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Chasing The American Dream

June 23, 2008


photo courtesty of NY Times

I’ll admit. I had to look it up. When I googled George Carlin’s death, the word was practically in every headline. Irreverent. Definition? “Critical of what is generally accepted or respected; satirical.” And indeed, that’s what George Carlin was all about. I was probably 10 or so when I first heard the seven dirty words routine. And as every little kid can attest, curse words are funny. That was my intro to GC. As I got older, my perception of GC was an angry hippie, trendy, and a guy who got laughs from being dirty. I didn’t like him. But that all changed when I saw one of his 14 HBO comedy specials. I laughed hard that night. He was still dirty, but he was genuinely funny, observant, and intelligent. Whether he talked about politics, religion, football, baseball, or just plain stuff, his comedy was truly brilliant. I’m sure he’d always been, but I’d never given him a chance. From that day on, I was a big fan. Whether he had a comedy special or just an appearance on a talk show, I made it a point to watch him. He was one of the few who could really make me laugh. The world needs laughter, and it’s sad we just lost a big source of it. I think Robin Williams said it best, “I’m gonna miss that mother f***er.”


June 20, 2008


I wasn’t there to hear the news this time, but it doesn’t make it any easier to hear it. My mom has cancer. Breast cancer to be specific. She told me bluntly on Thursday. She’d known for two days and needed those days to compose herself. She’s typically emotional but you never would have guessed if you heard our phone call. She sounded remarkably composed and ready to fight. I’m proud of her for that. It’s news you never want to hear and news you’re never quite prepared for. I was with my dad when he got the news. Lung cancer. Six months to live. And indeed it was exactly six months. Those of you who still have both parents around, take note. You’re lucky. When they go, part of you goes with them. And your life will truly be forever different. I hope to have my mom around for many years to come. Her surgery is next week and we should have a better idea of her prognosis. We are all upbeat and positive. I’m glad she knows she has my support. We’ve had our differences, but we’re really close now. Man, that’s what it’s all about.


June 14, 2008


photo courtesy of Reuters

At the time of the 2000 presidential election, I was living in no man's land. Coudersport, Pennsylvania. Population, a robust 2650. I'm sure most of us remember that riveting election night where the results boilded down to my home state of Florida. Before the night began, Tim Russert called it. He told Tom Brokaw the focal point of the night would be Florida, Florida, Florida. He was right as he often was. His basic common-man explanation of the confusing election returns was captured on his low legendary white board. I'm glad I chose to watch NBC and Tim that night. Perhaps I was biased having lived in his hometown of Buffalo, NY for three years. But he broadcasted with no fluff, and told it like it was.

I've been a fan since and the news of his death left me shocked and saddened. I really looked forward to watching Tim during this year's highly anticipated presidential election. Like millions of other Americans, I will miss him.


June 10, 2008


In my previous post, a brave anonymous reader left the following comment, “You are a freak and a weirdo. Same story over and over. It may be time to accept the fact that its you and not them.”

So for this post, I’ll let you be the judge. Here’s the background. I went out of town to meet her for the first time. We seemed to hit it off. There was a definite physical connection and because of that, I can no longer say that the number of women I’ve been with I can name on one hand. Yet on my last night, she told me I wasn’t what she expected but that maybe I’d grow on her. Ugh. That was it for me. I didn’t want to have to grow on her or anyone. I was mentally done. Another case of ‘just friends.’

After she came back home to South Florida, we hung out quite a bit. Yet she ran extremely hot or extremely cold. She was hot when we were together but then felt guilty about being with me due to her religious beliefs and the fact that she was vegan and I wasn’t. She’d insult me one minute then love me the next. I tried to remain forgiving but eventually it was too much for me. I don't need negative people in my life. This was our final email conversation. So I pose the question to you all. Is it me or is it them?

FRIEND: todd, i am sorry to say this to you but you are one of the least intelligent man i have ever known. now you must face this every day and get yourself in emotional drama, for what? i am glad that i am over you, way over. i can't stand your emotional reason, no logic, no nothing and based only on your mind. When i go out with you, i often thought this guy who purchased tons of make up stuffs to send to someone who did not give him even a kiss, spent in ordinate amount of money for an air head just so that she could stay for a week, wined and dined someone so that at the end she married someone else, and here someone who loves him, made love to him and be there almost every step of the way, yet he could not spare 25 bucks to get her a ring. i can never forget that. no, not that i am poor or anything but that day marked something in me that i finally understand. and that is, men love to chase and often forgot the gold already in his possession. I don't care who you will meet, you never find a second person like myself, never in a million year. i am in love with charlie -- and i am saying this to help you open your eyes and see things clearly for a chance. we will never be back to where we were -- not that you care – thanks. God that now I also don't care.

ME: Who's fucked up? Me or the woman who loves me one minute and hates me the next? The one who asks me to the beach and kisses last week but tells me she loves someone else this next week. The one who is constantly on again off again? You have made it clear enough how little you respect me or like me or whatever. I get it now so please do not email me anymore. And one more thing. I TRIED to pay for your ring but they didn't take American Express. I've been called many things but never cheap. I would have paid for it if I could have.

FRIEND: Love comes very suddenly ... and I do love you as a friend. we will always love each other as friend and still have the 'hot' for each other I think. I did not know about the american express and I am sorry but that event made me felt like shit for a very long time. I am here as your friend and I won't go any where, sorry.

ME: You said, "we will always love each other as friend and still have the 'hot' for each other I think." How can you possibly think that after just telling me, "you are one of the least intelligent man i have ever known. i am glad that i am over you, way over. i can't stand your emotional reason, no logic, no nothing and based only on your mind." Not to mention all the crap you said about what I spent my money on. OK. I didn't buy you that ring. I already told you it was because they didn't take my credit card. So that pissed you off and you never told me about it. Think about this before I go away. Did you ever ask yourself did you ever pay a penny for anything while you were with me? I think I pretty much paid for everything. I can't love someone who continues to insult me and my intelligence or lack of intelligence as you believe. I mean it. Please do not write me again. Friendship is over.

FRIEND: we have been through alot and all friends quarrel. i often speak before i think and this is something i must work on but throwing a great friendship over words is silly. after all i stick by you regardless of whom you love or don't love. that should speak plenty what kind of friend i really am to you. any way, in my heart you are my friend regardless what you say that i am not.

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June 08, 2008


Our post-Moose Party was at a small pizza bistro. The question was asked. I went last. Her friend said she wanted a house in Germany. Next. She wanted to be able to swim, dive, and snorkel and not have to work. Next. I knew what I wanted; I just didn’t know how to phrase it properly. Once I said it, I couldn’t take it back. So I sat for a minute thinking. I knew I could think of something else I wanted and just avoid it all-together. But that’s not me. I understood the consequences and readied myself for the predicted letdown. I looked at her friend and said, “I want to get to know her better.” And that was the truth. That’s all I really wanted. It wasn’t meant to be a typical male smart-ass sexual remark. We’d been hanging out for the past month or so and having a great time doing a lot of fun stuff. It was easy. It seemed natural. I wanted to continue and build our friendship.

But the look on her face said it all. She didn’t have to say anything and as much as I tried to hide it, I’m sure my face expressed my disappointment. Sure there were complications and I’m a swell and funny guy, but as I’ve previously said, it boils down to pulchritude. It wasn’t there for her. I wasn’t her type. No huge surprise for me. I mentioned the subtle clues. Clues I’d second guess and wonder about because often times, from my misguided point-of-view, there seemed to be a connection. But I’ve been here before. Déjà vu. Smart, funny, classy, cultural, and attractive. The whole package. Or so I thought. The big difference this time around though was that she was actually available which wasn’t the case with my previous failures.

I think having gone thru this for the 4th time in four years, I have now realized that women in their early 30s won't likely be physically attracted to me. Although 46 is just a number, and no matter how I might think I don’t look, feel, or act 46, there are a lot of perceptions younger women have about that age. And it's not like I seek out women in their 30s. I don’t. Of the last four women I’ve dated, three have been with women in their 40s and one was 50. But I just seem to bump into these early 30s situations. And when I do, I end up with a one-sided connection. So what I've finally gotten through my thick skull is that I have to dismiss any hopes of a relationship (short-term, long-term, or otherwise) with these younger women. But that’s OK because it's reality. And I do think there is a big maturity difference if I look at things objectively.

We’re still gonna be friends. After all, that’s my specialty, isn’t it? The good friend. But I think I’m handling it well. I’ve made a lot of progress from four years ago. I don’t cry anymore. And I didn’t drag out the suspense for a year. Only a month this time. Nice progress, Plantation. But I gotta get better about this hope thing. I have too much of it. It interferes with said reality. And I do get this pit in the stomach feeling as if someone had sucker punched me there and had stolen my adrenaline. I feel it when I run and when I work out. That little motivation is missing. No wind in the sails. But that’s probably typical of anyone who gets rejected. And to think, I had one of the best days I’ve had in a long, long time recently. It took the usual 2-->5 days to clear my head. Plenty of restless nights where the mind didn’t want to stop thinking. I was the King of Pain again walking the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, but I’m back to normal now. Standing me up for the concert cleared my head in a hurry.

You wanna know who I discussed this with? My soon-to-be 12 year-old son. He’s gone through girlfriend #1 and he’s already on the prowl for #2. He likes someone and he asked me if he should ask her out? I’m proud of him. He already knows my standard answer. Always ask, the worst thing she could say is no. And then I relayed this little story to him. He was sad for me and knows I had to take time to get over the disappointment and move on. He knows because I told him it’s what we must do. Apparently he did that pretty well with #1. I guess the chase continues for both of us.

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June 04, 2008


I hadn’t seen a concert in 14 months, and Nada Surf has been on my hit list so I was thrilled to see they were finally coming to Miami. I’ve only been a fan for a year but the band, lead singer/guitarist Matthew Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca, and drummer Ira Elliot have been performing for over 12 years now. According to Elliott, the band wanted its name to be somewhat generic that wouldn’t give away what the band sounded like. The original name was just “Nada,” but another band had the same name so it just became Nada Surf. Elliott now describes the band meaning as, “Surfing on nothing or dealing with whatever you have and making the best of it.”

The night did not get off to a rousing start. First, my “date” canceled at the last minute. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I think this is the fourth time I’ve had to unexpectedly attend a concert unaccompanied. But I did my usual. I gave the extra ticket away to an unsuspecting couple standing next to me in line. The guy asked me how much I wanted for it, but I told him to take it and enjoy the concert. The look of amazement giving way to a smile made my day. He was extremely appreciative which was more than I could say for said person who left me hanging. Then I had to wait an extra hour in line in the heat and humidity. Apparently there was an issue with the sound check.

Once I finally got in the door, I checked out the new venue, Studio A. It was small, dark, cozy, and soon-to-be-filled with smoke. The stage was small and there were sitting areas on both sides of the stage. The venue was filled with kids half my age; an environment I'm still having to get used to. Another 45 minutes passed before the opening band, The Republic Tigers hit the stage. I had seen them on the Letterman show and their single, "Buildings and Mountains" sounded really nice. Thank goodness for that song because it was the only one I liked out of the entire set. I couldn’t clearly hear whatever was coming out of lead singer Kenn Jankowski’s mouth. The music seemed distorted to me. Not my cup of tea for sure. Finally, around 10:30, the boys from Brooklyn, NY hit the stage.

Matthew Caws does not look like your typical rock and roll star. First of all, he’s 41. Wearing jeans and a button down shirt, he reminds me of John Fogerty of CCR. One could argue that he even sings like John. His vocals are fierce and revved up as demonstrated on the opening song, “Hi-Speed Soul,” yet he can hit some really high registers as he demonstrated singing my personal favorite of the night "Weightless." Caws clearly dominated the stage during the impressive 90 minute set often engaging the crowd and encouraging their participation. The band played easily 20 songs including a good portion from their new CD, Lucky. Their indie style is very likeable. I’d describe them as a more energetic Death Cab For Cutie. Caws mentioned during the show that the band hadn’t visited Florida for, “A really, really long time.” Something like five years, I think he said. Well, here’s hoping that they find a way to surf their way back here a lot sooner than that.

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