Saturday, April 26, 2008

Get out your Nehru jacket and love beads....

Hey groovy cats and kittens. The old man and I are off to see Eric Burdon and the Animals do a free show at Hubbard Park in Meriden. It's a dream come true. Oh, happy, happy day!

Friday, April 25, 2008

“They died because of a mosquito bite…”

Today, apparently, is Malaria Awareness Day. I know this because President Bush decided to pay our fair city of Hartford a visit to make a speech about it. He chose to speak at the Boys & Girls Club in the historic “north end” to mark this seemingly irrelevant occasion. I mean no disrespect to the cause of helping eradicate malaria, which is totally relevant, noble and good. The irrelevancy is simply Bush’s choice of location.

The official story is that the national organization of the Boys & Girls Club has raised $25,000 to pay for 2,000 mosquito nets for Africa. Of course, if one considers the cost of the jet fuel it took to bring Air Force One to Bradley International Airport, providing secret service detail and the thousands of Connecticut commuters who were late for work this morning because of the nightmare traffic jam this visit caused, the $25,000 doesn’t seem like all that much money. Why couldn't he just stay home and match those funds? Donate them to the cause in the name of the Boys & Girls Club of America. Even better - go all USAID and be sure the giant check is stamped for all to see, "From the American People."
Maybe Bush felt it was necessary to the country’s standing in the world to acknowledge this historic day via a photo op and a speech full of talking points while surrounded by a bunch of black kids from a good old fashioned American inner city. Granted, the very first Boys & Girls club was founded in Hartford, however the national headquarters is in Atlanta.
So what do malaria and the north end of Hartford have in common? Absolutely nothing. But before I get into the real reason for Bush’s sojourn into the Nutmeg state, here are some Connecticut fun facts:
  • 30% of Hartford residents live below the poverty line. That ranks Hartford second in the nation after Brownsville, Texas. Not bad, considering Hartford is the capital city of the "richest state in the union."
  • The per capita income of the average Hartford resident is $13,428. The average rent for a two bedroom apartment in Hartford is $800 per month.
  • In Connecticut, a child is born into poverty an average of every 2 hours. It is also a statistical fact that everyday a Connecticut child dies before his or her first birthday.
  • On average, a Connecticut child is killed by gunfire every three weeks.
Now onto the real reason why “W” graced us with his presence today. He spent the afternoon at Henry Kissinger’s house in Kent helping to raise money for the Republican congressional candidate, David Cappiello. At this $500 per ticket event, one could hob-knob with the likes of Kissinger, Representative Chris Shays and other Republican pukes. For $10,000 you could get your picture taken with the president. This junket was fully financed with taxpayer money because of the pit stop (pit being the operative word) in Hartford. How cute. For those of you who aren’t aware, Cappiello is challenging the Democratic incumbent, Chris Murphy for his seat in the House of Representatives. You might recall that Murphy handed Nancy Johnson her ass in the 2006 election.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oh glorious day....

You know what day it is....Let us now wax nostalgic with Mr. High-Di-Ho himself. The incomparable Cab Calloway.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What's Really Important In This Life

I had every intention of writing a diatribe on the unbearable stupidity of the American public and their inability to recognize the true meaning of words like elite, liberal and conservative. Then perhaps a philosophical quote from Albert Einstein about how we cannot hope to solve our problems with the same methods and thinking we used to create them. Segue into the completely absurd political debate on ABC the other night which was nothing more than an apocalyptic glimpse at what network television news will morph into once the editors of the National Enquirer finally take over the world. But no, I'm not going to do that today. I came across this glorious photo of my nephew, Gino, in my archives and was reminded of what is important in this life and what pure joy looks like when it's staring you right in the face.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Buk Stops Here

Today I learned of a literary bus tour so utterly ridiculous I feel that I must expound on the sheer stupidity of the concept and offer some insight as to what one might do in its place.

Charles Bukowski, perhaps the all time greatest American drunk and prolific scribe of such masterpieces as Factotum, Ham on Rye, Notes of a Dirty Old Man and Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness is now the subject of a bus tour Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles brought to you by Esotouric Tours. For a paltry $55 you partake on a magical journey into “the places and people who shaped Bukowski’s consciousness.” One wonders just how conscious he actually was. This dream excursion stops at the post office where he worked, the central library reading room (where he supposedly discovered John Fante’s novels), the skid row streets he “haunted as a youth,” the East Hollywood apartments he allegedly lived in, and last but certainly not least, the package stores that, “provided comfort to the mature writer.” And to boot, all riders get a complimentary Tony Millionaire Bukbird beer coaster!

I can understand doing the literary tour of Cannery Row or even the downtrodden streets of Lowell, Massachusetts (which I’ve done on more than one occasion), but skid row East Hollywood? It just goes to show how low people will go to make money. In actuality, Charles Bukowski was probably not a guy any of these people would want to encounter in a skid row alley. He was tough, he was drunk and he probably smelled of piss. I am certain that his literary genius, of which he was brimming, was not a quality that was noticeable on a first impression.

The idea of this tour brings to mind a New Yorker cartoon that I encountered several years back. The picture is of a couple in a travel agent’s office. The caption reads, “We want to do the whole Jack Kerouac, On the Road thing, only with B & B’s.”

Here are a couple of suggestions you might try to get the full Bukowski experience. For the less adventurous types, go out and get a fifth of Clan MacGreggor and rent Barfly. You’ll see first hand an example of the dingy lowlifes and disgusting surroundings that Buk was the center of without actually having to smell them. A bonus - you’re home, you can sit on the toilet. As for you daring, method types, take the $55 and get dropped off in the center of your town’s equivalent of skid row. Most every town has one, and if not, I’m sure you’ll find one a couple of towns over. Walk into that bar with the windowless door and order several shots of whiskey in succession. Once you’re thoroughly buzzed, strike up a conversation with the transvestite/hooker that has been eyeing you since you strolled in. Before you know it, you’ve lost your wallet and have a burning itch when you pee. Then sit down and write a poem about it.

Friday, April 04, 2008

April 4, 1968

It's hard to believe that forty years have passed since Dr. King was taken from us. Every time I see this video my heart fills with both pride and sadness. I know the sentiment is shared by millions.