Entries from: April 2009

Sex and Coffee

There is a Hustler porn store on Sunset Ave here in LA. This is not a surprise as Los Angeles is universally accepted as the porn capitol of the United States. Its not surprising considering that Larry Flynt’s, Flynt Publications is located in LA. Its not surprising even though its in the middle of a bustling area full of restaurants, hotels and clubs for locals and tourists alike. Its not surprising considering the Hollywood walk of fame is close by and so is the Kodak Theater where the Academy Awards are held. Its not surprising that Hardcore porn DVDs are located inside. Its not surprising that sex toys including vibrators, dildos, sex swings and accessories such as condoms, lotions, cuffs are located inside. Its not surprising that lingerie and busty salespeople are located inside either.

What is surprising is that within this delectable den of carnal capitalism lies a coffee shop. Within the Hustler store there is a cafe where one doesn’t only have to fantasize about munching on carpet but also can literally munch on a delicious blueberry scone and chase it down with a freshly brewed coffee or even a double skim cappuccino.

“May i have a caramel macchiato to go with my double sided dildo please?” Thank you!!

Inauguration

I arrived down in Washington D.C the saturday before the inauguration with a few friends. We left a few days early to beat traffic and also because a few of us wanted to get some film footage of the weekends festivities. I went to the American University in Washington from 1999 and 2003 and i have to admit that the climate during those four years was much different then the climate now in 09 with President Obama coming to office. In my four years we experienced 9/11, the Iraq War, Anthrax, Sniper attacks and the beginning of what would be a failing economy. Although those memories were certainly present the optimism and hope would prevail amongst the masses this weekend in D.C.

Everyday there were more people arriving. We experienced only mild traffic congestion but every new day we had friends report that it was a bit more difficult for them to get into the Capitol. Everywhere we went people would cheer “Obama! Obama!”, it was much more reminiscent of the Beatles then an incoming President, although cheers for pop stars are generally reserved for their presence. Obama could have been in another country, people were still cheering his name. At one point i walked down Adams Morgan and cheered with the crowd of people that lined up and down the bars on the street. A young woman and i looked at one another and immediately embraced in a strong and heartfelt hug. I had never met the woman before. The energy was infectious.

The night before the inauguration we were all out till 3 am partying, dancing, drinking. Unfortunately we had to wake up at 6 am to drive further into the city so we could get close to the Mall. We all dragged our weary and mostly still drunk bodies from our slumber and got in my car. We made our way down past Howard University before Soldiers prevented us from getting any closer and asked us to park in the neighboring area. What marveled us most was that none of them had weapons on them, Obama had requested that all soldiers not carry armed guns (at least noticably to the public). We parked the car and began our trek in the bitter cold. We were not alone. The streets filled with people singing and dancing in the wee hours of the morning. The sun had yet to greet us, it was 20 degrees outside, yet everyone was in high spirits.

As we made our way closer to the Mall the crowds grew and momentum carried us. There were no real signs directing us but just a general direction we were all being pulled. We came across the highway that leads under the Capitol Mall, it was closed to automobiles but open to citizens. Thousands of people, like herds across the plains migrating to see this historical event. It was surreal and eery. You only see people walking down highways like that in movies and usually its apocalyptic imagery.

We arrived at our blue gate around 8 am only to find no signs of direction and thousands and thousands of people lined through the street. We immediately placed ourselves in line and waited. The wind was blistering and all of us were huddled together. Yet the mood was jovial. People told jokes, sang songs, hugged one another and chatted as if they were long lost friends. The hours went by though and it became quite apparent that we were not going to get through the gates in time for Obamas Speech. Basically it was general chaos and complete disorganization. Luckily our fortitude lead us to explore and we arrived through the silver gate just in time for an awful song by Aretha Franklin.

Obama came on, like most of us know by now and gave a somber and realistic speech on the state of our country and world. Although his words lacked the hope from his earlier speeches you wouldnt find its effect apparent on the faces of the millions watching live. People were crying, but with those tears were smiles.

Here are a few pix from the weekend:

Insurance Companies Keeping Us In Check

A ew years ago I had some horrible experiences with insurcance companies, here’s a few of them.

I spent the better part of yesterday back and forth between my insurance company and the doctors office absolutely bewildered at the state of healthcare in America. My foot propped up on a pillow; I remembered why I had put off calling the doctor for three weeks, because I was already overwhelmed with what lay ahead. The inefficiencies of our nations insurance companies are mind-boggling. Some might think that they fail at their goal; they don’t provide what they offer. But this is untrue; the insurance company achieves its ultimate goal. This is because its goal is to fail. Its not supposed to provide health coverage to its members. Instead the corporations essentially offer false hope and as a result disillusionment that leaves more Americans in their current social and economic state.

I called Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and was immediately greeted by an automated service. The computerized voice offered me a few options that were none of the options that I was searching for. After about five options I pressed zero thinking I knew the little secret that many others didn’t, the golden number to a live operator. I’ve always been quite proud when I would tell others about my secret, the way that I would skip the line and get right to a live person by pressing the golden “0”. Alas apparently I have told to many people because this was no longer an option. Instead Max Headrome returned and went through the aforementioned options. I pressed “1” and then had to choose between English and Spanish which would be the easiest part of my journey. Of course once I selected a language I had to wait for a few minutes listening to horrible elevator music although I was actually in an elevator. I cursed myself for not finding a landline to make the call thinking about how sprint had to be in on this too as my daytime minutes slipped away.
Finally I heard a pause in the music. My heart raced as I sat silent for a second only to realize it was my connection that was suspect, the elevator music resumed. But alas after a few more moments, while watching Oprah belittle some author I was greeted with a friendly voice.

Thank you for calling Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, how many I help you?

Hi, I don’t know if you are the right person to call, but um, um, I am looking for the out of state, away from home care, do you need my membership number first

That would be great

Why didn’t she ask me this to begin with? It would seem like the logical thing to do considering at one point or another she would need this information. We spent the next few minutes discussing the different intonations of “M” versus “N’ and “V” versus “B” or “C”. For some reason I never think of easy words to offer such as “B as in Benjamin”. Instead I always think of curse words or nothing at all, “B as in bitch” and I giggle to myself in my head. Finally we confirm that I am indeed me, which I always find is a relief. Infact I urge any of us who are having any type of identity problems to immediately call their insurance company. They will certainly give you confirmation and you can go about your existence again. After all this she finally says,

So how may I help you?

I need to find doctors in Philadelphia.

Any type of doctors?

Oh wow, I didn’t think of that, well yea a foot doctor, a podiatrist, I injured myself playing basketball (She didn’t give much attention to this information) But you should know I’m out of state, my coverage is in Connecticut.

I see

The dreaded I see. Its arguably one of the worst expressions one can hear. Right up there with Sorry hunny, I’ve been cheating on you with Hitler or your best friend and, Hi, this is Tina, that girl from the bar last month, you know McFaddens, yea well I’m pregnant. Blasted McFadden’s!

Well sure ill have to connect you with the out of state operator, she will take care of you.

Oh, okay then, thank you.

Why didn’t she do this in the beginning! Why did I spend the last five daytime minutes on the phone with someone who could not help me? It makes no sense, its almost as if she was just teasing me. Like youre 17 in the back of your car with the prom queen, you feel like a million bucks. But then she gets out of the car after two minutes of kissing right when you were beginning to maneuver your hand up her shirt! God Damnit! Stifled again! I feel like a blue-balled teenager.

More time goes by and finally I’m in the right place. This voice sounds much like the previous one and makes me think that I’m the butt of a big joke. Like the guys from Crank Yankers are on the other end having a big laugh. And the first question she asks,

Hello sir, may I please have your membership identification number?

Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously? Now I know I’m the target of some vast conspiracy. Didn’t I just give this information to the last operator? Shouldn’t you already have this information? Now I feel like a foreigner speaking to someone in French. (I chose the French here because they are the only people who have as much disdain for me as insurance customer service operators). You know those times when you just repeat the same thing over and over again as if they will all of a sudden learn English through repetitive listening.
I give up my information all the time praying that she wont ask why I’m out of state, in Philadelphia considering I have a few doctors visits in the area and none in my “home state”. I will refrain from giving up any more information for fear of the obvious, they are watching. After five more minutes she has found three doctors in my network. Hallelujah. My blood rushes, my heart pounds. I see light at the end of the tunnel until I ask the next question.

So do I have to do anything else? Once I make the appointment do I have to do anything else?

I don’t know sir, I only am a locator. You will have to call membership services.

Oh ok, can you please connect me to them.

I’m sorry, I don’t have the directory here so you’ll just have to call the customer service line, it should be on the back of your card.

No shit, I used it to call you. I hang up. I look at the clock and see that I have twenty minutes to Around the Horn on Espn and would like to have all this finished up so I can hear five people’s ramblings on the significance of Kobe Bryant dropping 81 in an NBA game. Upon occasion I marvel at the fact that people are paid to just give their opinions and report events. It seems like such an easy job, I should be paid to do that. I do it ever day, That hot ass chick just bought a chicken parm sandwich, damn she is hot, I should get her number. Seems easy enough. I take a deep breath and call back. Brimming with confidence knowing that it didn’t take me too long last time to find an operator. At least after a few miscues. But this time takes much longer. For some reason all the options that were available the last time I called seem different. I can never remember what option I chose in my Choose Your Adventure story.

You might ask why don’t I just make the appointment? Well rewind a few years when I had a knee injury and was attending college in Washington DC. After finding a doctor in the network I made an appointment and went in for knee rehabilitation. Confident that I was completely covered I went a few times. The doctor’s office never gave notice that anything was wrong. After 9 visits totaling at $900 I find that the insurance company won’t cover it because I never alerted them for authorization. I thought I had considering I talked to an operator. But alas this was not enough and I was stuck with a $900 tab. Insurance companies are the devil.

So this day I growing increasingly frustrated. I had just hung up for the third time, not finding my pot of gold through the winding automated maze. I decided to give it one more go before giving up on the day. Somehow, through divine intervention I found the person I need to talk to. Three daytime phone calls and 20 minutes to find one person to offer me this after I gave her my membership number again,

Yes sir, call and make an appointment then call us again here at the out of state care to alert us to the doctor, date, time and address so we can put through an authorization code for that day.

Once I had to reschedule an appointment after putting the authorization call in. I forgot to call in a second time to alert the change in date and was denied coverage once again. I figure they would be smart enough to know that it was the same patient and doctor. Apparently it was I who was not smart enough. So I ask this lovely lady for some information as well,

May I have your name and extension so I can just call you back?

Yes my name is Monique and I don’t have an extension, but you can just ask for me. Also make sure you ask the doctor if they are still in the network.

That’s essentially the same thing as the how about I take your number instead? Then you walk yourself home late at night telling yourself she will indeed call. After a few days you start looking her up on Yahoo, Google, Friendster, MySpace to no available and convince yourself that she must have lost your number because why would she have asked for your number in the first place if she didn’t want to call you. Wait did she really ask for my number? Hmmm.

I Google the three doctors whose names I received through the locator operator who has nothing to do with the out of state operator. Only one of them has any information online and two of the others have names that sound like id meet them in the back of a dark alley in Bangkok during monsoon season. I call the listed doctor and leave a message on a shotty old school sounding answering machine.  Two days later I get a call back and make an appointment. I ask the secretary if they are still in the network.

I don’t know, how would I know? If they listed us we must be. That’s all on the insurance company, that has nothing to do with us. How about this, you just come in and if they approve it they approve it. If they don’t then you can deal with it later.

Exhausted, mentally and emotionally I say whatever and hang up. I now get ready to call back Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Ill skip past the Choose Your Adventure phase this time but be assured that it definitely occurred. I find an operator and ask to speak to Monique only to find that Monique doesn’t exist. She was like a dream, or a nightmare. Eventually I am reconnected to out of state coverage. This woman was nothing like Monique. Not that Monique was a saint but she was helpful in her role. This woman though was immediately suspect of my out of state care and the reasons behind me not being in Connecticut. After much convincing she accepts my lame duck story and puts through the authorization. I wet my pants in excitement and down a shot of Jamesons by myself. I ask her for her name before I hang up,

My name is Monique sir, anything else I can help you with?

A rope and a high chair?

She doesn’t get it.

I have yet to visit the doctor. They didn’t have an opening for ten days so I have to sit here with my injured foot awaiting news that I already know.  You should rest it for a while, a few weeks, maybe we should take some x rays. At which point I’ll have to get the insurance company to cover the X-ray somehow. Which means ill have to go through the whole process again.

I sit here now completely jaded by the whole bureaucracy. I think to myself that there is such an easier way. That the system does not make any sense. Its not efficient and it doesn’t do what its designed to do. But infact it does. Insurance companies aren’t designed to provide affordable quality healthcare to their members. They are designed to earn money and its what they do best. That’s how the companies are constructed.

And all this money goes to one place, the higher ups, the bourgeoisie. The money goes right into the pocket of the ceo’s who are making deals with the prescription drug companies and to lobbyists who then pad the pockets of our civic representatives. It’s designed to keep the current social caste system. A system where the upper and lower class are being even further separated as the middle class disappears. There’s no mistake that every operator is named Monique (reference page 179 of Freakanomics, by Steven D Levitt Would a Roshanda by Any Other Name smell as Sweet). They find people from lower income brackets who they can train and offer full health benefits. To this individual it’s a great deal. They get a steady job; benefits and they can support their families. Meanwhile the corporation dangles the cheese in front of them, consistently creating a falsehood while promising these low-income workers opportunities to move up through the corporate ladder. It will never happen. Although the women’s movement has created more jobs for women there is still a large discrepancy when it comes to women in positions of corporate power. Even more so for African-American women who have lived hanging on the bottom rung since Americas inception. All Monique can do is follow protocol and report problems to her manager who is probably someone named Jim and earns just a little more then her and reports to someone who reports to someone who reports to someone who reports to someone who reports to someone who reports to someone who reports to the board of directors at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The Insurance companies also keep each division separated. They don’t want their employees developing relations with their peers. Its not encouraged. Hence the reason we have to keep giving them our membership number over and over again. If each division were in constant contact with one another then it would promote discussion and debate. They would eventually find that Monique in the out of state office earns more then Monique at the locator office and would also discover that the another Monique has been working in membership services and hasn’t been given a raise or promotion in the 23 years she has been working with the company. Monique will never move up the ranks because those positions are reserved for those upper class individuals who attended the nations greatest private schools and universities.
Upon graduation, without any field experience these ivy leaguers who will most likely be white will be employed by the insurance companies assuring their spots in the corporate hierarchy. As a result Monique will never be given a fair opportunity to rise up the corporate ladder, bring money into her community, or worry about her social responsibility. In effect her children will grow up without a mother who has to work constantly to pay the bills. The children will have no guidance and have to attend lower income public schools with no money for books, computers, or sexual education. There’s a good chance that one of Monique’s children will get into drugs, another will parent a child at a very young age and neither of them will ever have the opportunity to attend college. As a result little George W. Bush, having just graduated from Yale (where he never had the intelligence/grades to attend in the first place but most certainly the money and lack of pigment) will have his place secured in the hierarchy. Monique and her children will have their places secured as well.

The company hopes that after being misled through automated services and constantly redirected the member will just give up. Instead of going through all the hassle they will just pay it themselves and stay in debt. As a result they will never be able to move from the lower class to the ever-dwindling middle class and one day upon the high perches of the 1% that actually control everything. For a good example watch the movie The Rainmaker starring Matt Damon and Danny Devito, or read the book of the same title by author John Grisham.

It’s easy to break a persons back who is already on their knees. These individuals who seek healthcare through the insurance companies are already bewildered, are already ill. Why should a sick person have to put up with any of this? The last thing they want to do is worry about why their insurance company isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, hence the reason they usually give up. It’s a small price to pay for the insurance companies when some members actually follow up on their services and claims. Unfortunately for us the person at both ends of the line happens to be Monique. We are the same person attempting to figure out the same problem and finding no answers.

The higher ups are sitting back with their feet up sipping on champagne in their private jets flying off to their private islands. They marvel at how we don’t get it, they spit on us and look down upon our broken backs, dirty hand and sniffling noses. But if history proves anything its that things move in cycles and if Karl Marx is right, there’s a revolution coming, hopefully sooner rather then later.

YES WE DID!!!

I have spent the better part of the last two months volunteering for the Obama Campaign for Change in center city Philadelphia. What i saw during that time was nothing short of the most remarkable and awe inspiring movement of energy and hope in my lifetime. People of all ages, races, religions, status etc etc came together for something much bigger then themselves and as a result were rewarded with the most beautiful act of democracy many of us have ever witnessed in our lifetimes.

On November 4th i was at the Campaign headquarters at 15th and Sansom with hundreds of others watching history unfold on tv. We sat there exhausted with the final push yet exhilirated by the possibility of the extraordinary. We cheered as Obama won state after state, wondered what if and cried when it became a reality. Our voices already gone, our eyes already dry we took to the streets. First there were just thirty of us marching along Broad St. As we passed City Hall our momentum took us down Market and towards Independence Mall, the birthplace of America. By the time we reached the Liberty Bell we were over a thousand strong and an impromptu rally took place. We then headed back up Chestnut St. towards Broad St again and ran smack into another rally and all of a sudden we were 10,000 deep. Here are some pictures of the evening. I hope you enjoy.

oh.. and YES WE DID!!!

Its All Fantasy

I am not in the NBA. I have not played competitive organized basketball since 1998 when i was a senior in highschool at Friends Select in center city Philadelphia. I attempt to play basketball a few times a week but alas, over the years i have had numerous injuries ranging from tendinitis in my knee and shoulders, torn ligaments in my ankles, broken ribs etc etc… The older i get the more my body seems to reject the notion of consistently playing basketball. Thus all i have left to indulge my dreams of NBA superstardom (or even a 12th man on the bench) is fantasy basketball.

Mid October every year. The oppressive heat of the summer gives way to the cool kiss of the fall winds. The shake off their green hue and display a technicolor dream coat that leaves even Joseph in awe. Basketball players lace up their sneaks, rubber soles sqeaking on hard wood as they break up and down the court. And the common fan can have a part of it in the fantasy world. At this time every year i gather with a group of friends to draft our teams. The weeks leading up to the draft are spent talking about the upcoming season. We talk about projections, about players, about teams, about how awesome it is that the boredom of summer sports gives way to the fastest growing sport in the world. We wonder if basketball will take over soccer as the number one sport worldwide one day and whether or not it can be a conduit to peace between warring countries. We worship at the alter of basketball and the fantasy draft is our form of prayer.

I am in three fantasy basketball leagues this year and last night was my first draft. This is by far the most important of the three drafts as there is a $100 buy in and in April if you stand at the top of the 12 teams that are registered you can win $1000. The day was spent doing massive research online instead of doing the research that we should have done for our actual places of employment. Dozens of text messages were sent back and forth between all of us. Phone calls were placed, the excitement was brewing.

The draft is like Christmas. Its something you look forward to for months. Its not only a sign that the season is upon us but its also your own personal stake in the NBA. Not only will you cheer for your favorite team but now you will also cheer for players on your fantasy team. Its okay if a player on my fantasy team like Kobe Bryant scores 50 points against my real favorite team, the Philadelphia 76ers as long as the Sixers win. But i need Kobe to score those points, and also pick up some assists, steals, threes, and shoot high percentages. But please dont beat the 76ers on the court in reality.

So if the draft is like Xmas, then when Yahoo Sports system goes down and doesnt allow anyone to enter your live online draft – that must be like finding out Santa Claus is not real. Last night 12 of us were signed online eagerly awaiting the draft when the “enter live draft now” button never appeared. Text messages sent, phone calls placed, as most of us panicked at the thought that one of us would miss the draft. Nay, it was all of us. None of us would be able to draft our team as the system would go ahead and draft for us automatically. We all sent angry emails to Yahoo and shortly there after received emails from the server host apologizing and saying it would be remedied and we would be able to draft again on Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoon, a time when we are asured to be home watching our favorite football teams and cheering for our fantasy football players to score 3 touchdowns. As long as they dont score the winning touchdown against our favorite teams.

Its All Fantasy.

Bailouts??!!

So not only has the bush administration spent our money like a 13 year old looking for a quick sugar fix in a candy shop (mind you this 13 year old is extremely hyper yet lazy and is somewhere around 400 pounds), but now he is asking for close to $1trillion to help bailout beleaguered financial institutions!!! WTF!!!!??

Bush gives banks carte blanche to run amok during his terms in office and then sticks the taxpayers with the bill.  Its like you are planning a reunion for a bunch of your highschool buddies when one friend who you aren’t particularly close with (but hes someones brother) says “don’t worry, i got the hook up at the club, we will be straight, i got us vip bottle service!”  You and your buddies get all excited, you take a limo to the joint and down copious amounts of redbull and vodka on your way there.  You pull up to the spot ready to do the damn thing, the line is wrapped around the block but you don’t worry, your friend has the hook up right?!   Sure enough you go to the front of the line and all of a sudden said friend turns and says “alright yo, let me get your credit card cuz they wont let us in!”  This really happened.  And thats what bush and all his cronies are attempting to do to us.

We will be stuck with the bill and left with a dead dollar whose worth will value my crusty toe nails and some lint in my pockets.  If we have learned anything its that short term solutions don’t work.  You don’t spend massive amounts of money to save money.  You pull yourself up by the bootstraps and dig in.  You get ready for the long hall and don’t trust doods who say they have the hook up for the vip bottle service (bush).

Frat Parties and 9/11. College in DC in a New World.

The sky was blue. I know people try to make it out like it was a different blue and how cliche that might be. But seriously, it was as if the ocean (in the caribbean, not the jersey shore) and the sky traded places for the day. It was a blue that you could just sink into and swim in. It was my first day training at Chef Geoffs. A local restaurant right off The American University Campus. I was a sophomore and had never really held a job so this was something new for me. My alarm rang early and i dressed myself for work. We had to wear these god awful khakis, blue oxford shirts, yellow ties and black shoes. All the servers looked like computer programmers before hollywood made it popular for computer geeks to wear vintage t shirts and sport bed head year round. When i arrived at work i was nervous. I had all the normal symptoms of anxiousness, the sweaty palms, swamp ass and told inappopriate jokes to try and ease the tension with my trainer Jackie. She had none of it.

We walked past the bar when jackie stopped dead in her tracks. The tv was on like normal but instead of Sportscenter the bartender Steve had put on CNN. A small plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Honestly i did not have any real emotional reaction to it. It just didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. After Steve gave Jackie and i an update on the situation we returned to work. It was only a few moments later that we heard some loud screams from the bar as we cleaned out the urinal cakes in the mens room. For the next few moments everything was a blur after planes crashed into the WTC, the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania.

An hour later we sat in front of Chef Geoff. All i remember thinking was that i was sure the restaurant would close and we would go home and deal with the ramifications. I wanted to be anywhere but at work. I wanted to go home to Philadelphia to be with my mother. I tried numerous times to call my mother and my father but the line was busy. It wouldnt be until late in the day when i finally reached them. They were crazy frantic. I wanted to be anywhere but DC, well DC and New York City. But Geoff sat there steadfast and resilient. He told us all to man up and get ready for work. We were going to remain open and be a haven for people all across the area. Sure enough businesses and restaurants closed across the DC metro area. Geoffs wife was Nora O’Donnell, an MSNBC White House correspondent and she brought all her friends and peers to the restaurant. By Noon we were packed. People sat in silence and watched in horror as the footage played over and over again.

Who was to blame? Why was this happening? What the fuck was going on? Everyone had their theories. Some thought it was Saddam. Some even thought it was the beginning of a new cold war and that Russia (even with its failing economy) was up to no good. No one thought or knew that it was some extremist from the mountains of Afghanistan who was trained by our own CIA.

Generally a lunch shift at Geoffs lasts from ten am till 3 or 4 pm. My shift lasted till 7 pm. When i got off work i had a glass of red wine and a ny strip steak. I checked my phone and had 17 voice messages from various friends and family. A few were even from my ex girl friend from highschool who hit me with her car earlier in the year and cracked two of my ribs. Of course in such circumstances i had to suck it up and call her back even as my ribs were still sore from her VW Jetta attack a few months earlier.

In the following months life in DC was odd and unfamiliar. It was like living on a different planet. The week after the attakcs all flights were suspended. The American University campus laid right under the flight trajectory of Reagan Airport. After a week flights were open again. My friends and i sat on the quad passing a joint attempting to make time go faster. Then all of a sudden the sky boomed. We turned our heads up in horror as we watched the first flight since the attacks glide over us. Planes didn’t sound like planes anymore. The ambient sounds of jet engines that we were so accustomed to were all of a sudden sirens of terror. We were sure this plane was destined to crash somewhere nearby, perhaps even on our campus. We waited and waited but nothing happened. We were safe. We passed the joint in silence.

Soon after, DC was hit by a string of Anthrax attacks. I was scared to open the mail. I made my roommate Whitey open all deliveries. To fuck with me he would take the envelopes and rub them all over his body. I figured better him then me. My paranoia was at an all time high. It didn’t help that a few months earlier i was at a Phish concert and some hippie chick dosed me with acid unknowingly. I bugged the fuck out. As a result i developed a paranoid personality and became increasingly anxious and uncomfortable around large groups of people and clowns (don’t ask). I couldn’t sleep because i was afraid people were gonna get me (i was only sleeping 4 hours a night). I wouldn’t eat because i thought all food was dosed with acid by extremist hippie kids (i lost 25 pounds). When the anthrax came it just added to the paranoia and my lovely roommate Whitey willingly tortured me throughout the whole ordeal. I even called 911 when i saw a letter laying in the grass close to a mailbox. It would take a year before i could get the mail out of my own mailbox.

Shortly after some guy with a sniper rifle started gunning down random pedestrians across the DC metro area. No one wanted to go outside. For some reason he shot some people at random gas stations and even filling your car up became terrifying. I would watch people run outside their cars, put the hose in their tank, duck and run around and wait in their cars, heads hidden down while they prayed. I myself did the same thing. After 13 victims the sniper was caught on the of the highway taking a nap in his car. Some trucker called in a suspicious vehicle, a regular sedan. Everyone applauded and congratulated Police Commissioner Moose Johnson for his forces superior work. Apparently they all forgot that he ID’d a large white van as the snipers mode of transportation weeks earlier. We spent a month ducking for cover everytime we would see a fucking white van when all along it was not even close to a white van! Good work Moose.

We also had bomb threats and were forced to evacuate the school twice. A fellow student thought it would be funny to freak out his schoolmates and made some prank calls from a local Maryland drug store. Funny guy. We all wanted school cancelled for the rest of the week but they made us go back to class later that day. My friends and i instead went to Geoff’s and got drunk on shots of tequila.

At graduation our commencement speaker mentioned all the shit we went through while going to school in DC. She listed 9/11, the Iraq War, Anthrax, Sniper attacks, a horrible economy, a shit president and then continued that if we went through all of that, we would easily be able to take on the real world. It was 9 am on a Sunday, most of us were ridiculously hungover and stuck in a hot ass auditorium. All we could think was when she was gonna shut her fucking trap and when we could start drinking. Apparently in the real world in times of turmoil, liquor sales go up (at least thats what i heard). If that was the case then we were all gonna be fine because if we had learned anything in college, we had at least developed a strong tolerance for a stiff drink. God knows we needed it.

Wedding Season for the Bachelor

The last six weeks i have been traveling all over the northeast, midwest and parts of Canada as I’ve been wedding hopping as a single bachelor. I am in my late twenties and have been fully entrenched in the wedding season of my life for the last two years. Weddings present all of us with great reasons to drink, dance and have sex with random wedding goers all whilst feeling a sense of loneliness, togetherness, regret, positivity and ultimately massive confusion. With that said here are a few pointers from my experiences as a single bachelor in the midst of wedding season.

1. I have been to a dozen or so weddings the last few years. They have ran the whole gamut of weddingness. A wonderfully ornate and over the top wedding in Egypt, followed by a low key one in a friends back yard in Philly. Another wedding set up in the most beautiful islands of Lake Superior in Canada and another in the concrete jungle that is NYC. What I’ve realized is that it doesn’t matter where you are, it just matters how drunk you get with your friends. If you drink a lil and remain conscious then ultimately you’ll be left with your thoughts and thats always dangerous in large groups of drunk people. If you are single like i am you start wondering why you are indeed still single while all your friends have seemingly found happiness. So its necessary that you drink so you can forget that. Also drinking makes it easier for the next point…

2. The wedding hook up. There are always single people at weddings and thats what can really make a wedding fun. Now I’m not saying to whore yourself out. But really its up to your own moral agenda how promiscuous you decide to act. And thats whats great about weddings, there is no moral agenda. Its like this vacuum of ethical ambiguity that excuses all type of scandalous behavior. In fact being a slut is almost encouraged at weddings, as long as you are not the bride or groom. People expect emotions to flow. When emotions flow so do bad decisions. Weddings are the only place where bad decisions are allowed, well weddings and war. So embrace it. And if you cant find someone that you are particularly attracted to, then just keep drinking. At a recent wedding a friend approached me with a scouting report. We both acknowledged that out of our personal rating systems we only found girls who were a 6 out of 10 at best. Hours later i was quoted as saying “Drunk at 3am those 6’s become a 7.” So true. Moving on…

3. Weddings are frickin’ expensive. We all know this to be true. But with the economy tanking its even more so. Plus with their actually being a “wedding season” they hit you one after the other and its easily enough to bankrupt a person. What is worse is that you cant make the bride or groom feel guilty about it because its “their day.” Maybe a few months down the road but not at the wedding. The key to all this is to remember each guest has one year to deliver the wedding gift. Its amazing how many people don’t know this. I guess one year there had to be a guy who went postal during wedding season after the banks foreclosed on his home. So they made an addendum and now we all have up to a year after the date of the wedding to get a gift for our beloved “just married” friends. Thank god for this rule. Just remember though that you get to bankrupt all your friends one day with your own destination wedding. Im going to Hawaii.

4. DANCE! Don’t be a sour puss at a wedding. Dance your ass off. Even if you are a horrible dancer, which most of us are (except for myself, I’m awesome at dancing) dance anyway. Its the best way to have fun with your friends. Generally good bands play at weddings, fun bands that play up to the crowd, so just let loose. But be aware of the dreaded “electric slide”. If you get caught in that crush you are likely to pull a muscle or tear a ligament.

So if you are single these are just a few tidbits to remember or just live by. If you have trouble remembering them then please feel free to rent Wedding Crashers or just wait for it to air on TBS (but thats not nearly as good because they have to edit out a lot, including all the boobies). Oh, its true what they said too, tattoo on the lower back – might as well be a bulls eye.

Casting Calls

Casting calls, er cattle calls…

Dozens of doods in tight designer jeans, tighter shirts with random decals on them and hair that is gelled and frozen in place for weeks. They all sit there sizin one another up with fake smiles and uncomfortable laughs hoping that they will book this one gig that will pay them a grand for 6 hours of work next tuesday so they can spend it on more jeans, hair gel, a shit load of alcohol and some coke that theyll snort in the bathroom of some random dive bar in the lower east side while hoping to get down with one of the girls they met at the afforementioned cattle call.

The girls have their caked make up applied liberally around their faces. Shirt lines give way to low cuts and expose clevage that a porn star would envy. Ive realized something too about all these girls. They all look the same, its all very cookie cutter. Its not even like these girls are especially pretty, they just happen to be very unique looking. Cookie cutter unique. If that makes any sense.

Anyway i sit there with all of them and im always the only one reading a book. Not that it puts me on a pedestal but i do wonder at times whether any of them can actually read because i never see it happen, except to of course when i hear one of them read something from the cue cards like, “mmmm tomato soup!”. Generally they take out their portfolios and google over pictures of one another, seeing who can post their best blue steel.

Eventually five of us are called into a room where one young man sits behind a camera who looks like he would rather be cutting the skin between his fingers with a sharp edge of a piece of paper and then applying lemon juice to the laceration. In other words he is obviously very happy to be here. He then asks us all to take off our shirts and apply a sticker with numbers onto our chests, so we can be further relegated to cattle status. The one thing i notice is that i am the only gentleman in the room with hair on his chest. The four other guys have all waxed their chests and look like that lil 12 year old muscle kid. You know, the one who has the face of a 30 year old and is short and thin like a 12 year old but is built like arnold schwarznegger. So i make the comment “I should have waxed my chest like the rest of you” To which they all actually laugh without realizing im making fun of them.

Its at that point that i realize i might be in the wrong line of work.

I Want To Kick You All Over

I was recently dirty texting with a girl friend (Naomi for purpose of the story) of mine. Back and forth we kept sending naughty messages to one another while I was riding the train back home. I love dirty texting with Naomi because she has an active imagination and is very kinky thus I am always amused while being turned on. I will admit that even sometimes I am quite astounded by the things she writes. I don’t know if she would ever even imagine doing half the things that comes across our phones but its fun to read them and on lonely days does the trick.

But this time specifically I think I took it to a whole different level. It always starts mildly but heats up rather quickly. Texts about appearances and kissing shortly thereafter become quite graphic. I forget exactly what she said but I responded to her with “I want to lick your body all over.” I sat there on a packed train glancing over my shoulder, half expecting someone to know but not wanting to be exposed for the pervert that I really am. Something about engaging in dirty text in a public arena is scintillating. You are not such a deviant that you are engaging in any physical act open to everyone around you yet you are exercising your hormones discreetly. I was surprised when she responded “wtf? That’s some weird ass kinky shit.” Confused, eyes squinting, neck-straining back a little … I pondered. I’ve seen Naomi type some freaky shit before… believe me, freaky ass shit so I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. Curious, I went through my sent messages and had seen that the actual text I sent was a misunderstanding via the T9 option on my phone. Thus instead of typing, “lick” I actually wrote “kick”. In actuality I had sent her “I want to kick your body all over.”

A blunder of Atonement proportions. Certainly I was not confusing graphic letters describing dirty cunts for confessions of love but still, who knows what type of repercussions could have resulted. Perhaps I finally would have freaked her out. Perhaps it would have opened up a door to some sexually violently texts discussing slapping, fantasy rape, asphyxiation or something involving 2girls1cup. But I do have to admit the image of me sitting there kicking her body all over did make me smirk a little and once I explained it to Naomi, she found it entertaining as well.