Thursday, August 28, 2008

Checkin' in

Hello! I know, I know, I haven't blogged in over three weeks. But I've been busy! I just moved and started a new job. I still don't even have all my stuff unpacked. I promise promise promise I'll start blogging again soon. But, for your reading enjoyment:

Freewheelin' fun at the DNC
by Dave Berry

This vibrant Western city has pulled out all the stops to make Democratic convention visitors feel welcome right from the moment they arrive at the huge and modern airport, conveniently located in nearby Kansas. From there it's less than a day's drive to downtown Denver, which has been spruced up for the convention with the installation of thousands of brand-new, state-of-the-art spittoons.

No, I'm just poking a little fun at the Denver folks, who are a bit defensive about Denver's stereotyped image as a ''cow town'' -- the kind of place with cattle mooing in the streets, and cowboys drinking in honky-tonk saloons, and a mayor with a name like ``John Hickenlooper.''

These stereotypes are totally false, except the one about the mayor, who actually is named John Hickenlooper. I happen to semi-know Mayor Hickenlooper, because I belong to an all-author rock band called the Rock Bottom Remainders, and when we performed in Denver two years ago, Mayor Hickenlooper joined us on stage to sing the classic Troggs song Wild Thing. Really. He took the difficult vocal solo part that goes, ''You MOVED me,'' and he totally nailed it. You would have sworn you were hearing an actual Trogg. The mayor got a nice round of applause from those audience members still able to clap without falling down. I mention this story because I really like saying ''Hickenlooper.'' Hickenlooper Hickenlooper Hickenlooper.

But my point is that, despite the mayor's name (''Hickenlooper''), Denver is a modern and sophisticated city with huge quantities of culture in the form of museums, latte machines, flush toilets, etc. And the city has done a fine job with the convention preparations, which include many ``green'' touches, such as the ''Freewheelin'' free-bicycle program. As I understand it, the way this works is, there are nearly 1,000 bicycles in special racks set up around Denver, and if you feel like offsetting some carbon, you just go to one of these racks, and you realize that all the bicycles have been stolen.

At least that's how it would work in Miami. Apparently in Denver, people actually return the bicycles. Ha ha! What a bunch of cow-town Hickenloopers.

No, seriously, I applaud this program, as well as the many other ''green'' efforts at this convention, such as the bold plan to take the 19,000-seat Pepsi Center ''off the grid'' and power it entirely with delegate flatulence, even though this has forced Barack Obama to move his Thursday acceptance speech outdoors.

Speaking of the convention: It got off to a rousing start Monday night with speeches by three or four dozen important Democratic party dignitaries, who sounded the convention's official Monday theme: ''A Whole Lot of Speeches.'' But the big news was the decision to seat the entire Michigan and Florida delegations, which means they will be able to participate fully in the roll-call vote, which means you just know the Florida delegation will mess up the buttons somehow and accidentally nominate Walter Mondale.

Meanwhile outside of Denver, Joe Biden has wasted no time acting vice presidential, attacking John McCain for being out of touch with ordinary Americans because he couldn't remember how many houses he has. I think this might backfire. For one thing, Joe is not really one to accuse anybody of being out of touch, seeing how he has been a U.S. senator for 200 years. But also there's the question of fairness. I mean, do YOU have a perfect memory? Can you look yourself in the eyeball and honestly say that you have never forgotten how many houses John McCain has? I know I have. Sometimes I forget my own pants.

Speaking of which: I am shocked to report that there are lavish parties being held here, financed by huge evil corporations giving away free food and liquor to advance their evil corporate agendas. As a journalist concerned about corruption, I cannot BELIEVE I have not been invited to any of these parties. Give me a call, giant corporations! I'm right here in my hotel room! With about 45 bicycles.

*Originally published 8/25/08 in the Miami Herald

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I Just Don't Understand.

I recently discovered a blog that I LOVE, and not through Madame Queen, even though she linked it recently.

It's called "Jason. For the love of God." It's written by That Chick, who also writes at Scrivel. I'm not going to pretend that I get the title, but I do get that That Chick I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Plus, I relate. I'm telling you, I love it.

I also love blogging in general. I love that I've made friends that I've never even met. I love that there are people willing to share themselves, and others who are willing to support them. I love that a bunch of crazy women can rent out a whole store just for a party.

That's why I was so disappointed today.

That Chick recently wrote a great post about her struggle with food. She's a little overweight. So am I. In fact, I'm more than a little overweight. I know what a struggle it is. I know how it makes you feel like you're less of a person, like everyone is judging you. So I know That Chick put herself out there when she wrote that post.

I commented on it. I congratulated her on losing 40lbs. I let her know that she isn't alone. I didn't bother to read all 38 comments first, because I really wanted to say my piece. After I'd posted my comment, I went back to read them. Most were the kind of comments you usually see, loving and supportive. But I also found this, posted by Anonymous:

"I've been reading this blog for a long time now and I have to be honest...I don't understand the appeal. You aren't funny. You are fat. Not just fat but extremely fat. So boo-hoo go work out instead of sitting on your fat ass in front of the computer all the time. Your husband cheated on you and you married him anyway. You're writing sucks and no one is ever going to publish it. You are really pathetic. I don't know if all these people just feel sorry for you or what but you are just a loser.

All your stupid minions will probably attack me now. I've seen them do it to others who have dared to say the truth about you. But I don't care. I'm the only one who will say the truth."
I hesitate to even repeat it here because it makes me physically ill. It makes me want to cry. It was the 5th of the 38 comments. Many of the following comments condemned Anonymous. I was tempted, but I didn't feel like I could put my anger into words.

It's people like this that have maimed our society. People who judge others, who believe that some are better than others, who don't have the manners to keep it to themselves. It's people like Anonymous who make me so self-conscious that sometimes I struggle going to the grocery store. The reason I don't swim anymore, even though water is one of my greatest joys. The reason I walk through a public building, wishing I were invisible.

I don't feel that way all the time, of course, but I do feel that way sometimes. I'm sure That Chick does too. That's why this comment causes me so much pain. Even though I know Anonymous is one giant jerk-face, it hurts me. I know it hurt That Chick, and that hurts me too. So here's my response.

Dear Anonymous,

It must be nice to be anonymous. You can say anything you want to anyone, with no repercussions. It says a lot about you. Mostly, that you're enough of a bitch to be cruel, but too much of a pansy to do it with a name.

If there is anyone in the blogosphere that's really pathetic, it's you. A person who feels the need to put down another person; one you've never even met.

What makes you like this? I'm trying not to be a hypocrite here; I'm trying not to judge you the way you've judged others. But really. What kind of person anonymously attacks someone who has just opened herself up? Do you think this makes you some kind of hero? That it makes you better than someone else?

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Telling the "truth", as you call it, isn't a virtue. The virtue comes in accepting people for who they are, and realizing their value and human beings.

Here's another secret. You are a pathetic excuse for a human being. You are everything that is wrong with society. You are contemptible, revolting, loathsome, foul, vile, despicable, hateful and putrid.

Someday, your cruelty will come back to haunt you. Someday, your life will not be so perfect. You will struggle, agonize, and wish for someone to comfort you. And there will be no one there. You will have brought the pain upon yourself, because you do not deserve sympathy or assistance.

Have fun rotting in hell.


Harsh? Perhaps. I'm not known for my kindness when I lose my temper. In fact, it takes an awful lot to get me that angry. I don't apologize. My other regret is that I don't know Anonymous better, so that I could take shots that would hit closer to home.

Dear That Chick,

Don't let the bastards get you down. No one defines your worth except you. You have accomplished goals, worked for what you have. You fight against your weaknesses, rather than giving in to them. And that makes you a better person than many.

I don't know you, although I wish I did. But I know that you have plenty to be proud of, and that you don't deserve such hateful cruelty. I'm sorry that it happened. I wish I could undo it, but I can't. The best I can do is tell you, and anyone else that it's not okay, and do my best to keep if from happening to anyone else.


I don't understand cruelty. I wish I could make it stop. How much better would our world be if people would only have respect for one another? But all I can do it refuse to be cruel myself, and encourage others to do the same.

Oh, and Anonymous? If you have anything to say to me, at least have the guts to put your name on it, you disgusting weasel.