— The Dreyfus Affair: A Love Story, by Peter Lefcourt
With Big Oil raking in record profits, House Democrats offered a Motion to Recommit to the House Republican short-term spending bill this afternoon making a responsible cut to the budget: putting an end to taxpayer-funded subsidies to large oil companies. Repealing these subsidies would save taxpayers tens of billions over the next decade and even ex-Shell CEO John Hofmeister agrees saying “with high oil prices, such subsidies are not necessary.”
Rep. William Keating (D-MA) offered the motion on the House floor saying “let’s stop sending taxpayers’ money to the most profitable companies in the world.”
…Republicans voted unanimously against the motion, defeating it by a vote of 176-249.
It is fundamentally wrong that the GOP pigfuckers in Congress keep pulling shit like this for the ultra-wealthy .001% of Americans and the corporations that control our government.
Normal, hardworking people are suffering every day, and being
askedtold to “share the sacrifice” to help “put America back on track,” while the motherfuckers who have been robbing us blind for decades are rewarded like this and never held accountable for the havoc they wrought on the entire fucking planet.
Fuck Republicans, fuck Big Oil, and fuck the goddamn worthless Democrats, supposed “party of the working man” who had majorities for two fucking years and did nothing about this.
This just makes me sick. It is time for a revolution.
(via The Great Orange Satan)
I know that you’ve been pretty busy lately. Every day, the news has a report about a spring training game, and I love it. We, the fans, were all looking forward to Valentine’s Day, not for Valentine’s Day itself, but because we knew it was time for the Giants pitchers and catchers to report. Even though that’s just the start of spring training, and the games that you play don’t have any bearing on the regular season, we, the fans, still thirst for it anyway:
I don’t care if watching baseball in the spring means watching AAA fodder, or guys that might never make the majors — it’s honest-to-goodness baseball! The spring is a time when Travis Ishikawa can reign supreme. It’s a time when every player is poised for a breakout year. It’s a time when I can turn on my radio and listen to Jon Miller (it’s been way too long) call games. It’s a very good time, indeed.
That’s from this blogger, Chris Quick. I think my favorite line might be the one about Jon Miller. What will I do with myself when he retires? I know it’s taboo to point this out, but I have to face facts: he’s old. I keep thinking about the inevitable time when he won’t be the voice of the Giants anymore just because his voice is just too synonymous with the Giants. Well, so is Kruk’s — but I want it all. I want him and Kruk to stick around forever. In fact, what would I do if you left the Giants? That’s the thing about baseball. The game itself is timeless. It’s a dynasty and a legacy. But the individual folks are impermanent. If there were ever one flaw about baseball, it would be that baseball is the epitome of “days gone by”. We, the fans, cling to a certain time despite contrary evidence of how the time has changed long ago. Yet this is but a single menace that we duly and cheerily accept with the territory, like a broken arm, or reaching that age when one realizes he is no longer useful as a major league player.
Seeing that you’ve been busy doing what you do best, I don’t know how closely you’ve paid attention to current events, other than having to read my bitching and moaning about them. Remember that time when we were in Our Ballpark and you caught me looking at a picture of CJ Wilson that I plastered on the scoreboard? Yeah, it was probably wrong of me to lust after a guy that you battled in the World Series, and probably especially sacrilegious doing so in a place like Our Ballpark. Hah…
But I was also bemoaning how most major leaguers don’t keep in touch with current events, not because they’re dumb, but (if I’m correctly understanding Wilson’s interview) because of blissful ignorance. It’s true that you guys have a demanding job that requires you to stay focused. Sometimes I envy that you are completely engrossed in a world that is entirely American yet also separate from America, from the world. Remember when I told you about how I wish you could just take me away and we could spend the rest of our lives fishing somewhere in the middle of nowhere, like those two major leaguers who fell in love with each other in The Dreyfus Affair? Heh. I guess we all need something to get us through the day, even if it is a silly fantasy borrowed from some silly book. I mean, if I really think about it, it’s selfish for me to want you to give up your career, your livelihood, to sweep me away to a land of eternal fishing. On the other hand, it’s probably another issue altogether that I feel guilty just for the act of fantasizing about something like that. But I digress.
Escapism is the name of the game. For over ten years, which is how long I’ve lived here in San Francisco, Mary had been talking about moving out here with me. I vividly remember how, back in the summer before we left for college, she told her mom that she planned on transferring to a school out west sometime in her sophomore year, to which her mom nodded coolly and said, “We’ll talk.” It is now 2011, and Mary spent these previous years finding and going her own way. Her mother is gone, and because of her passing, Mary was able to make the Big Move, partly because of a generous inheritance, and also because when something as profound as the passing of a parent happens, one tries to reconfigure one’s life, or sets out on achieving previously unrealized goals. A small, childish part of me, leftover from yesteryear and relentlessly kept afloat by nostalgia, wanted our time together to be as innocent and carefree as our high school sleepovers but, of course, that was not meant to be. Because in addition to the heavy responsibilities that customarily come with the age that we are, there is the added weight of national and global events that have trickled down and mercilessly seeped into the sacrosanct territory of individual livelihood. The shit that Democrats and Republicans put each other through isn’t just yelling and screaming on the congressional floor and the idiotic talking heads on all those news shows (but Fox News especially) aren’t just idiotic talking heads. Behind all the glamorized partisanship beats the broken hearts and crushed wills of everyday people who wake up each day to apply for jobs they don’t know they will get, who blindly hand over their debit cards when they buy groceries and hope on faith alone that the transaction will go through because they’ve been too scared to check their balance for weeks, who haven’t necessarily been irresponsible, at least not in the big ways, but just got caught up in some shit pulled by some rich bitch a couple of hundred miles away. Still, we deal with it. We endure. How else are we going to get through each day? The folks I have just mentioned, the screaming politicians and talking heads, would generalize the people as slackers who can’t keep up with a changing world, though those politicians and talking heads hold the majority onus of spiraling the world out of control. But no: although Mary and I enjoy having a drink with our friends over the weekend, we are not alcoholics. Though we rely on our government to help us with extra money so that we can pay rent and to get a little bit of food so that we don’t go hungry, we are not leeches. Each day, we have diligently perused the internet, networked with friends and friends of friends, done everything we can to contribute to the larger society as well as satiate our self-worth. When the stress of all that gets to be too much, as it frequently does, we escape.
Since arriving in San Francisco, Mary has spent most of her time watching TV shows on Netflix Instant and reading library books. In the last couple of weeks that she’s begun her life here, she keeps telling me to reprimand her for watching so much of this one TV show, Grey’s Anatomy. When she arrived in San Francisco, Mary was on season one. Now, she has nearly completed the entire series collection on Netflix Instant and she is on the verge of joining the series in real time on ABC. One night, when she was in bed watching an episode on her laptop and I was customarily stationed at my desk, where I was writing to you, Linc, she paused the episode and said to me, “Joseph, I need to stop! This is utterly ridiculous. I am almost finished with all of the episodes.” To which I could only say, “Mary, if you want someone to judge and ridicule you for wiling away the hours watching your favorite TV show, you are asking the wrong person.” For how could I do such a thing when I’ve also lost myself in TV shows or, more prominently, baseball? All the hours I spent lingering in Our Ballpark can’t be any different than the time she spends on Netflix Instant. To tell you the truth, Linc, I haven’t been in Our Ballpark in a long time, and I’m not even really sure why. Maybe the reason is something as simple (if also cheesy) as not being inspired. But a larger part of me says that I haven’t deserved to be in there. Our Ballpark is (again, being cheesy here) a special place. There’s too much real life to deal with, and I can only go there when I feel as if I have squared away my shit in the real world. The only question is when that will happen, or if it ever will. Anyway, it seems kind of like a cop-out to take refuge in Our Ballpark anymore when, like I said, there’s so much of real life to deal with.
But like Mary, I have also found a method of escape. Going to Our Ballpark may not be something I’ve been able to do lately, but what I have always been able to do with great ease, even when I was still in high school and too young to properly cultivate nostalgia, was escape to the past. In the last week or so, I’ve been going to Le Video to rent discs from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Real life must weigh an extraordinary weight when it makes one run back to a childhood TV series that one watched over and over again during said childhood, so wouldn’t one be tired of it by now? But I’m not. Although I can recite nearly every line of every episode, and although I now look at the whole series with the knowledge and the eyes of an adult, and I see fatal storyline inconsistencies and blatant lapses in logic, spending my free hours (of which there tend to be many) going back in time, in this manner, makes me happy. The politicians and talking heads see none of this. They have stirred up the pot to buoy themselves above the sinking people, blissfully unaware that the people toil each day from job hunting to, just maybe, spending the other hours watching a little bit of Gray’s Anatomy, a little bit of Star Trek: The Next Generation…
Mary is also a Trekkie. She is not as big a Trekkie as I am and, in fact, she is more of a Star Wars fan. But she also watched The Next Generation back in her youth, and we used to watch the other TV shows and movies in high school. A few days ago, I watched an episode with Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher. Wheaton started out on the series as a regular cast member, and then he left the series. He would return for occasional guest spots, and the episode I watched involved Wesley Crusher returning to the Enterprise during a break from his studies at Starfleet Academy. Sometime during the middle of the episode, Mary walks into my room and asks me, “Whatever happened to that boy?” (In the episode, Wil Wheaton is a skinny little thing, and one could have trouble believing that he is anything beyond a college freshman. In the 24th century, Starfleet Academy is the university of choice.) And it was hilarious, because Mary made Wil Wheaton sound as if he were an obscure, and obsolete, child star when, in reality, he is a celebrity among the Star Trek as well as the overall nerd/Comic Con crowd. He has gone on to make a living for himself from his Trekkie celebrity status and, it seems, he is well-versed in current events. Yet when I indulge in my escapism, I can’t help but contemplate the distance between my youth, when I first watched these Star Trek episodes, and the present day, with all its turmoil and… Wil Wheaton.
I woke up at 8 this morning. “AAARRRGGGHHH” is not a good first reaction to have in the day. Actually, the act of reading the news is probably not a good way to start the day or, at the very least, not a good way to set the tone of the day. Already, I’ve read about a looming shutdown of the Federal government. (It doesn’t seem so bad, now that I know it will involve, if it happens, non-essential services like the national parks. But poor national parks.) And apparently conservative talking hotheads are trying to goad the Tea Party into war against gays?
By the way, I hate that it’s so popular to use the word “war”. Besides the “war on drugs” and “war on terror” stuff — which, really, all set the bad precedent — I’m sick of all these perceived notions of war on the people, war on the government, war this, war that. It is so goddammed fashionable to go to war. The other day, I was thinking to myself how unfair it is that if the exact opposite thing happened, if everyone started walking around talking about going to love, and acted like shiny happy people, then even that possibility would be regarded with thick fear. Who wants to live their lives like being in a cult, right? Pass the Kool-Aid. Yet right now we live in a cult of war. Even worse, our collective behavior as of late shows that we as humans have either not evolved beyond our base genesis, or that we’ve chosen to stop evolving. We’ve chosen to stop striving to be better.
What do you think of all this, Linc? It’s okay if you don’t think about this stuff one way or another. I don’t blame you. A part of me wants to move with you to some deserted island conveniently equipped with modern creature comforts and wait out the progression of the world (if “progress” is even a good word to use anymore), like the baseball players who decided to spend the rest of their lives fishing the end of The Dreyfus Affair: A Love Story, this book by Peter Lefcourt. It’s one of my favorites. Funny to think that a book I only read in 2009 could already be one of my lifetime favorites. My answer to the question of my favorite book is usually a book that I read when I was 17, and have kept re-reading ever since then, despite the depressing subject matter.
The good thing about a novel like She’s Come Undone is the good thing about all novels: redemption, a character you root for because she starts out rough and then blossoms into triumph. I think life needs to be more like a novel, Linc. I am not necessarily asking for a happy ending, because not even She’s Come Undone necessarily concluded with a happy ending. But without giving anything away, you know what the beleaguered protagonist does at the end of She’s Come Undone? She takes a boat ride and stares at whales. By the end of the book, she’s in her forties, but there she is on a boat, yelling like a little girl, “I saw, I saw!”
The right time for us to meet may never come, Linc, but we could at least try to engineer fate. Step one: you read The Dreyfus Affair and She’s Come Undone. Step two: we meet for coffee and chat about them. Among other things.
You’re wondering how I’ve somehow managed to end up going to Livvy’s wedding. All right, I’ll tell you: I broke down and decided to ask my mom for help. I didn’t want to, but as May gets closer, and viable job opportunities continue to be elusive, I didn’t see any other choice — besides skipping out entirely on the wedding, which I didn’t want to do. I still don’t know how Livvy feels about me, Linc, but she’s like a sister to me. She’s like family, maybe not the way Mary is like family, but Livvy comes close. I don’t casually designate people “family”, Linc. It took me years to say the words “I love you” to Mary without feeling really awkward, so you can just imagine how much thought I put into assigning the word “friend” to people, much less “family”. I’ve told Livvy about these things, maybe not in these exact words, and it’s hard choosing the right words. So instead of hunting for words, Livvy threw me into her wedding party. Her wedding party, Linc! I ain’t just goin’ to the wedding. I’m in the party! Asking my mom to foot my airplane ticket seemed like a small price to pay — but it was a price.
We got into a stupid argument about it yesterday, which was one of the reasons why yesterday qualified as a Bad Day. My mom wanted me to get a ticket for $250 on Priceline, so I put in a bid and ended up getting a final price of $272.06. That’s the price with taxes. Not bad after I spent a week nearly going blind from staring at the computer to compare fare after fare, right? (At that point, the cheapest I found was $320 from Southwest.) But then my mom was all, “NO. WE AGREED ON $250.” And so this little argument came at the end of said Bad Day, and also, getting the plane ticket was supposed to be a happy thing. So there’s my mom on the other end of the phone line, completely going nuts on me about what to me seems like a very meager price differential, so I go nuts right back on her: “Thanks, mom. You want to nickel and dime me, then nickel and dime me. I’ll pay you the price difference.” And she’s still going nuts, and then I can’t think of anything witty to say in return because I’m all riled up, so I just give her a bunch of mocking grunting noises, and she’s saying something back to me and after I finish grunting, I’m all, “This is supposed to be a happy time. Livvy is like a sister to me and I have been scrimping and saving to —”
And suddenly, my mom hangs up. “Okay, fine. You’re going to Chicago. I don’t want to argue with you anymore.”
Then I hear that annoying little beep from my phone that lets me know the phone call has terminated, and it’s an annoying little beep because I hear it all the time due to the fact that I have a shitty provider. (Fuck their “social change” bullshit. Once they adopted a profit-making scheme, their entire agenda changed from stewardship to providing a decent product, and it is a delicate balance that they are sadly inept at striking. But I digress.)
So, I take a few minutes to stare at the phone, and I’m on the verge of tears (as only my mom can make me do) but I don’t actually cry. Instead, suddenly I’m overwhelmed, like I’ve been sitting on the beach for so long that I don’t notice when I’m underwater until the tide has already swept me away, drowning, and I’m thinking all sorts of things: Going to Chicago shouldn’t involve so much arguing, so much scrimping and saving, so much blood, sweat, and tears. This is a happy time. Why am I arguing my mom for a plane ticket when I’m almost 30 years old? Why can’t I get my shit together? Why am I still job hunting? Why can’t I get my shit together? Get my shit together? Get my shit together…
Later, after I’d told Mary all about my Bad Day, we went for a walk through the Mission Bay branch of the library. (This is how nerds unwind, Linc. But it’s nice to know that The Ballpark is just down the street.) I saw a newspaper and started idly flipping through it. I wasn’t really in search of the news, because the news is so uniformly terrible these days, but I needed to zone out to something and the newspaper was conveniently located at a table where I plopped myself. I flipped some pages and got to a headline about how the federal government might shut down, and suddenly I thought of my mom. She’s a career federal employee, and she has made a good living from that career. And because she’s made such a good living from that career, she’s the kind of person who gets picked on when times are tough. Public sector workers are always the first people who get picked on when times are tough! Nevermind that the private sector is constantly rolling in riches. Instead of demanding tribute from them, the government turns to its own when money is tight! It’s like getting mugged and turning the mace on your own eyes. The fuck?
Realizing that my mom probably also had a Bad Day of her own, I picked up the phone and, grudgingly, apologized and then also, grudgingly, thanked her for the plane ticket. The funny thing is that we were two guys about it. It’s funny because she’s a straight woman who, for all her life, has played the role of the dainty female, the damsel pursued by many suitors. And then there’s me, the gay son. And there we are, having the most pent-up, internalized, stereotypically heterosexually male reconciliation:
Joe: Sorry, Ma.
Ma: It’s okay.
Joe: Thanks for the ticket.
Ma: You’re welcome.
Joe: Love you.
Ma: Love you.
I hope we’re a little more conversational than that when we meet for coffee, Linc.