Thursday, September 27, 2007

Comma Ohio

What’s in a name?

For people in Columbus, everything. Apparently people in this city are fed up with having to include Ohio in the answer to the question: where are you from? It doesn’t bother me, in fact I insist on offering up the state just so I don’t get mistaken for one of those tobacco chewing mutants from Georgia. Still most people don’t want to be troubled with including comma Ohio. It must be too much work.

To be fair, Ohio is a pretty clunky state to enunciate. It’s only got three different letters in it but somehow manages to demand three syllables. That’s just out of line, but Ohio is a high maintenance state. We don’t even have a flag like the rest of the states; instead we opt for a burgee. Most people don’t know what a burgee is which is understandable since nobody uses them. It’s like two pennants stitched together. Talk about overcompensating.

Columbus is like the youngest child in a big family with active siblings. The city is constantly taunting Cleveland and Cincinnati by claiming that it’s bigger, smarter and faster than they are. Still Cleveland and Cincinnati enjoy single name status which infuriates Columbus to no end. Even lowly Toledo is in the cool crowd thanks to Jamie Farr. Akron and Canton are prospective members of that club as well but Columbus is stuck wearing that cheesy name tag that reminds people that it’s in Ohio.

City leaders even waste time on this subject. Elected officials have spent money trying to elevate Columbus to that level of recognition that would make comma Ohio optional. The city has landed professional sports teams and adamantly refused to allow those teams to be called the Ohio (whatever). Since many of the cities rolling sans state have professional sports teams Columbus civic leaders believe that this is the answer.

They might be right but it has to be sports people actually care about. Major League Soccer and the NHL aren’t exactly mainstream enterprises and even if people did care the local team has to win. The Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t a force to be reckoned with.
And there’s a prime example of what makes Columbus such a forgettable place. What the hell is a Blue Jacket?

It’s not really a stupid name. Blue Jacket was a Shawnee warrior who fought against whites as they expanded into the Northwest Territory. Most people familiar with those early Indian wars think of Tecumseh who was more famous than his predecessor. Little is known about Blue Jacket but he was active in the area around Columbus. The problem is that team officials don’t claim Blue Jacket as the inspiration…even though the only reference to Blue Jacket in the area is an epic outdoor drama depicting the exploits of the war chief.

Instead of developing that angle and paying homage to Shawnee heritage, team officials adopted a blue bee named Stinger as their mascot and put a civil war era cap on his head. They claimed that Blue Jackets was a nickname given to union soldiers. So they combined the concept of a mutant hornet with a fictitious etymology. Translation: boring.

Columbus is a city replete with plenty of reasons to forget about Columbus. There’s an infamous field of concrete corn on the northwest side of town, the Major League Soccer team is dubbed The Crew, which is a reference to the extensive construction work taking place around the city when the team was created, and wedged in a mud bank in the Scioto River, downtown is a replica of the Santa Maria. A big 1400s era sea going vessel is moored in the middle of Ohio.


It’s true that Columbus, Ohio, like so many other places in North America, was named for the explorer/opium peddler/slave trader/blithering idiot but why would a city in the middle of Ohio see the need to purchase a replica of his flagship? It’s not as if Columbus ever sailed through the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi and turned right on the Ohio only to find himself curious about where the Scioto might lead him. Columbus never set foot on the mainland and is believed to have died insisting that China was just a little bit past the little islands he "discovered". Erecting such a monument to his efforts might attract historians and tourists interested in viewing the place Columbus chose to drop anchor and then the city would enjoy that mono-moniker it craves if only Columbus hadn't been such a lazy explorer. I have lived in Columbus for years and still can’t figure out why we are supposed to be fascinated with Christopher. It’s coincidental, people, let’s move on.

But Columbus isn’t alone in inanity. Nearby Westerville’s claim to fame is its stoic commitment to prohibition. The former home of the Anti-saloon League remained dry for decades only relaxing its alcohol restrictions in recent years. Another suburb, Reynoldsburg, celebrates itself as the birthplace of the tomato. No kidding. There’s a tomato festival in Reynoldsburg every year but nobody in central Ohio seems to know why. A call to the city’s office reveals that it’s the birthplace of the commercial tomato but explanations are vague beyond that. Why make such a dubious claim? It’s not as if it draws tourists. For some reason central Ohio’s favorite pastime seems to be clamoring for attention.

Most of the cities we know of on a first name basis earned it the hard way. In the 1980s and early 90s Columbus was known as Cow Town because there were still pastures within the city limits and the annual state fair is held just a few miles from down town every year. Cow Town records and Cow Town guitars both closed up shop in the late 90s but when the NHL first came to Columbus in 2000 fans wanted the team to be named the Columbus Mad Cows. In fact a minor league hockey team took advantage of that popularity and played one game as the Columbus Mad Cows. The jerseys remain popular with collectors. City leaders took umbrage and made great efforts to distance themselves from that name. They believed it was detrimental to the city’s image and could cost billions of dollars.

What they did was miss a golden opportunity to join the single name club. Cleveland endured (and continues to endure) mean spirited jokes about its industrial past and current economic woes. Recently Cleveland was the butt of yet another joke by NBC’s 30 Rock where characters on the show expressed a satirical admiration for Cleveland as a vacation destination. Does Cleveland throw a tantrum and demand respect? Nope, the city rolls with the punches. Great Lakes Brewing Company even named its flagship beer after the infamous 1969 fire that set the Cuyahoga river ablaze. For the record, Burning River Pale Ale is a fabulous beer. It’s aggressively hopped without being woody and the complexities of the malt shine through with each sip.

Toledo might very well owe its popularity to Jamie Farr incessantly plugging his hometown as Max Klinger on MASH. The name also stands out thanks in no small part to the exclamation Holy Toledo but Toledo is known for its many obvious faults more than it is its charms. Nobody seems happy about going there. Name recognition isn’t always a good thing. There’s a fine line between fame and infamy. Look at Reno.

Anonymity isn’t a bad thing at all. Columbus is a great place to live, so what if you don’t want to visit? Now let's all go to Applebee's.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Finally! A presidential campaign we can be proud of.

Our last two presidential elections lacked charisma. George W. Bush won because his party pandered to the Christian fundamentalists on the far fringes of the religious right. He surrounded himself with people who firmly believed that the greatest threat to our country was the enormous popularity of Harry Potter.

Everybody knows that Bush cheated in both elections…when Pat “Hitler” Buchanan gets enough votes to win counties with a heavy Jewish population you know that something is amiss…but he was only able to cheat because the Democrats failed to challenge him with a strong candidate. Al Gore was #4 in the Clinton Administration narrowly losing the number 3 spot out to whichever intern Clinton was banging that week but before that he took a back seat to his own wife, Tipper. To this day her stickers adorn almost everything at your local Media Play store, but her efforts to stamp out indecency were thwarted when Al invented the internet.

In an attempt to prove that Al Gore wasn’t quite as P-whipped as everybody made him out to be, the next Democratic Candidate was John Kerry who famously stuck his foot in his mouth and crapped all over his campaign by uttering the infamous quote “I voted for the war in Iraq, before I voted against it.” Kerry later went on to characterize the men and women serving in Iraq as uneducated. Only a nincompoop like Kerry could take military service commendations earned in combat and turn them into a liability. Kerry comes from a well-to-do family with political connections but he swooped in and married into the Heinz family fortune anyway. Not surprisingly it was Teresa Kerry who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Bush was no winner either. As inane as Kerry can be Bush is worse. Kerry puts his foot in his mouth but Bush consistently talks out of his ass. He’s a blithering idiot surrounded by creepy overlords like Dick Cheney who will shoot you in the face for no apparent reason and then demand an apology from you. With Bush, we’re talking about a guy who sexually harassed a world leader on international television. If you think that’s overstating it find the highest ranking female executive in your company, sneak up behind her at the quarterly meeting and squeeze her shoulders in front of everybody. Good bye career.

Charisma won’t be a problem this time around. Both parties have fielded a pool of front runners that are certain to amaze, astound and titillate. The Republicans have lawyer-actor-senator Fred Thompson taking the helm. Fred’s never been linked to any serious scandals but his wife is a former stripper/escort who is young enough to get him arrested in some of the northern states where the age of consent is a ridiculously elderly 16. If you thought Billy Carter, Roger Clinton and Neil Bush were campaign poison, wait until the Democrats start digging up dirt on the lovely Mrs. Thompson. Assuming, of course, that Fred passes conservative muster...there is reason for some to believe that Fred Thompson might have caught himself of case of the liberalism when he rubbed elbows with those bleeding heart Hollywood pinkos…like Sam Watterson.

If Fred falters Rudy Giuliani is likely to assume the nomination because he’s the only person still playing the 9-11 card who hasn’t been linked to a subsequent 9-11 scandal. Yet. There are those who take umbrage to the fact the Giuliani never made a visit to Ground Zero without his trusted media entourage but it’s nothing a photo montage and a little flag waving can’t cure. Yeah, Rudy exploited 9-11 for his own personal gain but he spent more time at Ground Zero than all of those stupid rescue workers who are whining about their health all of sudden. Those guys might have been crawling through the wreckage looking for bodies but Rudy could have been blinded by a flash bulb. Think of his retinas.

Giuliani has skeletons in his closet too and not just dead ex-wives he abandoned at their death beds. America’s Mayor grew up with mafia bosses. He played informants and hitmen with them. This is a biographical point Giuliani gleefully pointed out when he ran for mayor of New York City, but will the rest of the country feel good about electing a guy who made his fun money running numbers for the Gambino family? Overt mafia ties might work in New York and Chicago but the rest of the country prefers its politicians laundered.

Giuliani’s claim to fame is cleaning up New York but at what cost? Under Giuliani the NYPD ran amuck, shooting first and covering up the evidence later and while New Jersey is certainly a convenient place to dump the garbage when you run New York, we’ll need a president who is a little more creative. We can’t round up all of the drug dealers, bums and people who like to go out and ship them off to Canada. Or can we?

The biggest concern for the Republican Party is how to handle the campaign trail with all of the hot gay hook up spots being under surveillance. It was great when these sting operations were landing the limousine liberals in Hollywood but now all of that morality based funding has come back to haunt the moral majority. Can the Republican front runners keep their hands of other men long enough to win the election? How long can you go without hot gay sex?

The Democrats aren’t exactly rolling out a second string either. Hillary Clinton is the Imelda Marcos of skeleton closets. Hillary’s got scandals warehoused in locations around the country. The problem is that the Republican party spent millions of dollars digging up every last bone but couldn’t find the connective tissue to make anything stick to Hillary or her husband. Pundits like Limbaugh, Beck and Coulter will make all kinds of grand accusations but the only people buying them will be die hard Republican ditto heads. It will make for great entertainment but it won’t hurt her. They’d be better off proving that she’s a lesbian and when you look at Bill’s taste in mistresses that might not be far from the truth.

Barak Obama is the most intriguing candidate of this election. He criticized the entire baby boomer generation on record and his middle name is Hussein. Wrap your mind around that for a while. Barak Hussein Obama. In name alone he is already the greatest president this country has ever had. All of this country’s problems with the Middle East would melt away the day he wins the election because nobody in that corner of the world is going to mess with somebody named Barak Hussein Obama. In the various Islamic languages his name literally translates to Make My Day. To those people it might as well be Ivan The Terrible, Genghis Kahn or Pope Benedict.

Obama doesn’t have a long political career so it’s hard to tie him to any scandals but in addition to the name, Obama has familial ties to Islam. It’s even been rumored that he attended an Islamic elementary school in the Philippines where, according to conservative pundits, he may or may not have studied the mystical art of suicide bombing. Apparently he didn’t receiving a passing grade, but that doesn’t mean he won’t take it up as a hobby while in office. That should provide plenty of fodder once the campaign battles start heating up. Not that they’ll need it because Obama is black, after all. The day this country elects a black president is the day all the white people pack up and move to Canada.

Come to think of it, that might not be so bad.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Touching the Bases.

The reporters made him do it.

Larry Craig claims he’s not gay. All he wanted was a little guy on guy action in the men’s room and the next thing he knew he was being arrested. Granted, when the undercover cop first shoved him up against the wall and started frisking him Craig was excited but when he was marched out to the awaiting cruiser the gig was up.

Craig made the mistake of looking for love in the wrong place. Guys on the down low, as they call it, have to stay ahead of the cops. The airport restroom Craig tried to hook up in was an old hot spot that the cops were all too aware of. All it takes is one straight guy walking in on a casual daisy chain to bring the weight of the police department down on the whole operation. If Larry Craig had checked the chat rooms rather than taking Ted Stevens at his word, Craig would have known he was reaching under the wrong stall.

Craig won’t admit that he was on a sausage hunt in that crapper but he accepted a plea agreement. Now he claims that he copped the plea in order to get those pesky reporters off his back and believes that is sufficient grounds to revoke his guilty plea. It might work but does he really think he’ll get his credibility back?

In Georgia a McDonald’s employee was arrested and detained for over-salting a burger. She might face criminal charges. Of course the “victim” was a police officer who claims that the salty burger made him sick which prompted the accused to ask why he ate the burger rather than spit it out and demand a refund. Indeed.

This is a classic example of cops abusing their power and the criminal justice system playing along. It’s hard enough to get a cop to show up when there’s trouble but could you imagine an arrest being made if Joe Cubicle filed a police report over an over-seasoned chicken sandwich?

Then the FOP wants to pester people for donations over the phone. Why? So abusive cops can opt out of a private supplemental life insurance policy and let the FOP pick up the slack? No thanks, porky. We’ll start looking out for cops when they start looking out for us. Oink.

Unlike the Academy Awards, MTV doesn’t mind if the Video Music Awards turn out to be a train wreck. They count on something going awry because that makes for good television. So if Andy Dick pees on Vanessa Carlton and Madonna French kisses Paris Hilton’s dog du jour, they’ll have plenty of fodder for future programming that does not feature videos. In fact, given the reality-based edge to their programming it’s quite possible that the “M” in MTV stands for Moronic. They don’t care, as long as we keep tuning in. And that’s why the VMAs have to be a disaster.

It was a great year. Britney Spears made a name for herself by having what might have been the greatest body of all time. She had no vocal talent, limited intellectual skills and her dancing wasn’t anything more than a vehicle to make sure he body was writhing in all the right places but she was just a body. Her face wasn’t even that spectacular upon further review. Well Britney proved that there might have been just a smidgeon of talent there early in her career because her performance was awful. She can’t even lip sync anymore and while her body is still better than what you’ll see on most public beaches, it’s far from the Barbie with a pulse vessel she once had. The reports about Brit being grossly out of shape are exaggerated but she has no business getting paid to prance around nearly naked anymore.

Kid Rock decked Tommy Lee. It might have been over Pam Anderson but more likely it was over a bag a weed. In case you though both of them were washed up, security opted to drag Tommy Lee out in a head lock while Kid Rock got to stay. Clearly he’s got a few minutes of fame left but look out Kid, next year Jason Mraz might bitch slap you and you’ll be the one hauled out kicking and screaming.

Of course that prompted plenty of wisecracks from people like Jamie Foxx who quipped something about ending white on white crime. Apparently Jamie was only funny when the Wayans brothers were writing his jokes. It’s not funny. What black people need to realize is that there’s a difference between white people and crackers. Every time white people get together to have a good time, crackers be fucking it up for everybody. You go to the VMAs and crackers be beating each other up in the back over some white trash tramp with a case of hepatitis and a crotch full of crabs. Guys, chill out. There’s room enough for two...and you both know it.

But the star of the show was Kanye West who threw a world class tantrum (again) over not winning any awards. Kanye is clearly the best person in the history of the world ever. He’s bigger than Elvis, The Beatles and Run DMC. Before him there was nothing and after him the world will be a better place. But only if he wins an award, otherwise he’ll punish us with his wrath. Kanye’s a decent rapper but when you get right to it, he’s really a one hit wonder. Gold Digger was a great track but the star of that show was Jamie Fox who performed a spot on impersonation of Ray Charles singing a new version of “I Got a Woman”. Without that pseudo sample Gold Digger wouldn’t have soared to the top of the charts. So that wasn’t Kanye’s song.

Kanye will tell you that Jesus Walk and Touch the Sky were huge hits but they weren’t that big. He’s scored some success and believes that he’s special because he doesn’t rap about drugs and violence but his music is still indulgent. The Fat Boys didn’t rap about drugs and violence either, neither did Kris Kross. Jesus Walk and Touch the Sky are both odes to Kanye’s massive ego. He thinks he is Jesus but Jesus didn’t throw tantrums over not winning awards. Kanye will just have to wait for Rick Ruben to remake his career.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

We'll have a gay old time!

Gay-dar. Be it a keen sense or a breakthrough device man has been preoccupied with detecting sexual orientation. Until now there has never been a proven method for detecting homosexuality in men (when it comes to women we have the WNBA). Now the answer is clear: political party. Based on irrefutable evidence and countless studies it’s clear that Republicans are gay. It’s not mutually exclusive, however. While all Republicans are clearly gay, all gays are not Republican.

Larry Craig is the latest conservative queen to be identified. He got caught trying to put the “lay” in layover in a Minneapolis rest room. He copped a plea after trying to cop a feel from an undercover airport police officer. Of course when the story began circulating he denied it, insisted he was framed in a sting operation and called the arresting officer a liar but when the tapes of his interview with that officer became public Craig seemed to be the one struggling with the truth. Now he’s imposed upon his family and they are defending his sexual orientation.

Craig doesn’t deny making contact with the officer in the other stall. He admits that he might have bumped the officer’s foot.When accused of reaching his hand under the stall to gesture for sexual contact, Craig insists he was trying to pick up a stray piece of toilet paper off of the floor. None of it adds up. First of all, compromising the integrity of the stall and making contact with another man is grounds for a world class beating. There’s no oops in the men’s room. Not even when urine misses the mark. Talking is prohibited unless both men are at the sink washing their hands…which never happens because men don’t wash their hands unless their mothers are watching them. Secondly, nobody picks up toilet paper off the rest room floor. Not even the custodial staff. It’s too risky. That toilet paper could have any number of nasty things on it and even if it doesn’t the floor probably does. So every man in the world knows that Craig is a liar.

This comes on the heels of former McCain campaigner and Florida state representative Bob Allen getting arrested in a public restroom for soliciting sex from an undercover office. Again, a male undercover officer. Allen’s excuse was that he was afraid of black people so he figured offering a big black man 20 bucks and a blow job would save him from something worse but if you happen to be straight there really isn’t anything worse. Being forced to perform fellatio on another man is bad enough but losing 20 bucks in the process is just unacceptable. No way was he being honest.

Just before the November 2006 election the Mark Foley scandal broke. Foley was a conservative lynch pin who got caught carrying on a graphic sexual relationship with a teenaged congressional page. Foley blamed booze for his lapse in morals. It’s true that alcohol does impair judgment but it does not change sexual orientation. Nobody was really surprised by Foley’s affair with a nubile page, however, the outrage was over the Republican party trying to sweep that story under the rug and leave Foley on a committee dealing with the sexual abuse of minors.

Of course the homosexual high jinks aren’t limited to elected officials. Conservative Christian leader Tim Haggard stepped down from his pulpit when news of his ongoing sexual relationship with a male prostitute surfaced and there is a list of Republican staffers who are gay making the rounds. And lest we forget, conservative news skank, Jim Guckert owned and operated a gay escort service on the internet while working in the White House press corps. At least he advertised himself as a top, no self respecting conservative would ever choose to be a catcher. He despises gays but for a fee he’ll deliver a night of homoerotic pleasure you won’t soon forget.

Conservative pundits are clearly gay as well. We all know Ann Coulter is a man in drag. It’s the Adam’s apple, stupid. What wayward fraternity brother or horny PFC on leave hasn’t learned that lesson the hard way? The difference is that straight men don’t go back for more. Republicans do. Glenn Beck does. He also shops at pottery barn and adores scented candles. And while Rush Limbaugh hasn’t been taken to task on his boy toy at home, we all know it’s only a matter of time before we see a You Tube video of that beefy blowhard on his hands and knees reenacting Ned Beatty’s infamous scene from Deliverance. Wheee! Wheee! Wheee!

Poking fun by calling it the Gay Old Party isn’t fair. Republicans are deeper than that. It’s a big tent, filled with all kinds of kinky gay sex that would make the Village People blush. Republicans like it dirty and it’s so much more exciting when its taboo. Besides, there are plenty of respectable gay people out there who don’t deserve to be lumped in with these conservative freaks.

Republicans engage in the nasty fetish-oriented side of homosexuality. That’s why they legislate against it. Increasing the risk enhances the pleasure. The age old adage in Washington is that only two things can kill a political career. Teddy Kennedy proved to be the exception to the dead girl theory, now Republicans are racing to see who can overcome the albatross of a live boy. Somebody’s got to beat it, right? And the one who does will be a heavy hitter in conservative politics for decades to come.

However, Republicans are only human. We all have a tendency to overindulge and that’s why it seems that every day another Republican stalwart is caught up in another gay scandal. Nobody in the GOP wants to stand up and forcefully denounce the depravity because everybody’s doing it. Ask not for whom the bell tolls or in this case, for whom the chimes tinkle.