Smell Ya Later 2020

Well: that’s all she wrote for 2020.

What a strange year…still early to tell if it was a good year or a terrible year. It was something…odd.

The usual weddings and funerals were sandwiched between lockdowns and sports going on hiatus. The commute to work was replaced by a daily constitutional. (Does that phrase mean pooping?)

We ran outta things to talk about because we didn’t do much: nobody travelled (well all that much…) or went to the movies (I did manage to see Tenet: so confusing…) or have celebrity encounters (what is gonna happen to fame in 2021?!).

Lotta times this year was like being at a party where you don’t know anybody and all the talk is small.

Still as almighty American Elvis says: TCB in 2021.

Taking Care of Business…may your schemes and dreams take flight; get others into the limelight and duck should you find yourself in a gun fight.

On To The Next One!


Together, America, We Will Say Goodbye To Cory Booker

Cory Booker is out!

Darwin is not surprised Cory Booker has dropped outta the 2020 Race: “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

“The law of evolution is that the strongest survives!” Word.

It’s funny over the weekend my Dad and I saw some poll on tv and like Bloomberg was 4% and Booker was 3%. I mean Booker was around for months and Bloomberg showed up 10 minutes ago. So we were both surprised Bloomberg managed to “catch up.”

Booker’s dropping out is a surprise…I thought this months ago. It’s not that candidates like Andrew Yang are doing well; it’s that Booker is doing so badly. (Yang doesn’t even need to win the Presidency (politicians accomplish little if anything) however to build a powerful platform opens many doors. However Cory is a politician so he’s probably playing to win.)

I expected he’d be in it a bit more but he was like that surprise NBA team that abruptly gets swept outta the second round. I’m not just surprised they lost but that they got swept too you know? Wow, ok.

This is rarely said but there’s some buyer’s remorse with Obama and I wonder if that tainted him. Like maybe it’s time to try women or gay or something else other than black. A totally different flavour. American politics have a history of going opposite the last guy they had.

Sad to Booker him go; he’d make Star Trek references every now and then…I’d vote for a nerd. Which can’t be any dumber than all the other reasons people vote. (Even after I read his book. One of the more disappointing political books is Cory Booker’s United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good: writing’s stiffer than a fresh Frankenstein Monster.)

And by the way it’s startlingly how as my Dad and I were watching the talking heads analyze these poll numbers we’re “back to normal.” The whole thing with 2016 was the polling was wrong and often inaccurate yet we’ve made no changes to how we collect the data and we’re accepting everything at face value.

Man people suffering with dementia are not this bad; like yo…we hafta make media coverage changes. We literally just lived through this. And…I’m clearly talking to myself.

p.s. in the first Simpsons episode of 2020 Nelson said: “Americans can be fat AND poor. That’s what makes us so great.” I laughed hard. That’s a solid line.


Elected To Make Excuses

I read this in the NY Times:
“Andrew Yang began his closing statement at the last Democratic debate with a charming bit of self-deprecation: “I know what you’re thinking, America. How am I still on this stage with them?”

Yang has never been elected to any office. He is a businessman who has never run a major company. Even so, he is one of the Democratic Party’s seven leading candidates for an election that everybody agrees is desperately important. The other six on the debate stage included another businessman who’s never held office and a mayor who has never won an election with more than 10,991 votes.”

ummm Trump killed that logic. I’d expect that from Fox but not the NY Times.

Yang produces an odd panic when people start to think he can win and they resort to that. I saw a bit more of that “criticism” towards the end of December.

So strange. Moving forward for all future elections I dunno how much of a factor “never been elected to any office” is going to be. It’s not always a bad thing; there could be value to that.


You Have the Right to Remain Silent

One of my favourite journalists Matt Taibbi finally articulated a core concept I’ve been circling but haven’t fully been able to express. He’s writing about journalism…in newspapers and on tv and he says in his book Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another (on page 137):

“We (we as in journalists) are not informing you. We can’t, actually. Irony alert: the most important news story in the world is the inability of the ordinary news consumer to understand the news. This is no dig against readers. The world has just grown so complex that the majority of serious issues are beyond the understanding of non-specialists.

Take “the economy.” The average citizen has basic ideas about money. We shouldn’t spend more than we have. People should pay their debts And so on. But how many people know what a derivative is? An interest rate swap? An auction rate security?”

That’s It! The media doesn’t explain or say educate all the important issues from pollution to the 2008 Financial Crisis to you name it.

After 9/11 happened we were told it’s because they hate us and our freedom. That’s an incredibly glib summation of American foreign policy. But what’s easier they hate us; they’re the bad guys or having to account and document for America’s overseas sins and oil dependence (especially considering General Motors was working on electric cars since the 70s. We had viable alternatives. I mean did people really think the Lunar Roving Vehicle NASA used during Apollo 15 was oil based?! There’s no oil on the moon!! That was 1971. Come on man. We put an electric car on the moon…we were good at science and engineering!).

Like I don’t have a strong Brexit stance because of the complexity of the issue.

I saw a post earlier this month from a comic book shop explaining how American comics like Marvel Comics would be shipped delayed, cost more…due to an added VAT tax…a handful of key issues related to the UK leaving the EU. It was a good post and it made a number of issues I haven’t considered at all much more clear. But that’s just comics…that’s not food or medicine; other businesses will clearly be impacted; I just don’t have the knowledge to comprehend how much less suggest viable solutions. I abstain and hope they can work it out.

There’s this constant refrain in response to large incidents: “we need to have a conversation…” We need to have a national conversation about gun control/safety. We need to have a global conversation about sexual harassment and #MeToo.

No. We don’t.

We’re not capable of those conversations (anymore? I dunno if we were capable back in like the 70s or something.). We’re not good at these “conversations” because we’re not informed enough. Or at all. Can you imagine living outside the UK with no connections or family to Britain yet having strong loud opinions on Brexit?! Uninformed opinions are not productive; they’re narcissism.

Same thing with politicians: A.I. is coming/here, self-driving cars…robots…you gotta start making decisions NOW and start figuring these things out NOW. A President’s job isn’t to keep the economy chugging and keep unemployment low not anymore. This is 2020 not 1920.

Sadly the problem is…we don’t have many strong and intelligent politicians: deft individuals who can balance the present needs while developing a compelling future.

I bet this is partly what’s fueling the rise of documentaries (and podcasts) because you get a couple of hours to properly explore a topic. Ignorance is a choice just as much as intelligence. With a suitcase the handle is fairly obvious and you can pick it up quickly and go on your way. Many topics and the issues we’re currently facing do not have a readily presented handle: it can be difficult to properly get a handle on them. That’s just to start.

Just because you can name the planets doesn’t make you good at astronomy nor should it give you the confidence to rap battle Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Anyways I thought that quote was insightful. Like the Miranda Rights begin: You Have the Right to Remain Silent. To willingly choose to be silent would actually make you…for once: right.


My Birth: A Big Bang Story

Indeed today is my birth day.

I’ve spent over 4 decades soaked in popular culture across every single medium: as such I would like to thank some of the special creators and wonderful things that enriched my life and probably made me too quirky to sit with at lunch in high school.

My deep and endless thanks go to…

Forrest J Ackerman, Roger Corman, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Stephen King, Lon Chaney, Mad Magazine, Ian Fleming and James Bond, Zorro, The Shadow, quicksand, The Batman, Bugs Bunny, Frank Sinatra, The Invisible Man, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, Quantum Leap, The Muppet Show, The Planet of the Apes, Spider-Man, Thriller, Ray Harryhausen, Wonder Woman and Lynda Carter, Carol Burnett, Edgar Allan Poe, Harry Houdini, The A-Team, SETI, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Jerry Lewis, Back to The Future, arcades and pinball machines (especially Indiana Jones!), Carl Sagan, The Lone Ranger, Knight Rider, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Richard Matheson, Flash Gordon, Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Doctor Who, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Scooby-Doo, The Outer Limits, Invaders from Mars, secret passages triggered by pulling a dummy book, The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, James Dean, Mork and Mindy, Jules Verne, freak shows at the circus, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dean Koontz, The Iron Giant, The Rolling Stones, Alfred Hitchcock, The Three Investigators, Elvis, Errol Flynn, Ray Bradbury, NASA, David Copperfield, X-Men, The Six Million Dollar Man, Sean “Bond” Connery, Darth Vader and R2-D2, funhouses and haunted houses, Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen, (the Dukes of Hazzard & the Fall Guy), Sue Grafton, Batman 66, death traps, Chuck D and Public Enemy, Super Friends, Fonzi, Spider-Man 67, Souls of Mischief, C.S. Lewis, Freddy Krueger, The Hardy Boys, Michael Jackson, The Black Museum, Orson Welles, Transformers, G.I. Joe, The Amazing Kreskin, X-Files, Bruce Springsteen, Rocket Robin Hood, Aliens, Defenders of the Earth, The Simpsons, Gilligan’s Island, Star Trek, Terminator, zombies and Halloween (the night…the movies less so.).

I have lived an astonishing life: I’ve travelled in time, saved the universe on numerous occasions, been to planets beyond our star system and encountered aliens: some friendly, many hostile…occasionally some are green and horny.

I’ve guarded secrets, foiled schemes, solved mysteries and seen more than my share of dead bodies. I’ve lost friends: good solid men and stoic women; not many of them have come back.

I don’t fear death and risks no longer intimidate me.

I know no matter how bad it gets; no matter how much darkness threatens me, no matter how big the monster is…no matter how outrageous the odds are…I know…I know…I know there is always a way and that’ll it work out. After I’ve been knocked down I don’t get up as quickly as I did in my youth but dammit I still get up. I have an obligation: I didn’t just hang out with these creators and these superheroes to just surrender the present and allow the triumph of catastrophe!

“I’ve watched my wild youth

Disappear in front of my eyes

Moments of magic and wonder

It seems so hard to find

Is it ever coming back again?

Is it ever coming back again?

Take me back to the feeling when

Everything was left to find…”

It has been and continues to be A Wonderful Life with so many Wonder Years. And as long as there are stars to maps and planets to catalog it’s irritating to live with gravity and all that keeps us down.

Now: where the cake at?


Be Well Read

Confession: I like to read. Thankfully my subway is often delayed so I’m never on time for anything but I am well read when I finally get there.

Since 2011 I’ve been using a google spreadsheet to Fitbit my reading. (It’s one of those weird things where somebody’ll ask for a book recommendation and my brain goes I dunno. Real helpful…as such I started to write it all down.)

Starting in 2011 I’ve used my birth date (September 28) as Day 1 and I read for the year up to the day before (September 27).

I tend to knock out about 80 books in a year (plus a buttload of comics…about 400 or so single monthly issues and roughly 100 trades/graphic novels for the year).

This year I’m under slightly: at 76 books. (September 27 is Friday…I won’t start a new book; rest up instead since I just concluded 2 books today).

Which means since September 28, 2011 I’ve read a grand total of 518 books.

(Sports biographies, Stephen King novels, start-up memoirs, poetry collections and lots more.)

I don’t say this to be impressive; you know me well enough we’re way past trailers and first date manners. I’m cool with who I am; hopefully you are as well.

I share it because I often see people express the desire to read more. And what I’ve learned is that like everything else in life when I paid attention to something it improved.

If you wanna lose weight you hafta keep getting on the scale. I was startled that something as simple as pay attention would dramatically increase the amount of books I’d read. It worked so…I pass that on to those who long to read more.

Figure out what works for you…GoodReads, google spreadsheet, note thingie app on your phone…and go nuts: write it all down; track it like a focused hunter and in no time you’ll be devouring books whole like a python.

There’s so many incredible and astonishing books out there impatiently waiting to make your life better…to inject wonder into your imagination and to startle your set theories while refreshing your outdated facts.

It is a fantastic time to be an avid reader: especially if you pay attention.


The Red Flag of Neverland

You know lost in the whole Michael Jackson Leaving Neverland mess is how utterly arrogant we’ve become.

One of the more painfully popular posts on Facebook is “Michael Jackson is guilty as hell. If you disagree please unfriend me now.” No debate, no discussion…this is cowardice and arrogance. I can’t trust people like that…you’re not particularly insightful.

Until the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg on April 14, 1912 the passenger liner was considered to be unsinkable. Indeed 1,503 people paid for that arrogant assumption because White Star Line did not have sufficient lifeboats to accommodate the entire complement of passengers and crew.

(The unsinkable arrogant assumption was compounded by their presupposition that not all passengers and crew would require evacuation at the same time: they assumed the lifeboats would easily go back and forth ferrying people to safety as effortless as an evening constitutional. Errr, yeah.) Again 1,503 people perished for that certainty. That was 1912. And yet here we are in 2019.

Journalists need 2 to 3 sources before they can publish something. If you feel comfortable watching one documentary and are able to make a definitive clear conclusion that is not willing to invite any debate, discussion or dissent of any kind…that is frightening. It’s not even the simple debate of is MJ guilty or innocent; it’s beyond that.

The basic premise of that corny Facebook post is that there’s no two sides to every story…which is not what I’m saying.

I’m saying what if you’re wrong?

I don’t care about being right; I’m terrified of being wrong.

We still have the death penalty and if you’re gonna execute a man you had better make damn sure he committed those crimes. Unfortunately we’ve executed innocent people (current estimates are between 30 to 50…yikes!!). My social standing is utterly meaningless if I’m wrong.

That’s not justice. That’s not right. It’s not good.

Absolute concrete certainty is a red flag: I can’t trust you.

If you’re going to shortcut the critical thinking process like this…how can I know your other thinking isn’t as lazy? This is symptomatic (and symbolic) of why we’re experiencing a dearth of leaders and bold ideas. We actively discourage dissent and popularize faulty logic.

We are…as a society in trouble.

We’re not concerned about lifeboats because we’ve decided we’re unsinkable.

This is exactly like climate change…we have opportunities to correct this, to effectively address this but if we continue to ignore these distressing bright red flags it will not end well.


Your Opinion Bandana by Fred DiMeglio (photo by Sammy Younan)

Yo, I Thought I Told You That We Won’t Stop…

So I watched the second half of the Super Bowl. Tom Brady is 6 for 9 in the Super Bowl.

I’m not an NFL guy at all but that’s incredible…6 for 9! Criticisms of any kind are utterly irrelevant, haters are worthless…critics don’t count. 6 for 9!

I watched because Jordan taught me this goes by so quickly. 

As much as it resets the standards of excellence this doesn’t last. We tolerate so much mediocrity from corporations and politicians and our managers at work…hell LeBron is considered great and he has 3 rings. 3?!!

Stop wasting my time with LeBron…he’s a Vegas slot machine no matter how much investment he gets he ain’t never gonna be money.

I went to see Jordan and Kobe live as much as I could and I fought myself from taking them for granted…I pushed myself like a Nike commercial to accept that one day they will be gone. I’m grateful for their relentless determination and their sacrifice not just of themselves but of the others who they denied glory.

6 for 9! Just keep going. There’s no reason to stop. Make it an even 10. 6 for 9! Wow.


First Things First: A Space Tea Reflection

So January 1st I continued my avid pop culture consumption and fired up the first episode of…The First.

Absolutely nobody is watching this…this is another tv show they made just for me. Thanks. (The show has 1,500 twitter followers! A Raptors game is 20K!! Their IMBD rating is based on less than five thousand votes. And they spent $60 million on the first season…it’s so not getting a second season. $60 million so some dumb kid in Scarborough not wearing pants can watch something while he eats Lucky Charms on his Christmas Break is lousy economics.)

The First is created by the guy behind House of Cards and stars Sean Penn…it’s basically set in an Elon Musk type space company working with NASA and it shows the hardcore sacrifices…the emotional, physical and spiritual cost of trying to get to Mars…from engineering to astronauts and their families. (From the trailer I initially thought something ominous or sinister was gonna happen…it’s just a straightforward drama just set in a sci-fi visionary world of self-driving cars.)

Anyways…I’m getting to why I’m telling you this. In the third episode, Sean Penn had tasked this Colonel…this lady to recruit some non-army candidates to hopefully become Mars astronauts. So there’s this scene where she’s convincing this biologist to leave her University post and come to discover life on Mars. The professor balked…if I fail at this she says I lose years of my life and it sets my work back. The Colonel trusting her gut that the professor is rock-solid promises you won’t fail; you got this.

Fast forward in time and Sean Penn is looking at the Colonel’s recruits and he has to cut some people…after discussion (he made good points) with the Colonel (she made good points! I kinda see what they’re both saying!!) who initially protested she acquiesced and agreed with Sean Penn and they cut the professor. So you can see from her face she knows she broke her promise to the professor…she cost the professor’s life and work!

The next scene she’s with her lover in bed and can’t sleep so they get up and make tea. (I’ve seen 4 episodes and in every single one there is a major tea scene…it’s an American show…I dunno where all this tea is coming from…nobody is drinking coffee…even the overworked engineers! WHAT?!) and the Colonel…sips her tea and her frustration and her hurt bubble to the surface so in this dark kitchen she says:

“Decisions get made: fine. And some are wrong: fine. Can I live with this one? Yes. But I always make it work. My whole career. And I…I just feel like at this point, enough already! I mean…listen to me: I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been giving this command for a reason. I’ve earned it. I’ve excelled at it. And I…(she slams her tea down) And here we again!”

OH SNAP! That’s me because I recruited some people for Girth Radio and I promised them freedom and their shows and creativity and now I hafta tell em you’re all cut. You’re done.

But it’s also so many of us and so many of the frustrating discussions we have…”I mean…listen to me: I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been giving this command for a reason. I’ve earned it. I’ve excelled at it.” That’s all of us. That’s the most articulate expression of the frustration at the position we continually find ourselves in. (Much more polite than my current motto: Soon can kiss my ass.)

The even crazier thing was as soon as the scene wrapped up…the next scene it cut to a shot of a giant cross…what the what?! One of the characters is in AA and so this AA meeting was in a church the next day so the director established the shot by focusing on the cross. We went from the angry tea scene with nobody listens to me even though I know what I’m doing to a giant cross.

So I dunno what any of that means…other than I think they really did make a $60 million show for a dumb kid in Scarborough.

As for Girth Radio and the end of Pacific Junction Hotel bar…the new owner wants to meet next week…what do I ask for?

Do I take this opportunity to shut it down and do…something different?! Or do I push and plead with her to keep it going and we re-launch in a new direction? I dunno what I want anymore.

To be fair, I recognize it is her bar and she’s free to do what she wants: so I’m willing to listen to her vision and her plans. I hafta factor that in as well.

Hopefully, she gets what we do so we get off to a good start. (This could also be an opportunity to evict the snake too. We’ll see. Be great to evict him from Girth Radio for all of us…)

This weekend my Christmas Break is done and I was hoping to have an answer or two.

And that’s how 2019 has started…


Dancing Into The Light

So this is 2019 so far…it’s comforting we don’t have jet packs because they’d burn out butts on the way to work!

Shout out to those at last night’s Jaaaaaaaaaaaam who upon recognizing that the DJ had dropped Follow The Leader opted to…not follow the leader.

You are the rebels, the beautiful nonconformists…the ones who live on the fringe on the Dance Floor Of Life generously adding spice to our life lives and to our work. Thank You!

Eh…maybe you didn’t want to participate in a conga line or just needed to take a break from dancing.

May there be more dancing in 2019.


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