Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Lesson

Son, take a seat and let me tell you a story about me and my father when I was about your age. It was summer, just like it is now, and my friends and I would wait all year for the free, warm days where we could frolic by the drying creek bed and tell each other ghost stories late into the night. Those were truly the days: the air was clean, the only thing cold were the wars, and that was the summer that Penny Dingleheimer kissed me behind the five-and-dime.

One day, my friends approached me on the hilly meadow that bordered the Narrows. They ushered me behind a thicket of shrubs, and showed me what they had in a brown paper bag. My friend Scotty had swiped a pack of cigarettes from his uncle's bedside drawer. There were four left in the pack and he wanted each of us to smoke one at the same time. We had no matches so we scampered into the forest and used our scout training to light a small flame using the sticks and dry leaves from an old, wide Poplar tree. I had my first puff, and as the black smoke reached my lungs, every organ in my body pushed forth to reject the bitter taste. I hacked up phlegm that my sinuses had stored deep inside my head from months prior. It was an awful, guttural feeling, but I didn't learn my lesson. I kept inhaling until the smoke no longer burned my throat. Even though the taste was rank, I liked the way I felt holding it and the way my friends looked at me there in the weeds.

We sat there until we felt the smell had dissipated and then we each made our separate ways home. I stopped by Mr. Gregory's store on the way home, as I often did to buy a chocolate milk and a comic book. You wouldn't remember that place, son. It's a goddamn Sur la Table now. Anyway, Mr. Gregory was helping an old woman bag up her groceries at the front of the store, and didn't notice me as I slunk to the side of the counter and grabbed a sealed pack of unfiltered Chesterfields. They fit easily in the back pocket of my shorts and my heart raced as I approached the counter.

"Chocolate Milk, young man?" Mr. Gregory was amicable as ever as he reached into the ice-chest. I nodded my head and dropped a dime onto the counter. "No Spider-Man, today?" He grinned at me as older folks will often do to young persons your age. I kept my head down and grabbed the carton and rushed out. I didn't look back, though I doubt Mr. Gregory had anything but an expression of satisfaction on his face.

I didn't have a plan at that point of where to put the cigarettes, or if I even would have opened the pack. Perhaps I would have chucked them over the fence into the Buchanan's yard. Maybe I would have buried them in the backyard so future civilizations could have discovered them. It doesn't matter now and it didn't then. As soon as I came home and run up the stairs I heard my father's bellowing voice.

"What's that you got in your pocket, there?"

I was caught and couldn't keep the deception going. I just stood there and allowed my father to approach me. He had his hand on my shoulder and he whispered in my ear.

"Take it on out, boy."

I did and held it in my hand behind my back. I still couldn't look at him. He took the pack out of my hand and swiveled me around by my shoulder. I kept my head down.

"Come with me."

We went into the backyard and he sat me down on the old tree stump that had been there since before I was born. I made sure me eyes came nowhere near his face as he unwrapped the pack and revealed all twenty cigarettes.

"You're going to smoke every last one of these," he said.

And I did. We sat there until it had been dark for several hours. My mother would look out at us from the kitchen window every so often, but kept her distance. She knew what he was doing and was not about to object. I smoked until I could hardly breathe without feeling the tar fumes whirl around my head. The bile kept coming up in my throat, but I suppressed it. I wasn't about to let my father beat me. It was no use, though. I was defeated. To this day, I can't smell cigarette smoke, even for a moment, without thinking about that evening when my father taught me one of the most important lessons of my life. You only have one body, and you'd better not get it on your bad side.

Which brings me to you, son. You can imagine my surprise when I come into your room and find you with a smooth kilo of pure South American cocaine. That's intent to distribute, son. What in God's holy name are you thinking?

Well, I'm not going to let your body get the better of you. I'm going to sit here and you're going to snort every last ounce of that sweet nose candy. How do you like that?

Alright, let's get started. No use delaying it. Cut that up finely, now. No, no, you're going to do it all yourself. Here, you can use my Mastercard. Chop it up now and make those lines full. No skimping.

There, how does that feel? Like you thought, huh? You like them goofballs, don't you? Well, the fun's over. Go ahead, do another line.

Goddammit, boy, this is for your own good. Head down, nostrils open. There you go.

How about three in a row this time? You can do it off the toilet seat if you want to feel like a real rock star. You won't be feeling much like rockin' and rollin' in a few hours, let me assure you.

Son, really, dancing on your bed isn't going to solve this problem. Put your pants back on. Keep going.

There you go. Don't worry, that's just a nosebleed, happens all the time when you're hooked on blow. Long way to go still. Don't lay down, that's not going to help one bit. Come on, boy.

Son? Get on up, now. This isn't the woods, you can't play dead.

Son?

.......

Christ.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paula Goodspeed, former Idol Contestant, found dead

A very sad story this morning out of Los Angeles. Paula Goodspeed was an American Idol contestant who was turned down after her initial audition. She was apparently a huge fan of Paula Abdul and was found this morning dead in her car outside of Abdul's home. The police are saying it is a drug overdose.

The focal point of this story for the media is Goodspeed's obsession with Abdul. Her car had several laniards and stickers depicting the pop singer, and her license plate said "ABL LV" (which I suppose means Abdul Love?)

She even dressed like Abdul to her initial American Idol audition. Here's the video below, though it's far more morbid now, considering the segment was meant to mock and poke fun at her. Though I enjoy watching the early, horrible auditions on Idol, it's important to note how starkly some people consider the nature of celebrity, and how a hobby can quickly turn to obsession.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

Today Now! presents the wonderful, heartwarming story of a real fat ass who successfully avoids the ridicule of his slimmer peers by keeping a white T-shirt on while swimming. Take a look.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What To Do About Proposition Hate

Like many of my peers on Tuesday night, I was both exhilarated at the progress our nation has made and disturbed at how far we still have to go. The election of Barack Obama to the presidency is a remarkable mandate for change and progress in this country, and marks a significant cultural shift away from the greedy aristocracy we've lived in this past decade.

However, let's not forget that people are selfish beings, and that Obama's victory can at least partially be attributed to the overwhelmingly negative situation in which Americans have found themselves. People voted for him not because they necessarily believe in progressive ideals, universal health care, increased dialogue among nations or tougher regulations on big business. Many voted for him simply because they are desperate, poor and distrusting of a system that has pounded them into the ground. Barack Obama has a much steeper hill to climb than many of us realize, and with the illegal and unethical ban of universal marriage in California, those of us hopeful for the future must first face the truth about our present.

California is seen as one of America's most liberal states, and yet over five million people decided that two human beings who love each other should not enjoy the same freedoms as everyone else because they are of the same gender. Despite the lack of any logical argument to the contrary, despite the illegality of imposing such a hindrance on our fellow citizens' civil rights, despite the lies and the bigotry from the "Yes on 8" campaign, nearly five and a half million Californians supported this measure. Just using arithmetic, this number must include at least one million Barack Obama voters. Everyone --- our work is far from over.

There are protests going on right now in the streets around my home. This is progress, but this is not enough. They will ignore you and wait until you've subsided and then it will be business as usual. We cannot stop letting them know what an injustice this is. Here are my suggestions:

1) Take the protests to the people who voted against you. West Hollywood is great, but, you know, you're kind of preaching to the choir. Why not stop by Tulare County? Two hours north of Los Angeles where 75.4% of the electorate voted for Proposition 8. What about Shasta County, up north? 69.9%. Madera County: 73.4%. Kings County: 73.7%. These are people who don't live near Los Angeles or San Francisco. They don't see you every day and know you are living, breathing humans who love just as strongly as they do. Bring the protest from Melrose to Main Street. Force these people to explain to you face to face why they are discriminating against you.

2) Write to everyone you know. If you're gay, chances are you have some straight friends. No, not just the girl you went to see The Devil Wears Prada with who hangs out with you because there's no chance of sexual tension. I'm talking about your co-workers, the people you see every day, your family, your close friends. Everyone. Chances are they're upset about the passage of Prop 8 but they're still just going about their daily lives. Let them know how it really feels to have your rights restricted. Ask them what it would feel like to know that society shuns their relationship and their families. I hate to break it to you my homosexual brothers and sisters, but we outnumber you. And we, like The Force, are a powerful ally.

3) Get a famous in-the-closet celebrity to come out. There have to be at least two or three out there, right? Not Ellen, not Rosie, names that would really blow your mind. I'm talking about Tom, Will, Kevin and Orlando. Let's hit these people right where it hurts. In their blockbuster summer movies.

This is far from over. I'm convinced that this measure will not make it near our state constitution. You almost have to laugh when people vote against the freedoms of human beings, but stand up in overwhelming numbers so that chickens can turn around without bumping each other. This is Los Angeles! Ever been to Hollywood on a Saturday night? You try turning around without hitting somebody in the ass!

*Source: Los Angeles Times (click the drop-down bar and scroll to Proposition 8 for a list of counties and how they voted.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Results 2008

Mahalo has astounding coverage of the 2008 Presidential Election. Below is (believe it or not) just a taste of what we have to offer tonight:

Keep refreshing our comprehensive Presidential Polls page to see if the returns match the predictions. They were off four years ago, but today's could accurately predict the winner of tonight's election. I also love all the maps the major news sites compile to track states. See them update on real time with our Election Results page.

As we've seen the last eight years, just one state can decide an election. Here are some of our pages for individual battleground states:
Ohio Election Results
Pennsylvania Election Results
Florida Exit Polls
Florida Election Results
Indiana Election Results
Indiana Exit Polls

Can you believe Indiana is in play? Happy Election Day! If you haven't voted yet, do it!