Friday, July 31, 2009

Time to Take Out Some Trash

Ramblings and rants that have been bouncing around my brain lately:

1. As an employee of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our state reps and senators for doing an amazing job in Harrisburg. Truly.

By sticking to your convictions that it's better to be a good republican or a good democrat over all else, you've guaranteed that I won't be getting a paycheck for the foreseeable future. God forbid you actually work for the citizens of this fine Commonwealth instead of working to protect the little letter after your name.

You are all a bunch of complete assholes.

2. Wawa, I sing your virtues on a near-daily basis. I enjoy your coffee and the ease with which you allow me to purchase items quickly. I take baths in your buffalo blue cheese sauce.

So why you playing me like a fool? Extending Hoagiefest until August 9th?? Making sure both versions of the hoagiefest songs stick in my brain for another week?? How could you????

3. I think we need a better definition of racial profiling. Police officers responding to a call of an attempted break-in are not racially profiling anybody if they pull up and find a black guy inside a house which he entered through a window after not being able to open the door, EVEN IF THE BLACK GUY LIVES THERE! Police officers stopping a young black man who stands about 6 feet tall, weighs about 200 pounds, wearing blue running pants with a yellow stripe and a grey t-shirt an is doing nothing other than jogging at 11 pm are not racially profiling anyone IF THEY RECEIVED A DESCRIPTION OF A RAPE SUSPECT WHO WAS A YOUNG BLACK MAN WEARING RUNNING PANTS AND A GREY T-SHIRT AND IS 6 FEET TALL AND WEIGHS 200 LBS!

(The second one actually happened to a friend of mine in college. He never claimed racial profiling, but many of our friends did. He's a cop now.)

I worked in law enforcement for many years going back to my college days and I work in law enforcement now. Racial profiling DOES happen. There are bad cops and DA's and judges out there who jam people up for being black or Hispanic. BUT, what everyone calls racial profiling is usually not. The examples above are not profiling and the media needs to stop calling them profiling.

The police are given the task to respond to problems that we cannot deal with as regular citizens for, mostly, safety reasons. The Cambridge police receive a call of a possible break-in and the person in the house happens to be black and live there? How is that racial profiling? And taking it a step further, if you mouth off to a cop you are getting arrested. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, whatever. That's a fact.

Had the Cambridge police been driving by and saw a black guy sitting on the porch and they stopped and bothered him, we could all cry racial profiling.

This very same thing happened in my own family. A relative was having a house built and decided to go poke around the construction site on a weekend. A neighbor saw a car parked in front of a house site and a guy poking around in all the stuff there and called the police to report a possible theft of construction supplies and equipment. The police rolled up and demanded to see my relative's ID and demanded to know what he was doing there.

Did I mention that we are white?

The police were doing their job. It doesn't matter what color any one is in that situation, the police have a job to do. Just because the perpetrator or the guy breaking into his own house is a minority does not make a situation one of racial profiling.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The XPoNential Music Festival: A Brief Review

One of the highlights of the last few summers had been spending three or four days at the XPoNential fest at Wiggin's Park on the Camden Waterfront. This weekend concert event is the annual festival put on by 88.5 WXPN here in Philly.

This year, thanks to the arrival of our first little one in March, I had planned to miss the whole thing entirely.

When I saw Saturday's schedule however, I quickly changed my mind and made plans to attend at least that day.

I was rewarded by seeing three of my favorite bands back-to-back-to-back along with several others who were highly entertaining as well.

Starting at around 8:00 p.m., They Might Be Giants took the main stage. I was sitting near the top of the hill on the right side (facing it) of the stage, near the brick path in the middle of the park and from that vantage point looking down on the hill it looked like a prairie dog city when They took the stage. From just about every group little heads popped up when John and John came out and launched into Alphabet of Nations and all of those little heads kept dancing through Seven and then the adult stuff as well. One little guy near me didn't stop until the encore of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" and did one of the best dances I've seen to "Dr. Worm." Even though I've seen TMBG 6 or 7 times live it never gets boring, though this was the first time they were called "The Toby Keith Experience," in homage to Mr. Keith's appearance across the marina.

After They, Hoots and Hellmouth blew away the crowd at the marina stage with a rousing set of stuff from their first CD and their newest, The Holy Open Secret. I had seen Hoots last year (?) at the Festival as they opened the main stage one of the days and they sounded great but seemed a little ragged. This time? Absolutely nailed it. The band was tighter and sounded fantastic.

After Hoots, it was time to get back over to the main stage for The Hold Steady. Having never seen them live, I wasn't entirely prepared for Craig Finn's on stage mannerisms. For a guy that sounds a little like Springsteen and has the vocal chops to command every single song, it was a little bizarre to see a guy that makes Devo look like James Brown clones on stage. But The Hold Steady rocked my face clear off of my skull...until the skies opened and they were chased from the stage. I did finally get to hear live versions of some of my favorites (Chips Ahoy, Stuck Between Stations, Massive Nights, Lord I'm Discouraged, Southtown Girls and One For The Cutters) but I feel like I got gypped out of so much more. I was really hoping for Two Crosses, Citrus, Slapped Actress and, of course, Constructive Summer. I really wanted to make that a sing-along song and belt out "GET HAMMERED" with the band. If only the weather had held out...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why They Invented the Internet #1

Welcome to the first in what I hope will become a regular feature here at Friendly Friends Mortuary and Catering.

Every so often, while cruising the information superhighway, I come across something that makes me say, "This, this right here, is why they invented the Internet. So that someday in the future a guy like me can be cruising around and run across THIS."

Today's entry is the video for The Avalanches' Frontier Psychiatrist.

This entry also presents some interesting synchronicity. As some of you are aware, I wake up most mornings with a song or a portion of a song playing on repeat in my brain. A couple of mornings ago it was the stupid WaWa hoagiefest song and it wasn't until I got to work and had my coffee that it finally faded.

The annoying thing about this soundtrack in my brain is that it is very, very insistent until I can finally shut it out. To the point where I sometimes have to sing whatever is stuck on a loop while in the shower.

This past Tuesday morning I woke up with one tiny fragment of Frontier Psychiatrist playing over and over in my head. It happened to be the part that I've always heard as "Framakazoot, let's have a toot" but could be something else entirely. Then on Wednesday I happened to cruise on past one of my favorite websites for pure random awesomeness, the Percy Tout hour and lo and behold there is the video for this song in all its living glory.

I hadn't heard this song since probably around 2001 but I woke up with it playing in my head and a day later I find the video with very little effort on my part. Honestly, I never even thought about a possible video for this song, which as it sounds like a collection of samples doesn't lend itself to a video.

But, man, it's awesome:

So there you have it. Why they invented the Internet.

Barth Goes to The Greasy Spoon In The Sky

I know what you're thinking. No update for nearly a month and then when we return it's another post about death.

We here at Friendly Friends Amalgamated Manufacturing and Refining Company, Inc. are usually pretty happy fellows. None of us really dwell too much on death and dying.

But when it's a small piece of your childhood that has died you feel compelled to comment on it. And that's what happened when Les Lye passed away on Tuesday.

Mr. Lye played all of the adult male characters on my favorite show as a kid, You Can't Do That on Television. I raced home most days from Erdenheim Elementary to catch this show on Nickelodeon.

The opening, very Monty Python-esque, features Mr. Lye prominently:

Here's my favorite Mr. Lye character, and the inspiration for the title of this post, beating up on his poor employee, Zilch:

Barth takes care of the health inspector, leading to two of the greatest catchphrases from the show:

And finally, Mr. Lye as Ross Ewitch the stage manager being subjected to green slime. As a kid I wanted to get slimed so badly:

It must say something about me that while watching these clips I still laughed like I did when I was 7 or 8, but I did.

Thanks Mr. Lye and RIP.