Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The "Ground Zero" Mosque

I have to agree with public sentiment. I will not stand for a mosque to be built at Ground Zero. That being said, I have no problem with a mosque being built near Ground Zero. The Cordoba House is planned to be built at 45 Park Place, which isn't visible from Ground Zero, from what I've read. The bigger irony is that it isn't even slated to be a mosque. Its going to house the Muslim cultural center. Yes there will be a prayer room, but Muslims must pray five times a day, so it's more for convenience. These days the media, even the liberal media, sees any place a Muslim prays to be a house of worship.  The people behind the project also want to use the building to educate non-Muslims about their religious beliefs and customs.

The real problem with the average American is that they are ignorant when it comes to Islamic beliefs. They believe all Muslims are terrorists and this center is the rubbing of our nose in the tragedy that occurred. How do you imagine the Iraqis feel about 150,000+ Muslim civilians who have died? Sometimes we forget that Muslim Americans also died that day in unforgettable day in September.  I've been critical of George W. Bush, but was very impressed with the way he came out and defended Muslims and tried to explain that this was an extremist group and we shouldn't judge everyone based on the acts of a few.  The problem was he did it while the wounds were still fresh and didn't follow it up with more like statements.  As someone who took a college class on Islam and shared many conversations with Muslim students, I think, rather I know I'm more educated than 99% of the people out there when it comes to the difference between the people who flew the planes into the towers and those who walk among us every day.

It's my opinion that Muslims have the hardest road to walk, if they desire to sit by the feet of their savior in some sort of mystical afterlife.  They must first profess their lives to God.  They must pray five times a day, every day, in a very precise manner and in one direction.  During Ramadan they are not allowed to ingest anything during the daylight hours and are required to give 2.5% of their total wealth in alms. This money is distributed to the poorest people in an attempt to better their lives. Finally there is the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that must be made to fulfill a Muslims duties to god.  There is no weekly march to a church or synagogue. No two second confession that is absolved with a few memorized lines.  This is serious business and is truly a lifestyle as much as it is a religion.  It should also be noted that most Muslims have memorized the Quran. It's not something they happen to know a verse or two to repeat back once a week.

Getting back to the sensitive issue regarding the building of this center so close to Ground Zero, I believe there is one major problem.  The ignorant statements I've heard and read show me that ignorance is bliss, but it's also contagious.  The people that are so up in arms about this cultural center should have done a little research before flapping their gums.  There was already a mosque in the area.  About twelve blocks from the hallowed grounds, a mosque sat, in a warehouse, which was there for 15 years.  It was there before 9/11 and after.  When the lease ran out, the mosque was forced to move, but with no place available the imam of the mosque received permission to use an abandoned building that was damaged during the 9/11 attacks.  The building is the same building that is in discussion now for the Cordoba House.  So if it's been there before, why is it wrong to rebuild the building and make the area better.  I've also read reports that after 9/11 the Muslim community offered to buy the building as a symbol of their stand against the terrorist acts, but the offer was rejected and has stood vacant for years.

If there is one reason not to build on that site, it is not because of the threat it poses or its geographical location.  The real reason not to is because the level of hatred, anger and prejudice in this country towards anyone who doesn't fit into the majority is out of control.  The things I've heard in the past few weeks are disgusting.  Have we not learned from the Holocaust, the prison camps in WWII, Korea and Vietnam?  We've become a country that loves war, fighting and violence.  As long as it's not on our soil.  We have become numb to the death and destruction, because it's only been real to us once in the last 69 years.  The things I hear remind me of stories about the lynchings in the south.  Aren't the rights of every man, woman and child what this country was built on?  Aren't we protecting our borders to secure those rights?  Aren't young men and women dying every day in foreign lands to protect these rights that we cherish? I hope that's still the reason. I really do.

I'd like everyone, before their next discussion on the "Ground Zero Mosque" to think about yourself.  Think how you would feel if in 2010, you were told that your right to gather with fellow believers, in a safe haven, to pray was taken away.  That your religion was the one being criticized and chastised.  Threats against your family and those that you love were openly being made without repercussions.  How would you feel? There are bad people all over the world.  Some are Muslim, most aren't. These people aren't wasting time trying to build up communities. They are not looking for people to understand them and their customs.  They sure aren't worried about where people pray.  The next time you're about to tell someone how those awful people don't deserve a place to pray, think about yourself and ask yourself how it would feel if you were told you don't have that right, because someone you didn't know, someone you didn't agree with, just happens to have the same God.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ten Terms I'm Having Trouble With

Rush hour traffic - If anyone caught in this was in a rush,they would have left earlier
Brushless car wash - or as I call it...rain.
Refried beans - ever see the single fried variety on the menu?
Minor stroke - unless you're doing the doggie paddle,it ain't minor.
All-can-eat buffet - try staying there r three football games.
Severance package - isn't this what Lorena Bobbitt gave John? No thanks, just fire me
Tip jar - usually a pretty stable object.
Ranch dressing - shouldn't this be jeans, a flannel shirt and a bandana?
Fish of the day - bet the ones still in the water don't share this sentiment.
Soup of the day - aka last nights leftovers
Well that's all I can muster tonight.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dreams

I have tons of problems with sleeping.  I have insomnia and even if I go to bed drunk or with the aid of two tablets of melatonin, I still have problems sleeping.  When I was younger, I used to sleep like a rock.  Nothing woke me up.  Then my mother got sick and as she became weaker and her voice more faint, I basically taught myself to awaken to the drop of a pin.  The day after she died, I slept for fourteen hours.  Since then, that's three, sometimes even four nights worth.  There are times when I power nap in the late afternoon/early evening, but it's usually for no more than forty minutes.  It hardly feels restful.  Many wonder how it is that I never appear tired or show the effects of my malady.  The reason is REM sleep.  For whatever reason I go into it almost immediately (or so it seems).  I've taken 13 minute naps and had vivid dreams.  It's an oddity, but somewhat stimulating.

Recently I have been having recurring dreams that aren't completely pleasant.  One in particular that has become almost a nightly affair is a shark attack.  Now most people probably think this is because of Shark Week on Discovery, but I haven't watched it this season and this dream has been going on for months. Part of me wants to go to the beach, dive in the ocean with a fresh porterhouse tied to my leg and just get this damn thing over with.  I always live in the end, but I'm usually missing limbs or badly bleeding.  The dream is very vivid and the pain I feel is almost real.  I awoke one night with what felt like a bite on my leg.  There was no bruise or anything necessarily touching my leg, but the pain was there, minutes after I woke up.  Obviously it subsided, but it was a little disconcerting.  I'm fine with a cougar in my bed, but not a shark.

Another dream involves me on vacation and meeting a mother and daughter, who for whatever reason, seek my affection.  Nothing sexual ever happens in the dream, but the frustration of the situation is very intense.  In the dream, both flirt and when one isn't around the other moves in, but then retreats when the other returns. I always end up awake and frustrated.  In the dream the mother is fifty and the daughter is thirty.  I just turned forty, so I assume this is somewhat of a subconscious battle to maintain my youth, while coming to the realization I am not viewed as a crazy kid anymore.  God knows the dream isn't about my massive sex appeal.  Or is it?

Everyone has the chase dreams.  Mine never end well.  In my dreams, I am always caught, always beaten and usually die.  There is no truth that to die in a dream is to die in reality.  If this were true, I'd have died a million times.  I'm never chased by anyone I know and the people rarely have faces.  There is just anger.  Anger at something I did.  Maybe it's my mind telling me to right past wrongs or maybe I'm just a prick who deserves a beating.  Both might be true.

The nights on melatonin the dreams are bizarre.  Celebrities, mysterious people and friends do odd things, in odd situations, in odd places.  There is no rhyme or reason for any of it.  Some of the dreams are flat out nightmarish and I've come to look forward to them.  Something about my dreams always lets me know it's an alternate universe. I am threatened, but feel safe, even when there is perceived pain or misery.  Maybe in a way it is like life.  I've learned that the pain, real or perceived fades.  Things always seem to go back to normal, whatever normal is.  Maybe the dreams are just a little more realistic than the mundaneness of day-to-day living and it's all just a cry for change.  Maybe I need to get into the water, make the choice between holding on to youth or growing up, facing my fears or mistakes and trying and make ammends for them.  I don't know the answers, but I do know that the more I sleep, the more I dream and right now, it's all I want.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's On The Tube?

Remember back in the early 80's when the miniseries was all the rage?  We had The Thornbirds, Shogun, North and South, The Blue and The Grey and V?  Remember these things?  They were great.  They would usually span 3-5 nights and there was a beginning, a middle and an end.  Nowadays, we are subjected to shows that have a beginning and a never ending middle and the only time they end is when the actors realize that seven years of playing a mafia boss might typecast ones self.  Really?  Seven years to figure this shit out? 

I am done with TV. That's not to say I won't eventually check out some stuff.  I'm looking forward to one day watching the Wire and Dexter, but some of this stuff is just pure recycled crap.  Take Entourage for example.  The first season seemed like it had a clear concise idea of where it was going and how it would end.  Halfway through it gets picked up for a second season and you could see the wheels falling off.  I stopped watching when it became a who's who of celebrity B-listers begging to have a cameo.  The show itself is pretty lame, sans Jeremy Piven's asshole of a character.  The main characters are all awful actors in real life and they portray it...well?  How is playing a bad actor difficult when you are a bad actor?  I'm not immune to the bevy of beauties the show had, but that isn't going to make me set the DVR or even get one for that matter.  The shows downfall is that it's the same every single week.  Exactly the same. In this world, where people like Snooki and the guy from Poison are household names, I guess tuning into seeing some guy named Turtle trying to get as much sloppy seconds as he can is, well, entertainment. 

In the years of Entourage, Weeds, Big Love, The Western thingies, These fucking vampire tales and the final four seasons of The Sopranos, I started veering sharply away from TV.  Don't get me wrong, I watch sports like nobodies business and I've wasted many hours watching cooking shows, but they are always different.  Always!  In the time Entourage has been on, I have immersed myself in Ingmar Bergman films, Korean and Japanese horror, films in so many different languages I've lost count.  I've gotten so used to subtitles I put them on in American films (I realize this is completely odd, but true).  I've learned that all we do in America is regurgitate what others have already done and done much better.  We used to be original.  Television in the late 70's and early 80's was incredible.  Shows like Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere and MASH are what TV was all about.  All we do now is throw better looking people into the roles and hope for the best.  I used to sit with my mother and watch General Hospital and think, this is crap, but it's so freaking addictive.  That and my prepubescent loins were ablaze at the sight of Jacklyn Zeman or Genie Francis.  I realize now that these new cable series, even the good ones, are nothing more than soap opera bullshit.  Why would I spend upward of 13 hours a season to watch a bunch of guys try and get laid when I can be blown away by Max Von Sydow in The Seventh Seal or Through The Glass Darkly?  Not enough T&A in a film made in the 50's and 60's you say?  Just watch his films.  The women are more beautiful than anything you'll see on HBO and yes at times, even nude.  But it's more than that.  Sure, Bergman may have been ahead of his time in always casting beautiful women, but he casts those who could act.  The results are masterpieces. Works of art, with more aesthetic beauty than any painter could dream of.  Why would I trade that in for the mindless antics of a couple of horny boys?

About a year ago I cancelled my cable.  I don't watch TV anymore and while I say it jokingly to those who use it as their only means of relaxation, I mean it.  I honestly think the onslaught of reality TV and these series on cable are killing our minds.  When I was a child I used to love to stay up late and have intelligent conversations with all my parent's friends.  When I was a young teen, they were in their 40's, maybe even 50's and there rants, visions and tales kept me mesmerized.  I'm now, just 40 and I look for that same stimulation and find it very hard to find.  People my age want to talk about their favorite bachelorette contestant or who they think will get voted off the island or even worse about Johnny Drama or some vampire.  I want to discuss, in detail, why I'm not impressed with Alfred Hitchcock, but am consumed with Takashi Miike.  Where are these people?  Where are the people who watched the girl from Juno getting revenge on a pedophile?  What happened to Spike Lee and why hasn't he made a good movie in ten years?  I don't want to hear about the remake of Red Dawn or about the six vampire shows.  You want vampires?  Watch Nosferatu and get back to me.  You want a bunch of guys sitting in a room with nothing happening until some minor fireworks and maybe some tits?  Watch Hurlyburly and take a look at how dialogue is supposed to be written when nothing else is happening.  Or maybe Twelve Angry Men. 

I realize I don't have a wife and kids and I don't need that hour or two a night to unwind with something mindless.  But then again, I try not to do that too often, because I fear, that if I fall prey to that thought process that I too will become, well, mindless.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

14 Minutes In Scarsdale Village

Today while going to the bank, I had trouble finding a spot. Normally this would drive someone to drink, but I already had a cold forty in between my legs, so I was ahead of the game.  What this little inconvenience did was allow me to see the creatures in their natural setting.  The sights were incredible today.  And it made me come to certain conclusions about my favorite little village. 

OK, if you're forty and wear riding boots with riding pants, you're obviously privileged enough to go horseback riding.  If you wear them with jeans, you're a whore.  Either way, you'll probably stick with Christopher Reeves for the money.

Do Scarsdale High School girls realize that rolling your already tiny shorts up and wearing a skimpy see through white top does not allow you to walk across the street without looking?

Why is it that the nicer the car a woman from Scarsdale comes out of the uglier she is.  The correlation is almost always true.

What other town is it OK to take the shopping cart with you groceries and walk three blocks from the Supermarket?  DeCicco's even has a guy who goes around hunting these things down.  I want this job!

How many freaking tennis courts are there in Scarsdale that so many women have tennis skirts on?  I'm not complaining, but when I know there are shorts under there, it just ruins my fantasy.  Can you change before you get your watch fixed at Wilson and Sons?

Do people from Scarsdale sweat?  It's like the fucking Stepford Wives.

10 mph is not acceptable anywhere, so why is that speeding in the village?

That is one white town.  Seriously, I think they cut down the big tree in front of the bank because the shade was too dark.

Does that meter guy ever take a day off?  I swear he can hear the time run out from a block away.

I think the average female between the ages of 15-25 from Scarsdale spends one hour a day at Lange's Deli's outdoor eating area.  The older bitches go to Chat!

Finally, and I do apologize for making you feel uncomfortable with my creepy stare, but I'm sorry.  If you see a fine looking woman coming out of a place called Completely Bare, you can't help but stare at their crotch.  It's fucking involuntary!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Personal Space: Where'd It Go?

If you've ever been to a dance club, you pretty much understand that you have given up your right to have boundaries.  Sweaty bodies will most likely be bouncing off you like a quarter off Taylor Lautner's stomach (insert your gay comment directed towards me here). I'm not saying someone can put their hand down your pants without repercussions, but it's been known to happen.  Especially on E.  From what I hear.

No, I'm talking about daily life.  It seems to me that this unwritten rule (the 3-foot circle) that applies in all areas of life aside from clubs, rock concerts and public transportation has gone the way of the Dodo.  I've noticed more and more that every time I turn around, I'm stepping on someones foot, bumping chests or even worse, the head knock.  I was at an ATM the other day and I literally had to move sideways to get around the man that was standing directly behind me.  In the deli, I was paying and someone was standing so close I could feel his breath on my neck and trust me, he didn't have a Altoids fetish. 

It's summer people! It's 90 degrees and it's been humid as all fuck.  Let's all agree to give each other some space.  Bar stools are set up a certain distance apart, so that the customer is close to the bar, but there is a certain amount of space between each patron in an effort to give them their own area.  Sure, the guy who comes in to the packed bar is going to lean between you and another, but that's part of the contract.  We know it's happening, he says excuse me and we're good.  Even better if it's lovely brunette with a huge rack that accidentally boob bumps you on the turn away from the bar.  But this is brief satisfaction.  That same beauty, who you might like to limit the space between with later isn't going to make you to happy if you can feel her 98.6 while talking about the Jersey Shore or some other mundane topic, while you figure out a way to sway her into your man cave for a little game I like to call, "I'm Jamie Gumb, guess who you are?"  Never let them see you sweat?  It's become impossible to adhere to that old adage in today's in-your-face world.

Listen, unless I know that later that night my meat thermometer is going to be checking the heat in your inner thighs, please don't come into my area.  Sure, if things are going well you can tests the waters, but if you are either not interested or interested in someone else I'm with, please step away from the danger area.  I just don't see the need to be so close to someone, I'm not going to know somewhat internally.  Are we telling secrets?  No, we're talking.  I'm not grandpa Joe with the anchor tattoo who has to yell so he can tell you how he met your mother in Saigon on a tour, then corrects himself halfway through when he reminds himself that "that" wasn't your mother.  I can hear you.  I can see you.  I don't need to feel you tell me how your day at work was difficult or how your ex-boyfriend (or girlfriend) is ruining your life.  It's truly not necessary and doesn't add to the story. Actually it detracts, because all I'm thinking about is how your making my knee sweat and not in a good way.

Unless you're flirting in an effort to gain my attention and affection, you do not need to touch my arm while you're talking.  This is completely fine if you're a little vixen trying to catch my eye, but completely unacceptable if your only point is to keep my attention.  Try telling me a little more interesting story other than how you were walking to work today and broke your heal.  This happens to everyone, this is not life changing, nor is it interesting and whether I care or don't, I'm going to have the same reaction "really, that sucks."

I just think we need to respect each other's space a little more.  Sure when the alcohol is flowing we may slide our asses in our chair and face each other to feel the heat, but that's the release of inhibitions, which we all know isn't a misdemeanor offense in this social law of space. If you're at a red light, don't get within three inches of my bumper, when you're at CVS getting your anal wart cream, I try and stand as far back as possible.  I really don't need to know what the customer in front of me needs to cure various maladies.  All I need to be able to do is here the word next.  Why can't others join me in this quest?

Sometimes I think DMV does it right.  Take a ticket and wait your fucking turn.  I don't need to have you hear that I'm too inept to fill out the right form or have me justify my incorrect address on my license and then have you sigh as I stand there taking up all of your General Hospital time.  Go fuck yourself, I don't need you simulating fucking me in line while I take my eye test.  Stand far enough behind me where you're not sure if the top letter is an E.  Why the fuck do they have that top line anyway?  Is there ever a time you are there and they ask you what that letter is?  Never!  Get rid of it. Save some ink, you waste monger.

OK, So I'm a little bitter.  Maybe because it's been a while since someone I actually wanted close enough to make sweat with was in my life. Or maybe, just possibly, it's because we've come to live in a world where people are so self consumed they don't realize their belt buckle is stuck in your ass crack on the checkout line.  Sorry, I don't have my A&P card, because I'm terrified I'm going to go into my back pocket and grab a handful of balls.  Please, just charge me the extra 97 cents so I don't have to shake hands with his member?   

Stand Back!  Please?