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Friday, October 26, 2007

Is It Too Much?

I recently attended a 9/11 truth meeting. I didn't go because I needed to validate what I already believe, I went because I was curious about who else would be there.

The small group that came out was an accurate reflection of the community I live in. Most of the people were hard working, professional, 30 something white adults. No asians or hispanics (I was the only A.A.).

The demographics really don't matter I think apathy is equally distributed among all classes and races.

The expert, I forgot his name, was armed with a power point laser and many facts.


Temperatures required to melt steel, eye witness accounts, and an incredible amount of interviews of people who were there when the towers fell.

I am going to be honest , I knew something was up when Oliver Stone did a movie on it.

JFK anyone?

He, the expert, even whipped out a U.C. Davis study on particulate matter spread throughout the boroughs and what type of explosive is likely to break down a substance to that fine state.

The clincher, for me , is/was Tower 7.

There she sat, all alone, no one paying attention to her.

She caught fire and fell.



Nary a bit of damage to her neighbors.


I am one of those guys who beleive in conspiracies; it goes with the territory when you live or have lived above or around the law.

By definition a conspiracy is a plot involving more than two people carried out unbeknownst to everyone else. I can PLAN to throw a surprise b-day party; it turns into a conspiracy when the recipient is on a pacemaker and surprises might kill him/her.

Evil also seems to be a necessary ingredient for the working definition.

O.K. back to the meeting.

When he finished his case it was time for question and answer. Most people nervously shifted in their seats throughout the presentation- a good indication he was hitting some nerves. But there were a few, arms crossed, furrows browed scratching their necks and ultimately voicing their displeasure that he would present these facts and make such assertions.

There was one particularly interesting exchange:

"so you are trying to say our government killed 3,000 people"?

"No, I'm not- what i am saying is the explanation we have been given does not add up with the physical evidence"

"You mean to tell me you think those buildings could have survived being hit with a jumbo jet"?

" Sir,there is no other evidence that a fire, especially on the upper floors, could ever topple a building in the manner the towers fell".

"What a nut job"

At this point a retired structural engineer spoke up in defense of the 'expert'. He argued in his favor clearly explaining the discrepencies to the uncomfortable member of the group.

It didn't sink in, in fact, he waved off the engineer, he gave him- 'the hand'!.

Regardless of the facts, despite the obvious eyewitness testimony this issue will forever be labeled as just another conspiracy.

It is sad that we live in an era where conspiracy is par for the course. It comes down to which is the worst.

I honestly think those buildings were wired for a controlled demolition when they were first attacked- as a failsafe, in the event something like that happened again and the towers became a threat. Our government will never be able find the words to explain why. People would want to know what else is wired.

Speculation, conjecture- requirements for the seasoned theorist.

Remember all the other experiments and programs the government, our government, has been caught carrying out under our very noses.

Don't be afraid.

Just come to terms with the idea.

You could be a lab rat.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why T.I.?

T.I., a multi-platinum rap artist, arrested for weapons possession; he was charged with a Federal crime.

Michael Vick, convicted for fighting pitbulls.

No argument, these are atrocious acts against The United States of America. I'm sure somewhere, in their lives, exists a nefarious web of deceit, a grievious threat to national security.

Not Likely.
I need to preface the remainder of this post with a simple message.
Mike Vick got screwed.
T.I. is going to get screwed.
I am not going to defend T.I. just yet. It wouldn't matter anyway. All the ingredients of a good, malicious Federal case are there.
Young Black and Rich- "check"
Young arrogant black and Rich- "check"
Probably sold drugs before- "check"
I think the recent murder of his close friend in Cincinatti may have raised a few eyebrows.
The Feds got involved.
I don't think the Feds were necessarily trying to vindicate the loss of life. Like any other crime they saw it as an opportunity to investigate further. To learn intimate details about a high profile person.
Black people are not the only ones to suffer from this phenomenon. But with us, the stakes get higher much faster and there is no patience on behalf of our legal system.
Just ask Mike Vick how his life was completely turned upside down- it started with a bong.
There is no doubt T.I. was thoroughly investigated, it may have been revealed he got a hard on from machine guns and other weapons of mass mayhem. He may have been overheard talking some crazy shit midway through a blunt. His boys sorrounding him- egging him on.
The Feds ,listened.
They learned.
They promptly set him up.
His bodyguard was caught attempting to purchase automatic weapons equipped with silencers.
The Feds gave his hired goon an option.
"Go through with the deal and we will cut you slack- these guns weren't for you were they"?
The bodyguard alledgedly took $12,000.00 in cash to purchase the weapons.
T.I. was present to pick up the weapons.
Hours later he was scheduled to perform at the BET music awards. He also went on to share the victory for best album with Common. But , of course, he wasn't there to recieve it.
Let's face it. Rappers are hard to defend. Plus, it is to early to tell exactly what went down.But I am the 'vanguard of the disenfranchised' I have to stand with T.I.. Until some bombshell information comes out and we discover the man planned a mass murder spree I am content to construct the real story for you all.

As I mentioned T.I was grieving the death of a close friend during a shootout. It is possible there was still a credible threat against someones, namely T.I.'s, safety. Bodyguards handling automatic weapons can be comforting for a fledgling Kingpin who has endured threats of all shapes and sizes since he came up.

What if he was preventing another Biggie Smalls BET Awards murder. Maybe he was clearly threatened during the awards festivities by some unknown rival.

Do these scenarios justify the acquisition of weapons of mass mayhem?

To answer that for him would be foolish.

Fuck it- He was clearly justified.

To understand would require a deeper than average understanding of the adversarial relationship ex-cons have with any form of law enforcement- even the 'good' ones.

Anyone who has any sense knows T.I was not going to pull a Scarface and wipeout a maruading army on his sprawling Estate.

He has bodyguards.

They need guns.

I'm going with the credible threat scenario and I am sticking to it.

Come to think of it- he just might not get screwed.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What I'm Into Sometimes

I attended a Landmark Forum seminar last night.

It was interesting.

I think the best word to describe it is intriguing.

Believe it or not, I am intrigued by a lot of things. Anything structured and phenomenally succesful like the Forum gets my attention. I am fortunate to be among many graduates that have learned how to use the technology of transformation(active thoughts).

People who have not attended the forum think the idea of 'technology' is ridiculous or mysterious at best. I have had very few conversations regarding my experience; it is on purpose, the more I start to explain, the more layered in bullshit my explanation becomes.

Using Landmark terminology, the language of transformation, really yields results- desired results. I learned a long time ago about visualization(eighth grade conquests) but I never conciously 'broke it down'.

These guys are on to something.

From what I have gathered Landmark was previously called Erhard System Training. It could be described as a more intense form of'positive brainwashing'(if that is possible) perfected by a mysteriously brilliant figure named Werner Erhard. Erhard was a succesful car salesman. I don't want to get into him. It would require more writing than I am prepared to do.

Simply put, he embodied all the qualities of a good lawyer or shuckster, depending on what side of the desk you were on or how you were positioned on it.

What compelled him to start this new exciting 'therapy' is beyond me. What is important to remember is the radical social changes that were occuring in the Bay Area during the sixties and early seventies. It was a destination for thousands , millions of people 'seeking'.

Seeking and not finding.

All the while, Erhard sought and found a small fortune in the car business. He also developed a keen understanding of human nature and the 'things' that move us as people. He met regularly with the brilliant minds of the time. Stanford Theoretical physicists, even renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. All them were regularly invited to his beautiful Mansion in San Francisco.

I have always assumed they were tripping on acid and discussing the absurd reality that has been chosen by most of us.

These masters of quantum understanding helped fortify something Erhard already knew. Without all the mathematical jargon Erhard was able to grasp some very important fundamentals to the technology he would later bring to the modern world.

He just had to work out the kinks.

With the help of some experts- perhaps colleagues of Dr Gottliebb himself - Erhard System Training mades its way from college campus parties to his central location somewhere in San Francisco.

In 1971 he held his first seminar.

There he would put the participants through a rigorous 48 hour cleansing. He believed people needed to be deconstructed before they could be useful to the new technology that he was offering them. Some of the words used to describe the experience are demeaning, humiliating, abusive , profane and authoritarian.

I would not have lasted. Simply put, I don't and never have taken shit, from anyone; I guess thats my story and I willfully stick to it.

Anyway he succesfully brought his version of self help to many people in The Bay Area and beyond. I rememebr mentioning EST to my mother that was her era; I am sure , as a hip adult in the seventies she had run across it. She had; after some prodding she explained "I ran across people who followed Jim Jones too... I decided to just sell Shacklee... it was easier" When it came to yelling, denying bathroom breaks and all those tactics that they infamously employed she was definitely-

"Already Always Listening"

In other words she didn't take shit either.

Black folks have a distinctly different approach to self help, that is an intrinsic quality to our story. We are not at a point where we have everything, yet, still feel that 'emptiness'. We are still 'locked' in the struggle. My mother thought many of the people who were in this introductory seminar had complaints about life that were trivial and they were simply spoiled adults who where coming to terms with not having things their way all the time. As my great-aunt Lou used to say.

"Tough Titty".

Landmark is definitely a much different version of EST. Werner Erhard sold the technology and left the country in 1991. Since then it has been modified and, like I said, provides some intriguing approaches to life that I like.

I am drawn to transforming the world around me; visualizing goals and achieving them. The forum provides a vehicle for great communicators to be better. Bad communicators to be understandable and good communicators to be great.

I like the whole idea of getting rid of right and wrong; being clear about motives and agendas. When I write my goals down now it is like a fraction. I have to break it down to the lowest common denominator and I am amazed at what I end up with - with what I really want.

If I don't get it

Tough Titty

Friday, October 5, 2007

My Original un-edited Review

I am posting this recent review because my editor chopped it up. I guess he needed space, nevertheless, I resent him replacing lukewarm with warm-over. He essentially took a lot of bite out of my original and I was left with that empty- embarassed feeling.
So without further ado enjoy!

Daily Show’s Rory Albanese Barely Finds Utica

On Septemeber 29th Rory Alabanese, writer and Emmy winning Co-Executive Producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart finally performed at Mohawk Valley Community College as part of the Community College’s 2007 Cultural Series.

The show, originally scheduled for Sept 15th, was cancelled due to Rory’s Emmy nomination. He barely made this one too. His late arrival ( hour and a half) from New York City came courtesy of bad directions. In his words “The time we wasted we could have been in Montreal”.

Too bad for us.

After all “its only Utica” and a big time Emmy winner scheduled to perform prior to his big time nomination had to channel all his comedic energy to make this decidedly insignificant show. To share the workload and kill time he brought along two writers from The Daily Show.

The two writers on the show who accompanied him, Adam Lowitt and Rich Blumquist, didn’t just come along for the ride they ‘performed’ as well. They also, according to Albanese, were responsible for the late arrival. Albanese quipped “ We got a Mapquest guy and a google guy; they both were wrong” People in the crowd -some with their arms crossed all night- had to muster up the effort to laugh. Maybe it was the timing; or even the long ride, whatever the reason, it wasn’t funny.

If they were good the presence of two extra performers could have been considered a bonus instead they waded through vague material that elicited a smattering of laughs at best. Attending the show gave many an opportunity to think about bills, upcoming essays, loved ones, favorite presidential candidate, prostate exams , you get the point.

To their defense, stand-up is not their forte’. Writing is. What they do for the Daily Show is very demanding and they must deliver on a Daily basis. That alone does not excuse the lukewarm performance. In fact I am being merciful.

The first performer was Adam Lowitt. Lowitt started his career as an intern on The Daily Show and seemed comfortable on stage. In fact, his stage presence rivaled Albanese. He provided some marginally funny personal stories and in the right situation he could have a living room full of family and friends laughing for hours. Instead he tested his latest material out on the crowd who responded with intermittent chuckles and merciful applause.

Next was Rich Blumquist. Blumquist started out bad and got worse. “Utica sounds like a prison; a super max where there are only two ways out” -the crowd anticipating something, anything funny waited- “In a pine box or a car”

Somewhere in the auditorium a cricket chirped.

Blumquist’s stage presence conjured images of Rainman or someone suffering from Asperger Syndrome. His inability to connect to the audience with jokes led to an impromptu and abrupt end to his- according to Lowitt- third disastrous try at stand-up.

Strike three.

At one point he segued into a joke with “this isn’t even a joke”. Almost everyone agreed. Many people were perplexed. To his credit I surmise his cerebral humor was probably funny on paper, just like The No Child Left Behind Act but, like our educators, he was unable to translate it.

The headliner, Rory Albanese started out admonishing the crowd “Give it up! Lets hear it Utica”!!! the crowd responded with premature applause. He continued alienating proud Uticans with “The Mohawk Valley huh? If that’s what you want to call it.”

One thing is true. On the ‘cool’ scale New York City has Utica beat, but these guys are not the reason , it is the art, the food, the diversity and the cab drivers who don’t speak English - not Rory Albanese. I am positive when the list of cool things to do in NYC is released they are nowhere on it.

He detailed their odyssey from New York City to Utica, which everyone knows, is right off the tollway. He knew they were lost when they got to gas station and the attendant with one arm and no teeth gave them directions “I though the people in Utica had teeth” he shared.

His obvious strength is in Improv. There was an uncharacteristically funny exchange between him and several audience members on the food choices in The Mohawk Valley. “Big Food….. just give me Big Food….. cut out the middleman and inject it directly into my heart” You had to be there, on second thought you didn’t; but it was all about timing and he did well, for five minutes at least.

A few more people yelled out some disturbing viewpoints on race. One brave or chemically imbalanced audience member yelled “The arabs have co-opted all the corner stores” It was during a particularly quiet stretch in his routine. There were no cricket chirps like Blumquist but nevertheless he struggled with the upstate mentality. “Gosh you people only laugh at racial jokes” he candidly observed. “ What is this a Klan rally”?

He got political. Fans of The Daily Show were definitely happy to hear him wax philosophical on solutions to the war in Iraq. “We need to drop X-Box’s, Playstation 3’s, by the thousands; give em’ generators because we destroyed their infrastructure. In a few years there will be no more suicide bombers the kids will rebel against their militant parents just like American kids rebel against their parents”

The rest of his performance sailed over the heads of most of the audience. He spoke of excess and the consumer mentality of American society.

After his performance all three sat for a question and answer segment that included a lot of questions about the real, newsworthy relevance of The Daily Show. They each reminded the crowd on separate occasions “ it is comedy, it is not in any way serious”.

The sad state of affairs in the world give them plenty of opportunities to highlight the shortcomings of our political leaders. They deserve kudos for doing just that, but stand-up requires a little bit more and on September 29th they didn’t bring their ‘A-game’. We can’t, in good conscience, let them off the hook.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

My Life Right Now

Freelancing is fun.

I am able to spend more time with my son and I get to set my own schedule.
I realize that unemployed people have the same perks. Nevertheless there are many differences that seperate me from my unemployed brethren.

I get paid for exactly how much I do.

Since I get paid by the article I keep word count at a minimum. So much for rep- I know I can write. I know when I am cookin because the local Gannett will always pick-up my subject matter two weeks later and slap on a two thousand word rebuttal or expound on the subject.

That is easily four of my articles.

Everyone knows what I am capable of so I don't give a fuck.

I actually, in a fit of naivete, applied to the same shitty paper. The publisher is a good catholic friend of my ex-boss. I won't even waste my time.

When I first started I began to realize the power and influence an editor can have over finished work. My old editor micromanaged my work adding her own words to change the tone of my articles. She obviously never bothered to study the elements of style. She would take all the wit and humor out my pieces replacing it with bland tasteless prose.

A good piece could have been excellent.

I know that sounds and is narcissistic, but hey, thats the nature of the beast- don't fuck with genius, let it develop, nurture it, then acknowledge it.

Or it may wake up and bite.

I remember one particular piece early on in my young career when she added approximately 200 hundred words out of two thousand and put her byline on it- I considered that a form of acknowledgement and was cocksure it would lead to some type of goldpot at the end of the rainbow scenario.


I never got paid, so I Freelance. Now she has some imitation Dave trying to jack me for info, all the time.

My advice?

Do what I did, teach yourself, that is where your value lies.

To her credit she challenged me to improve.
And I did
Beyond all expectations.

Oh yeah, back to why I like freelancing

The government cannot withhold any of the money coming to me for any reason.

I can skip an appointment and I won't run the risk of losing benefits(because I don't have any).

My son can be proud that his daddy is a writer(it sounds good) and can still kick his friend's daddy's ass.

I get to meet influential people on the premise of writing a story and create one along the way.

I go to lots of catered, free luncheons , press pass dangling with my borrowed camera in my front pocket.

I get a lot of close ups of accidents and always make it around the police tape at crime scenes, writing pad in hand, pen at the ready with a form of anticipatory adrenaline slowly coursing through my veins. Ooooh that feels good!

"What you doing here" They ask

I always act surprised and explain I am a freelance reporter, they usually share my excitement before they come to their senses and remove me.

Except for the firemen; I have not gotten close to a fire yet.

But now something is different, there is a shift occuring.

Lately I have been trying to push the envelope, shedding the Mr Nice Guy routine.

In Utica it pays to be nice; but I am starting to realize it pays better to be mean and just smile a lot.

I have been in contact with some pretty good businesses in the area and I thinking about getting back on the grid. Like I said I love freelance but I have a son and it ain't like I'm writing for Time Magazine.

The kid has needs and they are only going to grow.

I don't want to hear any talk about consumer mentality, materialism or any of the other hypocritical counter consumer culture shit we have been heaving all over cyberspace.

The shit sounds real good when the power is on and most of the bills are paid.

I want money and good ideas on getting a lot of it.

It is that simple.

My goals, as I write -right now- are shifting.

I can feel the mother of rants coming on

but I won't let her out,

can't let her out;

it won't change a thing.