Category Archives: Politics

Toyota Six Feet Under

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It’s ridiculous! First the accelerator sticks and now the brakes don’t work. Enough with the hollow apologies and hokey whoopsie-doo-baby-made-a boom-boom commercials, alright? We expect more. We didn’t collectively kill our auto industry for shoddy workmanship and unreliability. If we wanted that we could have just bought a Buick. I mean it is a Japanese company. Shouldn’t a couple of those execs be falling on their swords, literally? See that’s the problem. We need to bring back good old-fashioned Samurai ethics. I guarantee that the impending threat of hara-kiri would get ole Akio to personally double check those vroom-vroom pedals and stop-stop pads before they left the assembly line for our crumbling pot-holed highways.

Lucky this didn’t come to light five years ago or it might have sullied Six Feet Under’s stellar season finale montage (one of the greatest product placements in the history of advertising). Where instead of Claire driving her pristine Prius into a panorama of the great wide open to Sia’s Breathe Me, she’d have floored it directly into an oncoming semi-tractor trailer (due to a jammed gas pedal and ABS failure) ending in the sound of screeching metal and a death-rattling scream. Surely a subdued sewing-up and embalming of little sister Fisher’s mangled corpse by David and Rico, concluding in a tasteful yet somber service, would not have held the same place in our hearts. Continue reading

Che Gueverette: Rodizio Slayer

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Like grandfather, like granddaughter, I guess. As it seems that 24-year-old Lydia Guevera is now taking up the revolutionary reins from her famous family patriarch. Is she waging war against U.S.-controlled conglomerates that have diabolically implanted puppet dictatorships and repressive regimes around the world? Helping those aging Castro hermanos get their hands on some brand spanking new thermonuclear-armed ballistic missiles to test the mettle of yet another U.S. prez in a life-or-death showdown, bringing us all to the brink of atomic annihilation? Desperately trying to drum up a Neo-Marxian revolution by teaching remedial guerilla-tactics classes to the natives in the deep, dark jungles of the Congo? Don’t bet your Batista!

Don’t get me wrong, she’s still serious about defending the rights of masses that have been forced into labor, their entire lives consumed by hungry capitalists who just see them as a meaningless multitudes of bodies and oh so much meat–they just happen to lack a cerebral cortex and prehensile thumbs! That’s right, folks, Lydia is taking the fight to the carnivorous powers that be by posing semi-nude for the latest PETA ad campaign. ¬°VIVA LA REVOLUCION DE VEGETARIANS! Yesiree, the ole family legacy lives on as the Butcher of La Cabana’s bodacious petite-fille is out to butcher the butchers by showcasing her prime cuts.

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And have no doubt that her titillating spread will become equal in notoriety as her revolutionary progenitor. Just look at the publicity still where she strikes the Guerillo Heroico pose (which graces the hats and t-shirts that so many disaffected over-privileged, upper-middle class white teenage suburbanites wear–not with any consciousness of its historical context or meaning, but because it looks so f*cking badass dude!). I mean the similarities are uncanny. Both look highly bangable in their sexy berets and bandoliers (only his is comprised of life-stopping bullets while hers is fashioned from organic baby carrots whose high concentration of vitamin A help maintain healthy retinas). One wonders if she’s also armed with extra-firm tofu grenades and a flax-seed thrower for when things get totally FUBAR.

I for one am totally stoked for the inevitable five-hour Steven Soderbergh biopic of this young woman’s harrowing struggle against sweetbreads and tripe. If I can only somehow manage to attain tickets to the gala premiere (fingers crossed!) I will most certainly doll myself up in my best pleather pants and hempen baja (and if it’s wet wintery day, my lush faux-fur-lined galoshes) to celebrate.

Dog the Pirate Hunter???

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(Please feel free to refer to the Pirate Glossary for all terminology)

Avast, ye picaroons! If landlubber Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has his way, good ole American privateers will be set loose on ye wily pillaging Somali buccaneers and get all War of 1812 on yer booties. According to his yellow-tinged amateur YouTube video (seemingly recorded on a Betamax device preserved from the early 1980s in front of a motley assortment of reading material being balanced on a rickety bookshelf that is mounted on the wall of a faux-wood-paneled den in the Old Batty Cave), Ron advocates reinstating the archaic letters of marque and reprisal, last utilized in the early 19th century, to bring down these bilge-sucking blaggards.

Of course, things would have to be a little different these days. Privateers would no longer be able to possess the vessels and treasure they seize. In fact, the wealth of most of these renegade seadogs is no longer romantically secreted in chests full of golden doubloons destined to be buried in the briny deep, but gets wired into Swiss bank accounts as cold hard cash destined to be lavished on flashy sports cars, semi-automatics and saucy Somali wenches. Instead, our government would have to offer sizable bounties as incentives for capture. Much like the 25 million dollar one on the head of Osama Bin What’s-His-Name.

Blimey! On second thought, using a colonial-era policy to solve a 21st-century problem might not be so legally hunky-dory with the rest of the planet, especially if we unbeknownst employ a backwater Blackwater to flog alleged marauders with a cat o’ nine tails, feed them to the fish, or make them dance the hempen jig. Do we really want to trust these disparate conglomerations of ex-military, post-traumatic-stress-disordered servicemen, soldiers of fortune, and racist rednecks armed to the teeth (the ones they have left) looking for action outside the double-wide trailer park and five-and-dime to police international waters and be the minutemen of diplomacy? I mean I loved the A-Team too, but it was a TV show, not a model for global relations.

The African corsairs in question themselves consist mainly of local fisherman (the brains), ex-militia men (the brawn) and technical experts (GPS navigators). Many of them who, in addition to seeking independent wealth (73% of the Somalian population lives on a daily income below 2 dollars a day–with an estimated per capita GDP of $600/year for the entire country), hold a personal grudge due to the ten million tons of toxic waste dumped on their shores by European firms (causing highly elevated rates of radiation-related sicknesses among coastal inhabitants) and the 300 million dollars’ worth of illegal trawling and poaching that takes place in their territorial waters (the pirates themselves only accumulate about 100 million dollars in ransom annually). So it’s safe to assume they would rather visit Davy Jones’ locker than surrender. No quarter!

Shiver me timbers! It seems we have quite a quandary here. Do we really want to dispatch mercenaries to further muddy the waters? Then again, me hearties, dead men tell no tales.

Taxing THC: Turning Old New York into New New Amsterdam

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Bollocks! How is that California, the crossroads of implants, spray tans and superficiality (Find Yourself Here–no thanks!), has a leg up on the Empire State, historical haven of beatniks, punk rock and Andy Warhol, on the possible legalization and taxation of Cannabis sativa? Where is our Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, calling for the replacement of the corner pusherman with an over-the-counter sale sanctioned by our own groovy, bearded, winking Uncle Sam (with a red, white and blue bong in one hand and a star-spangled hacky sack in the other)?

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I mean aren’t we Sodom to their Gommorah? Seriously, let’s get that sin tax a-rollin’! We’ve got a 1.2 billion-dollar budget gap just for the Transit Authority alone. Two-fiddy a ride is getting pretty ridiculous, especially for those post-Metrocard swipes when you realize you forgot your ID or mace and must return home to equip yourself properly (you never know when you might have to deal with state bureaucracy, a random bag check or a hostile homeless man in a state of psychosis who must be put down). You would think that our optically challenged governor (who was rushed to the emergency room late last year to alleviate severe pain associated with glaucoma) should certainly empathize with medical Mary Jane advocates’ plight enough to begin planting the seeds for the grow- houses of tomorrow. If he plays it right he could be NORML’s modern-day Davey Kushyseed.

Depending on the actual size of the crop (and I’m leaning towards the higher end here based on sales for Hot Pockets and Paul Blart: Mall Cop), nationally taxing the sticky icky could bring in anywhere from 2.4 billion to 31.4 billion a year (which states would get about one third of) according to economists and policy analysts. That’s enough to seriously subsidize our failing school system, healthcare for all… or launch a pre-emptive assault on yet another autonomous nation in the Middle East (that’s how we’ll have to pitch it to get the party pooper neo-conservative vote–apparently swilling bourbon, puffing on cigars, masticating red meat and nurturing an unrelenting xenophobic blood lust are All-American but smoking grass and preaching peace and tolerance are socialist, detrimental to the fabric of society and definitely do not do much to up recruitment for the military-industrial-complex-motivated attack machine–um, sorry, I was listening to War Pigs).

Back to New York. Being that as a state we traditionally consume more of the aforementioned organic hydroponic panacea (hell, we even have home delivery services here–no, I don’t have a number you can get!) we would therefore collect a higher proportion of taxes which could be used to shore up our deficits, re-build our ailing infrastructure, provide much needed raises for underpaid public servants and even make the fantastical tales of a future Second Ave subway line become a dank, underground, urine-drenched reality (although I think whatever lives and breeds on the Upper East Side should stay there, with the occasional Lincoln Town Car chauffeured trip to Barneys or Saks Fifth Avenue to stimulate the economy).

And think about what it would do for the tourist trade. Why should the dikey Dutch have a monopoly on specialty “coffee shops”? Hell, we could just dispense it from our Starbucks (there are two to three on every city block as it is). Really, who could resist a Venti Carmel Machiatto, Cranberry Bliss Bar and 1/8 of Mauwie Wauwie Combo? It would also increase traffic to all eateries from the trailer-trash-trodden Ranch One to the overly indulgent credit-card-maxing Il Mulino. Hello Euros! Best of all, with any luck it might actually put a stop to the endless picture-snapping at Ground Zero, on account of it being too much of a bummer! There really is nothing more reprehensible to a native New Yorker than some rube on hiatus from his hick town making rabbit ears over his gap-toothed Cheshire-grinning girlfriend (clad in matching, ill-fitting, street-hawked USA t-shirts) as if our dire tragedy is ride at Disney World. I mean you never see people yucking it up capturing a digital still with “the fam” in front of the levees that burst open in the Eighth Ward in New Orleans. Have a little respect, Silas!

Speaking of Disney, what better way to make the crass commercialization of Times Square less repugnant to the local populace? After all, in a slightly altered state it’s easier to suspend disbelief, cynicism and see it for the truly magnificent magical wonderland that city planners, marketing executives and licensors have painstakingly worked to simulate for the selfless sake of the bottom line.

Really, what are we waiting for? As a society we’re currently doing a good job of dismantling our out-of-date Blue Laws, how’s about mowing down the Anti-Green ones, shattering our antiquated puritanical shackles and moving forward into a slightly hazy but free-choice-filled future where we can choose to be as indulgent or abstinent as we want, individually, while everyone makes a tidy profit and the public coffers are filled to the brim. That sounds like America to me.

Aw, Nuts: The FDA Pistachio Scare Nightmare

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How’s about a nice hot fudge sundae with two big scoops of pistachio ice cream and a smattering of Salmonella? Wait a second! Acute abdominal cramps, projectile vomiting, debilitating diarrhea and sallow skin the color of the aforementioned frozen dairy treat doesn’t sound so appetizing on second thought. Also, if you happen to be frail, a senior citizen, a young child, or have a compromised immune system you might want to steer clear of Kraft’s Back to Nature Nantucket Blend Trail Mix… that is, unless you’d like to start singing Happy Trails (the delightfully infectious bacteria can cause fatalities in these delicate demographics). Jeez Louise! A death sentence hardly seems like the proper encouragement for the health conscious among our young, elderly and bed-ridden who happen to be nuts about deez nuts. Even astronauts orbiting the earth in our ramshackle International Space Station are at risk, as the microscopic contagion has recently been shown to become more virulent in a zero-g environment (best to stick with Tang and tortillas, spacemen!).

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It seems that the FDA done did it again! Or didn’t do it… what they’re supposed be doing, that is, mainly regulate and prevent widespread contamination of our food supply from harmful microbes and bacteria. That and be the tool of an overzealous Pharmaceutical Complex pimping products to alleviate ailments they themselves have created to make a quick buck off the public’s paranoia, hypochondria and dissatisfaction with their droll everyday existence (which usually includes lists of side effects more frightening than the symptoms being “treated.” Anal bleeding and sudden stroke? No thankee. I’ll mourn my kitty cat’s unfortunate demise sans the Dr. Feel Good pills, Pusherman!).

Lettuce, poultry, tomatoes, peanut butter and now pistachios… and that’s just the Salmonella, folks! Let’s not forget our friendly neighborhood fecal contaminator, E. Coli, that, all too recently, was found in spinach, ground beef patties and frozen pizza (affecting everyone from the patchouli-soaked vegan to the Sarah Palin-supporting soccer mom and munchie-craving stoner alike). And what pray tell is being done to protect us? Two million pounds of allegedly roasted pistachios have been recalled by Terra Bella, Inc. (the second largest processor in the nation) to determine the cause post hoc! As baklava lovers across this great nation go wanting and suburban Chinese restaurants are forced to frantically push the mango pudding (yuck!).

Perhaps its time for the FDA, which supervises 80% of our food supply (the USDA is responsible for the rest, mainly focusing on meat, poultry and eggs), to refocus its efforts from clean-up to prevention (so we may enjoy a nice crisp Cobb Salad or old-fashioned PBJ without worrying about running to the restroom to release our churning insides from an orifice on either end and subsequently survive surreptitiously sipping sickly tasting bubble-gum-flavored Pedialyte for the next 36 to 48 hours, praying our tummy won’t revolt and reset the whole rigmarole to the beginning).

One can only hope that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Kathleen Sebelius (Obama’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary) will be successful in splitting the FDA’s drug and food safety obligations into two autonomous agencies so they can concentrate on heading off such catastrophes before they become part of our digestive tracts, if not, I guess we could always form hippie communes, raise our own organic produce and livestock, or intravenously feed ourselves from bags of glucose solution… but really, who has the time or inclination?

Operation Buzzkill: Random Drug Testing for the Unemployed

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Down on your luck? Pondering whether to scrounge up the rest of your life savings to pay next month’s rent or save it for a swell little secondhand Salvation Army tent you’ve had your eye on along with a month’s supply of Slim Jims and Ho-Ho’s, and cut your losses by moving directly into the brand spanking new little neo-Hooverville/Slumdog USA shantytown that just popped up on outskirts of your urban hood? Don’t you dare relax, forget about your woes and take a toke of that roach, buster, ’cause it looks like you might have to urinate in a cup or have some hair plucked if you want a shot at a future governmentally assisted supper. It seems that legislators in eight states are advocating that beneficiaries of Uncle Sam’s subsidized programs such as food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare be required to submit to random drug testing (AKA Operation Buzzkill).

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It looks like the public safety net may morph into a straitjacket of sobriety. ‘Cause obviously everyone lacking a job in this vibrant economy is simply a do-nothing, good-for-nothing beatnik who’s just refused to get up the gumption to get a little dirt under their nails and sweat on their brow ridges, working diligently for a good honest day’s wages… not victims of a massive elitist swindle and prey to predator creditors that pick at the carcass of their dwindling assets while they precariously attempt to avoid the brink of poverty.

Logically, only the successful and affluent understand how to abuse substances properly and have earned the right to do so. Not everyone has the innate instinct of a Paris Hilton to be born a bimbo heiress to a vast hotel empire and be able to live life like its Mardi Gras 24/7 without any financial repercussions or underwear. Some of us are just struggling to get by and occasionally reach for a certain illegal natural organic glaucoma alleviator to simply relax or blur the edges of our non-luxury, horizontally mobile existences. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors cost a pretty penny after all and are not distributed gratis to the 45.7 million American citizens for whom the possibility of major medical resides in the land of Santy Claus and the tooth fairy (who does not provide dental by the way, no matter how many quarters you place under your Tempur-Pedic pillow!).

Let us also make no mistake that it’s those who partake of the sticky-icky that will be most prominently persecuted here. How many crack-heads or junkies do you know that have the patience, discipline and fortitude to diligently deal with the red-tape paperwork, Internet updates and/or automated touch-tone phone bank re-directions needed to collect the minimal money these services dole out? When every cell in your body cries for a fix you’re more likely to forgo all that banal bureaucracy and hurriedly hawk your bratty little niece’s iPod or provide sexual services to the kind gentleman who is nice enough to meet you in an alleyway in a frayed straw hat, tattered terrycloth bathrobe and flip-flops at 4 in the morning. Last I checked no one was taking food stamps for hypodermics or free-basing spoons either (and these guys generally tend not to be big eaters–although they are likely to have an excellent aptitude for speed talking or lethargically swaying in place without tipping over).

It’s also inevitable that some conservative critics will be prone to point out a loophole in my argument. Mainly the munchies… but should a few hardcore stoners abusing the system ruin it for the rest of recreational users who sporadically partake to decompress? Do they really represent that much of a serious threat to bankrupting the economy and national reserves of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Ice Cream? Besides most of them still live with their parents anyway (or eat most of their meal’s at Nana’s house) and are much too busy mastering the intricacies of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on their Nintendo Wii’s to bilk the government out of Benjamins.

So if you are struggling to stay afloat, looking to alleviate your Depression depression and do not dwell on the righteous path of abstinence and salvation it seems the only other alternative is to put down that blunt and pick up some booze. That All-American wholesome government-sanctioned depressant that has provided the basis for so many violent domestic disputes, shattered childhoods and colorful bestselling, Oprah- approved memoirs. After all, no one is suggesting breathalyzers… yet.

Top Ten Alternate Punishments for the Iraqi Shoe Thrower

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So the Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi was finally sentenced this week to three years in prison for throwing his loafers at U.S. President George W. Bush during a press conference (and missing!). While his lawyers are busy filing an appeal, many critics are in an uproar as to whether the punishment fits the crime. As an official mediator for the new Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI)–established five minutes ago during a hyper-caffeinated reverie in my one-bedroom walk up in the heart of Elmhurst, Queens (Facebook Fan Page forthcoming, folks)–I am personally proposing the following possible alternative punitive measures:

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1. Two years of indentured servitude as Dubya’s personal bootblack…and reading tutor.

2. Must walk barefoot anywhere he travels within the Middle East (no exceptions for piping hot sand, camel dung or depleted uranium dust).

3. From this point onward will only be allowed to report on discounted footwear (the dreaded Payless Beat).

4. Forced to work four years as an underpaid laborer at an undisclosed Nike Indonesian sweatshop as a gofer for underage co-slave workers (get coffee, change diapers, sweep up severed phalanges).

5. Obliged to lend his tootsies, at will, to any charitable Foot Fetish Galas (expected to show up in formal leather choker, spiked armlets and chain-link leash).

6. Five-year cobbler apprenticeship with Daniel Day-Lewis, in exchange for character study which will culminate in his portrayal in the forthcoming Martin Scorsese biopic: “Shoe Missed Me”: Muntadhar al-Zeidi’s Dark Sole. Leonardo DiCaprio will play Dubya (because of the instant Green Light not his undercooked acting chops).

7. Required to serve as a freelance foot fungus scraper/taster for various third-world podiatrists/witch doctors.

8. Expected to register and participate in an accredited Shoe-Throwing Anger Management Course where he will learn to sublimate his misguided shoe-chucking urges into wholesome non-violent activities such as basket-weaving, baking, poetry or perhaps even indignant Op-Ed pieces.

9. Has to complete compulsory training until he no longer “throws like a girl” and learns how to aim properly.

10. Is awarded Nobel Peace Prize.