The Newsletter: Issue #6

Oh hey there; let’s just pretend I didn’t bail on the weekly newsletter for something like four months. A lot was going on, and while I posted and was working and writing a lot, I was just a little … well, you guys know, overwhelmed. Delta then Omicron, now Omicron’s cousin. Well, it’s a bit much. I’ve heard so many people, doctors, psychologists, and the like say that no one is OK right now. I would heartily agree. For several reasons.

Nevertheless, here we are and here you are. I’m sure you noticed the new newsletter banner. A lot of new stuff coming at you soon from your girl here. And, as always, I really do hope you and yours are staying safe in these turbulent and, well, fucked up times.

So let’s get to it.

Around the World

Fuckin’ yikes, right?

So it’s looking like Lord Omicron has completely taken over the chat, and even introduced his cousin BA.2. I know these numbers and titles get a little silly and confusing at times, but it’s the overarching theme of “this ain’t over ’til it’s over” is hopefully now abundantly clear to us all.

Perhaps the worst time to go to a war is in the middle of a pandemic. If my history serves me correct, the Spanish Flu weakened the United States military in WWI, at least for a time; so the fact that Biden is now sending troops into Eastern Europe is simply terrifying. I’m wishing I had gone ahead and let my kids do that pandemic project of building us a bomb shelter in the backyard after all.

Secretary Blinken made a statement yesterday that I’d like to hone in on, and I only caught a clip of it on Twitter, which I will paraphrase here: this isn’t about whether or not Putin or Russia trusts us; it’s if our allies trust us. That was when the existential dread and the hope that the paint in our walls is actually lead really sunk in for me, because if I were allies… I wouldn’t be so sure.

The United States government – on several levels – has been exposed for all its weaknesses, and more so insidious underbelly, through out the last two years of this pandemic; and the lying and untrustworthiness is at the forefront, at least as a resident. Can our allies trust us if we have lied repeatedly in the name of things like whether COVID is airborne (it is), where we got our data on masks (many times they made policy without any), and the decision making process of agencies like the FDA and CDC (it’s a clusterfuck)? It’s important to remember that the United States – for better or for worse, and even in spite of Trump – remains a leader in the world, in many ways. Public health being one of them, in spite of the fact that our healthcare system is not nationalized as many countries are; so when other countries have looked to the US for pandemic response, and we just fuck it up with lies and bullshit for two straight years, it’s hard to see us as an agent of utmost integrity on anything.

Couple that with the fact that our president wants to slow dance and sing kumbaya with the GOP that literally does not even believe in the government they are elected to be a part of; while the Democratic legislature has yet to hold anyone accountable for a number of egregious and traitorous acts by high level officials related to the Insurrection… well, you just have to wonder.

So I don’t know y’all. I’m not sleeping too well at night right now, especially since we live nestled between a naval base and a naval air station, and just around 100 miles south of Vandenburg Air Force base (translation: nukes).

Around My World

What isn’t going on around my world these days?

On ultra personal notes: we are moving in April, and if you follow me on Twitter you know this has been an utter gut punch to me and my family. I’ll spare you all the pathetic details, but long story short the owners of the home we’ve treated as our own for years and years and years have booted us out on our asses, in the middle of the worst part of the pandemic, at an inflection point in California’s housing crisis, because… well, there are several theories, but the prevailing one from my biggest supporters back when I ran for city council is: political retaliation.

Perhaps this is the denouement to this city trying to run me out on a rail; just a few months ago we still vividly recall when my son and I were attacked by a maniac running into my car, then following us in his.

But whether the termination of our tenancy was an act of political malice, or simply just a scumbag slum lord with no soul wanting to turn the house for a bigger profit, I continue to ride on.

If you haven’t heard yet, next Tuesday, February 1st my 5 Part Series on running for city council in the middle of said pandemic drops, and I could not be more excited. If you haven’t read the announcement you can do so HERE, or watch the brief trailer down there:

And if you haven’t done so yet, hop on over to Instagram and get in on the Giveaways that I have going next week to celebrate the release!

Other than that I’m just plugging along around here. My daughter turns 18 in less than 3 months, so I’ve been stocking up on brown paper bags to hyperventilate into. My 5 year old’s new thing is to stick things up his butt and then moon everyone in the house; and my 14 year old …well, you know middle children.

You Can’t Unsee This

New feature of our weekly newsletter – and I promise, I’m getting back to doing it weekly again – is something you just can’t unsee. Because if I have to, y’all do too.

This week’s, courtesy of the escalating relationship between the Republicans and Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema in the Senate (I have my own opinions on whether or not Biden’s Supreme Court pick will become a reality; more on that later…), I present you with The Notebook meme that will scar you for life:

STFU Fridays

I again hate to harp on about the pandemic, but I’m starting to get a real negative vibe on how things are going now that Lord Omi is on the downswing. It’s like the very second that things started to even remotely give the appearance of turning for the better, tons of people called it a win and started popping bottles of champagne in the streets.

There is a profound problem with doing this. Actually several.

First of all, a slow decline in cases, that may even plateau at an alarmingly high level (again, as happened with the Delta surge) is nothing to write home about. It also indicates that an even larger number of people will get infected during the downswing than on the up, just over a lengthier period of time. Some could argue this is positive as it stretches out hospitalizations, but that isn’t guaranteed; especially if y’all start poppin’ bottles and makin’ out in the streets again.

The thing to also remember that in this period of the surge is when the fatalities really start to stack up. We’ve been down this road several times now, all over the world. We know that the fatalities lag; the tragedy is only starting to be felt by the families and loved ones that have and will continue to die in the coming weeks. To be as celebratory and pat-on-the-back about this moment is – in an inevitable phrase – really fucked up.

There are also the calls for the immediate removal of restrictions, even some now from a coordinated terrorist group of physicians that call themselves scholars and experts, some of whom have even talked their way into high positions at otherwise prestigious academic and medical institutions. And look, I’m not a fan of masks; especially the ones needed to protect yourself and others from Omicron (N95, KN95, P100, or the like). But also, it’s really not the end of the world. And to call for kids to not wear them in school when so many children remain unprotected, and thousands of teachers are still at high risk is… well… a bit sociopsycotic.

I understand that we were all promised normalcy back in the summer of 2021. I understand that we were even promised it back in the 2020 election. We were lied to. It’s that plain and simple. So we’re in this DIY pandemic together, and whereas there are still a lot of people that are choosing not to protect themselves, there are even more so that have absolutely no choice to – for a variety of reasons. So we can take one of two paths:

We can err on the side of caution. We can be respectful of the dead and their families, and not go popping bottles of champagne just yet to hold space for them to grieve. We can do our own individual risk assessments, take precautions, and at the same time respect others. As mask mandates lift, maybe keep one in your car and ask the people you are with if they feel uncomfortable unmasked, and respect them if they say “let’s mask up.” We can stay home if we’re sick…

Or we could just throw all the lessons we’ve learned in the last two years out the window, and fuck around so that we can again find out. We can pop bottles in the streets, make out with strangers, go everywhere and anywhere sick, maskless, and refuse to even get tested. We can let our local leaders, state leaders, and federal government continue to slide on managing this like an estimated 6 year pandemic should be managed (with massive surveillance). We could terrorize the public by demanding not only an end to measures for ourselves, but turn it into a culture war where people still taking measures are bullied…

Ultimately, I can already see which way it’s going; maybe you can too. Maybe you don’t mind. But to the people that are calling it over before it’s over, for my part I have to respectfully request that you… wait for it…

Hello my name is … and I will be giving you bad service today.

This is Jacques.  He is your stereotypical rude, French waiter.  He is the thing people think of when they hear about France.  “No I will never go to France, the waiters are rude,” my father always used to say.  The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, an history and culture completely unlike our own – but a rude waiter?  That is the deal breaker.  No France!

Here is the irony, though.  The irony is that the waiters in France are not actually rude.  Nor are the ones in Italy, or most of the European countries.  Same goes for Asia.  I have had many friends go on vacation to different parts of Asia, only to come back and report that the service in the restaurants was horrible.  “They didn’t even spell their name upside down with a crayon on the paper table cloth!”  But what my father, my friends, and the hoards of people that have created the stereotype of the bad table service in other countries have done is overlook something  quite obvious:  cultural differences.

America seems to be a wholly unique culture in the sense of the dining experience.  At some point, Americans grew to expect things like pithy introductions and witty banter in between entries (in France, this would be considered invading the customer’s personal space).  At some point, Americans thought that it was standard practice for your waiter to sit down at the table with you when they took your order, leaning in just close enough to smell the beer that had been downed on lunch break in an effort to deal with such a miserable job (in Japan, this is unheard of).  Somewhere along the line, Americans decided that it was a necessity to tip, and tip well (in China it is an insult).  And in the most ultimate of idiosyncratic American eating out expectations, somehow we decided we wanted to be treated as though – even though we have just met – a true friendship is being formed between waiter and waited (in Italy this would be grounds for termination).  Nowhere but here do customers expect such an explicit show of affection between strangers that happen to intersect long enough for a grilled cheese sandwich and a Diet Coke.

The caveat, though, is this:  while I do not necessarily care (or even want) to be treated like my waiter or waitress is my best friend when I order my salad; and I most certainly could do without the invasion of my personal space when taking my order, if an employee of a restaurant I am eating at knows that this type of behavior is expected of them and does not do it, I take pause.  Okay, that’s not really true – I don’t take pause if there is just an absence of those annoying and uniquely American dinner-time behaviors.  When I do take pause, though, is when I get the face that Jacques up there is making.  “You don’t want pinto beans on your salad because you are allergic?!” “NO MEAT?!” “Wait, so all you want to drink is water?”  I have gotten that face – that I’m-so-above-you-and-your-annoying-order-and-while-I’m-at-it-you-had-better-be-grateful-that-I-did-you-the-favor-of-allowing-you-to-eat-in-this-establishment-despite-the-fact-that-I-have-single-handedly-chased-away-all-of-the-other-customers-and-we-need-your-$15.40-bill-to-stay-open face (whew-that was a long one).  Since I hate cooking and find myself cooped up in the house all day, every day, we eat out a lot.  On average I get this face once every third or fourth time.  And, in fact, I got it tonight when I said that I was allergic to pinto beans, so please keep them off my salad.

Lesson of the day for those of you in food service out there:  while Americans most certainly need to get their heads out of their asses and stop expecting you to replace them (their heads) with your lips, you also don’t need to give them fodder to create a true stereotype of the rude American waiters like they have created for those poor other countries who just want to do their jobs like everyone else.