PAUSED

Posted in Quick Hits on January 9th, 2015 by Ed

I apologize for the limited content this week, but out of respect for the awful news that all of us are trying to process from Paris today and the past few days it didn't seem appropriate to run what is a rather lighthearted No Politics Friday.

A lot of left-wing people around the internet have suggested that their reaction to these events is split among 1. Defense of free expression, 2. Abhorrence of violence, and 3. Finding the cartoons in question something ranging from insensitive to racist. I don't consider that an untenable position; if I paint a giant-lipped Obama eating a watermelon and someone murders me, it is possible to believe that I did something offensive but that doesn't give another person the right to shoot me. Personally, though, I don't see the cartoons as racist or offensive so much as they appear puerile and silly. Like most Americans I'd never previously heard of this French magazine, and frankly the art (and the level of humor/satire involved) looks like junior high students drew it. Minus the shock value of depicting something some Muslims find insulting, what is the real value of this?

These journalists strike me as a European sort of Bill Maher/Howard Stern hybrid, getting more mileage out of being provocateurs than anything else. Rather than cheapening their deaths, I think the general silliness and MAD Magazine-esque tone of the publication they worked for makes the idea of anyone being willing to kill them over these cartoons even less comprehensible.

In short, I've decided that I can feel like these guys were a bunch of ass clowns without believing that they deserved to die or that I don't care that they did. I don't think anyone deserves to die a violent death for making jokes, good or bad. Although I waver sometimes on Jeff Dunham.

UPON SECOND THOUGHT

Posted in Quick Hits on January 6th, 2015 by Ed

Leave it to the New York Daily News (motto: We Make the Post Look Serious) to provide the ideal example of everything wrong with the way the media lionizes cops while demonizing literally anyone else.

Recently someone assaulted an MTA worker in the middle of the night and as the tabloid media are wont to do, they ran some rather sensational stories to the effect of, to quote the headline, "Thug attacks female MTA employee at Bronx train station."

A hulking brute grabbed a 28-year-old MTA employee up in a bear hug at a Bronx train station, shoved her onto the platform and began choking her in an unprovoked attack – then ran away smiling, authorities said Wednesday.

Then it turned out that the Thug Brute was – wait for it – an NYPD officer. Magically, the tone changed when this crucial fact was discovered. The headline now refers to an NYPD cop who heroically turned himself in after being "accused" of possibly attacking someone.

Police Officer Mirjan Lolja, 37, was suspended after the assault in which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker — who was on-duty and in her uniform — was allegedly put into a bear hug, thrown to the floor and choked, cops said.

Not as much of a Thug as we originally thought, despite the fact that he does look vaguely possibly Hispanic or something.

THE SPECTACULAR 2014 GIN AND TACOS ANNUAL WHEEDLE PRESENTED BY GIN AND TACOS

Posted in Quick Hits on December 29th, 2014 by Ed

Reader,

I make an effort to limit this kind of request or reminder, because nobody wants to read a hundred pleas per year for the kinds of things a dude with a website is supposed to request. I appreciate your patience with the following paragraphs.

1. If you haven't already, follow G&T on the ol' Facebox. There's more to it than a bunch of links to posts. It's a little heavier on humor and lighter on politics compared to this site. And I'm supposed to, like, try to boost traffic and build a base of readers and all that shit. So do it.

Gin and Tacos | Promote Your Page Too

2. Speaking of, even though traffic has increased consistently over the years the site remains and will remain free of advertisements. If you have to ask why, you must be new. In lieu of advertisements you have to put up with the following few paragraphs once per year.

You can do nothing and continue to enjoy the site for free. This is called "free riding", and it's an entirely rational behavior. I have done (for eleven years!!) and will continue to do this every day whether I make a million bucks, nothing at all, or I have to pay out of pocket for the privilege.

You can use this tip jar / donation link to contribute an amount of your choosing to defray the costs of this site. If you happen to be saddled with extra cash and feel like donating fifty bucks, I will be extremely grateful. However, if donating fifty cents is more in line with your current budget, my gratitude will be no less. If zero cents is your preferred option, that's A-OK too. Your tips and contributions are (obviously) voluntary but greatly appreciated. Either way I'm glad you're here and I appreciate you.






3. "Ed you lazy grifter, when I hand over money I expect to get something in return!" you say. Well, there are things to buy if that's your thing. The "Buy Stuff" link on your right has a couple kinds of stickers. There are also a few remaining SOUNDS OF REAL AMERICA prints (here's the first batch, and then we added two more) and a single Buzzfeed dadaism print that I unearthed while cleaning out my office.

4. Oh, 2014 was the year Ed finally got around to getting coffee mugs like everyone always requested. Customize your own here (Zazzle isn't shy about big discounts). There is also the not quite as popular but equally spectacular Gin and Tacos t-shirt with the lovable slogan, "Dopamine's Only Natural Predator", on the reverse. If you're so inclined, knock yourself out.

5. Thank you all for making the site more interesting than it would be otherwise with your comments and contributions. Even though I've progressed from zero to one to fifty-plus comments per post, I still read every single one. If you can take the time to say something, I can make the time to read it.

I don't maintain this site for financial reward, and I hate creating the impression that you're expected to pay for the privilege. You certainly are not. Not even a little. But if you happen to feel the urge to be generous, here are some options. As always, thanks for being here and man did this year blow.

THESE DAMN GUNS

Posted in Quick Hits on December 11th, 2014 by Ed

Recently several media outlets noted the anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. This is an annual blip in the news, and every year when reminded of it I want to make the entire world watch this video of longtime, legendary Detroit local TV newsman Bill Bonds offering commentary on it. His commentary beginning at 1:50 may be, without exaggeration, the finest moment of American television journalism. Since I have always been disappointed that a transcript of his commentary is not available anywhere on the internet, I invested the ten minutes necessary to do it myself.

I suppose like you I am depressed and saddened by this mad, senseless act. I don’t think John Lennon ever hurt anyone; he wrote and he sang songs. He brought pleasure and he brought entertainment to hundreds of millions of people all over the world. And at 40 when a man’s or a woman’s life really begins to "Come Together," he is gone forever. Murdered by some insignificant nobody with insanity and a pistol for his companions. It is not fair and it is certainly not right.

I wonder when America will finally control its guns, how many of us will have to be murdered before that will happen. John Kennedy. Bob Kennedy. Martin Luther King Jr. All murdered, all gone. Vernon Jordan, gunned down earlier this year. George Wallace, paralyzed, his life and career ruined. People, critics, newspapers all over the world today are looking at America and Americans and saying, "That is a brutal, barbaric place."

As I say control the guns and ban them, collect them all and melt them down, I know we are not going to do that. We are again left with painful, senseless trauma and the responsibility of feeding and clothing the Sirhan Sirhans, the Charles Mansons, the David Berkowitzes, and now the Mark David Chapmans of the world. How much better the world might be with Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy, John Kennedy, John Lennon, still alive, still with us.

But…no, Americans must have their guns. We know there is no shortage of good, strong, sensitive, talented men and women; we can afford to kill them. Our guns are signs of our freedom. Someday maybe all 220 million of us will own a weapon. Perhaps then we will appear as barbaric to ourselves as we must appear to the rest of the world.

We have so much. Why do we Americans need these damn guns.

Bonds, an alcoholic who once tried to physically assault Detroit mayor Coleman Young during an interview, is a throwback to a time – one long since passed – when one could be a "Man's Man" or a Tough Guy without waving around a gun like a surrogate dick. Such comments would never make it on the air today – especially not on the wasteland local TV news has become – despite the fact that they are as true right now as they were when first spoken.

THE CONVERSATION

Posted in Quick Hits on December 10th, 2014 by Ed

Evening. A nondescript conference room in an equally nondescript office tower somewhere in Real America where right-wing internet memes are created. A WILY VETERAN sits at one end of the cheap, laminate-topped table across from NEW GUY.

WV: "I don't care if we're here all night, we need to come up with some sort of pro-police meme. Something that everyone's friends from grade school will repost. Something that will seem brilliant to people who don't like thinking."

NG: "Should it be hackneyed?"

WV: "Oh good lord yes. Of course. Don't ask me silly questions, kid."

NG: "I'm sorry. Can we do something to imply that police are killed as often – or even more often – than police kill suspects or innocent bystanders?"

WV: "I knew there was a reason we hired you, kid. Whattaya have in mind?"

NG: "Definitely a photo collage so that everyone can see that they're Good People."

WV: "White?"

NG: "Yeah I mean white. Although maybe throw in a "clean" looking Mexican."

WV and NG, simultaneously: "So no one can say they're all white!" (laughter, the slapping of backs)

NG: "It turns out, though, that there aren't that many cops killed by suspects relative to the enormous number of people killed by police every year in the US."

WV: "Well that's a pickle. Ooh, that reminds me: I need to bring home pickles. How about we include cops who die of heart attacks while on duty, or in car accidents that have nothing to do with a suspect?"

NB: "I like where your head is, sir, but we can't just flat out lie and say a black person killed them."

WV: "We could, but let's see if we can't come up with something better." (grimaces in deep thought) "I've got it! Let's label it as officers killed 'In the Line of Duty'! Which is technically true! No matter how or why they die, we can count them as long as they're on the clock!"

NB, beaming: "You're an inspiration, sir. A goddamn inspiration."

WV: "If I wanted my ass kissed I'd be at home with a shelter dog, a jar of Smuckers, and a long-handled spatula. Now make sure to do it in Microsoft Paint so it looks real shitty."

NB: "Come on, sir. I know the drill." (laughter and mutual respect)

FIN

BLEAK FRIDAY

Posted in Quick Hits on November 28th, 2014 by Ed

In the past I've been open about not really understanding Black Friday, although recently I've come to see it as something people enjoy as a ritual rather than for any logical reason. Some people enjoy going shopping at like 4 AM rather than buying things online for the same reason some people enjoy going to a sporting event rather than watching it on TV. I've made peace with the fact that it's stupid and people like it anyway, and I've stopped trying to talk anyone out of following the herd.

Then they started this "Friday starts on Thursday morning" shit.

Look, I could recite all of the reasons why this is fucked up from the macro perspective: crass consumerism replacing family time, expansion of the holiday spending frenzy, the inability of small businesses to compete, etc etc. The only thing that really bothers me about it, though, is the way that low-wage service industry employees are being forced to sacrifice one of the few remaining holidays on which Americans are not expected to work. As a person who usually spends it at home alone these days, economic activity shuts the hell down on Thanksgiving. Everything is closed. Even the gas stations and chain fast food restaurants are closed. Bars are closed. Even the few things that seem to stay open on Christmas are closed. It's essentially the last holiday in our economy that is a "day off" in the literal sense for everyone who isn't working in an emergency room or a fire station. At least the people in those professions are relatively well compensated for the scheduling sacrifices they make. The people working the floor at Target – not so much.

Perhaps we're overreacting to this. Maybe people working retail are fine with the opportunity to (hopefully) get time-and-a-half for working on a holiday. The problem is that people who aren't OK with it can't do anything about it. Hourly retail staff are among the lowest paid and most powerless people in our workforce. Like fast food workers they are viewed as disposable and high turnover is expected. If you don't like it, there's the door. And when you end up choosing family over a day doing inventory, you become another Lazy and inherently flawed person wearing the scarlet U of the unemployed.

If you're going to get fired for trying to do normal human things like spend a holiday A) not working and B) with family, it should at least be on account of how vitally important your job is. The people working the register at the big box stores probably aren't over that bar.

SHORT AND SWEET

Posted in Quick Hits on November 27th, 2014 by Ed

I was going to write a post of decent length about this, but it turns out that there wasn't much to add to this:

Capture

Happy Thanksgiving.

A/V CLUB

Posted in Quick Hits on November 26th, 2014 by Ed

If I were to make a simple video, what would be the best way for a person with no such experience to edit together a few different clips, add some basic text to the video, and perhaps add voiceover? I don't want to purchase expensive software and it would help if the product is designed so that children and your parents can figure out how to use it correctly.

So I'm thinking something Microsoft.

*rimshot*

DEFAULT

Posted in Quick Hits on November 3rd, 2014 by Ed

At a dinner with some of my colleagues last week someone mentioned the fact that many of the crime alerts on campus – our university police are particularly aggressive about sending out alerts/updates to counter the perception, and frankly reality, that we are in a high crime area – turn out to be fabricated. These are property crimes, not violent or sexual in nature. It struck several of us as odd that students would lie about being relieved of an iPhone by a nighttime mugger.

The problem is that students – particularly the ex-suburban private school type – are more afraid of their parents than they are the law. Or just about anything else for that matter. Despite the fact that these college students are all legally adults, their primary concern is to avoid getting In Trouble with mom and dad. So when Dakota loses her $500 smartphone because she got too wasted on Saturday night to keep track of her limbs let alone her electronics, she has two choices. One is to tell Dad that she lost it. The other is to call the police and say that a black guy took it. They choose the latter and generally I don't imagine that police have a hard time finding inconsistencies in the mugging story (or in the security camera footage that covers more of the area than most people realize).

This is not something that happens daily, mind you, but there have been multiple incidents in the past year. It's a good anecdote to pull out when someone tries to argue that race isn't a thing. Because the "suspect" is always the same. If you want to claim that something was stolen or a crime was committed, what else would you invent but a Black Male, 18-30, tall and slender and wearing a hoodie and baggy pants? It makes sense that college kids are sheltered and do stupid things and in a moment of panic they might make up a story. That's not the alarming part. The alarming part is that well-off and mostly white college kids instinctively know that if you're going to invent a crime, the best faux-perpetrator is the person everyone already thinks is a criminal anyway.

MOVING TARGET

Posted in Quick Hits on October 30th, 2014 by Ed

Hopefully by now you have seen the video of a woman walking around NYC for 10 hours and being catcalled about 100 times in addition to considerably creepier behavior like being followed.

I'm not the world's most sensitive person, nor am I the most accomplished feminist. I'm certain that I'm an asshole sometimes and that, like any male, I say things that are offensive to women without necessarily intending to offend. But about a year ago I decided to try something new: to listen to women without feeling compelled to make any kind of response or attempt to explain the behavior of men who are not me. Humans are naturally defensive creatures and there is a tendency, especially among men, to tell others that they are overreacting – to explain why things are not really as bad as someone else thinks. In theory, I think this comes from a place of good intentions: to attempt to comfort someone by downplaying the experiences that disturb them. In practice, however, what it means as a man is that you're regularly telling women that they're overreacting to other men.

What I've started to learn since I made a conscious effort to talk less and listen more is that a lot of really fucked up things happen to the average woman on the average day. Things that are annoying or worse. Do I think that every complaint some woman could potentially make about a man is automatically valid? No. I maintain that the Tumblr warriors of the world who flip out because a man held a door for them are have some issues of their own that need to be worked out. But rather than assume that the world is filled with straw (wo)men, I decided to try listening to people I trust and know to be reasonable and anything but ridiculous. And when you stop challenging and questioning people, they tend to get more comfortable telling you things. And then you realize that some of the behaviors that you know exist in the world are really, genuinely, disturbingly common.

I'm not a great person and I'm probably not yet at the point at which I'm part of the solution, but I decided that I would stop being part of the problem. It's a start.