So, yeah, the job that gave rise to that phrase, the job that came to epitomize going off the deep end and opening fire into a crowd of people could now be the last hope of saving our Democracy. Kind of appropriate cause if anyone would have the firepower to shoot up a crowd in a burst of megalomaniacal misogyny it’s a Trump supporter, whether a postal worker or not. The Post Office has become the poster child for the possible hijack of the upcoming Presidential election. The rational is that if he’s down in the polls and facing the prospect of being the loser he calls everyone else, why just not make it more difficult for the masses to cast their votes. The talk has been about defunding the police (which by the way only flys until the looting and violence begins, then people are up in arms for help) but it’s the post office that is being defunded. Offices are being closed and Trump is cutting back financial support all in an attempt to sway an election that if he should win (cue the hell flames scene please), might just be this nations last election. How about this as a financial solution, a set of stamps depicting Trump being Presidential? Okay, granted, it would be a small set but his supporters would eat them up and since Mt Rushmore is never going to happen, maybe this would appeal to his narcissistic, juvenile, mentally ill prepared persona. He has been just mailin’ it in for his entire term anyway. Goodbyeee Newman!
Over the years, I’ve taken notes, written poetry, started stories, kept journals and generally never really completed anything. Part of the reason I started this blog, besides just needing a place to evacuate (I chose that word carefully) some pent up ideas, concerns and complaints is to try and jumpstart my creative process and maybe have something to show for it. They say we become our parents and it’s true, just look in the mirror as you get older. In his retirement my Father would write stories by hand in a spiral notebook and submit letters to the editor to his local newspaper (which got printed). I guess, and I hate to admit it, what I’m doing is the 2020 version of that.
I plan on going through my old musings, written in notebooks and literally scraps of paper, at some point and presenting them here to try and achieve some kind of cohesive whole. Kinda like the Abbey Road medley, bits and pieces of unfinished work put together to create a whole. Now THAT’S a high bar indeed. It’s a way to preserve what I feel is worth saving and finally clearing out my nightstand from what has become a real fire hazard. Posting it here will allow my children to be more fully embarrassed by the mental ramblings of their father but will one day, hopefully, be a reminder of who I was.
So, I just finished watching the new Netflix show “Away” with Hillary Swank (who, by the way bears a striking resemblance to Alex Honnold, the rock climbing guy-at least to me, sorry Hillary.). Anyway, I thought the show was excellent and I became invested in their mission to Mars immediately. So much so that it reignited the thrill I had as a child watching all the NASA missions. It awakened my inner geek. Reawakened actually, I’ve always been a bit geeky when it comes to science and gadgetry. Just look at my Netflix recommendations and my Google feed and you’ll see an inordinate number of references to time travel, worm holes, parallel universes and food/recipes. That last one, of course, is there for me to forward to the lovely cooking diva I am fortunate enough to live with. Loving nod to the spousal unit, now please, are the cookies cool enough to taste yet? Hey, ya can’t explore the galaxy on an empty stomach!
Back to the show. I really thought that by now we would have landed on Mars and would be in the process of terraforming it for human settlements but I guess things progress differently than what was promised by science fiction writers back in the day. The future arrives incrementally and not always as expected. Hey, where’s my flying car!? We might not have warp speed drives or space colonies yet (see, I said “yet”—always the optimistic geek) but we do have the world in our pockets (on our wrists and soon in our glasses). Having access to everything and anybody at any time is either a blessing or a nightmare. Maybe both simultaneously, because when we have access, so do THEY. And when I say THEY, I mean the powers behind our screens, those that run the apps, the Googles, Facebooks, Tik-Toks, Snapchats of the world. The algorithms that make them work. Oh, and by the way I always thought “The Algorithms” would be a great name for a certain ex-Vice President’s rock band. Which brings me to another show I recently watched on Netflix (and yes, their recommendation engine is also at work here, knowing what I want to watch even if I don’t) “The Social Dilemma.” It deals with our increasing addiction to our screens, the influencers behind them and the repercussions for humanity. Light and fluffy stuff. Interesting that the subjects interviewed here, engineers and programmers that created some of this stuff, have fallen prey to their own creations and limit or deny access to their own children. They know!
We’ve allowed Big Brother into our homes and lives, hell, we’ve brought him in, paid for him ourselves, witness Alexa, Siri, smart TVs, Ring alarm systems and so on. And the AI behind all this is just getting smarter and smarter. Elon Musk himself is so wary of AI getting too smart that he started “Neuralink” a company that aspires to link computers and brains to create a computer-brain interface capable of keeping up with AI. Hey, what could possibly go wrong?
So, am I ready to delete my Facebook account? Could I live without checking my Instagram or Google feed? Resign all my Words With Friends games? Not use Google Maps to navigate (which, by the way, was the really big game changer in my directionally compromised life, I think my inner gyroscope never engaged)? The answer is probably not, this is how we live today-cat videos and hair loss ads but also family photos and text message threads. Everything is a trade off. We want free access to everything so realize that nothing is free (these are trillion dollar companies) unless we ourselves are the product being sold.
It was recently pointed out to me that the word kvetch is really kinda close to the word kvell but are polar opposites in meaning. For those uninitiated just Google it, I’m not here to give Yiddish lessons. Anyway, I thought I would kvell a little today, hey, not everything sucks (mostly, but there *are* light rays that pierce the clouds occasionally and we simply must don a hat and sunscreen and bask in the warmth—it’s okay to roll your eyes now).
Some of the fondest memories of my childhood were the times I would take a late night walk with my father to a small used bookstore in The Bronx. I remember trying to walk faster to keep up with his long gait as we discussed our day. The bookstore was a step down store front three or four steps removed from the sidewalk and as you hit that last step the musty smell of old books hit you. I still love that smell and can see pages browning at the edges. There were books crammed in everywhere, piled high to the ceiling, in wooden crates on the floor and on old dust encrusted tables. My father was a voracious reader and although he didn’t finish high school due to family obligations, this Greatest Generation member was a self taught scholar. Even years later when he retired he attended small workshops and audited local college courses. But, back to the bookstore—I would hunt through the crates of old comics as my father would get lost in the stacks and stacks of old hardbacks and paperbacks. I would lose site of him as he disappeared into a recessed nook filled with them. I now think of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of the Amontillado”. Substitute books for bricks. We would buy handfuls of novels and walk our treasures back home to the tolerating eye of my mother who quipped that our house was beginning to look a lot like “that bookstore you go to,” but she knew it was a bonding experience. It was. Some fathers and sons talk sports, we would talk authors and their works. Which brings me to my Kvell. My daughter and I scope out bookstores when we travel or just walk around town. She grew up as voracious a reader as her grandfather and loves to frequent bookstores. She supports her locals and dismisses Amazon even though their prices are better, simply to help preserve what is fast becoming a relic of the past. The pleasure of browsing and the tactile feel of a real paper book is far better than an e-reader or audiobook. When she was younger Sunday mornings would find us at the local Barnes and Noble where we would select a few books and take them into the cafe to peruse as we drank our coffee and chatted. Tradition.
So there you have it, my Kvell into the void. The flip side of a kvetch. The ying to the yang, the two sides of a coin-genius and insanity,-the Rick to the Morty and dare I say the Biden to the Trump (c’mon I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.).
Okay, so I really didn’t intend for these musings to be political but given the state of our country most of my kvetchings have been about, well, our country. There’s just SO much and so much of it comes from the Distractor and Chief himself —The Art of the Steal architect, because that’s what he is (amongst other things that I’ll leave for you to fill in). He steals the limelight from any situation and makes everything about himself. In fact he steals the light in general and replaces it with the dark. But make no mistake, he might be a misogynistic, racist, illiterate, unethical, disgusting human being but he’s no idiot when it comes to manipulation (see, I did say something positive, I said he was “no idiot”—context my friend, context). Who else could ramble on and on, mispronounce words, make up words (yeah, I know, he knows all the best ones) and actually contradict himself within the same sentence and get away with it. The bar used to be set so much higher, these days we trip over the bar (and speaking of bars, a lot of us will tripping over ourselves to get into one to do some heavy drinking if he’s re-elected). Anyway, in thinking about his self marketing, I came up with a new product line for our Orange aDONis—please refer back to the title of this piece. Please be advised that this is sarcasm people, it’s tongue in cheek guys, I in no way advocate for actually selling this stuff (the scary thing is, I’m sure there are people—and you know who you are you Trumpeters—that would love this and actually buy it.
Trump Paint: Shouldn’t every House be a White House?
Well now it can be with Trump Paint. With over fifty shades of White, you too can cast shade on your house just like the President. Here is just a sample of the fantastic, terrific, very good colors to choose from:
And for those who prefer some Coloreds in their lives we offer our other paint line called PIP (Politically Incorrect Paints).
PIP: the Black dot on the White domino. Here is just a sample of the very fine colors available:
Emotionally Stunted Gray
China Virus Yellow
A complete list and offering is available on our website: http://www.OffToTheRaces.con
The usual consensus is that as you get older you should move to a smaller home, after all the kids have moved out to start their own lives (whew, made it) and “do you really need all that space and headaches? Get yourself a condo and let someone else worry about the lawn maintenance and snowplowing.” Okay, but condos have the dreaded Condo Board where lies the dreaded oversized ego and power trip monster. I have an issue with authority especially when I know I’m right and even if I’m not right my wife usually is so I’m right just by proximity. But, yes, we did look at condos as well as smaller homes and they just felt “tight”. Kind of expected when you downsize, right? We needed something to speak to us so I channeled my inner House Whisperer and we kept looking. I’ll spare you the open houses, virtual tours and Zillow related activities and just say we didn’t want a bland house. We saw plenty of those and there was really nothing wrong with them but they were Vanilla. We wanted something that had character, something different, something with a cool factor, even though I had lost MY cool factor years ago (just ask my kids). No Vanilla house for us! I’m not sure what flavor I was looking for but something Ben and Jerry might call Housemallow Newget Nut Swirl. We found a house, actually two houses on a six acre parcel. Built in 1900, we live in what once was the barn. So now if my social etiquettes lapse and someone says “hey, whataya live in a barn?” Yup, I do. My previous house was 2800 square feet on 1.2 acres and my new house/houses total 4500 sq ft on 6 acres. Math says: +1700 sq ft and +4.8 acres of land. Worst downsize EVER!! Now, I know this is a First World problem (“aww, poor little Kvetchy Poo, living larger”) but I’m happy we did this (“hey, isn’t this blog called Kvetching Into the Void? This doesn’t sound like it to me buddy!”). Yeah, well, sometimes things work out. Fast forward 2 years to now. When we bought the house we were told that if there was a power failure we would be back on fast since we shared the same line as the police station and they of course are a priority. Well, that was reassuring since we have well water and an electric pump that powers the well. I guess the electric grid wasn’t ready for tropical storm Isaias and it’s breathy friends the tornadoes. No power. No water, therefore no flushing. No internet, therefore no Netflix. No refrigeration, therefore no ice cream. No words from the power company although I do have words for them. So, the house is from 1900 but we’re living like 1800. Makes ya really wonder at the magic of electricity. Thank goodness for cellphones so I can kvetch about this. See, every silver lining does have a kvetch.
There is a short story called “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” written in the 1960’s by Harlan Ellison. It is a post apocalyptic story dealing with nuclear proliferation on one level and computer-human interaction on another. Alright, so it’s not a Rom-Com. but I’ve always loved that title even though I had to google it in order to give the above synopsis. Hey, I read it back in the 60s when it was written and have since purged that file. You need to do that periodically (even if it’s not a conscious choice) to make room for new stuff. Anyway, my point about the title is that I, like many people, feel like screaming ALL THE TIME! when it comes to world events lately and that my rants and rages are not heard. I might as well just be screaming inside my own head. Maybe I should re-title it “My Mouth is Screaming but You Have No Ears”. Take for example the simple task of wearing a mask. You wear a mask to protect others and in so doing to contain this virus. Seems easy enough. Just think what past generations have had to do in times of war and plagues. This is nothing. Easy Peasy. But, apparently I am naive, I didn’t realize that it impinged on your right to breathe unencumbered, to hinder your freedom of speech or to proudly show the world your ugly yellow teeth festooned with black poppy seeds from that fucking bagel you had for breakfast. Masks are an easy answer for our collective health, hide the fact that you’re becoming hard of hearing cause you can just blame the mask and honestly hide a good portion of our not so pretty faces. Lipstick sales are probably down but an entire industry centered on mask technology is booming. It’s a fashion accessory as well as a health necessity. Wear a mask and no one will know if you even have a mouth to scream with and when you do it’ll be muffled and unintelligible anyway.
Okay, so I was going to entitle this entry PediMusicophilia but I thought better of it. It’s my way of saying that hey, I like Billie Eilish and many younger musicians and I don’t need to be relegated to a Classic Rock station where if I hear Stairway to Heaven one more time I’m gonna puke. But, again, I thought better of it. Not everything that leaps out of my head is a good idea, its just an idea which can be colored these days by my what the hell attitude.
Story: My wife and I were vacationing in Montreal. Great city and if you think Brooklyn has great Delis check out the smoked meat (yes, thats what they call it) there but I digest–I mean digress. So, we are walking around downtown in the evening doing our I’m a New Yorker Get Outta My Way walk and I see a flurry of activity near the Bell Centre–a stadium, kinda like Madison Square Garden without the attitude. It turns out Bruno Mars was performing there and the concert was just letting out. People are milling around in hopes of catching a glimpse of him as he exited the venue. I’m excited, I love Bruno! So I join a group of young girls who are clearly excited by the prospect of seeing him and wait as well. We begin to talk and share our Bruno love and I am totally blind to the fact that their parents (yes, Mom drove them to the concert) are warily eyeing this old guy who is talking up their kids. They begin to slowly move away from me. My wife sidles up and gently begins to move me along, against my protests. Totally unaware and innocent of how this all looked. End of story.
You eventually arrive at a place in your life where you just don’t give a fuck anymore. Not about life of course, I still give a tremendous fuck about my family, friends and pizza, but what people have to say. The place you arrive at also allows you to speak freely, lowering the filters that scream “hey, you can’t say that!” because of course you can. I remember my Mom would insult the nurses working at the nursing home where she lived. Personal affronts to their appearance. “Look at that fat one, what a can on her.” I was mortified, “Mommmmm, you can’t SAY that!” She would wave me away with an of course I can dismissal. Anyway, I’m not at the point where I would openly dis someone who could potentially save my life, but whereas years ago I might squelch an opinion or comment, only to be shared at home with my like minded spousal unit, where its safe and condoned, I now verbalize it with a why not smirk. By the way, let me tell you about people (not capitalized so as not to be confused with that tabloid of vacuous grist) but the majority of walking and talking bipeds that inhabit this devolving world. They are idiots. Witness, flat earthers, climate deniers, Trump believers (“no, your Highness, I most certainly did NOT say that in print.” “Take him away!”) and Nickelback aficionados. Let me share my family crest with you and no I don’t really have a family crest but if I did. . .UT Odisti Populum! which if Google translator can be believed means I Hate People! Well, there it is (and I honestly wasn’t sure where my typing fingers would take me for my first entry–and don’t I sound cranky?), but I do need a venue to air the thoughts that need airing so as not to keep them bottled up–as that Florida woman said “things gotta breathe.” Too bad she has to.