Saturday, August 31, 2013

Next Stop...International Diplomacy

I took a day off recently so that I might catch up on some errands around the house.  After that, I planned to treat myself to a leisurely late morning of TV and then lunch at one of my favorite soul food restaurants.  I also planned to cap the day with friends at the pub.

Now that I think about it, this sounds like a typical Tuesday for a Congressman, only I didn't have to report for a "floor vote,"  and I don't have adequate healthcare or a limo driver.  

After calling a cab, which would transport me to my much anticipated day off, the neighbors assured me that this restaurant would be closed on Tuesday.


I'm convinced that restaurants in New Orleans consult a Ouija Board or the Magic 8-Ball when scheduling hours of operation and/or hiring practices.  Nonetheless, I was on a mission, thus disregarding the naysayers who tried to rain on my lunch parade.

I hopped in the cab and headed down the road to an afternoon of guilty pleasure.
The cabbie, Mr. Tahir, hesitantly offered that he also suspected that the restaurant might be closed today.  Another naysayer!

After a few moments of silence, the cab driver sheepishly asked, in broken English:

"What does stub-born mean?"

I asked that he repeat the question, making sure that I'd heard him correctly.  After a short period of deep reflection, I answered:

"An Ex girlfriend?"

Tahir shot a puzzled stare to the backseat through the rear view mirror, not understanding good old American apathy.  After sadly realizing that I was not, in fact, on an episode of "Cash Cab", I searched my thoughts so that I might be able to better explain the concept of stubborn in a way that Tahir would best understand.  I would do so via real-world examples.  Sort of like the 70's television program, "Good Times," only not as racially stereotypical.

My first thought was to use current events as it relates to his country's relations with Pakistan but I felt that instigating a Holy War in the backseat of a cab could possibly result in some sort of Homeland Security infraction or come across as insensitive...which might anger Anderson Cooper.

I began by explaining the foundation of stubborn behavior and decisions; I noted that there are GOOD types of stubborn: 

Actions which effect an overall positive and productive outcome 

And BAD types of stubborn: 

A network that feels it to be a good idea to give Arsenio Hall another late night television talk show because Donald Trump likes him. 

I likened the bad stubborn to the child who has been repeatedly told to NOT touch the cake on the kitchen counter only to ignore simple instructions, proceeding to eat half the cake.

I then asked Mr. Tahir if that made sense.  He matter of factly shared that he would have beaten the child with a stick.

There's something decidedly funny to me about the image of someone being beaten with a stick.  However, I felt that my example didn't break the international communication barrier.  

Understanding that my cabbie hails from a land rife with triumphs, tragedies, setbacks and technological revolution over the centuries, I felt it to be best that I go back to the drawing board; this time I would employ the use of historical perspective in defining "stubborn."

I began with GOOD stubborn as it relates to the Wright Brothers and the first airplane.

After numerous personal failures,  the Wright brothers never gave up.  They finally swallowed their pride and went through marriage counselling with their wives so that they might go on to experience a dismal home life COUPLED with numerous failures at work.  This led to a brief bout of alcoholism and sexual experimentation for Wilbur.  He later divorced.

However, these personal and professional failures steeled their resolve to do what everyone else does (cheat on their wife) while developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving "the flying problem."  While their competitors were busy developing the first airport bar which charges $15.00 for a double Jack and Coke, the Wright boys were developing a contraption that would lead to the construction of the world's worst airport...Newark, New Jersey.  

Cart before the horse is an example of BAD stubborn, as I explained to Tahir.

I pointed out to Tahir that, by not giving up, Orville and Will blazed (con) trails in modern aviation.  Of course it ultimately led to inadequate maintenance, causing horrific plane crashes.  But, it also ushered in numerous jobs to the economy with the creation of the NTSB and first responders.  

Those few moments on a rail runway in the middle of a North Carolina sand dune led to modern marvels such as barely edible in-flight food, cranky customers poured into seats no larger than a child's tricycle seat for $800 a pop while waiting for alcohol service in order to tolerate the ugly kid who keeps staring over the forward seat.

At any rate, I suspect that the Wright Brothers likely constructed the first aircraft so that they might escape their wives to a land of professional football and beer.

While Tahir seemed responsive to our flight down Stubborn Street, I held a low level of confidence that I'd effectively brought him to the other side of the answer he sought.  So...I felt that a more modern-day example might help. 

I used the most logical example which floats to the top of mind for most people...the Uni-Bomber.

His was a special stubbornness in that it was a prime example of good AND bad stubborn.  It even prompted a lengthy manifesto and one of the WORST police sketch artist renditions of a suspect.  

But, I thought better of using improvised explosive devices as an example of stubbornness to a cabbie who hails from a country where explosives are randomly handed out like Halloween candy.

By the way, In doing research for this piece, I made time to actually read the Uni-Bomber manifesto and gained a significant level of insight in three areas:

1. His writings provided fairly accurate predictions of things to come in an increasingly hi-tech society.  

2. He probably should have utilized a more socially acceptable way of promoting his words.  Perhaps a book signing tour at Barnes and Noble over coffee and crumb cakes.

3. Reading the Unibomber manifesto at work draws unwanted attention from management and the IT staff.

Suddenly, it hit me!  Earlier, while waiting for the cab, my neighbor, Katie, raced across the street toward my porch.  Panting, she explained that she needed help zipping up the back of a dress which she'd purchased at a thrift store.  

For five minutes I struggled with this stubborn zipper, trying to avert my eyes from a very bottom to top exposed Katie.  

After the zipper finally came off track, we both finally agreed that this wasn't going to work.  She thanked me and walked back to her house, half dressed, as I stood there wondering if the neighbors suspected that I might have just committed a sex crime.

Hers was a case of good stubborn: 

Not giving up until all avenues have been explored and bad stubborn by purchasing a dress that is a full size too small in order to save a buck.

My friend Leigh recently shared a case of stubbornness within her family.  Seems that her uncle was wrapped within the miserable confines of a second marriage.  When asked why he wouldn't simply get a divorce, he resolutely explained that, in Texas, appearances are important.

It's also important to note that this gentleman was eventually murdered by his second wife.  So, I suppose appearances in Texas result in Darwin's theory in action...NOT stubbornness.**

**Note: I truly wouldn't mind if Texas would secede from the United States.

I took a final stab with my explanation to Mr. Tahir by likening stubborn behavior to that of a small child who doesn't want to share his/her toys.  When one of the other children dares to touch one of the toys, the child purposely destroys the toy and gathers the rest, stomping away.  Thus, depriving his/herself of a fun day at the playground. 

Tahir stared blankly through the rear view for a moment.  I broke the silence by adding:

"...And then the kid gets beaten by his parents with a stick for not sharing."    

An exuberant smile crossed Tahir's face; the proverbial light bulb proudly beamed above his head and I felt that I did my part in crossing international boundaries in the area of sociology while averting phrases which might possibly trigger a Jihad.  

We finally arrived to the curbside in front of the restaurant when I spotted the bright red placard perfectly centered on the front door reading:


I sighed and, after a moment of realization and defeat had set in, Tahir hesitantly broke the silence by asking:

"Good stubborn, no?"

I smiled, before answering:  "NO and...yes ."  

Realizing that, on my quest for a meat and three lunch, I should have listened to both Tahir AND my neighbors.  Bad stubborn I suppose.

As we headed toward home, I enjoyed the fruits of good stubborn on the wings of a flightless bird (with a side of turnip greens and mashed potatoes) as Tahir drove me to a nearby fried chicken drive-thru window.  

I suppose we're all stubborn at times.  Whether good or bad, only time will tell and history will be the ultimate judge.  Until then, I'll optimistically wait.  But, that's just me being...


copyright Pontchartrain Press, 2013



Author's note: My editor feels strongly that using the words: Jihad, holy war, Unibomber, sex crime, Homeland Security, Anderson Cooper, improvised explosive and fried chicken might draw unwanted keyword attention to this writing.  I would suspect that inviting Texas to step out of the Union would bring about more harm to my well being.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

LOST: Kitty...

I received an email from a reader who shared the following feedback on one of my recent print columns.  By recent, I'm not sure when it published but know that it had to be AFTER 1967.


I'm writing to let you know that a friend of mine turned me on to your blog after reading an article in the living section of our local city magazine in Tallahassee, FL.  I must say, it's nothing against you, but I don't get it.  

Actually, the thing that I read was about sexting.

Again, I don't mean this the wrong way, I just didn't get it and my friend thought it was REAL funny..and so did her boyfriend......which is why I read it.  I didn't understand why a Tallahassee magazine printed a story that didn't have anything to do with our city OR state. 

Do you live here or did you just move here?

I like to read stuff that's about what's going on around town mostly.  Anyway, I was just confused and so I sent this to the magazine email address.

Thanks for hopefully taking time to read this and I understand if you don't have time to respond.  I'm sure you might not even see these emails.




Dear Juliana,

Thanks for your email/feedback.

I FULLY agree!  I like to read the obituary or foreclosure section mostly...but news editors, sadly, don't feel that I possess the required writing skill-set for contributions to those sections.  

I strongly disagree with one of two required skill-sets for those positions in that I may not be a senior citizen, but, I AM morbid.

I also like the food section, where they post health inspection ratings so that I might be better armed with advice which safely steers me from Mexican restaurants where live chickens are being raised in the side alley which is, suspiciously, hidden by a 10-foot wooden fence.

Honestly, I don't "get" MOST of the stuff that I write either...nor does my editor.  But, that's due to severe AD/HD.  

I don't get it because I usually slap many deadline oriented articles together under duress after dealing with a number of silly situations in my everyday life which force me to procrastinate; Thus, I write them in about 15 minutes so that my boss might have more free time to do important things, such as: leave me alone.**  

**You see?  That was a run-on sentence, (caused by AD/HD), but I feel OK with it because I used a bunch of punctuation to dress it up.

I DID write about Tallahassee one time; it was about three years ago for a piece addressing relocation prospects after I took an online assessment quiz:

Tallahassee, FL

If I were to live in Florida, I certainly would NOT pick a landlocked city. The Tallahassee city slogan is 

“Visit Tallahassee, where it all comes together”. 

Of course it does…it’s the center of a state where there are many cool things going on, just not there. If I were born there, 10-minutes after birth, I would demand for a rescue helicopter to transport me to safety.  I think that the city slogan translates to:

“We know you’re just passing through to a place where the television program "Cops" doesn't maintain a permanent filming facility.  And, we reeeeally wish you’d just give us a shot.  Plus, we have a TON of heavy-metal bars." 

Anyway, I fully understand why my writing doesn't resonate with some, as I often receive complimentary copies of these print magazine editions only to see my articles have been sandwiched between advertisements for establishments which promote "free glow-sticks at the door", "Hot Studs Waiting For YOU", "Topless Maid Services" and, according to a blurb situated below my last article in your city,  there seems to be a:   

"Lost Tan/White Neutered Male Cat, named Eli, Brown Collar near N.E. Tallahassee - (Lenox Mill Subdivision) Collar has an affixed tag. Eli has a small head and saggy belly."

This is a prime example as to why I typically race straight to the crossword puzzle section.

I really appreciate that you took time to read the article and for your feedback.  I'm being quite sincere here and hope that this email finds you well.  

I CAN authoritatively assure you that, after reviewing the magazine issue in question,  there is a spectacular strip club which is located on 4th street...according to your local magazine.  They even offer a raw oyster bar and bottomless chips n Salsa during happy hour...Plus, "DJ Spaz is spinnin' the fresh JAMZ!!"

Take a peek at the original version of the article, with illustration, that your local paper couldn't print.  They told us that it had something to do with length restrictions and/or Jeb Bush.  Anyway, I think you'll like the article as it was originally written.  The link is included below.

Cheers Juliana!

Sincerrely, Jimmy "Jamz!" Patrick

P.S. Juliana is a beautiful name by the way.  Take care.

copyright Pontchartrain Press, 2013

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Today's Forecast...Hot and Stupid

The phrase dog days refers to the sultry days of summer. 

In the Northern Hemisphere, the dog days of summer are most commonly experienced in the months of July and August, which typically observe the warmest summer temperatures.  (Or, in New Orleans, March till early December.)

The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" or,  Canis Major (Large Dog)

I would have deemed it due to the proximity of the sun to the earth's tilt...but I'm not a Roman.  I don't look good in leather straps, sandals and, for the record, I also will go on record to attest that I've never crucified anyone claiming to be the son of a deity.

Sirius, by the way, is the brightest star in the night sky. (Sorry Beyonce.) 

The term "Dog Days" was used earlier by the Greeks primarily because the Greeks thought themselves to be better than everyone else for inventing the world's FIRST portable sandwich AND for getting away with pre-marital sex via other anatomical entry points.  They might be lousy bankers...but the Greeks definitely know how to throw a party...AND crash a national economy!  It's like living with my ex all over again.

The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise, (Much like my neighbor's dog).  

This is no longer true, owing to precession of the equinoxes...and a primary factor as to why network television debuts shitty new programs during these months.  

The Romans sacrificed a red dog (Not the failed Miller beer product) in April to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was a primary cause for hot, sultry weather.  It's simply amazing to me that this empire eventually fell.

In fact, sultry summer days are now attributed to Global Warming®, according to Al Gore©.

Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "the Sea boiled, the wine turned sour, dogs grew mad and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, phrensies, Acid Reflux, PMS, herpes, Karaoke bars and anal hematoma."** 

**(Or, as my computer spell check helpfully demands that I change to "tomato.")

Realizing that "Dog Days" was all just a foolish "wive's tale" Sirius decided to hire Howard Stern and merge with XM satellite radio...and, the rest is history. (for $13.95 per month.  With an option to add the NFL package.)

I don't have the first clue as to why people seem to behave as they do during the warmest days of summer other than to speculate that it has something to do with margaritas.

Did you know that there's a CDC sanctioned study which theorizes that when ice cream sales spike, so do homicide rates?  Who says that our tax dollars aren't spent wisely?  One researcher offers this brave dissent:

Saying that warm weather causes crime is just as simplistic as saying ice cream causes crime. I was in Chicago this past weekend, and I didn't kill anybody. (I ate a lot of ice cream, too, for what it’s worth.)

Thank you doc.  It's useful to point out that, by comparison, the crime rate survey was likely not done on Michigan Avenue or in the lobby bar of the Intercontinental Hotel.

I don't believe that there's correlation or causation between ice cream and homicide rates other than the irritating music which emanates from the drug, I mean, ice cream truck, driven by a gentleman named "Big Worm."  Moving, however, probably holds an extreme correlation.  

Summer moving is always a fresh, new and exciting chapter in the making for one's life.  New beginnings are fun for everyone...except for the one guy, who finds himself, reluctantly,  enlisted in the moving process.   

He's extremely hung over and finds himself engaged in a full-blown  argument within his head as to the correct name of the young woman with which he had unthinkable sexual relations, at 4am, on the previous evening after being tossed out of the bar.**

**Note: If you own a pickup truck, SELL it, and/or post your own death notice in the local newspaper so that all of your friends and family believe you to be deceased.  You'll also need to cancel your cell service provider.

As my friends have aptly demonstrated, it's especially a smart idea to move in late July/early August in the sub-tropics where the median heat index is somewhere between 4 to 5-thousand degrees.  

I saw a car literally melt into a giant silver blob in the middle of an intersection on the day that I decided to help a friend move two weeks ago.  I showed up, logically, at 8:00am, when a pleasant morning breeze prevailed (from the North) and the sun hadn't yet cleared the buildings and trees.  Of course, her plan was much more logical than mine, in that we began loading in and out between the hours of 1:00pm and 4:00pm.

It's absolute entertainment value at its finest when assisting a couple on moving day. Blissful, sweet nothings, which are shared between couples, devolve from: 

"(Playfully giggling) I'm SO excited about the new place!  I have a special treat for you tonight sweetie to christen our new house.  I found my special toy in that box from the closet shelf." 


"If you move the f**king box tape one more time, I am going to kill your entire family and the front of you."

Where I grew up, summertime held special camaraderie in promoting "community."  Neighbors would visit with one another on their front lawns or porches for lazy afternoon/early evening social time.  

In the deep south, where the average temp is 97 with humidity reaching levels as that of a boiling tea kettle, one might spot family and neighbors strewn across the porch, slumped backwards in their chairs...resembling the scene at Jim Jones' religious compound after they drank the Lord's special Kool-aid...or a Tom Jones concert.

Summertime also represented long afternoons of baseball, sitting under a giant tree in my grandparents back yard, riding bicycles all morning with no particular destination in mind and an inappropriate moment with my second cousin.  She was related by marriage so, I'm told, it's okay.

One study from the New Jersey Medical association relates summertime behavior to the following:

Heat suppresses the thyroid hormone, which causes energy drain. Heat also stimulates growth hormones, specifically, a closely related protein hormone called Prolactin, which causes lethargy. In addition, Prolactin inhibits the effects of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that is associated with positive feelings and/or the strong feeling to go home with, what appears to be, a fairly attractive person as the bar announces Last Call.**

**Note: Ask your doctor if Prolactin is right for you.

Dog Days of summer stirs a nostalgic image of 1960's Americana, in my mind.  An era where children splash around an open fire hydrant on a busy city street, completely doused in cool (lead pipe laden) water, eventually causing them to fall terminally ill from various forms of cancer decades later.  

That's an image that Norman Rockwell probably never painted.

Because I'm an optimist, I like to fast forward to the same scene in the 21st century where one of the children, likely, will become a hood ornament on a Lexus SUV at the hands of someone reading a text which reminds: 

"Don't forget to pick up some hummus at Whole Foods sweetheart...xoxo!"

I have a simple, yet, unscientific hypothesis as to symptoms which these Dog Days present in mankind.  It's a highly sophisticated psychological term which I regularly diagnose upon myself and friends when the blazing red Mercury rises on that doorstep thermometer:

It's not the's the humidity.  Or, perhaps, you're just being an as**ole.

Of course most of my friends, upon receiving the above assessment, blankly stare at me as though Alex Trebek has just informed them that 18th century opera is today's Final Jeopardy question.  With the exception of my homosexual friends.

As I finish this piece, and round out the summer, I'm reminded of sincere fun times which punctuated my childhood.  Backyard picnics, fishing, swimming, all of my uncles, my father and my grandfather slumped under a shade tree in the backyard with a blood alcohol level of .38 as my mom and grandmother screamed at them as though they were making a bid on The Price Is Right.  

With that, I hear the faint sound of music from a block away; I'm heading outside to make a purchase from Big Worm...I mean, the ice cream man.

copyright Pontchartrain Press, 2013