Monthly Archives: August 2010

Mitigated Gall

Why is it that gall is never mitigated? If you hold back just a tad on your gall does it lose it’s impact entirely? That doesn’t seem right to me. That’s why I will mitigate my gall by owning up to being a hypocrite. If you are going to write about idealism on the Internet, or make observations about the shortcomings of others it is best to fall on your sword at the very outset.

This is also a tactical decision. To stand as Judas and question the disciples, “am I the only one who has sinned?” is to drag everybody down with you where they belong. I remember this kid in middle school who would spit in his own food and rub his yeast roll in his greasy hair before the bullies had a chance to do it for him. This is what I mean by mitigating my gall.

So I am a hypocrite, but you might be one too.

On Monday I get X-rayed, which hopefully means turning the corner towards rehab and exercise. I will have to put down the remote whether I have seen every episode of Wife Swap or not, and I admit- I hate to do it. I have learned some things this summer by watching television. I am, however, the kind of person who finds meaning and symbolism in odd places.

You can look down on Wal-mart and the people who shop there but the entire human experience walks through those doors every day. Sadness, triumph, hope, greed,loneliness, love- it is all there to be found. You can mock Wife Swap, but watch The Daily Show and find some measurable difference there. You can drink bottled water and boycott BP. You can do whatever you want. That’s what hypocrites do.

You don’t need Chaucer to tell you the story. Life is short, and the craft is long to learn.

The themes of humankind are universal, and therefore can be found everywhere.



Clearly I have lost touch with my audience, and that is what happens when you greet every knock at the door with a hiss, or by hiding behind the curtains.

I am on day 71 of shoulder recovery here, with one more week in the sling. The pain meds ran out long ago, unlike the pain. It makes chit chat difficult.

I did make it out over the weekend briefly and saw a few faces from the trail here and there. I saw the Dogboy and we talked about his appreciation for Reagan’s trickle-down economic theory (it is TOO a theory Dogboy says) and how much he loves the band Creed. He said the TEA Party has really changed his life.

Those dudes from Bike Church were hanging around smoking 305 cigarettes in their skinny jeans like usual, getting fired up for some FSU football.

I guess I’m the one who changed in the relationship.

If Wife Swap and Bigfoot don’t do it for you I got nothing.


Wife Swap Bigfoot

An incident of harmonic convergence happened last Friday and I missed it.

The subject of my summer 2010 formal studies, the reality television show Wife Swap, featured a family in my hometown of Sebring, FL, who are self-identified cryptozoologists. For those of you who spend time around here you will immediately recognize the significance.

I am an armchair seeker of mythical creatures myself. Long before I witnessed the black panther jaguarundi for you apologists along the bum trail in a heavily populated area of town, I held a fascination for Bigfoot, Skunk Apes, The Loch Ness monster, Chupacabras, Ivory-billed Wookdpeckers, giant alligators like Cyclops in Highlands Hammock State Park and any other legendary creature with an enduring reputation. As a child I wandered the woods between Lakewood and Sparta roads searching for skunk ape sign. Their swirled beds of wiregrass still warm, I scanned the palmetto brush looking for their veiled eyes, knowing they were near. “It’s OK!” I would yell. “I won’t tell anyone!” Words being so much cheaper than action, the great Florida apes would sit silently, and wait for me to go in search of Kool-aid.

I feel the same way about Wife Swap. For the last two months of seclusion and pain, Wife Swap has been a good friend. I watch it because it also seeks something rare and thrilling. Wife Swap is about action, not words. Wife Swap seeks understanding. To the non-observers like my friends who choose to limit contact with society, home school their child, and make their own soap there can be no discussion of the merits of Wife Swap. Their position is something like this.

1. TV is bad
2. Reality TV is the worst
3. Shows like Wife Swap are the worst of reality TV

The irony is that this makes them perfect candidates for the show.

I see it differently. In spite of producer manipulation, editing, or bribery I think the essence of the show is true. I think it has noble instincts. This is a common trait of mystical creatures. There are stories of bigfoots protecting children*, and Nessie never attacks anyone. I can’t vouch for chupacabras, but maybe they try.

To intermingle two american families of often deeply opposing beliefs is an optimistic endeavor. The non-viewer makes the specious argument that the motive is cynical and the desired outcome is humiliation. What I see is different. I see fear as people are confronted with change. I see bewilderment as they experience new ways of living. I see relief when long-established negative patterns are confronted by a stranger. I see a lot of permission to change. Wife Swap is an antidote to cynicism, not a product of it, and I feel the same about Bigfoot.


*Bigfoot Saves Baby from Flaming Camper” (March 28).
This WWN cover story describes Bigfoot’s heroic rescue of a six-month-old baby in Utah. After a family camper caught fire in Bryce Canyon National Park, Bigfoot appeared from out of nowhere and entered the flaming RV. He soon emerged with the baby in his arms, set her down, and with his fur still smoldering, rushed back into the forest.

Wife Swap Saved My Marriage: New York Times Article

Protest Music

At first glance I thought this was a picture of someone holding an electric guitar in stadium. A closer look established that the man is holding a banjo and standing in a field. I am going to take a leap and assume that is Pete Seeger, titan of American protest music. I saw him just a few years back at the Florida Folk Festival and he was still at it.

I have been thinking about protest music lately, and who carries the banner for the revolutions of the world. Who can can lay claim to being the soundtrack for defiance, discontent, and indignation? What do you listen to on the way out the door, when you are headed off to your own everyday battles? What do teenage jihadists listen to as they leave their homes prepared to kill and die?

Is it hip hop?

Do you still believe in rock-n-roll?

Is Punk dead?

Can Reggae possibly still be relevant?

Does Garth Brooks count?

Don’t be shy. If Eminem is the only thing that gets you out of your chair just tell us. I once left an Eminem album on repeat (that was an accident), full volume as I rode away for a day of trail battle. After hearing it for 4 hours I’m surprised my neighbor hadn’t become more of a fan. It broke him down like Noriega.

So, whether it is a bike ride, a big presentation at the office, holding hands against the oil spill, community recycling, TEA party rally, Pride parade, weekend revival, or OBAMA 2012 (Fired up? Ready to Go!)

When it is time to take your cause to the streets, who sounds the horn?