Snarky Behavior

Entries tagged as ‘dc’

Doing Good vs. Doing Well

July 24, 2007 · 9 Comments

My friend Robby has pointed out that I’ve been rather harsh on the types of people who gravitate toward the seat of national power (which I will call home for only one month longer). He suggested that “they” — a convenient target of my criticism– might actually be exaggerated extrapolations of “us” — my beloved inner-circle.

I suppose there’s a small bit of truth to the assertion. But moreover, I think that my true inclination is to distance myself (and my friends) from all parties; to paint ourselves as the Swiss neutrals in this hipster/douchebag war.

But why would I want to be the bard, or the impartial observer(s)?

Well, part of me recognizes that I too am an ideologue, and so are many of my friends. But of a different sort. We came to DC for the two-year stay only, and not the lifetime committment. We leaned to the left, wanting to do good. Wanting not to “sell-out.”

But two years out of college, and I’ve barely scraped together a positive net-worth. “Doing good” can be a fruitless and frustrating exercise. At the very least, it’s trying on one’s patience. “Doing good” moves at a slower pace than someone like me, who’s been in a hyperbaric chamber of competition since the age of 13, is comfortable with.

So my priorities, like many of my friends, have shifted to “doing well.” That implies elite education. Professional school. Complex problems and creative solutions, on demand. Long hours. High reward. And high compensation.

It all sounds dangerously close to “selling out.” Compromising my values of leisure, creativity, exploration of intellectual curiousity, etc. for comfort, security, and status. And a big fucking plasma TV.

For two years in DC, I didn’t have to make that decision. But once I signed a promissory note for $50,000 in student loans, I did. And in doing so, I severely limited my professional options.

SIPA is an interesting school. Of the 250 or so students in every class, I would guess nearly half go into the humanitarian/peace keeping/development tracks. This path leads to NGOs and other third-sector organizations that are very rewarding metaphysically, but don’t help much in making those $1000 per month loan payments. The rest of the students go into the security/management/finance concentrations, which result in careers in the consulting/finance/management sectors. And nice suits.

And then there’s me. I still feel like Keeanu Reeves in The Matrix, deciding which pill to take. Sure, I’d like the TV, but I’m going to sweat through the suit anyway… might as well get one on the cheap.

I’m certainly not alone in this. Daniel Brook calls our predicament “The Trap.” The gist of his book? Rising economic inequalities lead to rising inequalities in freedom and opportunity. In the world of relativity, even the uber-wealthy private equity shmucks are serfs lining the coffers of the Blackstone billionaires.

So, without an affordable education, our opportunities are limited. The decision to “do good” or “do well” is often times made for us. Which, you know, sucks. I want to do good, and feel good about doing it. But I’m not sure how soon I’ll be able to.

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The Sexy Appeal of Libertarianism

July 17, 2007 · Leave a Comment

The blue-blood/hipster divide in Washington really got me thinking: just what exactly is it about this city that attracts young, pretentious, unattractive kids to come here straight out of college?

[Imagine me, in a world without laziness, creating a venn-diagram with the overlapping categories of "young"," pretentious," and "unattractive." Thanks.]

And yes, I have considered that I may very well exist in that tri-overlap (along with most hipsters and blue-bloods), or at least very close to it. But I’ve already explained my reasons for coming to DC , which provide us with little insight when we’re attempting to extrapolate to the aggregate.

Strictly on the basis of presumptive-subjective analysis (my favorite brand of social science), I would venture to guess that these people (who, let’s be clear, are the Young Republican/Model UN/Mock Trial kids in college) feel the need to justify their Political Science BA (or more appropriately, BS) degree by finding employment directly in the field. They are freshly branded ideologues armed with the philosophical absolutes of Kant, Rawls, Hume, Dewey and Struess to inform their politics.

When the bambinos actually get to DC, they find the city full of wonks who have long since ditched most political philosophy, or at least boiled all concepts down to simple practicums that can be defended with a casual understanding of Adam Smith, Milton Friedman and (surprisingly) Woodrow Wilson on the right, and John Maynard Keynes and JS Mills on the left. Commitment to moral absolutes is traded in for commitment to party, a crash course of real-politik and pragmatism ensues, and after two years, every headstrong idealist who hasn’t already defected to law school is a humorless, pessimistic, cynical (pretentious, ugly, still young) wreck.

But why the hipster/blue-blood divide? Once the passionate idealists recognize that passionate idealism is summarily and universally mocked/scorned by all parties, they are desperate to self-congregate in circles of like-minded people and hone the skills of sarcasm, feigned outrage, ironic humor, etc., etc. that passes for indignation or passion amongst DC’s bourgeoisie class. That, and the drinking/casual sex. That’s important too.

But you know who never abandon their roots? Libertarians. Those bow-tie freaks.

You may or may not have heard that the Libertarian candidate for President (Ron Paul) recently surpassed the former Republican front-runner (John McCain) in both quarterly fund-raising and cash-on-hand.

Now, the rational part of my brain recognizes Paul as a traditional muck-racker, redefining his party’s philosophical base (which had been wrenched away by neo-conservatives). The irrational part honestly believes that Paul is more than an idea broker— he really thinks he can win, and he really would enact all of the restrictions on government which he espouses. (Note: this would leave me FUCKED. Paul wants to abolish the Department of Education, which I indirectly work for currently… and he wants to end all financial aid, which will be putting food on my table over the next two years).

Most libertarians fall in one of two camps: the John Wayne or the Ayn Rand. Paul is a John Wayne libertarian. He just wants the gahbermant to git’ff is back. Taxes? Too much. War abroad? It’s a sandbox, we don’t need any. Pretty simple stuff.

The Ayn Rand Objectivists are a different breed, although they arrive at nearly identical conclusions. They are equally suspicious of government regulation, which stifles the entrepreneurial spirit. All difficult policy decisions can and should be made on the basis of the self-interested individual. Greed is good. Etc., etc.

The simplicity and unambiguity of the political philosophy is astounding. And, as the post title says, it has great “sex appeal.” Especially for me, being from the OC and all.

The reason I am NOT a Libertarian? It’s an incomplete philosophy. It doesn’t account for market failures that bedevil the capitalistic system. It doesn’t provide for a safety net. And it unwisely assumes that everyone acts in their own rational self-interest.

But, I will admit, the political philosophy of “soft paternalism” seems right up my alley. As it turns out, Libertarian Paternalism Is Not An Oxymoron.

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Late Night Potshots

July 14, 2007 · 1 Comment


Look at me! I’m blogging from a coffee shop! Wheeeeeeeeee!

With 32 oz. of caffeine surging through my arteries (I’ll be free-basing espresso by September), I am currently one of those annoying scumbags who takes up entirely too much space at a cafe to plug in their desktop-replacement laptop. Pretty proud of myself about that.

Why am I here? Ostensibly, to fulfill a remedial distance learning requirement for math/econ. But there are entirely too many distractions — the most dangerous of which are summer sun-dresses, my absolute downfall– to relearn integration at a coffee shop.

And I would just do it from my apartment but a.) I need the coffee b.) I’d fall asleep at home c.) I’d rather sit in a freely-provided air -conditioned environment and d.) social norms limit me from surfing inappropriate or embarrassing websites while in public, which keeps me on task.

Clearly, I’ve found other ways to goof off. Including reading The Washington City Paper , a coffee-house staple. This month’s front page article is a half-hearted exposee into the young Washingtonian social-club, Late Night Shots. LNS is an oft-derided target of Wonkette for its ironically ostentatious exclusivity.

Though the writer attended a social event and took seemingly diligent notes, the article itself is severely slanted. She comes across as a loyal soldier lobbying grenades at the army of WASPS, under direct orders from her editor-general. (Nothing like a good class-based prejudicial argument to get tempers heated and people talking.)

Now don’t get me wrong… LNS by all accounts, is a cluster-fuck of douchebaggery. Its members are the vapid, status consumed young Republicans that severely chap my ass every time I’m in Georgetown (formerly recognizable for their popped-collars, they’ve since adapted –”they say no one pops their collars these days.”) This is a social class of future Roves and Cheneys that deserves to be exposed for its hypocritical value systems and latent underlying elitism and social prejudice.

Well, attacking the establishment, or the young spawn of the establishment, is never a difficult task. The article is fast and loose, interviewing members of the group who purportedly “hate what it stands for,” but never explaining why, or what they think the group actually does stand for. Anonymous or pseud0nonomous internet rants are included to demonstrate the groups’ apparently amoral world-views or supposedly ironic brand of humor. But this is done without exploring the pernicious relationships between exclusivity, in-groups, ironic humor, prejudice, racism, insecurity, politics and the rest.

All of which makes the in-group (rightly) suspect that such an article, lacking genuine criticism, is merely sour-grapes… a targeted attack by indie liberal hipsters that resent them for their wealth and influence.

It all reminds me of the Duke lacrosse players. When their rape charges were dismissed, I remember watching them indignantly condemn the media for presuming their guilt, and exploiting the racial and class dynamics of the case.

This pissed me off.

Look, assholes… maybe you didn’t rape a prostitute. Congratulations. But you still wrote an e-mail joking about “killing her as soon as she walked in the door.” And you still embody the old-boy entitlement that is pervasive in our country’s elite institutions.

America needs a legitimate conversation on the degradation of moral values, not on the left, where the “morals” front is always entrenched, but on the RIGHT. The City Paper’s superficial treatment is a missed opportunity to explore the systemic problems of conservative values.

Somewhere between Tom Wolfe’s literary hand jobs and Wonkette’s snarky pot-shots there needs to be critical analysis of the value-system of the ruling class. The City Paper swung and missed.

UPDATE
Two things to add to this:
1.) I called this article “fast and loose.” I meant: It all seems very presumptuous. You would never see an exposee into a gang (another young social group) without extensive research into the backstories of the individual members… some attempt to explain why they choose to behave the way the do.

2.) During a visit at Harvard (which is, fairly or unfairly, the consummate conversation piece , when it comes to issues in higher-education), I remember incredulously listening to a sociology major defend his senior thesis — arguing that social elite are just as constrained (in terms of limitations of opportunities) by their formative environment as are young black youth in America’s urban ghettos. I couldn’t believe it. This gross misconception, I believe, is the pervasive attitude we need to be challenging.

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I’m in Flavor Country

July 12, 2007 · 1 Comment

Just a quick thought today, since I rambled yesterday, and the hour of happiness is quickly upon us:

Did you know?

A packet of cigarettes in DC costs about $5.00.
In New York City it’s around $7.00.

A duty-free carton of ten packs of the same cigarettes can be purchased for less than $20.00 (or roughly $2.00 per pack).

And a smoking-cessation plan (which takes an estimated 6 weeks of commitment to be effective, or all 3 steps of the 2-week courses of Nicorette CQ, at $55.00/ea.) costs roughly $165.00.

So, it’s expensive to smoke, and expensive to quit.

But what’s most expensive, is smoking with the intention to quit. That is, smokers who continue to buy packs in single quantities (instead of bulk) because they want to maintain the illusion that they can quit at any time.

Buying in bulk is an admission of lifetime addiction. It might be the rationally economical decision to make in the long-term. But it’s a decision that few actually make, because it means they’ve admitted to themselves that they can’t quit.

All of which makes me believe that Phillip Morris, which is legally mandated to advertise against it’s own product, actually profits on back-end distribution by promoting smoking as socially unacceptable.

Actually, if you really think about it, the only real danger to the industry is the threat of second-hand smoke, because that messaging encourages self-interested interventions. When individuals are left to their own devices, they tend to remain creatures of habit. Behavioral changes are just too difficult to make of your own accord.

If you know someone who smokes, and they’re still buying single packs, and not bulk:

  • a.) they are addicted
  • b.) they probably want to quit, but aren’t sure how or when
  • c.) they need to know you’ll support them if they decide to try to quit

And the first time they’ll probably try and fail, because they won’t know what to expect. And they might be grumpy and tired for a stretch. But they’ll appreciate your support :)

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Dear Sir: Jury Duty to Fill That Booty

July 5, 2007 · 3 Comments


Dear Sir: Where I write an open letter as a healthy outlet for my anti-authoritarianism, and for the amusement of my friends.

Dear United States District Court for the District of Columbia,

I recently received my summons for jury service. As instructed, I filled out the required information and sent it to your office in the mail. That was roughly six weeks ago.

Recently, when I used your online system to check my reporting status, I was told the following:


As of today, your jury questionnaire, was not received in time to process. Therefore, you are NOT required to report and NO PENALTY will be imposed against you. However, you will be re-summoned again in the future. The Court thanks you for your cooperation on this matter.


While I was not exactly “enthused” about my civic duty in the first place, and do not necessarily lament the resulting deferral, I must admit I am rather surprised that six weeks was not ample time to enter my data into your system.

For two years during college I worked as a research assistant, and my primary responsibility was data entry. No matter how tired I was, or how stressed I might be, or how much I had drank the night before, I never considered this line of work to be even remotely difficult. It was so easy, in fact, that to this day I fail to understand why Mexican day-laborers pine for landscaping jobs when they could make twice the money scribing information from paper to spreadsheet.

At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I would even venture to guess that data entry is so easy, a DC civil servant could do it. Even those educated in your school system.

Now, to be fair, I understand that you are probably working at near-capacity processing jay-walking tickets and legitimate lawsuits. And it must be disheartening going through the process of selecting jurors when their decisions are being summarily dismissed, anyway.

Still though, six weeks is a long time. You already had most of my information anyway, from my drivers license. Oh wait! You suspended that indefinitely until my jay-walking contest is resolved. (You know…because I’m a danger behind the wheel, as demonstrated by my reckless walking habits. Sometimes, I even have a BAC over .08 when I walk.)

And while I do appreciate you not imposing some sort of penalty against me for your failing to process my information, what’s with the ominous “you will be re-summoned in the future”? Can I get a date range please? Believe it or not, people generally like to travel in the summer between June 29 and July 16. But that’s ok, I wanted to block out that window of my summer anyway. Sweaty guys like myself live for high heat and humidity.

All of this hassle so I could register to vote in a city whose motto is “Taxation without Representation.”

As it turns out, I am moving to New York, a real city where people do things like “work.” I’ll be sure to write and let you know how that is.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Franklin Host

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Point, Counterpoint: DC vs LA

June 27, 2007 · 3 Comments

What do these photos have in common? Neither city is EVER that beautiful.

Point, Counterpoint: Where I internally argue two sides of a debate and determine a winner

One of the most common questions I get living on the East Coast is: “why would you ever leave California to move here?”

It’s a fair question. Having lived here in DC now for close to two years, there are some days I wake up in pools of my own sweat, wishing I could just roll out and drive to the beach. Problem is, I have no car, and no beach. I guess I could dump sand in my bed and pass out drinking Coronas and Nyquil (wetting the bed is a lot like peeing in a wet-suit)… but it’s not quite the same.

Now, the above graphic (made in Google Spreadsheets… not as good as M$ PowerPoint 2007 for these purposes, but a perfectly functional and free tool) represents the seven most prevalent factors of consideration taken into account when making the decision where to live after college:

  1. Cost of Living (5%) — not that important, I’m a minimalist at heart
  2. Denizens/Safety (10%) — prefer not to get stabbed
  3. Ease of Transportation (15%) — gas ain’t cheap, I hate traffic
  4. Meaningful Employment (25%) — meaningful in the sense that it provides me with worthwhile experience and I escape with my soul intact
  5. Nightlife (15%) — obvious
  6. Proximity to Friends (15%) — I’m a closet introvert and making new friends is hard work
  7. Weather (15%) — obvious

Now this is a winner takes all point, counterpoint. That is, the city that wins the category gets all of the points. If you don’t like the rules, there’s a little red “X” at the top right corner of your screen. You’re gonna wanna go ahead and click that.

Cost of Living
Having gone to school in Westwood for four years, and paying $500 to split a room the size of a walk-in closet, I was pretty much immune to sticker shock anywhere outside of Manhattan. DC is by no means cheap, but it’s certainly cheaper than West Los Angeles.
5 Points, DC

Denizens/Safety
I actually decided to combine these categories because the chart repeated red as a color, which was confusing. Even combined, these categories are low factors for consideration.

DC’s denizens are a hodgepodge of pretentious assholes with an over-valued sense of self-worth, world-saving hippies, self-absorbed hipsters, old-boy southerners, and stodgy locals who hate the transients that price them out of their homes. LA’s demographics are literally all over the map, but for the purposes of comparison we’ll only consider the Santa Monica/Brentwood/Westwood/Manhattan Beach crowds, since that’s where I likely would’ve lived. Um, not my favorite kind of people. How can I put this? … Guys who say “bra” (as in, “what up, bra?”) and girls who say “I know, right?” and wear those big Nicole Richie sunglasses and ugz and mini-skirts and have fake tans and streaked or dipped hair and carry little dogs in Fendi bags (and on and on)…

For safety, I’ve never been a victim of a violent crime in either city, but clearly LA is the safer environment.
5 points, DC I really hate the people in LA, and the homeless in DC are far more amusing
5 points, LA — Yeah I know I broke my own rules by splitting them up, but I really did intend for them to be separate categories.

Ease of Transportation
Not even close. Growing up in Southern California, you’d think I’d have developed some sort of immunity against the frustration of sitting in traffic (kind of how like New Yorkers develop an immunity against being polite). No. Traffic sucks, and the more you experience it, the more you grow to hate it. Go ahead and take a look at the faces of people driving home in bumper to bumper rush-hour sometime. I’m convinced all pervasive existential depression originates on the 405 freeway.

In DC, I walk 20 minutes to get to work, and metro anywhere else worth going. Plus I don’t have to wake up at 7 every Thursday and Friday to repark my car for street sweeping. Fuck you, LA.
15 points, DC

Meaningful Employment
This was a big draw for me to come to DC. My intention was to work for an NGO, think tank or public affairs firm to gain some worthwhile career experience before applying to a professional school. Well, after doing a BS “fellowship” for a tiny non-profit focused on diplomacy, I was left to scramble for a real job to pay the rent on the lease I signed.

The job I ended up taking wasn’t my first choice or in my preferred field, but it’s been interesting, and I’ve certainly learned the ins and outs of Educational Policy. I could’ve looked elsewhere and made a vertical leap, and I could’ve completely sold out and parlayed a reference into a major-league slimeball lobbying firm, but I knew my time was short and decided to stick it out, and make my “vertical leap” after grad school.

Putting aside my very specific experience, the takeaway here is that anywhere worth working in DC either pays crap or involves selling out in a very tangible way. Whereas LA is chalk full of superficial industries (I probably would’ve worked in real estate development), at least you can leave the office at night with a clear conscience and a light-heart.
25 points, LA — HUGE upset

Nightlife
Now I realize that most people would scoff at me for even considering DC over LA here, but it’s closer than you might think. Although I love Manhattan Beach and am a big fan of Barnie’s Beanery, I loathe (with rare exception) the shi-shi Hollywood/Sunset scene. I appreciate the happy-hour culture of DC, the quality of bar conversations and arguments, and the ability to walk or cab home at the end of the night. Sorry to say, but for me, DC wins.
15 points, DC — Big upset, especially in light of the ugliness factor… DC gets a 6.8 on “hotornot.com”

Proximity to Friends
My closest friends are literally all over the country, but the biggest pocket is actually in the Bay Area and in DC. I think it would’ve been really sad to stay in LA after everyone up and left, and I’m glad I moved.
15 points, DC

Weather
I actually enjoy the winter, but the summer can be hell on earth. No contest here.
15 points, LA

Final Tally
As expected, DC wins by a narrow margin. Although, my priorities are subject to change as I get older. The next test is NYC vs. DC. Or, if I fail out of school, Omaha vs. Santa Monica. That is to say, at my parents house vs. underneath the pier. Stay tuned.

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Thoughts on Mayor Adrian Fenty

June 19, 2007 · Leave a Comment


DC’s 6th Mayor, Adrian Fenty

Let me preface this post by admitting the following: I am (relatively) willfully ignorant when it comes to local DC politics. I embody the transient white yuppy who drives up rental prices in gentrified…er… transitioning neighborhoods, doesn’t attend neighborhood meetings, and doesn’t vote (although I foolishly registered after renewing my license and immediately received jury summons… rookie mistake!)

I don’t read the Examiner, and I certainly don’t read the Currant or whatever the crappy Dupont paper is called. I’ll read the City Paper (which is really well done) while eating at Subway, and will even read the Washington Blade (for sheer amusement) while at Health Bar… which only propagates the “is Jon gay?” speculation.

My two saving graces are the Washington Post and DCist. Without them I wouldn’t have the requisite basic information to be entitled to any sort of opinion on how this city is run. And yes, I am a strong believer that one must first be informed to be entitled to an opinion.

Now, the Post has been very measured in its reporting on Fenty up until this week. He came into office with youth, energy and boundless ambition. Much was made of his self-styling after Bloomberg, and his intention to take executive control over the school district a la Villaragosa. WaPo, from my perspective, seemed perfectly comfortable admiring his command-and-control style and reporting on his high-visibility, without delving too deeply into any hard criticisms. (Note: Links not provided due to laziness)

Last week the gloves came off when Fenty officially took control of the schools and named a government outsider (Michelle Rhee) as Chancellor of the system. From all accounts, Rhee is an all-star in the non-profit sector. But, 1) she has virtually no experience in government administration 2) she’s not Black and 3) she was selected by Fenty in relative secrecy.

For me, 1) is probably a good thing; 2) could be a stumbling block in this city (see: Gallaudet University) and 3) is a who cares, especially if you’re making concessions to executive authority (he’s “the decision maker… he makes the decisions.”) Ha.

Now, the former editor-in-chief of DCist seemed skeptical of Fenty’s philosophy of reform, as embodied by his recent appointments in positions of leadership. He writes:

The revitalization and reform work is, of course, in addition to Fenty’s normal responsibilities, his barnstorming schedule of public appearances, and other important initiatives like crime reduction and the work to get a voting rights bill through Congress. Clearly it’s more than one man can handle, which means that the Mayor must rely on his staff to pick up much of the load and to see through many of the ambitious changes he seeks.

Certainly, Fenty is smart to focus talent where it’s needed most, but the strategy of finding administrators with a “sense of urgency,” as Dan Tangherlini puts it, quickly runs into difficulty. On the one hand, supremely talented men and women are unlikely to stay around long. Lew, and Rhee, and Tangherlini (and Fenty for that matter) will almost assuredly hold their posts for under a decade, and probably less than that. If reforms are dependent upon the individuals who hold leadership posts, then reform will be fleeting.

As I read this, I couldn’t decide if this was a valid assumption or not. Can’t reformers be tornadoes that sweep through an organization and rip out its systemic flaws?

For instance: Isn’t there something to be said about establishing a precedent of strong leadership? Don’t business organizations hire outside consultants all of the time to analyze and restructure their hierarchies and procedures?

Some of the other points I found salient, such as reforming the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs instead of hiring someone who is familiar with how to grease the wheels. But for the most part, I couldn’t help but feel, as well reported as the piece was, that it was needless griping. Strong organizational reform always occurs from the top-down, and that’s what Fenty is trying to accomplish. I applaud him for it.

PS

My step-mom asked me to dispel the myth that civil servants “can’t be fired.” Yes, they can be fired, it just takes a long and intensive process of documenting incompetence. She says that the best managers within bureaucracies take the time to do this (instead of just shuffling people from department to department), and that it’s this shuffling around at the low- and mid-levels that you should be concerned about (not at the top, where there is the most visibility and transparency). So there.

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Busy Bee = Bloody Nose

May 31, 2007 · 2 Comments


What do Lindsay Lohan and I have in common? A bloody nose. That, and a great rack.

Well I woke up this morning with a bloody nose. You can’t really tell because my sheets are already red, but I’m still going to wash them, eventually. I’m clean like that.

Bloody noses are strange. If I lived in some pre-colonial native society I would be slaughtering a buffalo as a sacrifice to the goddess right now. It’s a total freak-out! It’s very disorienting to randomly start leaking fluid from your head. So much so that I called in sick for the first time in nearly 9 months. Use it or lose it… that’s my motto.

As for the cause of the nose-bleed, my body seems to be revolting against the insane abuse I have been sending its way. Without getting into too much detail, let’s just say that since the Monday before last, I have:

  • Gone to bed at 4 am or later 7 times, waking up at 8 am or earlier each time.
  • Lost over $500 playing Pai Gow and Black Jack.
  • Eaten two buffets at approximately 12,000 calories each.
  • Drank approximately 15 red bull and vodkas, 8 whiskey sours, 25 bloody mary’s, 25 gin and tonics, 2 Fat Tuesdays and 40 beers.
  • Smoked countless cigarettes.
  • Walked over 50 miles.
  • Purchased over 20 coffees.
  • Drank less than 2 liters of water.
  • Grown a “Montana Beard,” as my father likes to call it (for its wide open spaces).

It’s the penultimate one that I think has really gotten to me. Somehow I managed to make it through Vegas weighing less on the scale than I had when I left. If I were a plant, I would be brown and withered. But instead I’m bleeding from my nose. Go figure.

One of the problem signs of alcoholism is letting drinking interfere with other important aspects of your life. Considering I am missing work today because my body is breaking down after a two week bender (that won’t end until Saturday, thanks to yet another going away party), I’ve decided to give this due consideration (or at least self-deluded rationalization):

My friend Rohit brought this article to my attention from SFGate.com . It is written in reaction to the public spectacle that is and has become Bay to Breakers… the third Sunday of May when Bay Area hippies and hipsters stagger naked and drunkenly across the city. In his article, entitled Why Are You So Incredibly Drunk? What is it about public displays of extreme, staggering wastedness? Is it fun?” the author writes:


What the hell is the appeal of severe, excessive drinking, over and over again, to the point of illness and physical collapse and extreme stupidity and brain-melting moronism?

(…)

I am talking about all those otherwise healthy, well-bred folk who repeatedly, intentionally cross that threshold of bodily tolerance and behavior, the extreme soaking of the liver, that incredibly toxic and humiliating activity largely undertaken (it seems) by those with good jobs and good families and plenty of beauty and youth and strength but who still find some sort of need to turn into heavy-lidded blotch-faced weak-legged body-slammed mysteriously bruised-in-the-morning lumps of bloated toxic hangover every third day and definitely on Fridays.

(…)

Of course, you could also easily argue that regular, near-comatose wastedness also reflects a rather obvious sense of sadness and self-loathing, a feeling where you are, deep down, so afraid that you don’t really have much going on deep down that you cling to this cheap drug’s ability to remove you from the responsibility of trying to figure out who you really are. You know, just like organized religion.

Or maybe it’s none of those things, and what I see and what you see every weekend in bars and street fairs and house parties across America is merely the way of the culture, just everyday people blowin’ off steam in the only legal way they know how, not really knowing when to stop because, for whatever reason, they simply do not have the proper mechanism, or forgot they were supposed to cultivate a mechanism in the first place.


It’s a fair question, right? Well, I don’t think there’s just one answer. It’s VERY rare that I drink with the sole purpose of getting obliterated. I tried that my sophomore year of college and recognized it as a) destructive and b) expensive. And not particularly fun or healthy, either.

I DO enjoy events like Bay to Breakers, Fox Fields, the Idiotarod, Las Vegas or Rose Bowl Tail Gates because its an opportunity to engage in unfettered celebration with friends in a tacitly acceptable environment. I’m not getting this drunk on any random night in public and screaming at people in Dupont or Adams Morgan (well, except for last Monday, but that was an anomaly… Christ, we found $50 on the ground! We had to blow it on booze).

I spent a good three months this winter traveling 50% of the time and staying by myself in posh and lonely hotels in strange cities. I rarely drank, ate meals by myself, and felt like I was missing out on activities back home.

Now that it’s springtime and I know where I’m going to school next year (and what sacrifices that inherently entails,) I feel pretty guilt-free about going on a two-week bender.

Even if it means calling in sick for work over a nose-bleed.

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Taking Them to the Cleaners

May 12, 2007 · Leave a Comment


Q: What’s the problem with lawyer jokes?
A: Lawyer’s don’t think they’re funny, and no one else thinks they’re jokes.

The Washington Post has a Follow-up story on the world’s biggest d-bag, Roy Pearson, esq.

Mr. Pearson, as you may recall, is suing a local DC dry-cleaning business for $65 million dollars because they lost his pants. Apparently 1 pair of pants + the inconvenience of having to change to a different dry-cleaning location + pain and suffering = $65 million dollars. (I’d like to point out this is DC, where dry-cleaners rival Starbucks for corner locations. I literally live above a dry-cleaner. Every hill intern, legislative assistant, and pretentious Heritage Foundation research fellow owns one cheap black suit, which he wears every day, and gets dry-cleaned on Friday).

Oh, did I mention Mr. Pearson is also a judge in the District of Columbia’s Superior Court? Yeah, and that.

Well, apparently this skidmark on society’s term is up for reconsideration. Good, right? The city will can him for making a farce of the justice system, right?

No, his law-suit will not be a factor in his evaluation:

“Everyone agrees that to file a lawsuit asking for $65 million for a pair of pants is absolutely outrageous,” the D.C. official said. “But we are trying to keep that out of the discussion about reappointment. I don’t think it’s appropriate not to reappoint someone just because they file a lawsuit. You can’t retaliate against someone for exercising their constitutional, First Amendment right to file a lawsuit to vindicate their rights.”

Um… I’ve been pepper-sprayed for exercising my First Amendment right. You’re saying we can’t evaluate someone’s understanding and application of justice (and determination of frivolity) based on his external abuse of the very legal system he works for?

PS

I know all of my lawyer/law-school friends are reading this and secretly defending his right to a case. I hate you guys.

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White Men Can’t Jump to Conclusions Mat

May 10, 2007 · Leave a Comment


You see Billy it’s like this, you either smoke or you get smoked. And you got smoked.

Yeah, I got smoked today. I played hard but I made a couple of dumb passes, missed an easy lay-up or two, and generally contributed nothing on the offensive end. I was Adam Morrison, minus the mustache, the offensive game, and the tears. The tears came later.

Let me preface the rest of this post by stating in advance that I am not a racist (well, evelywone’s a rittle bit lacist). But, I’m not politically correct, either.

“Political correctness” encourages self-censorship when discussing the sensitive issue of race. Everyone’s afraid of being Imus, so it’s better to omit the subject altogether. Unless you have a fat blanket of immunity like Rosie O’Donnell.

Anywho, today I was the only white guy on the court. I wore a blue shirt so my nickname was “Smurf” or “Light-Skin.” In the past I have been “Dan Majerle,” “Vlade,” “Luke Jackson,” “B-Sheezy,” “White Chocolate,” and “Flower” … but more often than not I’m “that dude” [disdainful half-handed gesture].

Whatever, right? My self-identity isn’t defined by my ethnicity. It’s water [or in my case, profuse perspiration] off my back. I was brought up in a burnt-out hippie Unitarian Church where “tolerance” was proselytized as the ultimate virtue. In fact, I’ve been socialized to view my race as “Clear,” since the term “White” or “Caucasian” doesn’t resonate.

So being called “Whitey” isn’t offensive to me, even though it is prejudicial and (in this instance) I was being discriminated for it (my teammates refused to pass me the ball, even when I made wide open cuts to the basket).

I used to be intimidated by being the only White guy on the court full of Black guys. I never played high-school ball and so I spent the majority of my time at UCLA playing against Asian and White guys, with the occasional Mexican (I’m being presumptuous…Which is it? Latino? Hispanic? Chicano? I took Spanish for 7 years and I’m still not sure which is the appropriate nomenclature)… oh, and an Indian or Persian in there for good measure.

But I learned from my roommate Will (a hard-nosed baller) that it’s silly to be intimidated by anyone on the court. It’s a mental advantage that Black guys use against White guys, and White guys use against Asian guys. I wish I were making this up, but it’s an overwhelmingly true phenomenon… basketball is a competitive game, and your phenotype’s-stereotype is a competitive advantage. I’ve literally been scoffed at by a team (”man, my blackness will beat you”) before running them off the court 11-2.

What bothers me about being the White guy on the court is not the fact that I’m not going to get passed the ball. That’s fine. If I play hard, grab some boards, run some breaks and make some baskets my teammates will start giving me looks.

I don’t even mind the constant bickering that goes on, or the questionable fouls that are called when the game is close. Yeah it can get annoying, but it’s usually pretty damn entertaining, too.

What bothers me is the nonchalance.

In my experience, the attitude that goes hand in hand with “my blackness will beat you” is an inexplicable commitment to not trying your hardest. When things start going poorly in the game, some guys will start jacking up fade-away jumpers or stop playing defense altogether. The game falls apart as everyone catches on and cherry-picks for the rest of the game.

It KILLS me. I just want to walk off the court when I see that shit.

Look. I know you’re a better physical specimen than me. I know you’re taller, faster, more athletic, more skilled, less sweaty and more experienced. I know you’d probably beat me 1-on-1 10 out of 10 times. And I’m sure your penis dwarfs mine.

But I’m out here TRYING. I’m hustling, boxing out, playing defense, chasing balls, being competitive. I know I don’t look cool doing it. I know I barely get 12 inches off the ground. But I’m here to challenge you. At least give me a game… I’m not a complete scrub.

Thanks

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