Monday, November 28, 2011

Can I Get a Witness...(to leave me the hell alone)

You would think being in such close proximity to a Mormon church I would be safe from the solicitations of the Jehovas Witnesses...No such luck. I have had four groups of witnesses come to my house in the last 3 weeks. Ok, that is not entirely true. I have had three seperate groups of witnesses show up, and one was a duplicate. Apparently my "not interested" was interpreted as "not interested right now" so they came back for good measure. While I admire the tenacity of the duplicate group, that knock on the door is not any less annoying.

I was born into a catholic family, and I attended catholic schools. I was an altar boy, I was confirmed, and I went to confession every month when I was a kid. When it became apparent to me that the catholic church had a policy of hiding pedophile priests, I stopped being catholic. People laugh when I say this, and think that I just stopped going to church. I stopped being catholic. I emailed the Vatican and asked how to officially end my participation in the Catholic church. I was given a short list of instructions, and a note from a concerned priest asking why I wanted to leave the church. I politely explained my reasons, and thanked him for his concern. I emailed the parish where I was baptized, and had my name removed from the baptismal records. I stopped being catholic...officially.

Now if I can do that with the religion that I was born into, how do you think I feel about perfect strangers knocking on my door asking me if I know Jesus? The answer is, it offends me like a Yankees fan in Fenway. OK so the flip side is that these perfect strangers are just looking out for my eternal soul...I get it. You dont have to knock on my door to tell me. Their concern for my soul is their business, and I really dont want to hear it. Maybe they are looking for a new poster child since Michael Jacksons father clearly is not good for public relations. Maybe I should be flattered?

Admittedly,all I really knew about the Jehovas Witnesses were that they knocked on doors, and distributed copies of "The Watchtower" magazine. Before sitting down to write this I decided to do a little research. What I found just reinforces the indisputable fact that I have zero business being a member of that faith. Next time they come around, and they will, I will engage them in discussion. I promise you they will leave thinking that I will spend eternity as a department head in hell.

Here are a few bullet points I intend to share with them next time they come a knockin'.

1.In order to be baptised into the faith you have to answer a series of 80 questions in front of a panel of elders.

I have always been a horrible test taker so there is one strike.

2.You can't have a tattoo.

That counts me out.

3. You must give up vacations in order to attend the annual convention.

My guess is that convention is not held in a cool place like Vegas. Furthermore anybody that knocks on my door thinking I am going to give up vacations to attend religious meetings had best go back to the drawing board in the thinking department.

4. You can't buy girl scout cookies.

This one needs no commentary...nuff said.

5. Heaven is limited to 144,000 Jehovas Witnesses

I dont have to worry too much there but WTF? That is like blowing yourself up in the name of Allah and finding out that it isn't 72 virgins for every martyr but 72 virgins total. They ran out of virgins years ago. Really though, what if you are running late, and get to the pearly gates at spot number 144,001? I would cause a hell of a scene!

There are several more do's and donts I could spout off, but what is the point really? I have been polite with every single group that has come to my door. Not anymore! I am thinking pretty seriously about heading to Powells Books to see if they have a copy of Anton Laveys satanic bible. Don't get me wrong, I am not considering satanism as a religious choice. Think of it as a literary equivalent of a whistle for telemarketers. I just want to see the look on a Jehovas Witness' face when I bust out that satanic bible and ask them if they know satans plan for us. My guess is that I wont have to ask them to leave, and they wont be coming back anytime soon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


People,for the most part,rarely inspire me. I think the last time I was inspired by a person was when I met, and worked for, an author/activist living under a very credible threat from Islamic fundamentalists. She wrote a story about her life growing up in Islam. Her words were so inflammatory in some circles, that she was condemned to die for them. Her life was turned completely upside down. She had to move several times, and she had to have security with her everywhere she went. She continues to write today...her courage in the face of mortal threat is incredibly inspiring. She is the most courageous person I have ever met.

I just read an article entitled Occupy Earth, written by a 19 year old girl named Samantha Silverman. I am not much of a supporter of the methods of Occupy Portland (I know I sound like a broken record), but I do strongly believe in a need for change. Her article sums it all up in a very concise manner. I dont forward links often, and when I do it is usually through text to a small number of people. I thought this article was so well written that I feel compelled to share the link here.

If you are having trouble figuring out what all this Occupy business is about, I suggest reading this article. I was very impressed. I was closing my account with Bank of America anyway, and admittedly I was going to go with another big bank for convenience sake. I spent the morning researching my choices, and then I read this article. I dont think the big banks will miss me much. I may be making some other changes in my life as well. My banking choices are just a start.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Final Solution????

When did the entire world take a stupid pill? Having spent some time on the Portland Occupier site this morning I am forced to ask this question yet again. I asked that question shortly after reading yet another attempt to compare the "atrocities" of the evil corporate giants, to the actual ATROCITIES brought about by Adolph Hitler. I was at the bank last week, and I am pretty sure the vault was not doubling as a gas chamber. The last time I checked GM did not use their bail out money to set up concentration camps. I am pretty sure I would be able to tell if the wholesale slaughter of innocent people were taking place at my insurance company's regional office. I am a fairly observant guy, but I could be wrong.

Comparing the practices of corporate America to the ATROCITIES of the Nazis in Germany just to make a point is an insult to the memories of the millions slaughtered. Again, I could be wrong...but I did not read anything on the Portland Occupier site saying that all the people arrested were carted off to camps on boxcars because that is what the nazis did to people who disagreed with them.

I am not saying the the Occupiers dont have a legitimate gripe...they do. But, I want to hear accurate factual points, not the sensationalist crap I read earlier today. If I want to hear bullshit rhetoric with very little facts I can turn on any of the debates that are so widely covered by the evil networks piped into my house by the nefarious cable company. Therein lies my problem with most "movements". Trading a broken system for a bullshit system is not a solution. Neither is trashing a park, vandalizing a bank, or setting off firebombs in our city. Seems like the message being heard the loudest is that it's OK to burn the bridge despite the fact that you're standing on it.

There is no doubt that I strongly disagree with the methods used by Occupiers (Portland). I think most of their methods are just passive aggressive posturing lacking in both substance and conviction. If you really want a message to be heard, you take it to the person that you want to have hear it. When bringing that message make damn sure that every bit of it is fact. That way nobody can ever say that you misrepresented anything. Truth is absolute and needs no defense. Save the nazi comparisons until such time as they are appropriate. Should a time arise when those comparisons are appropriate then we would all have a lot more to worry about than the totally fixable problems going on in the world now.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fond Memories...

I went to Cleveland for a year. I was hired for 6 weeks, and the job ran for a year. I have been to a lot of bad places, and Cleveland is by far the worst. I hated it so much I had T-shirts made for the team listing the top 10 things I hated about it. I was absolutely miserable while working there. High maintenance clients, very little security work, and I put out a lot of fires caused by the hotel staff. So many fires that watching the bumbling of the hotel staff started to amuse me to no end. At one point we had 160 rooms in a 200 room hotel...I think the bill was around 2 million a month when the expenses were tallied up.

Regardless of how much money my client was spending the first answer when presenting a request to hotel staff was always no. Granted, some of the requests were pretty outlandish. But, outlandish or not, no should not be in your vocabulary when a guest paying well into the millions every month asks for something. As a matter of fact, if you came to my house and paid me 2 million a month to live there you can drop a steaming crap on my dining room table during Thanksgiving Dinner and I would probably just smile and clean it up like nothing happened. OK, not really but you get the point.Finding good things to focus on while in Cleveland was rough. So good became a relative term.

I make no secret of the fact that I love watching stupid people act stupid. If their stupidity causes injury or arrest I am amused even more. If their stupidity causes injury AND arrest even better!! You may be thinking wow this guy is a serious asshole! There is no shortage of successful arguments to be made attesting to that fact. I make no apologies. I think stupidity should be painful, and folks doing stupid things should be exploited for the amusement of the not so stupid. I should point out that I apply these rules to myself as well. The folks at our hotel offered a lot in the way of amusement during our long days of boredom. So many in fact that I am sure I can write a book based on my 366 days there.

If you worked in a hotel and a man came to check in wearing a bathrobe, a pair of pants with handwritten epithets all over them, a t-shirt, and a trumpet would you check him in? Before you answer that consider this...he was having conversations with people only he could see, he was somewhat menacing to the front desk clerk, and he smelled bad...really bad. In any other 5 star hotel in any city he would have been turned away. Not in Cleveland. The Cleveland Ritz Carlton had no qualms about putting him on the club level right down the hall from my clients suite. I cant thank them enough for that!

"I WILL KILL ANYONE THAT COMES TO MY DOOR!!!" was the angry exclamation I heard shatter the tranquility of the club lounge. Not something I hear everyday in a 5 star hotel so I was immediately enthralled. I walked down the hall to the lounge expecting the worst...I was secretly hoping that some deranged gunman would just end the misery of Cleveland for me. I was disappointed to find no deranged gunman, just the club lounge concierge with a concerned look on her face. The shouting had come from a room right next to the lounge. In addition to the shouting it sounded like a UFC title fight was going on in said room. It was pretty bad.

Hotel security arrived pretty quickly (Off duty Cleveland PD moonlighting). Not knowing what was on the other side of the door, she asked my partner and I to back her up until the Cleveland PD got there. As bored as we were in Cleveland, we were happy to oblige. She knocked and this little man opened the door. He was polite, articulate,lucid, and pleasant. He gave zero indication that he was in distress. He was so convincing that he caused all of us to question our senses. He politely thanked hotel security for checking in, and assured her that there was no problem. We all stood there in puzzled amusement watching the exchange come to an end...and then he closed the door!

I wont repeat the string of racially insensitive profanities that came out of that room as soon as the door closed, but I will give credit to the hotel security person for not taking the door off the hinges and conducting a gravity experiment from the top floor. It was pretty bad, and she just took it in stride. She casually turned to us and stated " Oh yeah...he has to go!". Cleveland PD arrived pretty quickly. The hotel manager was on hand to observe, and he deftly routed guests around the scene with the skill of Obi Wan Kenobi. With a french accented "nothing to see here" he jedi mindtricked the hell out of a few people on that floor.

The first cop on scene was greeted with a HUGE snot projectile, and a loud FUCK YOU from the little crazy man in the room. A little advice...bad idea to open a door to law enforcement with fuck you and a lung oyster no matter how unhappy you are to see them. It is just not a good ice breaker. I don't think the little man expected what came next. He tried to slam the door in the cops face only to be rushed by his 5 cop friends coming out of the service elevator. I have never seen anyone tackled as hard as this little guy was tackled. It took about 1 second for the hallway to clear of law enforcement as all of them rushed into the room.

I would have loved to have heard the commotion from the room directly below. I bet it sounded like a drug fueled pachyderm orgy. Crazy dude got hit so hard he shit himself. Seriously, he pooped...peed too. At some point his lip was split, and his nose started bleeding but man he kept fighting. The fight to subdue him was shortened considerably when he started spitting blood on the cops. Matter of fact I think he got two full spits out before a no nonsense Cleveland PD veteran issued him an ultimatum.

"You spit on another police officer, and I will break your arm"...spitting sound followed quickly by a dull snap and a blood curdling scream! That veteran of the Cleveland streets was a man of his word. The fight ended completely and they got him in custody. Thus ending the most fun I had had in Cleveland to date. I am not sure what became of the guy, but he had graffiti ed everything in the room. Tagged up the windows, the walls, the desk. In the bathroom he had used his own blood to tag up the mirror. The smell was incredible as well.

Some of you may be thinking that this is just a horrible story. Terrible for the hotel, sad for the crazy guy, sad for the folks that have to clean the room etc...I totally get it. When I look back on it now I feel all of those things...kinda. But, while living in the bitterness of my experience in Cleveland I laughed. It is a testimony to the absolute shittiness of Cleveland that the only thing I could find to take joy in was the folly of my fellow man. I fear I would be lacking in conviction if I did anything other than laugh though. Sure the desk clerk could have avoided all the ensuing problems by refusing service but that would have been the smart thing to it would have deprived me of a great deal of satisfaction at the expense of my fellow man...

Here's to the idiots...thank you so much for being idiotic!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sleepless in LA County...

Watching the LA county prosecutors office spike the proverbial football on the news last night started me thinking. In the history of LA media circuses, the conviction of Dr. Murray seems like low hanging fruit. They could not convict cops for beating a man on video (Rodney King), they could not get OJ (despite DNA), they couldn't get Michael Jackson(despite several allegations), and Lindsay Lohan (although convicted every time she steps into a courtroom) seems to share the un-jailable trait of John Gotti in his younger days. So what do you do when you fall short in a series of high profile cases?? Easy...go at the sure thing!

I have a lot of experience with eccentric rich folks. By eccentric I actually mean bat shit crazy. I have been awaken by 3 am phone calls from various clients with OUTLANDISH requests that need to be taken care of immediately. I had a client ask me to track down Tom Hanks 3AM in a hotel in Cleveland. I cant imagine being overtaken by an uncontrollable urge to talk to Tom Hanks at 3AM. That same client woke me up a week later to find some edible gold flake...from a bakery in Germany. Occasionally I have had younger clients ask me about drugs...anything from Ecstasy to erythromycin. Balancing the "I want to keep my job" with the "I don't want to break the law" can be tough. I take each request on a case by case basis, but my normal answer is usually No because common sense usually prevails over whatever financial windfall I am offered.

It does not take a degree in medicine to know that normal people don't inject anesthetics to sleep. From 2004 to about 2006 I had the worst insomnia you can possibly imagine. It never crossed my mind to hire a doctor to keep me on a surgical plane of consciousness during the evening hours. How does one even broach that subject? I know what my doc would say if I called him up and asked him to come over to knock me out, observe me to make sure I don't die in my sleep, then wake me up after I get my beauty rest. It certainly would not be " Sure Rob...happy right over".

Michael Jackson was a lot of things. He was a talented musician, a target for tabloids, a mega star in his younger days, and a drug addict. There I said it. A drug addict with a huge amount of cash, and nobody around to actually say things that needed to be said to him. Sad if you really sit and think about it. Dr. Murray saw dollar signs. Doc Murray by virtue of being a doctor should have taken one look at Jackson and sent him on his merry way.

The DA's office in LA must have been ecstatic during the tumultuous days after the death of Michael Jackson. A collective sense of "we finally got one we can win" must have invigorated that office like a B-12 mega dose revitalizes an "exhausted" rock star. They attacked the case with the zeal of a dingo eating a baby. No more will we see the image of OJ mouthing the words "thank you" after hearing his not guilty verdict. Now we will see the look of dazed incredulity on Dr. Murrays face as the sheriff is removing him from the courtroom in handcuffs. Truth be told, if common sense had prevailed Murray would have told Jacksons people to find someone else. A clear victory for the law but another nail in the coffin of good judgement...I wonder how well Conrad Murray will be sleeping.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Occupied (Or how to go camping,get stoned, and run a city)

This is going to make some people angry...

I wish I could sit in a park all day and bitch about the injustices in the world. Dont get me wrong, in examining the convoluted messages coming out of Occupy Portland I have heard a lot of complaints that I completely agree with. I just dont see how sitting around in a park is going to accomplish anything other than sitting in a park. It is about as effective as a bunch of people sitting in my living room except my living room is comfortable and smells better. Additionally sitting in my living room carries no danger of being stabbed with a used needle.

The parks are a public space, in other words they are owned by the good citizens of our fair city. The damage done to the parks will cost us money that could be spent elsewhere. I mentioned that on the Occupy Portland website and my remarks were called slanderous because I did not cite proof of the money being spent. OK valid point. I made that remark based on the myriad of headlines proclaiming that the city is bleeding money to accomodate the Occupiers. My counter would be prove to me that sitting in a park is working.

"How did you get this number" has been the opening lines of several personal assistants for CEO's of various corporations. The answer is not always straight forward but it is never "I found it in a park while I was sitting there with a sign". The folks running the corporations dont give a fat rats ass about folks trashing a city park. Want to make a point? Go to the corporate headquarters of BofA and "Occupy" the parking lot.

"We are standing in solidarity with the Occupiers of Wall Street" is a phrase I have heard thrown around a lot. That's great...I totally understand that. Shortsighted and lacking in conviction but if that makes you feel like you are accomplishing something then by all means I wont stop you. But, if you really want to make a difference then stand with them on Wall street. It's obvious that there are a lot of people with a lot of spare time so why not go to New York? The folks occupying Wall Street have a great idea...they are in the financial center of the US. Take the gripe to the folks that can make a difference.

The freedom rides helped to bring massive change to this country. A group of people who wanted to right the wrongs that were sanctioned by the law of the land took direct action and made change happen. Conviction and appropriate action...and every last one of the folks on those buses are unsung heroes who walked the walk as opposed to just talking the talk. If all of the protesters occupying public spaces all over the US were to show up on Wall Street people would take notice. It would still put a huge burden on the taxpayers though. Now if all of the protesters occupied the corporate headquarters of Bank of America the financial burden would be on Bank of Americas private security...not the tax payers. If the folks that run the joint cant get to work things will change.

Making change happen peacefully is a challenge. Not an insurmountable challenge by any stretch, but I don't really see anyone in Portland stepping up to that challenge. Sitting in a park is easy...