Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nurse the Hate: Hate Ohio State Football

Well it certainly was a shock to see that Jim Tressel had to resign in shame. Who could have possibly seen that coming? I have long maintained that Ohio State is the most corrupt football program in the nation (see Nurse the Hate 3/24/2007), and may be more corrupt than the Mexican National Government. Yet, everyone ignored all the evidence right in front of their face. These guys have always been filthy, but throw a sweater vest on it, and it’s all wholesome good fun! It has been that way since the beginning. Seriously, how many classes do you think Maurice Clarett attended when OSU won the National Championship? A conversation that was never had at OSU: “Man, I hope the football team wins the Fiesta Bowl. I just don’t know if Maurice has his head in the game. With all the work we have been doing in HIST 770 in study group, I just don’t think football is a priority for him.”

I have no doubt in my mind that 95% of all NCAA Division I football is strictly a pay-to-play machine. A guy I knew that lived next door to Pete Johnson (ex-Buckeye and Pro Bowl RB for the Bengals) and said that Pete maintained he took a pay cut when he left OSU and went to the NFL. Heck, this was in the early 70s before every school had multi million dollar TV contracts to maximize. Can you imagine how much Terrell Pryor got paid to go to Ohio State? Where did the money come from to pay for that Nissan 300Z he drove to the Tressel resignation meeting in? He probably is pulling 20 hours a week in the library filing books, or maybe he washes dishes in the freshman cafeteria. Maybe he’s got a part time gig at Chipotle?

Why even single out Ohio State in this? Because they bungled the cover up, that’s why. Every single team is doing it. USC and Reggie Bush finally got busted when no one could offer a reasonable explanation on why his lower income family was living in a big house on the beach. The USC Football team parking lot had better cars than the Dallas Cowboys lot. Guys at Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, etc. have all recently said they got paid. They are ALL being paid in creative off the books ways. Can you imagine the nonsense going on at Miami Fl or Florida U? When I worked for the Browns Radio Network, the rumor was a Florida “student” the Browns drafted couldn’t even read. When that guy got busted for weed at a party, the word was that he couldn’t sign his name on the police paperwork so he made an “X” for his name. I don’t know if that is true, but I also haven’t read any novels from this guy either.

I went to Kent State in the Eighties, at that time proud owners of the worst Division I sports program in the country. We lost in everything. Nobody went to games. It didn’t matter. Still, they threw money at it like everyone else. The shooting guard was in my Anthropology class. He parked his shiny new 280Z illegally in a faculty spot almost in the lobby of the building. It was insane. It looked like a car dealer had abandoned a sports car on the sidewalk. This guy showed up once every couple of weeks in expensive clothes and looked perplexed. He somehow passed the class although I don't recall ever seeing him take a note. You think Terrell Pryor is sweating his Sociology final? Hell, I knew a girl that was a tutor at the University of Cincinnati during the Bob Huggins reign. It was a tough gig to help one of the basketball players study for his History of Western Civilization final when the kid couldn’t read.

Why not end the façade and just pay these guys? They are generating a kazillion dollars for the university in exchange for an “education”. Well, that would be a lousy trade even if they did go to class. Those “students” are employees of the university plain and simple. OSU generated $52 million from the football program last year. A degree from Ohio State will cost between $45,000 and $110,000. Seems to me everyone is getting rich except the young men that risk having their knees destroyed. How much would you pay Pryor for what he brings to the table for the $200 million he was part of generating in the four years he played? Seems to me, it would be more than a car, some weed, and tattoos. The whole thing is ridiculous. The players get paid what they can scam. The coach wears a sweater vest so he seems virtuous and legit. That’s probably what really pissed everyone off. That sense of righteousness that Tressel and OSU football lorded over everyone. That nonsense talk of “doing the right thing even when it was hard”.

Just like everywhere else, it only matters if you win or lose. Why keep pretending? Bring in some hardcore convicts like Pitt. I’m talking guys that aren’t even allowed to mingle with the regular student body because they are so violent, dangerous and unpredictable. Run it unflinchingly like an NFL team, cutting guys loose the second they become expendable. Wheel off the 19 year old with the broken back and cut him a check after you kick him out of the barbed wire encased “Football Housing” because he can’t walk. Let’s go for it! OH! IO!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Nurse the Hate: Hate Milwaukee?

This weekend I went to Milwaukee to see my beloved Giants at Miller Park take on the kinda likable Brewers for a couple of games, and enjoy everything Milwaukee has to offer. Milwaukee gets sort of a bad rap out there, but after going there a few times, I have to say that it is a good weekend destination. Please note, I have no desire to "settle down" in Milwaukee as I have no need to eat significantly more sausage, put on 15-20 pounds, become even pastier, and endure even worse weather than NE Ohio. That being said, I can tell you the following things about Milwaukee.

1) The People of Milwaukee are very friendly. I got pretty lit up on Friday night when the Giants pulled one out of their ass and beat the Brewers 5-4 in the 9th. I was sitting in the club section, which is surprisingly far away from the field (see photo), and was one of three Giants fans in the entire stadium. When the team name is the Brewers, and they play at Miller Park, there is certainly ample corporate pressure for heavy drinking at $7.00 a pop. You would think being surrounded by husky drunks, I would have received threats or at least well timed shit talk with the way I was acting up, but no Sir. We all laughed it up, and overpaid for various Miller products being hustled in the stadium. One caveat... Avoid the stadium food at all costs as I ate a hot dog that was barely room temperature, but still looked like a major improvement over a stack of deep fried alleged sea creatures greasily sitting in orange heat lamps. Plan ahead. The stadium is set off from the city, and the good people of Milwaukee like to tailgate before games. I think they are going through the motions until the Packers start up again, but what do I know? It would be easy to blend in and drink comp shitty Miller brew if you are traveling on a budget.

2) Milwaukee has a brewing tradition. Unfortunately the tradition was in brewing Schlitz, Pabst and Miller. Only Miller remains, as the Schlitz and Pabst facilities have become trendy condos by the river. There are three microbrew places that bear consideration. Lakefront Brewing is outstanding. Their entire portfolio was excellent, with certain beers resonating a bit more with me than others. Gravitating towards our old friend the hop, I liked the Lakefront IPA. The Cream City Pale is nice as well, especially if you don't want the high alcohol of the IPA. They push the Riverwest Stein Beer, which is an Amber, but it's a bit malty for me. Snake Chaser Irish Stout is real nice, but hardly a summer beer. The brewery is in a large old industrial building with German beer hall style tables to serve people on the Friday Fish Fry handled by someone named Captain Rusty. I don't know who Captain Rusty is, but he sounds like someone that would shanghai young boys onto his filthy ship to service the crew until they could dispose of the body at sea. Or maybe he's just a guy that likes to cook fish...

Sprecher is just North of the city, and specializes in German takes on beer. Having drunk my way across Germany a half dozen times, I find Sprecher to miss a certain zing in their beer, but it is certainly better than having a Miller High Life. Avoid the tour if you can, as the thing never seems to end. They force you to do the tour before going to the tasting room, but in retrospect I just should have slunk off from the group and ditched them. If you have time, check out the beer at Stonefly as well. It is one of those bearded slacker breweries where the music is ironic and beers are wittily named. If those dudes stopped buying clothes at thrift stores and spent more time in the brewery, maybe their beer could move into the #2 position. Also, I had been to the Milwaukee Ale House on an earlier trip, but I just remembered it as like going to a Rock Bottom. It seemed like less of a serious brewery, and more like a place to have a wedding rehearsal dinner. Buyer beware.

3) You can go to the Harley Davidson Museum if you want to. I don't, but you might. There seemed to be plenty of guys in their fifties with really big guts that had their chunky wives in their "weekend jeans" on the back of their bikes. I think the guys walk around and look at old bikes and throw terminology around while their wives buy shit in the massive gift shop. Owning a Harley now is sort of what owning a sailboat was in the 1960s, isn't it? It's the new suburban version of buying into the fantasy of "freedom" and "individualism", when in reality it is just punching an entry ticket to go to chicken wing house Bike Nights and drink Coors Light draft out of plastic cups. I like bikers that have their bike as their exclusive mode of transportation, instead of one of four "toys" in their 4 car garage. Bikers should be named "Ace" or "Spider", not "Mr. Bradley".

4) I exclusively stay at the Pfister Hotel. A great old hotel with outstanding service, the Pfister is where all visiting sports teams seem to stay. The best part? It's really reasonable. The last two times I stayed there Rickie Weeks went up the elevator with me, Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff sat next to me at breakfast, and I almost spilled a beer on Randy Wolf. I resisted the temptation to bitch out Huff, who is absolutely killing me in a high entry price NL only fantasy league. I don't know, maybe I should have reached out to him. Don't you think he would have responded to a guy ten years older than him saying, "Excuse me? Mr. Huff? Mr. Huff? Ummm, you know, you're on my fantasy team... yeah, I have had you for two years now and... Um.... Where are you going?" That would have been pretty cool. Or how about, "So, Aubrey... I love betting the games, and I was wondering if you had any insight how Sanchez's shoulder was feeling? If you want, I can get some action down for you too. Hey, where are you going?" It's always better to play it cool even though I was excited like a ten year old boy to sit next to my beloved Giants.

5) It is fun to sit right behind home plate. The second game I had tickets in row 2 behind the plate. It was a great game, but the Giants lost 3-2 on a suicide squeeze in the 9th. It was my second favorite Giants loss I have ever seen, as sitting that close to the plate is the best view possible. You are close enough to the players that when Pat Burrell is in the on deck circle, you can see him think "Why is that dude from breakfast sitting this close to me again. Should I get a restraining order?"

6) There's a place called the Squirrel Cage in Milwaukee that is one of my new favorite dive bars. It's a small room with a pool table in a residential neighborhood that hasn't changed in 30 years. There are ancient Pabst signs, an Andecker Beer sign, and stuffed squirrels behind the bar. The squirrels are so brazen from being fed by the bar owner that they come in the bar to eat peanuts, hence the bar name. Rich Heming bought the joint from his girlfriend's parents in 1977, and runs it like you stopped over at his house. He drives a cement truck during the day, and stays open until his patrons leave or he has to go to bed to go to work the next day. After talking to him a bit, he offered up two of his specialty shots he mixes up. The Milwaukee Slammer is some kind of sweet alcohol punch. It was pretty good. The Apple Pie however tasted just like a slice of really good pie but had Everclear in the mix. Allegedly some crazy friend of his cooks it up and brings it in a metal pot every once in awhile for him to sell. This is a great dive bar. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nurse the Hate: Happy Birthday Bob!

It’s Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday today, and as fine a day as any to celebrate arguably America’s greatest artist as any other. I am hopeful that any one reading this has multiple releases of Dylan’s, as to not have these is really to admit that you don’t have any appreciation of music at all. I have heard the flimsy excuses about his vocals being weak, his arrangements loose, and lyrically impenetrable. That is all complete nonsense. His high points are the high points in what is even possible in the medium of rock music, and once you get indoctrinated, you realize he actually can sing. You just have to stick with it. Look, you didn’t like beer the first time you had it. You stuck that one out and now are quaffing 7.8% alcohol IPAs whereas when you were 17 you were happy with a wine cooler in a plastic jug. Man up on this Dylan thing.

Dylan’s discography at this point is immense and pretty daunting to the uninitiated. His career can be explained rather quickly. He was a folkie and got lumped into the protest singers in the early sixties. By the mid sixties he got a killer rock band and created “serious” rock music. No Dylan, there is no Beatles from “Beatles For Sale” on. Things got crazy with drugs and public interest and he pulled the plug. He had some trouble getting his footing back until the mid 70s when he released a few great albums around his divorce. Things got pretty dicey for a long while in the 1980s with records that can be described as “spotty” at best. Out of nowhere, he comes back with three monster new releases starting in 1997 and follows with amazing collections of unreleased material. So, in my opinion, what do you need to get a grasp of Mr. Dylan?

First of all, don’t get Greatest Hits collections. He’s not a “hits” guy. Each of his records has a distinctive feel, and a specific mood. You want the whole thing and digest it as one thing, the way he meant to release it. There are about 50 to choose from. So what are the ones you need immediately? This is an easy Top Ten, and I'm not breaking any new ground here. Still, if you don't have these, shame on you...

1) Highway 61 Revisited (1965)- This is perhaps the greatest rock record of all time. Every song is spot on and has depth. To not have this at your home is a sin.

2) Blood On the Tracks (1975)- This is the “divorce” album. If you have a bad breakup, this is something you may or may not want to listen to. When you think about R&B songs that chart about losing a woman, and then you listen to this, it becomes obvious what children wrote those R&B songs. This is for adults.

3) The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)- This is his second release. Peter, Paul, and Mary were considered the leading folk artists. Then this kid releases a record with “Blowin In the Wind” and “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” on it. Thanks for coming everyone else…

4) Bringing It All Back Home (1965)- Half is acoustic and half with a badass roadhouse band. Everything is great on it. He is in a league of his own, and it seemed impossible to top this. Then he released Highway 61 shortly afterwards.

5) Live 1966- This was the tour behind Bringing It All Back Home. The acoustic set is great, but the electric set is maybe the most punk rock thing ever recorded. Pissed off English folkies boo him mercilessly, and he just crushes them with one great song after another with The Band backing him up. Best live recording ever?

6) Love and Theft (2001)- This is considered the second of his “trilogy” of comeback records. For me, this is the best. He lost whatever voice he had, so he just shifts into a blues croak and makes it all work. Mick Jagger is sixty jumping around in spandex bike shorts. Bob Dylan walks out on stage like a Southern gentleman from a period piece movie.

7) John Wesley Harding (1967)- A curious quiet little record that becomes more complex every time you spend time with it. There are no wasted words, and just feels concise. Most have a three verse model to them.

8) Time Out of Mind (1997)- A murky dark record that seems to dwell on impending death, it is shocking it came from the same guy that had released “Down in the Groove” and “Under the Red Sky” recently.

9) Desire (1976)- This is a departure in sound with a gypsy feel to it thanks to the violin all over it. There is exotic warm weather climate imagery, and some monster songs as Bob continues to play with word tense and cubism. This sounds like a loose and fun recording of some pretty serious material.

10) The Basement Tapes (1975)- Made when Bob pulled the plug, this is just him recording songs for fun in the basement with the Band. Um, this sounds a little better than any band practice tapes I was ever part of… Their throwaway songs became American songbook standards.

One of the breaks I got was to have the same birthday as Bob Dylan. I always feel bad when I hear someone say, “Oh I share a birthday with Fred Gwynn!” or "Robby Benson has my birthday.". It’s so much cooler to be able to drop Dylan. Dylan is as great as it gets, and even to have a flimsy association like a birthday is nice. I have listened to all these releases above a million times, and I never tire of them. There is always something new right below the surface if you pay attention. If I really get after it and Bob is still doing his thing next year, I’ll give you an even better list. “Great songs on dicey Bob Dylan records” Ah, but since this is 70 for Bob, let’s focus strictly on the high points…

Happy Birthday Bob. Thanks for the great music. And thanks for “Shot of Love” too.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nurse the Hate: Hate the End of the World

The good news is that Rapture is supposed to happen this Saturday. The bad news is that I just don't have a thing to wear! This thing really crept up on me. For those of you not in the know, kooky Christian radio host Harold Camping says rapture will take place on May 21st. For the uninitiated, that means that people that have earned a place in the inner circle (with generous monetary donations to Harold Camping no doubt) will shed their physical bodies and be transported into eternal bliss. Camping says 200 million people or 3% of the World's population will be raptured, leaving folks like you and definitely me on the "outside looking in". We'll be left with a period of time in which I would imagine the term "lawless" will have a new meaning. The true end of the world will occur 5 months later, on Oct 21st. This will be especially inconvenient as it is in the middle of football season, and the Daredevils already have gigs booked on Halloween weekend.

I suppose the move is to really play it safe and have your bases covered on this thing. For me, this means I will be withdrawing all of my 401k money tomorrow afternoon and buying a staggering amount of legal and illegal intoxicants, some heavy weapons for that nasty five month End of the World panic, and the finest cases of Bordeaux and Burgundy I can find on short notice. As we are going to be looking at "Drink Now" vintages of Bordeaux, I think I will concentrate on the 1982, 1989, 1990, and probably some select 1995s. I'll take whatever good Burgundy I can find. I suppose one can't be too picky when it is the actual End of the World and all.

After I see some folks actually rising up to the heavens, I will immediately go into "satisfy all urges" mode. This will probably become very unpleasant to certain people around me, especially those unarmed and unwilling to become involved in deviant sexual scenarios I construct while under the influence of elephant tranquilizers and gorilla testosterone. Since all of us left are the ones not invited to the Big Afterlife Party, we better live it up for the next five months, you know what I am saying? Loosen up a little. I'm not that unattractive, am I? Ladies, who do you ultimately want to spend End Times with, some dude freaking out with no good wine or a man with a stockpile of the only things that matter (i.e. Guns, Liquor, and Ideas)? I'm starting to look better all the time, aren't I?

Now I must stress if I go into this Party Like A Mad Ape mode and this thing doesn't go off, there are going to be plenty of apologies I am going to have to make. "I am so sorry I tried to make you have a three way with me and a mountain goat at gunpoint. Look, I thought it was the end of the world, and I saw the goat over there and thought, you know, if I don't do this thing now, how am I ever going to know what that was like... I know, I know... I shouldn't have laughed when you were crying and pleading, but I thought, "if you just go with it" you'd like it. Boy, do I look back at this weekend with some regrets... Well, anyway, this is very uncomfortable for all of us. Please accept this bundt cake and I just want to say I am really sincerely sorry, and hope we can still be good neighbors!"

Now if I do get in, which is looking very good thanks to the generous check I just sent to my new good friend Harold Camping, I expect to be enjoying some very serious Raptacular Good Times this weekend. I have always believed that in heaven you get your dogs back, so I'll be giving a few of my old bassets a walk along a stretch of road that looks like Northern California in my own personal heaven dream I have every week or so. There's a nice breeze and everything is the way it should be there. Heaven must be pretty cool, no? Lots of good restaurants with open tables I'll bet. I would think heaven has some pretty good bands too, although I do have some concerns that the acts that do well up there tend to skew Christian rock. I can probably pretend I am into Stryper and Reliant K. Why make waves?

Still, I have some concerns about this weekend. It's really about my own competitive nature. I have to say that if this thing goes off as scheduled, and I see certain people lifted to the heavens while I'm left behind, I will be bummed. For example, won't you be pissed if you are at a party on Saturday and everyone but you and the host's creepy Brother-In-Law are gone? You'll be standing there with a bunch of empty clothes going, "So, what was your name again? Jim? You just got out of jail again, right? Well with everyone else gone, you want to take Steve's Jaguar and go out for some chicken? The keys are probably in the pockets over there. No, no it's OK. Take his wallet too. I don't think it's considered stealing anymore. Look man, what's the difference now? You're out of the game!"

I will definitely call everyone I know and find out who got the call to The Show. I'll be sitting on my deck drinking my fancy wine, all pissed off, talking on my cell. "I can't believe Suzy got in. Seriously. Did I ever tell you what she did at Prom? How do you Hail Mary that kinda shit away? And don't even get me started about Kurt. Dude had six DUIs, and he got in? What did I do wrong? I never broke six of the ten commandments, and let's face it, one of the four I did break could have gone either way in a court of law. This is just total bullshit man. Hey, you want to come over? I got a case of 1995 Chateau Lafite and a mountain goat."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Bus Driver

Each year at this time the frequency of mailbox destruction and lawn turfing in my neighborhood goes up substantially. Having been a bit of a young punk myself, I have accepted these small acts of vandalism visited upon me as contrition for past sins. How can you blame these little ruffians? I remember a time when Summer Vacation stood out in front of you as a never ending blank canvas. At last you would be delivered from the hell that is public secondary education, and have three months of nothing but possibility in front of you. It was summer. Anything could happen. Anything. That was when three months seemed like 2 years. When you were on summer vacation in 5th grade in June, it seemed incomprehensible that August would even happen. Friday seemed like it was never going to get here, so why would 6th grade? The joy at being so close to that freedom always led us, as boys, to destroy things as a way to pay homage to the excitement within.

It was in 5th grade when on our last day of school, we decided to egg the bus that dropped off the kids from the snotty Catholic school about 20 minutes after us each day. That bus driver was a guy that was always in a bad mood, and had yelled at us about fifty times over the course of the year for such sins as standing too close to the road, throwing a nerf football too close to the bus, and looking at him cross eyed. In retrospect, the disheveled bus driver was either a raging alcoholic or dangerously unhinged Vietnam vet. Being violent and having a short fuse is probably a bad combination as an elementary school bus driver. Yes, the kids probably stay in line, but if you are on edge all the time, driving fifty jacked up kids around town while stopping every fifteen feet can't be the best environment. I'm thinking night security guard or clerical work in a library would be a better match, but this comes from the clarity of afterthought.

My neighborhood consisted of the same kind of kids yours probably did. Myself and another guy were the ringleaders. Two other kids were followers through and through, nervously agreeing to whatever half baked plans we had conjured up. These two guys are probably middle managers in some shitty corporation nodding their heads and saying "yes" right now to whatever stupid plan that has recently been devised at Corporate HQ. Filling out the group were two other kids, two years younger and regarded as lesser beings due to their lack of seniority. If this was the military, we would send them in first to a dangerous situation, and refer to them as "collateral damage" when things went bad. They had no say in anything, and were expected to blindly follow orders, which they always did.

The plan to egg the bus was discussed at length the day before, and sketched out like a commando raid. We had recently watched all the war movies of the time like "Kelly's Heroes" and "Guns of Navarone", and understood basic platoon strategy like fields of fire and flanking. We picked our ambush spot carefully. We knew that we had to stay a great distance from our own houses to throw The Authorities off the trail when this operation blew up. In reality, this location turned out to be three houses away from the area we all hung out, but in 5th grade that seemed like a pretty far distance. The spot we chose was where the bus made a stop and let out a girl we all hated (for reasons that remain unclear to me now as they did then). Directly across the street from the stop was a lot that was a new home construction site, with giant mounds of dirt to provide cover. On the driver's side was a house with a perfectly placed playhouse near the road, where one particularly brave soul would launch the first shot. If the bus stopped where it usually did, we would be able to place the bus in a crossfire of eggs and water balloons.

Our final day of public school was a half day, while the Catholic School finished two days after us. Their bus would be on time and heading straight into the biggest ambush any of us had ever dreamed of. The combination of glee on the Last Day of School and fear about our mission made time a fluid thing. We would go though with our plan for certain. The die had been cast. There was no turning back, no backing out. It was bigger than us now. We went home with sweaty palms and nervous energy, each of us responsible for bringing various supplies to the rally point at the construction site. I remember the day was warm, and my mother not asking why I had a hooded sweatshirt with giant pockets on. Had she checked the refrigerator, she certainly would have noticed a dozen eggs missing as well. My mother was many things, but observant was not one of them.

We gathered by the vacant lot and waited for the bus. We were all giddy, with no responsibilities, on the first moments of summer vacation. We were sky high on adrenalin. We went over the plan again and again. Robert, one of the younger kids, would be the first shot. He would emerge from the cover of the playhouse, and toss a water balloon into the open driver's window. Our thinking was that the driver would be so enraged, he would open the bus door as he had so many times that school year to chase Robert, and leave the bus a sitting duck. The rest of us would pound eggs and water balloons into the bus and its open passenger windows, pelting the snotty kids inside. We must have had three dozen eggs and a half dozen water balloons. After using our ammo, we would disappear into the brush and make our way to the rally point at the railroad tracks, gone like ghosts.

When we saw the bus approach, I called out for everyone to take their positions. We all hid down into our cover, breath coming in short fast puffs. It's funny to think about now, as we obviously could have just stood there and waited for the bus and nailed it, but when you are a kid, you assume it is totally obvious you have a devious little scheme afoot. I remember looking to my right and seeing one of the follower kids getting ready to lose it. With his face pressed into the dirt mound, he was acting like an extra in All Quiet On The Western Front, trying to gather his courage to go over the trench into No Man's Land in WWI France. "Wait... wait... wait..."

The bus stopped, and Robert made a throw as good as Joe Montana, his water balloon effortlessly gliding through the open driver's window and soaking the driver. The bus driver dude was super pissed about it too, as he let loose with a stream of profanity that included words I didn't know the meaning of yet. The school kids in the bus started to yell, as this was maybe the most exciting thing to happen on a drive home since that aforementioned nerf football controversy a few months back. The driver opened the bus door, and stomped out into the street. He was about halfway out of the bus when my buddy yelled "Fire!" and we all popped up from our hiding places. It took a few seconds for the driver to realize this wasn't just a lone gunman, but rather a well coordinated guerrilla attack of shocking ferocity.

I remember time slowing down as I rifled egg after egg into the side of the bus and into the windows. There is one image that has always stuck with me, of a girl who had her head hanging out the window screaming. I placed an egg right on the corner of the window frame by her head, and the contents of the egg sprayed her across the face while she continued to scream out in shock. Her face was shiny with egg and her mouth formed a perfect "O".

All of us performed with valor that day, executing our mission flawlessly, until Bruce went completely rogue to my right flank. Out of nowhere, he abandoned cover and ran towards the stunned bus driver. At point blank range he hit the driver with two eggs, one after the other. Out of ammo, he fell back with the rest of us into the brush, leaving the high pitched screams of the kids behind. Moments later we heard the bus lurch into motion, the gears changing aggressively, the clutch on the old bus complaining angrily. Then it was gone...

We waited a moment and worked back to the street. We had done it! Damn it, we had really done it! All of us were screaming at each other, recapping what had just happened, telling our individual battle stories. There isn't a much bigger high for a 12 year old. Here it was, literally the first hours of vacation, and we had already done something legendary. It was probably because we were all talking so excitedly that we didn't notice the obvious high pitched revving of an old empty school bus feverishly barrelling into our neighborhood. Yes, the bus driver was back and he was pissed.

We retreated into the woods like panicked schoolboys, probably because we were in fact, panicked schoolboys. The bus driver stopped, and got out of the bus screaming about how he "knew where all of us little motherfuckers lived and he was going to get every last one of us if it was the last thing he ever did". I believed him. I still do. That guy was crazy. We hid down in the brush like rabbits, shaking with fear. Eventually he drove off, grinding the gears in protest. The Follower kids started to freak, sure their parents would be alerted somehow, and started making waffling rhetoric about giving up the rest of us if they were called in for questioning. We tried to talk them down, and am fairly sure made some threats of physical violence if they "went rat". For some reason the driver never followed up, and we got away with it. It was an amazing day.

You don't get to feel that way as an adult very often. I've felt something close for only fleeting moments, just long enough to stir a memory of what used to be possible in simpler times. I don't know if I ever really felt that combination of excitement, joy, and freedom quite the same way again as I did that afternoon. Maybe one day I will recapture it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nurse the Hate: Hate Bin Laden

After a mere ten years the US military finally found Bin Laden, not in a faraway cave but rather in a McMansion in a suburb of one of Pakistan's major cities. I think everyone was excited that he finally was brought to vigilante justice just like a Die Hard movie. Of course, one has to wonder how our good friends in Pakistan couldn't seem to find him when he was in a giant house with dudes walking around with automatic weapons. "Well my friends, I don't know where he could be. Let's go check those caves again! Oh that enormous house over there? I'm not really sure who lives there. No matter. Let's take another look at those caves." Pakistan is like that popular mean girl at the Cool Kids lunch table that is really nice to your face, but then when you walk away she says something terrible about you and her friends all laugh. She may write something sweet in your yearbook, but you know she says you're a shitbag after a few foamers at the graduation party. We need to talk to some of the other kids at the Cool Lunch Table and start the excommunication of the Pakis to the Dork Table. While we may suffer with instability in 7-11 franchises, I think we will all get used to seeing less bushy mustaches on cashiers rather quickly.

While this was undoubtedly a triumphant moment for the country to finally find Bin Laden and eliminate him, I couldn't help but cringe when I saw the footage of various groups of people chanting "USA! USA! USA!" while dancing around. It reminded me of those guys in the NFL that celebrate wildly after a QB sack in the first quarter. Act like you have been there before for God's sake. I wouldn't do a sack dance after Terminix came in and killed a roach in my house, so perhaps that behavior may be a bit over the top. For example, at Ohio State a bunch of students jumped into that pond on campus splashing water just like before the Michigan game. I don't know if that pre-football game tradition is necessarily the best way to note our Special Forces assassinated the mastermind of a terror plot that killed thousands, you know? "Dude! Bin Laden is dead! Let's crush a twelve pack, jump in the pond, and see if we can bang a few Sorority chicks."

You know how pissed off you get when you see a bunch of Arab guys screaming at television cameras burning American flags? For the most part, these are small mobs assembled for the benefit of TV cameras like a studio audience. They don't represent the majority of their country, but are the bunch of Middle Eastern Mooks that like to get worked up about whatever they get worked up about. Most people are like ourselves and want to go home, relax, and not get hassled by Mooks. This holds true in Egypt, Libya, London, and Ft Wayne Indiana. However, now when people like you and me from across the planet watch TV, they will see those Mooks in the OSU pond screaming "USA! USA! USA!", and think "Those guys look like assholes." You know what? They're not necessarily wrong.

It's a watershed event in history. Clearly, the "good guys" finally got their win. I think it also took about 17 minutes before the conspiracy theorists and political radio honks started up. In the last day I have heard 1) Bin Laden is still alive as this is a hoax to win the next election. 2) They won't release a picture because they took him prisoner and have him in detention somewhere super secret. 3) George Bush was actually the mastermind of this whole plan. 4) Obama is taking too much credit. 5) This is somehow tied into the fact there never actually was a Moon landing.

Do you think it was like this 50 years ago? Were people as cynical back then? "Hey man, D-Day never actually happened man. That whole thing was a movie made by Hitler. He and Stalin and FDR dreamed that whole shit up to corner the oil market and run One World Government. Seriously man. Did you ever see an actual picture of Hitler dead? Even if you did, it would have been totally photo shopped man. Wake up. It's all a big show meant to keep your eye of the ball. Those dudes are all still alive with Walt Disney somewhere off the coast of Brazil. Seriously man." The media aftermath and talk radio conspiracy kookiness is going to be absolutely brutal. Get ready.

I'm glad Bin Laden was finally killed. I'm sorry it took so long. It's a somber moment to remember a tragic event and its consequences, not a "High Five America Fuck Yeah!" moment. As a wise person once said, "Ding Dong the witch is dead."