Wednesday, January 28, 2009

PETA Rejected Superbowl Ad

As part of the civil discourse on this blog, I've tried to take the higher road that Waiting For Next Year has provided.  I don't want a blog filled with naked women, partily clothed women, or cheerleader blogs.  My first post had the JA GQ cover, but that's as far as I want to go.  

Now for this post.  NBC, or GE as we should call them thanks to Tina Fey and the NBC tour I went on, (Did you know that the three notes of the NBC theme are GEC for General Electric Co.  If you knew that answer award yourself three dork points) has rejected the PETA commercial for the Super Bowl. 

I know that all over this gluttonous country people will be stuffing their faces with chicken wings, ribs, burgers, and other such fatty foods (I'll probably be going down the Sirachi wings route myself ending my self imposed vegitarianism for the sake of football) so I understand sex being too riske for America.  

We'll probably see numerous commercials for movies where 5,000 people will be killed, or an add for a company that supplies weapons of destruction for the US Army (going back to the 60s I'm not against the soldiers I'm against the war) will showcase a spot.  

Thank god for NBC and the FCC for saving my eyes from beautiful woman playing with vegitables.  Think of the calories in that commerical compared to that Doritos commercial and then look over at your overweight kid.  The banned commercial's link is below.

Peace Out.

My Writing

So far, I’ve had two people supply comments on my short story.  That’s great, both have been positive.  The one comment that came through a third party got me to think.  The person said that the story had a good narrative but some ideas in the story were out there.  

This is good because I’ve again, never had a formal writing class for fiction writing except for the comments on my Epic Poem and my Lyric Poetry for my classical civilizations course.

So for this post, one because I’m bored, being a shut in with the feet of snow piling up around me.  More and more Cleveland is matching the picture I have in my head of what nineteenth century Finland must have looked like.  Also, the winter snow is finally reminding me of the snow storms of my youth growing up in the “Snow Belt.” 

Now to the blog. 

Who are the writers that inspire me, and what are the books that I’ve used for guidance to this point.  I’ve been writing or at least working on my novel for seven years.  It was my Senior year of college that I realized I wanted to become a writer and when I first seriously started to write a cognizant story.  My first short story, that I’ve still yet to finish, or have shown anyone was about the MTV invasion at Bowling Green.  We had someone who was a BG townie, remember she was not a student of the college, that appeared on MTV’s the Real World, Road Rules, and other “reality” shows.  She was also a Playboy centerfold, and while at BGSU, we were starting to regain our stupid top party school in America Playboy ranking.  That’s right sometime in the 80s BG, it must have been around the time of the BGSU NCAA hockey championship, was the toast of party colleges in America.  My time spent at BG 1997-2001 I could see the student body trying their hardest to regain this title.  This was one of the reasons why I left the school, I got sick of the scene.  Now in 2009 I miss Bowling Green and the fact that I never will be an alumnus (fingers crossed they’ll someday be able to award me an honorary doctorate.)  But never one to venture too far on a tangent, the story attacked the MTV culture and reality television.  This was written, in part, the spring of 1999, before the rest of the world started using the term reality television, oh why didn’t I finish, I probably could have entered that into the Playboy writing contest!!! 

So anyway who are my favorite writers, again I’ll go to blogospheres favorite game, a list.

These are not in any order FYI.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I never had to read the man from Minnesota’s work for school, I avoided honors English by not caring about the written word in school or at least the mechanics of the written language.  Instead I didn’t really appreciate English class until Junior and Senior year when they really became reading classes.  Straight A’s four semesters straight boy.  Now for Francis Scott, when my friend Adam who used to be in honors English was assigned a different story (I think it’s when we read Catcher, he got to read the Great Gatsby.)  So on my own I read Gatsby, my mother raised me on the Robert Redford film, again I owe my movie knowledge to mom.  I loved the book from the start and at the age of sixteen I read as much of Fitzgerald’s that I could get my hands on and that love for the master from Minnesota, and family connections and Bob Dylan connections to Minnesota have grown through  the years.  In fact I was really excited for Benjamin Button and dragged my family to see the movie on Christmas day, one word, AWESOME!

Robertson Davies

Mr. Davies, hails from Canada, another family connection spot.  My family was Quebecers but I’ve always loved the country as a whole, so his Depford Trilogy is awesome and I strive to by like Ramsey, never marry, devout myself to my job and then go from their.

Thomas Pynchon

One of the greatest writers to come from America in the latter half of the 20th Century.  When someone says my writing is out their you can thank this man.

Jack Kerouac

Another that you can thank for my writing being out there.  I wish I could be half the writer that Kerouac was.  If you read this earlier I missed this fact, I also love Kerouac for his creation of his baseball league and the fact that he wrote "news" articles about fake players, their lives, and the games they played in this fake baseball league.  Before I ever thought about the Beat movement or any of the writers, ie. when I was 10, I also created my own league, kept stats, and wrote articles about these fake players.  My parents and teachers even caught me doing this, if only they knew about Mr. Kerouac they would have supported me on my path to being a writer even earlier. CDM)

Carson McCullers

Another great writer from America this time, the mid-century point.  She’s the one that made me want to strive on writing in a Suburban Gothic style. 

William Faulkner

The master, forget Hemmingway, Faulkner is where it’s at.  I think I finally get what he writes about.  At first I thought an extreme racist, but instead he was dropping Southern racism on it’s head.  What he did to the South along with Carson, is what I want to do to white middle class culture in the north, also the racism thing in the North needs to be understood fuller.

And Finally...

John Irving

The man lived the life as a teenager that I lived in Cleveland, except I was never as good as John at anything I did.  He wrestled, he writes about life in New England, I want to write about life in New New England. 

If you get that last reference then yeah you might get some of the things I write about.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Your Transitive 2008 NCAA Champions…

Your Transitive 2008 NCAA Champions…

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Maybe I should start this post by explaining the theory for the blog, the reason behind the name, and the pictures that make up the Hey Der, Ho Der, Hi Der banner. 

First the title.

I came back from Chicago the month of May 2008.  One of the things I brought back was a new found respect for my cousin’s ex-wife.  We were able to talk and I was able to share with her some of the things that were going on my life.  I had only met her once before, but had been around their son many times and we all know that someone’s child carries a little bit of their parents with them, so I feel like I somewhat knew Kristen from tails and such.  We became friends on myspace and I spilled my life further.  Some reason I open up to women of a certain age (the age around my sister) for some reason.  I love my sister to death and wish I could be around her more, but I end up having all these pseudo-sisters in my life, and I could see Kristen being the Chicago version of Sue.  Anyway long story not too short, the title comes from something Kristen wrote, and hanging out with my brother and sister-in-law in June I taught the phrase to my nephew, so ever time he sees Uncle Chad he can say either Uncle Chad’s a Cool Cat, tell me how to pick up chicks, or he says Hey Der, Ho Der, Hi Der.

The Banner.

The background image is one of my favorite photos from the Cleveland Museum of Art collection.  It is a Margaret Burke-White, a photo journalist that spent time in Cleveland.  We have some items in our collection from Ms. White, I bought a catalog of her work, scanned said picture, tinted it so it’s mine and it hangs on the wall in my living room.  The picture is one of the most beautiful shots of the Terminal Tower; it shows the mills, the smoke, the bridges, the beauty of the city of Cleveland.  This was the image that I had in my dreams when I would become homesick in college wanting to be near my family.  When I went to college I never came home after my sophomore year, and even thought about spending the rest of my life in Toledo.  The pull of the eternal umbilical cord, my sister moved back to town, I got to see my nieces, and my brothers started to have kids, I no longer could leave this city and was yanked by the metaphysical pull of history home, to the city I love Cleveland.

The pictures within the banner.

The overall theme for this blog is my life, my love of Cleveland, and my love of sports, either Cleveland teams, or Chicago.  Many have called me a fair weather fan, but my love of Chicago sports goes again, back to family.  From the time I was young I loved going to Chicago to see family, then in second grade, my best friends moved to Willoughby.  The McGregors’ were one of the coolest families I had met up to second grade.  Mr. McGregor, grew up in Chicago, went to John Carroll, and stayed in South Euclid.  In second grade they moved to Willoughby.  The picture of me in an Albert Belle jersey with a Chicago Bears hat, is me with Billy McGregor, and Bobby, wearing the Dan Marino jersey.  The McGregor boys’ birthday (they’re twins) was the end of July, my birthday was mid July, so we always had that bond.  The picture was taken September 1995, which would have been our junior year and I think that might have been Mr. McGregor’s birthday?  If anyone reads this and knows what is special about September 1995 let me know.  Anyway I want the pictures to be me in sports clothing so that’s why this picture is important to the blog, it has my best friends in the picture, and me wearing one of my typical prole (thanks Megan) costumes combining different sports teams clothes, usually either Cleveland or Chicago teams, sometimes Michigan and OSU (to anger dad and connect with my older brother, I didn’t realize it at the time but that’s what I did as a teenager, now I detest Michigan and understand what my old man was trying to teach me about the evils of that state up north.)

The Blackhawks jersey picture: again OSU hat, Chicago team jersey, (FYI Clark Griswold wears a similar jersey in Christmas Vacation) Dad and I at the Applebutter Fest in Burton, Ohio, circa 1996.

Indians Jersey: Me with the love of my life Kellie Rae in Toledo.  The surrogate big-sister that I did pine over, but knew that it would never be (at the time I had a crush on her best friend and then her little sister.)

Baby in OSU outfit: Seth the boy who named the blog.

Baby and Toddler sitting: Seth and Cole

Baby in OSU t-shirt: Me in 1980 saying OSU #1 before Dad and his buddies went to an OSU-Illinois game.

Me in Beatles t-shirt holding Seth holding my Indians hat that he slobbered on: enough said.

Indians windbreaker and hat, with dad in Indians hat: The Final Game at Municipal Stadium 1996.  This was the day were fans were able to go through the old stadium, locker rooms, and come up through the dugout onto the field.  I took a chunk of grass and outfield track from the right Dawg Pound end zone.  This was also the area that Cory Snyder roamed through my youth.  Somewhere I have a picture of Daffy Dan eating an ice-cream cone from the same event.

Coach Tressel with Dad: The greatest football coach since Woody Hayes with the old man.

Me in Indians t-shirt with baby Cole: Taken this last weekend.  Look at the studs, another chick magnet for his Uncle when he gets older.  My brother taught me well.

Dad in Grabowksi gear:  This is June 1992 at the “new” Comiskey Park.  We flew to Chicago for my 13th birthday, which wouldn’t happen until July, unless you count the fact that I went a whole ten months prenatal.  We flew in early for the Tribe-Sox series, Bo Jackson played for the Sox, the only time I liked the Sox more than the Cubbies, now like Michigan and the fact that the Sox are not in the AL West like at the time of the picture, but now share the AL Central with the Tribe, I wore Sox stuff, now I detest the Sox starting with Gene Lamont checking Albert’s bat, and all the crazy Ozzie sayings.  I still wear Black Sox 1919 clothes though, Kris Kross style. 

In this picture Dad looks like the biggest Ditka, glasses, stache and White Sox hat, all he needs is sausage, pork chops, and an Old Style and you’d never guess we were from Cleveland.

So there you have it, I think through the explanations, I love history, I love my family, and I love my two favorite cities, Cleveland and Chicago, and that is the theme of this blog.

The Town that Started the Civil War




The days of bondage—

And remembering—

Do not stand still.

Go to the highest hill

And look down upon the town

Where you are yet a slave.

Look down upon any town in Carolina

Or any town i

n Maine, for that matter,

Or Africa, your homeland—

And you will see what I mean for you to see—

The white hand:

The thieving hand.

The white face:

The lying face.

The white power:

The unscrupulous power

That makes of you

The hungry wretched thing you are today.

Who is the greatest poet to ever call Cleveland home for a period of time?  There are some who would say Hart Crane, there are others that could probably name another poet, some might say Michael Stanley (few), Eric Carmen (those would be fewer), or Chrissie Hynde (fewer because she’s from Akron).  I would answer and I think the majority of people, in fact the people in my department were able to answer my question a second after I posed the question.  Their answer and mine is Langston Hughes. 

The reason why I’m bringing Langston Hughes up, is the interesting research I discovered this last week of work.  As a note, besides the basic writing courses in college I never took an English class outside of secondary school that dealt with poetry or literature.  I’ve had history courses that utilized American fiction were it fell inline with the subject matter, one of my favorite professors utilized that technique for our modern American history course.  I studied poetry in my Classical Civilizations courses, Great Greek Minds and Great Roman Minds, but that was the poetry over two thousand years ago.  I don’t know much about Langston, I’ve read some of his poetry, read some of his stories, but I’ve never learned about him in a formal setting.  I do have a picture of him on my wall, mainly because the poetry I’ve read was that inspiring, the other reason, because he’s the poet laurite of Cleveland.

Now for the title of this post and what I was researching this week.  I’m working on an education program that asks the question, Was Honest Abe an Abolitionist?  Of course he wasn’t.  But through an investigation of primary documents I want students to analyze the Ante Bellum period of American history, the actions and life of Lincoln and in the end come up with their own answer to the above question. 

I’ve been reading a book titled The Town that Started the Civil War by Nat Brandt.  This book tells the adventures of the Oberlin-Wellington rescuers.  For those that might not know this event, the Rescue was a direct challenge to the Fugitive Slave Act, by citizens of these two small northern Ohio towns.  The Rescuers, the name they became known by, citizens who stood up for what they believed, that slavery was a moral wrong, that people that had escaped from the peculiar institution, were free under the laws of Ohio, and no federal mandate could stand above the laws of the Ohio Constitution.  This last argument of state’s rights ironically was the same argument that the Confederate States tried to use two and half years later when the tried to dissolve the union.

Two of the Rescuers, were men named Charles Langston and his brother James Mercer Langston.  These two men were directly involved with the freeing of John Price, the runaway slave.  Many of the African Americans in the Oberlin community fought for the freedom of this individual, and many could argue that the blacks had more to lose since the Federal Government under the Dred Scott case said that African Americans were not citizens of the United States and were not protected under the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.  They would not be tried by a jury of their peers, be accorded the same due process, nor the rights to a fast and fair trial.  Free Blacks at this time could also be sent back to slavery under the Fugitive Slave Law, if someone from the South merely claimed that the individual was their “property.”

Towards the end of his book, Mr. Brandt tells of the lives of the individuals involved and what happened to them during the Civil War and later in life.  It was in this section that Brandt tells his readers about Charles Langston moving to Kansas, having a daughter, and then his daughter had a son who was named after his brother, the child’s Great Uncle, the child was James Mercer Langton Hughes.  

James Mercer Langston, recruited for the 54th Massachusetts, the regiment the movie Glory is based on (no matter what I post this is one of my favorite movies of all time, I love reading the history of the 54th and this is the movie that solidified Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, and Denzel Washington as three of my favorite actors).  Charles Langston, who talked to John Brown while in jail, was later tried to be connected to the Harper’s Ferry raid, he was never tried, because he wasn’t involved.

When I read these words I was floored.  Before this, all I had ever read about Langston Hughes came from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, introductions to his books, or various internet sites.  I, immediately after reading the paragraph mentioned above, went online and discovered to my dismay, that the ECH didn’t list this information.  On a side note, ECH does include the paternal grandfather of Garrett Morgan, the famous Cleveland inventor of the safety hood (predecessor of the gas mask) and the three-way traffic signal (predecessor of modern traffic signals), the Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, who lead the Morgan’s Raids during the Civil War, part of the skirmishes in Ohio during the war.

I pulled down the books that ECH listed as being the source of their information.  Brandt had cited Langton Hughes’ autobiography, The Big Sea.  I found out the books that ECH cited also used Hughes’ The Big Sea. 

The conclusion, this Clevelander didn’t know much about a native son.  I remember the year after I moved back from college in 2002, all over Cleveland there was a special anniversary day for Langston to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth and to get a special UPS stamp commissioned.  This is where I learned the name Langston Hughes, despite all of my Civil Rights research growing up.  This was the point where I started to read Hughes’ works and became a fan, almost every word I read by the man pierces the soul.  The connection for Hughes to the Western Reserve besides his graduation from Central High, and his work with Karamu House goes much deeper than what you read on most websites, or even Cleveland history books.  It goes back generations, and I know the pride I have for my Grandfather and his accomplishments and the accomplishments of my Grandfather’s siblings, I try to place myself back to being a young Langston Hughes coming to Cleveland, seeing the smoke stacks of the steel mills, hearing the bells of the trolley car, looking at the buildings that were bigger than anything he had seen in Kansas or Missouri, feeling the pride,  knowing, that only forty miles away his family had played their part in history.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fierce Urgency of Now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, National Day of Service


On this 19th day of January, the eve of President-Elect Barack Obama’s inauguration, I’m watching CNN which is broadcasting Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” 

Many of you might know, or if you’re new if you might not, that I signed up for then Sen. Obama’s campaign two weeks after her announced that he was going to run for President.  At the time, many thought that the Senator would never have a chance to win, that Sen. Hillary Clinton almost was guaranteed the seat.  Later in the campaign, Saturday Night Live, which has always been one of my favorite shows, had a Halloween episode where the

Clinton’s hosted a party, and all of then Sen. Clinton’s rivals for the White House were courting her.  Then someone came in a Barack Obama mask, which in the end turned out to be the Senator himself.

For those that worked on the campaign from the beginning, we were driven by a sense of wanting to be a part of history.  Leading up to this historic moment I was able to study that history for work.  I was selected as a research assistant for an exhibit titled, “From Projects to Politics, Louis and Carl Stokes, 


Carl and Louis Stokes have always been hero’s of mine.  Studying history in high school and later in college I always tried to pick writing assignments that would relate to the things in my life.  John D. Rockefeller, Martin Luther, Joe Dimagio, the Beatles, John Belushi, the Finnish-Soviet Union Winter War, Civil War correspondence between soldiers and the women in their lives, various papers on the Civil Rights movement, and a paper on  the Cleveland Desegregation Busing Policy were some of the topics I’ve wrote about in school.  In this work, I was able to learn about the 50th mayor of the City of Cleveland, Carl Stokes. 

Reading Promises of Power, Carl’s autobiography, opened my eyes to periods of Cleveland history that I only knew from articles in the Plain Dealer, Cleveland Magazine, or Mark Winegardner Crooked River Burning.  If you want to know the history of African Americans fighting for political equality, the Stokes brothers’ story is one to read.  What President-Elect Obama faced in the 2007-2008 campaign, Carl and Louis lived through forty years earlier.

Along with the research about their lives, I tried to understand the times that shaped the brothers political philosophy.  I’ve always studied the Civil Rights movement, it has always been one of my favorite periods of history, I always wished that I could have been alive in the 1960s to help.  I knew from an early age that I would fight for equality for all peoples of the world, mainly shaped by the actions of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King, the abolitionist movement of the Civil War, and the works of the SDS, SNCC, SCLC.  In order to best understand this period I read biographies on President Johnson and an interesting book, Judgment Days, by Nick Kotz.  These books helped further my understanding of what it means to be civic minded, to put others before you, and to fight for a better world.

 One of the phrases that I heard repeated in these stories was the, “Fierce Urgency of Now,” grasping history, taking action, not being a bystander; to not lot history pass you by.  On the campaign trail, this was a message I heard repeated once the March Ohio primary season started.  From Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose family has given so much to the country they loved, to Cuyahoga County Commission Tim Hagen, whom I’ve listened to on the radio many times, said not to let history pass us by.  Dino Martino, Ohio coordinator during the Ohio primary repeated this message, do not let history pass you by and say to yourself what could you have done more.  Congressman Coyers from Detroit again passed the same message along, don’t get upset come November 5th, if a Republican would still be in office and you did nothing but attend speeches. 

I phone banked in Clevealnd, talking to Democrats from southern Ohio, telling them my story.  I talked to people in bars around Cleveland, who saw my Obama button on my coat and asked why I was voting for Obama.  Going home to Lake Country and participating in intelligent dialogue with family members who are life long Republicans.  I used the lessons I learned from these individuals, non-violent, respectful, trying to also listen to Paul Begala and James Carville, a way to take it back. 

I was fired up, and ready to go, after Ohio went for Sen. Clinton, I asked what had I done?  I donated money, raised money in a small fund raiser with family and friends, but I felt I let history pass me by. 

A couple of days after the Ohio primary I received a call from the Erie, PA campaign office asking for help.  I knew that I hadn’t understood the fierce urgency of now, and rolled up my sleeves and hit the streets.  I was teamed up with seven of the coolest, most intelligent people that I’ve met in my life.  These individuals understood the message and the call for acting now.  Either it being for the future of their children, either bettering the child’s education, or trying to make sure that when their sons and daughters came of age, we wouldn’t have a mandatory draft fixing the mistakes in the Iraq War.  The stories I heard, the people I met inspired me, and are memories I will have for the rest of my life.

Thank you for reading this and letting me share with you my part, in this historic movement, of people coming together across lines of race, gender, sexuality, and political philosophy.  The celebration party at the Euclid Tavern the night of the election, was only a taste.  Tomorrow when the words "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear 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."  I’ll know what I did to make sure this historic moment could occur, and know that I didn’t let history pass me by.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Open Thread: What Could Have Been?

Open Thread: What Could Have Been?

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Who to Root For Today

Well, it's that time of year again, another AFC Championship game, and another year of the Brownies not being in the game, yet alone the playoffs.  Whom will I root for today you might ask?  Well more than likely no one is reading this so no one is asking the question.  But, if you do read this, I am torn, because both teams hail from the AFC Central, and both are mortal enemies to the Dawgs.

I usually try to strive above the typical the typical dilemmas that ones that have season tickets in the Dawg Pound might ask, if you're not from Cleveland the average IQ of said section might top out at 80.  

Why Baltimore?

One name is a simple answer for me, Ozzie Newsome.  He will forever be my favorite Brown, I met him, he was cool, and I, just like the Oz, respect loyalty.  Most Clevelanders thing the Wizard of Oz stabbed the city, but all I have to say is HATE THE GAME, NOT THE PLAYER.

Why Pittsburgh?

I still appreciate the Rooney family for voting against the Browns move.  Also, I'm again one of the few that likes the Rooney Rule.  In High School when their was no team in Cleveland, Pittsburg became the defacto closest team to Cleveland.  My friends, the Noe boys, were Stillers fans.  My roommate my Freshman year at BG was from Pittsburgh and Paul and Sarah taught me the finer points of Steelers history, Donny Irris, Myron Cope, and the reason behind the towel. In 2009 my buddy Sudhir is a fan as well.

Who gets my vote, as you can see I'm torn, loyalty to Cleveland, Ozzie Newsome, my friends, but in the end I have to choose the unfortunate classiest franchise in football, the evil, evil, horrible Steelers.  I'm going out on a limb with many in Cleveland, but hey forgetaboutit.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wrist Strong For Delonte

Cleveland, we need to get behind our boy Delonte and show him the love and respect that the Colbert Nation showed for Stephen, by supporting Delonte Wrist Strong 2009!