February 27, 2012

Gang Nations

Really, what's the difference between nations and street gangs?

Both mark off territory and work to defend it. One old school word calls "turf" what another calls "spheres of influence." They have colors, uniforms and hierarchies. They each even have their own version of taxation. Each takes a part of the world and marks it off as "theirs." They can both extol extensive "histories" that belong to them alone. There are citizens and there are homies. They regulate trade and economic activity. They both have systems of "justice" to mitigate any disputes within their realms. Both control by force and compulsion. See what happens if you refuse to pay your taxes. Or your protection money. Declare yourself independent of the larger powers that surround you and you'll find out - from both entities - how far you'll get and how long you'll get to do it. How long has the US been the Crips to Russia's Bloods?

The difference, of course, is seen as one of legitimacy. But what state doesn't coerce its legitimacy? Might makes right. The power dictates. The capacity to redress grievances may differ, but that also differs between nations. You may be able to appeal certain things in the USA, but try to get redress for your concerns in Syria. It's just a matter of degree, really. A neighborhood under the oppression of local gun thugs in Los Angeles or Chicago is the same as being in some countries.

Is it because our "gang" has nicer uniforms and a flag that makes us, or any nation, "better" than a mere gang? Is this only a matter of degree as well? We're proud of our soldiers. So are some neighborhoods I know of. We're proud of our kids when they participate in the life of the nation. We cheer them on and point to them as examples. But the same thing happens in the world of gangs. Some gang members are third and fourth generation already.

And if we feel a rival nation is threatening us, what do we do? Isn't organized warfare between nations the same thing as gang war, when you come right down to it? So what is the difference, if not only a matter of degree?

In the realm of philosophical anarchism - i.e., anarchism separated from the bomb-throwing connotation and seen in the light of an individual's relationship to their community instead - this view raises questions about human nature. What do we construct around ourselves? It's a question of how we become groups, and how these groups interact.

You can't have pure anarchism, at least not for long. Any void will be filled and, in the case of power wrenched from what is established, it will probably be filled by those who have the means and resources to inflict a new level of control. If there were no states, states would form. Take away the controlling power and that vacuum would be filled by another kind of controlling power.

Give that some thought the next time you rise to sing the National Anthem. Hand over heart. Cap off. Gang signs.

February 26, 2012

Baseball - 6 Reasons Redux

In honor of the coming baseball season, which seems to be lurching and inching and stalling and taking its ever loving sweet time getting here alfreakinready, I am re-posting my 6 Reasons We're Cooler Than You story from a long ago blog.

The Chicago White Sox, my team you see, are often the redheaded stepchild of Chicago sports. Pushed aside by the vast majority of Chicago baseball fans, who cheer for the Flubs, we evermore seem to be the side show of a side show. And it has ever been thus.

In time diehard fans have learned to relish the marginalization. We wallow in the subculture. The Cubs on the rich north side never fail to sell out, never fail to blow it, never fail to use that continual century of failure as the draw... "just imagine how good you're going to feel when they finally win a World Series." Cough. Coughcoughcough.


The South Side team, always the working class Irish team, the guys that played near the Union Stockyards, the park in the rough neighborhoods, the team in Mayor Daley's part of town (either one), have always been somewhere below the Bears, Cubs, Bulls, and even Blackhawks. The main difference between Cubs and Sox fans has always been; when the Cubs suck and you tell a Cub fan this, you will have excuses thrown your way why anyone can have a bad century. When the Sox suck, it's probably a Sox fan who is telling YOU that. Cub fans show up just to look at the ivy. If the Sox aren't doing well, we'd rather go to a bar and throw darts.

So anyway here's the redux. Wishing they'd start already, even though I have no idea what the hell the Sox think they're doing this year.

White Sox - 6 Reasons Why We're Cooler Than You

I was born and raised in Chicago and am a fan of a team known as the White Sox. And, I hate to tell you, but we're just cooler than y'all, and here's 6 reasons why.

1. We're Not The Cubs. I should stop here but I won't. The Sox have always been Chicago's red-headed step child in local sports. Always. The difference between the Cubs and Sox has always been the fact that Cub fans are perceived as the "yuppie" crowd with a minimal understanding of baseball's intricacies and more of an interest in who is calling them on their cell phone. The Sox played just this side of the Union Stockyards where we killed all your beef critters and have been looked on locally as the working class team. It's supposed to be rougher at our games and we were the guys for which they coined the phrase "I went to see a fight and a ballgame broke out!" Well, those are really characterizations that don't make as much sense anymore even if they were truer at one point. But the plain fact is that the only time the two Chicago teams faced each other in the Series the White Sox, then known as the Hitless Wonders, beat the Cubs who had won 116 games that season, in 1906. The last time the Cubs won a World Series was 1908. 102 years since and the Cubs still suck. Jesus... in 102 years even the Red Sox have won more than one World Series. But this has always been a Cub town. In 2005 when the Sox won the Series I will always remember a semblance of the headline in the sports section of the Chicago Tribune in September of that year... in big bold letters across the top of the page"CUBS SNAP FOUR GAME LOSING STREAK" and at the bottom right, in letters half the size "White Sox Clinch Division." Yeah. And Cub uniforms look like pajamas. So there.

2. We're Worse Bad Asses Than You Could Even Ever Imagine. Our guys took money from gamblers and threw the world series of 1919. Fuck the national past time, just gimmee money. The legendary miscreant Arnold Rothstien shows up in the book "The Great Gatsby" and it was his money behind the deal. The conspirators had names like Chick and Hap and Swede and Lefty, and Shoeless Joe, who threw away an entire career with a meal ticket to the Hall of Fame. The kid comes up to him and says "say it ain't so, Joe. Say it ain't so." We're talking the stuff of special legend. I don't care what historical stuff your team has, you don't have this. Only we have this. And for years and years it was an embarrassment to diehard Sox fans but now, with a new take on everything, this kind of criminal behavior is beyond acceptable cool. And the fact that our guys had the balls to do it, and yours ain't, is all you need to know.

3. If You Have It, We Probably Invented It. Those names on the backs of your hero's jersey... no matter what sport you may be talking about? The fireworks that go off when your guy hits a homerun? The effort to improve the food at your local sports venue? Singing "Nana-nana Nana-nana Hey-ey-ey Good-bye" (which pre-dates "We will We will rock you" by at least a decade) when a pitcher from the other team gets pulled after getting the crap knocked out of him? All that came from here and was invented here. We did them first. Each one a product that emerged from the cold old, now torn down, Comiskey Park. The White Sox put the names on the jerseys, had an exploding scoreboard, were the first to widely vary the possibilities and quality of ballpark food, and sang the opposing pitcher off the field while you were still clapping hands in unison to the Mexican Jumping Bean Dance or whatever the hell that was. You sing Hey-ey ey Goodbye all the time now. We did it first. It came from here. We're even PISSED when we hear you do it because it's OURS. End of story.

4. We Still Think Disco Sucks. Disco Demolition Night was a promotion that saw hundreds of people bring their disco records to the park to blow them up in a great big bonfire in the middle of the field between the games of a twilight/night double header (which you don't do anymore either). It turned into basically a riot and we forfeited the second game because they couldn't bring the crowd under control. Not a good memory for a lot of the old school Sox fans but a matter of principle for the rest of us. Disco music, it's clothes, the entire era and everything it stood for SUCKED BIG ELEPHANT BALLS and we were the only ones who were willing to surrender a game in return for saving the world from a fate worse than DEATH. You should kiss us in odd places in gratitude for our ability to hold principle above a mere ballgame. You don't have this either.

5. Bill God Damn Veeck, Sucker. We'll let the folks old enough from Cleveland and St. Louis join in this one, but we had him and the rest of you didn't. See #3 (above) if you want to know who came up with a good portion of that stuff. That was this guy... Bill Veeck, one of the guys who owned the White Sox in our history. Yes that's a wooden leg that's replacing his original leg which he lost in WWII fighting in the Pacific. Yes he had an ashtray carved in his wooden leg with a sliding cover on it. Yes he was the guy who sent the midget up to the plate in St. Louis. Yes the baseball establishment hated him. Yes he's the guy who staged the 10,000 Free Eskimo Pie Night... with the catch that there was 1 winner, and he was promptly given 10,000 Eskimo pies RIGHT THEN AND THERE in the middle of the game. Bill Veeck sold the Sox to the current ownership and spent the rest of his days in the center field bleachers at Wrigley Field, where he worked as a boy and from which he took me to Murphy's after a game and plied me with beer after beer while he talked about philosophy and I can't remember what. Bill Veeck was a friend of mine. Somebody I knew face to face. But that wasn't unusual. There were 10,000 other guys just like me. Oh, there's one more thing Bill did in his life.... he's the guy who planted the famous vines in Wrigley Field. Nothing much.

And Number 6? Sox Fans. We're just more interesting is all. The White Sox have me... some guy named Barack... you know... just... fans.

Good guys wear black. It works this way.

See if it don't.

February 19, 2012

J' rejette

I have no idea, if internet ads are tied to where you visit, why I keep getting ads to find singles - especially single men - in my area. I not only have no interest in meeting single men, I also have no interest in meeting single women in my area. Or in any area, for that matter. And for what, exactly? To give them fatherly advice about their boyfriends? Wtf? I did buy my wife some silk pajamas for Christmas, and continue to get ads from the site I bought them from, for which I am grateful because the gift was such a success it shall be repeated on MrsRW's birthday and again for our anniversary. So I don't want to forget where I got them from. But I surely don't need to find single men and women to help me with that. Sheeesh.


In a recent internet dust-up I had with some neanderthals regarding the behavior of some of our boys in Afghanistan my critique was finally met with the comment: "until you've been shot at you have no right to say anything." To which I say - bullshit. I've been told I can't say things about black people because I've never been black. I've been told I can't criticize moves baseball teams make because I've never played the game at the professional level. If you say something negative about Israel's policies you're suddenly an anti-Semite (even if Palestinians are also Semites!). But I don't see where it says, in the First Amendment, where there are all these conditions about the voicing of opinions. And if that kind of personal participation is a prerequisite to opinion, then no one can say anything against what I think unless they've been born in 1953 and saw and thought everything I saw and thought up to this time. Because unless they've seen things from my perspective for all this time they should just STFU or something. That's ridiculous. And I continue to say - even though I now make it a point to pointedly ridicule our over-macho'd sunshine patriots and their chicken hawk fandom - that the American flag itself should be enough of a symbol to strike fear into the hearts of the unjust. But I doubt that's what it means anymore in the world anyway. Because we're a bunch of vengeful, malicious, meddlesome cavemen now and have no ownership of justice or truth by any stretch of the imagination. Ugga bugga anythehellway.


I still can't fathom how grown men can slobber and fawn over professional athlete heroes. We have a TV in our break room at work and - since we work overnight - there is often ESPN or such similar programming on at all times. And, of course, athlete interviews are the ultimate absurdity...

"We just need to just go out there and take care of business."
"I want to just contribute for the good of the team."
"If we play like we're capable of..."
"Go out there..."
"One day at a time."
"Out there."

And then there's these guys who want desperately to believe in some kind of ultimate goodness. Sitting around the break room stuffing our faces with sandwiches and chili and all, some guys seem to always be the ones saying "oh he's a good guy." or "He does a lot of charity work you know." Or "he's a real down to Earth guy." Really... who cares what these guys do, and how "good" they are? For God's sake they're millionaires who don't really give two shits about us watching them when all is said and done. The whole worship-thing is just as bad as the opposite. "I don't watch basketball because they all wear chains and have their baseball caps on sideways." Seriously? They all do? Oh yeah? Wow.

I purposely avoid athlete interviews because they are useless in the first place. And I seriously don't care about their personal lives or what they do in their spare time or who their girlfriend is nowadays. The same goes for the big game, pre-game hype sessions. Hell I even avoid the national anthem. The whole hand-over-heart crap and suddenly the word "brave" has 47 syllables is a bunch of tripe.


But here's something I don't reject at all...

Yep. There's Charlize again dammit. She just can't stay away it seems.

Also? I turned off the capcha codes on the comments. Or at least I think I have. What a stupid ass idea THAT was. Who came up with that? I can't even read the friggin things.

February 18, 2012

You'll Watch This One I Betcha

Out of Algeria, 2007 (most of the video was filmed in Spain). So, like, this takes on a whole new meaning when it's done in Algerian, no? I actually really like this. Give it a minute. Islam is a monolith anyone? I especially like watching the kids in the crowd. Whole. New. Meaning.

Welcome to the young people's roots of the Arab Spring...

Because, y'know... rock and roll will never die. And a Johnny Rotten reference as well!

I live for the weekends. 4 days of fun and music and nothing but fun and music, and I God bless ya for it. Oh wait... a Woodstock hippie flashback. Yeah. I'm old. Okay. Hey, I WAS HERE FOR THIS TOO!

February 11, 2012

Enter Snappy Title Here

This is now open to anybody who wants to read it. But maybe you should have a glass of whiskey before clicking, or smoke a cigarette out in the cold air first. I'm actually about twice as far ahead as you see there but you might find it interesting. I don't know. Some do. Some don't. Looks like few ever got beyond the third chapter. So if it bores you just walk away. No harm, no foul.

See Elmo in the corner?

I need someone to look at me so as to keep me from flying away sometimes, to paraphrase Peachy.

The other night I got an earful from a good old boy I work with about the Obamination in the White House. I'm pretty ready to just give it up and let you all do whatever you like. If you cast a vote you surrender your personal sovereignty. I'm pretty fed up.

MrsRW has turned me into a Nivea guy, can you believe it? Nivea shave cream, Nivea after shave balm. Time was, even unto last month, I shaved most days or, well, some days, and skipped it the rest of the time. I go to work in a print shop and who cares, y'know? But she's got me all being a proper gentleman and - after a certain age - you realize that the sharp, cooling, gel smells are for the younger guys. Old guys just want to smell clean from all that stuff. So I am now a careful shaver and a Crew forming cream guy. I may look like an old drunk by the lines on my face but I smell good all the time now. So there it is.

Oh wait I forgot to put on my hand cream. BRB, goop.

Okay... I'm back. When you work in a print shop you wrangle big stacks of paper and it's often very dry and the air sometimes gets charged with static electricity from time to time. So your hands get dry and cut up. Paper cuts. And it really doesn't matter how long you work in a print shop, you will get paper cuts. All there is to it. The only thing that happens is you don't squirm and squeam when you get one anymore. Just wrap a bandage around it and go back to work. But on the weekends it is a good thing to smooth up because otherwise you'll have crab hands and your cuts will pinch when you do normal stuff like pick up a sammich to eat.

Did I mention Elmo up in the corner there?

I signed on to this thing at Imagine Sports. You draft a baseball team from 4000 players and then you go up against other guys and the whole thing is on a computerized match-up with some measure of random rhythms and shit. You play 162 games and set your lineup and pick your ball park and all. I named my team the Iola Gasbags. I ended up with some guys I really wanted like Shoeless Joe Jackson, Schoolboy Rowe, Vinegar Bend Mizell, Stuffy McInnis, Spud Davis, Rube Waddell and Boom Boom Beck and Boileryard Clarke. Yes we're the all-name team and we play in the old Baker Bowl. I guess where you play matters in the computerized results thing. So that's fun. Somebody sent me a gift certificate for it so I'm playing for free. I don't know what it costs regularly.

Okay so I'm babbling again. Anyway tell your friends about this place. I need some company.

February 10, 2012

River Of Raincoats In A Forest Of Faces

Okay, here's your chance to pile up on me. Go ahead. I probably deserve it for this. I'm about to kill my buzz, so do your worst. I have, have always, and will probably continue, to miss The Sundays.

I know I know... hints of 90's teenage angst and all that. That's the critique. I can see it. No doubt. But you know me, I'm a word guy. And I have always had - what I consider to be - an ear for the synthesis of tune and lyric. Anyway I compliment myself that way. And few bands melded those elements better. Ever. In my HO.

Then one day the lead singer and the main guitar guy - who were already an established pair, personally, before this all got started, simply quit. As in - quit. They said it was time to take the money and run, get out of the race, make some babies, and live like normal people which, to everyone's amazement, they've done. And they've kept doing it for a decade already. When they said goodbye, they meant goodbye.

So that, along with what I felt they did artistically, is even another reason to admire them. Because - again, if you're a long-time reader - you already know that if it isn't the art of the lyric that gets me going, it certainly is artists that disappear from or stay out of the spotlight. Salinger. Traven. All the "Outsiders" I've turned you on to. Need I go on?

So beat me up over how there isn't enough edge or whatever the hell. I couldn't care any less than I do. I dig what they've done.

I'm also under no delusion about posting youtube music videos on blogs. Most people see the icon and run. I get it. Go ahead. That's just how it goes.

but my fantasy? When I decide to give up blogging, all you'll see is this video. And if, one day, this is all you see, you'll know what's up...

"River of raincoats in a forest of faces." Are you kidding me? There were people writing a beautiful turn of lyric like that in the last 20 years? Really??

And I always played this when ever I changed blogs, quit smoking, walked away from a bum job, whatever. It fits everything.

"Your stories were a good read, they were dumb as well." Um. Uh-huh.

So kill me now. Beat me up. I don't care. I miss these guys.

February 07, 2012

Hypocrites Always Wanna Play Inno-cent

Just added Lauryn to the iPod. That holy, magical iPod that is cooler than me. No, not asking for your vote here. I did that before but it's not like the votes changed anything.

Hey, here's a cool book I just got...

So it's 3:30 in the morning & what the hell am I doing up? Well, I live here. That's what. No actually I worked overtime today and we got off at Midnight. And here I am.

What do you think of this bit?

In the winter buildings crack and creak with the temperatures and people think this ominous symphony is not the wood in the cold but the midnight killer specific, finally come to work his long awaited killing they always knew was going to happen. Closing in. This is the moment they are about to die. The mad murderer picking just this building among hundreds of buildings, opening just this door among dozens of doors, and choosing just this victim from out of the blue and it’s all over now that death has finally arrived. Any second the always expected black form will crowd the doorway and evil B music will be heard from out the vents. And it turns out to be the heat or lack of heat or a hundred years of wood standing in the same place forever. Everybody wakes up the next morning not dead.

I know you guys aren't up right now. All snoozing away as I write this.

So what are you doing lately anyhow?

All 4 nao.

February 05, 2012


Outside of one or two stalwarts you can count on, my blog reader has been awful quiet lately. I realize that the continual presence of Charlize is putting a lot of you to shame and all but this is ridiculous. I'd like to think you are all self-respectful enough to realize your blogs can catch up to Version53's standard of excellence with just a little bit of work. Come on now.

In the photos I've been picking of her you should by now have noticed a distinct lack of prurient "cheesecake." I think just a classy head shot of my personal icon is sufficient. Besides, long time readers will probably note, suggested sensuality has always been a bigger hit with me than the blatant, obvious kind. I'm actually turned off a little by women who plunge their necklines, wear bright red skirts and almost-all revealing sheer stuff, and vamp around like some kind of sexual robot. I have always been more inclined to find appeal in the moves a woman makes when she is unaware of herself or just being natural. The stuff women do when they're not trying has always been more appealing, and it's always been that way for me. Just in case anyone wanted to know.

Well let's see, what's news around here?

I feel like I'm repeating myself a lot lately. Thrice this and Thrice that. The GOP is a shitbag. Those passing for modern American conservatives need to all die in a fire and blah blah blah. The usual stuff. Has anybody noticed the links to dangerous anarchists being cycled through the sidebar? No? I didn't think so. Oh well. A guy can try.

Boo! Scare ya? Yeah well, whatever.

I'd talk about how a web design service some of us know is pitching in to build a personal website for me, but I may already have. Have I? That's exciting but also a bit perplexing. I have been told by people in the publishing business that writers need to have a "platform" (I keep using that word because that's what has been being described to me) these days so that it is easier for people to represent their work and for publishers to give them a window of opportunity. Here's an article at Poets&Writers that sort of backs that up. A pretty engaging discussion there if you get a chance. I'm gearing up for a campaign to once again try and storm the bastions of ink and paper. But I may end up looking at the small press world - which has been my haunt anyway - if it starts to look a little dreary. The plain fact is that the publishing world seems to be going through a drying-up phase. And the indies are simply exploding. So far as that goes you have to wade through a lot of shit to find good stuff, but good stuff exists. If you read our magazine you'll get some names you need to follow up on. Just sayin'. Again.

But anyway the website thing is perplexing because, as I explained to the designer doing the work on it, on the one hand I'd rather pull a B. Traven and live and work anonymously in the lost hills of Mexico, but the realities are that you have to get published before you can deny the attention. Sort of goofy if you ask me, but that's the truth. So I've had to come up with "I did this" and "I did that" to fill in some of the biographical stuff that has to be posted and - i tell you what - you do that for any length of time and you start to feel like a self-promoting twit.

I have found that putting together the work of other writers is incredibly rewarding. But I think I said that once before too?

So obviously I have nothing new to say except the usual hurr durr.

Hurp... durp...


February 01, 2012

Separated At Birth?

Governor Mitt Romney and Guy Smiley...

No... it's the same guy. Silly.