Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Myself, far from a participant in any organized religion (because, you know, I went to Catholic school for 12 years), yet I frequently find such beautiful language within the Bible, ancient yet so very relative to today...

"The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

The Bible, that textbook that every Christian places above all else, yet every Christian I know personally is completely against allowing the Syrian refugees in. Because ISIS. Because Islam.

I really do try, when I debate these individuals, to relay the absolute fact that you can use the Bible to justify good. You can use the Bible to justify bad.

You can use the Qur'an to justify good, and you can use the Qur'an to justify bad.

But when's the last time we agreed even on the facts?


I recently watched an ISIS fighter and his totally indoctrinated barely 6-year old son on a youtube video somewhere in the desert near Raqqa. To paraphrase, in the clip the man rants about the tough life here. His tough life, and the fact that the tougher the better, for all of this here on this world does not matter.

All that matters is the afterlife, and the tougher the worldly experience, the better the next will be.

And then it hit me.

The root cause is not Islam. It's not even religion.

It truly is all a matter of geopolitics. Religion is merely a tool, and determined by geography.

For years, there were men like this, women and children too, in Syria, Iraq, and any other shithole dictator-led country, barely living, in oppressively hot desert lands where air conditioning is the last concern, where money made in the few actual jobs buys next to nothing any way, where your own government may very well kidnap you in the dead of night and torture and kill you ANY day or time.

Depending on where you live, religion may be used as a feel-good Sunday social gathering or a straight up psychological defense mechanism to block the harsh reality that is your life from you.

Islam just happens to be the dominant religion in said shithole countries.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Anniversary II

Fifteen years ago in the Summer, my cousin and I walked passed the security desk in the lobby of 1601 Market Street in Philly without so much as a head nod towards the elevators. We met with HR, signed some papers, then walked 6 city blocks to get our drug tests, shortcutting through the hallways of City Hall to continue on Market Street. We were new hires at The MCS Group, and this was the start of our Summer jobs we'd go on to hold for the next few years.

But within two Summers, after the Towers fell, things had changed.

I now had to sign into every building before making a delivery, and getting passed security in my own required a badge. Cutting through the once open doorways and public hallways of City Hall was no longer an option. A certain collective unease among the numerous pedestrians about the city streets now could be felt as I walked from building to building, making my rounds.

Small changes of course, but they said and they say that EVERYTHING changed that day.

I disagree.

Surely, airport lines got more inconvenient, and Americans received a shoddy and forced lesson on Muslim history, but I believe we're right back to where we were as a country on September 10th, 2001.

19 Islamic jihadist hijackers, from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Lebanon, flew planes into the World Trades killing thousands of innocent US citizens in Lower Manhattan....and we invaded one of the few secular Middle Eastern countries of which none of the aforementioned hijackers ever even visited, a country ruled by a brutal suit and tie-wearing dictator and lawyer who WE installed, a country lacking not only a navy but also an air force, and dismantled said country's entire economy and political system to then re-install a "democracy" which then crumbled into pieces of bloody chaos, resulting in the deaths of over 5,000 American soldiers and over 500,000 Iraqi citizens, to become...the largest breeding ground and base of operations for the most dangerous and sophisticated...Islamic jihadist army.

Oh, and we also invaded Afghanistan, so we can "fight them over there, not here." That fight is still going on, it is our longest war EVER.

Fourteen years later it is, and although hind sight is 20/20, it is hard to fathom that this mess could ever possibly happen in modern times.

It is easy to blame W for all this, and I did at one time, yet there are so many others more culpable. If anything, this guy proved, sadly, what a true pawn the American president actually is.

Others, like certain media outlets,  who were 1.) Ignorant of history, 2.) With a complete monopoly on feeding the public information, and 3.) Hungry for nothing but ratings, and therefore war.... War. And the endless kind.

Fourteen years later, and you know how I know we haven't changed one bit?

Donald Trump, the ultimate huckster, is our most popular presidential candidate.

No, of course I don't believe anyone, from the janitors and law clerks in Tower One to our soldiers and Iraqis deserved to perish. But unlike what the hucksters will tell you, it is not only possible, but vital, to EXPLAIN the motives of those 19 hijackers, without EXCUSING them. We still don't know the difference.

Deserve has nothing to do with it, except of course, if you're talking about the government that we get.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


It's hazy and humid on these ridges and plains of this Manassas battle field, probably I'd imagine, just about the same weather the soldiers from the North and South who fought each other encountered, considering it's the same month yet 150 and change years apart.

And boy is it gorgeous. To say walking through fields where 11,300 people died in a confusing and bloody battle over the span of just three days is a spiritual experience, well that's an understatement.

If trees could talk.

The ground, which undoubtedly is layered upon copious amounts of long dried blood, the forests, even a few houses remain intact, remain virtually as it was in 1862.

One major change is the population, and the traffic and noise that comes with it.

I walk down a wooden fence-lined hill with Civil War cannons still at ready and towards Lee Highway, which separates the battlefield, and I have to push a button at a traffic light in order to safely cross the insanely busy thoroughfare. A truck bellowing out smog from its exhaust pipe followed by a line of Audis, Honda coupes, and Jeeps gets the green left turn arrow for Sudley Road and blows past me.

I begin to re think that whole spiritual experience thing.

But this whole area, if nothing else, is purposeful.

Before humans, deer foraged for plants here, and were stalked by wolves. Then came the Original Americans meandering and hunting, followed by the Anglo Saxons, dirt roads, railroads, and freeways. All of this simply, because it made sense. For this is the Shenandoah Valley, a fertile and flat area tucked between two less hospitable walls of mountains that extend for hundreds of miles.

Lee Highway, I-66, Sudley Road, these all exist for the same reasons those ancient animals traversed these plains, for the same reason Native Americans utilized the lands for thousands of years - accessibility.

Call it geographical determinism when, on that day in 1862, Northerners wanted to defend DC while also to suppress the Southern rebellion in their own de facto capital of Richmond, VA and this little crossroads happened to be the easiest path between the two.

I try to keep this in mind while standing here on Manassas battlefield with all its noise, and traffic congestion, and busyness. The battle would never have happened here, if it wouldn't one day look like this in August 2015.

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fuckin West Haven!

"Are you fuckin serious!?" I literally said to myself, while walking along the beach today, as I looked down at the green shards of broken glass embedded within the otherwise pristine sands. A Heineken, I suppose.

But this is my Connecticut summer happy place, and today I'm right back to it. I spent the better part of an hour under the cloudless sunny blue sky walking along the water, onto the jetties, the piers, and through the charming tree lined promenade before my appetite, and thirst of course, caught up with me.

I found myself sitting in my SECOND favorite beach side bar, The Savin Rock, because I tried and failed to go to my number one, The Oyster River Tavern. I went there first, because I love the ambience, the delicious raw Blue Points, and because of Tammy.

Tammy. She isn't the most talkative bar tender, but she is friendly. Kind of. She's cordial, and she knows me. She knows what I order, and to tell me before I even sit down if they're out of ripe avocado, that essential ingredient for their mahi wrap that day, or if the keg of Road Jam's kicked.

Today was my first day back this summer, this year even, and when I walked in, Tammy wasn't there. For the first time ever. I saw this young attractive brunette behind the bar who greeted me and smiled. I asked where Tammy was. She stopped dead in her tracks and gave me a weird look.


Yes, I replied.

"Tammy was in an accident recently," said the bar tender.

Concerned, I asked if she was ok.

"Tammy actually got shot in the face."

WHAT!? Jaw dropped.

"Oh yeah, she's fine though. It was just buck shot, you know, from a shotgun."

Jesus on ice skates!

"Are you familiar with Campbell Avenue?" She asked.

Indeed I was.

"Have you ever been to Kelly's?"

Indeed I had.

"Well she was there with her husband the other night, got into an altercation with some guy, and the guy left and came back with a shotgun....."

Apparently she's recovering fine and will be ok, but needless to say I didn't feel like ordering any oysters.

I decided to head over to Savin Rock.

Fuckin West Haven.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

This piece of human garbage is Walter Palmer, and he kills beautiful and endangered animals because he can and wants to.


Motivations are everything, especially in human behavior, good and bad. Certain things we do, things we think even, either aggravate or mitigate the circumstances. Some believe that it is all black and white, but I'd disagree, and so would our highly-advanced court of law. Murder is not always cold-blooded, sometimes it's even justified. Crime can be either opportunistic, or out of necessity, or even grayer than that. Motivations usually determine punishment, or the level of such. That is the how of our judicial system, the why though? 

As students of Criminal Justice we're taught the theories of incarceration, or, simply put, why we punish. Several theories exist, among them being "eye for an eye," deterrence, and incapacitation. The first is literally Biblical, it is our oldest and most primitive theory, the second is newer but is routinely shown to be a miserable failure. I like the third, which is very progressive, in that only the most vile and evil should be executed or locked away for life because they have demonstrated that they are not safe enough to walk amongst the public, and the normal public must be protected from them.

Now I'm no PETA member, but throughout my life I've witnessed a few humans demonstrating their worth, which is less than animals. It's the feeling I get when I study Hitler, or hear about an ISIS outpost being bombarded by the shells of an F-15. Growing up, when I'd watch movies, the violence never bothered me, assuming it involved people. But once a dog dies??? Tear drops. You see, animals, unlike us, are just good, always innocent. There are numerous human beings I'd save my golden retriever's life over theirs. Like, without even blinking an eye.

Before the calls of hypocrisy come, yes I admit, I eat chickens, cows, and pigs that may endure questionable practices before arriving on my plate. I try to do the whole cage-free/grass fed/free range thing, but I know it's a slippery slope. But we must eat. And if you hunt to provide your own meals, more power to you. 

I don't, and never will, understand hunting for sport though. There is something twisted and sick about it, if you need to exercise your power to kill living things, if you are just not content with already being several rungs on top of that food ladder, if you do this because well, you're bored. Take up tennis, or read a book, jack ass!

But especially egregious and disgusting, is traveling to the already most-exploited continent in the world to take away their naturally majestic beauty, in cold-blood. What says privilege more than not only being able to fly to Africa to shoot a lion with a bow and arrow but wanting to? Missing the point entirely, he claims his guide told him this particular lion was ok to kill!

This guy makes humans, especially rich white ones, look bad.

This guy is a piece of shit.

This guy makes me think we should revisit that whole "eye for an eye" thing.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

True Perspective

"I didn't ask for this world, I took it."

Says Vince Vaughn as Frank Semyon. If the quote wasn't dumb and cliche enough, well, the delivery makes it even worse.

True Detective season 2, for lack of a better word, sucks. And fulfilling the shoes of season 1's brilliance has nothing to do with it.

The city manager of fictional city Vinci, California who has crime boss-turned-legit boss Semyon's money goes missing, is found tortured and dead, cops (Colin Farrelll, Rachel MacAdams, Taylor Kitsch) working for a corrupt mayor and corrupt state itself get involved, other stuff happens, and the murder points to some quasi-religious sex cult or something like it, in true Nic Pizzolato form.

Except Farrell plays an unconvincing cop, looking more like he should have been on HBO's cowboy show Deadwood than a modern police/murder mystery, Vaughn plays an unconvincing actor, and Kitsch plays an unconvincing human. My girl Rachel is singlehandedly saving this show, as an intense, cynical, and brave character.

But there is a big difference when it comes to a tv series, between being complex and convoluted - it is somehow both - and having flawed characters and being a flawed show. Again, it is both.

I like the LA noire style, but it doesn't manifest enough.

Overall, I'm obviously not impressed. I kinda want to see what happens, but that's just because I already watched five episodes.

If nothing else, seeing Vince Vaughn try to act is extremely entertaining.

California Republic

At perhaps the only place in the world where a parking attendant wishes you a "magical day," we exited the rental car after paying $17 to park. Five hours and $98 (a person) later, we returned. It was the end of our last full day of our Southern California vacation, culminating appropriately at Disneyland in the heart of Anaheim in all its smog and highway chaos.

Just two months prior, we booked the trip. She has a friend living in the Valley, I have three living all over the LA area. And let me just tell you, I love this state. I've visited now three times, and every time I go I'm reminded of why.

This place, at least to me, and relative to the Mid-Atlantic North East that I know so well, might as well be a different country. And I mean that as a compliment. California is posh and poor, palm trees and beaches, traffic choked freeways, and gorgeous mountain peaks. It goes from gangland to gated communities, authentic Mexican to chicken and waffles, tourists and turistas all walking around together gawking at the artificial glamour, gazing at the natural beauty.

This state, of nearly 40 million people  is all of this, yet spread out over a vast area of 164,000 square miles.

We however had the pleasure of being able to stay in one small neighborhood that encompasses that entirely - Venice Beach.

You see, our first two days of six were spent in a hotel downtown in Koreatown. But my friend, who would be leaving for a 7 day retreat that Sunday, so generously offered his small studio in Venice at no charge. And if you haven't yet visited this city, you must do so.

Venice Beach is where the weirdos roam, again a compliment. It is the perfect microcosm of California. Its boardwalk, edgy and packed with all sorts of characters, is complete with tattoo parlors, bars, and "doctors" who I'm pretty sure possess no medical degree in any form handing out business cards advertising medical marijuana. Its beach, with a majestic view of the mountains in the distant north jutting out to sea, complete with drum circles and intense dancing. Even the cops here, roving around in their squad cars, might be hippies. Within the confines of my buddy's apartment each night, next to the windows that face the small fenced in courtyard with a gate that must be locked at all times, we surprisingly got great sleep. This, in spite of the drunken banter, the odd Gregorian chanting that may or may not have been Satanic til 4 am, and the sound of trash trucks picking up garbage three or four times each morning.

We saw the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the steep cliffs above it where the other 8% reside, the land of Disney, beaches, fantastic restaurants, the tourist packed promenade of Santa Monica, even the San Diego Zoo.

But nothing says, or feels, California, a state only "civilized" and enveloped in a political boundary because of a random Gold Rush in the Mid-1800s, like Venice Beach.

I thank my friend.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

July 9th, 1997

I looked down at my tablet after sipping my coffee this morning, and immediately noticed the date, July 9th. There is something special about this 7/9, something that didn't take me more than two seconds to remember. I was brought back to a hot and humid summer, now exactly 18 years ago (wow!), back to Camp Launfall in the Main Line suburbs of Philly.

I didn't like going to summer camp back then, not at first at least. While my other friends were free to wake up any time they chose, and do anything they wanted to all day long for that three month respite between school years, I was catching a morning bus at the corner of Drexel and Bond. The scent of bug spray from my backpack, the stinging of the sun screen in my eyes as it slowly seeped down my forehead, waiting there for that bus, a SCHOOL BUS at that, on hot sunny mornings during summers I was supposed to be off.

Looking back though, I didn't see at the time what my parents were actually doing for me. I didn't appreciate it then. Well, not til my last summer there at Launfall, my fourth consecutive. For some time between the end of my sixth grade semester, and my first day back at camp that year, girls started noticing me. To be fair, I had been noticing girls for years by then. They just hadn't been reciprocating. So after stepping off the bus that first morning, and quickly realizing I was suddenly thrust into the popular crowd, with both the girls and guys, well, let's just say I started liking camp.

I met my first girlfriend that first week, Lauren, and we really hit it off. Neither of us knew what the hell we were doing, what a relationship really was, or love, yet it did feel so right when we held hands and walked and talked around camp. I was still a "prude" at the time. And by prude, I mean, I hadn't kissed a girl with an open mouth and tongue quite yet. In Delaware County, PA back in the 90s at least, being "de-pruded" was extremely significant, a coming of age kinda thing, if you will. It came with bragging rights and invited the envy of all those who hadn't yet experienced it, or the prudes.

And so it was, after a field trip from Launfall to a place called the Family Fun Center, a place that to this day I can't figure out where it was, somewhere in northern Delaware perhaps, I found myself being led hand in hand with Lauren, who being a year older and NOT a prude and therefore much calmer and more excited than I, back behind the roller coaster. I was so nervous. We stopped in a corner by the back fence, and I looked into her piercing blue eyes. Her dark brunette hair down to her shoulders, she looked gorgeous. 


I had this feeling that it was now or never, and closed by eyes and leaned in.

Ironically, I don't even remember the quality. It was probably sloppy, it was definitely awkward, but during it and right after, I was filled with joy and pleasure. I had kissed a girl! I was no longer a prude!

And you better believe I kissed and told, my camp friends, even a few of the cooler younger counselors, and especially my friends back at home, those friends I was once jealous of because they got to sleep in, and do nothing all day. Sure they had their freedom, but I was officially the first and only NON-PRUDE in the whole gang. Suddenly, catching a bus at 8 am for camp wasn't so bad after all. Suddenly, they began waiting for me at the bus stop to come back from camp everyday. They became the jealous ones.

Looking back to my summers at Camp Launfall, where the only thing I had to worry about all day was shooting bows and arrows, horseback riding, what was for lunch, playing basketball, trekking through woods, swimming in creeks and an immaculate in ground pool, playing tennis, going on field trips, and meeting great friends, well, let's just say these were great times I'll never forget, and that they beat working ANY DAY.

Especially that afternoon behind the roller coaster on July 9th, 1997.

Some people say that there is no past or future, only the present. They say to not reminisce or dwell on the past. I agree. Being present minded is ideal of course.

But memories are part of you too. They shaped your present self.

Think about the past all you want, as long as you, like me, aren't sad that it's gone, but happy it happened

Monday, June 29, 2015

West Haven Part II

The seediness of Campbell Avenue, with all its way-too-young mothers pushing baby strollers passed the landlord-neglected storefronts and methadone clinic-bound dudes at the bus stop, is off set completely by the sea salty aroma that invades my senses when I turn right onto Captain Thomas Blvd. and park curbside.

Yeah, it's that time of year again.

A reader of this very blog would know how I discovered West Haven beach, this gem amongst coal, last summer after only about 3 years of living here.

If Connecticut had no coast, boy, it'd be the worst state in the country. This bumps it up to like, third worst.

West Haven is a tough town. If it had to be personified, it would be a 76-year old overly-tanned Italian man rocking a Vietnam POW hat. But this is my summer happy place. I get a beach jog in, a long walk, then I hit the Oyster River Tavern for some raw Blue Points. It doesn't get too much better than this, and not much bothers me on these days.

Of course the numerous broken sea shells surrounding discarded Dunkin coffee cups throughout the sands are annoying, as is the fact that the water is pretty much off limits due to pollution.

What bothers me the most though, is this...

This high-rise erected for West Haven's impoverished and elderly, has windows facing East and West. That ugly old brown wall, likely where the interior elevator or stairwell is located, has the southern view of the Sound.

So in the most economically unequal state in America, you build a publicly-financed housing project for the disadvantaged, a high rise that stands among other tall condos, unaffordable by even West Haven standards, along the coastline on a beach for crying out loud, and you can't even give them a view of the water?!!

To quote Al Pacino's portrayal of Satan, touch but don't taste. Taste, don't swallow.

Poor people just can't get a break, even in this so-called land of Progressivism.


Now I'm gonna go grab some IPAs and oysters.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

From Masterpiece To...Meh!

The car conversations between Detectives Marty Hart and Rust Cole were deep, as they meandered along country roads through the eerie and desolate Louisiana bayous.

Life is a flat circle, and this show is and was pure brilliance.

Nic Pizzolato's best decision though? Aside from the creatively genius use of Ambrose Bearce language within the dialogue and other concepts from old English lit, the use of the particular setting which became a character in itself, and the riveting murder mystery plot that seemed to encompass not only corruption of the police but also the entire Old Money swamp culture, aside from all this, the best thing about this show was its actors. I've always considered Woody as among the best, but who would've thought McConaughey would prove himself as well?

Its fatal flaw though, was another decision, to throw all of this into only eight episodes, and not only that, but to completely end it there.

Myself, not a TV producer in any form, yet this show I believe would've been better suited as a 3, maybe 4 season series focusing on this one case.

Pizzolato had illusions of grandeur, to do something different, something that HBO has never done, and in fact, something no one has done: a TV series that changes completely every season, that changes everything from the characters to even the theme song. And points for that.

I had faith in Season 2, even after it leaked that Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell would lead. But what I saw last week was a shell, a cheap imitation of Season 1. I felt it to be almost the first hour of a Batman movie. There was a bit of who-dun-it entertainment, but that's not what made Season 1 so brilliant. If I wanted entertainment I'd watch Family Guy. HBO is, well was, better than that. The gold standard, usually.

They should've stayed down in that bayou.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Charm City Burning

I'm Philly thick and thin, but Baltimore has a special place in my heart.

I've visited several times before, and so should you.

Baltimore is a fascinating place, it is a City's City, and between it's cobble stone alleyways separating its distinct cookie cutter row homes, and it's posh and beautiful Inner Harbor, it explains America.

From Edgar Allen Poe to Henry Mencken, Babe Ruth to Tupac, Baltimore is American as apple pie.

On one of my visits, back in July 2008, I decided to take the long way down to Montgomery County, MD where my ex girlfriend at the time lived. I chose good old Route 1, the local road which at one time was the only option, before I-95 existed.

It goes right through East Baltimore and West Baltimore as North Avenue, then turns sharply southbound as Monroe Street before veering off to the southwest leaving Charm City in the dust for the western suburbs.

And let me just tell you, at one or two points during this local urban trek, I regretted not taking 95.

Once or twice, admittedly, I was slightly scared.

Maybe it was the rampant hitch hikers, or the emotionless junkies sitting on the benches labeled "Baltimore - The Greatest City in America." Maybe it was the bandana-laden boys on the corners where my car would roll to a stop for just a few tense seconds.

But I got through it no problem. And looking back, I am so grateful I had the opportunity to see all of this. This unnecessarily long trip to my destination was actually the best part of my trip.

For, until this day, Baltimore was, to me, soft shell crabs and hotels on Charles Street and late Spring ball games at Camden Yards.

And surely, Baltimore is this, but also it is that. It is crumbling yet vibrant. Dangerous and safe. But one thing that is constant is its honesty.

What you see is what you get here, and what you get is a living lesson of the unintended and very destructive side of Globalization, and the people who simply refuse to be beaten down and who simply deal with the cards they're dealt. This is Post-Industrial America 101.

And yesterday, today, and for who knows how long after, we all may be witnessing the tipping point, the culmination of decades of neglect and policy failure. The epicenter? Right around that sharp southbound turn at North Avenue and Monroe.

Call it Globalization - Wealth + cheap cell phones with video capability everywhere = well, I'm not really sure what this final product is or will be.

It used to be a running joke what happens to you in the rear of a paddy wagon on the way to the Big House. It used to be accepted that police can get a little emotional with their fists and feet. This has been going on for decades. Complex social factors and the iPhone, however, are changing things whether we like it or not.

Sure, the smashed and burning store fronts will eventually be rebuilt, insurance will pay out, and protesters will eventually get tired and go home.

But calling PEOPLE ANIMALS won't help anything, and neither will pretending that looters stealing toilet paper and flat screens is political dissent.

I think some good will in fact come out of this. Reform will simply have to take place. Police CANNOT shoot people in the back, and teenagers CANNOT die of spinal injuries while in police custody. Period. Real community policing must become the paradigm once again. Neighborhoods deserve better than to be occupied by roving police cars looking for infractions.

I'm already seeing this in my new hometown of New Haven, CT. We're very lucky up here to have an enlightened and forward thinking top brass in the PD, who require all rookies to be paired up in a walking beat throughout the lower-income neighborhoods. You're not going to beat crime from behind a steering wheel. And crime is at record lows here in the Elm City. I'm sure it's way too early to correlate this drop to a new policing style, but I'd venture to say it's more than a big coincidence.

Community policing won't save Baltimore from years of neglect, corruption, police brutality, and a globalised economy that all but shuttered its seaport, and factories, and warehouses, resulting in tens of thousands of good paying jobs lost then replaced by menial minimum wage service sector part time work, at places like the very storefronts and pharmacies which are themselves being burned and destroyed as we speak by the disenfranchised children and grandchildren of a once proud middle class that clocked in at one time at the seaport, and factories, and warehouses.

But it may be a good start.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Real Actual Conspiracy

I'm a newspaper guy, I read the news.

This is not something I even have a choice on, for I need to know what's going on around me.

I need, I crave, the world at all times, I can't even imagine starting the morning without seeing headlines. Fuck coffee. I want Syria. And Russia.

I want to know where Iran stands on the sanctions thrusted upon it. As of this morning.

And how many murders Philadelphia has had as of now, as in right now.

I crave world news, but I NEED local news, and so before the Washington Post, or the New York Times or the Hartford Currant, I go right back to my roots...

My first URL typing is always, followed by, followed by

And so, after a wild drunken night, New Year's Eve Eve, 2010, I skimmed through headlines and noted one, something about a body spilling onto a trash heap from a crane at a landfill in New Castle, DE.

Ok, New Castle, DE. Dead body. Trash. Land fill. Nothing out of the ordinary.

See, if you've ever been to New Castle, DE, well, you'd know what I mean.

The before words, how can I say this, are synonymous with the town.

But within hours I'd find, we'd all find, that this corpse wasn't just any BODY.

This was the body of John Wheeler, and for the many who don't know, a very prominent figure in politics, the very man responsible for the existence of the Vietnam War Memorial in DC. A guy who was CEO of the Security and Exchange Commission, an aide to two Presidents, a war veteran, and a great man. A man who at the time of his untimely death was working for a defense contractor in DC.

A man, so humble, that he chose to ride public transportation from DC to Delaware every work night.

He had a reputation for being witty, he was obviously very intelligent, yet 3 days before his body fell indignantly through the air into a trash heap, Wheeler was witnessed exiting an Amtrak train in Wilmington. Over the next three days, he was encountered by witnesses disoriented, carrying one of his shoes in his hand, walking through parking garages, refusing help, yet asking for it.

And sometime, after this three day excursion, John Wheeler wound up dead in a landfill. Even while the whole time he was seen alive and alone stumbling around Wilmington, DE for days, he was within 1 mile of his home.

The police ruled his death a homicide. The medical examiner determined it was due to blunt force trauma. They even narrowed down the dumpster that his body would've had to come from to end up in that specific landfill to a parking lot in Newark, DE, several miles from Wilmington.

Something does not seem right about all this.

The very fact that you can Google this and the latest news on its behalf is from 2011 bothers me deeply.

I don't typically give conspiracy theories much attention, but there is something sinister about this.

About this very caring and loving man, and an important and prominent one at that.

How he could disappear so easily, from the face of the earth, in these modern times where everything is recorded, where even HE is recorded on live security video two nights before his body shows up in a landfill.

This case is very much open, and very much unsolved.

And yes, it bothers me deeply. Still.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

It snowed yesterday, and yes it's Spring, which made it downright awful.

So it was simply meant to be a lazy day, and I had the intense pleasure of laying around being lazy with one of my favorite people in the world, thus far.

And one of my favorite movies, The Shining, was on Cinemax.

Why, she asked, was this creepy, strange, nonsensical, and horrifying flick one of my favorites?

It didn't take me long to remember why.

It didn't take me long to be brought back to the Autumn of 2003, my freshman year at Shippensburg University in the gorgeous rolling farmland of south central Pennsylvania.


I had good parents, I was raised well. I always was resentful that I had a curfew, back in high school, but then again I am thankful for not being dead or in jail. Like some.

Sure I was told to come home by 11 pm, but besides being given a mere time to come home, I had it good.

I wasn't told to NOT not do many things. Besides being home when I was supposed to, a rule I indeed respected, they were liberal about many things.

Their style was, well, they brought me into this world, but I'm the one that has to live in it. And live and learn I did.

But there was one thing I was always told to never do, to never even think about doing.... it wasn't meth, or coke, or heroin, or sky diving.

All my life, the one thing that not only was frowned upon, but also swept under the rug like it didn't even exist, was the Ouija Board.

They both were adamant about nothing at all, except this one thing.

So obviously, at 19, the second I lived away from home and in the dorms far from any hint of authority, I made this choice.

I spent my free time, which was frequent, drinking, partying, and hanging out at my cousin's and his roommates' off campus residence.

Now before I get into this, before the moments my cousin and I sat across from each other around the coffee table in a dark living room, hands on the Ouija board's planchette, some context...

One of the most relevant conversations in the aforementioned movie is when head chef Dick Halloran is speaking to young Danny Torrance about what it means to "shine," or be psychic, or see ghosts, simply put. And that sometimes, it's not just people who shine, but places also.

This place, in the crisp Autumn of 2003, was a white non-descript single family residence dating back, structurally at least, to the 1600s. It stands along Shippensburg's King Street, aka Route 11. It was there when Civil War brigades passed by on their way to a fateful and bloody battle at Gettysburg.

Its front facade has witnessed American History, and God only knows what its interior walls have seen.

But I'm not ready to believe in haunted houses, or haunted people. I'm not willing to yet believe that things we can't explain, items being moved around, cold spots, bad vibes, etc are necessarily caused by spirits of dead people.

The power of human belief is beyond strong, and there is energy all around us, some of which not yet discovered.

Perhaps what transpired here at 431 E. King Street was a combination of all these factors.

And people, for better or for worse, can be bullshitters.

So before my cousin and I placed our hands down on the planchette, I came up with what I figured was an ingenious method of ensuring the utmost honesty on both our parts. I wanted this one experience to either prove this board game flawed, or prove it what it's advertised as, a gateway into another ominous dimension.

How though, would I know my cousin wasn't moving the planchette? How could he ever know if I was? We would need to test it, so I looked over into the kitchen, noticed a large value pack of bread slices from Giant, opened, with several slices missing, and came up with it.

I asked, with our hands on the planchette, both our eyes closed and intensely focused, how many slices of bread were in that pack over there? I'm sure we could estimate, maybe luckily guess, for it originally contained 36. But I figured an exact answer would be tough for either of us.

So we waited, and waited, and sure enough, eventually, there was slow movement. It was very obvious this thing was moving, whether he was doing it, well, who knows. But I damn sure wasn't.

It went to the number 1, then minutes later, over to 9. Ok, 19.

I quickly got up and ran over to the bread in the kitchen and counted. 27.

I grinned, pretty much relieved that it was wrong.

"Yep, it's bull shit," I declared, walking back into the dark living room.

"27 slices."

And just in that perfect moment, as I descended back down onto my knees on the living room floor in front of the coffee table, we both heard the sound of someone running down the stairs. Knowing full well that no one was home except us, I didn't even have time to look at my cousin's face in sheer terror. I shot up without thinking and ran full speed through the house, the kitchen, and outside.

My cousin was right behind.

The emotion was one part horror, and one part confusion, for someone just ran down the steps towards us, yet no one was in there.

My cousin called his roommate Chris, who was out at a party with the other 4 roommates, and they hurried home. Yep, all four accounted for. No one in the house. This didn't make sense.

They laughed at our story, but of course were intrigued. We went back in and cleared the house. No one, no thing, was in there.

This was the start of many things that happened in that house.

Lights turning on, stereo systems turning on, even the shower turning on, on one occasion. On another, the words "FEARE ME" spelled out in the shower mist on the bathroom mirror. According to my cousin's history professor, this misspelling may have been intentional, for fear was spelled with an "E" in Old English, in the 1600s.

The scariest part about that, though, was the shape of the phrase. Fingers would've left a certain width, yet these letters looked much thinner, like someone or something used a twig to spell it out. It didn't help when Jesse suggested it looked like skeleton fingers.

Although this was all terrifying, it did not keep me out of the house. Call it horrific fascination.

Many weird things transpired there, not the least of which this dark aura in the house. There was an uptick of dumb arguments, even fights, and this very strange feeling that something was in the attic. Hard to explain I know, but it was the same sense you'd feel if you knew there was a rodent trapped in the attic and you simply kept the door shut all the while knowing it was there.

This all culminated one day, when my cousin was on campus studying. Two roommates were at a concert, one was out of town at home, one was working all day. All had alibis.

That evening, John, after brushing his teeth, casually asked my cousin why we switched their beds around.

All of us looked at each other. My cousin knew that no one switched their beds, which were next to each other in a shared bed room. John's was a large metal frame, my cousin's, a heavy wood sleigh bed.

We hurried upstairs, and in dumb disbelief, saw it for ourselves. This would've been a process, disassembling each bed, re assembling both on the opposite side of the room. This would've taken time, lots of effort, and more than one person.

We were all once again terrified and confused, for no one, none of us moved these two beds, yet someone apparently did.

And this is where it ended.

After this, nothing odd ever happened there. The house was quiet once again. A sense of normalcy restored.

But none of us will ever forget this experience.

It was one of those events in your life that changes things, that puts things in perspective.

That makes you believe in something.

Do I believe in ghosts, or spirits, or The Shining?

Well, I don't really know.

But now it's sure hard not to.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The antics of Corey Matthews and Shawn Hunter were always subdued and brought back to reason by Principal Mr. Feeney, and occasionally teacher Mr. Turner.

If you don't know, I'm talking about four characters in a popular sitcom that took place in Philadelphia, PA, in a Philadelphia school, in a Philadelphia neighborhood.

Except No, and No, and Not At All.

The show, "Boy Meets World," was a great show.

I watched it, back in the Mid to Late 90s. But even as a 9-year old, I could see past the BS. I could see that not only was this show not even filmed anywhere near Philly, but also that the producers couldn't care less about even pretending they knew anything about My City.

By sheer observance, I deduce that popular culture excludes authenticity. Trust me, I know, as does any other 80s baby born and raised in Philly, or Cleveland, or East St. Louis.

Then we get this network tv series Boy Meets World, about a Philadelphia kid, except it's not actually in Philly. There is no accent, or dialect, or reference to anything in My City. Even the outdoor shot of the house made it clear: this show is about two children growing up, and arbitrarily, we chose the 5th most populous city in the US as the backdrop.

The real backdrop? Well, a studio in Burbank, California or NYC, obviously.

You see, Philly gets no love.

Even when we do, it's not accurate. Even the Netflix series "House of Cards" bungled it, and they have arguably much more leeway than even HBO. Really? A Congressman named Peter Russo, who has not even a hint of a Philly accent, even though he's from South Philly? And his union boy constituents sound more like they're from Brooklyn. And the outside scenes of his Philadelphia homecoming are literally filmed in Baltimore.

But hey, I'm used to all this.

Like weathermen and...weatherwomen, who are told to lose everything they hold sacred, up to and including especially the way they talk so that everyone in this country can feel comfortable hearing a person whether black or white or Asian tell them about the tornado about the wipe out their entire town or the sleet that may inconvenience them in their morning commute in a dialect that's...COMFORTABLE?

Enter The Wire. HBO. 2002.

Sure it takes place in Baltimore, Maryland, missing My City by about 90 miles give or take, but for once we get honesty. On tv.

For once we get a show ABOUT the Outliers, and FOR the Outliers, instead of business as usual...Shows, broadcasts, podcasts, dramas, comedies, documentaries, mockumentaries, movies, about the INSIDERS FOR THE INSIDERS.

David Simon took a huge gamble with this. This concept, of writing for and about a small sliver of the American Experiment, in the hopes that the Mainstream would and could eventually catch on, had never been done before.

And rarely has been done since.

Until, that is, Breaking Bad, and its genius little brother Better Call Saul.

My litmus test for good tv is when you are not only watching actors play characters, but also when the Setting becomes a character in itself.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Tune in to AMC, Mondays at 10p.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


The term, in quotes, is literally the extreme opposite of the before picture.

US President Warren G. Harding invented it, literally, out of thin air, in a campaign speech back in 1920.

My only thought is, how wasn't there an adjective for decency, simplicity, NORMALNESS, until 19 F'N 20!!!???

Meanwhile, a couple of hours ago, 47 US Senators, all of whom GOP (obviously), sent a letter to Iran, you know, our arch Nemesis, stating that essentially no matter what kinda nuclear deal is reached with our country, well it won't matter.

Because YOU, Iran, are forever our enemy, and we, well, our politics are very complicated. For any sort of deal met with the Obama administration could easily be derailed down the road because, you know, CONGRESS.

Even though you, IRAN, believe in science, and progress, and not burning people alive, and not beheading innocent people, and having political boundaries, and a relevant governmental state, and rejecting the idea that these times we live in aren't End Times and therefore maybe also believing in the fact that people in general just want to wake up tomorrow, eat breakfast, go to work, and have consensual sex.

Sure you adhere to Shia Islam, and no doubt stomaching the idea of Israel is difficult for you, but atleast you aren't trying to hold Civilization hostage by brutally slaughtering innocent people and instilling fear by posting disgusting atrocities on YouTube so that you can secure an unofficial state around modern day Dabiq, Syria solely because you pick and choose an obscure passage from the Qur'an in the hopes of inciting a Holy War to occur that you think will provoke the Prophet to come down and conduct Judgement Day when in reality you will just get your asses kicked with no help from any Prophet.

Wait, why are we still enemies, again?

I'm talking to you too, Russia, and China. Venezuela, and Cuba.

AT LEAST y'all reside in the realm of Normalcy.

Let's put aside our petty economic, political, and other stupid idelogical differences so we can unite to fight off and beat back the ABNORMALCY.

We are not living in End Times people! This is not a Holy War.

It is simply one of the World's many battles, it isn't the first, and it sure as hell won't be the last.

But it has never been clearer who the Good Guys and the Bad Guys are...

Personally, I usually adhere to the whole Grey Areas Theory of life, but this is one thing that has got to be Black and White.

It is Normal VS Abnormal.

Whose side are you on?

I'll make it easy: who do you sympathize with in the picture? The masked man in literally a black robe slicing the throat of a a chained unarmed man in orange, or, the man in......

Well you get the picture.

Pun intended.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Moving Day

They say tonight may very well be the coldest night in, like, a long time. Negative 11 will be the low. Not the wind chill, not what it "feels like," but actually, literally, legitimately, eleven. Degrees.

And what an appropriate night for this frozen absurdity.

A shot of Irish whiskey, Clontarff, for my last night living here in this luxury apartment in Westville Village. I've been here since October 2013. Wow. Time indeed does fly.

I signed an extra long lease to get an extra sweet deal on this spacious two bedroom two full bathroom 20 foot ceiling top floor nothing included parking costs penthouse. I was a different person back on that warm Autumn day when I signed up for it.

It was a steal, and let me just tell you, I've had many memories here, all of which amazing. Many things have changed since, and all for the better.

When I was much younger, I used to tell my father, after a fun birthday party, or a sleepover at a friend's, or a boy scout camping trip, that "I'm gonna miss this day, dad."

It would take me awhile, years even, to finally realize that there is no point in missing any day, because many even better days await.

I'm moving to a different neighborhood tomorrow. Two miles away. I told myself I'd never leave Westville. But yes Delaney's burned down and still ceases to exist. Yes I'm saying a bar determined where I prefer to live, yes I'm comfortable admitting that, but no, I'm not gonna sit around and wait for a place I had many great memories at to be once again erected. If it even does come back, well, it won't ever be the same.

And I'm cool with that. It is, to me, the past.

All that ever matters is, The Now.

My last night here in Westville Village is bittersweet.

But I'm looking forward to new memories, for far greater days are ahead.

Oh, and the $500 I'll be saving in monthly rent is pretty awesome too.


Friday, February 13, 2015

What's The Difference?

Well I didn't know then, but I do know now.


It was just under 15 years ago, the last time a political convention took place in Philly. It was the Republican convention. I know, because I was there. I worked a summer job, the first of many, in Center City. 1601 Market Street to be exact.

I asked my father, why, on my first day walking through the glass revolving doors, were there red white and blue banners hanging from the ceiling.

"It's the Republican Convention," he replied.

Like I knew what the hell that even meant.

For me, the Summer of 2000 would be amazing. My job was basically a courier. I got to hand deliver envelopes and very small packages to various law firms all day long. The most thinking required was to remember what street Wolf Block was on, or Schneider Harrison, or what stop on the El the Curtis Center was, or which food cart had the best cheesesteak (Louie's on 17th between Market and JFK Blvd., obviously). The best part, I got to walk around the streets of the Greatest City in the World and interact with the hottest secretaries ALL. DAY. LONG.

The soundtrack of this first summer experience was Dr. Dre's "What's The Difference." It was off probably one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. Just a few months prior in the hallways and bathrooms of Monsignor Bonner High School one Kevin Orsbourne was hawking the boot legs of said CD, The Chronic 2001.

I'm reminded of all this, because for the second time in recent history, a major political convention is once again taking place in my City of Brotherly Love.

This time though? It's the Democrats.

As a courier of important documents and packages and other shit back in that sweltering summer of 2000, I witnessed craziness. I saw people in the streets getting beat up by cops, arrested, cuffed, kicked. I saw civil disobedience. I saw police restraint, and I saw police brutality. We cracked jokes in the mail room about the dirty smelly protesters. All this meant to me, as a nearly 16-year old, was inconvenience. For my El ride was slightly longer. Or I had to take a longer walking route due to a picket line.

I didn't know, at the time, what the difference was, if any, between what was meant of the signs that read "Bush-Cheney" and the signs that read "Gore-Lieberman."

But if I knew then what I know now, I'd have said fuck it and drop kicked that package I was holding and jumped into that protesting mess.

Ignorance Confronted

Two days ago, I found myself laying back in a reclining chair, mouth wide open, with a man and a woman hovering over me, inches from my face.

It was definitely the only situation where this would be completely appropriate, for the man was my dentist, and the woman my hygienist.

About 15 minutes into this cavity filling extravaganza, the hygienist, an attractive older blonde lady with an Australian accent, had to go there AGAIN.

You see, the relationship between patient and dentist is, and should be, an extremely impersonal one. You go in, get out, and maybe make some small talk in between.

But this lady, for the second time, the first time being my biannual routine cleaning, made a casual racist comment.

Between the professional medical lingo her and the dentist had been making while working on my tooth, she slipped in...

"Ya know, Canada is going to be starting to deny Muslims entry into their country. That's very smart."

Now, in a bar setting, I'd have actually enjoyed schooling her.

I could've stated some facts, like how there's two kinds of Muslims in the world, and numerous sects. Or that 99% of them AREN'T terrorists. Or that in order to defeat the bad ones we're gonna need the good ones in on it and that talk like that won't help.

But sitting there, my numb jaw locked in the open position, I was powerless.

And she, no doubt, is entirely entitled to her opinions.

It wasn't necessarily the comment that bothered me. It was the fact that because myself, the doctor, and her happen to be white, she just assumed that I'm part of the club, the elite Good Ol' Boys & Girls Club, and that even if I may not totally agree with her, well hey, she can get away with it.

We have a big tent, us white people, yet many campers.

And ignorance must be confronted.

Sitting in that dentist chair, I wasn't even in the slightest position for any type of confronting, schooling, informing, etc.

But I'll tell you what I would've done, in fact, what I have done, to educate the ignorant. And it doesn't have to be harsh or even assertive.

I find that shaming works best.

A few months ago, I arrived home and parked in my normal spot in the parking garage. It was late.

A young Italian guy who lives on my floor who I've run into randomly was parking his Audi a few spots away at the same time. We both got out and headed for the elevator lobby. He smiled and nodded and held the door for me. I nodded back.

"How bout the entrance gate being broken again. This fucking place," he said.

I shook my head in disgust and agreement.

"Not that it's safe here anyway," he said. "Dude the other night, this time, I was walking to the elevator, some fucking nigger was walking right towards me. I pulled up my shirt, luckily had my gun in my waist band. The stupid fuck turned and ran away!"

I unlocked my mailbox to retrieve the mail, turned to him, and said...

"Yeah, my girlfriend's black."

It was at the perfect moment too, as the elevator beeped and its doors swung open.

I shot a quick glance at him as I brushed passed him to board the elevator.

He face was contorted in a mixture of embarrassment and confusion.

He slowly entered into the elevator with me, and we rode in the most hilariously awkward silence ever to our fourth floor.

After what probably seemed like hours to him, the doors opened and we got off. And as we turned in opposite directions to go down our respective hallways, I said...

"And you have a good night man."

He stopped in his tracks for a split second, said nothing, then quickly headed down the hallway.

And THAT is the best way to confront ignorance, racism, and downright stupidity.

Go ahead, try it. Hell, make it up, like I did. Tell 'em your wife is Muslim, or your adopted brother is black or your father's gay, whatever!

When you do this, it immediately puts the ball in their court, it's the perfect "Check, your move" scenario. And they have only two options: try and squirm out of it by some awkward explanation or say nothing.

My dental hygienist and this guy on my floor need to understand that the world is larger now, and getting more diverse by the second. You simply don't know who you're talking to.

You have the right to be a racist ass hole, but you do not have the right to not be shamed.

Friday, February 6, 2015

"You ever notice that the guys who do that, the Blairs, the Glasses, the Kelley's, they all start with something small, ya know. Just a little quote that they clean up. And then it's a whole anecdote. And pretty soon they're seeing some amazing shit. They're the lucky ones who just happen to be standing on the right street corner in Tel Aviv when the pizza joint blows up and the human head rolls down the street with the eyes still blinking!"  - Gus Haynes, The Wire

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Always an excuse to have one...

It ain't Movember no more.

No, and it never was that, for me at least.

And for a few select co workers, who shall not be named.

Long ago, in like 2011, we assumed it, at the time, to be SeptemBEARD.

Followed by, BEARDtober. And NovemBEARD. DecemBEARD. BEARDuary.

Happy BEARDbruary 1st.

Do you know where YOUR beard is?

Because I know where mine is...

And the next month is the rebirth, the return of Spring.


March of the Beards.

Monday, January 26, 2015


10:20 am

This great white behemoth named Colbie is set to bombard the Northeast in a matter of hours. And this is the calm before the storm.

I made, definitely, my last trip out for the day and perhaps a few days this morning for last minute supplies, but I'm not talking about milk and eggs. I found myself in the checkout line of Amity Liquor with a sixer of Stone IPA and a big ol' bottle of Ireland's finest, Clontarff Whiskey.

Small talking with the cute cashier, I asked if they were gonna be closing early so they could get home responsibly.

She replied, "Not until customers stop coming in, when it hits, but we'll all be dead by then anyway."

I chuckled, yet she did not. She didn't even crack a smirk.

 11:36 am

I'm calling it now as B.S.

Every first snow storm of the year is overblown. Every first snow storm disappoints. Then, IF there are any more blizzards that follow, well, the news media strikes a more guarded tone. This happens EVERY year, and we never learn.

But let's be honest...we all love it.

The grocery store owners love it because their profits triple over the two preceding days, midYeTdle school students love it for obvious reasons, and politicians love it because they get press conferences, news quotes, and in turn, major poll bumps.

Who knows though, this could be it.

But I'm not holding my breath.

 2:30 pm

 2:26 am

Ok, I'm ready to admit, it is finally looking to be a bit ominous.

You might not can't see it, but walking from building 3 to my building, it was kinda treacherous. Even though this complex has covered parking, well somehow the cars were covered... in snow.

Ok, update, as of 9am this Colbie, who is one weak ass dude, is nothing but blustery snowflakes.

Yes I was right. B.S.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Sweet Lord

I truly think that the life of Jesus Christ, aka Yeshua bar Yosef has been so misconstrued by idiotic people, that they forget a lot of factors about this man.

For one, he was brown. And worse, Middle Eastern.

His jet black hair was long and curly and flowing.

He not only gave a shit about the poor, the hungry, the developmentally disabled, he also chose to live among them.

In fact, one of the many things He actually said was...

HAPPY are the poor, for they shall inherit the land.

The Beatitudes.

I'm pretty sure that most of those who claim to love him, wouldn't even recognize him, and even if they truly came across him, they'd blink twice and he'd be gone.

You've been praying to a blonde haired blue eyed Italian Renaissance figurine. Who is on the side of the Pharisees, and money changers, and anyone else who would rather the poor suffer than the stock points of one hedge fund manager go down one fraction of a point.

And thou shall worship no false idols!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

RecyClean Plastics, LLC

I had called my father's cousin, Jimmy, an influential guy, at the time for a job. I was washing cars at Enterprise for $9 an hour, and I had just graduated with my B.S. in Criminal Justice. I knew I was underpaid. Shit, I had my degree. But this is the Summer of 2007, a little over a year before I wouldn't have been underpaid. That a degree wouldn't mean shit.

And so I made the call, and found myself driving 25 minutes south to the Wilmington, DE seaport.

I found myself in a job I'd never imagined even existed.

Once a month, a truck would dock and unload about 30 boxes, each weighing give or take 900lbs of CDs. As in compact disks. And their cases. Albums that no one gave a shit about like Steely Dan, Silverchair, Alanis Morisette, and Ricky Martin. These CDs all came from Asia, and our job was to literally crush it up and sell it back to Asia to make...


And my father's cousin Jimmy told me, before I drove down to that wretched part of the American Midatlantic coast line known as New Castle, Delaware, that there'd be, and I quote, "management potential." And this is way before I could easily detect a lie.

And let me just tell you what management potential looked like. It looked like three dudes in a hot warehouse, one guy shoveled the CDs from a top a large machine and onto a conveyer belt, literally with a rake, and into a furious feeder chopper machine that grinded all the stupid Michael Boltons and John Denvers into fine powder. The next guy would put that fine powder through a complex chemical process which in theory would turn it all back to plastic. The third man, he'd sort it all, making sure the final product was nothing but white, and hence pure plastic.

To sell back to Asian countries.

And I was the rake guy.

And this is all fact. Trust me, as a quarter decent writer, I couldn't even attempt to make this up.

It sounds like simple arithmetic, yet it is not. For between the science of it all, lies the art. I won't bore you with details of everyday warehouse norms and etiquette. I'm the last guy to go to with questions about industrial chemistry. Yet I became, slowly, good at all this.

I got nice with the fork lift. I knew exactly the weight of a large thick cardboard box filled with nothing but CD dust just by eyein' it up. I learned to not only accept that hookers would approach the driver's side of my car at the McDonald's on Route 13 but also how to talk to them without being standoffish.

I learned, I grew, from this stupid and mistaken experience.

Whatever you are, be a good one, said some old 1700s dude with a Whig.

I thank my father's cousin, Jimmy.


What, am I, are we, supposed to give a shit about the death of America's biggest ally?

America's biggest ally in the Middle East?

A pompous aristocrat, a self titled King, by only bloodline?

Who ruled by religious coercion?

Is this not the only reason America was formed, to escape persecution from the King of England?

This arrogant and filthy rich mother fucker, selling us the very life blood of our economy.

Who condones the stoning of adulterers,

Who punishes women who drive cars in public, with stoning,

Who lives in a country where stoning isn't even the worst punishment


Yeah, officially it's beheading...


A country that metes out 1,000 lashes to bloggers who merely satirize the Establishment

Aka, this King who just died.

A King, a country, that is literally building a wall on their northern border,

To keep out the likes of ISIS, and al-Qaeda, from infiltrating,

To stop these evil groups from entering their kingdom

Groups that carry out public beheadings, stoning women, and lashing bloggers

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hard Hittin'

If I believed in hash tags and didn't think they were dumb, this would be called...


This is the north end of Hard Hittin' New Britain, arguably Connecticut's most troubled and blighted city, on this abundantly sunny and unseasonably mild January morning.

Hard Hittin' New Britain. But there is nothing "new" about this place. And there is nothing here that in any way resembles the U.K.

The uniform here is flannel or earth toned jackets over hooded sweat shirts. Their faces, grizzled and rough. Shopping carts are being pushed up and down the streets, though the only grocery store nearby, not counting the several corner bodegas, has been boarded up for years now.

This is a town where rooftop satellite dishes outnumber vehicles manufactured after 2002. This is New England's Detroit. I'm not here to carry out spiteful jabs though. This is a tragedy, is what it is.

Even Detroit has name recognition, and some fame to it. Baltimore has The Wire, The Orioles, and crabs. D.C.'s worst ghettos still have the dome of the Capitol in their view. And Oakland, California is lined with palm trees.

But New Britain, Connecticut is truly neglected, and worse than even forgotten...Never even thought of.

I was going to go on and on about the economic and sociological forces contributing over the years to this current mess, but I'll let you take it how you want to.

Know though, that Connecticut is not Greenwich or Mystic seaport, or hedge fund managers or yachts.

It is this.

Yet in the midst of all the Post-Industrial Age despair.....

Hope, small as it may be, glimmers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Good, The Bad, & The Straight Evil

While Charlie Hebdo in France, merely days after the recent terrorist attack carried out by ignorant savages, was literally selling out their magazine, Hezbollah had their own words.

A spokesperson for the organization, you know, the less radical more organized bureaucracy-styled wing of militant Islam, literally said that Charlie Hebdo's satirical publications are "offensive to the feelings" of the world's Muslims. Oh, and that they actually cause terrorism to happen.

The equivalent of a 4-year old crying because well, his feelings are hurt, and he wants his way, or else. But even a 4-year old knows that names can never hurt them. Only sticks and stones.

I had an art teacher in college who said once, when it comes to art, you do NOT have the right to NOT be offended. I'm pretty sure he didn't coin this phrase. I'm also pretty sure it doesn't just apply to a sculpture of a butt naked David with his shriveled little junk exposed.

No, I believe this phrase is the gist of our very 1st Amendment.

Say what you want about our Founding Fathers, but this thinking is highly advanced, advanced for the 1700s, and advanced for this foul Year of our Lord 2015. It truly is a beautiful concept, and it is universal only in Western culture. That much is obvious, when a small sliver of a religion kills and maims over or condones killing and maiming over perceived theocratic offenses, offenses which aren't even punishable in their actual scripture.

This world is tough, and you must not dwell over the petty because it will consume you. That is what the enlightened drafters of the 1st Amendment had in mind, that is why mothers teach their 4-year olds that very song before they are unleashed into the cruel and unforgiving schoolyard. The world, is not, for the thin skinned.

The world can be a cold dark place. Yet ironically, religious extremists are making it colder and darker, because they are so thin skinned.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"The darkness drops again, but now I know,
That twenty centuries of stony sleep,
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"


Some people in my life question why, oh why in the world, how could I possibly enjoy watching The Wire, the First 48, True Detective. It's just, so dark!

Or why I chose the educational path of Criminal Justice. How could I have possibly enjoyed the summer of 2006, interning with the C.I.D. Homicide Unit?

Well, I'd say, for slightly the same reason I cherish the above poem, the given excerpt being the tail end of an amazing poem by a fellow Irish brethren, William Butler Yeats.

For as dark as this poem can seem, it gives me great comfort.

Immaculate words, captured by the immortal pen, in the year 1919, written for and during the despair and utter hopelessness of World War I, a time when no one could be certain of no thing.

The words are written proof, that even though now we think that in 2015, the world is going to shit, well, the world will be just fine.

For if it didn't happen then, and what better time for it, the Apocalypse, then when exactly will it happen?


This poem stands as proof, that every single generation leading up to it, and every single generation following it, thinks, or knows, that this is it. That these people are a new breed. That these are end times.

Yet the world continues to turn.

And yeah. It gives me great comfort.

Charlie Hebdo

"I reached for the stars but I just kept slippin,
On this life mission never know what's next,
Ancient kings from Egypt up to Julius Caesar,
Had a piece of the globe, every continent"

I just watched the video clip of an innocent unarmed person, agonizing on the sidewalk of some avenue in Paris, France, after already having been shot once, being shot again in the head. By a Muslim extremist. In broad day light. Simply for being there, at the wrong place at the wrong time in front of the headquarters of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

And I didn't want to watch it.

I never give in to the satisfactional curiosity that comes with the everyday atrocities that plague this planet, in 2015 just as it has in 1715, and 1015, and 33 AD.

Only difference now is that it is all caught on video.

The Revolution, it turns out, will in fact be televised.

No, I don't want to give these clips the time of day. Not back in 2004 when Zarqawi in Iraq was decapitating unfortunate heads, not this past summer when ISIS was doing the same, and not now, for damn sure.

My cousin had sent me the link to watch it, a few days ago, and tonight after a few beers I complied.

What I saw, was plain and simple, casual murder.

The assasination of 12 people at that, 12 people whose job it was to poke fun at hypocrisy, and whether that hypocrisy happened to be carried out by white, black, Christian or Islam, didn't matter. They were the modern day court jesters, professionals who by my own knowledge, had immunity from persecution EVEN back in 1715, 1015, etc. People who were allowed to poke and prod at religion, or the establishment class, or anyone who could and should deserve poking and prodding.

Even in the eras of tyrannical kings, these court jesters got away with it, with using humor to satirize the rulers of the world.

There is but a small fraction of a decimal of people in the world who will kill over or condone the killing of those they are simply offended by.

And nowhere in the Qur'an does THE WORD "blasphemy" even appear.

Nowhere in the Qur'an does it state that showing the image of The Prophet requires a death sentence.

These are extreme views adopted by extreme politicians in Middle Eastern lands where inequality brews like the magma of an undiscovered underground volcano.

It will take a lot to not blame an entire religion for the evils of a select few. In fact, one cannot even be blamed for doing so. In this day and time, a Westerner has almost permission to do so, to wish death upon these evil doers.

But are we not more than that? Are we not better than that? We are all human beings, living miracles. Everyday. If you are reading this, if you even can read, then you are spectacular. We are all made of chemicals and ions and energy from the solar system surrounding us. And each microscopic little cell in our body, and this is no accident, resembles it.

How then, could we ever separate ourselves by sect, by nation, by RELIGION, by flag, by creed, by currency?

Please, know this before you give up the faith...

WE are the 95%. And ISIS, the Charlie Hebdo killers, al-Qaeda, The KKK, Boko Haram, and every other sad sap who can't deal with their problems without coercion, intimidation, and murder...

They are the outliers.

And consensus is the most powerful weapon.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Watcher

(A much smarter person than I, once said, that every time he says something, he feels a presence in the room watching. This presence, he called, is The Watcher. The Watcher is not God, or even God-like, but more so simply another entity, some other spirit that happens to be in the same room as he brags, and tells stories, and speaks of otherwise everyday humanness. The Watcher NEVER judges. The Watcher is just there, watching what you say, and do, and act like. Oh shit, an invisible entity, present at all times, hoping for your betterment. Call me religious I suppose)

See years ago, for better or for worse, I looked at shit differently.

It was then that I saw, life as it truly was.

If you dwell on the past too much, you're depressed.

And if you only think about the future, you're anxious.

But, and I can't stress this enough,

There is now, and always was, and always will be,

Just Now.

Just live for it,

It is the only thing that is real,

Now is what is Biblical,

Now is you are happy and well and young and free and patient and glad and truthful and lean and monstrous and hopeful and sufferin from glee

Now is what no one understands

Unless they can see

The death of close friends, the War in Iraq,

The fact that Now passes so quickly intact,

If you don't smell the roses in the hills of despair

In the valleys of death

Try selling Now to the ones who smell Satan's foul breath

Just live for the moment, the second the minute

Easier said than done,

But my friend you are in it.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Two Haircuts/One Day

Like dead cow parts in the refrigerated back room of a supermarket, I got butchered.

Oh yeah.

I mean, look at that! I stopped at my normal barber Tuesday after work, and I asked He Who Shall Not Be Named for my normal fade. What I got though, well, I'm not really sure what it is. Shit, there's a goddam bald spot! I've been there 5 or so times in the past year. Dude only charges $12, unheard of any more.

And I didn't even see it til I got home. He showed it to me in the hand mirror just prior to getting off the chair and it looked ok. Guess it was the lighting.

But when I saw it, I was mortified.

Call me vain as hell, but I couldn't even go to the gym, as planned, looking like this. Shit, I couldn't even go to bed with that atrocity on top of my head. I needed to get this fixed. But it was 5pm. Most barbers are closed at this time. I decided to hurry over to my Jamaican friends at Top Cut on Whalley Ave.

I went there once, two years ago. I got one of the tightest most precise-ist fades ever.

My man Mark hooked it up.

I ran in, frantically, ripped off my gray Polo knit hat and yelled out to Mark, as he stood there clipping the hair of some dude, and the other barber.

"Can you guys FIX THIS!?"

The other barber cringed in horror, I could see it in his eyes.

Mark said, "Of course ma dude. Might be awhile ya!?"

And there I sat, but 15 minutes later, the other barber, whose name by the way is Dave, called me to the chair, and within 10 minutes, magic happened.

In the hair stylist battle between the Old Italians and the Young Jamaicans, well, I think we all know who wins that one.