Today the World Health Organization, (WHO? right. The World Health Organization. oh WHO. I just said…that must go on for hours at their meetings) announced that they were changing the name of the swine flu after the world’s bovine population complained that it was spurring on a mass genocide of pig-slaughtering.  Pigs, they pointed out, do not deserve persecution based on their messy eating habits, general unhygienic tendencies, or because they taste so fucking good roasted over slow flame.  Mistakenly attributing the recent flu epidemic to pigs, again they pointed out, merely exacerbated the already tense climate of anti-bovitic bias that runs rampant through parts of the world and in any upscale urban neighborhood where neo-vegetarians and enviro-friendly communities abound.

WHO rechristend the virus formerly know as swine as: H1N1 Influenza A.  At a press conference, a spokesperson for H1 stated, “Though we sympathize with the pigs, we’re a bit unhappy with this designation.  It doesn’t read well on bumper stickers or t-shirts, and we’re tried to get some good puns or sexual inuendos out of it, but so far have come up empty handed.”  The spokesperson continued, “And if this weren’t bad enough, we were really close to talking with Warner Bros on a Porky Pig celebrity tie-in. Now, the most we can hope for is some lame sponsorship on Sesame Street or a guest shot on Scrabble All-Stars.”

WHO officials stand by their decision to rename what Fox News is calling the deadliest germ outbreak since Pamela Anderson’s thong collection went up for auction.  One representative for the agency who did not wish to be named commented: “Once people started going after the pigs, we knew we had to do something.  I mean, we didn’t want another Iraqi Yellow Fever on our hands.”


Urban Brood

Living in a city is like being in a relationship with a person that your friends “don’t get” who will cheat on you with your sister, steal your identity, and burn a hole in your grandmother’s heirloom dresser while giving you the most amazing, spine busting sex you’ve ever had in your life.   That’s why it’s so hard to break up with a city and even harder to hate on the city that you live in, no matter how many times it lies right to your face or borrows money it will never pay back.  Because much like the same way a relationship leaves its indelible marks or proud scars, cities give us invisible medals, the equivalent of a Girl Scout survival badge, or the veteran’s Purple Heart.  Those in search of the easy prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box, need not apply; Mayberry, Sleepy Hollow, and the state of Montana are waiting for you.

The key to surviving any city is understanding its vibe.  Every city has its own jet stream of energy, burrowing through its grid and tunnels, carving out its own atmospheric Grand Canyon.  D.C. is self-importance cloaked in subterfuge, a cradle of American history, it is thrumming with the engines of progress and corruption.  Chicago is comfortably unrefined; it is the rough around the edges, lovably scruffy college buddy who lets himself in to crash on your couch and cook you breakfast of Perogis and sausage in the morning. L.A. is an asteroid that crashed to earth transplanting its alien species, an invertible revolving door to the biggest sideshow in America outfitted in Armani suits, blue tooth technology, and shackled to trendy travel mugs filled with lattes or vodka.  Take note ladies, L.A. is not the marrying kind. And then there’s Boston.

Boston is my hometown and its vibe may be summed up in two words: pissed. off.  It is the beer drinking, habitually unemployed uncle who stands on the front porch on December Sundays in his boxer shorts and tank top, loudly belching and scratching himself, rooting around in the college fridge for a can of Coors or a bottle of Cobra. Its geography is designed to confuse and divert, laid out from the ruts of seventeenth-century cow paths, and maintained just as frequently:

Ya, aaarrr roads probably won’t get ya ta where ya goin. Some of ’em just end arrr dump ya out in the rivah and ya know what? Fuck you! Thats what ya get fa tawking on yar cell phone er planning yar vacation on the Vineyaaaahd instead of watching where the frick yar goin! Christ!

Its glittering skyline and enticing waterways beckon, come to Boston, stay, drink with us. Drink with us for 5 hours each night because the bars and clubs close by 1 a.m. and the MTA or T stops running at midnight.  The only city in America where your curfew is determined by a thousand year-old train system:

Ya, so what? Arrr bahhhs and clubs close at a decent hour, whats the problem? If you wanted to stay out all night with ya friends and buddies ya should do so the way the good Lawwd intended: with ya 40 onces or 12 pack of Millah gettin shitty in ya friend’s parents’ basement in Mefawwwwd,  savin yar sick for the next day in the bahthroom at I-Hop on route 1. Ya don’t realize how good you even got it; we used ta drink caahhh coolant. We didn’t need no dance club arrr sportz baahh. You know what we did for a sportz bahh? We drank whatever was in our parents’ licka cabinets and shot bee-bees at each other in the back lot, Christ!

That millenial train system, older than Ebola and twice as foul, is like Boston’s built in caller-ID, screening people who aren’t cut out to handle the rest of the town. Just listening to it lumbering down the tracks, screeching like a virgin offered up on the volcano’s edge, stinking of hot funk, barely outpacing the fatted rats running along side its murky tunnels is enough to send those with lesser sack fleeing for Miami or Sante Fe:

Ya, arrr T is frickin OLD, so what? Yar lucky to have somethin to get yar to yer parole hearin, Christ. I mean, in my day we had ricshawwrs. My friends and I used to earn beeah money by pullin the ricshawwrs around from Mauuuldin through Bahhston and ova down ta Glauuuuustah. the snow…with no shoes arr feet even. Yar true stowrry, my friend Dominick Santori was born without feet and his family was poor so he usually just wore Schlitz boxes on his stumps. Yar, I mean, compared to those days, the T is like some frickin limo ride arr some’in. Christ.

Boston is ornery, but people continue to come here and build lives and careers and plant roots in its cranky blocks.  I think people (myself included) respect the kind of city that tells it like it is, that isn’t afraid to say “yes, those pants DO make your ass look fat.”  There is something refreshingly honest and liberating about a place so unapologetic: it’s going to take you out, get you drunk, get you laid, leave you in an alley with your clothes on backwards and a new tattoo on your ass, and call you Friday night to see if you want to go out again. It turns us into crazy co-dependents; sure, we might break up with you one day, but that doesn’t mean we won’t heed your booty call:

The Chahhhhles is dirty, what?! When I was a kid growin up in Bright’in we drank gravel. That’s right. We drank gravel and pissed concrete and were grateful to have a dumpstah to play in, well those families that were ya know, well-off had dumpstahhs, the rest of us had a cahhhd board box that we pinched from some guy’s dumpstah. Those were good times. *Sniff* Frickin good times. Pass me a Millah, would ya? Christ.

The Germans know a thing or two about making a public spectacle, World War II aside.  This fall plans are in place to symbollically recreate the fall of the Berlin wall to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its destruction.  One-thousand Styrofoam dominoes, 8-feet high and 3-feet wide, will topple on the historical day when, twenty years prior, Germans declared their love for Big Macs and the Gap and ripped into the concrete divider to the soaring strains of Herr Hasselhoff.  The dominoes will be decorated in different themes and styles by grade school children, commemorating the fall of communism and the continuation of global warming in the destruction of 1,000 Styrofoam dominoes.

But enviro-terrorism and the luring of the Hoff out of pop music retirement not withstanding, these wacky Germans have unknowingly given us a new and even more satisfying way to shake our collective fists at the inequities and injustices consuming the American financial industry: knocking shit down.  It’s that simple. Sorry mid-western tea baggers, you know who you are: the faithful lemmings of Faux err Fox News, making your wagon-trail way to state capitals to boldly fling (pinkies extended everyone..on three..) your tiny netted bags of defiance, your kind of peaceful assembly is so eighteenth century.  Economically frustrated times call for some package stimulation in the form of knocking shit down!

People went nuts when Saddam Hussein’s concrete body took a dirt dive into the Iraqi sand.  When the rebel army in Star Wars brought those big, tin dinosaur beasts crashing to their knees with the ole cable-foot-tangle-tango, the whole movie theatre lost its collective 1985 shit.  What rube worth his welfare check doesn’t leave his spam sandwich on his tv tray to run out and watch some morons knock over a cow in the middle of the night?

I say, hitch up the trailer and move that dunk tank that you and your buddies lifted from the church carnival last fall in a drunken haze to the capital’s steps, dig a mannequin out of the dumpster and slap a smug-looking Madoff mug shot on it, and invite folks to give Bernie a bath.  Rig up some AIG pinatas and make a Cinqo de Money-o party of it; have the neighbors come over to drink margaritas,take a swing, and indulge in some public lewd behavior.  Build a bowling lane on the sidewalks of Wall St. and each day roll a different corporate giant’s ball at some pins painted in little pin-striped suits with pink slips wrapped around their necks.  Doesn’t that feel good? Doesn’t neandrathalic superiority make you want to scratch yourself and jump around like the chimps at the beginning of Kubrick’s 2001?

You won’t get your money or your job back, but it sure will give you a reason to smile; and if you do this right, you just might get Hasselhoff to come out of retirement.

A devilishly smart chimp at a Swedish zoo named Santino was caught flinging rocks at visitors that he had carefully collected and horded for his arsenal.  This is certainly a step up from the banal dung-flinging that goes on in American zoos, proving once again that even European zoo-chimps are out pacing us.  What’s next? A perfect score on the SATs?  Zoo personnel had followed the 31-year-old chimp’s increasingly sophisticated behavior for the past ten years, raising the question: If this chimp was 31 years old what was he doing still living at home? He should be out earning a living! That arm along with his penchant for scratching, spitting, and exposing himself could have gotten him a choice position with the New York Yankees.

Mathias Osvath, a PhD student studying the chimp’s behavior, stated that his findings remain inconclusive as to what might have provoked the chimp to act out.  “It is extremely frustrating for him that there are people out of his reach who are pointing at him and laughing,” Osvath said. “It cannot be good to be so furious all the time.”  Osvath will continue to look for answers, traveling to Texas to observe former President Bush, also known for retaliating against those pointing and laughing at him by throwing short range missiles.

Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, a former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, never let’s ’em see him sweat and never leaves home without his iPhone. According to the AP, “Zaeef, who reconciled with the Afghan government after being released from U.S. custody, says he uses his iPhone to surf the Internet and find difficult locations, employing the built-in GPS. He even checks his bank account balance online.”  Difficult locations, you say there Zaeefy, as in the mountainous region between the Pakistan/Afghanistan border? Hmmmm? To be fair, the article goes on to describe how young Afghans are steadily embracing technology, even noting how one of the malls in the Afghan capital features a store stocked with Playstations, iPods, and Flat-screen T.V.s, giving thousands of Americans incentive to start waiting in line at someone else’s crappy store for deals on cheap technology a mere 250 shopping days before Christmas.

But in regards to our cheerful technophyte, Zaeefy, I can’t decide if this is a public relations boon or nightmare for Steve Jobs and Apple.  Maybe they are somewhere deep in the inner sanctum of Apple headquarters figuring out how to spin this:

“I’m a PC”
“I’m a Mac”

“And I am a new American loving reformed terrorist who enjoys freedom! The freedom to make hotel reservation, bid on Jonas Brothers tickets on ebay, and get the weather forecast for Kabul all from the comforts of my new government issued housing thanks to you America Steve Jobs and iPhone!  My iPhone even allows me to ichat with the nice agents watching my every move!”

Zaeefy could be for technology and the iPhone what Yakov Smirnov was to the Cold War in the 1980s, you know, but with more facial hair.

Apparently one man’s familiar java watering hole is another man’s biscotti-soaked peep show.  CNN published a story today about the aptly named Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in the sleepy, morally loose town of Vassalboro Maine, and if you know anything about Maine, with its colorful and salty folk, this story is not surprising in the least.  The cafe’s proprietor, Donald Crabtree, began the business in a moment of entrepreneurial zeitgeist during these tough, economic times, which ironically coincided with his mother refusing to do his laundry anymore.  Despite initial opposition, business (along with employee’s clothing) has taken off; Crabtree remarked “I know what people want,” he said. “People like nudity, and coffee is profitable.” Yes, Mr. Crabtree, but what people DON’T like is having their nipples scorched and chest hair singed from the steaming latte and espresso jets, not to mention having to “shoo” away those lactating mothers from those “non-dairy” containers behind the counter.

Now, for those of you who might find this tasteless, sexist, or offensive to the pimple-faced baristas at Starbucks denied the chance to increase their nominal chances of getting laid by having to appear in a regulation shirt and apron,  Mr. Crabtree makes a point of noting that he hired “everyone from skinny to big-boned” women, proving that he is an equal ogle-tunity employer.  Though the shop has only been open for about a week, Mr. Crabtree (if that is his real name) reports brisk business with repeat costumers, like his dad, his old high school gym coach, his minister, and his recently “outed” ex-girlfriend.

Still, you have to give credit where credit is due in these uncertain times to a java genius.  So Mr. Crabtree, I give you a tip of the tip for your caffeindish endeavor!

I’ve decided that it’s much more entertaining and informative to watch the political and news pundits try and out-do each other with their space age sets, technologically stupefying graphics, and talking-head-love fest while they froth at the mouth dissecting an event that has not even started.  In our current climate of media saturation coverage is king, it is the spectacle usurping the main event, and I find it preversly delicious. Then again, I’ve also been snookered into watching THREE seasons of VH1’s Rock of Love, so that gives you an idea of where my tastes and proclivities lie.

Though I’m drawn to Fox news for its salacious voice-overs: “A cat, a Shrewsbury woman, and homophobic slurs, the full story at 11,” I think my heart belongs to Herr Blitzer or Wolfy as I like to call him.  Oh Wolfy. I never get tired listening to you drone that one-note samba of political jargon, your words running together in perfect, deadening cadence that would make any robot weep electronic tears of envy: “You’rejoingingusinthesituationroomwithCampbellBrownliveonthedeckoftheUSSNimrod.” *Sniff* Never was journalistic stoicism or the exsanguination of a personality so beautiful.  I appreciate Wolfy’s commitment to and love for politics and how down-right giddy he gets talking about a press conference, a breaking scandal involving a senator and the call girl du jour, or any one of the 987,000 days that lead up this year’s election. Wolfy is in his element when he is in the aptly, militaristically named “Situation Room,” because he IS the situation. He is creating a moment that radiates with excitement or maybe that’s the ambient light of the studio’s glittering blue and red consoles and animated back drops that makes the “Situation Room” and everything in it awash with delicious tension.

Wolfy plays it cool though; he’s not distracted by the interactive maps and charts; he’s not deterred by CNN’s holograms, beaming in personalities and consultants and other cultural icons to the very epicenter of “The Situation Room” to go virtual toe to toe with Wolfy, challenging his territory. No. There’s a reason why the main consol in “The Situation Room” resembles the size of the deck on the U.S.S. Enterprise; it’s Wolfy’s to command, it’s his locus of broadcast power, it’s both his Andy Richter and his Ed McMahon.  Oh sure, he’d like us to think that his  jovial mono-syllabic joshing with Campbell Brown or Anderson Cooper is the same kind of innocent foreplay indulged in by clueless teens and new divorcees.  But we aren’t fooled; we know that with each cut-away, with each check of the Pixar-animated interactive bar graph Wolfy is a seething, political lothario, teetering on the brink of blowing his entire journalistic wad.  In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to tune in one day and find him standing on that massive consol, shirtless, in black leather pants, waving a bottle of Jack Daniels shouting “I’m the Lizard King! I can do anything! Anderson CooperreportingfromDarfurAnderson…” Now, THAT’S a situation I could get behind.