Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cops on the Prowl

I just viewed a video of a hassle in the stands at the NY Jets-SD Chargers game. There he was, the drunk loudmouth standing among Charger rooters screaming for his beloved Jets. Girlfriend was alongside and both were wearing green and white Jets gear. I didn't see much to warrant intervention by law enforcement. Probably a beer on his head would have either cooled him down or caused a ruckus that would have really needed the cops.

Apparently someone complained about the noise and here they came, sturdy and officious, with badges shining; crew cuts and big jaws; some with bellies to match their jaws. And the fight was on. Mouthy was not going to give up without a struggle - and a battle royal it was. The mass of struggling humanity resembled a roller derby jam with real determination behind it. It was apparent the miscreant was a contortionist and the beef had trouble subduing him enough to get the handcuffs in place. They finally got him cuffed and in a supine position and dragged him up the steps. Girlfriend followed after scooping up her belongings and putting them back in her purse - the victim of the flailing arms and legs.

And the onlookers were superb. There were shouts of "taze him" from cop supporters and "kick their ass" from non-supporters. One Charger fan kept telling the policemen that the guy hadn't done anything. He yelled at them over and over, proclaiming his innocence. Of course, by this time the cops were in a tag-team wrestling hold and not paying much attention to the peace maker.

Why, you ask, am I bringing this up? Because, as a retired peace officer, I can relate to all the grunting and sweating portrayed. I can attest to having a split lip and sore bollocks from wrestling around with a guy who is not going to let the police boss him around. I have picked gravel out of my elbows and knees, and had my uniform cleaned and mended. I have washed spit and sweat out of my hair many times. All this unpleasantness occurred after I said, "Sir, could I have a word with you?"

The point is that all the hassle wouldn't happen if there is a modicum of self-restraint on the part of the person being questioned. If the fellow in San Diego had walked up the stairs quietly with the officers to discuss the problem, he might have been back in his seat, a little quieter perhaps, and enjoying the Jets' victory. There are no officers that I know who aren't more interested in calming things down than in grappling around with some belligerent hard-ass. And to all you hard-asses out there, I say that you will always lose your fight with the cops. There are too many of them, they have nasty weapons to use in subduing you, and you have nothing to gain by making such a stupid choice.

It was Rodney King, after receiving a severe discipline lesson at the hands of LA cops, who said, "Damn, that tazer hurts." I think it was probably his lawyer who mouthed the more famous question, "Can't we all get along?"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tucker Max Deserves a Place in Hell

I just agonized my way through Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Why, you ask, would I waste my time doing that? I can only blame it on fascination. I was in a trance caused by raunch, disbelief, and revulsion. I wrote a review for and, because I doubt that the administrators of the website will publish it, I'll share it with you in my blog.


Why did I do it…something I have resisted all my reading life? I read completely through a book that I detested from the start. After severe self-examination I’ve decided that completing the book was the only way I could offer an unbiased opinion on why I HOPE THEY SERVE BEER is a total waste of time.

The premise, the reporting, the topic, the writing, and the author all stink. The premise that in-depth accounts of rampant inebriation, violent sexual encounters, and body functions gone awry would be entertaining is weak in concept. The fact that the book has sold millions of copies doesn’t change that argument; it only brings forth another problem about public morals, a different subject entirely. The reporting of such incidents is done in such a salacious fashion that I, as a reader, felt my own body functions threaten to rebel. The topic (or three, if you want to lump them together) is not considered fodder for self-respecting readers to chew on, although the author would have you believe that people who don’t embrace his hedonistic point of view are somehow lacking enlightenment. The writing is sophomoric, repetitive, and hackneyed. And the author is a criminal masquerading as a well-adjusted party animal who commits rape, vandalism, drunken mischief including driving, and other assorted unlawful acts.

I adore women…always have. I don’t see the entertainment in demeaning or mistreating them. Nor do I care to read about some alcoholic idiot who, along with his bozo friends, gets great pleasure in the inhumane acts outlined in this book. So I will end this review now, throw the book in the trash, and go back to the delight of my normal life. I don’t regret the 16 bucks I spent for the book and gave it a chance, but hope that you’ll forego the same urge. I’ve told you all you really need to know about this garbage.

I think I've been more than fair in my remarks. I'd love to hear your opinion.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Full disclosure is that I’ve been a Green Bay Packers fan forever and can speak no evil about the team or its players. So along comes Brett Favre; cocky, tight-lipped, egotistical, and immensely talented. Of course I don’t dislike him, and it hurt to see Packer fans in Lambeau give him the raspberry the other day; but I understand their sentiments. It would appear that he slipped away from their embrace while kicking them in their privates.

The media is loving it. I watched the sports announcers, dignified ex-coaches and sympathetic ex-players all, fishing around for any sort of muck to heap on both Favre and his detractors. I heard some say that he deserved every bit of scorn he received and others say the fans were over the top and excessively cruel. It wasn’t his fault, some complained. Yes it was, others jubilantly asserted. I heard either the fans were crap, or they were justifiably upset. Where does the truth lie?

I don’t know the answer to that because I don’t know what transpired behind management’s doors. And neither do any of the pundits. As for the fans being rabidly anti-Favre, as the media reported, I didn’t sense that when I watched the game. Sure, there was some evident displeasure displayed but hasn’t anyone wondered what’s with the Dog Pound in Cleveland? — the guy in the chain mail bra and spiked beanie in Oakland? — the naked guy with iced-up nipples in Minnesota? Now there’s some maniacal behavior. I thought the protests at Lambeau were somewhat reserved as though the love was still there but a hurt throbbed somewhere unreachable.

How can you be critical of Favre as a player? That answer is simple — you can’t. There never has been quarterback so in tune with his game, so expert in his leadership, so motivational in his behavior. There never has been a player so tough, so skilled, so feared. That said, I’m not so sure that Favre is a great person deserving of the bright light of idolatry. He comes across a little manipulative and self-absorbed. His tight-clenched jaw and mumbling speech leaves the impression that he’d rather be someplace else. His inability to be candid about his playing career has become tiresome. But witness his record at Minnesota. Without question the man is a football player, probably the best ever.

So I want to think of Brett Favre as he’s always been — a joy to watch displaying talents that are beyond description. I don’t care what team colors he’s wearing. He’s a long way from being washed up and I can tell from his demeanor that he’s still having fun. Play on, Brett, but don’t play the shell game with us anymore. The next time you retire, make it because your skills are fading or the joy of the game is gone. That’s the way a legend says goodbye.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I’m back after an extended absence, a lapse that has been called the kiss of death for bloggers. I apologize but it couldn’t be helped. I’ve been on a quixotic project to market my book without spending any money. I self-published TIN LIZARD TALES: Reflections from a Train through Outskirts Press, a great little POD publisher, with the idea that I would handle the marketing when the book hit the stores. It’s a sensible idea that comes from being cheap but it carries some intense second-guessing and even heavier flagellation.

Outskirts Press’s publishing packages have some tips for self-marketing but none are particularly innovative. It also offers other marketing programs requiring a fee that are similarly insipid. Looking through several million Google entries for “book marketing” uncovers a small number of brief hints and a great many full programs guaranteeing hundreds of thousands of dollars in book sales for a large fee. You decide what program to buy based on a clever sales pitch and glowing testimonials from authors (none of whom I ever heard of) who have made millions, You then pay in advance in hopes that the program will deliver as promised. It takes a lot of royalty money to recoup the investment, assuming the program produces any sales.

Many enterprising authors have written a book about book marketing. Check them out on They explain their unique techniques and marketing plans that all become remarkably similar when closely examined. In truth, there are some valuable pointers to be gleaned from each book ― gathering them together into a single, manageable body brings to mind the old adages about herding cats, minding mice, or nailing Jello to a wall. As T.S. Eliot points out in his witty poem about the cat Rum Tum Tugger, they are “always on the wrong side of every door.” And buying each book, sifting through the information contained therein, and herding it into a marketing corral takes money and time, things in short supply around this author’s rat hole.

I’m assuming you’re interested in my progress if you’ve read this far. Well, I’m beginning to clear the dust and see some glimmer of a plan through the haze. There’s no wild jubilation yet but I’m feeling the faint tremors of enthusiasm and the building of a ground swell of anticipation pushing me and Tin Lizard Tales forward to greater earnings. When I get there, I promise to share the route and it won’t cost you a dime. Just keep reading my blog so you can find the way amidst my other ramblings.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I received a disturbing e-mail today. It was an essay by Tom Adkins, forwarded through a host of names (all whites as near as I can tell). I don’t know a Tom Adkins but I suspect he is the acid-tongued radical conservative who publishes, appears frequently on FOX News, and is married to FOX News Channel’s senior business correspondent, Brenda Buttner.

The piece, White Guilt is Dead, consists of ranting about African American complaints of mistreatment by whites, and then explaining why a white person no longer needs to feel guilty as accused. I’m not as disturbed by the content as I am about the hateful tone and the obvious rancor found in the piece. I’m also upset by the sheer volume of the e-mail recipients indicating that the sender has friends who would be interested in his caustic point of view.

According to Adkins, white Americans “enthusiastically pulled the voting lever” for a “very liberal black man who spent his early career race-hustling banks, praying in a racist church, and actively worked with American-hating domestic terrorists.” Therefore, Adkins says, as of November 4, 2008, “white guilt is dead.”

The writer’s tolerance for being skin-color hustled is now “ZERO,” he says. All those “black studies” programs that taught kids to hate whitey “must now thank Whitey.” Gangsta rappers should start praising America (beginning with the Pledge of Allegiance), knock off the Ebonics, and pull their pants up so their underwear isn’t showing.

Now, without being called a racist, he can say out loud that lazy black people are “poor because you quit school, did drugs, had 3 kids with 3 different fathers, and refuse to work.” He demands that blacks quit complaining that “Da Man is keepin’ me down, because Da Man is now black. You have no excuses.”

Adkins advises that it’s time to take “stupid” 60s ideas such as the race hustle, wife swapping, dope-smoking, free-love, and cop killing and toss them in the trash. Then wash the filthy hands that handled them. How, he asks, can any person deny America’s meritocracy when we now have a black man and wife who went to Ivy League schools, who got high paying jobs, who became millionaires, who live in a mansion, and who will soon reside in the White House? According to Adkins, Obama’s election has validated American conservatism.

And, finally, he points out that black Americans voted 96% for Barak Obama. He asks, “Shouldn’t that be 50-50 in a color blind world?” He asks every black person, based on the unequal vote, to seek forgiveness for their apparent racism and prejudice towards white people.

What do we have here? The issues raised by Adkins are the same shortcomings my fellow white acquaintances have grumbled about for years. They are characteristics that some black leaders have begged their constituents to change. They are the same traits that, when voiced, tag a white as a racist. They are the same trespasses that some African Americans excuse and rationalize, blaming on an unequal playing field. So while not new, they are important in that they continue to form the basis for constructive dialogue between all Americans. Barack Obama in the office of President of the United States is a giant step towards diversity that should welcome such discourse.

Now is not the time for in-your-face gloating. It’s the time to consider anger and accusations as a waste of time. We’d be better served by looking each other in the face, calling each other partner, and by starting to work together towards a color-free solution of our nation’s problems.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Expectorate the Unexpected


What’s big, hairy, scratches a lot, dribbles constantly, and is worth millions of dollars? No, it’s not a basketball player. If you said major league baseball player, you win a can of swoose.

Watching baseball on television is like taking a shower. Wherever the camera is focused, you are drenched with wet gobs of spit. The camera sees the on-deck batter and we see flying spatters of sputum. It moves to the pitcher peeking from behind his glove with white spews of spittle flying in every direction. It zooms in on the batter digging in while expelling juice on the plate, his uniform, and the catcher’s glove. Then, in rapid order just before the pitch, we see the manager hawking up a clam, an outfielder adjusting his crotch while he blows some saliva, and the catcher spattering his mask with a last minute spray just before the ball hits his mitt.

On and on the showcase of spit continues. Views of the dugout feature expectorations of tobacco juice, seed hulls, and just plain spittle flying in every direction. The dugout floor shines like a wet sidewalk after a downpour. Players hang over the dugout rail competing for the title of most number of spits, wettest clams, and longest lobs. For those with a weak stomach, watching a game while eating is unappetizing to say the least, if not impossible.

Those who dislike public displays of spitting tend to focus their attention on baseball players without saying much about football, golf, tennis, or basketball athletes. But jocks in other sports have been known to hawk a lunger in public view. As a kid in the late 1950s I witnessed the unbeatable Boston Celtics come onto the court in Los Angeles against the Lakers and nearly every player was sucking a wad of chew. Muscleman Jim Loscutoff looked like he had the mumps. I immediately thought they must be the toughest men on earth because they obviously couldn’t spit on the floor so I assumed they swallowed it. I was so impressed.

I’ve witnessed several golfers spraying pristine fairways and greens with expectorant, not the least being Tiger Woods. I’ve seen hockey players display some awesome patterns of spit, probably because of the unusual arrangement of their teeth. Women softball players have taken to spitting, as have countless little leaguers, but I doubt that chewing tobacco is to blame. I spied the tell-tale circle of a Copenhagen can in the back pocket of my son Michael’s baseball pants during a youth game. I collared him for a quick frisk and turned up a can of powdered jerky which, apparently, will also work up a good clam. If the big guys do it, obviously the kids want to follow suit.

Are there athletes who don’t spit? I’ve never seen Chris Evert or Peggy Fleming hawk one and I’ll be broken hearted if they ever do. Ice skaters seem to be able to resist the urge, although I’d bet that Tanya Harding could spray with the best of them. Miguel Cairo, the incomparable Seattle Mariner utility player, assured me during a round of golf that I’d never see him spit on television, and I never have. I’m still watching you, big guy. I’ve never really seen a jockey spit except after a race during which he ate a lot of mud. Soccer players spend too much time rolling around on the ground grabbing their legs and screaming in pain to really work up a good spew.

There are many famous spitting incidents. Remember Roberto Alomar anointing the face of umpire John Hirschbeck with a glob because he didn’t agree with the ump’s third strike call? Alomar’s action was made even more despicable when he attributed the death of Hirschbeck’s son as a possible cause for Hirschbeck’s “bitter” attitude that caused the anointment. When Alomar, playing under appeal, put the Baltimore Orioles into a post season wild-card spot with a 10th inning homer, his teammates imitated their hero’s act by spitting beer on each other during their locker room celebration. Class act.

According to The New York Times reporter Jim Yardley, China’s “national anthem” is the sound of several loud clearings of the throat, followed by a wet yodel that accompanies a juicer being worked up, and finalized with a loud “phatoot” and the splat of a wet skidder hitting the sidewalk. Spitting is considered a right in China, and there was an effort to curb the delightful pastime during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Apparently it didn’t happen and a spit shine was enjoyed by many visitors while the anthem played on.

Former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher, Al Reyes, after a barroom brawl that left him with a split lip and a mashed nose, spit blood on responding police officers. My guess is that the cops had seen enough baseball players spitting on television because they put the Taser to him and hauled him off to jail. Reyes is no longer hawking ‘em in the major leagues.

Then there’s the famous spitting incident on the Seinfeld television show where former NY Mets pretty boy Keith Hernandez allegedly spit on Kramer and Newman. But Jerry patiently demonstrated to the two doofuses how it was scientifically and physically impossible for the incident to have happened as they had so manically explained it. Seinfeld dismissed it as a “magic loogie.”

My personal opinion on ballplayers’ obsession with spitting is that chewing tobacco has little to do with it because I’ve seen too many lily white globs without the nasty brown stain of chaw. Rather, I think it has to do with an image that professional athletes like to curry ―that of being in charge, of being the guy who has no problem handling pressure, of being hard-nosed and unyielding. And it probably is a pressure relief valve. A major league baseball player must display the utmost dexterity and concentration every second he’s on the field through a season of 162 games in front of millions of critical fans. Making an error is humiliating. Failing to hit for a high average threatens stature and salary. It’s no longer a peaceful pastime for enjoyment. It is life and livelihood for the player and his family. At first, for the novice baseball player, spitting projects an image of invincibility and washes out the dryness of stress. Then it becomes a habit, an involuntary tic that erases tension, something that everyone else does. It evolved into a tradition long ago and will never go away anytime soon.

So if we get annoyed or grossed out and simply cannot watch another minute of grown men spitting away like little boys, there’s only one option. Don’t watch or attend another baseball game. But for baseball fans like me with decades of devotion it’s something we’re going to have to swallow, so to speak. Spit on.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Amazon gets down and dirty

Recent blogs about Amazon's change in policy regarding POD publishers are mainly correct. As a writer published by Outskirts Press, a print-on-demand publisher, I've been reading with interest, and some skepticism, about Amazon only selling books published by PODs who use BookSurge, Amazon's printing partner. Well, the situation appears to be true.

Amazon has posted an open letter, dated March 31, 2008, to "interested parties" on its website, The letter can be found in Press Releases - Print on Demand.
Essentially it says that Amazon is requiring that print-on-demand books be printed inside Amazon's own fulfillment centers. The reason given is that books can be shipped more quickly to customers, a "key customer experience focus for us."

BookSurge is not specifically mentioned as the primary printer, but because it is an Amazon company and putting any other printers in Amazon fulfillment centers would be impractical, any POD publishers not using BookSurge would be shut out.

There are some other statements about Amazon not requesting exclusivity, and how books can be stocked as long as the speed of shipping is not compromised, but, in reality, if BookSurge is not used as the printer, publishers and authors will not be sold on Amazon.

I'm sure that's not the end of the story. Much gnashing of teeth and waving of swords will occur, so a quick resolution of this seemingly one-sided business decision made by Amazon will not be forthcoming.

As for me, I've asked my publisher, Outskirts Press, to make some sort of announcement to its authors about the situation and prognosis for the future. I believe the publisher needs to protect the author and, if necessary, work with the author in coming up with ideas that can meet Amazon's declared intent of speedy shipment of books. Amazon even suggests a way in its letter.

The bottom line is that the finalized books must be of the same quality regardless of the printer being used. And Amazon must not be allowed to compromise that quality because of a business decision.

Schuyler T. Wallace