Thursday, December 31, 2009

Honesty’s So Rare It Now Seems Misleading

In motion, there’s the desire to do anything. To think about what could’ve been and what was…….what’s coming and where it ends……through passing cracks in the road below your pace, these things grow.

It’s winter. Lungs are filling with icy air every cold minute you spend moving. Shutters shoot through your legs as your arms reach out for whatever’s ahead. Whatever’s ahead is unknown, for nothing but the sun, tapping on your forehead through leafless passing trees, can know its course. You think back to your approach, who you’ve trusted, and why for some reason you’d thought they were normal; everyone thinks they’re normal. Your life’s going, but do you desperately need to know where?

A good catch, almost everyone around you is….and they’re right for thinking so. If you yourself don’t believe it, no one will. Just do what you feel is you, and some people will love you for it and others will fake it. And you watch, their own life’s chapters will play out like some Shakespearean tragedy. Their motives??? Welp, we know one thing…..they’re always burrowed in a foundation teaming with personal inadequacy…..a stew’s ingredients labeled two scolding parts selfish, one distilled part jealousy, and a curdled ladle of karma. An otherwise atrocious little meal, but something I’d devour with anyone who goes the opposite way towards logic. Let’s pick up the brush and reveal their story for it’s so easy to depict. Everything’s clear when clearing your head.

We’ll look at their actions, or lack thereof, and breakdown how they operate. They blatantly own an emptiness they can’t stomach admitting, nor believe is visible in the way they dress, speak or act. Each latches onto their persona as if completely different from the people they surround themselves with; inherently disregarding the reason they surround themselves with these people. Believing somehow that they’re better because their theory of independence means doing what they want, when really we know they’re doing what anyone they think is cooler’s doing. They’re too busy for anyone but themselves. Always starting the conversation, but never finishing it. Pointing out their accomplishments for reassurance, and evaporating nobility in humbleness. Brightening the light on others’ indiscretions without ever stepping out of the shadows. They’re kept up on the latest, the earliest. They’re friends with everyone, but no one’s really friends with them. They perform when trying to act nonchalant. The less attention they receive, the more they desire. The more they reveal, the less they’re willing to compromise. They think that someone else’s disinterest in them is actually a quality rather than a red flag; an aura of mystery and a challenge to conquer rather than noticing they’re staring at someone with little talent or personality. They put down your facts for they’ve not known the truth, and that can’t be. Disgust in their own ignorance is impossible and blame must fall on the warmest body. Commit til bored. Approve of mistakes when recyclable for leverage. Stare and judge, but accept no judgment. Always need and expect the best, but pack nothing but the ability to bring out their worst in you.

Whether posers, losers, fake or obnoxious, there's no doubt these people are in your way. I say, just fucking steamroll 'em. Be better and more valuable to this place. Offer more insight and thought to any conversation you can, and listen where you can’t. Add constructive advice where your experience has been similar, but don’t offer anything when it’s not your business at all. Find what you love doing and put its perfection at a close distance....if you do it long enough, you might become a guru, but if you don’t, you’ll still love doing it and never burn out the passion.

Don’t worry what other people around you are doing….you’ll drive yourself mad. You have no clue where their life’s headed. We all have 80 years at best….where are they gonna be at the end of those years that you won’t? All that’ll matter by then is health and family. If life should come down to one thing, it’s those you love right, and they unto you. Did you ever care that your grandparents weren’t millionaires? You loved them, and that’s it. Did you ever care that your parents weren’t millionaires? You loved them, and that’s what you knew. Will you, as a mother or father, be any different in anyone’s eyes to which these things matter? It’s within yourself that you must be comfortable with your position, your progress, your life …..and the many cracks you trot past. Like rings in trees, we wear these cracks like layers inside us…not on the outside. That’s for them; for anyone that still hasn’t thrown their sense of entitlement and ego out the door. But some day they will…..they’ll get it. They’ll grow up, shake off the façade they’ve held so close……and finally just start moving.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Wishes from a Non-Traditional Angle

I think the holidays change for everyone, and by that I mean, the feeling about them. It all highly depends on the timing within one’s life. Its overall meaning as a tradition hasn’t changed, nor has the reasoning to stay consistent within such a pattern, but it comes down to what you’re expecting to get out of it, rather than what you’re putting into it. If heavily skewed towards the latter, you’ll definitely be peaches and cream, happy as a clam, (__Mad Lib joyful analogous cliché____). People should also be aware that there’s nothing wrong with a paradigm shift in the normally chipper clarity achieved through such holidays. In fact, life comes in cycles and those highs and lows will fluctuate just the same as everyday chapters reveal themselves within new grandchildren, children, marriage, jobs, goals, relationships and friends. Although there isn’t much low in this time of year, I’d wager there’s many that are trying to discover the uptick from the bottom of their cycle. As I say too many; life will go on. If you can grind on down to the essentials of this time, you might actually appreciate the strength in its foundation; roots you could never tear materially.

There’s obviously a transition we make; a day where our efforts become valiant, tacitly for the appreciation of youths, their impression of this time of year and why it should always be continued. So we should, and always will, continue it. For its personally fun to see their faces, and there’s an underlying beauty in being giddy for what you give someone. There’s nothing you can take away from this time that won’t be your companion to thought. We unconsciously work hard to remember the good and take positive aspects from our experience as lessons learned. In turn we grow, and in that expansion of ourselves…..the holidays, traditions, the days spent rising to the occasion and putting in the effort to make it the best you can, rather than expecting the world…….in those we then become our best….no matter where we are in our lives.

Have yourself an unbelievable time these next few weeks….whether its simple, creative, labored or invigorating….take it all in, for it’s been something that has made your life undoubtedly better, and shall forever, for those you will it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Soldier's Plight....of which I make assumptions

The number of suicides amongst our armed forces is racking the public conscience; and it should. There’ve been over 140 active soldiers and something like 71 inactive ones, already this year (said the AP). As all statistics are, they’re better understood when compared to what’s common, perhaps what the numbers were in previous years, or not during wartime; but death no matter what, shouldn’t be a comparison. But that’s also not my point. The first number doesn’t bother me as much as the second.

A soldier’s sitting in the backyard at a barbecue. He’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt; blending back into society as we know it. Months earlier everyone feared for his life, respecting and missing him at the same time. They’re so glad the wait’s over cause he’s there now; sharing stares and a mutual drink. Mutual though, his happiness lingers beyond reach.

When you survive the denial of resources that make life easy, you learn you can live without them. You’re stronger, different, and less dependent because you did. How many people can say they fought exhaustion amongst starry nights to protect twenty sleeping men from an ambush? How many men can understand the scope of that task? Most of them never achieved such purpose in their lives, nor been given such massive responsibility back home. To ponder the idea of why some men survive, yet friends of theirs die....these things never leave. How many can come home to a life so simple, and not resent those around them; taking life for granted for the straight-and-narrow path has always just been.

Home isn’t so warm to someone without opportunity. Not every soldier’s jumping into a job on the Trading Desk at Goldman or spec'ing out blueprints as an Engineer for Boeing. Imagine the internal struggle when one day you’re holding a rifle, killing potential terrorists, saving lives and serving your country, and the next, you’re holding a spatula getting scolded by your more educated, younger boss.

I don’t know how many of us need motion in life. Craving direction or having a goal is important; monotony otherwise gets to be too much. In battle, you’re a hero. You’re the ultimate man; a survivor and a fighter. The distant comfort of family keeps you strong and mentally driven, for they need you back, and you’re doing this as much for them as yourself. As much as you yearn though, for that day back home, and fight to earn it, the minute you’re back, the fear of being regular, average and common.... the thought of never achieving such purpose or elevated respect again, is harder to handle than the drive to live.

What happens when a man’s most defining moment comes too early in life? I have to believe that struggle is what makes for the largest percent of the 71.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Five Year Itch (Ladies, don't read this one, you won't like it...and it's mainly b/c I don't date guys)

Some women get it out of their system in college, but that's because they didn’t have anyone. No guy to keep them from partying and hooking up so much that they eventually got over it. If it's in men, then I must've blew through it years ago. Even I was locked down during college but never felt this undying need for independence. And that was a relationship from second semester of Freshman year all the way through. Maybe I got a enough ass prior to college, to keep me happy. To me, p****, is p****, is P****...gorgeous thing, and I love it, but let's be honest...there's a million more things a girl needs to make herself appealing. It's amongst the search for these things that it all starts to get ugly.....nothing labial about it. The ugliness comes into play when a woman....I digress.....a girl.....doesn’t have enough time to herself. Time to herself...meaning....time to be go down on other experiment with girls, to drink their face off and dance on tables, to have any mother fucker with potent cologne and drenched wet hair grazing up against her just so she knows she's desired. Trust me....if you see a woman at 50 who's still craving it, it's because they got married too early, thought the grass was greener, and now look desperate trying to score a guy for superficial reasons, or just to prove they’ve still got game.

This does not pertain to older generations like our grandparents…that’s a whole other topic dealing more with women’s independence movements, social acceptance with divorce and society, separation during wartime…you name it….so this is relevant to our parents, ourselves, and generations to come. Girls in cities, hate to say it but, the itch is even worse and often longer in duration. The more options they have (i.e. people and entertainment), the more confusion and temptation combine to keep reality from setting in.

Love my mother to death, but she's the best example of having wished she'd seen more of a youthful life. She’d gotten married too early…hadn’t enjoyed being a woman in her twenties, had dated maybe three people before marriage, hadn’t experienced enough fun while young….and ultimately, it led to her obsession with getting divorced. What she did decide to end, now seems to be an overeager and premature decision in the aftermath. I don’t think people are all that different. And I would doubt chemically or emotionally that this wouldn’t need to happen to everyone, therefore, here’s a bit more about why I believe that "need" to be true.

I say it's 5 years because that's really just the length of the age bracket where it seems to happen the most. That does not mean they need 5 straight years of being single, or 5 total years to party and hook-up. From age 22 until about 27, these behaviors are most noticeable. So much change, so much lack of direction, it's by far the most prone time; especially for big city loves, and additionally for anyone who had a long relationship prior. I’m obviously biased. Eager to dissect the chosen paths of those I've loved; watching them firsthand, and analyzing their choices. I've had two serious relationships, each more than 3 years….both of which failed. In hindsight, I see myself unconsciously holding back the girls I was with….they'd proved this the minute they were free from my backyard tent (jk). After that first stint where the girl and I were shacked up in college, we broke up immediately after graduation. I guarantee you know three relationships that ended the exact same way...maybe even yours. In mine, I found out she moved in with two girls and lived for three years, just partying, enjoying herself in a fashion she'd damned to only losers, years prior. She'd point at those girls and despise their dancing on tables and screaming "Sweet Caroline", when really, they were just getting it out of their system earlier than her. There she was, two years later, living in a smaller sorority-style house in the city, enjoying her rightful and well-needed place.

The second relationship I had was different in the sense that you're older but she isn't. It's really the same stage as your previous girlfriend where she's mature when you begin dating but then a total mess with priorities and her own self come age 22. Although it lasted beyond that age, it shouldnt have. I was the circumstance holding back the bird that needed to fly. She’s now doing the exact same thing I mentioned of my previous ex....almost to a T (whatever that expression means). Having seen this already beforehand, it's not even odd to me fact, the progression I now expect of anyone. Although a bird always returns to its home after it sees what the world has to offer, to be at home waiting, well you're just not a man. No one should do unfair....there's nothing too lose when you've lost yourself.

There's no way of taming the method by which to cull and abate what will rise and fall for the best reasons. So keep doing what we all tend to do when faced with sure failure...lose interest completely, remain desensitized and just flow.....for timing and fate does its thing, and there’s no hurt when you just don’t care anymore. What I’m really trying to convey is an awareness, not a bible to live by or a straight defamation of the female character…in fact I think it’s necessary for anyone to go through this, so they don’t end up like my mom, having regrets after 27 years of marriage. I also want people to understand that it’s not something they might’ve done. That it was never in their control to begin with and that they didn't lose it by turning a person off or unintentionally holding them's remaining cognizant that there's this weird time in one's life....for me, it always seems to be within the ages I've mentioned....but really, it's a time where, no matter what you might do, no matter what you might think, or what you might want and expect of someone really just aint gonna happen.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Grape

An old wise philosopher once challenged a town when they professed luck of a young boy’s fate to avoid the draft, while his friend went off to fight. When comparing the circumstances, to most it would seem apparent, but to the old man and the luck of one over the other, he said “we’ll see.”

Disheveled sweats and bloodshot eyes she waited, not for a knight in shining armor but for a hint of comfort to walk through the hospital doors. Her hair was limp and lifeless along with her posture. The future couldn’t possibly hold happiness; no rainbow to follow the storm rolling in. Your body can only be so stressed. On any normal day, these are not her aesthetics. She is out of character and aloof, for her father’s fairing far worse than they’d expected.

She’d gone down to the lobby in a daze to meet her brother; to wait anywhere but that depressing room. The rubber slides through her hand as she waits atop the escalator…and she thinks of life as a cycle, constantly rotating and slipping by, so she tries to grip it tighter; to pause it…..if only for an instant.

Staring past everyone who enters, she notices a man carrying a big basket of fruit and she breathes disgust for she hadn’t thought of that. Following him with her eyes, he comes higher and closer and her head moves forward as if to sniff flowers. The cellophane doesn’t wrap completely around what’s overflowing the wicker, and one tiny grape tumbles out. To stop a man for something so insignificant; to speak for words have escaped her for hours now, it felt good not to care. Desensitized, she’d craved a little good. As the man disappears into the elevators she sighs and returns to pondering what her life will be like without dad.

Dreaming of her best memories of him, she’d agreed with herself; he’d lived a storybook life. A navy man, he’d found his heart in a woman at 19. His fingers like triggers, he’d handled weapons not of gun-smoke and steal, but correspondence. A man who could type when no one else could. The wealthiest family on the block, they had the first television. A flickering blue light dancing amongst the stars, their living room was always packed with anxious glowing faces and warm bodies strewn carefree on the carpet. For feelings never pounded harder through his chest on the day he lost her, they’d been married for 60 years. She now thought about life and how it finds its form in many shapes within this world, the more interesting part of a form being the direction it takes and the meaning it delivers to the lives of one or many; whether conscious or un. Her fresh tears are interrupted…

Crashing to the floor behind her, a body thuds with a subtle snap. Screaming in agony, a heavyset woman in her 60’s has just broken her arm in three places after visiting her daughter. Shocked by the incident, the disenchanted storms over to help. “Thank you so much dear…I don’t know what happened…I’m just not paying attention…I’m sorry.” In shock, she’s sobbing but holding her arm and repeating over and over, the fact that she must get to work. “Mam, you’re right here in a hospital, I think you should get it checked out, no?” “No, I really must go, I don’t have the time right now…dammit, it’s killing me.…..I just wanted to stop by, see my daughter and head out……’re an angel though…… thanks so much for helping….I can’t believe this…I’m such a freakin klutz.” As the woman scurries out in disbelief that something so simple could have led to this, she regrets her visit. As she lumbers forward in a hunch, her head lays flat in a grimace. As noticeable as a blue ink stain on a crisp white shirt, squished mercilessly against the back of her dress was the grape. Shocked, our otherwise heartbroken and gray figure grabs her mouth and literally turns cold white. Behind her, a streak continues to dry on the tan-tiled floor, and her conscience kicks in. Tearing apart her stomach for being so remiss, even as the woman walks back into the lobby deciding the pain was unbearable, she can’t say what she now knows. It just isn’t necessary and how could she possibly respond if asked why she did nothing. No matter what she’d come up with, it would never make a difference.

As the town looked on at the lives of those two gentlemen; one spared from the calamity of war, and one sent feasibly to death; defending his life with nothing but a gun......their paths were revealed. Less than a year before the cadet left home, a plague swept through the town. It took with it many of the youngest lives, including our pardoned fellow at the ripe age of 22. He’d coughed and bled from every direction, spending the last 3 months of his life in a sweaty piss-stained bed for those who’d cared for him had died or were forced to quit. Two summers later, our subject doomed to trek the countryside of every country he'd never cared to visit, he'd endured no famine, slept uncomfortably through nights with comrades by his side, and came back to a huge welcome home party. He was awarded the medal of honor for bravery. A hometown hero he began his own practice and went on to be the most educated, successful citizen their little village ever churned out.

Now leaning on the balcony ledge with pure disgust, she kicks internally at her previously lethargic whispers “who cares about a damn grape.” Deciding never to let something like that happen again….just shrugging off a complacent notion for its priority is too low for an otherwise fatigued body, she vows never to have an excuse; she continues to learn. No one knows why things happen until they’re able to look back and see the outcome. Although the fate of the injured woman is unknown, such an unbelievably difficult coincidence may this time lead to destruction, but in regards to her future…well, that……”we’ll see.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mom said I looked like a I had to change

As buildings fly by and rain streams down the windows, it's midnight, and I cant help but watch her. She's been pleading with her mom to stop demeaning her, for who knows what....and she doesn't, without remorse. I had a previous relationship like this….her mom would ask if she could speak with her, “I’ll be brief” she says. The door closes, then re-opens two minutes later, and over walks her fat, guilty and elated mother to let me know she’ll be out in a minute. I’d think in my head…”you dirty fucking bitch, what’d you say now.”

Is there a reason why a woman wouldn’t be proud to say she has a beautiful daughter? She made her….you’d figure she’d hold this precious thing above all others, but obviously not herself. The self image of mothers within themselves and those poor babies of theirs that just might’ve turned out attractive don’t dare deserve the horrible sniveling comments made towards them just because a guy looked at them, or because of what they put on that they think is cute. It’s not the outfit, or the fact that you’ve probably started fucking up your daughter far earlier than this point, it’s the fact that the mother is stuck in a world that doesn’t hold a day in the spotlight for her any longer. Those days of blowing off the gentleman callers that actually mustered the confidence to say something are long since over…and we all know she settled for the guy that gave her the least attention anyway. Her only ace now is that her words will sting, and so she lets them fly.

Your daughter looks up to you, no matter how white trash you are. You will always be her mother, and you will always instill your judgment, your reasoning and your opinion within her, no matter how illogical….so please, hold her tight, kiss her on the forehead, and tell her how ridiculously beautiful she is…if she is.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Adolescent Confessions: Some Tiny, Some Dumb...but all, Never as Cool as I Thought

The Smart Indian Kid (and I don't mean Native American):

A talented kid with brains unmatched but for a few hermits his age with half the personality. Not only that, but he was a star athlete with a great family that drove a silver Mercedes to soccer practice everyday during the fall. I knew Shobin Uralil was already taking the classes I was because he'd sit right next to me; and yet he was a year younger. It was in Miss Shotsky's Chemistry class that we took advantage of the young guy. Miss Shotsky was overweight by about 80-pounds, wore mu-mu flowery near-see-through dresses, thick prescription light-pink glasses and had stark white hair that just shot to the ceiling like an electric current had passed through her. She truly wasn't altogether normal, or with it. Shobin was so brilliant that we formed a horseshoe around his desk and then each copied his answers off his scantron, and then copied each other. She would pass out our test papers after they were graded and everyone in this little section always had the same exact grades. She never suspected anything...again, because she really was out of it. One day we got back an exam and I think we all got an 88. I could tell he was surprised and really upset with himself so I let him stew a bit. Later, on the soccer field I asked him "why are you so down about the test, an 88 is great man? or is it something else?" He said "in my culture, you are a direct reflection on your parents, and if I do bad in school, then they are bad parents in the eyes of their peers...other families we know. That's the way it is and I pressure myself to never let them down." I said, "dude, you're so freaking smart, you've been acing all your classes your whole life, you're on Varsity soccer as a Freshman, everyone in school thinks you're awesome....just calm down a'll give yourself a heart attack." He responds, "you'll just never get don't know what it's like. There are no excuses."

I look back on cheating off his hard work and how much effort he'd probably put in the night before as a sort of unconscious raping we'd given him that he never deserved, especially on top of what he already dealt with in his own mind. Don't get me wrong, this kid went on to become a huge success in banking....but I still feel like a loser not trying to just learn chemistry rather than cheat directly off a great guy. When it came time for my Regents exam there was no way to cheat, and my 98 average was capped off with a just passing 65 that I guarantee someone like Miss Shotsky helped me and many others illegally get....yes that's an assumption but there is no physical way I passed that thing. Maybe the shock of seeing 8 kids with A-averages get failing grades made her join the club.

Her Shirt was Seamless:

I was never a perfect guy in relationships. Often tempted to cheat, for new and exciting hook-ups is an ultimate weakness. This instance was the summer after my Freshman year in college where I was in a relationship for about 5 months which would last almost four years. My sister used to have this boyfriend who was in a fraternity. Every summer, his group of guys from Hofstra would rent out a house in the Hamptons that had some beach volleyball court and a built-in pool in the backyard. Like 20 people could stay there at a time. We'd bring everything to barbecue, drink, relax and hit the clubs late-night. It didn't matter to me if I slept on the floor, I was the youngest anyway since my sister will always have three years on me. Two girls that came were one year older, and one was with her boyfriend. The other had wavy Blonde hair and tiny red circles around her eyes like she was still tired from the two-hour ride. As always, these girls thought they were the shit. I don't know if that's just b/c they're from Long Island or if it's Hofstra and the sorority they were in...either way, they were just girls like anyone else. I was more interested in the one with the boyfriend but since him and his mid-buzzed poofed out dark hairline was impossible to surpass, I settled for the combination Kate Moss/Darryl Hannah hybrid. I think we started getting grabby at the club before we came home but I know we'd both taken a Mitsubishi, and felt obligated to touch things for the sensation of anything tactile and warm was overwhelming. When we got back to the mini-mansion I somehow found myself sitting on a metal folding chair directly in the middle of the kitchen. There was no island, just a large open space. Empty solo cups and beer cans exploded everywhere along the counter tops. She straddled me in sweatpants and an orange tank top that seemed ribbed. Somehow we got on the topic of what we were doing for the summer and I mentioned I painted. She almost came immediately in her sweats. Mistaking my gruntworthy job of painting retirement homes during the summer for some Lichtenstein talent; we made out immediately. My fingers started tracing up her back and under her shirt and it just felt smooth like spandex. She felt compelled to tell me about her shirt's new technology and the fact that she was in fashion design school(maybe only her friend went to Hofstra). Supposedly this was the first shirt released to ever have been seamless. Yes we were drunk, but this still meant nothing to me. I was more focused on the fact that she wasn't wearing a bra. Although the night amounted to little in terms of full-out base-running, the next morning was dreadful because we ignored each other and never spoke a word. Even as her and her better looking friend closed their car doors and drove off without a wave, there was not a mention of the bathroom, or the living room carpet where we'd all meant nothing. Some things are exciting in the moment but completely unnecessary years after when your memories are all clouded with infidelity.

Bridging the Wrong Side of the Gap:

When a steering wheel's given to you in high school, for some reason, you're free. Free to tempt your life and those around you, and in this case, a complete stranger's. Coming home late from a party in South Huntington we were a bit wasted but quite aware of what we were doing. We'd driven this road a million times already, heading towards ROute 110 through the side streets that wound around our beloved St. Anthony's High School. One of my best friend's is in the passenger seat and we're blasting what was probably Blink-182 at the time. We had discussed a psychotic move about 10 seconds before we decided to do it. Northern State Parkway crosses below the bridge we were about to cross, so it was pretty damn lengthy. A metal barrier secured by old wooden posts, separates the single opposing lanes. As I veer hard off my line to cross the double yellows before the bridge begins, my skin turns to fire and my heart starts pounding. Harder and faster it bursts as we climbed up the first half of the blind bridge. "Holy shitttttt!!" Kevin starts screaming as reality sets in, but luckily we don't see any headlights peeking over the horizon line of the road. I start to feel calm as we come closer to the crest of the bridge and calm is never good. As the nose of my Camry crosses the threshold for what becomes the downhill portion of the bridge, we see headlights in our path. "Oh FUCK!!!!" Immediately I start flashing my brights and honking my horn before they too are committed by the divider. No doubt scared shitless, never believing the most ridiculous thing like a car coming over the bridge on the opposite side could be happening, they slam on their brakes and skid off the road to a halt with grass and dirt flying everywhere. They'd stopped right before the bridge began. Howling "woohooooooooo!!! oh my godd!!!" like fucking idiots, we literally skim his bumper as it sticks out onto the road. We looked through the dirt and burnt rubber cloud we'd caused to see a shadow with two eyes just shocked at the window....and for no apparent reason but the rush of risk, we couldve killed several people that night and affected many innocent lives unnecessarily.

Reflecting on the atrocious:

There are many things I look back on in my life with disgust and remorse because the reasons I did them make absolutely no sense. The ones that are the worst are those that are undeserving. Something like, calling a girl a name when she and you are just kids, but that name could absolutely ruin them and their self esteem. Or calling someone out on something indiscreet and completely unrelated to you, in order to embarrass make yourself feel cooler. Viewing someone differently by perception and appearance before you even get to know them. I think all of us have done these things, and yes we truly learn by experiencing things, case in-point, my bringing them to your attention now, however, these are the actions I'll always regret, and forever call selfish, immature and unbelievably relevant to a day's worth of relieving confessions.

Friday, July 31, 2009

In Sweet Disposition and No Longer Melting

500 days of summer, although I havent seen it yet, might be a great way to emotionally describe my life I leave behind in LA. A love, a job, a loss for words and a pre-ejaculatory future turned over like a bucket for suffocation and pounding by street urchins with drumsticks.

There's no denying our ability to draw from the hardest experiences in our lives to endure and muster courage. That's what this will be....a recollection of those great times of solidarity amongst my thoughts, breathing songs in lap-lanes, financial shadows reminiscent of beasts with exposed teeth on the wall but smiles in personal firm handshakes, tracing bladed lines amongst wooded dusty breezes, and long dried up tears with white knuckled handprints on Santa Monica sand. Im not sure there's room for relationships in this place; nor energy for anything but sleep and traffic.

This Angelic city has its beauty within the landscape and its burning lifeless peaks. Like black paper cutouts, they swim with the moon's liquid flashy spikes. Working relationships become labored efforts to understand whether or not the counterparty sees the benefit. Just being friends couldn't cut the smog we'd breathe together. Written words of thanks and hugs bared for hooded capsules we'd wrap ourselves in afterward; that unnecessary protection confuses me for individuality doesn't take that much effort. Everyone's time is important.

Somehow the red that creeped down the walls of glass strewn to the sky would make up for wasted heartbeats; it captured meaning beyond every single minute dreamt of her with someone else. Nightime sky's ablaze spoke my mind in frustration, screaming beauty at the night like "fuck you, I'm leaving this place like I came, with the brightest intentions."

Every city has its nooks of invite and clarity; like cherry lipstick and a short skirt on a pale passerby. Opportunities present themselves with ironic timing and only when in drastic need. Upon threat, moves shake themselves from pockets as only a convulsing dance could've summoned from what was supposedly sewn shut. I guess action sprouts via revived consciences and by feeling bad for the desperate. It'll be sometime before I can focus on the positive, like anything in life for us pessimists. Damn us for trying positivity when the negative happens and we're emotionally unprepared. What's the loss for expecting the worst?

It was sideways travel...chugging in place at the red light as if it's doing something before you begin again. Trust me, your heart can handle rhythmic adjustments as long as your head leads the way. For me, my head's finally leading me back to NY, and so I go......chugging, to a place where summer minds and their immature and material desires, do in fact end.

...........I'd beg reality to come find me, except it was never anything but.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Inside the Mind of a Killer

“I know you better than you know yourself!”

she’d confidently laugh with those sexy ass eyes. Her long blonde hair leaning against the table as she slurped her strawberry lemonade through the ice at the bottom. She was young and innocent. Holding the glass with both hands as if still mouthing her sippy cup. She followed her heart through anyone’s usual transition. Leaving high school and going away to college; the ultimate revival of one’s independence….a maturation overnight, as we who have experienced it, already know. She may have thought because they’d had sex dozens of times, because they’d showered together, laughed in unison at movies or friends, met each other’s parents and sat through barbecues, days at the beach and even work, that she knew everything he was capable of. What he loved and what kept him happy was easy, but not something she could give unconditionally forever, not yet at least. And he knew that. He was 26, done with college, trying to make his way in the real world but still have-a-go at a social life with a new crew.

The type of guy he was, he’d admit to fault and blame himself no matter who’d committed the error. He’d gotten fired from his job like a martyr raising his hand for execution. Unnecessarily admitting to his relationship with her, the younger colleague he was supposed to manage, as suspicious higher-ups started questioning fraternizing amongst all the employees. As most did lie of their hook-ups and relations, properly securing their jobs as being fired for a hunch would surely cause a lawsuit anyway, for some reason he trusted that “honesty would be the best policy.” That’s what we were taught as children. Those executives deserved no such knowledge of one’s personal life to begin with, nor could any of them ever tolerate being asked who they were fucking.

At two very different times in their lives, he looks down at his plate and whispers to himself...

“you can’t imagine what floats around in my mind….what I would do if I lose you….I’ve told you subtly, but you get mad when I say it. When you go away, you’re gonna meet new people, and your life’s gonna change.”

“What are you thinking about sweetie?”

“Oh nothing babe, I’m so full, a bit tired too, wanna go?”

As they prance out of the restaurant to continue living what would be the unfathomable by any poor kid in a third world country, a fat couple who’ve barely spoken once since they’d arrived, sit across from each other at a table, watching them leave as if they’re celebrities. They both internalize that they’d wished their lives were different, that they too had that skip in their step, or their young tan and muscularly toned bodies, and what it would be like to live that life for a day.

When your mind is built to harp on the negative, to revert focus and jealousy onto what you don’t have, you're dooming what otherwise will be a bright future for a smart person. There’s a lot of sadness in the streets. Walking with your head down not seeing the faces in front of you …..there’s a lot to hate…and a lot to regret and overanalyze. It’s not unique to only one person, and there’s no way to see the future. For us, for what we have, yes, everything’s going to be ok. You can’t go taking the most positive elements of your life, the memories you’ve stored for unbelievable reason and the actions you’ve taken, as enjoyed equally by everyone. They’re not common, and you are a lucky bastard. If you sit back and think of the plight of others for comparison, you’ll see.

They did break up like any couple moving in different directions and playing the long-distance role. The times where people’s lives were private, where they weren’t documented every single day online and displayed, were much easier to cope. “Out of sight, out of mind,” another thing he was taught. Seeing a message of the person you loved left active on their profile about how they’re off to get wasted with their girls, and how it’s still the same message the next day at 5pm, you sit and wonder. Hundreds of miles away, you’re somehow now aware of what they’re watching on tv, when they’re showering and if they have a big test that week. Photographs plastered on everyone’s homepages are trophies encasing what you missed and had no part in bringing to them; that happiness. It enrages you and renders you unconscious to the life you thought you had, just the two of you. How much you believe you held them back and their uncanny ability to move on so quickly as some guy in the photo has their arm around her and their best friend left a comment saying “I wanted him you asshole.” A million games you can play with your mind and what it comes down to……they’re just games. Five years down the road, all relationships, nights of wasted binge drinking and one-night stands are finally over, and now they’re ready for the next 60 years together. You rekindle as if nothing ever changed and all you had to do was give up five years to make it become 60. No one really knows what could’ve happened, but we know what did.

The drastic and unexpected, is the irony of control at its purest. It’s not tragedy for the sake of someone else’s misfortune, but an internal choice temporarily better than the alternative. The shock, the tears and the effort to understand the motives behind why it happened will always linger, but trust me, that’s what they wanted… make an impact. If you don’t want to make a splash, you don’t jump in. Aside from mismanaging their own mind’s distaste for their choices, and the words they’d planted there unconsciously, blaming themselves with “its’ your fault, you’re a failure in life, you’ll never find love again,” there’s also lessons they want to teach by doing this. They want others to analyze the way they live, to appreciate life’s fragility, how they treat others, to make sure they never take another moment with someone for granted. Those who loved him will now internally analyze their own actions, how they affect others and the happiness of those lives they never want to lose as well.

Many toss the words “coward” and “selfish” into the mix when discussing it. And then they apologize because they might offend people, but that’s what they truly believe of people who do it. I think it depends on the individual and what they truly believe is harder…Living: the struggle, the deaths in your family, the lost loves that you long for, the financial hardships, the realization that we’re all never going to be millionaires and taking the fights with your partner as lessons to learn by, plus, respecting the sacrifice your parents made in their own lives to give you yours…….or Giving Up: ending every friendship they’ve ever made, every holiday they’ll never experience, any beautiful new country they’d get to visit, any sexual encounter with the one who may be their future wife and the opportunity to have innocent children and to see the hilarious ways they learn…………all, for what ultimately might just be blackness.

Life is cyclical. As time passes, there are always ups and downs. Every time you think your life is over, you’ve got to get back out there and overcome that which is bringing you down. A man finds out how man he is when he threatens his own life, whether it be enlisting for war, waking up in the middle of the night to defend a burglar or going against everything you've ever learned to become a true martyr, but I serenely suggest, no matter how forlorn, you ask a few loved ones for advice before ever believing the only way left to remain a man, is to go ahead and pull the trigger.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dolce and Gabbana Shoes or a Doctor of Philosophy

To unravel philosophy is impossible. Opinions encompass its entirety, and no facts can be taken from an airborne train of thought. Using brief fragments from one apology and then attaching our own vague generality to the end, is no more innovative then adding salt to a recipe.

I failed Intro to Philosophy, so I’m no Hobbes. Well, I shouldn’t say I failed. Studying what I thought would be the answers rather than giving my own, forced me to an “F” before I withdrew. These days though, I understand what’s expected when engaged in similar discussion. Poop in my hand, throw shit out there and see what sticks. Then, I was 18. Philosophy was a joke. Any answer you gave earned a brutal verbal beat-down…..because you should have known, there are no right answers.

In the documentary “Examined Life,” interviews with people whom I assume are profound intellects on human thought, were dumbed down to relate common philosophies with everyday streetwalking. Although it’s difficult to transform these planetary blowhards (who would likely trade one of their testicles for a signed Star Trek DVD) into a calm-talking Dr. Drew, subtly soothing the bubbly herpes outbreak of any club-grinding alpha-male, some truly relevant comparisons actually did rise to the surface.

Each individual seems to be asked the same questions, ultimately ending with “are we supposed to search for meaning in life?” Excellent, and each equally different, points of view arose such as experiencing as much as possible especially when those events lead to nowhere. At one point, two dogs playing tag could not be translated into anything but enjoying themselves; and I applauded such restraint.

One of the philosopher's revived an analogy he'd used 30 years prior when referencing the material things we purchase. A woman sees Dolce and Gabbana shoes in Bergdorf Goodman’s, and buys them for $1,000. He then puts her in a situation with the shoes on, “you’re walking by a knee-deep pond and you see a small child drowning, but no one’s around to help. No time to take off the shoes…what would you do?” As every woman normally proceeds “I’d save little Stewie Griffin, even though he’s always trying to kill his mother, and completely ruin my new pumps”…….he responds, “if you’re willing to destroy those shoes to save 1 kid’s life, you could save more than 20 by donating that $1,000 to Oxfam.” The lesson learned is that being a moral/ethical person is not chucking a balled up dollar at a homeless man and smiling because it’s now up to them how they use it. It’s what you could’ve done beyond the dollar; how much further you could’ve gone to better everyone and why you didn’t. Sitting eating my Goobers, sipping a mammoth Diet Coke and lounging with my feet on the chair in front of me, I began to feel real shitty about what I've spent my money on.

The next best thought provoking monologue came from a guy who looked like he’d dressed himself in tin cans, rotting banana peels and the pubic hair of a bison. Befittingly, his narrative revolved around the Department of Sanitation and our unconscious effort to block the whereabouts of our shit. To be taken as literally as possible, it disappears from our mind the minute it’s down the pipes (or in the garbage as they hovered around him at the local dump). To instead, learn about the amount of waste each of us commits a year to this earth and then work on adjusting it……even a subtle change by everyone would have an astronomically positive effect. However since he doesn’t suspect we will, we should then embrace our trash as an equivalent part of this world before it finally gets fed up with us. Upon its ultimate unhappiness, the world will again revert to catastrophe beyond our Hollywood imaginations, and place us all where our dinosaurs currently live….our gas tanks.

As aggressive as these dames and gents may seem, it’s no different than the drunken debates between you and your buddies about politics and religion. No one’s right and everyone disagrees regardless. None of them deserve to point the finger anywhere but at themselves for the amount of time they’ve squandered reading books about philosophy instead of guiding small burrowing worms out of young Namibian children’s feet. They could’ve nailed miles of boards and sheetrock up at the nearest Habitat for Humanity or dunked thousands of ladles into vats of chicken broth at downtown soup kitchens instead of listening to hundreds of hours of babbling lectures on their society’s disenchantment of reality. Forget about the lady and her D&G shoes, let’s turn the tables and put these hypocrite high-browed know-it-all’s knee deep in their own twisted analogies.

You have $175,000 in your hand and you’re walking a path that forks. One way leads down a little dirt path where there’s 6 villages on the verge of starvation, 4,000 people altogether. The other, solid cement and lit by halogens straight towards a marble building. Above the door there's a sign “Come on in, be a Doctor of Philosophy.”

Try and tell me now, why there’s no right answer to the question. Try and tell me now, how much further you could have gone to better everyone, and why you didn’t.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I'm So Artsy, Even Indie Wouldn't Know

You know, I grew up with a group of kids quite unlike the guys they are today. Yes, I know, people change, but fuck that…. not sooo much that it’s cyclical puberty. I guess we could compare them to hippies. People that weren’t always free-wheeling drug tasting flower children, but innocent, fun-loving manhunt seeking yutes that relied on their older siblings’ behavior as the best example to follow. Then it was sex and LSD, now it’s Coked-Up croquet, Burt Bacharach and a pair of chinos.

Since high school, I’ve seen firsthand, a snobbish self-entitled change in the lot. Not my immediate cronies thank god, but the backup pack. Their obsession with the odd, is as fake as their childhood love for lima beans, downing them in one gulp not because mom’s cookin was good lookin…but ‘cause a home-run derby in the court was calling out loud “get your ass out here before its dark!” These guys were my jock friends that loved pop music, a case of beer with a football game and pool-hopping at midnight. As they went away to college, something very strange happened where they forgot who they were. Consistently subjected to rebellious individuals far cooler, it reminds me of when Bart Simpson goes to the school for the gifted. He’s mocked constantly for his stupidity and needs to leave to feel better about himself…….in this case, these guys scooted into pretty schools for their athletic talents and learned the ropes by conforming immediately to how geniuses do, or else perform a one-handed self-wedgie at the main lawn during lunch.

Back home, they were cooler-than-thou cult followers who could no longer relate. The guy who used to spike his hair like one of the Gotti boys now has a dry comb-over and dons a mustache that catches more milk than an udder bucket. I thought he’d forgot to remove his 80’s pornstar Halloween costume. They fight conspicuously hard to neglect these changes; morphing like butterflies in stages and taking off in erratic flight to mislead us, but always flying in whatever direction the season’s taking them. Now, the hardest whiskey ever produced is the only thing they order, and somehow it’s the only thing they ever drank, as they try to defend themselves when we point out that they used to swear by their father’s passed down middle name that Old Milwaukee’s Best was the shizzy. This mild Alzheimerish slip is not even the scary part….they believe they’re these far out artists that understand counter-culture, what’s on the brink of discovery, and what truly is worth regarding as cool or funny. The absolute driest form of anything creative has become their purest example of expression. If an old man shit his pants and dragged ass like a dog tickling an itch, they’d take a picture of it and call it art. They’re so far advanced for their time, that if confronted, they would outright deny the thought that they’d ever even had a transformation. Like one morning they’d stepped out of bed, threw all their Abercrombie and Fitch cargo’s into a fire and raided American Apparel for the ugliest fucking neon deep-U belly shirt that’d reveal their newly accepted happy trail before it disappeared below their thrift shop light-green corduroys. I wish I was exaggerating. At least then we’d have our friends back, and also feel less like we’ve been left out.

When I blame myself for being behind on the times, I look at what my true to life, everyday brodies are doing versus the guys that sit back and study what others do to gauge what’s cool…it just so turns out, the guys who've been made to feel idiotic have actually always been ahead of the steeping curve. The artists, the innovative ones, they continually create and leave something behind; those are the people that reveal their talents for all to see, instead of leaning hard on a crutch made of comebacks and chin-grabbing afterthoughts. If these guys were the writers, I’d say “fuck yeah! ……keep interviewing amazing people and drafting dynamic shit.” If they were creating music, jotting down lyrics or coming up with a new hot beat their families could thrive on, I’d say “that’s my friend’s band! Don’t they sound sick?!” They offer not even a shred of talent….having lost it after their 4th year of NCAA eligibility. They have no responsibilities even still, and they pretend their life flows in a different direction, when we've all been living. There’s no faking anymore who’s shit truly wreaks. I say to these temporarily lost souls, hate to break it to you….just like a hippie still is today, you too, will be tomorrow’s wannabees.

Friday, March 6, 2009

WATCHMEN – Sometimes You Just Like Raw

At midnight mass last night we celebrated a naked blue god. One without the cheesy manhood car wash rag, as if God ever cared what someone thought of his junk. Watchmen was a killer flick with bone-grinding stabs and obscenely large red puddles, yet never did it try and hide behind the artificial flavorings of its comic book-turned movie predecessors. The music is a tribute to the late sixties and early seventies, quite a contrast to the technology used to make the movie, except since the film takes place during exaggerated instances within the Nixon administration, all the songs would have come out around that time, and fuck it, it worked in an Oliver Stone type-a way. “Wow, there was so much sex in that movie?” said two girls exiting alongside me at 3am. I said, where is Chris Brown when you need him?

When I was growing up I collected comic books; never read them, just collected them. I would stop in at the local 7-Eleven and whatever one had the coolest cover I’d grab; a worthless way to become an addict, but for some reason I just never liked to read. I came into Watchmen knowing nothing about the comic’s history, characters, anything….and I walked out feeling like a dedicated fan. That’s the way this movie is, legitimately hardcore, and you wish it was longer than 2 hours and 40 minutes. Although the story-line is fast-forwarded to cover years of history and loses some plot in translation, there's so much raw edge that you respect every corner never cut. Watchmen distances itself from the pack because they’ve embraced the R-Rating; staying true to the gore and fantasy that is action comics. Mastering this hurdle and understanding that audiences have literally seen it all, is why the chance they took to be daring was so successful. It’s not all sappy-romance and happy-endings. Good guys have to die too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

They Called Him "Chuckles"

It was the fall. Besides the scent of fake leather and the foam we'd pull from the seat cushions, we could smell the fresh cut grass through the tiny cracks of our bus windows. As always, those plastic guards on the track stopped the window just short enough to keep the stench of unwashed uniforms. Trekking down the steps, we jumped to the concrete where our cleats left mounds of hardened mud on Holy Trinity's parking lot. They looked like tiny brown islands on a sea of pavement; each pummeled by a bad meteor shower. Going through our heads as we approached the field was our usual difficulty of beating these guys. They weren't talented, they offered no specific player to keep an eye on, nor any sign of a strategy they'd use to dominate a game.....overall, they were just dirty motherfuckers.

I played soccer throughout my entire childhood; from the day I was four until my senior year in college. To this day, I have never experienced a raping like that in October 2003; I was a Junior in High School. When you think of the word "rape", you might assume we got our asses handed to us, or sucked so badly that we lost by some ridonkulous score. I really wouldn't waste your time with a shitty story about getting our asses beat.

We all know that soccer, on top of its physical requirements, includes a thick layer of acting. There's diving, throwing up your hands to create the illusion of being held, purposely tripping yourself when tangled with an opponent, etc. The easiest and most unnoticeable, yet effective strategy, is the art of "shit-talking" (common in many sports). Holy Trinity was a team with talentless players and brutal attitudes. If they broke an opponent's leg, then that was better than a goal. My job as a striker was to create open space, find a way to receive the ball from the backfield and turn it towards the goal to score. Normally, the opposite team assigns a defender to a striker to never let them free. My lucky day, they'd assigned McCauley Culkin on growth hormones, only with longer hair covering his eyes. Now that I think of it, he didn't even have eyes. This guy was Home Alone on acid with a machete, pliers and a bottle of Old Grand Dad; I remember it like yesterday.

The minute I stood still he came up behind me and whispered some shit about fucking me in the ass.

douche whisperer: "Hey buddy, what's up...I'm marking you today and I'm gonna be all up on your shit."

As usual, I'd try and keep on the move and ignore him until he feels stupid hearing his own voice.

douche whisperer: "Aww what's wrong wittle guy, you can't speak...come over here...."

A bit worried he cared nothing about the game, and more about licking my shadow, I felt a handful of my ass in his.

"Ref!!! Keep an eye on this kid, he's grabbing my fucking ass for chrissake..."

the ref: "hey! watch your mouth!"

"Well........Everytime you turn your back, he's fondling me like one of his Barbies"

douche whisperer: " used to collect Barbies? how cute..."

douche teammate: "hey Chuckles, tell ur lil momma's boy, I had his motha over for dinner lass night"

"Wait a second.....Did your butt-buddy just call you Chuckles!?! What the fuck kinda name's that? Lemme have a flamingly high-pitched laugh and everytime a little boy walks by, you need to use the bathroom"

Chuckles: "I love little remind of one I played with lass night"

"Jesus, you're and your buddy with the mom-jokes"

Chuckles: "you wanna be my bitch? I'm gonna make you my..."

The ball's kicked and we're off again. Trying harder and harder to keep away from this scitzo-pediphile, he was literally flat-tiring my heels every step. As the Ref turned away, he one-upped himself and proved creative in the flagrant minds far beyond the walls of appropriate behavior. Good ol' Chuckles had scooped around and grabbed my dick (dead fucking serious).

"REF!!!!! He's fucking grabbing my dick, this is bullshit!!

the ref: (blowing his whistle) "Number 4! I told you to watch your mouth....consider this your last warning! (he holds up a Yellow card)

"This is ridiculous!!!! He's reachin around and touching my dick, I'm not lying!! You have to watch him!!"

the crowd: "Hey numba 4!! I'm kicking your fucking ass after the better run like a little bitch to your bus."

(yelling in the general vicinity of the crowd with my hands raised and eyes focused on no one) "You like guys touching your dick??.............dumb question"

For some reason, none of this shook up the Ref. He didn't pay more attention and fucking Chuckles was relentless. Next, he whacked at my junk like when you rat-tail someone with a rolled up towel. My coach saw what was happening and yelled to the Ref, but still he must've just thought we were trying to deter his attention. Sprinting away, I faked to one side, turned, and threw an elbow hard into his chin. It felt amazing, but it only enraged his eyeless McCauley mask. He got even more physical. No, Im not talking penne-alla-vodka; he'd come up behind me and start lacing in short sharp knuckle punches to my back. Then he'd move side-to-side, making like he was about to run, and as his arms would go up in motion to propel away, he'd quickly smack the back of my head. I couldn't even concentrate on the game I was so lost. None of this made sense in soccer. He had pissed me off so badly that even if I got the ball I figured he'd stick his cleat up my ass, turn to the right and cheer "open sesame!" The ref would then blow the whistle and I'd get penalized for not wanting it there (no-pun on the penal). So I faked being tripped. As we were running, I made like he took out my legs and the fact that he was two inches from me, it looked damn real. The Ref finally gave him a yellow. Grabbing my sac, pinching my ass and practically checking my temperature were not worthy of a card, but me tripping myself, now that's what punished him....pathetic, but effective. In soccer, if you are the cause of another flagrant foul after you have a yellow card, it's quite common that you'll get a red card and be ejected from the game. Your team would then have to play a man down for the rest of the game, and the thought of this kept him at bay for the remaining minutes of the first half.

Around the middle of the second half I finally had the ball in a position where I could do something. I took it hard up the line and towards the corner flag. With about a foot of space before being out of bounds, I crossed the ball and bent it in towards the ten yard line (an imaginary line). One of my teammates, Nick Karastinos, trapped the ball and buried it in the back of the net. For some reason I always would fall after making a hard bending cross at top speed, and as I got off the ground elated with joy, Chuckles threw me back down. He knew it was his fault that the ball was even crossed...I had gotten away from him. As Nick and my teammates celebrated towards mid-field, no one even saw it happen. Now that we were winning, I really didn't give a shit. I wound up hard and bitch-smacked his rosy fucking cheeks with a stiff open palm, hoping it would sting forever. As I jogged away, I heard him closing in to where he kicked hard at my ankles, chopping my legs out from under me. As I fell to the ground, the crowd started screaming and my coach was going ballistic. Everyone had seen it except the Ref who was writing the number of Nick's jersey in his pad to note who scored.

I've always been one to have a bit of congestion. Asking for paper napkins at every meal, or having my adnoids and tonsils removed because I couldn't breathe right......there couldnt have been a better time to be stuffed up. It just felt natural to suck in deep. As I gripped the grass and pushed my body up, I breathed in hard and long to the point of a gag reflex. You couldn't even imagine the collection.....I'm talking a mixed blend of good-god-almighty nastyness. And as I turned around to see his dusty mop-top and shiny fucking grin, I launched a wad.......... a solid fucking mass right onto that asshole's face.

my coach: Sub!!!!!!!! Ref!! Substitute!!

Before Chuckles could even squeegee off the muck, I had ran off the field and a new guy was in. For all the mishaps the Ref never saw, that was the most important.

As a man there's only so many degrading things you can endure, and I think I put Chuckles down a notch that day. The physical stuff seems so temporary whereas a "loog" tends to linger. Although his teammates wanted to kill me because they saw it happen, Chuckles didn't get the Ref involved. He took it. I don't know why, or what it was, he just did. For all I know the kid was so fucked up that he liked it. And as I didn't shake hands with Holy Trinity that day, for fear of losing my ability to reproduce, I got back on the bus thankful it was over. I looked up at the crack that my little window was fully open, and I closed it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

No One Knew What They Were Doing

At 22 years old I slithered into the world of cash management through the thick brush that concealed it; and five years later, inched out wounded and with little dignity. Just as worms expose themselves to concrete the minute your lawn gets soggy, we too tried our hardest to keep from drowning. We lost many friends to the flood, and many thereafter in the blazing heat.

I don't know if it's a good thing when people say 90% of your job you'll learn on-site. It leaves way too much to the imagination of those with sneaky imaginations. Lately you see in the news different headlines like "idiot financier schemes investors out of $50 Billion." This isn't some mistake they made; take it from me. It's their ability to lie with blatant overconfidence while being completely uneducated to begin with. Not to mention the stiffening orgasmic power that the money injected into to them day after day. Every crispy new million they'd raise added another inch to that big swingin dick they'd imagined they had. Just as I knew little about the products we bought our clients, everyone around me only knew a Hershey squirt more.

There's a difference between Analysts and Salesmen. An Analyst is someone who combs the fine print of a prospectus and tests every possible scenario to litmus. A Salesman however, is a fundamentalist. They take two snippets of detail out of context and drive home those key elements; ponying up their children as collateral to prove it. The point is, that's the job of a salesman. To know how to close business and make friends with any type of asshole that farts an unclean one, and uses spare hundos to clean it up. The job of the analyst is the flag-raising, compliance policy-driven blowhard which Executives need at their hip to say "yay" or "nay" about the products they're willing to back. The Executive, we all know is just a figurehead powdering his nose and swaying his conductor's wand amongst his executive peers. There's no physical way he could be aware of the investments his 14,000 employees are suggesting their clients should buy. If you're the CEO during an economic upturn, you end up being a genius...during a downturn, it's all your fault....simple as that.

I say no one knew what they were doing because they would've been fired way before fully learning how to properly do it. When you're thrown into a pit of snakes you have to quickly figure out how to survive. The chance to read up on what snake is the deadliest, their territorial behavior, and/or the history of curing bites, is a chance you're never afforded. There's no time for fucking around. You either produce or you're gone. The guy next to me was someone brand new quite often.

We were bond managers, corporate cash managers, traders, investment advisors, whatever you want to call us...and our job was to invest excess cash for corporations. What they wanted was high interest rates in a short amount of time without a lot of risk. When we looked at a product named "The City of Miami Dade Development Project", do you actually think we called up the city department and asked how their budget and fiscal policy forecast was looking for the next 20 years? Do you think we worried that Miami-Dade might be the next place a massive hurricane would hit, and that we shouldn't put our client into this type of Municipal Bond because "anything can happen?" Who do you think we would've gotten at the city office if we'd called? I'm picturing someone worse than the talent at the DMV. Hell, they'd provided us with a 202-page prospectus to read over with a magnifying glass, so we could always reference that if we had ay questions. Our boss would've been real proud of the revenue we brought in if we'd spent the next 5 days reading that over. After all, we sold 300 types of these bonds every single day from different cities, water, power, and aviation authorities. Special housing, roadwork, transportation, sanitation, and stadium projects were all common players for good rates of interest as well. All we could go on was the credit-rating and whether or not the name sounded legit. In order for a corporation to invest in a bond, it normally needs to be AAA-rated because it's the safest quality out there. Considering they were so safe, the blanket we wrapped them in bedded totally different securities, such as CD's, Treasuries and anything else "guaranteed", where they have never slept.

The people that were structuring these bonds were also oblivious. They would pool together several hundred million dollars worth of outstanding mortgage loans, credit card receivables, or student loans, and structure it so that they would meet the standards for achieving a AAA-rating from the credit agencies. If the bond being issued was 500 million dollars, a bank would create a fund name which would consist of all the loans together as one offer. You could then buy a piece of that issue in increments of 25,000. First though, they'd pile 510 Million instead of just 500 Million of those student loans into the fund, expecting that the likelihood of 10 Million dollars extra being added to the 500 million dollar deal, would be enough over-collateralization to justify all future defaulted student loans from those idiots that never felt like paying them off. The same went for mortgage related funds completely backed by outstanding mortgages pooled together. The formula wasn't really made-up, it was given to them by the credit-rating agencies, where some schmuck actuary came up with the idea that only a small percentage on top of the fund-size was necessary to protect it from defaulting. And that it would still provide enough cushion for those investing in what were truly unstable packaged loans. I wish someone would've just told the actuary that everything in life isn't a formula, and that they're forgetting one major fucking insight (a.k.a. "oversight")...... the idea of "demand". What if someone doesn't want it? It seems the question was never contemplated. Sort of like...."oh well, we'll worry about that bridge when we come to it." The idea that these products would become obsolete, that they would become the burden of the banks underwriting them, in sizes up to hundreds of billions worth of shitty un-saleable assets where the banks themselves will have to sit on the debt and cover it with borrowed cash at an even higher rate than the municipality they struck the deal with, would ever have to pay them. "Snot possible; never happen."

When a bank is approached by a municipality wanting to issue debt(bonds) to the public, the bank pitches that city on why they should consider using their bank. The reason banks go so hard after winning the opportunity to issue the debt is because they charge astronomical fees to issue the debt. The problem though for the bank issuing the $500 million bond is that it becomes their burden to find buyers for the bond. The city no longer deals with anything. They just take the money they were loaned and spend those funds wherever they need it. If the bank doesn't find enough internal clients to buy the bonds, that's where we corporate cash managers come in. In order to entice us, we're given a selling concession, which is essentially a commission-style thank you from the bank for the temporary purchase. The reasons we wanted the bonds were because they paid great commissions, whereas the other products within our investment hemisphere were not paying squat. Obviously, a light bulb should be going off as to why these offer such great commissions; there must be some related risk. To understand the risk, you need to know the bonds.

They were 20-year maturities, meaning if you were to hold the bond for twenty years from the day you purchased it, you would get your principal back after those twenty years ended; all the while receiving your interest payments. In order to attract buyers, these bonds offered an "exit feature" where every 7, 28 or 35 days you could sell the bond back to the bank and receive your interest without penalty; so really, you never had to hold it for twenty years. The market had been around since the early-to-mid eighties, and there weren't really any significant instances where someone who wanted to sell back their bond wasn't able to. It was the bank's job to find those new buyers if someone wanted to sell it back, and if they couldn't find anyone to buy it, they would keep it on their books as "inventory" and work to re-sell it later. This "exit" or "liquidity" feature is what opened up the product to many corporations and wealthy individuals needing to keep their cash available weekly, or monthly, and since the interest rates were quite attractive, this was the product to buy.

In July 2007, banks were becoming strapped having to hold so much debt on their books since a lot of their clients were exiting the market and keeping their cash very liquid in overnight money market funds. Every night that went by where those bonds sat in-house at the bank, they would assume large carry-over or debit charges on their own accounts for having held securities that they couldn't cover with equal cash values, therefore the bank would have to virtually borrow money to cover them legally....and those charges outweighed the interest they'd receive from the municipality. Around the second week in July some managers in these underwriting banks had secret meetings to discuss their banks' disinterest in continuing the business. The best thing they could do was sell as much as possible from their inventory and never allow the bonds to be bought back again by their bank. They decided to come up with offers so attractive that it was tough for cash managers to not bite. Upwards of $40,000 commissions for buying a piece worth $1 Million were offered, where as the normal commission for a $1 Million piece was about $125. Unaware that the price for having bought the piece would be your client's illiquidity until the bond's final maturity date 20 years from then.

As this became front page news, every bank stopped buying back their bonds. Although that meant the end of credibility and the inability to ever sell anything they held on their books, cutting off their clients from selling would save them Billions in repurchased assets. Whoever held an issue was going to hold it until maturity, receive their interest and hope to god the loans or municipality underlying it didn't default and become bankrupt.

Our friends at these banks who we drank and ate fancy dinners with wouldn't take our calls. They weren't allowed too. If they'd said anything, they'd be fired. Anything they ever really said was, "I'm so sorry, we had no fucking idea." And I believe them. These were traders, moms and dads just selling bonds and managing their accounts like us....not the CFO's making decisions to stop taking on debt because the stock price had fallen the last two quarters. They knew 10 minutes before we did that morning that their business was done.

Our clients would call us up and ask for new news, and we had none. Nothing but threatening lawsuits, conference calls with CFO's and Treasurers calling us asshole morons that deserved to be hung by our suspenders. I know, that one really hurt. I tried to provide an analogy for all this, and here's the first I came up with. If you buy a brand new car from the salesman, and it turns out to be a lemon, do you run to the salesman and call him a fucking asshole because the manufacturers screwed up making it? There is only so much blame we could take for investing in AAA-rated securities alongside the agreement with our clients that this is what we were going to buy. The real idiots behind this whole shit-show is the credit rating agencies such as Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch who were the Analysts per se, giving these securities the highest credit marks possible. Although we could've sat and read every little nook and cranny about every little bond, or had Alan Greenspan next to us at our desk before we ever made a decision, either way we still would have been fired for never bringing in revenue.

The worst part was our clients getting fired by their executives because they had listened to us. Because they went to that baseball game, or that Bruce Springsteen concert with us and enjoyed themselves, and therefore wanted to reward us. Once they had to tell their CEO's that their money was locked up for twenty years and that they didn't know why, they never stood a chance. Corporations who had just gone public, raising close to 100 million dollars gave us their cash to manage for a few weeks until they stopped celebrating their amazing ability to raise cash in a market like this. After those three weeks were up and they'd figured out that they wanted to build a new manufacturing facility and push advertising expenditures to build their brand image, we had to tell them their cash wasn't available. In fact, we couldn't even put a price on their cash if they wanted to sell it at a discount to any buyer. It was worthless. We had ended up buying products that had no value for resale.

The days became dreadful. The phone never rang. There was no reason to call prospects, old leads or friends in the industry. There was no reason to ever believe or trust you since you'd pitched bird shit to them for months and months prior. The other products within the industry paid nothing so there was no money to really be made unless you managed assets under a fee-basis and not by commission. As the telephone numbers of friends didn't work anymore, and my colleagues would be sent back home to their families to seek out a whole new life within something they'd never known, I too was asked to exit the tall murky grass and hit the pavement to grind out whatever distance I had yet to travel.

The scariest thing I learned was that you truly never know if you can trust someone. I say that not so you can shit your pants about any relationship you've ever made, but to enlighten you that there's always a risk you undertake in any partnership. Even if the guy has billions of dollars and a reputation that outshines Mother Theresa, it's truly whether or not working with that person, and the joy you get out of it, is completely worth the risk......because they seriously, after years and years of adding inches to their johnson, still....might have no fucking idea what they're doing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Rocking Chair - a.k.a. The Night of the Neanderthals

In the early summer of 1942, in rural Geneseo, New York, a father decided to make his daughter an icon for their family’s porch. He had been called to war and the person he’d miss the most was his little baby girl. She was only 6 years old; just brilliant enough to smile back at what he was about to say to her…..the last words they’d ever share. “My darling, I love you with all my heart…I always want you to remember that. Please…take special care of your mother for me. I’m going away for a while, and I’m not sure when I’ll be back.” Peeling away the faded burgundy striped sheet from the white wooden gift he’d built for her, he asked her to promise one thing….”until my return, I want you to sit out front each evening while the sun goes down and think of me. This here rocking chair is yours so take good care of it. It’s our little way of communicating….when you sit in it, make believe it’s me cradling you to sleep on those cold lonely nights. I promise you, if you watch straight clear out over those hills there, one clear day you’ll see me coming home to my baby.”

She promised as if it was a secret she’d been meant to carry to her grave. Years passed by; nearly forty to be exact. And like most things built in those days by the crafted hands of our worthiest generation, the chair still held in sturdy worn condition. Geneseo had become a college town. One where those hills she knew every curve, pine and boulder, soon became lost in the dorm rooms and precarious steel stadiums erected on property she’d long had to sell. Although that was supposed to be her father’s most direct path back to her stoop, she knew any traveling he’d be doing was by bits and pieces as he’d said in dreams they’d share.

Nearly that same 40th year down on Long Island a kid was born who would attend Geneseo. A person completely unrelated to the old woman whom by the time of his attendance she’d be near 70 years old. She had no relation, and for all she had known, he would be just another of the thousand to have walked her sidewalk while she rocked in her chair admiring the chill the wind never forgot to offer. After three years in attendance his friends came to visit. Those were nights where they escaped the watchful eye of their parents being 6 hours too far away from home. Any more reason to get drunk would be far beyond obvious. The boy was mocked constantly and rendered “the old man” by his peers as he retired to his apartment far earlier than his cronies. These guys were not troublemakers. Not to be known for fights or anything other than fantastic senses of humor mixed with male testosterone. As the night grew later and less and less ladies could be found amongst the establishments they’d loitered, frustration set in. More like Neanderthals, they wandered the streets hoping the night would never end. Creating action in whatever motion presented itself; devious laughs and exclamations like ”who gives a shit” meant open invitations to prove ones masculinity since, well, anything meant go. As the old woman lay in bed ignoring normal screams of obnoxious antics, she’d still appreciated her tiny home and the brittle wooden boards that laid snug in the floor of her front deck. As his friends made their way up the driveway to the apartments known as Courtside, they’d seen something as tempting and fulfilling in their need for destruction that they couldn’t pass it up. There was no one left to impress except themselves, yet the laugh they’d expect was far worth its demise. Snatching up 70 years of love and history off the deck, the biggest of the three took it by both arched legs and swung it hard round several times with his body like an Olympic discus practice. Assuming nothing of its sentimental value, these men, and I call them men because there’s no better way to demoralize their action then to parallel its childishness to their age; they went ahead and mistook this legacy as something made in Ikea for less than twenty dollars. As he released the chair they all fell silent. Careening through the air it was like a body ejected from a car, flailing uncontrollably before gravity ended its artistic form. You could hear them breathing with dumbfounded stares as if they had no idea what would happen. Just like the bones of a human the chair shattered without even a battle. There wasn’t even an extra piece big enough to pick up and break over their knees. It deserved no more abuse, and offered no other possible opportunity for it.

Throughout the night the pieces stayed scattered on the apartment building driveway as students drove over them. No one had any idea of the cause, the effect, the reason…..they really didn’t care. The following morning the old woman walked outside and picked up the lifeless remains that were nearly as important as her father. It’d all been far more different than she’d ever imagined because that’s what life is. The unexpected changes that one person we might never meet or know, has on others. She dragged a puke green wheel-less garbage pail with a hole at the bottom along her grass that butted up to the driveway to the apartment building. It seemed like she wanted to make it harder on herself rather than walk the same paved line those boys must’ve treaded hours earlier. Branches popped out of the top of the lid as she’d done yard work throughout the week. She piled her favorite chair in with the branches; each piece of wood still as much alive as the day it hit the ground.

When she finished, she turned back, tugging, flexing, breathing….tugging, flexing, breathing. Every bump in her lawn she’d fight the garbage pail over, and each automatic thud sprinkled little pieces of painted chips and branches out the crack in the bottom like natural fertilizer. When she turned around to get a better grip with both hands, she saw the light white streak she’d left trailing behind her over the grass. The path towards home that he promised she’d see him make. It wasn’t until then that she started to cry. She’d never thought she’d have the chance to help him fight his way out; to bring him back home to the place he loved, and to keep him there forever even after she’s gone. It wasn’t until the night of the Neanderthals that she finally thanked her father for every single day she’d stared eager at those vacant hills, as he’d given her the opportunity to finally bury him in his own backyard.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Selfless Reflection and Credit to Lives Forgone for Our Own Sake

I’ve deeply settled into the thought of what our parents were before our lives. Before we harnessed them to couches and schedules they'd kinda chosen because sex was fun.

I’ve only known a man, never the boy. What he thought his life would be like. What he worried about, what embarrassed him the most about himself. To us he was always perfect because that’s what dad looked like….he looked like dad, but what did he think he looked like?

When he stared at a baseball card, did he wish for the majors? Did he want for anyone so bad his throat tasted it? Did he ever wonder who he’d marry…..and was she something of the storybook beauty, or a neighbor’s tom-boy crush? Did he know right away, or did it grow stronger with time? Hell, did it grow weaker with time? Running any race, what was he thinking about before the finish…who was he really doing it for? Holding his finger out for a ride to the beach, was there ever a worry it might be the end, or was the risk the excitement in living? In his life before this, what was his motivation? Was he lost and scared in the choices he’d make...... that they’d be right for everyone he loved, who he'd still never met... Had he chosen to work where he did, or was it a place he settled on because it was time to become a man? Canoeing the lake he’d done so many nights, no stroke ever the same, no moon shining the ink streaking glimpse he'd seen the year prior.....who he saw below the oar, I wonder if he loved them?

Brushing their hair and grasping the rings that dangled from the chain of those they’d agreed to go steady, our mothers were innocent dreamers. Staring in the mirror, they looked right through their eyes until forever. It was wherever they’d chosen to be swept. How fast it’d be and how their legs would dangle free over the threshold. The arms of the man they’d waited for would save them. No more changing younger siblings’ diapers, or sneaking later curfews under the nose of lenient veteran daddies. They knew they didn’t have to sneak, these were good girls and their parents trusted them…like a cigarette’s relief. But they wanted to be bad. They'd pull harder than any girl to fit their tight jeans. They died for a spark…. pushing lipstick harder and brighter because those nights, they lived for themselves. Something we’ve truly never seen. Their faces long since changed the first minute we cried. Oh what it must’ve been like to see them free. Fireflies at night, our mothers lit up rooms.....our mothers were the innocent unknown across the backyard that guys were too scared to try catching. The young women who learned lessons by experience rather than educational resource.....the breed stronger than the men they'd love. If you don’t believe me, ask him.

Do our parents catch themselves day-dreaming through the windows of their minivan, analyzing where they'd fallen short? Reminiscing of their chidhood and those comforting moments of confidence their parents breathed into their ears from bouncing knees. Do they hide those securities for their irrelevance to the present? For who they might hurt if revealed, and how they could never be taken back. Saving them for a long night's sleep where they choose when to open their eyes. I'd like to make as though they were just dumb kids in love, but these people were fearless. You're not supposed to know everything....and knowing that, they made the hardest decisions with their souls.

I can’t imagine something so unbelievable could ever make us become them. There's nothing that could touch them, not even the stars. How strong can they actually be, if at one point they were you and me….

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Refugee From Guantanamo Bay...Dance Around the Border Like I'm.....

It must've been tenth grade....I'm at this bitch's house for a big ass pawty, excuse me....I have to pull my shawts lowuh past my crack to get into character. For brief shits, this'll be delivered in the upper-to-middle class white ebonics we spoke in 96'. This pawty was awff the chawts, I mean, shit had a fuckin full-size puttin green in the back yawd, shaved to the smoothest little surface it looked like a crop circle bic'ed onto a nice freshman's bald beautiful..........anyway. Back to the yea, we're inside pumpin the ghetto shit in Alison's Muttontown mansion. Haha das funny, da bitch's name was Alison....could be a fantastic broad now, but back then...well, like I said... So anyway, the hip-hop's bangin, the bass is shaking a few B-Cups hea and thea and we're all excited ya know, because we're white and wantin to be black but happy because we know we'll always be white. On comes the hottest new song by The Fugees called 'Ready or Not.' Our hands are up in the air and shit, singin da lyrics of a woman who said she'd rather die than have a white man's baby....but we're psyched cause she's Lauryn Hill, and who are we....fuckin white asshole losers who have it easee fo sheezee. Lauryn said it, so it's gotta be! Word... so we're sophomores in high school, we know nothin. All I gotta know is what door to take when grazing my girl's pasture.....ohhhhh, high-fives from all of my boys...uppp, quiet down, here comes that dog Wyclef's part, I lud dis shit. He starts cacklin his jive, makin us all irie and cravin some Red Problem Mahn! Mmmmm antishipatin dat line we lud to recite like da pledge a' leeeshuns........"I refugee from Guantanamo Bay...." finishin it awff wit da rest of my slices, all JNCO Jeaned and White Structure Sweatered-Out....we don't give a fuck!! Shout-out, Sowth SHaw Strong Isle baby!

Present time:
(Speaking more like Dave Chapelle's impersonation of Tiger Woods during the nationality draft....)

Like most kids do, they memorize the lyrics of songs and sing them because they're catchy. I remember singing a Dead Kennedy's song about Pol Pot and knowing less than an excreted nugget of what the man did, but I skateboarded down my suburban block with a sandwich in my hand and headphones tucked into my ears, singing like mass killings were common and you could catch one down at the local sump whenever you felt like it.

“Gitmo”, as the savvy news reporters like to call it, became a topic of conversation amongst bigwigs the day after Obama’s inauguration. Barack said the place would be shut down within a year as offered explanations for its existence are cloudy and equivalent to a Cliffs Notes book report. Now, hating my ignorance of such topics and the flitting disregard of those lyrics I sung like I'd sat next to Wyclef helping him write was about time to research what was being said to soon close down.

Originally the place housed Haitian and Cuban refugees and acted as an asylum before sending them back to their governments as dissidents. Far worse than the Principal’s office, these were not welcoming home parties; your balls on a platter and whenever you got hungry your food was available. Why in my gracious lord’s name we keep this steel labyrinth off in the country we despise second most, I’ll never know. We can’t buy cigars from them, but we can house our world’s most random with confidence in the hands of a dictator we haven’t agreed with since the day he jumped out of the woods. Because it's illegal for us to visit the country, it's smartest to keep it there? Then why even have maximum security prisons here where psycho killers sleep in the same state I do. Send those assholes to Cuba if you think it's safer.

This modern day Alcatraz our government keeps healthy by paying Halliburton (Dick Cheney’s company) 1 Billion dollars to build state of the art facilities. Talk about dipping the pen in company ink; a literal and architectural hell on earth, this thing was like rigging the lottery on Cheney's behalf. After 41 reported unsuccessful suicide attempts by prisoners, the Pentagon re-named the term “self inflicted injurious behaviors”. Way to make up for it guys....did you hold an elementary school competition on who could come up with the best synonym for suicide, and the winner got a shiny new computer lab for their fellow students? Could you imagine if they’re actually reporting 41 attempts, how many there's truly been? Everyday at lunch time...."shit, it's noon, there goes Benny smashing his doggy bowl over his head until he's unconscious...I betcha 20 push-ups he wakes in less than 5."

The problem with this place is that no one wants to be there but no country wants them back. Most of the criminals there now are those involved in terrorist groups, and since that's the case, no country wants to admit they harbor terrorists. Some men await trial and others are just waiting......waiting for the day they can pick up the Kur'an again and read some religious nonsense that got them there in the first place. And by the way, they don't let them have any holy books while in prison and this causes animosity. Personally, I think it's a catch-22. If these guys get out, they hate you and our country for denying them their opportunity to educate themselves in their faith and therefore they blow themselves up to kill Americans because that somehow is holy. On the other hand, you can give them their holy books, they become obsessed fundamentalists and take snipits of dialogue from the text, misconstrue it into something totally absurd like, 'kill kill da white man"(howard stern in "Private Parts").....and they go ahead and draft up a plan to fly airplanes through our tallest buildings. It's a Bush family choice that Obama's working to make obsolete.

What it all comes down to really is whether or not the release of these prisoners is in the best interest of our country and whether or not they are given a trial for whatever it is they're being detained for. If it's prison because the guy is religious and suspected of enjoying terrorism, I still don't believe you could hold someone prisoner on a hunch. If the guy willfully committed a crime then like any other jailbird, keep em locked up. If he was trying to escape his country illegally then ask him which he would rather do, go back to his country and hope not to get killed or stay in the jail. But seriously, you've gotta let those people go that you have no evidence on...unless somehow you prove they're insane and need constant medical this case, every chicken is labeled in the pen as inflicting self-injurious behaviors...therefore, they're all a bit crazy...we just have to find which pharmaceutical company Cheney owns so he can profit while drugging them up.

.........i've always wanted to say this...."fo shizzle'......