Is Convenience Really Worth It?

About 15 years ago, I was on a leisurely drive with my father. Driving was something that we both liked to do. We valued the fact that an aimless drive can clear your head just as well as any form of meditation.

This particular day was different, though. Once I saw them, saw the patterns of locations, the drive was ruined for me. Drugstores: they were everywhere. On one particular drive we passed at least ten different drug stores.

A few years later, this sudden growth of drugstores dried up long enough for big box superstores to establish their dominance.

It can easily be argued that big box superstores have ruined any semblance of free enterprise. Instead of giving us the variety and individuality of local enterprises, we are instead handed a lukewarm imitation of the same services dolloped with horrible customer service that we settle for because it’s readily available to us.

Conversely it can be said that these local enterprises are just as inconvenient. They never have what you immediately need, most of them are hard to find and the prices for some of the things that they offer are completely ludicrous.

According to a report prepared for the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Economic Development for Eugene, Oregon, a big box store is defined as:

“A stand-alone building typically significantly larger in size than traditional stores, often uniform in appearance and housing one or two retail businesses, designed with its own parking lot or lots, oriented to the major thoroughfare to be accessed primarily by automobile, with a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) typically less than .25, and drawing from a regional level marketplace (with a 2-5mile radius trade area or larger) to draw profits from sales volume vs. high price mark-ups. A big box site can include associated smaller retail stores (often restaurants) on the periphery of the parking lot. Store ownership can be either franchise or an outlet of a chain business” (Big Box Stores, 2004).

Sadly, this sounds like the composition of most suburban areas today.

Home Depot, Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and on a lesser level, most grocery stores are starting to follow this same path. Some grocery stores offer food courts, Starbucks, dry-cleaning services as well as day-care services for the parents seeking quiet consumerism.

How can you not shop at any of these places?

As we continue to evolve as a society, we tend to put further emphasis on the need to feel accomplished, to do “things” as opposed to enjoying life fully. (The easy example would be the daily operations of the average family: some days the to-do list is never ending). Because of this, shopping at big box superstores appears to be a necessity in this day and age. I do it and I am sure that anyone who will read this does it too.

So what about the other side of the coin, the local enterprises? It is undeniably difficult to say anything bad about them. If there is one thing that the big box superstores consistently do while they grow in number, it’s that they have completely galvanized the local Mom and Pop shops as the underdog. In the end, who really has the gall to say anything bad about the underdog? Consider this:

• In a 2009 study of 15 locally owned businesses, 32% of the businesses returned their revenue to the local economy. Whereas an average SuperTarget Store only returned 16% (New Rules Project, 2011)
• “Overall, Walmart hourly workers earn 12.4% less than retail workers, as a whole. This study finds raising their pay to a minimum of $12 an hour would lift many out of poverty, reduce their reliance on public assistance, and cost the average consumer, at most, $12.49 a year” (New Rules Project, 2011).
• In a 2006 study, the opening of a Chicago-based Walmart resulted in the closure of one-quarter of the businesses within a four-mile radius. Roughly 82 businesses closed, in all (New Rules Project, 2011).

With data like this, can you blame the Mom and Pop shop for raising prices in order to compete with the big box store opening up for business a few blocks away?

The data found above, I happened upon only after a couple of keystrokes. While it is not my place to displace the legitimacy of a study that someone threw their back into, it should be noted, “Persuaders (people who have created these studies) frequently use cause-to-effect reasoning to identify events, trends, or facts that have resulted in certain effects. They tell us that if a cause is present we can expect certain effects to follow” (Larson, 2010).

In short: you should take these findings with a grain of salt.

Go to these places and exercise some deductive reasoning . Go to Walmart. Go to SuperTarget (if there’s one available near you). Go to CostCo. Go to these places and ask yourself these questions:
1. Do the employees look like they are enjoying their jobs?
2. Is the community benefitting from the presence of this retailer in the long run?

While there is something to be said for convenience given the society that we currently live in, there is also something that could be said for goods and services that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. Mom and Pop shops will never truly go the way of the do-do in the same respect that there are just some areas of this beautiful planet that retail monopolies will never be allowed to exist.

Regardless of your answer to these questions, make up your own mind. Don’t follow someone else’s opinion and a stream of data blindly into the future.

Sources Consulted

Larson, Charles U. (2010). Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility, 12th ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Big Box Stores. (2004). Retrieved from

New Rules Project. (2011). Designing rules as if a community matters. Retrieved from


More on Babies. Or, You Get Just As Cranky When You Have the ‘Bubble Guts’.

In keeping with the recent influx of people I know having babies, I recently wrote something for someone on colic. So I figured, ‘Why the not build on it here?’. So I did.

As I mentioned the other day, if your people reading skills have been lacking, having a child is going to sharpen them to a razor edge. It’s perfectly normal to be on tenterhooks when you bring your little wiggle worm home. Hopefully, you had gotten your shit together and baby proofed accordingly and figured all that you needed to figure out ahead of time.

Be fore warned: the day is going to come when that little bundle of joy is going to cry. Nonstop. It will transform before your very eyes from said bundle of joy into a shapeless vacuum that exists off of the sleep your supposed to get and what’s left of your sanity.

The ‘Honeymoon’ Will Be Ending Shortly.

As I have been alluding to, it may seem like the only things a baby can do is sleep, inhale food, make messes, and cry. Babies are like icebergs: there is a lot more going on under the surface. I humbly submit to you the following points:

  • The differences between the ‘I’m hungry’ cry, the ‘I’m tired’ cry, or the ‘You’re going to have to clean up a horrible mess in a minute’ cry. Yep, they communicate like wolves.
  • The reason that they throw stuff on the floor from the high chair isn’t to annoy you: they want to know what sound it makes.
  • The logic behind everything going into their mouth is in a roundabout way how they gather information (and build their palettes).

Re-read points two and three: Bet you didn’t know the little fuckers were scientists, right? As they make the jump from formula (or breast milk) to food, that’s when it happens: that’s when you, as a parent, ENTER THE VOID.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.45.57 PM

Ever eat something that didn’t agree with you? Ever have a meal ‘cheat’ day that went complete batshit off the rails and then wonder the next day why in the fuck you can’t make a deposit and the Local Bank of Your Toilet?

It’s the same principle. Babies get the bubble guts because their gut-system is still in the ‘install’ phase.

There is something that you can do.

You Gotta Rub That Shit Out. 

That’s right: Rub their bellies. Fuck, still having trouble after that cheat day? Rub your own damn belly. It. Works. 

Not only does Infant massage using moderate pressure help with colic and gas, but it has also been documented that preterm babies benefitted from this practice through increased weight gain, bone density, and overall behavior.

Dad, feeling left out because you ain’t got the boobs your kid wants? Get up on that belly rubbin’!

The good thing about infant massage is that you can start the practice as soon as the child is three days old and you can do it up to four times a day for two weeks. Just don’t do it right after a meal and pay attention to how the kid acts: sometimes they just don’t want to get rubbed on. 

How To Rub Your Baby.

First things, first: make sure that there isn’t any sort of loud shenanigans going on in your home. If it’s distracting to you, it’s going to be distracting to the kid. Then make sure that you’re comfortable when you sit down with them. Again, if you aren’t comfy, they won’t be either. 

Prior to first contact, it’s just like giving your boo a rub down: clip the nails, take off the jewelry, warm up the hands, maybe get the massage oil. The only difference between rubbing your boo and rubbing your baby is that you all ready got the end result of what you were hoping to get prior to the last rub down. (Sickos).

Lay the kid on their back so eye contact can be maintained.

When massaging, use slow, firm, and gentle belly rubs, in a clockwise motion. This is important because it follows the direction of your baby’s intestines. It also moves any trapped farts and baby shit. (You lucky dawg).

In the end, even if massaging doesn’t ease your baby’s colic, don’t be afraid to set the kid down in their crib and walk away. There’s only so much that you can do before you become one of those parents who are freaking the fuck out because the kid is crying and won’t stop. Kids cry. It’s what they do.


Our kids still complain about tummy aches to us to this day. Like we’re wizards and all we have to do is wave our magic wands and POOF your belly ache is dispelled in that rotten egg fart that was the culprit to begin with.

As a result of such a complaint, we make fun of said offending child. Why? BECAUSE WE FUCKING TOLD THEM THAT BELLY ACHES ARE OUT OF THE RANGE OF OUR SCOPE OF DUTIES. Ad fucking naseum. As you can see, I’m not a monster: I’m entitled. There’s a difference. 

Randomness about babies.

The only foreseeable downside about starting this blog when I did is the fact that my kids aren’t babies anymore. They are growing children hurtling towards adulthood. Because of that, I tend to focus more on the now of parenting instead of the how it was.

Be that as it may, a bunch of people in my life have had babies of their own over the past four months. In honor of those occasions, I present to thee a really random list of baby related knowledge that I have gleaned over the years.

  1. When it comes to naming the kid, think about how they will respond to the name you’ve christened them with when they are 60. If you name your daughter Talulah Belle and she makes it to 60, there’s a strong possibility that she’s going to be a complete fruitcake from all of the shit that she’s caught over the years because you thought her moniker sounded pretty.
  2. Guys, when your wife (or baby-mama) is pregnant you need to treat her like the fate of the world relies on her having an easy 9 months. Because in reality, the fate of your world really does rely on that. If she’s not one to be fussed over, don’t sweat it. Just do what you can. If you’re one of those guys that doesn’t want to accept that having a kid is going to change everything, consider this: how you act now (at the gestation stage of your spawn) is going to cast a very long shadow over the rest of your natural life. Long story short? If mom has an easy nine months because you’ve been her point person, everything else ought to fall into line.
  3. Also, guys, in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, what the woman decides is law. If she wants to have it without you, you need to be an adult and tell her how that makes you feel. If she wants to start a family with you, and you aren’t ready, you need to be up front with her. If she doesn’t want the baby at all and is planning on aborting, you need to be the bridge that gets her to the other side of that. What you believe in doesn’t matter: it’s her fucking body.
  4. Before the child is born, YOU MUST COORDINATE ACCORDINGLY (read: be prepared). Make a plan with your significant other about how the 2am feedings should be handled. Figure out where the crib is going to be. If it’s your first kid (and her second) you still are entitled to have a baby shower. Baby showers (while weird because it’s a bunch of women and the father) are fucking fantastic because you’ll be around family members you haven’t seen in years and they’ll be handing you shit you’re going to need the day the stork arrives. In the months leading up to my son being born, I made a point of buying one thing a week that we might need. Toys, books, clothes, whatever. It adds up. When we brought him home, he was ‘comfortable’.
  5. Get it in your head now: YOU’RE LIVING FOR SOMEONE ELSE NOW, NOT YOURSELF. Everything you do, even if it is taking care of yourself, is now a means to (hopefully) a happy and healthy life for your child(ren). I’m of the opinion that families fail when one or both of the parents can’t accept this.
  6. Kids thrive when there is a routine in place. The day starts at the same time every day and ends at the same time everyday. Meals are served as close to the same time as you can get them (shit happens we all know that, so don’t sweat it if the meal times are going to be off every now and again). Nap time happens at the same time everyday. And yes, they need to be cleaned every fucking day. Wiggle worms telegraph like a punch drunk boxer. You can tell what kind of day you’re going to have by breakfast if you are fairly decent at reading people. If you’re not, you need to fix that shit. Don’t know how? Talk less and listen more. That’s all you have to do.
  7. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T BE A PARENT WHO ENCOURAGES BABY TALK!  Firstly, you look and sound like an asshole when you do it. Secondly, this is the number one reason why kids have trouble when it comes to language acquisition. When you encourage improper grammar and pronunciation, the kid thinks its proper. It’s that simple. Lastly, the more you talk to the kid (regardless of their age), the easier it will be for them to communicate. Also, if you keep talking to them, they’ll keep talking to you when it matters (teenager-dom and onward).
  8. Additionally, kids, regardless of age need to feel like their opinion matters. That’s right: you need to listen to the little shits too. Yes, even babies. You might think that all they are doing is making noise because they can but I have always been of the opinion the noises mean something. Yes, you will feel stupid. However if you approach it like a rational conversation, it will pay off. I have prided myself on having one on one time with all three of my kids where I just let them ramble and it has always paid off. They are always secure in the fact that they can say anything to me even if it is fucked up. Granted if it is fucked up, or if it has to do with a larger problem, you need to let their mother know.
  9. Playtime and interaction with the child at ‘the baby stage’ is crucial. Everything that happens to them those first couple of months, is new and exciting for them. I’m sure you’re thinking “Thanks: I’ll file that under No Shit Sherlock. What most people don’t really express is that playtime tires the little motherfuckers out. Want junior to hit nap time/bedtime like they were running a marathon? Then you need to make it happen. Case in point: A million years ago, it was just me and my eldest child at the house. She was about two years old and she was being a little fucker for most of the morning because of who knows why. Her nap time came right after lunch (because everyone, EVERYONE wants to nap after having a big, delicious-ish meal. NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK new parents). So I figured if I keep her going with the playtime up until lunch and then after lunch we go for a walk around the neighborhood, nap time ought to be a cinch. Everything proceeds according to plan. When we go for the walk, she’s whining almost immediately. I pay her no mind and we keep walking. At that age, she was a runner. Naturally, I made a point of holding hands so she doesn’t get any ideas. We make it down to the end of our streets and she shuts up. We get to the next block, parallel with our house and I feel my entire arm move like a whip crack. I look at my shoulder and follow the trail of my arm down to my hand that’s holding the hand of my eldest and I see that she’s looking down. Naturally, I’m thinking she’s tripped on a loose shoelace. I go in for a closer look, she’s snoring. Little shit must of been walking whilst asleep.


Having trouble finding a decent library and/or comic shop?

Moving sucks. Changing residences, that is. Not physical movement. Well… Sometimes that sucks too but that’s besides the point.

The last time my Wife and I moved, it was to the other side of our hometown. This wasn’t that big of a change as we were familiar with “that side of town”. We had always lived in areas where things were easy to get to (street lay outs made sense, things were connected by highways, everything was within reasonable walking distance).

Our first order of business after all of the dust settled from relocating was where the library was. We were lucky with our first two apartments. Both libraries were within walking distance. Pretty handy when you have young kids you’re raising.

The 2nd to last time we moved really sucked. On “that side of town”, nothing was connected by any semblance of a highway. It’s all side streets and main drags (none of which seem to go by a traditional grid structure that Civil Engineers use today, everything tends to veer one way or the other…) and roundabouts (of which, people drive like assholes in).

We eventually found the libraries within our area (which weren’t within a reasonable amount of walking distance) but an idea struck me: Is there a search engine for libraries?

Yes there is!

The National Center for Education Statistics has created a search engine for Public Libraries.

As a litmus test, I entered all of my previous addresses and it correctly brought up all of the libraries within the areas entered.

Link to it, favorite it, bookmark it now. You’ll thank me later.

Through a fluke coincidence, as I was starting the second installment of The Umbrella Academy I discovered something remarkable on the bottom of the masthead page, (Thats the page after the title page inside any given book. I don’t know if that’s the proper term for the page that credits everyone involved with making a graphic novel collection per se, I just know that that is the common term in publishing.) the Comic Shop Locator Service, (888)-266-4226.

I was intrigued, so I dialed the number. Servicing America and Canada, this is an automated service that gives you the address and telephone number of every possible Comic Shop within a given area code. I wish I would have had something like this around when I was a kid.

While this post may seem like a feeble attempt to promote independent ownership in an age when convenience is dominant, consider this: it unfortunately is.

In an age when computers and big box retailers are running the gamut on ALL types of literature, plugging an automated location service seems a little redundant.

It doesn’t hurt to try, though.

To locate a comic shop near you, call toll free (888)-266-4226. To find a library click here!

In which, I talk about adopting parental figures.

Once upon a time, the idea of two people getting divorced within the realm of America was considered wildly verboten. As we progressed down our timeline, our collective minds evolved and concluded that regardless of our religious stance, if it isn’t working between two people, they should be allowed to divide their assets and go their separate ways.

I am a child of the 1980’s. While I can’t speak to the cultural happenings of this time (because I wasn’t old enough to know the difference between my ass and a hole in the ground), I can unequivocally state that divorce became the in vogue experience that a large percentage of middle class families slogged through.

Even though I was the youngest of four children, My family was no exception to this event.

By the 1990’s I found my toes on the edge of being a teenager. It wasn’t pretty. I was lonely and horny all of the time and I didn’t know how to talk to anyone, let alone girls. I was angry all of the time because I was being shared between two people who didn’t get it right with my first 3 predecessors and now they were trying to get it right with me but they were doing it in two different ways.

Serendipitously speaking I was a lucky son of a bitch because I effectively came of age when the era of “Grunge” redefined a stale musical landscape. I was awash in music that defined how I felt. Anger, horniness, isolation and loneliness: it was all there and I could tap into it every time I turned the radio dial or punched in the channel numbers for MTV.

When I officially became a teenager, my sister, the oldest of us kids, and the one person of our family who guided me the most, proffered some sage-like wisdom to me:

“Find some surrogate parents. Ours are ok, but they’re never going to be able to be the parents that they ‘should be’ for you. They’re more concerned with ending their parenting stint on a high note at any cost”.

I’m paraphrasing of course but she was absolutely right. While my parents did have their hearts in the right place, they constantly butted heads on the wrong things, let things slide that shouldn’t have been slippery in the first place, and imbued me with a certain amount of schizophrenia due to the fact that their parenting styles were drastically different.

Shortly after my sister dropped that bomb on me, I took it upon myself to adopt the mother of my best friend at the time. I never told him this. Don’t know why, I can’t imagine that it would have mattered to him. But his mother always treated me like I was one of her kids.

It was nice and weird at the same time. I could make her laugh and she seemed genuinely interested in me and what was going on in my life. When I went back to my own home, or my father’s home, I didn’t get the same level of consideration for various reasons.

Finding a surrogate father proved a little more difficult as most of my friends were refugees from divorce as well. Their dads had their hands full as it was. They didn’t need someone else’s kid sniffing around their domicile.

Then, in 1994 the single ‘Liar’ by Rollins Band gained heavy air play.

This… This was the guy that I saw in the Mac ad in one of my sister’s Rolling Stone magazines a few years prior. This was the guy who went on to write for that same magazine for a short period of time. His level of anger seemingly matched my level of anger. That is to say, I felt that we were both of the same mind.

I adopted Henry Rollins as my surrogate father.

As I dived deep into the corner of time that this person claimed as his own, I was overjoyed to learn that there were books and spoken word albums as well.

Henry got me through a lot.

My teens gave way to my 20’s and like with all relationships, familial and otherwise, I grew up and moved on. It’s not that there was anything wrong with what Henry was talking about at the time. It just didn’t resonate with me as much.

Throughout my 20’s and into my 30’s, I was bludgeoned with life changes.

A certain series of events with multiple friendships had shown me that those friends, the relationships that I had had with them, had run their course. It was the first time in nearly a decade that I had been as lonely as I was in gradeschool.

I was the caregiver for my father for the last 3 years of his life.

I left a job I was at for over a decade in search of other, more suitable employment.

I rooted down and started a family of my own. I experienced job loss when I need it the most: shortly after my 3rd child was born. I felt the pain that comes with having to ask for help when I have never had to do that before.

Life was moving on even though I was hanging on by my fingertips.

Through the miracle of podcasts, I found my way back to Mr. Rollins within the past couple of years. It had been a while since I had listened to anything that he had to say, so I figured “Why the fuck not?”

Everything resonated with me the way that most of his early stuff resonated with me. It was dumbfounding. What I heard, and I deep-dived again, was the voice and thoughts of someone who was trying to clear a path in the world for the younger generation. A thing of which, I have been trying to do for my own children.

Of course, this re-ignited my fandom. On occasion, I’d fire up some of his spoken word stuff (the stuff from this century) and use it as background noise. One day, I caught something, an idea that he was trying to get across.

I was listening to him tell the story of when he got to play with the Ruts during their benefit show for their ailing guitar player. During the second half of the story, he was going on about all of the ‘surrogate fathers’ of the bands that he idolized when he was a kid who were also playing the same benefit.

What I thought was “Doesn’t he realize that he is in the same position of surrogacy?”

Maybe he has. Maybe someone else has all ready brought this to his attention. I can’t imagine that he’d bring it up himself.

Henry Rollins may not be a legitimate dad, but he’s been a father for a lot of us. I for one, am grateful for it.

In Which I Voice a Very Unpopular Opinion

Tamir Rice’s family, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ people, the ‘All Lives Matter’ people, the PR People for the Cleveland Police, Cleveland Media Outlets… well, everyone still talking about the entire situation, really need to shut their stupid mouths. 

While it may seem like a harsh sentiment to put into print, stay with me: I do have a point.

Fact 1

I am a Cleveland native. Up until two years ago, I lived in that city my entire life.

My father was a Cleveland Police officer for 32 years. While he has been dead and gone for over a decade, and he had been fortunate enough to spend majority of his career in relative quiet, what he did not anticipate about his choice of employment is the impression that he left on his family with respect to the ‘policeman’s life’.

I’m not saying that I’m an expert on police behavior. What I am saying is that I have a better understanding of what being a police officer does to a person. This is a perspective that most, if not all, media outlets fail to acknowledge, let alone recognize.

With respect to what policing over any length of time will do to a man or woman, what everyone disregards is the simple idea that being a member of law enforcement will change a person in ways that they didn’t think were possible.

Any member of law enforcement has a front row seat to people at their worst. If they are not prepared for this change, it will change them for the worse. If they aren’t prepared for that kind of change, they won’t be the picture of the person that they were. Instead, they’ll be the image of that person left on the negative.

My father wasn’t any exception to this. His career started in the 1960’s and ended in the early to mid 1990’s. He started like everyone else (as a patrolman), spent time as a homicide cop, and ended his career in SIU (booking and fingerprinting).

According to my mother being a police officer made him jaded.

Understandably so. During his career he experienced the Hough Riots, the fallout from Danny Greene and all of the associated Mafioso, the homicide rate alone… Cleveland was not the place it is today.

Fact two

I know the neighborhood where Tamir was killed rather well. 

While that area, as well as other parts of Cleveland have been riding the urban renewal train (and have been making progress, albeit incrementally) that area is fucked up.

Cleveland, like most modern metropoli, is built out of neighborhoods that belong to certain ethnicities. (When I use the word ‘belong’ I’m not implying any sort of racial connotation. Although that’s exactly what it is: Hough, Fairfax, and East Cleveland, are largely African American, West and Southern Cleveland are largely European…).

When I was growing up, the further away from Downtown you lived, the better off you and your family were (economically speaking). In some respects, it’s still like that today.

Fact Two-A

Around the turn of the 20th century, if you had a job in Cleveland, it  was undoubtedly somewhere Downtown. Because of that, the first neighborhoods that popped up were established around the center of the city. These neighborhoods still stand today. However, if you were to drive through some the less gentrified ones, you would:

  1. Lock your car door regardless of what skin tone you possess.
  2. Immediately notice how close the homes are to each other. Close, as in, they are single family homes that practically share walls with the neighboring homes.

These neighborhoods were erected when everyone knew everyone else. All of the kids went to the same school. Everyone’s father worked downtown and everyone’s mother knew everyone else’s mother.

As time went on, suburbs like West Park, Fairview, and North Olmsted were established presumably in an effort to give people a quieter sense of community. What  unintentionally happened was that the growth of these suburbs eliminated the need to seek employment in Downtown Cleveland. As a result of this, people moved out of the old neighborhood in an effort to look for a better place to live while giving their children more opportunities for advancement.

As a further result of this, the first neighborhoods that popped up around the city went into a state of decline. Homes once populated by ‘old world’ families became vacant because the kids moved away and the parents were too old to keep up with repairs. Those houses were torn down or stood vacant. Other homes became low rent housing that attracted ne’er-do-wells of all colors.

One neighborhood that fits this bill and is still waiting for gentrification to strike is the neighborhood where Tamir was killed.

Fact Three

There’s absolutely no denying that Officer Lehmann fucked up bad. A few days after the story broke, the footage of the incident was released and there was denying it: this kid was murdered and the CPD tried to justify it.

Police corruption happens. This isn’t anything completely new or out of the ordinary.

What made this the positively catastrophic situation that it is, is the fact that it was one in a series of events where a white police officer had assaulted, and even murdered, an African American.

Because of this fact, popular media outlets latched on to the story and the surface details like a plecostomus catfish, shouting to anyone within earshot about police brutality and the rise of racism in America. 

As if racism had ever went away in the first place. 

Fact Three-A

If you were to do a quick Wikipedia search of the Civil Rights Movement, you can see that the movement started in the 1950’s and essentially ended around 1984.

At that time, equality had been reached but not fully achieved and the world at large had generally taken the necessary steps to move on with their lives. This generally came in the form of accepting that people who have a different skin tone aren’t that much different from yourself.

What’s not touched upon when the topic of Civil Rights comes up is that the only thing that changed throughout the course of the Movement was that it become socially unacceptable to say ‘racist’ things in public.

Fact Four

Admittedly, I hadn’t been paying close attention to all of the demonstrations and protests that had been happening in Cleveland shortly after Tamir was killed. I know it’s petty but the majority of the protestors and demonstrators pictured appeared to be childless children, or young people in their 20’s.

When I saw all of those young faces, the thought I had then, which is the thought I still have now, is how can you protest something that you obviously haven’t lived long enough to experience? Yes, it is great that people took to the streets to point their collective finger at corruption, but if you haven’t experienced any form of racism first hand, be it by the hand of a cop, or the hand of someone that you could call peer, do you fit as a part of the mob? Or should you go back to your mother’s basement.

Maybe I’m just being old. I know that you’re supposed to be an asshole at that age. You’re supposed to think that your opinion matters and that you’ll eventually change the world. It is my sincere hope that every one of those kids who took to the streets of Cleveland will get to that point in their lives when they realize that the most powerful act of change that they can invoke in any situation is to just be nice.

Fact Five

Like most people, what renewed my interest in this matter was the fact that neither officer was prosecuted. The released security footage of the entire incident, the fact that the officer’s involved covered it up, and the additional fact that the offending officer had falsified his application to the police department… I’m still scratching my head over the matter.

Then a thought struck me: If the cops beat the charges, there has to be something that I wasn’t aware of.

There would appear to be a lot that I wasn’t actually aware of.

Samaria, Tamir’s mother had been convicted of drug trafficking. Tamir’s father, Leonard, has been convicted numerous times of domestic abuse. Additionally, Samaria has been the victim of domestic violence not only by Tamir’s father but also by other boyfriends after the fact.

For the record, the above items came out shortly after the shooting. As best as I can understand, these facts were dismissed from public view because they were written off as character assassination.

Regardless, it begs the question: If Tamir had witnessed any of this, of his mother dealing drugs, of his father beating his mother (or his mother’s boyfriends beating her) would he have known better than to point a toy gun that looked like a real gun at random people? Probably not.

In Sum

As a parent, there are a lot of unanswered questions that still bother me about this tale of woe. 

What was the mother doing? Why didn’t the sister tell Tamir to knock that shit off? Was he playing by himself? Or with a group of friends? Was he harassing people at the park or just pointing the gun at them? If the park was across the street from the house couldn’t the mother her see what was going on?

In all likelihood, I won’t have any of these questions answered. The world will keep turning, and the majority of the people that I share air with, will only be concerned about the surface details. Tamir is gone. No amount of yelling and screaming is going to change this or any of the facts that demonstrate that the CPD dropped the ball.

If anything were to change this, it would be the quiet acknowledgment that everyone has failed. Samaria & Leonard, the sister that was supposed to be watching him, the broken system of law enforcement that is supposed to make everyone feel safe, the demonstrators & the bystanders. In accepting this, maybe we can all take the steps that we need to take in order to just be nicer to each other.

How to make Mac & Cheese not shitty.

One of these days it’s going to happen to you.

You’re going to walk into your kitchen with the intent of making dinner for the family that you “love” and you’re going to think to yourself, ‘Man! I  just don’t want to deal with this shit’. 

You don’t have a fucking thing to feel bad about. Do you know why? Because making food for people who have a tendency to treat you like an afterthought gets old. Doubly so if they’re a picky bunch of fuckers. Triply so if you gotta make shit that you’re just not into. Quadruply so if you wait until the last fucking minute to do food prep.

Speaking for myself, I give myself a night off every week. In doing so, I have found that I give more of a fuck about cooking the other 6 days of the week if I know that I have ‘throwaway meal’ that I can use to get a breather from feeding the family.

Since it’s the winter months, it’s usually soup. That’s right canned soup. Why? Because that shit is economical and easy to prepare.

When it warms up, I make mac & cheese. On it’s own, you’ll be lucky if you sate your own appetite. If you combine it with a few odds and ends you can turn it into a fucking meal with leftovers to spare.


  • Mac and Cheese (Whatever you’re partial to. I do Velveeta because that shit with the powder is bonafide cancer in a box).
  • Peppers – chopped, uncooked (Whatever you want. I like to do a mix because colors).
  • Frozen Corn – thawed (Just because it’s cheap and the government has been sneaking this shit in our food for years. Not really. I use it to make the mac and cheese last because leftovers are your friend).
  • Protein – precooked (Again, whatever you want. I tend to use chicken because I have that on hand the most, precooked)
  • Extra vegetables? (This is your call. There’s enough veg all ready. I used broccoli in this version of this recipe because I had company over and I didn’t feel like fucking talking to them).



  • First things, first: start boiling a pot of water (and turn your oven on if you’re making the broccoli). Medium heat for the water and 350 degrees for the broccoli. While you’re waiting for the oven to heat up and the water to start boiling starting prepping your veg.


  • I tried (roughly) this same recipe with cooked peppers and everything came out fairly shitty. DON’T COOK THE PEPPERS. Just give them a rough chop and move on with things.
  • KITCHEN HACK: running out of things to hold prepped things? Lids for pots and pans double as bowls, homey.


  • Like so!


  • So, you got your veg all prepped and (hopefully) you were aware enough to catch when the water started to boil to throw the noodles in.
  • At this point, if you have extra veg (because you’re concerned about your families poo) now is the time to put that in the oven. 
  • PRO-TIP: Only assholes throw noodles at the ceiling in an effort to know when they’re done. DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE. Noodles are done when you want them to be fucking done. Want them a bit on the crunchy/chewy side? Don’t leave them in the water that fucking long. When it comes to mac and cheese noodles, I have found that they visually double in size the longer that you leave them in there. Just saying.
  • When you drain your noodles, use a bit of caution. If you’re a rookie, get the damn colander out (that thing that looks like a pot but can’t be a pot because it has holes in it) and drain your noodles that way. Mac and cheese is best when you drained all the fucking water out of it.
  • Nobody likes eating drippy noodles.


  • Time for the cheese that makes it mac & cheese. There’s nothing to it. Open the packages. Squeeze that shit in there like in the picture above. Mix it well like the picture below. There’s nothing to any of this really. It’s a throwaway meal, remember?


  • When it’s completely mixed, add your vegetables of choice.
  • PRO-TIP: You’re adding cool, if not cool food to food that is rapidly cooling. Turn the burner back on to medium, even low heat. When you add all of your veg, stir that shit up good. Everything will kick back up to a palatable temperature.


  • This is what it should look like after you mix everything up properly.


This is what mac and cheese typically looks like in my house. Not an elaborate meal, but a meal that you can bang out in 20 minutes with zero prep work to sweat.

Do yourself a favor, pick a night for a throwaway meal night and give yourself something to look forward to. 












How I saved X-mas.


I am not a fan of Christmas.

I never have been. Even when I was a kid I never liked the holiday. The only appeal it had for me was all of the goodies people gave me.

As I grew up and worked various retail jobs, I realized what a crock of shit holiday it was.

It is a relative fact that the public at large are usually at their worst around this time of year. The days leading up to Thanksgiving when you work in a grocery store are abysmal. Doubly so after Thanksgiving if you work in big-box retail.

When you shit on the retail employee because the store that employs said employee ran out of the dried onions for your bullshit green bean casserole or the store doesn’t have the toy that “little Johnny” wants, are you really “putting the ‘Christ’ in Christmas”?

As a father of 3 and a lapsed-Catholic, Christmas time had always been stressful for my wife and I. 

She was raised Jehovah’s Witness. As I understand it, people belonging to this religion do not celebrate holidays nor birthdays. I’m not exactly sure what the Witnesses stand to gain from this, maybe it’s some sort of cultural flagellation that they need to march through in order to receive their “riches in Heaven”.

As such, the holidays and birthdays meant a lot to her when our kids were young because she missed out on all of that happy horse-shit.

When our family structure shifted to where my wife was the sole source of monetary support, it became harder on her to make it through Christmas shopping without feeling wiped out and more jaded than when she first started.

This past Christmas was different.

I took the duty of getting presents for the kids away from my wife and I gave it to the kids.

That’s right: I made them buy presents for their siblings.

It was the easiest Christmas ever.

Initially, my sole trepidation was that when I told the kids what was going to happen this year, that I was going to have to listen to a fuck ton of whining, goings-on about how one child dislikes the other child because of such-and-such reason, and the classic “Whyyyyyyyy do I have to do it?”.

All three of them were on board essentially from the get-go.

My son needed a bit of a nudge given the fact that he’s been outnumbered for the past 6 years. I can understand where he’s coming from: it’s tough being the only male in social settings, even when that setting is your own home.

Prior to the shopping trip, I made sure that all 3 of them knew why they were doing the shopping this year: Christmas should be about putting the needs of someone else before their own needs.

The rules for shopping were simple:

  1. You need to buy at least two things (one for each sibling).
  2. You need to stay in the $30 dollar and under range.
  3. All 3 of them were to be taken to the same shopping center.

In the span of a week, this kids and I had Christmas taken care of and my wife was at her most relaxed that I had ever seen her at this time of the year.

As far as the shopping went, the girls were a piece of cake. I suppose that this has something to do with the fact that Women are generally better when it comes to this sort of thing. My son on the other hand needed a bit of extensive guidance because of the aforementioned reasons. I had to remind him a lot that he was shopping for someone else, not himself.

Speaking for myself, the best part of it was watching my youngest (she’s 6) actually think about her siblings and what they might like for a present. By and large, she was the one who really got into what she was doing. It was a real watershed moment for myself as a parent.

Suffice it to say, this is how Christmas is going to be until all 3 of the little assholes move out. 

Feel like sharing your “Holiday War Stories”? Scroll back up and let me hear about it! 



The actions of the ‘few’, do not reflect on the ‘many’.

What follows is something that I wrote a million years ago that bears repeating every now and again. I hope you enjoy it. 

Thanks for reading,


Dear Everyone on the Face of the Planet,

I think it’s high time you and I had our ‘Come to Jesus’ talk.

Schwarzenegger. Sheen. Gibson. Anthony Weiner.

Make no mistake: just because I am a male does not make me an expert on male behavior. I’m just a person with an opinion. Regardless, it seems to me that men have been behaving badly and making poor decisions since the dawn of time.

These men who have been behaving badly, Mel, Charlie, Arnold, Weiner… just because they have positions in the public eye it doesn’t mean that they have another set of rules that they are allowed to abide by.

They are doing what men all over the world have been doing since the beginning of time. They have been indulging in behaviors that are signs and symptoms of a larger problem. Whether or not that is the case, remains to be seen.

Why are they so important? Why do you continue to give them your attention? Isn’t your life more interesting than watching the slow-motion car-crash that they let their own lives turn into?

Is it because you can get wrapped up in your little conspiracies about why they are so popular now and why they are doing what they are doing? It’s hard not to: the one thing that they all had in common was that they were hurtling towards obscurity.

I smelled a rat the day after his ‘scandal’ broke and Netflix had released a ton of his movies for instant viewing on your TV… If there is one thing that I thought was cool it was the fact that Weiner wasn’t going to step down. All he did was send some pictures and then lie about it. He didn’t physically participate in sexual congress with another woman.

Regardless of the fact that they have participated in making poor choices and the ‘possible’ reasons as to why they have, are they really worth your time?

So Everyone on the Face of the Planet, I am begging you…

Please, shut the fuck up about them.

Your individual lives are more important then why some dude sent pictures of his dinkle to his mistress. It’s fall: Go outside and enjoy it.

What do you think? Can you handle making your life more of a priority than the life of a stranger?

While you ponder that, I would like to leave you with a clip of Mel playing with a beaver…

Save me a spot at the table.

I’ve been a member of the ‘dead-dad’ club for nearly 15 years. To be more precise, it’s been 13 years. Saying that it’s been 15 sounds better. At any rate, what I had failed to realize until the last week that my father was alive, was that I was his caregiver.

It was the year 2000 and I was 20 years old.

For about a month, Dad was having a strange problem. His days would start like they always would but an hour or so after he left his home, he would have to come back and take a nap.

He wasn’t doing anything strenuous. He was not a fitness enthusiast. He was into photography, baking, and various forms of lecherous behavior.

It wasn’t long before a doctor’s appointment needed to be made. I remember talking to him on the day that he was supposed to have his appointment. He said he was going to call me after to let me know how it went. It was a mid-afternoon appointment that shouldn’t have lasted more than a couple of hours.

The entire day went by and I hadn’t heard a peep from him. I called his apartment, no answer. He didn’t have a cell phone so in my mind, he was missing.

My only other option was the phone book. After 15 minutes of calling every phone number listed under his HMO that I thought was relevant I managed to track him down. He told me that they were still running tests on him, and getting everything processed was taking a lot longer than usual.

He assured me that he would let me know what the verdict was when he knew.

A couple of days later I get the call from him telling me that it was colon cancer.

It wasn’t so bad at first. Physically speaking he was fine. He didn’t have trouble getting around until the last two weeks.

What was hard about the entire situation was the mental and emotional toll that it took on the both of us. Him, with his impending mortality and me, with my youthful ignorance.

My father was never a social person. It just wasn’t a part of his personality. He’d occasionally meet with someone he used to work with. But his retirement propelled him further into anti-social behavior. Prior to his diagnosis he had become slightly estranged from our family so really, he just had me.

It made it hard not to feel guilty when I’d need some time for myself.

The week before he passed away things were at their absolute worst. He was having trouble getting in and out of the shower. He had a loss of appetite as well as a complete dip in energy level. It got to the point where he needed to have a nurse visit him everyday.

The nurse was the first person who first referred to me as a caregiver. The term kind of threw me off because it was the first time that I had heard it used, let alone applied to me. She gave me a packet on what my role was and what was expected to happen. I remember thinking that everything that I read in the packet was really odd because it was all stuff that had happened, was happening, or it was something that I could see happening in the future. Talk about ‘a day late, and a dollar short’.

What a lot of people don’t realize is, is that regardless of the care giving situation, every one needs a break. The person who is ailing needs to lean on someone else for a while so that the ‘main’ care giver can recharge their batteries and feel like a normal human being. That way, everyone can take a deep breath before they get back to the task at hand.

I don’t regret anything that happened, anything that I did or anything that I did not do. I think that had I had been a little bit older, I would have had the common sense to ask for help.

Getting a break every now and again wasn’t a real problem, finding the courage to open up and talk to someone was.

On a closing note, one of the things that I remember was his morbid fascination with his predicament.

One day, we went for a drive and he starts telling me about this thing that he found on-line. It was a list of things people said to each other upon the death-bed of their loved one, or should one lover die before the other, etc.

Naturally, he posed the question to me: If I croaked next week, what would you say to me on my death-bed?

I took half a second to think about it and I said ‘Save me a spot at the table’.