I love when someone takes something so ubiquitous and turns it on its head. If this were Project Runway, she went to Mood, got some amazing musical fabric and created a shape we've never seen before. :)
Ahhhh, the good ol' days. Like every generation before us, mine looks back on our childhood with nostalgia, a little regret, and a heaping helping of amazement that we made it out alive.
Compared to the world in which we are raising our children - a world replete with gizmos, gadgets, and sundry safety features - our childhoods were a landmine of potential hazards.
Raise your hand if you never wore a seatbelt.
OK, put your hands down, some of you need to shave your armpits.
We never wore seatbelts. Like, ever. Ever, ever, everever. We stood up in the back seat, we lay on the floor over the hump on long car trips, we slept in the back of the station wagon. And if we did sit in the front seat, our seatbelt consisted of mom's or dad's hand shooting out like a railroad crossing arm. (News for them - in an actual accident, as the steering wheel would be eating your sternum, our bodies would have been taking your arm with us right through the windshield.)
We played outside. Always. Seriously, most of us can remember being kicked out of the house and forced to play outside by mothers who just couldn't deal with our shit any longer.
We rode our bikes along a busy road to get to the Stop 'n Go for Icees. We went on hikes. We were in and out of each other's houses like a game of Musical Abodes. Easiest way to find us was to look for the clump of bikes on the ground in front of any given home.
My siblings and I played around in the woods behind our house. We took over the homes under construction every night after the workers were done. (Discarded drywall? Awesome sidewalk chalk.) We climbed trees. Played kick-the-can. We said goodbye, walked out the door, and our parents had not a single worry about us eventually showing back up - forced home either by hunger or the glow of the streetlights.
Fast forward to my own children.
They are basically not allowed out of my sight.
Sure, they have had bicycles - ridden under supervision. And yes, they have played at friend's houses - escorted there by me or Rudy. We have gone on many car trips - with them all fastened securely into carseats and seatbelts.
The difference between the freedoms I enjoyed vs the lack of they exist under is stark. But then so is the difference in society.
Seatbelts? Look, that one is a no-brainer and should have been a law all along. But considering doctors used to do cigarette ads, it is not surprising that seatbelts were just some annoying piece of fabric to be shoved out of sight into the crack. Live and learn.
But supervision? I don't like being in the clutch of fear 24/7 any more than any other parent, but if you are a realist, you simply do not turn your back on your child in this day and age. A blink of an eye, a moment's distraction - that's literally all it takes for your child to become an Amber alert and a statistic, and for you to be plunged into a nightmare from which you will never awaken.
It's not that children weren't abducted back in the day - they were. In fact, I still remember a 6 year boy in my neighborhood who was found dead in the woods after having gone missing. But these days, it happens with Metamucil-level regularity.
Every single day, multiple times a day, children - baby to teen - go missing. The latest statistics indicate that EVERY 40 SECONDS a child is reported missing/abducted.
EVERY 40 SECONDS.
Over 2,000 children a day.
If that number isn't sobering, I don't know what is.
And that is why smart parents do not turn their backs. They monitor their childrens' whereabouts, interactions. They take the time to walk them or drive them from Point A to Point B. Yes, I said SMART. Because to make any assumptions about your child's safety these days is not only negligent, it is STUPID.
Which brings us to a news report out of Port St. Lucie, Florida.
This is Nicole Gainey and her 7 year old son, Dominic.
She doesn't look stupid.
But she is stupid. I say that without apology, without hesitation.
Nicole was arrested this past Saturday when concerned citizens (it takes a village sometimes when the idiot is allowed to have children) called police after seeing Dominic out on his own, heading to the park.
Police arrived, spoke with Dominic, who verified his mother knew he was out alone, and then they loaded his ass in the car and took him home where they interacted with Nicole.
Yes, I knew where my son was.
Yes, I let him go a couple times a week.
Yes, he has a cell phone hanging around his neck in case of emergency.
Nicole - you did not know where your son was. You assumed, just as you assumed he would return.
Nicole - you admit you basically play Russian Roulette with your son's life multiple times a week.
And Nicole - that cell phone? It means jack shit when someone abducts your kid. How do you think that scenario goes down? "Pardon me, sir, but might you wait a moment before you shove me in your white, windowless van, rape me, and throw me in a dumpster, so I may call my Mumsy? Thanks ever so much."
Police arrested her on felony child neglect charges. She was released 7 hours later on $3750 bond.
In my opinion she is getting off easy.
When you think of the alternative reason for police coming to her home? The scenario in which she calls 911 frantic that Dominic has not returned home. His around-the-neck cell phone found in the dirt under the swingset?
Yeah, I think a little public humiliation and a few dollars is easy by comparison. (Should she have received a warning? Possibly - and she will probably end up being let off - but given her attitude thus far, my guess is little Dom would be right back out walking the street the next day.)
But of course, there is the "nanny state contingent" crying foul over her arrest. Saying she has every right to let her son wander amok. That the police have no right to tell her what she can and cannot do.
Fine. Then when little Dom comes up missing on one of his many treks to the park, those same police are under zero obligation to look for him. If she has no compunction about her mASSive game of Will He or Won't He Come Home, then authorities should have no compunction about telling her to fuck off when he is late to dinner because he is dead in some alligator canal.
This is not about there being a Nanny State. This is about common sense and the sad fact that many of our fellow citizens have none.
Don't tell me how safe your neighborhood or town is. It's not. Shit happens, and it happens everywhere. My fancy, gated community didn't stop a near abduction three streets from my house.
It's summer. I see children - young ones - every single day, out and about without a parent or caretaker in sight. It is even worse during school when they are walking along busy roads or cutting through the woods by my house to go to and from school. If I were a predator, it is the equivalent of a Las Vegas All-You-Can-Eat buffet. Only your child is on the menu.
None of us like that difference between how we galavanted as kids and how we basically have to lock down our own kids. But those days are not these days. They just aren't.
So, Nicole, while you are lawyering up and bitching to anyone who will listen about how you have been wronged? STFU, look at Dominic, imagine him naked, beaten, and dead in a shallow grave, and then the next time he wants to go the park? Get off your ass and GO WITH HIM.
Because when the day comes that he goes missing because you just assumed he would be ok? The only game you'll be playing is the one where you kick your own can for the rest of your life.
It's been many years since the world met Jack Mackenroth as a talented designer contender on Project Runway.
The end of 2007 to be exact.
Back then, in addition to writing about the news of the day, I had taken up recapping PR as it was my guilty pleasure, and given the myriad bigger-than-life personalities, quite easy to do. Anyone who has enjoyed the various recaps I have done over the years knows that they all come with a massive dose of snark. Yes, I make sure to cover all the highs and lows in an episode, but I do it with a heavy shmear of humor at the expense of those involved.
So it was with Project Runway Season 4 - replete with personalities like the gloriously tattooed Sweet P, Rami - who could drape me in oatmeal and I'm certain it would be gorgeous, the elfin Christian Siriano, and Jack.
For me, Jack stood out from the beginning episode. Yes, yes, yes - his ability to make my eyes orgasm had something to do with it. Jack was, is, and will continue to be extremely easy on the retinas. His baby blues are piercing, his smile lights up a room.
But it was Jack's demeanor and story that truly drew me in. The man had grace, talent, humility, and just happened to be HIV+. And in that last fact, he was opening eyes to how that diagnosis actually translated into reality in the new millenium.
He received that diagnosis in 1990. Do the math. By the time he hit PR, he was 17 years in - healthy, fit (a champion swimmer all his life, Jack puts brick shithouses to shame), and practically glowing.
As he once told an interviewer, "I am a living testament to what you can accomplish by letting go of shame and being your own advocate."
And that is what struck me, stuck with me during his run on the TV show. He literally flew in the face of what people think they know, what they think they fear. When a staph infection (not related to his HIV status) cropped up, Jack withdrew himself from the competition in order to seek immediate treatment (five days in the hospital). While there were tears shed, his priorities, humility, and grace were noteworthy.
In the recap of that episode, I suspended the snark, and wrote about just that. And in one of life's little surprises, I woke one morning to find Jack in my inbox thanking me for the kind words.
Since that day I have watched Jack leave behind the disappointment of PR and blaze a trail of advocacy and activism as a champion not just in the HIV+ community, but in the world as a whole.
Friends on Facebook for years now, it is a pleasure to find him pop up in my newsfeed (not just because many times he is modeling and partially clothed). He is funny, sharp, suffers no fools, and is always upbeat. And he is always busy opening eyes, supporting others, and educating the populace through his activisim. His reach is long, his message profound.
His most recent venture is to garner attention and raise funds for Housing Works. He has committed to the Braking Aids Ride - a 285 mile bike ride from Boston to NYC. He is fundraising currently in an attempt to reach his goal of $50,000.
Which brings us to the picture many of you saw recently on Facebook when I shared it in my newsfeed.
Yes, that would be my name resting his chest. Donating to his ride was a no-brainer, but the fact that he offered to scribe my name on his body, too? Well, sign me up for The Mack Pack.
And that brings us to the thrust (all pun intended) of this post. Read the press release below, and then donate if you can. The charity is worthwhile and the man doing the legwork is, in my opinion, not simply one in a million. That would indicate there are more men like him out there.
No, Jack is, quite simply, ONE. And an amazing one at that.
Can An Activist Monetize a Social Media Army to Fundraise for HIV?
Jack Mackenroth Pledges to Raise $50,000 for BRAKING AIDS® Ride With Sexy Selfies and Heartfelt Videos.
(New York, NY – June 28, 2014) Former Project Runway designer turned HIV activist, Jack Mackenroth is attempting a feat that many individuals and companies are struggling to conquer--mobilizing and monetizing a massive social media following. Mackenroth, who is mainly known on social media for scantily clad photos, sharp wit and a dose of activism, believes he can do just that all in the name of HIV charity, fundraising for BRAKING AIDS® Ride which benefits Housing Works.
If Mackenroth, who has been HIV-positive for 25 years, is able to reach his goal of $50,000 it will be set the record for the highest amount ever raised by an individual and he has only 7 weeks to make it happen. “I set the bar high just to see what was possible. It’s a cause that is obviously a very personal one and although I have worked for countless HIV charities and organizations and lent my face and name to campaigns, I have never directly asked for donations. I’m hopeful that others out there are as passionate as I am and willing to support me.”
BRAKING AIDS® Ride (www.brakingaidsride.org) is a 285 mile bike ride from Boston To New York which begins on Friday, September 12th and finishes in New York City on Sunday September 16th. Riders must raise a minimum of $3,500 each to participate. All the proceeds benefit Housing Works (www.housingworks.org) whose mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy and the provision of lifesaving services.
Mackenroth only started his campaign 2 weeks ago and he has already raised $8,000. His unconventional approach brought rapid results. “I promised anyone who donated $100 or more that I would tag their name or social media handle on my chest and post it all over my accounts. I got so many donations that I had to raise the amount to $250 because I can keep up with all the selfies.” said Mackenroth.
Mackenroth has 107,000 Twitter followers @jackmackenroth and 5 Facebook accounts with a total following of approximately 250,000 “friends” and followers. He has 17,000 followers on Instagram after joining earlier this year. The pay off for someone who donates $250 or more is not only that they are making a real difference for HIV but they also get a ton of social media exposure. Jack has also offered a personalized ass pic for anyone who donates $1000 or more. So far he has had 2 takers.
Two companies have also seen value in his ingenious, sexy marketing technique. Martone Cycling Co. (www.martonecycling.com) has donated two bikes to the ride. The red bike (pictured) will be used by Mackenroth to help his fundraising efforts. Every person who donates $100 or more will be entered into a raffle to win the bike, which retails for over $1200. The second bike will be given to the person other than Mackenroth who is the highest fundraiser overall. SCRUFF is also supporting BRAKING AIDS® Ride by purchasing team jerseys for Mackenroth’s 15-man team, The Mack Pack, and also matching up to $2,500 in donations later this month.
The Mack Pack, currently has 15 riders and to date they have collectively raised over $31,000. If anyone would like to ride they are still accepting registrations and welcome more members. Jack added, “I’d like to beat the team total record as well which is close to $150,000. We’ll see if people who read this will be motivated enough and selfless enough to give money to total strangers who are really struggling on a day-to-day basis.
Mackenroth will also be utilizing his social media outlets from now until the end of the ride to document the amazing experience and capture the challenges, the humor and all the inspirational moments during his journey. Watch his touching video about why he is so inspired to take on this monumental challenge.
Please donate and make a difference in the lives of people struggling with HIV and homelessness here: bit.ly/jackmack
You can follow Jack on Twitter and Isntagram @jackmackenroth.
For more information about BRAKING AIDS® Ride, contact:
Eric Epstein, Ride Director
For more information about Housing Works contact:
Andrew S. Greene
SVP for Development and Marketing
212-966-0466 x1134 (Soho)
This morning I found myself looking through the stats for DGMS, giving a cursory glance at what links bring people here, what Google query became the inroad. This piece, written on April 19, 2010 was on the list. I pulled it up and gave it a read. What struck me was how applicable it still is today. Maybe even more in light of circumstances around the globe, tensions heightened here in our own country, misguided "patriotism" which looks much more like HATEriotism and cowardice.
I don't think I am alone in feeling we are nearing a tipping point of some sort. We have let the lunatics run the asylum for far too long and those chickens are coming home to roost IN the cuckoo's nest.
Answers? Good lord, I have no more than anyone else. The best I can come up with is to ask people to STOP, take a breath, and truly educate themselves. Turn off what foments your hatred, keeps your inner narrative filled with indignation and hubris. READ. Not Stormfront or The Blaze. Hell, not even CNN these days. Seek out FACTS, not conspiracy laden opinions. Find NEWS - a straight forward presentation of what, where, who, when. Not a finger pointing screed by a carefully coiffed "anchor."
And when you do start learning, don't be afraid or too egotistical to admit you were, perhaps, wrong. That perhaps what you think isn't what is real. What you fear, isn't actually an enemy, but a carefully created bogeyman designed by those who profit from your anger.
Sad;y, on the whole, we are a stupid, bumper-sticker-mentality populace. Geographically, scientifically - we are woefully unenlightened, uneducated, and easily led.
Like I said, I don't have answers, but it seems like replacing bullshit with FACTS may be a good place to start.
Looking Back, Looking Forward - originally posted 4/19/2010
Fifteen years ago today, a truck bomb ripped a hole in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City...
And fifteen years ago, this picture ripped a hole in the heart of a nation...
When this happened, I remember staring at my TV, mouth open, unable to comprehend that what I had only associated with terrorist bombings overseas, had somehow been unleashed in my country.
At the time, I had two small children. And Kendall was just a hair older than Baylee. How very easy it was to see her petite body in the arms of that firefighter.
And it hurt.
Looking at the photo today, fifteen years removed, fifteen years older, wiser, and far more jaded by the events I have seen since, it still hurts.
Not only was this an act of domestic terrorism, it was a spectacular act of cowardice. Like 9/11, like the disgruntled asshole whose handiwork I see on a regular basis here in Austin - the building still charred by the fire, the hole still gaping like a tremendous wound from the plane he flew into it a month ago.
Terrorists, all. Cowards, all.
Anyone who gets their ass in a knot and takes it out on innocent people - especially CHILDREN - are cowardly terrorists.
We like to think we are special in this country. Sarah Palin and her ilk make mountains of money out of that spin. We are above reproach. The USA should never apologize. We are the shit, man. Bow down to us.
Um, no, no we're not.
And every single day, our idiocy is on display to the entire world. As the rhetoric continues to ratchet up, as politicians gleefully incite willfully ignorant crowds, as misinformation replaces FACT - we edge closer to another Murrah Building going down in a blaze of gory.
More innocent people in this country are going to die at the hands of homegrown terrorists. More children are going to be collateral damage of their misplaced rage, their anger stoked by political hucksters, TV schlockmeisters, and half term governors who are only in it for them$elve$, and who will feign innocence when the shit finally goes down. (BIll O'Reilly - "Dr. Tiller The Baby Killer" - are you listening?)
The first picture is shocking. Fifteen years later, it still amazes me how a truck bomb parked in front of a building could so quickly gut an entire building.
We should never forget.
But perhaps, more importantly, the picture we should focus on is that of tiny Baylee.
That beautiful child should be a sophomore in high school, excited about her driver's license, nervous about the SATs, will she get a date to the prom?
That image should serve as a stark reminder to those who are stockpiling weapons and ammo, seed gardens, gold bars, and MREs that nothing they are angry about is worth one child's life.
And perhaps, just perhaps, they owe it to her memory to seek out information and FACT beyond the spin zone of AM radio and their favorite "news" channel.
Anger is fine. As long as it is backed by a factual understanding of why you are angry. If you are angry just because Glenn Beck's chalkboard told you to be angry, that's not good enough. Discontent is great. As long as you can spell your grievance correctly on your sign. And action is perfectly acceptable, too. Protest. Write coherent letters to your representatives. As long as you remember that YOUR way of thinking is not the ONLY way of thinking. If you care so very much, prove it. Replace your fabricated rage with FACTion.
You know as well as I do that something bad is going to happen again. It's only a matter of time before another firefighter carries another Baylee and another innocent life is lost to arrogance, ignorance, and selfishness.
Look at Baylee and ask yourself, "Is my anger worth another child's life?"
The answer is NO. Timothy McVeigh's wasn't. No one's is.
In that respect, I do still believe in the greatness of this nation. We ARE better than that. The majority of people ARE better than that. We just have to start standing up to those bad apples who are destroying the pie of the United States of America.
For you. For me. For Baylee...
Today a plane fell from the sky over Ukraine.
Helped as it was by a surface-to-air missile of some sort, it does not take much aeronautic or physics knowledge to imagine the damage done at 33,000 feet, much less what happened as the carnage rained down into the fields surrounding the village of Grabovo.
The devastation is complete. What was in one moment a 777 filled with 283 international passengers of all ages, and a crew of 15 to see to their needs, was in the next a tableau of death.
Pieces, parts, smoke, fire.
That includes the passengers, not just the plane.
Reading the eyewitness and reporter accounts is heartwrenching enough. A small boy on his side in a field. An infant torn from his parent's arms lying alone in the tall grass. A young man, earbuds and ipod still in place, dead - arms and legs outstretched. A partially clothed woman, leg missing. A naked woman whose body crashed through the kitchen roof of a farmhouse. That list goes on and on, and then narrows down to the parts that comprise a person. A foot found on the road in the village. Smoldering, unrecognizable parts. A hand here. An arm there.
To see the photos touches the humanity, the mortality at our very core. That hand once held someone else's. That foot once walked towards an embrace. That arm once held someone tight - a friend, a lover, a child.
I debated someone earlier about those photos being distributed. Their position, understandably as it is common one, is that it is disrespectful, horrid, gruesome.
My position is that what is disrespectful, horrid, and gruesome is what tore them from the sky and scattered them over a debris field that is estimated to be 9 miles. Looking is not disrespectful. In my opinion.
(No, I am not going to post them here for you. It is a personal choice to look or not to look. They are easily found tonight.)
I have written many times in the past that I do not shy away from the images that are available in the aftermath of a tragedy. A plane crash, a fire, 9/11. It's not because I am not squeamish, or because I have some Faces of Death obsession.
I look because I feel a human connection. I look because to not look is to ignore and turn away from the suffering endured by another. Each year I honor those lost on 9/11 by looking, again, at the photos, the stories of those who perished. I did not know them, but I know them.
Which is why I did not turn away from the more graphic images coming out of today's crash. Those people that died, THEY are ME. Those children? They are MY children. They are human beings who are made up of the same flesh, blood, hopes, dreams, smiles, hugs, tears, and longings that are my make up.
Their nationality does not separate me from their humanity. Their color does not make them less deserving of my notice. Their religious preference? Who cares? Whether they believed or did not believe in something, anything, nothing, doesn't matter in the final analysis of why I look.
I look because I have no other way to honor them. I look because they are alone in a strange place and should not be alone. And as I look, I find my hand reaching out to touch the monitor, to connect, whispering softly, "You matter. I did not know you, but you matter to me."
As I said, personal opinion, personal choice to look. But if you don't look, then at least don't look away from the story. I truly do not understand those who disengage from the news, from the world around them because "it is simply too much." Tough. Life is hard. And quite frankly, those I personally know who choose this option, wouldn't know hard if it walked up and smacked them in the face. Hard to them is having to park too far away from the mall door. Hard is having the cheese left off their Whopper. That's not HARD. That is the true definition, and fullstop derision behind #firstworldproblems. And people being so willing to look away is why we have so much of the conflict, strife and bloodshed in this world.
You are a citizen of the world. If you don't engage, then you are part of the problem.
What happened today was far beyond a plane crash. This was a deliberate act of aggression and stupidity, hubris and my-dick-is-bigger-than-your-dick syndrome. These people were innocent, traveling on business, most on vacations. And they got caught in the crosshairs of a political drama that seems to thrive on bloodshed. That the shitbags who targeted the plane may have mistaken it for a military craft matters not. They knew there were human beings in it, and cared not one whit. They knew the end result of their firing the weapon was death.
The international community must come together on this one. We MUST. Daily we watch factions hellbent on destruction all over this globe. Tonight, as I type, Israel has begun ground operations into Gaza, intent on taking Hamas down as hard as it can.
There will be no winners here. Only losers. Innocent people, like the four children killed on the Gaza shore yesterday, will lose their only true currency in this world - their lives, their humanity.
When the smoke clears, just as in Ukraine today, the only thing that will have been settled is when the dead people took their last breaths. That will be defined. But the rest? Hate will still reign. Politics will still remain.
In the fields around Grabovo tonight there are many things. Many items intact. Passports still bearing the fresh stamp of departure from Amsterdam. A guidebook to Kuala Lumpur. Luggage, lots and lots of luggage - brightly colored, name tags still attached, clothes still carefully folded inside.
So many of those items managed to squeek through relatively unscathed, almost in their same condition. That's not odd. That's not conspiracy. And that's why the pictures are important, too. Because at 33,000 feet when sudden decompression hits and oxygen disappears as do clothes, body parts, shoes - we are reminded what is most fragile in an airplane. Not the laptops or cute little bottles of liquor. Not the passport with your fugly picture inside.
Humans. We are fragile. Our bodies injured with little effort, our lives taken easily from us. At 33,000 feet it doesn't matter if you are a Cross Fit junkie or a sofa spud. When something like this happens, our systems fail, our bodies fall to pieces. We are flesh and blood, not Samsonite.
All of us. We are connected by our fragility. Our humanity lies in our fragility. That is why we run to help a stranger in need. That is why we wrap our arms around our bodies when we first hear about something like this.
Yes, the images are hard to stomach. But if it were me, even just parts of me, lying in that wreckage, I would want someone like me, somewhere on this globe, to look, to touch their monitor, to whisper softly, "You matter. I did not know you, but you matter to me."
May they all rest in peace. And may their pieces, every beautiful one that made them whole, serve as the impetus for strong, lasting, thoughtful change in this world. It's time to say, ENOUGH.
Websites dedicated to helping total strangers are nothing new. Whether they exist to help pay an unexpected medical bill, fund a book/movie/CD, or simply get someone through a rough patch, the idea of people helping people is a good one.
I love checking out sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter to not only see ideas trying to gain financial traction, but the generosity of both pocketbook and spirit as one person is moved to help another succeed.
I may not always click with the notion at play, but others might, and since it's not my money, but theirs? God$peed.
Recently a Kickstarter campaign, started completely in jest, has gained not only dollars and publicity, but a cult following of sorts.
It has also gained haters.
Color me shocked.
The Kickstarter in question centers around Potato Salad. And a man's desire to make it.
Zack Brown took to the crowd funding site with his tongue firmly in his cheek. His goal? $10
Basically I'm just making potato salad. I haven't decided what kind yet.
Under Risks and Challenges he listed:
It might not be that good. It's my first potato salad.
It started out as all Kickstarters do - the link passed to friends, then friends of friends. Then someone dropped the link on Twitter, another on Facebook. Soon, it was being shared globally, and inevitably it was picked up by the media.
The Potato Salad Kickstarter has been covered by print, TV news, and online on everything from international news sites to ezines, to countless blogs like mine.
Fast forward exactly 1 week, and his current pledge amount is over $44k. (It briefly was over $70k last night - news not clear yet on whether the amount dropped due to processing or contributors canceling their pledges.)
This, of course, has delighted some, and enraged others.
I happen to fall on the delighted end of the spectrum. OK, ok, maybe delighted is a bit hyperbolic, but I am most certainly amused.
Zack has responded by upping the ante on the page - promising to make various potato salads, offering incentives from recipe books to a pizza party depending on the amount each person pledges.
And all the while he has kept his tongue firmly in his cheek. To paraphrase the Bee Gees, He started a joke, which started the whole world giving.
But to those not laughing, I must invoke dear Sgt Hulka: Lighten up, Francis.
This is not some apocolyptic event, some referendum on society, some deadly serious, garment rending worthy occasion in which mayo is the devil.
If you don't like it? Don't give. But don't sit on your high horse claiming in a self righteous tone that we are all damned. You look foolish, you look small, you look jealous that you didn't think of this.
The reason this Kickstarter took off running while some just sit and get no further than Aunt Millie and Grandma Ruth donating is simple. Exposure and appeal.
That's it. That's all. No big mystery.
His $44k doesn't mean your product, idea, book, or CD aren't worthy. It just means his idea sparked and caught the fire of human interest.
Potato Salad is universal, it's relateable, it's funny. And for the base price of $1 a person can buy into a moment of levity in a world weighed down with weariness. They can purchase kinship, a giggle.
They can briefly be an ingredient in the potato (poTAHto?) salad bowl of humanity.
And no matter how you say it or slice it, that's a good thing.
This. This is everything that is wrong with us.
No, not the sleeping part. Sleeping's great. Hell, I wish I was better at it, but at best I play in the pillow bush leagues. I will never go pro.
Rather, it is HIM. He is what is wrong with us.
Andrew Robert Rector.
You see, Andrew fell asleep. He happened to doze off at a Yankees game. And Yankees games being televised, he was caught on camera making out with the Sandman.
So, what's a good sports announcer to do? Comment on what happens to be filling the screen at the moment, of course.
The ESPN announcers were good natured, did nothing heinous or disparaging, BUT...
When this piece of work awakened to find out he had made the broadcast and the online highlights, he did the Amurikan thing - he filed a lawsuit.
Look out hot cup of coffee, old Granny's lap is about to get overshadowed by an even more steaming piece of legal sewage.
Poor Andrew has filed a lawsuit not just against the announcers, but against ESPN, Major League Baseball, and the Yankees.
Well, his poor wittle feewings have been hurted. He is claiming he has "suffered substantial injury" to his "character and reputation" and "mental anguish, loss of future income and loss of earning capacity."
In his lawsuit, in which he asks for $10 million in damages, he accuses the announcers of using words like “stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid.” These are actually words used by commentors on message boards, not the ESPN announcers.
But don't let a little thing like details strike out a potential booty like that.
Here's the bottom line - Andrew bought a ticket to a baseball game. That includes wording on the ticket advising the holder's image may be broadcast. No one made him fall asleep and become a topic of brief conversation by the announcers.
Just as no one forced this spectacle into the bigger spotlight, but ANDREW. He and his money lust, which dictates someone must pay for his discomfort, typify everything that is wrong with us these days. No personal accountability, just a throw-shit-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks to someone else.
Look, I don't care that Andrew is chubby. He just is. I don't care that he fell asleep. Big deal. I do care that he is a pathetic opportunist.
As for additional online comments like “fatty cow that needs two seats” and a “confused disgusted and socially bankrupt individual”?
Well, the first one I will put down to internet trolling where anyone can say anything.
But the second?
Well, I'd say that person has Andrew down cold.
Amurika - land of the free to be as stupid as possible, and home of the brazenly idiotic.
(And lest you think I'm just harshin' too harsh? See coal rollers. We, as a species, are doomed.)
It is supposed to be impartial to anything but the law.
It is supposed to be the final haven for properly applied jurisprudence.
It is supposed to be beyond the grasp of money, influence, politics, religion.
Supposed to be.
The harsh reality is that the bench is completely subject to politics - justices being handpicked by the powers-that-be that occupy the Oval Office when spaces open up. Sure the nominated justice must undergo the scrutiny of comittees, have every flake of dandruff on their head put under the spotlight, and in the end become a prime ingredient in the Crap Souffle' baked by the process - but all that aside - a conservative White House gets a conservative justice on the bench, and a liberal White House gets a liberal justice on the bench.
And since the appointments are lifetime - a justice must die or retire in order to make way for a replacement. And during their tenure, they are free to ream out Lady Justice, our Constitution, and our country disburse rulings as they see fit. All it takes is a simple majority.
And as we have repeatedly seen with the current cast of characters on the court, the conservative justices have zero compunction about playing politics, religion, and the lobbying game instead of meting out actual, you know, JUSTICE.
We saw it with Citizens United in which the majority made it clear that money owns politics - the more the better. CU made corporations into people and made it possible to dump unlimited $$ into politics. And don't think for two seconds that a Sheldon Adelson opens his coffers because he loves this country. He opens it to buy power, power in the form of elections, and handpicked puppet Senators and Congressmen/women.
Where does that leave you and me who manage to donate $20, $30, maybe $50 to a candidate? Out in the cold. Your $50 barely gets you a form email Thank You, let alone the ear and voting power of the elected.
I use Adelson as the example because GOP candidates now make a pilgrimage to Las Vegas like Muslims trek to Mecca - only they go to worship at the altar of a casino mogul not even from this country. (And yes, I completely acknowledge that Democratic candidates have deep pockets from which to woo as well.)
The founding fathers, so often inaccurately invoked by the GOP and Teabag contingents had strong feelings about corporations and government. Thomas Jefferson:
“I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
Defiance to the laws of our country.
That is exactly what is happening, all aided and abetted by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
Justice is not meted out. Ju$tice is meted out.
It is bought by dirty money. It is heavily influenced by religion - another thing the founders were all too familiar with, and all too wary of as they worked to establish the governance of this country.
Well, so much for that.
In their ruling today, which drips religion like a hoax crucifix drips "blood", the majority ruled that companies can now make decisions about your insurance coverage based on the religious beliefs of the owners.
Let's clarify that to what it really means: Hobby Lobby and closely held companies with likeminded religious zealots at their helms are legally allowed to insist their insurance providers will no longer cover certain birth control methods FOR WOMEN.
That was the driving boner behind the whole ruling. Control Women's Reproductive Rights.
Insurance carriers used by these companies will continue to cover vasectomies and boner drugs, because, you know, MEN. (Let's ignore the hypocrisy here in which God controls EVERYTHING, but surely he doesn't mean a limp noodle dick is a sign that a man should no longer be out humping. Surely not, again, MEN. And help me out here - if an IUD is an abortion device (it's NOT) - then how is a vasectomy not an abortion procedure? After all, it cuts off the ability to procreate - JUST LIKE AN IUD.)
But this darkly robed, homegrown Taliban that sits on our Supreme Court has decided that fairy tale beliefs trump actual sanity. That whim trumps science. That opinion trumps fact.
I hate the term "slippery slope" because it is so overused, but since these five just tipped the Exxon Valdez down the hill, we'll go with slippery slope.
What's next? Blood transfusions? Antibiotics? Prenatal screening? Mental health help? Depending on the religion, all those things are morally objectionable, verboten.
The ruling went down 5-4. The five? Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy - all men - no ovaries, no uteruses, no fallopian tubes - yet the ability to strike out at those of us who have them.
They were all quick to hide behind their ruling only being the narrow sliver of contraception - certainly not things like blood transfusions - but again, if one thing is unacceptable on religious grounds, you certainly have to allow all the other tenets, beliefs, and bullshit that proliferate religions - ALL RELIGIONS - something made very clear by Justice Ginsberg in her written dissent.
So how will this work when a Muslim business owner begins to argue the same way? Oh, wait - HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...
Picking up on my anger yet? GOOD.
YOUR religion is just that - YOURS. YOURS to attend to, to seek community in, to wallow around in like a pig in slop. Believe whatever you want. Make more shit up to believe in.
BUT IT HAS NO BEARING ON ME, MY CHOICES, MY LIFE.
Nor should it.
I have three daughters. Their access to safe abortions, contraception, etc, should not be beholding to YOUR Sunday school mental pap.
What happened today was not justice. Not by a long shot.
What happened today was our country's highest court allowing religion to enter and hold sway.
And our founding fathers knew enough about THAT to escape it and come here to form a more perfect union, NOT a carbon copy of what they fled.
It's here. The day I have had circled on the calendar for months; the day I have excitedly anticipated; the day my heart has quietly shed a tear over.
Carson will graduate.
Like her sisters before her she will walk onto the stage a senior and walk off the stage a college freshman. Her life will be changing in an instant, a cheer, the bright light of a camera flash.
And I am overwhelmed.
Carson entered my life as the happiest accident I have ever had. Not planned even remotely, she is, as I have always told her, everything I didn't know I still needed.
She has been, as are the majority of third children, easy. Perhaps it is because I knew what I was doing by the time she came along. But I suspect it has more to do with what she came into this world with, than my level of preparedness.
Carson epitomizes joy. From the very beginning, her days have always started with a smile. A consummate goofball from the start, if it is true that laughter adds years to your life, this family will be around for a very long time thanks to her antics, sense of humor, and willingness to "go big, or go home" to get a reaction.
I have often said that Culley is my training wheels in this parenting life. She breaks new ground, often suffers for my falling off the bike. When she graduated and left for college, my heart was so full of pride, it couldn't help but crack a little - the way a mom's heart does. In her bravery and strength to face her new world, she taught me how to face mine.
And so I went about the business of continuing to raise her two sisters.
A short year later, Kendall crossed that same stage, exiting my 24/7 care and protection, and entering her new world. And my heart again puffed with pride, while cracking a little.
But I was able to turn around, go home, and set to the task of continuing to raise Carson. I had three more years of boots-on-the-ground parenting to occupy my every minute.
Three years. That sounds like an awful lot of time. Yet today, I look back and marvel at the cruelty of a clock that, in retrospect, ticks too fast. Sure, I know where the years have gone. Tens of thousands of soccer miles driven, games played, endless nights of training and workouts, rehearsals for school plays, studying, testing, recruiting. I can account for what we have done with the time, I just don't know how we did it all in what now feels like the blink of a tear filled eye.
Those who have followed DGMS from the beginning know all about our family, our daughters. I don't think it is a stretch to say that many of you sit there marveling that I am writing about Carson - that 8 year old you met on here so very long ago - ready to don her cap and gown and move on.
For all these years you have shared her ups, downs, games, plays, the excitement of recruiting, and have cheered her on from the virtual sidelines. You have indulged this mother's need to put words together and brag, oftentimes shedding a tear with me.
I ask that you indulge me again today...
Carson, I have been humbled by you from your earliest days. One may even say a little jealous. Your talent that comes so easily pen to paper. Your athleticism - you are so strong, so fearless, so skilled. Your ability to make friends anywhere, everywhere. And mostly, your sense of self. You have always known who you are, so comfortable in your own skin - something most people go cradle to grave without ever really enjoying.
There is a reason so many are drawn into your orbit. There is something not just attractive about confidence and integrity, there is something secure in it, too. You make those around you feel safer, more sure of themselves. That is a gift. Not just one that you have been given, but a gift to every person who knows you.
Your drive quietly pushes other people to dig deeper, try harder, give more. And while I promise I do know the pressures you feel by virtue of this trait - I see you carry that weight daily - you have worn the mantle of leadership in the way it is meant to be worn - with humility, not hubris. Which only makes people want to follow you more.
This journey we have taken together, these past three years when it really has been just you and me - under this roof, on the road - has been incredible. More than anyone, I know exactly what you have sacrificed to get to where you are going. And more than anyone, I know - a mother's immense pride and prejudice aside - that you deserve all of it. None of it has been handed to you. You have gutted yourself to make it all happen.
And just as your friends and your team mates find themselves grateful to be in your orbit, pushing themselves harder as they watch you - you have made me a better person, too.
I keep replaying the words your new college coach asked you when we sat in his office back in March, "Why am I lucky enough to get you?" He had already done his research, knew you had options, already had an inkling that there was far more than just a good soccer player in his office.
Well, I will never know what I did right, or why, out of all the women on this planet, I got to be your mother, but I did. And it has been a gift, a joy, a revelation. (All things Coach Drugan will quickly come to know.) Pride is not a big enough word for what I am feeling, and love doesn't begin to describe how I cherish you.
I know you are ready for your next step. I know you will crush it at UT Dallas - not just as a player on the women's soccer team, but as a student and artist and leader.
But there is so much I will miss. I will miss you hating me every morning when I have to wake you up. I will miss spontaneous dance parties for two in the kitchen. I will miss filling your water bottle for practice, washing your uniforms. I will miss roadtrips, sharing hotel rooms. I will miss you teaching me Stat at night. I will miss your bi-polar musical playlist on the way to training. I will miss seeing you in the living room drawing on your tablet and I ask what you are doing - always met with the one word answer, "Doodling." I will miss watching Food Network in bed, and making your hot chocolate every morning and every night after training. I will miss watching you flip your hair. I will miss you tormenting Leo by shoving him under your shirt. I will miss your easy laugh, your wicked sense of humor, your heart, your will, your presence.
That I will miss most of all. You being here with me.
Culley and Kendall may have taught me about letting go, but they were not in the position to teach me how to do this, to come home to an empty house in August.
That is your job.
But like everything else you do, I know - even as unwilling and unhappy a student as I am - you will handle this task with your unique combination of love, honesty, humility, and strength.
As you walk across the stage tonight, know my heart is walking with you. You will be graduating from high school, and I will be graduating from my job as a full time mom - both of us walking into uncharted territory. Just let me walk a step behind - you are so much braver than me.
I love you. Now, go be amazing.
Violence. It is inherent in any society. Whether it is in a struggle for power, a struggle for survival, or simply an unapologetic criminal impulse, violence is one of the unhappy calling cards of the human race and it has been at play since the beginning.
That is why we are largely, sadly, inured to the violence we see reported each day in the news. Bombings overseas, hell, bombings here at home. Gun violence, arson, stabbings, drunk driving, vengeful fired employees, unhinged outliers of society - we never know when violence will strike, we simply know it will.
These days it takes a particularly unique act of violence to turn our collective heads. 20 dead children in a school. A cinema full of innocent movie goers. Two 12 year olds stabbing another 12 year old 19 times...
If you have not yet seen the headline, yes, that last one is real.
Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, both 12, had a sleepover Friday night with another 12 year old friend from middle school. The next morning they went to the woods under the pretense of playing. Once secreted in the trees, Morgan and Anissa attacked their "friend", stabbing her 19 times all over, including hitting her heart, liver, pancreas, and stomach, and barely missing an artery that would have certainly ended the girl's life.
They left her in the woods to die.
The girl was able to crawl to a sidewalk where she was found by someone on a bicycle. Rushed into surgery, she is now in stable condition. At least physically. As for emotionally? Mentally? I daresay most adults would be having a very hard time processing being attacked by two friends and left for dead.
The two girls who did this were found and arrested. They were also very loquacious with authorities, answering their questions and supplying quite a bit of information.
They freely spoke of planning to kill her for months. Gave details of how they originally planned to do it - duct tape to the mouth, a knife to the throat.
And they went on and on about a website they frequent, Creepypasta.com, a story sharing site devoted to the scary, the outlandish. These are the first words that greet you at the black backgrounded site:
Proudly hosting 11,880 of your worst nightmares since 2010.
By its own definition, "a creepypasta is a short story posted on the Internet that is designed to unnerve and shock the reader."
Harmless enough. A Chicken Soup For The Soul - ghoulish edition, if you will.
Stories that titillate, alarm, frighten have been around forever. They are staples around the campfire, retold for generations at slumber parties, and Stephen King has made a pretty good living out of them. So I am loathe to point all the blame at a collection of stories on a pretty lamely built website.
The girls spoke about Slenderman, a presence at the website. A "god" of sorts to some. For the uneducated, Slenderman is a paranormal creation that walks around in a dark suit, and what could be construed as women's white panty hose over his face. His arms are long and he appears out of nowhere, presumably killing those he encounters yet no bodies are left behind.
I know about Slenderman because Carson shared a couple Youtube videos with me roughly a year ago of a bunch of drunken guys playing the Slenderman game. It was hilarious. As they navigated the woods and abandoned structures they would shriek, shit their pants, and hold one another when *poof* they turned a corner and there he was.
No harm, no foul. As Carson describes it, Slenderman is all about the jump scare.
Yet, these girls worshipped this fictional character to the point they felt they must kill someone in order to win his approval. One girl told the police she believes Slenderman watches her, and he can read your mind. She said she sees him in her dreams.
OK, cut. I call bull and shit. These 12 year olds were fully functioning students, not escaped psychopaths. Regardless of what they believed they were gaining, one thing is most glaringly missing: parental oversight.
Yes, I completely believe the reports that their parents are "devastated" - what average parent wouldn't be - but I must ask where were they in supervising their daughters online and real life presences? How much time did their girls spend on that website? Did they even know it existed?
My guess, and I stress this is just a guess, is no.
Most parents still have no idea the paths their children take online, the nooks, crannies, and dark alleys into which they wander in cyberspace. They may give a cursory glance at the apps installed on their kid's phone, or peek at their laptop Desktop, but most parents are clueless. And most parents would be shocked to find where their kids hang out, how many strangers they chat with, and the questionable apps they use, all the while leaving some very traceable breadcrumbs right to your house.
And this is something I don't understand. Technology is wonderful, I am a huge proponent of it. But technology is also very dangerous in the hands of young people who think they are invincible and that everybody is exactly how they present themselves online.
It may have frustrated my daughters through the years, but they have always known that their need for privacy stops where my need to properly parent begins.
When Carson sparked an interest in animes like Black Butler, Attack on Titan, Dangan Ronpa - things with which I was completely unfamiliar - I invested the time in learning, then watching with her, then actually liking the three series myself. I also understood where she was in her devotion to them. Yes, there is blood shed aplenty in all three, but she loves the storytelling, the illustrations, the artistry of the animations.
Hell, my own sister once questioned the "darkness" of some of Carson's own work, asking was I worried? I could confidently say, "NO." I know her, I invest in her, I monitor her, and I know the places from which she creates.
You cannot just give your child gadgets and unlimited time alone to do with them as they please. You have to be willing in actually invest your time in your child.
But I digress.
Technology and questionable parenting aside, my bigger question in all of this tragedy is how much of this type of violence owes to just being a bad seed - someone born with a bent for destruction; and how much owes to the world in which we are raising our kids.
Surely if we are fairly numb to the realities of violence around us, we cannot expect our children to be any different. They grow up in a world where blood is shed daily - not just in wars they cannot see, but in their schools, their malls, their neighborhoods. Violence just is.
The programming put forth caters to the crass, classless, and worthless who behave so badly yet are rewarded at every turn with cash and celebrity- Real Housewives, Jersey Shore sewage, Kardashians, Bad Girls. Entitlement is the air those people breathe and it is highly intoxicating to the young viewers who keep them in business.
Is it any wonder then when the two toxic components - entitlement and violence - collide?
This is 16 year old Vincent Parker. Cute kid appearing in a selfie like so many other cute kids daily.
On December 19th, he pepper sprayed then stabbed his mother in the eye and then beat her to death with a baseball bat and a crowbar before moving on to his father who he also killed.
Their offense? Did they beat him? Rape him? Neglect and abuse him?
They took his iPod away.
To quote one of my daughters, "What the what?"
Yes, he told police, "I just remember getting mad. It’s all from my dad. All this stuff like my dad taking away my iPod and stuff."
Sorry, Vincent, but no go. Getting your panties in a wad is one thing, bludgeoning your parents to death is another.
This was a honor student, never in trouble before, and yet this was what he considered appropriate in the face of not getting what he wanted when he wanted it?
Back in January, a 14 year old stabbed her 11 year old sister to death. Reason? She felt her little sister wasn't appreciating her.
Elliot Rodger stabs three and guns down three more because he wasn't getting the female love he felt her deserved.
What is happening that young people seem to think violence is the answer to their problems? Is this really how we are raising them?
Are we unintentionally taking good seeds and by watering and fertilizing them for years in a society in which violence is commonplace, bullshit is rewarded, and gratification must be instant, transforming them into kudzu that coils back through society choking off the good?
I don't think knives are the problem. I don't think guns are the problem. Knives and guns in the wrong hands, in the hands of people who view them as an acceptable answer are the problem.
They say you reap what you sow.
I say that when two twelve year olds try to murder a friend over a fictional character, and a 16 year old slays his parents over an iPod, it is time to rethink our gardening.