I’m Rich!

Let’s say, for a moment, that I’m rich. What does that mean? Maybe it means I enjoy flakes of real gold on top of my custard made from dolphin milk. Maybe I pay hobos to fight to the death in my 11,000sf rumpus room. Maybe my real name is Richard. The word “rich” is a very subjective one.

Let’s just agree that if one is “rich,” one probably has pretty much everything one could want. Otherwise, what’s the point, right?

And now let’s return to reality:  I’m not rich, and chances are, neither are you. If $250,000 means “rich,” then 95% of you don’t qualify. And if you are a small business, that number jumps to 98%.

Some exist in an economy that is life and death, where the money that a millionaire finds in his sofa cushions could mean keeping a job or losing a job, keeping a home or losing a home, getting medical care or not.

And, in this economy, we don’t buy a lot. I don’t; do you? You’re probably so busy sustaining that you forgot to buy impulsively, which is the engine of the U.S. economy. Surely, this economy could use a little stimulus.

Now different actions have different stimulative effects. For instance food stamps have a $1.73-stimulative affect for every $1.00 spent. That’s because food stamps help you eat; an important expense. By that measure, infrastructure spending is good, too. About $1.60 for every $1.00 spent. Goes right back into the economy.

But to pay for that, we’re going to need to raise taxes on the “rich,” where “rich” means over $250,000. (You may be one of those who think that $250,000 isn’t rich. Bravo.)

This will cause the tax rate on the “rich” to skyrocket from 33% and 35% (as it is right now) to 36% and 39.6% respectively. Now, that’s real money. If you make a Million dollars this year, $350,000 is going to the government.

If the tax cuts expire, then it’s $400, 000.

That’s 5%.

My property taxes in the City of Milwaukee went up 7%.

Brother Millionaire, can you spare a dime?

When we fight over the expiration of certain tax cuts, that’s what we’re fighting about. Now, I’m not suggesting that we stop fighting; yell, spit and snarl! Just know that this is what we’re yelling, spitting and snarling about…that and Socialism or something.

-Dylan

Blog #136

I’m so very tired of trying to sell myself. It’s the path I’ve chosen, and it’s part of the game, but it’s tiring in a deep way.

I’ll never spend a day digging holes or shingling roofs, but I’m constantly trying to sell myself to those who do. They’re the ones who ultimately decide who wins. So while I’ll never know their agony, so they will never know mine.

Everyone is creative; there are roofers who can tell a great story, there are guys who push an asphalt rake all day who sing like angels in their church choirs, there are masons (yes, they still exist) who are poets. “Poet Masons.” Also the name of Arcade Fire*’s next album.

But say to them:  “You should do something with that [talent]…” and they’ll aw shucks and write it off. And then I cluck my tongue and mentally quote A Bronx Tale:  “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent,” feel superior, and go about the business of proving to someone with money that I’m more special than that first guy they saw and that next guy they’ll see. We’re like a throng of peasants from some self-indulgent, third-world country surrounding an Aid Truck full of attention.

On the other hand, the roofer will never mistake his creativity for commerce. He will never put his self-esteem in the hands of the highest bidder. He’ll come home, take a shower, drink a six-pack and hope to fall asleep by 11:00 because tomorrow is 88 degrees at noon. He’ll sacrifice his body, but some things are not for sale.

In admiring that, I feel pretentious. And yet…

And so I write this, on my computer, to no one in particular, on a domain bearing my name. Then, for traffic purposes, I’ll re-post it on Facebook or Twitter, and try to sell you on it.

Sometimes it’s deeply tiring and, pardon my French, sometimes it’s a “Balls-Deep Bummer,” Arcade Fire*’s next album after next.

-Dylan

*Surveys show that the indie octet, Arcade Fire, is very popular, and therefore a “high-traffic” tag.

eBay eMail

I know that good people get swindled by emails like this all the time, and for that, I’m sorry. But, that being said, I love ’em. What follows is the exact email, word for misused word, that I just received from “eBay.” For the record, I’m fairly certain that eBay had nothing to do with it. The bold italics are my responses.

Dear Member,

We are sorry to announce you (I’m sorry that I wasn’t there when you “announce” me.) that your acocunt (My WHAT?) has been randomly selected for verification. (Why are you sorry? Is it the “acocunt” thing?) We have sent you an attachment which contains all the necessary steps in order to restore your account access. Download and open it in your browser. (Yeah, I’ll get right on that.) After we have gathered the necessary information, you will regain full access to your account. We are sorry (Again with the sorry. How about being sorry for trying to rip me off?) for any inconvinience (You put the “I” in “inconvenience”) this may have cause you. (It “may have cause” me great “inconvinience” if I have fell it for.) 

Sincerely,

eBay Customer Service (Spell Check free since 1995)

-Dylan

Additional Income

So, like most of you, in these troubling economic times, I’ve been looking for ways to augment my income, so I decided to take up kidnapping. Granted, it’s a high risk endeavor, but with it comes the promise of high reward.

I found a guy in a suit and wrestled him into the trunk of my car, a 2004 Ford Focus. I had no idea if he was rich or not, but I had planned on finding out after driving him to a secure location.

Imagine my surprise when I got out of the car and discovered this:

Empty!

“How the hell did that happen?” I wondered. And then I noticed the little yellow thing dangling at the top. Upon closer inspection, it illustrated the mystery perfectly.

You win this time, Ford Focus.

-Dylan

I Think I Saw a Stripper Who Was Late For Work Last Night

I was driving to work myself, and I saw a woman running as best she could despite her outfit. She wore a mini skirt that was little more than a bandage, and it rode up with each wobbling step. I assume the wobble was the result of her six-inch stiletto heels.  All and all, she ran with the grace of a new-born giraffe bounding through a mine field.

Perhaps it’s wrong to assume that she was a stripper, but there was a “gentlemen’s club” in the vicinity and, while she was a full block away, she was moving in that direction. She also had the unmistakable air of both prey and predator. 

My point is, until that moment, I’d never considered that a stripper could be late for work. It makes perfect sense that she could be, just like anyone else, but there had never been a synapse in my brain devoted to the idea.

I never thought of it the way that, as a child, I never thought of teachers using the bathroom.

Now, I’m haunted by it.

-Dylan

Jaws: The Great White Life Coach

35 years ago this summer, arguably one of the greatest horror films in the history of cinema opened in theaters across the country. Directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw and a stubborn mechanical shark nicknamed “Bruce,” Jaws terrified audiences and instilled Aquaphobia in an entire generation.

I was six when my father took me to the Strand Theater in Sturgis, Michigan for a Saturday showing. You may think that six might be a little young for a horror movie, but it was rated PG after all which meant that Parental Guidance was merely suggested. Parental Judgment, on the other hand, was of no interest to the MPAA. The experience changed my life.

How often are we present at the conception of nightmares? I could feel the neurons in my young, impressionable brain making new connections and associations that would prevent my body from going anywhere near a significant body of water.

As I’ve gotten older, the fear has given way to fascination; almost love. I’ve seen the film dozens of times and each time, as with any great work of art, I discover something new. Ironically, if the desires of every single person involved in the making of the film had gone according to their plan, it would have been a very different film, if it would have been made at all.

To begin with, the 27-year-old Steven Spielberg didn’t want to direct Jaws; his desire was to direct a different film entirely. And once on board, the film became a series of disasters, disappointments and accidents, nearly all of them revolving around submerging a mechanical shark in the Atlantic Ocean off of Martha’s Vineyard. The weather pushed the ship with the cameras one way while the tides pulled the ship with the actors another. A shark that sank perfectly in a fresh-water tank in California floated like a cork in the salt water of the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the salt water wreaked havoc on the shark’s transistors.

As the days and dollars ticked by, the cast and crew were left to shoot a film about a giant shark…without a giant shark. 

In Spielberg’s words: 

“All of these moments were really a kind of divine providence saying:  ‘There’s another way, a better way to make this movie, and I better listen.’ And I did. I did listen.”

They invented cameras and played with angles that forced the audience to invest their own imaginations, and in doing so, created a film that was more suspenseful and terrifying than anything that existed on the storyboards. All because nothing went according to plan.

I have a plan, you have a plan, everyone has a plan. We all write the scripts that serve as the templates for our lives and our own personal films. Especially as I get older, the urgency to complete the film according to plan becomes more desperate, and the setbacks become more inconvenient. I become set in my methods, sure of my ways and mistake my habits for wisdom. I purchase my certainty with dues paid.

Could it be that we have no more control over the future as we have editorial power over the past? If so, perhaps all we have is the ability to do the best we can with what we have right now. As terrifying as that may be, if Jaws is any indication, there might be genius in that terror.

-Dylan

The Moment is Right!

When the Moment happens, you’ll be ready with Cialis. I have a few questions about that statement.

First of all, in the recent commercials, the Moment usually involves a house falling away, allowing the aging couple to go hiking. Now I know that Cialis does not treat a man’s hiking dysfunction, so I assume that there’s a second Moment.

During this Moment, does the house come back? Or does the Moment occur right there in the open at the river’s edge? If so, your Moment may conflict greatly with my non-Cialis Moment of canoeing with my family.

“Are those hairless otters, daddy?”

“Where?”

“Over there. Wrestling on the river bank.”

Even if you’re enjoying separate bathtubs on the pond, first of all, the condo association calls it a “water feature,” and, secondly, my son keeps having night terrors after he goes fishing. Please keep your Moments confined to a dark, windowless room.

And men, is the Moment really something that you need to be “ready” for? Is it like being hit in the stomach? If you’re not ready, will the Moment kill you like Houdini?

Life is made up of Moments, and surely we want to be ready. But remember:  The word “Moments” is the combination of “Mom” and “men” with a “ts” at the end.

Can we ever really truly be ready for that?

-Dylan

Kicking the Tires at the Child Show

As I’ve mentioned in the past, my wife and I don’t have kids.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with kids, but we’re still on the fence in terms of what would be a better future investment:  Kids, or leasing a sports car.

However, we did have a great time test driving a few toddlers at the Metroparent KIDSFest & Baby Expo

You may believe that the children are our future, but this year’s line is a classic nod to “Generation Y” and the “Millennials.”

The 2010 models have some really fantastic features: 

The “Jaden” has upgraded the cuteness factor with the Justin Bieber haircut now standard. 

The on-board features for the “Montessori Maya” now include Automatic Honor Roll, but caveat emptor, some of the little girls have been recalled for slow, sullen responses and occasional ennui.

Fans of the hyper-thyroid “Bully” line will not be disappointed in 2010.  The “Dennis Dombrowski” is imposing and intimidating, and actually pays for itself by way of other kids’ lunch money.

All of the new kids and babies for 2010 have been designed to run on clean, fast-burning High Fructose Corn Syrup increasing food-efficiency.

Even in a recession, you can be sure that America’s worship of the Child will never falter, and the business of Baby Makin’ will continue to thrive.

-Dylan

A Dog in This Fight

In a previous post, I addressed the issue of the proposed ban of the “R-Word.”  Since banning words is back on the table, I would like to nominate a phrase to put on the chopping block:  “…a dog in this fight.”

If you’ve never heard the phrase before, it is almost always said with a southern drawl, and it essentially means:  “Do you have an opinion?” as in:  “Little Bobby, for dinner your sister wants to go giggin’ for crawdads, but your mother wants to get dressed up and go to the buffet in the strip mall.  You got a dog in this fight?”

I hate this phrase the way that parents with special needs children hate the “R-Word.”

It is, of course, a reference to the despicable practice of dog fighting.  I am the owner of a rescue pit bull that, we think, was bred to fight, didn’t take to it, and was therefore thrown away and treated horribly.  Thankfully, she belonged to someone better than Michael Vick, and survived long enough to be rescued instead of, say, drowned, electrocuted or thrown to the ground until she was dead.  Yes, Michael Vick did all of these things.

Now maybe you’re one of those people (perhaps a football fan) who think:  “C’mon, Dylan, lighten up.  Michael Vick served his time.  Everybody deserves a second chance.”

No, not everybody does.  Sadists don’t.  Michael Vick’s was not a case of youthful indiscretion, temporary recklessness or a momentary lapse in judgment.  It was premeditated and cruel.  One of the female dogs that authorities found had had all of her teeth pulled out by pliers so she couldn’t bite her “handlers” or other dogs as she was strapped to the “rape stand.”  Whoopsie!

“But Dylan, it’s just a cultural thing.”

Then your culture is stupid.  But don’t worry, it’s not just your culture; most cultures have quite a bit of stupid in them.  That’s because the people that practiced the culture did so a long time ago when people were actually stupider than they are today.  Once upon a time, my culture burned outspoken women as witches, but you’ll never hear me defending it.

“But Dylan, they were just dogs.”

This might be what bothers me the most.  This is the absolute pinnacle of human arrogance:  The fact that anything not human is “less than.”  If you are allowed to think that, then I am allowed to consider you “less than.”  Inhumane is inhuman.  Michael Vick and people like him are dragging down the spiritual evolution of our species. 

“But Dylan, Michael Vick apologized.”

Yeah, because he got caught.  One day he, like all of us, will return to the Universal Consciousness from which we sprung; the place to which he also painfully and fearfully sent several of God’s creatures for no other reason than his entertainment.  His money, fame and smirking conceit will be useless, as will his apologies. 

As long as there are Michael Vicks, there will be the need for the enlightened and good-hearted to clean up their messes.  Please visit the website of the Brew City Bully Club, or a similar program in your area.

-Dylan

The “R-Word”

Needless to say, this is a touchy subject so I am going to tread lightly.

The smoldering offence that many take at the utterance of this word erupted into a full-fledged firestorm when White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel used the “R-Word” (in conjunction with another offensive word) to indicate his frustration with certain liberal special-interest groups that were threatening to run ads against conservative Democrats.  He was in no way referring to those with special needs.

Nevertheless, Sarah Palin, whose son Trig was born with Down syndrome, demanded that Mr. Emanuel be immediately fired.  Later, when Rush Limbaugh directed the very same “R-Word” at the very same liberal special-interest groups, Sarah Palin wrote it off as “satire.”  I mention this only because I think it did a great disservice to those with a strong opinion about the “R-Word” by turning it into a political football.  

To my knowledge, this exchange is what introduced the “R-Word” into our vernacular as a word.  I also recently received an email directing me to an on-line petition advocating the removal of the “R-Word” (what it represents; not “R-Word” itself) from our speech.

I’ll come clean here:  In the past, I have used the “R-Word” in a cavalier manner.  If I recall correctly, it was almost always in the context of a ridiculous or absurd situation, and I can say beyond any shadow of a doubt that I have NEVER used it in reference to someone with special needs.  (If you would like to know more about my personal feelings about those with special needs, please reference this post regarding those on the autistic spectrum).

I’m also certain that those with children with special needs do not consider their children “R-Word.”  So, if all of us agree that the “R-Word” is NOT referring to someone with special needs, I’m confused as to why the “R-Word” carries the weight that it does.  I mean, without intent or context, can a word, by itself, wield that sort of power?  And if someone does use the “R-Word” with mean or malicious intent, is the banning of the “R-Word” likely to change them?

I’ve heard some compare the “R-Word” to the “N-Word,” but, again, I go back to context and intent.  The “N-Word” can ONLY be used in reference to another person.  By contrast, the “R-Word” is almost NEVER used (at least by anyone I know) to refer to those whom it is purported to offend.

I have a question, and it is an earnest question; I’m not trying to be cheeky or glib:  If one were to use the word “moron” to refer to someone with special needs, wouldn’t it be just as deplorable as if they had used the “R-Word?”  And if so, does that mean that the word “moron,” even when NOT directed at someone with special needs, is just as offensive as the “R-Word?”  In other words, should we ban the “M-Word?” 

What about “doofus,” “dimwit,” “dunce,” “knucklehead,” “cretin” or “half-wit?” 

I’m sure at some point, all of those words have been used, insensitively and ignorantly, to refer to someone with special needs, but let’s face it, the sentence:  “Those knuckleheads at the Drive-Thru messed up my order again,” probably wouldn’t be considered insensitive or profane.

Is there a line?  And if so, where is it?  I promise you, my intention in writing this is not to be insensitive; I just want to know the rules, and the process by which those rules came to be.  It seems to me that ignorance is the real issue, and ignorance is absolutely worth banning by way of information, and if this post is in any way ignorant to anyone’s feelings, I would like to know that. 

Personally, I think anyone that would refer to those with special needs as “R-Word” is just the worst kind of person.  That being said, I also feel very strongly about the banning of anything; books, music, opinions and even words.

In the interest of fairness, if you think the “R-Word” should be banned, you can sign the petition here.

If you have a strong opinion about this matter, I urge you to post your comment/experience so that this can be a forum of enlightenment and forthright dialogue.

Thank you,

Dylan