Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Monday, March 31, 2008

My Next Door Neighbor is a Heroin Addict

He's not just a "neighbor" in the distant sense that I can see his house down the street; this affable heroin addict's row house shares a wall with mine. That close. It's mostly sad and pitiful, but sometimes scary.

Right when I'm out of the country and can't be there to comfort my lady --- god dammit --- my lovely wife witnesses a back-alley confrontation from the bedroom window. In her email to me she writes:
I was awakened at around 1:15am from a sound sleep by men's voices. Loud, shouting, swearing, coming from the back alley. I looked out and saw three homeless-looking dudes having a big altercation. Two were walking away from the third guy, who was bellowing abuse at them... "F'ing bitch ass n--, get back here! I'ma kick your f'ing ass, you punk n--" etc and on and on. They were yelling back at him but mostly walking away quickly. He was sort of running after them.

I considered yelling "I'm calling the police" but decided against it, which I was later very glad I did.

After a few long minutes of this, they continued east through the alley and I lost sight of them and went back to bed. A couple minutes later, the lone man came back, shouting "COME BACK WITHOUT A KNIFE NEXT TIME, N--! GET BACK HERE WITHOUT THAT KNIFE! YOU F'ING N-- BITCH!" etc.

Again, I thought about calling the cops but figured he would leave soon. He made his way past our house and stopped at the end of the alley-- and opened the back fence and went into the house next door! That's when I realized it was (our neighbor). He went inside the house and continued to bellow and shout and carry on for another 45 minutes.

It got me thinking about some things. My one comfort around having a heroin addict/panhandler as a next door neighbor was everyone's assurances that he's basically harmless. The man I saw and heard last night did not seem harmless and neither did his associates. At least one of them had a knife which was apparently brandished during their altercation. He is more dangerous than I originally thought, and those kind of people make me nervous. I imagine we'll see more of their type hanging around as the weather gets warmer.

I also thought a bit about the elderly woman who lives there. I've never seen her. Have you? I wonder what her life is like, and whether she is treated ok, and what she thinks when her crazy, fucked up son wakes her up in the middle of the night with his shouting. I wonder if he ever abuses her physically.

Gentrification is something we're all supposed to be against amongst polite liberal company, but many of us just wish it would hurry up and get here especially when shit like this happens. I wonder if people who sing the ills of gentrification really know what its polar opposite means when it lurks just the other side of your wall.

Spring is here, people. Spring is here.

An aside: Our other neighbors are good people and we honestly love our new house and neighborhood in 16th Street Heights.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Surprise: Anti-Islamic Movie Blocked at Islamic Airport

After leaving my house 29 hours ago, I'm on a layover at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in the Muslim country of Malaysia.

Killing time, I came across an article about a new "anti-Islam" movie by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders.

The 15 minute movie, Fitna, is apparently available at I suddenly got a thrill: how bold would it be to play the whole movie out loud at full laptop volume in this busy airport in an Islamic country? Cheap thrills, and probably not too risky considering the low volume --- I know --- but I was prepared to go forward. That is, until I realized that the website has already been blocked! (screen shot above).

I'm sure the world will soon see babyish cries, violence, murder and protest against a short movie critical of Islam --- the religion of perpetual outrage. I wonder how many Muslims who protest this movie will have actually seen it, considering access to it is blocked even in Malaysia --- perhaps the most liberal of all Muslim countries.

Jesus F-ing Christ, let us finally get over this squeamish polite fiction of political correctness. Here are the facts: #1 worst monotheism is Islam; #2, Judaism; # 3, Christianity. Even cold atheists like me can put them on a bad-to-worst scale.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Women in Uniforms with Guns are HOT

Either women in uniforms just look hot, or Israeli women are generally hotter than women of other nationalities. Enjoy -- Girls of the Israeli Army.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In Defense of Stingrays

Despite the tragic freak accident to a Floridian sunbather on a stinkpot or to an Aussie adventurer, stingrays are one of the most docile animals in the sea. I know this from direct experience.

Years back, on my annual sailing mancation, we waded 100 yards from my sailboat to the beach for a late night barbecue. On our walk back through 4-foot-deep dark water that night, we drunkenly stepped on multiple big-ass rays which knocked us off balance in their effort to escape our leaden feet. It would have been far more terrifying had we not been blotto on Wild Turkey.

Despite our intrusion into their feeding grounds, none of the half dozen trodden-upon rays sunk their five-inch poison barbs into our foot flesh.

Dear stingrays of the earth:

This blog post is my personal THANK YOU and wish for your healthy future. My drunken 170-lb ass nearly broke your back bones that late night years ago in the Chesapeake, and you graciously did not harm me or my friends. You had every right to. I sincerely hope your entire species does not receive a violent backlash or needless hatred because of a freak accident and the fact that you are not a "cute animal".

Lonnie Bruner

ps: Fuck sharks. They're assholes. They need no defense.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pictures from Saturday's Sail

Full sails, clear skies:

I only smoke when I sail. Strangely, fresh Bay air and sunshine taste better when inhaled alongside cigarette smoke:

Señor Davies, sipping Ol' Schmuggla from a tin cup:

My First Mate, in full camo bibs:

Greg McGillicuddy, our cameraman and ship's chaplain:

My cabin's interior. Note the Welsh miner's light screwed to the bulkhead:

Thomas Point Lighthouse on the horizon:

Me, playing bowman:

Later that evening, in my partially-finished home bar, enjoying my freshly brewed hefeweizen (note the chunky yeasty froth):

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Sail of the 2008 Season: This Saturday

I have to sail the boat from its temporary marina north of the Bay Bridge to my home base marina located off the Rhode River. This has to be done before the end of the month and my travel schedule dictates that it be done this Saturday regardless of weather. And we've got less than ideal conditions:

Temps from the high 30s to low 50s, winds NNW 9mph, 50% chance of showers, cloudy.

Luckily, I've got a star crew (G. McGillicuddy at the camera) and a bottle of Schmuggla. That oughta do it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Life is a ferment, a yeasty something which devours life that it might live." - Wolf Larsen*

I've started a second batch of home brew now that I have a big house and more space. Already put too much yeast in a few bottles to the point when I popped the cap, the beery foam shot straight up into my face --- chunks of brown froth everywhere.

Some home brewers get downright scientific about the process but not me. I just dump in the DC tap water, malt, corn sugar and yeast and hope it doesn't blow up in my face too often and tastes half-drinkable.

I like drinking micro-organisms --- the most basic form of life --- in my beer. You can't get that in commercial beers, where it's all been strained out (with the exception of hefeweizen). The taste of yeasty ferment isn't suitable for the modern palate, used to consuming plastic packaged salad and meats that no longer look like animals. Yeast in bottles or cans also isn't conducive to the elephantine industrial food system with its multi-thousand-mile routes, burnt diesel fuel and waste.

Let's try an analogy that I once saw on the Science Channel. Spread your arms wide apart, straight out on either side. Life on earth began at the tip of your left hand middle fingernail, and then progressed through its history across your left arm, past your chest and neck onto your right arm, until present day at the end of your right hand middle fingernail --- four billion years later. Now imagine this: from your left hand fingernail until your right arm's elbow joint, the only life on earth were micro-organisms like the yeast in the bucket in my basement. The existence of human life comprises merely the over-hanging tip of your right hand middle fingernail.

Whenever I see that yeast-fart of a CO2 bubble coming from my brew I get a little primordial thrill.

*Main character in Jack London's 1904 book, Sea Wolf.

Friday, March 07, 2008

God dammit, who has my Les Paul and my Magic cards?

The move to a new house has wiped me out of beloved items --- specifically, my black Les Paul Studio electric guitar and my cigar box full of Magic: The Gathering playing cards. I had some good ones, dating from the early 1990s. Some expensive ones.

I'm planning on starting a sea-shanties-singing band so whoever friend has my Les Paul --- I know I lent it to someone, but can't remember --- please give it back. I figure most of my friends read this blog, so sending an email would be less effective.

Also, Chris, you sure you're not hiding my Magic cards? What the fuck. I can't find them anywhere amongst the boxes in this big new house.

Faye? You got my Les Paul? No? Yes?

And Sam, how about my Fender Jazz? You still rocking the lesbian grrrl band up there? If not, I need it back. If so, I need it back.

This is a call to arms. Emergency like.

lonniebruner gmail

"American Gulag": Last Depressing Political Post. I SWEAR.

Mark Dow has written a book called American Gulag whose title should offend you.

Why are intellectuals allowed to spew this nonsense in the US with little public condemnation?

People should be careful with their words, especially words like "fascist," "Nazi," or "Gulag" --- which in our modern lexicon have gained about the same death as someone saying, "Best. (Blank). EVER." --- now rendered meaningless by overuse. Words like "Gulag" and "Soviet Union" need defending so they don't fall victim like other dead words and phrases, digested back into cliché, then shat out to describe heavy-handed police tactics or used as a fashion statement.

Maybe I'm a humorless crank, but I once confronted someone wearing a hammer and sickle t-shirt at a party; no one stepped up to defend me --- just acted like I was being silly.

Let's recall what the Soviet Union was. This is the first page of Martin Amis' book Koba the Dread (thanks Greg):
Here is the second sentence of Robert Conquest's The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine:

"We may perhaps put this in perspective in the present case by saying that in the actions here recorded about twenty human lives were lost for, not every word, but every letter, in this book."

That sentence represents 3,040 lives. The book is 411 pages long.

"Horse manure was eaten, partly because it often contained whole grains of wheat" (1,340 lives). "Oleska Voytrykhovsky saved his and his family's ... lives by consuming the meat of horses which had died in the collective of glanders and other diseases" (2,480 lives). Conquest quotes Vasily Grossman's essayistic-documentary novel Forever Flowing: "And the children's faces were aged, tormented, just as if they were seventy years old. And by spring they no longer had faces. Instead, they had birdlike heads with beaks, or frog heads---thin, wide lips---and some of them resembled fish, mouths open" (3,880 lives).

The famine was enforced famine: the peasants were stripped of their food. On June 11, 1933, the Ukrainian paper Visti praised an "alert" secret policeman for unmasking and arresting a "fascist saboteur" who had hidden some bread in a hold under a pile of covers. That word fascist. One hundred and forty lives.
I'd like to give a big FUUUUUUCK YOOOOOUUU to the people in this country who have casually used any of these words to describe the United States or to gain their own political brownie points.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Real Tragedy of the 9/11 Troof "Movement"

I disagree that Troofers are all morons --- which is an uncritical way to dismiss them.

The tragedy with the phenomenon is that there are young people in college who would likely get involved in quality progressive activism, but get swayed by these kooks --- witness the amount of human energy that goes into this 9/11 conspiranoid nonsense! Any thinking person should be depressed at the colossal waste of time and human spirit that some young people are now putting into pumping the egos of sexless old losers like Alex Jones, Jim Fetzer and Steven Jones.

Most Troofers aren't dumb; they just see the world as a simplistic place that's been wrenched upside down by omniscient, hyper-competent evil men with nefarious, mass-murdering iron fists who run the globe from a smoky room. That's a common view among college kids who're coming of age politically, but usually those frustrations get channeled into something worthwhile like helping the poor or organizing a protest against an embassy. But sadly, some college kids are getting lured by the frauds and fruitcakes of the Troofer "movement." That's the real tragedy. (I use quotes because otherwise it would denigrate REAL political movements throughout history).

Luckily, once Bush is out of office, the kookery will return to the same dunce corner as the John Birch Society, UFO freaks, and people who think the moon landing was faked.

"The great virtue of a fake conspiracy is that it calls on you to do nothing."
- George Monbiot

Monday, March 03, 2008

Testosterone: Ladies, you don't know what you're missing.

This American Life recently had a program on testosterone that was fascinating. They interviewed two people: a man whose biochemistry suddenly stopped producing testosterone for four months, and a lesbian who went through a sex change which included massive injections of testosterone.

The man talked about his four months without testosterone as the most desire-less period of his life. He lost interest in food, conversation, TV --- everything. And all stimuli took a literal meaning, no feelings involved. So, he'd see a pigeon, and think, "pigeon," see a woman, and think, "woman," a house, "house," and so on. I always thought testosterone would affect sexual desire alone, but in fact it pushes ALL desire to accomplish any goal. Without it, there's no depression, love, hate, and definitely no sex.

The lesbian woman had an equally interesting experience. She'd gone to an all women's college and in the course of dating other females, decided she wanted a sex change. She began taking 2,000 micro-grams of testosterone per deciliter of blood. The average male has between 500 and 1,500, so she was on the extreme side --- the testosterone of an NFL football player. It had such a profound effect on her, that she referred to her life as "before T" and "after T." Before T, she had been a radical feminist, giving firebrand poetry readings against misogyny, etc. --- probably read her share of Andrea Dworkin. But after T, she became a different person.

Before T, she said, she'd see a mildly attractive woman on the subway and have fantasies about getting coffee together, having nice conversation, perhaps a kiss --- you know, woman thoughts. But after T, she'd see a similar woman --- often not even that attractive --- and thoughts of graphic pornography would come to mind. Her sex drive became hard to assimilate into daily life. She'd see a woman on the street and want to ravish her like a sex-starved beast. She was actually called a misogynist by some of her old friends! At that point, she had a complete turnaround in her understanding of the male condition. I love when that happens.

The way testosterone affects a man is not understood by most women --- maybe not by most men, either. I remember in high school not being able to concentrate for the entire day because I'd caught a glimpse of the corner of a female classmate's bra strap. The experience, I imagine, is like when my beagles go for a walk in the city; the miasma of smells is so intense that they fight and claw --- nose pinned to the ground --- to find where the smells are coming from.

For me, the desire drive hasn't gone away since puberty. I, like most males, may not have lost much testosterone in later life --- just learned how to assimilate it into daily life, kind of like our lesbian on This American Life.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I might --- might --- get a 1960 MGA convertible.

I'm not a "car guy" per se but my new house has a pad-locked two car garage that I need to fill. So why not get a convertible?

My friend works for the US Consulate and may be transferred to Rome next year. He's also a serious classic car collector. He's dreading selling his 1960 MGA convertible so we've been discussing a borrowing agreement for the time he's in Italy.

Holy shit, that car is COOL. And with historic tags, the insurance runs about $140 per year.

Here's another picture of the same car but with red racing stripes.

Mass-commuter culture has sucked most of the joy out of driving; with this MG, I'd like to bring a bit of that joy back --- driving for the sake of taking a leisurely drive, like they did in the old days. Remember those?

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