Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Arrogance of Power

Occasionally I get a glimpse of what really goes on in Washington, DC. It's something that few people actually see who live in this area.

Today I spent hours and hours in a meeting of about 35 people. At the head of the table was a State Department official slouching in his chair, never looking in people's eyes when answering questions and twisting his head around while he acted like town sherrif with his Kentucky drawl. The rest of the 34 people hung on his every word, frantically taking notes.

I remember hearing from an acquaintance about how LBJ used to burp loudly when listening to questions from his opponents just to show he didn't give a damn and he was powerful enough to behave like that. This guy never burped but his demeanor was basically one big burp to all those who are impacted by his rules.

The decisions this guy makes literally impact thousands of people's lives and careers. And there he is, cackling at his own jokes while everyone is frozen, straight-faced, scared.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Guest Blogger

I have a friend who is so into television that he writes emails like this:

---- Original Message -----
From: Vowel Steve
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2005 9:05 PM
Subject: "Special Early time" for the apprentice?!

you stupid fucks.  what's with the "special early time" of the apprentice this week?  Why the fuck do you change the time?  We turned it on at 9 and it's halfway done.  You trying to actively lose viewers by changing the fucking time you show the program each week?  How can you be so fucking dumb?  I bet a lot of people tuned it at 9.  stupid fuckers.  fuck you!!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

2. Kicked a hammerhead shark in the head 'til it stopped thrashing around in the sand, then cut out its jaws with a knife a few hours later.

I was staying at Colin's parents' summer home in Hilton Head in August of 1989. Nightly, we would go out to the beach and fish for whatever the hell would bite.

One night we were catching a lot of saltwater catfish and by 11 pm we'd caught a good dozen of them. The fishing process consisted of wading out in the sea about 100 feet and casting into the darkness. We'd then run back to the beach where we'd stick the butt-end of the rod into a plastic rod-holder that had been stuck, sharp end first into the sand. Then we'd wait for a bite and pull in the be-whiskered fish, one by one. It was loads of fun.

The fishing was so good that Colin and I decided that we should sleep on the beach and fish all night. The only obstacle was Colin's mom. Right about the time when the asking-parents conversation ended, we noticed out of the corners of our eyes that Colin's rod---which had been snuggly placed in the forementioned rod-holder---was now skipping across the sand toward the foamy surf.

We ran pell-mell to the rod and Colin picked it up. Nothing. He looked at me and started to speak when it hit. Something huge was on the other end of the line and was pulling hard. Colin was caught off-guard and he immediately started to crank in the line. It wasn't 30 seconds of this when the line went slack. Whatever was on the other end had snapped it.

My hooks had just been re-baited, and were dangling a few feet away. I asked Colin to walk with me for the 100 feet out into the crashing waves to cast the line. He obliged. Our bare-footed asses walked 100 feet out into waist-deep water to cast the line. Along the way we stepped on what I assume were flounder sleeping on the bottom. After casting the line, we ran like hell back to the beach.

As soon as the line was taut, we waited, focusing on the rod tip, waiting for the beast to get it. But nothing happened. Colin decided that the excitement was over and he should go ask mom if we could sleep on the beach.

5 minutes after he left, something bent the rod hard over, then nothing. I picked it up and set the crank so if something decided to take the line out full on, I wouldn't make the same mistake as Colin by leaving it taut and hence snapping the line. The second I set the crank, the fish pulled the line so fast that I didn't have enough time to move my hand out of the way and the crank spun so fast that my knuckles got caught in the chaos and started to bleed. I watched in awe as the line fed off the reel.

The next 20 minutes were a blur. I had never hooked anything this big and I remember thinking that I must be pulling in a struggling cinder block. It continually seemed like I was losing ground, as every time I brought the line in 20 feet the fish would take it our 22 feet. After a 20-minute fight I felt like I was on the winning side when I saw something splashing in the surf.

I ran over to the thrashing hammerhead and grabbed it by the tail, dragging it up onto the beach where it trashed back and forth, flipping sand all about. I was so high on adrenaline that my only reaction was to kick the animal in the head. I had to put back on my sneaker to do this first, so picture me, frantically trying to get my shoe tied and ready for the Nike-induced killing. Afer a spastic series of kicks it stopped thrashing.

Colin came back to the beach expecting I'd caught a couple more catfish but was in serious surprise when he saw the bounty the sea had brought us.

I slung it over my back and walked back home. On the struggle in, the hammerhead shark had---how should I put it---thrown up its guts. I think that's the only reason I was able actually bring it in. It was half dead.

The whole walk back it bled all over the back of my shorts, its head thunking against the back of my thigh the whole way.

It was dead so there was nothing left to do but toss it back from whence it came. I cut out its jaws as a souvenier and back it went.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

1. Jumped out of an airplane at over 5,000 feet.

In the winter of 1991 I was working at the lake near my parent's house in suburban Maryland holding boats at the dock for Korean families on weekends. The manager of the boat house was Issac Gerstenzang, a really energetic friend from high school who had the biggest smile of anyone I've ever met. His job at the lake was to drive around the patrol boat and make sure people weren't horsing around on the water and capsizing their canoes.

About that time, the movie Point Break came out and Issac was in love with it. If you don't remember, this is the movie with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze who play surfing, skydiving bank robbers who rob banks while wearing US presidents' masks. Issac was so inspired by the skydiving scenes in the movie that he decided to do it himself. I was the only one of his friends that would go along with him.

He set up our lessons at Skydive Chambersburg in Pennsylvania. We went though a busy day's worth of jumping simulations in which we jumped off a 2-foot-high box onto---if I rememebr---a pad of some kind. It was intensive and we were dying to finally get to jump but the weather was bad so we waited for the following weekend.

One side note: I didn't do tandem jumping. That's where the instructor is strapped to your back and he pulls the cord for you and everything. You just sit there. I did the kind where two instructors hold on to your sides as you fall. I would be like the person in the middle in this picture. I pulled my own cord and parachuted alone.

When our day came (December 7, 1991, I still remember the date) Issac decided to pay an extra $75 dollars to have a cameraman jump and videotape him while he was falling. I didn't want someone filming me. They took us up to about just over 5,000 feet and we jumped. The fall itself was for just over a mile and went fast, as I fell at 190 miles per hour. The best part is after the parachute is deployed and you fly around for 15-20 minutes over miles of inter-connected farmland for as far as the eye can see. When I got to the ground I was so high on adrenaline I sat and giggled for like 30 minutes, sitting on the top of a ladder.

When Issac got the video back it looked great. He even got to choose a song to be played over the video (there's not much other sound going on while skydiving other than rushing air). Issac chose Kenny Loggins' "Highway to the Danger Zone", a fine choice, I believe.

I think I watched that video of smiling Issac Gerstenzang falling downward a mile over rural Pennsylvania 100 times in '91 and '92.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A good party can make your week.

Why do we work? We work to make money to spend on parties, that's why.

I'm always proud to play the role of supplying the sloshing assembly of drinks to all hands throughout a party. Can't say I'm talented, really, just know the right websites.

The 9:30 onward part is lovely, but I really love that off-kilter part of the evening, usually between the hours of 2 and 3 AM when the things-could-fall-apart-at-any-minute period occurs.

The aftermath of a successful party is so good for everyone's psyche, too. You know that your social group is closer and has been strenthened a touch more. People will always refer to that time at that party when this or that happened.

And when Sunday afternoon rolls around and there's long gossip about the preceding night's events you know you've done well. It's such a good feeling when you've thrown together such a fun event that 2 people have called you in the afternoon to congratulate you.

What were we celebrating again?

The "S" key isn't working unless I hit it really hard with my index finger. I think someone spilled a drink on it last night. Lord.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

This makes me want to vote libertarian ...

This is the second time I've gotten this shit. It's a 50 dollar camera ticket. What you can't see is that I was driving only 15 miles over the speed limit. And it's ALL about the local police stealing money from people. This isn't even a red light that I ran. It's $16.66 for every 5 miles I went over the speed limit (that's $3.34 for every mile above it). I seriously contemplated going over there at 4AM with a freaking axe to destroy this thing. Straight robbery.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Passing of a True Whiskey Lover

Sid Drazin, the owner of the Comet liquor store in my neighborhood for the past 20 years, just died today.

I'd go into his somewhat run-down store and ask him for recommendations on whiskey and you could tell he was so proud to be showing a younger guy what whiskey was all about. One time he asked me, "You know how much it costs to make a gallon of whiskey? One dollar and thirty five cents." Then he waited for my reaction and I feigned surprise. He also informed me that the only whiskey worth drinking was J.T.S. Brown (the type Paul Newman drank in the movie the Hustler). It was one of the only bottles in the place under $16 so I bought it. And you know, he wasn't too far off.

Some people who knew him better that I did posted to my neighborhood's email forum:

There are many thoughts in my mind for his wife Bernice, his daughter, others who worked for him, those of us who gathered at the deli table. He was like a father to many of us: a great friend in times of need, a counselor, a conscience, a voice of courage, ever-thoughtful... a great friend who many of us are going to miss.

Sid and Bernice celebrated the 25th anniversary of their marriage. Sidney Drazin—a WWII veteran who was once severely wounded and temporarily blinded by a kamikaze that crashed into his ship--owned and managed, over the years, a print shop and two liquor stores, the latter of which--the Comet--was augmented by a deli and became a
unique, unforgettable social club in the heart of Adams Morgan.

He was a good neighbor, a pillar of our community, a mentor to me and hundreds of people who frequented the Comet over the years and, frankly, one of the best friends I ever had.

My dear friends, as many of you doubtless know, we have lost Sid, the longtime owner of Comet Liquor. He died yesterday, at the hospital after suffering what I am told was a ruptured aorta.

Everyone has memories of Sid, his store, his way doing business....really, of the community center he ran on Columbia Road. We have all lost a dear friend.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Flavorlessness of Vodka

There's a recent article in Modern Drunkard Magazine with Ted Haigh, author of a recent book on vintage spirits and graphic designer for some films or something. His take on vodka is something I've voiced before:

In Eastern Europe vodka can be aged, nobody in Eastern Europe ever said vodka should be flavorless, that is something that we Americans are stuck on it. It sucks. The flavorlessness of vodka is what is going to turn a lot of the kids into alcoholics, not the good kind of alcoholics, the bad kind. If all they’re drinking is something that tastes like candy, what do you expect? They can’t even tolerate the bite of a good rye whisky. The culture is definitely on the skids when drinkers don’t want to taste the alcohol in their cocktails. They cease to be cocktails at that point anyway.

Not that I don't like a good wet martini, but seriously.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Even a Little Slutty

Gavin McInnes, the guy who writes the Dos and Don'ts for Vice Magazine, now has a collection of all the Dos and Don'ts in one book. The beginning has an interview with McInnes. Here's a nice quote from him in the intro:

"I'd like it if I contributed to a ban on men's toes in general. I am fucking sick to death of looking at men's toes. I'd also lke to see them stop waxing their chests and getting pedicures. Men aren't supposed to look pretty. As far as women go I'd like them to learn that we don't really give a shit if they're fat and have droopers. We don't like make-up or perfume so stop wasting all your money on it. If a woman wears high heel shoes and dresses even a little slutty, we're in. Also, I want all those purple loving people to know that purple is the color of sexual frustration and we are laughing at how horny they are."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Why does the news bore me now?

About 5 years ago, at one point, I subscribed to 3 different papers: NYT, WSJ and Washington Post. Now, I'm surprised if I read past the 3rd headline on I used to be so interested in what all those folks had to say, the editorials, international section, etc. I would spend hours on reading the paper each day.

While I still feel that that was a worthwhile way to spend my time, I just don't care as much about it anymore. I just cannot force myself to be too interested in the news for very long. Using the j-word is annoying, so I won't do it. What's the explanation here? Am I an apathetic loser?

Then again, what good does being informed of every detail that goes on in the world do if you don't do anything to change it? When I was a news-junkie I was also an activist. Now I'm not an activist, so who the fuck cares.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

10 Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't

Ok, I'll chime in. But I'm just following in the spirit of Happy Pants and Dubious Guy.

Here they are in no order:

1. Jumped out of an airplane at over 5,000 feet.

2. Kicked a hammerhead shark in the head 'til it stopped thrashing around in the sand, then cut out its jaws with a knife a few hours later.

3. Had my outer-thigh stitched up by my drunk best friend (6 stitches).

4. Fired an AK-47 in a 3rd World Country.

5. Played pool with prostitutes.

6. Lobbied Congress.

7. Eaten a deep-fried bull testicle.

8. Gotten a blow job on a ski lift.

9. Organized a successful protest in front of an embassy.

10. Received a free, functioning 23-foot sailboat.

Monday, March 07, 2005

An Update On the Alcoholism Story

This post is a follow-up to the "My God" post I made the other day.

I spoke with the mutual friend of that alcoholic guy who drunkenly fell off his bar stool at that restaurant before 10PM last Thursday.

Apparently, after he left me that night and stumbled into that bar he drank all night and ended up at the airport where he withdrew enough cash to buy a plane ticket to New York to see his girlfriend. For some reason he never got on the plane.

He woke up Friday morning with two dollars in his pocket. He was on the couch in his DC apartment.

The details are sketchy and were given to me over a bad connection on a cell phone today but I think we can surmise that we're all in better situation that Jon here.

Ain't life grand?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Posed Group Photo

Originally uploaded by lonniebruner.

For a while now I've thought that the posed group photo is against everything that taking photos should be about. I understand why it's done, and everytime people are on vacation the urge to line up and stand still while someone shoots the photo is there. But shouldn't taking photos of your family and friends be about more than that?

Here I have a photo of me and my in-laws in Wyoming. At no point during the trip would we have all lined up and stood side-by-side in the driveway on our own. This is a completely unnatural thing to do. But we did it. We had to suffer through like 10 minutes of this rigamarole. We were in Wyoming for a week and there were so many interesting things we did so why waste film on this wasted shot?

When you look through someone's photos do you ever stop and look at the posed group photo for more than one second? The worst is when there are like 5 or more posed group photos, each one looking nearly identical. The posed group photo tells you nothing about the people in the picture. No personality is here. Just stiff smiles looking at the camera and waiting.

Not that all pictures should be spur of the moment shots, but we should do away with the posed group photo once and for all.

Friday, March 04, 2005

My god

Tonight I went to happy hour with work people. About 10 minutes into the evening I saw a familiar face walk into the restaurant alone. It was a friend of a friend, Jon, who I've hung out with less that 10 times. I know that he's had problems with alcohol but don't think much of it. I call him over to chat with me and my co-workers. We talk for a few minutes about our mutual friend and when the conversation starts to lull he says something like, "I think I'll head back over to my chair". It seems a little weird but he sits there alone for a while, looking kind of sad, and then I wave to him again when we make eye contact and he comes back over.

After some decent coversation and the addition of loud guitar players at the restaurant, 4 of us (including Jon) decide to go to a quieter place. This quiet place is a fairly upscale restaurant, complete with a well-dressed hostess, black leather stool-chairs, wine bottle-lined walls and $10 drinks.

So the conversation turns to politics and Jon starts getting really belligerent, calling my co-worker an asshole (they'd just met). We all quickly understand that he's far drunker than anyone there (and it's still before 10 PM). During some drunken slur, Jon actually falls off his stool-chair, drink in hand, and makes a huge scene all over this nice restaurant, as he and the chair go flying everywherre. He's just drunk as shit and out of control. It's such an unusual thing to happen at this restaurant that the hostess just starts helping him up, not realizing that he should be booted out of the place.

I try to smooth things over with the co-workers and pay the bill and leave. I try to usher Jon home on the Metro with me but he insists he'll find his own way home. I walk down the street and watch as he walks straight into the nearest bar.

This guy is obviously a serious alcoholic. "Alcoholic" is a term people throw around once in a while but it's not until we are around a real one that we realize what it actually means.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Postcard from Pennsylvania

Originally uploaded by lonniebruner.

I found this postcard in an antique shop in the middle of Pennsylvania. The post date on the back is unclear but it's certainly 190_. The last number is not clear so it's from between 1900 an 1909.

The only note is on this side of the card and just says "have you got your goat yet ... from Richard".

What the hell was going on in the early 1900s? Those were the days when you could just be free and sit on a dead shark if you wished. Hell, if you wanted you could purchase a goat, just for the fun of it!

Those were the days ...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Web Counter
Web Counters