Archive for April, 2013

Editors Note: Oops, I thought I had posted this piece a while back. Umm . . . better late than never?

Looks like fun, huh?

Looks like fun, huh?

It’s probably best to start this rant with a little background into my thoughts on the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) as well as my struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which the MTA routinely exacerbates to the best of their ability. For those of you who don’t know what Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder is, perhaps I should explain, or try to. For over 20 years I have been suffering from bouts of crippling panic and fear which can strike out of the blue or when I become agitated and stressed. I have often tried to describe it to people who have never had one of these episodes, but I’ve always been at a loss. I feel dizzy, terrified, and short of breath. I have thoughts of losing my mind and/or dying flying through my brain. I tremble and hyperventilate and get tremendously entertaining twitches and spasms, which the ladies really seem to dig. I imagine that I probably look like someone who has smoked a little too much crack and skipped a hearty breakfast. Being aware of how I must look makes things worse and on occasion people have asked me if I am alright. More often however, they give me a strange look and move slowly away from me.

To this point I have combated my anxiety and panic attacks with lifestyle changes like exercise, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine and the like. What vexes me most are people’s attitudes in regards to panic attacks, which is generally summed up in three words “Get over it.” Get over it hmmm? Gee, Professor Freud, I never thought of that. You’re a genius…wow years of therapy and paralyzing fear wasted when all this time I just needed to ‘get over it’. Oh, thank you SO very much for imparting your wisdom upon me!

What other pearls do you have to share?

What other pearls do you have to share?

I was diagnosed years ago with “Anticipatory Anxiety” which means my silly little brain works against me to a certain degree. If I have an impending unpleasant errand (and taking the subway is always unpleasant) I will think and worry about it to the point where I give myself panic attacks when the time comes for whatever mundane but stressful little mission I have to complete.

Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are two separate conditions within the Nervous Nelly spectrum. Panic Disorder means suffering from panic/anxiety attacks. GAD means being a worrier. I worry about everything. Add to this my creative side and I can find some really elaborate and frankly ridiculous things to waste my time worrying about. I dread when I have a message on my call waiting, because it most certainly will be bad news. Or maybe I’m not having a panic attack after all…maybe I am having a severe allergic reaction to the multi vitamin that I took last night which probably expired years ago and developed a deadly mold spore and…well, you get the idea.

My life in the fast lane

My life in the fast lane

The MTA/subway is a veritable candy store of stressors and anxiety enhancers. I have to take my hat off to them for creating the most stressful and unpleasant mode of transportation possible in a modern American city. When things aren’t stressful enough, the MTA and its staff step up their game by screaming at the passengers through a perpetually broken intercom system and selling ad space to be filled by the most disturbing advertisements humanly possible, prominently displayed to the temporarily captive rider.

Today I hopped on the N train. To combat the stress of the subway and hopefully avoid a complete panic breakdown, I try to bring things along with me that will have a calming effect. I used to bring a Sam Cooke CD everywhere as I found his voice and songs rather soothing. I also like to suck on Halls honey-lemon cough drops. More recently I have been bringing “The Path To Tranquility” by the Dalai Lama to read. It’s a great book and it has a calming effect on me while reminding me of how karmically bankrupt I am. Two birds with one stone, I like efficiency.

Looking up from the DL’s book I saw the words “AIDS” and “Anal Cancer” in big, bright red letters. Upon closer investigation I saw it was a condom ad placed by the city’s health department and Mayor KillJoy. The ad was explaining that even with the new antiviral medications available today you still run an extremely high risk of anal cancer if you become infected with AIDS. To further demonstrate this, there was a photo of a nervous looking young man and a fucking x-ray of anal cancer. What’s the matter? The city’s health department couldn’t find a photo of some poor bastard lying on his stomach in an operating room with a black and bloody grapefruit sized tumor sticking out of his emergency exit?

It dawned on me that the city posts all kinds of unpleasant ads in subway cars. A recent anti-obesity campaign shows cans of soda, iced teas and other sugared beverages covered in what looks like fat and blood removed via liposuction. Effective, disgusting and a stellar anxiety trigger. Well done MTA and a nice assist from the City of New York and its billionaire, disapproving daddy-pants Mayor.

Charming

Charming

Recently, after having a serious budget deficit, the MTA raised fares and cut services. They hire the best and brightest to run the system and pay these men and women 6 figures and incredible benefits, and the best they can seem to do is regularly cut services and raise fares. I would think that the ad space on the subways and buses would be a source of income. Sounds like a smart move until I saw the MTA advertising themselves. Last time I checked there is no competition. There is only the MTA and no private sector subways and buses. They’re out of money, don’t need to advertise, and yet spend a fortune on print ads for themselves. My favorite ad was touting how hard the MTA is working on improving things. They had a photo of four workers welding a bit of track. Having seen the corrupt union members and “workers” employed by the MTA, I knew instantly that the MTA had hired models for the ad campaign as there is a painfully obvious union regulation which strictly prohibits 4 people from working at the same time. More money wasted…

Other ads on the subway include…

Impotence; A doctor’s ad showing a frustrated and frankly disgusted looking woman and a sad looking guy in bed looking sheepishly for the TV remote.

Anti-Drinking; Depicting an obviously hung-over and disheveled woman who had too many cosmos and ended up sleeping with the nightclubs coat check guy and bouncer. Or, a drunk driver languishing in prison.

Battered women, homeless people, and my favorite ad by Dr. Zizmor; who is a dermatologist with before and after drawings of his successful treatments. In keeping with the MTA’s disturbing ad campaign I think that Dr. Z (as he calls himself…I don’t trust doctors that advertise in subways or use their first initial after “Dr.”) should make his next add using heavily photo shopped pictures of cystic acne, warts, and other sexy skin disorders.

I feel that as a tax payer and commuter that my money would be better spent on some cheerful subway imagery. I want pictures of puppies and unicorns on my anti homeless ads. How about a Cookie Monster condom ad? I’ll even write a catchy slogan “C is also for Condom so we don’t get Cancer near our Colon”
Would it really be so expensive to play some nice classical music on the trains…or some Motown?

I am going to send this off to the mayor and the MTA to be ignored immediately.

I have the best best-friend in the whole wide world. Who else would answer the phone at 5am and cheerfully listen to my ranting and raving? Well, the suicide hotline probably would, but who else really? I often wonder aloud what I did in a past life to deserve the frequent bad things that happen to me. “Was I some particularly nasty and sadistic concentration camp guard or something in my previous life?” is my standard rhetorical question. Since I’m a grumpus maximus I generally don’t think of the nice things I might have done in a past life to deserve the regular rations of everyday good luck that…maybe I should? The next time my besty does something sweet or kind for me, or I happen to catch Goodbye Mr Chips just starting on TCM (I always seem to catch the last bit of the film, and it is unsatisfying), I should ask myself “Did I run into a burning building to save a crippled kitten in some past existence?”

“Have you had a cough of cuppy yet?” my BFF; the Gow politely asks when she calls me early in the morning. Sadly, I’m not always this thoughtful. “Why didn’t you get out of the shower when I called? Why are you so damned selfish?” I scream at her.

So, what is bugging you today, Scott? (You’re probably asking yourself.) Well, get a load of this.

Bandwagon_of_Week_xlarge

1.Chloe Angyal: Feminist blogger and freelance writer; Chloe Angyal got on my nerves last night. According to a Huffington Post article MIZZ Angyal took issue with a storefront sign placed in front of a restaurant called OatMeals NY (Guess what they serve?). The offending sign read:

“Did You Know”

“Bagel with Cream Cheese-600 Calories”

“Oatmeal with fresh berries-150 Calories”

“Summers coming…
Just saying”

Shocking….simply shocking.

Well, Chloe, who obviously hadn’t expressed any outrage in the last 3 minutes, tweeted that the sign was “Fat-Shamey and Gross”, and what’s worse was that OatMeals NY took her seriously, tweeted an apology and promised to remove the sign. Tweeting….uggh a technology for people to reach thousands or millions of others before giving any actual though to what they should say. First of all, her “outrage” is ridiculous, and this is coming from Captain Ridiculous Outrage. Second of all, I don’t know if I am ready to live in a world where terms like “Fat-Shamey” make the news. And third and possibly most important. “What the Fuck???” It’s women like you, MIZZ Angyal who do a disservice to legitimate women’s issues with idiocy like this. Get a life would you Chloe? A sign that would be truly ridiculing fat people would read something along the lines of “Hey Lard Ass, skip the pizza and burgers today and get a salad for a change…Wouldn’t it be nice to see your toes this Summer?”

It seems painfully apparent that the owners of OatMeals NY are already doing or trying to do their part to offer healthy breakfast options (except the bowls with the ‘nilla wafers, bananas and heavy cream) First we have campaigns devoid of any personal responsibility demanding calorie counts by law…now people aren’t saying it delicately enough?

I’m overweight myself, and I know all too well how tough it can be to lose weight and especially to maintain this, the prejudices and everything that goes along with weight issues. Once while in Miami in the 90s, someone I was speaking to actually reached over and pinched my stomach saying “This is South Beach, you need to work out more.” 30 seconds later after a good pummeling by me, he seems to have reconsidered his observations on my fitness. This was 19 years and 25 lbs ago too. Sometimes commentary from the rude and clueless has shamed me into being more vigilant with my diet and gotten me to exercise more. Like many things, a little shame or pride in small doses coupled with some self respect can be a positive thing OatMeals NY’s sign was a gentle reminder and nothing more…It was certainly nothing for Chole to get her sensible panties in a bunch over. I know I have said this twice within 2 paragraphs, but in your case it warrants repetition Get a life Chole….Summers coming….Just sayin’.

CK

Thank goodness I’m a man and I’m not bombarded with objectifying or unrealistic male media images. WHEW!

The arrogance and self righteousness of people who elect themselves as a spokesperson for various victim groups often cause more harm than good. Spike Lee regularly causes me and many others to roll our eyes rather than bringing attention to real issues of racial inequality in this country. if you want to be cutting edge and original Chloe, how about writing an article that Calvin Klein and Under Armour portray unrealistic and damaging images of men with their underwear ads?….You know, something the feminists have been harping about for decades now….when it happens to women.

south-park-article

2. My second rant was over the hypocrisy of politicians in Texas, Senators Cornyn and Cruz to be exact. Last week there was a terrible explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas. People were hurt and killed as well as jobs lost and property being destroyed. The emergency workers in TX stepped up like so many amazing first responders all around the country. The chutzpah of the situation was that TX lawmakers who voted against federal emergency funds for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and wanted to secede from the union after President Shaft-Superfly-Dolomyte was re-elected…now wanted federal disaster funds for this. I guess it’s not socialism now huh? I thought you big tough guys in Texas were all about independence and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps with none of that commie federal aid crap.

Hurricane Sandy was a natural disaster that impacted hundreds of thousands of people directly or indirectly. The unfortunate events in TX were a company’s accident…probably based on negligence. OK right-wingers…you want less government oversight and regulation as well as a return to personal responsibility? Here’s a perfect opportunity to see how well that works out. It seems painfully obvious to me who the bill for this disaster should be sent to. I don’t want to see people hurt, property damaged or jobs lost. I’d like our government to help those in need as a result of disasters that aren’t their fault. Not everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy lived right on the beach. There was also massive cause and effect, collateral damage after Sandy.

Last but not least was a news story about new technology that would allow for cellphone use and texting at some NYC underground subway stations. Now, this was inevitable. I am already cringing inside as I think of thousands of people at Grand Central and Times Square station shuffling along in a texting haze and paying no attention whatsoever to those who are around them. The news, however was raving about how wonderful this development will be for safety and the “See Something, Say Something” Anit-terrorism campaign here in NYC. I’ve been trying to swear less in my writing, but this warrants a Puh-fucking-leeeeeze. 99% of the texting and cellphone junkies wouldn’t report a bomb if they saw a cartoonish black metal bowling ball shaped thing with a flaming wick. They’d just continue to tweet “I’m in Times Square and want some oatmeal.” or they’d be updating their Facebook status.

Lets just call this what it is…pandering to cellphone junkies who start to have convulsions if they cant use their Verizon life support systems for 10 minutes and spare me the safety/benefit to humanity angle huh?

Beatles

In closing I’d like to revisit these things quickly after I have had a little time to ponder them.

1. Yesterday I saw that a young woman whom I briefly dated had posted Chloe Angyal’s article on her Facebook page and was engaged in the exchange of commentary with other men and women. I was floored that such a bright and intelligent woman, who is well versed in very real causes (she works for the ACLU ) was taking what Angyal had to say to heart. This gave me pause. My first impulse was to post something to the effect of “really?…REALLY?” But I quickly realized I would be outnumbered and would just redouble the anger in the post. So, instead, I say respectfully…. there are much more important issues at hand in regards to weight, self image and women’s issues to spend our outrage on. Outrage is funny that way…the less you express, the more validity you garner.

2. We live in the United States of America….and the first word of that is United. We can have different laws by state depending on the realities attitudes and mores of the region. Last week after the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon I was very upset with how quickly people pounced on the President and were looking to use the tragedy for political ammunition. We would all be better off if we were to think about that “United” part of our country. Comeuppance is a very satisfying thing, and sure it’s nice to point out the hypocrisy of these elected officials and those who share their political ideals….but at the end of the day, people got hurt, died, experienced loss and I for one want to be there for them, just as I hope they’d be there for me.

3. Cell phones aren’t going to go away and as we speak people are working away in little corporate laboratories to enable us to use our cell phones in airplanes, tunnels and in our coffins. What many seem to forget is that we thrived for years without cell phones, texting, twitter, myface, etc. Seems to me the most effective terrorist attack these days would be to disrupt people’s cell phone service. We’d really notice that.

It has been awhile since I have posted anything. My apologies as I know how many of you have been waiting with baited breath…or baiting with weighted breath for my latest complaint opera. Enjoy!

Too far, my friend. Too, too far!

Too far, my friend. Too, too far!

Customers of Size

I logged on to my e-mail account and the news headlines flashed across my homepage. I noticed an article titled “Worst Airline For Overweight Passengers” I had to check that article out because I’m overweight and seeing people who are singled out for being so big that it requires a corporate policy change makes me feel better about myself. Diets and exercise are so mundane and predictable…I just wear more black and hang out with fatter people.

In the first line of this article the expression “Customers of Size” was used. What does that make the rest of us? Is this the feel good marketing term used when someone is stopped at the airport check-in and told that they will need to buy a second ticket? One can’t say “Not so fast there ‘All-You-Can-Eat’! We’re going to need you to step on this scale.”

No, they have to pleasantly state. “I’m sorry ma’am, but it looks like you might fall under our ‘Customer-of-Size’ criteria. Could you just hand me the extra crispy 12 piece and step on the scale of shame please? Don’t worry Ma’am, no one will take it. Let’s see…three hundred and eighty…no, well you’re welcome to take them off but I don’t think removing your shoes will make that much of a difference…” I think there is a definite market for a new, upstart airline with unlimited snacks and double-wide seats. Fatty-Fatty-Two-By-Four Airlines? Come fly the chunky skies?

“Customers of Size” is a euphemistic and very confusing expression. It’s worse than “People of Color” We all have colors and sizes. Are there other such expressions on the horizon? Will people with lousy hygiene become People of Stank? Would this turn me from a “Man who couldn’t get laid with Brad Pitt’s dick” into a “Man of Hand?” And here I was hoping for “Involuntarily Celibate American.” Actually I think “Man of Hand” is a lovely expression.

“So, are you seeing anyone?”
“No, My girlfriend and I broke up in June and I’m playing the field. I’m a Man of Hand.”

How far will this go? I shudder to think.

Customer of Zit (Bad skin)
Customer of Douche (Jersey Shore Clone)
Customer of Slut (OK…that one has potential)

The euphemistic feel-good language is nothing new, but as I said before, it is something that has crept up on us as a society, and sadly I think it will continue to creep. Someone is going to sue an airline for being referred to as “Fat”, “Large” or “Obese”. “Um, excuse me; I don’t care for that word. It’s ‘Person of Size’ if you don’t mind.”

My Boy Lollipop

While riding the dreaded subway I happened to glance at one of the many gross-out public health ads that have abounded during the Bloomberg regime. This ad was an anti-sugar/dental care ad. At the top of the poster was an adorable little black girl, perhaps 6 or 7 years old. She reminded me of one of the Huckstable kids from The Cosby Show. The little cutey was sucking on a lollipop. But oh no, not in Mayor Bloomberg’s nursery, because directly below the sweet little girl was a disgusting dental photo straight out of the cast of Deliverance complete with repulsive black holes and gum lesions. I swear this photo was borrowed by one of the anti-crystal meth before and after ads. Apparently in Mister Bloomberg’s Neighborhood a little kid isn’t allowed to enjoy a lollipop.

We had PSA’s and movies in school when I was a kid that explained that a steady diet of cookies, ding dongs and candy was unhealthy. However, I don’t recall any of them giving me nightmares. We also had these mythological creatures called “Parents” (you may have heard of them) who rationed out the sugar to us, despite our best efforts to thwart their best efforts. I once constructed an elaborate rope ladder in response to my grandparent’s cookie jar being placed at a much higher elevation in a vain attempt to discourage me. The most disturbing thing we had were Crest toothpaste commercials featuring “The Cavity Creeps” who were little mouth goblins made out of something that resembled fecal matter. They ran around vandalizing someone’s pearly whites with jack hammers and pick axes while chanting “We Make Holes In Teeth”.

Little kids like candy. It is one of their few goals in life…staying up late, toys and candy….that’s it. That’s all I wanted as a kid. I wanted to stay up later and watch some of the grown up shows on TV, I wanted sweets and more toys. This is and was a short lived time of perfect innocence and unmatched happiness. And guess what? Nature has already built in a defense mechanism. We lose our teeth at an early age and they are replaced by a new and harder/stronger set. It dawns on me that the singing and dancing cartoon toothbrushes that I grew up with were pretty effective. Did Bloomberg commission Rob Zombie or Eli Roth for this ad campaign?

I wrote an article a couple years ago about subway ads and panic attacks, which was ironically titled Subway Ads and Panic Attacks. I had been riding the subway which is noisy, crowded and generally a yucky experience that is very conducive to anxiety, aggression and other none-too-pleasant feelings. On this fateful trip I looked up to see a graphic poster of AIDS and the increased risk of colon cancer. Let’s see, I get to wait in a filthy and sweaty train station for half an hour, board a subway car so crowded and suffocating that it rivaled the 3:10 to Auschwitz, listen to loud and angry announcements from Mr. Conductor “STANDCLEAR-A-THECLOSINGDOORSPLEASE!!!” While avoiding eye contact which is mandatory for NYC subway travel, I happen across a charming poster of a black and slimy, grapefruit sized tumor in someone’s emergency exit. Well, that makes everything better. Silly me, and here I thought this trip might be unpleasant.

Then there was the now famous soda ban that Bloomberg spearheaded. I don’t drink sugared beverages, and yes a 60 ounce bladder buster does seem excessive to me, but to spend time and resources on banning this option? We do have an obesity problem in this country, but it seems to me that this should fall under parental guidance. As poorly adjusted as I have turned out, I can’t remember it being because my parents didn’t allow me to inhale cookies and Hostess fruit pies by the case. They carefully explained that too much sugar and fat wasn’t good for me, didn’t keep these things in the house, and I promptly ignored them until I was old enough to know better, and by then I had discovered drinking and drug use to fall back on.

Life in NYC is stressful enough without an overbearing, billionaire nanny/mayor bombarding us with disturbing imagery. Every New York Yankee game last year on TV included graphic commercials of amputees who lost fingers, legs and feet as a result of smoking or diabetes. If this is Mayor Doucheberg’s response to unhealthy choices, then I say the next time he is indulging in the $200 porterhouse at Chez Rich Bastard a TV monitor with looped footage of undigested red meat being surgically removed from someone’s bowels should be placed directly in front of his table. Oh, what’s the matter Mr. Mayor? This is gross and unpleasant to look at? Well, we’re just trying to encourage you to make healthier choices because we care. Hmmm? Oh you’re an adult and already know this, and you just want to enjoy something tasty and these images disturb you? Yeah, kinda funny how that works.