Friday, May 29, 2009

kids, man

my wife lost her phone and camera last weekend up in oakley.

we thought they were long gone because in reality, when does that kind of stuff ever come back to you?

heidi took some time from her very busy and active work schedule to create some fancy signs to put up in the neighborhood where the electronics were lost with a big "$50 reward" claim to entice would-be helpers.

as i went to put the signs up today after work, some juvenile delinquent hollers at me to inquire of my business in his neighborhood.

"you lose a dog?"

"no, cell phone and camera."

"what's the camera look like"

i described the camera

"i think my friend mikey might have it. lemme check. is there a reward?"

"yeah man, $50 for the phone and camera. i'll give you $20 for your trouble if you can help me out."

we walk down to some house and this kid asks me to wait outside while he goes into the house to figure out his next move.

"it's in here! hold on, he's just deleting some of the pictures he took on it."

so i'm waiting outside while these kids delete the pictures they took of their testicles and morning bowls of cereal and thinking to myself, 'i feel like i'm on 'the shield' right now or something. i gotta pay this kid to lead me to the source or something like that. i could so be a cop.'

"here it is man. so you got that $20?"

"yeah man, here it is. thanks for your help."

"no problem. i know how it feels, i lost my $200 phone and $200 camera and wallet at the st. cecilia festival last week and nobody helped me out."

"that sucks man - did you put up signs that offered rewards if the items were returned?"

"nah, i knew i'd never get that shit back."

"i hear that."

"if i can find your phone, can i get the rest of the money?"

"sure kid, why not."

i drive away feeling all at once excited to get the camera back and confident that this hustler is going to track down my phone, as well as pissed off that i've got to pay some derelict kids a bunch of cash just to get this stuff back.

fast forward a half hour and i'm just getting home when i see that i'm getting a call from an unknown number:

"you lose a phone?"


"silver lg shine?"


"there's a $50 reward for it?"

"well i got the camera back already so i'll give you half."

"so $30 for the phone?"

either this kid sucks at math (a very real possibility) or my new friend from a half hour ago hit the pavement in an effort to either make some more cash or flex his altruistic muscles.

"half of $50 is $25. do you have the phone? i'll give you $25 if i get the phone back"

"yeah, i got the phone. i'll give it to you for $25."

i'm getting ripped off here. these kids are really testing my patience.

"alright kid, my wife is getting off work and she'll come get the phone from you. where are you?"

"drive through on the corner. she's gonna give me $25, right?"

"yeah dante, she'll give you $25. just stay there for another 20 minutes and she'll come pick it up."

"it doesn't work."

"the battery's dead. i just have to charge it."

"oh. (long pause). so i still get the $25?"

"yeah, you still get the money. just be waiting at the drive through with the phone. thanks for your help."

i'm sitting at home now waiting for heidi to get here. my hope is that the transaction went smoothly, but i have no way of knowing since the phone is dead. as i wait impatiently my thoughts turn to grandiose dreams of the good-ol-days when people helped people just because it was the right thing to do. when neighbors helped neighbors and a cup of sugar was only a door down if you were baking a pie. i thought about kids playing in sprinklers while parents gossiped about the latest action down at the corner store. i imagined a world in which some kid would yell out to me from his 2nd-story house to see if he could help me out, and courteously turn down my offer of a few bucks for his trouble because he is a boy scout, and he helps old ladies across the street and stuff like that according to "scout's honor." i guess there just aren't as many boy scouts as there used to be.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

beat blog

in the tradition of jack kerouac, allen ginsberg, the dude who wrote naked lunch (i can't look up the author on the internet or i would lose my stream of consciousness and destroy the premise of this blog) and the rest of the beat writers, i present my random thoughts in no particular order

it seems appropriate to give a rundown of the weekend past. i suppose i could have been tweeting and f-booking these events throughout the course of the weekend, but i'm not ready to type, "going to the store. skim milk for my wheat chex in the morning" just yet. here's the highlights: back/front yard grill out/potlucks three nights in a row. i lost approximately 14 pints of blood to mosquitoes this weekend. taste of cincinnati was a hit. i have some adjustments i would make to the festival, but i can't complain too much because i got bbq from two good places and beers from three local brewers. almost saw the reds win a game yesterday, but the rain came down and forced us out of the stadium. after 2 hours of rain delay they returned to secure the win, but i wasn't there to see the win, so i'm 0-3-1 in reds' games this year. lifetime movies with my wife. lack of sleep. excess of food and beer. lebron's shot (x 4,918).

speaking of facebook/twitter, many of you have been asking how it's going since i took the plunge (nobody has asked. heidi makes snide comments every time she sees me on facebook in a constant reminder of how i swore i would never do this, but that's not really asking. in two weeks my own wife will allow me to be her friend once my probation ends and i'm looking forward to this). i like both of these sites and i find myself more interested than i thought i would be in what my friends are actually doing. consequently, the blog is suffering, which is why you're getting random thoughts instead of something that is actually thought out and interesting. i feel like i have to check twitter often, because if i don't i might miss something. like the rest of the world is planning some hoax/prank/lark against me that i can stop from happening simply by spying on what is being said and putting it to death.

i miss pranks. i went to a lot of sleep-overs as a kid and the best part of sleep-overs is staying up until death because of the knowledge that whoever falls asleep first would fall victim to underwear in the freezer, finger in warm water, feather-to-the-nose tickle with shaving cream-on-the-palm, toothpaste in the ear, mass quantities of toilet paper, artificial insemination... you get the idea. tonight i'm freezing heidi's underwear. she's going to freak out!

i got into an interesting conversation about hipsters at one of the many backyard parties i went to this weekend. the person i asked to define hipster for me did so with the usual condemnation and went on to discuss how hipsters are people who think that they have found something cooler than most people and love to talk about it and define themselves by it. i checked with wikipedia to make sure that this person knew what she was talking about and it seems to fit. if this definition is accurate, then i don't know a single person who is not a hipster (myself included) but i hardly ever hear the term "hipster" without the term "douche" immediately following. so if everyone is a hipster, then doesn't it kind of lose it's meaning? saying "you're such a human" just doesn't have the same ring as it did when neanderthals and cro-magnum man were still wielding their clubs in the clubs. let's put an end to this term (if it hasn't already been put to death. does anyone even talk like this anymore? i'm so out of touch with reality).

speaking of reality, let's take a moment for "justin's reality tv anecdote of the week." just looking at mtv, i'm amazed at how the latest show (taking the stage) has infiltrated and perhaps influenced society. mtv started the whole "reality television simply for the sake of voyeurism without any cash-winning motivations." the real world is the grandfather and got it all going. this show was accessible (and still is) to just about any college/post-college kid. it has a premise (7 strangers, picked to live in a house...) but is short-lived and not very real (strangers aren't picked to live in houses and have their lives taped). laguna beach came along and gave birth to the hills. in this brand of reality television, we just watch people whom we believe to have better/more glamorous lives than us. people from across the world will watch a couple of personality-less drones talk/cry/stare for a half hour each week. there is no point. there is no real drama. there is nothing that happens in this show that is interesting, except the fact that it takes place in beautiful southern california and is just steps away from celebrity-dom of hollywood. but then came taking the stage. set in a mid-major city in the middle of america (cincinnati, oh) and featuring high school kids (drama/dance/performer crazy high school kids, but kids nonetheless). this show was pretty terrible, but pretty amazing at the same time. think about mtv's target audience - junior high/high school kids from across america. a show like this has to appeal to the kids in the big cities, but what about the kids in jackson hole, wy, jefferson city, mi, or eureka, ca? what do they have to relate to? how about some average-looking kids trying to figure this crazy life out while dancing hip hop and ballet and singing ballads? most kids aren't as talented as this crew, but there's a lot to relate to. and my question is how much will this influence the current generation (is it still gen y? is it z now? who knows these things?) how are kids figuring out what is cool? where do kids go to learn how to break up with their girlfriend without looking like a jerk? the same place we've always gone. so is "taking the stage" the most real television has ever been? it's scripted and edited to perfection, but it's not that far-fetched. and i can't help but think that all these kids in reno, nv and park city, ut are watching with notepads, taking notes, and making adjustments. i could be wrong... i'm probably wrong.

as a matter of fact, i guarantee i'm wrong. today, mo williams, a player for the cleveland cavs stated with confidence that his team would win the game tonight and go on to win the series. whenever some dude projects his team to secure victory in any confident terms the entire sports world goes up in flames? what's wrong with this kid being confident that his team is going to win? he didn't say anything disparaging against the orlando magic. he didn't predict a final score or make any sweeping generalizations about how his team would accomplish the goal of winning. dude just said that he plans on his team winning a contest tonight. but all day today, like every time some athlete makes some sort of projected pledge of victory, every blogger, sports talk radio host and journalist gets all crazy and starts shouting and showing veins in the neck to condemn some guy for trying to show confidence in his team. what do you expect him to say: "we don't have a shot tonight..." "i really hope we win, but i don't want to make any promises..." "i am moderately convinced that we will participate in a game tonight in which the outcome is completely uncertain..." sports are so stupid sometimes.

i'm sorry sports. i didn't mean it. please forgive me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

bulletin board

just got back from a week in OC/san diego. it was awesome. i could write all about how awesome it really was, but that seems like a lot of work. if you were there with me, then you know it was awesome in every way. if you weren't there, then why would you want to read about the awesome-ness of the trip? you would either be jealous and resentful, or bored (most likely the latter).

i don't have much energy to get into anything of real importance or substance, so instead i will make a few announcements and then send you on your way.

1) i considered titling this blog post "bulletin bored" instead of "bulletin board." i felt like i was being too clever for my own good though. i went conventional rather than trying to illicit some reaction from a title. let's face it - titles are completely unimportant. when i'm reading, i skip over any title or subheading. waste of my time.

2) i have expanded my "e-fluence" dramatically in the past week.

a) i'm on facebook now. let's just move quickly past this announcement and ignore the fact that i have swore i never would join and ridiculed the very existence of the site. i still don't get it, but i look forward to even more hours wasted on the internet.

related to this announcement, i would like to take the opportunity to announce that i am using extreme discretion in adding friends. i've already "denied" some people that would probably be upset if they realized that i said "no" to their "e-vances" (that is if people paid any attention to what they actually do on the internet, something that i seriously doubt). somehow i got up to more than 200 friends on myspace and i hated it. so i am going to be a snob and only use my facebook to commune with people i actually talk to. if i met you four years ago in some alley behind the albertsons next to my old house in san diego, and i haven't talked to you since - you don't stand a chance.

b) i'm on twitter.

c) my friends ethan, brian and taylor are also now on twitter. we all did it together. like a "blood brothers" kind of thing.

3) you'd think that spending a week in southern california would not include the highlights of joining two social networking "e-mmunities," but it is what it is. real highlights of the trip out west include:

a) good times with duane and amy. duane took me to some bar that featured at least four-dozen hand-crafted beers from across the nation and country. it was pretty much heaven. duane and amy have a backyard and their adorable little daughter plays in it for hours. i think they have a pretty good life.

b) game 6 of the stanley cup playoffs viewed from a suite. fights are the best part of hockey. the me lee that broke out at the end of the game was absolutely fantastic. the NHL has something here. all my dork friends out there play in some amateur hockey league and i have to admit that if i could ever learn to stand up straight on a pair of skates for longer than 3.5 seconds, i would love to play.

c) the taco guy is awesome.

d) heidi and i ate mexican food 6/7 days in california. i know, it should have been a perfect 7/7, but there were a thousand other places i wanted to eat at as well.

e) i am now officially on a diet/increased work-out routine as consequence for what i did to my body last week. i feel like i need to apologize:

dear body,

i'm sorry for the way i treated you last week. i know that you were excited about going to perfectly moderate weather and the possibility of swimming in pools and oceans. i know that you were tricked into thinking that california is a mecca for healthy eating options and that you would be treated well out there. i'm sorry that i crushed your ribs when i fell off the treadmill. i'm sorry for eating del taco at two in the morning. i'm sorry for eating four-five meals a day instead of the usual three. i'm sorry for the shots of tequila that i took at brian's party. you know i don't normally do that to you, and i'm truly thankful that you didn't punish me for my poor decisions. i apologize for going with the double-double rather than just the single at in-and-out... that was unnecessary. i'm sorry for putting you through "p90x," that was silly. i'm sorry about the booze. you deserve better.



f) southern california is the promised land. there is no doubt about it and anybody who disagrees is an idiot.

4) i remembered today why i always run early in the morning. not only is it hot-as-hell in the afternoon, but you have to put up with stupid boys yelling things like "break a sweat," "work it," "run forest run" and "your dog is running faster than you" (i actually liked the last one). in my old age, i am getting less and less patient, especially with pubescent boys who are trying to convince misguided girls to make out with them. i'm getting to that point in my life where i just won't put up with it anymore. these kids are going to get a piece of my mind and i hope to make every one of them cry.

5) the hardest part of coming home from vacation is trying to catch up on all that i missed in the past week. i'm listening to 5-day old bill simmons podcasts and reading week-old articles about stuff that is already way-old news. i can't waste anymore time writing this blog because i have to update my twitter/facebook and check out what peter king wrote about five days ago.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


alex rodriguez is screwed.

forget the fact that when i read the story the other day that i literally spit my coffee out on the computer because i learned that his teammates called him b**** t**s (that's how it was published on and i think it's funnier with the asterisks). forget that he only tips 15% to the hard-working ladies at hooters (who goes to hooters anyway? i've never been to a hooters, and have no desire whatsoever to change that).

forget that mr. rodriguez had pictures taken of him kissing himself in a mirror. forget the names "a-fraud" and "a-roid." don't get caught up with the stories of late nights with strippers and hookers and the relationship with the skeleton of madonna that destroyed his marriage. forget the fact that alex can't buy a hit in a crucial moment and will most likely forever be remembered as a "choke artist."

no player/figure/celebrity has been hated as much and been so polarizing since... well i guess barry bonds (and spencer and heidi from the hills), which wasn't all that long ago. everybody has something negative to say about arod. and every little detail that comes out about this man is scrutinized and debated to death. everybody gets to have a little "ha-ha" about the latest public snafu this man must endure.

the second entry i ever posted here was about roger clemens, and i'm pretty sure the same critiques and comments apply here. i know that every non-sports fan will read a post like this and immediately dismiss it as silly and unimportant. maybe it is, but i'm going to talk about it anyway. (if you want to read something actually worthwhile, read my wife's latest post about the swine flu. she's brilliant and much more intelligent/witty/prolific than i).

the thing that i find so fascinating about a story like this is the colossal collapse of a human being. i'm not trying to be demeaning here... i'm really not. i don't feel sorry for arod. it's hard to feel sorry for a 250-millionaire who gets to play a game for his career. but i feel like i can "feel" arod, or that i can understand him, at least in some small measure.

what does a white, 29 year-old, social worker from kentucky have in common with a billionaire baseball player?


more poignantly, that which is "most human" about humans.

i've been thinking a lot about idols lately. and how we all have/worship them.

i know what you're thinking: "idols? you mean like golden statues and weird shrines surrounded by incense?"

yeah... those idols, but also more.

whether you admit it or not (or even think about it) you've got idols. we all do. an idol is anything that you build your life on. an idol is anything that you place ultimate value on and in turn, will do anything to achieve/keep. an idol is whatever you worship.

now you are probably thinking: "worship? i don't go to church. this obviously doesn't apply."

that's not true. just as much as we all have idols, we all worship. worship is simply ascribing worth to something/someone. worship is enjoyment. worship is reflection.

some examples might help:

an idol might be: recognition, success, acceptance, admiration, comfort/security, fun, etc... notice that none of these things are bad. they're good things. idols can show up in the form of food and alcohol, fame, sex, relationships, money... again, notice that none of these things are bad.

but what happens when you spend your life pursuing these things? what happens when these things become ultimate to you? when you would do anything to get these things, and would do even more to keep them if there is threat of them being taken away.

i probably didn't explain all of that as well as i should, but let's return to alex rodriguez. it would appear that alex has some idols in his life. if he was in fact taking steroids as a teen, and giving opposing teams signs in order that they would hook him up when he needed some help, then it's obvious that this man would do anything to achieve success. fame. recognition. acceptance. wealth.

lot's of people are famous. many people are successful and recognized as great at whatever they do. but what will people do to attain this? how would you react if it was slipping away from you? barry bonds had this happen, but he didn't give a rip. he had his own idols, but "being liked" was not at the top of the list.

not arod. bill simmons and others have influenced me to believe that the thing arod cares about most is how he is perceived. alex wants to be liked. we all do, but he's obsessed. he can't handle the criticism, the public scathing. i'm sure alex thinks to himself, "what have i done wrong? why am i treated like this? i'm a good guy. i give to the community. i show up for work each day and do my job. i don't commit crimes. i don't punch kittens... why this scrutiny?"

a couple of months ago, the castle/kingdom that arod built was under serious attack. it was leaked that he took steroids. this was a big deal, and alex decided to "come clean" and admit to using certain illegal substances during a certain time frame a long time ago. he apologized. he tried to cry. he asked for forgiveness and looked sincere.

all the while he was still protecting his idol. he was still worshiping at the altar of recognition and likability. like a cornered animal, he did what he had to in order to survive. this included telling "some" truth, but not coming completely clean.

i don't know if the latest reports are true. i don't know if it matters. as i stated at the beginning of this dirge, i'm not so much interested in the "arod is a cheating drug user" story as i am in the "arod is a human" story.

think about your life for a moment (i know i don't usually go here in the blog, but let me be serious for a bit). what are the things you care most about? where do your thoughts go to when you have time think? what do you spend most of your time doing? where do you spend your money? how do you react when you are rejected? deceived? disappointed by another? when you fail at something?

what will you do to achieve success, however you define it? where do you turn when life gets rough? how do you handle it all?

i don't like to be too honest and transparent, especially in the form of a blog, but whatever, i'll let you in on a little secret.

i have my own idols. recognition. i love to be liked. i love the fact that people like me. i love it when i am praised for the work i do. i love it when heidi says "thank you" when i've done the dishes or whatever. i love to feel wanted/needed. i like it when my friends say, "wish you were here...," or "the only thing missing was you...."

i knew that this was something true about me, but when my expectations aren't met... when i don't get the recognition i feel i deserve... when i feel slighted in some way by another... i get angry. if i feel like it's slipping away, i get afraid.

toddlers throw tantrums. so does justin.

i like to be liked. i guess i'm just like alex in this respect. so perhaps that's why i'm thinking about this whole thing so much.

i don't like arod. i never have. and i don't like him for the same reasons as everyone else. it's absolutely silly. i don't know him, but i don't like him because he's rich, seemingly arrogant, way to self-absorbed. (i guess when i say that i don't like arod, i mean to say that i'm not a fan of him. i'm not a fan of U2, john travolta, brett favre and many others. it comes out as hatred or strong dislike, but in reality, i just don't appreciate what they do).

so i'm not a fan of arod.

but i'm a little like arod.

and if you're honest with yourself, so are you.