Archive for the ‘VENTilation’ category

Pennsylvania Primary Pep-Talk

April 21, 2008

OK, Pennsylvania, your time has come.  Make your country proud.  O-fucking-Bama for president.  Yes We Can.

Yea, sorry, that’s all Ive got.  Discussing the election and the merits of the candidates is draining at this point, not to mention pointless. I think most people have made up their minds, if not about who the best possible candidate is, at least about who they are going to vote for.  So I won’t get all worked up in a Billary bashing tirade; I’ve already done that.  I’ve moved on.

Instead, I’ll provide you with links to websites that do it for me! It’s so much easier that way.

Since their is still a chance Hillary can win this damn thing, and the possibility that Pennsylvania might be the next Ohio (which means i might owe the state a giant roundhouse kick when this is all over), we have to be open to the possibility that she might actually be our next president.  That being said, the best thing about a bad president is that they often are great to make fun of.  Hillary is no exception, and in fact I think she’d be a gold mine for people like me who enjoy sarcastic and sometimes (often) immature satire. 

See, I’m giving Hillary credit for something.  Who says I can’t be objective?

Ok, I take that back. She sucks. Enjoy the Billary bashing!

http://hilldabeast.com/

http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/hillaryclinton/Hillary_Clinton_Jokes.htm

 

The Libelous Label of “Organized Religion”

April 16, 2008

Do you really believe in what you think you believe in?  Do you really believe in what you say you believe in? 

There were so many ways that I could begin this conversation, but I started with those two questions because of the Pope’s visit to the US and the articles Ive been reading recently about how people flock to see him and be blessed by him, and about how others have angrily protested the Vatican’s inaction regarding the implementation of stricter policies governing the handling of priests found guilty of sexual abuse. I was also thinking about someone I overheard in the pantry at my office, speaking to another person about how good his bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich was this morning, and laughing about how “bad” a Jew he was.

What does that even mean?  I wonder if he has ever thought about what it means to be a “bad Jew”, about what the word “bad” means in that context, or even about what the word “Jew” means, in any context.  These words could easily be replaced with “good” or “practicing” or “moderate” or “Muslim” or “Christian” or “Hindu”.

I’m a Catholic.  I heart Jesus.  If it wasn’t for him being born, I wouldn’t have gotten that PS3 for Christmas.  Crap, it’s Lent…I should give up something important to me…OK, no green skittles for a week.

I’m a Muslim, but I loves me a cold beer every now and then.  And that interest I’m collecting from those bonds I bought?  I’m gonna take that to Vegas and let it ride.

Obviously I could continue on that thread for a while.  I just find it strange, these labels we throw around all the time, terms that do little to define who we are and what we believe, even if the terms are meant to do just that – classify us into groups of “organized” “religion” that are supposed to unite those who claim to believe the same things.  But do these labels really serve to unite us?  Or do they just cram a bunch of people under a roof that is inherently fractious? And do not the walls supporting that roof divide us into separate rooms? And does not that roof obstruct our view of the heavens, where the history of our origins lie – the origins that unite us all?

Man, there are so many directions I can run with this, I don’t know where to start.

You may wonder why I quoted “organized” and “religion” separately.  I just think that these words that we use to classify ourselves are thrown around far too often without any thought being given to what they actually mean.  Good luck using a dictionary — I tried looking up “religion” online, and the results were incredibly diverse, and in many cases, stunning.  Does religion have to be a collection of stories and verses that are carved in stone, and whose message we are obligated to embrace as a means of avoiding divine wrath?  Why do so many people equate adherence to a specific set of doctrines with virtue? Why are we so eager to exalt our own beliefs as a singular, one-way path to salvation?

I believe that religion is a highly personal relationship between an individual and some other being, or force, or any other greater power or feeling that that individual chooses to acknowledge.  I believe that an individual’s religion is the totality of his or her philosophies and feelings towards that being and the connection they have with it.  In turn, I believe that this relationship is so unique that no two people in the world believe in and act out those beliefs in exactly the same way, and therefore, no two people have the same religion.  For example, suppose there are two brothers who both call themselves Muslim and believe in the Qur’an as the source of divine knowledge.  One brother believes that every word of the Qur’an, without exception, is divine, and he chooses to practice it as strictly and literally as he possibly can.  The other brother uses the Qur’an as a guide to model his life after, but disagrees with a few aspects of it, or refuses to adhere to one or two codes of conduct (e.g. canon dictating how inheritance should be distributed amongst family members).  By choosing to ignore or expressing doubt in even a single verse of a book that is supposed to be the preserved and complete word of God, he is actually expressing doubt in one of the most fundamental principles of Islam – that the Qur’an as a text is divine.  That cannot be understated; something cannot be almost divine or partially divine, and by choosing to believe in 99% of a text claiming to be 100% divine, the second brother is implicitly rejecting that text’s central claim to divinity.  And while it may seem that the doubt that the second brother harbors regarding one or two specific passages out of an entire text amounts to only a small fracture in his devotion to that text – in this case, a devotion on which piety is utterly dependant – a small fracture in a divine text is one through which the entire universe can pass.  I believe that it would be wrong to say that the two brothers have the same religion, and that, one way or another, this example can be applied to us all.

Accordingly, if we all have a different religion, how can our religions be “organized”?  I don’t think they can be, nor do I think we should strive to make them so.  We do not all have to believe the same thing in order to be unified; on the contrary, I believe that such a philosophy inhibits unity by creating an us/them mentality.  I have met so many people in my life who say that they were born into a religion, as if it was a genetic attribute, and people who claim to be a member of a religious organization yet openly admit to disagreeing with many aspects of that religion.  If you do not believe in it, then it is not your religion.  I think that if religion is merely something you affiliate yourself with rather than something you truly believe in, then you cannot honestly and conscientiously call yourself a practitioner of that religion. You can only be a practitioner of your own religion, because consciously or not, your practices – the very way that you live your life – are a reflection of what you believe, and what you believe is in fact your religion.  Unity is not achieved through conformity, but rather by accepting and embracing each other’s individuality; ironically, our differences are the one thing that we all have in common.

When Family Ties Become a Noose

April 8, 2008

Last night I went to bed at 2AM, much later than usual, and even then I couldn’t sleep. My mind was too busy formulating arguments, acting out imagined confrontations, and wondering how their consequences would shape my future. I was thinking about remote places I could move to so that I could avoid similar confrontations, then chided myself for entertaining the idea that even an ocean would provide a carpet vast enough for me to sweep my demons under. Sure, Fiji is pretty far away, but the demons that inhabit my head would still be within a whisper’s reach…unless I could somehow unscrew my head and punt it into orbit. Yet even then, would I finally find solace, or would what once were whispers turn into ear-splitting screams, increasing in pitch after every attempt to drown them out?

Probably the latter. But I didn’t go quite this far last night in bed. I was just pissed. I had just finished a two and half hour long “conversation” with my older brother. We barely speak unless we have to, and these days, I strongly prefer that arrangement. He does not. He wants me to call him more often, and he wants me to want to call him more often. He wants to be close, the way were raised to be, the way brothers are supposed to be. To many this may sound logical and wouldn’t be the subject of much debate. But when dealing with personal relationships, especially familial ones, how can there be a blueprint for the way they are “supposed to be”? Don’t all siblings have different relationships with each other? Relationships are based on mental and emotional connections between people. If every person is different, would not a relationship reflect that distinctiveness? Shouldn’t it?

The problem lies partially in the fact that my brother has an idea of the kind of relationships brothers should have, and he wants ours to conform to it. But I don’t feel that way. Not that brothers should not be close, but rather the relationship should be built on that mental and emotional connection, rather than the inherent physical one that family members are born into. I do believe that there is something innately unique about the familial bond, the idea of a shared origin and history. But I also feel that my brother, and many other people, get too lost in the melodrama of “the same blood coursing through our veins” bullshit and forget the bottom line – I’m and adult, you’re an adult, I’m this way, you’re that way, I believe this, you believe that…and in this case, I believe that you’re way of being and adult makes you an asshole.

There, it’s out in the open, sitting on the table both of us were envisioning in our minds as we spoke on the phone. A little box that my brother’s astral form walked over to and opened, pulling out the sweater that my astral form knitted for him. It was a thick, heavy sweater with an unattractive horizontal stitch that made him look fatter than he was. And in the middle of the sweater, it read, “ASSHOLE.”

He refused to wear the sweater, of course. I tried to explain to him in a sincere and sympathetically blunted fashion why it was a perfect fit for him, but when I held it up to his chest and he stole a glance in the mirror, he didn’t like what he saw, and threw it back in the box. But I explained to him that I didn’t knit that sweater alone; he had been knitting it with me, guiding every pierce and pull and knot of thread. Whether or not it looked the way he wanted it to look is irrelevant. We both made the fucking sweater. Wear it, Goddamit. I’m sick of hearing that the sweater should read “BROTHER” instead. If you want, you can make it read “ASSHOLE BROTHER”…but he never relented because he didn’t believe that the two words could form a meaningful phrase.

But you know they can. You have a sibling. You share a deep bond that will probably last your entire lives. You say you probably love him or her in a way…but really you know you do and just don’t like talking about it. You haven’t had such a fucked up lifetime movie-esque past that would cause you to completely deny those feelings, or to outright abandon them. But you can love someone and still dislike them. How you interact and socialize with someone on a regular basis – not when compelled to by circumstance, but rather on the basis of trust and comfort – will be governed by whether or not you like that person, rather than by virtue of a shared genetic code that too often unravels and takes the shape of a noose that tightens with every struggle.

Unlike my brother, I am OK with not being that close; our relationship is 23 years in the making, and I accept it for what it is. I cannot will myself to change how I feel about him, nor will I attempt to in an effort to recreate p. 17 of the Happy Family Handbook. I am not against change, but if it happens it will happen naturally, just like it always has. I am lucky enough to have people in my life who I genuinely like and trust and can count on for support, mainly close friends. And while my brother spent a lot of time last night on the phone trying to impress upon me the fact that friends can never be family, and warning me that they cannot be counted on the way a brother can, my past and recent experiences, as well as my observations of the experiences of others, have proved to me that anyone who believes this has not been blessed enough to experience true friendship. Your brother or sister may also be your friend, but then again, they may not be one at all. My brother was quick to regurgitate what he felt were time-tested nuggets of traditional wisdom, but given that he has proven himself to be unworthy of my trust, they were interpreted to me as nothing more than clichés – hollow and meaningless, and certainly inapplicable. I can’t help but imagine someone sitting in small lonely boat out on a lake, hookless, baitless fishing lines deeply submerged, floating stationary and lifeless as the fish swim by, attentive but not persuaded.

What I’m trying to say is that while family ties are special, they should not be taken for granted so as to simply assume that they can forge and maintain a healthy relationship amongst those between whom they exist. It is not that easy. Meaningful relationships rarely are, and they shouldn’t be. Trust may lie in the heart, but it is not necessarily bound by blood. And while the grounds for closeness might be more fertile in the family plot, it also requires a hell of a lot more water. If it’s important to you, you would be wise to tend to it often, because even if the flowers never completely dry up, it is actually quite easy for them to grow apart.

Isiah Thomas Replaced, and Now My Dog Won’t Die

April 2, 2008

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After 5+ years of doing everything in his power to DESTROY BASKETBALL IN NEW YORK, Isiah Thomas’ reign of darkness as general manager of the Knicks is finally over. Holy crap that feels good to say.  The Knicks are and always will be my favorite sports team, and I have stuck with them through thick and thin, but this season in particular has been the greatest test of loyalty I have ever faced in my 14 years as a Knicks fan.  Not only are the Knicks on their way to the first 60-loss season in the history in their storied history, but the amount of  embarrassments suffered by members of the organization on and off the court this year has greatly contributed to an atmosphere in Knicks-Universe that can be described only as PUTRID.  Putrid as in a dead dog carcass infested with colonies of maggots that you walk by on the side of the road but smelled the block before, and upon passing realized it was your dog.  Now imagine that instead of the carcass being on the side of the road so that you can simply hold your breath and walk by it, the carcass is in the middle of a 5×5 concrete cell that you are locked into, seemingly with no hope of escape.  Now imagine that a crazy inmate breaks free from his cell and pulls the latch that opens all the cells in the prison complex that your cell is in.  Your gate opens, and you thrust yourself towards the exit in one great leap..but then you stop short behind the the steel gate and latch onto the bars, unconsciously clinching them with all of your might, your body trembling as you try to come to terms with the decision your heart has already made for you…that you love that God-forsaken dog and you would never leave it, even though you could, even though the other selfish opportunistic inmates encourage you to do so and chide you as a fool for not running away and being a Nets fan while you had the chance.  Then they all run away, leaving you to wallow in your misery, knowing that, open gates or not, you never seriously thought about trying to escape…but then suddenly you close your eyes and push back the tears that have welled up by remembering that you never really wanted to, because you LOVE that freaking dog. You love it, Goddamit, and you don’t care who knows it, and it may stink all to be damned and make your skin crawl at the very sight of it, but you still can’t imagine yourself going anywhere without it.

Well, the Knicks were that dog, and I, along with the 12 other true DIEHARD Knicks fans remaining in the world, was that inmate.  The other inmates encouraging you to leave were the parasitic band-wagon-jumping fake Knicks fans who double as your friends in between games. Isiah Thomas was the flesh eating virus that was tearing the dog apart. Jim Dolan, the idiot owner of the Knicks, was the evil corrupted psycho veterinarian that injected the virus into the dog, and gave the virus a CONTRACT EXTENSION last year so that it could do even more damage. isiah-spoof.jpg

I don’t want to jump to any conclusions about Donnie Walsh, Thomas’ replacement, by hailing him as some kind of messiah who can resurrect the Knicks from the dead… I dunno, maybe he’ll be like the blonde cheerleader from Heroes who has the ability to heal herself, and Donnie could give the Knicks some of his super-healing blood and help resuscitate the franchise (I think that’s a more fair comparison..the cheerleader is pretty, but I still think Jesus is more impressive – raising the dead ain’t as easy as it sounds).

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Here is a very quick completely unresearched regurgitation of why Isiah Thomas was the most horrible GM in the history not just of GMs but rather in the history of all living organisms:

-the Jared Jeffries contract

-the Malik Rose trade

-the Tim Thomas trade (KVH had less years left..i think)

-being the only GM in the NBA dumb enough to trade for Jalen Rose, giving up a huge expiring contract in the process, only to promptly WAIVE HIM and eat almost the entire contract when it itself was about to expire and provide a huge trading chip (!!!!!)

-acquiring Marbury and Hardaway only cuz Thomas saw himself in Marbury…then trading the HUGE expiring contract of Penny Hardaway for STEVE FRANCIS’ HUGE contract…then later trading Steve Francis’ HUGE EXPIRING contract for Zach Randolph’s HUGE long-term contract (!!!!)

-giving up great draft pics for Eddy Curry, who Isiah doesn’t even give minutes to anymore

-Hiring Larry Brown and giving him the richest coaching contract in the NBA. He was terrible fit for the Knicks and for Thomas, as Brown has a short fuse and needed to have total roster control, which Thomas would never be willing to relinquish, and subsequently firing Brown for a bullshit contract violation and but paying him most of the money anyway, as ruled by an arbitrator.

-The Anucha Brown Sanders sexual harassment trial (“all I did was put my arms around her and ask her for a kiss, and then she pushed me away and I said, what ‘Nuche, no love?”  What a jerk.)

-the planned attack on Carmelo Anthony that resulted in a brawl and several lengthy suspensions.  It was symbolic of Thomas’ dirty style of play as a former player the lack of integrity he exhibits as a person, and set a horrible example for a team loaded with rookies who worshipped him.

-the JEROME JAMES signing. (I just threw up a little)

jerome-james.jpg Stop staring at me, you slow, chunky bastard.

 The crazy thing is I probably forgot at least 10 other huge bonehead moves.  Donnie Walsh will exhibit the fiscal responsibility Thomas had absolutely no regard for and implement a long-term, team-oriented philosophy rather than go after the biggest name on the market every season.  And unless Jim Dolan gets in the way, Walsh will also relieve Thomas of his responsibilities as coach of the Knicks, and then file a restraining order stating that Isiah Thomas must remain at a distance from the Knicks that is no closer to New York than the great sovereign nation of Tibet, in the hopes that Thomas will not know that Tibet is not a sovereign nation and will thus wander in search of it even farther east and into China, where he will ask a Chinese politician for directions to the great sovereign nation of Tibet and subsequently be arrested and subjected to Chinese Water Torture (this video is funny because I think having to hang out with those girls is actually worse than real Chinese Water Torture), and since the media in China is censored it will never make it onto Google and the world will forget about Thomas and years he tried to destroy the Knicks.

I think I just saw my dog open his eyes.  

I am proud to say that I stayed behind to be there when it did.

Let’s go Knicks!

dog-knicks.jpg

Turkish Sidebar

April 1, 2008

Forgot to mention a few relevant notes about the trip to Turkey:

What freaking continent is this country a part of?  The guide says that Turkey is part of both Europe and Asia, a division marked by the Bosphorous Strait.  That leaves the vast majority of the country in Asia, including the capital.  But Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, lies at the crux of this division. Turkey is listed as a European nation almost everywhere on the web, and has a recent political history of making a concerted effort to make it into the European fraternity.  I’d like some answers.

Travellers all over love to debate as to which guide books are the best, and everyone gives me a different answer.  Lonely Planet is incredibly detailed and informative, though for many that is one of its drawbacks – it takes forever to map out an itinerary.  It also lacks in pictures…but I felt it was the best bet for me because since I am planning this trip so far in advance, I want to know aLL the background info and make informed decisions.  Frommer’s and Michelin are also popular choices and have easy to understand maps.  I’m tired of people rolling their eyes when I tell them which one I have…there needs to be some general consensus, or Oprah’s book club should nominate one or something..though I’m sure all you worldly blog readers have an opinion to share (at least I hope you do).

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(sidebar to this sidebar: reading these travel guides makes anyone who likes to write think about how cool it would be to work for these companies that pay you to write about your experiences… check out this great blog for tips on how to separate your travel blog from the crowd.)

I was thinking of hopping on a boat to Greece from Turkey, but now I’m thinking that if the Greek people find out I’m coming from Turkey they might drop a roofie in my ouzo and throw me off Mt. Olympus.  Should I be concerned about this? C’mon guys, I know you’ve hated each other for decades, but can you finally put this little feud behind you..for my sake?  Whaddya say..can we hug it out?

Too many sidebars to list…with all the planning I’m putting into this, by the time I finally go on this vacation, I’m really gonna need it.

BILLARY EXPOSED!

March 17, 2008

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I swear this is how Billary looked during her last press conference I asked her if she was trying to brainwash everyone into thinking she was human when she was really the devil’s wife and she said “yer darn tootin i is” in the fake southern accent she mysteriously picks up when she’s campaigning in southern states and then I told her to reveal herself and then she morphed into her true self and i turned and looked at the other reporters and was like WTF why arent you taking pictures of the devil woman and they didnt answer and just stood there hypnotized with blank eyes and then she swung her pointy devil’s tail to try to knock the phonecam out of my hand but I caught it with my left hand and then pulled her closer and round house kicked her in the face and she said arRrGH and blew a fireball at me but I ninja flipped over it and took a pic on my phone cam and escaped and posted it online so you ppl could see the truth and NOT VOTE FOR HER you hear me pennsylvania dont do it or seriously I will come over there and round-house kick all of you retards in the face and take a pic of you crying and post it so America can know who is responsible for it’s destruction if BILLARY is victorious. Don’t test me Im serious and deadly.

OK I know this post is childish and shoots down whatever credibility this blog has regarding politics, but since this blog never had any credibility regarding politics I guess it is not much of a setback.  This is also a manifestation of how I get around election time, and I’ve heard enough campaigning and my decision is made and Hillary is a buttface and I want my opinion to be known.  If you close your eyes and listen to her closely during debates and then open them again you will see what I see.  Try it, it’s true.

La Ville de Vent

March 17, 2008

chi-room-view.jpeg

Just back from my long weekend in Chicago. Being that I am scouting cities around the world as possible near-future residences, I was amped about visiting chi-town for the first time, and it did not disappoint. Chicago is a beautiful city with a lot to do and see, and really laid back, friendly citizens. As a NY’er I wasn’t used to it… I had to learn not be so skeptical of ppl who stop you on the streets to pass out flyers, ask questions or advertise events. I found myself checking my pockets way too many times… not that I had any good reason to other than my innate paranoia of being jacked. But never fear, travelers – you can leave your box cutters at home. South-side Chicago is definitely rough, but as long as you don’t venture too far out you should be straight. The Mile was Magnificent and I spent an entire day walking around, taking pictures, and being an annoying tourist. I met some great ppl and made some new friends in a city I’d like to visit more often. I also stayed in a baLLer apartment in Streeterville procured by my bigshot companion for the weekend..the above pic of the view was taken (amazingly, on my usually shitty credit-card rewards gift camera) from the terrace outside the bedroom. I done moved on up, biatch. Well, at least for a weekend.

Tips/Notes:

¤For skyline views, go to the one at the Hancock Observatory. The view is beautiful, you can see the Sear’s tower, and admission is quick and hassle-free. I can’t stress how important that is. Skip the Sear’s Tower at all costs! It sucks cuz you can’t see the main thing you wanna see in a Chicago skyline – the Sear’s Tower itself. Worst of all, the lines are craZy because the security there is airport-like. There was only ONE working metal detector and the line was out the freakin door. Then after you get cavity searched, you go to a separate line to buy tix [buy online if you can..thank God we did]. THEN you go to a room where they make you wait for 15 minutes before they herd you into a screening room where they make you watch a crappy video about the tower’s construction which they stole from the History Channel (I’m gonna check to make sure that they have fulfilled their copyright obligations…if not, they’re going down). Only then can you cram into the elevator that takes you up to the skydeck…the elevator pressure kills your eardrums, worse than any flight Ive ever been on. Oh, and not only do they keep you locked up forever in lines and rooms, they don’t provide cell reception either, efefctively cutting off any lifelines. I felt like a freaking hostage. What a waste of time. [I could go on but I am now remembering that this post is supposed to be about how I loved Chicago…but angry rants are so much more fun.]

¤ I went in March cuz I wanted to go with my friend who had an important obligation…otherwise try go in April or later, when theyre are so many more events and the weather isn’t nearly as cold, and getting around is so much easier (the outdoor trolley runs, the free walking tours, the boat trips around the city, etc). Plus you can make use of the beach that borders the city in the north.

¤ Deep dish pizza is good, but this chicago-pizza-is-better-than-new york-pizza crap I’m hearing needs to be put to rest, cuz it ain’t [see, ranting is easier].

¤ Where are you, Chicago arabs? People there were friendly, but I still felt deserted. I went to two shisha places, and the first was blasting reggae music, and the second had pop music. No arabs in sight, only brownies (desi ppl) and the occasional eclectic white posse. WTF? Where were the TVs showing music videos of Nancy Ajram hand washing laundry in a bucket between her legs, Tamer Hosni wearing tight leather pants and pretending to ride a motorcycle, Rubi in a red-dental-floss-and-sequin outfit doing her seizure-like belly dance in the middle of a bustling street, Hisham Abbas attempting to bhangra in front of a cutout of the Taj Mahal, or some random heavily made-up arabic chick singing a pop song while feigning exercise on an elliptical machine while the camera zooms in and out to capture all the glorious, supposedly-seductive angles? Where were the rude and spacey waiters who take your order and never come back, then overcharge you before making up some excuse about how things always cost extra on Wednesdays between 5:56 and 7:42pm? And where were the all the chubby old arab men alternating shisha pipes with camel cigarettes, chest hair protruding, bitching about politics and how business is at the store, and competing with young wannabe arab casanovas with overly gelled hair and freshly threaded eyebrows [and chest hair protruding as well..we re all hairy bastards] for the attention of the band of young arab girls who all told their parents they were going to a friend’s place to work on a project for school so they could get out of the house and away from the watchful eyes of their moms whose only goal in life is to preserve the freshness of their daughter’s flowers? If I move to Chicago, I’m opening up a shisha bar, with the full array of arab-isms intact.

Thanks for a great weekend, Chicago. We shall meet again.

Share you thoughts on Chi-town!

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