Bears, Chicago, Football, NFL, Packers

The Joys of Being a Fair-Weather Fan

bears-packers

I’ve decided today to defend the indefensible. Not cannibalism, infanticide or terrorism, no, nothing so pedestrian. The sin I shall apologize for is much more egregious and evil in the minds of many: Fair Weather Fandom. I am talking about the horrid belief that one can watch and root for two different teams, even two teams that oppose and hate one another, on different days or  at the same time. My chief violation of the secular religion of sports fandom is this: I am both a Chicago Bears AND Green Bay Packers fan. I love both teams. I watch both with great enthusiasm and excitement. I wish for the impossible: for both teams to succeed.

I am a Bears fan by accident of geography and culture: my father was a die-hard fan of the ’85 championship team and its MVP the great (in his eyes all but holy) Walter Payton, who my dad still insists is the best football player of all time. I grew up watching Bears games in my Chicago suburbs home of Woodridge Illinois. Every Sunday was a day for pizza, chips, soda (beer as we grew older) and of course perpetual disappointment. When the Bears made it into the Superbowl off of their genius 2006 season only to lose to Payton Manning and his Colts…let’s just say there was a great period of mourning in our household. Such are the pains and joys of fandom though…which leads me to my other favorite team and the true beginning of my tale of evil

I am a Green Bay Packers fan by choice. I have admired their ability and brilliance as far back as the classic Superbowl XXXI MVP winning performance turned in by future hall-of-famer Brett Favre. I have been a Favre fan ever since watching him take apart the Patriots that winter, and I enjoyed watching his exploits all the way up to when he finally retired his cheesehead…let us not speak of his multiple “comebacks”. It is best to remember our heroes at their best and not at their crock-wearing penis flashing, Jets uniform wearing worst (the Jets…really… the Jets?). I am a fan of the brutal yet spectacularly effective style of play, the dynamic and iconic uniforms, and most of all the fact that they are the only major sports team owned by its fans! A publicly owned football team! THAT WINS! My Brett Favre #4 jersey is one of my prized items of clothing…I wear it whenever I watch the Pack play.

I now live in Dekalb county Illinois, almost half way between Packers Land and the Bears Domain. I can see either the Pack or the Monsters of the Midway play on a TV at a bar, sometimes the games are playing at the same time! My wife, who works at a supermarket bakery shop, sees Packers themed cakes and cookies fly off the shelf at almost the same rate as Bears product. If there were any part of the country that could be called a Mecca for the fair weather fan it would be the Illinois/Wisconsin border region.

And yet…I am hated, even despised by many for my duel loyalty. People give me the evil eye when they see me walking about in my Favre jersey and orange Bears cap. I am shunned by my peers when I cheer a Bears touchdown after flipping from a Packers victory I just enjoyed. My wife, my beautiful, innocent, teary-eyed wife…I see the shame in her face when she must tell her friends that “Yeah…my husband roots for both teams…” I just hope that she does not run off with a Vikings fan in retaliation…

But why do I commit this sin? Why am I a slave to both teams? BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH GODDAMN FUN! Think of it: being able to be in the camp of both of the best and most storied teams in the NFL, in all of sports really. When the Bears suck (and this happens a lot) I have my Packers! When the Packers falter (this almost never happens) I have the Bears to pull for! I am able to experience two times the transcendent joy, and must endure twice the glorious despair. I can wear two types of awesomely colored and designed sports apparel (I believe that the Bears have the best NFL uniforms and insignia, and the Packers have the second best). And above all else…I just enjoy being a contrarian).

And today I am in the perfect Bears/Packers Fair Weather Fan position: In order for the Bears to make it into the playoffs the Bears must defeat the Lions and then the Packers must defeat the hated Vikings (The Bears just won so I am now rooting for the Pack to pull through for me!).

So I shall endure in my heretical belief. I shall persevere through the taunts and the vitriol. I shall remain what I am: A Fair Weather Fan. GO BEAR PACK!

 

 

Standard
Beard, essay, history, Humor

Beard

the_emperor_charles_v-large

Growing a beard seemed to be a natural extension of my personality and my autism. I had always liked the way they looked on men and I admired many who sported facial hair: Hugo, Van Gogh, Tolstoy. It seemed that a beard was the aesthetic parlance of genius. Not that I believed my growing a similar facial configuration granted me equal status with these giants, but it certainly could not hurt. I never liked shaving, nor had I ever been especially fond of the shape or appearance of my clean shaven visage. My Aspergian aversion to certain tactile experiences led me to avoid shaving altogether. The feeling of a razor on my face never brought me any pleasure or any sense of cleanliness after the act. In fact my hirsute proclivities were reverse the normal male standard:  I shaved my head down to bare stubble while I let my facial follicles have free reign. Here autism played its part as I did not wish to spend any time on personal hair maintenance; shaving as I mentioned was an unpleasant exercise and going out for a haircut at a barber or commercial hair-care chain was a something akin to torture for a man who would gladly go a month or longer without being touched or spoken to by a stranger.

The fact that my wife enjoyed the feeling and the look of my beard did not make my choice to abandon facial hair maintenance a romantic nuisance. If it also attracted more touching and glances from the woman of my dreams I was not about to complain. It came to my attention later that there was something of a fad emerging among the celebrity and the ironic set; a fetish for beards that verged on the obnoxious. Never before had I seen more popular faces covered in hair: Clooney, Hamm, Gosling, Seymour Hoffman, even male runway models were sporting trendy facial coifs. All of this information about celebrity hair fashion came second-hand from my celebrity enamored better-half (I could not and still cannot tell a Snooki from a Snuggie) but still it seemed remarkable that I, a mere independent writer (and autistic to boot), had stumbled upon some sort of Jungian fashion (un?)consciousness. Suddenly my almost unconscious preference for facial hair had been thrust into the brave new world of millennial vogue. My face had become an unwilling party to a great cultural meme.

People would smile at me or gesture their approval at random moments in public. I would garner compliments from store clerks and gas station attendants and the not at all objectionable attention of attractive young women. More people sought my opinion, fewer people guessed that my age was less than it was (25 if you must know) and I was certainly not laughed or frowned at when I told my peers I was an artist and writer by trade. In fact my beard seemed to add an unearned but not unwelcome gravitas to almost every activity or utterance. On the other hand my lack of initiative in this one particular personal hygiene become overnight a conscious choice, a statement of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to be seen. My own face had hijacked my social presence, the malleable mask I showed the community of fellow people I neither liked nor understood. I had in essence been usurped by the consequence of my own innate laziness, doped into a cultural avowal I neither cared nor particularly enjoyed.

But that same hygienic indolence that trapped in an alternating heaven and hell of social relevance also lead me continue on my path of beard cultivation. I was not going to shave off a piece of myself that I liked, but nor was I going to make a self-conscious statement with my beard. If through my inactivity I continued to garner attention, positive or otherwise, or praise so be it, but I was not going to give into the pressure to “style” or “maintain” the thing. People began to ask me if I was growing my beard for a certain “purpose”: was I trying to raise money for a cause, was I making a political statement, was I hiding a facial deformity? I would just smile and say “I hate shaving and I like the way I look with it”. Of course this never seemed to satisfy anyone, least of all my hipster friends who made their every choice a declaration of philosophic and artistic intent: alcohol (Pabst Blue ribbon), shirts (plaid and oversized) eyewear (black, plastic, and horn-rimmed) and music (anything other than what was preferred by the person they were talking to). It was all too much to take in. Was not even my own hair free from the zeitgeist?

So as I always did (and still do) when I was stymied by the un-surmountable wall of my own societal retardation, I retreated into the comforting embrace of history. My true companions and compatriots are dead men who made their impact and left the scene long before I was a thought in anyone’s mind. So many bearded men throughout history, so many periods of fashion and taste, so many in fact that the very idea of “fashion” and “taste” began to seem muddled and absurd to the point where I was just able to say: these were men, and some of them wore beards. Edward I, my favorite English King, sported one on occasion, as did his son and his after him. There was the noble Grecian model of manliness made flesh in the form of mythical Herakles and Theseus and in the all too real Spartan Kings and Athenian dictators, Pericles and Socrates and Plato and Democritus. A beard was not as much a fashion statement as a declaration of manhood. What this meant to me remained unclear but it did prove that there was no simple, facile explanation for follicle utilization. The inept (Edward II) the insane (Rasputin) and the inscrutable (Confucius). In an attempt to finally utilize my beard as a tool to massage my ego I searched for the historical figures who most closely resembled my own hair permutation. I settled upon Charles V, leader of the Holy Roman Empire, as my beard lookalike. In profile the resemblance was uncanny and I was made quite a bit happier about my beard afterwards.

But this of course did not start me on a path towards European conquest, and there was little or no relevance to this comparison in a modern world that had no clue who this dead Habsburg was or why he mattered. So there I was once more back to where I started; a man with an aversion to facial scraping and bare cheeks. I was no more or less transformed by my appearance than I had ever been. To this day I still have the beard and I hope to grow it longer. I want eventually to braid it or at least be able to twirl it around my finger maniacally but I have no other investment in it one way or the other. It says as much and as little about me as the color of my eyes or the size of my waistline (though I do find it interesting that the more hair on one’s face the more weight one seems to be able to sport before one is considered unattractively overweight…an interesting correlation if nothing else). My wife still loves it and my mother still hates it and my father still envies it quietly. Beyond that I leave it up to my incessantly anxious peers to sort out the meaning of it all.

Standard
Democracy, Free Thought, Freedom, history, Liberty

A Savage Grace

Frenchrev

25 years of madness dripped

From your gracious blade

You bore Napoleon

Wellington shed his tears

On the sword

It rusts

Along with the crown on every

Hobgoblin monarch’s head

1 million bullets

Tore flesh from brittle

Bone

Nothing left for men to consign

To their pauper’s graves

Liberty

A savage grace

Never came at such a cheap price

And yet

The bill came due to the highest bidder

Laughing as he reassessed his stake

Militant millipedes marching to the tune

Of a patriotic screams

And the cannonade

The musketeers

The bayonets and

The children’s fears

Of Boney man

And Gilly teens

And Robespierre

And other such silly things

Nightmares of a generation born

From a Irish liar’s pen

Bash your head against the medieval walls

Break the siege with a wooden plank

Never keep headcheese past its date

Chew the cud and dance the pasa doble

They’ll shoot into the crowd either way

Rolling heads and cockades

Stumped on by a ingenuous King

One nation’s fury a dozen more’s

Excuse

To let lose the hounds

Apres moi le deluge

Baying as the tide sweeps them away

Standard
2nd Amendment, Connecticut, Guns, News, Newtown

“A Well Regulated Militia”…A Few Common Sense Gun Regulations

Trigger Lock

In the wake of the Newtown Tragedy and the creeping holocaust of gun deaths that plague this nation we must finally address the problem that we have been facing for years: inept, unenforced, and impotent gun laws and regulations. I will use this blog to address the problem of a violence culture that plagues our society at another time, but for now I simply wish to outline some simple, Constitutional regulations that will make people safer and make our gun laws up to the international standard observed in most Industrialized nations.

1. The ATF Needs a head administrator. There is no excuse for the Administration tasked with regulating a constitutionally protected item going without a leader for 6 years. The GOP has blocked any and every person President Obama has put forward. This must end. And if it does not end the President must take action and use his executive authority to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and its 2nd Amendment by creating a regulatory agency that actually does its job.

2. We must pass a comprehensive Assault Weapons Ban. This needs to go beyond the 1994 Crime Bill amendment dealing with certain assault weapons and accessories. We must ban all extended clips, all weapons used by our military or by the military of any other nation, and all ammunition designed for these weapons. And we must not create a giant loop-hole by allowing weapons already bought to be “grandfathered” in. An individual in possession of any of these illegal weapons and material should be given a year to turn them in. If you do not turn in the illegal items to your local police or to the ATF then you will pay a fine…$5000 seems a nice round number. If you do not turn them in after another 6 months has passed you will get a criminal citation and the police will come to confiscate the weapon. Another fine, this time $10,000, will be assessed for their trouble. No prison time, no “camps” or “black helicopters”, just give up the deadly weapons and equipment. You even get a year to do it.

3. Gun and ammunition manufacturers and sellers should be taxed at 50% for every gun made or sold and at 75% for every bullet made or sold. This tax will go into a fund to pay for gun safety classes, the administration of the ATF, and a national gun buyback program that will have offices in most major cities and in every state. A fair price will be set for any gun, legal or illegal, that is brought in.

4. Mandatory gun safety training, paid for by the aforementioned tax, for any person who purchases a weapon not intended for sport or hunting, administered by specially trained local law-enforcement or ATF Agents. This gun training license will be up for renewal ever 3 years, and if failed or skipped the gun owner will have 6 months to take the test again and pass or risk losing their gun for a period not to exceed 1 year. If the test is failed or skipped 3 times in a row gun ownership rights will be suspended for a period not to exceed 3 years.

5. There will be a national gun registry that lists the social security number, name, and gun registration number of every weapon owned. These records will open only to law enforcement after a judges order or a warrant is issued. This registry WILL NOT be used as a “crime fighting” tool, and it cannot be used to track or to inform others of gun ownership status. This registry will be administered jointly by the ATF and the Social Security Administration.

6. No person who has been hospitalized for suicidal action, mental illness leading to an assault or threat of an assault against another person, or who has been found not guilty of a violent crime due to mental incapacity shall be allowed to own or purchase a firearm of any kind.

7. No one convicted of a violent crime shall ever be allowed to own or purchase a firearm of any kind. No one convicted of domestic violence or child abuse of any kind shall be allowed to own or purchase a firearm of any kind. People who are subject to an order of protection issued by a Judge, magistrate, or law enforcement authority shall be limited firearms used for sport and/or hunting purposes. Once the order of protection expires/is lifted the individual shall have all gun rights restored if that individual has not been convicted of a violent crime or child abuse of any kind.

8. Trigger locks will be mandatory for all guns, including those used for sport and/or hunting. All weapons transported in a vehicle shall have the lock on them and shall be placed in a clearly marked container in the trunk of the vehicle.

9. No one under the age of 18 shall be allowed to own or handle a firearm that is not for sport and/or hunting.

10. Firearms will be banned on all federal land, all state land, in all public buildings, schools, hospitals, and places of worship, except in the case of law enforcement or licensed security officers.

11. Individuals shall not be allowed to purchase more than three [3] firearms manufactured for a purpose other than sport and/or hunting made after 1945 in any one year period. The exception being guns that are specifically antique in nature or have been rendered incapable of firing live ammunition. Individuals shall not be allowed to own more than ten [10]  firearms manufactured for a purpose other than sport and/or hunting made after 1945.

12. Private ownership of fully automatic weapons  or equipment/material used to retro-fit a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic weapon will be banned without exception.

13. Firearms shall not be allowed on any commercial aircraft or form of transportation that crosses state lines, the exception being firearms that are manufactured for sport and/or hunting purposes.

14. Gun Shows will not be allowed to sell firearms of any kind to any individual without first adhering to all applicable  laws and regulations listed above.

15. All “stand your ground” laws will be overturned.

16. Concealed carry shall be outlawed in all circumstances for any individuals who are not members of law enforcement.

17. Public open carry will be restricted to areas not prohibited by the laws and regulations listed above.

18. Legally buying firearms in one state to sell privately in another shall be illegal.

***

I think if we pass and follow these basic regulations we will be a safer society for gun owners and those who are in danger of being impacted by gun violence. Nothing I suggested above would abolish the right to bear arms for anyone who follows the rules and takes responsibility for their gun ownership. Guns are a part of American life and most likely always will be. That does not mean we need to live in a modern day wild west.

Standard
poetry, Politics, War, War Crimes, World, World War II

The Wasted Century

stalingrad

The unripe promise of a different past

Buried in a heap of classified reports and red brocade

How strange the echo of an unheard cry

It bounces ‘gainst the windows letting light into our hearts

Better dead than red they said

Though I’m partial to believing

That the reason west feared the east

Was that they saw so much of themselves in the other

What is and was and might have been

Had we only made believe

That human blood and human toil

Were worth their weight in gunpowder and lead

200 million offerings

Upon an iron alter

Smeared with the still smoldering flesh

Given as tokens to ideological gods

Capital and Control

Neither is right

Neither left us anything but

Blackened bones

6 continents screaming

Bloody murder into an endless horizon

Colored umber and oily blue

Cronus belching the remains of generations

Into his calloused hands

The people ignore the monster in their midst

Because he at least has the decency to snuff them out

Casting lots and votes and bodies into hastily dug holes

Dead no less from a red or a red white and blue bullet

Bleeding into that same dust from which Prometheus molded our flesh

Standard
Guns, News, Shooting

Newton School Shooting: 28 Dead

gun-violence_0

Once again our national firearm nightmare has come home to us in the most violent of ways. 20 Children and 8 adults were killed at the Newton Elementary school in Connecticut. I really am at a loss for words. Over 40 people have been killed in gun spree violence THIS MONTH. We must address the gun laws in the nation, and even more we must deal with our national obsession with violence and guns. This is rare in most Industrialized Nations. Not in ours. I am sick of gun apologists, gun rights advocates, and people who want to further arm the citizenry. Fuck that. We need less guns, not more. We need to make sure that children are NEVER exposed to this sort of violence. And we must always remember that when we see incidents like this on the news a Columbine happens EVERY WEEK in this nation in the inner cities and communities all over the nation. We are a nation at war with ourselves and the only answer that has been given in the media and in Washington is “more guns and less regulation”. FUCK THAT. Guns are the enemy. Guns kill people, but gun cultures lead to mass destruction. I feel for the families and as a brother to 4 siblings, including a 9 year old and a 13 year old, this shakes me deeply to my  core. I only hope these families can survive this intact…I only hope they can live in a future without gun violence.

It was a 9mm used. The most common gun in America. Fuck this stupid culture.

 

 

Standard