Free Woody, Imprison posers

I like liberalism. I am, at least voting-pattern wise, a liberal. And I definitely like humanism and the push for universal equality. After all, I am a human who would much rather write a poem than lets say, play a bullet-spraying video game. And I like feminism;  I have a well-educated mother, sisters and a wife, not to mention an army of females whom I admire from all walks of life, females who by the way make me look glaringly pedestrian

But my guard goes up when all three of the aforementioned movements crystallize or more aptly, degenerate, into hashtag friendly, sanctimonious expressions of moral “outrage”. And my skeptical gene kicks in when desperate pleas for social activist street cred try to pass themselves off as genuine calls for fairness,  and equal treatment under moral and criminal law. What’s worse is when a movement becomes a fad, when what goes on in private battles of “he said, she said” morphs into a gigantic game of sexual politics and instead of properly labeling culprits and victims, villains and bystanders, people who have absolutely no clue what the truth is, engage in hearsay-based attacks on men who are creative, famous and by almost any standard of decency, skeleton free. Then I must speak up.

Me too victim

Amiz Ansari has been linked to the #Metoo roll call when all he did was apparently disappoint a lover’s expectations

And no, speaking up does not make me a social activist but it does at least force me to express my opinion is something more substantial than a 140 character tweet, or in some case of certain public figures, several tweets.

And so I will use this blog to defend Woody Allen against the latest pedestal removing #Metoo accusations. And no I am not trying to belittle the movement. The movement is real, justified and long overdue. But when females with spurious claims against men of relatively high character and even higher achievement also try to use the movement’s popularity, both viral and otherwise, to their attention starved advantage, they may in fact be the ones belittling the movement.


Woody Allen holds his alleged victim, his daughter

I am defending Woody because although I don’t know him nor do I know Dylan Farrow, 32, his biologiocal who has accused him of engaging in some form of molestation when she was seven, I do trust my instincts enough to sense when there is something rotten in Denmark. And to borrow a line from a Langston Hughes poem, these “allegations” stink like rotten meat.

Since no formal charges have ever against Allen concerning this incident, nor in his 55 plus years of filmmaking, has he even been accused of sexual impropriety by the hundreds of beautiful women with which he has worked, and since Woody’s ex-wife Mia Farrow and their daughter Dylan have about as much credibility as an un-medicated Trump on the campaign trail, I will not bore you with a bunch of facts.

But as someone who has very creatively parlayed the old adage of “life imitating art” into an odd but certainly not illegal private life (Woody married Soon-Yi Previn, Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter from a previous message), Allen lives in an unconventional but honesty way.  He has made neuroticism an art form, taken pretty much every fear and fascination Emily Dickinson turned into poetry and given it an Oscar-worthy cinematic storyline.


I guess before I romanticize the genius of Woody Allen too much, I will simply say that people, even in the court of public opinion, especially ones with good track records, should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Unless of course you are someone who is either (a) an actor who is on the downside of his professional trajectory (b) an actress who was lucky enough to start in one of Allen’s films and is finding it hard to really make a name for herself or (c) someone in dire need of social activist service hours and therefore pretends to be a real agent for change by posting a bunch of catchy, holier-than-thou sentimentalisms on Twitter. Then just take the bait and run with whatever story is trending so you can enjoy your 15 minutes of fame.

It’s bad enough that we already live in an age of unprecedented fake news, but what is worse is when someone who appears to be well-educated but has an obvious grudge match to settle, is given free air time to spew her distorted tale of victimization and the major news networks and some of the more prominent young voices on social media start to run with the story, something is flagrantly wrong. Here is just a sampling of the tweets:

I need to get this off my chest:
– I worked on Woody Allen’s next movie.
– I believe he is guilty.
– I donated my entire salary to RAINN.

  • Griffin Newman


I deeply regret working with Woody Allen on Wonder Wheel. It’s one of my most heartbreaking mistakes. We can no longer let these men represent us in entertainment, politics, or any other realm. They are beneath real men

Actually I am okay with the alleged accusations. The key word here is alleged and the alleged incident took place during a bitter custody divorce battle with Farrow’s mother Mia in the early 1990’s. Anyone can accuse anyone of anything any time even though such accusations have to meet a burden of legal proof to have sustainable merit.

But if the #Metoo movement, if the feminism movement, if the equality movement and the liberalism movement are to have any real long term value, then we must hold both victimizers and false accusers equally liable for their behavior. If any of these movements are to sustain the air time they deserve, then none of them should continue based on bandwagon appeal and all of them should properly separate those who can no longer bear to bury their unpleasant secrets and those who use a tall tale to feel better about their plight.

If Allen is guilty of anything, it is having an overactive subconscious mind and an even more active imagination. Both are fit for the kinds of movies he makes and the zealots like me who admire Allen and those like him for not being afraid to take risks, creative and otherwise.

allen quote

In the end, I suppose this blog is as much about what constitutes a social activist as it is an attempt to get the public off Allen’s back. Until some tangible proof of any wrongdoing, which based on all forensic tests taken at the time of the original allegation and subsequent examinations will never happen, then all real judgment should be suspended.

I don’t consider myself a social activist because I have never been at the forefront of any movement even though I have done years of service work in Ecuador. That just makes me, at best, a fairly decent citizen. But I will argue that being a social activist involves a hell of a lot more than just jumping on a trending social media bandwagon or attaching your name to a popular cause.

During a week in which Martin Luther King’s birthday was celebrated, this fact is all the more apparent.

So Free Woody Allen. And may the royal couch of Denmark no longer have to host such tall but slanderous tales.



Beware of the Ides of January

One of my unwritten New Year’s resolutions is to write more compact blogs or in general, to be more succinct. For one, as I slog towards middle age, I am simply running out of time. Two, as much as I like to write long-form articles, especially when the alternative is purchasing battery-operated mobile paint can holders, length is not modern day attention span-friendly. In fact, I’m not sure anything longer than two paragraphs fits that bill.

So I have decided to take all the different Mexican jumping beans swimming around my head and consolidate them into a weekly”Week in Review”. It will be challenging as I’m holding myself to a strict 450 word count. Here we go.


Just north of Tallahassee

For lack of a better word, I will call this week ugly. Well maybe even a “shithole”. More on that later. No not necessarily the weather  here in Miami, though the rest of the country had to load up on kindling wood, and in some cases make a Cannonball run out of their county. I’m talking about the news. And mind you, this was a week when Kim Jong-Un must have received a whole batch of Swedish Masseuses because he was actually diplomatic. But let’s start in California.

Last Sunday Night was the Golden Globes, a.k.a the night of #MenSuck and #HarveyWeinsteinshouldhaveto eatsushioffDonaldTrump’s unshoweredsweatybody as part of his redemption.


We love Will Smith

Everyone was encouraged to wear black in honor of I think Will Smith, one of the few Hollywood stars who has yet to harass anyone. But the star of the show was Oprah Winfrey who gave what overzealous #AnyonebutTrumpincludingHarveyWeinstein journalists would like to think was a harbinger of a presidential run speech because she well, didn’t actually bash men while lauding the travails of most women. Not that Oprah seemed to use her platform as a stump speech but when she said the word President Trump, Oprah enthusiasts took that to mean “I am going to demolish President Trump in an election that is almost three years away.

Speaking of Oprah, the real shapeshifter in California were the mudslides which have been devastating most of Santa Barbara County and specifically the area most inhabited by billionaires like Oprah. In fact, her home was one of the several Central American country-sized estates which were “affected”. In response to the mudslides, Trump was quoted as saying: “Serves her right for thinking some other broad can challenge me to the presidency. Besides, all those tree hugging Californians were so caught up in bashing me about climate change since as we know, mud is cold as hell.”


Can you feel the devastation?

Yet somehow the mudslides hopped over a few states and continued their deluge all the way to the White House, or more specifically into President Trump’s cranium. Forgetting that he was leading a bipartisan council at the White House on how to improve immigration policy instead of yukking it up on the golf course, Trump went public with some of his more “shitty” thoughts.


Leading by example

Referring to three of the modern world’s most financially and politically ravaged countries, Haiti, El Salvador and Somalia as “shitholes”, Trump gave ample proof that one of his New Year’s Resolutions is to channel Don Imus and Charlie Sheen, not to mention, steal the spotlight back from Harvey Weinstein.

As a result, I’m starting a new slogan. Sometimes “a word is worth a thousand words”.

Happy MLK Day everyone!

And only 550 words. Progress, not perfection


I hereby resolve for to…. Part 2-018

2017 has come and gone. Phew. We made it. And most of us were not mauled by protestors, the local super-iguana species or teenagers on a high-speed text and drive chase. Besides we can take solace in the fact that the past year was not as bad as 2016 unless you were one of the 65 percent of all adults who use Equifas (2) Your spouse likes, I mean really likes his/her iPhone or (3) You are Roy Moore or anyone who helped get Trump elected.

Every New Year, especially since it looks far more like the 4th of July than New Years around here in South Florida, I write out my resolutions. But I am just one person and I would like to think I’ve matured at least 1 percent over the last year. So what I do instead is write broader resolutions, changes I want you, the greater society to make. And I will tag along once I see that you have changed. (Note I’m married so this is a line I frequently use).

This is the last of my three parts of my annual “Look Back, Look Ahead” series or to continue my movies metaphor, the Dark Knight rises. As the year progresses, the metaphor may actually be more apt than we think. So here we go, ten resolutions, ten things that along with all those silly jokes, angry texts and parking tickets, we will try to leave behind. Speaking of parking tickets, I was going to include those in my resolutions but I already got one yesterday. Bienvenido a Miami, right?

(10) Emoticons:

It’s not that emoticons are bad. I like them and often use them. But there are way too many. And we invest large portions of our finite brainpower deciding which ones to use In my case, I can’t even figure out if one is a smiley, a frown or a wink. So my proposal is we don’t have to go cold turkey on emoticons, but we need to ration them. As in 12 a month, unless of course your team just won the BCS or Super Bowl. Then you get 16. Or your significant other is really really really pissed at you. Then send dozens along with the actual roses.

no emoticons

Courtesy of The Society to use actual words again

But let’s make 2018 as emoticon free as possible. Besides, we need to start learning how to use words again.

Speaking of words..

(9) The term “American People”:

Politicians now bandy about the term more often than they use the word “promise” or in the case of many representatives last year “penis”. But every time I hear one of our elected officials use the term “American People”, I one start screaming at the windshield and two, pose the question, Which American People? Certainly not me. Aside from the fact that most locals are not really Americans in the flag waving, NASCAR loving, hat wearing sense of the word”, I really don’t think the American people thought much about let’s say, imposing a travel ban on travelers from Somalia or Yemen. In fact, most Americans have no idea what those places are.

And speaking of speaking…

(8) Lets stop stopping radicals or bigoted whites from their public speaking invitations

Perhaps this is Trumpian of me to say but we draw significantly more attention to an outcast, hate-speech promoter by trying to deny him/her the podium than just letting them spew their nonsense and show to their audience of 37 or so inbreds and a few good-willed defenders of justice, just how ignorant they are. These are just sticks and stones and even though that White Supremacist Rally in Charlottesville turned violent, had we just let them had their “hate speech fueled, neo-Nazi, we watched too many episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard as a kid” circle jerk and sort of given them the silent treatment, it wouldn’t draw half the attention that it did. Everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame unless we choose to give them more.

lets speakers speak

Courtesy of the Donald J. Trump Dialectical Society for Open and Healthy Discourse

(7) Kim Jong In, a.k.a Rocket Man.

We get it. You’re young and have a lot of power. And it’s not exactly glamorous to be a Communist these days, not to mention, live a life shrouded in informational secrecy. Plus you think Trump is a little bit of a bully. So do we. But in some cases Trump has the right to call someone out. And you are one of those someone’s. Technically calling you “Rocket Man” wasn’t even that much of a verbal sucker punch, but even if it was,  Trump actually paid his dues, well maybe not his tax dues, but he had a lunch pail attitude for many years and  had to defeat a few real opponents to “win” his election. Trump also has access to bigger weapons and believe it or not, more allies. So cut out all the bombast, get a Jenny Craig membership and do the rest of your depraved country a favor and pipe down.

kim vs trump

But if for some reason you are reading this blog, just know I’m being satirical. I would hate for you to hack my computer.

(6) Doubt:

Yes let’s leave doubt behind along with these other unwelcomed items. Sure I doubt the Titans will win the Super Bowl and sure I doubt that people will stop making love to their phones on an almost hourly basis, but who am I to be a doubter. So I draw a line between the terms doubt and skepticism. Skepticism is a healthy way of distrusting what we hear and see. Skepticism helps us spot some fake news like “Introduction of Viagra Trees in Costa Rica makes it likely to supplant India’s population in 20 years”.

But doubt, that’s the raven perched on the windowsill telling a distressed lover from doing what we love. Besides all of us doubted Trump would ever make it through half the primary and look what happened.

Speaking of annoyances,

(5) Texting:

Granted I have some doubt here, I mean skepticism. But harkening back to college, in an era long- long before texting made the rounds, I remember a term from my psychology class called “satiation theory”. The basis premise is that if we use things enough, enough to the point where we are satisfied with our level of consumption, we should need not continue to use it. So when it comes to texting, I’m satiated. And you should be too.

Don’t get me wrong. I like to write and love the thrill of an incoming message ping. But enough is enough. Lets also ration out texting, especially the group chats. And we can call or just hope to run into each other instead. Besides, if we over-text, our once communicative species may actually forget how to speak on the phone.

Speaking of communications…

(4) Rating various services

As a teacher, I am driven by an inherent insecurity not to look bad in front of others. Fortunately I am also a congenital people pleaser so I try to make my students look good.

But I don’t ask for ratings every class, day or even week. In fact, I am not sure I have ever asked for a rating or if my students rate me at all mainly because the dork meter doesn’t go high enough. My college students were asked to rate me at the end of last year and I don’t think anyone filled out the forms.


Meanwhile nearly everybody else in the service industry expects a rating, and within minutes of services rendered. This includes escorts I think. Uber/Lyft drivers and passengers ask for ratings, as do Airbnb guests and that is before we have had a chance to meet them and see the condition in which they left the unit.

But it doesn’t stop here. Landscapers, AC repairmen, both of whom egregiously overcharge as well as mailmen, meter maids and debt collectors are all expected to be rated. This need could provide an exception to my emoji rationing but that’s about it. In fact that is a great idea, no I don’t have to feign some fawning appreciation for your services but I can give several emoji accolades.

Speaking of ratings….

(3) The term “best seller”, or for that matter super superlatives

best seller

The book I have been meaning to write

I always hear the term starving artists or authors who must pull Odyssean feats just to get the first fifty pages of their manuscripts approved, but ultimately suffer the slings and arrows of categorical rejection of the complete work. And then I see how ubiqutious the term “best-seller” is. Crappy books. One’s that the Kathy Miller 4th grade teachers of the world could write. So I no longer think the N.Y. Times should be able to use the term “best-seller”. Semantically, the Times already makes mistakes because there should just be one “best” seller at a time and yet there are twenty. At least. So the proper term should be “good seller” or “better seller” or “cash cow”. But best has to be reserved for one.

And speaking of trivialities, a most recent “best seller” – ‘Why Urologists should always be considered number 1 and Proctologists number 2″ only sold about 1211 copies but it was given the best seller label.

Speaking of misleading the customer, and I realize Bitcoin is giving my suggestion a run for its money, pun intended but

(2) Money needs a major overhaul

Yes I have a little pocket change but this money business is a real drag. Maybe we do need a heavy dose of socialism or a heavy dose of Bernie Sanders or at least Vermonters running the country because the most basic things are starting to cost a fortune and really rich people who want even more are driving this profit guzzling machine.


If people would charge a normal wage, one that mathematically oriented people such as myself do not have to do mental gymnastics to rationalize ( such as not charging $1300 for a relatively routine 45 minute emergency room visit or $170 for a scalp massage, I think everyone’s life would be infinitely easier. Listen everyone needs to make a profit but not at the expense of basic decency. Enough said and finally speaking of irrational trends/norms

(1) A bunch of public annoyances:

These include among just a few of the ones I would really like to mention  the music other people play, especially during Lyft rides, the way people stare at their phones in the slouched position as if such digital devices are beaming livev naked pictures of Scarlett Johannsen and most important to me as I further channel some of my favorite social critics, please lets once and for all do away with the whole Latin tradition of kissing people who are casual acquaintances whenver we run into them on the streets or frankly everywhere.

I know what you’re thinking. After all these toxic substances, many of which truly must be left in 2017’s wake, what kind of Larry Davidesque , anti-kissing shmuck is this guy? If this is Elman’s biggest complaint about 2017, he must have one hell of a life.

And maybe I do… but… as we age, we tend to categorize things as either necessary or not, normal or abnormal, so frankly think all of this gratuitous kissing, as in kissing people during greeting or departure, especially people I hardly know is just bizarre. Frankly I don’t even like half of them and yet I am expected to offer a kiss. I know it is considered some type of cultural courtesy but frankly I think it would be a lot more courteous to the people I really love that I didn’t give passers by that kiss. I mean after awhile we barely kiss our spouses on the cheek and it still feels awkward to kiss mom and dad but I am expected to give a little peck on the cheek to Maria Antonella, a distant cousin of my wife’s brother’s ex girlfriend whom I see once every three years.

makes no sense

Assuming these people are just acquaintances, shouldn’t that imply we go for the full on make out session with people we really know

Obviously this is not really a big problem. Except to me it is a microcosm of a larger problem and that is copy-catting. We do things because we see so many other people doing them, like a global game of Simon Says.

Well I am a non-conformist, at least I would like to think I am so if I happen to run into you in 2018, don’t take it personally if I just shake your hand. Unless of course your name is Melania and you just came to do my landscaping. Then instead of a big tip and 5 star rating, I’ll just send some emojis and give you that customary hug and kiss

I hope that suffices 🙂 🙂 😉

Oh and please give me five stars. My blogging life depends on it

#Too…………………..Much – Part “Too”

Hi readers whoever you might be.

This is the second part of my Year in Review. The first part, the exposition or what I referred to as the Batman Begins part is here if you wish to or have already read

#Too…………Much(2017 post-mortem)

This is where I recap what I feel are the top events of the year, at least events which are worth my satirical capital. This is also where I test my ability to recall events from the previous year, not an easy feat when you live in Miami and can barely tell what month or day of the week it is. Event number one was the Trump Proposed Travel Ban which has been in legal limbo since and provides a wonderful diversion to the ongoing Congressional investigation to determine if (1) He wears a hairpiece (2) His wife’s eyes are real and (3) whether or not we can use the pronoun their interchangeably with he/her.

And so without further ado, here are the remaining nine. Apologies to those events I left out and apologies to those to whom any particular event induces guilt. Then again, that’s what resolutions are for.

II. The enemy is within

When it comes to national security, it is easy to point the finger of blame at radical Islamists. After all, most of them do not look like the kinds of guys you would want to date your sister, teach your sister, talk to your sister or get into a historical debate which actually involves facts. But if you look at the source(s) of terrorist-like violence here in the good ole US of A, “white, gun toting, get off on reading the second amendment, we wish we were an Aryan nation” are a far greater threat to peace and security than Arabic speaking, big bearded Islamists. Mind you the latter could use a little sprinkle of Americana plus a reminder why they came to the U.S. in the first place. But our new sheriff Mr. Trump is no Clint Eastwood when it comes to protecting Americans from internal threats.

I include this little rant in my YIR not just to point out some inconvenient truths but to illustrate the kind of hypocrisy that runs the country.

When the Vegas shooter mowed down almost 60 people enjoying a country music fest and the Texas shooter traveled from Louisiana to go on a rampage which killed 25 churchgoers, and when the bird brained White Supremacist attempted to turn a crowd of counter protestors in Charlottesville into a giant pancake, the issue according to Trump and his apologists was not one of homegrown hate mongrels in possession of mass violence inducing weapons, but mental health. Hmm Trump speaks of the importance of mental health.. Now this English teacher says feel free to read into my comments as much as possible.


Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Buddhist Society

Sorry for losing a bit of the satirical voice here but in 2017 over 100 people were killed by white, gun humping Neanderthals in Las Vegas, San Antonio, Ft. Lauderdale, Washington State, Orange County Florida and most recently an elementary school in California. The four soldiers who unfortunately died in Benghazi resulted in over a year’s worth of judicial investigations and an 11 hour hearing on Capitol Hill. These shootings…. well you get the point……

Speaking of points.


I went to take photos and a baseball game broke out

III. Cellphone pictures:

If photo snapping were an Olympic sport, the U.S. would definitely bring home a lot of hardware, especially those participants aged between 10 and 105. I  am not sure how we survived so long without the smartphone camera (It’s a good thing the phones are smart because most users are not) and apparently for generations, people enjoyed pooping, breakfast, trips to the park, flights and drinks among friends without them, but now taking selfies or group photos during the aforementioned activities are rites of smartphone passage.

happy parents

Assume the position

As a father of a three year old, I like to snap a spontaneous photo or two and enjoy the endorphin rush of sharing them with friends but I also like unfiltered views of the world around me. Again I understand the endorphin rush, but I can’t help but ask three questions:

(1) What becomes of all these photos?

(2) And especially in the case of selfies, don’t you already know what you look like? I don’t know about you, but I check myself out every bathroom visit during the day and on a few other vain occasions.

(3) imagine if we spent all that time and energy we used posing, snapping, swiping, uploading  and sharing on something slightly more constructive, lets say, blogging :)? Rumor has it and I did get my stats from The Trump Foundation for Accuracy in Statistical Distortion but Americans snapped over 20 billion photos on their Iphones in 2017, only 15,000 of which they actually converted into hard copies.

Speaking of hard copies, I mean pointless uses of the Iphone

IV: “When I Get that Feeling, I need Digital Device Healing”

For good or for bad, photo taking seems to be just a fraction of what phones can do. Truth be told, I probably interacted with my phone in some form for 20 minutes a day, every day this year so when I do the math, that is about 120 hours or 5 days of my life. Five full days. I’m likely in the middle here, hopefully lower middle. As mentioned, Apple alone came out with three iterations of the IPhone this year and although he likely uses a Droid because he is such a devotee of Sinatra’s “My Way”, Trump uses his smart phone to make such Kennedyesque proclamations as:

(1) “Crooked Hillary is more Crooked than Mother Teresa and the Apostle Paul combined” 

2) “I just found out that John Quincy Taft was so fat that he did get stuck in a bathtub but did not die there. That was just fake news cooked up by the crooked NY Times which was owned by the crooked Clinton family at the time“.

But back to the phones, 78% of all Americans admit to spending more time with their phones than their spouses, 62% cannot remember what is the color of the sky and 91 percent, including those as young as four years old, would rather swipe their phones than read, write, sing, exercise or eat breakfast.


Courtesy of Pope Francis

Thus Congress, which arguably had a bad year, has vowed to get almost across-the-board bipartisan support for the following legislation:

(1) Making eye contact optional

(2) Requiring all kindergarten teachers to teach students to say “cellphone “in ten different languages, alphabetize their apps and to properly identify seven different emoticons to express each mood.

My three year old, for example, has decided to fast track himself to potty training as he realizes it allows him more time to fondle a phone.

Speaking of fondling and this is the time to take a deep, deep, deeper breath…

V. #MeToo, #YouToo, #Pleasenotyoutoo, #Waytoomany (Men tend to behave badly)

2017 was a bad year for men, women and the history of unplanned, perhaps one-sided interactions between them.

I know 2018 is to be the year of the dog but famous, though seemingly boring men, got a big jump start on the Chinese lunar calendar, bringing new meaning to the words “dog days” and “doghouse”.

If 2017 taught us anything it’s that Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton and the aforementioned Trump got away from the PR fray relatively unscathed. Maybe it’s because the Trumps of the world are quite clear in their intentions. None of them had to quit or were removed from their profession of choice because of their dalliances though I am still holding out hope with Trump.

This was the year of #MeToo #OhnoYoutoo and #Wegotyouoncamera  all rolled into one #Menareshmucks dragnet. This was the one year when all those corny 70’s and 80’s pop songs like “Private Eyes Are Watching You” started to make sense. Granted there were some low grade offenders such as Elie Wiesel who was said to have moved his hand down a young lady’s back 40 years ago during a Nobel Prize award ceremony and Garrison Keilor who pretty much did the same thing. By this measure, most of us are guilty of sexual misconduct. But Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Louie C.K., Bill O’ Reilly and others showed that just because you are feeling horny, doesn’t mean everyone else is. And if your horniness is not as appreciated as you thought, women, gay-men and a few unnamed species are rather patient in seeking justice.

In fact 2017 was so full of revelations of testosterone gone wild, the following cases of sexual misconduct came to light:

Fred Flinstone by Wilma, Charlie Brown by Lucy, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse by pretty much every female visitor to Disney between the age of 14 and 50. The historical Jesus by Mary Magdalene, Batman by Catwoman.

fred and wilma

What happens when Wilma rebuffs Fred’s advances

It takes a lot to make Trump look good, but by this standard, the Donald is a model boyscout.

Speaking of models, first lady Jared Kushner, I mean Melania Trump was quoted as saying “Listen accuse my husband of anything you want. But if you haven’t figured it out by now, you should know that my husband is all talk.”

Speaking of talk…

VII: Conversation Stoppers (Climate Change is fake news)

The Oxford-English dictionary lists about 250,000 English words, including slang though not including a bunch of technical and scientific terms such as “read, write, spell and fact”.

Unfortunately, 90 percent of all domestic conversations begin with the question: “How are you?”, especially here in Miami where more often in Spanish than English, the question is blurted out even when someone is being pulled over by a cop, stealing something from them or violently attacking an inanimate object.

In an effort to quell what I believe to be the biggest conversation stopping pleasantry, more “enlightened” folks such as myself have simply chosen to ignore the question or respond with the slightly snarky “I’ll answer but not before you ask me that same question in at least three other languages”.

Speaking of languages, Mr. Trump who is by no means a polyglot nor I think bilingual, made it official that he does not wish to be part of multilateral accords on climate change or for that matter, speak the language of modern science. Bucking the lead of his predecessor, the heads of state of 191 countries out of 192 now that Nicaragua has signed onto the Paris Climate Accords (mainly for the free chocolate croissants), Trump pulled out of the agreement, one because of the excess amount of helium circulating in the White House and two, just to see what “it would feel like to pull out”.

The decision did not play out well in Europe where for decades, especially during anything involving territorial disputes, ethnic warfare, creating excess amounts of waste or corny reality show games, the U.S. has become the go-to-guy. Though for a moment, at the coaxing of Ivanka Trump, Rex Tillerson and pretty much everyone in his inner circle who can spell the words “global warming”, there was some hope that we were going to experience a brief display of Trump 2.0, or 1.1 or even 1.00001. But in keeping to his original promise to erase everything with Obama’s fingerprints, including the doorknob to the West Wing and the White House basketball hoop, Trump opted to remain at Trump 1.0 and opted out claiming without any historical or legal precedent, that “he hoped to negotiate a better deal”.

Mike Luckovich / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

VIII: World leaders react with disappointment

In yet another attempt to figure out who are his fellow heads of state other than his two mistresses Putin and Netanyahu, Trump bragged about his “pulling out” on Twitter (the author has exercised some poetic license here):

I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris. I was elected to sell air conditioners not hydroelectric power. If my brain runs on coal, the rest of the world should too. Besides, as my good friend Groucho Marx said, or maybe it was Richard Marx, or Karl Marx, I would never want to belong to a club which would have me as a member.

Others were not so blithe. Said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom Trump has absolutely no chance of sleeping or for that matter negotiating on anything logical, ” I think the real problem is that aside from the inconvenient truth of climate change, Trump sees every deal he did not negotiate in the first place as a bad deal which is why the next four years are going to suck because it was Russia that negotiated the American election“.

Or said French wunderkind Emmanuel Macron, who is half Trump’s age but is well, more deserving of a smart phone, “Seas are rising, so is temperature, so is carbon monoxide, so is the need for green energy. No offense to Trump but we got much prettier gardens in Paris than in any U.S. city and I want to keep things that way.”

Trump was unfazed by the criticism barking back in a Tweet likely written by Steve Bannon, “Listen up all you tree hugging hombres who think the atmosphere is turning into one big gaseous soup, hot weather gets people onto the golf course, air pollution keeps Asians inside playing casino games and that’s good for business. I mean for jobs, I mean for me, whatever. Just ask the Chinese. They invented this hoax.

Speaking of Hoaxes:

IX – X: Equifax has some privacy issues/Sayonara to the guys who won the election for Trump

I will take these news stories in order. Equifax, which is the largest credit rating agency and keeper of sensitive fiduciary information in the country experienced a data breach which compromised the privacy of over 140 million customers, although the original breach was reported to have affected about 10 individuals or the number that Trump believes is truly affected by climate change.

I’m not a big credit score guy. Maybe if I was I wouldn’t be carrying so much credit card debt. But the minor breach was discovered in March, reported in July and blown open in mid September, was perhaps a bit understated. The company spokesperson, Vladmir Spicer,  the grandson of the spokesperson for the Titanic, was quoted as saying “We should be fine. Just a little collision with some hackers but think of it as the melting of an iceberg, there will be plenty of water to go around.

Speaking of going around, the White House staff, or better Trump’s inner circle has been a revolving door. More on that in a bit but before I do I wanted to re-post a job description from about this time last year:

Wanted:  Aploogist/Spokesperson for a prominent national figure. Pays way upwards of six figures. Excellent benefits, almost no weekends. Guaranteed to be lampooned on SNL. Must be fluent in new Presidential lingo, familiar but firm with key members of the press and proficient in the art of selective fact picking. Must be able to vouch for your employer’s very large……..inauguration crowd.

Sounds like a dream job unless of course your employer is Trump. Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci, Boutros Boutros Sanders, Johnny Cochrane, Bill Clinton and Barron Trump, all have held the position of White House Spokesperson in 2017 and none, mainly because they were actually really good at doing their jobs, are around other than Sanders to show for it. She kept her job because she has the public speaking skills of a broken record.

Alright I am sure you are tired of hearing about politics. After all, we are on holiday. So I will simply list a few other members of Trump’s inner circle who are no longer with the team,  guys who likely won him the election and are almost all Italian so I am not quite sure why Trump believes loyalty is a one way street: Chris Christie, Rudy Guliani, Rence Preibus, Steve Bannon, Porky Pig, James Comey, Chuck Norris and the referee from the Super Bowl.

In the meantime the Congress which was having the type of year that the Dolphins have about 34 out of every 35 years, in the waning moments before they had to buy their mistresses a bunch of holiday trinkets, passed a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that among other modifications cuts corporate tax loopholes, decreases the corporate tax to whatever each company feels like paying and allows anyone who either voted Republican or makes enough money not to have to pay taxes, to now no longer “officially have to pay taxes. After the signing of the new bill Trump was quoted as saying,

“Every time I get my obligations from the IRS I just grab it by the “pu$$@” and give it to some shmuck who lives in Panama. It’s about time the rest of the country wizens up too”.

X. Puerto Rican’s chant “Tell me this was just a bad dream while Trump perfects his set shot

Speaking of wizening up, after some delay, mainly because he was trying to figure out that Puerto Rico does not mean “Beautiful Breasts”, Trump made a trip to this U.S. territory/island nation to help quell the frustration and destitution after Hurricane Matthew. Aside from giving them a public guilt trip about already owing us, actually Goldman Sachs a big chunk of money after helping to bailout the struggling island two years ago, and feuding with the Governor of San Juan, not to mention downplaying the number of deaths in Puerto Rico as compared to other hurricanes, Trump did what any good troubleshooter would do who was in a real pickle –  he helped clean up. No, I am not speaking about getting his hands dirty or donating some of his personal fortune as he kindly did in Houston. I’m talking about as the picture so well illustrates, threw rolls of paper towels at his audience  at a “feel better” rally for hurricane survivors. Yes, paper towels, not just paper and towels.

Trump shot

Hero to the rescue – alas paper towels

Now I don’t know about you but every time I’m feeling down and out a new roll of Paper Towels does the trick. Even if I am nearly starving, overworked and without electricity and running water, as long as I have fresh paper towels, I’m good. And it feels safe to say that most of history’s most dire natural disasters seem to always take a turn for the better when someone jump shots paper towels to the survivors. I could go on and on here but I am starting to get emotional just thinking about what a perfect example of American teamwork that was. As one Puerto Rican survivor who as of two weeks ago has still yet to get electricity back, “Toda es malo ante Senor Trump – pero ahora, yo tengo toilas de papel y todo es perfecto.” Translation – “That hombre can wipe his ass with these paper towels”.

Speaking of teamwork, there are so many names and events I have left off the all-imbecile team for 2017 and that’s because I really shouldn’t stretch this blog any longer. Besides, I just got a text message.

Nonetheless before we raise a glass of kale water and put 2017 behind us, I want to end on a somewhat even-handed note. Besides, President Trump donates his salary to various causes including the Geothermal Institute for Non-Barometric and Ambiguous Climate Science Research, so we should at least praise him for doing such vigorous volunteer work.

As the year winds down, let’s keep swiping and massaging apps, and pressing and recording, and liking and downloading all as we sleep, and then after awakening, continue the same routine but while trying to teach a class or lead a seminar. I realize this blog has been a marathon but I would not have done what has to have been the weirdest year since 2016 any justice. And if you don’t mind, please like this blog, take a photo of your “like” and share it with your friends. After all, if they’re anything like me, they could use a little diversion from all this whackiness.

Happy 2018. Just beware of the dog. At the bare minimum, he bites.

#Too…………Much(2017 post-mortem)

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Miamians,

I have decided to publish my annual year in Review, my homage to my satirical inspiration Dave Barry, with a little bit of my unique brand of journalism, in two parts. Given that 2017 was the news version of a global pinball game gone bezerk and I like to write a lot, this seems more digestible. Consider this akin to the Batman prequels. Today’s blog will be Batman Begins and as I rev up my satirical/polemical voice, part two will be The Dark Knight. I hope you enjoy both installments and if for some reason, you don’t have the time to slog through it, just read whatever makes you laugh or simply laugh at me.

Besides, given my ancestral Russian roots and regular visits to gather news at Versailles, everything has been dutifully fact checked. Enjoy.

new year photo

The calm before the storm

Ever take one of those college History or English finals when you think you know the material well, especially after you have gulfed down a good 700 pages over the last two days, barely stopped to socialize or shower, and wrote out a sample test essay or two? The self-assuredness abruptly changes though, when you open a blue book, get handed the test and realize that one, you never took the right notes during the lectures and two, you didn’t focus your 700 pages of reading on the principal topics.

First you panic a bit, then catch your mental balance. Though as you try to summon every bit of relevant knowledge you ingested, your brain turns into the intellectual version of Pole Position.

'I really crammed last night.'

That’s a bit how I feel right now as I try to recap 2017 from memory. Think of trying to do an impromptu recall of all the characters from “A Midsummers Night’s Dream”, “The Odyssey” and everything an algorithm could cook up if we programmed it to create the oddest news headlines in what should be an intellectually and socially progressive world.


Character map courtesy of President Trump (a character web) borrowed from his son Barron

Nonetheless, here we go, though if my professor wants to merely grade the history final on the ability to fill up the blue book, then I should be okay.

2017 began as most days begin, frantically trying to charge my IPhone XXXII (Apple is trying to catch up with the Super Bowl), and being asked by Google Chrome if I want to update my default browser. I of course said “no”, though it would have saved me much agony had I agreed. (Topic preview alert). And so for the next 365 days, four times a day, Chrome which is the internet browser version of Harvey Weinstein, persisted in asking me the same question.

The year itself began as most years do, with the Annual “Let’s spend hours forming and writing out our New Years’ Resolutions, then see how quickly we can break them” competition. In my case, the resolution not to get bent out of shape over petty matters and to drive with a dab of maturity lasted a good hour.

The contest host was none other than Lord Voldemort himself, Vladimir Putin, who dropped a little hint at events to come when in his welcome remarks he said, “My fellow Resolution Dumpers, I hereby declare 2017 to be a year when Mother Russia reasserts itself as a global power by – (1) Unofficially annexing Washington DC and all governmental powers therein, injecting all possible Orwellian tendencies into a soon-to-be world leader – (2) Allowing blood doping to replace stretching & carbo-loading as the preferred pre-competition regimen (3) Making selective amnesia as a DSM best practice medical technique (4) Allowing “friends of the Russian government” and IT ministers unfettered access to Facebook and Twitter’s motherboard and finally (5) Potentially or at least in a hypothetical parallel universe, trying to influence the outcome of the Super Bowl  (another Topic preview alert).

I don’t want to jump to conclusions and the prescience of Putin’s comments is debatable, but perhaps this is what we English teachers, journalists and I’m sure husbands to their wives refer to as  “reading into things a bit too much”.

If you want 2017 in a nutshell, let’s just say the year began with Barak Obama as president and finished with casino mogul Donald J. Trump. See any of my previous blogs for more commentary. Mind you Mr. Trump had a hell of a career in the private sector and I’m not just talking about trips to the putting green in the middle of the night with interested “golf companions”.

But transferring executive power from Obama to Trump is a lot like kicking off the year at the Adrienne Arsht Center with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and finishing the year with Vanilla Ice or to use an entirely hypothetical local sports analogy, beginning the season with Giancarlo Stanton as your team’s best slugger and finishing with let’s say Christian Yelich. Of course the latter would never happen in the free-spending, rational mecca of Miami.


Why climate change is a Chinese created “hoax”

Speaking of resolutions, I will use the latter part of this annual Year-in-Review tradition, my journalistic catharsis, to share my resolutions, but before we look ahead to 2018, the year of “The Dog”, (not sure if that’s what we wanted to hear), lets look back on the Little House on the Prarie-like, I mean cataclysmic like Asian tsunami of 2004 and “The Day After Tomorrow” year of “The Rooster”. (FYI, while the Chinese perceive  the Rooster as a proverbial mascot to the five virtues – civil responsibility, marital fidelity, courage, kindness, and confidence, lets just remember that the oft used term for rooster boxing matches is “cockfighting”. Just saying).

Obama’s Executive Actions:

In January, sensing he was just a few weeks away from being just another unemployed minority and perhaps, getting a bit of the seismic sense of the political earthquake to come, took full advantage of his executive action power by signing into law, or at least making public proclamations on the following policies:

(1) Ending the age old tradition of having loved ones and those on romantic-get togethers such as Valentines Day actually communicate face to face.

(2) Limiting the amount of digital screen time for adolescents, South Floridians and pretty much anyone with a lower than normal attention span, to 10 hours a day.

(3) Making breathing, reading and being able to add two digit numbers in our heads optional while making tipping every service worker including prison wardens, meter maids and tow truck operators a federal mandated 18 percent tip except those individuals such as teachers and cardiologists who deserve it most.

(4) Ending the almost 50 year “Wet foot, Dry foot” policy with Cuban migrants, a policy which was thought to be a necessary fast track path to Green Card status but in reality, had much more to do with the Cuban tendency to play Twister alongside a pool (Hence, wet foot, dry foot). While the policy did not play well with older local Cubans who felt it was another example of Obama kowtowing to the Castro regime, it was almost universally agreed that any Cuban migrant who took that much time, effort and forethought into making it to American soil and then wanted to travel back to Cuba on a regular basis should not exactly be rewarded for being homesick.

(5) Agreeing not to rebuke a UN censure of Israeli policy towards its Palestinian neighbors. This no-vote, which was tantamount to a rejection of the Bibi Netanyahu regime, played out very well in the international community, most of whom has a concrete understanding of historical events going back about seven years and thus forgot that every ounce of land Israel occupies has been gained through wars of self-defense. However when the tea bags were read, it was revealed that Obama did not counter the public criticism of Israel because he agreed with the UN declaration, but because Israelis who have moved to and built a life for themselves in North Miami still way overcharge for carpet cleaning, AC repair and Challah bread.


Speaking of which, when Obama broke bread for the last time with his many earnest White House and Foreign Service apostles he was quoted as saying ” I have to admit the last person I thought I would be writing this welcome letter to is Mr. Trump but at least I won’t have to throw out the Playboys Harvey Weinstein sent me. Besides, doesn’t everyone want their replacement to make them look really good by comparison. Just look at what happened with Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady ( or wait maybe).”

Speaking of the legacy of questionable calls, and which brings new meaning to the term “D-Day”, Mr. Trump formally moved into the White House on January 21, but not before making the questionable but oft-repeated claim that he felt slighted by the reported size of his………………….. inauguration crowd. (See my Inauguration Day blog from January 23 –A Tale of Four Protests, well maybe 3 and a pot-fest) for which I am still confounded as to why (1) They gave out free week at various dispensaries around D.C. and having made the decision to do so, especially after seeing the tone of some of the protests that (2) They didn’t give out more.

Speaking of more, in his first two days in office, Mr. Trump learned more about American presidential history than he had in his previous 69 years. Although he couldn’t remember the first 42 presidents, he could remember that Thomas Washington and John Quincy Jefferson were some pretty “bad-ass hombres” and Trump was rumored to have told his wife, “Shit, had I known this was such a popular job among rich, white, landowning, womanizing males, I would have run for the Russian election a lot sooner.”

Speaking of Russia, the only embassy that would be given tax-free diplomatic immunity during the forthcoming presidential term was of all countries, Russia. The reasons are a still a bit fuzzy but an unidentified White House spokesperson who is still unknown but whose name rhymed with Drawn Dricer said Russia “Needed to keep its money for Drood Bloping” and for a large slush fund traced to an account in Panama under the name of “Future U.S, Election Interventional Strategies and Conjugal Visits by a sitting U.S. President”.

Speaking of immunity, in national sports and in what can only be best approximated to the professional football version of the Corleone Family, The New England Brady’s led by one of Donald Trump’s most vocal cheaters, I mean supporters, Greg Brady fell behind by 27 points until someone by the name of James Comeys entered the field without permission and proceeded to as he was chanting the name “Tonya Harding” to accidentally hit the kneecap of the head referee, Billy Bob Clinton,  with a  crowbar.

comey firing

Needing an emergency referee a man by the name of Michael Flynn, alias Valdimira Putina volunteered to serve as fill-in referee and in what the Bradys now refer to as the kind of anomaly that some would call 11th hour events in major national events but in reality is just “pure coincidence”, they reeled off 28 consecutive points in less than a quarter even though on several plays they were able to throw a 1st down pass during a commercial break and then were given rounding up privileges to 10 on any play from scrimmage of five or more yards.

To which the aforementioned Brady said in his postgame victory speech, “lemme tell you we just grabbed that momentum by the “pu$$E” and never let go” while Coach Comey Jr. said, “This is the same damned way we won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Last minute comebacks baby led by czar Vladimir.

Speaking of ten, President Trump sent the first congratulatory phone call lauding Brady for his heroics in winning his record setting 10th Super Bowl (Trump is not one for numerical accuracy) and feeling an extra surge of joy since the Pats “kind of snuck in a victory when the rest of the sports world had written them off. “What some people like to call a cheater, I like to simply call someone who does not like losing”, Trump said.

But back to ten real things that happened. At least in my subjective recall of 2017. Feel free to comment on other noteworthy events in 2017, especially important ones such as the four new iterations of the IPhone, but for now, this will hopefully at least get me some credit on that history test.

I. The Travel Ban

travel ban

How Trump learns who are the major world leaders and Middle East Geography

The Super Bowl provided a nice diversion from the first two weeks of the Trump presidency, a rocky one to say the least. After the Twitter driven tirade about slandering the size of his inauguration crowd, Trump needed to do something drastic to steer attention away from his very small “inauguration crowd”. And diversion did he ever.

Trump, like 43 of his predecessors (we will leave Washington out), 19 of whom he can now identify by first name, wanted to chart his own path, make a name for himself as the common parlance states. Mind you he is the only sitting president whose popularity seemed to surge after advocating sexual misconduct, but he was looking for something more far reaching, pun intended.

So just as he figured out which side of the White House bed he wanted to sleep on (which was apparently the wrong side), he alongside with his senior policy advisor Steve “Darth Vader” Bannon, announced on a routine early Saturday morning, a 7 Muslim majority nation travel ban ostensibly to vet countries in which less than .001% of its residents play Fantasy League Football or have ever watched Jackass. However, speaking of jackasses, the designated countries were 7 of the only 14 countries in the world for which Mr. Trump cannot boast of having slept with one of its women.

Speaking of notches on the belts, the proposed ban, was based on general consensus, not particularly popular. “If I could take a belt to this proposal I would,” said acting Deputy of Protecting Presidential Sanity Melania Trump. The announcement brought more left-leaning righteous citizens to the streets since the previous weekend. However despite the groundswell of opposition, Trump saw some positives.

(1) He now knows how to identify Somalia and Yemen on a map, I mean not identify the precise location but at least the location of Africa and…

(2) He realized that there actually exists two other major branches of government, and a growing level of support for the unofficial fourth branch, “The Free Press”

(3) He learned that there are a bunch of other courts, often left-leaning, besides the Supreme Court and that…………..

(4) News travels quickly, especially bad news and especially when it alienates  pretty much every ethnic group in the U.S. with the exception of a small band of Scottish, white supremacist pygmies.



I went to take photos and a baseball game broke out

(The last photo is a teaser of news event#2 and the rest of the ten. Stay tuned for more)

Pluto who?

Last month Apple Computers, the de facto ninth planet, the primary cause of our collective brain drain, and the global entity with the third largest GDP, announced its next iteration, the iPhone 10.

'I resent being called a 'dwarf'... I prefer the term 'little planet'!'

Like the rest of you I was confused since the iPhone 8 just came out, which aside from the impression the 7 had also just been released,  implied Apple was flat out skipping version 9.

Insiders say the reason for the bypass is the announcement came on the 10th anniversary of the release of the original Iphone (the unofficial end of rationality) but anyone with a modicum of tech savvy knows that real reason is 10 is the maximum amount of seconds one can wait to check their phone when any form of work has been completed.

iphone 4

The phone is set to cost $1000, which seems absurd until you stop to consider it’s just the equivalent of two very minor replacement parts  and a service call for a TRANE air conditioner.

Apple, whose goal is to update the iPhone more quickly than users can figure out how to use the current model, is said to have used every technology known to man to prototype the 10 including infrared rays, the Gutenberg printing press, combustion engines, wind power and reverse osmosis to create the new model. It even had seances with Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein.

ipone ten

I have the whole world in the palm of my hand

 And it looks like it’s worth the wait, and weight in gold, as in addition to  x-ray vision, a taser, an ability to locate lost golf balls, disable police radar, increase erections duration by simply touching the tip of the family jewels with the phone, delay the onset of green lights while texting (perhaps its most important feature), softening speed bumps, unclogging arteries, it can  fold a fitted sheet without much ado .

fitted sheet

The I-phone X is also said to emit a vaccine to prevent people from contracting the very disease for which each model of the I-phone has become a stronger carrier, phone addiction

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who doesn’t really like Apple products that much, says the ghost of Steve Jobs visited him every night while he was trying to figure out how to delete the signature feature on the Iphone 7 and told him to create the ninth planet of phones or “I’ll make you straight”!

 The announcement for next year’s phone was made in Apple’s new spaceship like headquarters in Cupertino California I facility entire entirely powered by all the lithium Apple has opted to withhold from iPhone batteries themselves.


Does anyone miss landlines?

 Cook also downplayed the iteration except to say that a seemingly unfillable void was left in the solar system when Pluto was downgraded and he felt the time was right to try to refill the space. “Visitors to our microchip colonies and cosmic transmitters will discover lifeforms we never knew existed at nano-lightspeed”, sad Cook.

Fans, the ghost of Steve Jobs, and anyone who doesn’t want to have to make conversations with her significant other or with acquaintances in public places were exhilarated by the news.

Said Samir Singh, 23, a microbiology graduate student at Cal Tech said, “I am considering selling a kidney just to buy the phone”.

Or take the comments of Abby Bloggs, 57, of Topeka. “Frankly I have been married long enough to know my husband has nothing of great value to say to me and I’ve forgotten how to crochet, so I am just as excited about the virtual conversation feature with literary protagonists as I was about my first born. Besides my kids might actually think I’m cool if I tell them I’m putting in an order for the 10.”

Or take Anton Chevosky, 9, who by age four was able to explain to his parents how to swipe and add storage space without added fees. “Listen I don’t know what all the mumbo jumbo about streamlining functionality and seamlessly perfecting the techno-aesthetic marriage is, but it sure is exciting to know that I will never have to have a face to face conversation with my parents again.”

So change your AC filters now and maybe clean the coils just a tad. Because come next summer, the last thing you want to happen is for you to have to pass on the 9th planet because you had a “faulty” compressor intake modulator.

The Hurricane Before the Storm

In Florida, an approaching hurricane is not so much an environmental threat as it is a welcomed intruder.

As blasphemous as this may sound, especially after Irma landed some pretty intense jabs locally and up the west coast of the state, I contend that rather than being a natural process, the entire hurricane operation is a highly staged performance.


Do they make viagra for trees?

The past nine days demonstrated just how much of a well choreographed Shakespearean tragi-comedy Irma was.

First are the powers-that-be. Perhaps it is not entirely their fault as the media bombards them with generic, if not loaded questions, but the Governor, his lieutenants and the 4356 state mayors all do what state representatives are now paid handsomely to do : scare the population into a major shopping spree which coincides with a temporary loss of income.


My friend Bobby, aside from being unable to do the lucrative home automation work for a week, had to spend over $3000 to schlep his family to North Carolina and pull a small trailer alongside their minivan. This does not include extra food expenses and the heartbeat regulator medicine he must now take.

Then there are the other municipal servants who cancel everything in sight then wonder why there is so much chaos at the few places which remain open.

The biggest culprits of course are the media, an oversized blob of doomsayers and opportunists who foam at the mouth in hope of winning the prize for most hyperbolic and/or maudlin on-the-spot reporting


In Miami’s case, most of these bravehearts report from either the marina or beach in optimal weather several days before the expected landing, imploring the locals to use every bit of their hard earned money to drive to cities and countries they have never heard of in traffic conditions comparable to the Super Bow, and without any guarantee of a smooth return.



The forewarning is not futile and perhaps employs the proper sales technique of repetition, but to me, there is one glaring oversight – Floridians are used to rain, wind and related forces of nature. A cavalcade of water and storm surges are the threat, but most of those being pressured to evacuate live on the shoreline for a reason. If an avalanche or mudslide (which is impossible given the topography) or ice storm were coming out way, okay I can see the need for a statewide SOS. But heavy heavy rain – isn’t that what we signed up for?

Then there are the Plebians – earnest, gullible, overly solicitous residents who have plugged into at least three media forms of updates with the same concern as if the Brits have decided to reclaim America. How is it that such hardened, “we don’t even believe we need sunscreen because conditioning has provided an extra layer of pigmentation” the same people who walk around for hours in flip flops, are so petrified of an impending storm and so easily manipulated by the town criers? And exactly what do they want from the hourly updates three days in advance which they gobble like an offensive lineman told he has 90 seconds to finish a stack of pancakes.


Oh but if you are a tourist planning a getaway to Florida, dont sweat the headlines. The bigwigs say this storm is just passing through like your mother-in-law who has decided to make a quick pit stop on the way to Boston to do some shopping.

The performance hits a crescendo when the hurricane draws near. A once bustling pseudo-city in a catchy time of year becomes a literal ghost town while the elected representatives repeat the same chorus: “Pack, flee, prepare yourself for the apocalypse, find shelters, write wills, buy enough food to feed the next 3 generations and make sure you don’t open any windows for the next week. If you can, build a makeshift panic room. But please don’t be pushy on gas, food and Home Depot Lines. “

Oh and with the emergency cellphone we are encouraging you to buy, please ask for a credit extension on your Mastercard as your state run Citizens insurance is likely to skyrocket”.

Oh, and one more thing…

Please Have Fun in New Orleans, or San Francisco, or Venezuela. We will be eagerly awaiting your return in our taxpayer financed hurricane friendly estates. And while you are away, please put in a good word for Florida. We can fish and golf 365 days a year, with the exception of a few hours here and there.

“And if you are more of the indoors type, our hurricane coverage is second to none.”


All Sound and Fury signifying…?

Disclaimer:  I wrote most of this on Wednesday when  local hysteria started to metastasize. Some of this blog is written tongue-in-cheek as I am not trying to offend mother nature nor those who cower before her right now. I do, however, believe the events of the last few days provide ample satirical material, not to mention, have given literary hacks like me a tiny bit more time to vent. Enjoy.

I am not a big worrier.

I mean I worry about the fate of my favorite sports teams and whether my students know how to properly use the semi-colon, but not so much of a worrier in the clinical sense of the word.

Maybe I should be. A little more egg shell walking not to mention healthy distrust might have saved me a lot of agony.

But I live in the world’s largest open-air health spa, the Shangri-La known as Miami, where today it was 88 degrees and sunny, without the normal late summer humidity, low winds and tide, and an unexpected paid day off from work, actually two.

To pervert a famous line from an eighty’s song “The near future is so bright, I gotta wear shades”.

Yet there is an eerie, Armageddon-like feeling in the South Florida, something akin to a combination of the second coming, the buildup to Y2K,  and the film Independence Day.

y2k y2k2

So as all the hullaballoo surrounding Hurricane Irma has picked up the same kind of momentum as Hurricane Harvey approached southern Texas, I have been experiencing the same reaction that I have each of the last twelve years when the mother of all hurricanes has been advertised to hit S. Florida:

“Damn, I sure hope I don’t lose wifi for too long. Oh that, and I hope this doesn’t disrupt my scheduled Saturday morning tennis match.”

Perhaps this is incredibly insensitive and blithe of me to admit, but that is pretty much the extent of my worrying. I have always joked with my students that hurricanes are ” all mental”, and my scientifically challenged mind aside, I’m starting to think that I wasn’t being entirely facetious.

This is not to underestimate mother nature. I’ve read enough to know that nature usually has the upper hand in the existential struggle of man versus nature. Even my own mother wields a lot of power me and her only real force of nature is loud sneezing and chronic gas. But I am taking the attitude that in 99.9% of all circumstances, hurricanes hold as much power over us as we let them.

But I am a seeing is believing kind of guy. So until some local reporter standing on the beach loses his glasses and umbrella telling the locals to entirely stay off the beach, in fact not even say the word beach more than twice, to me my current predicament in South Florida is just another day in paradise. In fact, I am about to go play tennis.

The threats of hurricanes seem to bring out the best and the worst of Miamians. The best is the intrinsic sense of brotherly love and willingness to lend anyone, anywhere, any time, your machete. And yet the worst, and to me this is the biggest paradox of all considering how well-adjusted to hurricane management the locals should be, is that it ignites fear mechanisms that no act of gene splicing seems capable of fixing.

It’s as if Miamians wait the entire year for an opportunity to feel an ounce of bad luck, to feel that somehow they have to live like normal people do who trek through the snow to get to school or work, have their genitals go numb for an entire afternoon while skiing or skating, or have to spend an entire morning shoveling off their driveway and local sidewalk just to be able to walk the dog.


So with the threat of Irma, when the locals finally get an opportunity to feel a little taste of nature’s mood swings, the Miami mantra immediately shifts from “What is time? – Baby Don’t Rush Me, Don’t Rush Me, No More” to “Ready, Set, Panic”.


As I express my blithe attitude towards Irma, I am prepared for the familiar refrain when any hurricane skepticism is expressed: “Bro, you didn’t live through Andrew, did you?”

This is true.

I didn’t. I’m sure I would have moved back to Boston by now if I had. But I was here during Katrina and Wilma which I recall were a pain in the ass, especially as far as restoring power was concerned. But I suppose that even if I did live through Andrew, I would not be boarding up my house, putting all my prized possessions in storage nor planning the cannonball run to Maine this evening.


I just don’t get it. I, like everyone else, have endured power outages, food shortages, no shower water for a few days and flooded streets. But I didn’t feel like I had to teleport myself to another time zone much less buy enough water to bathe Shamu. Nor did I buy six weeks-worth of gas because if the hurricane does make landfall, the last thing I am going to do is drive anywhere.

Besides on the water side, if ever there was a time when water was not in short supply, chances are a hurricane is it.

My wife rightly asks me what is our plan B. The reality is drive to Orlando but my go to response is that since we live on the water, we can always go stay at my office which is right by the Flanigans on Bird Ave.

Today (Thursday) was 86 degrees and narry a cloud to speak of. Despite threats from N. Korea, a likely full rescinding of DACA and the pennant race is heating up along with the opening of football season. But the threat of Irma used up almost all of our socializing lung capacity.

To wrap up this existentially risky rant, I will close with a few generalizations about Miamians and the matrix in which they/we live. One, they love chaos or at least the appearance of it. Two, they need it and three, there is no group which buys into the mass marketing of fear with more zeal than the locals. They buy masses of lumber, chain saws, sandbags and other “survival” supplies with the same unconscious obsession that women flock to Nine West to buy highly discounted shoes during the Christmas holiday.

Tell a native he has to perform open heart surgery in half an hour and he will take a shower, shave, chat with the neighbor and have some coffee first. Tell them that a hurricane for which no one really knows the path, category or actual ability to do damage to hurricane resistant structures in four to five days, and within 7 minutes they will have roused themselves from a long-deserved sleep to wait for three hours on a Home Depot line to buy polyurethane wrap.

Despite my cynicism, I applaud those who sweated out long gas, food and supply lines, not to mention, took the five hours to board up their well landlocked homes. Your patience exceeds mine. I also admire your ability to bear the sun day in and day out.

As for me, I just like to call the fear mongering’s bluff once in awhile, or at least until an urgent need to take it at face value arises. Perhaps the joke is one me here and this is exactly the type of self-righteousness that makes mother nature  flex her muscles.

But if this is the case, again I apologize and if you don’t mind bro, could I at least come over on Monday and borrow some of your wifi.


Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Somewhere along the line, despite coming up with asinine things like radio commercials, FOX News, most Yankees fans, cellphone ringtones and reality TV, we evolved. I mean we really really evolved!



Obviously we pale in comparison to God who formed his little hovel called the universe in six days, a fact corroborated by Breibart News and President Trump himself, but still, in the past century alone, we constructed the Eiffel Tower, built cruise ships large enough to sleep the entire population of Honduras, mass produced I-phones which access more information than the New York Public Library and generates more manifestations of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder  than even the latest DSM -5 edition knows how to identify.

And to top it off, a few precocious, sleep deprived Harvard students had the gumption to create a cellphone accessible social network which guarantees women will never fall asleep at a professional sporting event other than baseball.

But based on my decade long research into the topic, there is one area in which we have devolved – communication. Yes I know there is a much more of it and more people are sharing more in more platforms, but it’s definitely not better communication. As a semi-competent communicator, I could wax poetic about this paradox, but for the sake of simplifying, I will just focus on one aspect – how 99.9  percent of conversations start.

In fact, the typical conversation starter is really a conversation stopper. Let me explain.

I will give examples in both English and Spanish.

Let’s say you are in the grocery store and run into someone you recognize. After spending at least four minutes trying to identify who exactly the person is (He is the guy whose newspaper you steal at least three times a week because he has been your next door neighbor for a decade), you launch into what can be best described as the universally agreed upon small-talk.

Neighbor – “Hey Marco, whats going on with you?”

You’re tempted to launch into a big spiel.

Me – “Not much, and you?”

Neighbor – “Same old, same old” (or some variation thereof).

Me – “Good luck on the deli line”

Neighbor – “Thanks. Oh and thanks for stealing my newspapers. The headlines are too depressing anyway.”

Spanish version:

(Phone rings)

“Hola Maria, Como estan?”

“Bien, y tu?”

“Bien gracias.”


Mind you Maria is calling because she can’t come today to take care of your three kids today because she just got into a major fender bender. Plus her oldest child has been detained in Venezuela indefinitely for booking a one way flight to the U.S.


Please note, I am not trying to channel curmudgeons I admire like Larry David or Bill Maher, but of the literally millions of phrases in the English language, can’t we come up with a starter that smacks of a little more originality. Besides, why does everyone want to know how I am. Isn’t that for a shrink to discover?

larry david

So I say lets take back the human potential to have a non-automated, non-reflex based conversation and strain our craniums a bit. For one, I don’t even see “How are you?” as a completed question. Lets finish it as in: “How are you enjoying this nice day?” or “How do you find your comfort level in a world where climate change in a “hoax” but it’s 93 degrees in mid February and two hours of rain forces you to wear a wetsuit just to walk to your car?”

Or “how are you managing to keep your morale high when you are approaching middle age and still work a series (albeit it productive ones) of part time jobs?” (The latter question is entirely theoretical).

Frankly the possibility of such an exchange is kind of exciting.

For now, I say lets bag the existential question of how I am or others like me. First, I think about the answer for far too long. Second, the answers are rarely accurate. If everyone was good as they suggest they are, then there wouldn’t be such a large mass of country music fans, high rate of depression, road rage, cheetos munching or Trump voters.

depression satire

But also because I, as I’m sure others do,  also get handcuffed by the question. Do they really want to know or are they just speaking without thinking? Am I the only one Sally has asked this question to today? However, if you really want to get existential on me, you could start a conversation with “Hey Mark, good morning. Who are you?” Now that’s a question with a little forethought not to mention, some great conversation potential.

For context, there’s a popular sports call-in program on Miami when the host hangs up on anyone who starts the conversation with the phrase that shall not be repeated. His goal, I assume, is to get past the generic pleasantry and cut to the chase. But here’s the irony. The other day he was doing a phone interview with a local baseball manager whose name rhymes with Fattingly and the first question out of his mouth was “Hey Coach, how are you?” The man whose name rhymes with Ron did not, of course, hang up.

But lets say it takes people a little time to adjust to what I propose as the new conversation ice breaker. Lets say the grocery store clerk lets her favorite line slip. Here’s how I plan to respond,

Sheila –    “Hi, how are you?”

Mark – “Hmm, never quite been asked that question before at least with not such zeal for inquiry. But now that you ask, let me think about it. Well I am somewhat in existential limbo. You know contentment is really a matter of perspective but also a matter of the convenience at which I can work my way through the deli line. And there was a little bit too much kibbitzing behind the counter. Not to mention, I just realized that an unexpected chunk of my discretionary income was spent on tipping and sales taxes last month, not to mention the outrageous spike in summer electricity costs. Speaking of which, one of the reasons why I think your establishment overcharges for oranges is that you crank up the AC way too high. But overall, I can’t complain. After all, it’s two in the afternoon and I wearing tennis shorts and a t-shirt……………….. And how about you Sheila. Sorry, I mean how are you adjusting to life in the ever unpredictable Trump administration? Do you think he is going to do anything about subsidizing the cost of tropical fruit?  Or if that was a bit of a curveball,  I mean “Who are you?”

Sheila – “Glad you asked. You’re the first person who has asked me that all day. And that’s a very fair question about adjusting to Trump. It sure is quite the brain bender, isn’t it?”

Now that’s the kind of lady who understands the art of conversation.

Noise Pollution

So here you are nearing the emotional vortex known as middle age, or over the hill, depending on what age group you are teaching that day and the quality of the mirror staring back at you.

Despite blithely practicing the whole “ignorance is bliss” axiom for many years, you have entered a period of semi- ( I’m being generous with the prefix) enlightenment. In other words, you do Buddhist meditation for at least 75 seconds a day, stretch at regular intervals, journal, take constitutional walks with the dog which include the blasphemous poop scopping and don’t scream at green lights for not allowing you to text longer nor red lights for interfering with your gas pedal fondnessl.

You even do yoga stretches outside on your patio every other morning and buy both brussel sprouts and almond milk at Whole Foods, the latter of which actually gets used. And you can remember at least four of the pillars of Buddhism’s eightfold path.


Bob Dylan would be proud.

Although you haven’t quite reached the Deepak Chopra stage yet nor do people look at you and say, “Now that’s the kind of eastern-minded, zen master in training I could learn a thing or two from”, your friends do notice you are more relaxed. For example, Paul says, “Geez, there is something different about you. It’s not the Prius nor the few gray hairs. But you just seem like a semi-normal, half grown up.

And your other friend Peter remarks that he can actually trust that any metaphysical advice you give him is not coming from the same person who just screamed at an eighty four year old lady for being unable to locate her credit card while trying to pay for groceries.

Even better, both your wife and mother no longer refer to you as Peter Pan

Your self-applied nickname is Me 3.0

Now the maturity kicker. You wake up early. As in before dawn early. And you have adopted a  whole sequence of “growth inducing”, carpe diem styled rituals  which include well, a bunch of things you thought only incense lighting, new agey, “come see my orchids and tomatoes growing in my homemade organic garden” kind of people did. And within this new discipline, you can go an entire early morning hour without fondling your phone..


Melania Trump                                                                             Donald Trump


So here’s the part where hopefully you my legions readers come  can relate.

Your chi is strong as you have done all the physical and spiritual calisthenics necessary to have a good day. And feeling this mojo, you decide to go to the grocery story (substitute Starbucks, the gym or some other popular close-to-home destination) prior to launching into your day of paid work, or in some cases, chasing your two year old around the house for several hours.

As you are being proactive, you are also doing mental multitasking, perhaps composing work-related emails in your head or conjuring several verses for a short story or poem you plan  to write. And if entering lets say Publix,remembering the one or two things you omitted to put on your grocery list such as food and drink.

Entering the premises, the omnipresent AC which is set at freezer temperature provides a pleasant diversion from the heat. But then out comes the snake in the grass, the acoustic sneak attack that I can only describe as the inner peace disruption equivalent of chalk squeaking against the blackboard –


No I don’t mean the dental office, Elton John variety that I still find really annoying because of all the unnecessary flashbacks it causes. And definitely not real music such as classic rock, classical or jazz. I mean, the “If I could pick three songs right now that I wish were banned from the airwaves forever, these would be them.” type of tunes. What’s worse is the decibel level. It’s 8:30 am and the store owners think you at an early 90’s gay friendly nightclub sometime after midnight.


I’ll give you a quick sample:

“He’s a coldhearted snake look in into his eyes……”
Oh, oh he’s been telling lies he’s a lover boy”

Disclaimer – I had to look up the second verse

This lyric and others like it repeat themselves for the next three minutes. But it only gets worse. After there is a bad Madonna song and then I think something from George Michael, or Wham or Culture Club. And it’s loud. Like aerobics class loud

My inner ranting begins – “If I wanted to listen to music, I would have stayed in the car. But I came here to complete my zen morning and run an errand I previously would have avoided.” …. And look at my shopping cart, everything fresh.. But it’s too late – the early 90’s music zombies have poisoned my train of thought.

I rush to pick up the rest of my groceries, completely forgetting to buy milk and dinner meats. And as I am standing on line, I don’t know at whom I am angrier. The store and others like it which continually blare bad music against the customers will or me, for sort of knowing the lyrics to the songs and having, yes in the name full disclosure, bought both the Paula Abdul and Madonna albums of note back in the day.

As I am writing this, the answer is creeping all too close to perfect clarity.

Either way I feel violated.

I make it to the check out counter and get the same question I get every time I am at the grocery store -“Hi. How are you?”

I wonder if the cashiers ever get tired of asking this question. And as I always do, I start preparing a paragraph sized response. Except in this case, I really want to spill my guts in full-length essay form

Intended response:  “Well Mabel, thanks for asking. You know I was doing great, like attaboy great until about eight minutes ago. And although I was a little miffed to find out that the couscous and pasta were five aisles apart and can’t figure out why there is no pre-packaged fresh salmon, I found the overall item-locating experience to be quite satisfying. Oh and I went for a twenty minute run this morning. But in all honesty I have to tell you that my auditory mechanisms have been assaulted. The music they play in here sends me on a 25 year flashback. Not the good kind. Not that modern pop is any better. But why is this ear splitting nonsense blared almost everywhere I go . I’m literally afraid to walk into  once favorite hangouts because of this grenade attack on my eardrums. Who is the DJ around here? It better not be you Mabel and assuming it’s not, I would like to have a little word with that person. I don’t know if you value peace of mind… but I do. And seriously, what is up with the AC? Any dead bodies I should know of?

(I’m discovering a little more of my inner Larry David every day).

Actual response – I am fine thank you. And I found everything I was looking for with ease!