So, you really aren’t going to sign Kaepernick?

This time last year, I wrote an article about the persecution of Colin Kaepernick by the NFL and its fans for his refusal to stand for the national anthem out of protest for something larger than himself. I find myself standing where I did last year, if not more firmly behind Kaepernick because it’s apparent that the NFL and its fans have learned nothing from 2016, both on the field and off.

Since then, a whole slew of things have become clear; the NFL is not concerned with putting a premium product on the field, your average NFL fan is rapidly losing interest in the game, and those left invested in the game are probably the most morally confused human beings on this planet. The 2016 season, its offseason, and the start of the 2017 season have demonstrated an absolute failure to rectify any of the issues that continue to plague the league.

Let’s start with Colin Kaepernick. As of today, September 7th, Kaepernick remains unsigned in a league where at least 10 teams have been struggling to find a starting quarterback this offseason.

With the exception of Peterman — Tyrod Taylor will start — all of these quarterbacks will be starting Week 1 for their teams. Out of those quarterbacks, only one has made the playoffs as a starter, Jay Cutler. Of course, it is highly unlikely that any of the aforementioned quarterbacks’ teams will make the playoffs. With that said, I’d challenge anyone to look me in the eye, with a straight face, and tell me that Kaepernick doesn’t give any of those teams a better chance, or any other team with a solid starter an opportunity to succeed if their quarterback goes down?

Last season, Kaepernick threw four interceptions in 12 games. FOUR. Giving him a career best TD/INT ratio. On a team that went 2-14. And he was sacked 38 times. He’s a versatile quarterback who can run the ball, giving a team the opportunity to have a dynamic offense. And for a league that so desperately needs to save face with its off-the-field issues, Kaepernick has never been fined, suspended, or arrested — something that is another mess itself. Kaepernick is charitable and involved in other causes, not just throwing money at the usual suspect organizations, but really giving money and time to charities at the local level.

By any other league’s standards, Kaepernick would more likely be revered than reviled. But this is the NFL. This is a league that doles out bigger fines and suspensions to those who smoke the reefer on occasion than those who have committed assault and domestic violence. A league that fails to embrace individuality, choosing to fine players who celebrate a touchdown or interception rather than let them celebrate their moment. A league who ignores the increasing evidence that the game it produces is severely damaging to its players quality of life.

As for the league’s fans, there is a myriad of reasons why they are losing interest. For me personally, it’s an amalgam of the above. You can point to the schedule — Thursday Night Football namely — and say who is going to want to watch the Bills and the Jets play in the middle of November? You can point to the lack of talent in NFL commentating and the refusal to put some older commentators out to pasture. You can point to millennials because why not?

Or you can point at Colin Kaepernick — who took the rare opportunity to use his platform and fame to take a stand for something — and scapegoat him because you are unwilling to admit that the league is in a tailspin. You can use this gift and rile the simpletons who will stand unwaveringly behind symbols instead of people and threaten to stop watching if the un-American Kaepernick ever played another game in this league. And some did. But compared to all of the other reasons people stopped watching, the anthem protests was only marginally greater.

As a Jets fan, I haven’t exactly had a reason to be enthusiastic. I find myself rooting more for my fantasy team than I do the Jets. As someone who has been gradually losing interest in football for years, Kaepernick actually gave me something to watch. And I don’t mean on the field. It was fun watching people’s conservative NFL bedrock get shaken from within. And to watch the ripple effect of other players joining him across the league. And then in other leagues. And then it entered the zeitgeist.

I love that Kaepernick challenged the status quo. I love that he got people talking, and still has people talking. And seeing these conversations about race and economics and politics happening in non-traditional places like ESPN and Sunday Night Football is worth it. It forces people out of their comfort zones. As far as his play is concerned, there is no reason for Kaepernick to be anywhere other than at the very least an NFL sideline, if not on the field. I mean, look at those starters.



Can we stop being outraged at petty shit now — Colin Kaepernick

Outrage topic of the week: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the singing of the national anthem during a preseason game.

How dare he? Where is his patriotism? What Kaepernick did is so un-American and disrespectful to our flag, our country, our troops, my old dog Skip, my second-grade teacher……….

Let’s start with the obvious here; nobody has to stand for the singing of the national anthem. We stand for the anthem and the pledge of allegiance because social convention and tradition have told us to. It’s innocuous. Standing or not standing for the national anthem has zero bearing on anyone’s well-being. There’s a time and place for its singing, and when it is sung, it is generally respectful to those in various branches of our armed forces to stand and remove your hats. I take no issue with this. It’s tradition. I believe in tradition as a nation.

That said, as much as I value tradition, I value more so an individual’s right to speech and expression. Especially when that individual is protesting the way that things are in support of an ideal for the way that things ought to be. Kaepernick is a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Movement, which has been bringing light to police brutality and violence towards people of colour and the very communities that the police are charged with protecting.

There are some that believe that celebrities should keep quiet, do their jobs, and never speak about politics, religion, and society, out of this notion that they are ill-informed. Sure, some are. I’m not going to take Jenny McCarthy’s advice on vaccinating my prospective child, but she has the right to espouse whatever anti-vaxxer garbage that she sees fit. But if Colin Kaepernick wants to voice his concerns about what is happening to a community he is a part of, or if Arian Foster wants to explain his lack of religion in a league where everything is about “faith”, then they should absolutely do it. We get angry when celebrities are egomaniacal, but then when they want to weigh in on the issues like everyone else, they are chastised for it.

I am in the camp that believes that celebrities should be using their voice in support of social movements, critiquing our politics and religion, or just commenting on the Zeitgeist. We give them this stage, but just expect them to perform. They are members of society. And just like Aunt Edna and her friends at the home discussing Donald Trump over a game of canasta, Colin Kaepernick should also be allowed to speak.

As far as whether what Kaepernick did is “un-American” or “un-patriotic”, it depends on your view of patriotism. If you view flag-waving, party-line espousing, red white and blue wearing, and god-fearing as patriotic, then so be it. To me, that’s more nationalistic. Something that the very people who you are honouring with the national anthem fought vehemently against seventy years ago. Nationalism, en masse, is dangerous. It’s what raises dictators to power. It’s what is used to veil awful, inhuman ideas as national prerogatives.

No, that’s not my definition of patriotism. My definition of patriotism is exercising the very rights that are afforded to us, protected by our sovereign doctrine, in support of progress. Is it more patriotic to stand, en masse, and condemn someone for voicing their concern, for using their 1st amendment right to voice that concern in the face of vast criticism? I don’t agree with Colin Kaepernick’s entire view of the world as he sees it, but I will certainly not criticize him for using his celebrity to voice it.

As an American, someone living in a country where my right to free speech is protected by our constitution, I applaud anyone who will stir the pot. Whether I agree with that person is beside the point. For someone with a liberal viewpoint, to voice his opinion in a league whose fans are traditionally conservative is important. As a society, we are shifting from a marketplace of ideas to an echo-chamber. Everyone stays in their corner and discusses their issues with each other and all agree with each other and never welcome criticism or input from the outside. Conservatives shut down discourse when liberal ideas are voiced and vice versa. Everyone exists in their safe-spaces. Yes, you too, conservatives (See: 4chan pol).

Just as I spoke about the dangers of nationalism, there is a great danger in compartmentalization. You cannot have everyone off in their own space refusing to exist with each other. That’s not the way society works. If you exist in the public sphere, you exist with everyone, and everyone’s ideas, favourable or not. You do not get to choose what you hear and don’t hear when you are outside the comfort of home.

So the next time you stand up at that sporting event and the guy next to you is seated, shrug it off. Who cares? Maybe he’s got a boner. Awkward.


Why I hate #NoTrump, and why every other Bernie supporter should too

Are you a Bernie Sanders supporter? Do you feel completely dejected now that the primary season is over? As we sit in the waning hours of the Republican National Convention, and only days away from the Democratic National Convention, it is clear that we are faced with yet another giant douche/turd sandwich face-off this November. As much as we rallied, voted, and told our parents and grandparents about this lovable 74-year-old Brooklynite who wanted to change the way we view the system, it was not enough. We fell short of the 2,383 delegates needed for nomination. Partly, this was on us as a generation. We are often all talk and no action and our failure to register in time for our states’ respective primaries is evidence enough for us. Partly, this was on the absurdist notion that 716 ‘superdelegate’ votes can dispel popular sentiment and choose a candidate for us. At the end of the day, Hillary Clinton is the soon-to-be-official nominee for the Democratic Party. With Donald Trump firmly at the helm of the Republican party, the stage is set.

Before I truly begin here, let me say that I have written about Donald Trump in the past. In that post, I lay out why a Trump presidency is actually the ‘lesser of two evils’. I stand by much of what I said. I believe that when weighing the ramifications of a Trump presidency vs. a Clinton presidency, a Trump presidency would be better for progressive, liberal values in that Trump would be an awful president, rallying progressives in the next election cycle. This might be bullshit. It probably is. But I genuinely do not believe in Hillary Clinton. I do not believe that she will do any more than Barack Obama did for the American people.

Since it became clear that Trump would be the nominee for the Republican party, Hillary Clinton and the DNC has relied heavily on this notion that Trump is the worst major candidate for president in U.S. history. He may very well be. He plays to the most ignorant, uneducated, bigoted segment of our voting population. He uses vitriol better than any Jerry Falwell-esque preacher ever could. He is extremely unqualified for office and contradicts himself in every other speech or interview he gives. And with all this, it would only make sense that the opposing candidate would jump on this. Social media hashtags such as #NoTrump or #NeverTrump have emerged to rally the troops to Hillary. I won’t attribute these to the Clinton campaign because I honestly do not know where they came from. With that said, Clinton supporters have by and large kept them alive for months.

Hillary Clinton has built her campaign around this. She and her staffers have worked harder to disqualify Donald Trump for the presidency than they have to qualify Hillary Clinton. In June 2016, she gave a speech comparing her views on foreign policy to that of Donald Trump. Reading the transcript, Clinton speaks more about Donald Trump than she does herself. She has been doing this for months before reaching the delegate total for the nomination. Ignoring the other controversies surrounding her, Hillary Clinton has managed to run a campaign mostly based on the lack of qualifications of her opponent, rather than her own merit. And as for the part of her campaign that actually lays out her views and policy, it is microcosmic of her political career — it is largely based on public sentiment instead of gumption.

Hillary Clinton has rarely taken the progressive approach to issues. She only began supporting LGBT issues when it became popular to do so. After initially supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal hailing it as the ‘gold standard’, Clinton changed her opinion based on the public response to it. These shifts coupled with her lack of truly progressive views should be a red-flag to the horde of Bernie supporters now being called to vote for Hillary. And that call to vote for Hillary is being made mostly because #NoTrump.

As a Bernie supporter, I reject this notion. As a Bernie supporter, I found hope in a man who has challenged the status quo for his entire political life. Since announcing his intent to run for president, Bernie Sanders has opened the eyes of an entire generation to the real issues that plague our country and the forces that continue to ensure its hold. Bernie started a political revolution on the basis of the inequalities that exist in America; a subject that is taboo on the grand stage. We supported Bernie because Bernie supported us — minorities, students, the elderly, the lower and middle classes. Bernie didn’t coddle the ‘job creators’ or vilify our trade partners. He shifted the spotlight from the usual wedge issues and onto the issues which could unite us.

For these reasons, I find it abhorrent that anyone who supported Bernie Sanders and his political revolution could vote for Hillary Clinton for any reason, let alone #NoTrump. His endorsement of Clinton was disappointing to say the least. For someone who always identified as more of a socialist than a mainstream Democrat to stand, rank-and-file with a moderate Clinton is a tough pill to swallow. For someone who took his label as a ‘fringe’ candidate and ran with it, only to support Clinton because — again — #NoTrump, makes me feel like this was all for naught. And I cannot accept that. And if you are a Bernie supporter, neither should you.

You might have real reasons for voting for Hillary Clinton, to which I say, vote for her. But if you are thinking about casting your ballot for her simply because she is the ‘lesser of two evils’, please consider this: there are other options. You probably know where I’m going with this; third-party candidates. You are damn right. “But third-party candidates aren’t viable for office”. If we continue to not vote for them, you are absolutely right. But I challenge you to think of it this way; Bernie Sanders may as well have been a third-party candidate. Bernie was for the majority of his political career an independent politician. His switch to the Democratic party for this election was simply to get his name on the national stage. And even with this simple change, Bernie Sanders managed to challenge the Democratic establishment, losing to Hillary Clinton by only 359 delegates — superdelecunts excluded.

There is a whole slew of third-party candidates representing varying views on the political spectrum. Most notably are Jill Stein of the Green party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian party. Stein supported Bernie’s campaign and aligns with many of his views on income inequality, healthcare, education, the banks and more. Johnson is a Libertarian who believes in personal freedom coupled with smaller government. I strongly encourage everyone reading this to research some of the other candidates running for president.

For a country that prides itself on freedom, it is hypocritical to consider ourselves bound to two political parties which continue to take us further and further down the rabbit hole. We are stagnated, economically, politically, and in our standing in the world. If we truly want to “Make America Great Again”, we need to look in the mirror and address what is wrong with ourselves. We continuously support a political system that presents us every November with a choice between a rock and a hard place. Political views are not black and white. They are in constant flux, changing with the times. But our parties haven’t. They are hyper-polarized and won’t budge from their poles. And they won’t unless we make them.

While I absolutely despise the thought of a Trump presidency, I share that sentiment for Hillary Clinton. I am tired of the status quo and so was Bernie Sanders. I want to see a change in our political system. I don’t care who the president is. I want to see a third-party candidate get ten percent of the national vote. I want to see alternative views find their way into the national discourse. I don’t want to see an orange coif and a blue pantsuit bicker about how awful each other are. And because of this, I pledge to vote for a third-party candidate and encourage you to do the same.

Thanks for reading.

Trump can’t be that bad, can he?

So now that the two laggards — and man were they laggards — are out of the race for the Republican nomination for president in #electionshitstorm2016, barring some kind of protest from the establishment at the Republican National Convention in July, Donald Trump will be the nominee. This is great. The best. He’s going to do great things. Little Marco and Lyin’ Ted are out. So sad.

In reality, it is sad. It is sad that this is the best our political system can produce in the year 2016. On one hand, you have the aforementioned Donald Trump, whose accomplishments and qualifications are available to you via YouTube and the numerous soundbites that exist of him talking about himself. On the other hand, there is the prospect of Hillary Clinton, who despite the tremendous support Bernie Sanders has on social media and college campuses, is likely to take the nomination for the Democratic party(Thanks for proving the stereotype of the lazy, uninformed youth voter, millennials).

Let me get this out of the way early. I don’t support Donald Trump the man, the presidential candidate, or any of the ideas he has struggled to string together for his campaign. He has spewed an awful lot of disparaging, ignorant, and bigoted comments directed at a spectrum of minorities. I won’t repeat them. It isn’t worth it. It is terrifying to me that this is the likely candidate for one of our two major parties. But there is this; he may have very well destroyed the party that created him.

The Republican party has long been known as the party of no, gladly championing against “progressive” causes including but certainly not limited to the right to marry, women’s reproductive rights, immigration reform, equal pay, etc.. The Republican party has vilified all of these efforts, hiding behind the old ‘states rights’ argument and the 1st amendment’s freedom of religion, using it to deny people basic human rights. It was an effective front. Under the guise of traditional family values, the party has been able to keep these ideas in the mainstream with a strong supportive base.

Enter the Donald. A wrecking-ball. A no-filtered version of almost every Republican candidate put forth since the 2012 election, save Jon Huntsman, John McCain, Ron Paul, and to a lesser extent, his son Rand. Donald Trump has taken the base that his predecessors helped build through thinly-veiled racism and Christian-conservative “values” and riled them to the polls. How? He’s lifted the veil. He’s made it known what the party is really about. And who it’s true supporters are. And somehow, he’s gotten people who were on the fence about him, in his camp.

Whether what he is doing is calculated, or he is truly erratic, it is working. It is May 4th and he eliminated a sixteen candidate field, with two months to spare. And putting it frankly, the RNC can’t say shit. Isn’t this what the left wanted? An implosion on the right? Well, in order to complete that implosion, Trump needs to be elected. To use several Batman references here, the night is darkest before the dawn, and Trump is the candidate the United States deserves, not the one it needs right now. Maybe he just wants to watch the world burn. OK. I’m done.

You might ask, “Why on earth would any left-leaning person ever vote for Donald Trump?”. It’s an excellent question that I need to answer. It’s simple — Hillary Clinton is not on the left. She’s left of Trump, and Cruz, and Little Marco, and Christie, etc.. But she isn’t really left of center. Militarily speaking, she is hawkish. She is often late to pick up progressive causes, most recently the increasing of state and federal minimum wages, and more importantly, the right to marry. She supported both the TARP and Auto bail-outs during the recession which did little to help those most affected by the economic downturn.

Hillary Clinton is an extension of Barack Obama, a Democrat who again, did little to help the lower and middle classes. And if Hillary Clinton is the best that the Democratic party can offer up after a president who failed to deliver on economic promises to those who were hurt the most. Whether you agree with his approach or not, Bernie Sanders is at the very least commendable for making the economic issues brushed under the rug during the Obama presidency known.

It isn’t necessarily true that Hillary would make a bad president. Given the circumstances under which her husband served as president, she probably would have done better. But when you are looking at a situation where little has really improved over the past eight years, can you really look at Clinton and say that another four — more likely eight — would help the country? I don’t.

Would Trump? Not in the way you would think. A Trump victory would almost certainly be awful in terms of our perception as a nation, our foreign policy, and if handled the way he would, trade. But at the same time, the conditions are set up for him to fail. Either the Republican party, who openly loathes him, retains the House and Senate, and he cannot accomplish anything. Or, the House or Senate goes Democrat, also ensuring a lame duck presidency. Hillary on the other hand, would almost certainly be elected to two terms and depending on the conditions in the House and Senate, will be either a second Obama, or a President who will work with congress to see out her vision.

But my concern is not this election cycle, or the next. We need to think longer term. Four years of Trump could make the country realize that we need progressive ideas in order to truly become “great” again. Eight years of Hillary, or even four, would extend the status quo, disenfranchising more voters from the Democratic party, guaranteeing a right swing.

People always talk about the ‘lesser of two evils’. It’s a fair, but bleak argument. But it’s one I’m making here. And the two ‘evils’ are not the candidates themselves. I think it’s pretty obvious which candidate is more ‘evil’. It’s about the situations that they present. And while the prospect of a Trump presidency is terrifying, it would be more damaging for a moderate Clinton to take the White House, with a Republican following suit thereafter.

Feel free to comment. I look forward to a debate here.

Finality — Thoughts on the ends of things.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything here, but I’m back. For a multitude of reasons, I’ve decided I need to write again. I can’t say things have changed much from my last post, and yet at the same time, a lot has happened. I finally left the country of my birth. I’ve opened up. I fell in love. And lost. And it’s had me thinking constantly about the aforementioned title, Finality.

There’s something both chilling and humbling about the end of something. Let’s start on a light note in order to understand what I mean by the word. Think for a second about the last time you ate a burrito. How was that burrito? Loaded with cheese, rice, carnitas? Did you get guac? Did they charge you for it? Were you salivating as it was presented to you, or as you unwrapped it from the crumpled aluminum foil? Good. That’s how a burrito should make you feel. There is little better in the world of food than a good burrito, and fortunately for me, I’ve got the best burrito place in driving distance from my parents’ house.

Now imagine that after eating that burrito, not immediately, but shortly thereafter, it is your last time eating a burrito ever. It’s a sad thought. Your burrito eating days are over. You didn’t know it at the time, but that burrito was the last you’ll ever have. For whatever reason, Executive Order 1759 of Barack Obama’s presidency outlawed burritos. It may seem absurd, but at the same time, you might be able to see where I’m going here. Expand this notion to something a little more personal. Say the last time you had a meal your grandma made.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘lasts’ lately despite the fact I’ve had a lot of “firsts’. I can’t explain it, but the more I’m experiencing, the more I am looking back. Like I said earlier, I finally left the U.S.. I went to Paris with two of my best friends and had an amazing time. It was truly incredible to experience life in another country. It’s given me the desire to travel like I’ve never had before. And it’s made me want to make sure that it isn’t the last time I travel.

Now, I don’t know what you are thinking reading this, but let me assure you that I’m not afraid of death, or dying without having lived. I just don’t want to settle for a life of mediocrity. I’d rather have a life of living, than a life that is set to a course. Maybe this is me compensating for the fact that my Bachelor’s degree isn’t doing anything for me. Fuck it. I’m existing.

But back to the main point here, it’s not that I fear an end to anything. I don’t. I’ve been merely contemplating it’s occurrence. I’ve been thinking about the last time I saw my grandpa. And the last time I saw him in a state that wasn’t overcome with his cancer. And I’ve been thinking about the last time I saw one of my best friends, two weeks before he died. And that got me thinking about the last time my friends were all together. And that we won’t be again without him.

I’m not old. I’m 25. But even at this age, there comes things that will happen and it will be your last time. It’s unavoidable. So much happens in these lives of ours. And it’s human to look back on these things. But rarely do we get the opportunity to experience something with the knowledge that it’s the last time it will happen. I’m hardly the person who will ever say “live life to the fullest” — I’m highly cynical and laughs at every quote in relation to it — but I can’t help but look back at these events. In one of my favorite books, Kurt Vonnegut writes in Slaughterhouse Five about human nature,

“And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.”

We are fated to look back. It is human nature to look into our past. The future is scary and the past provides a history lesson. It provides comfort, even if the memory is painful.

I fell for someone, hard. And everything I did with her made me feel good, better. And when it’s happening, you never think that it will end. And you shouldn’t. When it’s over, you reflect. And you know that what you did was the last time. The last time you hold her. The last time you tell her everything about you. The last time you kiss her. And it hurts when you think about it. But eventually you move on.

But you have to look back. The past is so important. Your personal past, your history. Every history teacher will opine that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. And while they are talking about another kind of history, it still applies. They are right. If you don’t look back, you cannot move forward. So whether it is nostalgia, or the fact that you can’t get over your past, looking back is human. And it will make you better. Don’t forget that.

I mentioned earlier that we rarely get to look at something as it is happening and know that it is the last time. If and when you know,  just be human. Live out that moment. Make those around you feel loved. Be funny. Be in the moment. Because you will look back on it. No matter what. And you will want to say that without a doubt you enjoyed every moment of it. Or that you made someone feel like the best person on earth. Or that someone’s last moments with you meant something.

You aren’t going to always know. You can’t know. But on the off-chance that you do, make it count. It is a rare thing to be conscious of the finality of something. But if you are, don’t squander that moment. It will mean something to you, and others around you. Coming from someone with regrets, trust me; you will most certainly look back.


Tonight, I find myself sitting here, laughing to myself about nothing. It’s not really nothing. It’s something, just nothing noteworthy. And not laughing in a haha way. Almost in a nervous break kind of way. It’s worth noting however, I have not had a nervous breakdown. Yet. I’m merely laughing at things in my own life that only I would find funny. Like that every time things are going exceptionally smoothly in one area of my life, another area blows up and leaks fluid all over the place. Actually, my radiator hose exploded and leaked coolant all over the hood of my car. How apropos?

I mean, it was my fault. About a dozen people who have been in my car over the past few months complained that they’ve smelled antifreeze. Normally, a person might take note of that. Normally a person might take note of the fact that they themselves have smelled antifreeze every damned time they started their car. But like the smell of stale cigarettes or pet dander, I guess a person just gets used to it. So instead of taking note of the subtle, sweet smell emanating from the AC vent, I just let it go. And then my car was telling me, “Low Coolant”. At that point, a person would surely do something about it. Ha. I respond to explosion. And so I received. White smoke, a stronger smell, and gauges I’d never seen lit, all telling me, “Pull the fuck over”. And now I listened. I park, cautiously open the hood, and watch as the remainder of coolant in the tank shoots into my face, as if to say, “Told you so, fucker!”. A four inch tear in my radiator hose and antifreeze everywhere but in its tank.

Now someone who knows something about cars will tell you, it’s an easy fix, no problem. And it was. But it required enlisting some help. Help from someone I hesitate asking for anything these days. My father. Living under the man’s roof these days is seemingly too much to ask. Great, daddy issues. It’s not like that. I have my issues, but I’m not the only one who does. And it wasn’t always this way. Not to get sentimental, but when I look at him, I try to look at what once was, not what is. But who he is now is hard to ignore; Empty, resentful, purposeless. And towards him, I feel pity and hate, a longing for who he was, and a desire to move on.

When I was a kid, my dad was a hero. He was the guy who would keep me home from school to build tracks for my Thomas trains or construct LEGO cities. He was the guy who would have a catch or shoot a puck around whenever I wanted. He was safety, he was fun. He put a guitar in my hand and taught me my first chords. He would help with my homework. He was a dad. But he was also a kid. Not in an age sense — he was 26 when they had me — but in a mind sense. So here was this man-child teetering between parent and friend. When we were kids — I have two younger siblings — this was great. We had it easy when it came to parenting, which of course made it harder for my mom.

Eventually, as biology will tell you, kids get older. Somewhere along the way, we grew up. But our dad didn’t. Our needs with him changed progressively from playing with LEGOs to needing a ride to a friends house to having to pay for an SAT Test or college application. As the oldest, I was the test child; higher expectations, more rules, and an abyss of uncertainty for my parents. While my mom had half a clue, my dad did not. As a kid himself, he was a rebel from when his own parents divorced. He wasn’t smart in a school way, which isn’t to say that he is dumb by any means. But his later childhood gave him zero sense of how to relate on any level to the three of us who were school smart, and had college ambitions. For each of us, he disappeared from our lives when school really started to matter. Physically he was present, but mentally and supportively, he was absent. In some ways, I have a hard time faulting him for this. In others, I feel it was his obligation to try.

Like many fathers, my dad has seen fit to lament about how hard he had it when he was a kid. He had to fight and work for all that he had. And while I don’t doubt this, I know him. I know that when he was a kid and teenager, he fought his  mother and step-father on everything. He too idealized his father — and still does. He probably had it as tough as he says, but he probably also had a fault in his own trouble. Where my dad differs from many fathers, is that his lamentation isn’t playful or joking. It comes across and has always come across as resentment towards who we are and what we have. Most parents work hard so that their kids can have a better life. My mother is this way, my father is not.

My dad worked for twenty-seven years for the railroad. He endured scorching summers, brutal winters, and dozens of tropical storms and hurricanes during his tenure, constantly exposed to all of what mother nature had to offer. I do not envy him. He did what he needed to to support his family. But I do not pity him either. He did what he needed to do to support his lifestyle as well. As a hobbyist and materialistic person, my dad has always made purchases to make him happy, whether we had the money or not. More often than not, he payed for these things with credit. Computers, musical equipment, jet-skis and a boat, etc.. There is nothing wrong with having a hobby. There is nothing wrong with spending money. But there is something wrong with putting your family in debt at the expense of your happiness. Coupled with expensive family vacations, bills added up, reaching a tipping point at a time that mattered most.

My parents always expected us to go to college. I was a solid B+, often A student. I had the grades and scores to go to all six schools that I applied to. I was in honors classes and Advanced Placement classes through most of my high school years. The college process was new and exciting to me. Seeing what schools my friends would apply to, and which ones we would visit, and fall in love with, would make you forget you were in high school, if only for short moments. And as acceptance letters would pour in, we were happy for each other, and ourselves. We made it. And our parents were happy.

For me, I was torn between a state school that several of my friends were going to, or were in the area of, and a notable school from another state. But as we visited these schools, a reality hit; how are we going to pay for this? The excitement from applying and visiting faded quickly. On one trip, it became clear that I would be staying home for school. Growing up in a middle class town, most of my friends parents had saved a little bit of money for their kids to go to school, enough for a semester or two, leaving them having to co-sign loans for their kids. I knew I had neither.

My friends went away, and I stayed home. I looked for the positives; home cooked meals, the ability to work and save money, less loans I’d have to take out. I settled on the thought. That’s not to say I wasn’t disappointed. But I took it in stride, increased my hours at work, and started college. But it didn’t sit right with me. Right off the bat, I was paying for my father’s mistakes. And while my mother apologized — and still does despite my pleas for her to stop — I’ve never heard two words from my father on it. But at that rate, I can’t pretend that I’ve ever heard those words in a meaningful way from him. Or any meaningful words at all.

Like I said earlier, my dad was great when we were kids. A heroic plaything that would always say yes to a catch or a game on the Sega Genesis. But somewhere between adolescence and college, that man faded. The man who complained about money, and what we were and weren’t doing right, and who was selfish in every action he took emerged. And lately he is the man who can’t wait to get out of dodge. For years, my siblings and I have been made to feel like a burden, the one thing holding him back from moving to Florida to live out his days. My youngest sibling, who is home the most and still in high school has felt the worst of this. And where my plans were changed because of a lack of planning, her’s are under pressure to coincide with his.

I also noted that he is mentally absent from both ours and our mother’s lives. There is little day-to-day recollection of what we are doing, when we are working, what classes we are taking, etc.. Over the past few years, we have lost some friends and family that have affected us in various ways. A few years ago, our grandfather passed, my mother’s father. He was sick for half a year, and went painfully. Despite a strained relationship, my mom loved her father and needed support. The same went for my siblings and I. My grandpa was one of my favorite people. Everyone knew this. When he passed, my mom was left to deal with the days to come seemingly alone. Absent, my dad gave few empty words. Again, when her grandmother passed this year, he was here in body, but not support. One of my best friends passed last month, and I received nothing more than a by-the-way “I’m sorry”.

My father was never the type of person you could talk to, but you don’t realize this when you are younger. But you don’t think about it either. You kind of just throw your kid problems on your parents and they try their best to console you. As a teenager, I learned early that I couldn’t talk to him. He was preoccupied with his debt to be of any real support. My mother realized this too. She has tried to be both mother and father.
Where my father has been absent, my mother has been present tenfold. She has unwaveringly supported everything that we do, has been involved in every facet of our lives, sometimes to a fault. She has been a mother, a friend, a provider, and when necessary, a parent. She has always had our interests in mind, and our needs taken care of. And looking back, I appreciate where she had to stand in, playing all roles. She still does. But it takes it’s toll. You get the feeling that she has four kids, not three and a husband. She has always done our best to shelter us from problems they’ve had, where my dad would make them public knowledge. I could continue about my mother, but it has nothing to do with the way I feel towards my dad.

An outsider would say, a momma’s boy with daddy issues. But I’m old enough to see the full picture. My dad will deny everything I’ve said outright, because that too is in his nature. And he may resent me for it, the way I resent him for making me feel this way. I don’t want to. I want my dad back. I want to go back and feel what I felt when I was a kid. But I don’t need that anymore. I don’t really need anything from him anymore. But my siblings do. Then need two parents. They need a person they can talk to about life, and what they need. All I need is a reason to talk to him. And right now even that is a struggle. Unless I need to change out a hose.



Innocuous words of discontent and ill-advise stream effortlessly from his mouth.

If counted, it would span the length of a Russian novel.

I offer a retort.

In one ear, out the other.

The stream continues.

The words take the form of a personalized infomercial.

I am the audience, drifting off to sleep at three in the morning.

Except it is six in the evening.

And again, everything I am and will become is in question.

“What do you want to do?”

“Why aren’t you networking?”

“Jack’s kid Mikey is starting up a business. Don’t you want to be your own boss?”

“C’mon, think of something and we could be rich!”

The implication is that I am doing nothing, and have no plan.

I have a plan.

It is my own.

I reply. This time with a prod.

Ah, the beast awakens.

The soma-like nature of this one-sided conversation sours.

Argument ensues.

He gets personal.

I get personal.

But I have the upper hand.

His words are less of a sword, but a window.

A window into his fears, his doubts, his shortcomings.

I concede, feigning loss.

He wins.

But I see it.

He is suffocating.

Status Quo Redux – My Election Day Wish

Last August, I wrote a blog post titled ‘Status Quo’. In it, I bitched about our society and political leadership(or lack thereof), our interests, obsessions, and total lack of substance. So today, a day before Election day 2014, I would like to revisit two of these ideas.

I think it is safe to say that we as a society are disinterested and disenchanted with our political system. There are many reasons for this. For one, people tend to think that politics doesn’t affect them, and in turn, see no reason to participate in its process. This appears to be true on a surface level. We have minimal opportunity for direct participation in the political process. We have no direct say in what legislation is passed or how federal, state, and local budgets are allocated.

However, people have a loose grasp on what is political. The short answer; everything. Washington is Political.  Your workplace is political. Your kids’ school playground is political. Anywhere where you have to interact and compromise and solve problems is political. Politics affects everyone in some tangible way. There are places where you have greater sway, and there are places where you are one in 300 million.

Why does this matter? Because the minute you become disinterested, is the minute you give up whatever political clout you have.

Have you ever wondered why we have a ‘Status Quo’ mantra in our political system? It’s because “We the People” have allowed it. We have drawn a line in the sand and said, “I believe this, this, this, and this. I am a Democrat” and the same for a Republican. We have told ourselves that there are no other options because there is safety in numbers. Nothing is black and white. No issue has two viewpoints, two solutions. And yet, we continue to support a system which projects this idea.

“But I don’t vote. I’m not supporting anything.” Yes, yes you are. By not participating, you are not challenging the established system, you are only ignoring it. Guess what, bud? The system is ignoring you too. Disinterest is reciprocal. If our representatives aren’t challenged, then they are allowed to continue the course they are on.

So let me get to my point. There are two established parties which have been prominent throughout a great period of time in American history. Both parties are broad-based ‘Big tent’ parties which look to appeal to majorities. The issue here, is that you may be supporting a party whom you agree with, on only one key issue.

Take same-sex marriage for example. You may disagree vehemently with the Democrats on their track record in wars and the economy, but because same-sex marriage is the issue you care most about, you will vote for them. That’s OK, if the Democratic party is championing same-sex marriage as its biggest focus. But what if it’s not? What if that gets sidelined for immigration? You have put all of your political capital in a party that says it represents one of your ideals, but can’t tackle the issue this time around.

Is there a solution? Absolutely. Look to the east, across the pond. European democracies have had a longstanding tradition of many political parties representing its people. These parties do not merely exist, they have representation. Proportional representation allows constituents to be represented by parties proportional to the percentage vote it gets. Say there are 100 members of congress and your party gets 14% of the vote, they get 14 representatives. Here, you would get none.

There are third-parties in the United States. Chances are their viewpoints on issues more accurately represent your own views and on a wider scale. The problem is that they are silenced. Third-party may as well be a derogatory term. They do not have a national platform. On the state and local level it varies. For the most part, third parties end up endorsing the major candidates due to a lack of support.

But it’s not for a lack of trying. Third parties are often at the forefront of major social movements, rallies, and protests. Despite a lack of voter support, there is public support for their ideals. Where that support fails to translate, is where the system restricts third parties.

But that does not mean there aren’t third party candidates out there, in your state, in your district.

In the title, I alluded to a wish. Here it is: I wish that one more third-party or independent candidate will get elected tomorrow. I also wish that people are able to look past the status quo, and use their vote in a meaningful way.

Many believe a vote for anyone other than a major candidate is a wasted vote. I believe the opposite. If you are voting to prevent the other side from winning, it’s a wasted vote. The only way you can change the tide is by using your basic political capital, your vote. If a third party candidate receives even 10 percent in his or her race, it’s a start. It’s a message. It says, “I’m interested, Washington. It’s time you were too.”

Analysis on Brainwashing

Where is my mind?

The book I read, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, is a Dystopian novel that relates to the submissive pressure of the authority and why many people obey – not out of genuine altruism but fear. Alex, the anti-hero of the story, committed many crimes, but hypnotizing him by corresponding nausea with the contemplation of violence is not morally acceptable. That method strips the human right of choice and without that ability to make choices, the mere remains of freedom that we acquire no longer exist. This zombifying tactic is called brainwashing.

Brainwashing, a method of systematically changing attitudes or altering beliefs, is often used today, but it is not as noticeable or direct due to concealment. It is quite simple though. It is often used on children due to the influence of an adult who has been influenced themselves. The first step is to eliminate outer influences. They may…

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