The Straight Poop (or, Excrementally Yours)

 

NOTE: To you-know-who, don’t let Jason ever read this.

 

So, as many of you know, I drive a shuttle bus in a part of town, all day, five days a week. Actually, I drive from one town to another and back, which is funny when you consider I just drive one mile each direction.

Anyway, both these towns are home to some very well-to-do people.

Which, as occurred to me today, explains the prevalence of pickup trucks rolling through the neighborhood, advertising pet poop pickup service.

I wouldn’t lie about something like this, although “pet poop pickup” is kinda fun to say, I must admit.

I mean, obviously, these well-off folks would never stoop (literally) to doing such a vulgar, disgusting chore so, thank God, there is someone available to do it for them.

Naturally, this raises a few questions:

  • First of all, where were these guys on Career Day in school? They could have seriously altered the trajectory of my life.
  • Who was the first person to say, “Hey, I can get paid for picking up this stuff!”
  • Likewise, who was the first person to say, “Hey, I can pay someone to pick up this stuff!”
  • What kind of experience lends itself to this kind of career? (I’m thinking, ex-Trump staff member, perhaps.)
  • What must the training process be like for this work?
  • Do you get to wear a suit, like those HAZMAT guys wear?
  • What opportunity for advancement is there? Can you get promoted, maybe to Master Scooper? Expert Scooper? Super Duper Scooper?
  • Would you even feel like taking a lunch break? Ever?
  • And why have I seen ads for more than one company? Is there seriously competition for this job?
  • What does it sound like when these guys “talk shop?” Example:

MOE: How’s business?

CURLY: Oh, it’s picking up, how about you?

MOE: Oh, I’m cleaning up, man!

  • Do the dogs get to know you well enough to plan for your visits?
  • Have I really written over 300 words on this topic?

 

I obviously have way too much time to think.

 

The Siren’s Song

 

Note: I’m telling this story from a heterosexual viewpoint, because I am one, but I feel pretty certain it’s basically the same, regardless of your sexual preference.

 

This one is tough to write. It makes me uncomfortable, but I’m hoping it leads to a bigger conversation I think is worth having.

When you’re a guy, the pull of pornography is a strong one.

It starts even before puberty, the looking at “nasty pictures” of naked girls. It’s not about stimulation then, it’s about just being naughty. It’s in our teenage years that the motivation behind looking at them changes.

Now they’re stimulating. Now they’re exciting. And they’re naughty.

Those pictures, along with our now hormone-fueled brains, inform the way we look at every nubile female in our line of sight. What were once germ-infested, alien life forms suddenly become objects of overwhelming, insatiable lust.

And we tend to look at them that way for the rest of our lives.

As if that’s not bad enough, porn is the gasoline we sometimes like to throw on that fire.

And, I believe, is what has gotten us to where we are in our attitude about women, which has produced this whole culture of sexual assault.

 

Because the appeal of porn for guys, of course, is the vicarious thrill of having any woman, anytime, anywhere, for any sexual encounter. And since society largely finds porn to be, at the very least, distasteful, there is the additional appeal of engaging in something forbidden, taboo. We all like to be bad sometimes, don’t we?

Well, is it any stretch to think that if some guy watched enough of that, it would carry over into how he viewed women in real life? How he treated them? How he regarded them sexually? No doubt, he would feel justified in having any woman he damn well wanted.

Because, as far as he’s concerned, they all want it. Even the ones who say no.

And that’s what sexual assault is about. Not the actual sex. It’s about the feeling of power, of control.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying every guy who looks at porn wants to go out and rape a bunch of women. But, it’s not tough to see how one behavior can lead to another. In fact, there’s plenty of research to suggest that sexual objectification of women often leads to aggressive behavior toward them.

And yet, women who are sexually assaulted are seldom believed, often grilled and, in one instance, mocked by the President of the United States, of all people. Society seems to have this twisted idea that the woman must have asked for it, in her manner, in her wardrobe, something. Why is it so hard to believe she could be telling the truth?

Does our culture now view women to generally be horny, sex-crazed sluts who want it all the time, even when they say they don’t?

And what part has pornography played in shaping that view?

 

So, back to my original point:

As I said at the beginning, pornography has a strong attraction to guys, like the sirens of Greek mythology, whose seductive singing from the shoreline lured many a sailor to certain shipwreck on the rocks. There’s probably not a man alive – myself included – who hasn’t, at some point succumbed to its attraction. And no matter how much they tell themselves that it’s demeaning, and degrading, and disrespectful of the women in their lives, the sirens remain in their ears.

Not that men are totally helpless. Self-control does still exist. But when even some mainstream advertisements skate right on the edge of soft-core porn, and push their products using objectified images of women; when pornography is so much more accessible on cable TV and the Internet; when, besides topless and nude bars, we now have these chains of “breastaurants”, intentionally staffed with curvaceous women in deliberately revealing outfits…

It sure does make resistance tougher, you know?

Now, just as an aside, if porn is used by couples to help/enhance their sex life, as long as both partners are on the same page about it, that’s different. Where porn becomes harmful, as it does in many relationships, is when it’s a secret, when one partner is unaware of the other’s indulgence. Because, if and when the secret comes out, it makes for serious strife, damaging the relationship badly, perhaps irreparably.

I apologize; I got a bit long-winded. But, as I said at the outset, I think this is something we need to talk about if we’re going to bring change to our culture that is more respectful of women.

And, I feel pretty safe in saying, unfortunately, that’s gonna be a slow process. So, we need to get started right away.

 

It’s Been a Year

 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida.

It’s one of those places now that, just by mentioning its name, evokes vivid, horrifying images for us all.

One year ago today, that school lived its worst nightmare.

An eighteen-year-old former student showed up on campus with a semiautomatic rifle and shot seventeen people to death; fourteen of them, students.

Most of us can’t possibly imagine what that experience was like; to helplessly watch the surreal scene of a gunman randomly killing people, killing your friends. 

And you wait, paralyzed in utter shock and terror, for your turn.

Can you imagine?

And today, all the surviving students, teachers, families and members of the community who have lived with this horrific tragedy every day for the last year, will commemorate this anniversary by honoring the memory of those who were lost, and by renewing their commitment to putting an end to the senseless violence that forever changes the lives of all who are affected by it.

Which, incidentally, is all of us.

 

So then, let’s all honor the memory of those who died tragically a year ago. Let’s remind ourselves of how precious the people in our lives are, and how we need to let them know that every chance we get, because the time could come when we run out of chances.

I was listening to a man on the radio this morning recalling his experience that day. He was at a Starbucks just blocks away from the school when the shootings happened. He clearly remembers all the parents’ phones ringing at once. He remembers the horrified screams, the panic and chaos.

And he remembers one mother’s tearful regret over not telling her daughter goodbye that morning before she left for school.

Remind the people you love that you love them. Today.

 

And let’s also honor the memory of those who died by letting our lawmakers know very clearly that there is no longer any excuse for weak and inadequate gun control laws. This insanity has to stop, and they have the power to make it happen, if they can just stop kissing the arse of the National Rifle Association.

Let’s all speak out. The Stoneman students are; let’s support them. Let’s join them.

Today, we are all Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

 

#MSDStrong

“WAP2”

 

As I’ve said before on this blog, I believe that it’s time that we men do a serious reassessment of how we look at, and talk about, and treat women.

Apparently, judging by their recent ad that generated so much controversy, Gillette feels the same way. I salute them for putting the message out there, that men can be better than they are in several ways, including their behavior towards women. I hope more companies follow suit.

Guys, you know we’ve always excused our treatment of women with a shrug, a smile and a Whaddya expect? We’re guys!

Well, if you’ve been paying attention the last couple of years, you’ve surely noticed that women are up to here with that. They’ve made it very clear the way it’s always been will no longer be tolerated. And they are taking a stand for the respect that is due them in both their professional and personal relationships.

So, I just want you to know, ladies: I’ve been listening, and I am trying to change my mindset, but it’s an almost 60-year-old mindset, and the process is slow.

Because, man, I see a lot of beautiful women where I work, and it’s easy to look at them just as bodies, and not as complete people, with actual lives. And not just at work either. At the mall, at the fast food restaurant, anywhere there are women, basically.

So, to help me, I’ve created this little acronym, WAP2, to remind me that Women Are People, Too. I haven’t fully absorbed this lesson yet, but maybe, at some point, I’ll get there. I’m about as far away from perfect as it gets, believe me, but I am trying to make some improvements here and there.

Like the Nobel laureate Bob Dylan once said, “The times, they are a-changin’.” For the better, in this case. Women are finding the courage to speak out against men’s disgraceful, demeaning treatment of them, and it’s been a long time coming.

Fellas, time for us to act like men, not boys. Men respect women. Remember, WAP2.

Tired

 

I’m tired, boss…mostly, I’m tired of people bein’ ugly to each other.

John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), “The Green Mile”, 1999

 

I’m tired, too, John.

By now, I’m flat wore out, as we say around here.

Lately, as you know, people are being ugly to each other in all kinds of ways, and I’m plenty tired of all of it, but especially…

I’m tired of people taking it upon themselves to go and shoot several other people, for any reason or for none at all.

You can’t go to church, you can’t go to the grocery store, you can’t go to a bar, you can’t go to school, you can’t f****ng go anywhere that there isn’t the possibility of getting shot to death.

The American flag may as well be flown at half mast from now on.

And the sadness of that is absolutely overwhelming.

This is how bad it’s gotten: One of the survivors from this week’s shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, was also in Las Vegas, Nevada a year ago, when that shooting occurred.

But another survivor of the Vegas shooting was killed this week in Thousand Oaks.

When people are present at more than one mass murder event…

The really cynical among us probably wonder what these gunmen have against country music, around which both these events centered.

The rest of us know it’s no laughing matter at all.

 

All these people. All these precious, beautiful, innocent people. Attending their classes. Worshipping their god. Enjoying a night out with friends.

Unaware.

Then, in the blink of an eye…

Utterly incomprehensible, unspeakable tragedy. My God, the tragedy.

I’m not gonna trot out all the gun violence statistics we probably could all recite by now. I’m not gonna bring up the gun owners and their Second Amendment rights. I’m not gonna rage against our government’s continued impotence over this crisis as the body count just keeps going up. I’m not gonna point out how the phrase “thoughts and prayers” is, by now, as empty and hollow as the barrel of a spent gun.

Because I’m tired.

I’m not numb to it, mind you. I haven’t quit caring about it; not at all.

I’m just…tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally tired.

First, the horror, then the sorrow, then the anger and frustration. Over and over and over. It wears you down, I tell you.

John Coffey, I’m right there with you, brother.

 

This Is It

 

Okay, friends and neighbors, today’s the day. Election Day!

As you may or may not have heard, this one is very important. It will determine, among other things, the makeup of our Congress, the body of government charged with making our nation’s laws.

You have a voice in who occupies those seats in Congress.

If you haven’t already voted, by golly, GO DO IT! The time for sitting out is over. America’s government has gotten to the shape it’s in, on both sides of the aisle, due in no small part to citizens’ lack of participation in the process.

And yes, I own my part in that.

Well, if donald trump has done anything good for America, he’s gotten a lot more people interested in voting, so thumbs up for that.

So please, take the time and go cast your vote today. And don’t let anyone intimidate you into not doing it. Don’t let anyone get in your way. You have the right to vote. The Constitution of the United States says so.

You have until 7:00 PM, local time. Let your voice be heard.

Then we’ll see what happens.

Split Decision

 

I see no way around this, folks.

I see no hope for reconciliation. I see no hope for compromise. I see no hope for even coexistence.

These past few years have revealed an ugly truth to me: the United States of America can no longer exist in its present form. No matter the outcome of this upcoming election, there’s no denying the fact that the fabric of this country has a very large tear, one that is beyond the point of sewing back up, I’m afraid.

Therefore, I think the time has come for a divorce.

America must split into two smaller nations: MAGA Nation and The Rest Of Us.

It’s perfect. MAGA Nation can then surround itself in a tall, fortified, secure wall, keeping it safe from all those it hates/fears, such as nonwhites, non-heteros, non-Evangelical Christians and non-Fox News “journalists”.

Everyone in MAGA Nation can keep his or her own arsenal of weapons, automatic and otherwise, as protected by the Second Amendment, the only one that matters.

Environmental protections will be completely irrelevant in MAGA Nation because, of course, there’s no global warming there.

The guys (not men) of MAGA Nation can just do whatever they want to the women, with absolutely no worry of any future consequences. Hell, they may even end up as Supreme Court justices.

donald trump, A.K.A God’s Annointed Man, can attain the Dictator for Life title he so openly covets from Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. There’ll be no need for elections, you see, because in MAGA Nation, he would always win unanimously!

And no more fake news. The Big Orange can be MAGA Nation’s one and only source for trusted, reliable news, primarily via Twitter.

Meanwhile, The Rest Of Us will live in a land that aspires to the highest ideals of freedom, diversity and equality, takes climate change seriously, trusts the media while holding it accountable for the veracity of its reporting, and treats every person with the dignity and respect to which we are all entitled.

And the two nations can just leave each other alone.

I think this is the best solution. It’s either that or a brutal, violent, bloody war, culminating in either America’s reunification or its utter collapse.

I really don’t see any other options at this point. Do you?

P.S.: VOTE!!

Have Your Say

 

Election time is upon us, America.

I’m not here to endorse any candidate, or any party, or any other item on your ballot. That’s strictly your business.

I’m here to endorse voting. I want to encourage you to do that.

This is when you get to have a say in what kind of government, what kind of America, you want to see.

This is when you get to use your superpower as a citizen of this country; you can determine the direction it will go.

You may like how things are going, and want to vote for keeping it just humming along. You may be deeply dissatisfied with the current state of affairs, and want to vote for change.

What you cannot do, and must not do, is be apathetic, and not vote at all.

But, apparently, a lot of us do just that. (Yes, I said us, including me.) We just don’t show up, especially for these midterm elections; typically, about 40%. Barely more than 36% of us voted in the last midterms.

And that’s a shame.

Voting is our privilege, our right, and our responsibility. We shouldn’t skip it because we just don’t give a $#!t, or because we think our vote means nothing. What if everybody felt that way? Do we really want 40% of us to decide what happens to 100% of us?

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th. You have time to learn where to go to cast your vote. If, like me, you can’t make it to the polls that day, you have time to find where to go and vote early. If you can’t make it there at all, go to https://www.vote411.org to learn how you can still cast your vote.

I’m gonna vote this year. I sincerely hope you do, too. 🗳

To the Young Men and Women of America, From the GOP

One of my favorite blogs is called Stuff That Needs to Be Said, by John Pavlovitz. (https://www.johnpavlovitz.com) I want to share his latest post with you, in light of Thursday’s drama regarding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh: 

 

Warning: The following may be triggering for survivors of abuse.)

To Young Men and Women of America,

Have you heard us?
Is our message getting through?

We’ve been talking to you this week, trying to make sure you understand who we are, what kind of America we’re building here, the future nation we’re dreaming of.

We think we’ve been clear and compelling in our declarations, and we’ve done our best not to leave any ambiguity as to our hearts or our plans or our intentions.

We think our tirades and our condescension and our insults and our sneering tantrums have spoken eloquently about us and about you.

We hope Lindsey and Donald and Chuck and Orrin and Mitch and Brett and Susan have made a strong case—but if not, let us be more explicit in these moments, so there can be no confusion. After all, November is coming and we want you to be certain…

To the Young Men of America,

You can do whatever you want to young women.

You can disregard their humanity,
force yourself on them physically,
ignore their pleas to stop,
proceed without consent,
hurt them,

humiliate them,
indulge your urges,
treat them as property,
and silence, slander, and intimidate them after the fact.

You can do this as often as you like, to as many young girls as opportunity and your desires allow.

We will have your back (providing you are white, wealthy, and one day vote Republican.)

We will marshal our every resource of finance and position and privilege in protecting and defending you.

You will receive sanctuary in our midst, regardless of the horrors you are responsible for or the recklessness and brazenness of your conduct.

We will help you in any way we can, to malign your accuser’s character, destroy their credibility, and embarrass them further.

We will blame alcohol or her memory or her behavior in the past.
We will talk about your viciousness in ways designed to make it seem commonplace.
We will paint you in as flattering a portrait as we can, so that you actually come out looking like the victim, so that the accusations are actually a help.
We will have no loyalty to the truth or to goodness or decency, if such things pose a threat to either your narrative or our prosperity.
We’ll use the invaluable resource of the Evangelical Church to even make supporting you, part of God’s will.

If no other option is available, we will simply ignore what you’ve done. (After all we installed a President that way.)

We will never allow the violence you make young women endure, to prevent you from having opportunity and advancement and success. 

We can promise you that.

And to Young Women of America,

You don’t matter.

Not your trauma or your pain,
not the innocence you lose,
not the damage you sustain,
not the scars you are marked by,
not the nightmares you are haunted by,
not the peace you no longer find, 
not the confidence that leaves you,
not the fear that is ever present,
not the shame that you cannot shake,
not the silence you are imprisoned by.

We simply do not see you as valuable—at least not as valuable as the status quo we’re protecting or the legislation we’re coveting or the religion we’re perpetuating or the votes we’re needing.

You are the acceptable collateral damage of our misogyny and entitlement.

Your body, your emotional health, and your sense of safety—simply aren’t worth more than a Supreme Court seat.

Of course, should a pregnancy somehow be created by your violation, we will vigorously demand that you be forced to carry it, even if it exacerbates your pain and magnifies your despair. After all, we urgently need to perpetuate the appearance that we are pro-life—just not your life.

We can imagine this is less than ideal for you, but we hope you understand that this is how it has always been, and we are counting on you to indulge us one last time, and we appreciate your cooperation. 

So, young men and women of America, we hope you see us with clarity.
We hope that in these days, we are exposing ourselves fully.
We hope you know who we are now.

We’ll see you in November.

Sincerely,

The Republican Party of 2018

 

If you are a survivor and you need help, or if you want to find out how you can be an advocate for survivors, here are some places to start:

RAINN
National Sexual Assault Hotline
EROC (End Rape on Campus)
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Safe Horizon
INCITE (For Women, Gender Non-Conforming, and Trans people of Color)
On Eagle’s Wings Ministries
Human Rights Campaign (LGBTQ)
NCLR Nation Center for Lesbian Rights 
Not Alone
Safe Helpline (Victim support for members of Military)

The Last Straw

 

A favorite movie from my youth was one called Billy Jack, the story of a half-white, half-Native American (um, Indian in those days), former Green Beret who, shall we say, has some anger management issues.

In one scene, Billy arrives in town to find some of his friends being bullied by some locals in a diner. After surveying the damage, he offers his heartfelt confession to the chief bully, Bernard, that he really, really tries to keep his temper in check. But when he sees these acts of cruelty inflicted on his friends, and I quote:

”I just go ber-serk!!!

Then he starts some serious butt-kicking.

That’s about where I find myself now.

 

I’ve witnessed a lot of events in our country, and our world, in the last year and a half, facilitated by people in Washington, DC, that have strained my limits of tolerance.

I’ve seen some completely boneheaded, irreconcilably stupid, downright reckless acts committed in the name of Making America Great Again.

And I have, for the most part, held my tongue about it, mainly because I thought the people behind these actions, along with the people who support the people behind these actions, care not one little bit about what I may think.

But, when I see picture after picture of immigrant children – children! – locked up in cages like a bunch of dangerous criminals, having been separated from their parents….

When I hear the President blame Democrats for this whole debacle, when any idiot knows that Democrats are the minority party in Congress, so they essentially have no power to enact or change anything…

And when I hear the Attorney General of the United States have the gall to cite the Holy Bible to justify these cruel and barbarous acts, and the Press Secretary (among others) then defend that Scriptural perversion…

Well, now I just have to speak up, because the next stop is berserk.

 

This is beyond outrageous. It’s beyond shameful. It’s beyond disgraceful. It reveals a country that has given up its decency, compassion, and humanity, in exchange for fear, prejudice, and hatred.

A country that has heard all the same old lies about immigration so many times as to believe them all, without question.

A country that has revealed to the world its true attitude, in all its wretched ugliness.

I don’t know the answer to the immigration issue. Apparently, nobody does, or it would be solved by now.

But I guarantee, there is nobody – absolutely nobody – who can convince me that this is it.

And I think it’s time for us all to just go berserk.