Archive for June, 2010

Anti-Pastoral Racketbusting Machine

June 27, 2010

So the kid went straight from another perfect year in school to a short vacation to camp. Hurray camp!

Camp is great. About 15 minutes from home via automobile we are in rural Maryland where she can swim, creek, ride horses, climb shit, hike, canoe, zip line and do all the rest of the outdoor shit kids should be doing all summer while I sit in A/C comfort and type or take photos. No TeeVee, no computers, and no homework (yet! I’ll get her going on that next week).

Life rules for me as usual, thanks.

Anyhoo, this is a day camp so kids either take a short bus or bum a ride somehow. I drive her because I enjoy my time talking with her and listening to music. Since I don’t get to drive much I also enjoy speeding along rural roads. So it’s a treat for me as well.

Camp drop-off and pick-up occurs in three locations depending on your kid’s age or camp specialty. We’re Carpool 3. The vast majority of carpool vehicles are–in order of quantity–minivans, SUVs, Priuses, and beaters like eight year-old Nissans driven by nannies. This is camp so these cars are caked with dirt and Obama/Biden stickers. I thought I was the exception driving a two-door VW GTI. I know, arrested development at 19 intersecting with misplaced rebellion. I thought I was the mid-life dorkus until I pulled up behind a Hummer one day. At least (I figure or rationalize) the camp counselors sort of relate to my car, after all it’s a car for 27 year-old “consultants” with expensive sunglasses and precision haircuts. It’s metrosexual. I’m just a cheap black-Jew in cutoffs who likes to drive really fast.

Then just this past Friday it happened. Well, I heard it first. It was a god-awful thunder of a 400+HP V8, 5 liter Shelby Mustang with racing stripes and pot dealer rims (see photo above). That is one loud motherfucking car! One loud, short-dicked, Ed Hardy, drill-baby-drill, throwback to an industrial America where the Litter Injun cries a single tear. Worse, it was driven by a guy who looked like he could have lived in my neighborhood. Middle-aged white guy with hair gel and kids at my kid’s camp.

As the kids used to say, really? I was totally embarrassed for this dude. This beast of a car was so un-P.C. deafening that the carpool counselors winced every time it moved. Who the fuck drives a car like this? This is ugly America at its ugliest. This car is literally hung like a pinkie toe. This car was my liberal, Muslim, socialist nightmare.

This ridiculous cartoon travesty screams, “I got roofies and Bud Lite, bitches!” I mean, I’m a psychologist and an artist and even I can’t profile the type of person who would drive this car outside of Dearborn, Michigan or Scratcher Winner Arkansas. Was that Rand Paul behind the wheel?

This car was the melting polar opposite of bucolic. And I was offended.

But, blessed be, at least he wasn’t driving a fucking minivan, thankyouverymuch.

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Dad Homies Day

June 19, 2010

On the cusp of my 9th annual Father’s Day, I stand humbled and defiant. Humbled that I actually have the fortunate privilege to actually celebrate such a day–as contrived and commercial as it is–with an awesome kid who blows my mind each and every day. Likewise it is my pleasure to know some fathers from the same academy.

My defiance stems from a stubborn belief that a selfish, prickly, son-of-a-bitch whore like myself can still be a “World’s Best Father” (like the mug says) without turning into what amounts to being a second mother; all hovering, overprotective, and weepy over inconsequential shit like broken bones. You’ve seen the type and you imagine slugging them in their soft, meaty lips.

At the other anchor, I couldn’t ever imagine being a weak ass weekend dad, a Blackberry dad, or an out of the picture dad like my own. Deadbeats get the fuck lost because we have no tolerance for you or your weaknesses. Go find a 12-step program or some shit. Real Fathers™ never shirk.  Well, we do but when we do, we do it with style and panache and you can kiss our asses because we still rule so hard.

Contrary to the popular and contemporary press on fatherdom, I believe that the modern father can both lead through example AND teach via the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do (or did) school.  It’s not necessary to hide everything from your children. It just brands you a liar. You do not have to be a fake ass “saint” in the eyes of your kids to raise bitchin’ kids who don’t think you’re a dick all the time. Because they will think you are a dick sometimes anyway so get over yourselves. And sometimes you need to be just that; a huge, raging dick because that’s what a situation may call for sometime. I do believe very strongly that a balance can be found and maintained without crying yourself to sleep at night.

To reiterate in case you think this is some gooey, new age, liberal-permissive softening of the father take, I do not think good dads need to change a goddamn thing. I’m not changing shit. I do think a lot of men do need to quit second guessing everything and do their jobs. Put the iPhones down, stop trying to dress like a teenager, and please stop shaving your whole bodies.  You’re addicted to vanity and internal deficiencies.

We at MDH are the very best dads through natural selection and stubborn tendencies. We make shit work because we fucking want to. We don’t look to role models other than ourselves. We may sometimes appear to be our wives’ whipping boys but that’s just because we know how to play the game so well. Old school pimp meets new school guru. We don’t care what you think.

So look at this shout-out list, will ya’? Down the hatch to some of my favorite dad homies:

  • Gavin
  • Ben
  • Trace
  • RMOK Mark
  • SD Professor Mark
  • Dougie Fresh
  • Hank
  • S@y
  • Phather-to-be Phil
  • Philly Boy Gabe
  • George W. Bush

You are My Dad Homies and this one goes out to all of yo’ bad asses.  We are the motherfucking deciders.  You’re either with us or you’re with the mopes.  Pick a side and sack up else make me sandwich.

Happy Homies Day, scalawags.

The Gift

June 15, 2010
Photo by Christine

Photo by Christine

So I received dreaded news from my kid’s school yesterday. It came stapled in a “To the parents or guardian of…” envelope.  When I got these mailings as a kid it was always very bad news: Lice. Non-promotion. Fighting. Romance with teachers. Well, kidding but you know what I’m saying. Maybe I had a book overdue or some shit.

I got this thing from the school, stapled. It was the Grade 2 parent letter. It was all blah-blah about Reading Results (above grade level), Reading Instruction Level (above grade level), Math Assessment Results (above grade level), and the results of a zillion tests (upper 80th to upper 90th percentile). No mope left behind and shit.

But the ironical punchline to this whole packet which I struggled to understand–not because I’m illiterate but because it appears as if the district’s committee of lawyers edited it–was the final page: Gifted Identification (see Wiki for G&T definition here, I’m not interested in going into it now). This page contained the results of another battery of standardized tests and it ended like this:

“Based on achievement data, assessment results, school staff and parent input, your child meets the criteria for the “gifted and talent” designation.”  This means that your child has the potential to excel academically with effort and good study skills.  Your child will be provided appropriate accelerated and enrichment instruction, based on his or her strengths.”

What the…?  Oh great.  And the letter invited me to a meeting, that very evening.  Great.  And a meeting to boot.  This meant I had to take a damn shower.

Now, I suppose I should have been somehow happy that I have a G&T child/student on my hands or whatever.  What more could a parent want, right?  But I, as a nerd myself, see these G&T motherfuckers on the Spelling Bee on TeeVee and pray the Jesus please not my baby!!!

Because this is America. We do not want our children growing up to be nerds and misfits. We want ’em to be popular and athletic. Think Al Gore vs. Barack Obama. Or, better, John Kerry vs. Sarah Palin. Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs. Think Jonah Hill (Feldstein) vs. David Beckham. Smart is great and all, but…. I know, because I’m smart. I know a lot of smart people. But G&T?!  Kid must take after her mother.

This is me, when I hear “G&T” I think of the now closed Grog & Tankard, a loser college band bar next to a strip club in D.C. THAT’S the G&T.  “Gifted?” Like gift-from-god gifted? Please, that’s lame as hell. We tortured the fuck out of those kids in school. Is this some sort of colossal revenge? Well, I didn’t torture anyone but I’m a keen observer. I know how shit rolls, yo.

So I accepted the data (as a good nerd should) and went to the meeting. I was, by then, convinced I had the next Einstein billionaire prodigy supergenius inventor-tech entrepreneur on my hands. I walked into the meeting wearing my Harvard t-shirt and Yale cap all puffed-up like a proud man. I even took my contacts out and put my glasses on to exude “smart.” I was in a role: I was super Chinese math incredible genes father of a genius dad!

And here’s what I learned. Oh, about 50% of the second graders qualified for G&T this year, a big year.  Haha! Yolks on me, sailor! My kid is just an average mope at a very, very good school. Good for her and I’m so relieved now. That was a close call. Kid must take after her father.

I suppose the middle and high school will have a similar distribution of bright kids so I’ve come up with a plan. I’ll transfer her to a ghetto school for junior and senior years of high school so she can be valedictorian and top 3% and whatnot, and I can again wear my Harvard t-shirt and Yale cap.

And she can get a bunch of black Jew Filipino Irish Italian scholarships.

Preview to a Sexual Assault?

June 13, 2010

OK.  First off I know the photograph sucks. I took it with my telephone.  The phone quality is about as good as the photo quality so I guess it’s a draw as to whether it’s a phone with a camera or vice versa. But I have edited the picture to highlight the off-action, the middlespace. Look at it for a minute…I’m trying to focus your attention on something.  Click the picture to make it bigger.

You may see a tranquil poolside chat. That’s because you’re a PC liberal who wants to believe that everyone’s nice. Shut the fuck up. I believe I was witness to the tip of a potential sexual assault iceberg. Here’s the deal:  I had to take the kiddo to the pool for swim team practice (hurray). I’m the only father there. I’m the guy in the giant headphones, sunglasses, and hat that’s screaming I’M ANTISOCIAL. I’m the guy who takes Gavin’s Street Boners book to a kid’s eighth birthday party so none of the other parents talk to me. I did that one today. It’s not that I don’t “like” my neighbors but I really have no patience for simple interactions.  I prefer to be enigmatic. But that’s my issue. I pay my therapist a lot of bread to agree with me and laugh at my shit.

Anyway, I was at the pool a couple of days ago and I noticed that this young, attractive, blond, white woman was talking to several young, baffoonish men just outside of the lap pool. There were about six cookie-cutter neo-thug-life black teens and three brochacho wannabe frat rat types who seemed to appear from nowhere. So first off, it’s a 9-to-1 ratio. Red flags are churning in my stomach like the waves that broke Abby Sunderland’s boat. Secondly, there are not six black teens in my community so that alone was reason to take notice.

I felt deeply that something was up so I did the brave, caring neighborly thing. No I didn’t walk over the fence and ask her, “Hey, are you OK?” What I did do was I took off my headphones, watched the action, and took the above photograph. You know…just in case.  What?!  I know….

I struggled. As a neighbor, a black man, as a pansy liberal, and as a father I really struggled with this one.  I didn’t want to presume that six young blacks and three dumb jock teens automatically had illicit and perverted notions, which is FUCKING RETARDED because I KNOW they did. I know! I was guilty of PC-justifying but I tried to fight it. Was it possible that I was the only poolside adult keeping an eye on things? Was I somehow over-reacting? I doubt both. I just believe people were actively turning the Kitty Genovese blind eye on things. I could see clearly with my own brain what was happening.

These boys approached the young woman who appeared to be walking the family dog. They surrounded her and round-robin chatted her up. Some were doing courtship buffoonery and others were keeping nervous eyes on traffic, people, and the situation. I recognized the behaviors. I believe the kids all knew each other, probably from school or something. But that offered me no comfort at all. In fact, it made me even more wary. I know statistics. One boy feigned interest in her dog and took the leash. He kind of walked to the outside of the circle with the dog. Now she was separated from her dog. The others swarmed in with goofs and small talk. They blocked her path of escape and to her dog. She was basically backed to the fence (now see the above photo). I noticed her easy, familiar smile give way to a nervous-eyed fight or flight grin.

At this point I stood up to be in clear view of these mopes. I’m old. I don’t care what they think. I walked over to the fence and hung out for a minute. I made it clear I was watching them. I walked back to my lounge and noticed that at least two of the boys now had me in their radar. Good. Then I blatantly took the photo so they knew I was on to their shit. After a few moments the woman got the dog back and continued on her walk.  Briskly.

After about ten minutes the boys took off in the opposite direction of the girl and I went back to breathing easy. I do not know if my insertion of an authority presence made a difference or not but she escaped this one. Seriously though, if they had all walked away together I believe I would have intervened. Somehow.

Maybe I’m a jock-hating racist but I’m also a dad. I’m the dad of a girl. I give a shit. And I have a phone. I could have called some cops. Or took a picture. Something beats nothing.  No “wilding” on my watch.

HOLY SHIT DOES HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON EVER RULE

June 6, 2010

The kids wanted to see Shrek today but I just couldn’t bear seeing those hideous cartoons again. They’re less life-like than the characters in Toy Story and the characters in Toy Story are fucking toys. Besides, somebody from Scotland needs to tell Hollywood that Mike Meyer’s accent sounds like someone who’s never been there making fun of how it sounds. I grew up with Glaswegian accents screamed drunk all over the house and to hear them done badly, cheapens those memories.

So, I managed to brainwash the troops into getting on the subway and trekking up to Time Square to see How to Train Your Dragon in 3-D. After dealing with sneering pigs on welfare who had a problem letting my wife sit with her kids and then having to shell out $50 in tickets, I was worried I had made a huge mistake. Then the movie came on and my brain got splattered all over the roof of the theater. How. Lee. Shiiiit. The drawing is stunning and even when the hero is flipping through a guide book, each page looks like the kind of thing you want to frame and put in your living room. Although the dragon you see in the posters is kind of corny, the main dragon responsible for all the evil in the movie has to be seen to be believed (briefly visible above at 1:44 and the very end). I am going to buy the movie and photograph it just to show you. He is a six-eyed dinosaur monster bigger than a mountain with wings the size of football fields. His ridiculous immensity is the kind of thing you’d expect from Monty Python but they combine it with a really advanced sense of design and style that makes you shush your kid’s questions lest you miss even one second of detail. It’s not filled with a lot of jokes which is why it didn’t destroy at the box office but kid’s movies today are so focussed on Laughs Per Minute I feel like I’m watching stand-up in the Catskills 50 years ago.

This was not another example of the Born Agains over at Disney churning out some inside jokes for the folks while the kids watch a ginger bread man do a stupid dance. This was a beautifully drawn pant-shitter of a cartoon that is as easy on the eyes as the authentic Glaswegian accents are on the ears.

I hereby offer a money back guarantee to any of my Dad Homies who see it and aren’t blown away.

Sigh…It’s ‘Swim Team’ Time

June 3, 2010

The hell?  June?  Wasn’t I just shoveling snow like the day before yesterday?  Now it’s freaking June.  Was I in a coma or something?  Did I have another TGA?

Here I am sitting in the hot goddamn mid-Atlantic sun in 90 degree heat, getting splashed by the terrible and/or chubby Lane 1 swimmers (Lane 1 = the slowest, splashiest swimmers) and wishing I were dead or in a coma or in the throes of another TGA. Clearly, some of these kids have not been in a pool since our last Labor Day.  But I bet they’ve been crushing the Wii and the Fritos.

I’m sitting here like a mope trying to be polite and nicely wave hello to familiar faces of people who I’ve lived with for a decade but never bothered to learn their names.  “Hi, Ty!” is my cue to grin and wave.  I’m “popular” for being…that guy, I suppose.  The artist guy, the black guy, the mom guy, the enigmatic guy.  But I feel the small talk starting.  The weather.  The pool.  The kids!  I pretend to read the New Yorker in my lap, but I’m taking it all in.

My wonderful love-of-my-life daughter is way over in Lane 5.  Lane 6 is for the fastest eight and younger swimmers.  She should really be in Lane 6, obviously.  Her stroke is a thing of beauty.  She’s so fast she keeps closing the intervals and passing the other Lane 5-ers.  Of the 60 or so kids here, she’s probably one of the top three or so swimmers.  I’m being completely objective too.  She’s a natural.  That and the thousands of dollars in private and off-season stroke and turn classes.  Her choice, not mine.

Now she wants private piano lessons so she can start a band.  She’s eight.

It’s June and the moms are already out in their mommiest full-force momdemhood.  I’m one of like three dads here…two, actually.  But I’m the dude in 501 cutoffs, the stingy brim, and the skateboard shoes.  I’m the darkest one out.  The mothers are showing a surprising amount of skin for early June.  Oh, and the sitters and the nannies represent.  It’s “titillating!” Get it?  Just thought of that.  But they’re doing nothing for me today.  Meh.  It’s 90 degrees.  I’m sitting in the goddamn sun.  I’m sweating like a tall boy in a Coors Light ad while holding my child’s towel and swim bag, her Crocs by my feet…the fuck?!

I fully realize that I have to settle-in for the long haul; afternoon practices until the 15th and two-a-days June 16-July 16.  A whole month of my ever-shortening life!  Me and the moms in the sun.  Oy gevalt!

Tomorrow I’m wearing headphones.  Because I know what’s coming: lame ass small talk.  They’re going to try to break me this year, I feel it!  They want me to talk times, competition, and volunteer for the concessions booth.  But I am totally anti-social. Headphones are my salve.

Like Jon Spencer said, now I got worry.