Nena tracked Grafenwehr mud across my heart

I’m still in love with Gabriele Susanne Kerner. In 1984, she was 24 and I was 14. We had a relationship in my head, heart, and loins. Gabriele Susanne Kerner is better known as Nena. Nena rocked a pair tight-ass jeans, high tops, and a leather vest as she strolled in Grafenwehr mud.1 Nena, in America, was only known for “99 Luftballoons.” Nena is a famous anti-war singer because of this little German pop song. “99 Luftballoons” is invariably on every 1980’s one-hit wonders compilations. To reach a wider (American) audience, Nena recorded this song in English. This English version sucks because a true anti-war song carries more punch when sung in German. Germans know war and their language sounds appropriately war-like.2

Luftballons is literally translated as “red balloons” and is in reference to the Cold War saying of “the balloon has gone up.” The balloon going up meant that a war between the Soviets and NATO had begun. This saying is actually older and from World War I. Numerous histories and historians recount that “… when the balloon goes up is a phrase used to imply impending trouble. This relates to the use of observation balloons in the First World War. The sight of such a balloon going up nearly always resulted in a barrage of shells following soon after. The expression was re-inforced during WWII when the hoisting of barrage balloons was part of the preparations for an air raid.”

Nena was constantly seen, in 1984, wearing those jeans and her trade mark black and white Chuck T high tops. Thin German girls in jeans and high tops have a special place in my heart. She wasn’t pretty, or hot, in your traditional sense. She looked different from the girls I saw walking around my junior high in Tennessee, but she reminded me of the teen girls I saw the year before when I lived in Germany. Nena wasn’t leg warmers and dangle ear rings. Nena was youth slighted tinged with anti-authority mixed with European fashion sense. Nena represented modern and worldly. Nena was Deutschpunk with her keffiyeh scarf.3 When strolling the parkplatz outside a Horten department store, I would see German girls who were Nena copies… I wanted to kiss all of these Deutschpunk lovelies. My time at the Bad Nauheim Fußgängerzone was always spent imagining these girls as my sweethearts.

Nena reflected a significant portion of German youth that had not known the devastation of World War II. The “new” German youth of the 1980s didn’t fully appreciate what their grandparents and parents had endured. Nena and her fellow Deutsch youth were rebelling to what they saw as a crazy world that was governed by two superpowers that seemed to be on the verge of using her country as a battlefield. If war had come, American and Soviet tanks were going to grind German soil to mud like they had done in 1945. Nena strolled and sung in the German mud of Grafenwehr to protest this possibility.4

Nena was my dream girl. She was fresh, new, and a little rough. Today she is 51 and smoking hot. In 2009, Nena redid “99 Luftballoons” and I am glad to see that Nena has aged gracefully.5 I’m still in lust for and in love with Nena. I don’t want to choose between 24 year-old Nena or 51 year-old Nena. Fortunately, I don’t have to choose. I can have both of them and allow them to represent different times and places in my life.

Nena and I have moved along in our separate lives, yet we have been connected. She is not fully aware of our connection, but as an artist with a catchy tune, she has to be aware there are 41 year-old men whose inner-14 year-old boys still yearn for her. Nena still makes music and I’m still listening.6 When Nena strolled in that mud, she was making tracks on my heart.

1. I got to “play” in Grafenwehr mud from 1995-1998. It is a military training area in Bavaria, Germany and the only place I have experienced dust, mud, rain, sunshine, and snow all in a single day. It is also the location of one of my coldest shits EVER. Grafenwehr training area has concrete shitters and toilet seats do not exist. You have to sit on concrete. In Bavarian winters, concrete toilets are extremely cold.

2. Give a German an armband and a marching tune, and they will be in Paris within a week.

3. Claire was a classmate of mine at Frankfurt American Junior High School. Claire’s mom was a Department of Defense Schools System teacher. She was not an Army brat. Claire rocked a keffiyeh scarf and it went well with her braces. I swooned for Claire and always attempted to sit by her on our daily 45 minute school bus ride from Bad Nauheim to Frankfurt. On an unrelated note, seems keffiyeh scarves are even the rage today with German Bundeswehr soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

4. I have no idea if Nena and her band intended to visually represent the possibility of Germany becoming a muddy battlefield in their video, but in my mind that is exactly what she and they are doing.

5. Nena today:

6. Listen to this, this, this, and this fantastically German-weird one. I’m not sure, but I think she says “touch my monkey” in that last video.


Discipline and Strength… coffee shop musings

Jim is 76 years-old, lives on Capitol Hill, and says hi when we see each other in the local Firehook coffee shop. Firehook was crowded this morning, so I asked Jim if I could join him at his table. Jim was more than happy to let me join him.

We have only had a few words in the past. I once commented on his Korean War veteran hat,1 and he returned the favor when he saw me, on another day, wearing a National War College one. As fellow military veterans, we feel a kinship that allows for common and easy exchange of pleasantries. Today we had a full-blown conversation.2

Jim is an Irish boy who grew up in a rough Philly neighborhood. This childhood prepared him for his 2 years of combat in Korea. Following Korea and his Army enlistment, he spent the next 30 years working for the same company that allowed him to marry and raise a family. This retirement now allows him to get coffee every morning before he starts his daily projects. “Daily projects and discipline are the reason I get out of bed in the mornings” he said with a smile. Jim had a stroke a few years ago and his speech is slightly slurred, but I understood him easily.

He asked me about my life and then, as most veterans will do, we talked about our military service. The good and the bad, the funny and the stupid. “Discipline and strength, yep discipline and strength that is what the Army taught me” is how he ended our conversation as I got up to leave. Unfortunately, I don’t have tons of discipline3 or strength.

Discipline is not hard to define, but strength is more amorphous. Strength can mean lots of things. David Ignatius asks “What does American ‘strength’ mean in the 21st century?” in today’s Washington Post. Ignatius recommends Zbigniew Brzezinski’s new book Strategic Vision4 which has the following argument: There are “alarming” similarities between America today and the Soviet Union before its fall, including a “gridlocked governmental system incapable of enacting serious policy revisions,” a “back-breaking” military budget and a failing “decade-long attempt to conquer Afghanistan.”

Ignatius further discuss Brzezinski’s argument that the U.S. needs to work closely with a democratizing Russia and Turkey to build a “larger West.” Brzezinski, in Ignatius’ words, then argues that “if the United States tries too boldly to go it alone or too meekly to accommodate the rising powers, it’s headed for trouble.” Following this, Ignatius addresses the debate of American strength in the GOP presidential nomination process.

GOP rants include muscle flexing. This muscle flexing includes more military pressure on Iran; more CIA operations against Iran, Syria, and “other rivals”; and tough trade policies against China. Ignatius states that this muscle flexing is already the American way and it is a problem. America needs good allies instead of more carrier strike groups. The GOP exceptionalism rhetoric is counterproductive, which Ignatius calls “little more than vain boasting.”

Romney’s dismissal of negotiating with the Taliban, and Newt’s disdain6 of a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel are what Ignatius uses for examples. Arguably, this type of talk is outside the “mainstream” and Ignatius compares it to the “strategic equivalent of walking off the plank.” President Obama isn’t given a pass though, and Ignatius says his talk is better than his bite. Congressional deadlock is an excuse according to Ignatius and not a strategy no matter how hard the President attempts to blame Congress. Finally, Ignatius states that President Obama has “flopped” on the Palestine issue and muddled in Afghanistan.

I find the discussion on American strength in the 21st century highly interesting. I have some issues though with Brzezinski’s comparison of America today with the Soviet Union of the late 80s and early 90s. Brzezinski compares the Soviets’ and America’s gridlocked government, military spending, and their supposed common desire to conquer Afghanistan.

Late 1980s and early 1990-1991 Soviet government policy “gridlock” was not one of competing political parties or agendas. Instead it was an issue of government ownership and artificial demand. It was the result of decades of repression and failed economic policies. Additionally, the Politburo had lost all power in ruling the Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev, through Congress of People’s Deputies, had increased presidential power. Gorbachev’s attempts to regain control of the Soviet Union did not work and unrest surfaced. In January 1990, Azerbaijanis rioted. Moldavians demonstrated in favor of unification with Romania. Gridlock in the Soviet Union was actually a fight over the scraps that had become the carcass of the union. An attempted August 1991 coup and the aftermath of the attempted coup was the end of the Soviet Union. Political “gridlock” in today’s America is not even in the same ballpark as this type of disunion. America’s fiscal reality today does not compare to the financial situation the Soviet Union found itself at the end of the 80s. Present politics in America are not the result of decades of artificial demand, nor is it the result of governance through kleptocracy. The Soviet Union was a kleptocracy that rivals any organized crime family in history.

In the mid-80s, the Soviet Union spent 16% of GDP on their military. In 1988, the Soviets spent $33 billion on defense. Today, Russia and the other Soviet Republics collectively expend approximately 2.5% of GDP. In 2009, the United States spent approximately $687 billion on defense which was 4.7% of GDP. The comparison of the Soviets’ 16% in mid-80s to America’s 4.7% today is misleading and is a broad stretch by any comparison. I am not, however, advocating a continued increase of U.S. military spending. Forecasting future military threats is important, and there is a need to ensure that America is capable of countering these future threats. However, until there is another country that can get remotely close to the power projection capabilities of the U.S., I feel there is no need to fill the pockets of defense contractors. China has resorted to buying four used aircraft carrier landing systems from Russia, but there is disagreement in whether or not these “carriers” are to be put to sea or used as a model for the development of their own carrier.

I do agree, however, with Ignatius’ take on GOP rhetoric about America’s strength. Unilateral expeditionary warfare mired American military forces in present day Iraq for nearly ten years. Neoconservative desires for world-changing wars resulted in Iraq facing an internal struggle and civil war. This bullshit about the U.S. going it alone is nothing more than silverback gorilla chest thumping. Talk of American exceptionalism may work in the voting booth but it doesn’t work in the realpolitik world of international affairs.

Finally, Brzezinski’s Afghanistan comparison seems tenuous at best. It is true that both countries got involved in fighting a mixed bag of tribal and religious groups. The Soviet Union main purpose of intervention was to support a communist Afghan government. At the time, the Soviet Union and Afghanistan shared a border along which is now the borders of Turkmenistan and Tajikistan with Afghanistan. The United States initial intervention was in response to the Taliban’s support of al-Qaeda. U.S. intervention today is now Pottery Barn policy: you break it, you buy it. Obviously, there are lessons that America has and should learn from the Soviet intervention, but American policymakers both within the Bush and Obama administrations didn’t and don’t seem interested in establishing a puppet state. The Soviets wanted a friendly and mailable neighbor, the U.S. wants to fix what it broke.

Discipline and strength are important factors in men’s lives and the actions of nations. Neither one is easy and both are the result of experience. Discipline is necessary to ensure that one doesn’t flex strength in an inappropriate or vain manner. My suggestion to the GOP nomination candidates: get some discipline over your mouth. Also one should never follow a bear over the mountain, but it is too late to fix that.

1. Veterans love their ball caps.

2. We each had a newspaper with us, but neither one of got much reading done since we decided to talk instead.

3. I pick my nose when no one is looking.

4. Bet the National War College Class of 2012 is reading excerpts from this book.

5. North Korea? Yemen? I’m still trying to figure out who really are America’s rivals.

6. Newt calls the Palestinians an “invented” people who don’t deserve a state.

Genius and Crazy: Short Takes

Genius and crazy are snuggly bed partners. said it best with “Is it possible to be too smart? Maybe. History is full of insane geniuses, humans who mentally put the pedal to the metal — and sometimes through the floor.”1 I am, unfortunately, neither. However, I do get ideas stuck in my head that aren’t easily dismissed. Shit just gets stuck to you, and no matter how hard you shake your shoe, it just won’t come off.

There are a number of mental fur balls that I have attempted to write on, but I have never gotten very far in completing. This post is an effort to group them together in what I call “Short Takes.”

My Dad the Bad-Ass:

 This is him at 70. He is retired from the Army. He did two combat tours in Vietnam. A couple of years ago a horse fell on him2 and broke his pelvis. You cannot put a cast on a pelvis, you have to sit around and let it heal. Within months, he was back riding. My Dad is not scared of horses, he is a real horse whisper. He can literally talk any horse into doing anything he says. People bring their wild and uncontrollable horses to him, my Dad breaks these horses… he breaks them mentally and physically. At 60, he backpacked up the Chisos Mountains3 with me… I was 30 and a Captain in the Army. I didn’t have to wait for him, he made those mountains his bitch. My Dad can do anything he makes up his mind to do. One day while working in his barn, my Dad decided to quit smoking after 30 years… he hasn’t smoked since. My Dad is a Bad-Ass.

Golfing and Zen:

 Larry David in The New Yorker said it best “Finally, after years of pain and struggle, I had accepted the fact that I would never be a good golfer.” This acceptance of golfing inability is as close as to Nirvana as I am going to get. My best round was an 88 last year on a resort course in Maryland, the day before I shot my usual 100. I didn’t realize I was having such a good round until Rob, my standard golfing partner, informed me on hole 16 how well I was doing. I had entered a zone where I wasn’t paying attention to my swing, my putts, or anything… I was just playing golf and enjoying Rob’s company. I have taken lessons and played a lot of golf since 1994. I have, in physic-defying ways, made golf balls disappear. I have plunked balls in water, lodged them in the branches of trees, and seen them disappear under fairway turf due to extremely wet conditions. I don’t care anymore. Golf is about being outside and enjoying the company of friends. Golf is not a sport or struggle for me, golf is a way I enjoy my life. I pay way too much money on golf to allow it to be an aggravation. Golf is best played when not thinking. Hit the damn ball and move on down the fairway. Everyday above ground chasing after a tiny-ass white ball is a good one.


 Like golf, I run to remind myself about the joys of living… oh, and I hate being fat. Actually, I should call this “Running and Eating.” I love to eat, thus I have to run. The more I run, the more I can eat.4 Once upon a time I weighed 200lbs. That is a lot of damn weight to carry on a 5’7 foot frame, granted each of my calves weigh 50lbs apiece. Running is where I get to ignore everything else and listen to myself breathing heavily and free my mind of all the garbage that has taken root there. Running is taking out the trash. Running allows me to be free. I used to think I was a jogger until I realized that work and running are the only two things I schedule. Joggers don’t organize the calendars around jogs, joggers take advantage of a few openings here and there. I may not be fast and I may be a huge sweaty beast as I move along on the run… but I am running. I wish I had started running earlier in my life, but it took an enlistment in the Army to show me the joys of running… and that wasn’t enough to stop me from sitting on my ass from 2001-2008. Now I am older, but not wiser, and I find running is my meditation. Any day above ground running is a good day.

Travel and Beer:

 If I am there and they sell beer, I am buying and drinking that beer. I have consumed beer in Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and Central America. I love beer. I always finish my beer before leaving, even if the beer tastes awful. I have tasted very few beers that were truly awful. One of the best beers I have had was from Sweden and fermented/stored inside a cedar tree. One of the greatest moments in my life was drinking a Kazakh beer on the southern Siberian steppes. Supposedly Ben Franklin said that “Beer is proof God loves us.”5 Beer and I go way back to my youth and college. A common refrain I say is “I have thrown up more beer up than most people have drunk.” That isn’t pretty but I am pretty sure it is accurate. I love to travel, but I love beer more.

None of these short takes were really connected, but I was tired of them clogging my brain. I ran 5 miles today, so I won’t feel bad when I go home and have a few beers.

1. The article then describes in great hilarity 7 eccentric geniuses.

2. Literally, it reared up and came back onto him as he remained in the saddle. A fucking horse fell on him.

3. The Chisos Mountains are in Big Bend National Park, Texas, and the only mountain range completely inside a single national park.

4. Oddly, the more I run the less hungry I am… I guess I am one of those dumbasses who uses food to compensate for other shit. The running replaces the eating for comfort.

5. Actually he said, in a letter addressed to Andre Morellet in 1779, “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”

I miss the Cold War and the 1970s

A good ol’adversary is hard to come by. Sorry, but al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Iraqi terrorists, Al Shabaab, and Iran are terribly disappointing. Islamic jihadist rhetoric will never entertain as much as Nikita Khrushchev. Verbal, political, and military posturing makes good television.

On November 18, 1956, Khrushchev told ambassadors from Europe and North America that “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will dig you in.” Later, in a speech he stated “We must take a shovel and dig a deep grave, and bury colonialism as deep as we can.” On August 24, 1963, Khrushchev stated “I once said ‘we will bury you,’ and I got into trouble with it. Of course we will not bury you with a shovel. Your own working class will bury you.”1

That is how an adversary talks. The best Osama bin Laden could do was “We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the difference between us two.” At least Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is able to dig a little more philosophically with “Global equations undergo changes, this is their nature.”2 These quotes may be interesting, but they are not entertaining. Double A ball at the most, and definitely not worthy of identifying themselves as a legitimate opponent. However, the Soviets and the Warsaw Pact countries were true enemies that made one know where one stood along the great divide of capitalism and communism.

In the past ten years, al-Qeada has been decimated, Al Shabaab has fought over the desert scrub in the Horn of Africa, Iran finds itself getting economically strangled, the Taliban got ousted and now looking for way back into power through negoiations, Iraq is on the verge of a large-scale civil war, and Osama bin Laden got shot in the face. These are all lackluster events in the post-Cold War era.

My introduction to the Cold War was as the son of an Army sergeant in the 1970s when my family lived in Germany. My childhood was filled with words such as Fulda Gap, REFORGER, military alert, Noncombatant Evacuation Operations, Red Army Faction, and Iron Curtain. This was repeated again when we returned to Germany in the early 1980s.3 Olive drab green is how I remember the 1970s, in the 1980s it was woodland camo. When the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a familar era of my childhood ended. My 1970s were different from my 1990s in many aspects.4 The comforting knowledge of who your nation’s enemy ended in 1991. It was replaced by the rise of nationalism- and ethnic-driven conflict of the 1990s and populated by confusing thugs and combatants. The 1970s gave America a great enemy.

The 1970s had great music too. The September 20, 1990, issue (#587) of Rolling Stone was a retrospective look at the “SEVENTIES.” Inside this issue was a special insert titled “The Top 25 Albums of the ’70s.” Parke Puterbaugh writes, at the beginning of this insert, that

               “The seventies made the term ‘rock&roll’ seem nearly obsolete. The music splintered into a multitude of styles: soft rock, hard rock, country rock, folk rock, punk rock – and let’s not forget disco.”

He then lists the 25 albums that spent the longest amount of time at Number One on Billboard magazine’s albums chart in the 1970s. They are:

1 – Rumours, Fleetwood Mac

2 – Saturday Night Fever, Soundtrack

3 – Tapestry, Carole King

4 – Songs in the Key of Life, Stevie Wonder

5 – Grease, Soundtrack

6 – Frampton Comes Alive, Peter Frampton

7 – Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon and Garfunkel

8 – Greatest Hits, Elton John

9 – The Long Run, The Eagles5

10 – Cosmo’s Factory, Creedance Clearwater Revival

11 – Pearl, Janis Joplin

12 – Chicago V, Chicago

13 – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John

14 – 52nd Street, Billy Joel

15 – Hotel California, The Eagles6

16 – In through the Out Door, Led Zeppelin

17 – Wings at the Speed of Sound, Wings

18 – American Pie, Don McLean

19 – Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Elton John

20 – All Things Must Pass, George Harrison

21- Breakfast in America, Supertramp

22 – Spirits Having Flown, The Bee Gees

23 – Abraxas, Santana

24 – A Star is Born, Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson

25 – Bad Girls, Donna Summers

Okay, on secong thought… there wasn’t a lot of great music in the 1970s.

1. This is a reference to the Marxist saying: The proletariat is the undertaker of capitalism.

2. I have no idea what “global equations” are, but it sounds deep as shit.

3. My youth was literally filled with Cold War references and experiences. This web page even provides a list of 1980s Cold War songs… it is a little inaccurate and stretched a bit for some of them.

4. However, they were similar too. I lived 3 years in Germany in the 1970s and the 1990s. The U.S. Army was my Dad’s employer in the 1970s, and it was my employer in the 1990s.

5. I hate The Eagles.

6. I really hate The Fucking Eagles.

Women were made to do my laundry and Dixie Youth Baseball

Today is one of my favorite days on Capitol Hill. It is the annual Roe versus Wade protest. I love it when Americans1 exercise their rights. The rights of assembly and petitioning are American hallmarks of freedom. I do not love the mess and trash these protesters leave in their wake though. Discarded signs featuring aborted fetuses and the flotsam of a large crowd are always strewn across Capitol Hill. The protest might be somewhat peaceful,2 it will definitely not be environmentally friendly. Conversely, last week’s Occupy Congress protest was completely trash free. There was no protest residue that showed that the “damn hippies” were here. The fight over tradition and family values, however, is never boring.

Cat fights associated with traditions and family values are uberawesome. Nothing is hotter than a cat fight. Two women going toe-to-toe is awesome.3 Hair pulling, paw clawing, and bitch slapping make it entertaining.4 Seems the Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) is in the midst of a cat fight. A minority of members, alumni, and parents are opposed to transgendered and “nontraditional” children being admitted to Girl Scout troops. These “Honest Girl Scouts” are also opposed to what they feel is a GSUSA pro-lesbian and pro-choice agenda. Inclusiveness isn’t something they are too happy about. However, when your organization receives federal funding it might be a good thing to do.5

The Honest Girl Scouts are so pissed at GSUSA that they have started a cookie boycott.6 It also appears this group of ladies, young and old, are wanting the good old days that were similar to the time of their founding in March 1912. When one says they want a traditional lifestyle or organization, I don’t think they really think hard about it, because this was a typical Girl Scout’s future in 1912:

– If the Girl Scout grew up to be unmarried or widowed, her employment was probably going to be a domestic servant (maid).

– If married, her role was to stay in the home and raise children with no say in family finances or decisions.

– She had no right to vote and couldn’t own property.

– She was categorized as her husband’s “helpmate.”

– Her marriage was probably going to be the result of money, status, and the sake of not being unmarried.

– If she got divorced, she was shunned.

How traditional does the Honest Girl Scouts want to be?  Do they want to empower women and provide them information on choices in life?… well certain, conditioned, choices. I do not support their stance against restricting their membership in a way that would harm a single child regardless of its sexual orientation or “lifestyle.” I do support them (in theory) if they want to set up their own, more traditional, Girl Scout type organization. But we have been down this road before with kids.

In 1955, South Carolina had 61 all-star (all-white) Little League baseball teams refuse to play an all-star (all-black) team7 from Charleston in the state’s Little League championship tournament. The team won through forfeit because all of the other all-white teams pulled out. The Charleston team wasn’t able to play in the regional championship tournament due to their state win through forfeit. The 61 all-white teams removed themselves from the Little Leagues of America  the following year and started their own Little Boys Baseball league which changed its name to Dixie Youth Baseball following a law suit. Many Southern states followed suit in an attempt to maintain the racial divide in children’s sports. I guess they thought there was something wrong and non-traditional about kids playing with other kids of a different race.

Dixie Youth Baseball was integrated in the late 1960s, and Charleston’s All-Star team was honored at the 2002 Little League World Series. For the record, GSUSA began desegregation in the 1950s. So if the Honest Girl Schouts want to have their own organization they better be ready for the legal and moral arguments that will reveal their ignorance.

Traditional and tradition can only mean so much. Historical hindsight is not accurate if one doesn’t take in all the events and facts from the past. I really don’t give a shit about tradition if it means exclusion, racism, sexism, or pure hate. As a lover of Girl Scout cookies, I will not be participating in this boycott. I will happily buy my cookies from a Girl Scout of any color or “lifestyle.” Honestly, I would buy my cookies from a Boy Scout.8

1. An interesting observation about the anti-abortion crowd on Capitol Hill is the fact that it is always extremely young. Unscientific counts show it to be somewhere around 60-75% youth groups… specifically, private Catholic school youth groups. My unofficial theory is that the anti-abortion movement has to rely on organizations like churches and schools because it is one based on forced (or groupthink) participation. Church and private school youths do as they are told, thus if told to go protest… they go protest. Who in the Hell didn’t want to get out of high school classes for a mandatory class field trip? Additionally, I believe this movement has to rely on youths because their adult members are busy at work earning a living. 

2. The Supreme Court and Capitol Police will not use pepper spray on this crowd, that is reserved for the “undesirable” protesters. Pepper spraying Catholic high school students is a public relations nightmare.

3. As long as I am not between them, angry women scare me and I don’t want my ass kicked by two of them. Especially if I had to get in the ring with these women.

4. This is a cat fight.

5. GSUSA has received $11 million since 2000. Chump change, but that is $11 million in tax dollar supplied funding.

6. “Teen Girl Scout delegates” are introduced “to the concept of ‘Sexual Rights’ for children without parental consent.” Being a nonparent, and a nonperv, I was completely ignorant of the idea and discussion of children’s sexual rights.

7. The Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars.

8. I haven’t bought a box of cookies from a Girl Scout in years, I always get my fix from overeager parents who put the sale sheet on the door… however, last year one dad did make his two Girl Scouts come into work and personally deliver the cookies and thank their customers.


Drinks and Conversation… GOP Style

Matt did a LIVE BOURBON BLOG last night during the South Carolina GOP debate. Prior to the debate he announced how he was going to tweet during the debate while drinking.1 He even invented a new drink, the Modern Whig (chug bourbon straight from bottle, smash bottle, use glass to slit wrists). I found this drink and his feed during the debate to be highly entertaining… I knew there was a reason I drink bourbon with him. His best tweet, in my opinion, was his opening:

      “7:38: annnnnnndddddd, we’re live! I’m coming to you tonight from the northern tip of the Confederacy, just a stone’s throw from Lee’s estate, and just 150 meters from a street called Lee-Jackson Highway. Yeah! With me on the couch are my laptop, a 375 of Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon , and the ghost of John Calhoun. I’d say we’re ready.”

This blog post, however, made me think about the stupid idea of sitting down with GOP presidential candidates and having a drink.There is a common refrain about voters wanting a president they can have a beer with. In 2008, Thomas Nagorski argued that this “have-a-beer” as a presidential quality may be exclusively American. He also notes that others have asked “Where’d we get this notion that the President of the United States should be a drinking buddy?”

I don’t want a presidential drinking buddy. Choosing a president based on his alcoholic consumption and his ability to guzzle from a beer bong is ignorant and devoid of rational thought. The assumption that someone I can have a conversation with is a presidential quality is utter madness. A presidential candidate shouldn’t have to sell themselves as an “average” person, or a person capable of carrying on a conversation about baseball.2

People I drink with should never be president. Not that my drinking buddies are idiots or incapable of making presidential decisions. They are smart and funny guys. The problem is that they are too sarcastic and too smart for the Oval Office. None of them would be willing to put up with the bullshit that comes with the presidency.

For the sake of discussion, I am willing to imagine the scenario of having a drink with each of the remaining GOP presidential nomination candidates. This is pure speculation on my part, and I don’t think I would accept an offer to have a beer with any of them.

Mitt Romney: possible location would be the Underbar in New York City (201 Park Ave. South), the expensive drinks would lean toward his income bracket. If he agrees to have a drink with me, the most I could do is drink in a place of his choice. I am torn on the drink selection though. On one hand I imagine we would drink an extremely old (expensive)scotch, the stuffiness of it would match his publicly perceived personality. Conversely, I can see us drinking Bud because of his desire to seem like the average Joe and Bud would be the first beer that would pop into his mind. We actually know he doesn’t drink due to him being a Mormon, so we would probably meet at BLT Burger in New York City (470 Sixth Ave) for milkshakes,3 … the only way he would consume alcohol is if I slipped some in when he went to the bathroom.4 I wouldn’t care what he wanted to talk about because I would bug the shit out of him for stock picks. If he assisted in giving me a winner, he would have my vote. I would hang with him all night as long as he kept talking about “how he got rich.”

Newt Gingrich: possible location would be Quill in D.C. (1200 16th St, NW) because the gleaming yellow glass bar would appeal to his narcissism … it would perfectly reflect his big hair5 and allow him to gaze at himself. We would enjoy something Newt would call “scholarly and glowing”, like the Sparkling Clementine (Prosecco and freshly squeezed juice). The conversation would obviously be about all things Newt.6 In an attempt to steer the conversation toward something I gave a shit about, I would ask him about the methods he goes through when writing alternative history books. Newt likes history,7 I like bullshit … the conversation would flow naturally. My attempt would be for naught and I would walk out as soon as Newt said “… now imagine if Hitler and FDR had been brothers and the children of Martians.”

Rick Santorum: potential location would be the second row of pews in St. Patrick’s Cathedral8 in New York (5th Ave). We would be sharing a bottle of Boone’s Farm wine that is wrapped in a brown paper bag. Between sips he would stash the bottle under his coat and steal glances around to ensure no one saw our transgression. Initially, the conversation would be about his love of God and country, but the more we tasted the sweet nectar that Boone’s Farm is … he would steer the conversation, in a slurred voice, toward “damn fags and slutty teen moms.” I wouldn’t leave until he passed out. No one walks out when a drunk idiot is blubbering.

Ron Paul: location would be on a bench along the Galveston Island Strand in Texas. He would comment on how the open air and ocean makes him feel free and inspires him to ensure others experience the pleasures of freedom. He would pass on drinking with me, but would encourage me to drink whatever I want as long as I don’t get too drunk and start infringing on the other Strand visitors’ pleasure. After hearing this utopian bullshit, I would down my Shiner Bock in three swallows, thank him, and chuckle at the midget as I walked away on the beach.

If we really want to see their true characters, we should force them into a room (wired with CCTV of course) and then make them do beer bongs.9 After a couple of those, there is no telling what will come out of their mouths. True character comes out when idiots are drunk. I know because I express some amazing shit after I guzzle beer from a bong.

1. His wife was going out with friends and he hoped his two young daughters would go to bed and sleep. It seems his fortune held for the evening because none of his tweets seemed to indicate that his wife or daughters were around.

2. I am, however, entertained by President Obama going through the PR stunt of making his March Madness selections, but I know this isn’t anything more than propaganda.

3. Matt suggested the milkshake.

4. Contact me for a bitchin’ bourbon milkshake recipe.

5. And head… Newt has a big fucking melon.

6. Newt’s an ass that way.

7. Newt thinks he is a historian, he is an ass that way.

8. He was “knighted” there as a member of the Knights of Malta in 2005. Something seems very Renaissance Fair weird about Opus Dei and the whole knighting thing… I wonder if he wore tights and chewed on a turkey leg while getting “knighted?”

9. Open marriage?

Why are foreign films so foreign?

“I’m New Wave baby, so I got very stimulated by foreign film.” – Jack Nicholson

While having dinner at Againn last night,1 I was reminded of a 1991 Bud Dry commercial that mocked foreign films.This commercial had the “sad clown of life”2 asking “why ask why?” For some reason, an elegantly dressed woman is on a beach and in torment while asking “why?”  The “sad clown of life” wonders aloud at her consternation. The commercial ends with an (appropriately PC) racially mixed group of two couples watching an action flick. The two women seemed disgusted with the movie choice. The blatant sexism is comical and sad.3

In 1991, foreign films seemed odd to me and I felt it was reasonable that Anheuser-Busch would mock the foreignness of foreign films. At the time, I didn’t understand the depth and artistic qualities that films could possess… regardless of the country of origin. I laughed in ignorance at this commercial in 1991 when I was 21. I was five years removed from watching Red Dawn repeatedly. Red Dawn was a staple for the nights I hung out at friends’ houses wishing to grow up and be a muthafuckin’ commie-ass kicking machine.4

Foreign films are no longer odd to me. Now I enjoy them, especially when you see what seems to be the national or cultural influences in the films. Remakes of foreign films in America usually disappoint. Case and point is the French movie Nikita5 (1991) which was remade into the American movie Point of No Return6 (1993) and now an American television series. I admit that I usually oppose a lot of things French,7 but the French version, the original, is far superior to the American one. The French Nikita kicks ass in a way that Bridgit Fonda could never replicate.

I recently watched the Swedish versions (originals) of The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet’s Nest. I have not seen the new American version of Dragon Tattoo, I’m not sure I’m going to. I’m not sure if the American version, and future versions will, have the appropriate amount of coffee drinking.

In an odd turn, I’m not sure if the American version of Dragon Tattoo is appropriately violent enough.8 National Public Radio’s (NPR) review calls the original “sloppier and trashier,” however, it “was more lurid” and “packed more genuine emotion.” NPR then states that the American remake is cleaner and slimmed.

I’m not sure that a movie about men’s sexual and cultural dominance of women is something that should be made cleaner or slimmer. Advocating violence for violence’s sake (and ticket sales) is not something I am advocating. However, if the subject matter and story are “lurid,” emotional, and trashy, then the story should be shown in such a manner. Slick American films don’t necessarily evoke the appropriate feeling, especially on such serious topics as rape, incest, murder, and exploitation.

Even though Stieg Larsson’s books do not discuss the effects of the cold and geography of Sweden on his books’ characters, I can’t help but assume that they are factors in the mood, lightening, and psychology that affect this story. David Fincher9 is the director of the American version and I don’t believe that this Denver, Colorado native can comprehend the proper way to show the landscape, scenery, and coffee.

Actually, I think it has to do with subtitles. Americans are generally lazy and not that literate. Americans want their movies in ‘Merican. What I found interesting about the Swedish versions was the limited amounted of dialogue that required my reading. Like the book, dialogue between characters did not convey the full story. Subtle storytelling through writing and movie scenes present a more complete picture. Niels Arden Oplev, the Swedish director of the original, understood the story and the need to suppress dialogue.

Utländska filmer kan utländska, men ser dem innebär att tittarna att se en bra historia från ett annat perspektiv. Amerikanska versioner endast förgifta och minska den totala avsikten med författare och direktör. Men ingen kan nyversion en bättre version av Röda Dawn… “Hämnas mig pojkar! Skaffa mig rätt! “10

1. Dinner consisted of oysters, beer (Harvieston Bitter … and oddly I liked it even though it was an India Pale Ale), lamb, veal, and a flight of four Balvenie scotches (12, 15, 18, and 21 years). Scotch goes surprisingly well with oysters.

2. I wish people would call me the “sad clown of life,” or the “hardest working man in show business.”

3. The “sad clown of life” should kick their asses for being sexist pigs.

4. This video makes me want to be a muthafuckin commie-ass kicking machine today. It has the Finnish metal band Stratovarius playing their 2005 song “United.”

5. Only the French can make that final scene of Nikita smoking a cigarette look so damn serious.

6. Only Americans would make a movie that is overly violent when the adaptation is incapable of carrying the film.

7. Except kissing, french type.

8. If doesn’t show, in detail, Lisbeth (the girl with a dragon tattoo) exacting her justified revenge on her “guardian” with a giant dildo and tattoo gun… in screamingly explicitness, then the American version has failed.

9. He has though directed a number of musical videos for such stellar artists as Paula Abdul.

10. Foreign films may be foreign, but seeing them allows the viewer to see a good story from a different perspective. American versions only tarnish and diminish the overall intent of the author and director. However, no one can remake a better version of Red Dawn… “Avenge Me Boys! Avenge Me!”