Will Everyone Just Shut The Hell Up About Rick Warren Already And Go Back To Boycotting El Coyote

I’m not often prone to political snarkage here, but I can’t turn around in the blogosphere lately without having to STFU and read diatribes from apopleptic people who are ready to kick Barack Obama to the curb because he apparently signed off on whoever in his inauguration committee picked Pastor Rick Warren to say a few religious words at the president-elect’s big day.

From the venom and outrage and yowls of betrayal and FAIL being shoveled around the internest you’d think Obama had tapped Duhbya as our next energy secretary, or Osama Bin Laden to head up the defense department… not some conservative evangelical pastor from Orange County to give an invocation.

And this comes too quickly on the heels of all the misdirected hate-filled lameness after Proposition 8, which passed not because the No On 8 campaign put up so little of a pre-election fight thinking they had it in the bag, but apparently because  a mormon lady working at  El Coyote gave a hundie to the Yes side when her church told her to. Who knew!

But just as I mostly kept my mouth shut through that tumult, so did I keep clammed up when the Warren news broke and the liberals starting harmonizing their choruses of outrage.

But now I’m reading there’s going to be anti-Warren protests this weekend in Hollywood and Silver Lake and frankly I’m  sick of these big whiny battles being waged over such meaningless machinations — and don’t start with all the scary talk about how this selection portends an evangelical shift in Obama’s religious leanings. Even if that’s true: So. The. Hell. What.

I don’t know who frustrates me more: righteous rightwingers or lock-step lefties. I think I despise them both equally.

The irony is that many of the protesters that will be out there feeling ripped off and disappointed and sporting “Impeach Obama” signs spent good parts of his campaign nodding wistfully every one of the 12 million times Our Next President said sincerely that you better expect him to reach across aisles in an effort to bring the country together.

Guess that’s only okeedookee until Obama actual goes and does it.

Look: I get the anger and in fact I don’t agree with the greenlight given to Warren. He’s anti gay and pro-life. He probably thinks the earth is only a few thousand years old and it’s all intelligently designed and for Obama be it directly or indirectly to give a fella like that a soapbox from which to proselytize is questionably suspect.

But that’s about it.

Word To The Wiseless: Don’t Sit Next To Me

On a pretty good level I operate by the rule of never writing something I wouldn’t be willing to say in public. Be it here or in a comment on another’s blog, I try always to moderate my mental excretions.

So when in response to this LA Metblogs post yesterday by Jason Burns about the tragedy of Wanda Dunn, a commenter who goes by the telling moniker of “bmayhem”  let loose with a truly heinous fusillade of insults and opinions against the Pasadena homeowner facing foreclosure and eviction who allegedly set her house on fire and then killed herself, it disturbed me. Deeply.  Among other things this “bmayhem” called her an “asshole” and “childish,” all under the righteously indignant belief that it was obviously within her power to make the right decisions instead of the wrong ones.

Such assumptions are easy ones to make and vomit into the ether — especially from the far-removed corners that surround such omniscient keyboard pounders.

To say I was appalled at such abject rancor and venom would be terrifically understated. Enraged would better define how I feel. But not so blinded that I feel this “bmayhem” isn’t certainly entitled to an opinion. Of course he or she is. Despite it going so harshly against the way I roll both morally and philosophically, I understand not everyone is like me and I respect anyone’s right to freely express themselves. It may always be the better choice to just shut up in my world, but in another’s not so much. At the same time I can hope it’s not too much to request that they would at least think about whether they’d be able to say something so soulless sitting near someone like me who might take offense.

Because if you’re as fundamentally crass in public as “bmayhem” is isolated in the glow of a computer monitor; if you abnormally lack common decency enough to spout off something in public so vile then you’d be unfortunately obligated to either kick my ass or have it arrested and prosecuted for assault because I’d be unable to prevent myself from shoving yours out of your chair or from flinging the nearest drink at your face to douse the noxiously tactless and obtusely flammable gases emanating from it.

More Good Than Harm

It may not be readily evident, given my frivolous rants about Dodger Fan Douchebags and finally heeding Susan’s call to get my photos from our fantastic Mexico vacation up on Flickr, but these past few days I’ve been pretty beaten up by a combo of things: exhaustion and overload from the longest presidential campaign ever; continuing uncertainty (or rather a shortage of willing optimism) over how the election will end up; anxiety over the economy; the total helplessness that accompanies raging Southern California wildfires that choke the air with smoke and ash; and lastly the death of John McGraham, the homeless man who was murdered late Thursday evening on 3rd Street (less than 1.5 miles — as the crow flies — from our front door) by person or persons unknown who decided that it was perfectly acceptable to extinguish a human life by pouring flammable liquid on him and igniting it.

I can deal with all the other crap mentioned above. The fires will evenutally be contained. The votes will be counted. The markets will go up and down and up and down. I can muddle through all that. But not so quick can I get beyond being shown indisputable proof of our capacity for evil and as a consequence I pretty much spent the weekend on my ass in a fine foul funk.

Monday morning on my way in to work I visited the shrine erected in John’s memory by grief-stricken family members and outraged residents, and I was drawn somewhat reluctantly to revisit it after dark on the way home that night. I lost track of time standing before it with other members of the more immediate community. I read and reread the cards and letters that had been posted. I took stock of the items that had been left. A bottle of Dr. Pepper. A can of Coca-Cola. Two cigarettes. A box of matches. A meal in a plastic bag. Flowers. Stuffed animals. Candles, candles and more candles. Was there irony in those flames flickering in tribute to a man burned to death? I didn’t know.

I was too busy standing there in silence alternating between sorrow and seething hatred and praying for the power to see what soulless beast could do such a thing. Just show me God. Just point me to where such demons scurry and I will seek out the monsters and be no better and far less merciless.

Of course, nothing.

Ridiculous though it may seem, I even entertained the idea of confessing to the crime. I had feelings of literally wanting to be punished because of the guilt by association I felt at being a member of a species that can commit such base acts of ultra violence and depravity. But then my better, less martyr-minded half took control and led me to a more proactive mission: to put good in the world. Not in some monumentally impossible effort to cancel out such badness — because there is no canceling it. But rather to respond to such evil by by being more accepting and helpful and tolerant and considerate and respectful and assisting in my everyday life.

Evil may have its inevitable place in this world, but my response is to kill it with a thousand kindnesses.

Grievers Take Note

To the person who left the still-cold, three-quarters-full, 40-ounce bottle of Cobra Malt Liquor that I found in the plastic bag on the walkway below our porch, I’m pretty sure — or at least hoping — that you probably knew our deceased tenant Joe and perhaps stopped by this morning or sometime during the night to mourn his loss and remember the good times when he was alive.

Since most other empty beer containers found are regularly left by inconsiderate public drinkers down by the curb or in the ivy or behind our mailbox, that’s pretty much the only reason I can come up with that you’d blatantly trespass onto our property with a large bottle of alcohol like it’s not our house, but yours — or Joe’s.

Point in fact, it’s not yours, nor Joe’s.

Putting aside the general creepiness of some stranger so out of it as to not even think twice about coming to our house to pour one out for the dearly departed and then leave the bottle and the remaining disgusting beverage for me to dispose of, I’ve tried hard to craft the following request while remaining aware of your loss and considerate of your feelings in such a time of sorrow:



Deja Vu All Over Again!

At the end of March I wrote a post detailing a pair of stupid cyclists I encountered one morning on 4th Street. The first one was surly and despite being a slowpoke had no patience for the long red light at Wilton Place, and the second one was overdressed and jumped a four-way stop a few blocks later in front of a truck that I’d stopped for and had the right of way and almost hit him.

Guess which one I encountered this morning? That would be Stupid Cyclist No. 2. And guess what happened? Yeah he was still overdressed and this time almost ran into me because he was following me too close and not paying attention when I came to a stop for the northbound cross traffic at Rossmore. He missed me by inches with a breathless “Whoa!” and then instead of stopping continued on across the intersection despite the passing vehicles, forcing the nearest car to slam on its brakes. What a dick!

After the intersection cleared I proceeded across and caught up with the retard a block further up. If you read my post about that first encounter you might recall last time I restricted expressing my distaste to firing a warning loogie across his bow. This time I decided to be a bit more vocal.

“Dude,” I yelled. “You’re a fucking menace.” He peeled the huge headphones he was wearing from his ears and said ” Eh? No unnerstan.”

I repeated my fact-based analysis of him and advised that since this was now the second time out of two that he’s proven to be a two-wheeled retard around me, should there be any unfortunate future opportunities for us to be on the road together, it would be in everyone’s best interest and especially his if he stayed as far the hell away from me as possible.

“Oh,” he said. “OK.”

“OK? Yeah well, just so we’re clear: stay the fuck away from me,” I called to him a couple arm lengths away. Indicating the distance between us I said, “If you ever get as close to me as you are now, I’m gonna put you on the ground, comprende asshole?”

“Oooooh!” was all he said, but wide-eyed he immediately backed-off and stayed a good half-block behind me until he had no choice but to pass me stopped at La Brea to make a right and go north.

This Is Why I Hate Insurance Companies With “Farm” In Their Names

This first commercial from Farmers Insurance posted below left the urban cyclist in me wanting to bike over to the company’s Wilshire Boulevard headquarters and egg the building. The next one from State Farm just makes me twitch:

But beneath the arrogant humiliation of cyclists and cycling that’s being promoted in those spots, there’s a bit of desperation to these campaigns. These companies derive a substantial portion of their revenue from the premiums people pay to protect the cars they own and drive, so it’s no surprise that they’ll employ such ludicrous tactics as more and more people start looking at ways to go about their lives without them.

Shame on them.

This Is Why I Hate Cyclists (Next In An Occasional Series)

No photos or videos to illustrate this morning’s tardish behavior, sorry. Just words, and I’ll try to keep those to a minimum, too (yeah, that’ll be the day).

So I’m biking in to work today as I’ve now done every consecutive workday since March 10 and 17 out of 19 total workdays this wonderful month of March because I’m a dyed-in-the-Lycra biking monster mofo (except without the Lycra) who’d be batting .1000 if it hadn’t been for bouts with the flu and a lost crown that turned into not one but two root canals. But let’s whoa about my woes and focus people, dammit!

Anyway, I’m on 4th Street at Wilton Place waiting at the interminable light there long enough for my fingernails to noticeably grow and to be joined by two fellow cyclists (which , coincidentally, at a total of three represents 74% of the cyclists on the streets in L.A. at any given moment, according to the MTA, the LADOT, and the OMF&G). A guy rolls to the crosswalk next to me on my left and another to my right hangs back around my five o’clock at the curb.

The guy to my left I’ve seen before — last week I think — and when I passed him then further along through Hancock Park I gave him a “good morning!” and he didn’t so much as give me a grunt in return. So from the “blow me off once because you’re a dick, shame on you” school I didn’t bother trying to be cordial twice — which was a good thing because before I would have had time to say anything for him to ignore he bolted on the red across the intersection, leaving me and the other fellow looking either law-abiding or chicken or both.

That’s happened before. The most recent was a couple weeks earlier at the much busier intersection of Venice and Hauser where a be-spandexed road geek ahead of me had pulled to a stop long enough for me to come to a stop near him. No sooner had I arrived when he charged ahead through the cross traffic against the red, I’m guessing because he was mortified that the standstill would drop his average pedal cadence below 90. Egad!

Certainly I can’t force my ethics on other riders, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept it when my personal commandment is if there’s any number of cyclists accumulated at any given red light — obey it. Together we stop, divided we suck.

But never mind what I abhor, the twist is that Lefty t’weren’t no speedster and by the time the light turned green he wasn’t more than a block and a half away from me, which means without much effort my law-abiding ass was passing him on the western side of Norton, three blocks hence where his slow-going self stayed in my rear view mirror the rest of our time together.

The other rider, heavier laden with an unnecessary winter-weight jacket and riding something of an off-the-rack-at-Target clunker was a bit of a surprise in that he was the stronger of the two. He wasn’t so much drafting as he was pacing me, staying a few bike lengths back and showing every sign of keeping up — not that I was particularly blazing at anything more then 15 mph — but it was enough to put Lefty far enough to the rear as we traveled a few blocks further west, which is where this second cyclist’s moment in the suck comes in.

Well amidst the manses and estates of Hancock Park I approached Windsor Avenue, and from the north a large pick-up truck pulled to the stop sign. In deference to his being the first to arrive at that intersection way ahead of me I came to a halt at the four-way stop so that he could proceed, where I remained clipped in to my pedals and balanced, figuring the rider shadowing me would either do the same or coast and at least slow, let the truck pass and we could both get a move on.

What an idiot I was to ASSume such a thing. The truck begins to go just as Clunker pulls abreast of me to my left and with no intention of obeying the posted stop sign or slowing down he just keeps on going even though the truck has begun entering the intersection and, needless to say, has the right of way. In response to Clunker’s epic failure to yield, I have to unclip and put a foot down as the truck hitches to a stop and then Clunker half-hitches like he’s going to stop and so the truck starts to go again but then Clunker cranks it across the intersection while the swarthy driver of the truck has to hit the brakes again and glares after him with fire in his eyes before turning that fire back to me and all I can offer is a motion for him to continue and a shrug which translated to “That guy’s an idiot but if you wait another 15 seconds you’ll meet another one, too!” He shrugged back which I read to mean “Fucking cyclists! Another time, maybe,” and moved across 4th to points south.

I caught up with Clunker at the next block and on approach I mulled over a variety of verbal options, among them being:

  • “Wow, that bonehead maneuver certainly made things easier for everyone, didn’t it huh?”
  • “Just to be clear I’m not your personal intersection blocker, but you are a dipshit!”
  • You rode the little bus in elementary school, didn’t you?”
  • “WTFOMG! Tard much!?”
  • “What you did back there is why cyclists will always and forever suck. Thanks for perpetuating!”

But instead I just pulled beside him and opted out of speaking to instead opportunistically hawk up a loogy that I fired across his bow. Then I said “Pace this motherfucker” and gunned it, putting him far enough behind me to enjoy the rest of 4th Street to myself idiot- and incident-free all the way to La Brea.