Friday, July 24, 2009

Defending the (animated) Sailor Man

"Just be yourself", "people love you for who you are", "you are who you are, don't ever change that". People claim they love individuals and people who are comfortable with who they are. Throughout history the adage has always been be yourself. Going all the way back to Homer who said "Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another" and Shakespeare himself who said "God has given you one face, and you make yourself another". The idea was if you try and be who you're not, you're doomed to fail. Poet and writer E.E. Cumming stated "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are" and even Dr Seuss said "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind". So, basically, they say, if you have the courage to be who you are, those that are important will love you for it no matter. More contemporary, Judy Garland famously said "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else" and Denholm Elliot said to Eddie Murphy in Trading Places "Just be yourself, sir. Whatever happens, they can't take that away from you"

So, you're saying, "what's with all the quotes Rich"? Well, I've always been myself, maybe to a detriment. You always read about how important it is to be true to yourself. When some of the things you hear people say about you include nice, kind, funny, honest, caring, loyal and smart(I swear, I've heard people say these things...seriously...) along with sarcastic, moody, and other less favorable things, you'd think that being you is a favorable thing as the pluses tend to outweigh the minuses. Yet, when you look back at a solitary life you start to wonder if just being you is enough? Oh, sure, it's more then enough for your friends and family, but is it enough for the "special someone" that's been absent from your life? What if the singular thing that attracted someone to you, your ability to be 100% comfortable with who you are was then the exact thing that drove them away? Would I indeed be better off trying to change or mask some of who I really am? Naw, I don't think so. I've made it this far being me why change now? People will continue to either like me or dislike me based on who I really am. If you accept that, groovy, if not, well frankly, go pound sand. I'd rather remain an individual and alone then become another sycophantic drone towing the line and being "happy" with someone else. It's just not who I am. I think my favorite philosopher of all time put it best when he said "I yam what I yam". That Popeye had it right all along

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Tale of Two Stories, 1 City, and 1 Commander in Chief

This is probably the one and only time you'll read something from me regarding social issues or politics so enjoy it. I've pretty much had it up to here with the story of Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge police, but I have to say that the fact the President of the United States of American could make such a foolish and admittedly, ignorant statement about the situation and about the CPD makes my blood boil. I'm assuming most of you reading this are somewhat familiar with the story. If not, Google it. Let me first state some obvious facts:

1) Racism does still exist. I'm not naive enough to believe otherwise
2) Cops are not always right and the accused are not always wrong
3) There are people, despite or in spite of skin color or race, who think they are above the fray
4) Being a city cop is one of the most tireless, thankless jobs in the world
5) Despite the situation, cops deserve the respect of their position

OK, so now that I've covered my non-pc ass, let me relate a story. For those that don't know I am indeed a white male and live in the city of Cambridge. My dad was born and raised in Cambridge and I have resided there for 6 years. I live in a small condo complex. Recently, a neighbor of mine was having mental issues and called the police on me multiple times for differing reasons none of which actually happened. One time resulted in the fire department breaking down my door when I wasn't home as she called in an explosion in my unit. Was I mad? Sure, but what if there had been an explosion? What if I had been home. The scarier incident was when I answered a knock at my door and saw not 1, not 2, but 5 of Cambridge's finest outside my door. They asked to come in, asked if I was alone, told me to stay where I was, and keep my hands where they can see them. They asked if they could look around my place. I was scared and angry and when they had looked around (my place is small) they explained someone had heard a gunshot in my place. So, see, they were edgy thinking it could be true. When they saw it was false, they explained the whole thing. I was respectful and thankful despite being severely shaken and angry. They have a job to do and I respect that

Henry Louis Gates is indeed a well renowned Harvard professor who is indeed black. My only opinion of him previous to this story from reading of him in the papers was that of an elitist, no more, no less. This incident hasn't changed my opinion. From all accounts it was him that escalated the situation, not officer Crowley. I know there is racism but I hate, hate, hate playing the racism card. Think for a second if it had been an actual break in and his house was robbed or if he was home and injured. He would be up the collective asses of the CPD about that. Or, think of my situation. If had had yelled, screamed, talked about the responding officers mothers, or pulled the "do you know who I am" line? I would have been cuffed and brought in...sound familiar? And what of Sgt Crowley? If his version of the story is 100% true, which from what the few witnesses there say, it is, regardless, he will be labeled a racist for the rest of his tenure with the CPD.

The part of the whole thing that pisses me off is President Obama chirping in the way he did. First, as everyone knows, Cambridge is the prototypical East Coast liberal city. I'm guessing the CPD and CFD are well trained in racial sensitivity to a far greater degree then most. To make such blunt statements about a city's police department while not knowing the whole situation because the person with the issue is a person of color and a friend of yours is a seriously stupid move.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The road less travelled

So, your cruising down the highway of life in your status quo lane. There's been some detours, accidents, and bumps along the way but more or less the ride has been slow and steady. Some people envy you, some pity you but most accept you for you. You're happy (you think) for the most part as you have a decent job, great friends, great family, and a roof over your head. Your highs never get too high and your lows typically not too low. You simply are you and have been for so long it's all you know any more. You keep trudging along, traveling 65 with the G.P.S. programmed for the same old same old. Then, things change...

Something happens that changes everything. You swerve into an unknown lane trying to avoid something and you end up somewhere unexpected. It happens. You weren't expected it to happen. You weren't ready for it to happen. But it did. You're heading somewhere you're not used to. You struggle to stay on this route as you don't recognize the landscape or the landmarks. You fight your every instinct to get back to your status quo lane but you start realizing that, hmm, maybe this the road I've been looking for, even if I didn't know it. You relax, you accept it, you enjoy it, you maybe even love it. It becomes part of your life. You've taken a new off ramp on that highway of life, veered out of your status quo lane and into the H.O.V. lane of change. It has become your new status quo. Suddenly, out of the blue, you hit a road block and everything changes again

After some time to recover from this crash, you get back on the road you knew by heart in your old status quo lane. You think about that alternate route now and then and wonder was it just a passing fancy? A fad? Something you thought was a better way but only seemed that way on the surface? You miss the new route as it had become as much a part of your life as waking up and going to bed. But true to form you shrug your shoulders, set the cruise control for 65, program the G.P.S. for same old same old and continue on that familiar path that was, if briefly, interrupted. Destination; life