Wednesday, July 31, 2013
When I was on vacation, one of the things I did was listen to a lot of music from my collection of albums and 45s.
I hadn't listened to the Woodstock three-LP set for years and years, and since I had the time, I decided to listen to it again this past week.
The album, on the Cotillion Records label, chronicles the multi-day concerts that took place at that upstate New York location--or somewhere near it--during the summer of 1969, right about 44 years ago, from August 15-19.
The soundtrack album is the companion piece to the more than three hour film that was culled together from all of the concert performances that took place during the festival, which went on to become probably the most famous set of concerts to come out of that era.
It signified the change of the guard, if you will, for the music scene, with the two and a half minute song about boy meets girl moving over for music about peace, love, and vehemently against the Vietnam war.
A real cornucopia of artists appeared at the festival, including Richie Havens, John Sebastian (without the pop-leaning Lovin' Spoonful, of course), Joan Baez, Canned Heat, Sly and the Family Stone, Country Joe and the Fish, and Jimi Hendrix.
Just about every act rode the coattails of their association with the festival as long as they could, and some even ride it to this day.
Listening to the recording more than four decades later, yes, my copy is well worn, with skips and stutters throughout, but it is still highly listenable, bringing me back to a time when I was much younger and much more naive than I am today.
As were most of the concert goers. Peace and love can only go so far, and drugs can only take you higher for a time.
I mean, you do have to pay the bills.
Yes, the music is as dated as all heck. Most of it doesn't hold up at all in this age of technology and Justin Bieber.
After listening to the set once again, I can say that this is definitely a period piece, very little more.
Yes, it documents a very important period in history--when people actually believed that the younger generation and its music were game changers--but upon listening again, it simply signified a generation and what it believed in back then.
How many of the people that attended this series of concerts eventually became the "suits" that they so rebelled against at the show?
How many needlessly died because they thought that drugs were their salvation?
Did the concerts really everlastingly change anything, except maybe to bolster the arising FM radio band and to get other acts on the air that wouldn't be played by Top 40 stations?
Ultimately, were these concerts overrated in their scope and significance as the years have gone by?
I can say yes to probably all of these things.
Heck, the album was put out by a division of Atlantic Records, one of the largest music conglomerates in the world.
Putting it out on subsidiary Cotillion simply was a ploy to make the records seem "cooler," and Cotillion was a label that put out several rock and roll soundtracks at that time, so it worked to Atlantic's advantage to put it out under that banner.
Anyway, the recording techniques used back then were primitive by today's standards, but even though I do like many of the acts that performed there, to me, there was one standout above the rest: Sly and the Family Stone.
Here was an act that was for the time, an act that burned out seemingly as quickly as they emerged from San Francisco in 1967.
Somehow, they were one of the few acts at the festival that was equally welcomed by both AM and FM radio, no small feat during this period of time.
They gave their all at these concerts, and listening to them on the record, their power comes across even more than 40 years later.
When they sing "I Want To Take You Higher," you really believe them.
Hindsight is a great thing to have, and certainly, when you listen to this recording, you really get the benefit of 44 years of hindsight when you judge this recording.
Yes, I could have gone to the festival, but I know my mom would have not been too happy.
Based on a lot of the stuff that went on there, my father probably wouldn't have been as unhappy as my mom, but I did have a friend whose older sister went, and she wanted to take her brother and me there, but I politely declined.
Listening to the thing on record is on thing, as is watching the movie.
Actually being there was another, and while I wouldn't have taken any drugs there, I certainly would have probably overdosed on all the peace and love that supposedly transpired during this festival.
It probably was one of the most surreal events in the nation's history, but I don't regret missing it.
The LP stands as a worn musical document about what went on there, and I can live with that.
Posted by Larry at 2:43 AM
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Now that I am fully back in the saddle--and ready to tackle things at work during my first day back--I want to bring up to you something that once again reared its ugly head during my staycation, and continues to impact people who use Facebook.
And that, frankly, is people who use Facebook.
I have been on that site for a few years now, and I fear that most people who use Facebook have no clue about how to use it correctly.
Facebook is an electronic social gathering site.
You can speak to friends and the general populace on that site.
That is all fine and good.
But what you post on that site, and your reaction to people who respond to your posts, is what gets my goat.
I have been told once again that someone hasn't liked a reply I made to a post that was put up several weeks ago.
When you are on Facebook, you start, and enlarge upon, a list of friends that you allow to see your posts.
If you put up something on Facebook, it is my contention that you are looking for a reaction, even if that reaction is simply a "like," which is a spot you can click on within a post.
When you "like" something, in my estimation, it means you agree with what is being said, or you simply "like" what the person has put up.
Now, I have been told in the past that that isn't even true, that clicking "like" doesn't mean any of those things.
Of course, those who oppose my view can't tell me what "like" means to them, but what are you going to do?
Anyway, a post was put up several weeks ago by one of my Facebook "friends."
I am told that the post had to do with former President Bill Clinton, the teflon President who is beloved by so many people, even though his sexual improprieties while in office are very, very well documented (take that, Anthony Weiner).
Anyway, I have to tell you that I honestly don't remember the exact post, but evidently, according to the poster, I put up something that was against everything she said in the post, and it really rankled her.
Well, I am sorry it upset her day, but if you put up a post, you have to expect that any one of your friends can respond.
They can simply pass it by.
They can "like" it.
They can respond.
And they can respond positively, negatively, or be non-committal about it.
I must have put up something that was against the poster's beliefs and intentions, and that got her goat.
Sorry, but too bad.
Although I don't remember the post she put up, I know that I didn't use foul language like so many people do, and I know the response was written legibly.
But man, did what I say make her nuts!
But let me tell you, being thin skinned has not place on Facebook.
I have put up things that have gotten other people nuts.
I have received some of the nastiest, most vulgar replies you can imagine.
But does it get me nuts?
And the reason is that I expect a reply, and that is why I posted.
Positive, negative, somewhere in the middle, that is fine, I expect people to reply--my Facebook "friends," if you will, people who are my friends because we have like interests.
That is fine.
We can be "friends" and disagree on just about everything.
I know there are some people on Facebook who get this, and there are others who live in some type of fog and just don't understand what posting means.
It puts you open to any type of reply.
And yes, if you don't like the response, you can reply too.
That is the beauty of the whole thing, but it is lost on some people, some very intelligent people who should know better.
Look, I know that many, many people don't get Facebook at all.
They put up photographs and talk about things that they shouldn't be talking about.
Companies are starting to check out Facebook when looking into hiring employees, because they believe that a person's true character can be found on that site.
I don't agree, but ladies, when you put up a photo of yourself with your chest hanging out all over the place, what does that tell a potential employer?
And guys, when you punctuate what you say on Facebook with every curse word known to man, what does that tell somebody about hiring you?
One clear instance of this is with a local TV personality, who I will not name.
She is young, definitely part of the Facebook generation, if you will.
Before she got her current gig, she had a Facebook page that really was nothing with nothing.
She spoke to friends, and most of her photos were appropriate.
But most of her photos showed plenty of cleavage.
Not nasty, mind you, but some of the outfits she wore in the photos might have shown a bit too much.
Well, she is now a well-known personality, and you won't find the least bit of cleavage on her site.
Nothing, and I mean, nothing.
She "cleaned up" that site pronto.
She "got it."
And that is no knock on her. She is a pretty lady, and has plenty to be proud of.
But I bet that either someone told her to make some changes, or she just figured it was best to make them herself.
And that is fine.
She got the power of Facebook, and I just hope that others will eventually too.
It is too good a tool to not fully understand.
Posted by Larry at 2:44 AM
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Yes, I have returned from vacation to once again write about whatever I feel like writing about.
Today is my last day of vacation, and tomorrow, everything starts up again, so I figured I would start the week the right way and get back to writing this blog.
We didn't go away this year, basically had a "staycation," and all I can say is that it is just about over.
Nothing much went right during this time off for me nor my family.
We didn't have very much to do at all.
We ate out a few times, went to the movies, tried to find things to do, but alas, without a planned vacation this time around, it was pretty difficult to look at this time off as a vacation.
It was simply time off.
The weather was generally horrid.
The week before, it was 90-plus degrees each and every day.
This past week, we had one day that was in the 60s.
We managed to force ourselves to swim one day, but it really wasn't that refreshing.
I didn't do nearly as much driving as I do when we actually go away, which was good, I guess, but what little driving I did led me to get a ticket for going through a red light ...
Or so it was claimed by Nassau County.
Certain lights here have cameras, and the cameras are very quick to nab you when you go through a yellow light.
I claim that I went through a yellow light, but go fight City Hall on this one.
Yes, I paid my fine already. No sense arguing this. You can't win, although others have fought this.
Normally, I drive over 2,000 miles during our vacation, and I have never gotten a ticket anytime we have been on vacation.
This time, I drove a fraction of that amount, and I got a ticket.
Figures, doesn't it?
I watched lots and lots of TV during this time off, which at least filled in the time when we had little or nothing to do.
I watched lots of baseball, and sad to say, the Yankees aren't very good this year.
No surprise there. I didn't think they were any good at the beginning of the season, and I guess my prediction was true.
There were actually some high points during this time off.
My family and I saw one of the latest round of Monkees concerts, and we had a good time at the show.
When I hear music from this era, I darn well know that the kids today really don't know what they're missing. The music today is so bad, it really can't compare with what I listened to when I was a kid.
I guess I am becoming an old fogey.
We also had a nice, relaxing, family barbecue, with my family, my sister's family, and my parents.
That was fun.
But it took us away from reality for maybe a day, and just overall, the news kept on churning on our vacation, err, staycation.
The news continued during my time off, with the Anthony Weiner saga continuing full tilt.
As you might remember, I told you when this thing originally broke that Weiner, as a toddler, lived in Rochdale Village, the community that I grew up in in Queens.
Well, we all don't behave this way, so it has nothing to do with Rochdale Village, I can tell you that.
But anyway, I am back.
I have no idea what my wife and I will do today, but hopefully we will have a pleasant, stress free last day off.
And yes, I am writing this blog at 2:30 in the morning.
I got up from sleep--I went to bed pretty early last night, because there was nothing on TV that thrilled me--and I am not tired now.
I will probably try to go back to sleep when I am done here, so maybe writing this blog will have a calming influence on me.
Certainly, this "staycation" didn't, that's for sure.
Posted by Larry at 11:24 PM
Friday, July 19, 2013
Yes, it is that time of the year again, when the Ranting and Raving Blog bids adieu to all of its many fans, for at least a little while.
It is time to go on vacation, but this year, everything is different.
My family and I aren't going to Florida this time around.
We went on a cruise earlier this year, and now, we really don't have the funds to be traveling south for our summer vacation.
So we are going to stay home, try to do things we wouldn't normally have a chance to do, and make the best of it.
We start off the vacation by seeing the Monkees--Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith--at Westbury. The show has already received excellent reviews, so we are looking forward to it.
From there, it is really anyone's guess.
Our son is working, so we will see him off every day to his job, and I guess my wife and I will find things to do after that.
There are some things in the house that need to be done, and outside the house, maybe we will take in a movie or two, go out to eat a few times, try to make this as good a vacation as we possibly can.
But it will be different from our other vacations, because we won't really be going anywhere.
And yes, beautiful Annette Funicello continues to adorn our vacation Rant, but alas, the world is different this year, because she is no longer around.
So many things are different now, but at least we will be away from the workplace for a week.
And as always, when I am on vacation, I am on vacation, even if it is a staycation, and this site will be inactive for at least a week.
I might have a reason to check in during that week, since I will have access to the Internet being home, but if I want to make this a real vacation, I have to get away for a week from this site too.
So have fun the next week, and I will check back with you soon.
Posted by Larry at 2:30 AM
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Remember several months ago when I spoke about the Kate Upton edition of Sports Illustrated?
That was a refreshing magazine cover, especially for us males out there.
Well, there is a new cover out from another publication that, well, isn't that refreshing, and it is causing an uproar much like Upton's cover did, but for a different reason.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the so-called Boston Marathon bomber, is on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and the photo on the cover almost makes him look like a rock star.
You might remember that Tsarnaev was hunted, and shot, after the police gunned down his brother as that atrocious incident during the Boston Marathon shook Boston and the rest of the country.
These were two brothers who weren't born here, but were pretty much raised here. They absorbed all of our traditions, but as the story goes, the older brother was becoming more radical, the younger brother followed, and the rest, unfortunately, is history.
Of course, I am boiling this whole story down to the nub. We will find out more when Tsarnaev goes to trial.
He could receive the death penalty for his alleged actions.
Anyway, back to the cover.
Rolling Stone is a funny magazine, and I don't mean laughably funny.
It really hasn't known its place in the world since it published a nude centerfold of David Cassidy in the early 1970s.
It was established in the mid 1960s by Jann Wenner as a counterculture rock magazine.
Back then, rock magazines tended to be weenybopper rags like Tiger Beat and 16 magazines, and Wenner brought this to the next level, trying to show that rock music was something to be looked at with another eye, that of somebody older than seven years old.
It made rock a snobbish commodity, exactly what it wasn't and never will be, except in the minds of some.
The years have not been kind to Rolling Stone.
It currently wavers between glossy rock star mag and glitzy Hollywood rag.
Remember the cover of Britney Spears when she first started out? The perfect blend of Tiger Beat and Playboy, if you will.
Anyway, putting Tsarnaev on the cover in that picture may be the ultimate nail in the coffin for this publication.
Not that it is going to go away, but as far as its place as something of an "authoritative" journalistic enterprise, which, quite frankly, it hasn't been for years, if ever.
Yes, they put his picture on the cover to get you to buy the magazine, to read it, to talk about it.
That is fine.
But in that pose, well, let's sign this guy to a recording contract and see if he can sing!
Heck, Charles Manson made some recordings, fashioned himself as a rising pop star, so why not this guy?
In today's world, even the most talentless people become stars, so why not a possible terrorist?
We have already heard that hundreds of women--and probably some men, too--have sent him letters, proposing marriage and all that.
He has that look. He could be the lead singer of the next big pop band, The Terrorists.
"Hey, hey, we're The Terrorists,
The feds say we monkeyed around,
But we're too busy building bombs
To turn anybody down ... "
Who knows what his future holds?
But all kidding aside, Rolling Stone was very savvy in putting him on the cover.
They knew it would spark outrage, no matter what was in the issue about him, and it did just that.
Sure, I bet they could have put Kate Upton on the cover, but would we be talking about this now like we are?
Well, maybe, if it was like the Sports Illustrated cover ...
Posted by Larry at 3:01 AM
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The American League defeated the National League in yesterday's annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
The result was 3-0, but the game's significance was much more than that.
First, it was a really good "tonic for the troops," so to speak.
With such toxic stuff going on in the real world, it was good to get away and watch something and enjoy it for a change.
This year's game, at New York's CitiField, heralded the old stars being replaced by new stars.
And nowhere was this demonstrated more than with the starting pitcher and the closing pitcher (although he didn't close last night).
Matt Harvey started the game for the National League.
The Mets' new ace is one of the most exciting pitchers to come around in years.
He seems to possess what it takes to make it big, including a command of his pitches, and the temperament to not only play in New York, but to thrive here.
Yes, he did hit Yankee Robinson Cano with a pitch. What's to make the All-Star Game different from the regular season? The Yankees are really snake-bitten this year.
Moving on ...
Then you have the supposed closing pitcher, for the American League.
Mariano Rivera is probably the classiest major league athlete who is still playing, although he has announced that this is his final year.
He has been the game's greatest closer, but now well into his 40s, he is making his final stops at all major league stadiums that the Yankees play in.
He has the attributes that the much younger Harvey--who started watching Rivera as a toddler--now possess: command of his pitches (people say it is just that cut fastball, but he can place that pitch exactly where he wants it most of the time), and the temperament to have played in New York for 19 years, and to thrive here.
No, he didn't close last night, but you could say that when Rivera came in to "Enter Sandman," the game was unofficially over.
It really is the changing of the guard.
There were many, many new stars in the game, first timers who had never been there before, many players in their 20s.
Gone are the days that aging stars made the game because of their past resume, not because of what they had accomplished during the particular season in question.
Last night was a real changing of the guard, and everybody who is into baseball knows it.
And that is fine with me. You have to have new stars, new great ballplayers, to move the game forward.
And you had them here, many, many of them in both leagues, led by Matt Harvey.
I say that is great.
This situation will make for great baseball for the next several years ...
Until those kids playing in high school now are ready to make their own move.
Posted by Larry at 2:21 AM
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
And today I read that George Zimmerman's parents have experienced death threats due to the outcome of the trial of their son ...
And I also read that in Los Angeles, protestors are vandalizing stores, attacking citizens, and destroying public property ...
What has this world come to?
Whether you agree with the jury's verdict or not, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin.
The jury simply didn't believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman murdered Martin in cold blood.
I mean, that is what it is. And no one has to agree with it, but this is what the jury determined.
There will be payback later, in the form of federal and civil trials.
Zimmerman isn't getting off for this, no how, no way.
But then, there are people who have this "lynch" mentality that completely baffles me.
They feel that since justice wasn't served, there is another type of justice to be handed out.
And that justice is basically frying Zimmerman and his family because of what happened.
Funny, that type of justice went out generations ago, or so it seems.
Do the people who are making these types of threats really believe that they are honoring the memory of Trayvon Martin by doing this?
You don't honor a death with violence.
And you certainly don't hand out your own "frontier justice" by these acts.
If nothing else, it makes Zimmerman look better than he probably has every right to believe.
Look, there are really only two people who know what happened that particular evening, and one is gone.
Zimmerman was found not guilty of the charges lodged against him.
It doesn't mean he didn't do it, it just means that he was found not guilty of the charge of murder.
If you don't like the system, try to change it.
But it has been working, warts and all, for well more than 200 years.
Spewing more violence makes no sense.
Yes, in the form of threats, talk is cheap, but to make people constantly look over their shoulders is heinous.
And to attack people, to vent your frustrations out, makes no sense whatsoever.
Protest if you must. Be outraged if you must.
But don't use the death of Trayvon Martin, and the outcome of the trial, to spew further hatred.
Let's all start from square one and move on.
This thing isn't over yet, and let's do this through our legal system.
Monday, July 15, 2013
The judgment came in on Saturday night, and a lot of people are happy, others aren't.
George Zimmerman was found not guilty of all charges in the murder case of Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman, you might remember, was the volunteer neighborhood watchman who reported Martin was in the area, was suspicious, overstepped his boundaries, and ended shooting this kid in what he said was self defense.
Some said that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin, others said that since there were a rash of burglaries in the area, he was doing his job.
However, the only thing that really was proven in this trial was that Zimmerman, himself of mixed race, did overstep his boundaries.
He should have simply called in about the suspicious activity, and let the real police handle it.
Once it went beyond that, the jury found that they could not find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman killed Martin in cold blood.
And I have found that that is what people do not understand about this case.
I am not going to argue here about whether Zimmerman murdered Martin or killed him in self defense.
But I am going to talk about whether the jury was correct in its verdict.
And it was.
That is how our judicial system works. You cannot convict somebody of the top crime, murder, if there even is a scintilla of doubt in your mind.
That is what makes our judicial system work better than any other judicial system in the world.
Innocent until proven guilty.
I am not going to say that it is perfect--it isn't.
But in this case, it worked to perfection.
I think the whole problem was that the prosecution's lawyers made a critical error, painting him as something of a choir boy in this whole horrible incident.
I believe that if they exposed Martin as a somewhat nefarious character, which he was, the jury might have gone the other way.
Being a nefarious character does not earn you the right to be murdered, but the prosecution's lawyers were clearly incompetent--much like the lawyers against O.J. Simpson were years ago--and they missed the boat here.
Zimmerman's lawyers were able to play this up, and prove to the jurors that yes, their client may have crossed the line, but when it came down to it, he was defending himself when shots were fired.
So if there is outrage, it should be about the prosecution's lawyers.
People should also keep calm about this.
You can be outraged, upset, or down on what happened, but as you know, there are people out there who are just looking for something to latch onto to spread further violence.
Those people should be made to understand that their actions don't herald Martin's memory, they besmirch it.
What will happen next?
You cannot try a person twice for murder in this country, it is a double jeopardy thing, so Zimmerman cannot be tried again.
However, the case can become a federal one, so yes, I do believe he can be tried again.
And there will almost certainly be a civil lawsuit, and those lawsuits usually even out the playing field, so Zimmerman has simply jumped over the first hurdle here, and probably not his last.
So, in summary, you might not be happy with the jury's verdict, but our judicial system worked to perfection here.
Let's look at it that way, and move on.
Posted by Larry at 2:31 AM
Friday, July 12, 2013
One Long Island school district's decision to rush out a summer reading list before actually proofreading it has become the mistake of the summer.
The list, released by the Hempstead Public School District, one that is not that far away from me, contains about 30 errors.
Kids have been told to read F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gypsy," books by author Emily "Bonte," and several other misspellings that are an embarrassment.
In a statement, a member of the New York State Department of Education's Board of Regents pointed to the fact that he school district had been in the dumpster way before this incident.
"Hempstead has not had a stable administration for a long time and the kids are suffering."
The school district itself hasn't made any type of statement that I know of.
Summer reading lists are the bane of kids during the summer.
After a long, hard school year is over with, they are literally forced into reading something over the summer.
What happened to the carefree summer, when a kid could be a kid and not have to worry about schoolwork?
My son has had to read a book every summer, just like every other kid in the public school system, and it is a waste of time.
He hands in his work when school begins, and it is never spoken about again.
This year, we had to order his book from the public library, which has trouble keeping "special ed" books in its supposedly massive selection of books, for some reason.
It is now the middle of July, and he still hasn't received his book.
We will go back to the library tomorrow and try to figure this thing out.
But back to Hempstead ...
The school district is not a good one to begin with.
In the past, the administration and teachers have been found to be greatly inept.
The district was recently found to be expanding grades for its own betterment, not for the betterment of the kids.
As it is, the district has some of the lowest test scores in the state.
It has mainly a minority enrollment, which makes all of this even worse.
I am sure some dunce in the main office probably typed this thing out, and the approval was probably waived by whoever was supposed to see it, because they felt it was such an easy task to copy the proper names of the books and authors from whatever source they were using.
But to have it come out like it did is something of a travesty, wouldn't you agree?
If a properly completed document from the school district can't be written correctly, what does that say to the kids in that district who are trying hard to get an education in what amounts to an impossible learning environment?
It impacts thousands of kids, and their futures as responsible adults.
If the school district doesn't care about them enough, then why should they pursue their educational goals?
There are no excuses here.
Fix the reading list, and learn from this disaster, so it never happens again.
What to do about it?
Remove anyone who was associated with that list.
Yes, I mean fire them. I don't care who they are, get rid of them.
Secondly, get educators in that district who are clearly people who want to educate these kids. They have to be 100 percent directed to this goal.
And thirdly, have everyone employed by that district--I don't care if it is the superintendent or the janitor--to read one book on that list and do a report on that book.
That will teach everybody that laziness and shabbiness is not tolerated in that district.
And it will be the perfect life lesson for those kids, and adults, too.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Now, to start my next 1,000 Rants ...
You know how every year, there seems to be a fashion craze that hits us, whether it is high heels, the color black, or something else?
Maybe even a movie craze, like disaster flicks?
Well, this summer, the current hot craze has nothing to do with that.
It is race.
Plain and simple, the racial policies of some people who are in the public eye, willingly or unwillingly.
This whole thing started with the Paula Deen case, where the TV chef supposedly said under oath that yes, she has uttered racial epithets during her lifetime.
After this happened, the Food Network cancelled her contract with them, as did just about every other outlet where she had an endorsement deal.
The only thing she still has is her magazine, and without the exposure she gets on the Food Network, that will probably be history before you know it.
People were outraged by what she said--I mean, this is a PC world, isn't it--and she perpetuated this situation by talking about other racial thoughts she had, including those about her fantasy of having a plantation wedding, with blacks dressed to the nines serving her, much like the situation in "Gone With the Wind."
Well, at least she was honest. Her wedding fantasy could have been "The Wizard of Oz" or, heaven forbid, "Deep Throat."
Look, I am not saying that I defend this woman. I have never been a fan of hers to begin with--ask my wife about that--and she appears to be a country bumpkin who hit on something big and became very successful at it.
But you know, can the executives who fired her claim, in clear conscience, that they have never uttered a racial epithet? Can any one of us say the same thing?
I think not.
She is ignorant, a fool, and I don't think she truly understands what she did and what she said, but this public backlash against her has been amazing.
I think lots of other people have said and acted worse in a public forum ... let's see, the Rev. Jesse Jackson's "Hymietown" remark, the Rev. Al Sharpton's Tawana Brawley masquerade, Charles Barkey's rant against Yao Ming, Al Campanis' rant that blacks were inferior to whites ... Paula Deen?
Then we have the CBS show "Big Brother," not a place for any semblance of humanity, taste, or the least showing of brain power.
For many of us, this show is a summer guilty pleasure, and I admit, and have admitted in the past, that my wife and I have watched the show since its debut several years ago.
Evidently, two of the contestants have uttered questionable things on the show's late night edition, which can only be seen on TV Guide Network. Go try to find that channel on your TV dial.
Anyway, one said something to the effect that she doesn't trust one black contestant because she's black, and she can't see her in the dark, and the other told an Asian contestant to "go make some rice."
People have gotten hysterical over this, and CBS has distanced itself from the whole thing, saying that basically, people will be people, and that being what it is, their prejudices will often come out into the open, and there is nothing they can do about it.
Others have said the two ladies should be removed from the show, but in real life, their actual employers have fired them for their remarks, and the contestants don't know it yet, because they are secluded away from society on the show.
Again, I ask, do their employers solemnly swear that they never uttered a racial epithet in their lives?
Oh, there's more. Another contestant, who is a train conductor, called Hitler something to the effect of a "great orator," but that has fallen by the wayside.
Race appears much more important than anti-Semitic speeches on this show, I guess.
And then we have something much more important than Paula Deen and "Big Brother," the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, where Zimmerman is trying to prove that he killed the teenager in self defense, and the other side is trying to prove that Zimmerman pulled the trigger in cold blood.
You know, I don't know which side is right here, and I would hate to be on the jury deciding this case.
I don't think Martin was the innocent they made him out to be, but that doesn't mean he should have been shot.
It is clear to me that Zimmerman overstepped his boundaries as basically a security guard, and he should have let the police handle the situation if he believed Martin was doing anything illegal.
So while he is guilty, to a certain extent, I don't know if he will be found guilty by the jury.
I feel for Martin's family, but painting him as something of a choir boy isn't helping matters, nor is the perception that Zimmerman--who comes from a mixed race home--is a racist.
But race sure is topical today.
Look, our President is mixed race, and I hope no one cares about that anymore. I certainly didn't when he was elected, and I don't now.
He is as inept as his white predecessors, as far as I am concerned.
But in this PC world, there seems to be a double standard.
Some people can say some things and get away with it, and do some things and get away with it.
Others simply can't.
Some people can use certain words and get away with it, and others, can't.
The PC police are killing our country, our freedom of speech, our right to say what we want when we want to, within reason.
I am not defending Deen, those idiots on "Big Brother," and either Martin or Zimmerman (these last two really don't belong in what I am going to say below, because this is a real murder case, something very, very real).
But let's lighten up.
We are hurting ourselves by having to watch what we say.
Things slip out, and nobody is saying that these things are right.
But we have lost the ability to laugh at ourselves, and I think that is the worst thing that the PC police have taken away from us.
I remember a number of years ago, Howard Cosell--who whatever you thought of him, he didn't have a racist bone in his body--called a football player who he found to be very athletic "a little monkey," which many thought of as a racist term, since the player was black.
Cosell was taken aback by this, because he simply admired the player's athletic ability. If the player was white, would have there been an uproar?
The situation subsided really quickly, because everyone knew that Cosell meant no harm at all in what he said.
The point is, 30 years ago and today, some people were/are too sensitive about certain things, and they should really lighten up a bit.
In a country that loved a show like "All in the Family," where all of our blemishes were exposed, and laughed at while we learned from these failures, well, things have changed so much that "All in the Family:" would never be permitted on network TV today.
Is that societal progress?
I think not.
Posted by Larry at 2:53 AM
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
We have reached 1,000 Rants today. I am amazed by that accomplishment as many of you must be.
I started this blog just a few years back as a writing oasis, of sorts, for me.
I am a professional writer. As WWE wrestler Mark Henry proclaims about his athletic ability, I can say the same thing about my writing ability: "That's what I do."
It puts food on the table, and I have been doing it for a number of years, first off and on and then full time.
Anyway, I write about military happenings all day. Sure, at times it is interesting, but I am pigeon-holed by writing about that subject every week.
I created this blog to provide myself with an outlet to write about other things, and I think I have succeeded in that quest.
I can write about what I want, when I want to, and I am so happy that so many of you have taken this blog up on a daily basis as I write to my heart's content.
Sometimes I get into heavy topics, but generally, it's pretty light here.
I usually write these entries at between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. in the morning, and I guess I am not into the heavy stuff that much that early in the morning.
But I have written about a lot of stuff, from my hatred of ties to famous (and not so famous) people's birthdays to my personal likes and dislikes, including those in sports.
I have written about my vacations, my own experiences, and those of my family.
After the past few years, if you read this column regularly, you have gotten to know me.
I am basically the same person that I was when I was a kid, digging in the dirt in Rochdale Village, South Jamaica, Queens, New York.
The difference, now, is that I am older, look at things from a more adult perspective, and I have lost the hair on my head.
I cherish the old days, but realize that they are gone.
I look forward to the future, but realize that the future isn't as bright for may of us as we would have liked.
I try to bring out all of this in my daily column, or, if you will, my five-days-a-week column.
No, I make no money off of this blog at all, not even the thousand dollar bill I have posted here.
The blog has some ads, but how many of you click on them?
The blog has some ads, but how many of you click on them?
I don't blame you, they aren't that interesting.
What is interesting, I hope, is what I write about. I hope it touches a nerve with all of you, makes you think about what I said, and maybe, gets a reaction from you.
So here's to the first 1,000.
I don't know if, at this point, Dick Gregory is still on his hunger strike to find out the truth about Michael Jackson's death (a post long, long ago), but I do know that I will be back here tomorrow, working on the first of hopefully at least another 1,000 posts.
We won't reach 1,100 posts until about Christmas, so I better start working hard on this blog.
See you tomorrow with my 1,001st post!
Posted by Larry at 2:18 AM
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Yesterday, during the New York Yankees' 5-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium, the grounds crew had a lot of trouble with the tarp covering the ground after two rain delays.
Rain was in the forecast, but what came to Yankee Stadium was a real cloudburst, something totally unexpected.
The usually very adept grounds crew had an incredibly tough time with the tarp, and while the condition of the field wasn't that terrible after the delays--nothing that a little elbow grease couldn't cover--the crew really struggled last night, one of the few times in its history that it had so much trouble covering the field and taking the cover off the field.
I remember years ago, another sudden cloudburst hit the Stadium, and fans ran onto the field and hit the tarp as it blew in the heavy winds that accompanied the heavy rain.
It was as if people were riding the waves in the middle of Yankee Stadium that day.
Another time, during the final game at the soon-to-be-refurbished old Yankee Stadium, I was at the game and people were taking "souvenirs" like seats and pieces of the turf after the game.
It was chaos, to say the least.
My friend and I ran into the bullpen--the gate was open, so we strolled in amidst the chaos--and we took a bullpen mat and a piece of the tarp.
Heaven knows where those things are today, but I had them for years. I think my mother eventually threw them out.
The grounds crew really isn't held in that high regard by the fans, but they do serve a serious purpose.
They keep the field in tip-top shape for the teams they work for--manicuring the field to exact specification--and in case of rain--or snow, for that matter--they must always be on the ready for any eventuality.
At Yankee Stadium, the members of the grounds crew are actually quasi-celebrities, as they perform to the song "YMCA" during one of their walks onto the field in between innings.
Fans look forward to that, and it is one of the highlights of the game that really has nothing to do with the eventual outcome.
So last night was one blemish for the grounds crew. They haven't had very many in the years I have been watching baseball, and the Yankee Stadium grounds crew is often regarded as one of the best in baseball.
But last night, they had lots of trouble, and with impending rainy weather coming for the rest of the week, they better be on their toes.
Never fool with Mother Nature, you know.
Posted by Larry at 2:46 AM
Monday, July 8, 2013
This weekend, my family and I did next to nothing, which was fine with me after a difficult week at work.
We stayed by our pool for most of the weekend, which was the only place we could cool off other than somewhere where it was air conditioned.
In my neck of the woods, we are going through a heat wave. The weather forecasters say that it is a heat wave if we have three days straight of 90 degrees or more, and yes, we have had those three days, so yes, we are in a heat wave.
It has been very hot--and very humid--for the past few days, even the days leading up to the current heat wave.
Personally, I can't take it.
I am basically a cold weather person. I like the cold more than the hot, always have been that way, always will be that way.
I am very attuned to air conditioning, and I believe it has to do with my allergies.
When we lived in Rochdale Village in Queens, every apartment had air conditioning, which was pretty novel for 1964.
It was good for me, good for my allergies, and I learned to really enjoy it.
When we moved out to Long Island in 1971, we did not have any air conditioning, which was pretty consistent with what was going on back then. Many private homes did not have air conditioning back then.
However, I was suffering, and my doctor told my mother that if there was one room in our new home that had to be air conditioned, it had to be my room.
VOILA! I had air conditioning.
I have had a few incidents over the years where I suffered from heat prostration.
Once, I was visiting a friend on my bicycle, and I passed out during a hot day.
The problem was that I passed out on a major thoroughfare where I live, and I swear, to this day I don't remember crossing over to the other side to safety.
I must have had a guardian angel pushing me.
Another incident was at Yankee Stadium a few years back. It was 97 degrees, at the Stadium it was slightly warmer, and I passed out.
I think there was another incident when I was younger, actually in school, where we were running around what was supposed to be a track and I passed out.
Anyway, this current heat wave is beginning to wipe me out again. I am always warm and a couple of times, I have fallen asleep on the couch as my perspiration engulfs me.
It was great in the pool yesterday, but then we had a barbecue, and I was so hot I couldn't even eat.
When that was done, I pretty much passed out in bedroom without really passing out.
I barely made it to 8 p.m., and then I pretty much slept until about 5 a.m., when I normally get up and get ready for work.
So the heat has gotten to me, no doubt about it. My wife loves it, I hate it, and my body has a tough time adjusting to it.
Today? Well, it's a work day, so that is where I will be. I should be fine, but will it reach another day of 90 degree heat?
Who knows? All I know is that I won't be by the pool today.
Posted by Larry at 2:34 AM
Friday, July 5, 2013
How was your July 4?
I did exactly what I said my family and I were going to do, which was next to nothing.
My wife worked, my son and I were at home, and I watched baseball, baseball and more baseball.
In the middle of everything, not only was I having some vision problems (allergies getting the best of me), but we had a power failure that hit exactly half the house, and that was it.
Once everything was restored--and my vision improved--everything was hunky dory. We had our barbecue, and now it is back to work day.
And it is July 5.
We have some signature holidays during the year, whether you are talking about New Year's Day on January 1, Christmas Day on December 25, and yes, Independence Day on July 4.
But what about the days after those holidays?
Do January 2, December 26 and July 5 suffer in comparison? I mean, the world does not stop on these days, does it?
They probably do. You can't compete with a day that is momentous, a day where so many people have off. Certainly, July 5 cannot possibly be as important as July 4 is.
And July 4 is pretty much a scam, anyway.
The Constitution, if I remember my history, was actually signed on July 2.
July 4 was the day it was "processed," for lack of a better word.
But July 2 is actually more important to our country's history than July 4 is, but we celebrate July 4 over July 2 because by July 4, our country was finally set in motion in 1776.
The day after July 4 is a momentous day for some.
The bikini was introduced to the world on that day in 1946, and Elvis Presley's first commercial recording session took place on that day. He recorded "That's All Right (Mama)."
So July 5 is important if you like rock and roll and if you like the female form.
But what about the days after Christmas Day and New Year's Day?
Do they suffer in comparison?
Looking at January 2, probably.
It is the day people kind of get back to doing their normal routines, and it is the day that pretty much signifies the end of the holiday season.
December 26 is actually a holiday in itself.
Although not that well known here, it is Boxing Day in England, where, supposedly, Christmas gifts that are not wanted or needed are "boxed up" and given to the needy.
In more recent years, December 26 is also the first day of Kwanzaa, so it does have real significance to some people.
In my family, December 26 is a stupendous day.
My sister was born on that day in 1959, and as my father has often said, her birth gave him a tax write-off for the entire year.
So yes, the days after big holidays are very, very significant, depending on a lot of things.
So have a very happy July 5, even if you have to go to back to work like I do.
And if your birthday is on July 5, just think, all the hubbub associated with July 4 is over, and you can have your day to yourself.
Speak to you again on Monday ... July 8.
Posted by Larry at 2:47 AM
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
What are you doing on July 4?
Well, what I can say is that I am doing next to nothing, which I think is pretty good, at least for me.
I don't have to go to work, so at least I can get off that hamster track for one day.
Thus, if I don't have to go to work, I can pass on two things that I abhor: wearing a tie and shaving, at least for one day.
I can sit at home and do little or nothing, which is exactly what I plan on doing.
My wife has to work. She works for a Canadian-based bank (I will leave it up to you to figure out which one), and they work on July 4.
They are consistent. They also worked on Canada Day, so they treat these types of holidays pretty even;y.
Yes, they are kind of anti-holiday all around.
Anyway, I will probably watch some baseball on TV.
Baseball and July 4 go together like peanut butter does to bread.
You thought I was going to say "and jelly," but I hate jelly.
Anyway, when my wife returns home, we will have a barbecue.
Barbecues and July 4 go together like ... well, peanut butter to bread.
We always have a barbecue on July 4, because it is the traditional thing to do.
My wife, who doesn't eat much red meat but is not a vegetarian, eats her one beef hamburger that day.
Hebrew National, of course.(It's not what you see in the photo accompanying this Rant, but I did my best.)
I like Nathan's hot dogs, but Hebrew National is my choice for the best commercial hot dog on the market today.
It simply tastes better than other hot dogs.
And it is kosher, supposedly, so it is held to a higher manufacturing standard.
Later that night, we will hear fireworks all around us, and we might watch fireworks on TV.
I am not as excited by fireworks as some people are.
To me, it is little more than a lot of noise.
And then, that will be July 4 for me.
And what is really "wonderful" this year is that it falls on a Thursday, and no, I don't have Friday off, so me and a million other people will be going back to work on Friday ...
As if July 4 never, ever happened.
I guess you really can't escape reality.
Speak to you again on Friday.
Posted by Larry at 2:23 AM
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
This is shaping up to be a very long summer for New York Yankees fans.
The team, which has been a powerhouse since the mid 1990s and also has a fabled past that no other team can even approach, has fallen on very hard times this year.
The team has suffered numerous injuries to key players, and after a good start, they have pretty much caved in.
Nothing is working, and few of the injured players are even close to game ready, so the team has had to go with second-, third- and fourth-line players, and it hasn't worked.
However, yesterday, something happened that was one for the record books, or at least the Yankees record books.
Andy Pettitte struck out Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau in the bottom of the third inning for his 1,958th strikeout for the team, passing Whitey Ford for first in team history.
Pettitte needed two strikeouts in the game to gain the lead, and the 41 year old lefthander stuck out Clete Thomas in the second inning to tie the record, which has lasted for about 47 years.
Ford retired in 1967, and is a regular at Yankees' Oldtimers Day events. He actually held the team record since 1963, expanding upon it in his last four years in pinstripes.
Pettitte is pretty much on his last legs as a Yankees pitcher. He has spent his entire career with the organization, save a few years when he defected to the Houston Astros.
Like Ford, he is a lefty, and also like Ford, he is one of the best pitchers of his generation.
Pettitte has 213 wins for the Yankees during his career, while Ford had 236, so that record that Ford owns won't be broken anytime soon.
But Pettitte's record won't either.
Pettitte does have more than 2,000 total strikeouts in his career, but it will be interesting to see if he can surpass that total with the Yankees.
The Yankees are old, broken down and injured, and Pettitte has been off and on the disabled list since coming back to the Yankees last year.
It is highly doubtful that he will come back next year, or that the Yankees will want him back as a 40-year-old-plus pitcher with little gas left.
But gaining this record is another feather in the cap for the lefty, who also holds the record for most postseason wins at 19.
I mean, the strikeout record hasn't gotten the play the Derek Jeter received when he went five for five in gaining his 3,000th hit, the first player to do it as a Yankee.
And Nolan Ryan doesn't have anything to worry about with Pettitte.
But it still is a nice record to have, a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.
Can Pettitte be the first Yankee to record 2,000 strikeouts as a Bronx Bomber?
He will at least come close, so it gives him an incentive to go for, and for Yankee fans to watch.
Posted by Larry at 2:45 AM
Monday, July 1, 2013
This weekend, with the weather not so great in my neck of the woods, my family and I decided to go to the movies.
We hadn't been to the movies in several weeks, and now, with the summer upon us, the big summer flicks are out and about, so now is the time to go to the movies.
We had originally wanted to see the Superman movie, but the times weren't good for us, so we chose to see the big disaster movie of the summer, which we found to be not much of a disaster at all.
"World War Z," starring Brad Pitt, harkens back to those disaster films of my youth--remember "Earthquake"?--and it is quite a stimulating experience.
For two-plus hours, it is zombies, zombies and more zombies.
Brad Pitt--who is also co-producer of the film--stars with a basically no-name cast as a World Health Organization-United Nations specialist who is summoned to help combat a virus which is spreading throughout the globe, turning everyday people into zombies.
And like every good disaster picture, Pitt is the consummate hero, fighting this evil at every turn, in spite of great odds against him.
Finally, through his heroic efforts, he is able to withstand the peril caused by the zombies, and the world once again becomes safe.
Yes, I am skipping over much of the film, because I really don't want to give it all away.
And yes, there are holes in this movie the size of craters, but I will try not to give that away, too.
But Pitt is very good in this film, and it is actually a very family oriented flick, because he does what he does entirely for the safety of his family.
He is your typical reluctant hero, but he does what he does because he fears for the safety of his family if he doesn't do what the government wants him to do.
Yes, there are lapses--how do the greatest scientific minds the world has to offer overlook the one thing that Pitt, who is not a scientist nor a doctor, discovers as the cure for this virus, which, without giving it away, is sort of a reverse "War of the Worlds" solution--but all in all, the movie kept the audience we were in pretty spellbound until the end.
People cheered when the credits began to roll, and I haven't heard that type of reaction at the movies in quite a while.
And if you decide to see this movie, do not waste your money on 3D.
We didn't, and quite frankly, there is no reason to see this film in 3D. Maybe a zombie coming at you looks better in 3D, but you can live with the 2D, so don't spend the extra money.
So, in my opinion, "World War Z" is well worth seeing, although I was perturbed that our local movie house raised its ticket prices, not just for this film, but for all of its films.
To me, that is the real "World War" going on now, rising prices on everything without our paychecks rising along with the prices.
We should all fight back, and one way is to not see this film in 3D.
But go see the film, I guarantee you will enjoy it.
Posted by Larry at 2:35 AM