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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

WHO?!?



Written by Lisa Ann Goodrich Klein Terzo etc.

So, I was talking to my husband the other day and I said, “RUDOLPH! What the hell is going on around here??!!!”

He had the audacity to ask me who Rudolph was, since his name was Henry.

So I said, “HENRY, what the hell is going on around here and where is Rudolph???”

He had the audacity to say he didn’t know.

So I said, “DON’T you think it’s time you found out?”

Well HE DID no such thing.

He called up some relative person and her husband and asked them over for a visit.

So THEY came over and I served them delicious Tastee Kakes from my science oven.

THEY were ungrateful. And they asked why I kept putting TIN FOIL in the science oven.

Well, I told them that Rudolph SAID that is proper protocol when sissies come over with designer bags and whiskey!

Well….

THEY said they didn’t know who Rudolph was!

So I said, “DON’T you THINK YOU should find out??? Gawd you people are STUPID!”

Soo..then the female sissy had to use the powder room that I recently redesigned thanks to the helpful real people on my very expensive television that I got at the flea market last week. SHE thought it was WISE to flush a FEMININE product down my perfectly clean toilet which I cleaned with a product I obtained from the neighbor who is not nuts. And, well then the shit hit the fan. Being that the POWDER room is upstairs over top of my beautiful beige and light blue living room, the toilet crashed through the ceiling, crushing the faux-banana-frond fan I had installed to save power on my power and water bill.

SHE said she was sorry.

I said she was indeed sorry and should put her underwear back on and mop up the floor while I contacted Amy’s List for a RELIABLE plumber.

Henry drank the whiskey.

Meanwhile, the male sissy was in the back-yard peeing on my neatly trimmed hedges because he obviously couldn’t use the powder room and he didn’t know we had a custom out-house with catalogs. My dog (the resin replica Boston Terrier I got from a sale at the garden store so I didn’t have to take care of a real dog) looked on in amusement. He didn’t understand the disrobing.

Henry admired the male sissy’s tramp stamp.

I told the boy to find his underwear.

During ALL OF THIS NONSENSE...I was on hold with Amy’s List. My computer wasn’t working as I had left it at a shop I had found at Amy’s List, so I had to use the telephone. I used Henry’s because he had more minutes than I did and he didn’t really mind because he is just dumb.

Henry was STILL drinking the whiskey.

SO ANYWAY...if you people could please stop interrupting me I will TRY to finish this. Sheesh.

So ya….I got a plumber list from Amy’s list and wrote it down in my steno pad. I always keep steno pads because they have lines in the middle so I can make two lists if I need to. AND so, I called one of the bastards up and told him about the fan and the shit.

He asked if I had whiskey.

I told him that I would ask Henry, but I did have traveler’s checks left over from 1985.

He showed up.

Plumbers from Amy’s List have to wear name badges on their shirts so you know they’re plumbers and not piano tuners.

When the doorbell chimed, (a tune I personally wrote, by the way) I opened the door to greet a snappy young man with the required name badge.

I walked him into the house and gathered the Henry and sissies around, pointed to the man’s shirt badge and said THIS…..DAMN YOU. IS RUDOLPH!

Really, his badge said Rudy….but he had told me at a trade show last week that his full name was Rudolph.
Rudolph, the world's best dressed plumber.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

VOICE YOUR CHOICE

   Having been born in 1958, I was a kid in the 1960s, a youngster in the 1970s, and a bit of a grown-up in the 1980s. As with many of my kin and friends, I identified with several of the popular and noteworthy people of the day. Likewise, I reacted against certain other famous folks. This sort of internalizing of certain values and rejection of others befalls most generations, I'm sure. Often enough, vast civilizations such as the one we call the United States of America witness significant shifting in the nature of that system's heroes and villains. To my father--born in 1920--the important political people were Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, along with Ohio's Governor Rhodes. In the entertainment realm, my Dad loved what was then called Country & Western music, digging as he did Ernest Tubb, Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Buck Owens, among others. In sports, baseball began and ended his fascination. The Big Red Machine--the Cincinnati Reds under Sparky Anderson's reign--was, for him, the only game in town. Regarding big business, he didn't trust millionaires much, although he admitted to idolizing Henry Ford for helping to build much of the middle class. Ford Motor Company commercials blared from the portable radio my father played while shaving in the mornings. My own joy of singing in the early daybreak hours stems from listening to Dad wail along with Hank Snow's "I'm Moving On," making up lyrics as he went, one sample of which sounded like "You should have seen old Rudolph quiver when they slapped him in the face with a reindeer liver. I'm moving on. . . " Both my parents loved absurdities, but Dad in particular embraced them. He would remove the characters from songs and insert my name or mom's, putting us in some fairly ridiculous scenarios. "He stood six foot six and weighed forty-five pounds/With a scruff of yellow hair he'd make the rounds/Big Phil/Big bad Phil. . . " I was only about five years old at the time.
   For the first few years of my life, my heroes mirrored those of my father. The best present anyone could get me in those days would have been either a record or a book. I burned through albums by many of the aforementioned singers and scalded my eyes with the adventures of writers such as Jack London, L. Frank Baum, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson and Daniel Defoe.
   Toward the end of the 1960s, my interests took a permanent detour. While I still loved the songs of those hillbilly millionaires, I also found myself singing and slapping my hands on arm chairs to the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan, The Stooges, and other edgy types. I also discovered jazz and could not get enough of the strange sounds of Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, and Thelonious Monk. All of these people shared with the Country & Western performers a condition of being outside of society. Their work may have been understood, but not by just any old body, and that--along with what I considered to be their musical adventurousness--is what I loved about them. 
   The early days of my politics shared that outsider status. From the daily newspapers I would clip articles about Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jerry Rubin, John Sinclair, Abbie Hoffman and the Berrigan brothers. Some of the 1960s greatest minds were attached to something then strange and exciting to me--namely women. Among the second wave feminists, Gloria Steinem and Simone de Beauvoir were to me equally gorgeous. On a less lascivious level, I loved reading articles and books by Kate Millett, Betty Friedan, and Alice Rossi. As my social attitudes were entering an alignment, my manner of speaking, dressing and acting took on similarities with the people the television media had decided were agitators, weirdos, and radicals. My hair grew a bit longer, my wardrobe took on a calculated casualness, a la bleached-out bell-bottom bluejeans, bright colorless shirts and the occasional beaded choker. At the same time I started employing certain words with very antagonist intentions: "The administration," "the system," "the establishment," "the fuzz." This was not entirely due to psychological programming from television, radio and seventh grade social studies class. I thought hard about what I was doing and often took unfair amounts of criticisms from my friends and classmates. 
   My heroes from those days united around a kind of morality. What I mean is that those people had made the moral and conscious decisions to be anti-war, pro civil rights, anti-materialistic, pro-measured life, anti-imperialistic, pro choice. They were not reading rules about how to think and feel out of some nonexistent book on political correctness. What they did was to take the lessons learned from writers such as John Steinbeck, Carson McCullers, Ursula LeGuin, Leigh Brackett, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Richard Wright, from television shows such as "The Twilight Zone," "Outer Limits," and "Star Trek," from movies such as The Blackboard Jungle, The Agitator, Breathless, The 400 Blows and Blow Up--and concluded that then-contemporary society was intellectually and spiritually bankrupt. 
   The way I moved across this madly spinning orb reflected those absorbed values. 
   I knew very few people who shared my feelings. But I believed in my soul that if I kept looking and living long enough, I would find the people with whom I was psychologically linked.
   The college I attended supplied those people. 
   We'll talk more about that, as well as what is actually most disturbing about the people we are encouraged to idolize nowadays next time out. Until then, remember to attend the church of your choice. Or not.

   

Sunday, September 21, 2014

THE PEOPLE'S CHAMPION

   The name of the game is be hit and hit back.
                                           --Warren Zevon

   To make the claim that one certain song is better than all the other songs feels absurd. A given tune can hold tremendous importance at a given time, yet be forgotten entirely during a different moment. To argue that The Kite Runner or The Great Gatsby or even Ocean's Apart reigns over all other literature flirts with folly. Within the world of the written word, what can a concept such as "the best" even indicate? Would it be remotely possible to select one painting by Picasso and declare that to be the supreme creation of our age? For that matter, by what standards could be taken for granted that Picasso was the ultimate master?
   Even in the world of sports, winning a Super Bowl, or an NBA Championship, or a World Series says (almost) nothing about the long-term survival of that team's status.
   One thing, however, stands firm and tall against any dispute: The greatest boxer in all of history was Muhammad Ali. He would tell you so himself. Indeed, he has done so many, many times. And he told the truth. 
   Two out of three men who beat Ali have found their names dissolved from the public memory. Who today remembers Larry Holmes, much less Leon Spinks? And the only reason people still recall Joe Frazier (who defeated Ali in 1971) is because our champ--The People's Champ--came back and beat the man--twice. The same holds true for Ken Norton, a fighter more celebrated for having lost to Muhammad than for having beaten him. Yes, the people Ali defeated linger in the memory better than those few who defeated him. Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, Cleveland Williams, Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena--these men went down hard, their legends in place because they had the honor of being destroyed by Muhammad Ali.
   Several good movies have trotted out attempts at replicating this man's glory. For my money, two of the better one's are A.K.A. Cassius Clay (1970) and The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013). Both films draw upon inspiring footage to tell most of the visual tale. Both are sure to emphasize the champ's ability to self-promote. Both utilize the social context of the Nation of Islam, civil rights and the Vietnam War for societal context. Yet of the two, it is the more recent that you should see, assuming you can only make time for one of them. A.K.A., though completed and released prior to the United States Supreme Court decision which overturned his conviction for draft evasion, nevertheless feels somewhat light and airy compared to the more hard-hitting Trials presentation. A.K.A., directed by Jim Jacobs and narrated by Richard Kiley, tries to avoid offending its audience by overstepping its ground on the issue of the issues that led to Clay/Ali being stripped of his championship title. Those issues, of course, were black nationalism and declaring himself a conscientious objector. 
   Trials pulls no punches in this regard. Director Bill Siegel begins the movie with a speech by the amazingly pretentious talk show host David Susskind calling Ali out as a coward and a fraud. Ali was no such thing and by the end of the movie, even the skeptics will know it. 
   





Friday, September 19, 2014

BLINDED BY THE NFL

   I began with the idea that the topic of this article would be police brutality in the state of California. I even did quite a bit of research to that end.* However, something I care for even less than police abuse of power flashed its laser beams across our landscape while the piece was in process. Ray Rice got caught coldcocking his future wife in an elevator. 
   Let me be clear: I know shit about sports. Furthermore, I care shit about sports. However, I do know something about getting punched out, just as I happen to be passingly familiar with media obsessions. So when the TMZ video showing the brutal knockout aired over and over, I admit I did experience an initial sense of wonder as to the employment consequences for Rice. And, like you, I felt a visceral wave of disgust. In fact, I was rocked by two waves: First, I wanted to replay the scene in that elevator so that I could step between Rice and his beloved, an admittedly insane act of hubris on my part. Second, I wanted to scream at the salivating public that the primary reason why this scene has resonated like a 9.0 killer earthquake is a shared territory of responsibility. 

   Football is a land acquisition game. It is, at its core, a timed war with tremendous and complex rules matched in their complexity only by the amount of adoration bestowed upon the participants by the rest of us. The games are surrounded by sexually provocative displays of enthusiasm, corporate sponsorship, uniforms, patriotism, casualties, media coverage and endless repetition of the battles, none of which ever ultimately settle anything. And, like war, the game allows many people to get their kicks vicariously through their heroes. 
   I doubt that in our collective lifetimes we as humans will force ourselves to evolve to the point where we reject violence against others. Certainly we believe that we are horrified when we watch a stronger person abuse a weaker one. But that horror manifests in a very situational manner. When GI's slaughtered hundreds at My Lai during the war against Vietnam, most of us screamed in agony. When the CIA set up rendition centers during the Iraq War to facilitate the torture of prisoners, we responded with the emotional revulsion of the St. Vitus dance. But every Sunday between September and January, we continued to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" and salute the warlike behavior of Giants, Red Skins, Bengals, Packers and Raiders (the reason the Arizona Cardinals never win the Super Bowl has a lot to do with the fragility of their name, I suspect). 
   Kids from working class families have very little chance of escaping the bleak nature of their economic realities. Sports and other forms of entertainment remain an attractive alternative to vertical social mobility. Become a warrior and you might just make it out of the jungle. But how? Well, you need to bulk up, learn the skills of the killer, embrace the temporary spoils of war, gain some local sponsorships and you too may be the next Raven spectacular. 
   But don't make the mistake of believing that the mass of the American people will be comfortable with you carrying your learned behavior over into the realm of your personal life. Just because those mind-altering steroids that helped you gain a hundred pounds of pure muscle served you well on the battlefield does not mean that you get to beat up people in your personal life. Oh, hell no! Even though your brain has been paralyzed for the benefit of the NFL owners, that does not absolve you of a certain social responsibility. Nope. You have to take all that leftover energy and channel it into breast cancer awareness programs instead. Never mind that the fans in attendance at your games get drunk and beat each other up because they want to be just like you. Any time you feel yourself thinking about hitting your kid or slapping your wife, just pretend you're a California police officer, or something of similar responsibility. Hey, you're a role model to millions of kids. Behave yourself, pal. 
   Right. That'll happen thanks to the NFL's "peace initiatives." Stay tuned.


*What follows is an extremely partial list, one preempted by the Ray Rice story.
Michael Zinzun: Permanently blinded in one eye by police in 1986, he was awarded $3.84million in damages.
Rodney King: In 1991, four LAPD officers beat the hell out of this man--on camera. Charged locally, the four cops were acquitted. King won a civil suit of $3.8 million. Officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell were convicted in federal court. 
Wayne Calvin Byrd II: Along with four other associates, he was beaten and arrested by the LAPD's CRASH unit in West Los Angeles. Several Pacific Division officers were found guilty of various civil rights violations, including false imprisonment. All charges against the four victims were eventually dropped. 
Javier Ovando: This man was shot and paralyzed by two LAPD officers. The same officers planted a gun on their victim to make it appear he had shot first. In the largest police settlement in Los Angeles history, Ovando was awarded $15 million in damages.
Delphine Allen: The so-called Oakland Riders,a group of presumably rogue police officers, systematically brutalized people on their beat. $11 million was awarded in damages.
Donovan Jackson: This sixteen-year-old was repeatedly assaulted by an Inglewood cop named Jeremy Morse.

Monday, September 1, 2014

FPU

   The expression "community service" leads to visions of forced cleaning of city parks as repayment to the town for breaking a minor law, such as punching a photographer. Sometimes the term takes on a different connotation. Sometimes it means chasing away drug dealers, painting over graffiti, or teaching local kids to read. 
   A certain for-profit university in our local midst here in Phoenix takes that phrase to mean massive expansion.
   This For Profit University began in 1949, never amounting to much when it was run by the Southern Baptists. Then in 2004, the school found itself acquired by a group of businessmen. Over the last decade, the for-profit private Christian university has built an arena, a bowling alley, a promenade, an aquatics center, a food court and a whole bunch of dormitories and parking lots. Enrollment has soared, in large part because of FPU's aggressive campaign to compete with the public universities in the state and region. Their enrollment has hit 59,000 students, many of them online. 
   Times have changed and the For Profit University has evolved with those times. The old way held that the money brought into an educational system through academics, research and athletics recycled itself back into the community that supported that system. The new way, which For Profit spearheads, is to say that the profit from educational, research and athletic endeavors goes back to the shareholders. Those men and women, of course, are expected to reinvest their profits into the community, create jobs, keep the parks clean, scrub the toilets, and all manner of community service. They are job creators, these guys are, and woe unto those who do not get the picture.
   I must admit, I was one of those who failed to see the revelatory light of the FPU masterplan. What I thought--and you will no doubt find this quite naive--was that the school was going to expand itself over an area of our neighborhood, displace a whole lot of people, and pocket the profits. Clearly, my thinking on this matter was out of date.
   I attended a community meeting just last evening, as I write this, a meeting that addressed what is called a Planned Unit Development. If you are unfamiliar, a PUD is a way of rezoning communities so that businesses do not have to rely on antiquated means of takeover such as imminent domain. A PUD allows companies to petition the city for permission to expand into areas they hope to acquire. All this effort requires high-priced attorneys and it was just such a group who moderated last night's standing room only gathering of concerned citizens.
   I had hoped the turnout would be hearty. I had spent the better part of the previous day doing TV news interviews to promote the event. The response surprised me. We had better than 250 local residents and a smattering of co-opted individuals in attendance. 
   The head attorney lead the conversation and set the rules. Rule one: After the initial presentation, a question and answer period would take place. The moderator would call on people to ask questions and that would be the only time people in the audience would be allowed to speak. Rule two: There would be no discussion of buying properties. 
   I didn't care much for either of those rules. But that was way back last evening, before the glory of FPU had lightened mine eyes.
   As I mentioned, the head lawyer moderated, but he was not the only Esq. in attendance. There was an attorney charged with relocations, another who handled community reach out, and another still who dealt with something called entitlement zoning.
   The Q and A was interesting. The school announced they had no plans to widen any streets due to increased traffic. One person inquired about feral cats and abandoned dogs that had been left behind. Another inquired about the Christian students throwing beer cans into the streets. Another pair mentioned that they were unhappy with the religious intolerance toward Muslims and Buddhists. And one person, who claimed to be a former student in the Master's Program, declared his love for the school, especially because "This is the only school that requires a research paper based on a verse from the Bible."
   For the most part, the crowd was antagonistic. People complained about old trees being cut down and old people being evicted. The lawyers explained that those people were quite mistaken. Any problems with speeding through residential neighborhoods should be turned over to the police and they certainly did not endorse religious bigotry.
   Toward the end of the presentation the moderator announced that they had no plans to acquire the community where I live. I was told that the recent media exposure had been a determining factor.