Friday, September 25, 2020

Nurse the Hate: No Lesson Learned, NFL Week 3


We arrived at band practice to discover Leo with a big cut across his head.  This in itself isn't that odd as he at any given time has a horrifying injury that he usually inflicted upon himself because of his general policy of poor judgement.  The time he turned his foot into ground hamburger by refusing to secure a hundred pound roller in his van immediately comes to mind.  When we asked him how it happened, he said "I fell off a garage.".  Apparently he was repairing a garage and found himself in a tricky situation with his ladder.  Rather than getting down and re-positioning the ladder he decided to "go for it".  Leo looked down and shook his head slightly as if re-living the moment.  "Yeah, I knew I wasn't going to make it, but I decided to go for it anyway.  I fell off the garage and it fucking sucked."  Sugar then said "Well, I hoped you learned your lesson..."  Leo quickly locked eyes with Sugar and in a very animated manner told her the facts.  "I learned no lesson!  I learned NO LESSON!".  

While we can debate the merits or lack thereof in approaching life in a manner where mistakes cannot be avoided in the future, one has to admire Leo's ability to be honest with himself.  He made a mistake.  He knows he made that misatke.  He is honest enough to know he is going to repeat that mistake again in the future.  If I am honest with myself, I am not that different than Leo.  While my hands shuddered as I typed that, I must admit that I too HAVE LEARNED NO LESSON.  I am going in this week and willingly betting on the New York Giants.

The Giants lost Saquon Barkley last week, easily their best player and one of the bigger offensive impact players in football.  Let's be frank.  The Giants have "limited" offensive weapons moving forward.  Yet, this isn't a bet ON the Giants so much as a bet AGAINST their opponent the 49ers.  In the last two weeks the 49ers have had every one of their impact players get injured.  Their injury report looks like a list of victims of a 1910 shipwreck.  If you didn't know any better you would think a grenade went off in their locker room.  Almost everyone is either out or horribly impaired.  Therefore my thought is the Giants aren't getting 4.5 versus the 49ers so much as the Giants are playing some random guys in the 49ers helmets PLUS getting four and a half.  The Giants aren't winning a lot of games this year, so this better be one of them.  GIANTS +4.5

The Buffalo Bills are one of the four best teams in the league right now.  There!  I said it!  I think The Public has yet to wrap their arms around the fact that the Bills are legit.  Destroying the Jets and Dolphins doesn't win much respect with the Fan Duel crowd.  Most people think of the Bills as a team that guys with ugly clothes and out of date mustaches get really, really drunk watching lose late in heartbreaking fashion.  Meanwhile, the Rams beat a very Public team in the Cowboys and an injured/crappy Eagles.  The Rams also have to fly to Buffalo and the East Coast Time Zone to play at 1p.  This line will look like a misprint if it came out six weeks from now.  I'll take the Bills -2.5 at home. 

It is always a terrible idea to get involved in any wager that even brushes near the Cincinnati Bengals.  Part of the NFL Bermuda Triangle of Doom (Cincinnati over to Cleveland over to Detroit), certain despair goes to any soul that wanders into this abyss.  I have many fine memories of driving over the bridge near the Southgate House on a Sunday and seeing a sobbing Bengals fan with a rock tied to their leg jumping off into the river.  The Bengals exist as a team for other teams to defeat, sort of like the Washington Generals for the Globetrotters but with worse uniforms.  However, I think there is value betting on their failure.  The Bengals defense is bad.  Very bad.  Terrible in fact.  I like betting against the Bengals defense and the injury depleted Eagles.  Bengals/Eagles OVER 47.    Then again, I have learned NO LESSON.

Season Record:  3-2


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Nurse the Hate: A Different Age


There was a small shop in the old downtown, a place that sold what were called “sundries” at the time.  We would go after our chores had been deemed finished, clutching our crowns in our sweaty palms.  Mrs. Schultz would always stop what she was doing to attend to us at the penny candy counter she devised as a way to ingratiate herself to all the children in the town.  The first real feeling of satisfaction I ever experienced was placing those coins on the glass counter and knowing I was in complete control of the candy I would choose.  Mrs. Schultz would open a small brown paper bag and drop in the carefully chosen candies that I would point to in each of the glass jars without a word.  They don’t make most of those candies any more.  Frazzles and Pippets and Cherry Susans and the arrival of Caramel Swangos announcing the coming of Autumn.  Well… it was a different age.

We would scramble out on the large boulders in the river, going just a bit further than we were normally allowed by Father when he was alive.  There we would sit surrounded by the insistent roar of the river and gorge on our candy, the bag ripped open to serve as a placemat for our feast.  I can still remember the sour taste of the Frazzles in my mouth, furiously chewing as we would stare up at the dirigibles slowly flying West to visit our enemy.  The low hum of the engines could slip under the higher pitch of the rushing water as we stared up at the massive harpoons jutting from the front of the blimps.  Our teachers told us they would only impale one unfortunate person that hadn’t found shelter per flight.  By disembowling them and raining the debris down on the homes of the enemies below, they would know we were powerful and only come in peace.  Well… It was a different age.

I wasn’t yet old enough to go further down river where the older boys skinny dipped, diving into the deep pools close to the dam.  The boys would show themselves to be daredevils, nudging each other to leap from higher and higher points.  The girls would sit on the gentle sloping slate by the shore, giggling and whispering at the pale boys ham handed attempts to show their maturity.  Of course, when the boys actually did show physical maturity or if a girl showed too much interest that even hinted at potential impropriety, they would no longer be allowed back at the swimming hole.  The judgement of the Swim Commander was final.  Well… it was a different age.

The dam was an achievement of the time.  It allowed us to later construct the Perpetual Wheel, the key to keeping the electric net above our town active.  The sound of a feint sizzle or pop while drifting off to sleep is in almost everyone’s memory as a child.  Prior to the net, of course, the enemy would drift above us at night in their balloons, dropping flaming bags down on our rooftops as we slept.  I remember my grandfather telling us about The Great Fires in a hushed tone before mother made him stop.  He was always inspecting our roof, climbing up the old fashioned escape ladders to see if our asbestos tiles were in place.  Well…. It was a different age.

I work at the Wheel now as a technician.  Sometimes I go out to the old slate rock where the girls used to sit to eat my lunch.  No one swims there any longer, the brackish water filled with catfish larger than a man.  The poles where the net used to hang from still stand, spray painted with slang I don’t understand.  I check my watch to make sure an alert hasn’t sounded.  It’s a long run from the rock to the shelter at the Wheel.  Last month a co-worker got impaled by one of our enemies new high altitude dirigibles.  I saw the video clip.  He was pulled up to the heavens, his arms flailing like it was the rapture as the others stood open mouthed unable to do a thing.  His abdomen opened up and the innards fell out all over the town.  There was an announcement booming from the dirigible above.  “We are all one, the same people.  This is a reminder that we come in peace.”  That never would have happened when I was a boy.  Well… it’s a different age. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

NFL Week 2: Where Is My Flag?


I walk my bassets in the park in the mornings.  This is a ritual that we are all on board with as it gives me a chance to quietly contemplate my upcoming day, and provides them with the chance to eat skunk poop.  It's a win all around.  It is generally a quiet time of day with only a few people exercising that cross our path.  This is generally Moms outfitted in expensive mall running gear chugging along with a water bottle clamped to their belt as if their 2 mile run might deplete them of all liquid reserves.  There is also the occasional bird watcher.  The bird watcher is a curious sort.  They are almost always alone, dressed for a dorky safari and focused like Olympic athletes on stalking out Red Throated Warblers with their binoculars, or whatever the fuck it is they are doing.  The bird watchers always make me feel sad, but I might be projecting as they seem to always be having a great time.  Today I saw someone new.

There was a couple striding down Lake Rd with their "action gear" of leggings and Body Armor shirts.  They were late middle age, older than me, with a posture of perhaps too much confidence.  The man had a red shirt, and his female companion blue.  They were both wearing straw cowboy hats.  The man had an enormous "Trump 2020" flag he was carrying across his shoulder like he was on his way to a rally.  There wasn't a rally though.  They were just two people having their own Facism parade on a Saturday morning. "Hey babe!  Let's go!  I want to get this work out in before cutting the grass!  Hey!  Where in the hell did you put my Trump flag?"

It's odd that people identify so heavily with someone that has, by any reasonable account, been a complete failure.  I can't wrap my head around why anyone would publicly walk around supporting something that is so fucked up, broken, and brings so many people so much pain.  Then again, I don't understand why people support the Detroit Lions either.  

I don't know if you happened to see how the Lions bungled their way into a loss versus the woeful Bears last Sunday, but it was very "Lionesque".  I think of "Lionesque" as a step below "Brownsy", as in predictably bad versus shockingly inept.  I am starting to think of Lion's coach Matt Patricia as a real sad sack as he seems too be at the wheel of many of these "pull defeat from the jaws off victory" losses.  On  paper, the Lions aren't that bad.  Yet, they found a way to lose.  It might be why you never see anyone walking down the street with a Lions flag on a Saturday morning.  Maybe if they drummed up more racism?  I don't know.  

Regardless, this week the Lions are playing Green Bay, America's Most Overrated Team.  The narrative on the Packers is that they are a 13-3 team with Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers having a chip on his shoulder.  They can't lose.  The Lions aren't really much different than the Pack except they have the "Lion Magic".  Are they going to win Sunday?  Of course not.  Will they stay within six?  Yeah, probably.  Detroit +6.

 I am going to continue to bet against the narrative this week and take Jacksonville.  The story line on them is that they are tanking.  They will never win, and though they won last week, that was a fluke.  Look, I am not saying the Jaguars are any good.  They will likely get the #1 pick in next year's draft.  No one will care in Jacksonville and no one will go to their games.  However, like Miami last year, they aren't as far away from the other teams as people perceive them to be.  They are getting 8.5 this week against Tennessee, a team everyone thinks went 14-2 last year but actually just snuck in the playoffs.  Tennessee is coming off a short week and will run the football as that is essentially all they do.  This should be a nice low scoring game, and I like Jacksonville to just sort of hang around.  Jacksonville +8.5

The Jets are maybe the worst team in the league right now.  I try to never bet on the Jets and even discussing involving them in this totals bet is giving me the shakes.  Still, it seems impossible that they will score.  They have no (0) offensive weapons and a QB that is the second coming of Terry Hanratty.  The 49ers defense is good enough to shut this team down.  However, I don't see the 49ers lighting g it up.  Kittle is out with a sprained knee, which does not sound pleasant.  The 49ers haven't lit up the scoreboard since week 9 of last season.  This is exactly the kind of game they win 17-3, like they did last year vs Washington Football Team (which I love to say whenever I can).  Gimme SF/Jets UNDER

Now, where is my goddamn Lions flag?

Season Record 2-0    


Friday, September 11, 2020

Nurse the Hate: NFL 2020 Week 1 and Attention To Detail


When I was about 7 years old, I had a Flexible Flyer wagon.  This was a basic supply item to a seven-year-old.  Every single kid in my neighborhood had one of those wagons.  My friend Christopher had a shitty off-brand version with detachable wooden sides.  I have the sneaking suspicion that when he got older, Christopher’s Mom bought him the “wrong” back to school jeans forever staining him with the mark of an outcast.  While the other cool kids confidently walked the middle school halls in their Levi’s, poor Christopher was likely in Wranglers or Lees.  Let me tell you, there is no chance that Tammy Davis and her emerging breasts are going to notice a lad in the wrong jeans like Christopher. 


While this might seem like a small event in a man’s life, to be clad in what by all accounts is an honest and trustworthy made dungaree, it no doubt was the first domino to fall in what I am sure was an unfulfilling life.  A 12-year-old boy’s ego is a fragile thing.  Christopher’s first brush with raw sex appeal was the glitz and glamor of Tammy Davis shimmying down the hall in her Adidas and plastic hair clip with the overflowing confidence of a tiny bra.  Christopher was met with utter rejection thanks to his mother’s decision to save $5 in the Wrangler bin instead of ponying up and just buying the Levi’s that would have averted the ridicule of the always fashion-conscious Tammy and her faithful #2 wingman Patty.  Thus, Christopher never went for The Girl He Wanted, and instead settled for the first girl that engaged him in conversation, that turd Nicole.  Yes, that’s the same Nicole that called the cops on your college house party for being too loud at 930pm on a Friday night.  Yes, it’s the same Nicole that plopped out two kids with Christopher soon after college graduation, got herself on the School Board and removed all the interesting books from the “approved reading list” and made 14-year olds slog through boring safe shit like “The Canterbury Tales” and “Billy Budd”.  Yes, it is the SAME GODDAMN NICOLE that wouldn’t let Christopher go to Cancun on a golf trip with his buddies because she thinks it’s TOO FUCKING DANGEROUS despite never having left Pennsylvania and getting all her FUCKING NEWS ON FACEBOOK from her FUCKING FRIENDS!


Sorry.  That got away from me a bit.  I fell out of touch with Christopher and I might be filling in some blanks without evidence.  But I think we can agree that small details can make all the difference in life.  For example, as a seven-year-old, I did a lot of important shit with my wagon.  I was hauling all kinds of things a seven-year-old needs in day-to-day life.  I can’t recall exactly what those items were, but let me assure you, they were key.  Toys, whiffle ball gear, welding equipment, etc.  Anyway, at a certain point we put together the idea that we could sit in our wagons and use the dodgy handle as a makeshift steering wheel as we went down the seemingly large hill by our houses.  As a seven-year-old, few things could match the pure speed and thrill of careening down that hill seated in your wagon.  This is where I would like to point out Christopher’s lack of attention to detail that would disqualify him from the Tammy Sweepstakes and allow him to be shackled to that turd Nicole.


The Flexible Flyer had been engineered to allow a limited turning radius, making it impossible to turn the wheels perpendicular to the frame.  Christopher’s piece-of-shit off brand wagon did not employ the same sophisticated engineering acumen.  This was evident one fateful afternoon as my friend Michael and I tore down the hill in our Flexible Flyers.  Christopher, always a bit of a nervous boy, waited at the top of the hill for a moment and descended after Michael and I triumphantly rolled to a stop.  It’s hard now to piece together why Christopher made the radical driving maneuver he did, turning the handle radically to lock up the front wheels.  I remember looking up, seated in the majesty of my wagon, to see Christopher flip his wagon and roll down the pavement in the same manner as the “Agony of Defeat” Wide World of Sports Ski Jumper.  Steve Austin, The Bionic Man’s wreck in his experimental plane is also another point of comparison.  Steve Austin got a bionic arm and leg.  Christopher bled, cried and ran home.  Ah, real life is cruel.


I bring all of this up to point out the cost/benefit of attention to detail.  As we have been locked up in our homes for months, what do you think freaky focused Rams coach Sean McVeigh has been doing?  I think he has been paying attention to details and figuring out how to beat the Cowboys in Week 1.  The only thing that guy cares about is football.  He’s been stuck in his house with his LA Instagram looking model fiancé.  Dude wants to coach a game.  The always overrated Cowboys roll into LA to play the Rams this week with a new coach, new system, and no preseason games.  They had to leave on a Covid focused flight to LA, deal with the weirdness of covid travel, and land in a place that is on fire.  After practicing all August in the afternoon, they will play a game at 820p Pacific (1020p Central) in the Rams brand new unfamiliar stadium.  Oh yeah, the Rams are also GETTING three points.   RAMS +3


The Redskins are now the Washington Football Team.  They have controversies going about the team name, sexual harassment in the front office, a QB back from a life-threatening injury that is going to ride the bench, and a coach with cancer.  The are recognized to be one the five worst teams in football.  The Public believes their first round QB is a bust because he started poorly (but finished strong).  87% of the tickets are on the Eagles and 77% of the money.  That’s all I need to know.  The Eagles already have injuries depleting their offensive line and receiving corps.  Does Washington win?  Who cares?  They can keep it close.  WASHINGTON +5.5.   

Monday, September 7, 2020

Nurse the Hate: 2020 NFL Season Win Total Locks


As Purgatory 2020 marches on into Fall, the only solace is that NFL Football is going to be back.  Sure, there is an almost certain chance that the shaky pillars of American Society are about to collapse, and we will only leave our disease bunkers to fire off rounds from semi automatic weapons at our once friendly neighbors, but that's just a minor inconvenience with the assurance that I can get action down on the Broncos over the Chargers in the late game.  I don't know if civil unrest will make its impossible to go to leave the house and get food, but I do know that the NFL is going to get those games off no matter what.  There might be a moment of silence to recognize the headless corpses of BLM or Patriot Prayer members hanging from lampposts outside of empty stadiums, but goddammit that Redskins... sorry... Washington Football Team... game is going off at 1pm.  

I enjoy betting season win totals, especially the under on teams I am largely ambivalent about.  The New York Giants are a perfect example.  I think about the Giants about as often as I think about the recorded catalogue of Little Feat.  While both the Giants and Little Feat no doubt have enthusiastic fans, I am not among them.  I am not a sworn enemy to either the Giants or Little Feat, but I am quite indifferent to either.  Yet, for some reason, I find a perverse pleasure in creating a scenario where I can root against the Giants, hence I am going to take GIANTS UNDER 6.5 WINS.  If I could get a bet down against Little Feat, I would probably do that as well.  Can I get action on "LITTLE FEAT FIRST LIVE PERFORMANCE IN CASINO WITH LESS THAN 2 ACTUAL MEMBERS BEFORE EASTER"?

The under bet is much more assured than the over bet.  For an OVER to come in, everything has to happen just right.  Injuries are avoided.  Lucky bounces all go your way.  You win every coin flip.  In 2020, I am firmly in the camp of those things going the other way.  2020 is a bust in a complete sense.  It is unwise to bet on anything requiring optimism.  In 2020 it is obviously more likely that a team's best player spontaneously combusts than it is that he tosses four touchdowns.  These NFL players haven't practiced, done OTOs, and have had to workout on their own.  After week two, 60% of most team's rosters will be on the IR with pulled hamstrings and knee injuries.  A crappy team from last year without much depth does not provide me with an optimistic outlook.  The Giants are going to be fun to root against.

New York teams can be reliably counted on to be overhyped.  Daniel Jones went from being "Hey, he might be OK" to "This guy is a top tier QB" in the media chatter without any clear evidence.  The guy is a turnover machine, and it is impossible to win in the NFL if your team makes three turnovers a game.  He personally had 23 turnovers in 13 games last year.  He fumbled 18 times and lost 11 of them.  The Giants offensive line is poor.  There is no defense to speak of.  They will be lucky to go 2-4 in the division, which means they have to go 5-5 against the NFC North and AFC South.  You think the Giants are splitting with 49ers, Rams, Seahawks, Cardinals, Steelers, Ravens, Browns and Bucs?  I sure don't.  GIANTS UNDER 6.5.

I am taking a firm position against the Las Vegas Raiders.  The Raiders are doing all of those Raider things with their roster that makes everyone scratch their heads.  Players are signed at great expense and then released a few weeks later.  Jon Gruden is a wildly overrated coach playing in a town that drives the gambling lines.  The Vegas local news has had daily Raider reports for over a year driving local interest from the gambling community.  There is a new stadium and the bright lights are on the franchise.  Each time a team moves into a new stadium, inevitably the pundits will start that shit talk about "Well, with their new stadium, that should translate into a more wins."  Why is that?  The Raiders went 7-9 last year with all the emotion of the fans helping them at home, so now in a sterile environment they are going to pick up another win?  They lost five of their last six and all of their wins were one score wins.  This does not seem like a team poised for a breakout year.  This seems like 6-10.

The Raiders signed Marcus Mariota in the off season.  Gruden clearly dislikes Carr and has been figuring out how to get him out of there since he arrived.  Mariota, a decent QB in a dink and dunk system, will no doubt be behind center in Week 5 and expected to fire the ball downfield.  That's not going to work out.  This 2020 season in Vegas has the feel of an extended training camp to me.  I think Gruden is till trying to build whatever his vision is of the Raiders.  He's on a long term contract with zero pressure to win now.  You think the locals are going to take to the streets because the Raiders have a losing record?  They could give two shits.  This seems like a 6-10 team.  The Broncos and Chargers improved this off season, and as an added bonus the Raiders have to play KC twice along with the AFC North.  RAIDERS UNDER 7.5 wins.

My last bet is the one I make each and every season, BROWNS UNDER WHATEVER THE TOTAL IS.  If you bet the Browns UNDER season win total each year since they returned in 1999, you would have more money than Jeff Bezos and tried to rightfully wrestle control of the Browns from the Haslem Family.  It is important to remember that any random Joe off the street is as qualified as the Haslems to run an NFL franchise.  The Haslems made their fortune ripping people off with gas contracts, selling Oak Ridge Boys cassette cut-outs, and the unwavering appeal of beef jerky.  They know even less about football than the guys you see at the Cleveland Muni Lot with backward baseball caps yelling out "Here we go Brownies!  Here we go!  Woof!  Woof!" that feel certain that this is the season the team goes 12-4 and wins it all.  It isn't.  It won't ever be.  The team is cursed as are the doomed residents of NE Ohio to never see a winning professional football team.  Yet, the Browns are sitting at 8.5 wins.

This is as easy a bet that has ever presented itself.  All you have to do to win is allow the Browns to go out and play "Browns Football".  It has been 13 years since the team has had a winning season.  Last year they were the preseason darlings, picked to go to the Playoffs and went 6-10.  They have won more than 8 games two times (2) since returning in 1999.  They have a new coach (4th in 3 years), new offensive coordinator, four new offensive line starters, a rookie left tackle, and the back seven of the defense is already injury depleted.  Yet, all I hear is this talk about all the "talent" on the field.  I DO NOT see this talent.  Baker Mayfield is a bust.  Case Keenum will be starting Week 6 after Mayfield is benched with a mysterious "injury".  Teams will score 31+ on them every week.  They could go 5-11.  BROWNS UNDER 8.5        

Now let's get out there and root for the UNDER!  Failure is profit!  

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Nurse the Hate: The Wake Up Call


I saw that an ABC Poll for the upcoming Presidential election shows Biden/Harris leading Trump 53% to 41% among registered voters.  This also indicates that 6% of the population is undecided, which makes makes my head explode.  What David Sedaris wrote about “undecided voters” in the 2008 election is even more on target for this election cycle.  Sedaris wrote "To put them in perspective, I think​ of being​ on an airplane.​ The flight attendant comes​ down the aisle​ with her food cart and, eventually,​ parks​ it beside my seat.​ “Can I interest you in the chicken?​” she asks.​ “Or would​ you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass​ in it?”  To be undecided in this elect​ion is to pause​ for a moment and then ask how the chick​en is cooked.”


The idea that 41% of the population is thinking, “What we need here is another four more years of RIGHT NOW.  Things can’t get much better than this!” is unbelievable.  The same guy that bungled the pandemic response, has had race riots erupt unlike anything since the 60s, abandoned ship as the economy collapsed, and then left the bridge for NO ONE is saying “You see how fucked up everything is?  Only I can fix it!”.  This was a great strategy in 2016 when he wasn’t the one that created all the problems in the first place, yet 2 out of every 5 Americans are thinking, “Yep, that is the guy we need in charge for another four years.  We are killing it right now.”.   


I don’t know about you but being cooped up all the time has allowed my brain time to wander.  I start to assume everyone is a logical thinker, operating under the same level of outrage that I am.  I am still not positive this isn’t some sort of simulation, that I haven’t been placed into a coma by a team of alien doctors that have plunged a probe into my ass to monitor how much stress a person can endure.  By the way, there haven’t been many stories about aliens shoving probes up poor country bumpkin’s asses lately. Why flying saucers seem to exclusively land in the Midwest/Deep South and never in Boston is never clear.  Maybe they need a good clearing to land, and that real estate market in Boston is brutal.  Who can afford a big enough area to do some night time probing in Cambridge?  I digress…


All this time in relative isolation has led me to forget what most people are really like.  Today I went to the BMV to get my license renewed.  That my friends is the wake up call you need if you think The General Population can figure anything out.  The BMV is proof that the line between “barnyard goat” and “man” is slim indeed.  There were about 20 people in front of me in line.  Half of these people could not follow the very simple and clear instructions on how to line up.  Each person called in front of me was not prepared with the correct forms or documents.  I watched one woman say to the clerk, “I have a different name on my passport.  I have been using a new name now, so can you change it on my license?”.  She did not appear to understand why this might be a problem.  There was a man that said, “I don’t have my old license or any utility bills or nuthin’, but I got a Netflix account of my phone.  Is that proof of where I live?”  No sir.  No sir, it is not.


An hour past.  I was next.  A large man coughed furiously.  He had an oxygen tank puffing ominously into tubes in his nostrils.  He was wearing discolored sweatpants that housed a terrifying swelling near where his genitalia should live.  He groaned over to a plastic chair with his grandson, also in sweat pants and sparkling white Euro trainers, where the two tried to get past the labyrinth of Ohio Driver’s License renewal.  It was a quest more than a simple task.  The man struggled to keep upright to pass the vision test.  Deep “productive” coughs racked his body every ten minutes.  I was sure he was giving all of us Covid, or at least tuberculosis.  The clerk asked him, “Do you have any medical or mental conditions that would prevent you from safely operating a motor vehicle?”.  I’m thinking I can see three from across the room.  “No.”, he answered.  He then spent the next 15 minutes trying to write his name in the rectangle for his signature.  “I can’t keep in in the box.”  At last, with his grandson guiding the pen, he accomplished his task.  I spent less time buying my last house.  “Here you go sir.  Your license is good for two years.”  I figure he’ll be dead by October.  Hopefully he doesn’t drive anywhere before then.  He can’t sign his name, much less drive a late model mini van safely.  It would have been safer giving him a flamethrower.


Yet, there is no denying it.  The people in this room are America.  We are not a nation of Eagle Scouts and good Samaritans.  That’s a lie we tell ourselves.  We are a nation of filthy sweatpants, faded tattoos, fake leather shoes, fear, bad techno pop, Five Dollar Footlongs, flabby bodies, hatred and enormous pickup trucks.  Most people are asleep at the wheel and they are willing to take whatever shit sandwich gets served up to them.  The life has been eroded out of them.  They aren’t going to muster up the natural curiosity to see what this election is all about.  Politics are boring and complicated.  Watching MMA and The Voice is fun. 


Almost all of our nation walks around with a smart phone, able to access all the information on the planet.  That power is harnessed watching pornography, teenage girls lip syncing to songs on Tik Tok, and cat videos.  Whenever you think, “there is no way 40% of America thinks things are going well now and will vote Trump back in”, walk into a place where EVERYONE goes.  Pick any ten people and ask, “How many of them will vote Trump?”.  You’ll get to 4 quickly, and depending where you are, you’ll hit 7 or 8 just as fast.  America is a packed discount airline flight and about half the plane is taking the plate of shit with broken glass.  I hope it stays at less than half or I’ll need to use my frequent flier miles and get on a new flight.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Nurse the Hate: The Girls In The Jeep

There is no greater sense of self-confidence, no matter how misplaced, than a Jeep Wrangler filled with upper class 18-19-year-old girls.  Matching Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses, perfect teeth, outfits from the same retailer, soft hair blowing in the breeze.  They have the world by the balls, at least as far as they know.  The excitement of knowing anything can happen in their three-mile radius planet with one text message fuels manic chatter and consistent phone scrolling in their mighty suburban chariot.  I idle next to them in sharp contrast.


I am next to them in the turning lane.  I am an otherwise invisible middle-aged man.  I am an extra provided for background to the riveting drama of the girls lives next to me, no different than a tree or a cyclist.  I am not filled with excitement.  I am filled with anxiety and the constant stress of the unknown from the endless pandemic.  The heavy gray cloud of doom looms above.  I sit in front of a computer all day hoping to find someone that wants to buy something.  Most people don’t.  They are like me, not going anywhere or doing anything.  The traffic light changes.  The girls drive off smiling and laughing, leaving a bad pop song and the slight smell of expensive boutique shampoo. 


I drive on, merging onto the highway.  A massive pickup truck speeds up to prevent me from seamlessly joining traffic.  He has three lanes open but decides to jam me up for no apparent reason.  I accelerate and zip in front of him easily.  He flips me off and flashes his lights despite suffering no visible injury.  I drive a fast car.  In the last two months I have noticed aggressive driving directed towards me as if people are taking out their aggression on one of the only things available, drivers they feel need to be knocked down a peg.  I keep my head on a swivel and accelerate.  The enormous pickup takes this escape badly.  I receive more angry light flashes and middle fingers.  Shit.  I didn’t even do anything.  Fuses are very short.  Each week seems to get worse.  Things feel like they could blow at any moment.


In Ohio we are 28 weeks into relative quarantine.  I haven’t played music since March.  I haven’t been able to travel for my wine endeavors.  I can’t make money as the economy is on life support.  Each day seems like the last.  The complete failure of America to respond in a responsible way to the pandemic has stolen a year from us and counting.  I blame Trump directly, no matter how much blame can be spread around.  Trump is an incompetent fool.  He is a sociopathic con man that is capable of anything but is too stupid to have an agenda other than self-promotion.  As we huddle in the ashes, Trump seems like a sad clown, the man you goad at the bar to say something stupid so you can laugh at him.    


Social media documents a society that is fractured and angry.  The Trump True Believers have abandoned all decorum and now openly embrace racism and authoritarianism.  All people want to lash out.  Sunday I saw a guy with a long beard and a “Don’t Tread On Me” t-shirt walk maskless in a grocery store, practically begging for confrontation.  His eyes search for contact.  He prays for someone to call him out.  He looks unhinged, on his last rope.  I head home.  A local candidate stops by to tell me he’s for “law and order” with a wink, wildly misjudging my support of “keeping those troublemakers in line”.  He pauses, hoping I will give him a dog whistle so we can talk about “The Blacks” without that “PC crap” getting in the way.  I close the door on him.  Monsters now walk in the sunlight, no longer needing to hide their true nature.  This is 1968.  This is 1934.  This is 2020.


I sit in front of the computer.  I read the news.  It’s all bad.  There is no getting out of this.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel.  The band is going to write some new songs.  At least we will try.  It’s hard without meaningful stimulus.  The sun goes down.  The summer is starting to have that scent in the air of Fall, of wet leaves and earth.  This is Walden Pond with a 24-hour cable news cycle.  Winter had become Spring.  Spring became Summer.  Summer is turning into Fall.  A Jeep full of girls zips down the street.  They’re laughing and smiling.  They have it all.  I’m jealous.  I try to write a song.