in the desert for 40 years. One would think that eventually he would stop and ask for directions. Plus, cruising the desert with that many people for that long would suck...40 years of " are we there yet?". Hell, that question used to drive my parents crazy while we were making the 5 hour trip to New Haven for Christmas. 40 years of that would be a living hell. Manson...What can I say about him??? Not really a good role model, and his only redeeming qualities are his parole hearings that are televised every few years. VERY ENTERTAINING! That dude is completely out of his mind. Jim Jones was another nutty one. He must have been one charismatic son of a bitch though. He got several hundred people to move to an island in the middle of nowhere and then off themselves. So there are the extremes of people with followers. The extreme good being Jesus and Moses, and the extreme bad being Manson and Jones. So there is a shitload of middle ground for me! I have to ponder these things if I am going to be a cult leader. So twitter is my first step. I am thinking that the ultimate goal should be world domination...lofty I know but I dont think it is completely out of reach. So today Twitter...tomorrow the world? Probably not...but it is fun to imagine the possibilities...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stifling humidity and the state of mental health...

I read somewhere that violent crime increases during the summer when it is hot. In Iraq the summer months see an increase in suicide bombings and Iraqi on Iraqi crimes. Having experienced the stifling heat in Iraq I can tell you that my level of aggression rose with the temperature...but I have to hand it to the Iraqis,when the temp topped 120 and continued to rise I reached a plateau in aggression levels. They continued doing whatever it is they do despite the heat. It got so freakin hot that I did not feel like doing a damn thing. Cut to Cleveland Ohio...the outside temp is not horrible by any means. As a matter of fact as I was going to work this morning I thought it was downright pleasant this morning. A typical pleasant morning. I rode shotgun in the caddy with Jason driving,we made fun of Cleveland people, and joked about suicide being an option if we were forced to live here. There may be people from Cleveland reading this...don't get your panties in a wad...I am sure it's a nice place to live,it's just not for me. Anyway, I digress, we walked into the Ritz (not the greatest place ever), and wandered up to the floors our clients are occupying. As soon as I stepped out of the stairwell I was almost overcome by a wave of humidity that rivals Charleston SC in August! In case you have not been there, Charleston in August is Equatorial Guinea hot! So now I sit and wonder...WHY THE FUCK DON'T THEY KEEP THE AC RUNNING???? I have had days on this hallway where I have had to wear a coat and hat it was so cold. Where are those days!?!? It cant be an electric bill issue...our clients are spending over a million a month here. It could possibly be a mechanical issue. It could be some grand conspiracy to keep me , and my partner, uncomfortable as hell. I wont discount that immediately. But, I have often been told that the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one. In my humble opinion, I think it is just sheer idiocy. I am pretty sure the engineers in this hotel just sit around with their collective thumbs up their collective butts and discuss the best method to unclog a toilet. Our calls to them go unanswered because I am pretty sure they don't know how to answer the thing on the wall that makes noise every now and then. I imagine them in their lair looking at the switch with the pretty lights that controls the AC switching it on and off. They probably laugh like little Ralphie Wiggum when the lights come on, and get sad when the lights turn off. So given the limited resources that they have to work with, I guess I should be happy that the place has not burned down. I should probably resign myself to being uncomfortable for 12 hours a day. I suppose I have dealt with worse...