Friday, May 22, 2015

1,189,457



Some died rebelling against an oppressive imperial army. Some died to keep the Union from splitting apart over the ownership of other human beings. Some died trying to wrest control of the continent from the people who had occupied this land for millennia. Some died in wars of dubious worth. Some died to keep the world from being dominated by an insane dictator and his distorted idea of humanity. Way too many died in wars perpetrated by scurrilous politicians who were power hungry. Too many died in wars that wouldn't end because politicians did not have the courage to say, no more. Some died in a war started by a politician with daddy issues. Worst of all, those who died in war waged for profits.

It doesn't matter the reason or the outcome. It doesn't matter if they believed in what they were doing or not. All of those who served and died deserve our unwavering gratitude. All 1,189,457 of them.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Soul Serenade



Before I say anything let me say that neither Mark nor I can sing. Mark sounds like a cat that's been caught in a meat grinder, and I sound like a piece of heavy, steel machinery that's being dragged across a concrete floor. So I have no room to talk about other people's qualifications when it comes to singing. Unless I am forced to listen, that is.
Last evening Mark and I went out to a bar for a couple of drinks. What I didn't know was that it was karaoke night. So here are a few of my observations while I was being serenaded by those that love to share their talents. First, and I didn't know they did this, rapping is not singing. I don't even know how you would karaoke a rap song. It seems that all you would really need is a drum machine and the ability to talk. Which is exactly what was happening when we walked into that bar. There was a guy bouncing around and doing those spastic rap guy moves with his hands, while reciting something. I don't even know what language the guy was rapping in, Mark tells me it was English. Secondly, I noticed that fat black girls can sing pretty good. Unless they can't, which sometimes happens. Somebody just has to tell them. Third, there was a drunken young white guy who sang an Eagles song slightly better than I would have, while moving like Joe Cocker. It seemed like he was really having fun, and didn't give a rat's ass that nobody liked it. Now that's why you drink liquor, for the courage to stand in front of folks and make an ass out of yourself. Finally, there was one young man in a 'wife beater' shirt, or 'Dago Tee' as we used to call them, who sang some Bon Jovi song. He was my favorite. He also couldn't sing, but still, he was my favorite. Dago tee shirt, muscled arms, rough but attractive face. Yes, he was my favorite.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bulk Trash Walkies



Today is bulk trash pickup day. Chandler loves bulk trash pickup day because it provides him with many new piles of things to smell. At each and every pile of discarded mattresses, derelict chairs, tree branches, and old toilets Chandler takes the time to stop and smell the garbage. There are other things Chandler loves on his walkies, and a lot more he hates. Here is a short list.

Things Chandler loves while going for a walk.

  •        Grandma Gertrude. The elderly German woman who lives halfway around the block. When Chandler sees her, his tail goes into overdrive and he starts wiggling like a puppy. It's because Grandma Gertrude always stops and gives him a good head scratching while telling him something in German. I have no idea what she's saying. It could be "Kill that fat asshole walking you.", but I doubt it. She's a very nice lady. 
  •        Grandma Gertrude's grass. The lawn in front of that house is so lush. I don't know what they do, but every other lawn in the neighborhood looks like the Gobi Desert compared to it. Every afternoon when we walk past, Chandler goes up into the middle of the lawn and flops on his back. He then rubs around in the cool grass for a few minutes before running over to get his German head scratching from Oma Gertrude.
  •        Other people with dogs. If you have a dog, Chandler loves you. He pays no attention to the dog, only the person and demands a good head scratching from them.
  •        There is a couple named Jim and Connie who power walk every morning. Chandler loves Jim.

Things Chandler hates while going for a walk.

  •        Connie.
  •        Airplanes flying directly over his head. He barks and jumps up trying to catch them.
  •        Skateboards.
  •        People who get off their skateboard and hold it because they know it makes Chandler crazy. He still hates them.
  •        Pickup trucks towing a trailer. I don't know why.
  •        Joggers.
  •        People he does not know who are innocently walking down the street and have no idea that a very large dog is going to suddenly lunge at them and bark loudly.
  •        Motorcycles.
  •        Bicycles.

Things I hate while taking Chandler for his walk.

  •        Bicyclists who silently roll up behind me. I hope you all shit your pants when Chandler lunges at you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pizza Boy



Back in 1970 I took a job in the city as a pizza delivery guy. I was perfect for the job. I had a Volkswagen Microbus, long hippie hair, and a rudimentary knowledge of the North side of Chicago. Pizza delivery taught me many, many things. After all I was a white suburban high school graduate, which meant I had a lot to learn. The first thing I learned was that the pizza place that hired me was in the gay neighborhood. In fact it turned out that it was right next door to a gay bar, which eventually would work in my favor. As a pizza delivery guy I learned what a Mezuzah was and that besides a lot of homosexuals, there were a lot of Jewish people in that neighborhood. I also learned that a lot of those Jewish people loved the baby back ribs our pizza place sold. Delicious pork, baby back ribs. Over time I learned how Chicago streets were laid out and numbered, and I learned that Skippy's Pizza had some very loyal regular customers. There was the manager of the nearby theater who always answered the door naked, smelling as if he had just taken a shower. Very polite, always invited me in, and even though I turned his invitation down he always included free theater passes in the tip. Besides the naked theater manager there was the naked drunken lady. Well she wasn't always naked when she answered the door. It was only when she dropped the towel she was holding over herself that she became naked. That actually may have been the very first time I had seen an entire naked woman in the flesh. I was not impressed. In my pizza delivery days I learned how to make change quickly, how to coax a good tip out of people, just how small an opening a Volkswagen Microbus could fit through, and how to look nonchalant when confronted with a naked person.

Last night Mark and I ordered a pizza from our favorite place. It has to be about the five hundredth time we've ordered from there, so I assumed that there would be no problem. About forty minutes after ordering, the dogs went to the kitchen door and indicated that they wanted to go. So I opened the door and let them out. From down towards the front of the dog run I could hear a voice calling, "Sir, did you order pizza?"
It was the delivery guy. A cute, young, new delivery guy. He was trying to climb over the fence.
"Yes, but why are you back here?" I asked while Bette went crazy and Chandler snapped at him.
"Isn't this the entrance?"
"The entrance to the house is on the other side. Go around to the other side." I instructed. So he climbed back down from the fence while I went back inside to the front door to retrieve the pizza. He apologized and told me that the dog run sure did look like the way in. I told him it was fine, that he'd learn what a front door looks like eventually. Just like me when I was a pizza delivery man, he'll learn. Hell, I might even help out and answer the door naked for him next time.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cutting Crew



When I first moved to Florida twenty six years ago, I noticed gangs of men laboring in people's yards. Some looked Mexican, but mostly they were Haitian. Up and down most residential streets you would see them, all sweaty and hot looking (Not in the good way), cutting the grass, trimming the hedges, and blowing yard clippings around. Where I came from nobody cut your grass and nobody trimmed your hedges but you. I don't believe I ever saw a yard crew before moving to Florida. Nobody in Florida cuts their own grass, in fact I'm pretty sure that while the landscaper crews are at work they have other landscape crews cutting the grass at their homes. I was a holdout. When I bought my first house here back in 1989, I was the guy who cut the grass, I trimmed the hedges, and I blew the trimmings off the property and out into the street. That is something I continued to do right up until a year ago. Yes, I finally gave in and hired a yard guy. Once a month I have a guy come who trims all the shrubbery, lops off errant tree branches, and weed whacks the weeds with a weed whacker. And when he is all done with that he takes his high powered leaf blower and blows it all away and out of my life. I don't know what took me so long. I now look at my yard with a different perspective because I don't see a never ending job. It is now nothing more than my yard, and it looks neat and clean, and it is wonderful.



By the way, I mentioned that where I grew up nobody had people who took care of their yards, that no army of sweaty young men cut the grass, trimmed the bushes, and did all that hot, nasty work. That is not necessarily true. My dad did, my dad had landscape technicians who did all the yard work. It was a very large crew and they worked cheap. Really cheap.