Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Culture...Detroit Style

This past weekend, Ian's soccer team played Midwest Regional League games in Michigan. Michele remained back home in Dublin, so as not to miss Nathan's football game. Traveling with Ian and I were two of his teammates, Alec and Rajat. Therefore, this was very much a guys weekend...full of farting and lots of general bathroom humor. Unfortunately, the Sparta team didn't fare too well, but I thought that Ian, Alec, and Rajat played exceptionally well against some of the best competition in the nation.

After the final soccer game of the weekend, the boys were hungry and dejected. Since we were near Detroit (one of the more colorful cities in the U.S.A.), I decided it was a good time to treat the boys to a little cultural diversity lesson. So, we headed for Detroit's Greektown...which happens to be the location of one of my favorite restaurants anywhere -
Fishbones Rhythm Kitchen Cafe.
To add to the experience, we parked at the Renaissance Center, the headquarters of General Motors. From there, we took the Detroit People Mover, or DPM....an often broken monorail system which was working on this particular day. Since Ian was representing his 'hood (Ohio), and being very much the "gangsta," he seemed to relish breaking many of the laws in Detroit. See if you can find a few broken rules/laws in the photos.... what a rebel.
As soon as we got off of the People Mover at the Greektown station, we were greeted by some of the locals. This group of quirky individuals included a rapper named "Shadow Klan," who claimed to be the next big rap artist to hail from Detroit. He seemed to be a very nice guy, who just happened to reek of a certain herbal substance. He told us that his raps were clean, and that the boys would like his CD because he rhymed about "the cosmic universe, evolution, UFO's, and science." Politely, I told him that we were on our way to lunch, but if we saw him on the street afterward, we would surely stop and talk with him again.
Our lunch at Fishbones was awesome. The place was just as I had remembered it. Although, it's location in Greektown seemed a little grittier than the mental image I had stored in my memory. The boys surprised me with their orders of crab cakes, calamari, gumbo, etc. Since we were in GREEKtown, I ordered the Saganaki...you know, the flaming greek cheese stuff. OPA!! The kids thought this was pretty cool.
After lunch, as we walked out the door and back onto the street, we were greeted by none other than our new friend, Shadow Klan. Since it seemed like fate (or maybe he was stalking us), I asked him how much his CD cost. He told us, "whatever you want to give me, man." I gave him $5. By the look in his eye, this might have been generous. Anyway, I thought we could listen to his CD on the long drive home. Back on the street, we stopped to watch a blind blues guitarist, who sang a song in which the only lyrics were, "the power of God," sung over, and over, and over, and over...then we listened to a street performer who played an ancient saxophone. He was actually quite good. We also watched an artist doing portraits in chalk. We all agreed that he was extremely talented. We entered a couple of the local shops, which were all selling little Greek trinkets. The Greek national soccer team jerseys were the only items which really interested the kids. Finally, as we were walking back to the DPM station, I was stopped by an incredibly skinny, toothless, female crackhead / meth addict who excitedly asked me something like, "BARGLE NAWDEL ZOUUS?" I decided that the cultural diversity lesson was over, and it was probably a good time to leave Detroit.
So, we hopped back on the DPM, got back to the car, and popped in the new Shadow Klan CD. After about 20 seconds of confused silence, the car was filled with the heartiest laughter I have ever heard. Let's just say that while I have no doubt that Shadow Klan works hard at his craft, he is not a favorite among 14 year old boys from the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. He wasn't kidding though, he does rap about "the cosmic universe, evolution, UFO's, and science." Still, you can get an eye-watering laugh from the boys, just by mentioning Track 4 - Monkeys. Nathan was smart enough to do a google search of our new friend, and learned that this rap style is called trip hop...remember the reference to that herbal substance smell?
It was a day we'll not soon forget. However, I will think twice the next time I plan a "cultural experience."
strange, synthesized, organ music plays, while a man gutturally raps the line, "we come from monkeys"...followed by uncontrollable laughter [repeat for 3½ hours or 210 miles, whichever comes first]

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Throwin' my hat into the ring

Today, I did something I rarely do....I got into a political discussion with a co-worker. Many people know that I am somewhat of a cynic when it comes to our elected officials and their motivation for being elected to office. This is especially true for the office of President.

The presidential oath is as follows:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Pretty simple.
Yet, Article II http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Article2 of the constitution shows that the Executive Office is really policed by the people, and offers the ability to impeach for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." It also states that the President's compensation cannot be increased during the term. WHY?

It is my belief that our founding fathers were absolute geniuses, who were certainly guided by divine powers. Because of this, they created a government in which the leader can horribly fail, or at best be completely ineffective, yet the country moves forward with little impact. This is due to the fact that the drafters of the constitution knew that ALL of us are flawed as individuals. Case in point, our country has been led by a few known alcoholics, prescription pain-killer addicts, liars, crooks [or not], and many more than just one philanderer. However, since July 4th, 1776 this has continued to be the greatest country to exist on the earth. WHY? It's because of our people, not due to any one of our leaders. Heck, maybe we thrive in SPITE of our country's leaders! In my opinion, only one man has ever been truly qualified to lead in the manner we'd expect. However, he lived under Roman rule, in Judaea, over 2000 years ago.

Our country has been at it's best when a common cause has been found....like defeating fascism in World War II, or overcoming the Great Depression. Even the immediate moments and days after 9/11 showed our strength as a country...the acts of ordinary citizens, doing extraordinary things, without the direction of our leaders. In contrast, the local, state, and federal agencies reaction to Hurricane Katrina showed what happens when we rely too heavily on our governmental leaders.

Therefore, I am throwing my hat into the ring, and I'm running on the platform that I plan to do nothing but ask for the involvement of the ordinary citizens of this country. Remember, the whole "ask not what your country can do for you" speech? Inspired...so, I'll just embellish it a little bit. Also, I'll promise that I will have little or no effect on whether our economy improves. I will not single-handedly bring peace to the middle east. However, I will ask that we be good to each other.... :)

click the link below: