The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

Best of The BAD: Bullet Shortage

I’m transitioning into a new gig at my job and because of this things have been and will continue to be pretty hectic for me.  So, as a service to you, the readers, I’ve pulled some of what I consider to be my best article from the past year, and I’m re-running them for a little while.

I will be running new content once a week over at IRdC, as soon as my editors send me some topics.

But yeah, in the meantime, enjoy these re-runs.  This 3000 word article ran back last summer;  it was a report on not only a nation-wide ammunition shortage, but the intricacies of a local gun show.  NPR, eat your heart out.

I hope you enjoy it.

***

I think it would be easier to find a red headed virgin in Rosalita, Mexico who wasn’t suffering from Swine Flu before I’ll ever find 9mm bullets in Southern Maine.

At least, this is what I was lead to believe last Sunday morning while traveling over fifty miles on a motorcycle when temperatures hit 83 degrees before I even left the house.

I made the tactical error of putting on a shit-ton of personal protective equipment – more than necessary, which includes UnderArmor, thick gloves, Kevlar jacket liner, etc – before ever walking out the door of my mother’s house.  By the time I got to my bike, one street over at my father’s house, I was pretty much covered in a thin sheen of sweat.

My objective was simple, though pulling it off would be a beast of a completely different temperament:  I had to find bullets for the new Glock pistol I bought the day before at the local Biddeford Gun Show, a gun show that was once the flagship gun collector’s exhibition in Southern Maine, but since the winding down of the Bush Administration, has somewhat become a shell of it’s former glory.  Gone now are the giant booths with tactical webbing-based vests and shoulder harnesses.  Displays of military-grade firepower that only Level Three Licensees can legal own, gone as well.  Even the old guy with the snow-white beard to his belt buckle, pushing a hand truck with an old Browning air-cooled .30 cal mounted machine gun was absent from the proceedings.  No, all that seemed to remain were a few logie-looking booths and venders with various instruments of death and destruction, marked up by at least 15% to as high as 50% depending on whom you were dealing with, and how exotic the piece was.

But what had returned were the crowds.  In recent years the Biddeford Gun Show’s attendance has somewhat fallen off, which in turn, diminished the level of prestige of the participating venders.  The surge in populace this year seems to stem from the current Democratic Presidential Administration, and the fears that a black Democratic President will “any day now” pass legislation abolishing the Second Amendment and send federal law enforcement officers into the homes of every Red Blooded American who owns firearms to forcibly strip the weapons from their owners, and possibly march them to a cattle car to be shipped into the wilderness in the dead of night.

This and other mythoi were being exchanged amongst the crowd of surly late-middle-aged panic-mongers in attendance at the gun show.  As I weaved through the crowd examining table after table of weaponry I overheard a number of what some could consider outlandish accusations, rumors and innuendo from those who paid seven dollars to get their hand stamped at the door.

“Any day now, Obama’s going to raid our homes and take our guns away,” grumbled one gun owner in farm-chic clothing.  Another:  “We’re only as safe as we make ourselves, no one’s going to take that away from me!”

The crowd of about one thousand constantly seemed to be teetering on the edge of full blown riot, with tensions flowing with every disgruntled half-truth that was being uttered as (mostly) men fingered cheap Spanish-imports of cloned 1911-A1 .45 ACPs and grease-packed AK47s.  Overall the mood was dark, and if you tried to inject another point of view, shed of optimism if you will, you were seen at best as a simpleton, and at worst, a spy.

I found this out when I stupidly tried to bring to the attention of one show goer who I was 90% convinced was a member of either the Klu Klux Klan or the Hell’s Angels that Mr. Obama has a little too much on his plate to deal with the issue of Second Amendment Rights at the moment, especially concerning the economy, filling out the rest of his cabinet, partisan politics, and that whole “Middle East Thing.”  I tried to assure the barbarian that if the issue was ever going to be approached, that number one, it wouldn’t be at least until the far side of two years from now, and number two, there’s far too much support against anti-firearms legislation in the country to make a significant impact on the individual gun owner.  Similar to anti-abortion, -gay rights, and -marijuana legislation, the laws enacted would be far too controversial, and no elected official would dare disenfranchise at least half of his electoral base.

“What are you?  One of those statistic-spewing faggots?”  Said the Klansman-Biker, who then worked up enough phlegm in his throat to convince me he was going to hock it into my face if I didn’t get enough room between me and him very quickly.

For the rest of the gun show I kept a very low profile.

Purchasing a firearm is still incredibly easy, despite what gun-owners in attendance would like the layperson to think.  Aside from the fact I was standing in the middle of a 100,000 square-foot converted ice arena, surrounded by tables and tables of guns with only one police officer standing duty by the front door, procuring a pistol, rifle, shotgun, authentic Nazi memorabilia from World War 2, or whatever you fancy is a matter of spending a few moments filling out a simple page of generic government paperwork (“no, I’m not a convicted felon,” and “no, I’m not addicted to any controlled substance, including marijuana” are actual questions with YES/NO boxes next to them.), submitting to a Federal Background Check through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and handing over a credit card to the federally licensed gun dealer to whom you’re giving your business to.

After haggling over the price of my Sig Sauer P230 .380 that I wanted to trade up to a Glock 19 9mm, as well as buying a new Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun (my father is moving to a trailer park in Florida later this summer, and asked if he could have my old Mossberg 500 for home defense), I tried to get the dealer to give me a “sweetheart deal” on an DPMS/Panther AR15 that he had listed for 1100 dollars.  I explained to him that being that the DPMS was a “flat top” receiver with no sights, I would have to go out and buy a sighting system at a cost of about 200-300 dollars.  I also brought up the point that I was already buying two guns off of him and if he wanted to move the products, he should cut me a deal.

He gave it some thought and came back with an offer of 950, a considerable mark down, but I figured he could do better.  On average, an AR15, which three years ago would have retailed for about 600 bucks, were going for between 975-1300 dollars at this gun show.  Getting him even below those numbers was a good deal, but I figured I had this guy on the ropes and he could go lower.

And I was right because he came down as low as 850 after a few more minutes of my complaining.  I then told him I didn’t want it and that I’d take just the pistol and shotgun, which seemed to piss him off a little (there were probably a dozen other customers standing right next to me who heard his generous offer of 850, who no doubt would sweep in on that deal after I walked away).  I realized that I had no real practical use for a high powered rifle in a dilapidated apartment complex, and that the likelihood of me shooting through our walls and into the apartment of one of the neighbors, although enticing, could cause greater legal ramifications for me down the line.

So I sat down in a metal folding chair and filled out the proper paper work.  And even though I accidentally omitted my social security number on the federal gun buyers form (I honestly usually put it down, as I’m inclined to believe that by not, if gives the BATF an excuse to deny my background request, even though it’s marked in bold letters that providing that information is completely OPTIONIONAL), less than five minutes after I put ass to chair, I was handing my credit card over to the dealer, and walking away with two highly lethal weapons that I could virtually do anything I wanted.

I just had to load them first.

I walked around the floor of the gun show a little longer and came to a booth that was selling re-loaded-at-home rounds and hefted a box of 9mms.  When the booth’s vendor told me that the box of 50-count bullets was going to cost me 25 dollars (usually a box – or “square” as it’s called in certain gun-circles – of 9mms goes for about 15-20 bucks, reloads less, obviously) I dropped the box along with my jaw and walked away.  The vender called after me, telling me that he had already sold two cases (roughly twenty boxes per case, and the case I plucked that one box out of was about down to three squares left) and would probably be sold out by tomorrow.

What he didn’t tell me was that there’s virtually no ammunition in Southern Maine at all.

Due to the fear and panic in Southern Maine, which is more “red state” than the rest of the traditionally “blue Maine” people have been buying and stockpiling ammunition in bulk at alarming and albeit, unsettling rates.  I had no clue that the case was so severe until later that afternoon, after leaving the gun show with two firearms and no ammo (making them two of the most expensive paper weights I’ve ever purchased) I headed over to the local Wal Mart, where previously I’ve bought ammo on the cheap, which is exactly what I told the ammo vender at the gun show.

Blinded by ignorance, I walked into the Wal Mart and headed back towards the Sporting Goods section.  The inside of the Wal Mart looked third-world: gutted, stripped of any semblance of that cheery yellow-smiley face conglomerate that once dominated Biddeford Crossing for the last fifteen or so years.  No, the monolith with her ever expanding parking lot seemed frail and decayed, shelving bare, what I imagine a Wal Mart in some remote part of Serbia would look like on a good day.

When I got to the Sporting Goods section I ran into another red-stater, dressed in a typical aggressively patriotic t shirt featuring wording about “colors” and “running” and a picture of a soaring eagle or something to that effect, buying a hunting license of some sort.

I don’t hunt, so I have no idea what game season is in vogue right now, but being that summer’s coming up, and Maine tends to get overpopulated with tourists during this time, something about a bald, big-eared, mouth breathing caveman buying a hunting license didn’t sit well with me.

As the clerk behind the counter diddled the register to print out the hunting license I wandered around the section looking for the display of bullets.  When I found the display, a large locked glass case, I stopped suddenly with confusion.  I turned to see if anyone was watching me, any employee that could help me, but I was alone.  So I went back to the clerk at the register and inquired with him as he finished up the total on the red-stater’s order.

“Excuse me, but are you guys like,” and I trailed off for a second.  The Budweiser-swilling tradesman was barking at his collection of children, aged 6-11, about five or six of them, and his gutturally sharp chunks of words took me off balance for a second.

“That’s strike one!” he snapped at one of his brood, who were horsing around by the register.  “One more strike and you’re not getting ice cream!”

I wanted to clear my throat and correct him, in front of his children, that you technically get three strikes, (based off of baseball or Family Feud rules) but I kept my mouth shut and went back to the clerk.

“Are you guys, like, renovating or something?  Because your ammo case back there is empty and I…” and the clerk cut me off.

“We can’t keep that shit in stock for more than a day.  We put out orders for handgun ammo, rifle ammo, you name it, at least once a week, and by the time it comes in, we have so much of the stuff on back order, that it’s all sold by the time the truck pulls up.”  Jesus, I thought, they’re hording all the goddamn bullets!

The red-stater decided to inject his opinion on the matter as well:

“It’s a real pain in the balls,” he started, his voice phlegmy and choked, as if he was speaking from underneath a boot across his windpipe.  “I’ve been buying online, you can’t get bullets anywhere, not the Wal Mart in Scarborough, the Cabelas, LL Beans, Dicks,” he went on.

I was shell shocked, in utter disbelief.  There had to be someplace I could readily buy bullets today, right now.  What if there was an emergency, and I needed to shoot someone TONIGHT!  Nothing is worse than an unloaded gun sitting by itself at home when you go out to a family restaurant with your wife and mother and spend the entire night alternating your field of view between the Red Sox/Yankees game on the tv over your head and the front door of the establishment, waiting for some barbarian to come barreling in to kill everyone on Margarita Two-fer Night.

The next morning I got up early-ish and took off on my motorcycle, with messenger bag slung around my shoulders, to try every conceivable store that would be selling ammunition.

The thought had occurred to me that I could just go back to the gun show and try my luck there.  I just didn’t want to pay out the nose for cheaply “remanufactured” bullets, given the price of admission is seven dollars, and the mark up on the ammo is about 100%.

So all morning I rode up and down US Rt 1, looking for a place that sold bullets.  I first pulled into the local Cabela’s monstrosity and found that they wouldn’t open until 10 am, which by then would be too late for me, as my mother committed me to helping my tacky aunt and uncle move “unwanted” furniture from my father’s place to their place.  So up the road I traveled still, finding myself at the Scarborough Wal Mart.

Mind you, I’m on a motorcycle, dressed in a black Kevlar jacket, black “murder” bandana around my neck, black messenger bag, black boots, black Oakley Flak Jacket HJXs, and my throat is all weird from the ride.  I stride into the Wal Mart and try to find the Sporting Goods section, but if you’ve ever been into a different Wal Mart than what you’re used to, you know that their store is SLIGHTLY laid out differently.

So after walking around a bit, I find the section and come across similar results.  I’m pretty dejected, but on my way out I find a stock girl- young, petite, blonde – with a clipboard, doing some sort of inventory.  I walk up to her and get her attention.  Immediately she’s intimidated by me; it’s all but written on her face in magic marker, so I lift my shades to my forehead so she can see I’m no threat.

“Hey, you got any ammunition out back?”  I ask.  Unbeknownst to me ahead of time, my voice comes out as if I’m Dirty Harry and I just found out my dog has rabies.  Her eyes develop a sheen of wetness and her lip trembles.  Her voice small, tinny:

“No, we’re all out,” I figured for this based on the evidence and snarl a little to myself.

“Mm, what about the Dick’s up the road?  Know anything about them?”  I unintentionally growl.

“No…” it’s like a stalking lion talking to a church mouse.

“Don’t worry,” I try to ease her obvious fear of this big biker looming over her, asking about affordable munitions.  “I’m not mad, I’m not going to kill anyone,” she lets a nervous smile slip out.  “…because I don’t have any bullets.”  Her smile fades quickly and I leave the store, watching my back on the road for the next few miles for police cars looking for a homicide-crazed lunatic on a motorbike.

I have similar results at the next few places I try, either they’re sold out or not open this early on a Sunday, and after running out of time, I head back to my mother’s house to help move furniture, which is like eating a big plate of glass shards for breakfast.

Later in the day I called what was going to be my “last resort” before being forced to pay for rounds at the gun show.  I used to work for the Kittery Trading Post, an Outdoor Outfitter in Southern Maine that I’m somewhat persona-non-grata with due to an incident in their parking lot that involved myself, a stalker, and the Kittery Police Department over two years ago.  They have a huge firearms selection, dedicating their entire second floor to just guns.  If they didn’t have ammunition I could buy, no one in Southern Maine would.

I called and after being batted around from associate to associate for ten minutes, I finally got a hold of someone on the gun floor.

“Hey, I’m trying to find 9mms, you guys got any in stock?”

“No, all we got on hand right now are .41 magnums and .22s, we can’t keep anything in stock for more than a day,” the associate said into the phone.  “Once word gets out, we get nailed.  We had a shipment of ammo on Friday and we were just about sold out last night.  You’re best bet is online,”

In the end, I went back to the gun show and bought an overpriced box of 9mms, but only because I didn’t want to travel without a loaded gun.  And to add another element of horror to my story, I thought the ammo-epidemic was contained in Maine and other-like minded ignorant locales.  No.  It’s not.

When I we finally got back to The Hook, I logged on to a few different sites that specialize in “hunting accessories” to see if I could purchase ammunition in bulk, only falling into my fellow statesmen’s hysteria half way, more concerned that the ammo crunch will continue to make getting rounds in the future difficult.  Three of the four sites I visited had handgun ammo on backorder, and another had some available, but it wasn’t anything special, just Full Metal Jacketed bullets at 115 grain.

So in the end, what does this mean?  It means I’m going to call Charles Schwab later today and buy stock in Winchester, American Federal, and UCM.

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Around The Office, Living in an Insane Asylum, Those Crazy Politicians, World Wide Events | , , | Leave a comment

Why Being Late for a Wedding Can be a Good Thing

There was that air of tension for a brief second where I knew, before she even said it, that we were going to have to turn around.

My wife Ang and I were on our way to my Cousin Jaime’s wedding in Maine this past weekend.  I’d been at a training school for work all week and on Friday after school we took off to Maine.  Everything was fine.

But sometime during the night, when the temperatures in Southern Maine dropped down below zero, Ang’s Prius decided to do what any wild beast would do in those temperatures a have a fucking stroke.  The next morning, the (thankfully) less expensive of the two Prius’s batteries had shit the bed.  We found this out half-way to the wedding.

First off, a compliant:  Who the hell has a late-morning wedding?  When I woke up that morning, obviously not knowing what time the wedding was, I called Jaime’s father Uncle John (she probably refers to him as “dad” but…) to ask what time the wedding was.  I was shocked that at 9 in the morning he told me it was at “eleven, but you might want to get there at 1030ish”.  Damnit!

So we rushed, got showered and dressed at my mom’s house a few towns over and took off.  We were halfway there when I realized I didn’t have any dashboard read out.

If you’ve never piloted a Prius before, it’s all digital read outs on the dash.  No dials.  At first I thought I had the little dimmer switch turned down for some reason, but that wasn’t it.  Then I thought it might’ve been an optical illusion produced by my polarized sunglasses and the sun or something, and when I pulled my shades down, all I saw was black.

The car was still running though, and we pulled over to the side of Main Street to see if it was something we could fix if we just turned the car off and back on again.  I pushed the ignition button and got no response.  Queue panic from my wife.

God bless her, but if anything happens to her car she wigs out.  So now it’s all tense, we need to be at this wedding, very little time to spare and Ang says “turn back to your mother’s.”

Fuck!

We get back and, knowing nothing about cars, let alone Hybrids, I start googling “Prius + Problems + Cold Weather” and get a bunch of Toyota forums about people in high altitude/cold weather areas having significant ignition and battery problems with their Priuses(i?)

Ang takes the more direct approach and calls the dealership from where she bought the car directly.  After a few minutes of on-the-phone diagnostics, we discover that one of the two batteries the Prius runs on is likely dead or close to it.  We need to get to a dealership, stat, to replace said battery.

So about ten minutes going the opposite direction, we get to a dealership and all is taken care of.  By the time we’re back on the road, the ceremony is definitely over.  We can still make the reception, which I guess is at the same place as the wedding.

At this point, I should tell you about the funny feeling I get when I have to deal with my extended family.

Things have always been a little awkward with my dad’s side of the family, even from when I was a kid.  I don’t really understand why this is, and I simply accept it.  The family is large and I hardly know any of my relatives except the “cool ones” who have achieved this status either by showing some signs of kindness towards me or just by giving me butt-loads of cash during the holidays.  Whenever I come around, I feel like I have nothing to say, and things suddenly become very awkward.  Instantly, the tough-talking, ass-kicking, moderately successful man with the swagger of a guy who gets paid to knock people out is diminished to that clumsy, mush-mouthed 13 year old from fifteen years ago any time my Aunt Peggy comes around.  I can’t explain it.

We pull up to the reception hall and I’m instantly relieved that I listened to my wife’s advice and didn’t wear my three piece suit to this thing, and instead opted for a cashmere sweater and slacks: nearly everyone was in denim and sweatshirts, save a few adults who managed to put on some business-casual button-down shirts.  The only ties were being worn by members of the groom’s wedding party; they were dressed in rental black and red three pieces and looked more Ska band than Groomsmen.

Likewise, bridesmaids were dressed in some sort of Katy Perry-like tube dresses and black lace fingerless gloves with red lace accents.  My cousin did look gorgeous in her white wedding gown, complete with a pair of black and white Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

Oh yeah, and everyone was shitfaced.

As soon as we walked in, I was greeted by the bulk of my extended family.  Hugs were had all around, our gift was taken from us, and slowly, like a spreading pool of blood, the awkwardness set in.

First I had to apologize about a million times for being late.  Next I had to explain why I was wearing hiking boots and not decent shoes (I had forgot to pack them) when nearly everyone else was in loafers at best, gym shoes at worst.  To compound things, the inevitably and albeit obligatory questions about my mother and father started to surface:

“Is your mom going to make it?”

“How’s your father?”

“What’s going on with them?”

These weren’t the usual questions asked out of absenteeism.  No, they knew exactly what’s going on with my mother and father and the nasty separation/divorce.  The know all about my father’s self-exile to some remote campground out in NH and my mother’s slipping sanity.  They just wanted the gossip.

“Oh, I see your mother all the time at the Shaw’s” one of my aunt’s said.  “Awesome?”  I say in return.  I mean, what else can I say?   Then Jaime finally made her way over.

Blitzed, she punched me in the chest and with thick tongue said “you missed the wedding, ass.”  I felt about >< this tall.

To make matters worse, her younger brother Josh, whom I haven’t seen in YEARS swings by and gives me a hug.  I don’t recognize him and it’s not until later that Ang points him out to me.  Again, I feel about as tall as my boot laces.

We eventually sit with a pair of watered down beers at a table away from my family.  Joining us is a remote friend of Jaime’s whom she used to work with, and her husband Greg.  The woman (I can’t remember her name) came across like Sarah Palin (she disclosed that she went as Palin for Halloween this past year) only drunk.  Both couples had a lot in common and I could see Ang and I becoming this couple in roughly five years.  I kinda wish now I had gotten their contact info.  They were cool.

After nursing our one beer each (we had no cash for tipping at the open bar, and I felt like a shitheel for not tipping on the two watered down Natty-Ice’s) and eating some finger food, we left, promising we’d see everyone at the “after-party.”  Obviously, we didn’t intend to be at the after party.

The more distance I put us between my family the better I felt.  I knew the night before this wedding wasn’t something I wanted to really be a part of, but out of love for my cousin, who I treat more like a distant sister, I manned up.  For forty minutes.

In the end, being late for the wedding should’ve come across as some sort of omen; being late should’ve told us to phone it in, send out the gift via certified first class mail and send a heart-felt apology letter.  It would’ve been easier on my psyche.

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion, Those Crazy Politicians | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update: We Elected a MAN.

In a world where H1N1, Public Option Health Care, and Misbehaving Children, Their Parents, and Balloons are the norm across the headlines, I was abso-fucking-lutely fucking stunned when I read the following headline in the Times:

Man’s World at White House? No Harm, No Foul, Aides Say

The article, in short, is about how some ULTRA liberals and feminists feel that President Obama is excluding female staff members from events like a pick up game of basketball, golfing, and casual conversation about sports.

Um, if I’m not mistaken, I think there’s still a war going on too, can someone check into that?

I mean, really?  Really ladies?  Is this really an issue with you?  That the President doesn’t invite you gals out to play B-Ball with him?  Because if it is, we can certainly make up some customary “feel good” invitations on embroidered envelopes, maybe spray them down with eau du toilet and put them into your mail box with some chocolates, would that make you feel better?

Needless to say, I’m insulted at the fact that certain people, who aren’t even on Mr. Obama’s White House staff, are complaining that there’s a “boy’s club” brewing in the West Wing.

So what, I say.  So fucking what?

I hate to come across as Limbaugh-gian/Beck-ian, but these complainers are likely Hillary Votes still scorned by Palinists and are taking their frustrations out on the simple fact that our President is a “dude.”  And ‘dudes’ like to play basketball after lunch, talk about last night’s game, drink beer, throw darts, talk about Marcia-in-accounts-payable’s tits, burp, fart, lift weights, shoot guns, ride motorcycles, and spit on midgets.

I’m not saying that there aren’t women out there who would like to do these things with the President as well, but there are in a vast minority, and likely drive trucks, have bicep tattoos and mullets.

The article goes on to explain that women on the White House staff don’t really care about the so-called “boys club,” and treat it as mostly an “eye-roll kind of thing,”- annoyance more than exclusion or even abandonment by the CiC.

And honestly, if Mr. Obama called up Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill, 1st Dist) and was like “hey, come on out and play forward for me this afternoon, I highly doubt the congresswoman would show.  Sorry, but it’s the truth.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” would be the response from her office.

Listen, from the top to the bottom, let men be men.  This is why we men create “man caves” or “man forts” or whatever we call them.  It’s to have a place to be a man without the nagging wife, girlfriend, mistress, mother, sister, daughter, Secretary of State, Congressional Rep, or Feminazi Blogger looking over our shoulders and wondering why we’re cleaning our guns instead of fixing that leaky gutter/radiator/furnace/water heater/child.  We just want to be left alone in our cocoons, fiddle with things, read about wars, build ships in bottles, whatever.

Same goes for when we want to go out with just the guys; we need to be around men to help balance out our pHs.

Allow me to speak on behalf of all men out there:  We love being around our women, we die to serve you, rub your feets, smell your hair, listen to you bitch about your jobs and about people we only know in passing conversations, yet you think we have intimate knowledge of based on your tales.  We really do.  But we, as men/guys/dudes, need to go out and carouse drunkenly with each other, eye-rape some college girls, swear loudly, and kick over metal trash cans at odd hours.  It allows us to be the high functioning and responsible adult males you know and love and trust with a shotgun left loaded in the closet by your plastic-encased wedding dress.

So in sum, let Mr. Obama have his pick-up games, his spots on ESPN and Letterman, his fist bumps, greasy burgers and cigarettes.  He’s not hurting nor alienating anyone.  He is a husband of an increasingly determined and strong-willed wife and the father of two adorable little girls.  Do you know how much shit he must take for leaving the seat up?  And you’re going to try and take away what little the man has left to feel like a guy?  You’re a monster.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pour some Epsom salt into my wife’s foot bath.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, People I Hate, Those Crazy Politicians, Why Am I Reading This?, World Wide Events | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fat Fucks

Recently I was someplace, maybe I was in my truck or in Ang’s car, and saw what appeared to be two medium sized dogs fighting inside a pair of oversized sweat pants.  These pants were making their way slowly down the street, as the dog on the left seemed to be getting the upper hand on the dog to the right, and then the tables would turn, and the dog on the right would over take the dog on the left.
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Then I realized that I was not watching two medium-sized dogs fighting while trapped in a pair of sweats; I was watching a morbidly obese woman saunter down the thoroughfare, presumably towards her next feeding.

I gagged a little, yeah.

You don’t have to watch the news or hear the health warnings to realize that our country is literally crumbling under its own weight for the last thirty sum-odd years.  Obesity has been the plague of our nation the way starvation plagues Somalia, and economical instability plagues Russia.  Every country has its problems and I assume that being a nation of rollie-pollie’s sure as hell beats a nation run by tribal war lords.

It used to be that girth was a sign of wealth; the fatter you were the more money you had to spend on luxuries such as food and drink.  Look at King Henry Tudor, he weighed in at over 400lbs by the time he died of a collapsed lung and gout.  Sure, some of his weight came from sustaining a jousting injury, but back then, what did you do if you were stuck in bed all day besides eat huge turkey legs and fuck the shit out of virgin maids?henry_viii

Our country, despite its rocky fiscal 2008, has been living high off the hog since World War 2, and it shows.  Progressively, every generation since the Greatest Generation, has gotten a little bit fatter.  I don’t have numbers to support this, but be rest assured its likely true.  Why?  Because Grampy Hank didn’t have a fucking Xbox waiting for him at home every day after school.  He had a little something called “Chores.”

Kids today (as I shake my fist from my porch) are not nearly as physically active as anyone who’s 25 or older today were.  This is largely due to school budgets chopping after school sports and the advent of social internet media.  Instead of going down to the park to hang out, chase girls, climb on shit, kids as young as 11 or 12 are going right home from school, logging on to their Myspaces, Facebooks, and Twitters, and doing what kids for generations have been doing after school – gossiping with their friends about school bullshit, minus the healthy dosages of Vitamin D and the basic physical activity of simply loitering.
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It’s a shitty state of affairs when while watching Sunday afternoon football I see an ad urging kids to play outdoors for a minimum of 60 minutes a day.  Holy Hot Fuck.

Ang and I are not planning on having kids, but let’s say we were – I’d absolutely refuse to allow my children to come home from school and log on to a glowing screen.  Fuck that.  Unless that kid has a project or paper due the next day, his ass is changing out of his “school clothes” into his “play clothes” and running around the yard, street, vacant lot, whatever until dinner’s ready, which will consist of steamed vegetables,  chicken, rice and protein shakes for everyone.

And this brings up my next topic:  The Fat Tax.

You might’ve heard of the Fat Tax or “Sins Tax” in passing recently, but the idea is hardly new.  The Fat Tax would increase the amount of money individual consumers would be paying on sugary foods or foods deemed to have little-to-no nutritional value.

To say I’m for this tax would be obvious, although I can see its drawbacks plainly.  First, who the hell is in favor of a tax on ANYTHING, especially in our slowly recovering economy.  Secondly, it’s widely known that the biggest purchasers of “bad-for-you-foods” are people in the lowest income brackets.  Why?  Because like an addictive drug, you craft your ware to be cheap and addictive to keep uneducated people and their spending dollars from straying away; you set your hooks deep with flavorful concoctions manufactured and sold at little cost.

Why do you think McDonald’s has a dollar menu?  You can feed a family of four dinner tonight for as little as fifteen dollars.fat-kits-eating-mcdonalds

Not to knock McDonald’s, as I’m a shareholder; I know its hypocrisy, however I want to make money on the backs of the dumb and poor too.

Another argument against the Fat Tax is that “good food” is also “expensive food.”  This line of reasoning isn’t baseless, as anyone who wanders into a Whole Foods will tell you.  You want organically grown brussel sprouts?  That’ll be 1.99 a lb, oppose to the “regular” sprouts, which are .99 cents a pound.

“What the hell is the difference?”  I asked my wife one day while grocery shopping.

“The organic ones don’t use harmful pesticides,” she explained.  Oh, but, … I mean, if we wash these spouts in the sink after we buy them, aren’t they just as good?

I didn’t bother asking that question, but to me it seems clear:  There’s already a “tax” on good-for-you foods, why not tax the bad-for-you-foods too?

Soda is a big one.  I heard a proposal the other day that suggested a penny an ounce tax on sugary-sodas, meaning, that 20 ouncer you get out of the machine at lunch time would cost you twenty cents more.  It might not seem like a big deal, hell, what’s an extra quarter going into the machine going to cost you, that’s less than a postage stamp.  But think of it over time, and think of it on a macro scale, where out of 265 million US Citizens, over 85% of us consume sugary beverages every day, multiple times a day.

Right next to kicking fast food, kicking soda was the worst.  When I committed to my diet and weight loss plan at the beginning of the year I immediately took notice of the withdrawal symptoms I was having as little as 48 hours without a carbonated caffeine drink.  I was irritable, sweaty, panicked, shaky and dry-mouthed.  No matter how much water I would drink, I was still thirsty.

But I got through it, and after about two weeks I could care less about soda.  Now if I split a Coke with Ang… a real Coke, mind you… I can feel my teeth buzz, dare I say, throb from the high sugar concentration.  I can’t believe I used to pound a 12 pack or more a day of that stuff.
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Let’s go back to that fat woman I described a little while ago:  No one gets that big, America, no one.  Sure, some people are just big people, whether it’s genetics or glandular diseases or by some means that can’t be controlled.  Hell, my Uncle David weighs in at over 300lbs, however, he’s also 6’7 and built like a bank vault door.

No, that woman walking down the street in the shock-loaded elastic waist sweats, with the visible dark stain running down the middle of her back because she was exerting herself beyond her normal means by having to move her vast body a short distance, did that shit to herself.  She’s likely poor, under educated, and had parents that didn’t care about her enough to prepare her a home-cooked meal once in a while.  Instead she never learned to take care of herself and figured that why should I learn to cook when the fine people at McDonalds (ticker: MCD) will cook for me, and it’s only pennies a day…

With the likelihood that government provided health care will go national it’s unlikely that she’s even insurable with a private company, so as a tax payer I’m going to be paying for the eventual quadruple by-pass surgery she’ll require to jumpstart her car battery-sized-and-colored heart sooner or later, plus the inevitable fee the fire department will charge for knocking down a wall to her apartment to extract her via crane and sling.

Tax it, tax Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Lays Potato Chips, anything delicious and would cause a reasonable person to vegetate on the couch in front of an episode of “Two and a Half Men” and stuff their faces uncontrollably for hours on end.  But turn around and give tax break incentives to those of us who are spending money on joining a gym (tax incentives would work like a Subway Card, Jared:  You’d have to get the card punched by a gym employee min. once a week, and turn that card in with your tax paper work) or buying healthier foods.  Make smoking cessation programs tax-free or put tax credit incentives on those as well.  Consider it a rebate on the cost of the program if completed successfully.story2

How about age restrictions on fast food?  Or how about just not letting them stay open 24/7?  Unless you work third shift as a cab driver, why the hell are you going to Taco Bell at 4 am when Last Call was three and a half hours ago?

Ride a bike to and from work more than once a week for a month?  You get a government issued gas card for 50 bucks.

The point I’m trying to make is, yeah, tax the shit we don’t need, but how about throwing a bone to those of us who have already been keeping a healthy lifestyle?  Positive reinforcement works just as good as negative.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Out and About, Shameless Self Promotion, Smells Like Children, The Great Indoors, Those Crazy Politicians | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

With So Much Going On, Hardly a Time to Take Off…

I took two weeks off from work, which meant I kinda took two weeks off from blogging.  It’s no one’s fault.  And with every thing going on, from celebrities dropping dead left and right (as someone put it on Facebook the other day “at this rate we’ll be out of celebrities by Halloween…) to grilled chicken being made readily available at KFC, you’d think this would be a shitty time for me to drop the ball.

And it was, but I’m not apologetic.

Dude, seriously, I need to take a break every once in a while.  I can’t be your sole source of snide punditry from my nice darkly stained desk, 24/7.  I don’t get paid to do this, I am not your Jon Stewart or even that guy from E!’s “Soup.”

So I took a break, big deal.  And even now as I sit here in front of this old piece of shit Dell computer with it’s Shift key that barely works, pumping out some filler article to take up space because, let’s see, it was when since I last put out an article?  Middle of last week? -I still can’t come up with something blog-worthy.

Yeah.  I’m falling off.  Sorry.

And granted too, there was plenty of article fodder in the tubes over the last two weeks.  As I mentioned before, there was plenty of celebrity bones to pick over, as well as the official down surge of American forces in major Iraqi cities.  But nothing really motivated me enough to sit down in front of the iMac at home (oppose to this road hardened Dell at the office) and knock out five hundred words or more on any subject.

Same goes for now.  Jesus, am I dealing with mono of the creative brain?

Perhaps.  Perhaps I need a tall drink.  By tall I mean, like actual size, though I don’t think there’s any confusion of the euphemism.  A Long Island Ice Tea does sound exceptionally delicious right now, even if it has “Long Island” in the name.

But this weekend does mark the 4th of July, America’s Birthday.  And as I reflect on it here in the last few seconds, I feel as though, like most other modern holidays, little has to do with the meaning behind Independence Day and more to do with the actual celebration.

And what does the celebrations entail?  The inevitable cookout at the local park or in your own backyard, small towns with their obligatory parades that clog traffic with red, white and blue streamers and balloons and home-made parade floats filled with waving children throwing penny candy and the dumbstruck crowd numbly waving cheap plastic American flags no doubt manufactured in Taiwan.

No, Independence Day is not this sum of cheap tissue paper parts.  Ask why we celebrate Independence Day, most younger school children will likely get confused because you’re not referring to it as the 4th of July.  Those who see through the misnomer will tell you something ridiculous like “it’s the day we got the Statue of Liberty” or “George Washington’s Birthday.”

While the former isn’t entirely false, the meaning, the true meaning that our forefather’s designed has been lost in the hundreds or thousands of Nathan’s Hot dogs a skinny Japanese man has shoveled down his throat for the enjoyment of our fellow countrymen saturating in their own juices on their air-cooled couches and Laz-E-Boys.

Independence Day is not a Will Smith movie.  Independence Day is the day that fifty-sum-odd Englishmen stood in a sweltering room in Philadelphia and looked at each other and condemned one another to death.  Essentially that’s what they were doing when they signed the Declaration of Independence.  We talk about how “Christly” Jesus was by sacrificing himself for our sins, etc etc, what about Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin?  They put their names on a piece of paper that basically told King George to go screw in a corner, and by doing so, they’d be hanged in town square in front of family, friends and fans alike.

And we “celebrate” that sacrifice with some half-assed, beer soaked pyrotechnics.

Yes, Independence Day was the birth of our Nation.  But really, our Nation was conceived by the efforts of strong willed men and women who each gave of themselves of bloodsweatandtears for the year or two leading up to July 4th 1776.

Well, ok then, I think I got my mojo back.

July 3, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, Those Crazy Politicians | , , , | Leave a comment

The Post-9/11 Head Scratcher

I’ve always been a proponent of the Second Amendment, the Amendment in which we as citizens of the United States are allowed to purchase, maintain, and keep firearms in our homes.  I’ve also always been an advocate for “less regulation, more education” on these matters.  My premise has been that if we, as rational, educated gun owners and champions of the Second Amendment went out into our communities and tried to dispel rumors and negative propaganda about firearms, an educated public will see how outright banning them for private use is a bad idea.

I won’t get into why it’s a bad idea – that has little to do with why I’m writing this article.  I’m writing this article because I just learned from a NYT article that being on a federal terrorist watch list does not exclude you from being able to purchase a firearm.

It kinda makes sense, doesn’t it, that if the federal government thinks that you have ties to a terrorist organization, both domestic or international, you shouldn’t be able to pass a federal background check which is required when purchasing firearms.  But alas, Al Qaeda, White Supremacists Groups, Militant “Militia Men” who refuse to pay federal taxes, and other extremists can walk into any gun store in America (and there’s only like a million of them all over the place) and buy whatever they have the money for providing they can pass the background check.

Then again, it’s not as black and white as I’m making it sound.  Although the firearms federal background check paper work is nothing more than an ink-and-paper “on your honor” formality, lying on such can create a nest of hassles for you which will include doing time in a federal penitentiary.  But nothing on that paper work says anything on it about being on a federal government terrorist watch list.

And would you know if you were?

And what does being on a watch list mean, exactly?  According to the article in the NYT, being on the list excludes you from getting on an airplane in the United States or on a plane headed for the United States.  An example of this is when a plane carrying Cat Stevens into the US was forced to land at Bangor International Airport under the escort of two F-16s a few years ago because he was on some sort of “no-fly” list.  Whatever.  Another thing:  Apparently you can’t apply for a visa to the US, both of which restrictions were implemented ex post facto from 9/11, as Saudi Arabian – born terrorist both boarded US flights and even went and applied for Work and Student Visas.

Terrorist organizations are not going to fly planes into buildings again, it’s too time consuming and they’re aware that we’re watching every plane as it takes off and lands.  So what could a terrorist do to upset a lot of people, that’s somewhat cost effective and readily available?

Right?

Opponents to adding this restriction (and by “opponents” I mean the Gun Lobby in Washington DC) to the purchase of firearms cite gaping holes in the legislation due in part to the fact that there “may or may not” be people who have no reason to be on the terrorist watch list.  “Mistaken identity” they say.  Also, there could be cross-bureaucratical confusion as one agency thinks someone should be on the list, and another agency sees things differently, or doesn’t have an adequate reason to place someone on this list.

Currently there are 24,000 sum-odd people on this list, a mere fraction of a fraction of the population of the United States.  What the Gun Lobby and the NRA (who I’m ashamed to say that I’m a member of – ashamed because I feel they make gun owners look more like fanatics with guns than rational citizens) are worried about is the slippery slope effect, wherein you pass one piece of anti-whatever legislation, you open the door for more restrictive legislation down the road.  There’s some truth to that, as I am against passing any restrictive legislation as well.

For instance I don’t want the government to come in and restrict any type of abortion, so-called “late term” or otherwise, because once you take away one right, you lend yourself to the think that “hey, what’s one more step?”  Soon we’ve taken too many steps and we can’t turn back.

So I’m cautious about this new gun legislation, but then again, I’m also a rational-fucking-person, and banning people on a terrorist watch list from buying guns seems like a no-brainer.  But there has to be oversight, because we don’t want to end up with just a roomful of people deciding on who can be on the list and who shouldn’t.  There has to be criteria, and even that criterion is going to be subject to scrutiny.

Sadly, terrorism is here and is going to be here for a long while.  What we as a country need to do is stop playing catch up and passing new legislation after the fact.  What’s that old saying?  Why close the barn door after the horses got out?  And then something about leading them to water?

Regardless, let’s be proactive for once.  Ok, let’s pass this legislation and hope that positive measures keep the list fair and objective.  Give people on the list a chance to prove that they shouldn’t be on it, or institute a mandatory ten-year review on all persons on the list.  Once every ten years review that person’s history, records, etc, and based off of that do we think it’s a good idea for them to come off the list?  If the guy’s a responsible business owner and pays his taxes every year, then ok, I can see him coming off the list.  If a guy keeps flying to and from Syria every 6 months, then well…

Instead of “less regulation, more education”, maybe what we need is “less isolation, more legislation.”

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, Those Crazy Politicians, World Wide Events | , | 1 Comment

American Terrorist

I try to keep things light around here on this ol’ blog of mine; I never harp at you about my personal political or religious beliefs because that shit is personal and you don’t need to know that being a dependably lovable reader.  But some shit went down over the weekend that I’m gonna kinda have to be forced to discuss with you.  So get ready for the long haul, find a comfy patch of rug, get a juice box and a cheese stick, and open up your listening holes for once.

This past weekend, a doctor known to perform abortions was shot and murdered in broad daylight, while he was entering his place of holy worship.  The story alone is enough to shock just about any sensible person regardless on how you feel about the issue of abortion whether your pro-choice or -life, but what really got under my skin was the extreme right wing response that certain members of the media had.  Just short of “the guy had it coming to him” the response from pro-life leaders and conservatives was cold and albeit contradictory to their core belief system.

And if you think for one second this isn’t on the same scale as a Palestinian donning a bomb vest and getting on board a bus full of Jews to blow himself up, you need to try seeing the world with open eyes.

The attack wasn’t violently explosive and there wasn’t a high body count, but the psychological impact is just the same:  fear created through public violence at the hand of a religious extremist.  Whoever this guy was based his assassination on the simple fact that the whole world would see this abortion doctor getting his brains blown out in front of his family and community; he was striving for impact, to make a statement.  If he simply wanted the good doctor dead, why not kill him in his own home while he slept or something?  Why not do what that other guy did a few years ago and shoot him through the window of his kitchen with a hi-powered rifle from a perch in a tree?  No, he wanted to send a message, the same type of message that Islamic Extremists try to send when they bomb a convoy full of soldiers or a bus full of school kids, or an Iraqi Police station.  They want to scare the average person from going out and living a normal life, for fear that the same thing that happened to the victim will happen to them.

And that, at it’s very heart, is terrorism.

Right now there’s a woman out there making the so-very-hard decision to get an abortion and now she won’t, because she’s afraid that if she does, she’ll get shot in the back of the head on a sidewalk.  When you strip away someone’s right, a right that has been fought in the Supreme Court, a right that caters to the individual’s ownership of their own body, by using fear tactics and brute violence, you’re a terrorist, you’re no worse than the same guys who hijacked those planes on the morning of September 11th.

And to top it all off, why, if you believe that murdering an unborn fetus is MURDER, why would you go out and shoot and kill the guy who performs the procedure?  Does that make sense that you’re going to take the life of a so-called “life taker”?  Doesn’t that make you as bad as they are?  Doesn’t it crush your whole argument or any chance you might of had for legitamacy?

Yes.  Yes it does, terrorist.

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate, Those Crazy Politicians, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , | 1 Comment

The Divided

By now I’m sure you’ve heard that President Obama’s appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor would result in the first Hispanic to be seated in the Highest Court in The Land, if confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  While the barrios are a flush with pride, the appointment of Judge Sotomayor has rubbed some white Americans the wrong way, as would the aspect of any person of color reaching a professional zenith would.

The problem that most of the mouthier Americans who happened to call into the morning sports talk radio programme I happened to tune into (right, because to sharpen my political views, I tune into Sports Talk Radio….) brought up the point that the only thing that separates Ms. Sotomayor from the pack of other deservedly appropriate judges is the simple fact that she’s 1) Hispanic and 2) a woman.

I tend to agree, but only part way; I agree that she is a woman, and possibly Hispanic, but I doubt that these are the reasons why Mr. Obama has gone to appoint her to the Supreme Court.

The real reason is that she probably has a liberal slant to help off set the conservative Roberts Court.

But the simple fact that white America has become so quick to pull the anti-Race Card as it were, is telling of a strange racial self conscience that hasn’t been fully realized until Mr. Obama was elected president back in November.  This polarization has laid dormant since the Civil Right movement, and not since then have we seen such segregation out in the open.  A few examples:

In this latest incarnation of Vh1’s “Charm School with Ricki Lake” there’s pretty much two cliques:  Girls from “Real Chance at Love” which are predominantly African American, and girls from “Rock of Love Bus” which are mostly (99%) white.  The terms “ghetto” and “trash” get heaved around liberally by both factions.

Also, McDonald’s fast food advertising has been somewhat black-centric in the last year for some reason.  The last time I checked, everyone, except maybe Eskimos love fast food; Big Macs know no color barrier.  But Mickey D’s seems to be only targeting Urban Dwellers, age 19-34 with their radio and television ads.

This isn’t to say you don’t see/hear white people in Golden Arches ads, but check out their website’s employment opportunity section, and you’ll be greeted by a jolly-looking black management type and a plethora of multi-cultural employee stand ins, all grinning earnestly because they’re being paid to have their pictures taken together, oppose to the inner-city-style work force you’re bound to find at any urban McDonald’s morning shift whom barely acknowledge each other as people, lest a bullet target for after work.

Even the radio and tv ads are not aimed at me, a late-20s white guy, but some “hip, smooth, has-every-Common-album-on-vinyl” black guy.  Whether it be some silky lounge music or just straight up be-bop hip-hop about two all beef patties, I’m obviously not the targeted demographic any more.  Apparently McDonald’s thinks that white people are too busy running each other over to get to the pull up at Sonic and are looking to do further damage to the arteries of the American Black.

And hence, we are divided peoples again.  Everything Abraham Lincoln, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr fought so hard for, wiped away in a fearful bitterness fueled by biased fast food and brain damaging television programming.  The very root of our country’s psyche has been eviscerated for a viewing medical procedure audience and systematically dissected in a matter of catchy jingles and fake tits barely contained in bras meant for breast tissue twice as small as what’s being crammed into them.

I’d be concerned, but concern requires surprise, and that I hardly am.

May 27, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, Those Crazy Politicians | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Heart of Cape Cod

I was out driving around today and I saw this sign on a local motel:

“Located in the Heart of Cape Cod!”

Now, this motel was roughly two hundred yards from my apartment.  I live in a total shithole neighborhood.  So to call this place the “Heart of Cape Cod” struck somewhat of a chord within me.

If where I live on Cape is considered the “heart” of this hook-shaped arm, then it’s a clogged, disgusting, black heart that sits in the chest of Cape Cod.  I wouldn’t drag a dead cat through this town.

It took them over a month to pave over some five hundred square feet of road they ripped up at the end of my street.  Just shy of a fucking month.  And this is the HEART OF CAPE COD?!

No, the heart lies someplace in Hyannis.  Or…, no Hyannis would be the failing, booze-soaked kidneys of Cape Cod.  The actual heart of Cape Cod is out in Orleans, which is a pleasant town that I wish we could/would move to.  There’s something about Orleans that speaks to me.  Maybe it’s their collection of windmills, or maybe it’s the Chocolate Sparrow and Joe Mammas, (both great coffee spots- Joe’s is less known, less crowded and has better food in my opinion), maybe it’s that whole not-suffering-from-Atherosclerosis vibe I get, oppose to when I drive through the piece of shit town I’m renting in, where I get that dreadful feeling that I’m in Wisconsin.

I’ve never been to Wisconsin, and there’s probably a lesson buried in there.

Regardless, my town sucks, it’s the anus of Cape Cod, or maybe the infected urethra.  If Martha’s Vinyard and Nantucket are the menstruation stains, maybe my town’s the blood clot.  Either way, it’s the furthest thing from the heart, with it’s lack of character, generic fried seafood joints and soft serve ice cream.  There’s a fucking antique store every ten feet and a Rite Aid with nothing in it.

On the antique stores:  Just because you’re selling your used junk in a store does not give it antiquity.  It’s still junk that you dusted off from the attic and are trying to sell to the tourists.

You know you live in a total jizzstain of a town when there’s not a single grocery store, but three liquor stores all within two miles of each other.

If (Knock on Wood) I got into an accident and I was about to die in this town, I would grab the EMT by his collar with my blood-soaked hand and pull him down to my face.  My last words would be “Drag me to the next town over and then call TOD.  You can’t deny a man’s dying wish, you son of a bitch…”

I found the so-called Chamber of Commerce today, it sits just off of the major road that slices through the middle of this town like a razor through a depressed fat goth girl’s wrist.  It was a shanty of a building (yet had free wi-fi… you figure that one out) that stood behind the local fried seafood place.

It looked like a haunted house, minus the house part.  It was more like a spooky shack that not even the Mystery Mobile would be interested in checking out.

Does this town even have a mayor?  How about a selectman?  …. Town Council?  …No?  Board of Selectmen?  IS THERE ANYONE HERE WHO COULD GIVE THE FIRE DEPARTMENT THE NIGHT OFF?  ….That’s all I want to know.

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, Those Crazy Politicians, Too Much Time | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear and Loathing and The Southern Maine Ammo Crunch of 2009

I think it would be easier to find a red headed virgin in Rosalita, Mexico who wasn’t suffering from Swine Flu before I’ll ever find 9mm bullets in Southern Maine.

At least, this is what I was “lead” to believe last Sunday morning while traveling over fifty miles on a motorcycle when temperatures hit 83 degrees before I even left the house.

I made the tactical error of putting on a shit-ton of personal protective equipment – more than necessary, which includes UnderArmor, thick gloves, Kevlar jacket liner, etc – before ever walking out the door of my mother’s house.  By the time I got to my bike, one street over at my father’s house, I was pretty much covered in a thin sheen of sweat.

My objective was simple, though pulling it off would be a beast of a completely different temperament:  I had to find bullets for the new Glock pistol I bought the day before at the local Biddeford Gun Show, a gun show that was once the flagship gun collector’s exhibition in Southern Maine, but since the winding down of the Bush Administration, The Show has somewhat become a shell of it’s former glory.  Gone now are the giant booths with tactical webbing-based vests and shoulder harnesses.  Displays of military-grade firepower that only Level Three Licensees can legal own, gone as well.  Even the old guy with the snow-white beard to his belt buckle, pushing a hand truck with an old Browning air-cooled .30 cal mounted machine gun was absent from the proceedings.  No, all that seemed to remain were a few logie-looking booths and venders with various instruments of death and destruction, marked up by at least 15% to as high as 50% depending on whom you were dealing with, and how exotic the piece was.

But what had returned were the crowds.  In recent years the Biddeford Gun Show’s attendance has somewhat fallen off, which in turn, diminished the level of prestige of the participating venders.  The surge in populace this year seems to stem from the current Democratic Presidential Administration, and the fears that a black Democratic President will “any day now” pass legislation abolishing the Second Amendment and send federal law enforcement officers into the homes of every Red Blooded American who owns firearms to forcibly strip the weapons from their hands, and possibly march them to a cattle car to be shipped into the wilderness in the dead of night.

This and other mythoi were being exchanged amongst the crowd of surly late-middle-aged panic-mongers in attendance at the gun show.  As I weaved through the crowd examining table after table of weaponry I overheard a number of what some could consider outlandish accusations, rumors and innuendo from those who paid seven dollars to get their hand stamped at the door.

“Any day now, Obama’s going to raid our homes and take our guns away,” grumbled one gun owner in farm-chic clothing.  Another:  “We’re only as safe as we make ourselves, no one’s going to take that away from me!”

The crowd of about one thousand constantly seemed to be teetering on the edge of full blown riot, with tensions flowing with every disgruntled half-truth that was being uttered as (mostly) men fingered cheap Spanish-imports of cloned 1911-A1 .45 ACPs and grease-packed AK47s.  Overall the mood was dark, and if you tried to inject another point of view, shed of optimism if you will, you were seen at best as a simpleton, and at worst, a spy.

I found this out when I stupidly tried to bring to the attention of one show goer who I was 90% convinced was a member of either the Klu Klux Klan or the Hell’s Angels that Mr. Obama has a little too much on his plate to deal with the issue of Second Amendment Rights at the moment, especially concerning the economy, filling out the rest of his cabinet, partisan politics, and that whole “Middle East Thing.”  I tried to assure the barbarian that if the issue was ever going to be approached, that number one, it wouldn’t be at least until the far side of two years from now, and number two, there’s far too much support against anti-firearms legislation in the country to make a significant impact on the individual gun owner.  Similar to anti-abortion, -gay rights, and -marijuana legislation, the laws enacted would be far too controversial, and no elected official would dare disenfranchise at least half of his electoral base.

“What are you?  One of those statistic-spewing faggots?”  Said the Klansman-Biker, who then worked up enough phlegm in his throat to convince me he was going to hock it into my face if I didn’t get enough room between me and him very quickly.

For the rest of the gun show I kept a very low profile.

Purchasing a firearm is still incredibly easy, despite what gun-owners in attendance would like the layperson to think.  Aside from the fact I was standing in the middle of a 100,000 square converted ice arena, surrounded by tables and tables of guns with only one police officer standing duty by the front door, procuring a pistol, rifle, shotgun, authentic Nazi memorabilia from World War 2, or whatever you fancy is a matter of spending a few moments filling out a simple page of generic government paperwork (“no, I’m not a convicted felon,” and “no, I’m not addicted to any controlled substance, including marijuana” are actual questions with YES/NO boxes next to them.), submitting to a Federal Background Check through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and handing over a credit card to the federally licensed gun dealer to whom you’re giving your business to.

After haggling over the price of my Sig Sauer P230 .380 that I wanted to trade up to a Glock 19 9mm, as well as buying a new Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun (my father is moving to a trailer park in Florida later this summer, and asked if he could have my old Mossberg 500 for home defense), I tried to get the dealer to give me a “sweetheart deal” on an DPMS/Panther AR15 that he had listed for 1100 dollars.  I explained to him that being that the DPMS was a “flat top” receiver with no sights, I would have to go out and buy a sighting system at a cost of about 200-300 dollars.  I also brought up the point that I was already buying two guns off of him and if he wanted to move the products, he should cut me a deal.

He gave it some thought and came back with an offer of 950, a considerable mark down, but I figured he could do better.  On average, an AR15, which three years ago would have retailed for about 600 bucks, were going for between 975-1300 dollars at this gun show.  Getting him even below those numbers was a good deal, but I figured I had this guy on the ropes and he could go lower.

And I was right because he came down as low as 850 after a few more minutes of my complaining.  I then told him I didn’t want it and that I’d take just the pistol and shotgun, which seemed to piss him off a little.  I realized that I had no real practical use for a high powered rifle in a dilapidated apartment complex, and that the likelihood of me shooting through our walls and into the apartment of one of the neighbors, although enticing, could cause greater legal ramifications for me down the line.

So I sat down in a metal folding chair and filled out the proper paper work.  And even though I accidentally omitted my social security number on the federal gun buyers form (I honestly usually put it down, as I’m inclined to believe that by not, if gives the BATF an excuse to deny my background request, even though it’s marked in bold letters that providing that information is completely OPTIONIONAL), less than five minutes after I put ass to chair, I was handing my credit card over to the dealer, and walking away with two highly lethal weapons that I could virtually do anything I wanted with.

But I just had to load them first.

I walked around the floor of the gun show a little longer and came to a booth that was selling re-loaded-at-home rounds and hefted a box of 9mms.  When the booth’s vendor told me that the box of 50-count bullets was going to cost me 25 dollars (usually a box – or “square” as it’s called in certain gun-circles – of 9mms goes for about 15-20 bucks, reloads less, obviously) I dropped the box along with my jaw and walked away.  The vender called after me, telling me that he had already sold two cases (roughly twenty boxes per case, and the case I plucked that one box out of was about down to three squares left) and would probably be sold out by tomorrow.

What he didn’t tell me was that there’s virtually no ammunition in Southern Maine at all.

Due to the fear and panic in Southern Maine, which is more “red state” than the rest of the traditionally “blue Maine” people have been buying and stockpiling ammunition in bulk at alarming and albeit, unsettling rates.  I had no clue that the case was so severe until later that afternoon, after leaving the gun show with two firearms and no ammo (making them two of the most expensive paper weights I’ve ever purchased) I headed over to the local Wal Mart, where previously I’ve bought ammo on the cheap, which is exactly what I told the ammo vender at the gun show.

Blinded by ignorance, I walked into the Wal Mart and headed back towards the Sporting Goods section.  The inside of the Wal Mart looked third-world: gutted, stripped of any semblance of that cheery yellow-smiley face conglomerate that once dominated Biddeford Crossing for the last fifteen or so years.  No, the monolith with her ever expanding parking lot seemed frail and decayed, shelving bare, what I imagine a Wal Mart in some remote part of Serbia would look like on a good day.

When I got to the Sporting Goods section I ran into another red-stater, dressed in a typical aggressively patriotic t shirt featuring wording about “colors” and “running” and a picture of a soaring eagle or something to that effect, buying a hunting license of some sort.

I don’t hunt, so I have no idea what game season is in vogue right now, but being that summer’s coming up, and Maine tends to get overpopulated with tourists during this time, something about a bald, big-eared, mouth breathing caveman buying a hunting license didn’t sit well with me.

As the clerk behind the counter diddled the register to print out the hunting license I wandered around the section looking for the display of bullets.  When I found the display, a large locked glass case, I stopped suddenly with confusion.  I turned to see if anyone was watching me, any employee that could help me, but I was alone.  So I went back to the clerk at the register and inquired with him as he finished up the total on the red-stater’s order.

“Excuse me, but are you guys like,” and I trailed off for a second.  The Budweiser-swilling tradesman was barking at his collection of children, aged 6-11, about five or six of them, and his gutturally sharp chunks of words took me off balance for a second.

“That’s strike one!” he snapped at one of his brood, who were horsing around by the register.  “One more strike and you’re not getting ice cream!”

I wanted to clear my throat and correct him, in front of his children, that you technically get three strikes, (based off of baseball or Family Feud rules) but I kept my mouth shut and went back to the clerk.

“Are you guys, like, renovating or something?  Because your ammo case back there is empty and I…” and the clerk cut me off.

“We can’t keep that shit in stock for more than a day.  We put out orders for handgun ammo, rifle ammo, you name it, at least once a week, and by the time it comes in, we have so much of the stuff on back order, that it’s all sold by the time the truck pulls up.”  Jesus, I thought, they’re hording all the goddamn bullets!

The red-stater decided to inject his opinion on the matter as well:

“It’s a real pain in the balls,” he started, his voice phlegmy and choked, as if he was speaking from underneath a boot across his windpipe.  “I’ve been buying online, you can’t get bullets anywhere, not the Wal Mart in Scarborough, the Cabelas, LL Beans, Dicks,” he went on.

I was shell shocked, in utter disbelief.  There had to be someplace I could readily buy bullets today, right now.  What if there was an emergency, and I needed to shoot someone TONIGHT!  Nothing is worse than an unloaded gun sitting by itself at home when you go out to a family restaurant with your wife and mother and spend the entire night alternating your field of view between the Red Sox/Yankees game on the tv over your head and the front door of the establishment, waiting for some barbarian to come barreling in to kill everyone on Margarita Two-fer Night.

The next morning I got up early-ish and took off on my motorcycle, with messenger bag slung around my shoulders, to try every conceivable store that would be selling ammunition.

The thought had occurred to me that I could just go back to the gun show and try my luck there.  I just didn’t want to pay out the nose for cheaply “remanufactured” bullets, given the price of admission is seven dollars, and the mark up on the ammo is about 50%.

So all morning I rode up and down US Rt 1, looking for a place that sold bullets.  I first pulled into the local Cabela’s monstrosity and found that they wouldn’t open until 10 am, which by then would be too late for me, as my mother committed me to helping my tacky aunt and uncle move “unwanted” furniture from my father’s place to their place.  So up the road I traveled still, finding myself at the Scarborough Wal Mart.

Mind you, I’m on a motorcycle, dressed in a black Kevlar jacket, black “murder” bandana around my neck, black messenger bag, black boots, black Oakley Flak Jacket HJXs, and my throat is all weird from the ride.  I stride into the Wal Mart and try to find the Sporting Goods section, but if you’ve ever been into a different Wal Mart than what you’re used to, you know that their store is SLIGHTLY laid out differently.

So after walking around a bit, I find the section and come across similar results.  I’m pretty dejected, but on my way out I find a stock girl- young, petite, blonde – with a clipboard, doing some sort of inventory.  I walk up to her and get her attention.  Immediately she’s intimidated by me; it’s all but written on her face in magic marker, so I lift my shades to my forehead so she can see I’m no threat.

“Hey, you got any ammunition out back?”  I ask.  Unbeknownst to me ahead of time, my voice comes out as if I’m Dirty Harry and I just found out my dog has rabies.  Her eyes develop a sheen of wetness and her lip trembles.  Her voice small, tinny:

“No, we’re all out,” I figured for this based on the evidence and snarl a little to myself.

“Mm, what about the Dick’s up the road?  Know anything about them?”  I unintentionally growl.

“No…” it’s like a stalking lion talking to a church mouse.

“Don’t worry,” I try to ease her obvious fear of this big biker looming over her, asking about affordable munitions.  “I’m not mad, I’m not going to kill anyone,” she lets a nervous smile slip out.  “…because I don’t have any bullets.”  Her smile fades quickly and I leave the store, watching my back on the road for the next few miles for police cars looking for a homicide-crazed lunatic on a motorbike.

I have similar results at the next few places I try, either they’re sold out or not open this early on a Sunday, and after running out of time, I head back to my mother’s house to help move furniture, which is like eating a big plate of glass shards for breakfast.

Later in the day I called what was going to be my “last resort” before being forced to pay for rounds at the gun show.  I used to work for the Kittery Trading Post, an Outdoor Outfitter in Southern Maine that I’m somewhat persona-non-grata with due to an incident in their parking lot that involved myself, a stalker, and the Kittery Police Department over two years ago.  They have a huge firearms selection, dedicating their entire second floor to just guns.  If they didn’t have ammunition I could buy, no one in Southern Maine would.

I called and after being batted around from associate to associate for ten minutes, I finally got a hold of someone on the gun floor.

“Hey, I’m trying to find 9mms, you guys got any in stock?”

“No, all we got on hand right now are .41 magnums and .22s, we can’t keep anything in stock for more than a day,” the associate said into the phone.  “Once word gets out, we get nailed.  We had a shipment of ammo on Friday and we were just about sold out last night.  You’re best bet is online,”

In the end, I went back to the gun show and bought an overpriced box of 9mms, but only because I didn’t want to travel without a loaded gun.  And to add another element of horror to my story, I thought the ammo-epidemic was contained in Maine and other-like minded ignorant locales.  No.  It’s not.

When I we finally got back to The Hook, I logged on to a few different sites that specialize in “hunting accessories” to see if I could purchase ammunition in bulk, only falling into my fellow statesmen’s hysteria half way, more concerned that the ammo crunch will continue to make getting rounds in the future difficult.  Three of the four sites I visited had handgun ammo on backorder, and another had some available, but it wasn’t anything special, just Full Metal Jacketed bullets at 115 grain.

So in the end, what does this mean?  It means I’m going to call Charles Schwab later today and buy stock in Winchester, American Federal, and UCM.

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Those Crazy Politicians, World Wide Events | , , , , | Leave a comment