Archive for February, 2010

ten years have got behind

one of the many reasons i decided to rekindle these therapy sessions with you is because i’ve been spending a great deal of time in my head.

keeping it all bottled up gives it a chance to rattle around. maybe, he said, if i get some of it out, i can make room for more pressing matters, like paying more attention to the people around me. and being more creative in the sandwich department.

i think turning 50 is what got my mind gears churning again. don’t get me wrong – i am not bothered by being 50. I would rather be 50 than dead, so it has that going for it. i’ve never really been bothered by my age, although i do recall feeling a little itchy and kinda weird during some of my early teen years, but that passed.

but 50. that’s, like, a real number.

all the milestone years have something going for them – as evidenced by the racks of specialty greeting cards and novelty helium balloons available to us. the black ones are especially funny: happy birthday – here’s a black balloon from someone who equates your age with morbidity. is there cake?

in the grand scheme, turning 10 really doesn’t mean anything. to the kid, it does – getting rid of the single digits is huge. the host parental arrangement usually goes all out with the recognition. grandparents probably travel from afar to leave lipstick impressions on the honored guest’s forehead. the presents and the cake are often a little more special.

after 10 years, what has been accomplished, really? the walking and talking thing, which were pretty important at the time, are several years removed and have been relegated to the film and photo archives. first day of school? been there. riding a bike? old hat. not a lot to show for the first 10 years.

also, the teen years are still three years away. and those years are measured in kid years; not grownup years.

kid years pass at the speed of glaciers. an hour seems like a day. sitting in a classroom ringed with a decorative green wallpaper border featuring white cursive lettering on lined paper, staring at a giant clock that never seems to move, waiting for the teacher to stop blathering on about some pointless discovering the new world thing, or i before e except after c, or the train that leaves the station in boston at yawn:30 and arrives at oh my god why isn’t it 3 o’clock yet.

youth is wasted on the young because they just want it to be over. and it never seems to end. they are too young to realize they should stop to smell it. life, that is. not their fingers.

i was born in january 1960, so my milestone birthdays have always fallen right at the beginning of a new decade. (please save the ‘when the new decade really starts’ argument for another day and follow me here. thanks.) i can remember thinking on my 10th birthday that the coming decade – the 1970s – would turn me from this little round bundle of dweeb into a full-grown bundle of dweeb. and the thought actually startled me a little. what was going to happen? how was i going to change? what will it be like? will i find my special purpose?

today, i believe, it is this – and not the damn train leaving boston – that should have been drilled into my head in my rotund, formative years.

when we turn 20, we are convinced the world owes us the biggest goddamn par-tay ev-errrr. and not just because we “survived” our teen-age years, but because we’ve been alive almost long enough (two whole decades; my gawd, how did you make it this far?) to drink legally, so we’ve earned the right to act like buffoons, drink like sea cows, and scrape authority off the soles of our shoes.

twenty-year-olds, because they are no longer teens, mistakenly think they are all grown up. and any grownups who tell them so are leading them down the wrong path.

twenty signals the end of the most tumultuous – thanks to hormones – decade of a person’s life. but this, too, has to be taken into context. there is only one other decade to compare to, and during part of that one, we were still in swaddling clothes. not much there. lessens the accomplishment.

i can remember turning 20 and thinking i was finally all grown up. i knew everything i needed to know. i could finally stop pretending to listen to advice.

i look back on the person i was and wish i could offer myself some advice. the first thing i would suggest is a hard slap across the face, quickly followed by: “shut the hell up and listen. listen to people older than you; listen to people trying to teach you things. pay attention to everything you see and hear. life is not one giant punch line. life, it turns out, is a lot smarter than you and it wins every time. also, losers sleep until noon. and put down that ham.”

i got married when i was 20. it didn’t last five years. and for all the reasons and all the blame that at the time seemed “important” to focus on and point to when the relationship was crumbling, there is only truth: i was 20 when i got married. an adult-sized decision made by a person not yet qualified to do so.

the problem with sharing important advice with a person in possession of a 20-year-old mind is that the mind is not yet developed enough to comprehend priorities. there are too many fish to fry and oats to sew and not enough hours in the day and ooh – look – a butterfly. twenty-year-olds don’t know jack. and i bet every one of them would disagree with this statement. lending further credence to its veracity.

when we turn 30 we definitely think we now know everything. we’ve been off in the real world for several years, probably been married at least once, probably reproduced at least once (that we know of).

yet if we base how we conducted ourselves in our 20s as the reason we know everything by the time we’re 30, we’d quickly realize we still don’t get it. we’re getting closer, but we’re not there yet.

i don’t believe people should become parents until they have been alive for three decades. the first two decades have to be tossed for obvious reasons – those are the years during which we absorb our mandatory requirements for living. our third decade – the roaring 20s – is the first time we get to take this knowledge out for a test drive. we are just learning how to shoulder our own responsibilities. to take on the responsibilities of starting another human life down this path is a slope much too steep for many of us. the most difficult part of this reality is admitting it.

again, if someone had said, “take what you’ve learned, practice it for the next 10 years, and when you get to be 30 you’ll be ready to share your knowledge,” i can’t see why that would be a bad thing. i would have ignored it, but i would have been wrong. again.

forty is when the black balloons start showing up. even in the commercial world in which we live, the folks at hallmark acknowledge we need four decades under our belts before we have earned the right to shake the cobwebs of youth.

forty is cool. forty is when we can finally take this sucker out for a spin and leave a little rubber on the road. we’re not done learning, but we have enough in the tank to get us where we need to go. everything we pick up along the way now is bonus. snacks for those between-meal hunger pangs.

for many, we’re settled into our skin. settled into a home life, got the whole profession thing ironed out, kids becoming more like real people, plenty of opportunity for adult and family play time. these are the years toward which we’ve been stumbling. we’re buying things and going places. deciding what we really want to do while we’re here.

in life’s lesson book, we should be instructed to make sure we fill our 40s with all that we can.

because, in the blink of an eye …

i remember december 1999 – the world was going bat shit over the fact that the millennium was going to shut down all computers. no one on the planet would be able to sustain the simplest of thoughts. dogs and cats were going to start sleeping together. our world, as we knew it, was about to change.

i remember that hoopla like it was yesterday.

answer me truthfully – was it not just yesterday?

i was thinking back then, what a grand and exciting time to be turning 40. old enough to know better, smart enough to know how, and able to enjoy doing it.

and then just last month, i turned 50. again, i am not bothered by the number associated with the years i have been around. what has made me stand up and take notice is the fact that 10 years have got behind me. and if the next 10 years go by as quickly as the past 10 did, then i will be sitting here tomorrow telling you all about how it feels to be 60.

and 60 is one serious-ass number. not that i never thought i would get there. i never thought i would get there this quickly.

and that, dear friends, has brought me back to you.

never was it said more succinctly than in pink floyd’s ‘time’:

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way

Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town

Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain

And you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you

No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again

The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say


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A boy named Seuss

A boy named Seuss

February 11, 2001

Mattison’s Avenue

By Kevin Mattison

The things I find inside the mail

At Venner Road most often fail

To make the grade, and thus I toss

Them in the trash (don’t tell the boss).

From time to time, I must announce,

I do get things on which I pounce.

Most often they just tout some views,

Like “Vote for Bush,” upon some shoes.

Or “Save the Oak, For Trees Are Good”

(That one had been carved in wood).

Items used to brush the teeth;

Picture books; one time, a wreath;

Flying discs and CDs, too;

And t-shirts – they’re out the gazoo.

And pens that click and pens with caps;

And geographic global maps.

The food I get most often rocks,

But doesn’t last, once out the box.

The publisher, to make a point,

Can tell when new food hits the joint.

With sonar honed and sails a-mast

He grabs a handful each time past.

I do my share, I must confess,

When goodies come to this address.

In front of him, I won’t dare jump,

Lest I pull back a bloody stump.

From Dunkin Donuts, I once got,

A cardboard box, I kid you not.

Inside of which I quickly found

A plastic cup, both tall and round,

And nothing more (I do not jest);

A p.r. stunt, you might have guessed.

The postage cost them two-oh-nine;

I thought the stunt was out of line.

A couple bucks to mail to me

A cup – and it was em-puh-tee.

Promotion-wise, the NEA

Did mail to me – it came Fri-day –

An envelope (oh, what a hit);

In business terms: “media kit.”

I tore it open for to see

A thing I’d thunk would never be.

I saw the words, quote, “Dr. Seuss”

And turned my fingers – all 10 – loose.

Inside the package I could feel

There’s something soft. (Could this be real?)

In two-score years and one, at that,

I’d never owned the Hat Cat’s hat.

As Seussed as I was as a kid,

I’d never even worn the lid.

I’ve seen them and have often thought

In public I would not be caught.

I would not wear it to the car

I would not wear it at the bar

(Well, maybe at the bar I would;

If I was polished up real good.)

I wouldn’t wear it in the slammer;

Rather, hit me with a hammer.

Just because the hat looked good

Upon the cat, don’t think it would

Look good on me; don’t start that trouble,

Not upon this neck-y bubble.

On Friday, my co-workers said:

You have to put that on your head.

You have to wear it all day long;

To do elsewise would just be wrong.

You have to sit there in your place;

You are a dork – this proves our case.

Put on your red-and-white-striped hat

Worn by the mostest famous cat.

Then change the picture on your page

To show the public your true age.

So here I sit, you now surmise,

And from my dome, this hat does rise.

And rise it does, toward yonder roof;

With thanks to Mitch, above is proof.

Seems NEA, the learn-ed ones,

Want all the girls and all the sons

To know next month they’ll plant the seed

And coax America to read.

It’s reading month, and on the 2nd

Young and young-at-heart are beckoned.

That’s the birth date of the Seuss –

You know, he wrote about the moose.

The one who had the moss to munch;

The one the young’uns love a bunch.

Sneetches, Yertle, eggs and ham –

The green stuff, loved by Sam I Am.

The stories I remember still;

A present bookshelf they still fill.

I’m sure you’re not surprised by that

(For on my head still sits this hat).

I can’t remove it now, I found,

Because my head is so darn round

The hairline has extended north –

The forehead has come forth, of courth.

Around my globe there is a pattern;

Without the hat, I look like Saturn.

Rings now formed by this new hat

Are courtesy of Seuss’s Cat.

The situation’s turned most heinous;

But I’ll take Saturn over … Jupiter.

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fun with newspapers I

fun with newspapers is a game played by collecting all the horrible journalisming that comes across the news desk. the examples must be from actual reporters, who turned in actual work, thinking it was ready for actual publication.

the following examples come from one actual person, a former co-worker. below, i refer to him as the cub reporter; i also call him jimmy olson. there is also a mention of skippy. it is all the same person.

the following is a series of e-mails i sent to my better half, off of whom i often have to bounce things like this in an attempt to maintain sanity.

after having read this again following a long hiatus from it, i find myself missing this guy. solely for the entertainment value.

the young cub reporter about whom i have e-mailed a couple of times recently turned in this gem tuesday:

W. Barent Wemple and Ashely Burton Wemple, who lived in Fonda for many years and owned the Fonda-based Mohawk Valley Democrat newspaper, wrote in a revision of their will that after the last surviving air passed away, the remainder of their estate would go to the students of the Fonda-fultonville School district. That remainder, $1.83 million, will be given out in 15 scholarships to Fonda-fultonville seniors who need money to further their education.

forgetting everything else that is wrong, i can’t get over the passing air.

i swear i am not making this up.

young cub reporter skippy dumbass just came up with another one.
someone in the room mentioned jury duty.
to which he replied, “i was on jury duty once. i actually got to sit in a jury box thingy in this big room where they hold trials. i can’t remember what they called it.”
to which i yelled: “courtroom?”
“yeah,” he said. “that’s what they were calling it.”

calgon, take me away.

cubby jimmy olson just asked why schools around here spend so much time teaching middle school children not to drink and drive when they are not old enough to do either yet.

from the recorder, may 15, 2008, and a story by young jimmy olson:

“When we get reports like this, things don’t progress slowly,” said Murdoch. “They progress quickly and responders are in a hurry to get there because they don’t know if it’s a fake or real. This puts a lot of people’s lives in jeopardy and we take this very seriously. There are reproductions for what took place.”

ok. our young cub reporter goes to a village board meeting, where the discussion is about flushing the dead ends in the fire hydrant lines. the dead ends are six-foot sections of pipe, where skanky water collects during the year. the young, inexperienced reporter did not hear the main speaker at the meeting say “dead ends.” he thought he said something else.
it was that something else that the young reporter wrote into his notebook and then eventually into his story. the story appears in the lead position on page 1 of the wednesday, july 16, recorder. paragraphs 3 and 4 of the story follow:

“We thought it was only on First Avenue,” said Cornell. “But we’ve been hearing it’s an issue on Third Avenue and other areas as well. My understanding is that it seems that a lot of them if not all of the problems are associated to dead animals.”
Cornell suggested to the board that the village needs to go back to flushing dead animals on a regular basis and that the system flushes need to take place more than once a year.

needless to say, mr. cornell called. i’m not sure he’s stopped yelling yet.

fun with newspapers.

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i am concerned that grocery shopping carts are not quite big enough. we’re getting close, but there is room to grow.
especially the ones made to resemble race cars, space ships, fire trucks, and school buses.

it’s not as if the aisles aren’t already over-crowded with plastic-wrapped animal flesh stuck to diapers nestled in styrofoam canoes, deep-fried suet chips, 47 brands of hot dogs, glass-encased displays of fat-laden prepared frozen meals in rows upon rows of shiny freezers, and ronco battery-operated cheese straighteners. we also need shopping carts as wide as semis.

regular grocery carts have seemingly doubled in size – the bigger the cart, the more stuff you will want to put in it. i will say the cup holder, as ludicrous as it looks, is a fine addition to the handle. and the little circular cradle that nestles the bouquet of flowers was a pretty good invention. placed there to guilt husbands into doing the right thing, it might not always be effective, but a little guilt will occasionally sell a few flowers.

the race cars, space ships and school buses, however, piss me off. if i am the only one in the aisle and i am forced to climb on top of the cereal shelves to allow marion andretti and her brood of sniveling brats to pass me by on their way to grabbing the buy-one-get-one on captain sugar oat square marshmallow nougat crunch berry flakes, perhaps the carts have gotten a bit too big.

i say why not use real race cars and fire trucks – they’re not that much bigger.

when they ram into your ankles, it would at least mean something.

it would also be much more fun for the kids – because grocery shopping is, after all, all about children.

and the reason, of course, that we need to push gigantic carnival rides through the grocery aisles is because a child today can’t survive 45 minutes in a store without having his or her ass kissed by an enabling parent.

“i refuse to go shopping with you, mommy, unless you promise to entertain me.”

“ok, my darling angel. whatever you want.”

when i was a kid, the space ship sat in front of the grocery store, mom put a dime in the box and my ass on the seat. it rocked back and forth for a minute, and everyone was happy.

today, if a kid can’t have his own steering wheel in his own behemoth shuttle-shaped cart, he’ll scream bloody murder. and then he’ll get his friggin’ way.

i shake my head. many of us made it this far without getting spoiled. some of us even remember getting spanked if we dared to look sideways at a loving parent. think that’s a concern today?

hardly, my darling angels.

why are we purposely ruining the next generations?

and can someone help get me down from this cereal shelf? perhaps that fire truck has a ladder on it.

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dear tiger woods:

dear tiger woods:

i feel your pain.

the smothering that comes from surrounding yourself with all the money, all the fame, all the beauty, all the comfort, all the adoration available to any one person must be unbearable. speaking on behalf of a dumb-founded humanity, i can’t imagine what it must be like. but i’d give it a try.

you have a life upon which many of us schlubs have vicariously depended – quite comfortably, thank you – since you burst into our sunday afternoons during a tearful bear hug with your dad on the 18th at augusta, seemingly one entire childhood ago.

we have raised you from a cub, coaxing your drives back into the fairway, your putts comfortably into the cup, and your charmed life into our dreams. with warm-hearted envy, we wished you and elin only the best. with wide-eyed anticipation, we awaited the arrival of what could only be an adorable and adoring brood. on this, we were right.

and now, we learn, it wasn’t enough. our denial has faded to disbelief. you’re more human than we ever thought possible. and, apparently, capable of severe stupidity. you’re tiger woods, for chrissake. can you honestly say you thought for one second that stepping out for some strange was going to go undiscovered? you’re a human tracking device. where was your friggin’ mind? that must have been some intoxicating booty. was it laced with catnip? as accomplished as your life has become, you seriously suck at stupid. it’s not your strong suit.

of all the trophies you’ve carried into your mansion, the one you carried across the threshold is our most treasured. it should also be yours. your children are jewels in a crown no clear thinking king would dare tarnish. look at those children. look at your wife. look at your life. look at your fans. look at us like we’re your next 40-foot putt. give us that much of your time.

we are fans of your game; we are also fans of your life. we have for years begged for a peek behind the curtain, and now that we’ve had one, we can’t run quickly enough for the door. we’ll shield our eyes, but only the periphery. we’ll still watch you crush a golf ball; we’ll refuse to watch you crush that unbreakably beautiful family.

and yet, through it all, i will still be there, pressed hard against the ropes, lungs filled with full-throated anticipation as the next 40-footer chases immortality across your manicured arena. and when it drops, you’ll still be da man.

in your life – personal and private – you’ll get what you’ve earned. thus far, your life has been a gimme, and this one you’ve left short.

but don’t worry, young prince, your life is a charmed one. inexplicably, i still love you. and i probably always will. for the true fan, your star shines that brightly. but, sadly, today, i shake my head. as a true fan, i feel your pain.

you ungrateful prick.

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for an hour and a half thursday night, i was technology’s bitch.

but before that, i was the cool dad. the dad who became a member of the dave matthews band’s ‘warehouse’ web site several months ago, so i could have a crack at decent tickets to the dmb’s tour stop at the saratoga performing arts center this spring. the band comes around every june to play two shows. and every june, my son and his band of cronies do their best to scrounge up tickets. they always wind up with lawn tickets, which is good for them because they are, well, young, and don’t care what the ass of their pants looks like when they are walking in public.

i, on the other hand, have had my share of spac lawn ticket experiences and will have no more. i’m at a point now where i’ll either take a seat in the amphitheater or a rain check.

but i have always wanted to see dave matthews. so i joined the warehouse, where for the price of admission, club members get the right to request concert tickets when they are made available by the dmb gods. (yes. i have paid for the privilege to buy tickets. and if i am lucky, i will be granted an audience. complete with service charge.)

thursday of this week, at 6 p.m. on the nose, was the day and time the dmb warehouse was making available the tickets for this june’s shows. i had been planning for this hour for days. there were sticky notes in every pocket i own and on every flat surface i refuse to dust – both at home and at work. 6 p.m. thursday. ticket request. got it.

well, 5 p.m., thursday came and i went upstairs to the computer lair, fired up the mac, and prepared to stare at the refresh button for an hour. this particular thursday, my friendly mac greeted me with a software update – click the button, download the new software, restart the computer, then start waiting for the dmb ticket window to open. if only.

the software downloaded, the computer restarted, the clock said 5:10 p.m., i clicked ‘ok’, and the room went dark.

no power. the one thing short of limo-sized pieces of flaming debris falling from the sky that could keep me from being among the first in line for dmb tickets was a power outage. and thanks to a ration of high wind blowing in a cold front thursday afternoon, that’s exactly what happened.

so i switched to emergency preparedness mode, which pretty much involved conjugating the f-word about 32 times. i dropped so many f-bombs, the cat now thinks it’s her name.

i grabbed my laptop from the shelf above the desk computer, flipped it open, and learned that if you haven’t used it in six months, the battery won’t cooperate. so i grabbed the cell phone (the battery in which was close to dead). i called my son, thinking he could log on to the web site at his house and make the ticket requests. but the area in which i live does not offer an adequate number of bars (“can you hear me now?”). cell phone conversations made from my house are useless – it’s like trying to tell a story after removing all the consonants.

so my first backup plan was gone.

plan no. 2 – find a place with an internet connection and get the tickets that way. mind you, it was about 10 degrees outside, the furnace was not about to kick in until the power returned. the cat could freeze. the house could freeze. the wife was not going to be able to open the electronic garage door (in turn giving birth to a whole ‘nother ration of woe). i couldn’t call and tell her that because the cell phone was useless. the house was pitch black because it was now 5:30.

i grabbed the laptop, its power cord, my cell phone, its car charger, the hands-free phone device. i locked up the house, told the cat i would always love her, and headed out into the wilderness in search of the internet. oh, and i was still cursing.

as soon as i rounded the corner out of my housing development, i saw the lights were on. which meant the power outage was very small and limited to those of us with a dire need for technology. the most important of whom lived at my exact address.

i knew i could go to the ymca, which is only 10 minutes from the house, but i stopped a couple of places along the way – the hair dresser/tanning salon didn’t have an internet connection but the burger joint up the road did. i didn’t go because i would have felt weird, having never been in the place before. “hi. i don’t want to buy any of your food, but i am going to pirate your internet for my own personal gain. you don’t mind if i sit here and hit the refresh button for a half hour, do you?”

not how i roll. so i drove to the ymca, laptop under the arm, cell phone in the pocket. and from there on, the rest of the evening was a piece of cake. i was able to use one of the ymca’s computers, i only had to hit the refresh button for 15 minutes, i was eventually granted the humbling honor of being able to shell out a decent portion of salary for concert tickets that i had already paid for the right to purchase.

and in about a month, i will receive an e-mail from the ticket web site, letting me know if i have indeed been fortunate enough to receive actual tickets for my actual trouble.

while i was out at the ymca waiting for 6 p.m., karen called me on my cell phone – which now had plenty of juice and bars (now that i didn’t need them) – to tell me the power was back on at chez mattison. if i had stayed home and waited it out, i would have been able to accomplish this inconsequential task (in the grand scheme) that meant so much to me at the time. a realization that can make a person want to curse under his breath for a few minutes.

when i was a kid, going to a concert meant driving up to spac, walking up to the ticket window, plunking down 20 bucks, turning around, and walking in to the show. those days are but memories more faded than the jeans we wore on those hot august nights. technology is good at a lot of things. sometimes it’s good at making things difficult by making everything easier.

i have the strongest urge to curl up in a cabin of in the middle of nowhere and read a book by candlelight. right after i feed fuck.

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New friends, part deux

Mattison’s Avenue

December 30, 2001

By Kevin Mattison

Probably a good time for a new New Year’s resolution. The old stand-bys have been rode hard and put away wet.

The tried and true resolutions to lose weight, quit drinking and finish a home improvement project show up like holidays in and of themselves. They don’t normally make it to February, but at least the same feeble attempt is made on my part on a regular basis.

I need a new goal, though. Chief among those in consideration is learning how to not yell back when I am yelled at.

I don’t mean conversational yelling. I don’t like my voice, therefore, I certainly don’t like it in a louder version. So I do my best to not raise it.

I get around yelling by being a complete smart aleck. And I only use the word “aleck” because it is Sunday. One of last year’s resolutions was to stop swearing on Sunday.

I didn’t make it to February with that one either (especially with the Giants going to the Super Bowl last winter and all.)

I drag you through all of this because my column last week in which I took alert reader Gus Ramirez to task for chewing me out has generated a response. From Gus.

My most vocal and favorite critic has taken the time to clarify some of the statements printed last week and to reiterate a few others. In the spirit of fairness and in no way as an answer to the challenge mentioned at the end of his commentary, I offer the following:

Dear Kevin:

I was surprised when it was brought to my attention that you had printed the emails I transmitted to you on 12/23/01. First let me begin by apologizing. There is no excuse for the poor writing in the emails. I transmitted them to you in haste and did not bother to make the appropriate corrections. I have, on occasion, a tendency to be impulsive, which causes me to pay poor attention to details.

However, Kevin!! I write this email with patience; I have selected my words carefully and have paid attention to spelling, capitalization and grammar. Unfortunately, I’m not a writer, but I believe I am capable of articulating my point of view.

I must point out to you why I think you should consider resigning;

1. Your attitude! Upon reading “On friends, old and new,” I have come to the conclusion that you are an arrogant, pompous and self-important person. It appears you probably handle your staff poorly and especially, your readers. As the “Executive Editor” of this newspaper, you do not accept blame for errors made by either you or your subordinate staff. Rather, you are a master at reflecting blame.

2. No accountability! President Harry Truman had a plaque on his desk that said “THE BUCK STOPS HERE.” Obviously, you need to take several management courses and learn from President Truman on accepting responsibility. Accept the fact that “YOU” dropped the ball by not holding your employees accountable and you justified your inadequacies by reminding us that “since its free, don’t expect much.” In addition, you have the audacity to deflect attention from your mistakes and lack of leadership by belittling me. You remind me of Howard Stern who always “blames someone else,” “doesn’t accept responsibility,” and “when all else fails, attack the messenger.”

3. Lack of maturity! I realize that a writer has to be creative and imaginative in his/her writing. However, your reference to me being the Grinch, cheap and abusive towards animals is an example of a 41-year-old man who has failed to mature above the age of 12. You use your skills to insult and humiliate me only because I had the tenacity to bring your incompetence to your attention.

Kevin, I could see why you are not working for a real newspaper like the New York, LA Times, Washington Post, Times Union or even a tabloid like the “STAR.” Let us hope the new year will bring you a level of self-actualization with a commitment to bring about some positive changes in your character. Optimistically however, I am hoping, you’ll at least change your socks in the new year.

I am a critical thinker and question everything, Kevin. I challenge the bull that’s dished out everyday by people like you. I only wish that Amsterdam had more critical thinkers and citizens who are willing to question, dispute and hold accountable the leaders of this community. Too many citizens sit back, accept the unacceptable and allow many to go unchallenged.

Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Years to you too Kevin.

With love, Gus Ramirez

PS: I dare you to print this.


To know me is to love me.

That’s what I have to keep reminding my wife.

To only know me only through this space in the newspaper (for which the majority of you qualify) is to not really know me.

I self-deprecate countless times each day. I can prove this by showing anyone my laundry bill. And because I pick on myself all the time, I find it incredibly easy to pick on almost everyone else – everyone is fair game in my twisted view of life. I assume (incorrectly, I will admit) that everyone has a sense of humor about themselves. Or at least a sense of humor identical to mine.

One of the problems with misunderstanding lies in the fact that when I am writing in this space, I am doing it to entertain myself. Kind of like letting out a week’s worth of emotions, thoughts, impressions. It’s one of the advantages of having a computer keyboard and a big barrel of ink at my disposal.

I recommend everyone try it at least once.

I can easily see how arrogant, pompous and self-important could be used to build an impression of the cherub pictured above, based on the gibberish I put here most weeks. Nothing I can do about it. It’s the way I sound, but not the way I try to live.

My sense of humor is the only one I have. Some people are offended by it. This I understand. It’s not why I get up in the morning; rather it’s an unintended and unfortunate byproduct of my day.

With that conundrum being impossible to unconnund, I find it easy to not take myself very seriously. You shouldn’t either. Life is too fragile and much too short.

I like doing what I’m doing and, like everyone else, I wish I was better at it. I’m not at a bigger paper for a lot of reasons. And every one that you can think of, I would agree with. One that might not come to your mind is that I actually like working here.

I like the fact that the readers care enough to chew me out because they simply want a better newspaper. Their comments make me resolve to do better.

And I like the fact that it keeps me in clean socks.

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