Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: October 2008

I was reading a review for the new Edward Norton-Colin Farrell movie “Pride and Glory” and saw that Edward Norton’s character, a thoughtful, sensitive cop still recovering from a shooting incident, lived on a boat.

Earlier, I read the New York Times article today about laid-off finance types having a rough time of it. I think that’s why the idea of living on a boat struck me on such a level today, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Culturally, nothing in popular culture screams “underachieving adult male not constrained by the system” like living on a houseboat. And now, with the economy going in the tank, I thought I would try to revive the idea again.

Not that the idea was ever that popular in real life in the first place. But you know, once the spreading of the wealth begins, a lot of poor Joe the Plumber types are just not going to be able to afford their boats anymore. So there may be many a yacht on the market. Latrell Sprewell, as always, a man ahead of his time, already had to give up his boat due to worsening market conditions (he couldn’t get to the rim anymore).

Really, in these hard economic times, what says “Sure, I am doing bad, but you know what…I need not such material possessions to weigh me down and I can sail across the ocean at a moment’s notice” like a living on a boat? That you’re a man who understands the fleeting nature of life and that dropping anchor can always be reversed. That you’re tethered to society, but that it wouldn’t take you that long to set yourself free.

It’s also a way to tell the world that the world has given you lemons, and in return you tell the world, “Suck these lemons, world! I’m going to go live on a boat!” (ex. “Footsteps” Shane Falco in “The Replacements”, who responded to a college bowl beatdown by moving on to a boat and scrubbing barnacles, instead of just collecting an NFL paycheck to ride the bench like Troy Smith.)

Or that you’re a man with a special gift that no amount of land can hold down, and therefore, you must live on a boat. (ex. Leon Phelps, a/k/a The Ladies’ Man, who handled much of his business on his boat. )

A houseboat is also equipped for the detectives who are great at solving crimes, but just can’t totally commit to staying on land 24-7. ( ex. Private detectives Cody Allen, Nick Ryder, and Murray ‘Boz’ Bozinsky from the ’80s series Riptide. )

These are just a couple of prime examples. Whatever your reasoning, now I think, is the time for the man who lives on a boat to make a comeback. It’s a brave new world in these times of economic crisis, and what better way to find your place in it than by boat? At least that’s what popular culture tells us.

With the caveat that I am generally skeptical of polls and polling in general, I tell this tale of seeing what you want to see when it comes to political news, or really anything in general once your mind is made up and you’re fully invested.

So my Republican pal tells me that he got a new app on his iPhone from pollster.com that gives him up to the minute tracking numbers on the Presidential race. Having a crappy phone that can barely text message, I was impressed. I don’t think I need to see a tracking poll whenever the mood strikes me, but maybe I’m the one missing out.

Anyway, he then tells me that “I’m telling you, McCain’s making a comeback.” Which I expect him to say, and could possibly be true. I was more interested in watching the World Series, and told him , “Well, everybody expects the race to tighten, you know, that’s how these things are.” In other words, the kind of bland general-speak that will telegraph my disinterest from spending the next six hours trying to challenge him. So we we just moved on to why Philadelphia cannot get a hit with a runner in scoring position.

The next day, looking at a couple of news sites, I wondered about the site my friend was using and where he got such hopeful information. After all, while McCain makes gains here or there, he also has losses here or there. In other words, of course the poll numbers change, but there’s nothing out there at this point to indicate that things have fundamentally changed in this race: Obama appears to be leading nationally and appears to have a more flexible path to winning in the Electoral College, giving him a much better chance at the Presidency.

Curious, I then decided to check out pollster.com myself to see what they were saying and see what, exactly was giving my buddy hope.

After looking at their information, their analysis, and their numbers…uh, I gotta say, I still don’t know. It looked like McCain had made some inroads in a few polls, but took a few losses in others, and the picture Pollster presents is basically Obama appears to be leading nationally and appears to have a more flexible path to winning in the Electoral College, giving him a much better chance at the Presidency.

Don’t call it a comeback, because it’s not quite.

But my friend sees comeback. Maybe he’s enthused with the bold Pennslyvania strategywhich has Obama’s lead down to ten points.

I admit, I just don’t get what he’s seeing. He’s the kind of guy who who go down with the ship, I guess. And maybe I’m kind of jealous of that being able to believe in what your team is doing no matter what the odds, the polls, or basic mathematics says. To always see the positive in the most negative of situations. To be able to spin reality into something else entirely that makes you feel better about the choices you make and the organizations that define you.

Nah, I enjoy being a cynical loner skeptic. Which is why if he’s vindicated on Election Day, well, I’ll be able to tell him, “You always kept the faith, man.” It’s the inherent beauty in thinking that way: for the twenty times you’re wrong, I guess the one time you’re right is always much, much sweeter and a sign that that those other nineteen times sucked, but keeping the faith was so worth it, and therefore it must be true.

How can you argue that?

Rays in 6. I know the Cardinals jumped up and won it in ’06, but for now I look at any National League team with a skeptic’s eye. It’s a measure of respect for the Philly bats that I’m giving them two games.

Oh, and for those who always bitch and moan that the Yankees and Red Sox get too much coverage, step up, shut your pieholes, and actually watch this World Series. I expect there should be some good games overall. (Except any one where Jamie Moyer pitches.) And if the ratings for this series are as bad as everyone fears, stop blaming Fox and ESPN* and start your blaming your friends who are too busy watching reality shows.

*This is probably the only time I’ll ever be defending Fox and ESPN, I assure you.

Well, with all the focus on the Presidential election going on, I kind of forgot that I didn’t vote in my current district in the last election. It’s well enough, I guess that it’s time for a clean break after pulling the lever for the man who was going to clean up New York State, then celebrate by getting his dirty on with the likes of ‘Kristen’. Not to mention the fact that I’m a little ashamed that I pulled the lever for his lieutenant governor, not fully aware that he was (legally) blind. (Aside from outbursts of Ray Charles-meets-Benson jokes, it likely wouldn’t have made a difference.)

As much as I have been following this year’s presidential campaign, I have to admit, that I haven’t paid a lick of attention to any of the other races I’m voting on less than two weeks from now. Well, armed with a little free time and incentive to post something, anything to this website for the first time in ages, Well Whiskey Friday presents his first ever voting guide!

Not so fast, (some) Manhattanites, Queenspeople, Staten Islanders, Californians, denizens of the Planet Vrog, and really, anyone outside of my immediate voting place at PS 17 on North 5th Street and Roebling Avenue. I only have so many hours in a day. So, I’m just going to give you the lowdown on my ballot. Maybe this will inspire you to do some actual research into your ballots, wherever you vote.

Congress: I live in the State of New York’s 12th district. (The Fightin’ 12th, as Stephen Colbert would say.)

The area: Covers Bushwick to the east, Greenpoint/Long Island City to the north, then inexplicably spreads all the way to parts of the Lower East Side and East Village in Manhattan to the West, then somehow snakes its way down to Sunset Park (without touching Bed-Stuy, Caroll Gardens, Red Hook, Park Slope, and Downtown Brooklyn). I’m sure there was no gerrymandering going on here at all. Just a diverse group of Latino neighborhoods, hipsters, artists, skaters, yuppies, Eastern European immigrants, and more Latino neighborhoods. I’m sure you won’t notice a common thread with the candidates mentioned at all.

The battle: Incumbent Nydia M. Velasquez (Democrat, Working Families Party) v. challenger Allan E. Romaguera (Republican, Conservative).

Who are these people?: The Republican challenger, Romaguera, says you can call him Al. He’s married, with two kids, is the same age as my mother, Catholic, and has worked as a letter of credit specialist the past ten years. So who would know more about the bailout, right? As you can see, he’s  consistent in the stands he takes.

(Really, it wouldn’t have killed him to fill that out? I mean, it’s free, right? He sure as hell hasn’t spent any money advertising. Lord help this fool if I see him actually campaigning any where in my neighborhood.)

The incumbent has been representing since 1992 and was the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress. And it looks like she isn’t going anywhere. (Even though she didn’t really fill out that form either, except about immigration. But then again, she has a Congressional record.)

Analysis: A veteran Congresswoman who looks poised to be something of a (minor) leader in the majority party (if polls hold steady), or some dude who apparently runs for office in his spare time? Velazquez will win easily, but I might just vote for Al so he can be stunned during November 5th’s breakfast to hear that he got a vote. Give the man hope for 2010, when the Republican Party goes, “Really? You want to do this again? Sure, what the hell, we need somebody.”

State Senate/Assembly/City Council: Because of my move, I guess I am cut out of these races entirely, many of these take place in off years However, your district may have a race going on, you can check here. Not that the the New York State Legislature or City Council are useful anyway. But I found out that my Assemblyperson is a dude named Vito Lopez, and my State Senator is some guy named  Martin Malave Dilan. My councilperson is a lady named Diana Reyna, the first Dominican woman to be elected to a citywide office. Also, disappointingly, I have no civil court judge to research, Brooklyn seems all set in that department as well.

Ballot proposals: Just one. Some bullshit about whether or not veterans need to be collecting disability checks form the government in order to get points on civil service exams for being disabled. Huh? What? A doctor’s note or your military record isn’t enough, you have to be collecting a check? I don’t get this, and I’d like to know who the hell wasted my time and yours getting this on the ballot. I’m voting no, although I should be able to write in, “Aren’t people getting paid lots of dollars to figure this the fuck out themselves?” What’s next? A referendum on what kind of bulbs and wattage we should use on our traffic lights ? Honestly? No on 1!

Wow.

Guess I’ve learned that there’s a reason the Presidential race is getting all the coverage. No local races and token opposition to a veteran Congresswoman (I’d bet even money ‘Al’ doesn’t even know he’s running for Congress, or has at least forgotten). Easily one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had for a post on any of my sites. Hope you had as much fun reading it as I didn’t have researching it. Maybe there’s a lesson in here somewhere about our electoral system, but the apathy is already beginning to set in. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go to YouTube to hear Sarah Palin say that small-town America is the real America to fire me up again.

First, there were the Articles of Confederation, where America tried act more like a block association with an army, but that didn’t really work out. Then came the Constitution, a simple elegant document that built the framework upon which the laws of this land were established.

These laws could be as few or as many as possible. And ever since the rise of the conservative movement, there has been a grand debate on the role of government in our lives. It’s a worthy debate about what makes a nation great, and what people can expect from their government. The role of the individual versus the collective good. Incentive for the best and brightest versus safety for all our citizens regardless of their status. The wisdom of the markets versus the watchfulness of the government.

In theory.

Practically, here’s how it seems to work: America is in some sort of crisis. Nobody else can manage such problems on a grand scale so the government steps up and does the best it can. The government gets really large and bloated. Long after the problem is solved, or the crisis is averted, a scandal goes down involving corrupt government officials, and suddenly people are wondering, “What the hell do we need all this government for?” and “Who the hell is FICA?”

So the siren song of tax cuts and small government starts to sound good. Deregulation and corporate welfare begin to sound awesome. Before you know it, America is chugging along as a lean, mean, shareholder-benefiting machine. Sure, not everybody makes it, But you know what? That’s life. There are winners, and there are losers. If you don’t get it done, you’re just a loser. But you can keep believing that maybe some of the bounty of the winners will trickle down to you. And that someday, you’ll get off your ass and you’ll be a winner.

But then things aren’t so good, as you find out some of the winners didn’t get that way through hard work and innovation, but got there through the steroids of debt, unusual accounting practices, fleecing the public a little, and gaming the system. and enough of these so-called “winners” find that their shell game is getting less and less effective.

Then a crisis happens. Then, everybody is all like, “Where the hell is the government?”

I’m not a believer in big government or small government. What the nation needs to believe in is effective government up to meeting the needs of its people. And quite frankly, right now and for a while, that’s going to mean bigger government. And personally, I hope things get better to the point someday that we can start talking reasonably about reducing government again.

Practicality is a principle. Right now, it’s not practical to have a government sit on its hands and do nothing while a great nation sinks under the weight of a financial crisis, two wars, Social Security and health care problems.

Let’s not kid ourselves anyway: how small was the government, really? Isn’t what we currently have just a different kind of bloated government that actually doesn’t solve anything, but still manages to bleed money and ring up debt anyway? If we’re going to have big government, let’s accept it, deal with it, and make it work. Lets get all these rich “patriots” to pony up their fair share to keep up and fix the country that gave them the conditions to benefit financially. Drop the completely-for-show flag pins and lose the offshore assets and tax shelters as real sign of their commitment to this country. Same thing for alleged Great American companies who continue to blackmail the government wth “we’ll move to India or Ireland”.

Enough of this jabber about small government that never was, and never will be.  It’s time to talk about practical government.