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