What if a shooting took place and no one noticed?

So, another kid grabs a gun and goes Gunsmoke in Cleveland. It seems immorality is becoming more and more fashionable these days. I remember when stories like this would head the news for a week.  Reporters would descend upon small towns and interview the hundreds of Aderol-addicted kids whose comments made Beavis and Butthead sound like Einstein and Hawking.  Then, in search of something emotional, they’d jab fluffy microphones into the chins of blubbering mothers and weeping daddies and pray someone would provide a sentimental sound bite.  We lay people would say a prayer that our kids were safe and give them a tight squeeze upon their post-educational arrival home.  You’d hear a coast-to-coast sigh of relief and the national water-cooler conversation would revolve around whether the shooter’s parents were negligent or drug addicts or simply unaware that their child had the cute little habit of getting his daily ass kicked by a bunch of suburban hoodlums whose agenda included neck-high, rectum-deep wedgies and snide passing-period comments in hopes of torturing the poor lad into the cesspool of low self- esteem. A day later, we’d get professional insight from some national panel of intuitive psychologists:

“The second grade drawings on the family’s refrigerator reveal that the little trigger puller’s future was predestined.  After all, look at the way he colored outside the lines on this here stuffed-bear picture.”

“His awkward habit of wearing sagging pants and the way he always sported that backward baseball cap should have been a signal that someone was about to plugged.  Not to mention the steady diet of cartoons and sugary cereals.”

“Someone should have seen this coming.  His latest text message used abbreviations like POS (parents over shoulder) and ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing), clear signals that he was about to pull a gun from his left hip and go on an execution binge.  Plus, he drank soy milk and we all know what that means.”

Times have changed.  Now we’re desensitized to high school shootings.  They’ve happened frequently enough that news stations see them as one-day tales.  The Cleveland story lasted five hours. Kid shoots kids and life goes on.  I’m not sure what this says about our society.  It’s hard to imagine what it’s going to take to capture our attention in the future.  Maybe we’ll become a nation that focuses more on the ass-size of three over-hyped sisters or accede to the eccentric rants of some Jersey slut who thinks tight skirts and drunken binges are the fruits of life.  Nah, that would never happen!

By ccxander

A Brief and Shallow Take on the Oscars


At eighty-four, Oscar is becoming archaic.  Oh sure, he and his crowd are smugly botoxed and collagened, desperately clinging to youth while rounding out their golden years with the sort of plasticized sheen one would expect on pre-packaged deli meats.   And throwbacks like Christopher Plummer still retain the dignified post-award speech habits of commending his fellow nominees, a custom completely lost on those malodorous French whose cologne reeks of affectation and whose gratitude has about as much sincerity as a Bangkok massage.  Plus, Billy Crystal brings an unparalleled level of showmanship which jibes nicely with Meryl Streep’s talents.

Outside of these exceptions though, the awards are simply uninspiring.   The Red Carpet summary is as follows:  Unshorn greying men sported penguin suits, annorexic or plus-sized women displayed dresses made by people with Asian or European names, B-list actors conducted odd interviews with people they didn’t know and who didn’t know them, foreign stargazers bore limp lasso lips and raised shade-bearing eyebrows northward every time someone named Pitt or Cruz or Clooney took a forward step.  It’s flat out uninteresting.

Even the night’s speeches came from the same boilerplate I offer my pizza delivery guy.

“Wow. This was unexpected. Thanks, spouse. Kids go to bed.”

Perhaps I’m just desensitized to good entertainment these days. It seems we have a lot of things happening at the moment and maybe the Oscars just isn’t enough anymore.  Here’s what I suggest:

Take the NBA all-star game.  Throw in the Republican Presidential Primary Race.  Hand DeNiro an Oscar and let him crack some Celtic and Clipper skulls while Scorsese moves in for the close-up.  Meanwhile, have Gingrich preaching right to life while Glenn Close puckers up for a transvestite smooch with Santorum.  Have Romney outside the arc shooting threes while Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones don costumes and impersonate those two Muppet judges as Will Farrell attempts to give the ol’ Governor a “turn your head and cough” hernia check.

The point here is the Oscars used to be exciting, with known personalities hitting the stage with unscripted enthusiasm and the ability to make an audience pant.  We had screen heroes and fantasies and microphones that stayed on longer than Kardashian marriages.  I miss those nights when I’d cuddle up beneath a blanket with a bowl of hot popcorn and root for something sentimental.  I’m not ready to accept the fact that Oscar is going bald, needing Viagra to stand up straight, and fading into one of those old Roman bronzes that suggest a brilliant history now in decline.  Any ideas?

By ccxander

Last night’s excursion to Cirque du Soleil-OVO

It starts with a forty- foot egg – mid-arena, anemically colored, eyebrow tilting – suggesting a chicken had a rough night.  Then, darkness descends.  Violins gather and a well-dressed Corona-drinking crowd settles in.  At least one lady is wearing fur and there is enough worsted wool to assume nearby sheep are upset.  In the shadows, chirping crickets and strangely antennaed creatures appear upon the porous stage and one gets the sense of being in a hive.  Cirque’s costumes imply a rainbow smacking into your retina.  Apparently language is forbidden because these insects communicate via subtle buzzing and jawing.  Imagine Charlie brown’s parents chewing tic-tacs and you get the idea.  Twelve percent of the crowd munches $7 popcorn with the sort of breathless enthusiasm of a post-midnight prom date.  A single orange light casts its glow upon a muscular spandex-surrounded lad as he begins to perform acrobatics your average thinking man might compare to unfolding a lawn chair with grace.  For the next two hours, I am under sensory assault.  Endless movement – boneless contortions – bleeding watercolors, visually stimulating tableaus, and precarious danglings that make one think Cirque may suffer an IQ shortage in the choreography department. Outside the main tent, Lexus stations its newest luxury wagon adjacent to a street mime, who, if you are lucky enough to be chosen for a spontaneous photo, flirts as aggressively with her hands as she does with her mimicry.  Gaping mouths and revelatory gasps provide the evening’s soundtrack. Cirque offers its own clothing line comprised of obscure designs in the full Crayola spectrum, often priced beyond your blue-collar working man’s daily salary and likely not manufactured by the Chinese acrobats now flaccidly flopping fifty-three feet above ogling onlookers.  Air inside the tent is not warm.  Cirque’s show is titled OVO and thematically, the ubiquitous un-hatched ovum provides a lot of questions.  Why does a chicken egg rest in the midst of an insect hive?  Why do most of the smaller eggs look more like large suppositories than ovum?  Which came first, the trapeze artist catcher, or the trapeze artist flipper? The high-wire fella wears a sort of black Spiderman suit and can perform a one-handed handstand upon a one-inch wire suspended thirty feet in the air.  If you’re looking to understand the Herculean difficulty of this task, imagine skiing Mammoth’s cornice while screaming the national anthem and urinating into a thimble and you’re getting close.  After a thirty-minute intermission where half the viewers relieve themselves inside Jackson-Pollacked Porta-potties, the rest of the crowd mingles about sipping French-named wines and reminiscing about Cirque’s magnificence.  English language is sparse here.  Halfway through the second act, eight frogs – it’s possible they were Geckos but without the whole cockney accent and annoying television ad campaign it was difficult to tell –sprung between a rock climbing wall and several trampolines in a torrid rebounding affair.  Their ability to stick and fall and twist and turn reminds me of my stomach after a night of bad sushi.  Cirque’s cinematic lighting recalls those 4th grade science room experiments with lasers and chalk dust.  Just east of me, a child is having it out with his cotton candy.  At one point, the shows clown – some sort of entomologist’s fantasy – attempts to find a mate for his blue, protuberance-laden creepy-crawly friend who is currently coveting a rather bulbous bee.  Employing various audience members in a rather grotesque eHarmony thing for bugs, the clown asks several spectators to flirt and dance and growl in hopes of attracting the desires of said friend.  One woman nearly wets her pants with laughter and embarrassment. The show ends with a banquet, the coupling of bee and blue creature, a Caribbean-influenced soundtrack and a standing ovation.  Post-event comments include “Wow, my brain hurts!” and “Gotta be honest, that beetle had a nice set of legs,” which left your correspondent more than a little disturbed and already on his cell phone to purchase tickets for Cirque’s show Iris, now playing at the Kodak.

By ccxander

Letting the Air Out

I’m fairly proficient at stepping into another man’s footwear, viewing the world through the stranger’s prism, as it were.  In traffic, I assume the assholes on the road may be on their way to visit their hospitalized children or over-pregnant wife or imprisoned friend and that helps me through the insufferable hours.  At the post office, I assume the behind-the-counter folks are as frustrated with my inability to fill out the Send To: sticker as I am with their inability to move at a pace that wouldn’t require a sundial to monitor, and perhaps they are more focused on their child’s failure to pay off a student loan and they’re double-shifting this un-respected job so their kid doesn’t end up with a bankruptcy attached to his credit score and suffer the rest of his life scraping by in some falling down apartment and hoping the Ramen prices don’t skyrocket on account of some oil-price-raising war in the Middle East, damn Turks.

So when I witnessed the following: fifty-something movie producer in blue Mercedes – S class convertible with the cruise control set on pretension – dropping his kid off at a golfing event and refusing to check his kid in, or pay for the event, or stop driving while other people walked in front of his car, or deal with anyone he considered lower on the social and materialistic food chain than his arrogant self, it just struck me as one of those “What the fuck happened to you?” moments.  I know our Congressional hallways are filled with over-entitled human excrement and I understand that our society is experiencing a moral decline when it comes to humility.  I’m even aware that affectation and airs are part of L.A. fashion the way douchebaggery and malodor are to the French.  But you have to wonder how this guy started to believe it was ok to ignore social responsibility.  Oh sure, one can speak of free will, of individual independence and the right to determine one’s actions.  NO disagreement here.  However, if the society is to function, we’re going to have to weed out the assholes that pollute the garden.  Professional power and financial success doesn’t afford you entitlements.  Perhaps your underlings cater to your whims, but this is the rest of the world and we have no interest in your self-importance. 

The point here is that when the guy came back six hours later to pick up his unbelievably condescending offspring, I took a moment to let the air out of his tires, to lift a nearby dog offering onto his front seat, and to sit back to watch his rage.  I now realize it’s the little things in life that make me smile.

By ccxander

Think Different

You know those profound moments when you’re two fluted glasses under the influence of some fermented Italian grape and pondering the insane smallness of your place in the galactic blah blah blah?   I’ve been experiencing a lot of that lately, the sort of introspective philosophical discourse that sets your hair on fire.  Today, whilst reclining upon the sands, a homeless man strolled by — shade-bearing eyebrows and fingernail stains that suggested long nights digging through dumpsters for something edible – and in a momentary pause from cursing at the ocean, he looked deeply into my eyes and said “Motherfucker had a full house and I didn’t even have a pair.”   The obvious assumption is a devastating poker loss, but I abhor the obvious and so:

“My brother, no balls enough to save the family, eh?”

He tilted his head in that puppy-dog habit and yearned -an actual yearning took place – for me to continue, his grey eyes reddened on the periphery like some squashed rodent.

I held his gaze, his urine smell penetrating the marine air, and waited.

In a stunning moment of lucidity, he declared, “You the first guy to get it, man.  I mean, like, shit, really get it.”

I smiled.  He walked away, glancing back frequently, his swiveling head reminding me of the hyperkinetic tennis fans I’d left earlier that morning. 

 Sometimes staring into space reveals a million stars. On other occasions just a grey sky.  Back in the last millennium, Apple had an effective slogan, “Think Different.”   From such luminaries, it seemed like a command, a method, an articulation of their success.  Did they mean to THINK different, or to think DIFFERENT, or both?  Regardless of their intent, that slogan found its way into the cosmic psyche, and now there a lot of homeless folks out there – more wandering nomadically about the poverty-stricken planet than here in our own US of A – thinking different.  People talk about new energy, the power of solar or oil or electric or coal.  I’m still pretty prone to believing the human mind has unlimited potential and remains fairly untapped.  Perhaps it’s time to return to an investment in human capital – the brilliance of the human spirit, the talent that lies within, the creative ingenuity of a trillion neurons firing away at the world’s problems.  Ethnocentric perspective is so limiting.  Let’s take our problems to the poorest, the willingest, the neediest.  Necessity is the mother of invention.  Let’s see what an unexpected and new perspective offers.  Maybe we’ll end up with a pile of garbage, but then, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Alas, back to the fluted glass….

By ccxander