A Supposedly Relaxing Thing That I Just Cannot Get Over

I won’t say it was a dare, as much as something someone said “I just needed to do before death.” That has come pretty nasty intonations, so let’s just get it out of the way that there is no immediate danger here. Unless….

I am standing in a room with twenty-six well-stuffed leather chairs, all of which sport massage rollers along their spines, and some oddly-shaped buckets beneath their bottoms. There are mirrors and photos of East Asian women and lighting that suggests romance is imminent. Sixty-two percent of the chairs are filled with barefoot women who seem to find it acceptable that small Vietnamese people are stuffing cotton balls into their toe crevices and shrieking (loud is not the word for it) with the sort of high-pitched clangs one would expect from people having a fight with flung aluminum cans. Echoes of running water resonate throughout the place.

I am here for something called a mani-pedi, and if we are being honest, I’m kind of freaked out about the whole thing. Filbert (the name explains everything you need to know about him) takes my hand and guides me to my chair at the rear of the room. Filbert is 5’4, with comic strip black hair and the type of effeminate lisp that you just know got him his ass kicked in grade school. Filbert also appears to be flirting with me and lets his hand linger a little too long on my shoulder before passing me on to a woman whose name I didn’t quite get but sounds like “Tongue.”

Tongue has six teeth, and if her name really is Tongue, that would be awesome.

Anyway, Tongue places her hand on my knee and starts to untie my shoes. For those who don’t know, I play a lot of tennis, which means we wear some pretty offensive socks and have appendages that have an extraterrestrial thing about them. I’ve developed a soul-penetrating anxiety about this and the red cheeks and leather-sticking sweat I’m now wearing, just makes the whole thing miserable. Tongue makes an interplanetary sound that matches my feet and then hoists her hand to her nose and backs away from the whole pedes area altogether.

When she returns, she is holding a card with a price tag on it, presumably suggesting I need – let’s call it a callous-shaving service – before we move on to the nails thing. I don’t know how she thought I said, “Yes,” but a few seconds later she’s using something off a construction-site to sheer off half my foot. I hear “Holy Christ, are you fucking kidding me?” come out of my mouth, but luckily the Vietnamese chatter drowned out most of my scream. As Tongue bores into my right sole, Lina appears with a white surgical facemask and a dipping bowl (you women have issues). Lina grabs my left hand and immerses it in one of those milky-like substances you see first-graders have running from their noses. She places my other hand in the dipping bowl as Tongue starts hacking at my other sole. Across the room, two women, who I’m fairly certain, were laughing at my mani-pedi-virginity, cover their mouths and shake.

In Vietnamese, the phrase Dep Trai means handsome. I know this because at least five of the staff passed by and said it to Tongue, who slurped back her agreement while Lina alpha-dogged about her dep trai client. Filbert even tossed out a dep trai with the sort of aggressive wink that suggested he might be willing to stay after hours if I could summon the interest.

I need to confess something. I’m a masculine, blue-collar-mentality guy who spends a lot of time sweating and mucking about in some pretty dirty areas. I pee on trees for God’s sake. The idea of nice nails being relevant in my life is slim. I don’t think it makes my top 1000 list of imperatives. But I’m aiming the philosophical arrow at something here.

By doing this Mani-Pedi thing, for a brief moment, I’ve slid down the masc.-fem. spectrum into the metrosexual zone. There’s this old joke about a modern day Lothario who sleeps with a thousand women and then has one drunken night with a guy named Biff and for the rest of his life he’s called a C-cksucker. I kind of feel like that, as though I’ve now done something to erode the fact that I like peeing from a standing position, that I am no longer allowed to root for football teams and stare at women’s breasts, that I now have to call a tow truck to fix my flat tire and might have to add conditioner to the whole morning shower routine, that I might someday have to let someone buy me dinner.

Lina files down the nails on my second hand and Tongue is now jamming cotton balls between my toes, an act, which she performs with the tenderness of a proctologist shoving a comforter up one’s ass.

images

And then both women disappear and I am left to stare out at the clientele, most of whom are staring right at me, presumably wondering about my gender-identification issues or who the woman was who forced me into this – I’m guessing Filbert is curious too.

Just when Ithink the discomfort is done, Lina and Tongue return, this time both wielding large plastic bags of a steaming orange waxy substance, which, it turns out, is steaming orange wax, and the temperature of lava, and now being wrapped around my hands and feet in ways that suggest both mummification and a sincere desire to burn the client to death. “It will moisten and soften your skin,” they say between my screams, and then Tongue gives a big smile that shows her dental habits are even worse than the British.

Seven burnt minutes later, I am sulking. The wax-filled bags have solidified and I’m pretty much catatonic in my leather chair, surrounded by a roomful of women laughing at my misery and suffering the lingering looks from Filbert-my-wanna-be-lover and a bunch of oompah-loompahish Vietnamese women that think I’m quite dep trai, but also, just a really big pussy.

Lina puts her hand on my shoulder and removes the wax bags. Imagine trying to open one of those plastic-wrapped electric razors or remote controls, the ones that stare at you like a caged monkey and then mock you while you rip and tear and scream your way through it, only to find out that what you’ve ripped off is actually just the front of the packaging and the razor is in the back and so you start to think about killing either the person that created this plastic tomb or yourself. Well, you get the point. Tongue is tugging and yanking the ones off of my feet. They both withhold their mocking for what I imagine is an effort to get a larger tip. I give them each $20 and tell them that if I ever walk in this door again, they are to kick me in the balls and send me back to my car. I figure that will save me a lot of pain and the price of a mani-pedi.

The point here is this: I have a newfound respect for the lengths women go to look groomed. For the future, I’m content with your nails being back-scratchingly long. And if your toes aren’t perfectly painted and aren’t baby’s ass soft, I’ll survive. Next week, I’m heading over to Vietnam to let them know the war is over. Hanoi no longer needs to send folks over here to torture our women. And as for my new look, well two hours and $50 later, I can’t tell the damn difference.

Post mani-pedi update:

Two days later, I began to feel pain in my feet, the result of the newly-shaved callouses now creating a completely different balance and walking terrain. The skin on my soles is now splitting and sore, and with the bleeding and sock lint now sticking to them, the whole thing looks like a Jackson Pollack painting gone awry.

By ccxander

About Nashville, the Thing is….

The grass of Vanderbilt University carries the color of old dollar bills. With red brick buildings and the crackle of winter’s dead leaves underfoot, one isn’t surprised to see covered coeds walking around in overcoats and scarves.  It is thirty-two degrees and I, however, am strolling in a sweatshirt that has about as much insulation as an anorexic on meth. This is what happens to Californians who don’t read the weather report before traveling to Nashville in the winter.

IMG_3844

I gave two seminars this morning, and though several people responded with lobotomized expressions one only expects from the severely-medicated, the reviews were all good. And then I had the ventured out into Nashville. Here’s a summary of the place, albeit in jest:

Downtown is a ½ mile strip of neon lights promoting three things: Boots, Barbecue, and Music. Grown men stand outside and tell you they have the best local band in town, and then offer you a two-for-one sale on boots. When asked “if that means four boots or two boots,” they stare into space for a moment, and then tell you to “git along, ya little asshole,”   – or so I’ve heard.

The barbecue here is more of an art piece than a meal. There’s a rub, a smoking, a basting, a three-day cook, and some places even perform a little blessing, although I’m fairly certain it is less for the slaughtered cow and more for the person who is about to eat something that is now three days old and spiced beyond imagination. Thankfully, there are bathrooms on the premises.

As for the music, I counted thirty-four honkytonks, however, there are some very unusual looking trashcans that spit music from their bottoms and say “courtesy of Nashville” around their brim.   That several people can stand around staring into a trashcan while tapping their feet and singing just adds to the strangeness here.

About twenty-five thousand size-twelve running shoes from downtown, Music Row plays host to what can only be termed the Garden of Eden for songwriting. One should not enter Music Row with preconceived notions.  I did. I expected people playing guitars outside of studios and restaurants, and to see expensively-suited execs leaking contracts from leather briefcases. I was wrong. Instead, Music Row is more muted than a politician’s integrity. The Row is a series of houses, which have been converted into studios or offices. The houses are mostly red brick, one story, hosting no more than three rooms, and have small billboards shouting Kenny Chesney, Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Meghan Trainor on the front lawns. RCA studio B is there, a two room hovel where Elvis and Dolly Parton and a thousand others played, although if Dolly and Elvis were in the place, there wouldn’t even be enough room for anyone else (the best part about that last comment was that it was straight up and not meant to be funny, although the material is just plain ripe for comedic jest). The crowd outside is taking photos of what will certainly provide some questioning glances when they return home. Still, it’s pretty amazing to think, with a voice and few instruments, billions of dollars have been created here.

It’s a few minutes more over to Green Hills, home of many country music stars and location of the Blue Bird Café. Blue Bird’s history is one of fame and friends meeting up for fun. With 100 seats and an open invitation to all famous singers, the line starts queuing at 3pm for the 6pm meal. On any given night, one might see Brooks and Dunn, Blake Shelton, or Leanne Rimes – for those on the West Coast, these people are country singers who tell stories with acoustic guitars, and talk funny, and wear boots, and say things like “Y’all can git up and line dance now.” Many tourists come to take photos outside the entrance to the Bluebird, which just happens to be about fourteen feet wide and in the middle of a strip mall. The whole thing can make someone from Malibu really uncomfortable.

To make it all even stranger, I took a journey over to Centennial Park. The signs explained the meaning of the place, but I was severely distracted by Vanderbilt University’s female track team running sprints on the lawn and then even more so by the building behind them.

I’m going to post a picture now….

IMG_3848

This building is in Nashville…

…in the middle of the city….

…just sitting there…

…and no one even seems to be aware of it.

I couldn’t find any signs to explain it, although there was a thin, spectacled Ethiopian man standing in front of it asking people to give him eight dollars so he could let them inside. His name was Erkel – I know, right? – and I didn’t give him eight dollars. I did find another guy that might be responsible for this whole thing.

Here he is…

IMG_3849

It’s pretty much the only explanation I have. Otherwise, WTF is the Parthenon doing in Nashville?

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about this latest trip. I’m getting on a plane now. If I make it back to LA, I don’t ever want to talk about this stuff again.  Enjoy the Super Bowl. Hopefully someone remembers a pump for the balls.

BUT THEY WERE SOME OF THE BEST PEOPLE I’VE EVER MET

I am seated upon an unfolded wooden frame with those fragile canvassy flaps that make you feel like you are one good lean or sneeze from hurtling into the great beyond. Above me, Leanne Rimes’ voice hovers with a canto about something equine. The restaurant/bar/honkytonk is filled with people who resemble no one and know it.

My waiter’s name is Slim – which is so abjectly cliché I might rip my own eyes out – and he has four visible teeth. I have traveled 2000 miles East and forty years back in time. This is Nashville, Tennessee and I am here for about sixty chaotic hours, some of which require work, and others which require work to avoid killing myself.

“Y’ant some sweeaat tea?” Slim asks, as I stare into the cave of stalagmites that just might or might not have been brushed this year.

The notion that Slim is opening with Sweet Tea suggests the fella has a proclivity for the drink. For those unfamiliar with this beverage, imagine a hummingbird, with a wing over his stomach, fallen backward onto a tree branch, staring at the sky with a sort of post-coital joy, and proclaiming, “My God, that stuff is sweet.” That’s about as near as I can get to describing what has to be 300 pounds of sugar dropped into a thimble of tea. And, based on Slim’s mouth, I’m imagining that when his teeth saw more sweet tea coming, they took the same route as that World Trade Center leaper and just plummeted to the sawdust floor. If I ever reincarnate, I’m coming to Nashville and opening up a dental practice. I’ll kill it.

There are several types of meals here, although most include what local chefs call “batter,” but what your observant foodie would call “The Great Wall of Cholesterol.” Interesting phrases like “Deep fried okra, and Pulled pork seem to be “Staples,” which is an appropriate term considering that’s pretty much what you’re going to need in your chest if you eat this stuff. I consider ordering a salad, but the woman next to me is having one, and I’m not certain there is any lettuce beneath the bacon and blue cheese. Instead, I ask for the healthy plate, a concoction of cheese and vegetables that has a Phelpsian caloric thing about it.

When it arrives, Slim asks me if I need a fork. Let me repeat that. When it arrives, Slim asks me if I need a fork. OK, sure there’s an accent that suggests mild retardation, and one of the movie theaters may still be showing Fletch previews, but surely they use utensils, right? RIGHT?

Turns out they do, for the most part, and some of them even hold the forks properly, not the way you would hold a knife to stab a deer – although, well, I’ll let it go.

I’ve finished most of my meal and I’ve just waddled back to my hotel, wondering whether the feeling in my stomach is even medically viable.

Tomorrow, I have this conference thing and my host says he’s going to get me a pair of cowboy boots. I’m forty-four years old and this is my second time in Tennessee. I have as much use for cowboy boots as he has for a surfboard.

Conversational snippet twelve seconds after my most recent cynical thought….

“Dude, c’mon, I’ll buy you a cool pair of shit kickers and you can buy me a surfboard. It’ll be a hoot.”

A hoot.

I’m going to bed now, right next to the Bible peering out at me from my nightstand. I’m not really a religious guy, but I’m willing to throw one out there for the home team so…

God help me!

By ccxander

26 reasons I am not a writer

Stereotypes slay me.  I’m fairly sure I don’t have enough characteristics to make me a writer.  Here’s me proof:
  1. There are three computers in my house and none of them have writing software.
  2. I do not own a bathrobe.
  3. I do not sit and stare into space for extended periods – ok, I do, but not for story.
  4. I drink things like iced tea and iceless water, rather than absinthe and bourbon.
  5. I enjoy adverbs.
  6. When I see a tragedy on the street, I do not take notes.
  7. I own no candles or quill pens.
  8. I have only read The Raven once.
  9. When I go into bookstores, it is to purchase book, and it is not to scan the first pages of three hundred classic novels.
  10. To me, Three Musketeers always includes chocolate.
  11. I’ve always believed Nabokov was a Russian Czar and that Catcher in the Rye was something you do to a farmer’s daughter.
  12. I can carry on a linear argument.
  13. My 6th grade English teacher made it very clear, “You will never be a writer!”
  14. I’m generally happy.
  15. I enjoy neither park benches nor Paris.
  16. I don’t mind being around people.
  17. I own things that I’d rather not lose, or give away.
  18. I’m politically independent.
  19. Once, I consulted Dr. Seuss for a malady.
  20. I once went an entire hour without pondering.
  21. I know the batting average of at least two major league baseball players.
  22. I prefer humility to pretension.
  23. I have tan skin, short hair, un-bespectacled eyes, and wear shoelaces.
  24. I have individual friends that do not gather in weekly groups.
  25. My pre-pubescent friends existed.
  26. I have never sat in a café longer than it takes to drink an iced tea.
By ccxander

Searching for Answers

images

My Uncle Bob was a baker. When he was younger, to the detriment of his family time, he worked double shifts to save $50,000 so he could become an entrepreneur. Taking that money, along with his life savings, Bob and his wife opened up a bakery, and during the first three years, spent twenty hours per day developing the business.

Over the next seven years, they sacrificed family vacations and were able to hire a few minimum wage employees to help them grow. As time passed, they hired more and more employees, increasing the wages for managers and continuingto pay minimum wage to the new workers. The business grew and they opened up forty-two more bakeries across the East Coast. By sixty-three, Uncle Bob had built a $60 million dollar business and he and his wife took home over $5 million annually. Still, his newest employees continue to make minimum wage.   His first four employees, now in regional managerial positions, had become millionaires.

Yesterday, in discussions with some friends, an argument evolved regarding Uncle Bob.

One side claimed this Mom and Pop business was the epitome of the American Dream, that two folks had risked everything to build a successful business and made their fortune. They suggested the risk of capital, sacrifices of vacations and family, and dedicated hours at the beginning of their venture meant they earned and deserved their large profits. They also argued they’d created millionaires and hundreds of jobs for the people in their communities, andthat while they paid their newest workers minimum wage, these workers were low-skilled laborers who had not yet put in the hard work for the company to merit them more money.

The other side contended Uncle Bob and his wife were symbolic of corporate greediness, building their business on the backs of low wage employees and continuing to pay minimum wage while they basked in the million dollar profits, while no longer working. They argued the highly paid owners surely can afford to take home less, and should increase wages for the lowest earners in the company to ensure those people have more financially secure lives. And they suggested Bob and his wife have a social responsibility to care for their employees’ needs and to recognize that the employees contribute to the success of the business just as much as the owners. They suggested the community would do better to boycott the business until the owners raised the workers’ wages.

I feel like this story encapsulates today’s diametrically opposed views of American entrepreneurship. Is there any way to reconcile the two views?

By ccxander

Black Friday – A Metaphortune

EXT: A retail store

A gathering of adults, toting petite and innocent, chubby children, stand passively in the chill morning air. Many come with their belongings strapped across their shoulders and a few dollars pressed between sun-drenched fingers. It is 8:00 am and the 3,000-deep line is thick with humanity, extending across six city blocks. Some of the huddled forms now stand with shoulders pressed together. Others spent the early morning’s hours upon tattered blankets stretched across sidewalks, in hopes of catching a few shut-eyed moments. With the line mounting for three uncomfortable days, hunger pangs and intestinal distress have reached dam-breaking levels. Frankly, people are tired of waiting.

About halfway back from the line’s front, a sort of horizontal capillary forms, where a crowd of people who are not in line, slowly merge into the line, pushing and shoving, with no regard for those who’ve spent the past three nights deteriorating. A few arm’s lengths behind them, disorder occurs, with those who’ve been waiting in line for hours, banging weathered fists and screaming “injustice” to the intruders now forcing them backwards – to wait longer, to suffer beneath the heating sun, to prevent them from gaining access to better wares for their lives. Several fights break out and at least one child takes a heel to the chin. By 8:30, the capillary has grown into its own artery of humanity, with hundreds of folks now jostling their way into the line, staving off the fight from behind from people who’ve waited for days.

To quell the chaos, two security guards emerge from the store’s rear. Moving to cauterize the artery, they grasp and hoist several bodies from the line, and then drag them back to their cars. Before they can return for more, however, the bodies have merged back into the bloodstream to rejoin their assault on the main line. In the distance, one can see thousands of shoppers exiting their cars trying to navigate the scene – wondering whether to head toward the back or to join the blood vessel that is forcing its way to the front.

With a tempest impending, the store’s owner appears at the window and asks the line to step back so he can speak to the recalcitrant crowd. They do. As the throng settles to await a decision on the unfairness, his words drift across the cement plain.

“Our store can only accommodate a certain number of customers, and since we do not have the time or manpower to determine who of you have waited in this line for three days, and who of you have forced their way into line unfairly, priority will be given to whoever is in line now.”

There is a roar of approval from the artery. Those in the back of the line, however, are outraged, for they see the wares of their lives disappearing into the unprincipled hands of those who did not follow the rules.

Meanwhile, a cloud of customers forms in the parking lot. They have heard the storeowner’s words and made their decision. To follow the rules is to miss out on opportunity. They move toward the artery. In a few moments, the doors will open.

By ccxander

First World Problems

While sitting at Taverna Tony’s today, beneath the ivy walls and at the whim of Malibu’s sea breeze, I overheard some things that make the howling fantods seem like a nice alternative. Witness the following:

Four blond ladies, all pushing sixty, but sporting plastic physiques and even more plastic faces, are discussing their dietary habits. While debating the menu items, the dialogue moved forward as such:

A: I’m thinking the pasta.

B: The pasta has carbs.

A: I know, but I have these pills which means the carbs don’t process. You eat two of them before the meal and you don’t get the carbs.

B: Wow, I need to get some of those. I had almost three carbs yesterday and I’m feeling it.

(author’s note: are you fucking kidding me?)

C: What are they made of?

A: That’s the weird part. They are made of carbs.

(unfathomably real uproarious laughter from the ladies)

A: It’s crazy but I can eat all the carbs I want and not get the carbs.

C: We all need to get those pills.

(Heads nod in agreement)

D: Where’d you get them?

A: I’m not sure I should tell.

D: You’re kidding.

A: Well, sleeping with a man for pills makes me sound like a drug addict.

(awkward giggles)

B: Someone should write a book about you.

A: What kind of book?

B: Like a bestseller.

images-1

That’s right about when I started contemplating suicide. But it gets worse. When I turned my ear to my right, toward the mother, the three year-old, the baby, and what I can only assume was a Hispanic nanny, the following ensued:

Baby: “Mama, Agua pease?

Mom: “You want water? Ok.

(a pause)

4 year old: “Mama, quiero zapatos nuevos.”

Mom: “What?”

4 year old: “Zapatos nuevos.”

Mom: I can’t understand you.

4 year old: “Zapatos nuevos, Mama”

(mother turning red with frustration)

Mom: “What is she saying!”

Nanny: “Sheneeds new shoes.”

Mom: “OK, well I have a salon appointment so can you please get them for her this afternoon.”

Nanny: “Yes, Mrs. xxxx”

images

That this kid is using Spanish to have her needs fulfilled says way too much about the parenting situation. Plunging my knife into my neck just didn’t seem like it would solve the problem. So, here I am, writing about it, attempting the wipe the stench of humanity from me, trying to figure out whether these apocalyptic events truly indicate the end of civilization. These are the folks who have proverbially “made it.” When mountains become cliff’s edges, I no longer want to climb.

By ccxander

DID I ACCIDENTALLY EAT MUSHROOMS?

This little junket to Arizona has given me the howling fantods.

I’ve been a bit under the weather lately, so rather than heading over to LAX for a thermometer evaluation and the nasty looks from Xanax-laden passengers who might think I’ve acquired the Ebola virus, I chose to drive from LA to Phoenix, which meant six hours of sand, Joshua trees, and enough heat to make my ass-crack look like Moses’s work – yes, I could have gone with a better image, but if we’re being honest, that pretty much nailed it.

At 6:00 a.m., I hit the road, rifling through LA traffic at a 13 mph clip and wondering when the hell rush hour became rush dawn. By the time the sun rose above my upper windshield, I was outside of Blythe, and I felt that half-mast thing happening to my eyelids – you know, where you start slapping yourself and sticking your head out the window and wondering what would happen if you just closed your eyes for a few sleep-filled seconds.

I’m listening to the comedy station on Sirius radio and hoping a Robin Williams segment comes on, when some Kentucky wildcat chimes up telling redneck jokes that knock me into a Theta state. With my eyes closed – yes I know how dangerous and idiotic it is, and I am confessing it all here and thoroughly embarrassed by my carcolepsy and stupidity – with my eyes closed, I feel my tire tag the braille bumps in the road and I snap my eyes open to hear the comedian say “…and then she put a finger in my ass,” and when I look to my right, here is the view:photo 22-46-16

Back in high school, I had some friends who went out to the desert and ate mushrooms and then came back to recount their hallucinations and a new connection with nature. I called bullshit – cowshit actually – but I was a drug prude in my teens and I never investigated the psilocybin high. Point being, there is no explanation for what the hell was happening.

I’d like to be able to report that things went smoothly from there. I’d like to be able to say that the things I heard and saw were just part of my dream state. But then, there’s the evidentiary photo…. and then that uncomfortable comedy sketch came on again an hour later.

Anyway, next time, I’m flying to Phoenix. Maybe people thinking I have the Ebola virus isn’t that bad after all.

My blogs are not usually this crass, but today sort of got to me. Sorry.

By ccxander

On Racism, Cultural Ignorance or Self-preservation

I’m having a hard time with this recent cultural code, where everything we say seems to offend someone or something. We are asked to change our language to ensure we don’t offend anyone, and we must offer compassion and tolerance for all things outside of our own immediate culture. If we do not, we are criticized for being intolerant and ignorant, which I suggest to you is a pretty hypocritical response from people who say compassion and tolerance are the only means to unite civilization. As society’s sectors vie for acceptance and empowerment, we’ve reached a point where national unity is becoming subjugated to diversity.

In the interest of understanding, I’m posing the following and hoping some educated people will chime in.

If you are walking down the street and see a group of white kids with sunglasses and tank tops and tattoos and pants halfway down their asses, or a group of black kids with sunglasses and tank tops and tattoos and pants halfway down their asses, or a group of Hispanic kids with sunglasses and tank tops and tattoos and pants halfway down their asses, etc. would you move to the other side of the street, and, if so, why?

253a1dd5de523aa9bcf0ca43b211c3c8

If not, can you comprehend a person’s reason for choosing to do so? Would you say they are racist if they moved across the street? Would you say they lack awareness of the cultural idiosyncrasies of this generation? Would you say they are being intolerant?

Is there any reason to think race or intolerance might not be involved in this matter so much as the idea of self-preservation?

images-1

To think that a person might not have time in his/her life to avail him/herself of all the cultural nuance of each ethnicity or culture, means sometimes people will act according to their own limited knowledge. Andif that knowledge doesn’t include the cultural habits of today’s teens, then they will move to the other side of the street simply because the people in front of them present something different and perhaps uncomfortable to their own way of living. Does this make them racist, or insensitive? If one fears something because one doesn’t understand it, does that make one a horrible person, or culturally insensitive, or racist? In today’s culture of not tolerating the people who are intolerant, it seems that is so.

So now we are faced with this ISIS issue. This is a culture many of us don’t understand, one, which feels we should homogenize humanity into one religion, under one Law, and with one goal. Eliminate the non-believers and they’ll have a world where common dogma presides.

If we do not accept their way of life, do we have to flog and berate ourselves for our lack of cultural understanding and reprimand ourselves for our intolerance?

tumblr_m3ryl5EMwB1r78gnqo1_500

If tolerance and political correctness and acceptance of cultural difference are the mandates for civilization, are we okay with people cutting off heads and slaying the innocent in order to espouse their own beliefs? Or, do we see those actions as anathema, and antithetical to tolerance?

Certainly we do not have to embrace their beliefs, but in the spirit of political correctness and tolerance for difference, shouldn’t we let them continue their actions without interference? If not, we would be imposing our own values upon them, and suggesting our definition of humanity’s worth is greater than theirs. We would have to propose that our system of morals and ethics and principles is more important and worthy than theirs. But, that is precisely what the concept of tolerance argues against. Or perhaps we think there is a point where we can no longer tolerate people who don’t tolerate other people.

images

See the problem? Tolerance and compassion only work when everyone values tolerance and compassion. When a dedicated tolerant and compassionate society encounters a society that promotes intolerance and harbors a lack of compassion, the values must bend and break beneath the onus of inhumanity, or they die.

So now what America?

When we meet these mutations of humanity who are trying to destroy the human host, will we decide to skim the gene pool, or will we embrace the virus, and allow it to reconstruct the human race.

 

 

By ccxander

New word of the day: CAFFEINENATION (def) see below…

Unknown

The whole idea of paying someone four dollars for roasting beans to create flavored water gives me the howling fantods, and so, I’m not a coffee drinker. However, given the staggering number of somnolent citizens who perform the A.M. stumble into their local Starbucks, I’ve decided to investigate.

Though some would argue the coffee drinking demographic is ubiquitous and varied, there appears to be an explicit subculture in these places of morning adjustment. Let’s start with the wood (that’s not what I meant by “morning adjustment” but what a follow up sentence!). ‘Bucks is unswerving in its décor, shooting for something library-ish or rustic, although frankly, one can imagine the high-office suits in Seattle observing some pretty hyped-up focus groups finger pointing at various shades of brown.

Inside the counter-adjacent glass cases, the calorically-listed choices are sugary in ways that make the diabetically-inclined skittish, and when combined with the caffeinated drinks, you get the sense that something could go awfully wrong in here. Because the place is like an LA traffic jam, the menu items have time to take effect and the progression is an endocrinologist’s dream. The back of the line is filled with bed hair and baggy sweats and half-mast eyes on people whose Louis Armstrong voices suggest last night’s antics may have included excessive bong-tokings or performing fellatio on a chainsaw. Two minutes after they take their first swig (“add a triple espresso shot” is a frequent phrase), their eyebrows explode skyward, spines straighten, a rapid foot tap appears and the radio announcer speech pattern takes on its side-effects speed. Consequently, the entirety of the line looks like one of those Chinese Parade Dragons where the guy in back is pretty much just being dragged along by the out of control “head part.”

Too though, there now appear to be an ungodly number of commercial items for sale at these former coffee houses, and seeing as how the captive crowd is pretty much functioning at unconscious mode, one can see the formula here – get them in the door and they’ll buy anything. I’m not certain but fairly certain that no one goes into Starbucks looking for the latest CD, a new sweatshirt, or this week’s version of the Ham Sandwich, and yet, all three are available for a premium price along with your morning adrenalin jolt. Who knew One Republic and a Triple Espresso could have such an invigorating effect on the national psyche.

This is all to avoid mentioning the little adolescent turds who stand behind the counter and display unparalleled illiteracy when it comes to spelling what your average thinking person might consider easily spelled names – No, Craig is not Kreg, and Jenny is not Genknee – are you kidding me! Don’t even get me started on the damn smiley faces tbey draw on the cups to disguise the fact that the next generation of American youth will not only fail but won’t even be able to spell SAT.

Look, I know I tend toward the cynical side of life – as if in today’s world there’s any other way – but Starbucks really brings out my worst. Now that they’re more ubiquitous than McDonalds, I’m thinking I should just give in and become a coffee- drinking automaton like the rest of the population. So, if anyone wants to join me for a cup, I’ll be the one with the unruly bed-hair and the scratchy voice and too-low sweatpants, screaming out lunacies at the back of a slow line.

By ccxander