Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Connect I Cut

I moved from Philly to Connecticut in 2010, and finally, nearly four years later, I'm starting to gain appreciation, slight as it may be, for this state.

Sure, Connecticut has horrific income inequality. It's cities are messes. Taxes are high. Our politicians are too dumb to even do corruption right. The drivers are awful. Roads are pothole'd. And you can't buy beer to go from bars.

But recently, on my few and far between days off, I've been going to the beach, which is only two miles from my apartment, then feasting on local oysters, soft shell crabs, and mahi mahi at a newly discovered and totally awesome establishment right on the Long Island Sound, The Oyster River Tavern.

My off days, here in CT recently, have been days in paradise. Beautiful weather, deliciously fresh seafood, and a beach nearby... I'll take that!

Of course, however, the water is too polluted to even dip my toes in.

Ah, Connecticut. The Nutmeg State. Or the Constitution State. Neither of these official nicknames make a whole lotta sense. I call it, Connecticut: The Land of Mediocre Strangeness. There is definitely a love/hate thing going on here.

Almost Verbatim

Real, almost verbatim, conversation between my dad and I, over beers, in the Summer of 2005...

Me: "You know, dad, growing up as an 80s baby in Middle Class America, it was almost dull. For awhile at least. I mean, we had no war, no Depression (paraphrasing Fight Club, no doubt), everything was just perfect. Then the 90s ended, religious extremists destroyed the Twin Towers, killing thousands of American citizens in downtown Manhattan, and we invaded two countries. If nothing else, at least the time period got...interesting."

Dad: "You know that's an ancient Chinese curse, right."

Me: "What is?"

Dad: "May you live in interesting times."


I don't know about you, but I feel that it is totally miraculous, mind-boggling, and beautiful that FRUIT, this very essential and nutritious gift to us from nature, exists only to protect seeds from danger and destruction.

The Nation & The State

Recent events between the Israeli military and Hamas in Gaza Strip have brought me back to 2006, sitting in evening lectures given by a very intelligent professor named Kenneth Fuellhardt. The class was Cultural Geography, one that I mistakenly thought was required for my major. It was, in fact, one of those good mistakes, for this class was the most fascinating 3 hours a week in my educational career.

In it, the main theme was the difference between states and nations. A nation is, simply put, a group of people sharing common beliefs, traditions, culture, language, etc. A state is just an arbitrary political boundary around a given land mass. America, by definition, would be a nationless state, while Kurdistan is a stateless nation. Israel is a perfect example of a nation state.

These two terms, often, are used synonymously, yet this does such an awful disservice. For the difference between them is vast, and the sooner world leaders become aware of this fact, the better off the world will be.

McSkillet Burrito

Anyone who knows me, even after having just met me at a bar, knows there are a few constants in my life. Unchanging facts around which I govern myself. One being that I have the appetite of a medium sized brown bear while standing against the swift moving waters of a river, mouth wide open and salivating over the fact that any second now, some poor little pink protein packed salmon will soon land within its jaws. My penchant for Dunkin iced dark roast coffee is another truth. And, to prove that not every world view of mine involves food, ANYONE who knows me, is certain that my all time favorite show is David Simon's The Wire, although I would slightly disagree.

For, to me, The Wire is less a show, and more so an explanation. Not a justification, or an excuse, or a spiteful jab... but an explanation. The Wire explains, in effect, America in the post-Industrial Age. It is, to me, Biblical, for just as Jesus Christ himself, 2,000 years ago made political head waves selling the idea that we, the individual, are never supposed to be part of any institution, The Wire explains what happens when we do in fact become part of one, and all the going-against-our-own-conscience that is inevitable in the process.

So, to me, The Wire isn't the greatest show. It's a way of life, the closest thing to religion that I have. It is, indeed, the inspiration for this very blog's namesake. No, the greatest show is Breaking Bad. This is an epic gift from Vince Gilligan and AMC, though personally, it may be tied with HBO's True Detective. We all know that HBO does nothing but gold, but I must say, this show is special. The acting of McConnaghey and Woody Harrelson alone justifies the short season and unanswered questions. Currently, I decided to give HBO's The Leftovers a try. So far, halfway through, I will say that I am wholeheartedly fascinated. It is slow, strange, depressing, yet like the scene of a gruesome highway accident, I can't look away.

So I say, give The Wire a shot. And if you haven't seen Breaking Bad or True Detective, do it. And if you ever happen to come across a McDonald's that has the McSkillet Burrito still, please, let me know. Because that shit is the best meal I ever had, and ever will have.