Friday, April 15, 2005

...Missing Out on Part 2

Probably a good nine years ago, when I was still living in the Bay Area, some friends and I went to Cobb’s Comedy Club, which at the time was located near Fisherman’s Wharf. As anyone who lives in or has visited the San Francisco area can confirm, this area of the city is virtually devoid of free parking, requiring you to park in a heavily overpriced parking garage. The rates are completely outrageous, being located in the heart of the city’s biggest tourist trap.

At the risk of contradicting a recent post, I can understand why someone might consider it important to get his or her parking ticket validated in a situation like this. But only within reason.

The line to exit the parking garage was long that night, but that’s not unexpected being in a popular part of San Francisco on a Saturday night. It was the fact the line wasn’t moving at all that was causing concern. Obviously something out of the ordinary was going on.

All became clear when the on-duty parking attendants attempted in vain to coordinate a massive repositioning of cars backwards and sideways so the vehicle currently at the payment booth could pull back into the garage.

As the line of cars numbered well into the double digits this request was met with much frustration, anger and hostility. It was late, we were tired, the two-drink minimum was taking it's toll, we just wanted to get the hell out of there and on our way home.

Finding out the reason why the owner of this vehicle had requested to be allowed back into the garage only served to add fuel to the fire. Seems he had been out on a dinner date and had forgotten to get his parking ticket validated by the restaurant. I have never seen such a horrified look on the face of human being as I saw on his date that night.

I guess this is the writerly part of me. The curiosity about human behavior. For all these years one question has nagged at me constantly – Did they end up staying together or was that the dealbreaker?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

...Minority Opinions

· It seems inherently selfish to me to hold up a line of cars behind you while you wait for someone to back out of a parking spot. The rest of the world needs to stop just because you don’t want to walk a few extra steps?

· What is the point of a housewarming party really, beyond the thinly-veiled “Look at what we have that you don’t” statement it makes?

· I can’t think of a single “Eagles” song that I find pleasing to my ears. I switch the channel every time “Hotel California” comes on. Is there a more overplayed song in the history of rock music? How can we miss you if you’ve never gone away?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

...Legitimate Reasons to Move to Canada

My favorite quote from the old "Fat Albert" cartoon goes something like this:

"You're like a high school in the middle of the night. No class."

If I could paraphrase, "Citizens of America, you're like a glass of water. No taste."

It's bad enough that this show is a consistent Top 10 hit, while the brilliant and hysterical "Arrested Development", not only the funniest show currently on television but perhaps one of the greatest sitcoms of all-time, is on the brink of cancellation. But I've come to accept that many Americans are just sort of stupid and therefore prefer comedy that is cliché and formulaic to comedy that is edgy, clever and actually funny.

What I can't accept is that a majority of Americans prefer the musical stylings of this ugly, talentless, woman-beater

and this marginal, vanilla Clay Aiken wannabe
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to this guy:

Then again, why should I be surprised? After all, they suck while he has a beautiful voice and polished performance skills. Of course he didn't get any votes.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

...The Bottom Line Price

One of the negative side effects of political correctness is the equally extreme backlash it has created. It seems we’ve reached the point where if you *EVER* admit to taking offense at *ANYTHING* you run the risk of being labeled an oversensitive whiner with no sense of humor.

Not wanting to be known as easily offended, I’ve often kept my mouth shut on those occasions when people have made comments in my presence that perpetuate negative stereotypes of Jewish people. I remember back in college complaining to a group of friends in my car about what I thought was an excessive fee to park at the river.

“Stop acting so Jewish” was one friends advice.

Never mind that I was far from the first person ever to complain about the high fees to park in what amounted to a pile of rocks; if you want to talk about cheap, how about the rest of the crew in the car, none Jewish, who didn’t exactly rush into their pockets to split the cost with me?

During my career in sales I’ve lost track of how many times my peers have “politely” apologized in advance to me before making comments like, “I’m sorry, Gooch, and don’t be offended, but I have a distinct feeling Customer X is Jewish the way he/she keeps haggling with me over price”.

A little over a year ago, when “The Passion of the Christ” was first hitting theaters and causing controversy over what some people perceived to be anti-Semitic portrayals of Jews in the film, my business partners and I got into a discussion about the topic which ultimately led into a larger discussion of stereotypes, prejudice and political correctness in general. Ryan and Bob, who had both seen the film, claimed to not understand what all the hoopla was about since neither saw anything in the film that could possibly be construed as anti-Semitic. They argued that people today seem to get offended too easily and need to develop thicker skin. I responded that having not seen the movie, I didn’t have an opinion regarding the specific complaints against “TPOTC”, but that it did seem a bit rich to me for people in a majority group to determine what people in a minority group could and could not get offended over. In particular, I mentioned how I didn't think it made me a humorless crank to not find it funny when people made jokes about Jews being money-grubbing tightwads.

Later on in the discussion one of my partners asked me a very intriguing question. He asked if my anger was directed at the population at large for buying into the “Jews are cheap” stereotype or if my anger would more appropriately be directed at other Jews for so often behaving in such as way that caused people to see the stereotype as an accurate one.

I firmly believe that if you look for a specific behavior in a select group of people, chances are you’re going to find it. I have no doubt that there are several members of the Jewish faith who are tight with their money. But I would argue that you could just as easily find an equal or greater number of non-Jews who are similarly frugal, it just doesn’t register as memorably because it’s not part of a known stereotype. As a real-life example, I brought up the fact that out of the four us who co-own our company, I was the only one who caused eyes to roll when I expressed concern over how much something was going to cost, even though I didn’t do this with any greater frequency than my other partners.

Sometimes you have to defend yourself when you feel you’re being unfairly attacked. Other times, the term “When you’re dead, lie down” seems appropriate.

Note the last name of the host of this show.

I’ll be on the ground.
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