Monday, December 31, 2012

Pipe Dreams and Fancy Schemes

Rather than make up some lame best/worse list from the past year, I'd rather list a few things I would like to see happen in the future. They vary in subject and are in no particular order, but all are equally important. At least to me. I'm not talking about things in general, like "a return to civility," but specific things that I lie awake and think 
about in my quietest hours. It's because I'm a problem solver, and I'm waiting on some progressive think tank to call me up and actually pay me to dream up gems like these. Some may call them pipe-dreams, but I'd prefer to think of it as "creative visualization," which I read causes your wildest fantasies to come true, provided that they are first approved by CIA guidelines on astral projection. So, if I shut my eyes and concentrate, the Akashic record of all things past and future will grant my desires, which include:

     -In the near future, the discredited and co-opted Tea Party will break away from the Republicans and form a third political party called the Neo-Dixiecrats, paying homage to their philosophical forefathers. This will encompass the race-baiters, the climate deniers, the science refuseniks, the rape defenders, the Obama haters, the wackos, morons, and yahoos, leaving the business of governing up to those who actually have the country's best interests at heart.

     -After the first of the year, NRA President Wayne "Call Me Crazy" LaPierre will convene another news conference in which he will reveal that because of pressure from his members, he now agrees that military assault weapons have no purpose on city streets other than murder, and his conscience leads him to oppose the sale of high-capacity magazines and drums to the general public. LaPierre says, "The police are out-gunned, and just like the 'Tommy Gun' was banned in the Twenties, I see no reason not to outlaw assault-style weapons now." LaPierre further announced an NRA fund to assist victims of gun violence and educate school children about the dangers of firearms. In a candid aside, LaPierre told assembled reporters, "Look, I always knew that the Founders were only talking about muskets, but these guys were paying me a million dollars a year. The hi-tech weapons of today don't really have anything to do with the Second Amendment."

     -Leading up to the mid-term elections, the benefits of legalizing marijuana will spread from west to east, just like the original pot craze in the sixties. But this will be about personal freedom and the potential revenues resulting from government regulation and taxation of marijuana sales. Pot laws will fall in state after state like dominoes, who, by coincidence, see their pizza sales rise. When the possession and sale of small amounts of pot are legalized, the prison doors will open wide and release tens of thousands of non-violent marijuana offenders back into their communities; municipalities will discontinue using SWAT teams to kick in the doors of marijuana growers; because the profit has been taken out of illegal pot trafficking, the crime rate drops precipitately; the bloody conflict in Mexico ends because marijuana was the cash crop and the demand for harder drugs has now diminished. The U.S. government smacks themselves on the head and says, "what were we thinking?" while Congress votes to end the fool's errand, the failed "War on Drugs."

     -Rupert Murdoch decides that the Republican Party has gone too far and transforms the Fox News Network into an entertainment channel that only shows Elvis movies and old re-runs of "All In The Family." Murdoch announces that a major portion of Fox's profits will go to Planned Parenthood and the establishment of a series of nationwide adoption agencies for unwed mothers. Shortly thereafter, Rush Limbaugh's sponsors decide that "enough is enough," and end one of the longest and most obnoxious chapters in radio history. After his arrest for "inciting a riot," Rush is declared a "clear and present danger" to the common order and is spotted wandering the streets with Bill O'Reilly, attempting to kick the homeless.

     -President Obama brings the war in Afghanistan to an early end, pledges that the U.S. will never again initiate a war by invading a sovereign state without provocation, and announces a commission to look into the Bush administration's lies leading up to the bombing of Baghdad.

     -The Bass Pro Shop opens in the Pyramid to praise and unprecedented excitement. The featured attractions are unique to Memphis and the world and become a must-see in travel articles and tourist guides. The underwater visual experience is so enthralling that even the jaded people of Memphis return to the area, revitalizing the North Main St. district while creating scores of jobs. Bass Pro decides against plastering their name all over the pyramid or putting a giant fishing lure on the exterior.

     -The owners of the six major record companies decide that, hereafter, Rap will be considered as an art form, just not music. Some guy screaming into a microphone while a DJ plays sounds from days of yore is not a musical presentation; it is a spoken-word recitation, accompanied by pilfered snippets of already existing songs. I don't care how much they pay in royalties,"sampling," regardless of its widespread acceptance, is merely stealing another artist's creation.  Imagine Andy Warhol "sampling" Vincent Van Gogh.

     -It is discovered that Donald Trump was not born in Queens, NY, as his records indicate, but in his mother's native Scotland. His father falsified the birth notification with assistance from paid lackeys in the press, hoping the boy would be president someday. The Donald is declared an illegal alien and is forced to "self-deport," where he begins a campaign for Scottish independence from an "illegitimate monarchy."

     -In 2016, we will elect our first woman president: Elizabeth Warren. And finally...

     -Justin Timberlake will record my most soulful composition, "A Woman's Touch," available for listening on YouTube by Randy and the Radiants, and it becomes his biggest hit to date. I move into a zero-lot line on the river and pay off my credit card bills. Hey, it could happen. And a guy can dream, can't he? All I need is a little help from my friends and some collective creative visualizations. That just might bring me the same happy new year that I wish for all of you.






Monday, December 17, 2012


Mayan Calendar cake by Con Amore, Brooklyn.
If you are currently reading this, I guess the Mayans were full of it. If they were such an intelligent civilization capable of accurately forecasting future events, where are they? They couldn't possibly have predicted the end of the world when their calendar stopped, because it only lasted 5,125 years. The Jews have already got them beat by 648 years, and still no one listens to us! But just let the ancient Mayan calendar come to an end and the whole world goes crazy. The Mayans are reputed to have created the world's most accurate calendar, but so what? I understand the Babylonians kept excellent time as well. I think what happened was that the Mayans were carving their great wheels with so many icons and glyphs, they finally ran out of room. What they needed was a congressman like Steve Cohen, and they could have gotten a new calender every year- autographed. There have been doomsday prophets since the dawn of man predicting the end of the world, but no ones nailed the date yet. So why is Dec. 21, 2012 causing an international freak-out?

The History Channel fueled the fire by airing a two-hour documentary attempting to link the prophesies of Nostradamus to the Mayan apocalypse. The ancient seer may have talked about a certain Hister when discussing World War II, but his quatrains are so generic, they've been used to explain everything from dirigibles to donuts.  A 2009 movie titled "2012" is in regular rotation on the cable movie channel. It depicts, among tsunamis and firestorms, the destruction of Hollywood, which would have been considered biting the hand that feeds had the film not made so much money. The Left Behind flicks made a ton of cash too. According to one reputable poll, twenty-two percent of  Americans believe the world will end in their lifetimes, and anytime you can get one out of five people to buy into pseudo-historical paranoid bullshit like that, it's worth a fortune. Occult books and New Age websites followed and soon a low-level panic gripped the world. NASA had to step in with an hour long YouTube video refuting the rumors, and you know you can believe everything you see on the internets. The recent Mayan time cycle that ended on the Winter Solstice is known as the "Long Count." As an amateur boxing historian, I don't think the Mayans were predicting the destruction of the Earth so much as predicting the winner of the Jack Dempsey- Gene Tunney Heavyweight Championship fight of 1927. (I just make 'em up, friends. I don't explain them).

Among the more insane information disseminated online were the rumors that an alien spaceship, which had been camouflaged by a mountain in the French Pyrenees until this moment, is the sole means of escape from the destruction, and a previously unknown planet named Nibiru will suddenly appear from behind the sun and crash into the Earth. Consequently, according to news reports, the French government has blocked further traffic from entering certain mountain villages during the Solstice so that residents might "live in peace." Neo-hippies and New Age freaks have flocked to the ancient Mayan homeland in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula for the date. Hotels close to the ruins at Chichen Itza, near Cancun, have been booked for a year in advance so spiritual tourists can gather near the pyramid for organized drum circles, and "ritual dancing." A group called Birth 2012 is sponsoring forty events around the world to launch a new global spiritual campaign. AP reporter Jack Chang quoted the movement's founder as saying, "We've activated this campaign for three days of love," making it sound vaguely like Woodstock. Either this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, or else we've gone through all this hocum before. I once climbed the pyramid at Chichen Itza, and though it was nice as pyramids go, with an ocean view, I felt no mystic crystal revelations. I have long grown tired of the phrase, "been there, done that," but I think it just may apply here.

The hysteria spread as far as China, where at least two men built arks to survive the chaos. No one is loading in animals two by two yet, but both men have gone to considerable expense. Chinese media reported that although both ark-builders feared a destructive flood, only one equipped his vessel to withstand a nuclear meltdown, which is probably wise in light of recent events in Japan. I would hate to be the guy who wakes up on Dec. 22 with the realization that he spent his life savings on a giant, homemade frigate that's sitting in the backyard. Anthropologists have translated one Mayan etching  to say that on the feared Dec. 21st date, "Nine gods will descend from heaven to Earth." This would be a pretty good trick, except that it might be the 1919 Chicago White Sox coming to play another game in the Field of Dreams. The etching never said what the gods planned on doing once they arrived. But if they're going to launch a new era of kindness and generosity and they land in Mexico, they had better have papers if they plan to spread their message to this country. Willie Nelson sang about "Seven Spanish Angels," escorting souls to heaven. The Maya tossed in two more for good luck. I think it would be great if the descending gods only spoke Spanish.

The Mayan people made great contributions towards the advancement of knowledge. They were peerless as astronomers and among the first to use math and science in astronomical calculations. They discovered the concept of zero and created an advanced writing system. Mayan architecture and agriculture still influence today's world, as well as their discoveries in medicine. They did all this but failed to discover the wheel. And despite being advance metallurgists, their weaponry was no match for the Spanish Conquistadors who conquered them and sped the collapse of Mayan civilization in the ninth century. Only the ruins remain, but the Mayan calendar never mentioned that unfortunate occurrence. Perhaps the cosmic purpose for the existence of the race was to give to mankind the gift of chocolate. In any case, we don't need the Maya to forecast the destruction of civilization, we've created our own hell. The end of the world might be a step up. If you're still breathing, we're probably stuck with each other for a while, so we need to either discover a way to peacefully coexist or suffer the same fate as the Maya. I'd never root for Armageddon, but we got it coming.


Monday, December 03, 2012


This bitch over here is about to drive me nuts. Hang on ladies, I would never refer to my loving wife, Melody, in so coarse a manner. I'm talking about the seven-month-old, female pup named Nancy that we adopted from the animal shelter last July. When she arrived, Nancy weighed eight pounds and was wobbly on her feet, but as soon as we started feeding her pet store food, she hit a growth spurt and morphed into The Giant Puppy. It was like watching a wolf getting its first taste of red meat, then becoming ravenous and eating everything in sight. If there is no food in her bowl, she'll gnaw on the couch, or go outside and chew on tree limbs. Now she weighs fifty pounds and shows no sign of stopping. We thought we had given a home to a baby speckled pup. Now we're wondering if  we aren't raising a leopard, like in those old Cary Grant movies. Since the Giant Pup is in her teething phase, we bought her fifty bucks worth of chew toys and Nylabones, but she destroyed them all in twenty minutes. And I'm not talking about little furry playthings. I mean rugged, well stitched rope toys with big knots in them. So now, as I write this with mutilated hands and bloody fingers, I have come to the realization that I am her chew toy, and Nancy badly needs an attitude adjustment.

I have raised puppies before, but it's been a while and I had forgotten about the mania. I've taken the program offered by the Shelby County Obedience Club, (the dog passed; I failed), but it looks like I'm fixin' to take a refresher course. Melody and I have watched a lot of The Dog Whisperer, so we're constantly saying, "Chhhh" to the dog, until it sounds like a Biblical plague of crickets invading our home. A stern "No!" seems to be more affective. Consequently, it seems like someone is always screaming at the dog, and I have a fragile disposition, as you know. Nancy responds to her name, but she thinks her surname is "goddammit." We're not even certain if the pup speaks English. And since she's still a baby, she doesn't realize how strong she is or the power of her canine jaws- but I do.  After five months of living with Nancy, I have arms that look like a junkie's and the hands of a cage fighter. She has eaten a pair of my favorite socks and a couple of T-Shirts, and I have to keep my house shoes off of the floor. Anything that doesn't squeak or rattle is still fair game. She'll chew on your shoe with your foot still in it. She has a tendency to leap on me and nip at my extremities, so when I first get out of the shower, I have to make certain that she's not in the room. Nancy has learned to eat ice cubes and will attempt to climb up on the coffee table and pick them out of your glass if you are at all inattentive. I know that these bad behaviors can be corrected by proper training and obedience classes, but we've noticed that since she's been leaping on our friends, we have fewer guests that just pop in. So we're rethinking the whole obedience thing.

The problem is the damn dog is so freaking adorable, I can't bring myself to discipline her. Melody has no problem taking her by the collar and putting her outdoors, but I don't want to hurt the dog's feelings. I tried the old rolled-up newspaper a couple of times, but she only thought I was playing and came at me more fiercely. After she's exhausted herself, however, she loves belly rubs and neck scratches and will curl up at my feet like a loyal companion. Cesar Millan might suggest that the problem is me. I have detected small signs of her beginning to mellow lately and after a few lessons, I am sure that Nancy is going to be a wonderful pet. She is whip-smart and spunky. I'd say she was "mischevious," but there is no such word, so please stop saying it. The word is, "mischievous,"- three syllables, not four, and she is certainly the scamp. Since there are two older dogs here, there should be territorial issues, but like other females I could name, Nancy rules the roost. She also has floppy ears that feel like velvet and the longest tail that wags in sections when you appear. Her cheerful greeting at the doorway is uplifting every time and if I'm only away for fifteen minutes, she's so happy when I return, you would think I'd been gone forever. What I'm getting at here is that shelter dogs are often smarter and more clever than pure breeds. I have had both and I know that the dangers of over-breeding include reduced mental capacity and a tendency for illnesses in certain breeds. This pup has the strongest set of mixed genes that natural selection has to offer. We don't know where they came from, but they're strong alright.

The Giant Pup
Nancy is also an endless source of amusement. Since we don't know her lineage, her behavioral traits are always a surprise, like her ability to speak in low tones. She'll prostrate herself before one of her siblings and start chattering like a monkey. What's strange is that they seem to understand her. The bark is another matter. You want your dog to have a substantial bark to discourage strangers from lingering around the yard. A healthy bark likewise gives a start to any solicitors that have the bad sense to ring the doorbell. But a piercingly loud puppy bark can be disconcerting when it's directed at you in an unceasing manner. I suggest to Nancy that she should use her "indoor voice," but Melody just tells her to shut up. It's another issue we have to address, but I'm not up to using one of those shock collars or anything similarly medieval. I'd hate it if somebody put one of those pinch collars on me, so if the training ain't painless, she can go ahead and bark as far as I'm concerned. I'll admit to being at wit's end on occasion. We concluded that maybe older people need to get older dogs, after all that frenzy has subsided. I'm speaking of the dog's, not mine. But just when I think I can't take another minute of barking, or the puppy demanding my total attention when I'm trying to watch the Grizzlies, she will wriggle her way up into my lap and fall asleep. I tried to take a picture of it last night, but she weighed so much, I couldn't reach the cell phone. Just like the Princess and the Pea, I wouldn't dream of disturbing her, especially when my legs were pinned.

I'm sure that like many other people, I wish that I could save them all. I see the pictures of the stray and abandoned dogs online and I wish I had the means to start a refuge, like the elephant sanctuary in Hohenwald, where all dogs run free and happy. Only, that's not the way it works. I don't need to remind you of the fate of unadopted shelter dogs, only that they are as deserving of love and a decent life as any pet acquired through a breeder. Since we domesticated these animals, they are entirely dependent on caring people for their well-being. Your dog is waiting for you, but that means responsibility as well. You just can't teach kindness. You either have it or you don't. But these adoptable dogs out at the Animal Shelter could melt anyone's heart. They speak to you with their eyes and their expressions, and any fool could see their need for simple affection. I defy you to visit the shelter and not be moved. Even an apartment dweller knows where the dog parks are, and a shelter dog knows when its been rescued. It's obvious by the many photos of "happy endings" posted by the shelter staff when a dog has been adopted. Check it out, the dogs are smiling. Any love offered a shelter dog will be returned tenfold, as we are now happily experiencing with our new pet. It will be even more joyous when Nancy removes her teeth from my arm. She needs some training, and soon, because this puppyhood is a bitch.