Amurika’s Political Institutions… what I learned from a year on my condo’s board

Man establishes political institutions to establish order in society. First it was the family, then the clan, then the tribe, followed by such advents as the city-state, and eventually the modern nation-state. Within these social groupings, men devised institutions to assist in the governing of these groupings. Sometimes it was the establishment of religion, tribal leaders, and governments. Originally, the political institution was the oldest male of the family… typically the father, thus throughout history political institutions have been dominated by males. Political institutions exist to ensure the survival of the consenting society… thus we have the idea of social contract theory.

Thomas Hobbes, in his 1651 book Leviathan, established Western political philosophy with the perspective of social contract theory. Social Contract theory, through the works of Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobbes, Samuel Pufendorf, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is the philosophical idea that originated during the Age of Enlightenment and addresses the idea of the origin of society and the legitimacy of the authority of the state and individual. The arguments of Social Contract theory are that individuals consent (through voting in republics and democracies… explicitly or tacitly) to give up some “freedoms” and submit to the authority of the state in return for the exchange for safety/security and the protection of the remaining “freedoms.” These “freedoms” are divided between natural and legal.

Natural rights, though not distinctly defined or agreed upon, usually pertain to the idea of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Legal rights, however, are definable because they are agreed to by governing political institutions and are provided to give guidance and establish legal boundaries. Whereas, many philosophers argue that natural rights are god-given or inalienable… legal rights can be fleeting or temporary. Legal rights evolve and are subject to the legal philosophy of the society. Natural rights are supposedly guaranteed regardless of society, location, or socio-economic level. Some argue that human rights and natural rights are interchangeable.

The Amurikan ideal of natural rights is foundational in the establishment of Amurika… the Bill of Rights guarantee and establish not what the government can do… but what the government can not take from you or do to you. The Amurikan Constitution is a limiting document… it is a legal document that representatives of our Amurikan ancestors consented to… consented to ensure that there would be a republic of states, with a centralized federal government that would ensure legal and binding laws would be enforced while ensuring natural rights would not be violated.

Or… let’s face it… we are self-serving bastards. As more and more of us live in more and more close proximity to one another… we have to have some rules to ensure that we don’t kill each other in some weird anarchy of the survival of the fittest Lord of the Flies world. When one lives in an urban locale… or at least a neighborhood of multiple buildings and homes… one needs rules to ensure we don’t violate the space and happiness of our neighbors but to ensure those fuckers stay off our lawns. The concept of apartment and condo boards… and homeowner associations… is a relatively new one in Amurika. As they say, all politics are local… and local politics affect us the most.

Everything I know about Amurikan political institutions was confirmed after the year I spent as a member of my condo board. I was nominated by a fellow condo owner, other condo owners voted for me, I was a democratically elected member. I was no nepotism appointee… they were no political backroom deals… none of my neighbors wanted the job… and I was willing to serve.

I owned a condo in a six-story building in downtown DC… specifically the Logan Circle neighborhood. This neighborhood in the past ten years has undergone a significant gentrification… once it was car garages, seedy bars, and pawn shops. The street my condo is on was once notoriously known for hookers and blow. Following the riots in the late 1960s, my neighborhood was a burnt hulk… then the economy started to change in DC. Homosexual men and DINKS (Dual income, no kids couples) began to move in. The neighborhood’s schools were horrible, but the urban lifestyle of row houses and renovated condo buildings beckoned… Logan Circle changed. Art studies, upscale bars and shops flourish… it is now one of the nice zip codes in the District. With this influx of income came the desire to ensure nobody fucked with your shit or dirtied your building. The new residents were willing to sacrifice certain “freedoms” to ensure the security of the wealth and the upscaleness of their neighborhood.

Here is what I learned about Amurikan political institutions… everybody wants to ensure that their home and shit aren’t fucked with as long as they don’t have to pay “too much” for it. Raising fees to ensure the cleanliness and safety of the building was hotly debated… yet everyone bitched if the trash was overflowing or someone had their bike stolen. I owned this condo for 4 years and paid approximate $200 a month to ensure my “freedom” of a clean and safe building was secured. I never balked at the idea of paying $5-$10 more a month each year because I accept the economic theory of inflation… yet many did have issue with this. Rule one in Amurika… I want the same or better service but I am unwilling to pay for it. I want my costs to stay the same no matter what. Hell… cut my fees and give me everything I have now.

Another thing I learned was that it is never anyone’s fault but the condo board’s. Some other owner’s toilet overflowed and flooded your bathroom… well it must be the building and board’s fault. Regardless of the fact that there were legal and binding (and voted in) rules that every owner agreed to that stipulated that someone else’s toilet overflowing is the responsiblity of the broken toilet owner. If you had a dispute or flooding issue with another owner… you were required to fix the issue personally and privately through insurance… yet many owners believed that the building and board should pay for the repairs. Here is what I learned, even if one agrees to a rule… votes for the rule… the rule is meaningless in the eyes of some because they are so selfish and ignorant that they will still demand someone else be responsible. Laws and rules are great until they affect me in what I perceive as a negative manner.

Basically, one cannot be a civilized society without rules. Rules are necessary to ensure the safety and security of the society… and sometimes those rules may feel burdensome. Responsible society members, however, must understand that they are not alone in their existence and that there is a required sacrifice by every member of society. An unwillingness to personally sacrifice for the good of society leads to anarchy and breakdown of order. My views on Amurikan politics, its political institutions, and its history were confirmed when I spent a year on my condo board… what I learned is that people are self-serving bastards and are willing to throw their neighbor under the bus if they feel they have something gain from it… and, oh, it is never their own fault for anything. Finally, I learned that gay men really love fancy decorative plants and greenery… as long as they don’t have to pay for it.

Best of the Best … lists and expectations

New York always ranks high on the best of cities lists… lists about nightlife, arts, culture, and population… masses and masses of people. I have been to New York a number of times… the first time felt anti-climatic. My whole life has been populated with movies and television shows that depicted the Big Apple… seems every New York landmark has been used in some movie or show… and I have seen it on the silver screen… thus seeing it in person seemed a little of a let down. If you have never been to New York… you will quickly realize upon visiting there that there is probably not a more photographed or filmed city in the world… you have seen New York your whole life. Central Park is not dirty or scary the way the movie The Warriors depicted it… my expectation was a battlefield fought over by gangs from the 1970s… or a scary nightmare in which all the Death Wish movies portrayed it. The dilapidated vision that a lot of us had from movies in the 1970s was replaced with scenes of big buildings and giant toy stores as seen in Big

Instead New York has become this tourist mecca that is now clean(ish) with gaudy neon of Times Square and gentrified lower Manhattan neighborhoods… and a brand new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Brooklyn is where you go for late night bars and pizza… West Side Story fights and dances are nowhere to be seen. Yes there are bums and vomit… but your grandmother is there too… catching a Broadway show. New York does have a unique smell though… New York smells like hot sauce, a hint of urine, a whiff of sexual predator and a lot of sweat/body odor… and those smells are what accompany Spongebob and Woody as they pimp themselves out.

Supposedly, one of the best of the bests has a smell problem… and I have identified it. Fortunately, my identification skills are not limited to the olfactory glands. Seems I can also figure out what Rolling Stone magazine considers the best of the best… it is the Beatles, Marvin Gay, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan…. and the fucking Beach Boys… which I can’t really figure out… the fucking Beach Boys?… The “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” is not too surprising until you get to the top ten and see the Beach Boys standing there shoulder to shoulder to the no-brainers. Oh, when you go to the “500 Greatest Songs” you find the Beach Boys again. Arguably, one can state that Dylan, Marvin, and the Fab Four are pretty damn great… but I find it totally disheartening to think the Beach Boys break the top ten in both of these lists… subjective no doubt. Who am I to doubt Rolling Stone magazine. Obviously, the staff of Rolling Stone is populated with people… music nerds… who escaped their teens [1]  as a social outcast… went to college and got some mass media degree… or one in journalism and now fill the pages and the Rolling Stone website with list after list of *cough*cough* well-thought out and meticulously researched of the “greatest of all time” all things musical. I am not a Beatles fan, [2] but I will agree with their albums and songs being in the top ten of any music list… but I will not agree with the Beach Boys… nope.

Yes, I over analyze everything like this, and since this about the “best of the best,” let me explain the best video game to come out in 2012… in my very uninformed opinion. Dishonored by Bethesda Software is one of the most engaging, imaginative, and addicting… fucking addicting… games EVER. PERIOD. It is a mix of Victorian era architecture, themes, and steampunk [3] fantasy. After about 30 years of understanding what the Victorian era was… and an adult life of loving Victoria Secrets… I learned about steampunk about a year ago… and now it is fucking everywhere. In the game there is a little magic and lots of rats… unfortunately there are no Victoria Secrets’ models.

Here is the synopsis of the game. You are the Empress’ head bodyguard. The Empress is assassinated, you are used as the scapegoat and her daughter (the new royal head) is captured by government ministers who wish to run the city/country. Loyalists help you escape from the government prison… you then go around the capital city doing missions that lead to the eventual freeing of the young empress and her return to power. This “doing” missions entails you creeping, climbing, killing, and knocking out the bad guys… or civilians in a plague-ridden city. Okay, that is the synopsis… this is why the game is so fucking awesome:

Graphics… the city of Dunwall with its crumbling Victorian architecture is mesmerizing. Until we can play video games via the USS Enterprise’s holodeck… this will be the standard for future gaming graphics. Shadows, water (lots of water), and hulks of burned out buildings are where you have to manuever yourself in search of clues and targets. There are multiple paths throughout this beautifully rendered, but sad, city and landscape… exploration is encouraged and there is no one single path to your target or destination.

Morality… like all video games, Dishonored’s attempt at morality play is quirky and very black and white… however, your entire gameplay and the decisions you make from the very beginning affect how the game ends and how other AI characters treat you as the game progresses. The first time I played through this game I went heavy on killing everything in sight… loud violence over stealth… bloody assassination over nonlethal take-downs. This increased the plague-carrying rats that attack in packs at the most inopportune times… I left a trail of dead bodies all over the city, and thus rats got more prolific and more aggressive. The second time I played Dishonored [4] I actually attempted to keep the body count down which resulted in fewer rats and a far lighter and happier ending to the game. The decision to be more humane, or morally good, in my decisions throughout the game may have been simplistic… but in the world of video games this is head and shoulders above other games that attempt to provide this to you.

Fluid movement… unlike most First Person Shooters/View (FPS) games, Dishonored does not feel linear or boxy… your movements from ledge to ledge (you have cat-like abilities… you’re a fucking assassin) are shown through your eyes as blurry movements… when you creep your body (and vision) is affected by the terrain… leaning and movements are less up, down, left, right, and more like a real person. This advancement [5] in-game play seems revolutionary. At times I actually felt myself getting motion sickness from the realistic movement of my assassin’s ass. [6]

The only thing missing from the game is the smell of hot sauce, a hint of urine, a whiff of sexual predator and a lot of sweat/body odor. Woody and Spongebob may prostitute themselves for dollars in Times Square… but this adult video game character… this assassin (Corvo is your name) in Dishonored… whores himself out to no man…. and thankfully there is no Beach Boys on the soundtrack.

[1] Social outcasts who did nothing but listen to, talk about, and doodle on their notebooks all things music… we hung out with them to get great mix tapes.

[2] The Beatles are the godfathers of pop music… yes they were geniuses, yes they made music that shaped a generation… they also ruined modern music by giving providing a path for pop to be more accepted than good ol’rock-n-roll.

[3] Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century.

[4] This is the only game that I have played twice in a row.

[5] I’m sure there is some nerdy term or definition for this gaming advancement… no I didn’t look it up.

[6] I just wanted to type “assassin’s ass.”

Let There Be Rock

Well, ice cream, soda pop, bourbon on top…

Some people call it rock and some people call it pop…

Some call it country music every time you use a fiddle…

How am I supposed to know if that’s a fact or just a riddle?…

Too tight around the edges, leave a little room to wiggle… – Shovels and Rope, “Cavalier

New game… turn on your local radio station… the one that everyone listens to, the one that is always giving shit away… like bumper stickers, the one parking their van outside a local business, the one that has the annoying morning DJs, the one “bringing the hits” to your bumfuck Egypt town, the one that the kids get their music from (does that even exist)… and then as every song comes on scream “rock” or “pop”… I doubt you will scream “rock” very much. Steven Hyden at grantland.com argues that ROCK music is dying… or disappearing from the airwaves. He also begins the article with quote from a Driver-By Truckers’ song… so instant cred with me. The idea that the rock that we all know (and supposedly love) is disappearing is it immediately suspect… until you ask yourself: what is a new rock-n-roll band that you listen to AND played on the radio AND getting critical AND popular acclaim.

This idea of rock-n-roll bands not being critically acclaimed… or at least popularly received is very interesting. I recently had this very discussion with the woman I am dating, after we had gone and seen Gaslight Anthem at DC’s 9:30 Club. Gaslight Anthem is a rock-n-roll band that definitely owes its existence to its limited connection to Bruce Springsteen. Gaslight Anthem packed the 9:30 Club… I have never heard Gaslight Anthem on the radio. I, however, am a poor radio listener… I listen to satellite radio and then search for music on iTunes… or I take suggestions from friends… like the woman who I am dating and who introduced me to Gaslight Anthem. She can’t figure out why they aren’t more popular. Hyden hits on it… in a very lengthy manner. I think my explanation is a lot more to the point.

Rock bands were once a dime a dozen, once rock bands ruled the airwaves… once rock bands could be found in any club in any mid-sized or college town… now kids and listeners have pigeon-holed themselves and escape the opportunity of hearing something new… I am guilty of this. Hit radio stations don’t play rock-n-roll… they play pop… I would argue that it was the Beatles that started us on this road. But how novel is a four or five piece rock band that can turn smart but short lyrics to the 3 chords which is nothing more than poetry about sex, drugs, and a wee bit of anger… or at least angst. Guitar driven rock is about as new as claiming jeans are fashionable. Everyone thinks they have heard this band because they have heard this sound for their whole life… until radio stations quit playing it all together. Good rock bands aren’t getting radio air time because it is now populated by music that competed and then defeated rock music. Anything new in the old world of rock-n-roll is ignored… yet good rock-n-roll is what we all like… or at least what we tell ourselves.

Even my iPhone, iTunes, and Apple are against me listening to good rock-n-roll. I just purchased the complete AC/DC catalog, yet because of past listening habits… my “top 25 played” songs are skewed to pop… or at least music that doesn’t fit into the idea of rock. It is my fault though, my iPhone, iTunes, and Apple analyze my lazy listening habits.

This analysis of my music listening habits is slightly skewed… it is based on data that my iPhone and Macbook Pro share when I am at home and the two are mated. Seems when one has over 11,000 songs, one is unable to download every single tune to their iPhone… thus I am forced to determine which songs are on my iPhone and which ones lay silently in my iTunes library… at home… quietly awaiting my return and an opportunity to be played. This analysis is also skewed by my lazy attitude toward making playlists and then taking the time organize and store music on my iPhone… I am a victim of my own habits. The realization of how Apple and iTunes are guiding my music listening habits struck me about the time I tried to find a trashcan this morning to dispose of my coffee cup. For about 6th time in that many days, Too $hort’s “Blow the Whistle” came on about the time I flipped my wrist to toss my coffee cup away… and I was struck by the thought… “fuck… didn’t I just hear this song?”

This may not be shocking news to you other audiophiles… but for me, my relationship with iTunes has been one where I collect, collect, collect, and collect music but then don’t take time to ensure I get ample opportunity to listen to it. Like a lot of people, when I first moved from CDs to iPod/iTunes/iPhone… I spent days and days of burning one CD after another… building up that music library with shit that was bought in 1996 and I actually thought the Quad City DJ’s “C’mon N’Ride It (The Train)” was a song that had staying power… 26 year-olds very rarely know good music.

After the Bataan Death March (link provided for the historically illiterate) of burning your CDs… one then began the frenzy of buying iTunes music… and this included the befuddled feeling of wonder of why AC/DC wasn’t there for your purchasing…. which thankfully has been rectified as of this past year (I now own the complete AC/DC musical catalog and yes… I do feel like my life is complete). But when you buy new music… and you buy it from different devices… your iTunes library gets fucked up. Yes, I am aware there is the iCloud option, yes I know there is the automatic download of purchases on your main iTunes device… but unless you take the time to organize that shit… and stay on top of it… you get a shitty playlist called “top 25 most played” songs that is strictly related to the device you listen to the most… for me that is my iPhone… and here is what Apple, iTunes, and my iPhone consider my listening habits… as I stated numerous times… more pop than rock and embarrassing as hell.

1. Neon Hitch “Bad Dog“… catchy 21st century dance music with not subtle sexual innuendo and as much as this song might have a special and personal feeling… it definitely doesn’t compare to what is predominately in my iTunes library of rock.

2. Oomph! “Labrynth“… well at least it is rock… but obviously German rock… and this version is in English which is rare for my German rock… most of it is in its native language. Still trying to figure out if I can group my Deutsch metal into the solid rock category.

3. The Vaccines “Teenage Icon“… a song that isn’t subtle .. this is an Australian band that is both catchy and very poppy… almost rock… it sounds like rock… until you hear their other stuff and then you can’t decide if they are rock or pop… but the band seems to be fairly unheard here in America because their upcoming tour is slim on US dates (get it with Amurika!) and heavy on European ones. Fortunately, I have tickets to see them February 1st here in DC.

4. AFI “Girl’s Not Grey“… like Oomph!, at least this shit is rock… however, the first time I heard this I thought it was Fall Out Boy… if you don’t know who sings it… you probably shouldn’t play it so much that it makes a “top” list of anything. Do have to say I can imagine the band playing this song as they jump and swing their guitars.

5. B.o.B. “So Good“… I get in these stretches where I purchase hip hop/techno/urban music that seems to be more mash-up songs than actual one song pieces… not sure if this is the result of Glee or Glee’s mash-up episodes are the result of these type of songs… I got turned on to these types of songs while driving alone through England in August 2011 while searching for golf courses and finding nothing but this type of music on the radio (or the awful 1980s crap BBC Radio plays).

6. “Caipirinha“… a zumba fitness song that iTunes Genius suggested… a latin disco tune that caught my ear… but seriously I have no clue when I have listened to it enough for it to make it to my list of top songs… I am all for world music and very open to appreciating good catchy tunes, but I have no idea why iTunes thought I would like it.

7. Marilyn Manson “Tainted Love“… okay, no apologies for this song… the original was a mainstay of my youth in the 80s… this cover is fucking awesome. Tainted love was once more bubble gum, now it is down right dirty and hard… yeah I said “taint” and even though it is hard to imagine… Marilyn took this pop and made it almost rock.

8. The Lonely Planet “I’m On a Boat” … explicit version (as if the song could be listened to without T-Pain singing(?) “I fuuuucked a mermaid”)… yeah I know why this is on my top played list… cause this song is awesome and it is definitely one I turn it up to eleven… and I listen it to all the time… just call me juvenile. “If yo on the shore, yo sure not me-o”… definitely not rock… but wonderfully stupid (sometimes music is supposed to be stupid).

9. Nelly “Air Force Ones“… The BEST song ever written about shoes… and I don’t mean songs that use shoes or boots as a metaphor… I mean, literally, a song specifically about shoes. Looking for the rock song that equals this in its love of shoes.

10. Cher Lloyd “Swagger Jagger“… plain and simple, got this while getting Neon Hitch music… seems I think I am some young 20something hanging out and dancing to club music… sue me.

11. Dada Life “Rolling Stones Tshirt“… electronica, I have no fucking clue who Dada Life is and for all I know, it is one dude and a computer. I see them sort of the 21st century version of Yaz. Type of song (and band) that you listen to but, in reality, a song that would never play (out loud) at any place you would actually be.

12. Meredith Brooks “Bitch”… she is hot (then and now)… the song is fucking true… and it fucking rocks. Makes me want to be a woman and then quote this every time I make a lover cry. Feminine rock ROCKS! by the way… damn you youtube for making it so hard to disable your safety mode… go find the link for this one.

13. Too $hort “Blow the Whistle“… yeah I like rap… first heard this song a couple of years ago when the then DC Nationals’ center fielder Niger Morgan used it as his walk-up music… found it catchy then… find it catchy now. Obviously it is played a lot because this is the song that made me curse transient trash cans and iTunes.

14. Fountains of Wayne “Stacy’s Mom“… okay another catchy and poppy, yet an almost rock, tune. Best song ever about a MILF without using the word “MILF” … Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on… yeah she does… yeah she does.

15. Kukla “Kukla“… I call her Russia’s Madonna… the first time I saw her and this video was while I was sitting in a highly secure five-star hotel in a former Soviet Republic. I was mesmerized by her looks (platinum blonde) and the wonderful world of Metropolis (the original steam punk) she dances around in this song… Amurika may have drones… but Madonna is how we are conquering the world.

16. Dada Life “Kick Out the Epic Motherfucker“… again, techno music with no history that I know of… but I bought the album and this one has a kick-ass bass beat to it that makes me want to start my own flash mob on a metro train when it comes on.

17. The Raconteurs “Salute Your Solution“… Jack White in one of the 100s of his disguises… the song rocks and good luck keeping up with the lyrics… blah blah blah salute your solution. Sometimes Jack White surprises me with this type of song and then I am totally dumbfounded… however, the shit he touches seems to be pure genius… see his producing of Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose.

18. Nelly “Country Grammar“… this song came out when I was a young lieutenant in the Army and it was all my soldiers were listening to at a certain time when we were all deployed away from home… with my sometimes Southern accent… country grammar seems apropos… Nelly is never bought in full album length, but his songs are scoured for what I consider gems… but none of them are rock.

19. Foster the People “Pumped Up Kicks“… duck kisses whatever… this song is catchy and is definitely not rock but digs into your ear and nestles down in your brain. I know I can woo to this song… thus it is personal more than anything. No claim to the mantel of rock there though.

20. The Allman Brothers Band “One Way Out“… okay, no explanation needed. This link though is an amazing display the Allman Brothers’ ability… definitely swamp… and definitely rock.

21. The Allman Brothers Band “Statesboro Blues” …^^^ditto^^^

22. Big Audio Dynamite “The Globe“… club music before we called it club music. A mainstay of my youth when Motley Crue or Metallica weren’t playing… no I never admitted to listening to it… but I love it nonetheless.

23. Travis Porter “Make It Rain“… I got a thing for strip club rap… seems when you buy a significant amount of this subgenre of rap it then ends up on a top played list. Really there is nothing redeemable about it. It is almost theatrical in production.

24. Flo Rida “Low“… see my comments above about Nelly and B.o.B.

25. Marilyn Manson “Personal Jesus“… ditto again on what was said about taint… however, Depeche Mode pretty much rocked this dark the first time around… Marilyn Manson just honored the Mode by making it equally dark.

Shovels and Rope… a band that hails out of Charleston, South Carolina, and mentioned at the very beginning… is being added to my iTunes and I hope their songs make it to my “top 25 played” songs. Shovels and Rope isn’t a rock band… but they seem a little more iTuned to my life… and the music that is the soundtrack to that life. Although, after going through this list, I feel a lot less shame but I am struck by how music is more than music to me. Time and place… and the moment… “then sings my soul“… music is the river of emotion on which I float on in my daily travels. I do lament the lack of rock music on pop/hits radio stations… I do hope there is never a time when no one listens when a simple band in jeans plugs in their guitars and make us remember… and make us feel alive. If that time has passed… I have 293 AC/DC songs to keep me company in my lonely future of non-rock. Let there be rock… please little plastic baby Jesus… let there be rock. <<<<probably the greatest display of a rock-n-roll guitar mastery EVER.

Yes these cats are going to kill me

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This is Magellan, Gelly for short, and he is plotting my death. This is the creature that is plotting my demise. He looks innocent enough… he even acts like he likes me. I know, however, the truth… this cat is luring me in with his cuteness and then he is going to strike with overly sharp claws. This perch is where I imagine he will launch in ninja-like skills.

First, I am not a cat person… I have never owned cats before… I have always owned dogs. Dogs are simple in their demeanor… right there on their doggy faces you see and understand. With cats, I am convinced that you are completely unable to discern their thoughts or comprehend their actions. I had cat-sat in the past… friends (gay dudes) needed their cats fed, watered, and sprinkled with attention. I have obligated in the past… I may not be a cat person… but I do love animals and understand the importance they represent in our lives. Just like how I would water, feed, and somewhat pay attention to your children, thus is what I would do for your animals. Hell, I will even come over and feed your pet snake… but I would expect a large bottle of bourbon for that… altruism goes only so far.

I guess I am a cat person now. I adopted two cats from a friend who found his living situation change. Like your kids, I will open my home… as long as they shit where they are supposed to (and no, I don’t mean their pants) and can entertain themselves. I took in Gelly and his sister Botchka (Russian for grandmother) in a moment of kindness. I envisioned two homeless cats in ragged coats panhandling in Dupont Circle… I couldn’t say no… sucker is my name.

 Botchka, unlike her brother, is a grey tabby and couldn’t give two shits about me. Botchka prefers to remain undetected when I am home… nestled up under my bed and slinks out only when she thinks I am absent or she is too hungry to avoid creeping out and getting her Friskies on. I know she exists because last night at 3 am she was doing battle with a shoe string I had drapped across their cat condo tower… loudly she attacked that string… so loudly that it awoke me and I stumbled down to catch her frozen in mid-attack… Botchka stared at me and I stared at Botchka. My getting up silenced her… if only all my irritants would be so easy. Get up… look at it… it becomes silent.

One would think that Botchka is the real killer in the house… the one that can’t be trusted. Her silent and sneaky existence seems very assassin like, yet I feel no fear of Botchka. This shy and skittish grey tabby would easily be vanquished by my rising from my perch. Gelly is the one who will do me in. This cat… this truly sneaky fucker… is the one I fear. He has ingratiated himself to me and my world. Unlike a lot of cats and their nocturnal habits, Gelly has adjusted his schedule to mine. He rises with me, he follows me around, sees me out the door when I go to work, and then sits happily by the door when I walk in. He has gone so far as to climb onto my bed and scratched for admittance under the covers… this cat is good. He has fallen asleep against my leg under the blankets… and then when he gets too warm… he has moved out from under the covers to sleep on top of them by my leg. Yes this cat with his sweetness and beautiful feline color has made me lower my guard.

This is the shit that I have to deal with day-in and day-out. Predatory pets are lurking in my home conniving methods to my destruction. I seem to be powerless to their ways and assume that everything is fine… I have allowed myself to believe that Gelly actually likes me and sees me as something more than a human that feeds, waters, and de-shits his litter box. The US intelligence community could take lessons from this cat… I have become disarmed and desensitized to my survival.

When people speak of their 1st world problems… Starbucks out of their favorite flavored grande coffee… traffic in their suburban neighborhoods… fighting siblings… all of these things are small and unimportant. What is important is my living to a ripe old age without having to remove an assassin’s claws from my neck. Seriously, these cats are planning murder. Please have the local news media come to this blog after I am found murdered in my own home… I have identified my killers. Oh… please remind me to stop at CVS and get some cat litter and another bag of Friskies… my cat overlords/executioners need it.