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I had, for many years, been a believer in the wisdom of the free markets (up to a point). For example, I’m not surprised that corporations are figuring out that there’s money in going green. As consumers continued to grow  more and more environmentally aware, what quicker way for most of them to make an actual impact than changing their consumer habits? So it makes sense that companies be aware of this, recognize the market for this and make money off of this while hopefully actually helping the environment.

But somehow, after all these years, how come no one’s stepped up with the next energy source that’s going to power our transportation, our cities, and our economies? I understand it’s not easy, and I’m sure peopleare out there working on it, especially now. (When they’re not pushing for more drilling.) I guess waiting for the explosion in gas prices is the invisible hand’s way of saying, “You can’t keep relying on this oil, people.”

The problem with waiting for the markets to correct themselves, I guess, is that when the correction comes, people actually end up getting hurt and the correction becomes a crisis. But can the government step in and avert a crisis, or prepare for it? I mean certainly, someone should have stepped up by now and said, “Long term, if worldwide petroleum production drops, our economy’s going to get wrecked. We should make some preparations.” But it appears we didn’t, so we had to wait until a crisis to get in gear (hopefully).

This brings me to the, and I’m not going to be kind and mince words here, doofuses, who think drilling for more oil will solve anything. Both candidates are simply pandering to you fools because they believe you’re too dumb to understand things about basic petroleum production and too shortsighted to think in a long-term way about energy policy. Which apparently, you are. It’ll take years to get the drilling up and running, and who knows how much oil is actually out there? And do you realize that the oil’s going to run out and we’d have to tackle these problems anyway?  Well, probably not.

The country that takes the lead on these strategies and technologies will probably have a big hand in driving the global economy. The next Bill Gates is very likely going to be the guy or gal who figures out how to create energy without fossil fuels, or maybe with less of it. This seems pretty obvious, right?

But maybe not to the market yet. But just because the market sometimes doesn’t listen and see what’s in front of it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

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I was reading the Washington Post’s article about the nation’s latest boy band sensation, the Jonas Brothers. Because let’s face it, I ain’t gonna listen to their music, but I don’t want to be the guy who doesn’t know who they are.

The piece appears to be a typical tale of boy-band stuff, nothing new, as the article points out, teenage girls have been falling for cute boy singers since the dawn of man. However, like all stories told since the dawn of man, there’s a familiar story arc. In the case of the boy band/teen idol, it’s early success followed by a lifetime of dissipation, the cautionary tale of peaking too early in life and it’s consequences. It always doesn’t happen like this…just mostly. For every Frank Sinatra and Justin Timberlake, there are precisely about 162.73 Joey Fatones and Leif Garretts.

But this time it might be different! As the article points out, they do write their own songs and play their own instruments. Leading to the backhanded compliment of the year from writer J. Freedom du Lac (yes, that’s a real name, the J. is for Josh):

So they’re like the new Hanson, only with more than one hit.

However, I did read a couple of things that would concern me in the future:

1. Dad’s the manager! There’s a good chance Kevin Jonas Sr. is a completely upright and outstanding fellow and I’m being unfair. But I’m sorry, I just don’t trust stage parents. Period. It’s one thing to instill the arts in your child and inspire their talents; it’s another thing to be their roadie, business manager, sound mixer, nutritional consultant, matchmaker, costume designer, lighting director, agent, yoga instructor, and “executive producer” of their albums. Parental involvement is a great thing for young stars, but as parents. Business and parenting don’t always mix. Ask Macaulay Culkin, and then the line forms to the left.

2. The overshadowed brother. Strike one: Kevin Jr. isn’t Nick. Strike two: Kevin Jr. isn’t Joe. Strike three: he isn’t even the bassist, he’s the rhythm guitarist. Yikes. A handsome and talented, but not-as-handsome-and-talented-as-his-bandmate-brothers musician out to prove himself to make himself feel good? That folks, is a knocked-up groupie and tell-all book waiting to happen. Again, let’s hope I’m wrong.

3. Squeaky-clean teens: Oh, did I mention that Kevin Sr. was also a pastor, and that the band members are apparently all going to wait till marriage because they’re good Christian boys? Well, the upside is if they remain squeaky-clean, they will always have a career in Christian rock once their popularity fades. However, if one, or all of them (I think you know who I’m betting on) falls for the earthly pleasures that come with rock popularity, the people (read: parents) down with their image are not going to be happy. That’s just the way it is. When you take the high road in show business, it’s even tougher when you fall down. Not that you shouldn’t try to take the high road. Just know the the path is pretty narrow.

Well, we’ll see if I’m wrong in the long run. I hope so. Because Brett Michaels, Flavor Flav, Corey Feldman, and a host of others will damned if you’re taking their spot on VH-1 anytime soon, Jonas Brothers.

A buddy of mine sent a news story about the collapse of a well-known arch in Utah’s Arches National Park. This wouldn’t normally be a big deal to anyone, but it meant something in particular to a couple of friends of mine as well as myself.

About a decade ago, we took a cross-country road trip from New York to San Franscisco and back. Along the way we visited, New Orleans, the Grand Canyon, Texas, Vegas, Death Valley, St. Louis, Denver, Kansas, and even survived a trip to the movies in Oakland.

But one of the most fun parts was Arches National Park, and one of its most iconic arches is the Wall Arch.

Uh, should say, was the wall Arch.

It collapsed. Collapsed!

How messed up is that? There are many external markers in our modern lives that tell you time has passed and that things continue to change. Like, your favorite Original King of Comedy dying. Your hairline. (Emphasis on you, I still have all my hair. For now, with a teensy bit o’ gray.) Your waistline. The very real possibility of a not 100-percent white President. Your friends making their own people in their marital beds. Your sudden inability to go out and drink four nights in a row. (Or so I hear.)

Think of it in these terms: I have seen a piece of natural history that is now no more. Eroded into the sands of time (sorry I can’t think of something better). Gone. Not imploded like an old Vegas casino. Not outmoded and slated for destruction for Shea and Yankee Stadium. Not destroyed in an act of terror.

The Wall Arch just collapsed and went away. Like an entertainer that needed to retire or a TV show that had it’s finale. A piece of rock, going on to live only in our imaginations, photographs, and for those lucky enough to see it, our memories.

But time, not a network exective, or fading box office, is what eventually canceled it. Just time and air. The same time and air that created it. And now it’s gone forever.

And it was always going to be gone forever. It’s not like this would be stopped. The inevitability of what happened puts this arch falling in about as much perspective as how it fell. It couldn’t be stopped, or changed, or preserved, because then, it wouldn’t be a wonder of nature, it would be a pretty rock formation in a case or glossy shellac. Still around, yes, but not natural.

You don’t think about witnessing things in nature as being present for history, but, when you go see something like the Grand Canyon, or the Arches, that’s really what you’re doing. Of course, you’re enjoying the majesty of nature, but believe it or not, for a tiny speck of time, you’re watching a work in progress.

Incredible.

Well, with this “Democratic primary” business just about over (Sorry Bill, not trying to push Hillary out, it’s up to her, right? Right.), we can finally get to what has to be the most under-reported story of our generation. While people focus on such nonsense as skyrocketing oil prices, the economic slowdown (like President Bush, “recession” is not in my vocabulary), the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (not Afghanistan so much…hey, is bin Laden still even wanted? What’s the bounty down to? An American flag t-shirt and a bag of Doritos?), and the presidential election, something big is going on in Cook County, Illinois, and it’s getting no coverage, as our nation’s media falls asleep at the wheel once again.

The R. Kelly trial is already underway, y’all!

I didn’t even know it had started! Larry King is wasting my time with primary coverage and American Idols, when a sex tape was shown on the first day of court! Where’s the gavel to gavel coverage? Where’s Gerry Spence and his buckskin jackets? Where’s Jeffrey Toobin? There’s an University of Chicago law professor that should be rocketing to stardom with his or her detailed analysis of Kelly’s “defense”!

I’m not a lawyer, but I count their money for tax purposes. Therefore I am qualified to sum up the “defense” so far:

That’s not R. Kelly on the tape, and that’s not an underage girl. That’s right. Sure, the guy looks exactly like R. Kelly, but it’s not R. Kelly. A disgruntled female protege of R. Kelly’s named Sparkle, using hours of extra video footage that happened to be lying around, used digital technology, like the realistic-looking effects in the Wayans Brothers smash hit “Little Man“, top graft Kelly’s face and her underage friend on to the bodies of two random people who had no trouble doing the nasty and engaging in water sports in front of a video camera.

That is mostly not made up! Wow…and you thought O.J. and the gloves was a flight of fancy!

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have to admonish the media for not giving this trial the attention it deserves. I mean, sure, all that other stuff actually affects our lives, and the world and future that we’re facing, but…when di  the media start caring about that. There haven’t even been calls of moral outrage against Kelly to get his songs off the radio!

For shame, America, its gatekeepers of information, and it’s useless moral arbiters. Are we growing up or something? What’s next, an embrace of thoughtfulness and intellectualism? Tsk, tsk.

 

So, at my city-run gym there’s usually only one channel on the television sets, Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate. I’m not sure if the Disney corporation is paying off the staff at Metropolitan Pool or something, but that’s what generally tends to be on.

This is how I became familiar with the ABC News special “Live to be 150“, hosted by Barbara Walters. It’s a “news” special where she shares secrets to living longer. I guess the show surmises that with the aid of Barbara’s tips, you can live to the ripe old age of 150.

One-hundred and fifty.

Ugh. Count me as not excited.

Think about it. If you were a person who had done all the right things that Walters told you, and you were a spry 146-year old now living in Florida, that means you very likely would have retired in 1928 at the age of 65.

That’s a long-ass time to sit around playing canasta. Oh, sure, they’ll show you remarkable centenarians living full and active lives, breathing, dancing, practicing their craft, and even having sex.

Just really, really, really slowly.

Yes, I am being a downer about living to the ripe old age of 150. I don’t know if I want to be walking around when I’m 75 talking about how it’s the new 45. Do I really need yet another excuse to put off getting married and having children? How about the fact that I’m having enough trouble saving money for retirement as it is, now I’ll have to save for 80 years worth of assisted living? Let’s not even talk about the societal implications of Social Security and all the money that’s going to be in LifeAlert ads.

Look, it’s good to be alive. Really it is. I’m trying to enjoy it. But count me as  one of those who believes that we might be beginning to go too far in our quest never to die. Never suffering pain? That seems like a worthy goal. Eradicating unnecessary diseases? Damn straight! Helping those enough lucky enough to be blessed with life to live it to the fullest? Right on.

But hanging on to the rip old age of 115 so I can tell some 75 year old about how it was back in the day? How does this benefit anyone, really? Aren’t we, with our attempts to artificially lengthen life, kind of diminishing its value, in a way? After all you’ll have plenty of time to stop and smell the roses, provided your olfactory nerves haven’t collapsed from 100 years of greenhouse gases. There’s just something that seems ethically unnatural and selfish about this. As I said before, Barbara Walters and her tips have their way, there’s going to be a lot of social policy that’s going to need to be changed. A retirement age of 121, for starters.

Plus, let’s be honest, that’s a whole lot of years to be no longer current about musical trends. And for the music to be too loud. And to need your steak cut up and for your sciatica to quit acting up. Yeah, not exactly what I’d call quality time.

Bryant and wife (I think)

So I was winding down a long day by reading the Washington Post’s website when I came across this article reviewing the fourth hour of the Today Show. According to reviewer Robin Givhan, the fourth hour of the show seems to be a throwback to the olden days when men worked and women stayed home and took care of the house. Not sure when that was, might have been 1957, coulda been 1987, whatever. Here was the real point for me:

they’re not on at 10 a.m.

There’s a fourth hour of the Today show?!

I guess I could see the reasoning to try and keep the show going as long as possible, the venerable broadcast institution is practically an ATM for NBC Universal. But really, what the hell are you going to put on? Of course there’s nothing but weight-loss crap and extreme makeovers! After four hours, you’re pretty much out of news.

So, instead of creating a brand new NBC morning show called, oh, I dunno, “Crap We Think Women Might Be Interested In Instead of News”, they take the “Today” brand name, shuffle Matt Lauer, Meredith Viera, and Al Roker off to safety and leave Ann Curry to interview women on their “relationship deal-breakers”?

I don’t get this TV business at all sometimes. Why would you dilute your best product and stretch it out beyond belief, when really, in actuality, you’ve just put on an entirely different program? I mean, why not have a second hour of “Meet the Press”, except in the second hour, Tim Russert leaves and Dan Abrams interviews a Hollywood celebrity?

(Using the same Tim Russert interview techniques, of course: “But Mr. Stallone, we’ll put up this graphic. You told GQ in March 1996: ‘I wouldn’t embarrass myself by playing Rocky and Rambo into my 60s.’ What changed your mind, your conspicuous lack of hits over the next ten years, or human growth hormone?”)

Or how about a second hour of “To Catch A Predator”, but we replace Chris Hansen with Keith Olbermann in “To Date a Douchebag”, where they use an actor to play a $10 Bud Select-swilling jackass with a popped collar, who lures some unsuspecting clueless female back to his place. When he leaves the living room for a second to see “if he has any box wine left”, Olbermann busts in and drops some science on the young lady.

Keith: So you really thought, and let me read this right, ‘would you like to come back to my place to see my gooch’ meant that this guy was going to give you a night of quality lovemaking? Honestly. Do you even know what a gooch is? And you were going to sleep with him?”

Clueless female: Uh, no….

Keith: We have you on tape calling in sick for work tomorrow.

Clueless female: Dammit! (runs out of apartment)

Keith: (voiceover) What she doesn’t know is that the girlfriends she abandoned at the club to go home with our ‘chump’ are waiting for her outside the apartment. They are drunk, and boy, are they pissed.

You know, on second thought, if the fourth hour of Today is stuff like this, I think I’d be interested….

Another surprisingly short day of work led me to peruse Gawker when I read this briefly horrifying story. In the midst of the media gossip site cracking on an unbelievably awkward sentence on page six, they failed to grasp the substance of the news. Apologies to all that know of this story.

Allegedly, Dr. Pepper is promising everyone in America a free soda if Axl Rose releases his long-awaited Guns ‘N Roses masterpiece, Chinese Democracy. You know, that album 18 years in the making that is has men all across America over the age of 25 that still believe Guns “N Roses is still a relevant band foaming at the mouth. Waiting. Hoping, Praying. Thinking that this will be the rock album to end all rock albums.

Now, I am a fan of the band’s work from back in the day. I was a young lad many moons ago when “Appetite For Destruction” came out. I had the cassette. I listen to all two and a half of their albums all the time. When I want to bring down the house at karaoke, I always go to “Mr. Brownstone”. Really, gentlemen, this band takes me back to my youth like no one else, just like many of you.

But I got tired of seeing so many of my friends genuinely believing that Chinese Democracy would actually come out and rock order would be restored to the universe. For me, the dream died when I saw Axl Rose come out with Buckethead at the MTV Video Music Awards a while ago. This led me to make one of the most regrettable decisions of my life.

At New Finnerty’s in Manhattan, I heard this hopeful chatter from my pals, and I stood up and said: “Chinese Democracy is never coming out! If Chinese Democracy comes out, I will marry Alice!”

Yeah, that Alice. She appears to have taken this threat seriously, and appears frighteningly willing to go along with this.

Needless to say, I now have beef with Dr. Pepper.

Unless it’s some sort of hoax, which I am pretty sure that it is. (Because I have no choice but to believe that. )

Watching George Clooney tonight (okay, now I just totally lied in the title of my last post) and how much he seems to be respected by his peers and how he seems to do anything he wants in Hollywood to the point where he can joke about Batman and Robin, he seems to be the man these days. And one of my favorite cliches that is uttered about a guy who is rolling like a top dog is, “It’s ___________’s world, and the rest of us are just paying the rent.”

Inspired by that phrase, I now give you the Landlord Rankings: The people in the world right now who have everything going their way, are rolling, and seemingly, can’t be stopped. We’ll try to have a minimum of three and a maximum of five, depending on who’s hot right now and who’s not. I’m thinking this could be a monthly feature, if all goes well (you know, more than 8 page views.)

George Clooney

1. George Clooney: He didn’t even win anything tonight and yet it is pretty apparent that barring a string of Peacemaker-style duds, he is the heir apparent to Jack Nicholson as the King of Hollywood Actors. Not the best, not the most talented, and not even the most financially successful, but just the one they all wanna be like and want to be around. He’s come a long way from those rubber nipples.

Unstoppable Eli

2. Eli Manning: We’re not getting overrun with his commercials just yet, but it’s coming. But just as I was beginning to forget the level he put himself on with his performance in Super Bowl XLII, I saw quite a few bouncers wearing Eli Manning jerseys this weekend. Bouncers don’t wear quarterback jerseys unless that quarterback is The Man. Unstoppable!

Senator Obama

3. Barack Obama: No substance or record? No problem! Hillary Clinton supporters can’t believe that some guy who who was probably voting on trash pickup schedules and retail zoning restrictions in Chicago four years ago is poised to rip the Presidency (or at least the nomination) that was rightfully hers. I am sort of comically paraphrasing what Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote today: you know your campaign is down the tubes when your message essentially becomes “Hope? Inspiration? That’s for suckers! Vote for me!” and “So my speeches are boring. But they’re highly detailed!”

Wait list: John McCain would have gotten on this list for sticking it to the hard-core conservatives and radio talk show hosts by locking up the Republican nomination and for essentially turning that New York Times story about him maybe possibly boning a lobbyist into a fundraising opportunity. But until he finally unites the party with the appeal, “Come on, You Know You’re Going To Vote For Me, Where The Hell Else Are You Going?” he can’t quite make it on yet.

Tomorrow night is one of the more momentous occasions in the history of this great nation of ours. It’s not only a night for analysis and reflection, but a night of hope. Why?

It’s pretty simple. Tomorrow marks the last State of the Union address from President George W. Bush.

 President Bush

The last! That’s it! It sort of unofficially marks that, less than a year from now, someone else will be the President of the United States.

Come on, that has to make you a little excited no matter what your political affiliation. If you’re a Democrat, you’re excited because his bumbling reign is coming to an end, and it’s sort of weakened the coalition of social conservatives, right-wing hawks, and fiscal conservatives that have helped the Republican Party become the majority party in this country. But the Democrats are poised to take that back now, if they can get out of their own way. (Their control of Congress so far doesn’t really seem to indicate that.)

If you’re a Republican, you have grown tired of seeing this fool be the face of your party. You were loyal, you believed, and now, you look like fools. Oh, you can still try to explain away the war, and there are plenty of excuses for the economy, but we all know down deep, even you guys aren’t still buying. One of my best friends is a die-hard Republican, and when he drunkenly called him an idiot, I knew the Bush mystique was finally done. You feel like, if you just get someone electable in there who’s not a loon and take back the White House, things will be okay.

If you’re an independent, you’re thinking, maybe, just maybe, this time people will wise up and make sound, rational, well thought-out political decisions. To treat this seriously about who is going to bring this country competent, efficient, dynamic, and creative leadership. Who is going to get the job done and get America going in the right direction, and not about bullshit like “Who listens to Jesus more”, “Who seems like they would be cool to have a beer with”, “Or who looks like they could win a bear fight.”

So, there’s something to look forward to for everyone. But to move forward, you gotta look back. So tomorrow, I encourage you to tune in and hear the mangled, nonsensical words of your Commander-In-Chief, take a look at the blank, clueless face of the man who has led us for the last eight years, and has led us to where we are today, (internationally despised and disrespected, locked in an unwinnable war, and an apparently slowing economy) and realize:

Funny faced George

What the fuck were we thinking? Twice?!