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

The Good Out of the Bad

Last night I posted this on my Facebook wall:

“I know I’ll catch shit for this: that earthquake was the best thing that could happen to Haiti.  There, I said it.”

On it’s surface the comment reads somewhat callously.  White guy in New England who’s never experienced an earthquake of any kind, let alone in the middle of a third-world country, making a snide remark about how likely the event IMPROVED the infrastructure of the tiny shared island nation.

However, I assure you, Glen Beck I am not.

No, what I wanted to do was set a trap; a trap I knew that my highly reactionary wife would step right into and spring, which would lead me to writing this article.

Within a few hours of me posting my comment, she fired back with some CNN.com article describing the death and destruction in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capitol.  I’m sure she sat there, on our tattered couch, laptop on pillow on lap, in smug satisfaction as she clicked “send” thinking to herself “I’ll show him.”

Ah, huh.

No, obviously even without an Act of God Haiti is a tragedy.  A country run by General Who-Knows as he’s known to the local population, and Who-Cares by anyone living outside of it.  It’s a nation who shares an island with the Dominican Republic, which if you’ve ever had to live next door to Dominicans, you should know how dreadful a situations that is anyway.

The infrastructure of Haiti is piece-meal at best.  Is it any wonder that when an earthquake a whole point higher on the Richter Scale hits San Francisco, everyone in the Bay Area shrugs it off with a chuckle, but when an earthquake of slightly minor proportions hits Haiti, there’s a triple digit deathtoll (now quad-digit as of pub-time -ed)?

That’s because Haiti is literally being held together with corrugated steel, mud and straw bricks and chicken wire.  These poor people live in the minimalist of conditions, and I’m not talking about exposed brick and white space.  They have NOTHING.  They have our thrown away clothing on their backs and wobbly tables with nails sticking out of it to eat off of.  Their literacy rate hovers around the same numbers as my body fat percentage.  Of course we shouldn’t be surprised when there’s a significant loss of life in Haiti as the result of a natural disaster.

Why is this “good for Haiti” then?

Because when was the last time you even THOUGHT of Haiti before this earthquake hit?  As an American, sitting at home on the world wide web that you take for granted, reading blogs about the battle between Conan O’Brien and NBC, until yesterday you didn’t give two shits about Haiti or it’s people.

Don’t worry though, it doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person, but it does tend to put things into perspective.  These people, who would lose their homes even on a gusty day, have real problems.  You know what the biggest problem in my life is right now?  Fucking Comcast.  A cable company who I feel is screwing me over around every corner.  In Haiti, they don’t even have cable!  Over half the population doesn’t even have electricity or running water, for chrissakes!

Now, because of this earthquake, developed nations like the US, Canada, etc are going to be flooding Haiti with supplies like food and fresh water, electrical generators, man power to remove rubble and debris, medics and doctors to treat the sick and wounded.  We have fucking firefighters flying out from California, the closest thing we have to a third-world-like government, to help the Haitians.

So yeah, I’m sorry that it took an act of God to get Americans, let alone the rest of the world, to lift their heads out of their asses long enough to pay attention to a backwards country, but I tend to be an optimist.

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Shameless Self Promotion, World Wide Events | , , , | 2 Comments

TidBits: Media Over-Hype Edition

Gate Crashers:

By now you’ve heard the story about The Salahis, the eager-to-be-famous gate crashers that seemingly waltzed into President Obama’s first “State Dinner” (quotes are for the fact it wasn’t ‘really’ a State Dinner.  State Dinner’s are characterized as being with other heads of state, and this dinner was attended by India’s Prime Minister, who is the head of India’s Government, but not the head of the country) uninvited.

The obvious twist in the panties comes from the (lack of) security that was breached by two witless faux-celebrity wannabes.  Pictures of the couple appeared shortly after the ceremony on their Facebook page, which begs to ask the question: What is a couple roughly my boss’s age doing with a Facebook page?  Do they stalk their high school-aged kids?

But the real head scratcher in all of this is why people, the media and politicians especially, are getting mad at the Salahis’ and not that government entity called THE SECRET SERVICE?

Since writing this, three Secret Service agents have been placed on administrative leave until findings in the lapse in security can be properly investigated, but law makers, who love a good sturdy soap box to stand on and yell into the hills from, want to place blame on both The Salahis and the president’s Social Events Secretary.

That’s like blaming the bank teller for a robbery when the security guard is fast asleep on his stool.

Hey Washington DC, yeah it’s fucked up that these two spray tanners were able to get inside the holy of holies with little more than a clever anecdote and cleavage, but don’t blame them, and don’t call for the head of some la-di-da department secretary whose sole purpose is to plan meet and greets for Mrs. Obama and the kids.  Blame the people responsible, the guys with the ear pieces, guns and black suits, whose job is to ensure fame seeking whack jobs don’t get pictures with the President and post them all over the goddamn Facebook.

Tiger Woods:

Please leave this poor multi-national bastard alone.

I don’t condone what he’s apparently done; I would never cheat on my super model wife.  Men do stupid things and though I could come up with many reasons on why he probably did what he did, I won’t.  It’s just bad voodoo and an inevitable argument with my wife when she reads this.

But let’s not forget that Tiger is a person.  Up until now he was a very private person who wasn’t the type of celebrity athlete that shows up in the pages of People or US magazine.  He’s a winner and he’s human, fucking A.

He did break the boundaries of privacy when he crashed his SUV into a tree in front of their house, obviously fleeing a psychotic wife wielding one of his golf clubs that probably costs more than my yearly salary.  He brought that shit on himself, but damn, can’t you give him a break?

Stop demonizing him, I ask.  Plenty of celebrity athletes have done dumber shit and we’ve all gone on to pretty much forget about it, unless of course you’re Pete Rose (better luck next year, coach!).  Stop playing it up like Tiger will never be the same guy ever again, or his career will suffer.  Gatorade and fucking Nike have both stated they were going to stick by Tiger no matter what, and AT&T (whom I wasn’t aware sponsored him…) has released a ‘no comment’ comment.

I can see GM pulling out under obvious reasons, though.

Adam Lambert:

If you were like the rest of America, you missed the American Music Awards, the also-ran of musical award shows that places somewhere distant behind the VMAs, Grammys, and Country Music Awards.

Though, if you had passed by while flipping from reruns of ‘The Office’ and that shitty sitcom with that guy from ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’ … you know, the guy, the tall guy?  I think he was a cop?  That guy.  Anyway, if you were like most Americans, you had no idea who Adam Lambert was until the morning after the AMAs.

Adam Lambert was a RUNNER UP in American Idol like, last year.  He’s also come out and said he’s real gay, which is not surprising in the least.  He recently released an album which could easily be confused with a Sheila Eastan LP from 1991.

The controversy started when during the AMA’s, Lambert mocked fellatio with a fellow band mate, who happened to be of the same sex (a dude), while making out with another band mate of the same sex (…also a dude) while tromping around the stage like an awesomely flamboyant peacock.  This got him tossed from the next morning’s Good Morning America appearance, where he was scheduled to sing to school kids on an outside stage, while no one wondered why these kids weren’t in school.

Mr. Lambert likes to claim that he’s being ostracized because he’s gay, and as a gay guy he’s not entitled to performing the same lewd semi-sexual acts that straight musicians are afforded while performing.  He’s quick to point out that many famous acts have been allowed to simulate straight (see also: chick-on-dude) fellatio, but as soon as a gay dude does it, it’s ‘disgusting.’

Elton John is rolling over in his still warm grave….

Adam Lambert, you miss the point: People aren’t outraged that you thrust your crotch into another dude’s face in front of a live audience which was broadcasted into dozens of homes, no, that’s not the controversy.  If you want to flaunt how gay you are, and make it seem like it’s cooler than the next Harold and Kumar movie, that’s fine, because gay people have been doing that shit since the early 1980s.

What we’re really pissed about is your lack of talent.  Dude, you suck.  Your voice sucks, your music sucks, your production sucks, you suck, suck, suck.  The irony that you think people are upset at you for ‘sucking’ is enough to make me pop a stitch.

The next time you tour, please bring along that monotone celestial that sings the Ricky Martin songs.  You know the guy, he’s released two more albums than you?

December 7, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, Why Am I Watching This?, World Wide Events | , , , , , , , , , | 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

@Recant: Tweet?

@Recant:  Tweet?

A while back I posted an article where I pretty much took a match and a can of gas to Twitter.  For those of you who somehow still haven’t heard of Twitter, it’s the “microblogging” website that allows it’s users to post “status updates” in 140 character increments that are broadcast around the web to all those who mindlessly “follow” you.  In turn, you “follow” other people’s “tweets” – what it’s called when you “Twitter” but no one calls it “Twittering” because that just sounds like something a gay would do.

I’ve been largely conflicted as of late about Twitter.  Initially I was a huge naysayer of the service mainly because I had no real need for it; I updated my status regularly on my Facebook page which in essence is the same thing that Twitter does, so I saw no need to be redundant, even though you can link the two together.

But then one night, Ang and I had a friend over for drinking and bullshitting around the living room and the subject of Twitter came up.  I, being two beers in, loudly and quickly made my opinions known that Twitter was crap, that it was “simple blogging” or something to that affect, as from Twitter we get the lovely term “Microblogging” as seen above.

My argument was that Twitter makes blogging easy, so easy in fact, that my mom can do it, not that she does, thank god.  My stance was largely based around the fact that I work my ass off to maintain my blog, put out fresh article ideas, and try to promote the shit out of my site.  Twitter pretty much opened the door even wider for Civilian Journalism – a market with an expanding waist line and no foreseeable over-saturation point in sight.

Which brought up my wife’s point:  During our discussion, it came to light that she had a Twitter account (I was actually shocked and maybe a little pissed), which she says she created in light of the political protests in Iran regarding the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  The Iranian Government pretty much shut down cell phones and internet access across the country, but a few people were able to “Tweet” what was happening at ground zero, which made for invaluable journalism.

I had to admit that she had a point, that Twitter, in that case at least, served a purpose, oppose to allowing Ashton Kutcher to post pictures of Demi Moore in granny panties.

So fast forward a few weeks and with Twitter all over the news, everyone talking about the service, a million fucking Apps for the iPhone related to Twitter, it kind of dawned on me that I was fighting against the tide.

I could easily stay the course I am now and just try to ignore the inevitable; I could be the technology resistant North Korea of sorts and try to keep myself in the dark regarding Twitter’s presence in the world, or I could make it work for me.

I regularly will post a weekly update of this blog on my Facebook page complete with a primer, a picture I found on the web that somewhat ties together my general thesis, a funny caption, and tag all of my friends who I think might be interested in the article.  I try to keep it as non-intrusive/abrasive as possible by not establishing a link to the article but rather just writing out the web address telling people they can “read more” at my site.

But these little “notes” only reach maybe twenty people because of the security settings I have in place on my Facebook page (see also: Fort Knox).  So of the 20 people I ‘tag’ in the note, maybe two or three will wander over to my site and glance over the whole article.

By the way, these notes on Facebook are the only real advertising I can do for my site, aside from handing out flyers to people on the street.

With Twitter I can potentially raise my readership exponentially, as I use it as a catalyst for my own brand of advertising.  In the same sense that I blogsurf and leave a few thoughtful comments on some random guy’s blog (which tends to prove futile half the time because … well I’ll get into that in a minute) I can do the same on Twitter by “following” people and getting them to “follow” me in turn.  I can post links directly to freshly written articles and keep updates hot and fresh from my phone throughout the day without feeling like too big of a douche bag for flooding my friend’s News Feeds on Facebook.  With my Facebook only being about 40 people in size, I could grow my Twitter account to ten times the size, and see ten times the readership with little cost to any real friendships I have.

(We)B-logging (remember when it was still called that, circa like, 2000?) is becoming somewhat of a lost art on the internet anyway, as everyone a few years ago jumped on the bandwagon and soon the internet was a flood with people thinking they were special enough to post a few pictures of their cat and write a few half hearted articles in relation.  Soon they’d lose interest and move on to some other fad.  Now the tubes are messy with discarded blogs which lay in the middle of the road like a splattered squirrel.

In relation to blogsurfing, the waves, you could say, have died down to nothing.

Twitter seems to be the next logical step in order for me to get my name (and this site) out there.  I hate to admit when I’m wrong, and I hate to succumb to a fad so trendy, but to survive is to adapt.

You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/BADorg

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors, World Wide Events | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Future In The Palms Of Your Hands

Do you remember being a child and watching television shows like “The Jetsons” and uh.. I dunno, “Lost In Space” or any other Sci-Fi shit?  You wished that you had your own Wookie and light saber if you were a nerd or Tricorder if you were a bigger nerd.

All that technology at those people’s fingertips, in a galaxy far, far away.

No more.

I just picked up the iPhone 3GS, and the ads you see on television are honestly no lie.  There is an App(lication, a third party DLC that ranges from calorie counters to animated guns) for everything, all at the tips of your fingers.

Literally.

When the iPhone first rolled out like, three years ago, I scoffed at the hordes of nerds who waited in multiple hours-long lines that stretched for city blocks as far as the eyes could see.  I even blogged about people being trend whores, who had to race out and get the newest, latest thing.

And while I still feel that those who would take off days (plural) off from work to sit in a lawn chair on some Manhattan sidewalk to wait to spend 300 dollars on a new gadget, the new iPhone makes me a big fucking hypocrite.

For the last year and a half I’ve had the pleasure of having a Blackberry Curve 8830, a hand set that was a touch bulky and a lot slower, but was a good instrument to teach me the ways of navigating the internet (or whatever the hell you’d call the “internet” on a Blackberry) while simultaneously answering phone calls and text messages.  It also gave me pause to think that now, I was literally reachable at all hours, at any given time, and that privacy was forever diminished to the period of time when I would actually shut the damn thing off, which was never.

But my Curve was a lumbering ox pulling a hay wagon compared to the Lamborghini that is the iPhone 3GS.  Hell, according to Apple’s website, the “S” stands for “Speed.”

But the iPhone isn’t exactly perfect – at least for someone coming from the world of Blackberry, who’s used to pressing on buttons to type, oppose to touching a screen.

I had heard stories that the iPhone’s touch screen required some getting used to, especially for those of us who were used to the tiny blackberry-seed-esque keys found on Blackberry phones (hence the name).  The typing isn’t that bad, but I notice I have nearly 50% spelling errors as I try to type one handed, as my thick clumsy thumb will hit between two “keys” at once.

Texting while driving?  Forget it.
However, Apple’s software is intuitive enough to recognize potential spelling hazards and will often auto-correct on the fly without you really even noticing.  For instance, while sending a text to Ang, I literally typed “I dound a new one” or something to that effect.  The auto-correct changed “dound” to “found” because it was the most logical word that would replace a nonsense word like ‘dound” according to the sentence’s context.

Though I’ve seen the auto-correct overstep it’s boundaries and correct a word that I meant to type, often acting like an overzealous-yet-polite butler waiting in the background for his master to make some sort of boorish statement at his own dinner party and vomit all over himself at the table.

With the new 3.0 OS software, Apple added the long-awaited cut-and-paste feature, which to me is a tad less intuitive so far in the last few days.  I’ve been confounded as to moving the cursor from the end of a type sentence to the middle of a sentence to correct a spelling mistake that auto-correct failed to correct itself.  In the process of this, I’ll tap the sentence and get prompted as to whether or not I wanted to cut, copy or paste the selection, when all I want to do is delete one too many spaces between words or correct a punctuation.

If the auto-correct is a dedicated butler, the cut-copy-paste feature is your overactive nephew.

Another thing I’m getting used to is the fact that I don’t get email and text message alerts as fast as I’d like, or at all for the matter until I adjusted how often my phone would go and check the digital mailbox (the default was set to “manual” meaning I had to go in on my own if I wanted to see if I had mail.).

My one other criticism is that the battery life is less than expected.  Even at the end of it’s service to me, my old Blackberry would be able to go at least two or even three days without a visit to the wall charger.  Since picking up my iPhone on Monday, I’ve charged it three times, and it’s Wednesday as I’m writing this.  In it’s defense however, it was once that I really felt that it needed to be charged, whereas the other two times I found the battery to be half empty.

But for the few detractors (the battery life and tying being the biggest so far) I’m in love with this fucking gadget.  The picture and video quality (see below) rival, if not surpass our Nikon point-and-shoot digital camera.  When I’m at home, it automatically sync’s with our wireless network, so I get twice as fast surfing speeds as I do on the lackluster AT&T 3G network.  The new internal compass makes my truck’s GPS almost inadequate, if I could figure out a way to mount my phone to my windshield.

I had a chance to sit down briefly with a friend of my wife’s who works in the tech field and has experienced the evolution of the iPhone from it’s infancy to the latest, newest model.

Over a few beers and a glass or two of wine I asked him what his favorite aspect of the new 3GS was, to which he replied:  “Oh, the digital compass by far, only because now you have turn-by-turn navigation,” which is awesome to behold.  The other day while looking for a dry cleaners closer to home than the one I used to go to all the time, I simply did a Google Map search from my phone’s desktop of “dry cleaners, _______, MA” and found one in somewhat close proximity.  I simply touched the “directions to” button, followed by “use current location” as a start point, and I was literally watching myself, on this tiny screen, maneuvering through town in real time.

I then asked the lanky hipster if the next generation of iPhones could improve on anything, what would it be?

“Blow jobs,” he said without hesitation, meaning that the only thing that could make this gadget any better is if it started fellating it’s customer, which I admit, wouldn’t be that bad of an upgrade next time around, Mr. Jobs.

All an’ all my interviewee was beyond impressed with the latest version of the device, and had the same hang ups as I did, especially regarding the tactlessness of the cut-and-paste, but encouraging in regards to typing.

“You’ll get it, it takes time,” he said as he finished his first Hoegaarden.

July 26, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, The Great Indoors, World Wide Events | , , | 2 Comments

Move It or Lose It

Before I get into the meat of this article, let me address the Michael Jackson thing real quick:  Say what you will, he was a genius and a monster, he was two halves of the same coin cast by a sadistic father and spent by the hands of greedy hangers-on.  He’s dead now, so regardless what he did, good or bad, let the argument rest, as we should his body and soul, whatever remains of either.  How pointless is the conversation on whether or not he did what we all know he had done?

Just let it go already.

***

So for the second time this year we’ve moved, and for the second time this year our nerves were put the the most stringent test that a married couple can go through.  Moving, in case you’ve never had to do it as a couple, is an exercise in communication and patience.  It’s also a fantastic method for finally letting go of shit you’ve been both physically and emotionally holding on to.

For instance, when my Memere passed, she bequeathed to me all of my Pepere’s old coins and weird odds and ends: little cheap trinkets that I’m sure should I hold on to for the next fifty years, might earn me a little cash on Antiques Road Show 2059.  But we just don’t have room for all this shit that was somewhat dumped into our laps by my mother, and although it bothers me a little bit to just heave the bulk of it into a dumpster, it’s also liberating.  Jesus, all that room that was being taken up in the closet by old Christmas tins…

(Don’t worry mom, I saved all the stamps and put them into storage, and I kept all the coins that are worth more than their printed amount.  But seriously, the printer paper box lid full of pennies?  Really?)

I should start this off where it needs to be started, which is at the beginning obviously.  It’s been well documented that the previous apartment we were living in (which was a complex) was a shithole.  Right up until the day that me and two other strapping young men were loading a couch into the back of a Uhaul, the police seemed to make our undersized parking lot their own, which is both good and bad.  Having an increased police presence obviously makes one feel a little safer, but on the flip side, why do they always have to be there?  It’s a double-edged sword.

So about a month ago we, Ang and I, decided enough was enough, especially with Meth Zombies roaming our property, strange smells lingering in our hallways, noisy neighbors and ethnic school children waiting for the bus to take them to school every morning (Christ!  Even Saturdays!).  We fired off an email explaining our displeasure with the apartment overall to our laissez faire landlords a state away and started packing.

I took some time off from work (two weeks) to help in the move, and we figured that we’d do it “right” this time by renting the aforementioned Uhaul, which only ended up costing an arm and a leg in the end due to mileage.  Where we moved to was roughly 40 miles away, and with two trips at 89 cents a mile… you get the idea.

In the end we found a place with “character” as Ang puts it, an older stand alone apartment over a small trinket store that’s a little more than what we want to pay, but at the end of the day, we’re the only people here.  Our cars stay parked out front without interference, the town is small and has a touch of culture (as in a semi-famous playhouse, oppose to… dark people from abroad).  It also cuts my morning commute from 50 minutes to twenty 🙂

We’re not thrilled exactly with our new landlord, as she too is from out of state and seems to have her head so far parked up her own ass that she still smells breakfast from three days ago.  When we first met her, and decided on taking the place, with check in hand I asked “if I cut you a check right now for first month’s rent, when could we move in?”  Mind you, this was the middle of June.

“You could move in tomorrow…” was her response, direct quote, full disclosure.  Ask my wife, she was standing right there.

So I cut the check and we start the process of fixing the place up.  It needed a lot of work, especially with cleaning, painting, patching holes, etc.  This is all stuff that as a renter, we shouldn’t even have to fuck with, but we did it anyway, because we’re clean people who demand a certain style of space to live in.  In the end, I painted two rooms with four total coats of paint (effectively turning a puke green kitchen white, the office space got a fresh coat of white as well), Ang slaved over a bathroom that was caked in lime, rust, cobwebs and all sorts of other nasty bits, and we cleaned.  We cleaned our little twenty-something asses off.

Despite all of this, two weeks later, while Ang is walking out the front door that conveniently goes through the downstairs store, the store owner/landlord stops her.

“Are you two living here now?”  Ang stalls for a second.

“We just got here this morning,” she lies.  We had spent our first night the night before.

“Oh, well, if you’re living here, I need a check for this month’s rent.”  The landlord says.  Stupefied, Ang climbs the narrow, impossible-to-get-a-queen-sized-boxspring-up stairs and finds me in the bathroom putting my contacts in.

“(The Landlord) wants a check for this month?”  Ang reports.  She goes on to explain the conversation she had below, which sends me into a (barely) controlled rage.  With checkbook in hand I march downstairs into the middle of her shop amongst her snooty customers ready for the confrontation.

“What’s this about a check?”  I ask her.  She looks up from behind her glasses.

“Oh, are you guys living here now?”  I don’t balk.

“Yeah,”

“Well, I’m going to need rent for the the last week of June then,” and she produces a calculator to figure out what a quarter of 950 is (I’ll save you the math and tell you it’s like 300-something).  This old wrinkly bitch wanted three hundred and change for one weeks rent!

“What happened to the check I already wrote you, that you already cashed?”  I demand.

“Oh, that was a deposit.  That’s not rent,”

I’m confused at this point.  To move in, she told us all she needed was first and last.  We gave her first, with the expressed understanding that “last month’s rent” was going to come her way on the First of July.  I only get paid on the 1st and 15th – a guaranteed check for X amount because of the job I do.

Her greed nearly blew a guaranteed 950 a month for the next year or so.

I let her know, real quick, what I thought of the situation without resorting to calling her a greedy cunt.  I explained the work Ang and I performed upstairs, at our own expense (80 dollars in paint alone) and how we weren’t taking it out of the rent, and she had the nerve to attempt to charge us for a week’s worth of rent for moving in early when she said we could in the first place.

I nearly destroyed her store.

She relented in the end, of course, when faced with near-tantrum I was throwing in her store with customer’s around, painting the picture of a greedy, miserly old hag without saying the words.  She called the work we did “even” for moving in early.  I set the can of gas with the rag sticking out of the top down and went back upstairs.

Like the Spartan Warriors at Thermopylae, I might have been outnumbered, but I picked the battleground, and she suffered for it.

Since then, it’s been tense, and we’ve largely stayed out of her way, as she’s stayed out of ours.  But regardless, we’re in an older, but better place.  It’s bigger too and we’re actually moved in, oppose to the other place where it wasn’t big enough for us to unpack a few boxes, which were just left in the bedroom, which killed the mood every time I looked at them.

But, and I’ve said this to Ang twice now, we’re not moving again anytime soon.  I don’t care how bad it gets around here, barring the building catching fire or collapsing, we’re not moving for at least another 18 months.

I fucking hate moving.

June 27, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors, World Wide Events | , , , , , , , | 1 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

Watching a Dinosaur Die

I was just reading in the NYT about how the last Virgin Mega Store in NYC has shuttered its doors in Union Square this last weekend, marking an end to a culture that I can’t really put my finger on.

That culture is not the trendy, ironic hipster culture of the vinyl record store or independent music store that are locally owned and operated, but the culture of the chain music store, the analog iTunes of adolescent’s past, a Wal Mart for music if you will.

I don’t know how I feel about the slow death of this Brontosaurus of business, because it’s been so drawn out over the years that it’s practically stayed under my pop culture radar.  All over the country over the past ten years chain music mega stores, like Tower Records and now Virgin, have been folding due to the lack of business.  People were no longer flocking to these locations to buy their music.  No longer was there a niche market for people to go to one giant store to find all the music they could possibly need, and discover.

We had Napster, then (the much more legal and albeit coolly efficient) iTunes.  But before that we had Wal Mart and Best Buy, which took away from the variety but passed on the savings to its customer.

I had visited the Virgin Mega Store at Union Square a number of times while I was living in NYC, and it was a cool place for Manhattanites whom weren’t “too cool” to avoid big business and simply wanted an album or maybe a book or concert dvd.  I enjoyed the layout of the store, the variety of the wares and found the employees to be pretty knowledgeable, which in a big box store is incredibly rare (looking at you Home Depot.)  I guess what I’m saying is that I’m surprised it’s taken this long for these types of stores to finally lay down and become dust, simply due to the fact that they tended not to fully function in our preconceived notions of today’s society.

In today’s world people aren’t really buying albums anymore, they buy songs.  CD purchases are actually dwindling probably more so for the fact that buying an actual, physical plastic disc is colorless, odorless and has all the personality of that sheet of paper sticking out of the top of your printer.  You simply go into whatever local entertainment store is nearest to you, browse the unkempt racks of over packaged, under priced, bulky cases until you (maybe) find what you’re looking for, take it to the register and leave for home where you’ll push the disc into your computer and import the songs on to your iPod, discarding the disc to some dusty grave on the corner of your computer desk.  That is, if you don’t support your neighborhood’s local music store (looking at you Wulfgar.)

If you do support a local record shop, good for you, but I’m sure even that experience has lost some of its luster.  I’m not terribly old, though my wife loves to point out to waitresses that I’m closing in on 30, but even I can remember the sense of community that surrounded the local music emporium.  I would spend no less than an hour digging through the Used CD bin looking for something interesting to give a listen to for under ten bucks (this was probably 1995, when it was still reasonable to pay more than 15 dollars for a compact disc…).  My best friend at the time and I would compare finds, egg the other one on to make a purchase and run home and give our treasures a listen.  It was an experience.

Now-a-days I load a prepaid iTunes Gift Card for X amount of dollars into my computer and browse through songs, buying each one individually and loading them on to my iPod.  Ashamedly I’ll purchase songs and won’t even remember it, recalling them later on when they come up in a workout shuffle.

This is why the music industry is losing ground; music no longer means anything to anyone anymore.  We have generations coming up who will never experience what it’s like to waste a Saturday afternoon digging through boxes of CDs.  We’ve lost the human touch of music, that connection.

What was your first album that you bought with your own money?  Do you remember what the album was?  Do you remember where you bought it from?  Do you remember the experience?

Here’s mine:  I paid nine dollars for a used copy of Ice Cube’s “The Predator” from Music Plus back home in Biddeford Maine when I was 13 years old.  The old guy behind the counter asked me if my parents knew I was buying this album because of the huge Parental Advisory sticker on the front cover.  I lied and said yes.  I figure he knew I was lying but wanted to make the sale anyway.  My bicycle was parked just outside the door, by the front window, and the store’s owner, this old man gave me a tiny plastic bag to take the cd home in.  I got home, snuck the cd into my room, put my head phones on, the ones with the fuzzy ears, and listened to the whole album uninterrupted as I watch tv with the sound off.  It was a Friday afternoon in the Summer.   I earned the money to buy the cd from weed whacking around the property for my dad.

What’s our kids’ first album memory going to be?  “I logged into my parents iTunes account and clicked ‘buy for $9.99’.”

I’m not advocating for the return of the music store, because it’s a lifeless body.  To call for its return to our neighborhoods would make as much sense as to demand a frozen over corpse be reanimated after it had stayed under a sheet of ice all winter.  I’m just wishing that, not so much music as a whole, but the purchasing of music, still had some sort of community-like tie to it.  I wish it was personal again, and not so fucking ….

Dehumanized.

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, The Great Indoors, World Wide Events | , , , , | 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