Friday, February 26, 2010

Economic Spring Cleaning

I’m turning into the guy who talks about walking to school uphill in the snow both ways with lead boots and a backpack full of cinder blocks. Am I getting old? Maybe. I tried listening to Fly 92.3’s morning show the other day, and the two talking heads were like fingernails down a chalkboard. The music was white noise, and the commercials (all those commercials) were in no way directed at me. I don’t know the new songs or hit shows. Lil Wayne means nothing to me. These new cell phones that connect to the Internet, play music, and balance your checkbook, just feel so far over the top. Today I read an article about a 54-year-old man who was laid off from his job as a technology coach. What the heck’s a technology coach and why was such a position created anyway? It obviously wasn’t imperative (it was cut). Who needs all these weird toys, and weird jobs, and crazy extras? It seems all these advances in our society--technology and otherwise--are making more complications than they are conveniences.

What happened to the simple things in life?

When I was growing up things were straight forward. My father worked at GE and my mother gave out food stamps. The phone hung from the wall and the TV had forty channels. After school we played tackle football in the front yard. In the summer: basketball on the blacktop. Sometimes we built forts in the woods. The neighborhood dogs--Buddy, Bear, Shadow, King--would be running around the yard as well. There were no leash laws. Dogs were taught to stay close. It was understood. Every so often there was a dog fight to divert our attention. Nothing serious. Just those crazy mutts settling their differences with a quick tumble. Buddy vs. Bear was a reoccurring classic. Inside the house, there were no computer sites, or Wii systems, or I-Pods. Every parent in the neighborhood worked 9-to-5 and dinner was served at 6pm sharp. Life was simple. No extras.


A few years back my kid brother wanted a tree fort. I told him to score some wood and some scrap parts, build the thing with his buddies like we did. Instead my father went to Home Depot and bought pressure-treated wood. The fort was expertly designed and constructed with winter-ready windows. It was a palace. My brother never stepped foot inside the thing. There's no pride in that. A tree fort, even one with a shingled roof and sliding doors, couldn’t compete with the technology toys. My brother, like all of us, has global access to anything. A day playing in the yard is small potatoes. But it’s not just kids and their I-Pods. It’s everybody, all ages. There’s just too much stuff (cars, people, toys) at our disposal and too many people making their money by pushing this stuff on us. It's gluttony and greed and it ends civilizations. I'm not predicting that. But, I mean, a Blue Tooth. A shoe horn so you don’t even have to bend over to put your shoe on? What’re kidding me? It’s all too much, and slowly, it’s beginning to crack the core of this country.

Why am I saying this?

Simple. We’ve built up an economic system that has to somehow carve out enough niches for so many extras to operate. But now that we’re in the throes of this endless recession, all this gluttony that has defined our country for so many years is costing us the basics: economic and professional security. For every one job created there are six new firings. The truth: these jobs should’ve never been created in the first place. Who needs Lia Kia? I don’t even know what that is. All these state workers and county workers. Wow. Why do we need proficiency experts and corporate consultants? The other day my friend’s cousin tried explaining to me his “tech job” in Boston. I asked him every question I could think of, and this man couldn’t verbalize to me what he did for a living. “I just wouldn’t understand” he kept saying. When I pressed him he came up empty. A person should be able to say what he/she does for a living in two thoughts or less. I sell insurance. I’m a lawyer. I’m a doctor. Those things will never go away, regardless of economic conditions. They’re the bedrock of this country. But I promise in the next few years my friend’s cousin will lose his crazy tech job again, because he can’t even explain what his company role is.

The problem?

People are waiting for this economic downturn to pass. It’s never going to pass. What’s happening right now is the system is shaking away the extra jobs, extra companies, and extra stuff it doesn’t need to function. It’s economic spring cleaning. If you’re a cook, or a construction worker, or math teacher you’ll most likely survive. If you do some funky job you can’t even explain, you’ll likely be looking for work very soon. You can feel bad for the people losing these zany jobs, but also ask yourself if we actually need them to get by as a country. My greatest hope is that we will go back to buying our cars at the local Ford/Chevy store, getting bread from the neighborhood baker, and buying from local businesses before going over the Internet. But I won’t be totally happy till I drive by a backyard and see kids playing tackle football while two neighborhood dogs rumble somewhere to the side. Then I’ll know America’s made it all the way back. Until then . . .

Brian Huba

Patterson Pulls Out!

Reports are that David Patterson has finally "seen" the light. He is not going to seek election this year as NY State Governor. In the wake of allegations against a top aide, Patterson is going to give up this nonsensical run for Albany's top office. Here's what was sent to me 25 minutes ago:

NEW YORK, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Embattled New York Governor David Paterson has decided to withdraw from the race for governor and will not seek election this year, local media reported on Friday.
The Democratic governor, implicated in newly raised questions of impropriety involving a top aide, has been under growing pressure to pull out of the race.
His withdrawal, reported by the New York Daily News and the New York Post, focuses political attention on state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who has been widely expected to challenge Paterson for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Paterson was expected to make an announcement later on Friday morning, the Post reported.
News of Paterson's withdrawal comes a day after a senior official in his cabinet who supervises police resigned in the wake of a newspaper report that the governor and police officers may have improperly intervened in assault allegations against another Paterson aide.
The governor and state police contacted a woman who was seeking a protective order against Paterson aide David Johnson, whom she said assaulted her, Denise O'Donnell, deputy secretary for Public Safety, said in her resignation statement.
According to The New York Times, the unidentified woman accused state police of harassing her to drop her case. Paterson telephoned her before a court hearing and, afterward, she failed to appear in court and her case was dismissed, the Times said.
Cuomo's office is investigating the case, which added to calls for Paterson to withdraw from the election contest.
Paterson was elected lieutenant governor and ascended to the top post two years ago when former Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Maybe now Andrew Cuomo will actually make his intentions to run for Governor public. After all he's the force behind these allegations coming to light and hence ending Patterson's pathetic run in Albany. That's the least Cuomo owes all New Yorkers.

Brian Huba

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

10 Coolest Things About the Capital Region

There’re a lot of cool things about living in New York’s Capital Region. Being two hours from NYC and Boston is nice, but right here at home there’re some places, activities, and sights second to none. I’ve put together a list of the 10 coolest things about the Capital Region. Some of the list is pretty well known. Some may not be. So, for what’s worth, here’s my list of the top 10 coolest things about the Capital Region.

10. John Boyd Thatcher Park: When I read that David Patterson was considering closing Thatcher Park, I was outraged. Who among us, as a kid, hasn’t been on a school field trip to Thatcher? The public pool with the three diving boards always brought out the Rodney Dangerfield in me. (That’s a Back to School reference, people.) The Indian Ladder Trail is one of the coolest things on Earth, and the views of the entire region from so far above are breathtaking. The only man that would order the closing of this gem would be a blind man. Enter Governor Patterson.

9. The Villa Valenti: If you’ve never eaten at the Villa Valenti in Wynantskill, do yourself a titanic favor this weekend. The chicken parm is the best on the planet. That’s right, I said the entire planet. The salad bar is unbeatable and the bread sticks and rolls are amazing. Plus the prices are beyond reasonable: $50.00 for two with all the extras. Not to mention the family that operates the places is top notch. Emma Valenti is one of the best people in the world. Her son Ralph, the current manager, is a great guy. Plus, and this is a biggie, all the waitresses are super-cute. 518-283-1291

8. Vinny’s Barbershop: If you want to get a great haircut and talk a little NY sports, with someone who actually knows NY Sports, Vinny’s barbershop is your spot. Great vibe, lots of cool pictures on the walls, and maybe even an episode of The Sopranos on the waiting-room TV. It’s as authentic as it gets. There’re two locations: Albany and Malta. Trust me, Vinny is the man and you’ll have a blast. And you’ll look great. But funny, when I come in saying make ME look great, Vinny says, “Brian, I’m a barber, not a plastic surgeon.”

7. Riverfest in Troy: There was a time when I loved Alive at Five in Albany. Every Thursday night we’d hit the city’s riverfront for some great music and even better sights. Then afterwards over to N. Pearl Street for chapter two of those summer Thursday nights. But in the last two years, for some reason, the vibe has gone bad. It’s just not that much fun anymore. As sad as it is to say, Alive at Five is through. Enter Riverfest in Troy. It happens every Wednesday night in the summers. The crowd is cool and the atmosphere is all fun. Put on your summer shorts and check it out.

6. Proctor’s Theatre: Located in Schenectady it is Upstate’s answer to NYC’s theatre district. Although it’s not genuine Broadway, Proctor’s still gets runs of many of the greatest plays going. Recently the theatre had a run of Wicked. It’s a very cool place to see a show and it won’t break the bank or force you to make the 160 mile trip to the City. If you’ve never seen a show at Proctor’s, take some time and check it out. You won’t be sorry. And Bill Cosby is coming in August. That’s Gov. Patterson’s all-time favorite dramatic actor.

5. Saint Patrick’s Day in Albany: What can I say? If you like green beer and good fun, it is the coolest day in the Capital Region. Everybody is outside for the parade and the city streets are packed from State Street all the down Pearl. Personally, I say McGeary’s is the best spot. But every place is on fire the entire day. All ages come out for this one. I’ve done it with my friends as long as I can remember. And if you can survive seeing my uncle Jack outside of Jillian’s, you’re in for a fun time. Plus the city taxi cabs really cooperate with getting people to and from safely. And it’s the first time you really feel that spring is coming close!

4. The NYS Museum: I’ve been to museums in NYC and Boston. But I still say the NYS Museum on Madison Avenue in Albany is the best museum I’ve ever been to. From the Iroquois Indian exhibit to the 9/11 Memorial, to the great programs and events, it is just an incredibly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. I like to go when it’s snowing out. There’s always something new to see, plus all the old favorites. Even Gov. Patterson could appreciate all the interesting things to see. Sidebar: my uncle Jack always told me the best place to take a girl for a first date was the museum. Try it sometime, guys. You’ll see why he was right. And if you want to ask him yourself, he’ll be outside Jillian’s on Saint Patty’s Day. The goofy one wearing green.

3. Sandwiches to Go: Located on Maiden Lane in Albany. Sandwiches to Go is the best deli/lunch spot in the city of Albany. Period. The upstairs dining room is a cool little spot to grab some lunch and catch up with a friend. Plus, you might see a local politician every once in a while. Maybe even you know who. There’s two types of people in the world: people who get it and people who don’t. And people who get it know Sandwiches to Go is great. Personal advice: order a turkey BLT on rye with Russian. It rocks.

2. NYS Writers Institute: I know that NYC is the hotbed of all things literature in this country. But don’t tell that to William Kennedy and Donald Faulkner. Pulitzer-Prize Winning author William Kennedy, a lifelong resident of the Capital Region, who started the Institute 25 years ago, has brought Albany some of the world’s most famous authors. Frank McCourt, Richard Russo, Russell Banks. The institute offers free writing workshops for the community at U Albany and the Summer Institute at Skidmore. I have taken part in both. The experience/program was second to none.

1. The 42nd Floor of the Corning Tower: If you’ve never taken a few minutes to check out the observation deck of the Corning Tower in downtown Albany, I highly recommend it. The Corning Tower is the tallest building from Montreal to Poughkeepsie and the view(s) from way up there are really cool. You can even see Gov. Patterson’s mansion to the right. It’s easy. After a quick security check, just walk into the lobby, follow the signs to the observation elevator, and jump on. The observation deck even has a few of those quarter-operated binocular machines. Awesome!

Honorable Mentions: Siena Saints Basketball, Colonie Center/Crossgates Mall, Andy Rooney, Jack's Sliders, NY Giants Training Camp, Washington Park's Play in the Park, Soundoff with Sinkoff, Saratoga Raceway, Guptill's, Nipper the RCA Dog, Albany Aqua-Ducks, Jack Diamond's House on Lark Street, Bayou Cafe, Albany Medical Center, Jiminy Peak/Alpine Slide, The Great Escape, The Orchard, Lebanon Valley, Memorial Day Weekend in Lake George, Tulip Fest

Tell me about any that I forgot. Well known or not so known. We'll run a Part Two List!!

Brian Huba

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tiger's Robotic Apology: Pathetic!

TIGER: Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids. I owe all those families a special apology. I want to say to them that I am truly sorry.

I know that, traditionally, sports apologies are pretty lame. But Tiger’s speech yesterday was without doubt the most pathetic thing I've ever seen. I'm not going to get into the details surrounding what Tiger did, with whom, where, and how many times. The tabloids have done a sufficient job with that. What I’m interested in is what happened yesterday, and what it says about the state of sports stars and their impact on society. Many years ago Charles Barkley famously said, “I am not a role model.” He was right. The comment came with backlash, of course. But at least he was a human being, shooting from the hip. Today’s athlete is nothing more than an agent-driven, PR-ready robot. And Tiger Woods is the Pied Piper.

TIGER: I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish. People want to know how I could have done these things to my wife, Elin, and to my children.

What angers me most is how over-the-top fake and devoid of all humanness Tiger’s apology was. I understand that athletes throughout history have handled controversy in the same cookie-cutter fashion. But yesterday’s display was insultingly robotic. This was a new low. From Tiger’s practiced pauses between scripted lines to his hyper-intense eye contact with the camera, it was so staged, and faked, and phony, I don’t know how anyone, at any age, could ever take this clown seriously again, as a person or athlete.

TIGER: I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I am embarrassed that I have put you in this position.

As a sports fan and human being, I simply don’t understand why yesterday’s setup had to be so contrived and artificial. Tiger, if you’re going to hold a press conference after 3 months of cryptic silence, why not allow the press to enter and ask actual questions, even if they're predetermined? Why not give your fans and sponsors, the people who've made you a billionaire, the respect of an honest, human response to your insanely-selfish acts? And if not that, can you at least give the guise of honesty and humanness? What does yesterday’s disgusting display say to children and young people who might’ve admired Tiger in the past? That you can behave so far outside the boundaries of decency then answer for it by staging some parroted farce a five year old could see as phony. All this coming from a guy who talks about teaching children honesty and integrity on his website. Could this agent-operated joke of a human being be any more of a hypocrite? It was perhaps the most disgusting 13 minutes in sports history. My only solace is in hoping that Tiger Woods, as a PR-product, means nothing to teenagers in this country. I can only hope.

TIGER: I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by.

As silly as Kobe Bryant’s accused-of-rape apology was, at least it was somewhat human. At least Kobe wasn’t reading off a script like a damn puppet. At least Kobe’s wife was by his side, which is more than I can say for Elin Woods. And The Alex Rodriguez charade with Peter Gammons last spring (when Rodriquez was accused of steroid abuse) was so full of lies and half-answers, it was laughable. But compared to Tiger, A-Rod is Jerry Seinfeld. The truth is Tiger's always been a spoiled, selfish baby, from the temper tantrums on the golf course to the awkward magazine spreads, filled with photos of a man in love with himself. Personally, I don’t give a damn about Tiger Woods as an athlete. I recognize his greatness but have always been aware of his robotic way, and because of that I’ll take Kobe Bryant or Derek Jeter over Woods anytime. Why? Because in those two I sense genuineness, something that tells me they are actually human.

TIGER: It's hard to admit that I need help, but I do. For 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in inpatient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I'm facing. I have a long way to go. But I've taken my first steps in the right direction.

The truth is Tiger is a total phony in every way. His display yesterday was a disgrace. And if his handlers think that’s enough for this mess to be forgotten, they’re sadly mistaken. You’re talking about a guy, in Woods, who actually married an underwear model who can’t even speak English. Come on, really? Do real people actually do that? Every aspect of his life has been handled in robotic fashion, even his discretions against Elin were so assembly-line in their execution. Trust me I understand the importance of high-profile people having a plan to take on the press, to keep actual emotion suppressed. I get it. At what point though does it just get insulting? If Tiger, for the first time in his phony life, unhooked the puppet strings and just gave some halfway-honest answers, America would’ve moved closer to forgetting. And I know if he comes back and plays great golf, this embarrassing stretch will seem less important, but I hope people never forget how pathetically fake Woods was yesterday.

TIGER: I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years.

At this point in the scripted speech (when Woods talked about Buddhism) I was ready to puke. But the most shocking revelation I reached yesterday was the fact that Tiger’s over-the-top phony display, constantly reminded me of a political speech, something our elected officials would attempt to sell us. Of course Tiger is a puppeteered joke. But the fact that he looked and sounded so much like our national leaders, was alarming to say the least.

Brian Huba

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bucking the Odds: Celebrity Non-Deaths

Driving back from NYC on Wednesday, a strange conversation came up in the car. We began discussing celebrities that we couldn’t believe weren’t dead yet. Horrible? Sure. But the discussion turned pretty interesting at points. As anyone who knows me will say, I always have a top ten list ready for any topic that may come up, no matter how bizarre or outside the box. The following list is made up of ten celebrities I can’t believe are still plugging along. There are actors, musicians, and political figures. Some are old, some are young, some in-between. For what it’s worth, here’s my top ten, in order.

10. John Goodman, 57. When Goodman got Roseanne in ’88 he was easily 300lbs. Every year since then he’s ostensibly gained 10-20lbs. I simply don’t know how long this level of beer-guzzling gluttony can go on for. John Candy hardly hit 42. Maybe Goodman should be considered Good luck.

9. Charlie Sheen, 44. This guy’s been a train wreck for 20 years. He’s had problems with everything from prostitution to drug abuse. In an interview a few years back, Charlie Sheen said he was in such bad shape that Slash from Guns N’ Roses had to tell him to take it easy. Wow. Didn’t Charlie recently drive his car off a cliff? Wow again.

8. Betty White, 88. In 1985 when White was cast as Rose Nylund on the Golden Girls (the original Sex & the City), she was really, really old. That was 25 years ago! At 88, White isn’t just alive she’s still making movies. Last year in The Proposal she played a grandmother who faked a heart attack. A few more takes of that fake-out and there could’ve been a serious on-set tragedy.

7. Keith Richards, 66. OK I admit this is a pretty generic one. But come on. The guy’s pushing 70 and he looks like a California Raisin. He’s boozed hard, partied hard, and toured hard for 40-plus years. There’s even a story that he once fell out of a tree, and obviously, survived. Maybe hanging out with Johnny Depp has kept him young. What can I say this 132lb prune is indestructible. Hang Fire!

6. Lindsey Lohan, 23. The truth is Lohan was once a great young actress, in a business where there aren’t too many of them right now. If you can’t see a tragic ending coming for this kid, get your eyes checked because you’re probably blind. I believe Lohan’s death will be, in many ways, the end of this Look At Me Generation. Of course this Hollywood story has been told 1,000 times. But Lohan is going to be a bad one. And, believe me: it’s coming.

5. Ozzy Osbourne, 61. Come on, what do I really have to say about this guy? He once bit the head off a bat. At 61, he can’t talk or walk straight. He’s abused every drug on Earth. He was the lead singer of Black Sabbath, who had his rock soul ripped out for some crappy reality show. Plus he’s married to that Sharon woman. One would think that sufficient motivation to get busy dying. Nope. Ozzy’s still hanging around. Too bad I can’t say the same thing for that bat he ate. I AM IRON MAN.

4. Artie Lange, 42. In some pathetic attempt to be like his Hollywood heroes John Belushi and Chris Farley, fat-and-troubled comic Artie Lange has done practically everything possible to cut his life short. Most recently he stabbed himself 9 times in the torso. Come on Artie, the outrageous eating, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and constant suicide attempts have gotten you nowhere in this regard. Stick around, Maybe you’re meant to cure cancer.

3. Geraldo Rivera, 66. This guy would wrestle a mountain lion for ratings. He has been to Iraq and Afghanistan. He took on Satanism. He’s feuded with the New York Times. He’s been spit on and punched in the face. Nothing has stopped him or shut him up.

2. Mike Tyson, 43. Iron Mike. This guy had dead at 25 written all over him, so we thought. The 80’s were about three Mikes: Tyson, Jordan, and Jackson. The more things change the more they stay the same. I don’t know what else to say. How the heck is Michael Jackson dead and Mike Tyson is still alive? As Iron Mike would say: This is luda-kiss.

1. Osama bin Laden, 52? So let me get this straight. The man who proclaimed responsibility for 9/11 has been able to elude the most powerful armed forces in world history for ten years? One of the chief purposes of our Middle East occupation has been to pull this guy from his hole and parade his head-on-a-stick down the streets of Kabul. But he’s outsmarted us at every turn. Really? Didn’t it take us like 3 weeks to capture Saddam and his sons? I’m beginning to think that this bin Laden guy might be a boogeyman our government has invented to keep us in fear of the “next attack.” Doesn’t he have something like a 25-million dollar bounty on his head? Nobody, not one person in the 3rd world has been tempted to tip us off to the whereabouts of a 6’7” Muslim for that kind of cash? This guy should’ve been on ice eight years ago.

Honorable mentions. Louie Anderson, Axl Rose, Mickey Rourke, Stevie Nicks, Howard Stern, Dick Clark.
Brian Huba

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Magic Can't Happen Twice

The worst job I ever had was when I was 21 and worked three weeks at Armory Garage. Armory Garage wasn’t my first stint in the car biz. But it was my last.

Before Armory I worked three years at Orange Ford. My uncle Dave Barden was the commercial accounts manager back then. He worked with a guy named Rich Bell in the attic office above the showroom. When I was 18, Dave hired me to be a driver for the dealership. Every morning I went to class at HVCC then I’d speed down 787, make it to Central Ave in time to grab Dave’s lunch then go to work. I loved working for Dave. He was a selling machine. He didn’t walk the retail floor. He sold over the phone from that attic office. All day long you’d hear the receptionist page, “Dave Barden, please pick up extension 555.” I always got a kick out of that. Dave smoked three packs of marbs a day. He wore the same suit a week straight. He was a practical joker who’d give you the shirt off his back. He was the best car salesman in Albany.

Soon the other sales managers dubbed me a lackey of sorts. There was Vince Speciale, John Galuski, Dave Mosher, Dave Passanno, Bob Carr, eventually Paul Vasko. I’d gas their demos and collect their laundry. While my friends were away at college I ran errands for Orange Ford. Those guys made me part of the team. I idolized their hard-living style and love for selling. So when the opportunity to become Dave’s full-time assistant came up, I begged for the job. At first Dave said no, get your education. But I persisted so he relented. No more driver. I was an administrative assistant. As long as I kept up college.

I answered Dave’s phone calls and typed sales quotes. I gained 30 pounds in 6 months from Mr. Subb. Every Friday I got to drive Dave to the Beff’s off Central. That’s where all the salesmen got gassed after work. I waited in the corner with a cola and the car keys while they drank and talked about Orange Ford. The scene was way too old for me. But I loved it. I was convinced these guys lived the best lives.

A year later Dave was dead. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in October and died the following March. He worked that sales phone right to the horrible end. I sat ten feet from him every day for the last year of his life. I’ll never forget that. He was 33. Shortly after that my time at Orange Ford was over. I hated VP Carl Keegan for taking me away from Orange Ford. But today I say he did me the greatest favor of my life. A few months later Dave Passanno died by falling down and breaking his neck. Passanno didn’t have a family. It took days to find him. Later on Paul Vasko died of a heart attack at 40. A lot of hard life lessons were learned back then.

Six months later, feeling directionless and trying to recapture the Orange Ford magic, I took a job at Armory Garage: assistant leasing manager. But magic can’t happen twice. With all apologies to Donald Metzner, I hated everything about Armory Garage. Still do. The place was overrun with soulless robots, no genuine passion for the business. They didn’t swallow down a fast-food lunch at the sales desk and sell three cars at the same time. They robotically ate Caesar salads in a stuffy “staff lunch room.” The GM at the time was the biggest stiff in the business. Think Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. The phones never rang. The showroom was like a museum. And don't get me started on that awful Armory Center and that dark, depressing "indoor" car lot. There was never any Orange-Ford action, and bustle, and noise. It was like working in a glass-walled cemetery, rigid, a lot of corporate rules. It was where the human spirit came to die. Think Joe vs. the Volcano. Need proof? Visit their super-boring, cookie-cutter website at It's a graveyard. I never fit in there. I had a will to live. I wanted the action-packed, fast-selling style of Orange Ford. Orange guys loved the customer, knew the biz inside and out, lived the biz. Still do. Armory Garage had the personality of a porch swing. Still does.

The day I got fired from Armory, two feet of fresh snow fell on Albany. I was called on my desk phone, told to report to the HR office at 9A.M. The two people who worked right next to me played dumb when I told them about the HR phone call. So I trudged through the falling snow to the HR trailer, and some drone who looked like Miss. Piggy gave me my walking papers, “conflict of personality.” No duh. I still remember sitting in that trailer-office when a knock on her door came. When she opened it, two hands holding a cardboard box with my belongings could be seen. No face. Those two cowardly, no-good snakes who worked in that leasing office had packed up my crap the second I left. The leasing manager, my boss, was nowhere to be found. And some used-car slob I didn't even know laughed in my face as I made the cardboard-box walk of shame. The last thing I remember about that day was standing coatless in knee-high snow at 9:30A.M., locked out of the Armory building with my cardboard box, staring down at the Albany skyline. It was cold. I was 20 credits short of an associate’s. My time in the car business was over. It was time to find "my" calling, "my" destiny. So I did.

Now I have 3 college degrees, my master's finished in the St. Rose building Orange owner Carl Touhey donated. I’ll buy every car I ever drive from Rich Bell at Orange Ford. He was there when Dave died. He stepped to the plate in his place. He’s family. Orange Ford was the best car dealership in the world when I worked there. Still is. The moral: magic can’t happen twice. In these hard economic times, if you have to fire somebody, do it with dignity. Please. Not like that heartless bunch at Armory. And when you’re in the market, Orange Motors over Armory every time. When you go in to buy, if Carl Keegan will let you go up to the old attic office, now a space for storage, you can still see a huge framing of Dave Barden hanging on the wall.
Rich Bell - Commercial Accounts Manager Phone Extension 454

Brian Huba

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is This Really What We're Worried About Right Now?!

When I heard that NY State Senators were in a marathon meeting behind closed doors Tuesday night, I said to myself: finally our elected officials are getting down to the business of saving jobs and balancing this unbelievable 8-billion-dollar deficit. Even though I don’t believe our elected officials should be praised for anything at this point, I was happy to see, even the guise, of good production. Turns out that marathon meeting had nothing to do with saving jobs or balancing the budget. Nope. These guys were deciding whether to expel some Senator from Queens who got caught on security camera dragging his girlfriend through a lobby. The senator I’m referring to is Hiram Monserrate. And yes he was given his walking papers after a 53-8 vote.

Is this really what we’re worried about right now?!

With the state’s unemployment rate at about 11%, and reports that 30-plus teachers at Averill Park, and maybe as many as 100 at Albany City Schools will be on the breadline by June, the Senate’s attention is focused on this nonsense? Really? As a voter, there’s nothing I could care about less than whether they dump some useless senator who beat up his girlfriend on security camera. “The senate can’t turn a blind eye to acts of domestic violence,” said Sen. Eric Schneiderman. But the Senate CAN turn a blind eye to a ballooning deficit and the fact that thousands of NY residents are losing their shirt?

Sometimes perception is reality. And right now the perception is that these buffoons in State Government are more worried about themselves and their own in-house issues. Like I said: You’re asking multi-millionaires to dirty their hands with our problems. Never happen. On the heels of the vote to blow out Monserrate, that clown Sen. Ruben Diaz from the Bronx moronically screamed to reporters “We don’t have a leader” over and over again. If I was a senator I would’ve said, “Who cares about this crap? I’m interested in saving New Yorker’s jobs.”

Do I dispute the decision to dump a woman beater? Of course not. But honestly, it’s nothing more than the latest incident of unethical behavior by an elected official in this country, and this state. And I really believe there are WAY BIGGER issues at hand right now. So many of these guys are cheaters, and wife beaters, and whatever else anyway. Just find a way to save jobs for the people who really need the help. Some lousy senator who can’t control his anger or his hands is really small potatoes at this point.

After the summer gridlock at the Capitol and this deepening deficit, I’m beginning to believe that Albany’s political bunch is nothing more than a band of damn idiots. And this fear was reinforced when News 9’s Capital Tonight reported that senators almost came to blows when deciding Monserrate’s fate behind closed doors. So let me get this straight. When determining whether or not to boot some guy for violence, they themselves nearly resorted to violence? Yeah. Sounds about right.

As I watched the vote come across the Senate floor and listened as Monserrate was allowed to give his farewell speech, promising his legal fight was far from over, I wondered if the 31 teachers at Averill Park, the 100-plus at Albany City, and the countless thousands more out of work across the state would have a chance to give the same kind of sendoff on the local news. The fact is people are losing their jobs by the basket load. But for some reason this woman beater gets to carry on about the injustice against him, poor him. You want injustice you dummy?! Try working hard, doing everything right, scraping by at bill’s time, and losing your job because this state can’t balance a budget! The fact is you dragged a woman through a lobby, thinking you were above the law, and you got caught. Legal fight!? Forget you. You get to go back to being a millionaire, while the rest of NY’s unemployed are watching their whole life go down the drain.

And if this ridiculous waste of time and resources isn’t enough to enrage you, how about the renovation project at the Capitol Building in Albany? Are you kidding me? Talk about self serving! As people are being given pink slips like crazy, the Capitol is getting a full makeover with a price tag in the tens of millions. Five minutes later, I read how Paterson’s budget would mean afterschool care programs for the poor are getting cut. But hey, no biggie, right? The Capitol is getting new carpets. So that’s good.

Everything about our current State government is a total joke. From this cartoonish senate to our governor who’s been accused of everything from cocaine use to swinging. New Yorkers your livelihood is truly in the hands of total idiots.

Brian Huba

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Whatever Happened To Earning It?

Five years ago I dated a girl who made $150.00 a week as a Chili’s hostess and spent $500.00 a week on pedicures and pocketbooks. By the time she was 25, she was 30K in debt and applying to another credit-card company. One day I said to her, “whatever happened to earning it?” She didn’t like that. The relationship didn’t work out.

Now our state is in an 8-billion-dollar grave and this country is STILL teetering on the precipice of a second Great Depression. If you want to blame the Political infrastructure, I’m right there with you. We’re asking multi-millionaires to lose sleep over Middle America’s deficit. They’ll do the monkey-dance and meet behind “closed doors” but it gets worse every day. I don’t know ONE person who’s not worried about his/her job. Not ONE.

How’s this happened?

I have some theories. This country has lost all patience. When I was young my parents bought an $80,000 house and over the next 20 years built it up to a $200,000 house. They took their time, lived within their means, and eventually all their hard work paid off. They showed me what making a fiscally-sound life plan really meant. But now? You have 20 year olds on Ruby Tuesday’s salaries buying 250,000 houses they can’t afford. Why? Because Americans want it RIGHT NOW. Logic and reason have gone out the window. Grocery baggers and fast-food employees want Tony Soprano’s digs and the flashy car to match. The greedy banks have been giving it to them for years. Make the quick buck on Joe Public and worry about the fallout later. Well, later is here and the fallout has arrived. Foreclosures are everywhere and if the housing market’s in the toilet, the whole system falls apart. No industry feeds more industries than housing.

But we already understand that. Sure.

Here’s what I don’t understand. I have a cousin who’s 21 and another, he's 18. Neither has really worked a single day in their whole life. Yet she drives a $20,000 car and he’s going to Italy next month. I’ve been working since I was 14. I can’t even afford Little Italy. Am I jealous? No. I’m worried because the message sent is that you don’t have to work hard to have the nice things in life. You just get them. You are ENTITLED to them. It’s this entire generation. The message has been softened. We are now telling kids, YES, this world DOES owe you. So when they enter said world, that mindset stays the same, and by the time they’re 25 they’ll be 30K in debt (on top of college debt). The problem? Nobody’s taught these people the value of working to own something outright, not owing some credit card company your shirt. There's a lost joy in knowing they can never take it away from you. It's yours.

How do I know this? I’ve seen it firsthand. See above.

What about college? If someone gets a B.A. then they don’t have to work hard, they can work smart. Are you kidding? This pipe-dream that a college degree means the cushy corner-office is a joke. Everybody goes to college now. Need proof? HVCC just broke its all-time enrollment record this semester. You need a B.A. to wash dishes in this country. But the problem is nobody wants to climb the corporate ladder. They want the big-shot title today. Honestly, college acceptance is too easy. It needs to be much tougher. We need college/vocational schools to be a farm system for our society. The fact is higher education is cake, and anyone who can fill out a Loan Application Form can get it. There’s no weeding out. Then college degrees are everywhere, kids who can't get jobs are in debt to loan providers. It’s education inflation. But hey, the universities got their money, and that’s all that matters. Right?

It’s not only the young though. Look at Barack Obama. Nowadays you can be elected President with nothing more than a couple “real” years of political experience? I thought a man/woman took a shot at the Oval Office after a lifetime of public servitude, after decades of being a player on the National Scene. Guess not. But what choice did we have? We had to elect Obama. His opponent ran with a woman who couldn’t even name a single Supreme Court case. How about the former Broncos’ QB Jay Cutler, who demanded a trade last season, and got exactly what he wanted? Now he's stinking it up in Chicago. How does an NFL player who’s never won a meaningful game and is making millions for it get to DEMAND a trade, and GET it!? What’s the message there? Whine and cry and be rewarded?

A metaphor for America: the parking lot outside the Jenny Craig in Latham is packed year round. The same parking lot outside ABC Fitness? Packed in January for resolutions. After that? Not so much. Give me the magic pill. The quick fix.

The truth is we live in an I-Phone-DVR-society. We don’t even have to sit through commercials anymore! Everything is instant. I WANT IT. I DESERVE IT. GIVE IT TO ME. Between cell phones, and scanners, and Twitter, It’s all about me. This world OWES me! Patience and working for it is a thing of the past, and because of that this upside-down country will continue to slip into the financial abyss. And until we turn the I-Pods and Facebook pages off, I don’t know how we reverse this generational mindset. And that makes me sad.

Brian Huba

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superbowl Ads: Best and Worst

Superbowl XLIV was a great game. The Saints are champs after Peyton Manning, who may be the greatest QB ever, made the critical mistake, a 4th-quarter interception that sealed the game for the underdogs from Orleans. Who Dat Nation now sits atop the NFL Mountain. Savor the flavor, boys, because this time next year the Lombardi trophy will belong to Tom Coughlin and the NY Giants.

For those who didn’t have a dog in the fight, it was the commercials that kept us coming back. For volume, Doritos and Bud Light ruled the day. The auto makers had some nice spots, and upstarts like,, and Career Builder made it to the main stage, at about 3 million per 30 seconds. The commercial most people were talking about this morning was the Leno-Letterman-Oprah spot. As for me, I’ve made a list of the best and worst commercials. So, for what it’s worth, here's what I have.

The Best:

Hyundai Sonota “10 Years Strong” featuring Brett Favre as the NFL MVP of 2020. It was a funny take on the fact that Brett Favre will never retire. And the commercial made its point about the staying power of the Sonota.

Career Builder’s casual Friday. As someone who thinks casual Friday is ridiculous, you can imagine how I’d feel about working in an office with 50 people without pants. I have never understood why people want to wear jeans to a place of business, but the concept was funny, and it made me want to check out Career Builder’s site.

The Dodge Charger! Man’s Last Stand. Whatever you need me to do, I will do, just give me my damn Dodge Charger. I am actually going to run a price check on the Charger today. I might look into buying one. Mission accomplished, Dodge.

The Bud Bridge. Clever and funny. Man’s quest to get his beer at any cost. Plus a complete defiance of physics: three-quarter-ton delivery truck driving over suspended bodies. What’s not to love? The guy who’s so confident he gave birth to a baby tiger with his bare hands and saved a cheerleading team from a high-powered tornado. But when it comes to buying cars, he’s clueless, confused, lost. What can I say? My life story condensed to a 30-second spot.

This one was my favorite! Budweiser’s Nothing Comes Between Friends, Especially Fences. The story of a calf who becomes friends with a Clydesdale. Then the calf grows up to a bull, but the friendship with the Budweiser Clydesdale doesn’t end. And there’s a Dalmatian dog. It’s great.

The Worst:

Every single Doritos commercial was dumb. First off, how does Doritos have enough money to run a spot in virtually every commercial break during the Superbowl? Who in their right mind eats Doritos past the age of ten? I think Doritos even sponsored Manning’s 4th-Quarter interception. The worst of the worst: The one with the guy in the coffin filled with Doritos, faking his own death to watch football and eat crappy chips. Talk about a quick vision of Hell.

Bud Light: Sign of a Good Time. Enough already with the cliché beer commercials about everyone having a super-good time in some crazy location because a six-pack of Bud Light showed up. I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in attending a party with 20-plus people, with only two six-packs of light beer to go around. Can’t these beer companies think up some other, interesting way to sell ordinary alcohol? Flowers in a box vs. flowers not in a box? The woman who played the commercial’s lead was completely unlikeable and I can’t think of a smaller concern in life than whether flowers come in a brown box or not a brown box.

Dr. Pepper. A Little KISS of Cherry. Everything and anything with the band KISS is annoying, and dumb, and stinks of has-been energy. What’s wrong guys? Couldn’t get Pepsi or Cola to bite on this silly charade? The only thing worse than KISS is midgets dressed as KISS.

The E-Trade Baby. Ahh!!!!! Enough. It wasn’t funny three years ago! It’s not funny now! It will never be funny! How come that baby never ages? On second thought: Who cares!!!

The Worst Commercial of the Night. Leno-Letterman-Oprah at a lousy Superbowl party, sitting on the couch above the Ed Sullivan Theatre, where Dave used to bring his interns. Why was it so bad for me? Easy. I can’t stand Jay, Oprah, or Dave. Put them together? Armageddon. Does Jay Leno ever NOT wear that jean dress-shirt when not doing the Tonight Show? Ever? And, in the same night we see 1,000 Doritos commercials, why wasn’t Leno--a former Doritos salesman--eating Doritos on Letterman’s intern-couch? “He’s just saying that cuz I’m here.” It would've been funnier if Conan came in as the maid.


The Rodent Violinist who gets the hot tub and the blonde in the end.
The Green Police. Very funny

For moré check out

Brian Huba

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Patterson Bombshell: Client #10?

I am hearing that the New York Times is sitting on a bombshell story about our Governor David Patterson. If you'll remember a few weeks back, the Governor denied rumors that he was snuggling with a woman who was not his wife in a New Jersey restaurant. Of course Patterson has already admitted to an affair in the past, and there are rumors that he is a "swinger." With all that considered, it sounds like the story the New York Times has is of a sexual nature, and the Governor will resign as soon as tomorrow!

Of course the Governor's office is denying all such reports, and says Patterson has no plans to surrender his position. Despite this denial, it looks like there's a chance we might have another Eliot Spitzer episode on our hands. Here's a few news clips I've been sent regarding this story:

UPDATE: We spoke with a member of Governor Paterson's communications team who denies that the governor is planning to resign. The official confirmed that a New York Times story is in the works but says it will not run Monday.
Original post: This past week, a rumor emerged that the New York Times is working on a huge bombshell with plans to "Spitzerize" New York
governor David Paterson.
Several media outlets have reported on these rumors.
Elizabeth Benjamin at The Daily News describes the report as "much worse" than the governor's previous admission of an affair with a state employee, though she declines to name NYT by name.
We've now heard from a single source familiar with the goings on at the Governor's office that the story will likely drop on Monday, and that the governor's resignation will follow.
We've not yet confirmed the timing of the article or the governor's future plans.

UPDATE BELOW] The rumor mill is churning right now about a "big, damaging" New York Times "bombshell" story that supposedly features some ruinous dirt about the personal life of Governor David Paterson. Elizabeth Benjamin at the Daily News hears it "will be far worse than his acknowledged extramarital affair with a former state employee." Remember when you first heard about Eliot Spitzer's involvement with prostitutes, and everyone was like, "Okay, so who the hell is David Paterson?" Well, let's get to know current Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch! (We would link to his official New York State website, but, heh, that doesn't even exist.)
UPDATE: The Times Union has pointed out two recent rumors swirling around Paterson. One, of course, was highly publicized (nuzzling and kissing a young woman who was not his wife at a New Jersey restaurant). The other rumor, which didn't get as much traction, has a State Trooper opening the door to a utility closet at the governor's mansion and finding Paterson and an unidentified woman (both clothed) embracing. Paterson's staff vehemently denies all that, but it's also rumored that he and his wife have an "open" marriage and are swingers—a lifestyle choice that would raise eyebrows but probably not a "bombshell" that would force resignation. Casey Seiler at the Times Union writes:
Rumors about a possible publication date for the story have ranged from Monday to today; the latest suggests Sunday, but it’s hard to believe that the Times would hold the story much longer when knowledge that it’s pending has put every other reporter in the Capitol and elsewhere on the scent. Possible reasons for delay include editorial fine-tuning and thorough legal review.
Someday, a sociologist might be able to use an analysis of the rumors currently flying around the Capitol as their dissertation topic. Information from credible sources slowly becomes wilder as it spreads out. Sometimes, the chain of information is circular: A calls B, who calls C; then C calls A, who discovers that the story has changed markedly on its journey.
As for Ravitch, you may recall that he is old and white and not blind, and was sworn in at Peter Luger's in Brooklyn. The Wikipedia tells us his family history in New York dates back to the 19th century, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia, and went on to Yale Law School. Ravitch was also the third generation to take over his family's construction company, and he's credited with building the first integrated housing projects in Washington, D.C. He ran the MTA from 1979 through 1983 (declining a salary), and Mayor Ed Koch once called him a "Renaissance man." It's unclear what role hookers, cocaine, and extra-marital sex play in his past, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

No matter what side of the political fence you stand on, I think all New Yorkers can admit it would be sad to see two consecutive Governors have to step aside for sex scandals. I guess we'll have to see what happens this week. Stay tuned.
Brian Huba

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nobody's In Charge

I came to an ugly (albeit reoccurring) realization last night when watching News Channel 9’s Capital Tonight: This country’s in trouble. Obvious? Of course. But I see things differently. Our problem: we’re leaning on an 18th century system of politics to bail us out of modern-day deficits. The government that runs this country was installed to move us away from the wealthy, out-of-touch Brits, who had no business controlling a country they could not relate to, a country that wasn’t theirs. In the beginning it was rule by the people, for the people. But now?

What else that was started in 1776 is still around and relevant today? What else hasn’t evolved virtually at all in 230-plus years? I came up with this when watching Senator Kristen Gillibrand drone on about all that must be done to turn NY State around. That’s when I realized: We’re asking multi-millionaires, who’ll never have a financial worry, to dirty their manicured hands with this 8-billion-dollar deficit. 8 BILLION. Are you kidding me? How does that happen? I’ll be the first to admit, all of Gillibrand’s scripted replies sounded great, and her $400.00 hairdo was perfect, but it soon became Charlie Brown talk. Wah. Wah. Wah. Now I’m not attacking just Gillibrand. She’s one of the many privileged class who, I guess, is supposed to represent us. But as I watched, I thought to myself: What does this woman have to do with me and the life I’m clinging to? I just don’t believe she actually cares if I lose my job and burn through my pathetic savings. How much sleep can someone in her position lose over a soaring unemployment rate that will never affect her. I guess she could lose a re-election bid and have to go back to just being a millionaire. But at this point that might be relief.

Actually I first thought this as I watched that birdbrain Sarah Palin on the campaign trail. If you want to examine our broken system, look no further than the fact that the greatest political lightweight in world history was three heartbeats away from the Oval Office. As she stumped from California to Georgia, delivering scripted speeches and half-practiced sound bites, I said to myself this woman is nothing more than a puppet in name-brand business suits. For her, it was about putting on an expensive wardrobe and having some fun seeing the country, or “going rogue,” whatever that means. But the truth is she’s no different than Obama, or Patterson, or Gillibrand, or Schumer. She’s just far more stupid. And people, please, if you think Palin would’ve been good for this country you operate so far outside of reality it doesn’t matter anyway. Palin would stomp on your throat for a book deal and spot on Oprah. And if you think any of these other figures are going to fix this country, save your job, spare your retirement, and pace your future, you’re insane. If you don’t believe me, consider this: How concerned would you be about your 40K a year job (and my job) if tomorrow you won the NY Lottery and became famous? Human instinct always wins. And our instinct is to take care of ours before anything else. In other words, you’re putting your wellbeing in the hands of people who will never know your name or your problems. 1% of this country controls 99% of the wealth. This economic crisis is actually making your elected officials richer (that 1%) while the rest of us sink. We’re right back where we started in the 1770’s. Now they’re the British and we’re still Middle America. I ask: Do you think Joe Bruno cared more about you or pleasing his own ego? He's one of just millions. Or 8 billion.

Do I have a solution? Sure. Have a bus driver take Schumer’s job and elect a second-shift janitor as junior senator. Governor: find a guy who’s built a mom-and-pop from the ground up. Let them have a crack at our 8-billion-dollar deficit. Sound ridiculous? Is it really worse than what we have now? This state’s infrastructure is crumbling and we’re looking to a blind guy for answers. How’s that for irony? Hey where’s Spitzer? Being a billionaire in Manhattan. And tomorrow you’re going to wake up and be out of a job, with a house you can’t pay for, and a 401K that went bye-bye. Then what? Elect Andrew Cuomo? You mean that obnoxiously-rich guy who won’t even say if he’s gonna run? Really?

The answer is I don’t have an answer. But I promise you our “elected officials” don’t have one either. Who could have time between fancy luncheons and charity benefits? If you think they’ll save you, you’re wrong. Middle Americans better take measures to save themselves, no matter what. But that’s not what our democracy is built on. Yeah, tell that to the guy who just lost everything he ever worked for. Faith may be overrated. Smarten up. The truth is nobody else is going to right the ship, because nobody’s in charge.

Brian Huba

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Can Somebody Please Explain . . .

Can somebody please explain . . . why rock-icon Eric Clapton is making T-Mobile commercials at 70 years old? Clapton is the greatest guitar player who’s ever lived. He’s a three-time inductee to the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. This is the man who wrote “Bell Bottom Blues” and delivered the seven-minute guitar solo at the end of “Layla.” For God’s sake, he stole George Harrison’s wife. Now, he’s hawking third-rate cell phones? Why? It can’t be for money or relevance. In London there’s walls spray-painted with the words “Clapton is God.” Come on slow hand. Leave this work for hacks like Luke Wilson and no-talents like Nick Lachey.

Can somebody please explain . . . how movies like When in Rome, Leap Year, and Dear John actually get made? Following perhaps the greatest year in movies ever (08-09) where we were given flicks like the Wrestler, Slumdog Millionaire, Gran Torino, and Frozen River, 2010 is looking like it’s going to be pretty bad. Lovely Bones was a disaster of epic proportions, and now these cliché, unoriginal, run-of-the-mill romcoms. Is there anyone in Hollywood who can make something besides this ridiculous junk? I give you a brilliant quote from the upcoming piece of garbage She’s Outta Your League: "You're not supposed to be on your phone, it's bad for the plane." friend of Patty (played by Krysten Ritter) then says: "Oh, I'm sorry, are you a plane doctor? No, so shut the hell up." What can I say? This crap writes itself.

Can somebody please explain . . . why the NFL insists on playing the Pro Bowl? Whether it’s before, after, or during the Super Bowl, this glorified scrimmage is the most irrelevant three hours in sports. Who cares about a game where our gridiron giants play at half-speed and nothing at all is at stake? Why doesn’t the NFL just dub players Pro Bowlers and dump the game, same way college does with their All-American Team.

Can somebody please explain . . . why someone who belongs to the middle class would spend 50K on a wedding? Could there possibly be a bigger waste of money than a one-night, look-at-me party that everybody forgets in five weeks anyway? In the last year, I’ve been to a 10K wedding in some backyard and a 50K wedding at the Glen Sanders Mansion. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell the difference. Both had food, music, and all that other wedding stuff. And, to be honest, the 10K party was twice as fun as the self-righteous affair that cost some poor father of the bride a full year’s salary. Are Americans really this selfish and self-involved? There are people in this world who know nothing but starvation and suffering. Get over yourself.

Can somebody please explain . . . the reason for real estate agents? My experience with real estate agents is as follows: They show up at the viewing, stand in the corner, know absolutely nothing about the property, never do anything extra, get irritated when asked to do anything, make negotiating with the selling agent a nightmare, then collect 5K when the deal is mercifully done. As far as finding listings, there’s a little invention called the Internet. Take five minutes, find the house yourself, set up the showing, and use the 5K towards the house/apartment purchase. I will never forget the last thing my one real estate agent said to me, "It’s not my job to sell you a house.” Umm, ok. Then what is your job?

Can somebody please explain . . . why people smoke? Smoking? Really? It’s not cool. It’s disgusting. It’s impossible to quit. Then you die a premature, painful death. Plus they’re like $9 a pack. Smoking? Really?

Can somebody please explain . . . why people keep their Christmas lights hung on their house all year around? Nothing says I have no pride or self respect more than leaving fake reindeer in the summer grass, wreaths on the front door, and blinking lights around all the windows. Not only is it incredibly lazy, it makes the rest of the neighborhood look low-class and dingy. Come on homeowners, put down the TV remote for five minutes, and take the string of lights down till December.

Can somebody please explain . . . why people tan/spray tan in the middle of winter? What can I say? You look absolutely ridiculous and are riding a rocket ship to skin cancer. Change that, why does anyone tan/spray tan at anytime during the year?

Can somebody please explain . . . why morning talk radio is ALWAYS so bad? Morning FM radio is perhaps the corniest, most unfunny thing on the planet. From the terrible bits, to the robotic DJ’s, and the dumb anecdotes that are meant to be witty but are beyond stupid, all of it is literally unlistenable. Can anyone besides Howard Stern find a better way to do this? Please.

Can somebody please explain . . . the appeal of NASCAR/Stock car racing spectators? From Daytona to Lebanon Valley, I just don’t get it. Sorry. It’s cars racing around a circle at deafening levels. I just don’t get it.

Can somebody please explain . . . why Chelsea Handler (Chelsea Lately) is supposed to be funny? Umm, she’s not even remotely funny. Is her show an actual talk show or is it mocking a talk show? Her humor is weirdly juvenille and just really obvious and unclever. Either way the show is unwatchable.

(A requested one) Can somebody please explain . . . John Mayer? I’ll leave that one up to you guys. But for the record, I don’t get him either.

Brian Huba