Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Inching closer to Obama

Well, Hell...
John Edwards' withdrawal has found me disappointed, but not terribly surprised. Click on the link above for some initial analysis of the whys and what nexts. I'm pretty sure I'm going to jump on the Obama bandwagon, but I will give HRC another look before doing so.
PS: Read The Circle post below and give me your thoughts. You can be critical; it won't hurt my feelings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Circle, pt. 1

Note: This is the first of several installments from my latest work-in-progress, The Circle. If I knew how to make the copyright symbol on a MacBook keyboard, this is where you would find it. Don't steal my shit, man.

Bobby Williams lingered before the bathroom mirror, hungover and oblivious to the filthy toilet and laundry falling out the hamper by the door. Rather than cleaning the bathroom as he promised Nettie he would, he rifled through the medicine chest for a few of her percocets.
He heard someone banging on the Wilsons’ front door. He looked out the window and saw Mrs. Mendenhall, the old widow who lived across the street with her son. She rarely came out of her house, which made her sudden appearance on the Wilsons’ porch at 7 a.m., no less, very odd. Habig Road was never so lively that early on a Saturday morning.
Nettie called out from the bedroom, asking him to start a load of laundry. He said he would after he made himself some toast. He was feeding a couple of slices of pumpernickel into the toaster when he heard he heard a knock at his own front door. He answered the door to find Mrs. Mendenhall standing there, as gray and disheveled as she could be.
“Mr. Lawrence? Oh, thank goodness…I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Mrs. Mendenhall sputtered. She started to walk in, but caught herself. Oh goodness, where are my manners? I hate to impose, but its very impor…”
“Oh, yes ma’am, come in,” Bobby said, summoning the manners drilled into his head prior to discovering drug abuse so many years before.
Bobby took the lady’s right arm and led her inside to the threadbare living room couch. She was trembling as if she had seen the Devil himself. The dirty laundry strewn about the room and the ashtrays full of butts and roaches did little to help to ease her suffering.
Nettie heard the pounding and came into the living room to see what was happening. She knew Mrs. Mendenhall well enough to call her Lillith, as they occasionally swapped gardening tips while retrieving their morning newspapers.
“Lillith, hon, are you okay?” Nettie asked as she sat down on the couch and slid an arm around her neighbor. Nettie was a little embarrassed by the condition of the house, but her guest’s state temporarily mediated any resentment of Bobby, who had darted back into the filthy bathroom to find some tissues.
“Oh Nettie, I dont know what I’m going to do,” Lillith moaned. “I’m just too old. I-I-I can’t protect him any longer; he’s no angel, but he’s all I’ve got…”
“What? Is Tommy in some trouble?” Nettie asked. “Is he hurt, or in jail?”
“Oh, no, I wish it were just that,” Lillith said, “I could handle that. No, it’s very complicated. I, uh, I’m just too old. I mean, it was an accident. He didn’t mean to do it, but she’s just oh God, what am I going to do?
Bobby handed the Kleenex box to the frightened mother and looked at Nettie. They were both thinking the same thing: Tommy got drunk and did something to that redhead they had seen coming and going from the Mendenhalls’ house. Tommy fought with the girl at all hours of the day and night, often taking their disagreements into Mrs. Mendenhall’s driveway or front yard.
“Mrs. Mendenhall, where is your son right now?” Bobby asked.
Lillith looked up and wiped away a few of her tears. “I don’t know…its out of my hands, your hands…oh God, what am I going to do?” she wailed. She leaned back into Netties arms and began to sob again. Nettie stroked Lillith’s long, silvery hair.
Bobby, feeling like he needed to do something, grabbed his denim jacket. “I’m goin’ over there to see if I can find Tommy,” he said. Nettie nodded in agreement, but Lillith started to stammer something as Bobby walked out the door. Nettie got up and went into the kitchen to make Lillith a cup of coffee.
It was a sunny mid-September day, but when Bobby stepped off his porch an ice-cold chill rattled every bone in his body. He stopped for a second to catch his breath. The feeling left as quickly as it came.
Bobby walked up to the Mendenhalls’ side door. He knocked a couple of times and there was no answer. He looked in the window, which revealed steps down into the basement and more steps up into the kitchen. The basement was too dark to see anything from outside. He looked up into the kitchen. Just above the steps, under the big, rectangular oak table badly in need of stripping and refinishing, was the red, flowery hem of a housecoat and a pair of sensible shoes pointing straight up.
Bobby ran back home. He burst in his front door, but Mrs. Mendenhall was nowhere to be found.
“Mrs. Mendenhall? Lillith?” he called out as he looked around.
Nettie emerged from the kitchen with a cup of coffee.
”Where is she? Where’d she go?” Bobby asked. “She in the bathroom?”
Nettie looked puzzled. “Uh, I don’t know, hon. I went to get her some coffee but she was gone when I came back in here. I figured she went over there with you.”
“Naw, she ain’t with me,” Bobby said, “but somethin’s wrong over there. Somebody’s out on the kitchen floor and the doors locked.”
“Is it Tommy?” Nettie asked.
Bobby shook his head.
“Not unless he started wearin’ his mom’s clothes. Where the Hell did she go?”
Nettie grabbed her cell phone.

Chew up some bandwith

Hey ya!

I'll be working on some stuff for the blog today, so come back later. I promise to leave off the politics, but you may be subjected to the first installment of something I call The Circle. I won't give away the story, but it is unrelated to my first manuscript, Black Helicopters. The Circle is my attempt to satisfy my Josephine's thirst for trash and horror.

In the meantime, click on the link above for some trenchant socio-political commentary at 11 a.m.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


As I mentioned below, I was in a car wreck at work a week ago Friday. My neck continues to bother me a little, but I'm in constant discomfort anyway due to my rheumatoid-like arthritic condition. 
The good news is that I'm back on Enbrel, which is an excellent biologic injection that I take once a week. That should help my health a good deal in the long run, provided that I can continue to afford it.
The bad news is that my employers aren't going to let me back to work anytime soon.  It's a business and they are well within their rights. I've got some good leads to follow up on this week. Let me know if you know of anything for me. I'll probably wind up with another car service, but I'm open to anything other than newspapers or manual labor (because of the rheumatiz).

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ass whuppin'

Uh, I know it's Saturday night and all but I am just bowled over by the Democratic primary returns coming out of South Carolina. Obama is absolutely, positively running away with it across almost all demographic lines. 
"Why does this matter?" you may ask. Well, Obama's gotten a quarter of the white male vote in the cracker capital of the world. He withstood a full-on siege of venom and head games from not just Sen. Clinton, but also her husband (you know, the guy who tried to destroy democracy by lying about a blow job yet still remains easily the most popular politician in America).
Not only does this set up Obama nicely for the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday phalanx of primaries, it also quiets those mutterings under the breath by many Democrats who aren't sure white guys would support a brother for president.
I still support John Edwards for now, but I'm planning to give Obama a second look in the coming week. I think you should as well because there's no one on the GOP side who can win anywhere other than Utah and Indiana in a general election.
In short, the Senator from the Land of Lincoln is starting to look like our 44th President.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

This is what I'm talking about

Those of you who are trying to make heads or tails of my economy spiel should click on the link above.

PS: I'm recovering from a car wreck Friday (I'm sore but okay) and a visit to the national cheerleading trainwreck at the convention center today. More on jamfest! a bit later...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


For the record, I strongly support John Edwards for President (unless and until Gore gets his ass in the game); however, the whole "Hilary is a rug munching, castrating, socialist succubus" thing going on with the national chattering classes is beyond tiresome. MSNBC's Chris Matthews is the worst at this game and this post at Daily Kos really nails it.

PS: This is my last post about HRC until she's caught cutting off some guy's dick or wins the Dem nomination.

Who will I sign my paycheck over to?

The next several paragraphs will probably make your eyes glaze over, but please hang with me; it's important.

Citigroup -- which holds the only 30-year, fixed rate mortgage on the Southside (mine) -- has announced that it's taking a $22 billion-plus write down on its holdings after losing $10 billion last quarter. Citi is latest, but certainly not last, huge bank to admit that it's basically been making up the valuations of its assets in order to maintain the high stock prices that its executives' pay and bonuses are pegged to.

This is bad for countless reasons, but I want to focus in here on a few of the reasons that affect you and I, Dear Reader:

• Citi borrows money to loan out to others. Like any other borrower, Citi must show it has the assets to generate the money to repay its loan debts. Citi's write down means it's not worth as much as it has told its creditors it is; therefore, it can't borrow as much cheap money as it could before.

• Citi and its peers have made a big chunk of their money over the last decade by loaning money to corporations in need of cash. "Well, duh" you may say, but these corporations have borrowed more and more money because 1) short-term interest rates have been so low, and 2) corporations don't keep cash on hand anymore. 

Retailers and service providers have run down their profit margins and concentrated on sales volume to remain competitive. The execs are paid according to stock performance, rather than profitability. Loose cash is used to buy up existing stock or handed out in bonuses, so when corporations need dollars for purchases or unanticipated expenses they go out and borrow from Citi and pay it back later. 

Citi and the other banks won't be able to hand out free money anymore, so retailers and service providers will have to actually start putting money in their savings accounts again. Unless the managers of said companies are willing to part with their grossly inflated compensation packages, prices are going to rise to build up cash reserves. That means the U.S. government will no longer be able to deny that inflation is a really big problem.

• Citi and the other banks are starting to sell off big chunks of stock for cheap to foreign investors with little or no interest in my standard of living. An Arab prince or Chinese banker doesn't care how rashes of foreclosures would affect American neighborhoods. They've bought these mortgages and loan notes for much less than dollar-for-dollar, can afford to take houses and businesses, let them sit for months or years while the U.S. economy tanks and sell later when the economy is better (and the U.S. dollar is once again worth more than a used Kleenex).

All of this means that I should probably get back to making my mortgage payment by the first of each month. I need to think about trying to eat less, too.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Check out James Howard Kunstler's latest Clusterfuck Nation musings. In fact, click on his link to the right every Monday.

The Clintons, Obama and MLK

My God, I'm no big fan of Sen. Clinton but this crap over her comments about MLK needing LBJ to get civil rights reform are being way overblown. 

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I've been out of the news game for nearly a year now, and I can say honestly that I really, really, really believe I'm done this time. The business doesn't want me anymore and I'm as happy as a guy who just heard his clingy ex-girlfriend is getting married and moving on with her life.

I never worked for the New York Times, Washington Post or any other newspaper of any significant circulation. I was a writer/editor for several weeklies and small dailies in Indiana and West Virginia, covering the stuff down the street rather than Capitol Hill or Madison Square Garden. I was a good writer and copy editor, but not outstanding (or connected) enough to break into the big leagues. 

By the time I got into the game in the early 90's, newspaper companies were consuming each other and squeezing the life out of their pressrooms and newsrooms. The advent of Macs, Adobe and Quark should have ushered in a Golden Age of newspaper composition, but the real effect was to allow corporate managers run all of the honest-to-God printers out of the business and shift their work to guys like me, who were paginators as much as reporters. 

Once the press room was slashed to the bone, the bosses turned to the newsroom. 

The information explosion of the mid-90s (cable, internet and the like) sucked away readers from newspapers. The lagging circulation numbers allowed them to start squeezing on guys like me in order to maintain their 20 percent margins every year. Fuller Brush men posing as news consultants told the bosses what they wanted to hear: readers want smaller news holes filled with canned crap that is much cheaper than good old fashioned news reporters. 

By the early part of this brave new millenium, the big papers were only looking for bright college kids who would not use the company's insurance or stay beyond a year or two; guys like me who have kids and wives and mortgages are likely to stay put, so we don't get interviews anymore.

I am lucky, however, as I can blog about whatever I want, whenever I want, and not have to worry about finding someone else to publish my rantings. Check back from time to time to get my questionable insights about movies, music, sports, politics and our Godforsaken national news media.