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My Millenial Mindset

This is not what I had in mind.  I was told that if I went to college, studied hard, got a good GPA that it wouldn’t matter what my major was.  I just needed that piece of paper and upon graduation; the world would become my oyster.  I would open it take the pearl inside and then slide its briny squishy meat down my gullet.  If I then went on to graduate schools and got a Master’s degree, the world would be my oyster farm with morning pearl dives and afternoon bourbon cocktails.  This isn’t what happened: neither the metaphor nor the reality.

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The steroid era is officially over.  The two biggest figures, Clemens and Bonds have both been through perjury trials and both acquitted.  Juries found both not guilty of lying under oath about using steroids.  Attorneys from the United States Department of Justice were unable to show that either man used steroids.  In short, there is reasonable doubt that either man ever used steroids despite any other information to the contrary.  Baseball’s Steroid Era exists in a cloud of loud shouts and quiet disappointments.  We will never know definitively just how many major leaguers took PEDs and how it effected their statistics.

If nothing else, the steroid era in baseball reminded us of a few simple truths about the game.  The increasing emphasis of numbers by management led players and coaches to abide in them.  Fans re-discovered the ugly side of baseball as enterprise.  Yet we also enjoyed the potent offense and dominant pitching the steroid era provided.  We also had to begin questioning the legacy of the game we loved.  Where does this era fit?  How do we judge the achievements?  Here are the truths we learned and how I think we should view it.

Baseball is more than numbers.  The business of baseball is all about stats, but the memory of it disregards them.  Bob Costas said recently that Maris and Aaron had “lost their rightful place in history” because of the “inauthentic” numbers put up by McGwire and Bonds.  That’s not true.  Maris and Aaron have a mythic quality to their names, yet no one my age ever saw them play.  Our knowledge of them is in grainy television footage and grandpa’s recollection.  We learned about those men from our mothers, fathers, teachers and coaches.  Our forebears cared enough about these ball players to tell stories about them to their offspring.  Storytelling creates heroes, not statistics.

Baseball is a business.  Professional athletes are just that: professional.  Adults need to get paid.  Without my job, I can’t pay my rent and I’m living with mommy and daddy.  The vast majority of professional baseball players live around the poverty line.  Most professional ball players are in the minor leagues and live hand to mouth.  Hit more homeruns and you’ll get more money.  The incentive is clear and the assistance is available.  Baseball is a boy’s game played by men but men aren’t boys.  Money matters.  Being a ball player doesn’t make that any less true.

Baseball is entertainment.  Baseball, whether watched or played is a diversion from the monotony of the daily grind.  Watching a baseball game, no matter how boring, still beats standing on your feet all day taking shit from your boss.  During the steroid era, we got to see more homeruns than ever before.  Homeruns are awesome.  Seeing Pedro Martinez shut down hitters throughout the peak of the steroid era was even more entertaining.  Even if we think that steroids are awful and that taking steroids make you a cheater, it doesn’t change that baseball was simply fun to watch during their reign in the majors.

The Hall of Fame is Overrated.  There are hundreds of players in the Baseball Hall of Fame I’ve never heard of and dozens more I don’t care about. There are a few baseball legends that everyone knows, Ruth, Gehrig, Mays, Aaron, etc.  But ask your Average Joe who Christy Mathewson is and he won’t have a fucking clue.  People remember their personal favorites.  Scott Brosius is a god to any Yankee fan under the age of 40.  He’ll never be in the Hall of Fame, but I’ll always know his name.

The Steroid Era is over.  We’ll be arguing for generations over the authenticity of Barry Bonds’s homerun record against Hank Aaron’s.  We’ll still pay top dollar to go see the best baseball players in the world ply their trade and be rewarded for it.  The players we’ve always loved will forever hold a special place in our baseball hearts regardless of their steroid use.  No matter what sports writers may say, the steroid era didn’t really change anything.  Inflated numbers and deflated trust can’t stop us from loving baseball.  No one statistic, no one player, no one owner, no one scandal is bigger than the game.  The greatest truth: Baseball is a game, don’t take it too seriously.

A Day in the Life

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As anyone who is about to read this already knows, for the past year I have been working at a restaurant.  I’m a manager/barista (think E from Entourage at Sbarro) at a little place called [name redacted] in Arlington, VA.  Anyways, I spend most of my days dealing with customers.  90% of them are some cool ass people and I genuinely enjoy seeing them on a daily basis. 

The other 10% are fucking assholes. 

Their biggest offense is that they don’t tip.  These are the type of people who push paper around a desk but won’t tip someone who stands on his feet for eight to twelve hours a day.  These people expect you to know their food allergies and, by extension, to know every ingredient in every piece of food in the restaurant. They ask for special treatment for their kids who “just won’t eat anything”.  These people have never worked a job requiring manual labor.  These people make you understand why al-Qaeda still plans attacks against Americans.

So here is a short list of some of there bullshit that I’ve had to put up with over the last year.  None of this is made up, it’s all too real:

-You only have a regular and a large size?  Nothing bigger?  You should really try to “keep up with the Joneses”…just saying.

-If like anything that even touched shrimp or seafood touches my food, I’ll like die…so what can I order?

-When I was in the bathroom the soap just sprayed out on my pants

-Can I get a hot chocolate with whipped cream, but skim milk?

-You’re really going to tell a pregnant lady that you’re out of bacon?

-Woman: You give away pastries at night to the homeless shelter?  So could I have some if I come at closing time? 

Me: “Ma’am, no offense, but you’re not homeless.” 

Woman: But I’m black, doesn’t that count?

-I want all the things that come in that sandwich, but in a salad…don’t worry she (the Salvadorean cook) knows how to make it.

-Iced chai, no ice.

-You guys don’t have pumpkin or peppermint lattes?  That’s lame.

-Sir…sir….(half crying) I just burned my mouth and lips on your tea.  Your tea is just far too hot, can I have some ice.  You really should look into making your hot water less hot, I’ve really burned myself and my mouth is starting to blister.

-Well in New Orleans you can get red beans and rice every night, so you should have it here every night too.

-Wait, I can’t get a mimosa to go?

-I didn’t know it was your yogurt was plain, my husband can’t eat plain yogurt, only the flavored stuff.

-Do you have any sugar free pastries?  Sugar free syrups? 

-Can I get the creole pilgrim sandwich, no bread?

I don’t have a good way of concluding this post.

Fuck all of these people.

Yes they deserve to die, and I hope they burn in hell.

 

On the scale of 1 to gullible I give myself a 3 or 4. I can usually sniff out bullshit pretty well and just ignore it. This is a story about almost being taken.

I had arrived at work just in time to be asked about a situation the day before involving a cross-eyed German guy and a t-shirt. After being told to never ask someone to explain a sensor laying in a fitting room again, I let my boss take a break and begin to start my day. The phone rings.

“Overpriced clothes for Douchebags, This is Matt”

“Yes Hi is this Matt Shanknasty?”

My back stiffened. You see I’m the only Matt working there. Well there’s another but he works less than Andy in the last two minutes. No reason to use last names. This can’t be good.

“Yes what can I do for you?” “Well my name is Christy and I’m calling from (some credit collection agency whose name I missed) in regards to your federal student loans”

Calling at work will get anybody’s attention. She continued.

“You’re aware you are in Federal default currently on the amount of ten thousand dollars?”

“Federal default? Is that like double secret probation?” “What?” “Nevermind, go ahead.”

Well she goes on to say that they don’t have up to date information for me and were only able to contact me ON A NUMBER THAT I’VE NEVER PUT ON ANY APPLICATION FOR A LOAN EVER. At this point I should have given my cell phone number and ended the conversation but it was just after 2pm on a tuesday at the mall. What else did I have to do?

She goes through the standard anal probe of my finances, starting with my monthly take home pay and subtracting out expenses to arrive at a residual income figure. Presumably to figure out how much she could take me for. But right around the time we’re starting to haggle on a monthly payment things started to take a turn for the bullshit.

“Now in order to get involved in the program, you have to put down a down payment and make the agreed upon payments for 9 months. After that we’ll stop compounding interest per day, which is about $1.30 per day, and refund collections costs, which are around $2,000.”

$3,650. That was the down payment she chucked out. So heavy I’m surprised it fit into the phone line. Who the hell would have that and not be able to make payments I wondered. (sidenote: $3,600 is a years worth of $300 payments, my guess is the extra $50 were for lapdances)

The conversation doesn’t get much farther after that and I make her assure me she will not contact me at work again. She asks me not to talk down to her. I hang up.

A few hours later I leave for my hour lunch and check my phone. Voicemail from Chrissy. She’s left a number to call and a “reference number” with a letter and numbers attached. This scam is involved.

I call the number, say that I received a call and give my reference number.

“Please verify your social security number” “I just gave you a reference number, verify that”

“Verify your date of birth then” I did it. I figure the worst they can do is send me a card.

I tell her I spoke with Chrissy and we were trying to figure out a payment plan to get my loans out of default.

“You mean you spoke with Christy, I’m Chrissy” “Sure if you say so.” “Ok sir well the total balance of this loan is due and the U.S. Department of Education would like to offer you terms to pay off this loan. This is only being done as a courtesy. If you decide to let these loans lapse further, you’re looking at a 15% wage garnishment and a deliquency mark on your credit report. Now I have some terms I’d like to discuss with you if you’d like” “Yeah sure go ahead” “Ok so with a down payment of $1,800 you’re looking at payments of $249 or with a zero down payment you’d have payments of $300.” “Ok so you’ve got me bent over with a gun to my head here” “Sir you agreed to take these loans out and you have a responsibility to pay them…” I cut her off. “Don’t lecture me on responsibility, I have parents for that. And those terms aren’t going to work for me. What else ya got?” “Hold on”

She puts me on hold and I put the phone to the side and start going through my accounts in my head. Then as I’m taking another bite my mind wanders. I look at the radio as I’m sitting in my car but realize its off. No way. There was a ton of static and the audio was really low quality but it seemed to fit the music being played…

I’m trying to place the song as she clicks back on. “I just spoke with my supervisor and our client will accept a down payment of $518 with a monthly payment of $109.” “Well now you’re in the ballpark. Is this the kind of offer that expires when I hang up the phone or can I think about it” “The end of this phone call without an agreement to pay constitutes non-compliance and all deals would be void” “So now I’m bent over, theres a gun to my head AND a ticking clock. I was worried this was going to be high pressure. Sure, what the hell. Let’s do it. Game on”

With that she puts me on hold again. No music this time and I’m disappointed. When the line comes alive again I’m told its Christy on the other end and she’s ready to fax me a contract, help find me a fax machine (“Staples, Kinkos many places have fax machines”) and take my bank account and routing number over the phone. “Well I don’t have that information on me right now.” “Well do you know your bank account number, I can look up the routing number for you” “No I don’t know it off the top of my head”

That’s what saved me. Having direct deposit prevents me from writing a deposit slip for my check every other Friday and so its not a number I have memorized.  She tells me that I have to call back with the info by 10am tomorrow or they’ll take my first born or something. I hang up, finish eating, and remember that the address they kept asking me to verify was my dads. I call and ask if there had been any mail sent there he had forgotten to give me. I explain why I’m asking. “Its a scam son, don’t call them again” I curse the fact that I almost fell for it and go back to work. I had to hand it to them though. Calling me at work, using an official tone and all, very professional. There was just one problem: No collections agency has “Houses of the Holy” as hold music.

It has now been five years since Dave Chappelle left the entertainment world to go chill out on his Ohio farm.  At first, his absence from Comedy Central simply meant a lot of unsuccessful sketch shows in his former time slot.  Now, the lack of Chappelle in the social commentary is hurting out country.  No other black comedian since has had a similar television show, and those that do (Tyler Perry) aren’t funny and show white America the “Family Matters” side of black America.  Chappelle made us all laugh at the blatant racism and bigotry that still exists in our country despite all the talk of equality and a “post-racial” society.  Whether it be the Gay KKK, Friday Night Sissy Fights, Real Real World, The World is Not Meant for Us, or any other sketch, Chappelle was not only making us laugh but also making us think just a little bit.

Alright, I’m not going to go into some diatribe about the socio-economic importance of black comic commentary in America, although I could, but that wouldn’t be in line with the Ranty McRanterson policy on seriousness (none is allowed).  So, Mr. Chappelle, if you’re listening…PLEASE COME BACK.  Here is a list of possible sketches I thought of for you.  You don’t have to pay me for them, just come back.  If you don’t, the possibility exists that Demetri Martin or Carlos Mencia would get a show again.  Do you really want that on your conscience Dave?  Do you?

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We all love Chipotle.  The soft flour tortilla overflowing with fluffy rice, juicy pepper and onions, mushy beans, succulent tender meats, spicy salsa, gooey guacamole and semi-melted jack cheese.  My keyboard is covered in drool just thinking about it.  My friend, the Steak Burrito with red salsa (hot), pinto beans and cheese, is probably the stupidest thing to eat the night before a job interview.  The song “Tainted Love” springs into my head.

I arrived in College Park for a job interview in Arlington.  Meeting up with my bros we drank some Buds (heavy, not light), got hungry and went to that old standby:  the Greenbelt Chipotle.  A straight shot up MD-193 with the omnipresent danger of hitting a day laborer crossing Greenbelt Road makes the sizzling scent of Chipotle all the more enticing.  The fact that you may very well murder a Mexican en route to eat Mexican food somehow makes the burrito that much tastier.  But I digress…  We got our Chipotle, somehow managed not to eat it in the car and made our way back to 8802, a house so filled with empty beer bottles and cans that a homeless man buy his way off the street if he discovered that Shangri-la of recyclables.  I forgot, this post is about the dangers of Chipotle…I’ll stay on topic.  Chipotle finished, some more Bud time followed by bed time.  Up early for the long Metro (Green + Orange) to Arlington, VA.

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[Editor’s Note: quikstop85 is an old friend but a new ranter, this post is from his Quikstop Blog. He has previously posted on our blog with the Octo-burner. I’m looking forward to material from quikstop85 to suppliment my otherwise weak posting schedule. Enjoy!]

Howdy there folks. Been some time I know and I apologize to the 3 people who actually check this blog. My bad, but I’ve been busy. I’ve talked a lot about politics and some of the generally horrible stuff going on in the world, but for this post, I’m going back to the one thing I know really well: sports. This year, the sports world has been shocked by the allegations and confessions that both Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez are (and most likely were) steroid users. Talking heads talk of their “disappointment” and “dismay” that players of their stature would even consider using steroids. When it comes down to it, however, it doesn’t really matter. Steroids or no, , the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and even the MLS are as exciting as they’ve been as least in my 23+ years on this planet. Professional sports are, have always been and always will be a diversion; an organized form of entertainment. Regardless of the health and moral issues associated with steroids, have you not been entertained during the so-called “Steroid Era”?

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