Saturday, February 26, 2005

LOVELAND, Colo., Feb. 25 - Joshua Noble, a 21-year-old who loves to snowboard, jolted Wal-Mart Stores last November when he got a majority of employees here at the Wal-Mart tire-and-lube shop where he worked to sign statements saying they wanted to vote on bringing in a labor union.

The unionization drive begun by Mr. Noble created a storm in this onetime ranching town at the foot of the Rockies - even the BBC covered it - and became a closely watched test of labor's efforts to unionize the world's largest retailer.

But on Friday the workers at the Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express abandoned Mr. Noble, voting 17 to 1 against unionizing, another setback for organized labor at the very moment when its leaders are mapping a campaign to pressure the company to improve wages and benefits.

With Friday's vote, Wal-Mart can continue to say that not one of its 1.2 million American workers belongs to a union. Support for organizing dissipated here after the company repeatedly showed workers videos about what were portrayed as the shortcomings of unions, and transferred into the shop six new workers who, Mr. Noble said, had been screened by the company to ensure their antiunion sentiment.

Okay, so Wal-Mart squashes the unions again, no big surprise. What is surprising is the really, REALLY obvious lengths they'll go to in the process of keeping the unions out of their stores. Employees were subjected to multiple daily screenings of anti-union videos, phone calls from store execs debasing and ridiculing unions and the transfer in of anti-union Wal-Mart employees to dilute the vote.

Really, really scary. Not Wal-Mart's reluctance to be forced to treat their workers like human beings, but that the cudchewers working there seem to be willing to believe that Wal-Mart has the interests of their employees at heart when they say "that unions only want workers' dues, that they cannot guarantee better wages or benefits, that they want to put Wal-Mart out of business, that they foment walkouts in which the strikers can lose their jobs."

Y'know, if people are willing to buy that (and a 17-to-1 vote against would seem to indicate that it was bought quite handily), then maybe they don't deserve unions, or fair business practices or laws to protect worker's rights. Maybe, really, the working class in America (or at least 1.2 million of 'em) needs to lose their workman's comp, their minimum wage, their overtime laws, their basic, basic Federally mandated rights as workers and get thrown back into the days of serfdom & child labor. Maybe that's what we need, y'know? The same conditions that got unions going in the first place need to reappear, get the spark going. American workers think, I believe, that they've got it really good, that they're covered, that nobody is going to let them fall. I think maybe they need to have the pins kicked out from beneath them, and understand that there's no truth AT ALL to that thought, and that if they don't stand up for themselves, there's nobody else out there who really gives a fuck.

Anyway, that's it. The Free Market Cowboys win another round, and the great unwashed lose another little piece of their laughably incomplete rights.

Ah, fuck 'em, right?


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Monday, February 21, 2005

oh my god:

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) -- Hunter S. Thompson, the hard-living writer who inserted himself into his accounts of America's underbelly and popularized a first-person form of journalism in books such as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," has committed suicide.

Thompson was found dead Sunday in his Aspen-area home of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, sheriff's officials said. He was 67. Thompson's wife, Anita, had gone out before the shooting and was not home at the time.

Oh my dear Jesus. I don't know what to say. Nothing else matters today. Get out your books and cherish him.

Ah, fuck.

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Here's a good one for all the atheists/open-minded/generally tolerant folks out there:

Repent America

Notice that the site's front page has two entry options: Christian & All Others, which is my preferred entrance, as it gives an over-simplified explanation of the Ten Commandments that, if you accept it, means that there's no way in Hell that you, you horrifying sinner, are going to get into Heaven.

My favorite, FAVORITE part of the site has to be the "Ain't Hardly Nobody Going To Heaven" counter located here (left hand side, scroll down, under the tribute the Judge Roy Moore), which points out that 153,000 people are going to die today, and that most of them aren't 'saved', and then helpfully counts the number of folks who've died since you got to the site and are, presumably, headed right for Satan's playhouse.

And, y'know, I almost thought there were parts of this site that I thought I was going to agree with when I stumbled across BushRevealed.com. Here, I'm thinking, I'll find some serious Christian thought given to the White House policies that punish the poor for their poverty, that punish the weak for their weakness, that would chastise our 'Christian' President for launching a war that murdered tens of thousands of people for what appears to be nothing but financial gain. That's a reasonable expectation for something called Bush Revealed, right?


Here's what I found:




Yeah, seems like there's a little bit of hobbyhorse down there, huh? And "Gay Homosexual?" What, they're so pissed off that Bush let one gay guy inside (to head up the HIV/AIDS Commission, natch, 'cause straight people don't get those queer diseases, right?) that they had to make sure their slower readers didn't fail to understand it?

Anyway, that's my fun find for a Sunday morning. I suggest you go take a cruise through it, if only to help galvanize your particular hatred/intolerance. As for myself, it's just helped to shore up the thought that if this is the kind of people I'll find in Heaven, thank the Good Lord above that I'm headed for Hell.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

And, I almost forgot, while in NYC, I found my new career!

Check it out:

Details can be found @ Doctor Metropolis.

I'm just so excited for my cape & cowl....

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Hey, y'all. Not much posting lately, but me 'n Buttons took a ride out to the East Coast for a little while. If you'd like to have a Billyhank-kinda trip to the Tri-State area, just keep reading for step-by-step instructions as to how you can, like me, get tattooed, sick, tired and very nearly split up in just 10 days.

Step 1.

Haul yer ass down to Seatac. Be 90 minutes early for your flight, like Jetblue suggests. Breeze through check-in and security in about three minutes, and then spend an hour-and-a-half here:

Your entertainment will include Muzak versions of The Police's "Walking on the Moon" and U2's "With or Without You." This will make your girlfriend look like this:

Step 2.

Fly into JFK around 8:00 am, Eastern Time. Say hello to your family, have a brief breakfast with them, then steal one of their cars, abandon your girlfriend, and drive north until you hit Kingston, NY, where you will find Smiley Rich awaiting your arrival:

After a few hugs, a couple of dastardly practical jokes and any amount of sleep deprivation-inspired smiling, sit yourself down in an old dentist's chair and allow Richie to attack your arm with needle and ink until something like this appears:

(I will send $1.00 American to any stranger who can tell me the origin of this design. Hints: It's about words, and those words came out of a head in the Jet City Metro).

Step 3.

Okay, so once that's done, head back to CT, crash @ your sister's place (which is really your mom's place, but mom's in China, so she doesn't need it right now), play with the new puppy (sorry, no camphone pics. Requests will generate scans of film pics, if anybody is interested in the sheer cuteness of a Boston terrier named Trot Nixon), sleep, sleep & sleep, and then go have dinner with your grandmother, a couple of aunts, some cousins, some in-laws and one or two unaffiliated folks who seem to end up at these family deals. There are no pictures of this shindig 'cause I left my phone in the car, dammit.

Step 4.

Spend some time in CT checking out the sights, such as they are. Which, in the middle of February, they really aren't. Watch THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and, yes, realize you were right to have avoided it in the theater. But it's okay 'cause your mind isn't working real well at this point and you need simple things to amuse you. Also, at this point you should realize that your throat is scratchy and your sinuses are getting that stuffed-with-wet-cotton feel. And make sure to take your grandmother out to lunch, 'cause you love her to death and it's fun to watch her try to make up her mind when the menu's 10 pages long. Also, fail to take any camphone pictures that would be easy to upload on your blog, just to make sure that anybody reading has lost interest at this point, which takes the pressure off you to write anything interesting from this point forward.

Step 5.

Go to Yonkers, against your better judgement. Be pleasantly surprised when you find that D's new apartment is bright and sunny and overwhelmingly cozy & comfortable. Go out for a diner meal that shocks you with its goodness and then go back to the apartment and play GTA: VC with D while your girl does crossword puzzles on the sofa. Again, fail to take any pics with your astoundingly useful and simple camphone, just so you can leave your readers confused as to what a "D" is, and just what constitutes "overwhelmingly cozy & comfortable." Take solace in the fact that your readers dropped out shortly after the picture of the tattoo.

Drive back to CT, listening to a CD of Patton Oswalt, laughing your ass off and occasionally telling your girlfriend that you feel kinda crappy. When your girlfriend suggests that you get some more sleep and take some of the vitamins you hauled across country, backpedal and tell her that you don't actually feel that bad. When writing about it later, realize that your girlfriend is far, far smarter than you will ever be and resolve to listen to her the next time she has a suggestion regarding your health and well-being.

Get back to CT, play with the dog, smoke a lot, and go to bed far too late to do you any good. Also, make sure you cough and sneeze a whole bunch. And sniffle. Sniffle more than seems reasonable.

Step 6.

Go to NYC on the afternoon train. Remember the first few times you rode the train into the City back when you were a kid and you tried to write all kinda profound stuff about riding the train. Immediately try to forget the attempts at profundity, fail to forget, get embarrassed, bury yourself in your book and then get bored with your book and help your girlfriend with her crosswords. Realize that when your girlfriend is thinking about a word she sticks the tip of her tongue out of the corner of her mouth and that that's about the cutest fucking thing you've seen in years. Realize that you love your girlfriend as much as you do as much for her cute habits as her strong will and sharp mind. Suddenly get fearful that she'll stop doing cute things. Then realize that she's been doing cute things for 30-some-odd years, and that she's neither going to add nor delete cute things to her repetoire just because of you. Feel relieved and slightly less important than you did a minute before. Realize that riding the train is doing strange shit to your head and that maybe you should figure out some other way of getting home.

Arrive in Grand Central Station and remember why it always took your breath away. Take crappy camphone shot that doesn't even begin to show the granduer:

Hate yourself for not having a better camera.

Take the W train up to 57th & 7th, check into your big-ass, slightly pricey hotel and take the best shower you've had in days. Go walkies with your girl and smile quietly as she walks into every gift-&-tee-shirt shop you pass by. Keep smiling as she walks out of every one empty-handed, knowing that at some point in the next couple of days she'll drop a c-note in one of them (the next day, to be precise, on our way to Fort Washington for dinner; 1 NEW YORK zip-up hoodie, 1 D TRAIN: BRONX TO BROOKLYN tee-shirt, 1 NEW YORK baseball-style jersey. Also, some stuff from The Strand, but that's, y'know, its own thing, and I don't have pics of any of it). Eat a big dinner, go walkies some more, see the uprights for that damned The Gates thing in Central Park (like I said to dad, I think it's cool, but it's not art, and it's a fucking waste of millions of dollars...), and then rush back to the hotel for, well, y'know...

Oh, and, yeah, start horking up snot and coughing up gray phlegm on a regular basis at this point. Also, your tattoo should be flaking like filo dough, your joints should ache, and you should realize that the heavy coat you left in CT is what you need in NYC, and that your Jet City raincoat/hoodie combo seems to only have the affect of trapping cold air inside your clothes. Spend a lot of time shivering.

Step 7.

Head out to Staten Island, where you'll get picked up by the ever-illustrous MikE!, which is weird and kinda intimidating 'cause he's only had his license for like three months. Not that he's a bad driver, but he's a DRUMMER fer chrissake, and, shit, I don't trust drummers to know how to do anything, period, beside pound their kits. But apparently he's kind of a crappy drummer, as we made it out to Casa de Hippy with nary an incident (I kid because I love, MikE!. And because I'm too far away for you to pop me one). And we get to meet lil' Emily, who's just as fucking cute as one figures a baby will be:


Righty-O, so have a nice afternoon, watch your girl get all moony over the kid, watch her give you that look that says "I need a ring and a fertilized egg RIGHT FUCKING NOW," think that while it's nice to see old pals and new kids, maybe you shoulda left the girl back on the other side of the East River.

And, as always, hack, cough, cough, hack, spit, hack, snort, hork, cough, etc.

Step 8.

This is where the head cold takes control and you lose track of where you are and what you're doing. You know that you make it back to CT at some point, that you go back to NYC at some point, that you go to flea markets, to lunch, to dinner, that you visit a Vespa dealership, that you develop some pictures, that you get an eggplant parmesean grinder, but you really don't know when those things happened, or in what order. Your last couple of days are a whirlwind of trains, SUV's, sinus congestion, friends, family, food and the occasional bit of sleep. You're not really sure of what's happening until sometime on Valentine's day you end up back at Terminal 6 of JFK on the phone with Richie and smoking that last cigarette before you load yourself into a shiny tube full of strangers and bags of smoked almonds. You've had fun, you think, but you know that you've spent too much time back in what you used to call home, and that Jet City has sunk into you too much for you to ever go back. You're fucked, friend. You belong to the West now. And as you ride that Airbus backwards across the country, you have nothing but relief at the thought of your own bed, your own shower, your own dresser, your closet, all the little miniscule things that, amazingly, seem to define who you are and what makes you happy. And while as little as five years ago you would have railed against the idea that something so simplistic and domestic could make you happy and content, this new, wiser you has to admit that you're looking forward to sleeping in your own bed nearly as much (or slightly more) as you are for Jr. getting ejected from the White House in 2008.

And that would be sad, but, really, you're too sick to care. And your ears are going to be stuffed up for, probably, the rest of your life.

But, y'know, you're still you, and to prove it, you use your camphone for one small act of pointless and entirely safe act of social rebellion:

Eat my smoke, Jet City.

Rebel without a care, motherfucker.


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