Water This

In my little patch of eastern Hollywood, we’re in Year Two of a project that has featured streets and alleys torn to shreds and barely paved over or just left raw, floods from backed-up sewers and broken pipes, traffic detours, ruined sidewalks and lawns, non-stop construction noise, and no end in sight. Allegedly this has something to do with replacing a crumbling water and sewer system, but I suspect it’s more about keeping workers on the payroll. Not that anyone’s seen them do much work.

waterIt’s been a real pain in the package for too long now. What fries my buns is that nothing happens —  they rip a street apart then disappear for literally months while they go do something else somewhere over the rainbow, leaving the residents to deal with detours, floods, and poorly patched streets.

So imagine my delight yesterday when I discover this note on my front step. Note that it doesn’t bother to inform residents when our water will be turned off, or for how long. I promptly call the city and get Squindecia on the phone. (I think I got her name right.)

She hears my concern, then pulls up some records to see what’s going on. “There’s nothing here about turning off water in your neighborhood,” she says.

So, what — this flyer is some kind of prank? It’s not really yours?

More audible pressed keys. “No, sir, that’s our flyer. What it says is the work on the water system is finished, and you might experience a difference in water pressure or coloration.”

I look once more at the flyer. In very large font, boldfaced and underlined beneath the word ATTENTION, it reads “Your water will be off on between and” then goes on to talk about pressure, discolor, etc.  So pardon me for being a native speaker of the language, but either there’s missing information on that top line or somebody doesn’t know not to string disconnected prepositions and conjunctions together without referents.

“The reason there’s nothing on that line is because we’re not turning off the water,” she explains, a little less patiently than before.

Why would you distribute flyers about turning off the water when there was no plan to do so? Is this the only flyer you have available?

“No, sir, we have flyers that warn customers about potentially poisonous chemicals and fecal matter in the drinking water, too. If you prefer, I’ll send you one right after I shit in your pipes.”

Okay, so, the conversation didn’t quite end that exact way, but we weren’t far. Evidently I’m the only citizen in the neighborhood who found this flyer disturbingly vague (see reference above  w/r/t “native speaker of the language”). Although when I show it to Guido when she gets home, she has the same reaction. “What? When? Why doesn’t it tell us when?” she fumes.

Tempers are short around here — two years of living in high Kabul style has frayed nerves. Nobody at the city level seems to care, and now that we have a new mayor and city commissioner,  when we complain they’ll blame the outgoing parties. That’s called “smart politics.” Remember that when you observe what happens next on the national level. (Speaking of shitting in the pipes.)

Posted in News From the Nation's Dicktip | 12 Comments

Die Laughing

It seems I am “personally invited” (by mail) to “a seminar with a complimentary meal.” Who knew complimentary meals conducted seminars, free or otherwise?

Oh, no wait, I see. If I attend this, um, seminar, which back in the days of reality would be called a sales pitch, they’ll feed me. They’re so certain they’ll nab a paying customer out of this that they can buy lunch at the Brio Tuscan Grille at Gulfstream for several dozen freeloaders with too much time on their hands.

And who is the “They” doing the buying? Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens and Riverside Gordon Memorial Chapels. Funeral directors. Merchants of Death. Stewards of the Eternal Dirt Nap. Talk about The Last Supper. Anybody who signs the dotted line before dessert is begging for poison in the coffee.

tap-42I ask Guido, a fellow senior citizen, if she’d like to attend. She declines reluctantly — apparently she’s scheduled to  have a clavichord X-Ray that day. Inspired, I ask my neighbor’s seriously fair-haired daughter, who’s in her 30s and has the sultry looks and distinctive curves that make grown men weep and young men reckless. Alicia thinks it would be a hoot. We devise a plan.

On the appointed day we arrive and take our seats at a table for 10, one of five in a private room dominated by a stage and podium at one end. At 66, and neither drooling nor leaking below-decks,  I am among the youngest (not including my companion). Promptly at noon, a well-coiffed gentleman in a truly impressive dark suit assumes the stage, welcomes his guests (looks like about 40 out here), and goes into his pitch, which he promises will be limited to 9 minutes.

“Don’t matter to me,” some ancient toothless codger calls out. “Ain’t none of us got anything to do!”

This draws laughs, followed by intense coughing and gasping. Captain Sardonicus fires up the slide show and begins, tossing out words like dignity, celebration, security, eternity, and assorted rot. The slides are peaceful, soothing — green lawns, blue skies, quiet ponds — like a golf course except for the marble headstones. Soylent Green on steroids. Death, where is thy sting? Then he asks for questions.

“Can we eat now?” some hag croaks out from a dark corner.

Alicia raises her hand, impressing the entire table, where nobody has been able to raise a limb that high without assistance since President Alzheimer left office.

“I wonder if your company offers any kind of expediting services,” she says.

Captain Sardonicus, puzzled, asks her what she means.

Shooting me a long voodoo look, Alicia explains that while the services offered by the company here seem thorough, there’s the problem of committing to a contract with no clear start and end date, and after all, what she’s interested in, anyway, is, well, termination, and does Forest Hill have anything to offer to, um, expedite termination.

An awkward silence follows, broken by yet another crone who pipes up, “Honey — look at him. You just keep doing what you’re doing and the wait won’t be much longer.”

This inspires a liver-spotted fellow at the same table to cackle loudly, losing first his glasses, then his dentures, and then his balance — he face plants in his water glass, and tumbles to the carpet. (Alicia has this effect even on younger men.)

In the confusion that ensues, attendees make it clear that they don’t give a damn who needs to be shipped out feet-first, they’re not leaving before they get the meal they were promised. The main course arrives about the same time as Emergency Medical Transport, and trust me when I tell you the poor guy’s portions doesn’t go to waste. Alicia and I pick at the entrees, drink some coffee, and get the hell out while our dining companions are still shoveling handfuls of medications into their faces.

“Well, that was special,” says Alicia on the way home, rolling a joint. “Buy your date a drink?”

Hey, it’s the least I can do. And unfortunately, it’s the most, too.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 14 Comments

The Smartest Guy (No Longer) in Town

Seems as though Hollywood’s business and community leadership is growing inpatient at the lack of interest in Sean Cononie Memorial Vacant Lot, formerly known as a homeless shelter and eyesore.

fl-homeless-shelter-closing-hollywood-20150325About two years ago, the city of Hollywood handed Sean Cononie $4.8 million in return for the Homeless Voice shelter, nine other properties he owned in town, and his promise not to return to Hollywood for 30 years. Pretty good deal — and he didn’t have to retain Alan Koslow to negotiate it for him.

The city claims that the shelter was a major impediment to developing Hollywood’s northern corridor between Sheridan and Young Circle. But two years later, the building gone and dust settled, very little progress is visible.

Marco Salvino, who owns a nearby bike shop, says he’d like to see Hollywood focus on redeveloping all the empty storefronts along Federal Highway – not just the grassy vacant lot where the shelter once stood.

“It’s not just the homeless shelter site that’s the problem,” Salvino said. “It’s the whole U.S. 1 corridor that’s the problem. There’s still a lot of people standing on the street corner, sleeping on bus benches. At nighttime, this turns into Hollyweird. I think they need to clean up what they’ve already got on U.S. 1.”  — Sun Sentinel

Reached for a comment, Hollywood spokesmouth Raelin (“In The Years “) Storey says the city is making progress, and that development doesn’t happen overnight, even if that’s when many deals are cut, and skyscraper condos magically appear over the objections of homeowners and entire neighborhoods.

“We have several plans under consideration now,” she affirms. “In fact, one of them follows the lead Dania Beach carved out, prior to Marco Salvino’s tour as Mayor. We looked into condemning every mall and storefront, making the street impossible to navigate with medians and narrow lanes, and nailing up plywood on every window. This would drive down value, and spark interest among a whole new generation of slumlords and extortionary businessmen. Make Hollywood Greed Again!”

Sounds reasonable — considering how neither the state of Florida nor the President-elect’s cabinet plans to address global warming and rising sea levels, why bother?

Two years on, Sean Cononie still looks like the smartest guy in the room.

Posted in News From the Nation's Dicktip | 8 Comments

Ten Years After

…. with apologies to the late great Alvin Lee. It has nothing to with him or the band, just that I found this from exactly 10 years ago today and thought it worth a second look.

Holy Hell, It’s Christmas

Ace is a food and beverage director who has worked for numerous gigantic operations like Hilton, Sheraton, half a dozen casino hotels in Jersey and Vegas, etc. Every 16 – 18 months he flames out and quits, only to get rehired after a few weeks. This is the first Christmas season he’s had off since 1992. I meet him for a drink. Merry Christmas, Ace.

“Christmas season my puckered nuts,” he says.

Not your favorite time of year, I guess.

“Hey, I got nothing against Christmas,” he says, “just don’t get all religious on me. Christmas got nothin’ to do with Jesus, Christians, or Peace on Frickin Earth. It’s all about moolah. It’s all about merchandise, sales, and makin’ the year’s profits in a scant 8 weeks time. It’s all about the cash register ringin’ like jingle bells. It’s all about hotel and plane reservations, tables of 8, stockin’ the bar, last minute cancellations….”

Got it, Ace. But nothing against Christmas, right?

“Don’t get me wrong. I got family goes to Church every day. My mother wears out rosary strings like a fag goes through anal beads. But that’s not what this shit we call Christmas is. Jesus comes back and sees how we act he turns his ass around, crawls back into the cave, and slams the fuckin rock shut.”

Speaking of reservations, Ace, you made yours in hell yet?

SalvationArmy.jpg“This ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’ crap pickles my pecker. The reason for the season is the sheckels. End of story. You want Jesus this time of year, leave a message. He’ll be back when all this insanity dies down and people go back to brutalizing one another like normal.”

You and Bill O’Reilly in the same room would make for an interesting party.

“It’s like these dimwits out there complaining about politicians being ‘too political.’ The hell else are they supposed to be? It’s their job to be political. They get paid. Same thing about malls, bars, and party stores: Christmas is their job. Christmas is a retail operation. That’s why we have the damn holiday to begin with.”

Brothers and sisters let me hear an “amen.”

“You want Christians you can find ’em, but it’s hard this time of year. Try the Salvation Army — and they do it every day, not just Christmas. But that’s the exception. What Christmas really is Saint Shitsingiggles and his little elves humpin the reindeer on the front lawn covered in fake snow and green and red lights. It’s piled up presents under the plastic tree and little greedhead kiddies stealing cookies and candies from their littler brothers and sisters. It’s drunken accountants gropin’ the office manager’s tits at office parties. That’s the American Fuckin Way, and Christmas is an American Fuckin Holiday. What, you don’t know this? Ain’t you got eyes in your head?”

Ace and I drain our drinks, shake hands, and head our separate ways. I figure that now
I’ve heard the seasonal sermon, I can skip church this year — not that I ever go anyway. But I take Ace’s advice, and send some money to the Salvation Army. They’ll know what to do with it.

Posted in Golden Oldies (Deja Vu All Over Again) | 3 Comments

Happy Birthday!

No, not you, Jesus — first we have a real immortal.


Ludwig van Beethoven

December 16, 1770 – March 26, 1827

Posted in People Who Died, Died | 4 Comments

Booth With a View

tsa-vintageThe Season, as it’s known in commercial circles, began in earnest on Friday, even while the turkey feathers were still flying. Can you hear the pleasant jingling sound of cash registers ringing up sales? Oh, wait, it’s all digital now. Sad.

If I want to think fondly about the Christmas season, I turn my thoughts to The Salvation Army, the one church in this country that never loses sight of what the holiday is all about, and focuses its energy on providing aid to the neediest.

No, I’m not a Christian, let alone a Salvationist: if anything, I’m an Omnibulist. But I’ve had the pleasure to know and work with many Salvation Army clergy and laypersons, and they are among the finest, hard-working, most caring and inspirational people I’ve ever met.

I found this typewritten document on the wall of an office in a Salvation Army facility in Gainesville and copied it. Only recently was I able to authenticate it (the link is provided below). I haul it out now and then to reread, especially when preparing to meet with prospective clients with the idea that I can somehow share General Booth’s indomitable spirit and commitment with them. I usually fail. But then, well, read on…..

1910 Sermon by William Booth

Founder, The Salvation Army

I am glad you are enjoying yourselves. The Salvationist is the friend of happiness. Making Heaven on Earth is our business. Serve the Lord with gladness is one of our favourite mottoes.

So I am pleased that you are pleased.

But amidst all your joys don’t forget the sons and daughters of misery. Did you ever visit them? Come away and let us make a call or two.

Here is a home, six in a family. They eat and drink and sleep and sicken and die in the same chamber.

Here is a drunkard’s hovel, void of furniture, wife a skeleton, children in rags, Father maltreating the victims of his neglect.

Here are the unemployed, wandering about, seeking work and finding none.

Yonder are the wretched criminals cradled in crime, passing in and out of prison all the time.

There are the daughters of shame, diseased and wrong and ruined, traveling down the dark incline to an early grave.

There are the children, fighting in the gutter, going hungry to school, growing up to fill their parents’ places.

Brought it all on themselves, do you say? Perhaps so, but that does not excuse us from assisting them.

You don’t demand a certificate of virtue before you drag some drowning creature out of the water, nor the assurance that a man has paid his rent before you deliver him from the burning building.

But what shall we do? Content ourselves by singing a hymn, offering a prayer, or giving a little good advice?

NO! Ten Thousand Times, NO!

Salvation Army Logo

Salvation Army Logo

We will pity them, feed them, reclaim them, employ them. Perhaps we shall fail, and many times, quite likely. But our business is to help them all the same, and that in the most practical, economical, and Christ-like manner.

So let us hasten to the rescue for the sake of our own peace, the poor wretches themselves, the innocent children, and the Saviour of us all.

But you must help with the means. And, as there is nothing like the present, who in this company will lend a hand by taking up the collection?




Posted in Gen. Snark, Maj. Snafu, Corp. Punishment | 13 Comments

Pin Number

In the days since Trump’s election, people have begun placing a single pin on their shirts to convey a message of support — of safety, and protection — to minorities, women, immigrants and others who may feel threatened by the strident rhetoric that carried the Republican billionaire to the White House.

The safety pin social media movement gained prominence in Britain on Twitter as a sign of solidarity with immigrant and minority populations facing a reported surge in hate crimes after the Brexit vote in June, with its strong anti-immigrant undertones.

Since the US election, the phenomenon has started catching on across the Atlantic — Yahoo news

Sure, I guess — so long as you’re not required to stick it through your cheek or tongue or eyelid. I remember extracting a few from my neck when I forgot about when hurriedly dressing in fresh laundry from the cleaners. Bloody unpleasant.

pinnedBut I’ll pass on this statement of solidarity, in part because I resist trends of any sort, but also because I’ve always thought of myself as a minority anyway. (Note to readers: Cue, then can, any reference to the psychobabble term “self-identified.” Thank you.) Given my ethnic roots, I’m not exactly white like a WASP, and politically, disgusted by conservatives and repulsed by liberals, I’m all over the map — and a registered Green. But most of all, I’m a card-carrying member of the single most distrusted and hated collection of human beings on the planet: atheists!

But lo and behold, even that is changing under Trumpf’s America:

About 40 percent of Americans say atheists “do not at all agree” with their vision of America, according to a new study from sociologists at the University of Minnesota who compared Americans’ perceptions of minority faith and racial groups.

But the study marks a grimmer milestone — Americans’ disapproval of Muslims has jumped to 45.5 percent from just over 26 percent 10 years ago, the last time the question was asked.– Religion news

It’s never easy falling out of first place — ask Hillary if you can find her — and given the direction America is going, I don’t think atheists will regain the lead anytime soon. Even though more and more Americans every day abandon their traditional religious beliefs and practices, they still seem to retain in their heart of hearts a healthy irrational bias against atheists, as well as a deplorable ignorance of Islam. Whatever else was demonstrated in this election, that sure as hell was.

So buckle down — or pin up! — for a long season, atheists everywhere — we’re not going to pull ahead in the race to the bottom anytime soon.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 5 Comments