Saturday, October 30, 2010

News of the World Part 1

Florida Roofer Gets Eyeful
Michael Ireland is a typical blue-collar Floridian. After a tough day roofing houses in September 2008, he stopped by Palm Beach’s Cheetah Club to enjoy the drinks, camaraderie, and full-frontal nudity that the gentlemen’s club was known for. Taking a seat along the bar, he was in prime position to witness the subtle erotic stylings of Sakeena Shageer when something went terribly awry. During her performance, Miss Shageer felt someone touch her and when she wheeled around to confront the perpetrator, her metal four-inch heel accidentally caught Mr. Ireland in the face shattering the bones around his eye-socket and nose.

Mr. Ireland (pre-lapdance)
Now suffering from persistent vertigo and double-vision (insert your own Foreigner reference here) Ireland retained local personal injury litigator, Trey Lytal, and successfully sued the club for $650,000 of medical costs and, presumably, emotion distress. Mr. Ireland’s attorney feels that the judgment demonstrates the seriousness of the injury and indicates a lack of safety concerning the footwear of adult performers. There has been some indication that the Cheetah Club may require its dancers to utilize tennis balls on their metal heels to prevent any future injury.

Anger Management Fail

 Nineteen year-old Seattle resident Faribah Maradiaga had been through a bit of rough patch. She had been recently arrested for assault and been sentenced to attend anger management classes at Bellevue College to help her control her temper. While attending a session last Saturday morning, it appears that Faribah lost a little ground.

According to the Seattle Times, the class was enjoying an instructional video concerning temper mitigation when Miss Maradiaga began loudly complaining about the film. Another student, attempting to appear supportive, informed Faribah that "the video was good and to give it a chance." Maradiaga decided that the situation called for an impromptu demonstration, so between waves of vulgarity she produced a knife with a three-inch blade and began wildly stabbing her classmate until witnesses could forcibly remove her.

The victim suffered multiple lacerations to her arm and shoulder and Faribah followed up the attack with a few death threats toward the victim’s immediate family. She is currently being held on $50,000 bond and is awaiting arraignment on second-degree assault charges. I am assuming that she received an “unsatisfactory” for anger management class.

While I am no psychologist, it would appear that it is going to take more than a video and a sub-par cup of coffee to rehabilitate someone who feels it necessary to carry a three-inch dagger to an anger management class. I believe that Faribah might pose an honest-to-God danger to society. If she feels the defender of an instruction video deserves to have her entire family murdered, I would hate to see her reaction when someone cuts her off in traffic. In her defense, she may have recently received an unwanted text message from Brett Favre…

One Bad Decision Leads to Another
A twenty-seven year-old Tulsa woman is in legal trouble after a wild evening in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She began the night by stealing a donut from a man’s pick-up truck and after consuming said pastry she relieved herself in the parking lot of a twenty-four hour convenience store. The store’s owner called the police who confronted the young citizen about the alleged donut-heist / urination combo. She replied by asking the police officer for money if she agreed to have sex with him. She has been charged with vehicle burglary, trespassing, indecent exposure, and soliciting prostitution.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this story is what she was not charged with: public intoxication or possession of a controlled substance. Being an optimist, I naturally assumed her actions were the result of “chemical enhancement,” but it appears her decision making was unobstructed. If it were me, I would have insisted that I was intoxicated in order to salvage whatever dignity had survived the evening. If this series of events was the best plan she could assemble fully sober, I would hate to witness a Friday night after her judgment had been compromised. 

One More Reason No One Likes the White Sox
Chicago resident and White Sox enthusiast Eugenia “Gina” Bebis decided that she wanted to make the ultimate commitment to her team; she decided to get a tattoo. After what I can only assume was weeks of exhaustive research, Gina decided on Mystic Tattoo Art & Body Piercing, a company whose entire Internet presence consists of a Myspace page. The two photos below are “success stories” from their online portfolio:

Both chivalry and grammar have taken a substantial hit...

When simply eating red meat isn't commitment enough.....
Satisfied that Mystic was the place for her, Gina commissioned one of their artists to place a White Sox tattoo on her outer thigh. Upon completion, Ms Bebis realized that the word “Sox” was backward. Embarrassed and infuriated, Gina went about having the tattoo removed through several laser procedures and now claims that despite these measures, the outline of “Sox” is still visible. She has filed a lawsuit against Mystic for $50,000 in damages and plans to acquire a larger thigh tattoo to cover the faded artwork in question.

Gina's Tat
The tattoo artist has publicly defended himself by pointing out that Ms Bebis personally approved the proof he used to ink the final product and this seems entirely plausible. After all, he would have placed the proof on her thigh, she would have looked in the mirror to check it, and it would have appeared correctly in the reflection.
I am not sure which party is exhibited less common sense, the grown woman who failed realize that reflections appear backwards or the employee who failed to realize that he had a customer who failed to realize that reflections appear backwards. This could have all been avoided if she had just been a Cubs fan.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Subliminal R&B

Since its emergence in the late 40’s, Rhythm and Blues has provided humanity with some of the most important compositions in popular music. From the soulful sounds of Al Green to the impossibly smooth baritone of Barry White, the genre of R&B has become synonymous with infectious grooves and smoldering sensuality. This undercurrent of carnal passion is often brilliantly understated to the point it functions as a subliminal aphrodisiac to the listener. The following three compositions are not members of that tradition:

Next – “Too Close”*

Step back you're dancing kinda close
I feel a little poke coming through
On you
Now girl I know you felt it
But boo, you know I can't help it
You know what I wanna do

Baby us dancing so close
Ain't a good idea
Cuz I'mma want you now and here
The way that you shake it on me
Makes me want you so bad sexually

When it was released in 1998, this ditty quickly claimed the number one spot on the singles chart and became the official soundtracks for thousands of awkward teenage groping sessions across the country. The song details the adventures of a conscientious young man who becomes alarmed when his dancing partner invades his personal space. He politely requests that she “step back” before informing her that he feels “a little poke coming through.” Here, we can see how the author wishes to build tension by allowing the listener to draw their own conclusion. If one was to take the first six lines by themselves, the song’s protagonist is experiencing one of two possible sensations:

1.      Due to the aforementioned dancing, he has become erotically stimulated and wished to enter into sexual congress with his companion.
2.      The numerous gyrations involved in the dancing have caused intestinal distress and the young man has entered the initial phase of an involuntary bowel movement.

Recognizing this ambiguity, the song utilizes the next several lines to clarify that the gentlemen desires his partner “sexually.”  At this point I wish to highlight the fact that (according to the songwriting credits) it required the combined effort of four grown men to pen these lyrics. Traditionally, one would be hard pressed to experience this level of artistic subtlety outside the confines of a men’s room, so it is encouraging so see that Next possessed the skill to bring their unique vision to the masses.

*Special thanks to Ashley and Laura, whose impromptu performance of this song brought it to my attention.

112 – “Hot & Wet”

Baby won’t you give it to me
Just give it to me baby
You don’t know what
You do to me
The way you touch, baby
Girl I’m tired of playing games are you ready?
I love it when you’re on top of it
So spread it

Formed in 1995, the Atlanta-based quartet spent the final few years of the 90’s enjoying impressive commercial success while signed with P-Diddy’s Bad Boy Records. They even received a collateral Grammy award for their cameo on Diddy’s musical tribute to Notorious B.I.G. “I’ll Be Missing You.” Unfortunately, by 2003 their relationship with Bad Boy Records was strained and they sought to reinvent themselves by releasing Hot and Wet. The second single released was the album’s namesake and peaked at number seventy on the Billboard singles chart.

This composition continues our theme of unperceptive women coupled with overstimulated men and makes prodigious use of double entendre when the male confesses that he loves it “when you’re on top of it.” Sadly, many listeners are so focused on the obvious reference to the female’s commitment to preparation that they miss the hidden sexual innuendo altogether. Even more striking, the next line orders the woman to “spread it” and we are again left wondering exactly what she has been tasked with spreading. A few possibilities:

·         A love of fastidious planning
·         Wesleyan theology
·         A specific venereal disease
·         Her emotional vulnerability
·         Knowledge of recent revisions in the federal tax code
·         Peanut butter
·         Compassion
·         OxyContin

Pretty Ricky – "Your Body"

Ol' master bear skin rugs in the jag
Spectacular with the bad chick in the back
tryin ta beat it up like an Everlast punching bag
hotter than a Bisquick biscuit out the oven
your baby mama go on missions to get this lovin’
we kissin and huggin she never pick her phone up
You be lookin for her while we doin the grown up
Get a taste of the salami, knocking you down like a tsunami

From their humble beginnings in Miami, this R&B juggernaut took the entertainment industry by storm when they released their single “Grind with Me” in 2004. The success of the tune caught the attention of Atlantic Records and soon a full-length album was unleashed on an unsuspecting public. “Your Body” would be the second single from their debut album and exhibited the group’s mastery of culinary-based sexual innuendos. 

The song narrates the amorous adventures of a young aristocrat who lures unsuspecting sexual partners into his luxury sedan so that they can do “the grown up.” Like the bards of yesteryear, Pretty Rickey primarily relies on the imagination of the audience to fill in the gaps. It also appears that his lovin’ is so agreeable that many women chose to disregard their cellular telephones causing concern amongst their friends and family. 

Not just pretty faces in possession of unwieldy salamis, Pretty Rick are universally recognized as pioneers in the field of rhythm and blues product placement. Who else could seamlessly insert shout-outs to Everlast and Bisquick while remaining enticing enough that “baby mama go on missions to get this lovin’”

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Art of Seduction

As most of you are aware, Brett Favre has run into a spot of trouble lately. It seems that the married, father of two, may have attempted to seduce former New York Jets employee / Playboy model Jenn Sterger in 2008 by utilizing his wholesome southern charm and several inappropriate voicemails. On several occasions he attempted to rendezvous with the raven-haired co-ed after practice to prove that he does not waffle on the subject of infidelity.
Favre & Alleged Pen-pal Jenn Sterger
 After several unsuccessful attempts at luring Jenn to an early bird dinner, he decided to kick it up a notch by removing his Wranglers and taking a few photos of “little Brett.” He then allegedly sent those photos as text messages to Miss Sterger who, although she did not respond to them, apparently decided to retain them for posterity. They remained on her computer until this year when the website paid an undisclosed sum to obtain copies of the photos and voicemails.

While I do not wish argue the validity of Sterger’s claim, this case has highlighted a disturbing trend in modern seduction. The same scenario is occurring all over America and recently resulted in the termination of an employee where I work. The process is as follows:
  1.  Identify potential mate.
  2. Ask potential mate to dinner.
  3. If potential mate display slightest hesitation, show potential mate “the goods.”
  4. Regret step 3
  5. Repeat
Having been estranged from the dating world for nearly a decade, I fully realize that perhaps the progression of courtship has evolved somewhat and I am simply behind the times. However, I also find it hard to believe that a grainy cell phone pic of a man’s “eggroll” is going to eliminate a woman’s initial trepidation concerning a person’s viability as a partner. What was Mr. Favre’s thought process before sending the first message? Had he convinced himself that Miss Sterger’s hesitation was nothing more than being unconvinced that he was in possession of a penis? What happened to the art of seduction?

If this is the way heterosexual romance is progressing then will be out of business within the calendar year. Who needs thirty-two levels of emotional compatibility if a woman’s main interest is a poorly-lit “genital line-up?” As Henry Winkler observed on Arrested Development, at close range “it all looks like landscape” anyway.

The other, and far more plausible, scenario is that men are every bit as clueless as we appear. Unable to comprehend rejection based on personality, demeanor, or emotional maturity we decide that the most effective way to convince an attractive woman that we are worth her time is to show her our wiener. I have no idea why women haven’t completely given up on the entire male gender. On behalf of men everywhere, I offer my sincerest apology for the trend of “man-gear messaging.”


Tyler Long began 2009 as a high school junior in Murray County, Georgia. He shared the concerns of most seventeen year-olds (getting a car, worrying about his appearance, determining whether or not he could justify spending $85 on a yearbook) but he had also spent most of his life fixated on rules. He believed that rules should be respected, revered, and followed at all times by all people. This preoccupation was the result of Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, and it compelled him to point out rule violations in himself and others. On several occasions he would lean over to classmate and remind them that they were not supposed to be talking when the teacher was out of the room or that looking on someone else’s paper during a test was prohibited. The words were delivered without relish, but in a matter-of-fact tone that infuriated his classmates. 

Tyler Long
Seeing Tyler as an annoyance and a snitch, some of his fellow students sought to punish his unusual behavior by openly spitting in his food, stealing his possessions from him, and calling him “gay faggot” as he passed them in the hall. Tyler became more and more withdrawn and his parents eventually brought their grievances to the school’s principle who indicated that the administration’s hands were tied. They felt helpless, unable to protect their son from the tormentors who had changed him from an easy-going teenager into a self-loathing outcast. Tyler, however, was not out of options. He removed his leather belt, anchored it to the top shelf in his bedroom closet, and hung himself.

As word spread of Tyler’s suicide, several of his tormentors began adorning their necks with leather belts as a final, macabre mockery of their fallen classmate. School officials declined to observe a moment of silence for Tyler and allowed the students wearing “neck belts” to continue unpunished. Tyler’s parents were infuriated and have filed a lawsuit against the school.

Tyler’s story is heartbreaking, but hardly unique. Already this year, fourteen teenagers have taken their own life as a direct result of bullying and over the past five years there has been an explosion of bullying suicides:

Phoebe Prince (15) – Recently moved to Massachusetts from Ireland with her family. She was verbally and physically harassed for breaking up with her boyfriend. The day of her death, one of her tormentors wrote the word “accomplished” on her Facebook wall.

Phoebe Prince

Sladjana Vidovic (16) – Was mocked for her accent and received phone calls from her classmates telling her to “go back to Croatia.” She hung herself from her bedroom window and was buried in her prom dress. Two of her tormentors openly mocked her appearance during visitation.
Sladjana Vidovic

Jennifer Eyring (16) – Received supplemental tutoring for a learning disability and was partially deaf. She was constantly mocked by fellow students for being “slow.” She swallowed a handful of her mother’s anti-depressants to ease the pain.

Asher Brown (13) – Was bullied by his classmates for being homosexual. They constantly berated him and called him derogatory names. He took his own life with a firearm.
Asher Brown
 Some argue that the media has sensationalized the phenomenon of bullying and teen suicides. After all, bullying has been going on for as long as we have had schools and many of us have been victimized and chosen not to take our own lives.  While I agree that bullying is nothing new, its implications have been exponentially magnified by technology. An insult becomes both public and permanent with a few strokes on a keyboard, resonating throughout cyberspace to wound the recipient again and again. I imagine it was this very knowledge that drove Tyler Clementi to jump off the George Washington Bridge after having a sexual encounter with another male student videotaped and broadcast by his roommate. He knew that his private moment had become public domain and such an action is irreversible. I dare say that most of us, regardless of sexual orientation, would be horrified at the thought of having our most intimate moments secretly recorded and streamed over the Internet to our acquaintances.

So what do we do? Do we make it illegal to bully? Do we prosecute every girl who calls her classmate a “slut” or every guy who yells “faggot” at a homosexual freshman? 

Unfortunately there is no easy solution because as long as there is a populace, it will contain a minority. A faction of individuals who can be differentiated from the majority because of their physical attributes, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, cognitive development, ethnicity, or even personality traits. This dynamic creates the most important two groups in a teenager’s vocabulary “us” and “them.”

Bullies are driven by the insatiable need to remind everyone and more importantly, themselves, that there is a definable boundary between the accepted and the rejected, and that they reside on the favored side of that line. They serve as sadistic tour guides, constantly highlighting and magnifying the unique traits that qualify their peers as outsiders thereby solidifying their status as insiders.  

The only way to eliminate bullying altogether is to create a culture intolerant of its existence. We cannot legislate its demise or outlaw its origins, but we can take steps toward to ensuring that the individuals who choose to bully find themselves in the place they fear most: the extreme minority.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Misadventures of Frankie

Several years ago, I became acquainted with a young gentleman named Frankie who had fallen on hard times. Due to the widespread economic downturn and a recent DUI conviction, he had been forced to move back in with some relatives in the area to get back on his feet. They had briefly introduced us to Frankie the weekend he moved in, but it would be several weeks until I could fully appreciate the phenomenon we had in our midst.

The first conversation I had with Frankie occurred immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. I was on my lunch break and making my way out to the mailbox to retrieve the latest onslaught of Pottery Barn catalogues when Frankie materialized next to me in the driveway. We exchanged pleasantries and he asked if I had enjoyed my holiday. Wishing to reciprocate his concern, I responded in kind:

“How was your Thanksgiving, Frankie?”
“Pretty good, I went to Memphis to spend time with my girlfriend.”
“Well, it is important to spend quality time with the people we care about.”
“Well, we would have gotten to spend more time together if her husband hadn’t come home early and ruined it.”
At this point, he proceeded to give me the wink / nudge combo normally reserved for men in each other’s confidences. Unsure whether to feign outrage over the husband thoughtlessly ruining his holiday or pretend I hadn’t heard the comment at all, I decided on the former.
“I certainly hate to hear that. Maybe you will have better luck next year.”
“Yeah, he’s a real jerk. I barely got to see her.”
Frankie then took a long drag of his cigarette as he pondered the injustices visited upon him while I silently shuffled through my mail for a fourth time. After we parted, I made a mental note to warn Ashley that if she saw a suspicious vehicle with Shelby County plates cruising the area to stay inside the house and lock the doors.
Several months later, I encountered Frankie again while I was mowing the front yard. After making small talk about the unseasonable warm weather, the conversation turned to career choices. Frankie told me that his employer had recently forced him to attend “some damn Pentecostal hoedown” because his supervisor was a member of the church and was participating in a contest that rewarded members for the number of guests they brought to the revival.

I considered interrupting him to explain that what he had just described was technically illegal, but Frankie was on a roll so I let it slide. As his narrative continued, he revealed that during the worship service he had witnessed several attendees “jumping around like crack-heads” and that one African American man had tried to get him to dance. He summarized his thoughts on the event by stating that the only thing that bothered him more than “niggers” was Charismatic Christians.

I can only speculate as to the look on my face after this tirade because he quickly asked whether or not I was Pentecostal. I assured him that I was a Methodist and that we were rarely accused of possessing an excess of charisma. This seemed to quell his uneasiness and he concluded our conversation by lamenting the fact that he was late to see his parole officer. I briefly thought about asking Frankie how he felt about diversity training but thought better of it.

Soon afterward, Frankie moved back to Memphis and I had almost forgotten about him until last month when our roof was being repaired. I had come home early from work to discuss a misunderstanding about the gutters and Ashley and I were standing on the sidewalk, watching the workers on the roof and discussing the merits of having “chocolate mocha” tinted downspouts. Suddenly, I felt a presence sidle up to me and I turned to see Frankie in all his glory.

He was dressed in a heavily stained wife-beater undershirt and sporting a rather conspicuous blonde Mohawk. Perceptive to a fault, he commented that it appeared we were having roof work performed. When I concurred with his assessment, he loudly observed that “Mexicans sure work hard” (the majority of the crew was Latino) but that they work even harder if you give them beer. By this time, several of the closest workers had stopped what they doing and were monitoring our conversation.

Convinced that my response to Frankie’s observation could easily determine whether or not my new roof leaked, I responded that Ashley and I had been purchasing Gatorades for the men since it was so hot outside. Frankie considered this for a moment and emphatically shook his head while insisting that “Mexicans don’t like Gatorade, they only like Corona!”

As I quickly scanned the roofers within earshot, I began wondering which would be the first to urinate down my chimney. I loudly insisted that Ashley did not feel comfortable providing alcohol to the work crew and that we were fairly certain that Mexicans did, in fact, drink Gatorade. Visibly crestfallen, Frankie halfheartedly mumbled something about the roof having been finished by now if the Mexicans had been in possession of some longnecks and placed his ever-present cigarette to his lips.

It was at this exact moment that Ashley decided to save herself by announcing that she needed to make an emergency trip to the grocery. As she sped away, Frankie’s demeanor lightened as he announced that today marked the final meeting with his parole officer. Unsure the proper etiquette in such situations, I offered my congratulations and apologized for not having a card.

Before we parted ways, he felt the need to explain his new hairstyle which he had apparently acquired during an evening of heavy inebriation. When I asked why he didn’t just shave the Mohawk to match the rest of his head, he responded that he "didn't want to look stupid." I agreed that this was an admirable goal.

As he walked away, I could not help but wonder how many lives Frankie had yet to touch or sensibilities he had yet to offend. Perhaps he has located his one true love or at the very least a woman whose husband has the common decency to call before he comes home unannounced.