Thursday, August 28, 2008

"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours..."--Wayne Dyer

"My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand..."--Thich Nhat Hanh

"Helena is looking for you..." Great. Helena is one of our bartenders, and if she's looking for me that means there is a problem--its also the middle of a Saturday night and I am busy--no, I'm more than busy--I'm in the weeds big time.

Steeling myself for the worst, but still hoping the problem might be as simple as her needing a back-up bottle of something, I head for the bar. Getting up there I see our other bartender busy in the service well, but no sign of Helena--however we are a big restaurant and she could easily still be looking for me--as I turn to go hunt her down a guest at the far side of the bar starts frantically waving to get my attention--assuming that this person is the reason Helena was seeking me out in the first place I head over to see what's up.

"Yes sir, how can I--"

"It's tangy. It's vinegar-ey. I don't like it!", interrupts a tiny, pinch-faced woman sitting next to the gentleman who had waved me over.

"There's clearly something wrong with the wine. Try it. You'll have to agree." Now this is the waver, gesturing disgustedly toward a decanter sitting on the bar before his party of three. In an instant it all starts to come back--about ten minutes before I had dropped a bottle of Quintessa off at the bar, and then about five minutes after that Pete the other bartender had come to me and gotten a decanter for it. I remembered thinking at the time that the decanter was odd, as Quintessa is a pretty soft wine, but just wrote the request off to a "Wine Spectator" expert and went back to digging myself out of the weeds. It was now clear and obvious that I should have brought the decanter up myself.

Looking quickly I see that most of the wine is still accounted for, dismissing one type of scam perpetrated when a small party will quickly drink half a bottle between them and then attempt to return the rest, usually getting a much cheaper bottle as replacement.

Reaching over I grab the decanter, lift it near my face, and inhale deeply through my nose. Just as I expected--the wine Not corked wine or maderized wine, but perfectly good over-priced California blended red wine.

"Well sir, the wine doesn't seem corked, but as a courtesy you're welcome to make the choice of another wine from the list", I say, politely and with a smile on my face.

"But you didn't even taste it! It's vinegarrrreeeyyyyyyy!"--pinch-face again.

"Sir, miss, I'm terribly sorry you didn't find the wine to your taste, and as I mentioned, you are welcome to choose another from the list--I would just ask that you not choose another bottle of Quintessa, because this bottle seems sound."

"You didn't taste it"' --waver this time.

"He didn't taste it...he didn't even taste it"--pinch-face yet again, first to the waver, then to the so far blessedly silent third member of their party.

"Listen", waver starts again, this time throwing in the finger wag for emphasis, "We've had Quinatesta [sic] lots of times, and it doesn't taste like shit. This tastes like shit. I think so, she thinks so, and my brother-in-law thinks so [as waver says this, brother-in-law immediately hops off his stool with neither word nor backward glance and makes a bee-line for the men's room]. I've only sent about ten bottles of wine back in my entire life, and I've never had to deal with anything like this. And you won't even taste this shitty-tasting Quinatesta [sic].

Now, right here I knew I was fucked. Anyone who admits to sending back "only...about ten bottles of wine" is, first, lying. A person who is a big enough cock to admit sending back ten bottles of wine, even over an entire dining lifetime [this guy was in his mid-forties], is a serial offender who has probably done it [or at least attempted to do it] scores of times, so much so that admitting to the ten no longer seems horrific and unacceptable, which of course it is. But, I was already hip-deep in this quicksand of douchebaggery and there wasn't much to lose by slogging forward.

"I don't want to seem dismissive, sir, and I have no doubt you have had this wine before as you state, but the smell of a corked wine is very often much stronger then the taste. This wine, which I have also encountered numerous times, smells perfectly fine to me. Taste is subjective in everyone, and can be effected by a wide range of outside factors--that's why I'm happy to offer you any other bottle of wine--but if I bring you another bottle of Quintessa I am quite sure that it is going to taste no different than this one , which means you will do one of two things. You will either fight your way through it without enjoying it, or you will attempt to send that bottle back as well, and I can't endorse either of those results I'm afraid. I'm sorry if it seems like you're being subjected to unacceptable treatment, but while we are a hospitality concern, we are also a business that must have reasonable controls over its valuable inventory.

"What do you mean, 'corked wine'?"

Seeing the chance to possibly explain to this retard why he wasn't getting his way, I was delighted to answer, "In almost every case of a wine being bad sir, the reason is an improperly sanitized cork [for purposes of my brevity and his idiocy I elected not to mention the rare cases of cork taint being caused by contaminated winery facilities, and also skipped over the very rare cases of maderized wine]. If the cork isn't properly sanitized, an organic compound can form on it that will interact with the wine, destroying it. The result can be dull and muted flavors, but more obviously the smells that result from this contamination are moldy, wet smells--some describe wet dog, wet newspaper, and wet basement smells. The aromas are usually strong, sometimes overpowering, and aren't to be found in this particular bottle of wine we have in front of us".

As I finished speaking, I looked up hoping to see the dawning of understanding, but should have known better.

"So, I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, is that what you're telling me, hotshot?"

"He didn't even TAAYYYSSSTT it", again Pinchie.

"By all means, ma'am, let me allay your concerns". I grabbed a glass from the shelf behind me, poured an inch of wine into it, smelled it again, and drank. Once again I found perfectly good over-priced California wine.


"Like I said before, all taste is subjective, but this tastes like perfectly good Quintessa to me."

"Then you fucking drink it..."

Suddenly my Saturday night came to a halt in an instant. Here I was again in the place where I am finding myself [and all my friends are complaining of the same thing] far too often of late, thinking with a smile on my face that you can't spell 'hospitality' without 'hospital', and wondering how long this guy would be eating through a straw once I finished with him and if I could find a lawyer good enough to impanel a jury full of restaurant workers.

"I'm not asking you to drink it, sir. I'm offering to take it back and let you choose another bottle from the more than 800 other choices on the list. If you don't care to do that, you are welcome to enjoy your dinner without wine. If neither of those two choices are acceptable, I will cancel your entrees, have you checked out just for your cocktails and appetizers, and you may seek "Quinatesta" and dinner elsewhere, with our regrets of course.

"No sir, that won't be necessary", brother-in-law finally breaks the vow of silence. "I'll be happy to make another choice from the winelist and I'm sure it will be fine".

After handing brother-in-law the list I headed back to the floor for what would prove, as a result of my five wasted minutes with the sphincter twins, to be one of the hardest Saturday nights in memory as I ran behind for the next two hours.

As I was leaving the bar Helena grabbed me, "I'm sooo sorry--I was trying to get to you first, I had a back story to give you that explains everything."

"Great", I said, "Save it for later--it'll be entertainment while I drink myself to death--give the rest of the Quintessa to the McIllnenny's [a father and two sons, all firefighters, who come to our bar once a month for a guys night out]".

As the night came to a close, I did indeed return to our now deserted bar to bask in the soft, non-judgemental glow of my new love, Three Olives flavored vodkas [two flavors specifically that will remain top secret lest I be identified by my newest liquid vice]. The first glass I emptied in a matter of about a minute. Halfway through the second Helena came over to fill me in...

"Well, I've actually got two things about that dick to tell you now. The first thing I wanted to tell you before you went behind the bar was the story they told me when they first sat down. When they first sat I hadn't gotten busy yet, so I was chit-chatting and I asked them if they were locals and they said no, they were in town for [no big surprise, a labor union event that I will redact]... I asked them if they had been to any other good restaurants, and they said 'no good ones'. They went on to say that they had gone to Asshat O' Herlihy's last night and had had a horrible meal [our self-proclaimed 'biggest competition', this is the restaurant I had mentioned in an earlier post that seemingly set out for no good reason to directly challenge us and has not been doing well--it is probably costing its misguided owner $200,000.00 a month in losses and is rumored to be closing any day]. They said the service sucked, the food sucked, the dinner took three hours, and then the guy said, 'and we had to send three corked bottles of wine back before we found one we liked', then--"

"WAIT--he said 'corked'. You're sure, he said 'corked'?", I asked.

"Yeah I'm sure, but I'm so sorry. What happened then was that party of fifteen came in and that other eight came in and they all hit the bar and I got weeded and I didn't even know they were going to have dinner and Pete took over with them and the next thing I know they've got wine and it wasn't till they started to complain and want to talk to someone and I tried to find you but then you got there first and I'm so sorry."

"Forget about it. What you just told me takes the guy from being an entitled moron, which is bad enough, and promotes him to a lying, conniving piece of shit--shit like that is obviously how he gets his jollies and I didn't let him get away with it this time and what you told me lets me know I made the right decision. Cocksucker knows all about corked wine, real or not. Of course he does."

As Helena turned to get me glorious drink #3, I remembered the other thing she mentioned, "Helena, what was the other story?"

"Oh, that's the best. You remember you had me give the bottle to the firemen--oh yeah, they left this for you [she hands me $50]--well, once we started to slow down a little they asked about the bottle, and they come so often and they're like family so I told them the story [I frown a little here, but I don't really mind], and did you know Joe [the dad, sort of a cross between R. Lee Ermey and Randy Savage--big and bad, though unfailingly courteous] worked on a cruise ship when he was a kid? So anyway, they'd already had beers and a bottle of wine when I brought the Quintessa over, so they were feeling good, and when I told them the story Joe got a weird look on his face and he got all quiet and--hey Pete, come 'ere. Pete actually heard what he said, Pete! What did Joe Fireman say to that tool down in service 1?"

Pete walks over, a big smile on his face, "Joe walked up behind the guy who gave you all the shit and tapped him on the shoulder. When the guy turned around he had a nasty look on his face, I think maybe he thought it was going to be you. When he turned around all he could see was Joe Fireman's chest and the look on his face went right away and Joe said, 'Mister, I just wanted to let you know, I've been drinking wine for forty years and that bottle of Quintessa is one of the finest I've ever had. Thanks for being such a terrible jackass. Make sure you tip my daughter real well, now!' And then he slapped the guy on the back like you see guys do sometimes, but it looked really hard, and then he came back to his side of the bar. Man, it was great."

"What did he leave?", I asked.

"$200 on $500. That slap must have really loosened up the prick's wallet."

Normally such an exchange, even in our favor like that, would trouble me. But in all honesty I'm just glad the good guys came out on top for once.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"We must all suffer one of two things; the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment"--Jim Rohn

"Make the most of your regret deeply is to live afresh"--Henry David Thoreau

My eyes snap open and it is 7:38am by the clock next to the TV in my living room. I have been asleep for three hours--an amount of slumber that a few years ago would have been plenty but recently has proven woefully lacking. I'm not surprised to find myself still in the living room--I have a very comfortable couch and it is a wonder that I ever get off of it and do anything. What surprises me is that I'm up--my alarm won't begin to blare for another hour [once home from work, I set my alarm and make sure it travels from room to room with me--crashing at my desk, on my couch, or even in springtime or fall on my outside deck is not unheard of].

Not wanting to waste the rare opportunity to be ahead of the game for once, I gingerly rise from the couch, steeling myself against the familiar shooting pains that are to be expected after four years of brutal high school athletics, several summers of the most grueling menial labor imaginable, and twenty plus years of roaming restaurants in what amounts to a ten or fifteen mile nightly powerwalk.

No pain. No stiffness. No immediate thought of, "'I'm too old for this shit". It occured to me later that I was probably dreaming of something I actually WANTED to do and that the subconscious excitement and adrenalin had not only wakened me, but turned the clock back on my broken body by a decade or so. Walking to the kitchen for my inaugural diet soda of the day I tried in my mind to set a plan of attack for the day ahead, and got the most interesting response from my now conscious mind.

The first image that came to mind was my flying south on the interstate for two hours to a wonderful chunk of land I have owned for three years but only seen once in person for about ten minutes. Secluded and wooded with wetland and a natural spring--perfect for the hermit I hope one day to become. My eventual plans are to install a bauhaus-style prefab on a clearing in the middle of the property, but this morning all I could think of was motoring on down there and sitting on a blanket and reading a book or two. The drive itself was certainly part of the allure--my car has well more than 500 horsepower but hardly ever leaves the city and gets to stretch its legs--but mostly the plan shone in its perfect non-workness. It was so far removed from my daily grind as to seem utterly radical by comparison.

If this particular day was one of those rare days that was supposed to be a day off for me I have no doubt I would have been on the road ten minutes later, but alas it was not to be.

Pushing aside the fantasy of a road trip I again concentrate on a day's program, only to be greeted with a mind's eye image of being greeted at McCarren Airport by a driver from the Bellagio and my casino host. Now, I'm not the hugest gambler, but I'm pretty good at it, which means my average bets are high and my table time is also high. As a result I'm well rated , but more important I think is the fact that I'm not an unbearable, arrogant prick--my attitude probably doesn't matter to the hotel itself but it clearly matters to the hosts and all the other staffmembers who appreciate courtesy and gratuity. As a result, coming to Bellagio for me is like going to Disney World for a little kid--it never gets old or loses its luster. I love, absolutely love Las Vegas--the physical place itself is so unlike anything I have ever experienced before that I don't think I could ever live there and feel comfortable, but that didn't stop me from spending two hours with a hotel-recommended realtor the last time I was there.

I see it all--short flight to Vegas, courtesy Bentley to the hotel, right up to a penthouse suite or even a villa if no real high rollers are in town [Vegas is having their worst summer in 30 years], then back down to the floor for poker and blackjack--maybe even that WPT casino poker table game that I have recently taken a shine to--it is so real in my mind that I can taste it--but that, of course, won't work either.

By now I'm out of the shower and as my fantasies fade, so does my physical comfort. In an odd reversal of morning routine, I am actually starting to stiffen up after my hot shower just when I would ordinarily be starting to loosen, and I'm also starting to think seriously about the regrettably real day ahead of me. As reality sets in I see the real me, like Dorian Gray once the portrait is burned--I am the guy who keeps an old, expensive restaurant running profitably in the worst restaurant economy in a generation. The guy who's sales are flat when everyone else's are down 20, 30 or 40%. The guy who still pays the bills for the company's seafood restaurant [a third, more casual American restaurant we own, heretofor unmentioned, has closed to be reconcepted--we own the building its in and are trying to find the best possible idea for this new economy]. I'm the guy who still plunges toilets, changes bulbs, mops floors, and writes schedules.

I'm the guy who tried to quit two months ago, only to be told that if I did, my employer would most likely cash out--sell his two other freestanders for land value and sell this landmark restaurant to the highest bidder, most likely a chain dying for the location. Now, this wasn't a threat from him, this was just the truth--my boss is old and rich, and while he loves having his restaurants I am positive he does not want to even consider running them himself or going through the trouble of breaking in a new general--he would rather cash out and let the chips fall where they may.

When my boss and I had this meeting and he told me what he thought, I saw all the pink slips from our other two restaurants. I saw The Palm, The Capital Grille, Ruth's Chris, or Morton's taking the keys to this restaurant and inviting all of our employees to "reapply" for their positions, after the remodeling of course. I saw myself regretting giving up the job that I usually spend most of my time regretting ever having taken in the first place.

I think quickly about my beautiful land, I think quickly about my beloved Sin City, and then I stop thinking, 'cause its time to make the donuts...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"There is a pleasure, sure, in being mad which none but madmen know"--John Dryden

"The alleged power to charm down insanity, or ferocity in beasts, is a power behind the eye"--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"ARE YOU THE MANAGER??!", blares a strident, aged female voice from the phone before I am more than halfway through our standard phone greeting.

"As...luck would have it I am ma'am, how may I help you?"

"Well, we were there last night, and we had dinner there last night, and you, you weren't there last night, right? RIGHT?! You weren't there last night, RIGHT??!!"

"Actually, ma'am I was in my office for about two hours last evening, but it is true I was not on the restaurant floor last evening, that is correct. May I ask why?"

The voice. Again. "Well, we were there last night, and we had a horrible dinner--A HORRIBLE DINNER is what we had last night at YOUR restaurant!!"

At this point I scan the phone board, positive that one of the kitchen lines will be lit--because this absolutely has to be a practical joke--but no such luck.

"May I ask what went wro--", I start, only to be countered with, "What went wrong? WHAT WENT RIGHT??! First I ordered that wedge know, that wedge salad you all are so proud of for some reason, whatever for I don't know because the salad is well, the salad is well, THE LETTUCE WAS YELLOW. So this lettuce on this so-called fabulous salad of yours in this Big Time Big City Steakhouse is yellow--horrible putrid yellow--not a beautiful lettuce green, but YELLOW!! And then the dinners--well, my granddaughter's caesar salad was wonderful and the server was just so charming, such a charming young girl and of course the wine was fabulous but the lettuce on my salad was YELLOW--I mean just come out and say that your not serving that salad tonight, that the lettuce is not right, that you don't have it. Don't just serve it and have me horrified, HORRIFIED--so we get our meals and my son has the tuna and right there I knew there was trouble because I mean really tuna, tuna here--I mean tuna in the middle of the country--well I guess we should have known what to expect there and my granddaughter had the chicken which was wonderful again and my steak was so overdone I couldn't even eat it so the meal was just a total disaster and we've been there so many times and we'll be coming back and we had to get my granddaughter to the airport and we couldn't have dessert and how come you don't have any live music on Mondays [her dinner was on a Sunday]?

Now, this wasn't actually the end of the story as this woman, obviously channeling Jack Kerouac, continued her stream of consciousness complaining, but I was busy and had to cut things a bit short.

"Ma''am...MA'AM MA'AM MA'AM! I'm terribly sorry things with your meal went so awry. May I ask what happened when you brought these issues to your server's attention?"

"Oh, I didn't complain to the server, she was such a lovely young lady she wants to be a singer did you know that I'll bet she has a lovely voice, so it would have definitely been rude to complain to her about all the horrible things going on so I didn't say anything."

"Did the server ask why you were sending back your entire lettuce wedge salad untouched?"

Silence [finally] greeted this question, then, "Oh, I ate that terrible salad. Waste not want not that's what my parents taught me and if someone went to the trouble to grow it, it would be a sin not to eat it and my granddaughter was just enjoying everything so much I didn't want to upset her by not finishing that horrible salad"

"And I believe you were saying there was a problem with the gentleman's tuna [sushi-quality Ahi flown to the city daily--I have had some of the best sushi ever in this little corner of nowhere, hours and hours away from the nearest ocean]--".

"That tuna!! Gory, that was the devil's fish if ever there was one--red, blood red in the center its a wonder he's still alive. I warned him off it but he just laughed and said he had eaten worse he's so brave my granddaughter just has the best daddy ever and he's a good son also but I'm surprised it didn't kill him"

"I...see...and your steak ma' was overdone?"

"Like it had been cooked in a kiln. The next day I could barely manage to cut it into sandwich meat it was so overdone for me...

"You took it home. Of course you did. And I'm guessing you didn't say anything to the server about your steak either?"

"I'm not a rude woman, young man!"

"Of course not, ma'am, I didn't mean to imply you were. Ma'am, how may I help you?"

"Help me? Oh no, young man, I want to help you. I just wanted to tell you what happened so you could address that awful, unbelievable lettuce and the blood tuna and our server was such a lovely girl..." CLICK.

Now, this was the middle of a fairly busy Monday, and on this evening I happened to be at the front door of the restaurant. The call actually didn't take terribly long, and I had been able to get a couple small groups of guests seated using hand signals to my hostesses [I knew there would be no putting this woman on hold]. One couple who were regular guests were transfixed by the call, as the woman's voice was clearly audible well beyond the phone, and actually stayed at the podium listening until I put the phone down. When I hung up the handset the man, who always seems to be in the restaurant when something odd is happening, handed me $100 [twice the normal $50 I usually get from him] and said, "I think you have one of the hardest jobs in the world".

I'm starting to agree.

Now, I do have a charming young female server with a beautiful voice--good enough to go pro, and good enough that when she asks for time off I'm always afraid its for an American Idol audition. She was indeed working last Sunday night [the call came last Monday], and looking up her tables in the computer she did indeed wait on an early party of three and the reservation had a woman's name.

When I spoke to the server, I received the answers I expected [though I forgot to ask how our guest knew about her vocal skills]. She didn't ask about the first course because everything was eaten. She checked on the dinners twice and got positive answers both times--the man ate all his tuna, and the woman took her steak home after eating a little more than half of it. Never a negative word or a negative vibe, though she did notice that the woman spoke "kind of loudly" and "took a ton of pills right after dinner".

Loud talking--that's my girl. Taking a ton of pills--I'm thinking I got her on one of the days when she decided to skip her dose.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Yeeessss...denim like a jean"--Bernie Mac as Frank Catton in "Ocean's 11"

Bernie Mac had been a guest in our restaurant a few times over the years, though not recently. In between movies I guess he was still pretty much a stand-up comic and he would come to our city periodically on tour. It was always very gratifying when someone would call to make the reservation and let us know, "he loves your restaurant and always looks forward to coming back".

Bernie Mac was a perfect gentleman and a dream guest--no ridiculous requests, no grandstanding, no arrogance, none of the crap you sometimes hear attributed to celebrity restaurant guests. Our restaurant is a beacon for those who are near the top of the heap in whatever they do, and since many of those people understand the value of a simple, peaceful dinner, Bernie Mac was rarely approached by other diners while he ate. When he was approached, he responded to the attention with true grace and kindness. He was also a great tipper--even shelling out a little money for your humble author before leaving back to his hotel. One year he ate in the restaurant each of the three night he was in town--a true compliment if there ever was one.

I was thinking of Bernie Mac this past Saturday night, while at the same time trying my hardest not to break someones neck. This someone, who for purposes of comparison I have decided we will call "Bernie MacDouchebag" had brought his family to the restaurant for drinks, and to "think about having dinner if you can impress us enough while we're relaxing in the bar". The pure toolishness wafting off this guy in waves stopped me from informing him that his walk-in party of six was looking at a three hour wait before I would have a table available--I figured there would be plenty of time to give him that delightful bit of info once we had "impressed" him. As it was, the point became moot. One of the members of Mr. MacDouchebag's party was his granddaughter, who appeared to be perhaps nineteen, possibly even nineteen and a half years old, and certainly not one day older. When her demand for a perennially sophisticated Long Island Ice Tea was met with a request for proof-of-age, her response was to hold up her left hand, upon which was perched a huge and obviously fake diamond ring, "I'm engaged! I don't need I.D...."

"Congratulations on your engagement", said the server, "but you need I.D. if you wish to consume alcohol here". With that simple and correct answer, here came Mr. MacDouchebag out of his chair and after the server, a tiny young lady [Tila Tequila-sized, and probably the only person in the entire restaurant smaller than her attacker] who then had to endure being grabbed by the arm and poked in the chest twice by this Lilliputian piece of shit before I was able to arrive on the scene.

More and more, average dinner guests are being replaced by passive-aggressive, simmering pots of rage in human form--shrieking harridans just waiting to explode upon those they perceive to be easy prey, namely harried, "subservient" restaurant workers.

"YOU IGNORANT LITTLE THING, WHO ARE YOU TO DARE ASK A MEMBER OF MY--", The words trailed off when my right hand came down upon this awful little fellow's shoulder from behind, and I squeezed...hard. As he turned around to face me [with a little forceful guidance from yours truly] he realized I was "just another restaurant employee" and he started spouting off again--some people, mostly the really stupid ones, just don't know when to quit.

Now, I have been in this industry for about twenty-five years, and in all that time [leaving out nightclub jobs where fights and confrontations are readily bred by the alcohol] I have spoken to and/or placed my hands on a guest in a confrontational manner less than ten times--ten times out of literally millions of exchanges. The troubling thing is that nine of those ten times have come in the last few years, and I am comfortable saying after a great deal of self-searching [in addition to the opinions of those around me at the time of the conflicts] that it ain't me--people are changing, and not for the better.

So here I am with this little mink of a man snarling and chattering at me--full of threats and insults--and I am thinking of Bernie Mac and trying to retain my composure. What the guy was saying didn't matter [indeed looking back I couldn't remember one bit of the diatribe] but it was clear that the restaurant was filling up and that Tom Thumb was making a scene, and so I leaned in close to him, put my hand back on his shoulder and whispered, "get out of here before I kill you".

I'm pretty sure I meant it, and I'm positive that he thought I meant it--he was out the door so fast that if a hostess hadn't opened it he would have gone right through the glass. These types of incredibly offensive episodes and behaviors are becoming so much more prevalent as time goes on that I am starting to wonder if I can really keep my cool. When I was much younger and some self-important douche decided to make me wait forever at the table while he went though some ridiculous, over-the-top tasting ritual I would amuse myself [and take my mind off how weeded the asshole was making me] by imagining what it would be like to just crack the guy on top of the head with the bottle once or twice--now I'm thinking that the time may come soon when someone is actually going to deserve that treatment--and I may just go ahead and give it to them.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

08.13.08--This post has already attracted a few comments--quite surprising considering it is the first thing I have written in two months. It addresses passionate subject matter with a partisan eye, and was written not to attract adherants or offend/persuade those opposed to my point of view--it was written to vent and verbalize many of the things I find most troubling about our world right now. I appreciate the comments, and if others want to leave more of them, knock yourselves out--but be advised that I am not going to read them, or at least not for a long time. If you were hoping for a restaurant post, you will shortly be satisfied. If you hate George W. Bush and think Barack Obama is the Messiah, those opinions constitute a right properly afforded you by our Bill of Rights. I've got too much crap piled inside of me right now to engage in comment debate such as I have done here and there previously.

"...the election is a choice between Larry(D), Curly(D), or Moe(R)"--Mark Shea

", the choice is between a giant douche or a turd sandwich..."--Stan Marsh

Well, Larry is out of the race--besides that everything else is pretty much status quo.

There is a youtube video, which I think might be a clip from Boston Legal [I've never seen the show] that is William Shatner, in character, describing his personal platform and outlook previous to a possible run for the presidency.

The Shatner character is honest. He has solid positions and opinions, and while obviously designed for entertainment [and slightly farcical as a result], the clip really illustrates what is so incredibly, indelibly wrong with our government and our electoral process. You get the idea that he is going to establish a platform of ideas to run on. Period. Does anyone else remember when candidates ran on real issues? When they simply worked as hard as they could to attract as many people as possible who believed what they believed and wanted what they wanted.

There was one Reagan and one Mondale. No matter whether they were talking to old white veterans, young black men, housewives from the south, loggers from the pacific northwest, Cuban immigrants, West Virginia rednecks, or Manhattan socialites. Their inflections and accents did not change--much less their policies, opinions, and values--from group to group and speech to speech.

Mondale, while a good-hearted man and tireless public servant was also a socialist, and as a result he lost all but his home state--the same state by the way that later elected a pro wrestler and bad actor its governor and is now entertaining the possibility of electing a failed broadcaster and bad comedian as one of its senators. Reagan understood that to defeat evil one must fight evil--he also differed from our current President in that he could verbalize that understanding [and everything else] to the American people with flawless ease. You always knew where Ronald Reagan stood--and if you didn't agree with him you were going to mad about it for quite some time also, because no amount of polling, lobbying, or protesting was going to change his mind. The same man who became President in 1981 was the same man re-elected in 1984 was the same man who ran for President against a same-party incumbent in 1976 was the same man who previous to that California's governor was the same man who would at his end tragically succumb to the worst possible fate for a man who lived his life being so utterly self-possessed.

I'm no fan of John McCain. I think he is an honorable man, an intelligent man, and a man who must, due to his imprisonment, truly understand both the nature of despair and the value of self. Any man who spent years living in what amounts to half a refrigerator without going insane has to be supremely confident in what he can and cannot do. He is however, not a fan of conservative governance.

John McCain is a senator, as is his opponent, and there is a reason that only two senators have ever ascended directly from the Senate to the White House. They simply aren't leaders. Of the two that succeeded, one was a philandering criminal [Warren Harding] who was killed either by someone who was cheating him, someone he cheated, or possibly even by his wife who was tired of being cheated on. The other of course was our last democratic messiah, John F. Kennedy--the beneficiary of a actually corrupt and hijacked election the likes of which Al Gore and his rabid, entitled supporters couldn't even imagine. Illinois must have looked like a George Romero film on election day 1960 with all the thousands of zombies gleefully heading to the polls to vote democrat over and over again courtesy of Sam Giancano. In a bizarre twist that defies general convention, it was Nixon's civility and concern for his country in 1960 that precluded the legal challenges his supporters were screaming for. Ah, the good old days.

Senators do not make good Presidents--thankfully they make even worse candidates and rarely even sniff the golden ring as a result. As a group they are lazy, elitist douchebags who fall out of touch with and become contemptuous of their constituents from nearly the moment they are sworn in. The fact that they are at risk for their seats only every six years allows them 51/2 years to languish in their arrogance and ineptitude while spending our money and ignoring our wishes. John McCain is certainly less guilty of these things than most of his contemporaries, but he is still guilty. I have no doubt that he will keep us safe, and I have no doubt...well, that's actually about all I have no doubts about with regard to the senior senator from Arizona.

What McCain represents, to my horror, is the lesser of two evils. McCain's opponent, the wholly vacuous, completely disingenuous, and more than slightly sinister Barack Obama is simply terrifying to behold as a presidential possibility. If he wasn't so deadly stupid, his voting record coupled with his numerous speeches to left-wing fringe groups would also paint him as a possible "Manchurian Candidate"--but I doubt the conditioning would stick in one so smoothly devoid of real substance. I know that he can learn, because he has clearly graduated from the Joe Biden/Ted Kennedy Senatorial Arrogance School with flying colors--but, other than mastering condescension and outrage, I cannot tell what else he actually has learned.

For conservatives the situation is the same now as it was in 1976, after Reagan's attempt to re-take the Republican Party for the conservatives failed. To vote for Gerald Ford was to vote for a "country club" republican, a decent and genteel man nevertheless wholly lacking any determined conservative compass--he was the lesser of two evils--and while the four years following Carter's win were four of the darkest years in our history, the Republican Party re-emerged as a viable conservative entity led by Ronald Reagan and he brought us as a country back to the light.

What differs from then and now are two very important things. First, while I have no doubt that Senator Obama would be at least as inept as Carter should he be elected--Carter was still an honest man. President Carter had the best of intentions, he was just an absolute and utter failure--Senator Obama is by comparison so contrived and superficial that the true concept of things like "values" and "consequences" may be wholly foreign to him. Secondly, while Jimmy Carter destroyed our economy, hamstrung our military, and birthed modern terrorism by abandoning our embassy in Tehran and allowing terrorists to win, we were still able to survive him and prosper afterward. In 2009, the result of electing an ignorant, America-hating socialist as our President may well spell the end of our country as we know it.

Hate him if you want, but we are currently safe because there isn't a militant in the world who isn't terrified of George W. Bush--Barack Obama ehh...not so much.

John McCain will continue the current tradition of "taking the fight to them", and that will keep us safe--but what then? Our government has become so corrupt, on both sides and on all levels, that status quo bullshit isn't going to cut it anymore. If not for September 11th, I believe our country and my political party could have made some real headway towards coming back to earth--to daily addressing problems and at least attempting solutions. As it was, one day [that was decades in the making] changed the whole ballgame. Now, I want someone who can articulate and demand the common sense that we need to survive and prosper in the coming century--the problem is that there is no one in the running who can or will do that.

I haven't written for awhile because I have been evaluating alot of things recently--both about the small things in my daily life as well as the big things in the world around me. I've done some traveling and I've made some plans. I need to get a bunch of stuff written out here over the next few weeks because it is choking my brain, but after that I don't know. I've been thinking about a move...