David Simpson Wants Legal Marijuana, but He’s Still an Idiot and His Bill is Garbage.

David Simpson, just after seeing that he’s trending on Facebook.

That’s a harsh headline, but I think that Texas Rep. David Simpson can understand the importance of a real Eye Catcher. He’s gotten a heap of warm exposure in the press lately, and he’s done it by filing a bill that would effectively end marijuana prohibition in the Lone Star State – which is something that I would, in all honesty, really like to approve of.

It’s been seen as a shocker, because he’s not only a Texan member of the Republican party, but he’s also a prominent figure of its Tea Party arm, which is the arm that gets sunburned and cancerous from hanging outside the driver’s side window during our lengthy summer seasons.

On the surface, it really is quite a shocker: Why would a Tea Party member put forth a bill that would end marijuana prohibition, a pursuit generally left to the hedonistic Left? Well, according to an editorial written by Simpson for The Dallas Morning News, the reasoning for the bill is that it’s God’s Will that marijuana be regulated the same as any ordinary tomato would be:

As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same.

In fact, it’s for this reason that I’m especially cautious when it comes to laws banning plants. I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.

His editorial isn’t long, but six of its eleven paragraphs discuss the legality of marijuana through the lens of Biblical scripture. I’ve oftentimes listened to evangelical radio and reeled at the ministers’ abilities to come up with so much material – it seems to never end, and, if nothing else, you have to admire their creativity.

“So when you’re at the grocery store, and your cart hits somebody else’s, fret about it not – such is the teaching of Philippians 4:13,” is how one two-hour-long sermon might be summed up. These stretches have always impressed me.

Davis’s editorial isn’t much different from drivel like that, save for the fact that, due to its waxing on a subject like Reefer, it’s been covered by everybody from The New York Times to the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Many Texan Tea Partiers have acted flabbergasted by the news, claiming that it goes against the party’s platform and flies in the face of his jurisdiction’s beliefs, but the reality is that they wish they’d thought of this God Angle first, and for good reason: It’s made him wildly popular.

My Facebook feed was hit with a steady flow of links to stories covering Simpson’s filing of H.B. No. 2165. It’s that special brand of news that’ll have people posting links to the story three years from now: Texan Tea Party Rep. Files Bill to Legalize Marijuana, Say’s “God Don’t Make No Junk. The posters’ comments are always of the same ilk, some variation of “Well, whatever gets it legalized!” or “I never thought I’d agree with a Tea Partier!”

And sure, why not be happy about it? Who cares if he’s delivered an argument for marijuana being unregulated that could be extrapolated to support things like legal anthrax, or keeping a pack of wild hyenas chained up in your backyard? Hell, marijuana’s a great plant, and the man deserves our love and support – forget the fact that he’s dangerously delusional. The means justify the end, right?

Here’s the rub, though: The bill won’t pass, because it’s a lazily slapped together piece of trash. It’s the sort of thing that a first year law student might turn in for a homework assignment after downing a 750ml bottle of Goldschläger the night before, and only remembering that they were supposed to turn in a mock bill halfway en route to their class. The only difference is that the student would receive an F, whereas Simpson’s work has earned him exposure on the highly coveted National Stage.

The bill consists of a list of amendments to the Texas Penal Code, by way of drawing lines through the word “marihuana,” which is Ye Olde English for “marijuana.” Blindly crossing the word of out the law is literally the extent of the bill’s strategy, with no text or clarification of any sort added to any portion of the law, with the exception this half-mad bit at the end:

“SECTIONA27.AA(a) An offense under Section 481.120 or 481.121, Health and Safety Code, may not be prosecuted after the effective date of this Act. If on the effective date of this Act a criminal action is pending for an offense under one of those sections, the action is dismissed on that date. However, a final conviction for an offense under one of those sections that exists on the effective date of this Act is unaffected by this Act. (b)AAThe change in law made by this Act applies to an offense under Section 481.122, 481.125, or 481.126, Health and Safety Code, or Section 71.023, Penal Code, committed before, on, or after the effective date of this Act, except that a final conviction for an offense that exists on the effective date of this Act is unaffected by this Act. SECTIONA28.AAThis Act takes effect September 1, 2015.”

I might be misunderstanding the text, but it seems to be saying that, if you’re facing marijuana charges, you should really push for a trial date that isn’t September 1, 2015.

With this bill’s passing, a lot of fun opportunities would open up to Texans. For instance: The amendment to Section 15(d), Article 42.12 – the bit that deals with drugs at schools – would allow students to freely swap nugs with each other during their lunch breaks. High school students could even hot box their cars before class, and walk into school reeking of Strawberry Cough, and law enforcement couldn’t say shit about it, because the law no longer mentions marijuana in any capacity.

Which is fine by me – but simply removing marijuana from the Texas Penal Code, with no new framework designed for its possession/sale/use/taxation, means that Greg Abbott will play point guard for the Dallas Mavericks before H.B. No. 2165 gets anybody else’s vote but Simpson’s in the Texas House of Representatives.

In fact: With the right odds, I’d wager that this bill won’t even get Simpson’s vote. Why would he bother voting for it? Surely he knows that it’s junk – it clearly wasn’t designed to be something that’s even halfway considerable.

This seemingly shocking move is reminiscent of a phenomenon that I became obsessed with last January, when Colorado went recreational with their marijuana, and there was a bubble of massive proportions in the brand new Cannabis Sector of the stock market.

For months after that state’s bold middle finger to prohibition, any fraud penny stock that had spent the last decade lying about being an energy company would put out a press release stating that they were “entering the cannabis sector,” and their stock price would triple within hours. Every white collar con-artist in the stock world was suddenly The Next Big Thing in the marijuana industry. It was Free Money for anybody with enough smarts to shovel nonense into investors’ faces.

That seems like nothing but a weird tangent, but there’s a subtle relevance, because marijuana is now hitting national politics like it hit the stock market just over a year ago. With politicians now finally realizing that polls are showing the majority of the country favoring marijuana reform, more and more Strict Conservatives will be hopping on the weed bandwagon and hoping the country fails to remember a time, not long ago, when they supported harsh mandatory sentences for anybody caught with a joint under their car seat. According to NORML:

Eight out of ten Americans support the medical use of marijuana, and nearly 3 out of 4 Americans support a fine-only (no jail) for recreational smokers. 58% of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana, according to the most recent Gallup poll — which is the highest percentage support ever reported in a nationwide scientific poll.

With numbers like that, things like “party platforms” are quickly forgotten – every white collar con-artist in politics wants the whole country to know that they’re The Next Big Thing in marijuana reform. Sure, instead of press releases, they write editorials for The Dallas Morning News, but it’s all the same con: Shovel nonsense into the faces of hapless rubes and watch the numbers skyrocket in your favor.

Make no mistake: Whoever the next presidential election comes down to (I’ll put $50 on John Kerry and Jeb Bush), the candidates will be fighting over who loves marijuana more. Unlike the brief decriminalization movement of the late 70’s, this is no false start – the country wants it, and the politicians will adapt to that fact like anything operating on haphazardly assembled Artificial Intelligence would.

Marijuana will be legal in Texas within five years – at least in a medicinal capacity – we simply have too much land for greenhouses, and too many potential tax dollars to gain from the plant, to not make an effort towards reform.

In the meantime, it’d be preferable if people like David Simpson would keep half-baked bills and religious screeds out of the conversation. These are petty distractions, and somebody with sense is going to need to concentrate very heavily while they craft a bill that’s meant to pass, rather than one intended to end up on my Facebook feed with some mugging opportunist’s photograph attached to it.

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On Netanyahu’s Speech, and the Fact that We’re All Doomed – But I Have a Plan

It’s clear: We’re fucked.

For the last year, I’ve left this blog in the same region of my brain in which I store my motivation to shower on a daily basis. But it must be utilized now – I’ve witnessed something of great significance that I don’t fully understand, but has caused a few thoughts to materialize in my brain, anyway, and I Too Love Kayaking is the only place in this world for them to go.

That event was Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech delivered to Congress yesterday. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out real quick – it’s only forty-five minutes long (seven minutes if edited to remove applause):


What I know: Netanyahu’s speech was a Big Deal. The reason boils down to four factors: 1) Netanyahu is up for re-election, and the motivation for him delivering this speech in the first place is under great scrutiny, 2) the Obama administration is currently involved in negotiations with Iran to negotiate a nuclear deal that may or may not turn the earth into an Australia-by-way-of-Mad Max wasteland, 3) Republicans knew it would enrage the Democrats, and 4) Most politicians just really, really like Israel.

I could certainly gather this much: Netanyahu feels that Iran getting any sort of nuclear program would turn them into a dangerously radical empire that would gobble up surrounding nations, but not before they’d launch at least 200 nukes into downtown Jerusalem.


When I think of Israel, my thoughts quickly devolve into madness and confusion. I’ve hatched a complex alt-history narrative in my head that involves a CIA operative involved in the formation of the nation in 1948, one who could have masqueraded as a Top Expert of Ancient Texts. Maybe this operative could have lied to everybody, and could have explained that there’d been a greatly mistranslated portion of the Hebrew scribes.

“Gadzooks! It turns out that Zion is actually in Montana!” they’d tell everybody, and the whole UN would have listened, because the CIA would have dosed all their coffees with LSD.

That’s a ridiculous concept – it would be a few years into the future before the CIA started such practices with LSD – but it sure would be nice if two of the world’s largest religions didn’t think their promised land was in the same spot. And maybe, if Mormons can believe that Missouri is a promised land, a crafty operative could have convinced people that Montana is one, too.

I’m just saying: Montana wasn’t too populated at the time – you could have fit over 18 Israels inside of it – and it would have saved American Jews a fortune on travel. Airfare to Israel isn’t cheap, and you certainly can’t road-trip it there from Texas. Plus, it’s a very pretty state. It’s not a state that’s currently a priority for me to visit, but I’d certainly make it a priority to spend a week there if it were Zion. Picturesque geographies are nice and all, but a cultural haven is far more likely to get my gas money.


But that’s all just highly offensive, revisionist pondering – the fact is that Israel is located in an unfortunate spot for its citizens’ safety, and that’s not going to change anytime soon, so there will be undoubtedly be fighting there forever – or at least until Iran fires nukes into it.

Yes, such an attack would probably kill more Arabs than Jews, but, after listening to Netanyahu’s speech today, it’s now clear to me that every living Iranian would willingly hurl themselves off a tall building if they were sure their body would land on a Jew. Of course those nutty bastards would turn their own religion’s promised land into a wasteland – it makes perfect sense.

It’s a shame that the world’s safe harbor allotted to the Jewish people after WWII is a place where bursts of gunfire and reverberations of bombs exploding can be regularly observed, and it’s ironic that somebody would be safer in, say, Cleveland than they would be in Israel, but it’s the principal of the thing that really matters – it should be safe, damn it, and we need to strive for that safety at all costs.

And this Iranian nuclear threat to Israel might, indeed, be a very real one – although I can’t say I have much evidence of that either way. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, isn’t one of my close friends. In fact, I’m not friends with anybody in the Iranian government (it’s something I need to get working on – my friendship diversity is really a bit too narrow for my comfort), and so I have no idea what they’d do with a few hundred nukes.

In fact, I don’t know even know the details of the nuclear deal that’s currently being negotiated by the P5+1, and I don’t know if Netanyahu really does, either. Maybe Iran will just be allowed one or two nukes, and that wouldn’t be that bad – it’s just enough to cause WWIII, I suppose, and that’ll happen sooner or later, anyway.


A lot of fuss is made over the importance of nuclear regulation in the interests of future generations – “for their sake, we must stave off nuclear war as long as possible,” folks say. But if one thing was made abundantly clear to me by Netanyahu’s speech, it’s that – if we really care about the well-being of future generations – we should probably just give every nation three nuclear weapons, tell them to pick targets for them, and pick a specific date to launch the whole lot of them (I propose May 17, 2026 – it’s the day I’ll turn 40, and global nuclear war might be enough to stave off an embarrassing Midlife Crisis).

After all, if the ever-looming threat of nuclear war is to be trusted, and the world is indeed doomed to be laid to waste someday, maybe the best we can offer our future generations is to just get the thing over with already. Let’s offer them the freedom from fearing a looming nuclear destruction by ensuring it’s in their past rather than their future, and give them the opportunity to use their irradiated brains to start rebuilding a completely devastated planet from scratch.

Just imagine the wild stuff God would have crafted for us if he’d started with a planet drenched in radiation – it would be a blast for our descendants, a real-life version of Minecraft steeped in the glorious mystique of Chernobyl.


During Netanyahu’s speech, an interesting concept took shape in my head. It’s off-the-charts crazy, but most things in this world are, and this one really speaks to my hedonistic and godless beliefs: As far as sovereign states for peoples’ beliefs are concerned: Can atheists get one of those, too?

History has been occasionally cruel to atheists, and, if the world is going to be blasted into oblivion by religion-induced nuclear warfare, I think it’s only fair that atheists get their own sovereign state – preferably somewhere far from civilization, a place that has a fighting chance of surviving the generations-long existence of fallout fog traversing around the planet – where they can live in peace.

I suggest the Galapagos Islands – it’s a little over 600 miles away from civilization, and it has a prophetic element to it (as much as possible for an atheist, anyway) in the fact that Darwin’s research there led him to develop his theory of evolution. The size may be looked at as an unfair boon when compared to that of Israel – it’s just over twice its size – but this inequality can be balanced out by the large number of dangerous wildlife that inhabit the islands, and the fact that much of that space is probably uninhabitable.

It would be a fine sovereign state, one with a leader elected on his superficial resemblances to Kurt Vonnegut, where people could get boozed up and chain smoke all day long while arguing about philosophy and their rankings of David Lynch films. Aside from the occasional fist fight over whether IPA’s are overrated or not (and one or two over whether or not Inland Empire has any real merit as a cinematic experiment), it would be a peaceful state. There would never be a problem with starvation: In the worst of times, denizens could simply eat their fellow islanders that have been killed off by the large lizards roaming the islands. Forget the moral implications of cannibalism – there would be no God in this sovereign state, and those fallen lizard victims would be nothing but food (as long as the lizards could be chased off before all the good parts are taken).

I suggest writing your congressman in regards to this matter – maybe Stephen Fry can be invited to speak in front of congress, or perhaps Richard Dawkins, whose grown just sexist enough in recent years to fit nicely inside those chambers. It’d be nice to invite Christopher Hitchens to speak, but he has, of course, already gone the route of becoming food.


In the meantime, look at the above photo of Netanyahu’s Mario Brother’s bomb and dread the fact that we’re 90% of the way to reaching The Final Stage. If I’m calculating correctly, that only gives Batman another four minutes or so to dump that thing into the sea, which means that we should all be long dead or slowly mutating by the time this blog post is published.

So long, folks.

How is the Davis Campaign* This Bad?

“Either way, he’s no fan of liberal New England politics or their football team.”– Matt Hirsch, campaign spokesman for the Greg Abbott campaign, after his staff discovered a quote from Wendy Davis’s daughter, in an issue of Vogue from last year, claiming that she and her mother are both “big fans of the Patriots.”

In what’s turning out to be a shockingly lifeless race for governor, the biggest news of the week has been a scandal over Davis’s football loyalty, sparked when the Abbott campaign sent out an email this week claiming that she’d lied in an interview on The Ticket about being a Cowboys fan. There is a feeling of righteous indignation in the Davis campaign over this Team Loyalty scandal, a general vibe of has it really come to this?, and it’s an indignation the campaign doesn’t get to enjoy in times like these. Sure, Hirsch’s charge was textbook petty undermining, but the bitter truth is that Davis’s appearance on The Ticket was a frazzled, psychotic mess

 

It’s painful to hear Davis try to force her entire stump speech into the first simple question asked by the show’s hosts (one of those hosts is Gordon Keith, from the Abbott-friendly Dallas Morning News, and Davis calls him “Jordan.”) She awkwardly shoehorns in the phrase “I know in my gut”, which likely tested well at some point, but sounds like it’s being dubbed in during post production when she says it.

“I do agree with Governor Perry, that small amounts need to be decriminalized,” she says on legalizing pot. What? He’d wanted to decriminalize small amounts? It’s a comment that causes my brain to briefly entertain the idea of liking Perry. Had I missed something? Was Davis running on the Republican ticket?

I was worried when I saw Davis’s first ad on television a couple weeks ago. I remember realizing it was a Davis ad, and an excitement stirred in my chest. It was really happening: The Senator I’d watched stand in front of thousands of protestors in the state capital and successfully block HB 2 with an eleven hour filibuster was running for governor. This was it. The change in the Texan Tide.

Things took a dark turn. The ad was a dramatization, with a man pulling up to a house in a beat up sedan and approaching the door with a suitcase, a narrator describing a nasty event in which a door-to-door salesman raped a woman in her home. The ad cut to a photo of Greg Abbott, and the rest of the Texas Supreme Court.

“Greg Abbott, that scumbag, said the vacuum company wasn’t responsible for that rape at all. Her children were in the next room. Fuck Greg Abbott.” Or something to that effect.

I was stunned. The Texas Democratic Party had a genuine rockstar on their hands, perhaps the first Texas politician to ever get their own personalized Nikes. Why, in their opening television ad, were they messing around with making Greg Abbott, a wheelchair-bound man with the most Christian smile you’ve ever seen, look like a Rape Defender? Sure, I could see them pulling off a Abbott Hates the Poor sort of message, but Abbott Defends Racists was an impossible and ridiculous sell.

About a year ago, between the regular Texas House session that blocked HB 2 and the emergency session in which it passed, a drunk man cornered me on a picnic bench at the Dog and Duck bar in Austin. The man claimed that he’d been flown into town to help the Davis camp.

“Really?” I was intrigued. It wasn’t public knowledge yet that Davis would be running for governor, although it had been heavily speculated upon and wished for after her recent heroics on the House floor.

“Oh yeah, she’s running,” he said, eyes glazed over. “We’ve known it for a while, now, but this whole filibuster thing has really heated things up, made us move on things much faster.”

“Well, it’s certainly admirable,” I said. “I can’t remember having that much admiration for a politician. And she actually pulled it off. It’s absolutely incredible. She’s a hero.”

“Yeah,” he said. “We had a lot of discussion over whether she should do that or not. I mean, it’s political suicide in Texas. But she was adamant about it, and we eventually figured that, hopefully, most voters will have forgotten about this whole thing by the time campaign season comes around.”

If this man was telling the truth about his insider status in the Davis camp, and I’m now compelled to believe he was, two things were clear: Davis was an honorable Senator, one that filibustered HB 2 despite honestly believing it would damage her political future, and that, in a year, her campaign would ignore the whole affair and opt to create yet another phony mask of a candidate, despite having a genuinely great one hiding underneath it.

There is one key factor that can’t be ignored in this campaign, and it provides some understanding behind the confusion of the Davis camp: It would be easy for Davis to decimate the image of Rick Perry in this election, but wiping out the image of Greg Abbott is another issue entirely. I was hesitant, above, to mention Greg Abbott’s wheelchair. Why bring that up? It’s petty and disgusting to insinuate that a man’s wheelchair could have anything to do with his success in a race for governor, and it completely dismisses his hard work and character and reduces it down to a mere disability. But then I saw this:

Jesus, how do you fight that? Any swing voter that watches both ads will want Greg Abbott elected president in 2016 and Wendy Davis thrown in prison. “We don’t care about the charges,” they’ll say, “just find a reason to lock her away and never let her out.”

Recent polls show Abbott leading Davis by 18 points. If the Davis campaign can’t figure out who their candidate appeals to, that spread could double by election day.

The Davis camp’s response, from spokesperson Zac Petkanas, to the allegations that she’s not really a Cowby’s fan:

Wendy Davis has two words: Go Cowboys.

 

*I should clarify that these thoughts pertain to the campaign’s media presence. Davis has spent the past year whipping up a massive grassroots effort that will likely bring quite a few percentage points on election day, and could possibly baffle the pollsters in some districts. The grassroots campaign, with a last-minute media blitz that isn’t completely inept, could potentially upset things quite a bit…

 

Dallas Does Ferguson: A Report From Deep Ellum’s Michael Brown Rally

Running nearly an hour late and trying to find a find parking spot, I thought back to 2003 and the last Dallas protest I’d attended. It’d been a massive showing of Iraq War detractors, an impressive march complete with slam poetry and jam bands at the end, a meticulously planned and responsible event that left me convinced that we’d be bombing Baghdad soon. Thousands had come out for the show, over a hundred thousand in coordinated protests worldwide, and the nightly news covered it as some people protested in Dallas today before cutting to something about a shooting in Plano. Circling the Main Street Garden, I wondered if this event, organized by a months-old grassroots media collective called FlightLife Media, would be lucky enough to receive that much coverage. I noticed an NBC-5 van pulling away from the scene; they were calling it a day before most people, including myself, had even showed up.

Approaching the nucleus of protestors inside the small urban park, the immediately obvious difference between this protest and the one in 2003 was the number of black protestors. The handful of white people present appeared to be either students, photographers, or gay, with two white people holding a banner exclaiming “Queers Against Racist Cops” in red painted letters, and with good reason behind it. They surely remembered such debacles as the 2009 Rainbow Lounge Raid, when TABC and the Fort Worth PD raided the gay bar and beat every person they could get their hands on under some flimsy assumption that everybody inside was either drinking underage or carrying large quantities of cocaine. As for the photographers, I wasn’t sure whether they were there to take photographs or to show solidarity; The Ferguson PD seemed as keen on arresting photographers as they were arresting black people.

The other differences from my 2003 experience were more subtle than skin color. There were small children playing in the park’s water fountain installation, invoking a pleasant emotion lacking at the Iraq War protest that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I noticed a man standing next to his father, who was carrying a reusable grocery bag full of bottled water, patting him on the back as they looked around at the various signs and surprisingly large turn out. There was a sense of family, and not just among those blood-related, but among everybody in general. I saw an attractive young woman standing on a bench, trying to see the speaker at the middle of the crowd, which at this point I’d estimate was around 200 strong. A young man stepped up on the bench beside her.

“Hey, this is good stuff, isn’t it?” he said.

“Yeah, it really is,” she replied, smiling.

“My name’s Duane,” he smiled back.

“My name’s Nina.”

“Good to meet you, Nina. I’m glad you could make it out here tonight.” And then he stepped down and walked away, with no attempt whatsoever to hit on her. As an occasional protest junkie, this was mind blowing to me.

These clearly weren’t professional protestors. Nobody had set up an impromptu registration booth for the Democratic Party, there no fliers for bands or websites slowly filling out the ground beneath me, nobody asking for donations or causes that marginally aligned with the cause at hand, and nobody, that I could hear, trying to get into bed with anybody over a discussion about The Truth. The speakers at the center of the crowd didn’t even have microphones or loudspeakers. Nobody had even brought a bullhorn. The only stark similarity between this and past protests I’d attended was the inclusion of a couple of dubious signs, like Protect Our Brother’s, which made you want to rip them up on the off chance that Jay Leno might stroll by with a camera crew, looking for something to mock.

The rally’s motto was Don’t Shoot!, and the current speaker, who I couldn’t hear, instructed the crowd to put their hands in the air and began chanting No Justice, No Peace. When I looked up from jotting this down, I saw that I was suddenly standing against the grain of a crowd walking west. I ditched the iced tea I’d purchased earlier, in order to use a restroom, and started walking. Was this event supposed to include a march? It didn’t seemed like something that had been planned in any whatsoever, which was exciting. As we passed the Dallas Chop House, I wondered how the diners inside felt about this suddenly mobilized mass of black people moving toward them. Did it make any of them nervous? How many of them were armed? Paranoid thoughts, for sure, but large crowds tend to call for a close grip on Murphy’s Law.

As the march progressed, I noticed what was perhaps the most significant difference between this and previous protests I’d attended: There weren’t any cops anywhere, nor were there barricades on the roads. The 2003 march had been accompanied by police directing traffic and various safety precautions, but we now seemed to be moving rather aimlessly along the roads of downtown Dallas, and we were gaining people. What had appeared to be 200 people in the park had easily doubled in a few minutes of walking. People in cars were honking, rolling their windows down and holding their hands in the air in support of the protesters. None of these inconvenienced drivers appeared upset at all, a stark contrast to all the middle fingers and shouts of “If you don’t like it, LEAVE!” from cars in 2003. Maybe this wasn’t a march at all, but rather a parade. When we passed a Hooters, some protested pressed their signs against the windows and the patrons inside clapped and cheered. As we passed by Ellen’s Southern Kitchen, an old black waiter on the patio smiled and put his hands in the air, something the crowd wasn’t currently prompting, but he seemed knew the score, anyway.

A man next to me turned to look at the crowd behind him, saying to his friend This is good, man. This is good. He sounded genuinely surprised and comforted by how Good this was, and it really was a legitimately fun time. The only bummer in site was a white kid in his teens wearing skinny jeans and donning a bandana on his face; he seemed to be the only person that was planning for tear gas, and I wished he would leave. Around fifteen minutes into the march the police did start to take notice, with cruisers with flashing lights popping up on street corners, but the drivers were all staying in their vehicles.

“I think they’re just trying to herd us,” I heard a photographer say. “But, I dunno, they don’t seem to be trying to stop us.” I asked a man next to me holding a sign that read Stop Black Open Season if this march was planned, and he shrugged.

“I don’t think this was planned at all.”

This became abundantly clear when the march arrived at the American Airlines Center at 9:40 PM, a spot which also housed the News 8 Victory Park Studio. The crowd now seemed a tad smaller, perhaps losing some of those that had hopped into the crowd from the street, but was still at least 300 strong and chanting Tell Us The Truth! Tell Us The Truth! at the newscasters inside. I made my way to the studio’s windows and spotted John McCaa, shuffling some papers behind his desk and wondering if he’d been zapped into an alternate dimension in which he was a newscaster in Missouri. Across the street, on the corner of N. Houston and Olive, were nine cruisers with flashing lights that had seemingly appeared from thin air. Their drivers were on foot now, congregating in front of the hotel, which looked like it might topple over if a strong breeze came along. I had a vague sense that trouble could be brewing, and the police seemed to be crossing their fingers that it wasn’t. Their body language said Please… nobody throw anything at the studio…

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I noticed that one cop had crossed the street, and was talking to an older woman in a suit and donning a professional looking badge on a lanyard. I assumed she was from the studio, which seemed to make sense, except for the fact that she didn’t seem upset by the scene.

“Are you okay?” she asked a young woman that was vomiting next to a Coke Zero/Final Four advertisement.

“Yeah, she’s okay, thanks,” a girl holding back her hair said. “I think she’s just overheated.” Which was probably the truth, because, for whatever reason, I wrote down clearly not alcohol vomit in my notes.

When the news broadcast began, it became clear as to why the woman wasn’t too upset about this rally ending up on her front porch. The broadcast was shown on a mammoth screen above the entrance to the American Airlines Center, for all the crowd to see, and the top story was the unrest in Ferguson. The crowd cheered. I turned and noticed a cameraman from the station making his way around us, and the broadcast suddenly cut to his live footage from outside the studio. It was one of those strange, cosmic moments; a Ferguson rally suddenly deciding to mobilize and ending up at a news station that happened to be leading their nightly broadcast with Ferguson. It was like the protest had collectively seen the NBC-5 van leave early at the park and decided to sell the story to News 8 instead.

“It was a good idea to come here,” I said to a man behind me in an Dez Bryant jersey.

“Oh, it was a great idea. I guess we figured this was a good way to get on the news.”

It was a fantastically successful strategy for getting on the news. With a fraction of the protestors I’d been with in 2003, the rally had managed to garner ten thousand times the news coverage, a thing it never would have accomplished if anybody had obtained permits or asked for any permission at all. It was a good lesson: Few things can dampen a message as effectively as a permit.

After the news coverage, the group quickly dissipated, heading back to the general direction from which they’d come. I heard the cameraman say something to his boom guy about trying to “catch something along Main St. and Lamar,” and I decided to follow behind them. I didn’t think they’d catch anything, as this had been a thoroughly peaceful affair, but I was lost and my phone was dead, and I knew that’s where I’d parked my car.

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Review of Forty Creek Whisky

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Forty Creek Whisky is rated the #1 tasting whisky in North America by “discerning Whisky Judges.” Somebody knows how much these “judges” were paid for that endorsement, but, for now, they’re not talking, so let’s just take an unbiased approach to the nuts and bolts of this brown liquid. Let’s discuss whether or not you should get drunk on it.

TASTE

In Back to the Future Part III, Dr. Emmett Brown attempts to fuel his time traveling DeLorean with whiskey from the Wild West, and it blows the fuel injector, or something, mainly because it’s too badass for the car to handle. You see, despite being sexy, the DeLorean hardly had any horsepower. In Europe, the car was decent, but, here in the states, they required it to have a carburetor, and it really dicked the DeLorean over, so much so that it couldn’t even handle genuine whiskey in its gas tank. Forty Creek would have powered the DeLorean. It would have powered it very nicely. Because Forty Creek isn’t genuine whiskey. It’s brown, yes, but it clearly tastes like something that should be powering a DeLorean. I’m NOT saying that’s a bad thing. It’s just a bit different. So, I dunno… 8/10 on taste. Also, somebody see about changing the qualifications of a liquor Being Whiskey to whether or not the liquor will blow the fuel injector thingies out of a Deloreon.

MIXABILITY

You can pretty much mix Forty Creek with anything. It doesn’t matter. You’ve got your primaries: Dr. Thunder and Cola, and It mixes great with both of those. I’m assuming it probably mixes well with the diet versions of both, as well, but just tastes slightly weird. I didn’t personally attempt to mix the Forty Creek with anything else, but I can comment that a Forty Creek on the rocks goes down quite nicely. As long as there aren’t any rocks, and the glass is just the bottle of Forty Creek. Because that’s kinda the only method in which I tried it a la carte.

EFFECTS

Superb. Music sounds better, sex is more fun (probably), you’ll pass out at EXACTLY twelve drinks… it’s just a perfect liquid.

HANGOVER

This is another clear indicator that Forty Creek Whisky is not really whisky. It’s a well known fact that real whisky results in waking up fully refreshed and ready to tackle any day that God throws your way, and waking up after Forty Creek isn’t anything like that. It’s not a terrible hangover, but it’s subtly disconcerting. For instance, don’t plan on tasting anything until the afternoon. At the first signs of a hangover, I must assume that you’ll be eating vast amounts of panfried sausage, but, seriously, you will not be tasting ANY of it with this hangover. You won’t be tasting ANYTHING, in fact, and, yes, it’s really weird. It’s possible that, aside from not being genuine whisky, Forty Creek may actually not even be genuine alcohol. It MIGHT be some sort of research chemical that’s been diluted in ethanol and dyed poop-brown. Again, I’m NOT saying this is bad. I’m just saying that you should be prepared for the fact that you won’t be tasting any of that sausage. And you’ll probably have some tiny little seizures in your left hand. They’re cute seizures, though. So, don’t worry about them.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I once drank a lot of Forty Creek with my dad at the Austin City Limits music festival. It went down smooth, I thought I had control. But I didn’t. After approximately a fifth of it in an hour’s time, I decided to take a nap next to a lawn chair. When I woke up, two hours later,I was very sunburnt, with my head under a lawn chair and my face stuffed into the dirt. I mean, I was REALLY sunburned. Everywhere. Just, all over my body. Anyway, I really recommend this stuff. My overall impression is that it’s great for any occasion.

RATING: 9/10.

Review: The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead is one of the most controversial books ever written that nobody has ever read, because, let’s face it: it’s massive. Fortunately, if you haven’t read it, you’ll never have to, because I read it four years ago and now I’m going to summarize it so that you can sound smart at some party where people use words like “partisan” and only drink liquor from non-plastic bottles.

The Fountainhead was written by a woman named Ayn Rand, which you’re going to want to pronounce as “Ine Rand” if you don’t want to sound like a primate. It’s essentialy a brilliant work of fantasy, the construct of a richly detailed alternate universe in which people actually give two damns about architecture. The book’s protagonist is a bloke named Howard Roark, and he’s there to symbolize the person that Ayn Rand would most like to make sex with, which is why he’s introduced naked atop a cliff with extremely taut shoulders. Roark lives with Peter Keating and Keating’s mother, who’s very proud of her son for graduating from Architect School, which Roark has just been kicked out of for his anarchistic beliefs that buildings don’t need to resemble the Parthenon anymore, because of things like Steel and America. Keating serves as a foil to Roark, because he doesn’t really care that much about Steel or America and his shoulders are almost entirely un-taut.

While Keating goes to work for Guy Francon at Fancy Architects and Sons, Inc., Roark seeks employment from Henry Cameron, an aging washed up alcoholic that ruined his career by designing buildings that looked like boxes and not at all like the Parthenon. Keating advances his position in the social strata by dating the niece of Ellsworth Toohey, a sickly man with the most un-taut shoulders on the planet who’s goal in life is to gain so much social influence that he can singlehandedly doom the release of the next Surfjan Stevens album. This is very tough for Keating, because Toohey’s niece’s hair is, like, really crappy, but she’s really compassionate toward poor people and her uncle could skyrocket his career. Meanwhile, Roark listens to Henry Cameron rant drunkenly about not having any work to do for a few months, at which point Cameron dies of failure and Roark gets a gig and opens his own office.

Whilst designing buildings that look like the Parthenon for Guy Francon, Keating meets Francon’s daughter, Dominique, and falls madly in love with her. Dominique is there to represent the woman with which Ayn Rand would most like to make sex with, described as having “the tautest of shoulders, like a building,” and “long black hair, like a building”. Ellsworth hears that Roark is telling everybody how amazing the Surfjan Stevens album is and punishes him by giving the only building he’s ever designed a scathing review for resembling a box way too much. Finding himself broke, Roark is forced to go to work drilling rocks for 19 hours a day, where he now meets Dominique for some reason. Dominique totally crushes on him and decides to break her fireplace as an excuse to invite him over to fix it, by which he responds by calling her out on her ploy and then borderline raping her, as is tradition.

Roark eventually finds more work because somebody emphasizes with his fetish for Steel and America, and he reopens his office. Meanwhile, Dominique marries Keating because she’s upset that she doesn’t want to date Roark.

At some point around here, Roark gets a gig to design a building that’s supposed to be some sort of monument to spirituality and accidentally makes it an ode to Atheism, hiring Stephen Mallory to sculpt a statue version of a nude Dominique in the middle of it, which has breasts that are “firm, like buildings”. Mallory once tried to kill Toohey for being a phoney, but Toohey didn’t press charges because Mallory also thought that Surfjan Stevens’ latest album lacked an inspired voice.

Roark’s Atheist monument is a massive failure, and a man ends up purchasing the nude statue because he finds it obscenely beautiful and wants to lock it away so that  nobody else can ever see it. He does this sort of thing because creativity irks him, because he hasn’t had time to write enough poetry in his lifelong pursuits of being uber-rich. His name is Gail Wynand, and he owns Walmart or something. Dominique ends up marrying Wynand, who Roark considers his nemesis, after her marriage to Keating fails to upset her enough. Wynand then hires Roark to build a really tall skyscraper for him that is to be “very tall, like a building”, and urges him to hang out with him and his wife a lot because he doesn’t know about the fireplace and the grey-area-rape stuff.

While working on the skyscraper, Roark is approached by a bloated Keating who’s been trying to drink himself to death in the wake of his realization that he can’t stand architecture. Keating wants Roark to design a building for him, and Roark agrees to do it for free because he loves to doodle, but only on the condition that none of his designs are changed.

When Roark sees the completed building that he designed for Keating, he totally flips his poop because it has some rods and stuff on it that don’t really need to be there, and so he blows the entire thing up with dynamite. This gets a lot of attention from the media, which is owned entirely by Toohey, who owns The Huffington Post and Pitchfork Media, and Wynand, who owns Fox News. Wynand tries to defend Roark’s explosion on Fox News and almost goes bankrupt as a result, and his wife has sex with Roark in a cabin.

Roark explains to a jury that you can’t just go and screw with a Man’s doodles and they find him innocent of exploding half a city block, and Toohey’s all, like, “man that sucks,” and then Dominique rides an elevator to the top of Wynand’s skyscraper where her and Roark probably have sex again because that would be pretty awesome.

And that’s pretty much the book, give or take the vast majority of the plot.

Rating: 4.5 Buildings

I Love Cheez-Its

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There are certain opinions that you should just never share in public, such as “I think homosexuality might really just be character flaw”, and “Well, I think that maybe there is a biological explanation as to why black people are so good at sports”. Luckily, those opinions aren’t a problem for me, but I do hold one that may even be darker than such matters of absurdist bigotry: I think Cheez-Its are awesome.

I know, I know. It’s a corporately produced, semisynthetic food product that brags on its box that it contains trace amounts of what some people might refer to as “real cheese”. Other than a small amount of iron, it has virtually zero nutritional value. It contains trans fat. And yet none of this means a damn thing to me.

On more than one occasion, I’ve driven to the grocery store at odd hours of the night solely to grab a box of Cheez-Its. I remember when there was a time that I would grab a handful of them, close the box, put in away in the pantry, and tell myself “okay, that’s it“. Now, I just skip the lie, and I look at the Nutritional Facts on the box’s side and multiply the number of servings by the number of calories per serving and grit my teeth at the result because I know that’s exactly how much I’m about to consume.

I know that I have a problem. I’ve tried to simply not think of Cheez-Its anymore, but it’s no use, I know they’ll always be there, tattooed right inside my brain where no removal laser can ever take them away. I looked up a recovery group once, Cheez-Its Anonymous, but it turned out that the CIA was a lot more secretive and difficult to join than the AA was, and I was aversed to the idea of going back to school.

So for now, I just accept it. One day maybe I’ll change my ways, but, until then… it’s bottoms up for them Cheez-It boxes. Here’s to hoping that scientists discover, someday, that “annatto extract” is something that’s unexpectedly good for you.

Business 101: How To Get Hired

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Getting hired isn’t an easy thing to do; you have to convince somebody that has money to give you some of that money in return for you doing things for them that they’d like you to do, like moving some boxes or assassinating a bureaucrat. Usually lots of people want the money that the moneyperson has, and you need to make sure that you stand out as the person that should be getting it. The following are some easy mind hacks you can implement to try and make sure that you get all the job-money and everybody else gets divorced and starves to death.

Wear A Nice Hat

Hats go a long way in life, doing anything from protecting your skin against the sun to proving to other people that you’re the Pope. Most importantly, they show that you’re a person of class. Showing that you’re a Person of Class is important when you’re trying to convince somebody to give you their money, because, in general, people don’t like to be around those that are new to money, as seen with the golf course’s reaction to Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack. Just make sure that you pick the right hat to show off your class, or you might send mixed signals. For instance, don’t wear a fireman hat unless you’re trying to get a fireman job. And don’t wear a fedora ever.

Business Cards

When you’re applying to a job with a company, you need to show them that you’re assertive and have some big dreams lined up for your life, and the best way to do this is by printing your name and phone number on a tiny piece of paper, preferably with a bear somewhere on it, that they can toss into the waste bin as soon as you’re gone. This way, every time they see a waste bin, they’ll think of you. Personally, I find a great tactic with business cards is to print the name of the company that you’re applying to underneath your name on the cards. When they ask you “why is the company’s name on your card when you clearly don’t work here because you’re here for an interview,” that’s when you say “because it just sounds right.” If they don’t hire on you the spot after you’ve gone through the effort to those business cards, it’s a good indicator that they don’t properly appreciate overzealousness and will probably be bankrupt in a couple weeks, anyway.

Don’t Wear Shoes

While it’s a good idea to show any prospective employer that you’re already quite familiar with having tons and tons of money, you don’t want them to think that you have so much money that you wouldn’t still appreciate having some of theirs. A good way to get this point across is to leave your shoes at home for any interviewing/barging into the business unexpectedly that you’ll be doing. Unlike headwear, shoes aren’t really considered to be an indicator of Class, so let that bossperson know that while you’re absolutely a Person of Class, you can’t afford any shoes to wear at the moment. This will make them realize that they have a golden opportunity on their hands: a Person of Class that currently has no money? You can be 100% that, if you show up shoeless, but with a great looking hat atop your head, any smart employer will jump at the chance to take some major advantage of you, AKA put you on the payroll.

Offer a Drink

If you watch Mad Men, a show who’s main premise is that nothing ever really changes at all throughout the years, then you know that important people love it when they’re offered alcohol. You don’t want to carry around a whole 750ml bottle of booze with you, because then you’d run the risk of looking like some kind of highly inappropriate drunk, but pouring a bit of Early Times whiskey into, say, a thoroughly washed bottle of dish soap, and then writing “Jameson” on it, is not only convenient, but also makes great money sense. I’ve always found that the best moment to offer a drink is when an interview asks “So, sir, what kind of skills do you feel you could bring to our organization?”

So there you have it, all you’ll ever need to know about getting hired on at basically anywhere on the planet. And when things get rough out there in the job market, just take a second to stop, breath, and remember this fully applicable quote from Nick Nolte:

“If it’s ball four, all you have to do is say ‘ball four,’ … You don’t have to say ‘take your base.’”

Cooking 101: The Bachelor’s Guide

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In a world in which “fatal” just means “really dumb”, we could say that people often times make the fatal mistake of underestimating the Single Man’s prowess in the kitchen region of the apartment zone. I’m always hearing people say stuff like “single guys can’t cook” and “cooking isn’t something that single guys can do” and “cook, single guys cannot”, and I’m tired of this monsoon of prejudice. I’m not usually one for explaining myself, unless a conversation goes silent for more than a half second and I start to feel queasy, but I’m going to explain a few fine cuisines that have gotten me through some of my roughest trials, and hopefully prove that the stigmas against the Singly Guy’s Diet are really just big bunches of bologna.

The Bologna and Cheese Sandwich

The “Old Standby”, this dish couples the exotic foods of bologna, from the city of Bologna in Italy, and cheese, from virtually anywhere in the world you want it to come from (seriously, every country makes a cheese these days, it’s like the soccer of foods). Taking a cue from renowned chef Gordon Ramsey, this is a dish that keeps things simple. Just make sure your bread and cheese are mostly free of mold particles, your bologna doesn’t have any green tints above a .02 rating, and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy treat that’s filled to the brim with “B” and “C” vitamins.

The Tortilla and Cheese Sandwich

“But isn’t that a quesadilla?” you ask, and the answer is “no”, smart alec. Quesadillas are burdened with excess fillers such as mushrooms and green peppers and onions and meat products. This dish is two tortillas, some cheese in the middle, and a microwave. In fact, it’s a dish that really takes its cue from renowned chef Gordon Ramsey: it keeps things simple. Virtually overflowing with essential “T” and “C” vitamins, this is Quesadilla: Redux, the smarter older brother of the quesadilla that knows you don’t need to bring no stinkin’ skillets to a party. A real Sophisticated Single Guy may choose to pair this dish with a Fist-Sized Wallop of sour cream, but such an act is generally considered to be “a little light in the trousers” and forgone in favor of just dipping the damn thing directly into the sour cream container.

The Cheese and Cheese Sandwich

This is a dish that takes its cue exclusively from the American television appearances made by renowned chef Gordon Ramsey: It may seem intimidating at first, but, in the end, it’s really just a big bunch of cheese. Zing! But seriously, while this may sound like it gets extremely complicated and combines two kinds of cheeses, it’s entirely up to Chef YOU as to whether things need to get that fancy or not, because, in its simplest form, this dish is really just a euphemism for a Giant Block Of Cheese. Of the three meals discussed in this article, this is obviously the one that packs the most vitamin “C”, and a truly health-conscious chef can even add a copious amount of vitamin “D” by pairing it with a Dr. Pepper (preferably served luke warm to allot for maximum vitamin absorption).

So there you have it, three perfectly good examples of why Single Guys can totally cook and feed themselves and not even die or anything. So the next time you feel like saying that we don’t understand the fundamentals of the kitchen, you might want to think twice before being such a prejudice.

**The fact that the above image was obtained from a Google Image search, and thus exists as a separate entity from this article, makes this all A Bit Less Funny.**

Asleep In His Mitts (A Memoir)

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I promised amid frosty breaths in that cold December air that I’d never tell, that his secret was safe with me, but he nervously fidgeted under the sleeping bag, and I could tell that he didn’t trust me. He’d said that, in time, all muffins ended up leaving the oven, and then he’d rolled over and lit a cigarette. Muffin… that’s what he called me in those days.

It was strange… one day I’d been Mr. Keeton, the next day Muffin, and then I was right back to Mr. Keeton again, as if a piece of history had been neatly scissored off and floated gracefully into a rusty dustbin… He had laughed when I’d protested the end of our affair. And I had laughed when he said that, someday, he’d be President.

When I saw him in the news, about a year ago now, I suppose, I pinched myself to see if I was really awake. Was that really him? Was that really my Mitt? He was a bit older, yes, but it really was him, I could tell by that sparkle in his eye; that sparkle that, in an instant, returned my mind to those nights in Paris so many years ago, stumbling drunk in each other’s arms and treating the cobblestones like they were our destinies.

I’d been in college, then, studying abroad in a city of love and never feeling more foreign before in my entire life, when I slipped and fell into that fortuitous little puddle, in front of the corner grocer, and looked up to see Mittzbie’s outstretched arm, and that sparkle…

…that same sparkle I see now, on the television, as he rallies his supporters and says “We’ll win this thing, yet, folks!” He always was so passionate, ol’ Mitt. I remember a time, one rainy night of wine, that he even promised me my own planet.

I want to curse your name, Mitt. Believe me, I do. But as I watch you now, on television, I can’t help but to still feel Paris in my veins. Oh… what to say? What to feel? How do I reconcile the nights of my life that I was the most alive with my utter hatred for his policies?

I suppose I’ll just say: Godspeed, old friend. We’ll always have Paris.

xoxo Joey