Thursday, November 27, 2008

F The Dodgers

I hate the Dodgers.  I will still go to their games.  I will still root for them against the swill of the NL.  I will still give them money.  Lots of money.  For parking.  Fuck Frank McCourt and Jamie McCourt and all the B.S. they pump out to the people of Los Angeles.  Is there really a choice between signing Manny Ramirez and building a bunch of baseball parks for kids?  I'm not the only bozo out here that sees that for what it is, am I?  It's ok if you don't want to pay Manny but come out with another justification.  I have never run a large organization but I am pretty sure I understand how segmented budgeting works.  You shouldn't be drawing funds for those two things from the same pool.  But you know what else you shouldn't do?  Ignore customer service requests from disabled fans consistently and protractedly.  Sorry for the clumsy segue but I need to put this up somewhere and the Dodgers don't give a fuck.

My girlfriend's life story is a ridiculous readymade for TV type of story involving bad doctors, a life-threatening mystery illness, a coma, long-term paralysis and the magical moment where she learned to walk in spite of what the doctors were saying.  She has problems walking and she has a big, goofy St. Bernard to act as a balance/stability dog.  When we decided to go to a Dodgers game we understood that there could be problems with seating because we would be there with a giant fucking dog.  That seems logical.  Stadiums aren't built for giant dogs.  They aren't even really built for giant people.  They're built for average-sized people from the '60s.

The morning of the game, before we'd completed our ticket purchase, I called the Dodgers ticket line to ask if there were certain sections we could sit in with the giant fucking dog.  The first person I asked didn't know so she transferred me to stadium security.  Fair enough, she doesn't know but the next person will.  Easy!  The next person who answered the phone didn't even explain he was transferring me.  He just mumbled "hlll don" and then I was on hold again.  Then another young lady came on and was stumped.  Then I was hold again.  Then somebody else told me that the ticket office would have to help out and he put me on hold before I could blurt out "No they can't!", which I did to more hold music.  Then the same girl who was stumped came on and finally just said (cheerfully, I should note) "Well, if you can't sit in (the fat-ass) section with the dog we can just move your seats.  It shouldn't be a problem!"  This quick and easy process took about an hour.  Which actually ended up being the easiest part of the day.  We bought our seats to the fatass section for $40 apiece and were off.

When we got to the Dodgers gigantic clusterfuck of the most over-priced parking in L.A. we asked the girl in the booth about handicapped parking.  She just kind of waved us on to say "You're holding up traffic."  We're jackasses for not just staying home and suing the team for the time I spent on the phone and are completely insane for thinking we were going to have a good time even up until this point.  If you've never been to Dodgers stadium there are rent-a-cops all over the place to check the parking ticket and tell you whether or not you are in the right lot.  None of them, from my experience, is entirely sure where the handicapped parking is or whether or not it's available.  One guy gave us instructions in the wrong direction and another one said "I think it's all full."  Great.  So we found parking but we hadn't factored in the part where we had to go pick up our tickets at will-call.  And we had to go find the little ticket kiosks to do that.  Fine for me, not so great for the girlfriend with the lack of cartilage in her knees and the problems walking.  Still, this seemed like poor planning on our part more than the stadiums, so we didn't get too pissed off.  We did walk past A LOT of handicapped parking spots that we could have known about if the little rent-a-cops were better informed but let's keep going, shall we?

We picked up the tickets with no incident, figured out where we're supposed to enter the stadium (I've been coming here for ten years and can never remember where the hell I'm going) and got up to the front of the security line.  And this is where the story gets stupid.  One of the cops there told us "You can't bring that dog in here."  I wish I'd gotten this guy's name because I believe that's actually illegal for him to say about a service dog in a vest and harness.  And then he walked off.  Another cop angrily explained to us that there wasn't space in the section for the dog to sit down.  The lady cop sitting at the little folding table listened to our explanation that we'd called ahead and were told that we'd just be moved to another section and asked us to step aside so the line could move forward.  Then she went on break.  The next lady cop (I guess that's the job for lady cops - sit at the folding table?) eyed us in a way that could be called wearily.  It's hot in Los Angeles in September and my girlfriend's illness is exacerbated by heat and sunlight.  We were not offered a seat, or water, or shade, or water for the dog.  And, I'm not joking or lying to say that the people in line right behind us were a family with a little girl in a wheelchair.  From looking at the girl I would guess she had ALS or something similar.  They were getting the same treatment as us.  They were sitting in the sun for 45 minutes waiting for some kid out of customer service to make his way down to us.  I have to point out that we had, all of us, paid for the fatass seats.  The all you can eat pavillion (yep, that's what it's called) sets.  And the giveaway for the game was bottled water.  But nobody offered us anything to eat or drink this whole time.  We were at the front of the security line in front of the right field line to hear the National Anthem for nearly an hour, baking in the sun with nobody offering help or even attention until the customer service kid came up to us to lead us to our seat.  He was a nice kid but isn't great with directions.  Over the next hour he lead our procession from downstairs in front of the right field line all the way around the stadium, up an elevator, to the handicapped seats at the very end of the stadium along the right field line.  Then he left to find folding chairs we could use.  A security guard nearby saw us and brought out some folding chairs to use before he showed up again 10 minutes later.  We had paid for all-you-can-eat and goddammit that's all that could make this worthwhile by now.  We sat down finally in the fifth inning.  It took five fucking innings for the Dodgers to find us seats.  Just like the customer service phone "helpers" said it would be - easy!  Now we were told to sit and wait for the guy to bring us some wristbands so we could get our all-you-can-eat from the hot dog stand right next to us.  It took another 15-20 minutes for him to show up.  It was the 6th inning when I finally got to order some food.  I had it in my mind I was going to make this worthwhile.  I was going to stage my own hot dog eating contest before leaving.  And then I got to the front of the line and was told we would have a special helper who would come to our seats and take care of us like a waiter.  Ramon was our guy, we didn't have to and weren't allowed to wait in line for food.  We just had to track Ramon down.

That's all fine and well.  We got our 4 hot dogs, 3 bottles of water, Coca-Cola and 2 nachos to make up for lost time and devoured the whole lot.  I can put away food like a garbage dump.  I'm not THAT fat (6'2, 205#) but I am still a bottomless pit.  By the end of the seventh (maybe an hour late) I wanted more garbage and my girlfriend wanted more water.  She wanted to stand and so she went searching for the guy.  She stood through an entire half inning waiting right next to the guy we'd just walked around the stadium with.  I told her to sit down and walked up to the guy at the counter.  I wanted him to call for Ramon again.  He did and was informed Ramon had left for the day.  What the fuck?  You work for a baseball team.  Baseball games last like 3 hours.  Your work day is about 4 hours and you had to take off early?  How do you pay rent or eat?  The guy at the counter finally just filled our orders.

We left before the end of the game.  We registered separate complaints by phone and by email.  We never received a response.  My girlfriend has complained several times now, has spoken at great length with customer service staff for the Dodgers, and the farthest that's gone is they asked for a copy of the tickets.  Haven't heard back from the club of their own accord, haven't been refunded any part of the $100 we spent on parking and tickets to watch about 3 innings from a spot in the stadium where you can't see the field, haven't been offered any free seats, free gear, anything.  Fuck the Dodgers.  Fuck the McCourts.  It appears my girlfriend will have to sue you to get your attention.

So why do I think of this now, two plus months since this happened?  I saw a crawl on the bottom of the screen while watching Georgetown suck against Wichita State saying the Dodgers are considering signing Andy Petitte.  He was great when he was 27 and had the best team in baseball history surrounding him.  He's now old, expensive and fragile.  He'll team up great with Jason Schmidt next year.  And I read the LA Times article where the McCourts were trying to decide if they should build some youth baseball fields or sign Manny Ramirez.  Are the McCourts really so shitty at business that they are drawing the money for those two things from the same budget?  Maybe if you are going to save money on Ramirez you could also spend a little to fix your bungling, bumbling, heartless staff of jackasses that work at your stadium.  I am not a lawyer and, for myself, I was not damaged by your organization's jackassery.  But my girlfriend was in the hospital two days later having surgery on her leg.  And I'm pretty sure that your lack of service and responsiveness should have some monetary ramifications for you.  There is no excuse for anything I ever see from the McCourts and I hope they lose everything in this world.  They even made me empathize with Bill Plaschke.  Which is not easy.  I hate that I will still go to Dodgers Stadium because I like baseball that much.  Maybe I'm wrong.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Brewers GM Admits Collusion! Nobody Cares, Yankees Still Suck

I admit that I couldn't stomach reading through the whole "ESPN Conversation" (which is still considered beta by ESPN? What are they planning to change before the initial launch? Or is that just a joke that some of their writers make?) about Bob Melvin's comments on the Yankees contract offer to C.C. Sabathia, but if the Yankees now lower their offer to Sabathia, that would be collusion emanating from the team that is "not" owned by the acting commissioner of Major League Baseball. Hasn't MLB had enough problems with collusion in the past? Bob Melvin used to play for the Orioles but he's a dick and a jackass for these comments. If the Brewers are offering $100m over 5 years and the Yankees are offering $140m over 6 years, the difference is about $3.3m per year. Which in the ridiculous world of top-dollar team athlete free agency is hardly enough to go public like this. Just seethe if you lose, Bob. Screw the Yankees but is anybody surprised by this? It is never a surprise when the Yankees sign somebody or rip some team off in a trade for somebody. Look, Nick Swisher might actually be demonstrably good now that he's on them. But what bothers me are the idiots at ESPN and the knuckleheads who get their comments posted on ESPN (I stopped reading ESPN for a while because I couldn't get my comments posted there. I also cancelled my subscription but my count in the circulation numbers is apparently worth more than my $15/year since I still get the magazine 2 years and a different address later) who don't see the downside to what Melvin is saying. What does he know so concretely about the market for C.C. Sabathia to even make that statement? Does he know what other teams were planning to offer? Is that how he arrived at his number? Aside from the idiocy of the numbers (the stress and the higher cost of living in NYC, mixed with the poor results they've had from every F.A. pitcher they've signed in the last 10 years except Mussina, that fucking ingrate bastard, suggests to me that $3.3m/yr might be about what it takes for someone to choose the Yankees over the numbers) it seems a little insidious to me. This has been a terrible post but I want to put up something about collusion because businesses that collude against workers are assholes whoe deserve to be stripped of their holdings.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Come on, it's not that bad! I don't remember anything about Casino Royale and I think I liked that one and this one about the same. The main girl is a terrible actress and doesn't seem that tough (stop crying Secret Service from Bolivia and you've never killed anyone? In this Bond world? Does that make sense? I know Britain has to deal with a lot more internal struggle and violence than... Hmmm) or sexy. Those acne scars on her back through me off. The villain is a bad actor and doesn't live up to his own tough talk. But the movie is fun, Daniel Craig is badass and that opera scene is killer. I read a comment on /film that it was too much like Untouchables but I don't see that. Untouchables best scene was an homage to Potemkin anyway. If you think you might like QoS you probably will. It's pretty cool.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Food Politics

Every weekday for the past 5 years I have awakened and traveled to the vicinity of Compton to sell fish. Aside from the oddity of spending 8 years (ahem!) to get a degree in screenwriting only to turn around and take the first office job I got offered with the idea in the back of my mind that I could at least pay off my student loans (wrong) and go home and write every night (double wrong) while continuing to try and further a career as a writer (intermittently wrong in that I haven't searched much, and terribly wrong in that I haven't made even the slightest bit of headway), I have some moral qualms that build in me about the industry of selling seafood. The future is sustainability but is that enough or even tenable? The past is rape and pillage and the present is just a lot of confusion. I try to eat locally as much as I can, whole foods almost always (admittedly bowing to the desire I feel for coffee and sugar on an almost daily basis), and would love to cut down meat to approximately 5% of my dietary intake. Why 5% meat? Don't know, it just seems like a good goal because then I'm actively seeking more vegetables and fruits, and my own failure rate would probably end up closer to 15-20%. I'm scared of prions but I also feel like disease is inevitable.

Should I stop eating meat entirely? Where would seafood fit into this all? What would replace meat? In a properly working and balanced food chain it would actually be a bad idea to stop eating meat. We eat animals that eat the plants and animals that eat the plants and/or animals and blah blah, etc. We are the top of the food chain and are, believe me, adapted to eating meat. To say that humans can not process meat properly is missing the forest for the trees. Our biology obviates that humans have evolved to eat meat. Consider your mouth, your teeth, your mixture of stomach acids, even the shape and size of your muscles and muscle groupings. We are predatory omnivores. So, in a balanced and mostly "natural" food chain, humans SHOULD be eating meat. If you are unaware or have never considered it beyond grabbing and chewing, we don't live within a balanced food chain. We eat a lot of corn products (bad when hyper-processed) and soy products (almost always bad, so far as I can discern soy is really only beneficial when it is fermented) because they are heavily subsidized and, therefore, cheap to manufacturers who put them in everything. We eat shellac, just like you would put on your walls, a lot. Candy coatings are usually made of shellac. We eat tons of sugar (very dubious health benefits there) and flour (great for you if it's unbleached and whole grain, given that you are not allergic to gluten). As a society we eat a lot of bad- to non-foods.

I am getting unfocused here. Lots of people are vegetarians and they are, on the whole, healthier than the rest of America. Is it because of the lack of meat? Yes and no. Meat should be good for you. But cows should eat grass, not corn. And they should live more actively. So should chickens live more actively. And pigs. And there should be a lot of different animals around. In a vacuum of "progress", Americans should be eating tons of buffalo that runs wild. But we trade dangers as society evolves. Buffalo are not friendly creatures and they make use of lots of land. They are mostly gone. Turkeys are loud and like dense vegetation in parts of the country that are dense with humans. So they are all farmed and bred for docility. And wild pigs are an angry and dangerous bunch. We have built fences that keep animals locked in so that they don't get killed and/or kill us. But disease is more normal in the animals themselves. And in domesticated people, too.

I'm getting tired and don't feel like writing a book that has already been written. I'm not writing an essay here and I don't want to form a conclusion. I want to say that fish conflicts me because I don't see aquaculture as a great thing and I don't think we can pull enough wild seafood from the oceans to satisfy everyone equally around the world. I would suggest eating meat only from Niman Ranch farms or some other principled farmers. There is a Farm Bill working it's way out right now and I would love to have a say in that. But we don't vote on it. Farm lobbyists (Cargill! Monsanto! Archer Daniels Midland!) have a say in it but voters do not. So I am writing an open post here. How the fuck does someone actually get to the point where they can have a say in these things? How do you get into the system of food politics and change said system? I am dying to know.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I've never bothered posting what would be a traditional blog on here. A blog of olden days. A personal screed that just lays out there limply as a confession of what I'm feeling. No one, no one, no one, can get in the way of what I'm feeling, though. Overwhelming depression is what I'm feeling. Am I a hack as a writer? All my life I have thought of myself as a writer. I have a degree as a screenwriter of all things. I am almost 31. Well, in May I will be. It's not that far off. When I got my degree I figured I would dick around for a year, pop out a screenplay, fire it off to some agencies, get some interviews with agents, hire one and be off on the lifetrack to the middle class. I dreamed long and hard about walking out of an office job one day a little bit early to take a meeting at some out-of-my-league dining establishment and go to sleep that night knowing it was my choice as to whether I ever needed to walk in the door of the old office again in my lifetime. It is perhaps a generational affect that I judge my success or failure on my level of celebrity attained. I don't necessarily mean that I should be a household name but I'd always (from age 4-29, at least) that by the time I'd reached 30 years on the planet, I'd have an impressive title that could wow some girls at the bar. Instead I am 30 and can't even begin to pay back the student loans I took out to pay for my second-rate commuter college education, let alone afford to spend the night out carousing and flirting and whatever else (business connections?) it is that all my friends have accomplished in the bars over the years. I sell fish for a living. And I am effectively an intern in a marketing department that might never receive any real oxygen from the higher-ups at a company that wants to grow beyond it's $100-mil a year borders. I live a filthy, seedy, boring, rat-trap existence and I am only maintaining it by smoke and mirrors.

Digression: I decided to write a journal, blog-o-riffic entry tonight because I am wondering if it is time for me to throw in the towel and forget that I ever wanted to be a writer. My dad thought he was a writer up until he got married and had kids (he was a month past 30 on his wedding day) and he lived a more-or-less fulfilling life. I think. I guess. He died before I'd really ever pressed him on the issue. He was a mathematician in practice, in civil service to the Navy, designing ships, and procreating like mad to the tune of 10 kids. I will probably never be as Catholic as my dad. I don't plan on it. I plan against it, in fact. But the question to myself (and on the outside chance that someone reads this, to you, gentle reader) is this: at what point can I cut my losses? I've written screenplays that are apparently terrible. I've read screenplays before. I've read a lot of them spread out over a long time. Even the "great" ones that I have read are dull and lifeless to me. So it is not a sad occasion to say that I can't figure out what makes a good script. It is, however, distressing to me that I can't even write a decent enough query letter to draw some sniffs from agents and the like. I've spent my whole adult life in sales and I started daydreaming of a Nobel in Literature when I was twelve. It would follow reason in my head that I have the background to at least fake it well enough to get some interest. But I have a manuscript to a novel (about 300-pages) drying and cracking on the vine. I have ascript that got a vicious beatdown by an intern at UTA. I have other scripts that are fading away as figments on a hard drive. I've got piles of rejection letters. And I've got a cracked sense of hope. Aren't all the friendly "keep at it"s and "you're really good"s end up meaning less when you can't even get anyone to read what you've written? Ah, nuts. I'm writing myself into a circle here. Who cares? It is beginning to look a lot like a hobby. See you on the streets!

P.S. - anyone know a good place to live that has free rent and a hot tub?