Friday, August 31, 2012

Nurse the Hate: The Beer Incident

I was a thief when I was 16.  There were extenuating circumstances, but when aren’t there?  Has a starving man sinned that has stolen bread for his family?  Hey man, I don’t know.  Let the theologians and philosophers work that one out.  My particular area of expertise was stealing cases of beer from garages of people in our community.  Was it because my friends and I had no money?  No, it was because Pennsylvania’s drinking age was 21 and we all looked about 11.  None of us had an older brother that would reliably play ball, so we all kept an eye out for middle aged men that stored their beer in garages, ideally in garage refrigerators. 

There is some obvious upside to swiping cases of beer.  It’s free.  That’s pretty important to an unemployed 16 year old looking for action.  The other upside was the adventure of walking into a stranger’s garage and clipping them for a case of whatever Dad was drinking.  Looking back, there were plenty of bad things that could happen, but besides of a few half hearted chases, we always got away clean.  Looking back on it, what chance did a 40 year old overweight guy have catching a spry 16 year old overdosed on adrenalin?  We should have been even more confident.

The downside was, of course, you had no control over what you would get.  A case of Schmidt’s Bock isn’t a real good match for four young fellas looking for a smooth drinking beer for a beach bonfire.  But what could you do?  It was better than nothing.  It was during this time period I discovered my body’s aversion to the delights of Stroh’s, “America’s Only Fire Brewed Beer”.  There must have been a lot of adult men drinking Stroh’s at that time.  We wound up with that all the time.  The options were limited on our end.  It wasn’t like I could knock on the door and say, “Mr. Jones?  Could you get Bud next time?  This Stroh’s I’m stealing from you is really giving me the shits.”  You got what you got. 

We quickly discovered a few houses that were reliable sources for us.  One house we hit almost every weekend.  We became so brazen we would drive up to the end of the driveway at dusk; one guy would hop out of the car, jog into the garage and grab the beer out of their refrigerator.  Seriously, every single weekend we would drive over and take their beer.  Yet the next weekend, the beer was always re-stocked and chilled awaiting our arrival.   Utica Club 16 oz bottles.  I maintain to this day, if you got that beer good and cold, it was really tasty.  I have no idea why we never got caught.  Those people had to be thinking, “What happened to the beer?  I swear I bought some…  Well, back to the distributor!” 

Pennsylvania, even now, has this outdated beer sales system.  You can only buy cases of beer from “beer distributors”.  No six packs.  Everything is sold by the case.  These are warehouses with stacks of cases in a totally no frills atmosphere.  It’s not very consumer friendly.  For example, how interested are you in trying a “Dry Hopped Coffee Rye Ale” when you know you are on the hook for 24 of them?  You can get rid of a six of anything.  Wait until it gets late, and pass your bad beer out to the Leo in your life.  They will gladly drink it.  It’s free and wet.  But 23 of them?  That’s a tall order.  These were generally run by grizzled no-nonsense men that had State regulators up their ass every 15 minutes.  The chance of them selling you beer was ZERO. 

The only other option was to find a bar that would ignore you clearly being underage and sell you a six to go.  They would charge you the same as the bar retail price, so a six of Bud would be $12-$15.  That’s big money for sixteen year olds looking for a buzz.  The one beacon was a place called “Haggerty’s: Home of the 12 Pack”.  Haggerty’s would buy cases of domestic beer in cans, straight razor them in half, and sell them to anyone that looked close to 21 or had the balls to show any type of fake ID.  My friend Eric, who looked like a boyish emaciated puppet, bought beer at Haggerty’s with a clearly altered motorcycle learner’s permit.  They cut a pretty wide path at Haggerty’s.  Haggerty’s was about volume, and kept the markup reasonable.  If you sat in the parking lot on a Friday during High School Football season, you could see most of the area degenerate teenagers wheel though between the hours of 6p-8p. 

One day I was approached by one of the jocks in the school, a smug giant named Chet that was a heavyweight wrestling champ and would later go to Princeton where I assume he would continue to be smug.  Chet had heard of our reputation for swiping beer from garages, and was convinced we had stolen his Dad’s beer the previous weekend.  I can tell you with complete sincerity we did not.  We only clipped beer from people that were strangers, and had no interest in creating any kind of incident with a heavyweight state wrestling champ.  Chet did not believe my claims to have had no part in the theft of his father’s beer, and demanded I get him a case of beer by the end of the week. 

This was quite a dilemma.  I was innocent of the charges leveled against me, and had no interest in becoming a punk for the wrestling team.  I told him I didn’t take the beer, and even if I did, I didn’t owe him, I would owe his father.  That’s when he said he would do some unpleasant things to me unless I produced the beer by the weekend.  I said it wasn’t going to happen. 

This led to three tense days at school where there was much speculation about what was going to happen to me.  My options were limited.  I was loosely part of the clique that Chet hung out with, but had the feeling that The Masses would enjoy seeing this giant man hurt me for their enjoyment.  If push came to shove, my only option would be to go limp and hope it ended quickly.  I would have had greater success fighting a bear.  The bear, besides being more likeable, probably had worse balance than this guy. 

I decided to play it cool like it wasn’t even an issue.  This required some acting, but I figured it was my only play.  I stood around the lunch room next to Wrestler Guy like I could care less.  I figured when push came to shove, he was probably more worried about “His Permanent Record” and getting into the right house at Princeton than he was about swatting me around.  This proved to be the right call, with the exception of a road rage incident slightly afterwards when he popped me in the head when he was drunk with some other guys on the wrestling team.  I am still somewhat certain he believes I stole his father’s beer and got away with it.  I am also somewhat certain he identified me as a guy that took shortcuts, got away with things, and would do so for the rest of his life.

That is partially accurate.  I will go on the record and say that I did not steal that beer in question.  However, I will offer to make amends for the dozens of cases of Utica Club we stole from those strangers and buy a case of domestic beer for Chet’s father (if he is still alive).   He can share it with Chet if he’d like.  I still will not buy it directly for Chet.  I will also go on record as saying that after that ugly incident; I retired from this life of crime, moved ahead into identification fraud, and bought my beer at Haggerty’s with an ID claiming I was "Lt. Col. Steven Wilkins".


Friday, August 24, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Boat Club 4


Dr. Joey
Membership Chairman
Wildwood Yacht Club

Dr. Joey,

  I have received information, probably erroneously, concerning my immediate admittance to your esteemed Yacht Club from an anonymous email.  I usually don't respond to wild Internet rumors, but this caught my attention.  I have been searching for a place to launch my kayak, drink to excess, and give myself a title within the organization that has no responsibilities whatsoever, yet has a great deal of power.  Imagine if Stalin joined your club and had a kayak.  That said, I don't think of Stalin as much of a Man of the Sea.  He probably got drunk on vodka, and went on and on and on about dubious Tales From The Sea that left everyone else nodding nervously and weakly smiling at appropriate times.  I can't imagine anyone wanted to risk 30 years in a gulag in Siberia by saying "bullshit" to a Stalin story about the time he fought off a sixty foot giant squid with a gaffing hook.

  I would like to know more about your organization and find out if this might be the seafaring home I have been searching for.  My credentials are impeccable.  I have taken my kayak out on Lake Erie eight (8) times, and only came close to death once.  I also have a cadre of associates that have embraced the Old Salt lifestyle, though admittedly some of them are borderline alcoholic and unpredictably violent.  I would probably limit the visits from a number of these individuals to once or twice per season, and never on long weekends when their behavior becomes almost impossible to harness.

  I look forward to your response.


  Greg Miller

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Indians

I had Cleveland Indians season tickets from 1994-2007.  I stopped buying tickets and supporting the team when I realized that the owners had, at best, a passive interest in winning.  Why would I spend money and give a fuck when the guys that own the team care less than I did?  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure the Dolans wish that the team would win.  I mean, who wouldn’t?  However, these guys clearly are not ready to do what is necessary to make that outcome happen though their actions.  The idea that they can throw a bunch of young kids, retreads, and career minor leaguers out on the diamond and hope that they beat the odds and win is probably not the best way to succeed.  You know who has done that and won?  Nobody.   

The Indians stunning collapse this July/August would send most owners into a frenzy.  The team has lost 21 of their last 25 and eight in a row as I write this.  If I owned the team I would have someone’s head on a pike in the outfield.  “Long fly ball to left!  Duncan should get it…  Wait!  The ball careens off the head of ex-manager Manny Acta that is impaled on a stick and rolls towards right!  This will be extra bases for Cano!  Matt, did I see part of Manny’s jaw fall off?  Boy!  What a hard hit ball!” 

You may be surprised to know that the man pictured above is not going to make any rash moves.  That’s shocking.  Usually when I see an Opie Taylor haircut and accountant glasses, I think “maverick”.  Paul Dolan went to Indians manager Manny Acta’s charity event at a bowling alley downtown in Cleveland last night and said "As I sit here today, I have no intent to make any changes. I have to understand what's happened. I'm not going to have that understanding today. Hopefully, sometime in this off-season, we'll be able to assess and move from there.''  He then reiterated he has no plans to fire manager Manny Acta, who has one year left in his contract. 


Let me ask you…  If you don’t fire a manager that is in charge of a team that has lost 21 of 25 immediately after putting themselves in a position to win the division, what are the circumstances in which you do fire a manager?  They have won 16% of their games in a sport where the horrible teams win 40%.  I think we can comfortably say that winning and losing has nothing to do with your employment status as manager of the 2012 Cleveland Indians.  So what does he have to do to get fired?  “Mr. Dolan…  Manny Acta was seen in the bullpen nude and erect wearing angel’s wings shooting a bow and arrow at fans.  Do you plan on retaining him as manager?”  As I sit here today, I have no plans on making any changes.  “Last week Acta did somersaults out to the pitching mound while dressed as Hitler to remove Justin Masterson from the game against the Royals.  Did you consider removing him as manager then?”  As I sit here today, I have no plans on making any changes.   “The team has not won a game since Manny Acta has installed a pitching machine as his starting pitcher on Wednesday, and he says he plans on continuing to use the pitching machine for the foreseeable future.  Have you and General Manager Chris Antonetti discussed that at all?  As I sit here today, I have no plans on making any changes.  “Sir…  Acta is openly drinking whiskey and smoking while in the dugout now.  I think he has also stopped using toilets and is soiling himself.  Will that be addressed at all?”

The ownership of the Indians are not winners.  That’s all there is to it.  They sat down at a poker table where they don’t have deep enough pockets and aren’t as good as the other poker players.  That in an unenviable position.  They also can’t afford to sell the team because they paid too much for it.  You know what that means?  It means the Indians are going to suck forever and nobody is going to the games.  This cycle will only get worse.  The team should pull up those seats in the upper decks out in right and left field.  You’ll want to keep the area clear so you can see when the feral cats overrun the area.  There will be open tire fires and bums fighting over half bottles of fortified wine.  Guys in tattered rags and rotted teeth will be selling meth.  “I haven’t seen my daughter since she went to Section 579 on Dollar Dog Day.  I miss my little girl!”

Acta himself told his players "they can't fire all 25 players, so relax and play ball".  Damn straight.  Lucky for him, I don't think they want to pay off that year left on his contract, so he's good to go too.  He should start coming to the ballpark in a robe.  Maybe just Skype himself in to manage while he's relaxing out on his patio.  Dude, I guess they aren't firing you.  Go for it.  What's the team going to do?  Play poorly? 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Still Hate Facebook

My brother told me he has once again culled his Facebook herd of “friends”.  I am jealous of his initiative in this matter, as I continue to see pictures of ugly kids I don’t know, political emails, and links to things I am not interested in every time I log in.  My brother decided he was going to cut anyone that did not fit the following criterion:  If he saw them walking on the street, would he be excited to grab a beer with them and catch up?  That is a bold move and I applaud him.

My problem was when I started I just approved anyone that asked.  I would get the request, look at the picture, and think “I know that guy!”.  Approved.  Now I can’t seem to thin the list.  I know so many people through playing music that if I just see their name; I might not know who they are.  For example, “Mike Stevens” I may not know off the top of my head.  But if he was listed in my “friend list” as “That fucked up guy in Nashville that had sex with his girlfriend’s Mom on that cruise” I would know EXACTLY who he was.  Now, I am in a place where it would take so much effort to work through the list, it’s like signing up for an auditing job where you don’t get paid.  Who’s got the time?

 I find it odd that some of my “friends” have decided to make Facebook a place for them to campaign enthusiastically on one issue.  I have a friend, who I actually like, that makes a post every fucking day about bicycling.  “I just had a great ride with members of the Gear Gals bike club!”  Look, I don’t give a fuck that you rode your bike with some people I don’t know that belong to a stupid club.  Unless the “Gear Gals” post topless photos, or are involved in some crazy bicycling S&M where they tortured this guy’s testicle sack, I don’t care.  Do I let him know every time I went running?  “Hey everyone, I just ran three miles and almost got bit by a dog!”  Fuck no I don’t do that.  You know why?  Because I know you don’t care…

I have another “friend”, who I also like, that loves to post how cute her kid is everyday.  “Today my son Justin said I’m the best mommy in the world!  I’m so lucky!”  Hey, your kid is five.  He doesn’t know yet that you have addiction problems, blew half the guys on the East Side of Cleveland, and are a manic depressive whack job.  He is supposed to think you are great.  He’s five.  He has no point of reference.   You aren't selling me on that web of lies.

I saw the saddest little post the other day.  Like many of you, I “friended” old High School acquaintances when I first opened the account.  It has become quickly apparent that I have almost no common ground with these people now except that from ages 16-18 we snuck beers together, went to the same math classes, and all thought Def Leppard was a pretty good band.  The 80s were a confusing time.  

The post I saw was “After 16 years I have decided to leave my position at CVS as assistant human resource director.  It is time to continue my journey of self discovery.  I am pleased to announce I will be starting at Lowe’s as their Northwest PA assistant human resource director.”  You almost want to weep…  First off, what the fuck is the difference?  CVS?  Lowe’s?  Gap?  Walgreens?  It’s all the same place with slightly different signage.  Secondly, did you just use the word “journey” to describe moving from one shitty white collar job to another probably shittier white collar job as the low man on the totem pole in HR?  People need to reel themselves in when using the word “journey”.  That should only be used by dudes climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and masseuses named “Skye”.   I only want to hear that word when I am holding a brandy at The City Club while an old British guy with a weathered face tells me about how his Sherpa fell into an ice cave.  I can also maybe stomach it when I am pretending to care about what the woman that is rubbing my quads is telling me as I listen to her horrible New Age music CD.  “Oh yeah Skye… I see what you mean.  You should definitely go to Sodona to chant.  Hey, could you move up and to the left?” 

The problem is that I can’t get out.  I have a business email, band email, personal email, and now… horribly, a Facebook message box that serves as email.  I am going to have to keep logging in, but please, I beg of you, think before you post.  Ask yourself, “Does everyone think my dog is as cute as I do?”  In my case, I’m sure they do.  If you will excuse me, Monty my basset just did the darndest thing in the back yard and I have a picture to post.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Boat Club 3

After receiving no word from the Avon Lake Boat Club, I feel it is time to reach out to another organization that may appreciate my enthusiasm for the water.  In this case, it is the "Olde River Yacht Club".  You can tell they are serious by spelling Olde with an "E".  That means it is rich in tradition, whereas if it was "Old" it would just be run down and shitty.

   One of my colleagues here seemed to think it was a good idea to contact you regarding the Olde River Yacht Club.  I have been looking for a boat club to launch and store my kayak that is conveniently located for me.  I have just recently fully embraced the nautical life, and am eager to find a place my kayak and I can call home.  If possible, I want a club that doesn’t have an issue with me irresponsibly drinking copious amounts of beer and throwing around nautical jargon that I may or may not know the actual meaning of in a technical sense.  For example, I'd like to walk around late on a Saturday afternoon and yell out "Tighten up that jib!" to no one in particular.  Maybe talk about the "old whaling days" in the late 1800s.  Jason, are you a student of local history?  I don’t know how familiar you are with Lake Erie’s whaling industry in the 1800s, but it’s what built this city. 

  I originally became interested in boating thanks to researching the life of my Great Great Grandfather Ezekiel J. Miller, who lost his leg and arm in a whaling accident off the coast of Sandusky on September 23, 1889.  While this unprecedented harvesting of humpback whales in Lake Erie would now be called a “slaughter”, at the time it was a great achievement.  My forefather remarked in his journal “…whilst the phantom pains of my leg and useless stump of thy fallen arm haunt my dreams, the smell of burning whale oile soothes my soul.”  His payment in schillings from that last fateful outing enabled him to buy the lighthouse just off the point at Montauk, which my family owns to this day, though it has now been converted to the sixth most successful Adult Mart franchise location in the Continental United States.  We replaced the ill-conceived “Gully’s Koffee Shoppe and Clam Shack” my cousin opened in 1999, which was forced to close after a well publicized salmonella outbreak in the summer of ’04.  My cousin has since been effectively exiled to a planned community in Missouri, but we stayed behind to try and turn the property into what has become a successful enterprise.  Suffice to say, the sea is in my blood!

  I looked at your website, and did not notice a boat launch fit for a kayak.  However, it did look like many of my other criteria would be a good fit assuming the gentlemen in giant power boats featured on the website photos wouldn't be upset by a fellow seaman in ripped combat shorts yelling nonsensical boating jargon.  Power boats certainly have their place, but we “Brothers of the Oar” tend to turn a disdainful eye towards their culture of foolishness.  Certainly, I will be able to straighten them out after I gain admittance to your organization.    

  Let me know what the next step is for my membership at your convenience.  I need to feel the ocean breeze in my face, and taste the salt in the air of maybe the Greatest of Lakes, Lake Erie. 


Greg Miller

P.S.  Rest assured I would not expect to be admitted as Vice Commodore upon entry to the club, but I wouldn't mind creating a title for myself like "Defense Czar".  Would the club have a budget for me to create a uniform with amulets and naval dress style hat?  I ran that by the Avon Lake Boat Club, and by their continued silence, I have begun to fear the answer is "no".  I have attached a photo of a prototype uniform that I feel would be a great fit for the club.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Boat Club Part II

After receiving no further communication from the club, I feel that I may not have done what it takes to help myself stand out against other potential candidates.  Upset, I reached out for family.  Seeing my obvious distress, that was when my brother Ken decided to write me this glowing letter of recommendation.  I think you will agree that this document should help pave my way into entry into this esteemed social organization.

Now we sit back and wait....



Dear Mr. Slife,

I was extremely pleased to learn that my brother Greg Miller has petitioned your group for membership.  I am writing to offer my sincere recommendation for his admission to the Avon Lake Boat Club.

I am told that Greg mentioned to you my limited experience but great enthusiasm for the seafaring lifestyle.  Since my brother last wrote to you I have now been on my second boating excursion (see photo attached).  Having now traversed Sandusky Bay in the company of numerous enthusiastic revelers, I feel that my credentials as a Man Of The Sea are now above reproach.  I should also assure you that the heavily intoxicated Eastern Europeans that accompanied me on this trip will rarely, if ever, come with me when I visit my brother at The Club.  I am fully aware that their alcohol dependency and confrontational behavior is inconsistent with the family-friendly atmosphere of the Avon Lake Boat Club.

Although Greg is but a simple kayaker, I can assure you - from one Man of the Sea to another - that Greg possesses the heart of a seafaring man and will be a great asset to your fine club.

Thank You,

- Ken Miller