It was beautiful to watch, but today’s a new day, Obama says bin Laden’s dead, and I’ve got work to do.
Archive for the 'people' Category
I heard a great love story the other day – bare bones, but beautiful.
As the car rolls along he talks to the cab driver about his first great love, a woman he’d met in Ireland 31 years ago while he was still a young and hungry journalist scratching along freelancing for wire agencies.
They broke up after a time and life moved on. He got married, had two children now in their early twenties. They split up after his wife had an affair.
He’s telling the cab driver all this and the driver asks him: did you try to get in touch with your Irish lady again while you’re here?
The man says naw, she’s probably married with grandchildren by now, it’s been so long… I don’t know if that’d be such a great idea.
The driver turns to him, and with a theatrical pause, asks him: Do you know what you’ll find on the other side of fear?
Everything in your life you’ve ever dreamed of.
So at the airport the man calls the TV station in Dublin where she was working decades ago and she’s still there. He leaves her a voicemail at her extension and when he gets back home to Switzerland, she’s already left him a message saying how wonderful it is to hear from him again.
That was two years ago, and they’ve been a couple again ever since.
His name was Kleinwalker. I’m sure he’s dead now – it HAS been more than 30 years. He was the first mate on a tiny ferry I worked on as a deckhand in the summer after I turned 16.
He had an enormous belly, a great pendulous chunk of thick, hard flesh that closed so low over his overstretched, sagging belt, the bottom lip seemed to curl back under to touch his thighs.
He smoked roll-your-own cigarettes, the curly brown frays stained wet on short and stubby fingers burnished hard to tones of oak to mahogany.
I’d never seen anyone smoke a cigarette like Kleinwalker. He had no teeth, but wore no dentures, so that when he took a drag, the burning ember would plunge to the back of his mouth as if pulled by an invisible string, the smoking ember almost disappearing before sprouting forward, spring-loaded. The first time I saw him suck in that butt, I thought I was watching a cartoon.
He didn’t pay much attention to me. As a two-month summer relief hire, my job was to make a good pot of coffee in the morning, clean the heads with a rag mop once a day, polish the brass fittings once a week, and stay out of the way. That and raise the bar upon docking to release the cluster of workers leaning forward, impatient to drive home. At the mill side I’d have to haul the chain across in preparation for departure. It was a brain-dead easy, overpaid union job, but at 800 bucks free and clear in one month – a huge sum for a 16-year-old in the mid-70s – I wasn’t complaining.
Standing around the dock one morning with three other colleagues before the first shift of pulp mill workers stepped aboard, Kleinwalker was holding court. Suddenly, he came out with this:
You know, this morning gettin’ up, I gave the wife a nudge ‘cuz I felt a little bit of a rise comin’ on, just a sec or two, but then I had to get up to take a piss and it was gone. Damn. I haven’t felt what that was like in years.
Just as I was absorbing the fact that this man was spilling to his colleagues things I’d never heard spoken of in my own home before, he turned to me and growled out: What about you, you young cunt? You gettin’ any on it?
No, I wasn’t getting any on it, but I was too stunned to even stammer out the words.
The moment passed and we were soon taking up our positions on the ferry. As he walked away to climb the steep metal stairs to his office, wheezing as he walked and straining to lift his enormous bulk up the narrow passageway, I remember thinking: no adult, not even – or perhaps, especially - my father, has ever asked me that.
There’s one thing that I don’t understand about the Roman Polanski case.
If a man anally rapes a child, and is caught, tried and convicted, he goes to jail.
But if a man who happens to be famous anally rapes a child, and is caught, tried and convicted, yet flees the country before he can be sentenced, all of a sudden people are asking not to send him to jail.
Why are there two standards of of justice here?
If Roman Polanski was just some stereotypical child rapist loser, someone with bad hair, worse teeth, no life and 15 terabytes of child porn, he’d have been hauled back to the States faster than you can say paedophilia and life would have moved on.
But Roman Polanski is Roman Polanski, the famous film director and friend of friends in Hollywood. Give him a break, they all say. He’s already had to skulk around the planet for half his life just to get away from all this. Besides, his victim has already revealed herself and asked the State to forgive him and move on, just as she has.
None of that matters.
I really don’t care who he is, where he is, how old he is, or how many decades he’s been dodging the consequences of his crime, the fact remains that this man raped a 13-year-old girl.
That’s the only thing that matters. He should finally go to jail. He should also take up a collection among his apologist friends for generous donations to rape relief centres.
As if that’ll ever happen.
A Definitely Not the Daily News semi-exclusive
Los Angeles (DNDN) Enigmatic, eccentric entertainment eminence Michael Jackson exited earth earlier today, sending distraught fans of the pop singer, moonwalking inventor and Plastic Surgery Fail icon into a frenzy of mourning.
“I’m down here to show….just how much I loved him,” blubbered Christie Anderson, 42, of Mountain View, California outside the singer’s Neverland ranch. “He’s now out of my life, but not my heart.”
Sales of flowers, teddy bears, frilly hearts and other nauseating knick-knacks in a 50-mile radius of the singer’s California hideaway have skyrocketed as fans fight to bring whatever they can to lay at the front gates.
One woman stopped beating her chest and tearing her hair out long enough to complain of how area stores were price-gouging.
“They wanted 50 bucks for a key chain at the 7-11 just down the road,” said one middle-aged woman who declined to give her name. “I bought it anyway, cuz y’know, just imagine being caught on YouRube showing up here with nothing to give. It’d be unthinkable.”
One nearby 7-11 employee said stocks had already been depleted in the wake of the death of Farrah Fawcett only a day before.
“It’s supply and demand. Everyone’s doing it,” said 7-11 stockboy Pim P. Lee from behind the counter. ” See that rack of scandal sheets over there? You think they’re not going to make a killing in sales over this as well?”
Millions of fans who purchased tickets for Jackson’s sold-out This is It comeback tour in London are now being asked to return them for refund.
“We thought of presenting a hologram, doubling the price, and calling it Michael Jackson That was That,” said Jackson publicist James J. Goff, “but that would be about as tasteless and insensitive as posting a fake Jackson news piece within hours of his death. We’re asking everyone to at least give it a 24-hour grace period.”
Organisers of a planned Jackson Five reunion tour scheduled to get under way in March, 2010 say they’re still going to go ahead with the show, despite the death of the former quintet’s most famous member.
“Michael would have liked it that way,” said brother Jermaine Jackson from his home in Los Angeles. “Sales were strong, but we’re sure to get a sellout now that prices have been slashed by 20%.”
Sometimes it’s only after you get home that you notice the shot. Just setting up a long telephoto down some stairs, framing the photo when suddenly this kid pops into view.
I like how his clothes match the railing and the bricks, how he’s caught startled by something and whirling around, and how the lens seems to place him on an impossibly uphill slope.
Maybe it’s better in black and white?
I don’t know. What do you think?
Ummm… please don’t tell anyone, but I’m on Twitter.
But the other day I somehow realised while playing around on the Twitter directory wefollow.com that with a click of a button I could actually follow Yoko Ono, so I am now doing so.
Since Yoko doesn’t update her status regularly, I soon forgot I was following Ms. Ono. But then, as if in a dream I’d won a lottery I hadn’t even played, the next day I received this bold-faced line in my email inbox:
You have a direct message from Yoko Ono
Yoko, I really, really appreciated your sending me your direct message of Peace, love and understanding. It filled me with great joy to know that despite the asymmetric nature of our budding relationship – you – famous billionaire, me – almost famous wage slave – for the mini-micro-nanosecond that your automatically generated packets flitted down the intratubularities, your message was from you to me and for me alone.
It kind of made me feel like the guy who must have felt while saying, as you tweeted not long ago:
So in honour of my status as Yoko Ono Twitter follower number 15,482, may I now re-write the song that you must have sung with John Lennon?
By the way, did you know that on that horrible day in December, 1980 when he was so tragically taken from us, I was on a traveller’s high, bouncing from wadi to beach camp in the Sinai desert on a jeep excursion? That we didn’t find out about it until nearly a week later when on our return to Eilat we overheard some people in a bar at the next table shaking their heads about it all while Imagine played in the background?
I’m not famous, so you wouldn’t know that.
Anyway, Yoko. Just…
Imagine there’s no Twitter
If it won’t make you cry
No breakfast updates
To make us all ask why
Imagine all the people
Living off the Net
Imagine there’s no blogging
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to post or download
And no viruses too
Imagine all the spammers
Boiled alive in grease
You may say I’m a Luddite
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll log off
Go outside and have some fun
Imagine there’s no MacBooks
I wonder if you can
No need for feeds or iPhones
Or upgrading your LAN
Imagine sharing music
By trading old vinyl…
You may say I’m on Twitter
Pointless updates one-by-one
I just signed up to join the crowd
And realise it’s not much fun
For a limited time only. Get ‘em while they’re hot!
According to Der Spiegel, the makers of Obama fried chicken fingers hadn’t a clue as to the racial overtones immediately apparent to anyone with a passing knowledge of American cultural history.
Must be true. Otherwise they could be accused of being on the same level as the Republican jerks who issued a newsletter during the election campaign depicting Obama eating fried chicken and watermelon on a $10 food stamp.
Update April 1: A Brooklyn diner re-names itself Obama Fried Chicken
The little red-haired girl and I are real fans of the cartoon film Madagascar. We’ve watched the first one so often, we know most of the lines by heart. We can still get a laugh out of everyday situations where a line applies.
One of my favourite lines is when the King Julian, voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen, turns to Maurice and says:
Shame on you! Do you not realise you have insulted the freaks?
The other day I repeated the freaks line and then asked her:
You know what the word freak means, eh?
It’s not a nice way to talk about someone, and you actually shouldn’t use it because it’s an insult, but it used to be what they called a baby that wasn’t born normal, like if it had two heads or something. They used to have what they called freak shows, where you’d pay money to see people like that.
Have there really been babies born with two heads?
Sure… you know about Siamese twins, right? Doctors try to separate them at birth if they can, but sometimes, it’s impossible. I saw a movie once on the plane about two teenage girls. They were one girl from the shoulders down, but on their shoulders, they had two heads.
Yeah. They actually lead a normal life. They’re treated like separate people, each has her own personality, they go to school, have friends, play sports, they can drive a car, have hobbies – everything we do. It’s amazing, really. I’ll find you a video of them and show you. I saw it first when I was on a flight to Canada when I went by myself that time, and I couldn’t believe it.
—After watching the video, she asks:
What if they get a boyfriend?
Yeah, what if one falls in love with someone, but the other one doesn’t?
— We left it at that.
I’ve been going along for a good stretch enjoying all things Germany has to offer (white asparagus excepted) but the past couple of days have knocked me back into that danger zone you can get into as an expatriate: it’s true! The stereotypes, the complaints, the whining forum posts – they’re not only based in fact, they go further! Like today:
Riding my bike with my tail between my legs after having been admonished yesterday by a full-geared bicycle Polizist that It Is Verboten To Ride Your Bike In The Wrong Direction On The Bike Path, I was dutifully enjoying some bone-jarring brickwork and upthrusting tree roots instead of the smooth roadway as I usually do, when suddenly a familiar obstacle loomed ahead: the dreaded Vannicus Blocus Pissmeoffagus, easily identifiable by the careless manner in which the driver – too self-important to obey the rules and after all they’re only cyclists so who really gives a damn anyway – wedged his nose in just enough to cover the path completely but leave a little room on the sidewalk- oh, Dankeschön – for cyclists to slip by.
Taking out my camera, I did for a moment pause to consider that in the lineup of daily irritants some have to put up with this is pretty trivial stuff, but I thought: enough’s enough.
So as I was taking a photo of this twerp’s disregard for the rules of the road and with an idea slowly forming that maybe it’s time for an English-language Hamburg Driver Wall of Shame page on this blog for all 26 of us to marvel at occasionally, along come a couple of cyclists.
“You going to put this on the Internet or something?” a man asks me.
“Yeah, but it’s just a blog, and besides it’s in English, it’s a long name, I don’t have a pen…”
“Well… (he’s speaking to me in perfect German) I’m Canadian and I’d like to see a photo of this somewhere.”
From then on of course the path of least resistance took over and we talked about all and sundry about how we’re forced to obey the laws to the letter but at the same time put up with the carelessness of drivers who outnumber us 200 to one and whaddyado wearyafrum howlongyabinhere, this here’s my girlfriend, say hello, when out of the blue….
“Don’t you people have JOBS to go to or something?”
Some pinch-faced woman in a tin can car wearing those oversized Prada Chanel wrap-around sunglasses and obviously mistaken with the notion that an entire bottle of jet-black hair colouring might make her look a little less like a witch was speeding away before I had much of a chance to blurt out, “hey Lady, just so happens my two fellow cyclists live in Hamburg but are on HOLIDAY, I work FULL TIME but am on DAYS OFF!”
But who needs an explanation for such people? As a pedestrian I’ve been bitched at by drivers at empty intersections in one-horse towns because I walked across on the red. This is so classically German it’s barely worth mentioning, but for someone to automatically assume that just because we are not in an office at noon on a weekday we’re jobless bums, and furthermore, we’re forced to ride bicycles because we have no income… well that’s a new one on me.
Also says something about attitudes to the unemployed: you’re in my way, you’re not needed, you don’t count.
What the hell, I met a fellow Canadian out of it. Hiya George! Beer sometime?
all for now,