Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
I had seen pain and the worst humanity can offer. The days that followed would show me some of the best. New Yorkers were standing by each other as I had never seen them. It was "us" against "them".
I still hate Bin Laden and his thugs...and I can't forget and won't ever forgive what they did to my city, and my friends. The rest of the country, and New Yorkers in particular, gave me hope for the future, though. That hope is what lets me carry on.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Having lived in the City for a decade, and therefore having no need of the use of an automobile, I had let my license lapse several years earlier. Now living in suburbia, I girded up my loins and trudged into the new and improved Division of Driver Services (known as the DDS). Evidently, they were seeking to avoid the negative connotations of the previous name - the dreaded DMV, and changed it.
Upon arrival, I was surprised to find an open, well lit expanse with 21 windows for service, most of which were manned. This was a far cry from the tiny, dimly lit DMV I had previously dealt with in my previous suburban life. Might they have actually improved things?
I entered shortly after 4 p.m. and presented myself to the Gatekeeper (the old gal at the reception desk) and explained what I was there for. She promptly issued me a numbered ticket and paperwork to fill out. I took a seat and began filling out said paperwork. Before I could complete the line marked "address" my number had been called. I was a tad dumbfounded.
Approaching the assigned window with great trepidation, I spoke with a friendly older gent. After explaining my situation, he directed me to finish filling out the form and wait for my number to be called for the written test (since my license had expired, I would need to take both the written and road tests). As I was walking back to my previous seat, my number was called at a different window. Wha?????
I scurried to the next window, scribbling furiously. Another kindly old gent spoke with me while I completed my paperwork. After punching information into his terminal, he assigned me to a terminal where I took the written test for the next 20 minutes or so. Once the test was completed, I returned to the window. He told me it was too late to get a road test in, but if I came early the next day, they could have me taken care of in short order.
Total time in DDS approximately 40 minutes. Total time waiting approximately 20 seconds. Could this be?
The next morning, I was third in line at the door when they opened the office. I waited about 15 minutes and was called to take the road test. After completing the test, I waited a little less than 10 minutes to be called to another window, ostensibly to pay my fee and have my picture taken. Once my number was called, however, things took a decidedly DMVish turn.
The lady at this window told me my license had a "hold" on it for unpaid tickets in Atlanta. I was stunned that it was even possible for tickets to stay in the system for over a decade. I'd have to contact the City of Atlanta and straighten things out with them and get a letter of clearance before receiving my license. After that, they would hook me right up, I was assured. Fine.
As it was Saturday, I had to wait til Monday to begin the next leg of my Odyssey. After spending the better part of an hour on hold, the gent helping me told me I didn't exist. After further explaining when these tickets were issued (11 and 12 years earlier), he transferred me to another office. I then spoke with a nice lady that said I did, indeed, have tickets on my license. She told me the tickets had been dismissed years earlier, though. *sigh*
Me: "So, what do I need to do?"
Nice Lady: "Just come down and I'll give you a clearance letter."
Me: "Oh, so no fines?"
NL: "No, just come get the letter."
Me: "Oh, well can you fax it to the DDS, by any chance?"
NL: "No, we don't do that, sorry."
Me: "No problem"
The next day, I went down to the Atlanta Municipal Building w/ a spring in my step. Sure, it was inconvenient to go all the way downtown, but it could be worse...right??? Oh, yes. It could surely be worse...and it would be.
I approached the window, explained the situation to the man working. After being met with a blank stare for several moments, he pushed a form through the slot in the window.
Lazy City Employee: "Fill this out and bring it back to me. You can pick up the letter in four days or so."
Me:"Ummmm, four days?"
LCE: "Yep. We'll call if it's earlier."
Me: "Are you fucking insane? How can it possibly take that long? The lady I spoke with yesterday said it was basically walk in and walk out."
LCE: He shrugged "Don't know what to tell you."
Me: "You can tell me it's not gonna take a week to get this done. That's absurd. I'm gonna need to talk to a supervisor, this is totally unacceptable."
Sighing deeply, he removed his ass from the vinyl of his chair and trudged out of sight for several minutes. Upon returning, I was told I could pick it up after lunch. Recognizing it would do me no good to attempt a neck punch through the security window, I retreated.
After killing several hours with the friend that had driven me downtown, I returned and retrieved the letter. Armed with the document, I hauled my butt back to the DDS to spend some more time with my new cadre of friends.
Upon arrival, I explained everything that was going on to the lady at the reception desk, who assigned me another number. Things didn't move as quickly as the previous two trips. An hour later, my number was called. The guy at this window told me I would now have to pay reinstatement fees for each individual ticket.
Me: "But I didn't even owe fines."
Surprise Guy: "Still have to be paid."
Me: "You guys can't even tell me what the tickets are for. How could they all have resulted in suspensions, simultaneously?"
SG: "Can't say."
Me: "Ummm, if you can't say, how can you charge?"
SG: "It's how it works."
THIS is the DMV I remember. All rules, no logic or interpretation.
I stopped trying to rationalize and handed over my credit card. After running it, the guy looked at me and asked "What about South Carolina?"
"What about South Carolina?" I returned.
"You've got a hold in South Carolina."
"One - I haven't been in South Carolina in 20 years. Two - It's after 5, couldn't someone have told me I had a problem earlier today, or the last time I was here? I could have it squared away, by now."
"Don't know what to tell you."
The next morning, I called the SC DMV and got things squared away. They were looking for a shakedown from literally 20 years earlier that I had no idea was even on my record. Ugh.
The following morning, I was back at the DDS (the artists formerly known as the DMV).
"Please. Please don't hit me with any more surprises" I said to the guy at the window.
"Well Mr. Martin, I have good news and bad news."
I began scanning the immediate vicinity for blunt objects.
"The bad news is you won't have to come back anymore."
Were they banning me from the office, now that they had extracted all the money they had asked for?
"The good news is, you can go to the window and get your picture taken and get your license."
Oh, Happy Fricken' Day!!!!
Total time spent - 6 days
Total time spent on the phone with various agencies - 3 hours
Money spent - Don't ask
Old DMV slogan - "Don't know what to tell you."
New DDS slogan - "Don't know what to tell you...but open your wallet and bend over."
Monday, June 22, 2009
I've seen the absolute best and the worst humanity can offer.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Wearing sunglasses at night does NOT make you look cool. It gives you the appearance of a complete asshat. Combine it w/ a polo shirt w/ a popped collar, and you start looking douchey.
(secret tip) The previously mentioned dark glasses are NOT camouflage for the fact that you are higher than the national debt. If you seriously think you're fooling anyone with the shades, you're dreaming.
(to the tune of Billy Ocean's "Get Out of My Dreams")
"...Get out of your dreams,
Get out of my bar..."
Also, get out of the 80's. The 80's died a horribly painful death 2 1/2 decades ago...friggin' douchebags.
If you have a drunken compulsion to pet every dog you see without checking with the dogs owner, you run a high risk of being growled at, snapped at or bitten.
If, after a dog shies from you and turns away, you smack him/her on the hind quarter, grab the tail, or do some other rough shit, you not only deserve the growl/snap/bite, I'm hoping it actually happens.
Not so long ago, Darwinism would have claimed you for trying to pet a mountain lion and subsequently being dragged into the woods, you fucktard.
INTERNATIONAL FAILURES IN DARWINISM:
My friend Jennifer took her daughter to the matinee performance given by the Broadway road company of Annie in Ontario, recently. Needless to say, there were hundreds of kids and their parents. Jennifer and Maia were fortunate to be seated behind the only two ladies slamming beers at the 3 o'clock show. The two Miss Hannigan wannabe's proceeded to get shit-boxed and bellow along with the songs. Oh, it's a hard knock life, indeed!
I'm a barman. My job is to sell people booze. Tha being said, if you're getting soused by mid-day and going to a show like this, a ballet, a museum, or anything along these lines, I have three words for you: IT's NOT NASCAR!!!
I'm not knocking drinking or NASCAR. I'm a fan of both. I won't wear my beer helmet to the theatre, however, because...well, because I'm not a douche.
THE DEATH of MUSIC:
Earlier in the week, I got sucked in to a conversation with a young lady that insisted Avril Lavigne was not only "punk", but "hardcore". WTF?
I tried to explain, that while I didn't feel the need to shove an icepick in my ear when her music started playing, she was in no way, shape, manner or form, punk or hardcore. She didn't get it.
Shifting gears, I attempted to give a punk rock history lesson. I gave up when she couldn't name any of the Ramones...more accurately, she couldn't name them by first OR last name. (sigh - I feel old).
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
In honor of Graduation season (High School and College), I offer the following:
I'm told it takes a village to raise a child. Evidently, there are villages across this nation screaming for me to go on a rampage and burn them all down, because they are producing a new breed of douchebags of a stunning magnitude at an alarming rate. As a resident of the global village, and since I can't find my lighter fluid at the moment, I submit the following for your graduating children. Clean it up, if you feel they are too sensitive or frail, but share it with them. Their status as douchebag hangs in the balance. Be advised, though, if you really do feel you have to clean it up for a person of graduating age, they're probably already spoiled douchebags rapidly winding down the road to being an uber-douchebag...and that blame rests predominately on the parent.
1) You don't know the law:
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
The Road Recovery Benefit Concert 2009 was this weekend. In addition to Perry Farrell, Tom Morello, Gilby Clarke and others, there was a particularly delicious episode that should go into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop, was in the middle of song, when he was joined by "surprise guest" and shameless television asshat... former Poison guitarist C.C. DeVille.
Apparently, Iggy still don't take too much crap. C.C. evidently didn't get the memo not to step on Iggy's groove. As Iggy was singing/dancing/doing his thing, C.C. began dancing around him, restricting his moves. The agitated Godfather reacted as only a true rock and roll icon could when a human cartoon tries to steal the spotlight...he kicked the big haired hack in the stomach. When that didn't achieve the desired result, damned if he didn't kick him again, bringing the escapee from Dr. Drew's freak show to his knees.As C.C. drug his sorry ass off stage, crying, Iggy could be heard issuing the edict to the rest of the band "Stop playing for that freak and I'll kill you."
As my buddy Scott was quoted after the show "...awesome". Awesome indeed, Scott. Iggy still lives the dream and drops the hammer on an asshat in front of thousands of people. It gives me hope for tomorrow.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I was on the L train the other day, headed into the city. It was mid-afternoon, so it wasn't very crowded. Besides myself, there were probably a dozen people, including a relatively young couple and their child (I'm guessing around 5 years of age). The little boy was obviously bored...wandering a few steps from his parents, then running back, vying for a little attention. The "adults" kept yammering between themselves.
After the next stop, the little boy became a little more restless, singing/screaming to himself and wandering halfway down the car, then back to his starting point. I had settled in and was leafing through the Daily News. A glance towards the parents confirmed that they were, in fact, paying the lad no attention whatsoever. He was getting louder, and more rambunctious as the train progressed. He stopped momentarily at the next stop, as he inspected the passengers boarding, but resumed as soon as we were underway.
Now running the full length of the car and back, the boy began squealing/screaming every step of the way. He repeated this process 3 or 4 times. On the last pass, he slapped the newspaper from my hand, tearing it.
Me: (holding the torn paper up) Hey! You think you can handle your kid, guys?
"Male Parent": Eh, he's a kid, what can I do?
Me: Really? You can't handle a 5 year old for a 15 minute train ride? How are you gonna handle him for the next 15 years?
"Male Parent": Hey, don't you worry about me raising my kid. You mind your own business.
Me: You're kidding, right? (holding up my paper a little higher) When your kid runs wild and tears up my stuff, it becomes my business, don't you think? Look, I'm not trying to break your balls, bro, but if you don't lay down some rules now, he's headed for a rude awakening when he gets older.
"Male Parent": Don't worry about my kid. You just read your paper and mind your business.
Me: (once again, holding my torn paper up for him to see) Dude, if your kid's running wild, banging into people and messing up their stuff, it becomes other peoples business. Take a little responsibility before you turn him loose into the world. If he doesn't learn about rules and consequences early, he's gonna wind up beat down or in jail later. If you're OK with that, shame on you.
After pulling in to the 1st ave stop the couple gathered up the child and exited, Both "parents" flashed dirty looks, the woman scolding me "We never spank our child."
WTF? I never said a word about spanking, only bringing the kid under control...
FLASHBACK - circa 1974
While shopping with my Grandmother back in the "old country "(the old country, of course, being Smyrna). We ventured into Zayre. Being 5 or 6 years of age at the time, I began doing what any red-blooded child would do...I ran amok. After teaming with a random child in the store, we began a spirited game of tag, or some such nonsense.
Granny called to me to behave. Phhhhfffttt. Good luck with that Granny. I continued dodging in and out of the racks, laughing and cavorting without a care in the world.
Granny called me by my full name, signifying she was getting serious. My pursuer, my unknown playmate, was closing in on me. I grabbed a double-handful of clothing from a bargain-bin and threw the garments at him to facilitate my escape. In the back of my mind, I heard my Grandmother clapping her hands and making this "hoot" sound she used to do when she was trying to get the attention of the children in the family without screaming/losing her mind. Phhhfffttt. Whatever, I was having fun!!!!
I never saw the hand reach for my shoulder. I only felt the vise-like pressure from her fingers and knuckles, as she clamped down with the kind of grip that would have sent Mr. Spock screaming from the room. I knew I was in trouble.
Leaning in, she spoke, not with the loving kindness of that nice old lady that bought me ice cream on weekends, but with the authority of an adult that was absolutely in charge. Gasp! How did this transformation take place??? And where the hell was I when it happened???
She told me, in a voice barely more than a whisper, "Go outside and get me a switch".
"What?" I thought to myself. She couldn't possibly want to "switch me", and certainly not in the store...right?
Granny: Go out to the parking lot and pick me a switch, NOW!
Me: (HOLY CRAP! - or whatever the 5 year old equivalent was)
I trudged slowly out of the store. Looking over the lot, I was elated to see not a single bush anywhere. Turning, there was Granny, right behind me, pointing. "There's a bush in the planter over there."
After examining the bush, I picked a branch that I knew was suitable to bring my impending demise. Surely this insane impostor posing as my beloved Granny would attempt to kill me by means of an ass-whoopin'. After presenting the branch to her for inspection, she had me go to the curb and strip the leaves and nubs from it. I was positively bugging out.
We walked back into the store together, me carrying the instrument of my destruction. As we passed the checkout area, I felt the gaze of all the cashiers turn to us (specifically me and my switch). One gave a look of pity. Another flashed a smug look that said I was getting what I deserved. I'm fairly certain, in retrospect, that I heard the last call out "DEAD MAN WALKING".
We went back to my former play area. Until a few minutes earlier, it had been the site of unbridled childhood joy...now it was to be the place where I would be sacrificed to the retail Gods for my crimes against humanity and American consumerism. Granny proceeded to pick up the mess I had made and place the garments back on their respective racks and in their proper bins. When she was done, she continued with her shopping. I thought I could be slick and leave the switch on a table. Needless to say, this evil woman was all over it like a fat kid on a cupcake. "Oh, don't you dare put that switch down. I'll deal with you later, and you better have that switch ready when I'm ready for it." Gulp.
Having finished her shopping, we returned to the front of the store. While completing her transaction with the cashier, she asked if there was something I wanted to say to the cashier.
I apologized without making eye contact. I was totally focused on this unholy stick now clutched in two hands in front of me.
Cashier: It's OK, sweety. You know you're not supposed to act like that in public, though, right?
Me: Yes, ma'am.
Cashier: And you're not gonna make any more trouble for your Grandmama, are you?
Me - (thinking to myself - "You fool! This isn't my Granny! She's obviously a pod-person!!! Or an escaped lunatic waiting to get me alone to beat me!!!! Can't you see?!!??!?) What came out of my mouth, of course, was "Oh, no ma'am!"
We left the store without further incident. Continuing on with Granny's errands, we went to 84 Lumber. I'm not sure that she even purchased anything. I get the impression, looking back, it may have been just to drive me around town with the switch.
84 Lumber Guy: You misbehavin' boy?
Me: I was, sir.
84: Why'd you do that?
Me: (shrug) I don't know.
84: Your family's good people, you know. They don't deserve you to be acting dumb in public, ya know.
Me: Yes sir.
Back into the car and on to the next stop, Dairy Cream for a chili dog to take back to my Grandfather (yes, I mean the Dairy Queen, of course, but for some reason, Granny always did, and still does call it by the wrong name...bless her heart). In the drive-thru, I declined anything for myself. I realized at that moment that a condemned man can take no joy in his last meal. Needless to say, Granny had to explain to the lady at the drive-thru window my misdeeds, which drew clucking and tsk-tsks from her.
On to the church of my youth to drop off or pick something up. Upon arrival, the Pastor and his family were working in the parking lot and lawn with the handyman. Granny had me exit the car. The Rev. looked very disappointed. The children looked horrified.
Back in the car and back to Granny's house. Why hadn't she done the deed, yet? It made no sense, in my mind. Then, as we pulled into the driveway and I saw my Grandfather at the door, it hit me. She was bringing me back to let the old man do it. IT'S A CONSPIRACY!!! She hopped out of the car while I slowly drug my soon to be mutilated carcass from the passenger side. I slowly plod behind her, vaguely hearing my Grandfather grouse about her taking so long with his lunch and the fact it was cold from our stop at the church. "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WOMAN, DON'T ANTAGONIZE HIM!!! DO YOU WANT HIM TO KILL ME IN HIS COLD CHILI DOG RAGE????" I thought to myself. I was sweating like Patty Hearst in a closet.
Papa took the bag and returned inside. Granny turned and gently took the switch from me. I had absolutely no idea what was going on.
Granny - "I'll take this, shug, before your Papa sees it and I have to explain."
Me - (face consumed by confusion)
Granny - (breaking the switch into pieces) "I love you, shug, and I don't want to see you grow into the wrong kind of man. It'll hurt me awful to have to spank you, but I will if you ever act like that out in public again."
BACK TO THE PRESENT
She never laid a hand on me, I never again acted like a jackass in public as a child (though I did some monumentally stupid things later in life), and I learned that there are, in fact, repercussions for my actions. I've never been kicked out of or asked to leave a restaurant, bar, or place of public gathering. I've never been accused of being disrespectful of my elders or authority figures. I've never been the cause of my Mother or Grandmother being talked about for raising a shitty kid, to my knowledge. When I did the aforementioned stupid things later in life, I didn't cry, blame society, or look for a scapegoat. I owned it. That's what men do, I was taught.
I owe my Grandmother a debt I can't ever repay for that day. That was the day she started building a man from a little boy.
That's all I was saying on the train...make the boy a man, not just another asshat.