"Klotz" As In "Blood"

A Testament to the Insidious Impact of Florida Sunshine on Brain Matter

Friday, March 31, 2006

A Momentary Lapse of Season

Filed under: Playing With Balls — Steve @ 1:01 am

Has anybody noticed that the Florida Marlins’ baseball starts Monday? Coincidentally, it will commence about the same time as Major League Baseball’s, although there is no apparent connection.

“We worked diligently all through the off-season, starting with the fire sale of our expensive, major league players, to reduce roster payroll,” proudly states a Marlins press release. “On opening day we will have the least expensive team in the major leagues — under $15 Million! No, of course we won’t be competitive. But we urge South Floridians to come out, buy tickets, and root for the temporary home-team losers!”

Temporary,” of course modifies “home team,” not “losers.”

Ownership’s approach, while deviating from professional standards that encourage competition, excellence, and emphasis on victory, seems perfectly suited for South Florida audiences. “It’s not like we have real baseball fans here,” commented one Marlins flak. “It’s kinda like people who rush into restaurants for early bird specials. They’re not interested in good food or quality dining experiences, they just want cheap. Well, we know cheap and we got it in spades!”

The team that starts the season, consisting of minor leaguers and washed-up second-rate veterans, anticipates losing at least 100 games by October. Maybe by August (is that even possible?). Fewer than two dozen season tickets have been sold — a world record — and crowds are expected to range between 200 and 1,000 on weekends, barring rain.

“Except when the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, RedSox, or Cardinals come to town,” confided the flak. “After all, those teams have fans.”

Marlins officials expressed regret that their plan to skip every other game this season, reducing the schedule to 81 games and saving half the budget, was rejected by the league. “They said it would screw up the schedule,” reported a (part time/discount ) team accountant, disgustedly. “Like that’s more important than the bottom line.”

Also, contrary to reports about the team’s payroll, there is no thought to change the name of the team to the “Florida Bargains,” reflecting management’s scant commitment to payroll and quality play. “We’d have to change the uniforms, logos, and printed materials,” said the official, dismissively. “That would cost money. We’re not into that We’re businessmen.”

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The French Are Revolting

Filed under: What A Wonderful World — Steve @ 9:11 am

The latest from Paris: the French are rioting in the streets.

All this stems from the recent law allowing French employers to fire workers within two years of their intitial hire “for no cause.” Students, unions, and immigrant groups are outraged. “Qu’est que ce? Ze Donald Trump approach to ze workeurs?” asked one outraged protester. “Zey want cause, we give zem cause!”

“The turnout was the largest since protests against the new law began last month, gradually backing Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin into a corner. France’s students and unions are demanding that he rescind the law, which he pushed through Parliament.” —NY Times

UM President Shalala, take notice.

As a result of the labor action, production of cheese, silly berets, and of course frogs’ legs has been disrupted. Authorities folded up the Eiffel Tower and stuffed it, piece by piece, up Villepin’s ass for safekeeping. However, soap production was unaffected, as were other non-essential industries, including integrity, courage, and straightforward speech which impact less than 2% of the nation’s gross annual production.

International traders remain relatively calm about the strike. “So long as there is no fallout on French whine production or Gaulois rolling, we do not anticipate significant market disruption,” noted one.

“I imagine this will give rise to jokes in poor taste worldwide,” observed one spokespersonnage of indeterminate vertebrate content. “When it comes to matters involving the French, people tend to find the worst of all worlds to report. I wonder why.”

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

F Word Workout

Filed under: Across the Fruited Plain — Steve @ 9:54 am

Short videos from this gentleman have made the rounds, so as a public service, here’s the link to see them all. Just get past the photos and hit the VIDEOS tab.

If there’s such a medium as as an “oral blog,” this is it.

The most popular so far seem to be “Bat Day” and “Starbucks.” Personally, I enjoyed “Handicapped Stickers.” In all cases, while what he says is funny; the way he says it is classic.

I find it trying to watch more than two at a single sitting, but I laugh my ass straight off for the one or two I see. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Loose The Hounds!

Filed under: News from the Nation's Dicktip — Steve @ 12:02 pm

You don’t have to travel too far to hear lawyer jokes, and now even the Florida Supreme Court is into the act. On Monday, while some of us were working for a living, the Court, ruling unanimously, let stand its prior ruling that two state barristers could not use ads featuring a pit bull’s image in a spiked collar, and spelling out their phone number PIT-BULL.

No, this isn’t a dogs’ rights issue. Dogs will be allowed in restaurants too soon, but they can’t bring litigation — yet.

The problem here seems to have something to do with public relations, believe it or not. With a straight face, the Florida Supremes found that the ads and the image were “demeaning to the legal profession and justice system.”

Wow. They can do that?

Think what would happen if these esteemed guardians of decorum and professionalism would apply their powers to The Good rather than The Trivial. Is there anything more “demeaning to the legal profession and justice system” than (selected randomly) the nation’s immigration policy, detaining civilians at Gitmo without counsel or cause, traffic court, the laughable application of Eminent Domain Law to seize private property for a developer’s profit, or Clarence Thomas’s written opinions?

Somebody needs to put these awesome declaratory powers into a bottle and spray them where they’re needed most. I had no idea.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hunger For Freedom

Filed under: Etherea — Steve @ 7:51 pm

Sorry to be so late to the blogburst, but I was outta town all weekend and missed the movement. Still, to paraphrase Jimmy Buffet, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, so someplace west of here it’s gonna get some prime time.

Happy to do what little I can, although one point sticks in my craw. It’s disturbing to see so many individuals so committed to liberty and freedom of expression not just for this individual, in this paradigmatic instance, but for an entire nation, simultaneously spreading blather and bilge regarding a venerable institution with a mission devoted exclusively to First Amendment and freedom of expression rights in the United States. No, not Al Goldstein. The American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU has been fighting for unpopular freedom of speech causes far many more years than all of these relative striplings combined. They’ve raised the flag of freedom regardless of the plaintiff’s political orientation, from dickhead communist to butthole fascist, and everybody in between. In matters of Little Guy vs Uncle Sam, they’re We The People.

Yet there on the website(s) are such specimens of hilarity like StopTheACLU.nut. Huh? The ACLU are allies in the purest sense, but for reasons unknown to this poor card-carrier, they’re decried in terms usually reserved for Hillary Clinton, father rapers, and fans of the New York Mets. Blind spots in the moral vision sour the stew, yes?

I hate the Mets, but that’s another day’s topic.

Bad Car-ma

Filed under: News from the Nation's Dicktip — Steve @ 2:56 pm

“Don’t get me wrong,” says Oil Can. “Nobody’s happy about the driver dying. It’s about the worst thing that can ever happen in this business.”

I’m on the phone with my source down at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, where driver Paul Dana was killed during practice on Sunday for the Toyota 300.

“But I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say there were people involved all through the industry as well as the audience that weren’t hoping something high-profile would happen to get the IRL on national radar. Until this happened, we weren’t even pulling sneers. Monday morning we’re front page news. Frankly, some folks are thrilled.”

And it only cost one life. And just one little race car.

“Look, dammit, I said right up front this was a tragedy. I’m only pointing out the obvious: that the whole reason people get into car races is for the crashes — the explosions, the mangled metal, the flames — which they watch over and over and can get on screen savers and “Best Of” CD’s . Remember when John Edwards tried to campaign by flashing his name and Breck-girl face on the screen every time a NASCAR vehicle cracked up? That’s just the facts.”

Hey, no problem! Beats the hell out of sex and drugs and rock’n’roll.

“That’s why the show must go on, on schedule. Clean up the mess, start the parade….” Oil Can puts me on hold, comes right back. “Look, I gotta go. Cable crew media showed up, want content for the WorldWide MotorHead Network.” Phone goes dead.

Auto racing, complete with bloody, burned, and mangled bodies. Well, until we start getting Al Jareeza broadcasts from Iraq, this’ll have to do. Beats the hell out of a Beethoven concert. This is Florida, remember. People know who they are and what they want.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Close, But No

Filed under: Sense & Sensuality — Steve @ 9:41 am

A perverted California metropolis called Calabasas just passed an anti-smoking ordinance that only the Sphincter Police could stomach. Among the rules: if you’re sitting in your car, smoking, and it bothers the bastard in the car behind you, you’re obliged by law to extinguish at once or get ticketed. No shit. Read about it here, and link to Al Capone’s excellent blog.

I started smoking a pipe in college–it seemed appropriate for a philosophy major–and cigars came along soon after. I never really smoked cigarettes, although I might buy a box of English Ovals now and then. Twenty cigarettes would last six months, unless I had help.

A trip to the tobacconist was always a treat. Behind the counter stood a crew of toothless, hunch-backed, gravel-voiced old timers, always armed with a wise ass retort or a rank joke, and the smokey old-wood ambiance of the shop was downright nurturing. The aroma of fresh pungent tobacco could overwhelm the inexperienced, but in a short while it became as tantalizing as a summer barbecue.

One time I asked Moe–never knew him by any other name–about the differences between two particular brands of cigar.

“Same goddam thing!” he hollers, voice raspy with age and seasoning. He turns his head and spits a wet, brown piece of cigar wrapper (or lung) on the worn linoleum floor. “Same goddam thing! Cat shit and dog shit! Same goddam thing!” Another time he told me he smoked cheap Phillies Blunts–a horrible domestic stogie; sawdust and toad load rolled in newspaper–because “after 50 years of kissing my wife’s ugly puss, nothin’ tastes bad no more.” Except he didn’t say “kissing.” Or “puss” (but close).

Well, you know what happened next. A cigar, never popular among non-smokers, soon became a badge of disgrace, and lighting one up a cardinal sin on a level somewhere between public masturbation and shooting smack. Complete strangers felt it was their “right” to issue cease and desist orders on sight. The Enlightened Among Us announced they were performing a noble service by snatching them out of people’s mouths. Whole restaurants, airports, public buildings, and even outdoor stadiums like whatever Joe Robbie is named these days prohibit smoking. Shitting Fuck! What would Babe Ruth say about denying baseball spectators their Saturday afternoon stogie? The Big Bambino kept one burning while waving a bat in the on-deck circle!

Tobacconists closed up shop. Smokers retreated underground. Cigar store Indians headed for the reservation.

And then, something even worse happened. Cigars went upscale. Make that “yupscale.”

Observers of the scene trace this 180 degree turnaround to the publication of Cigar Aficionado magazine, an expensive glossy featuring tuxedo-clad, high fashion celebrities enjoying hugely expensive “designer” cigars. The magazine’s publisher arranged swank dinner affairs where the wealthy and prominent (“rich and famous” to us cretinous peasants) paid about a grand apiece to wine, dine, and smoke–a different beverage and cigar accompanying each course. The idea caught on, and these gala moments have been sponsored across the country. Even women attend, puffing away.

The same snotty finger flickers who squealed in disgust when I fired up my stogie at a ball game years ago now hood their eyes and soberly share their insights on subtle distinctions between Honduran and Dominican blends–unless I heard them wrong and they’re comparing illegal domestics.

The handful of tobacco shops that managed to survive the onslaught of the Lifestyle Nazis, many of which had already converted prime display space to such neutral articles as fountain pens, walking sticks, jewelry, watches, candy, “men’s gifts,” etc., quickly seized the day, retooling their dingy digs into tobacco “boutiques.” Out went the Wolf Brothers rum-soaked “Crooks.” Banished: the gaudy cardboard boxes of A&C “seconds.” Good riddance to Garcia & Vega, El Producto, Ben Franklin, and anything bearing a built-in “tip.” These were replaced with the highest of the high-end smokes: Royal Jamaica, Dunhill, Macanudo; brands that had always been carried, but now available in every length and ring size imaginable. New brands appeared, created solely for the purpose of introducing a line of cheroot that would bring in bigger bucks. It’s now easy to find a $5, $7, even $12 cigar at any tobacconist.

Moe and his raspy crew are long gone, replaced by manicured, raised-pinkie fops in suits and ties, solemnly declaiming the virtues of tobacco leaf from mountainous as opposed to island climes. Gag me. They either ignore or remain blissfully ignorant of the fact that outside of the local Cuban immigrant rolling El Ropos on her hairy thigh, only about a dozen manufacturers of cigars exist in the world, creating hundreds of different labels for virtually identical cigars, routinely swapping their stock with each other like kids with trading cards. The actual cigars themselves are less distinct from one another than Pontiacs from Oldsmobiles. Moe was right: Same goddam thing.

Hence my horror of a trip to the “tobacco boutique.” I will forgo the yuppie chatter, thank you so much, and continue to buy my cigars through the mail. My first choice is JR Cigars: the catalog is great bathroom reading–the man can write–and his prices rock! Spare me the pretentious, prancing, phonies peddling their poison as if it were something more profound than Mars Bars for adults. Should I choose to be bored to tears by pocket-picking toadies, I’ll tune in the teevee to paid political programs. At least when those frauds are smoking, you know where they’re blowing it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Stringing Us Along

Filed under: News from the Nation's Dicktip — Steve @ 8:02 pm

All of us wish the Miami Performing Arts Center every success, if for no other reason that all of us will be shelling out big bucks for it for years to come. But you’ve been reading about that taste of fiasco for quite some time.

It’s enlightening, then, to read the carefully crafted remarks in today’s Hurled about the opening season of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, the facility’s snowbird resident performers. In a word, the virgin season will be “conservative.” Or in another word, “pandering.”

For the Anglo (which only in Miami means, “Jewish”) contingent, it’s Beethoven’s 9th, Mahler’s 1st, Leonard Bernstein’s Jeremiah, and a pair of Tchaikovsky’s. For the Latino crowd, Golijov, Ginastera, Falla, and performances by Harth-Bedoya and Gutiérrez.

“Considering the way our home-grown Florida Philharmonic went belly-up, despite tri-county funding, we’re not taking chances,” confirmed a spokesman, wisely requesting anonymity. “This market has damn few sophisticated people with a clue as to what music is about, so we’re walking on grace notes. In Year One we gotta establish audience rapport, and in this hodge-podge market, that means the bland middle of the road. Like where the double-yellow line is painted!”

Or, as columnist Enrique Fernandez put it, “Building a base for the Cleveland’s 10-year long residency at the PAC seems to have been a criteria in the selection of the repertoire.”

(Memo to Enrique: “criteria” is plural. The word you want is “criterion.” Which bolsters the point made here about Miami. Maybe, if we’re borrowing the orchestra from Cleveland, we should rent out some writers from the Plain Dealer to write about it).

Certainly the orchestra will outdraw the Florida Marlins, at least, which makes me wonder: Maybe the Marlins ought to consider PAC’s approach. Why field a home team? Why not get the Cleveland Indians, or better yet, the Yankees, Cubs, and Mets to play here instead? They’re better teams, have an established fan base, and do their own marketing. Build a baseball audience that way. Hmm. Have to examine this idea in more detail. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bites and Slices of Life

Filed under: Across the Fruited Plain,News from the Nation's Dicktip — Steve @ 10:08 am

Three people have sent me this link: Seems a bite-punctured raccoon in Ft. Lauderdale tested positive for rabies yesterday. The infected animal, found near Southwest 10th Avenue and 22nd Street, represents the first case of rabies in the county this year.

I have been urged to follow this up by calling around the state and getting various officials to categorically deny that there’s any connection or resemblance between a dying rabid beast and (1) Rep. Katherine Harris, (2) Sheriff Ken Jenne, (3) Commissioner Lori Parrish, (4) Rev David Kennedy, (5) Barry Bonds (!), and (6) Agricultural Commissioner Charles Bronson. I’m not doing this because (1) it’s not that funny, (2) it’s a throwaway gag, and (3) it may not be true in the case of #6, above.

But thank you, one and all, for your kind suggestions.

Speaking of throwaways, here’s just another ho-hum story about a deranged man in Chicago who cut off his own dick and flung it at police officers dispatched to arrest him for smashing car windows and breaking into a neighbor’s house. Apparently he’d already severed his sausage by the time they arrived: he hurled it along with a dozen knives and a plethora of epithets. Officers thoughtfully retrieved it from the curb and handed it over to medical staff, who placed it on ice, and it was eventually reattached. (And there’s some news you can use.)

The man, Jakub Fik, told police he was upset about his girlfriend in Poland. “I guess he figured cutting off his own kielbasa would be The Final Solution,” observed one disgusted officer. “Actually, his troubles just started.”

I was going to entitle this post “Coons and Cocks,” but was hit with a sudden unexpected blast of better judgment.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Link to Another Sun on a Beach

Filed under: Across the Fruited Plain — Steve @ 12:44 pm

Insofar as Otis kicked off with a tale of New Jersey today, here’s an introduction to an insightful and tasteful blog called @theBeach, addressing coastal and environmental issues confronting Absecon Island, NJ. Many of the barrier island’s problems parallel those of South Florida, including overdevelopment on a fragile ecosystem, staggering incompetence by local leadership and the Army Corps of Engineers, unbridled greed, naked corruption, and rampant fraud.

Sounds just like home, yes?

Toss in the gambling industry’s saturating influence (since 1977 in Atlantic City), ugly tourists by the millions, choking traffic (especially in season), a severely isolated and depressed inner-city population, inflated real estate values, and damn my eyes if you haven’t got south Florida all over again.

For all that, south Jersey is a beautiful place (as is south Florida) with considerable charm and magnetism. And they adopted a new tourist slogan, selected by a statewide poll: “New Jersey: You Got a Problem With That?”

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