May 2009


I signed up for a psychiatric study for which I met all the criteria in the little ad.  It was in one of the free papers, so probably a lot of people auditioned for it.  I apparently didn’t make the cut, since after a brutally honest and grueling three-hour evaluation two weeks ago, the guy still hasn’t called me back.  I suppose a lot of crazy people read those free rags.  Maybe it’s all relative.

Somehow after admitting to another human being on this planet all of my longstanding phobias and delusions, stuff that Jack doesn’t even know about, I feel lighter and more free.  The world didn’t end.  I didn’t even cry.  Plus, it was prorated, so I should be getting a few dollars in the mail too.

I keep hearing about this 3/50 project- it was a huge deal on Twitter, Facebook, every digital shred of electronic media, ironically- since it’s purpose is to encourage those with money to spend it at bricks and mortar local stores.  I just accidentally typed “mortal”- ha!   Bricks and Mortality.

Well, a “favorite” local bookstore closed.  Every time I went, they just didn’t have what I wanted.  It seemed to cater to a different clientele.  No, it wasn’t some kind of specialty store, just a regular bookstore, but the decider-of-what-was-to-go-on-the-shelves must have been some kind of new age person.  I’m a browser.  I found what I wanted- every time- at the big boxes. 

I am not going to spend money I don’t have to buy things I don’t need at precious local stores to keep them in business. 

Perhaps the prime example is this: a group of us had to purchase something together, and most people wanted the cheapest thing- made to order out of state, likely with non-citizen, poorly-paid labor, the lower price of which included next-day shipping.  I fought to use a local, union-pride company that had been in existence many, many years, in the same inner-city location.  Local!  I said.  I got it all hooked up.  When I went to pick the stuff up, it was like a fortress.  I couldn’t figure out how to get in, then could not open the heavy door.  They laughed at me, treated me poorly in the office, and I was kind of miffed.  The stuff fell apart.  It looks like crap.  We ended up ordering more from the out-of-state place and it is holding up just fine.  Am I embarrassed?  You bet.  Will I ever struggle to buy local again?  Not likely.  Not at all likely.

While I am on the topic of smoking, I wanted to relate it to another “freedom” topic that is on everyone’s mind today, with the CA vote and all.  It reminded me of some dialog from Taxi Driver, one of my all-time favorite movies (I edited out some offensive language, but some remains).

“Wizard: Then I picked up these two fags, you know. They’re goin’ downtown. They’re wearing these rhinestone t-shirts. And they start arguin’. They start yellin’. The other says: ‘You b***h.’…I say: ‘Look, I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own home behind closed doors – this is an American free country, we got a pursuit of happiness thing, you’re consenting, you’re adult. BUT, you know, uh, you know, in my f***ing cab, don’t go bustin’ heads, you know what I mean? God love you, do what you want.’
Dough Boy: Tell ’em to go to California, ’cause out in California when two fags split up, one’s got to pay the other one alimony.
Wizard: Not bad. Ah, they’re way ahead out there, you know in California. So I had to tell ’em to get out of the f***n’ cab.”

Indeed, that is the prevailing wisdom: that I am supposed to let homosexuals enjoy the lifestyle they want, if it’s “behind closed doors,” consensual, adult, etc.  OK, I can buy that. 

But then let me smoke where you’re not going to go anyway.

Logic, yes?

I am very displeased that my state passed a smoking ban.  I don’t even smoke.  I don’t like the smell of it, the taste of it, the cost of it.  Yet, I feel that banning it in public places like restaurants and, especially, bars, is a slap in the face of capitalism and personal freedom.

Ok: I walk into a bar.  Chances are, I expect to see drinking and other adult behavior.  I don’t expect puppies, kittens, or butterflies.  I can use my freedom of choice here.  I can choose to enter a bar, pay a cover charge possibly, and most likely buy a drink or two in a bar that is “nice,” with clean bathrooms, a non-sticky floor, and general pleasant atmosphere; I can choose a different bar with a deafening punk band and a different milieu.  I can, in 2009, choose a non-smoking bar- and many people do.  Customers vote with their dollars and these days, non-smoking establishments are preferred by many.  That is a person’s right.  Jack and I often go to a fish fry at a terribly smoky restaurant up the street.  Everyone there with few exceptions smokes.  A series of choices has led each one of them there- our regular waitress, the bartender in his leather vest, the old lady at the slot machine in the vestibule.  Not a single one of them seems coerced in any way.  One could argue that the habit of smoking itself is its own shackle, but I will get to that in a moment.

Now, I do not walk into a tavern where the band is playing “both kinds” of music- country and Western- and ask why they don’t have an AC-DC cover band that night.  It’s a goddam country bar.  Likewise, I don’t walk into a non-smoking bar and light up. 

My real feeling is that addictions are complicated.  They serve some purpose in a person’s life, some real need, some underlying uuuuuh of dissatisfaction.  Now, addiction to alcohol is a very serious matter.  Drunk driving is a huge problem in this state, has been for many years- white crosses covered with plastic flowers decorate every highway.  Alcoholism ruins marriages, tears families apart, destroys lives- though alcohol in moderation alleviates pain both mental and physical.  Smoking is, I am told, a more difficult addiction to break free from- but it still does not have the far-reaching effects of alcohol addiction, or even Vicodin addiction.

It is 2009.  Fewer teens and young  adults smoke than ever.  Smoking has long been banned in corporate environments.  It is considered unattractive, undesirable; smoke-free restaurants and bars abound.  A ban is unnecessary and un-Capitalist, and will only be the start in the slippery slope of banning more of the freedoms which we Americans cherish.

Why is suicide considered wrong, yet abortion is ok?  It seems to me that it should be the other way around.  Yes, I’ve read what Camus had to say about suicide (that no sane person would off him or herself) and he does have some smart arguments.  I disagree, however.  Logically, a person should be able to choose to end his or her own life; the life of another, however, is “other,” is sacred, is to be protected, even at great cost.

If I could have any job, it would be as a TV camera person.  That way, I could go anywhere, see everything, and not have to have any opinion about any of it whatsoever.