A Grumpy Old Man Complaining About Teenagers

I listened to Vampire Weekend for the first time yesterday. I figured, “What the hell? I might as well know what these worthless shitbag kids are shelling out their e-money for. Maybe they’re not completely stupid. Maybe I’ve been missing out on the greatest thing since the Beatles…”

Not exactly, but they weren’t as bad as I imagined they could be. I expected some 5th generation used up emo, indie bullshit. It wasn’t that. I’ll give them some credit there. You know what it was? It was Paul Simon circa 1986. Exactly. Completely stolen. Granted, I only listened to one song, but what do you want from me? Am I supposed to sit through an entire album that’s a watered- down rip off of a huge gigantic bigger-than-life blockbuster hit less than 25 years old? It wasn’t even subtle. It was blatant. In fact, the song I heard was Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes. It had the same melody, the same chord progression, the same production, and all the same hooks in all the same places. The only thing it was missing was the poignancy of the lyrics.

And there it is folks. That’s what’s headlining at Bumbershoot and Coachella these days. That’s what’s selling out crowds of 50,000. That’s what’s making a million dollars. But most sadly, that’s what has cred.

Paul Simon is not nobody. He is a household name, and Graceland is undoubtedly his most famous work. It has sold more than 5 million copies, hit number three on the US charts and in the UK was number one. You Can Call Me Al, the undisputed hit song off the record, to this day gets extensive radio play on every Clearchannel soft rock radio station in the country. For christ’s sake you can hear the song while shopping for groceries.

But I guess it’s all new to these stupid kids who have their collective heads up their collective asses and who don’t seem to understand that anything existed before the year 2000. And why should they? They’ve got their iPhones and their BlackBerrys. If they want any information about anything at all it’s right there in their pocket. Why concern yourself with anything that doesn’t immediately affect you when you have access to everything instantly? I’d say I don’t blame them, but I’d be lying.

They are fucking retarded and they are setting themselves and all of us up for a nightmarish Orwellian future care of 1984; another reference none of them will get. It astounds me and breaks my heart when an obvious reference to something enormous floats past their blank and confused stares to dissipate into the air like so much smoke from a joint they aren’t puffing on.

Not too long ago I went to a “90s party.” I actually grew up in the 90s and remember what it was like. I could spend the next hour and quite a few pages describing the party culture of the 1990s, but instead I’ll tell you what it wasn’t like. That party. Those lame kids missed the point completely. They all put tremendous effort into their outfits, but the only people that hit the nail on the head were people in their 30s who had been there. Some of them raided their parents’ closets, and some went to Goodwill, but none of them got it. No one seemed to understand that the 90s were about being yourself, and not conforming which is the only thing these kids seem to know how to do. No one seemed to realize that the reason people looked the way that they did was because they were making a conscious effort to not look like everybody else. No one seemed to get that the 90s were what they were because the bottom line was integrity and everything else was somewhat of a moot point. But the thing that was the most obviously wrong with the party is that no one was smoking pot.

Sorry kids. Pot was a huge part of the 90s and to have a 90s party without a haze of marijuana smoke floating in the air is like having a barbecue without beer or meat.

To me that’s the saddest part of it all. There is more access to information than ever before, but its availability has had the converse effect. Instead of thirsting for knowledge, these kids dismiss it as useless baggage. Hell, they probably don’t even think about it even that much. The limit of their collective memory seems to be about 6 years max and they seem to be okay with it. Hell, if I was smart I’d remake OK Computer and sell it to them as a brand new thing for top dollar. It sure worked for Vampire Weekend.

San Francisco Street Bakery and the Problem with the Left

It is before 7am here in Olympia and I’m up early. The sky is a hazy purplish grey that is obscured by a thin misty spring rain. The sound of crows and distant commuter traffic is interrupted every few minutes by the beeping and hydraulic whirring noises of garbage trucks. It is light out, but dim. The sun has not quite risen yet, and judging from the vapory look of the cloudy sky we might not see it at all today.

Few people awake at this hour are in a good mood. Those wearing smiles are most likely still up and coming down from whatever drug it is that kept them up this late; probably some sort of speedy hallucinogen like LSD or ecstasy or some new-fangled pharmaceutical that quack doctors prescribe to the 4th grade children of nouveau yuppie parents that pay top dollar for recycled containers, drive Honda Elements, and have otherwise “gone green.”

Most of the people up at this hour are most of the people in the country. They are the “work force” of America, if you will. These people have long forgotten what it’s like to sleep past 10am. They wake up before the sun, and in the winter months drive home after dark. Most of them have gradually become numbed to the sting of waking up early. They don’t think about the reason for the groggy frowns they wear, and god help us if they ever did. If that fateful day ever came the vast majority of the population might see how futile their actions really are in regards to their own well being. They might stop pushing papers for insurance companies and brokerage firms. Doctored photographs of ethnically diverse models may never get photoshopped onto blue envelopes full of coupons to be endlessly stuffed into mailboxes around the country. Memos and leaflets updating staff to the trends of politically correct corporate jargon might never get distributed. People everywhere might all of a sudden realize that it makes no difference at all what Mary Kate Olsen is wearing or what Miley Cyrus thinks of Obama.

And if that day comes then you’d better watch out, friend, because that will be the day that they break out the big guns. The day this sleepy ignorant populace opens their third eye and stops doing all the mindless and stupid shit that keeps those 25 white guys who own everything calling the shots will be the day that Abrams tanks roll through the streets of every major city in America. There will be a curfew announced through bullhorns and enforced with rubber bullets as they zip through clouds of nerve gas. The powers that be won’t hesitate for even a second to focus the Eye of Sauron on this nation’s citizens, especially if they stop pulling the levers that make the machine work.

All this, of course, is only setting up the backdrop for the real rant and rave. Anyone who has ever read anything I have written in the past already knows where I stand on things like politics, religion, and our philistine culture, but that doesn’t mean I won’t shove it down your throat again. If there is one thing I absolutely understand about human nature and American culture specifically, it is that redundancy, however annoying, is effective. Hershey didn’t get to be a household name by not blaring constant commercials at us much the same way as AOL didn’t merge with Time/Warner by not flooding our mailboxes with startup discs in 1997, the year of the Ox.

The real point of all of this is that I am up early- very early for me, for reasons that I can’t explain. Sometimes my body is just done sleeping and when that happens I don’t see any reason at all to fight it. That being what it is I am still not a morning person. I rarely see the hour of dawn and on those mornings that I do it is usually a signal for me to hurriedly finish my beer and get the fuck into bed before it’s too bright in my room to pass out properly. So on these rare days when I am up and about at garbage time I need things like coffee and bagels.

And those things are precisely what I sought out this morning. I put my pants on and left the house bound for the local neighborhood bakery where I had every intention of buying fresh bagels and cream cheese. When I walked through the wide open door of the brightly lit establishment I was greeted by no one even though several people were scurrying about doing baker-type things. It wasn’t until I had walked across the room and taken the cream cheese from the refrigerator that a fellow with a stupid indie rock beard and wearing the tight black uniform of a Northwest leftist/anarchist/post hippie type finally took notice of me. It took him a second, seemingly, to muster up the wherewithal to tell me in his passive/aggressive way that, “Um, sir, the bakery’s not open for another half hour.” What he meant was:

Hey weirdo, what’s wrong with you? Get the fuck out of here.

I was a little surprised, not by the semi-rude greeting, but that a bakery wouldn’t be open by 6am. My response was equally passive/aggressive.

“Oh,” I said, “I’ll come back later.” What I meant was:

What do you mean you’re not open? You’re a fucking bakery. I’m trying to give you money shit-for-brains.

Of course I wasn’t going back. I’m never going back. I hate that place and everything they represent. The San Francisco Street Bakery in Olympia is a monument to everything stupid and backwards about the neo-leftist ineffectual pseudo counter-culture. They do everything half-assed. They not being open after 6am is one grain of sand in the beach of things that that place does wrong. They are rude, slow, snooty, pretentious, and to top it all off they are terrible bakers. Their breads are hard and dry, their desserts are sandy and tough, their soups are bland and boring, and their hired staff is unknowledgeable of their products.

I can recall a specific instance when I and my girlfriend at the time went in for a sandwich despite my urges against it. It was mid-afternoon and we were the only customers in the place. There were four or five workers milling about, some behind the counter directly in front of us. Even though we had been standing there for minutes and were obviously ready to order they seemingly ignored us and opted to focus on menial tasks like changing the trash bags or counting the money in the tip jar. I of course expected this sort of lackadaisical treatment from the backwards scenesters that work there and had resigned myself to not get involved. Megan, on the other hand, seemed stunned. She shot me a drop jawed look of disbelief, but I only shrugged. Eventually she took action and got the attention of one of the employees, a poorly groomed girl that looked to be about 20 years old.

“What can I get you?”

“I’d like a bagel sandwich please.”

Megan knew what she wanted. She had crafted her order based upon the chalkboard menu that was posted in plain view and advertised “bagel sandwiches” along with the available toppings and their respective prices.

“What kind of bagel?”

She went into it. After all she had had plenty of time to make up her mind.

“I’d like a garlic bagel with pesto cream cheese, sprouts, tomatoes, and onions.”

The dirty girl just kind of stood there as a sort of melancholy washed over her. It was nearly a minute before she kind of looked around sheepishly and replied with, “well, I guess I could cut some onions…”

Even I, as familiar with their practices and suitably jaded as I am, was taken aback by this gross display of ineptitude and laziness. The San Francisco Street Bakery had hit a new low. Megan was appalled.

“Yeah. Why don’t you get on that.” She said with obvious impatience.

Eventually, and it took some time, Megan got her sandwich and we left that horrible place not to come back for a long time.

A business so inept on every front could only exist in Olympia, and even then sometimes it doesn’t last. There used to be a bagel joint downtown next to the Café Vita called Otto’s. For years they ran unchallenged as the only place you could get a bagel downtown. They operated in a similarly cavalier fashion as the San Francisco Street Bakery. It was work to go there. You had to physically muster up the gumption it was going to take to run the gauntlet of sighs and eye rolls that you knew you were going to get from the staff after waiting in line twenty minutes to order a bagel and a cup of coffee. My circle of friends and I had a running gag that one day one of us would open a bagel shop right next door to Otto’s and call it “Faster Than Otto’s: Now With Less Attitude!”

In its last few months of operation someone must have noticed that business was declining as a direct result of their uppity rudeness and the place actually started shaping up. But it was too little too late. A few short months later Otto’s closed its doors forever and now there is no place to get a good bagel in Downtown Olympia.

It is this same backward ethos that seems to be the backbone not only of Olympia in general, but the whole of the leftist movement. There is a pervasive attitude among the liberal types that they are owed something by the world and that any act of responsibility on their part, no matter how menial, is somehow doing you a favor. I’ve seen this same thread running throughout nearly every aspect of the so-called progressive movement. This vile hypocrisy when combined with a complete lack of organization and self-motivation form a self-destructive and corrosive compound that’s stench is so pungent and overwhelming it is no wonder that they lose every political battle they get into. It is the reason I can’t stand going to the Co-op or the Farmers Market. It’s the reason I inwardly scoff at all the black house kids. It’s the reason I’ll go out of my way to avoid the pockets of bums that collect in certain designated spots downtown. It is their failure and it is a shame.

It is a shame because deep down their core ideals are inherently correct. This capitalist system is completely fucked up. There is injustice everywhere you look. The balance of power is completely lopsided and kept that way by a tiny sliver of a percentage of greedy monsters that maintain their strangle-hold on all of us by brute force, fear, and deceptive trickery. There are so many aspects of our society that are so obviously wrong and easily correctable yet maintained just to keep a very few malignant organizations intact.

They are right to want to topple the structure, but they miss a very acute and important point. You can’t fix something by tearing it down. Destruction is destruction period. The only thing that could justify tearing down the entrenched structure and fighting through a violent and bloody war to get there would be if there was something better to replace it. So far these same people that shout from the sidelines about “anarchy” and “revolution”; these same people that protest police by smashing windows; these same bums that get indignant when I don’t hand them my money and cigarettes for no good reason at all; have displayed time and time again that they are incompetent jack-asses that couldn’t run water from a spigot let alone a complex and intricate society.

The so-called anarchists, that paradoxically seem to fall in line and adopt a credo more than most straight-laced people, would be the first to get royally fucked by the disintegration of the society they so vehemently trumpet against. What they don’t seem to understand is that society is not keeping them down so much as it is propping them up. Where else but America could a bunch of shitheads with facial tattoos and bones in their ears who stink and have scabies get away with smoking cigarettes and drinking beer all day without ever earning any of the money that they come across? If the revolution ever actually does happen, these dumb suckers will be the first in line to be used as meat shields by the vicious and barbarous villains that their hated society protects them from.

In the end I got my bagels and cream cheese from Ralph’s, the right wing overpriced grocery store that is run by goofy bible thumping Mormons. I may not agree with their politics, but their lines move quickly and if I need something they don’t make me feel like I’m putting them out by asking. Politics may be entrenched and woven through everything, but they’re nothing I need to flavor my breakfast.

I Hate What America Has Become

This is a repost from a rant I found on craigslist. You would do well to heed it.

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There are so many reasons that frankly, it’s hard to pick a place to start:

First of all…..when 28% of you brain dead fucking morons give a blithering IDIOT like Sarah Palin positive approval ratings and think she ought to run for president in 2012, it really makes me sick to know I am lumbered with that many mouth-breathing Cro-Magnons I unfortunately have to consider as my fellow countrymen….trust me…..I don’t. You motherfuckers are beyond help.

And before you go thinking this is a “liberal” based rant…..that brings me to one more item on an ever-lengthening list.

This “Liberal” versus “Conservative” paradigm that so many of you simple dunces buy into…..as BOTH parties sell you out to the multinational corporations, banks and special interests that actually run Washington D.C.)…..you do this STUPID dance every day, blithely detatched from the reality that YOU YOURSELF are helping to DIVIDE AND CONQUER the nation, as you myopically beat your little Hannity/Olberman drum of FUTILE self -righteous indignation. PATHETIC.

THIS is a nation of PUSSIES AND FUCKING COWARDS. If this nation had any BALLS WHATSOEVER, there would be a trail of DEAD MEN SWINGING FROM THE ENDS OF ROPES leading from AIG, thru WALL STREET, the not-so “Federal” reserve, the 9/11 commission, and right through every other set-up con-job you people just buy into like a bunch of CATTLE BEING LED TO SLAUGHTER.

It’s not that Americans don’t give a fuck…..every misled, misdirected group that goes out and crusades for the “Grand Cause” they think is responsible for the decimation of this ONCE great nation proves that…..the problem IS that the problem ISN’T illegal aliens (i.e. Minutemen) or Democrats in Washington (i.e. Teabaggers) or conservative policies (i.e. Code Pink)…….the problem is …… AMERICANS THEMSELVES.

AMERICANS have sat on THEIR ASSES while Washington and the Pentagon have BANKRUPTED THE TREASURY and sent our sons and daughters into MEAT GRINDERS in Iraq and Afghanistan for WMD’s and connections to 9/11 that did NOT EXIST and even AFTER the overwhelming evidence that the intel was “swept all up” (doctored, falsified, unreliable) you STUPID SHEEP keep buying into the BRAIN DEAD notion that somehow, these wars are for the FREEDOM of America.

You’re an IDIOT. They’re wars for EMPIRE.

Your son’s and daughter’s BLOOD is being used as OIL to grease an evil, out of control WAR MACHINE….Your money and financial security is being DEVOURED by Wall St. and the Federal Reserve, with collusion from YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES, and your standard of living is slowly eroding into a two-class system as the middle class is being FORCED INTO EXTINCTION……

……and you do NOTHING to stop ANY of it.

You ignorant FOOLS who send shotgun Emails to all your friends warning of “death panels” and other such HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY PROPAGANDA, yes, you friggin’ GOMERS actually think the Health Insurance Industry has your best interests in mind, and it’s “dat mean ol’ gubmint” that wants to penalize you by providing your family health care that isn’t profit-based.

MEDICARE only got passed because it effectively REMOVED the highest-risk group to the insurance providers (the elderly) from the ‘pool’ of prospective insurees, thereby minimizing their financial exposure. It’s completely lost on most people that catastrophic illness is the main reason for personal bankruptcy….and that 75% of those who had to file HAD health insurance.

And this is the ‘status quo’ many of you are defending. You are BEYOND dense.

America has lost it’s HONOR, as well as it’s collective senses. I don’t wish upon America any malice or catastrophe…..trust me, this is happening with assistance and collusion from the top down, not from some Arab in a cave. I just want to leave peacefully and live in a place that doesn’t have leaders that hope for a “catastrophic and catalyzing event” to promote a war agenda that takes pride in kicking the shit out of unarmed peasants living in the dirt….then blames them for retaliating. Can’t wait to see this dysfunctional madhouse in my rear view mirror.

When you abide by a system of government that you FULLY EXPECT will side AGAINST YOU and WITH corporate lobbyists (MANY of whom represent interests that are not even from the USA) who BRIBE THEM WITH BALES OF CASH….and are working 24/7 to maximize their profits and minimize their potential competition in the marketplace…..all at the expense of you and your family….and don’t lift a FINGER to do ANYTHING TO CHANGE IT……you fucking DESERVE WHAT’S COMING. What might that be…..?

Think Germany and the treaty of Versailles…..when a wheelbarrow full of Deutschmarks is what it took to buy a MEAL.

WHEN the dollar collapses…..not IF, WHEN…..THAT’S when you’ll really begin to see the true definition of FASCISM. The unity of government and corporations to economically and militarily control it’s people. History WILL repeat itself….but if you’re like so many of the morons in the USA who think they’re so smart but don’t know SHIT…..it will all be NEW TO YOU. Good luck…..you’ll need it.

This is the most ARROGANT nation in EXISTANCE, second only to ISRAEL….and since ALL of our politicians are falling over backwards to kiss Israel’s ASS on a daily basis, fully knowing that exposing any inconvenient TRUTH about them equals political SUICIDE….that and the mass media in America that feeds it’s daily ration of BULLSHIT is controlled by individuals biased towards them as well….ANYONE who thinks they know what is going on because they read TIME magazine and watch CNN, FOX news OR MSNBC…..you are DELUSIONAL.

One nation under God….? What a JOKE.

MONEY is God here pal….even people who are reading this who hate the words I typed KNOW this is true. What does it say in your bible about the love of money? The root of all evil, no?

How DARE this nation question human rights abuses of other nations after Abu Ghraib and countless other bombing and torture campaigns, where it was stated it is passable to crush the testicles of young boys in front of their fathers to extract information.

How DARE this nation deign to be the world’s nuclear police when WE are the only nation to ever USE NUKES.

MOST of you actually consider Palestinians as TERRORISTS, when it is THEY who have been occupied, imprisoned behind 25 foot high concrete walls and denied basic human decency by APARTHEID ISRAEL. Those of you who get your info from American media REMAIN IGNORANT OF THE TRUTH.

You’re probably wondering if I’m some Arab, or other person hostile to “America’s Freedoms” lol…. Yeah, you’re really free here…….

Free to go BANKRUPT if you get sick, even if you HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE.

Free to vote on DIEBOLD voting machines that can flip elections and leave no paper trail.

Free to watch your life savings DWINDLE AND EVAPORATE into the pockets of the ROBBER BARONS you PATRONIZE.

Free to watch your JOB get shipped to CHINA….and then you fucking FOOLS buy the goods PRODUCED FORM THOSE JOBS at Wal Mart, further REWARDING AND ENCOURAGING businesses to CONTINUE this pattern. I have never bought a fucking THING from Wal-Mart, and if you have…..you are a simple, stupid FUCKSTICK.

You’re free to be video monitored, photographed by the millisecond at traffic light traps, electronically surveiled, searched with no warrant, shaken down and partially disrobed at airports, free to be told how much shampoo you are allowed to carry in your luggage, free to buy processed foods that give you cancer, genetically altered vegetables that contain neat things like INSECT DNA, free to pay more than ANY OTHER COUNTRY ON THE PLANET for pharmeceuticals, free to be the pharmaceutical company’s guinea pig for drugs that have potentially catastrophic side effects, free to have PUBLIC POLICY DICTATED TO YOU by government ‘officials’ that have dual citizenship with ISRAEL, free to have ANY MEANINGFUL TRUTH WITHHELD FROM YOU by the mass media……

…..and free to be one of the ONE OUT OF EVERY HUNDRED AMERICANS living in PRISON.

Land of the free, home of the brave??

More like land of the SHEEP and home of the SLAVE.

Letter to Classmates dot Shit

With regards to your policy:

I just spent two hours writing my “story” for my profile page only to find out after I was done that I’m being censored.

I went back and took out all the “swear words” and I still had to submit the thing for review.

What the fuck?

What’s wrong with you people? I can’t say shit? I can’t give a factual account of what happened? This is a site for full-grown adults, not some kids show on the Disney channel. Besides that, as I’m typing there a flashing ad for “Sexy Singles in my Area” with ridiculous pictures of photoshopped model whores that might as well have cum dripping off their faces. That’s acceptable, but the word “fuck” isn’t? What year do you think this is? Your intrusive ads, your shameless self-promotion, and your site’s endless visual noise are far more offensive than anything I could ever write in words.

I’m not even going to go into how stupid, clunky, and generally shitty the rest of your website is compared to facebook where I’m NOT censored and they NEVER ask me for my money, but I will tell you that I’m absolutely fed up with your bullshit site. If, by tomorrow, I don’t get a letter of apology from you and permission to write whatever I want on my page I’m never going to your stupid site again. Not only that, I will also post this letter all over the internet and forever badmouth and mock classmates.com until your site goes under, which it absolutely will.

You people are retarded dinosaurs. Get with it.

Garbijman

The Obama Controversy

Recently Barack Obama’s citizenship has come into question. A pack of hard-line conservatives led by Obama’s former Illinois Senate rival Alan Keys has questioned the validity of the President’s Hawaiian birth certificate.

To be clear, President Obama has provided an official copy of the birth certificate that was validated by the U.S. Supreme Court, but for Keyes and a handful of others that claim that, “Obama is a Communist” and “…will destroy this country,” that doesn’t seem to be enough. The state of Hawaii has refused to provide the original birth certificate citing reasons of “personal privacy” and that has fueled what appears to be a desperate attack to have Obama thrown out of office for fraud and treason.

To anyone with a clear head and an objective mind Keyes appears to have a nasty case of sour grapes. His allegations against the President seem to be a desperate last-ditch attempt to smear the most overwhelmingly popular President since Jack Kennedy.

But Keyes’ allegations bring to light a very valid and important “what if?”

What if the birth certificate Obama provided and the Supreme Court ratified was a fake? What if Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States of America?

Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution states, “No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.” Those are the only legal qualifications for the Presidency and, if we are to adhere to the Constitution, the very basis of this country’s ideals and ethos, those qualifications must be met.

If Keyes is right and Obama is not a natural born citizen, we, as a nation, are left with two options:
1) Remove Barack Obama from office immediately and charge him with fraud and treason
2) Amend the Constitution

These are both very extreme options, but there is no other recourse. If Barack Obama was not born in the United States then he is not legally qualified to be President. And surely, if he wasn’t, he knew it therefore he willfully committed fraud and treason at the highest level and intentionally usurped the one thing he was sworn to protect and uphold at all costs.

Taking into consideration Obama’s overwhelming popularity and his seemingly good intentions it is not out of the question that the second option would be strongly considered by Congress. If those steps were taken and the Constitution was amended to allow Obama to remain President it would open the door for Arnold Schwarzenegger to become President someday and would fuel conspiracy theorists around the globe to presume that it “was the plan all along”.

This is all assuming that Alan Keyes and his team of radicals are not just making a pathetic and lustful power grab, but actually have legitimate concern for the welfare of this country. Given the recent record of conservative Republican behavior in times of a Democratic White House however, the latter seems unlikely.

Remember Kenneth Starr, the former judge and solicitor general who was appointed to the Office of the Independent Counsel to investigate the Whitewater land transactions by Bill Clinton? His findings led him to ultimately file the Starr Report which unveiled the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to Clinton’s impeachment.

IMPEACHMENT

Bill Clinton was IMPEACHED. The only other President in the history of the United States to have been impeached was Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States. Andrew Johnson inherited the Presidency when Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. He is renowned by historians as being one of the worst Presidents ever and was eventually brought to trial for violation of the Tenure of Office Act, a blatant abuse of power and justifiable grounds for his impeachment.

The official reason for Clinton’s impeachment was perjury. It was alleged that Clinton lied on the witness stand when accused of having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, an unpaid intern. While perjury is a very serious offense the question remains as to why Clinton’s fidelity was ever brought into question in a court of law in the first place. There is no law against infidelity. It is not a crime to get a blowjob in your office from a college student, and if there was then probably every President except for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as well as all of Wall Street would be locked up.

In the end Bill Clinton was acquitted. He served two terms as President, but the ramifications of his impeachment have set an ugly precedent. If adultery is grounds for impeachment then surely Obstruction of Justice, Burglary, and Treason should make the cut. Those were the crimes of Nixon, Reagan, and both George Bushes.

Nixon’s crime was the Watergate Scandal, a clear-cut case of political fixing, illegal surveillance, and burglary. Nixon resigned under a cloud of shame only to be pardoned by his loyal Vice President Gerald Ford while much of his cabinet saw jail time.

Reagan and Bush Sr.’s malfeasance was the Iran-Contra affair. Sometime in the height of Reagan’s Presidency senior executive officials were busted selling weapons to Iran, who was under a weapons embargo at the time. The tens of millions of dollars they made were used to fund the Nicaraguan Contras, a military junta that illegally overthrew a democratically elected government. The main scapegoat in the Iran-Contra affair was USMC Lt. Col. Oliver North, a high-ranking official in the military brass who had regular discourse with both Reagan and Bush. Somehow they all walked. No one got busted and Reagan was written into the history books as a true American hero even though he is remembered by most as a hapless dupe and a foul and wretched stain on the national character.

George W. Bush used the World Trade Center bombings of September 11, 2001 as a springboard to declare war with Iraq, a country that was not involved in the attacks in any way. The U.S. Constitution clearly states that only Congress can declare war, but Bush did it anyway citing reasons of “national security”.

He also signed into law the Patriot Act, a vile and vicious 1000 page document that all but renders the Constitution obsolete and impotent. The Patriot Act, among other things, allows the FBI to tap phones, intercept e-mails, and review medical and financial records without a warrant (a direct violation and undermining of Amendment IV of the U.S. Constitution). It also provides the federal government with the legal ability to detain anyone they want indefinitely without due process of law or even a simple explanation as to why they have been apprehended. At its core the Patriot Act completely undermines the Constitution, the one thing George W. Bush was sworn to protect. Treason.

When compared to those crimes, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (if the bogus charges have any legitimacy at all)’s indiscretions seem like nothing at all, and their investigation a tremendous waste of time and taxpayer money.

Still, Bill Clinton came out of it alright. He is widely remembered as a successful and popular President that maintained an era of peace and prosperity in the last years of the American Century. And while Barack Obama’s ordeal is just beginning, he is handling it in the best way possible. He is ignoring it completely. The Supreme Court has found him legitimate. He is the President, and he seems to know that he has more important things to do than succumb to a political witch hunt by vindictive fools that blame him for the 8 years of looting done by the Bush administration and who are led by a small pathetic man with a chip on his shoulder and an axe to grind.

The Hockey Beard Part 2

The Hockey Beard is a phenomenon I’d only just heard about. It came up when some friends and I were ganging up on my roommate to try and convince him to shave his wretched beard that his girlfriend proclaims “smells like wet cheese.”

“I can’t shave now.” He declared, “It’s the playoffs.”

“What in god’s name are you talking about?” I asked.

“It’s the third round of the playoffs. You know, hockey. It’s a Hockey Beard now.”

“What?”

“You know, a Hockey Beard. You’ve never heard of this?”

“Heard of what?”

“Oh, man! You don’t know about the Hockey Beard?”

“What’s a Hockey Beard?”

He explained, “Every year at the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs hardcore hockey fans start growing a beard until their team gets eliminated. That’s why, at the Stanley Cup Finals, most of the crowd has beards.”

“I’ve never heard of this. And besides all that, what does hockey have to do with you and your beard? You’ve never watched a game of hockey in your life.”

“Not true,” he proclaimed, “this is a Hockey Beard and the Red Wings are still in it. I can’t shave.”

“Bullocks.”, I told him. “You’ve been growing this beard for months now. It has nothing to do with hockey. Besides, you’ve never even been to Detroit.”

“Detroit?” he asked. “Who’s talking about Detroit? I’m just a fan of red wings.” He laughed a drug addled laugh and took a sip of his beer.

I had seen through his façade easily enough, but he had sparked new questions in my brain. I was now fixated on the Hockey Beard. How long has this been going on? Where did it originate? Why hadn’t I heard about it until just now? Is this somehow related to the phenomenon of the bad indie rock beard of this decade? Are the hockey playoffs partly responsible for why hipsters everywhere are running around dressed like Tom Sawyer? Perhaps this is the missing link I’ve been looking for. Perhaps the Hockey Beard is the root of all my confusion as to why pop culture has been so generally rotten and foul for the last 9 years.

In my mind there was only one way to get to the bottom of this. I needed to get in touch with my old philosophy professor Terry Allan Breese.

Back in the mid 1990s Professor Breese, as he was known professionally even though all his students called him Terry, was famous around the beaches of Southern California for throwing fantastic tiki lounge parties at his beachfront villa in Malibu. The parties would always start out as a small gathering of students to discuss matters of philosophy over fine wine and cigars in his very elegant study. As the wine flowed and the conversation became more abstract the party would spill out onto the beach where the mood was more festive. There was always good music; Terry had excellent taste. Indoors there would be soft classical pop lingering just loud enough to generate an ambience yet low enough to keep conversation at a civil and natural speaking volume. Outside on the beach the music was more upbeat. It was usually of the space lounge variety hailing mostly from the middle sixties, but interspersed with some modern equivalents like Combustible Edison, Mark Mothersbaugh, or Sukia. The speakers on the beach were always set at just the right level; so strategically placed, and so well camouflaged that it seemed like the music was emanating out of thin air. The mood was always semi-tropical and the weather was always perfect like only Southern California can be. There was always a fully stocked bar where the guests would take turns bartending and showing off their skills at mixing drinks that were sweet and colorful and looked as though they should be drank from a coconut. It became sort of a running competition as to who could make the best mai-tai, the best bay breeze, or the best fuzzy navel. Eventually the party would evolve into a glorious orgy of the beautiful elite getting naked and celebrating life and love beneath the stars of a picturesque Southern California night sky.

I spent many hours pondering as to how the parties never got out of control. Or for that matter, how news of them never seemed to spread beyond a controlled circle of very attractive and equally intelligent thinkers. There was never a fight, or even any hint of violence. Everyone would be drunk, stoned, or both, but very rarely did anyone ever get belligerent or rude. Somehow Terry always maintained an atmosphere that was calm and civilized even into the wee hours of the morning. When the sun began to come up everyone seemed to instinctively know that the party was over. The guests were always careful to clean up after themselves as they would make their way to their sports cars and their motorcycles. By that hour mostly everyone had sobered up enough to drive, and those that didn’t were often escorted into town where they could sit at a bistro in Santa Monica or Venice and enjoy a latte or a cappuccino, and maybe a spot of breakfast on a patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Those carefree days are over now. The late 1990s were a golden era of peace and prosperity that this country may never see again, and Southern California, to me at least, seemed to be the epicenter of it all. These days I live in Olympia. Terry likely keeps his beachfront home, but currently resides in Washington D.C. as Minister-Counsellor & Chargé d’Affaires as well as acting U.S. Ambassador to Canada.

I went through my rolodex calling old phone numbers of fellow students and friends from back then trying desperately to get in touch with Terry, now a very prominent member of the Obama Administration. After a few hours and many phone calls I was given his cell number by my friend Ephraim who still keeps in touch with Terry and now works as a model and an actor in Los Angeles.

I called from my car as I made my way across town to meet with a professor at The Evergreen State College over a different matter entirely. To my good fortune Terry was available and answered his phone.

“Terry, this is Wylie VanWenger. I was one of your students at Pepperdine. You might remember me. We used to discuss Spinozan theory at length in your study at your beach house in Malibu.”

“Ah yes. I remember quite clearly. You used to argue that the illusion of free will is in fact the root of all freedom. How are you?”

“I’m good. How are things in Washington?”

“Oh, busy. Busy. We’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s an awful big mess to clean up and nobody really knows where to start. Still, we’re trying. What can you do besides chomp at the bit, eh? What can I do for you, Wylie?”

“Well, to be honest I just found out about this thing called the Hockey Beard and I was wondering what you could tell me about it.”

Terry laughed. “Ah yes. The Hockey Beard. A strange superstition indeed. What would you like to know?”

“Well, for starters, where did it come from?”

“Well, no one knows for sure, but the general consensus is that it was started sometime in the 1980s by the New York Islanders.”

“So it’s not a Canadian thing?”

“I didn’t say that. I said it started with the Islanders. Since then it’s been co-opted by professional hockey players and fans everywhere, especially in Canada.”

“That makes sense. It’s bloody cold up there. Any excuse to grow a beard is probably a good one.”

“That, and it’s a sort of tradition now. It’s silly really. The notion that luck is a force that can be controlled by anything, let alone a beard, is nothing more than ridiculous superstition. Still, try telling that to a Canadiens fan in a pub in Montreal and you’re likely to get rolled by a gang of bearded French-Canadian thugs.”

“So people take this pretty seriously then?”

“Oh they take it gravely seriously. I’m met men that won’t even buy shaving cream in May and that shave their beards with a hunting knife and cold water if their team gets knocked out.”

It was just about then that I took a right turn and noticed a helicopter that was flying overhead. There was nothing unusual about it at first, but as I watched it further it seemed to be flying a bit erratically. It was rotating upwards and gaining altitude while its tail dropped. It was putting itself into a position that couldn’t possibly sustain flight. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Something was definitely wrong and I had to do something.

“Jesus Christ!” I yelled. “Terry, I’ve got to go. I think a helicopter is about to crash.”

I didn’t wait for him to respond. I hung up on Terry, yanked the car to the side of the road, and dialed 911. As I did the helicopter lost its grip on the skies and began tumbling backwards toward the earth.

“Emergency services, what’s your emergency?”

“I’m on the West Side of Olympia. There’s a helicopter falling out of the sky. I need you to deploy every emergency vehicle you have.”

“Where exactly is the crash taking place?”

“Christ, how should I know? Somewhere northwest of Harrison and Division. Send something fast!”

As I hung up the phone I saw a bright flash and heard a tremendous explosion. There was now a plume of black smoke billowing into the sky somewhere to the west. I pointed my car in that direction and sped toward the beacon.

As I made my way toward the wreck I was passed by a motorcade of speeding police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. I followed them to the crash site which was somewhere on the outskirts of town past Louise Lake and out near Delphi Road, and old logging road that winds through the mountains. We were not the first to arrive. The whole area was a sea of red and blue lights, emergency vehicles, military vehicles, and a swarm of cops, EMTs, and soldiers that I assumed were from nearby Ft. Lewis. I followed in my car as far as I could go, but before I got anywhere near the crash I was stopped by a uniformed soldier holding an assault rifle. I noticed that he had a beard.

“No civilians beyond this point.” He said matter-of-factly.

“What happened? I saw the helicopter go down. Is the pilot alright?”

“Are you the person who made the call to emergency services?” he asked me, his tone now more human and less official.

“Yeah. I called 911 about 5 minutes ago.”

“We appreciate the effort, but we had warning already. The helicopter you saw was engaged in a field exercise. All further information is classified.

“I understand. Is there anything I can do to help?”

“The best thing you can do is to go back about your business and forget you ever saw anything. Don’t tell anybody what you saw here today. We’ve got the situation under control.”

I shrugged. He was right. There was nothing I could do at that point even if I had wanted to. The pilot was likely dead. Mangled to an unrecognizably charred and bloody pulp entangled is a flaming wreck of twisted metal. His death would be chalked up as collateral damage, and his family would be told nothing. He would get a military burial while his wife would get a folded flag and probably a check for five figures.

I started to turn around and continue with my business at the college, but before I did I had to ask, “Sir, are you by chance a hockey fan?”

A smile made its way to his face. “Pittsburgh. Born and raised. I’m not shaving this thing ‘till the Penguins win the Cup.”

The Hockey Beard Part 1.

The Hockey Beard
Part 1.

My roommate is hell bent on growing a four-foot long ZZ Top style beard for no good reason at all except that he can. He has made several beard attempts in recent years, but they all have ended with feelings of despair, regret, and shame.

The first time he tried was in the autumn of 2003; the only attempt with any logic behind it. He had been cast a small speaking role in a production of The Medea, an ancient Greek tragedy by Sophocles. He, as well as every other male character, was required to grow a sizable beard for his role.

And grow a sizable beard he did indeed. Jabe is half Italian and very hairy. His beard grows fast and thick as does the hair on his head. After 6 weeks he was sporting a full thick mat of hair on his face that would rival that of any Alaskan fishing boat captain.

Being the loyal friend that I am I decided to join him in a “sympathy beard”. I also refrained from shaving for 6 long weeks. My beard, by comparison, was pathetic. It didn’t look all that bad, but compared to Jabe’s it was the difference between a sporty economy coupe and a Formula 1 racecar. My beard had no real shape and you could still see skin and the remnants of a once-attractive man beneath it.

It was the last time I let any facial hair get out of control. I didn’t like who I became. The beard started taking over. It was influential in key decisions. It clouded my judgment. It was a surly and cocky beard and its arrogance pinnacled in a monumental boast that I could out drink anybody in Olympia that was willing to challenge me. For a short while my beard remained unchallenged, but it only fed fuel to the fire. With each passing day my beard shouted louder and louder and became more brash and offensive. “Cowards!” it would shout from atop a coffee table at a party, “I’ll out drink any one of you weak-stomached amateurs. Name your alcohol. Name the place and time. I’ll show you what it means to get drunk in this town!”

Finally my good friend Anna Severn stepped up to the plate. “Enough!” she yelled. “You and your beard are full of shit. I’ll out drink the both of you!”

Money started flying around the room instantly. My beard had stirred up a lot of mixed emotions. Its confidence was inspiring to some and detested by others. There was no middle ground. You were either with me or against me, and in that way the contest was not unlike a race for the Presidency of the United States of America.

I laughed in her face. The notion that I could get taken down by a girl was simply preposterous. This wasn’t Raiders of the Lost Ark, this was real life. And in real life women cannot out drink men.

That’s what I thought, at least. Had I been clean shaven I might have given more thought to the fact that we were nearly the same weight and that she was quite the competent drinker. I may have considered the fact that out of the gates I’ll match anyone, but as the night wears on—especially when hard alcohol is in the mix—I tend to go from zero to passed out cold in a split second.

These things did not concern my beard, however. “Name the place!” it yelled.

“Right here!” she yelled back. Ooohs and ahhs came from the crowd. More money changed hands.

“Name the time!”

“This Saturday, at the Halloween Party!”

“Name your poison!”

“Cape Cods!”

Immediately the room exploded into laughter. More money exchanged hands and the scales were tipped in my favor. We formed a committee of Anna, myself, and our two biggest supporters to establish the rules:

1) We would begin in the kitchen of Mara and Christian’s house at precisely 10:00pm that Saturday night.
2) The drinks would be double tall Cape Cods, made with Absolut vodka and mixed by a third and impartial party.
3) Every drink must be matched. It would be up to the discretion of whoever finished their drink first whether they wish to wait for the other to finish their drink, or force them to pound it and begin another.
4) Should a drink be spilled it must be replaced in full with no credit.
5) Passing out constitutes a loss.
6) Vomit constitutes a loss.
7) Any unwillingness to participate any further constitutes a loss.

The rules were agreed upon. Hands were shaken. Bets were made. It was a contest of honor and pride. There was no prize for the winner other than glory and gloating rights. It was a testament to all things noble of mankind. It was on.

The contest began innocently enough. Our drinks were prepared. We counted down. When 10:00 struck a pistol was fired, we clinked our glasses, and we began drinking. I was the first to finish the initial drink. I opted, out of politeness and a spirit of sportsmanship, to let Anna finish at her own pace. By the end of the second double, however, things began to get hairy. Our genteel contest was beginning to get vicious and cutthroat. There was still laughter and smiles exchanged between us, but beneath it all ran a tone of treachery and bloodlust. The side bets, which were constantly being updated, were spiraling out of control. It was no longer a simple contest between two friends, but an epic battle of opposing forces with hundreds of dollars at stake.

The odds were lingering in my favor at around 5/4 by the end of the third round, but I was starting to get nervous. How long can I keep this up? I wondered. I’ve been preparing for days and I’m getting straight faded. She must know how drunk I am. How much longer can I last?

Things got blurry from there. It was somewhere toward the end of round six that I decided in my mind that I’d had enough. I had little at stake in this. By Jove I was drunk and I wanted sleep. I’d had nearly 12 drinks. What would be the shame in conceding at this point? If I lost to Anna at least I would be losing to a friend and not some random drifter that would mark our hometown as a den of suckers and rubes for all eternity.

The decision was made instantly. I staggered outside to find Anna and concede the contest to her. I vaguely remember tapping her on the shoulder and seeing her swing around. I tried to tell her that I gave up and that she was the winner, but all that came out of my mouth was some mumbled gibberish.

It didn’t matter, though. Anna knew what I was trying to tell her. A glow washed over her as she asked me, “Are you giving up?” I nodded my head in agreement. There was a roar of simultaneous cheers and boos from all around. I was pelted with garbage as I made my way back inside while Anna was congratulated and her victory celebrated by everyone that hadn’t bet against her.

It wasn’t until I had reached the kitchen that I realized what I had done. How could I have folded so easily? Yes I was drunk, but I wasn’t finished. How could I have been so hasty? So short-sighted? So weak? Every wrong turn I’d made in my whole life was manifesting itself right before my eyes and mocking me.

Enough is enough, I thought. I focused my attention on Stacy, our impartial bartender. “Make me another one.” I demanded.

“But I thought…”

“Never mind. You heard it all wrong. This contest is far from over if I have anything to say about it. I need another one fast. I spilled my last one and I’ve got some catching up to do.”

My case was sound. I had never actually admitted defeat. I never even said any words at all. All that cheering and shouting must have been over something else entirely. I’ll walk back outside proudly with a nearly full drink as though nothing had happened and no one will be the wiser. We’ll see yet who is the better drinker!

And that is exactly what I did. I walked back outside with a second wind and a fresh drink. My actions sparked a massive explosion of confusion and chaos. Money had begun to change hands, but there had not been enough time for business to be concluded. People thought I was out of the running, but here I was with a drink in my hand and a smile on my face implying otherwise.

Anna, who was still basking in the glow of her win, glared at me. Her face contorted from lighthearted glee to a distrustful grimace. “What’s going on here?” she demanded.

“What are you talking about?” I asked her as I sipped my new drink.

“What are you doing with that drink? I thought you conceded.”

“Wherever did you get that idea?” I asked taking another drink.

“You did! You came out here a minute ago and conceded! This contest is over! I won!” She was shouting and waving her finger in my face. Her arms were flailing around like a muppet on speed. She was visibly upset and a little confused, but she knew what I was up to.

“I did no such thing.” I proclaimed. I flashed her a knowing and mischievous grin. Its subtlety did not go unnoticed.

“Right there!” She pointed at my face. “You know you gave up and you’re trying to cheat!”

It was all true what she was saying, but I was never going to admit to it. As far as I was concerned I hadn’t broken any rules and I was still in the running, but I knew I was doomed. Too many people had witnessed my concession, and even though they were all drunk few were as drunk as Anna and myself.

The crowd was forming into a mob now. Faces were getting angrier and people were starting to get violent. My stunt, I thought, was clever, but the people that had their rent on the line didn’t find it as charming as I did. The crowd started jeering and booing. Anna looked like a judge at a witch trial. She had god on her side and she knew it. She was righteous and she was casting out the devil. She had all the momentum now. The crowd started throwing cans of beer at me. I managed to dodge a couple, but they kept coming. I was being run out of town like a snake oil salesman.

“This whole contest was fixed from the start!” I yelled as someone dragged me around the side of the house. “You’re all a bunch of winos and drunks and potheads! You people are worse than Nixon and Bush put together!”

That one did it. People started throwing their bottles now. I had no choice but to turn around and make a run for it while covering the back of my head with my arms. I felt like Frankenstein’s monster and Spiro Agnew. I was being run out on a rail, and for what? What crime had I committed other than a healthy commitment to the spirit of competition?

Of course I knew how absurd I was being. I broke every rule in the book. I boasted and mocked my competition. I conceded, and then tried to weasel my way back into the running. I behaved like a scoundrel from the very beginning and I got exactly what I deserved.

The next afternoon when I woke up I went to the bathroom, vomited, brushed my teeth, and took a razor to my face with extreme prejudice. It was the beard’s fault that I had behaved the way that I did. The beard had cost me my honor and my pride.

I looked in the mirror at the old me; the sensible and pragmatic me. I breathed a sigh of relief and vowed to myself never to let that happen to me again.

But that is neither here nor there. The real story is the phenomenon of the Hockey Beard.