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Sunday, July 22, 2012

In Which I Grapple With Humanity's Hard Heart

I could live a thousand years, and still never understand the evil hidden in a man's heart.

The brutal, calculated attack on innocent people in an Aurora, Colorado theater this week is unfathomable. I can't wrap my head around it. What would possess 24 year-old James Holmes to suit up as if for war, toss cans of tear gas into the theater and indiscriminately spray the packed audience with bullets from an automatic weapon?

Why? What was his point?

Only Holmes knows, and he's not talking. All I know is he legally bought a firearm whose sole purpose is to kill people, not animals... people, and tried to obliterate a roomful of patrons.

Yeah, we don't need gun control in this country.

For Pete's sake, all these people wanted to do was see a fucking movie. That's it. Nothing more. And now 58 people are wounded and 12 are dead, including aspiring sportscaster, Jessica Ghawi who narrowly escaped a similar attack in Toronto two months ago.


Several friends and I went to see Batman on Wednesday at a special premiere for Pittsburgh audiences. Pittsburgh is prominently featured throughout the final chapter in this series. We were wanded going into the theater, which at the time I thought was overkill. It's chilling to think we could have been caught up in a similar attack.

Okay, so Sometimes I have flashes. I hesitate to call them psychic flashes, but there's definitely something mystical going on. Sitting in the theater Wednesday night watching the villain, Bain calling for the citizens to rise up in anarchy to subvert the dominant paradigm, an unsettling thought flew through my mind. "I hope no one takes this to heart."

Our world is broken. This country is broken. Morality is broken.

And then this morning the powers-that-be at Penn State decided the smiling statue of the late Joe Paterno erected in front of (Not-so) Happy Valley stadium must go. The decision came on the heels of FBI Director Louis Freeh's investigative report finding Paterno and three top administrators concealed the child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky.

I live for the day we all can stop reading, writing and saying the name Sandusky.

According to, Penn State President Rod Erickson said he decided to have the statue removed and put into storage because it “has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing.”

“I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our University and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse.”

I agree with Erickson's decision. That statue is a slap in the face of the victims. It mocks the pain and suffering inflicted upon them indirectly at Joe Pa's hand. Had Paterno done the right thing years ago and stopped Sandusky when the evidence was first presented to him, a dozen young men's lives would not have been destroyed and his precious legacy would be in tact.

But he didn't, and so it isn't. And now his entire, once glowing career is riddled with doubt. Tarnished forever. Leaving us wondering what other suspicious, untoward activities he helped cover up. An entire lifetime dedicated to educating his athletes and helping them become upstanding citizens pissed away. How he could justify sacrificing those young boys' psyches for a football program is beyond me. It's a shame. Hubris is a destructive beast. I do feel bad for his wife who has to live with this truth.

Jo Pa's walk of shame

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Filling The Gap Between Rhett And Francis
or finishing crap that should have been written weeks ago because I know y'all are dying to find out how I spent my down time in the Big Apple

Part A: Not All Hotels Are Created Equal

Okay, so usually when I/we go to the Big Apple, I/we stay at the Four Points Sheraton in Soho. It's a great place. Clean, comfortable, convenient, the staff knows us. It feels like a second home, especially when the receptionists greet us like old buds. It's our hotel of choice, especially when we venture to the City Winery located a mere block away. Plus I can usually get a pretty solid discount via the Special K Mother Ship. It's definitely a Win Win.

However, the hotel gods clearly had their respective knickers in a big ole bunch for Rhett-a-paloosa week (June 7 & 8) because all the usual haunts were booked or a gazillion dollars per night. I scoured the interwebs and booked two options with favorable cancellation policies. One was an apartment on Waverly (which sounded intriguing), the other a super affordable two-night stay in Chinatown that frankly gave me the willies. Geo and I had stayed in Chinatown the year before. To say it was creepy uncomfortable is an understatement. So, as a last ditch effort, I lit a novena candle and hopped on the week before my trip in search of a more palatable option.

And lo, the hotel Deity were benevolent and bestowed upon me the OUT NYC. And it was GOOD!!

the bell of hell - street view
how much is that tres fab chair in the window?

This hidden treasure is located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood at 10th and 42nd street. It's billed as a "straight friendly, gay urban resort". Dude, they had me at gay. I knew it would be FABULOUS! (hands in the air like you just don't care) And it was. Like uber fucking fabulous.

300 count sheets, pillows galore
AND grey goose vodka in the mini bar
oooo weee

It was sparkling clean, had lush 300 count sheets and the BEST hair and body lotions ever offered in a hotel. They were all organic and scented with mint, cucumber, cedar wood... Okay, I didn't use the cedar wood scented shampoo because that is just too manly, but OhmiGod they were luxurious as all hell! And tingly.

two snaps and a circle, baby!!

And here's the absolute best part of my entire stay... besides a spa with hot tubs, sauna and steam room (which I would never EVER set foot in. Sorry. Just not going there Not. At. ALL. Nope) they have two outdoor sitting areas. TWO!!!

aforementioned hot tub time machine area

A bamboo garden with a long teak table and cushioned L-shaped sofas...

available for partays and such

and the Great Lawn outfitted with bean bag chairs and low tables.

a little help here getting out
of the blue balls.

I don't know about you, but one of the things that makes me a little crazy is holing up in a stuffy hotel room between outings. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to grab my book and sunglasses and while away the hours reading in the sunshine within the peaceful confines of this urban oasis until it was time to meet up with friends.

relaxation doesn't even cover it
until i had to get up
but that's another story


The staff could not have been more attentive. They even hosted a champagne happy hour.

Oh, yes, please.

I cannot say enough good things about this hotel. Do yourself a favor and book a stay. You'll never want to go back to the Marriott again.

Part B: This Is NOT Your Father's Hell's Kitchen Anymore

When the heck did Hell's Kitchen get all cleaned up and shit? I never once felt fearful or uneasy in this neighborhood. No more crazy scary lunatics brandishing machetes and arguing with invisible demons. All gone. Not once did my Spidey senses cue me to RUN AS IF I WAS BEING CHASED BY RABID DINGOS.

Ninth and Tenth Avenues are filled with one festive eatery after another. Throughout the course of two days I had Afghan Kababs (hands down my favorite hole-in-the-wall on Earth. the sauce. dear lord, the sauce...mmmm), Thai curry, brick-oven pizza, and Crab Benedict brunch with fresh-squeezed orange juice.

food porn
afghan kabobs with cucumber sauce
i would bathe in this sauce if i could, it's that addictive
"i can't quit you"

mirrored wall in Olieng Thai
post secrets sprinkled amongst the menu items

love in the Thai afternoon

So many ethnic cuisines... so little time.

Most of the restaurants offer sidewalk tables and hidden courtyards to enjoy the gorgeous summer weather. Anytime an opportunity arises to dine al fresco in any city, I'll take it.

44 1/2 courtyard brunch
try the mimosa and benedict

Not only is this area a feeding Mecca, there are farmer's market stands and charming parks prevalent throughout. The latter teeming with children playing. People are happy in this little corner of New York.

the kiddos frolicking

a beautiful community garden tucked away

just in case you forgot what neighborhood
you happen to be in

Two blocks away, at the bottom of 42nd is the famed Lucky Strike bowling alley. Good Lord this place takes up some serious real estate. Who wouldn't want to don a pair of kitschy two-tone bowling shoes, grab a 12-pound neon ball and let one fly down the boards in this groovy place?

even Buffy bowls here
if it's good enough for the Slayer, it's good enough for you

Across the highway lies the Intrepid, home to the space shuttle, Enterprise. Here she is at her final resting place. Her timeshare in Boca, if you will. Tours begin next week.

Call me a sappy asshole, but the site of this tiny spacecraft fills my heart with pride and brings a tear to my wee eyes. This marvelous workhorse and the rest of the fleet, quietly changed our world. They allowed our imaginations to soar. But alas, they each made so many trips into space to transport scientists, maintenance techs and finally builders for the International Space Station that it became commonplace. People barely noted launch dates. We all took for granted this brilliantly efficient program would be in operation forever. It makes me melancholy knowing it's over. I'll never again watch, in awe, this petite metal piece of American ingenuity defy gravity and blast off into the sky.

Thank you, little lass. You have served your country well. I look forward to standing in your belly some day imaging myself floating weightlessly in the vacuum of space.

Thwarted in my desire to tour Enterprise, I rented a bike and set out on the West Side bike trail which runs from the Brooklyn Bridge to 200th street. I headed south, passing a plethora of gardens, tennis courts, skate parks, helicopter pads, cool tree-lined sitting areas, netted driving ranges, and multiple marinas harboring beautiful sailboats gracefully navigating the waterway. My beacon the near complete Freedom Tower.

I can't wait to return with Geo to eat and drink our way up one side of 10th and down the other, bike past the piers and split some pins.

Dear Manhattan:
You never cease to surprise and delight me. I love you long time.

Until next time...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Plums Will Be The Death Of Me And One Awkward Product To Make You Say "Wha??"

Okay, so some (i.e. two) of you have read my travails regarding our supposed neutered plum trees which have been pumped full of steroids and estrogen to become the hideous overachieving fruit bearing fuckers of the forest and my Sisyphean task to rid my world of their sloppy mess.


Anywho, the carnage has increased exponentially with my ire, hatred, loathing over this current hyper-extended growing season thanks to the ginormous hole in the ozone from our blonde twinkie anchorwoman (yes, that chick) who insists on using three cans of hairspray a minute to freeze dry her crunchy mop.

J'accuse, Motherf**ker.

Can you tell she was on my last, frayed nerve before her blessed vacation? I exploded her pinhead with my mind no fewer than 28 times. There will be blood, chippie. Someday, There. Will. Be. Blood.

But I digress...

purple haze fills our garden project
if these fuckers strike, i'll kill myself with mojitos

Now that the season is full-on, these purple orbs are fuller than ever. Dropping with a juicy SPLAT, staining every inch of our sidewalk and driveway. We seriously need hardhats to walk through the yard. To add the fun, now there are bees.


my Sisyphean back is stained as red
as this walkway

The limbs are so heavy with fruit, that even the slightest of birds alighting atop a branch will cause a cavalcade of plums to go with gravity.

Red Menace Bastards
(my new punk band name)

You win, Nature. I give up. UNCLE, asshole.

So I picked a boat load of those bastards, stained my fingers violet pitting them and baked one of the best crisp desserts EVA!

from one branch of low-hanging fruit

baked devil droppings is delectable, yo

So now I'm begging every unsuspecting bipedal being walking past the house to pick the trees clean. BEGGING. It's not a pretty sight. Tears, clutching strangers' collars, wild-eyes locking on theirs like a feral beast. I don't know why people are crossing the street before reaching our house.

Now for something completely random. Things that make you go, WTF?

So Geo is one of the most thoughtful men I've ever known. (And tolerant, but you all know that already.) Case in point, I carried a beautiful bouquet of calla lilies on our wedding day. Now when he sees something pertaining to callas, he buys it for me. He's very sweet that way. He's found a lot of beautiful calla-related gifts throughout the years.

Callas are gorgeous, but sometimes they don't translate well in certain forms. Sometimes they are downright awkward.

Are you ready for this? You tell me what you think this is.

a mobile pitstop?

Me: You bought me a female urinal??

Geo: NO! It's a funnel.

Me: Dude. It totally looks like a urinal. A poorly designed urinal being that it has a HOLE at the bottom, but still... URINAL.

Geo: But it's a calla.

Me: Yeah...?

Geo: You like callas.

Me: But it's a rubbery URINAL. Whenever I use it, I'll want to pee. 

Geo: But, but it's a CALLA.

(I think that's the largest use of the word "urinal" that I ever EVER want to see in print)

I can see the pasty-faced, pimply, four-eyed geeks giggling while they were designing this apparatus. Oh, I'm keeping this epic fail just so I can broadcast to Geo that I'm using the girlie urinal to funnel limoncello. 

Or maybe not.