Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Good & Not So Good of 2011

2011 is over, the year of Hurricane Irene, the death of Steve Jobs, the failed Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Vietnam-like ending of that “what are we doing here” War in Iraq. Don’t forget the disgrace at Penn State and Syracuse, and of course the oh-so tragic end of the pretend marriage between Kim K. and Kris Humphries, who, for some reason, gets booed in basketball arenas now. Anyway 2012 is about to begin. For the 2nd time I am going to make a list of things that were both “Good” and “Not So Good” about the year past. So here we go.

2011 “Good” of Pop Culture

Movie: Crazy, Stupid Love
TV Show: How I Met Your Mother
Reality Show Two-Way Tie: Operation Repo/Restaurant Impossible
Book: Chango’s Beads & the Two-Toned Shoes by William Kennedy
Album: 21 by Adele
Song: “Grenade” by Bruno Mars
Episode of SNL: Jimmy Fallon and Michael Buble (Dec 2011)
Sports Story: Mavericks rally to defeat LeBron and the Heat
News Interview: Piers Morgan and Christine O’Donnell
Late Night Talk Show: Jimmy Fallon
Favorite Celebrity: Howard Stern
Biggest Surprise: 2011 MTV Video Music Awards
Break Out Star: Adele
Best Thing of 2011: Duh, Winning

2011 “Not So Good” of Pop Culture

Movie: Larry Crowne
TV Show: Whitney
Reality Show Two-Way Tie: Kendra/Jersey Shore
Book: Life by Keith Richards
Album: 4 by Beyonce
Song: “T.H.E.” by Will I. Am feat. Mick Jagger and J Lo
SNL Episode: Melissa McCarthy and Lady Antebellum (Oct 2011)
Annoying Story: Occupy Wall Street
Horrible Story: Penn State Scandal
People Magazine Story: Kardashian Wedding
Late Night Talk Show: Leno
Most Overrated Star: Melissa McCarthy
Least Favorite Celebrity: J Lo
Biggest Disappointment: The X Factor
Worst Thing of 2011: Everything Kardashian

2012 Wish(es): A NY Giant Superbowl, and of course, Metta World Peace:

There you have it. I hope you had a super 2011, and remember, “Boom, boom, boom, (you’re) even brighter than the moon! moon! moon!”

Brian Huba

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Inside secret(s) to a really bad blog

You might’ve read my last blog about James Gandolfini’s autograph and Scottie Pippen suing over the tabloid claims that he was teetering on bankruptcy, and thought: This is the stupidest blog I have ever read. Perhaps you thought: What do Tony Soprano and Scottie Pippen have to do with each other? The answer to the former: It was, on the surface, a terrible blog, and to the second question: Tony and Scottie have nothing to do with each other. So here’s the inside story of that seemingly awful waste of blogosphere.

A few weeks ago somebody said to me that I wasn’t good enough to write a blog about oh . . . let’s see Tony Soprano and, umm . . . Scottie Pippen, in the same blog, this person said I wasn’t ‘bloggy enough’ to do that. Not bloggy enough? Me? Oh it’s so on, I thought. I had to prove that person wrong. In an attempt to produce a blog about Tony Soprano and Scottie Pippen, a single blog that somehow cleverly captured both, I rewatched every episode of the SOPRANOS to fully understand the character, then did hours of media research on Pippen, the former NBA baller. In the end I decided to invent the story about being on E Bay and seeing the autographed Gandolfini, I actually overheard someone else say that, and stole it. Then I combed through A.P. stories until I found the perfect one about Pippen, and bam-o, suing over being bankrupt. Yes! And there you have it, people, the inside secret(s) of how I created a blog about James Gandolfini’s autograph and Scottie Pippen’s financial woes, and made it work. Sweet victory!

For that hater who said, several weeks ago, that I couldn’t do it, write a blog about Scottie Pippen and Tony Soprano, that I wasn’t ‘bloggy enough,’ well, how you like me now? I was obviously bloggy enough, so BOOM, respect, in your face.

Author’s Note: None of the abovementioned ever happened.

Brian Huba

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Defamation and Gandolfini's Autograph

Did anybody read how former Chicago Bull sidekick, Scottie Pippen, is suing media outlets, as reports surfaced that he was teetering on bankruptcy? He is suing because, he says, such reports are defamation, because he claims he is actually worth 40 million dollars (net worth). Instead of denying these reports and/or laughing them off, Pippen is going to make a federal case out of it, literally. Get real, Scottie, have some perspective. Maybe the light of common sense couldn’t hit you way back there in MJ’s shadow, but you’re a millionaire, who has had a blessed life, doing what you loved (basketball) with the greatest who ever did it. You are the most overrated baller in NBA history, and have 6 Championship Rings plus 40 million to prove it. On top of that Kobe is getting divorced. What is the world coming to?

I was on E Bay when I saw the saddest thing ever: A framed photo of Tony Soprano in character, (here comes the sad part) autographed by James Gandolfini. Oh my God, is anything worse? It was going for something small like $80 bucks. My point: As much as I love THE SOPRANOS, I don't care about James Gandolfini, I only care about Tony. To me JG is Tony. Nobody sees Gandolfini on the street and says, ‘There’s that guy from the Robert Redford prison movie.’ In fact, JG wouldn't even say that. I know someone who went to college at Oneonta when Gandolfini's daughter (I think it was his daughter) was at Hartwick, 7-8 years ago. The guy I know said Gandolfini was up there all the time with his SOPRANOS cast mates, cigars and fancy suits, then he bankrolled a strip club up there. Translation: Gandolfini's even trying to be Tony off screen. Trust me, I get it. I can’t think of anything worse than meeting James Gandolfini in real life, having to face the fact that Tony is just a part he played. What a bummer.

Brian Huba

Sunday, December 11, 2011

God vs. the Devil?

From now until the big day, we will have Christmas music playing 24/7 through the house. Besides the standards, there are some Xmas songs that I like (Mariah’s song and a few by Celine Dion) and some that are really annoying (‘Rudy the red-nosed reindeer’ and the Boss’s SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN), but I think we can all agree the greatest Xmas song ever is Lennon’s HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

Not only has Lennon headed the greatest music group ever (The Beatles), written the greatest song ever (IMAGINE), and the greatest protest song ever (GIVE PEACE A CHANCE), but he has authored the greatest holiday song too. John Lennon is really the most important musician who has ever lived. One of the most important people.

Sometimes I wonder if God is real, and if he did ever send his son Jesus back to earth, the same way the bible says, could Jesus/the son of God have been John Lennon? Instead of being 'bigger' than 'Jay-sis,' like he once claimed about the Beatles, maybe Lennon himself was, well . . . Before you think of me as one of these guys who has Lennon posters hanging all over the place, and parrots his peace-and-love quotes to everyone, understand that I am not. In fact I’d probably call myself more of a Stones guy than a Beatles guy, and I actually like McCartney’s stuff better than Lennon’s, but I recognize that John Lennon is what he is, see above for that. And it is a fact that Lennon pretty much levitated above the rest of humanity while he was on earth, everything he touched turned to solid gold. Then one day, in NYC, 1980, some slime ball crawls out of the gutter, and assassinates Lennon for pretty much no reason, killing a man who preached peace and love, and was seemingly touched by the hand of God in everything he did.

After Chapman killed Lennon, he sat down right then and there, outside the Dakota, started reading CATCHER IN THE RYE, almost like he was content to be arrested, as he had succeeded in doing the Devil’s work. In fact, Chapman said to police, after the killing, that he was in some small way the Devil. So if God, and the Devil, and all that stuff’s real, was the death of Lennon a round in the eternal battle of God vs. the Devil? Good vs. Evil? And if it was, the Devil won that round, using a meaningless loser to destroy maybe the greatest human on earth at the time, the most influential even, and certainly the most important figure in all of music history, and what impacts more people on a total scale than music? What cuts through race, creed, country, and language more than music?

If you were God and wanted to employ an outlet to spread your message, wouldn’t it be a singer that touches the entire world? I mean if you think about it, why did this Chapman creep, who never did a thing for anybody, and seemingly had no other reason to live, kill Lennon, a man who has literally touched every person who has ever lived? Why? Just to do it? Just to say he did it? It’s scary if you think about the fact that someone so powerful, and important, and impactful on a universal level could be ended by a complete nobody, who just rots in a jail cell now, his meaningless life interrupted only by one of the world's saddest and most meaningless assassinations. Yes, it's scary if you think about it.

I know a guy who once went fishing with Lennon in '79, well, tried to go. All John wanted to do was relax, cast a few lines, but the media was following their boat, messing up the whole quiet idea. The guy said Lennon was real laid back, a nice guy, but he was what he was. So Lennon apologized, excused himself, and the fishing trip went on without him. The sad side of being a universal icon, I suppose. Too bad. If John had caught something small, maybe he could have transformed the fish into a meal for forty men. Maybe.

Happy Christmas:

John Lennon bio:

Mark David Chapman bio:

Brian Huba

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Juliette Lewis Owns Trash

Pretty typical Friday night at the house. Fun eats, working through a Juliette Lewis movie marathon.

Nobody plays the role of complete trash like Juliette Lewis

She has a monopoly on trash
She has cornered the trash market
She is the Microsoft Windows of trash
She plays trash like Brando played mob
She is the Meryl Streep of trash
She is the Beatles of trash
She is the Sopranos of trash
She is the '86 Bears of trash
She is the Fresh Kills Landfill of trash
She is the Rocky Mountains of trash
She is the one-woman Mount Rushmore of trash
She is the Grand Canyon of trash
She is the first man to walk on the moon of trash
If Hollywood had an Oscar for the role of trashiest, she would win it for Lifetime Achievement

What am I trying to say here? Juliette Lewis owns trash

Her bio:

Brian Huba

Friday, December 2, 2011

Local Weathermen? Really?

Do we really still need local weathermen? Hasn't the whole notion of some jolly guy engaging in light banter with the channel's lead anchor before doing a silly 10-minute "weather report" become a bit outdated? Obviously the concept of waiting until 6PM or 11PM to watch the half-hour news report is outdated on its own, unless you watch WTEN where every lead/co-anchor looks like something out of the 1980's, and thus convinces you that some kind of reverse time portal has taken hold. But I'll leave that argument alone here, and concentrate on the complete uselessness of the local weather guy.

First of all, I only want to know one thing: what is the weather going to be like today, tomorrow, the weekend, etc. I don't care about cold fronts pushing up from the south or a current of low pressure coming off the Great Lakes. Huh? Just tell me: Is it going to rain on Saturday or not. But honestly, I don't even need Steve Caporizzo (although he does do great things for animals, and I love that), Steve Teeling, or Bob Kovachick anymore. I can find weather at my finger tips in ten thousand different places on my phone and/or the Web, without the dumb jokes or eight minutes of meteorology mumbo-jumbo before getting to the only thing I want: the 5-Day Lookout.

Whenever I'm watching Prime Time TV on channels 6, 8, 10, or 13, some local weatherman comes on during commercial breaks and teases his weather report, like, "Is there rain in our weekend weather? Tune into Channel 6 News at eleven to find out." Really? We're teasing the weather report? That's like posting coupons for the Taco Boy outside of Tavern on the Green. Guys, I can get the weather in a nanosecond. I don't need to stay up till almost 11.30P.M. to hear what you have to say about it. Thank God YNN understands that idea, and runs the forecast every ten minutes, sans the mumbo-jumbo.

And this whole deal about the weather people, in any outlet, getting the weather wrong? Are you serious? Meteorology and/or the science of predicting weather is pretty much 100% guaranteed. There's a little thing called technology and science. If the weather report says it's going to snow 4 inches by morning, bet the ranch on it, every time. We live in a world where cloning human beings is probably possible. Trust me, we can read cloud movements.

How local weathermen, and that silly weather screen they read off of, are still in rotation is beyond belief to me. If we must have a weather report on local news, here's how I think it should go:

"Now over to Bob with tomorrow's weather."
"Thanks, Jane, It's going to rain tomorrow. Back to you, Jane."
"Thanks, Bob."

Now that's a weather report.

Brian Huba

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tis the Season

This past weekend,for the Thanksgiving Day Holiday, we had some family to the house. It was a good time had by all, as the emotional transition from Autumn to the Christmas Season took hold. Per tradition, on Black Friday night, we popped in Chevy Chase's National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Everybody loves this flick and it really gets the engines turned on for the December run up.

But this year something I simply can't believe happened. One of Lou's "Canadian" cousins, Cousin Jim, he refs high school basketball and soccer, told us he had NEVER seen National Lampoons X Mas Vacation. What?! A grown man? He wanted to go downstairs and watch NCAA b-ball, but we made him watch the movie instead.

After 20 minutes he got up and walked away, saying it was stupid and he hated it. What?! We made him come back and watch when Cousin Eddie shows up, because everybody knows that Cousin Eddie is super funny. I mean, come on, everybody knows that. But guess what? Cousin Jim hated Cousin Eddie. "Save the neck for me, Clark." Nothing? I give up. Have you ever met someone who has NOT seen National Lampoons? Have you ever met someone who HATED National Lampoons?

Of course this got me thinking about the greatest X Mas movies ever. I hate You'll shoot your eye out, and Miracle on 34th Street, and It's a Wonderful Life. Let me quote Tony Soprano on this last movie, "Enough already."

For what it's worth, this is the list of my 10 Favorite X Mas Movies.

10. Four Christmases
9. Elf
8. Home Alone 2
7. Santa Claus the Movie (Not Tim Allen. Dudley Moore)
6. Trading Places
5. Scrooged
4. The Family Man
3. Home Alone
2. Bad Santa
1. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

So in closing I leave you with a Christmas Song: I pledge allegiance to the flag . . .

Brian Huba

Monday, November 21, 2011

20 'Great' Songs I Always Turn Off

The following is a list of 20 songs that are considered historically great and/or popular. Billboard #1 Hits, One-Hit Wonders, Signature Songs, I-Pod mainstays, etc. The music buffs may call them classics, I say when they come on the radio, or the Satellite, or Pandora, I turn them off so fast, there's smoke on the dial.

20. Turn the Page by Bob Seger

19. American Woman by the Guess Who

18. We Will Rock You/We are the Champions by Queen

17. Foxy Lady by Jimi Hendrix

16. Brown Eyed Girl by Van 'the Man' Morrison

15. Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses

14. Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones

13. Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane

12. No Scrubs by TLC

11. American Pie by Don McLean

10. Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC

9. Layla (acoustic) by Eric Clapton

8. Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel

7. Lose Yourself by Eminem

6. In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins

5. More Than a Feeling by Boston

4. Barracuda by Heart

3. Walk This Way by Aerosmith/Run DMC

2. Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones

And finally, the ‘Great’ song I turn off so fast, there’s smoke on the dial. I’ll give you a hint. When Ronnie Van Zant says ‘Turn it up’ that’s my cue to turn it off.

1.Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Brian Huba

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tom Petty = A True Great

So, last night I am sitting at the counter, listening to Pandora Radio. I don’t really notice it until I am about to turn the page…. red freckles down the right side of the paper. It is of course Tom Petty’s fault. In my opinion, every one of his songs has a great beat and immediately lifts your mood; tranquility.

At this point I decided to indulge myself in a little of my own research. Tom Petty, now 61, was born in Gainesville, Florida. When he was only 17, he dropped out of high school to join the band, Mudcrutch. By 1975, when Petty was 25, the band had split up, but fortunately he met guitarist Mike Campbell, bassist Ron Blair, drummer Stan Lynch, and keyboardist Benmont Tench, a.k.a, “The Heartbreakers.” With the band, he achieved ultimate success and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7018 Hollywood Boulevard. Think “American Girl” and “Refugee.” In 1988, Petty joined his fellow music greats, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Lynn to form “The Traveling Wilburys.” According to, “this Wilbury environment [was] where five stars could enjoy an ego-free collaboration. Everybody sang, everybody wrote, everybody produced - and had great fun doing so.” They made great music, “End of the Line” and “Handle with Care” obviously take the cake from the Wilburys. I honestly cannot pick a favorite from the Hearbreakers though….

I grew up in a small town, where the air reeks of cow manure on hot, summer days and radio stations play English music but speak in French. If you heard a new hit, we finally heard it three months later. However, Petty always played on those stations and I grew up listening to his music. He always stayed with me through the times that I actually liked the Chili Peppers or when I thought “Oops I Did It Again” rocked. One thing is clear, I never wavered on liking his music. These are the types of artists who will always be remembered. I mean, a few years ago in 2006 when we still had pro basketball in this country, he even played the opening music for the NBA Playoffs; “Running Down a Dream.”

So I guess my whole point is this: Go to your Pandora account and create a “Tom Petty” station. You will not be disappointed, believe me. Last night I heard Dire Straits, the Grateful Dead, and Bob Seger on it…. They aren’t too bad either.

In closing I leave you with these words:

Well it's all right, even when push comes to shove
Well it's all right, if you got someone to love
Well it's all right, everything’ll work out fine
Well it's all right, were going to the end of the line.

Watch End of the Line:

Canadian Lou

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Mother Gem

Did anybody see how good HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER was on Monday night 11/14/11? It was incredible on every level, again. The scene where Robin shakes Barney off in the bar after they agreed to be together . . . the second that would last forever in Barney's memory. Oh man, it was awesome. I mean, come on, people, it's brilliant sitcom writing and acting. And the tick, tick, tick time motif. What can I say? Another Mother Gem.

Uhhh!!!!! Why doesn't this sitcom get more respect than this? Why!!!!

That lowbrow beating of dumb one liners, TWO & A HALF MEN, gets 25 million viewers a week?! Why?! It's awful. And HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER is on right before it, same channel, same night, and gets half that many people tuning in every week. God Almighty. Sometimes I just don't get this country's Larry the Cable Guy comedic sensibilities.

Watch the episode:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Penn State of Mind

What allegedly happened at Penn State in ’98 and ’02 is the definition of disgusting. Any crime committed against children cannot be tolerated. And the man who allegedly committed these atrocities is going to pay the price, believe me. His name is Jerry Sandusky. He is a former defensive coach with the college’s football team. He is a very sick man who will never see the light of day again.

This scandal has brought the abrupt and shameful end to Head Coach Joe Paterno’s 61-year run with the team. And the school’s president was booted out just as fast. I'm fine with that. As for the assistant coach (McQueary) who saw Sandusky in the shower with a child in ’02, he's been put on leave, under the threat of death. Keep in mind, Paterno and this assistant coach did nothing 'legally' wrong. Morally, yes, that can be debated, but they are not the executioners of these crimes. Remember that.

Which leads me to my first problem with the Penn State story.

Paterno should’ve been out 15-20 years ago. It's the school's fault for letting an old man play the part of Head Coach for so long. In fact, it's now the school's fault Paterno has to face this humiliation and the media blitz of this legacy-ruining event on the brink of senility. An 84-yr-old man cannot run a major football program. Imagine what you would get away with at work if your direct boss had been born during the Depression. We know what they were getting away with at Penn State. Don’t try telling me that a man who doesn’t wear a headset on the sidelines is doing any real coaching. He doesn’t even stand on the sidelines. He sits upstairs in the press box. Translation: He’s a figure head. Should’ve been gone 15-20 years ago, but he wasn't ready yet. Get real.

That’s what happens when you build statues for people, compare them to Gods in little places like Happy Valley. When this assistant coach saw Sandusky in the shower in '02, he didn’t go to the police, he went to God. And in Happy Valley God is an old man named Joe Pa, who hasn't actually coached a lick since '94, and shouldn've been asked to handle that then as 'Boss.'

For those who think Paterno, the local DA, and Penn State powers were covering up what was happening, protecting Jerry Sandusky, you are insane. There is no way anyone would risk the reputation of the school, the standing of a football program, and their own backsides, to cover up for an assistant coach. If Paterno knew what was happening when Sandusky was still on his staff, he would’ve put the professional and legal bullet in Sandusky himself. But guess what? Paterno didn't know because he was 75 years old, and the boss of Penn State Football the same way Uncle Junior was 'the boss' of the Soprano Family. Paterno found out way later, for the first time, after Sandusky was retired from the team. Then JoePa reported it to his superiors the same way it was reported to him. Legally, right. Morally, not enough. We get that. Same thing goes for the assistant coach that reported it to Paterno. The next day, Sandusky was kicked off Penn State’s campus, forever, the same way he was kicked out of his children’s charity when the allegations made it there.

Which leads me to my second problem with the Penn State story.

How much more false outrage do we have to endure through media mediums? There is no half-sane person who DOESN’T get why this is horrible. A bomb threat on game day? Good God. There were actually people who freaked out when Ashton Kutcher Tweeted that he was mad that Paterno was fired. So of course he had to issue a Tweeted rebuttal and blame the original Tweet on being in a ‘bubble’ with work and rescuing his marriage.

Some outlets called for the ending of the current football season. First of all there’s way too much money involved in doing that. Money rules. Don’t believe me? Turn on ESPN right now. Second, does anybody get the fact that every current Penn State player and student was like 8 years old when this happened, nowhere near Happy Valley? Why should they be punished and told their season's finished? As for the students themselves, one day they are rioting, flipping cars and trashing city streets for JoePa. The next day three coeds are crying their eyes out for the 'children,' on camera of course. Are we really supposed to believe any of these reactions from people who were in elementary school when this happened? It’s all starting to come off kind of false.

What do I mean by that? For example, did Matt Millen, who went to Penn State 25 years ago, and now covers college football for ESPN, have to cry on air this week? Brought to tears by the mere thought of those ‘poor kids.’ Doesn’t that sort of ring false to anyone else? A bit staged for effect? I mean if it’s all about the kids for ESPN, why is the Penn State football game being televised nationally on that network as I write this? I thought it was all about the kids. Oh wait, it’s about the kids AND making money in advertising and ratings. Thing is I don't need a talking head to tell me that rape against children is a bigger deal than defensive schemes, and say it like he just unveiled the cure for Cancer. Nobody is impressed or emotionally moved by that. Why? We already know that.

JoePa, the Penn State powers, and everyone involved with what allegedly happened, are going to pay the price for the rest of their lives. For not morally doing enough. And that's OK with me. The man who committed these acts, Jerry Sandusky, will die in prison, and the football program at Penn State will survive without any of them. Because, as important as victimized kids are to everyone in this country, making money and playing football probably ranks higher, and probably always will. Rest assured, there was no cover up in '98 or '02, no conspiracy, just a very sick, twisted old man, and a series of unfortunate decisions by the important people along the way.

In a daring move, US WEEKLY chose to ignore the whole Penn State scandal and focus on the important news: Kim being 'depressed and devastated' after her split with Kris. I don't know who actually has the right idea anymore.

Read More:

Brian Huba

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eli!!!! Enough Said

He's a winner. ELI...ITE. Thank You San Diego for taking Rivers in a draft-day trade.

NY Giants' Eli Manning says he's 'honest' about being in the same QB class with New England Patriots' Tom Brady

"Michael Vick is the opposite Eli Manning. Vick is all flash and no substance. Eli Manning is no flash and all substance." --Colin Cowherd, ESPN

Read more:

Check out pics and video live from New England when Eli wins it:!/vinbarbershop

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Oh, Brothers

The death of Chad Brothers, 32, at the Gold’s Gym in Latham will bring about another round of debate on police brutality. In case you haven’t heard, Brothers, 6’1” 240lbs, and full of muscles, reportedly launched into a tirade at 6.18AM on Monday Morning, punching an innocent man, tossing 45lb dumbbells, tipping over 700lb Universal Machines, and tearing a gym office to shreds. I know. Who can get so mad about anything at 6.18? Long story short, the cops were called, the tasers came, Brothers wrestled with a female cop, more tasers, and he went into cardiac arrest, was later pronounced dead at Albany Medical. Cause of death? We shall see.

Everyone I have spoken with about Chad, those who knew him, all describe him as a nice guy, and are utterly shocked and saddened this is how his too-short life abruptly ended. Was it a Roid Rage? Was he on some other crazy thing that made him snap and trash a public gym? We shall see with toxicology, I suppose. It is a tragedy of titanic proportions, no doubt, but I must side with the cops, and defend their use of force in this situation, if the reports are correct on it.

Here’s the deal: Every day when you walk out that door, you’re putting yourself to the test of life, and life is hard. It takes smarts, toughness, and a lot of will power to get through. A football analogy: You can’t fumble the ball, throw INT’s, rack up dumb penalties, and still come out on top. As Tom Coughlin would say, “Can’t win in this league doing that.” So if you decide to bust up a gym, punch an innocent patron in the face, throw dumbbells around, attack a cop, trash an office, resist arrest, all this after leaving the gym twice then coming back for more, you have to be ready to accept the societal consequences attached. Sometimes those consequences are fatal. It's sad but true.

If you allow yourself to lose control like that, whether it’s from a Roid Rage or because you had a fight with your girl, or who knows what, understand that you are handing your fate to someone else, willingly doing it, and if only you or that person can survive, understand that that other person is going to do whatever it takes to survive. In a world where we are at the mercy of a thousand external things that can blindside a life, or even end it, there’s no way you can go ballistic like this, and guarantee you are going to live to tell about it. Can’t do it.

If you want to blame the cops, that’s OK. If you want to say they were excessive, since this man was technically unarmed, that’s your right. But imagine a 240lb man, built like a backhoe from all accounts, throwing dumbbells, trashing equipment, operating cyclone style, and you’re the one who has to shut him down safely. Trust me, the blue uniform and 40K a year salary won’t mean anything, so don’t tell me “That’s their job.” It’s me against you. It’s survive or die, because for all those cops knew, this man wasn’t going to stop until somebody was dead, which was the result here. What would you do? Talk him off the ledge? Talk? Please. Restrain with hands? Huh? What would you do? I applaud the cops for not putting a bullet in him, for trying to finish the situation with tasers alone. In this country, you touch a cop, especially a female cop, game over.

And before you claim the tasers were too much, understand Chad Brothers, at one point, tasered himself, according to reports, and that might’ve triggered his cardiac arrest. Maybe. This man was so cartoonishly out of control from all accounts, that you almost have to entertain the theory his was a wildly misguided act of suicide. Maybe. It’s a tragedy, of course, but no way did those cops do anything wrong. If you’re one of those who want to question a cop’s training, or lack thereof after this, understand they were facing a muscle-bound man in full maniac mode. How else do you propose stopping that? How do you train for that? It’s survive or die, sorry to say.

Many years ago, I was out on the town, it was late-late, about 2AM, and a man about Chad Brothers’ size and description lost his temper, started tossing bar stools, making threats, talking violence. By all appearances, this volcano of rage was ready to erupt, majorly. At the time, my friend was a bouncer at this bar, a huge guy he was, always ready to get physical if the situation called for it. (Ironically he is currently a trainer at this same Gold's Gym.) With his fellow bouncers, they circled around this one-man gang, waiting for the right moment to spring. In every one of their eyes, I saw wide, white fear. Because the possibility of somebody dying right then and there was very, very real. I had never been more nervous for my friend, for myself, for everyone there.

Eventually they talked this maniac down, got him out of there before a bloodletting was unleashed, but my friend, one of the toughest guys I know, was shaken, shaken bad, and afterward, he admitted he was shaken, super relieved that he didn’t have to deal with that nut job at 2AM, even with three 250lb monsters behind him.

I can only imagine the multiplied fear if that same man happened to be throwing concrete dumbbells at people, flipping over 700lb machines like picnic tables. I can’t imagine having to stop that freight train. Life is too hard to get through without giving it away to craziness like that. If there’s any lesson in this, it should be that. If there’s any blame in this, it should be there. We are already at the mercy of so many earthly forces, some for us, most against us. And sometimes when you walk out that door, looking for a death fight with the world, well . . . you may find it, and find it fast. This is a sad, sad thing that happened.

Read More:

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Brian Huba

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Time Machine

The first Halloween costume I remember wearing was Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. I was probably 4 or 5, and anybody who knows me now, would probably say that was the perfect costume for me, set in motion my demeanor from then on out.

When I was 9 I dressed up as Dracula. The black cape, face paint, and practiced Vampire voice, all in an effort to win the BIG costume contest at the ice cream parlor across the street. I was set to compete with six other boys from the neighborhood, and I was excited to win a prize for my getup, really excited. I strutted in there “Thriller” style, all the confidence in the world. This night would be my coming-out party. In the end everybody won a prize, except me. Have you ever heard of first through fifth place?

Either way, I finished sixth, and that’s when I realized I would never be someone defined by where they came from. OK, maybe they could’ve wrestled up an ice cream coupon, so that every kid in that contest, even me, would get a prize, but I wasn’t raised in the everybody-gets-a-ribbon age. Nope. But on that night everybody did get a ribbon, except me. Cue my jaded, embittered Dracula laugh.

One year I was a clown. Nobody thought I was funny. Why? Because I wasn’t funny, I suppose. I can’t remember the next several Halloweens, 6th-11th grade, I guess. Nope. The next one I remember is when I was a senior in high school, and we decided to egg our math teacher’s house on Mountain View. To this day, it is one of my biggest regrets. He was a math (and science) teacher at Averill Park, still is, and he was the first adult who was nice to me, genuinely nice. He would listen, talk about rock music with me, gave me rides home if I didn’t have one.

From the moment I met him, I respected him, liked him. He had a fun relationship with our whole class, but I always thought that me and him had a better connection. So why did I egg his house with my ‘crew’ that night? Because I was a dumb teenager, and I thought it would be funny, and I was wrong. While we were in carton-emptying launch, Mr. &^%$ opened the front door, and I saw him see me, even though I was dressed in black with my face covered. I knew he knew it was me.

The next morning we were called down to the principal’s office, all three of us, and I was forced to go after school and scrub the dried yoke off his house. I scrubbed that yoke till my fingers were numb, and for the rest of the year I tried to reestablish that relationship we had, but it wasn’t meant to be. I had burned him bad-bad, and I can’t remember him ever speaking to me again during the rest of my high school time. Years later, when I was all ‘grown up,’ I emailed him, apologized for what we had done, thanked him for being so kind. His response was obligatory at best. The truth: I had lost him forever, as a friend, adviser, teacher, on that Halloween night.

In college, and in my twenties, Halloween was about going out on the town, out to parties. There were so many great Halloweens in those eight, ten years that they all blur together in a single, grainy picture of live music and college kids dressed as Super Mario. I always loved going to New Paltz to see my friend when he went to undergraduate there. With its neo-hippie vibe and lacking street lights, I thought it was the perfect place to spend Halloween, just the right amount of creepy and dark.

One time my mother told me that your twenties are just for you, and they’d go fast. She was right on both counts. Suddenly I was too old to be spending my Halloweens that way, college/post-college parties. Suddenly all the other guys were younger, taller, better looking, and it was time for me, and mine, to move along, let the next generation have their run. So I retired my glittery Michael Jackson glove and fedora.

Today Halloween means something much different. It means the living room lights turned low, scary movies with pop corn and soda. It means walking 3 dogs, dressed as a bumble bee, turtle, and chicken, around our neighborhood, my new Halloween Crew, waving to the little kids on the trick or treat trek. Someday soon (I’m sure) it will be an actual human baby in costume, and three dogs, walking with us. But right now Halloween is a happy, relaxing time with my K9's. And sometimes I can’t believe how many Halloweens separate me now from the little kid outfitted as Oscar the Grouch.

And when I have a kid of my own, who maybe enters a neighborhood costume contest as Dracula, and that kid doesn’t come in first, second, third, or fifth, I’ll tell him not to cry the way his dad once did, because the real prize is waiting down the road, way down the road maybe. And when he or she asks how an old timer like me knows that, I’ll tell this story: “The first Halloween costume I remember wearing . . .”

Brian Huba

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You Don't 'Actually' Like Alternative Rock

Remember in the 90’s when we had to pretend that Pearl Jam was good, and “Jeremy” was a cool video, and song? Later on we had to pretend that Green Day’s music was legitimate, and the album DOOKIE, which was nonsense from start to finish, was worthy of selling ten million copies? I mean, come on. Then it was the same thing with the Chilli Peppers and “Under the Bridge,” and Limp Bizkit, and Sound Garden. All horrible, and anyone who says they 'actually' liked any of that music is kidding themselves.

The truth: Pearl Jam’s albums TEN and VERSUS were screechy messes, Eddie Vedder couldn’t sing, and should’ve been working at a Blockbuster Video, not being treated like a flannel-shirt wearing John Lennon. And even though teenage girls said Fred Durst was hot, he was bald with the body of a fifty year old, and acted like he was Mr. Hard Rock, while getting dissed by female pop singers who hooked up with guys from NSYNC. Let me tell you, that whole dissed for boy banders, that didn’t happen to Mick Jagger or Axl Rose. And Nirvana . . . Nirvana is the most overrated band in the history of modern music. NEVERMIND was an OK album at best, not a master piece, and I cringed every time “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came on MTV or the radio, while everyone else called it the song that defined a generation, and MTV crowned it the most important video of the 1990’s. Check out the lyrics if you get a minute. You might change your mind. But I bet you already hate it, just pretending all these years that you like it.

Have you ever been around something or been a part of something that you knew was fake and phony on every level? If you asked me in high school if Green Day was cool, I would’ve said yes, and everybody would’ve said yes, of course. But, honestly, I don’t think anybody actually liked Grunge/Alternative Rock, and only said they did because that’s what everyone else said. It was herd behavior at its finest, this fake love for Alternative Rock. Nobody actually likes Alternative Rock, and if you were/are someone that listens to 103.1 or 103.9 the Edge, I saw you (and still do) as kind of artificial, not the coldest soda in the fridge, so to speak.

I have no idea how in the 90’s the Chilli Peppers and Pearl Jam sold albums like Zepplin and the Stones did in the 70’s. How? Alternative Rock is the most soulless form of music ever made. Every Alt. Rock fan is the same kind of guy, in my experience. You know Alt. Rock guy: tribal band tattoo on his bicep, quotes Fred Durst in social situations, “First one that complains leaves with a blood stain." He calls “Break Things” a great rock song. Alt. Rock guy was cool when we were 22. Now . . .

I’m not saying I’m a music expert, so don’t list me great Alt. Rock bands and albums, call me out on minute statistics of music history that have nothing to do with what I’m saying. The point is simple: Alt./Grunge music has never produced a single GREAT group or individual artist. Is Alt. Rock and Grunge the same, music historians? I don't know. Seems pretty much the same. Alt. Rock has contributed nothing of substance to the grand landscape of music history. ‘But, Brian, what about Beck? He was a genius, and amazing artist.’ Beck was a bore. I’d take Jason Mraz over Beck.

Can't deny it though: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Chili Peppers, Weezer, Sound Garden, etc have sold hundreds of millions of albums, and I don’t get it. Oh wait, I do get it. This country is good at pretending to like things that we don’t actually like. Don’t believe me? Check out your local bars during World Cup time. Filled with people who are pretending they care about soccer. Care about soccer? Come on.

Have you ever tried to sit through a live Green Day performance on TV or in person? Oh my God, it was awful! Chilli Peppers' music was gibberish, and Nirvana . . . I can’t even wrap my mind around people who call Kurt Cobain one of the most important musicians who ever lived. 90’s Grunge and Alt. Rock was ridiculous. Alt. Rock is still ridiculous, and whatever the new 103.1 and 103.9 Edges are on the FM dial, I’m sure those stations are also ridiculous, packed full of commercials for Planet Fitness and spray tan places. Do they still put on that awful Alt. Rock summer concert every year, Lollapalooza? Good God.

‘But, Brian, what about Jane Says by Jane’s Addiction? That was great, right?’ Nope, it wasn’t. But, just like I’m sure you did, every time we went to Sadie’s, I put it on the jukebox to sound track our dart game. I’m not saying I am innocent of this phony revolution known as Alternative Rock, no way, but I was there for the rebirth of it in the 90’s as Seattle Grunge, and I can say nobody/everybody liked it. Remember when nobody/everybody thought Seattle was the new music Mecca? The best thing to come out of all that was a movie: REALITY BITES. Gen X is my my Gen, and I'll defend it to the end, but I can no longer quietly pretend on this music thing.

Alt. Rock is the worst kind of music, geared toward the lowest denominator in society. It has contributed nothing more than naked guys named Flea wearing socks while they played on stage, and songs that made no sense lyrically but everybody treated as generational anthems. Alt. Rock’s success is the greatest demonstration of the power of herd behavior, how people can brainlessly follow something, since McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials.

I think the only thing left to do is combine a World Cup Soccer game with an Alt. Rock music fest. Wow would that be a huge number of fake soccer/fake music fans congregated in one place. Of course I wouldn’t go, even if the tickets were on the arm, but I’d probably tell everybody how cool it sounded.

Brian Huba

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Mystery is better than the History

As I watched another fantastic episode of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER tonight (CBS, Mon., 8PM), I got to thinking about two things: 1) What are some of the greatest TV twists ever? And 2) why doesn’t this sitcom get more respect than it does?

If you remember, last year I wrote about an episode of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, calling it the best half hour of TV in ten years, and it was, save THE SOPRANOS, obviously. The writing, acting, everything, sitcoms don’t get better than that episode last season.

Tonight’s episode focused on the gang’s “psychotic” codependence on each other, and the debate between knowing someone’s history through Facebook, the Internet, etc vs. keeping certain and/or all parts of a person’s past a mystery. The two story lines revolved around whether or not Marshall and Lily would reveal the sex of their unborn child, and Ted’s first date with a girl, whether he should research her on Facebook or leave her past alone before going out. In the end it was revealed that Marshall and Lily would be having a boy, and Ted does finally break down and allow his date’s past to play a part. She’s a superhuman genius on the Web, and the date goes downhill after that, proving that the mystery is better than the history.

As I watched this episode I told the person watching with me to pay close attention to the last ten minutes of the show, because I sensed that the show’s writers were going to show their hand about who the mystery mother/Ted’s wife will actually end up being. In the last scene of the show, after his first date goes bust, Ted tells the gang, “The mystery is better than the history,” and from that I crazily believe that we are never going to find out who Ted ends up marrying. I just have that feeling.

I believe it will remain a mystery when the show ends, leaving it to the viewer’s imagination. Throughout the whole run of MOTHER they have dropped subtle hints about how it all ends, masterfully dropping these hints mind you. Tonight I think they did it again. Sorry, fans, we are never going to know who Ted’s wife ends up being. Why? Because it doesn’t matter, same way it didn’t matter if Tony was shot or wasn't shot at the end of THE SOPRANOS. See what I mean? It doesn't matter.

So I got to thinking about the greatest TV twists ever. Of course the NEWHART finale: It was just a dream. THE SOPRANOS “twist for the ages,” Tony shot by his own uncle Junior, and of course, the ending: fade to black. Who could forget, “I Ross take thee Rachel”? Nate Fischer dying at the end of SIX FEET UNDER. ROSEANNE was only Roseanne herself writing a book about her family, changing details where and how she wanted. ST ELSEWHERE was the workings of an autistic imagination. And the granddaddy of them all: Who shot J.R.?

If MOTHER leaves us hanging, and I believe it will, it could possibly be one of the greatest TV twists of all times. A disappointment, sure, for some, but honestly, is there really any one answer that could satisfy everyone? They already revealed that it was not Robin, he calls her aunt Robin several times to his future kids. The show is seven seasons old, and I see no evidence of a mother from former story lines that would satisfy me as the permanent, show-ending figure we've been waiting almost a decade to meet. I’m telling you: It’s going to be a great big nothing, the best way to end it if you ask me.

Which leads to my second question: Why doesn’t HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER get more respect than it does? In my opinion it is the best sitcom on TV, has been for five years. It is the smartest, funniest, most well written, and always finds a way to bring out an emotional side at some point. Every episode is a riddle wrapped in a riddle, and it holds your attention right till the end, and the culmination is always done just right, with so much heart every time.

I know it’s not a typical sitcom: dumb one liners, laugh track, hug and kiss, end of episode. But how many times, and for how many years, can you listen to 22 minutes of the same jokes on WHITNEY and MIKE & MOLLY and THE BIG BANG THEORY? I agree that MODERN FAMILY, THE OFFICE, and 30 ROCK are all brilliant, and clever, etc, but MOTHER has more heart than all three of those shows combined. And don’t even get me started on TWO & A HALF MEN. It was low brow with Charlie, and it’s lowbrow with Ashtin, which, of course means, it’s America’s #1 show. Meeennnnnn.

I say that MOTHER is the best sitcom on TV, and I simply don’t understand why this show isn’t regarded as the top-notch, TV-writing gem it actually is. I don't think the show has won a single Emmy, ever! Anyway you slice it though, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER is galloping towards one of TV’s all-time best endings, mark my words, because in the end, the mystery is better than the history.

But if future Ted Mosby, played by the Bob Saget voice over, MUST marry someone, why not Andrea Barber as mystery wife? You may know her better as Kimmy Gibbler. Now that my friends would be a twist for the ages.

Tonight's Episode:

My Blog from Last Season:

List of TV's Best Spoilers:

Brian Huba

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mixed Message = Lost Message

Last week I was watching ANDERSON COOPER 360 on CNN. Every so often Anderson devotes a piece of his program to chronicling the on-going problem of teen bullying in schools across America. In this edition of the Bullying series, Anderson had a panel of six middle school students who had each been bullied so bad that their parents were forced to take them out of public school, a crazy decision if you ask me, and home school them, an even crazier decision if you ask me.

They complained of being called racial, sexual, and just-plain cruel slurs. I agree the problem of bullying is something our society should not tolerate, and as an adult, I am always trying to educate myself on ways of reducing and/or running interference on this epidemic. The message on ANDERSON COOPER 360 was a solid and obvious one, and the pain these young people were feeling was something you never want to see. But then the message got mixed. In the midst of all this heartache, in the flow of those running tears, a parent of one of the bullied students (I'm sure it was a parent) had it arranged with Anderson that her tormented child would perform a musical number for the national audience.


So this blond-haired, eye-glass wearing young man belted out that Gaga song that says, “I was born this way,” while the rest of the bullied watched on with jaws dropped. Of course he got a standing ovation, but I was left with one thought: Did this young man’s mother use the opportunity to plaster her child all over America as a bully victim, while also hoping to sell him as the next teen singing prodigy?


To me so much of the sympathy I built up for this child while watching, and the five others, was washed away in an offbeat, extremely awkward, and really mistimed performance of a pop song. You can’t expect people to take your sadness seriously if you try to double it up with a free singing audition in front of America. Is this some kind of new-age stage parenting? Pull your kid out of public school, tell everyone he’s bullied then shop him all over the talk show circuit as a bullied, abused, but untapped singing superstar? Was all this in an effort to get a singing deal? If this child was truly tormented, I am sorry for that, but confidence didn’t seem to be a concern as he sang it up. Wait a second: Is this an anti-bullying program or a Leif Garrett concert?

It’s the same thing with the Wall Street Protests. In the beginning they were rallying to speak up against Wall Street greed and the mismanagement of billions by the wealthy few. The protests were really moving well. Even NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg spoke up about them. They were organizing in thousands in cities all over America, and I thought their singular and unshakable purpose might really get somewhere. I was proud to see a huge group of people so riled up about something so wrong, and saying: We’re not going to take this anymore.

But now . . . they’ve taken on advertising. I guess now the protests are not only about Wall Street greed, they’re also about the War in Afghanistan, and something to do with unemployment. So the protests are now about all that stuff? What if I hate Wall Street greed but support the War? Then what? The point is the singular and forward-moving message is now lost, mixed, replaced by a This-Protest-is-brought-to-you-by feeling, and to me, I’m completely turned off and no longer see it as a legitimate outcry, which is sad, because I thought it had real potential.

But this is everywhere in our society now. Politicians turned actors, and just the opposite. Athletes who go on dancing shows, singers who make movies; it happens in so many other aspects of culture as well. There’s a reason why Billy the Kid wasn’t an outlaw and a church preacher. There’s a reason FDR didn’t have a reality show. Vince Lombardi understood you couldn’t coach football and also star on the YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. When the message gets mixed, it gets lost.

Bullied Kid Sings:

More about AC360 Bullying:

More about protests:

Brian Huba

Sunday, October 2, 2011

SNL This Weekend = Worst Ever

I cannot even begin to express in words how bad I thought Saturday Night Live was this weekend. It was without debate the worst episode I have ever seen. In case you missed, the host was Melissa McCarthy. You may know her from BRIDE’S MAIDS (she relieved herself in a sink). Or you may know her from the CBS sitcom MIKE & MOLLY. GILMORE GIRLS? Maybe I just don’t know what funny is. But I thought McCarthy was as unfunny, unclever, slow on the uptake, winded, and just plain boring as I have ever seen an SNL Host be. I am sorry, people, but I simply do not get this Kristin Wiig Comedy Tree. Not a single one of them are remotely funny to me in any way.

When I found out McCarthy was hosting this weekend, I decided to watch a few episodes of MIKE & MOLLY to see if I liked her in that role. Nope, I don’t. The show was as unwitty and unoriginal as I have ever seen make prime time TV. It looked like something from the 1980’s. Then I found out she won the Emmy for it. Huh? Of course you know how much I hated BRIDE’S MAIDS, and how much I hated her character in it. BRIDE’S MAIDS was the most overrated comedy ever, and the only movie I have ever walked out of early. It was horrible. But it made 150 million, so maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know.

I tried to go into SNL this weekend with an open mind, really give this gal a shot, since she seems to be so popular. The pre-monologue skit (woman with freakishly-small hands or something) was a train wreck. I didn’t even know what was going on. I had no idea how bad it was about to get from then on. In one skit she played Arlene the horny secretary. It was singularly the worst SNL sketch I have ever seen. It was brutally unclever and tragically old fashioned. I was waiting for Gilda Radner or John Belushi to come onto the stage. But then I thought: Even dead, they certainly wouldn’t associate themselves with this junk. Depressingly unfunny. Melissa McCarthy was so bad this weekend, in comparison, it made Robert DeNiro’s train wreck hosting job from last season look like Robert DeNiro’s acting job in RAGING BULL. But guess what? She’ll get good reviews this week from all over America. I just don’t get it, guys, I’m sorry.

At 12.40AM, when McCarthy was puking through another horrid, circa 1978-looking sketch about a panel of You Tube commenters, I did something that I have never done before: I turned SNL off early. So the only movie I have ever walked out of was McCarthy’s BRIDE’S MAIDS and the only episode of SNL (my favorite show on TV) I have ever turned off early was Melissa McCarthy as host. And I went into both with an open mind, I promise you, I did.

Please, I beg you: make me understand why she is funny, why her movies make hundreds of millions, why she wins Emmys for that ordinary, poor man’s KING OF QUEENS sitcom she stars in. As for Kristin Wiig, please, I beg you: make me understand why she is funny. The whole mumbling-fast-under-her-breath thing. It wasn’t funny in KNOCKED UP, it wasn’t funny in BRIDE’S MAIDS. It isn’t funny on SNL. It’s never funny. None of them are funny. But everybody loves them. And I know so many will read this and think SNL was hilarious this weekend, and the reviewers/critics will treat McCarthy like she’s Richard Pryor, the way they treated BRIDE’S MAIDS like it was DUMB & DUMBER. I just don’t get it.

I don’t think it is a sexist thing either. I try to keep an open mind about all comics, no matter what gender they may be. Whitney Cummings’ new sitcom has cancelled after 10 episodes written all over it. But there are moments when it is kind of, sort of funny. There wasn’t, for me, a single moment on SNL last night, there wasn’t, for me, a single moment in BRIDE’S MAIDS, and MIKE & MOLLY is as pedestrian as sitcoms get. Melissa McCarthy wins an Emmy for that but Roseanne never won an Emmy for her show? Um, OK.

Again, maybe I’m all wrong here, but I do not get it. SNL Saturday night = worst episode ever. But the critics will say it was great, and Melissa McCarthy was great. You tell me.

See what I mean: Rave Reviews (huh?):


Brian Huba

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Silver Beast: Part II

When Steve said, “Nice day, ain’t it?” the yuppie turned his nose, legged it fast from that green garbage can, the same way someone would when a hobo begs change. I watched my father stand there, button-down flannel and jeans, his few hairs flying every which way, mountain-man style. He shook his head with disgust, the only defense mechanism I ever saw him exhibit habitually. When he came back to the car, sat behind that faded-rubber wheel, he was silent. It was awkward. He’d been in such a good mood before the yuppie’s snub.

I so rarely spent time with the man without my mother playing buffer. But here we were. He’d been humiliated, and I no longer felt embarrassed for sitting prisoner in Rusty Jones’s worst nightmare. For a second I forgot the anger and fear I had for him. For a second we were together, father and son, and nothing else mattered. I felt embarrassed for him, and from that feeling surged a sense of loyalty and anger. This was my father and what just happened wasn’t right, even at 14, I knew that.

I’ll never forget what he said to me after that. He looked at me, and said, “Don’t ever judge somebody by the way they look or what they drive.” I said I wouldn’t, and he started the car, and homeward we were. It was the first piece of perfect advice he’d ever given me. It was the first time I felt he talked directly to me, mano a mano. I no longer wanted to avoid him. I wanted to penetrate that invisible field forever.

By the time we hit the highway, he’d forgotten the whole thing. He was singing the words to a rock/pop song on the radio. The song said, “There's winners and there's losers/But they ain't no big deal/'Cause the simple man baby pays the thrills, the bills.” He beat that faded-rubber wheel with his hands, sang out loud, and I’d never seen that side of him. I’ll never forget that yuppie in the park; that piece of advice, or my father singing those words as long as I live. That day lives like an island in our relationship, separate of the dynamic that otherwise existed. It was the greatest day we had together, because it marks our closest moment, even if the circumstance was less than ideal. And I wonder if it would’ve happened that way without the Granada.

The Granada hung around a few more years. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it sat driveway duty. When it hit 200,000 miles, Steve made us pose for a picture with the car, both my mother and I holding 100 Grand candy bars close together. By the time I graduated high school, it was gone, to the afterlife of Art Dell’s Junkyard. I was sad to see it go.

I wish I could say my attitude about the silver beast changed after that day in the park. I wish I could say I was never as embarrassed about climbing inside and backfiring from the high school lot. I wish I could say I borrowed it when I was sixteen to pick Rachel Sykes up for a Saturday night date, and made her hold the Hefty bag of beer cans while I drove, and she loved it. But I can’t say that because it never happened. I was a typical teenager: short sighted, self involved, stupid. No way the Granada was ever gonna cut snuff in my world.

I guess the lesson of that day at West Land Hills wasn’t learned till much later.

Fast forward thirteen years and I’m sleeping late on a snowy Saturday morning, a few days after the New Year, 2009. I’d heard my cell phone ring from the other room a few times, but ignored it. Finally after the fifth call, I stumbled from bed to see who it was. It was my mother calling, and she was crying, and asking me if I was ready, “Really ready” for what she had to say. My mother’s a dramatic woman and we had a family dog that had been sick, so naturally I assumed. When the line went silent, I thought she’d disconnected. I went to redial, and she said, “Steve’s dead.” Just like that. He’d gotten out of bed at 6A.M., gone downstairs, made a cup of tea, sat in his TV chair, the same chair he always sat in, and died; a massive heart attack. He was 54.

He’d been complaining of exhaustion, working overtime that weekend to secure a future vacation day from his union. But there would be no vacation day. By noon he was in the morgue, arrangements were underway, and the house was filled with friends and family. Two days later his wake brought out 700 of Albany’s finest, passing the casket, and telling me how great of guy my father was. I remembered when I was a teenager and I was sure he wasn’t a man I could look up to. I remembered being embarrassed by his balding head, and rust-filled Granada; how everyone thought I was poor when they saw it. But on that night, I met the man that everyone else already knew, the “great guy,” regardless of what he drove or the jeans he wore.

The material things mean nothing in the real world. Just ask the ones who stood two hours in a snow storm to say farewell to a man who never cared about flash. I was beginning to understand what Steve was trying to teach me when he said, “Don’t ever judge somebody by the way they look or what they drive.”

A few weeks later, I learned it some more. It was a Monday afternoon and I was with my mother when an insurance examiner called. He’d said my father had built several life policies that nobody knew about. He’d been shrewd with his savings, uncompromising in his vision for a bigger, better future, a day when motorboats and snowmobiles ran. It was the future he’d wanted for his family. It was the future he figured on a second-shift laborer’s job while driving a rusty Granada. The insurance man told my mother her mortgage was satisfied, and it was time for her to retire a few years ahead of schedule, since lacking money would no longer be a problem. His gift to her was the simple: all financial worries dashed, a promise to prolong her life as long as possible.

The other day I was driving with the sun roof down, and Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” came on. I recognized those lyrics, and remembered the day I ate McDonald’s with Steve in the Granada, and he told me about his dismissed dream of having go carts and being Mr. Fun. I remembered the way that yuppie snubbed my father over a green garbage can. I remembered on the highway how Steve sang that verse with such vigor. When the song made that same part, I hit the steering wheel of my "nice" car, and said, “There's winners and there's losers/But they ain't no big deal/'Cause the simple man baby pays the thrills, the bills.” I thought of the silver 1978 Ford Granada with rust holes the size of soft balls. And, for the first time, I knew what the song said was true, I knew there were winners and losers in life, and I finally knew the difference between the two.

Brian Huba

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Silver Beast: Part I

When I was a teenager my father drove a silver 1978 Ford Granada with rust holes the size of softballs. At a time when being ‘cool’ was a gargantuan deal, the Granada was an embarrassment. I remember talking to girls outside the movie theatre on a Friday night, seeing the Granada coming across the parking lot like a smoke screen, and darting behind the bushes until the girls had gone off. In ninth grade when I had bi-weekly braces appointments that meant I’d leave school on early release, I’d shrink in shame as the Granada rounded past student parking, roared to a stop outside the senior wing. “Is that your ride?” the office secretary would ask. I’d say “I don’t think so. But let me see,” then make that death-row dash from the school’s front doors, praying that nobody watched through the classroom windows, but realizing a thousand eyes were probably on me, including Rachel Sykes’s, the cheerleading captain I had a heavyweight crush on.

My father kept garbage bags filled with empty beer cans on the seats; cans he always meant to recycle but never got around to. Before he backfired from the high school lot, the Hefty bags would be relocated to the trunk, to make room for me. He’d take care of that, and I’d nose dive though the open door onto the sun-cracked, maroon bucket, pull the creaky door shut, bury my head between my knees, eying the blue-collared G.E. shirts on the floor mat. My dad would climb behind the faded-rubber wheel, and say, “You feeling sick?” He’d put the car in gear with an irritated snicker, and off we went with a bang from the bad exhaust.

The Granada was in my life a little over a decade. When it r-r-r-ran, it could never be trusted, dying at red lights, submitting on the shoulder of a rural road. After that it sat at the side of the driveway like a monument in soft mud, beside the broken-down motorboat my father was perpetually fixing, and the ‘slightly used’ snowmobile he never made go. When he put some coin together, the neighborhood mechanic duct taped the silver beast back together, and the Granada was out of its open grave. I’d come home from school, and my mother would meet me at the house’s front door with a look that meant Oh my God, the Granada’s back. When she knew I’d read her expression right, she’d say, “Can you freakin’ believe it?” and raise both clenched fists above her head.

Before our summer vacations to New Hampshire, my father would spray paint the rust holes for the 4-hour drive to the Atlantic Ocean. Easter Sundays, he took mercy on my mother and me by parking at the far end of the church’s lot. He knew the truth: We hated the Granada. We didn’t understand the value in keeping something way past expiration. “Gotta get your money’s worth,” he’d always say. But, when church ended and the Easter pictures were posed for, he always drove straight through the gathered congregation on the way out. Check the back seat, beside the Hefty bag of Bud cans. That’s me, at 12 years old, donning a K-Mart necktie; face buried between the knees of my pleated slacks that would’ve looked oh-so cool without a rust box wrapped around them. When my uncle Jack and his blonde wife came to the house in his midnight blue Camaro with the 5-speed and mag wheels, he’d ask my father, “Steve, how come you don’t get something new?” Steve would give Jack a look like he just suggested shooting the President, then say, “What for?”

It was after one of those orthodontist appointments that my father brought me to McDonald's. I was 14 years old. He ordered his usual: three cheeseburgers, medium fry, medium soda. We drove to a little league park behind the Mickey-D’s called West Land Hills, parked the car and got busy with the grub. My father always ate his cheeseburgers the same way. He’d set the sandwich between the front seats, carefully pull off the yellow wrapping, hold it in his hand, biting in a clockwise circle till it was finished. In fact he always did everything the same way. Kept his wallet in the same spot on the counter with his car keys. Smoked Kool Ultra 100’s in the same chair at the table, played the same lotto numbers at the grocery store in town. He left for second-shift work at exactly 1.45P.M. Always. The. Same.

While we sat there that day, he told me about a time when he was much younger, and wanted to start a go-cart park behind that McDonald’s. It was his dream for the kids to call him Mr. Fun. When I asked him why it never happened, he said his father, Grandpa, said that idea was a dumb idea. “That was a long time ago,” my father said, and he went back to his lunch. After we ate, my father FINALLY decided to clean the car’s interior. He was a packrat by nature. But sometimes enough was enough. So he backed the Granada to a green garbage can; started filling the receptacle with old newspapers, plastic shopping bags, coffee cups, everything in between. I ate fries while he worked; all four passenger doors and the trunk popped open. As he carried another armful of crap to the garbage, a yuppie-looking guy with a pinstriped suit and stylish eye glasses, came to the can. Probably a State Worker on his 12PM break. But I didn’t know that then. I just saw the suit and got impressed. My father dropped his junk, looked at the yuppie, and said, “Nice day, ain’t it?”

Even when I was young I knew my father and I had very little in common. I wasn’t sure he was someone I could be proud of. Did I love him? Fear him? Hate him? All of the above. Growing up, I always made strategies to avoid him. If he was out back I went through the front. I hated saying happy birthday to him. One Father’s day I told him he wasn’t my dad. Why? I wanted attention. He had an invisible field around him that meant do not enter. Sometimes that field was no bigger than the kitchen, sometimes it was the size of Saturn. Steve came from a tough-guy bunch from the city of Albany. When they were teenagers, they hung by a convenience store called the Courtesy Mart, playing cards and smoking butts. As adults they worked hard, partied hard. My childhood was littered with memories of Stacky’s camp, Five Mile parties with bikers, and guys named Six Pack and Big John. My dad worked a labor job at General Electric I didn’t understand.

My parents were young. They argued a lot. We lived in a basement apartment with no windows for five years before buying in the country. He didn’t like tossing ball or shooting hoops. He was bald by twenty five. He grew a full beard and mustache, and looked like Homer Simpson the one time I saw him shaved clean. He didn’t care about material things or fancy clothes like my uncle Jack. He didn’t have a college degree or golf-club membership like his six brothers. I never imagined one day being like my dad. And I sure as hell would never drive a rust bucket on wheels . . .

The Silver Beast:Part II to follow

Brian Huba

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Could've Been

My favorite sight in sports is watching NY Giants’ Head Coach, Tom Coughlin, stalk the sidelines during an NFL Game. And tomorrow I get to see it again for the first time in nine months, the first time for real that is. If I were an NFL Head Coach I would do it exactly like he does, play the part of Mr. Miserable, feign ignorance with the reporters when he wants to dodge a question, the only guy who could worry about the work that still needed to be done with Lombardi’s Superbowl Trophy in his hand. I love the way he’s handled this Plaxico Burress joke. All is right with the world if I guy like Tom Coughlin can still better loudmouths like Rex Ryan, and it’s my greatest hope that he will best him this upcoming season, but I also know that NFL Football is like life. Because of that I love the game of football more than any other. Because of that I worry about Big Blue’s 2011-12 chances. Let’s go back before we go forward.

Last December, the New Meadowlands Stadium, NYG’s up by 24pts against the hated Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants were about to do what nobody in the league thought they could: Punch their return ticket to the NFL playoffs. All they had to do was cling to that titanic 24pt lead, and the GB Packers, last year's champs, don’t even make the playoffs. All they have to do is protect the ball, play smart, and Coughlin gets a new contract, and this season’s injury issues aren’t such a big deal, because there’s a great chance the Giants would be fresh off a playoff run, and possibly a Superbowl berth. Why not? They were staring at a #2 seed if they could seal that gimme game. Fast forward fifteen football minutes, and Tom Coughlin slams his paperwork on the Giants’ sideline as DeShawn Jackson dashes past him towards the end zone, taking the game and everything I just mentioned away in one 65yrd punt return, a yard for every one of Coughlin's 65 years. What a turn of events and legacies.

And the only people the NYG’s could blame were themselves. For one moment, the always meticulous, always on-top-of-it Tom Coughlin let his guard down, and the Eagles wriggled an on-sides kick past the sleeping Giants, which began a meltdown of epic proportions, and gave the Eagles the victory in last year’s most impactful regular season game. The loss was so grandiose that it sort of blurred out the epic triumph of defeating the Perfect Patriots in the 2007-08 Superbowl. That’s how huge it was. A few days later Coughlin told the media he went home after that game, sat in the dark for six hours, trying to make sense of it. He promised the team would bounce back, move past it. No way, they never did, still haven’t. That fifteen minutes of football set the NY Giants back five years. They’re still reeling from it. And it’s my fear that shot of Coughlin chasing punter Matt Dodge onto the field will be the lasting and final image of him, the game that will haunt him forever, all that could have been.

Now the NY Giants MUST make the playoffs (can't miss it 3 straight seasons), and every football omen is screaming NOT THIS YEAR. The preseason injuries have been cartoonish, the Plaxico mess has been insane, the loss of key weapons on both sides of the ball unexplainable. Maybe this is the curse of the Patriots. Since that glorious night in Glendale the NY Giants have seemingly been cursed. Starting the ’08 season 11-1 till Plax shot himself and the organization out of contention, the ’09 season that saw so many injuries the Giants were beaten unrecognizable by the end of it, and last season’s everything-went-wrong reality, from fumbles, INT’s, blown leads, weather-delayed games, etc, etc. If the G-Men didn’t blow that mountainous lead against the Eagles, all that I just mentioned wouldn’t matter. Tom Coughlin would be sitting on a new contract and job security, and the Giants would be able to easily work through this mess of injuries, with a playoff berth from 2010-11 to ease the pain. But no such luck. If this injury-depleted team doesn’t somehow battle through a loaded NFC and make the playoffs, Coughlin will be gone, left only to ask what could’ve been. Then the blow up and rebuild will begin in the heart of Eli’s career.

That’s how football’s like life. You can be the smartest, hardest worker, with the best ideas, and longest resume, but if you fall asleep for a second, all that can get washed away, and you could end up on the short end of things. It’s unfair, perhaps, but football like life takes care of those who do ALL the little things, ALL the time, take the time to dot the I’s, cross the T’s. Don’t fumble the ball/Don’t waste your money, Don’t commit penalties/Don’t break the law, Protect yourself against injury/Take care of your health, Be a good teammate/Be a good person. Life, like football, is a smart man’s game, that’s why people like Plaxico Burress will always be bottom feeders. Because even the smart have to be smart ALL the time, and that’s impossible for the ignorant.

For one brief moment in time, Tom Coughlin let his guard down, blew a 24pt lead with everything to lose (symbolically drove drunk through a stop sign just once), and it could end up costing him his dream job. Is his NYG legacy intact? Of course. He beat an 18-0 team in the Superbowl. But . . . But it will take a lot to erase the image of him after that Eagles loss. Maybe more than this NYG’s team has right now, this season. Waste no opportunity in this life, suck the marrow out of every opening, and always over prepare for everything, never get blindsided. Tom Coughlin taught me that. Tom Coughlin forgot that for fifteen football minutes last December. Now what? We shall see. Enjoy the NFL season, the greatest game in the world.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Go to the Villa Valenti, you fools

Last night we went to dinner at our favorite restaurant, the Villa Valenti, and we were the only two people in the place at 9.15PM, which was pretty great because of the real 1-to-1 service. (For the record, it was very busy earlier in the night, a 30 minute wait at the bar.) It was also weird having nobody else in a restaurant at that time on a Saturday night, while Lombardi’s parking lot, a mile down the road, looked like the outside of Giants’ Stadium ten minutes before kickoff (I mean Met Life Stadium). And it was a little sad, because the Villa Valenti is the best restaurant in the world, and I should know because I’m the greatest dishwasher the place ever had. You’re probably saying, “Brian, how can you say the Villa is the best restaurant in the world. Have you been to every restaurant in the world, even Europe?” Yes. Yes I have.

Here’s what I propose.

The economy is pretty rough, and my male-modeling career for Hollister is beginning to go dry, (How many shopping bags can your shirtless likeness appear on?) so I am submitting my letter of interest right here and now for the unadvertised opening as the Villa Valenti’s Marketing Director, working for Ralph Valenti and family. Prior experience? Greatest dishwasher ever. Need I say more?

My campaign would be a simple one. I’d tell Ralph to stop playing the game of dinner specials, blanket emails, and presentation over substance. I would tell Ralph to stop all the advertising and 4 for $20.00 dinner nights. Forget it. Under my direction, he would go in the newspapers, on the radio waves, and say, “You want specials, I don’t do specials. Here’s what I do. I SELL THE BEST FOOD IN THE WORLD, and I’m right down the road.” The second commercial would go like this. Cue Ralph Valenti saying, “Go to your so-called favorite restaurant and get your so-called favorite dinner. Then come to the Villa, get the same exact thing and I promise: YOU’LL NEVER GO BACK TO YOUR ‘FAVORITE’ RESTAURANT.’ Why? Because I SELL THE BEST FOOD IN THE WORLD!”

I’ve been everywhere in the Region. Sam’s, Lombardo’s, all those CafĂ© places in Albany, Verdile’s, the Brown Derby, D’Raymond’s, Ralph’s on Central, TJ’s, that place by Lark Street with the curbside seating, the Circus Cafe. NOBODY can touch the Villa. NOBODY. The place should have 1,000 people every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. The Villa bread and salad bar? Don't get me started. I could eat the Villa 8 days a week. If I was on Death Row, for last meal, I would send the Jailer Man and Sailor Sam to the Villa Valenti for their chicken parm, eat it, and die a happy man. Go to the Villa Valenti you fools.

You need a coupon offer, here it is: It's the best dinner you'll ever have. How much is it? I don't know: The fairest price on the planet. Less than its competition, I'm sure. And don't give me that crap, Averill Parkers, about how the Villa used to be good but now it's not. The Villa was the best in '81, '91, '01 and still in '11.

When I was 17, I washed dishes in the kitchen at the Villa, and it was the best job I ever had. I washed five feet from the restaurant’s matriarch, Emma Valenti, who would show up for work every day, except Tuesday, sit behind a pushcart and cut tomatoes, shred cheese, slice onions so thin they were invisible. From 2PM till 10PM she would pick apart every single thing I did wrong as I slaved over that dishwasher in a kitchen that would hit 100 degrees, and I loved every, single second of it. Then she rewarded you. Free food, bread, homemade dessert, it was great. Every 17 year old needs an Emma Valenti in their life. Maybe our younger generations wouldn’t feel so entitled, run so fast from hard work if they had an Emma Valenti telling them where the rubber hits the road. I betcha.

My greatest memory of Ralph Valenti is years later as I waited at the bar for a takeout order. He told me that night if he could work any other career it would be as a teacher. I won’t tell you how that influenced me, Hollister career aside. They are a great family, but more importantly they are the architects and engineers of the greatest restaurant menu in the business. If you have never eaten at the Villa, you have never eaten Italian-American food.

Every year on my birthday, the whole family goes to the Villa, of course. Right now I am staring at the receipt from the night of my 29th birthday. My father had such a great time that night, we all did, and he paid the entire $279.00 bill, a bargain for the seven of us, I promise you. I keep that receipt because it’s the last time we ever went out to family dinner with him, as he was gone 3 months later. Thank you, Villa, for that great final memory.

Go to the Villa Valenti, you fools.


Villa Website:

Brian Huba

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Irene and the MTV VMA's

I'm beginning to get the impression that Hurricane Irene is not getting the respect as a total destroyer that she justly deserves. Monday night CNN was debating whether this was hurricane or hype, and one media member was upset because the news networks were making way too big of a deal about this total dud of a storm. I feel the governor of Vermont summed up the storm with a perfectly-worded quote. He said everything there was to say: Devastating.

I know NYC, North Carolina, Virginia, and many areas in our region didn’t get rocked to the level expected, but there were areas of Vermont and Schoharie County that were decimated by this disaster. I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures. Mud, water, flooding, death. I actually think Irene is one of the greatest natural disasters (in this region of the country) ever! 27 deaths have already been credited to Irene. That is a huge number if you ask me.

As I sat in my dry house, on my dry couch, and watched the news footage of the overrunning rivers, flood-covered streets, mud-thick houses, lives ruined, etc, I fell down on my knees, and thanked God (whatever or whomever that may be) for not dropping the brunt of this mighty storm on the front stoop of my life, or my family’s life. Wow, thank you. But still it makes me think: My day is coming, and water is the one earthly force you can't stop. Some areas in Greene and Schoharie Counties will take weeks, months to clean up, if ever. Imagine your whole life washed away in mere hours, watching your house become buried in a tomb of mud, while some talking head on CNN calls Irene a media-created dud. Wow.

We lost power for a few hours on Sunday, and I missed the fight between the Situation and Ronnie on JERSEY SHORE. Hey, hey what can I say? JS has been good this season. I have watched every episode. Guilty as charged. But the power was resumed in time for the 2011 VMA’s, and after bashing MTV and its programming earlier this month, I have to say: It was the 2nd best VMA’s I have ever seen (2000). To me, it was Lady Gaga’s crowning as the biggest star in today's music world. Her opening performance was the 2nd best VMA performance I have ever seen (Eminem 2000). I get it now. When I first heard Gaga was playing her male alter ego, Jo Calderone, I thought she was referring to the YNN Channel 9 Sports Reporter. I was wrong. Another Jo(e) Calderone. Beyonce gave the performance of her career. Bruno Mars was amazing. Pitbull and Adele, forget about it. Great, great, great. I was excited about Lil Wayne, but disappointed in his actual show-closing performance. Too much swearing and craziness. And, maybe, it's time for Jay-Z to stop performing on stage, fade to the background with his NY Yankees hats and millions. I'm kind of done with HOOVA.

My favorite moment was when Gaga as Jo Calderone won Best Female Video. After she hugged Jay-Z and Kayne West, she stepped back as everyone was standing and clapping for her, and, in a very cool way, fixed the collar of her suit coat, and took the stage. It was her moment. She knew it, and everyone in the room knew it. The only part I disliked was the show's inclusion of some rapper named Tyler the Creator. He was a jerk on the Black Carpet, a jerk when he won Best New Artist Video, and a jerk every moment in between. I don’t know if he was trying to be outrageous like Eminem used to be, by insulting Bruno Mars and sending “the kids” a profane-filled message when he was on stage. But it was disgusting, and nothing like the great Mr. Mathers, who balled fists at the pop world with humor and cleverness. On yeah: Eminem also sold 100 million albums. "I'll commit suicide if Bruno Mars wins a VMA because I hate his music," Tyler told an MTV reporter during the pre show. Then used the MTV mic to make a blatant sexual reference at the reporter. See? Not funny. Not clever. Tyler the Creator: I’m done with him after one night. Too bad. I was in a ready-to-be-won over mood on Sunday.

In the end I was happy to be with my family, in a dry home with power, watching a night of TV that I used to really look forward to, but has lately been a grand disappointment. I was happy it was well done on Sunday, and happy to have been spared from Hurricane Irene’s main wrath. And anybody who thinks this storm was hyped too much has probably been taking PR advice from Tyler the Creator. Stay dry.

Irene Photos:


GLADD speaks out against Tyler the Creator:

Brian Huba

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Get Rid of Text Messaging

The other day I was walking out of Wal-Mart, and a young woman with her face glued to a cell phone was walking in, texting as she went, oblivious to anything that was happening around her. At the last second I side stepped out of the way or she would’ve walked into my chest. I side stepped, and she kept going, fingers of fury, 100% unaware. Then I imagined that same woman behind the wheel, going 65MPH, and how mad I would be if I had to drive into the ditch to avoid a head-on accident, while she kept driving, eyes off the road, another LOL or smiley face.

So I ask: Why can’t government make cell phone companies drop text messaging capabilities?

Before you jump down my throat about big brother’s watchful eye, I ask you to think about what good text messaging has brought to society. It helps you avoid conversations, I suppose, which I dislike, and occasionally it saves time, I guess. Other than that: What has it added? If you are aged between 14 and 24 (but all ages are guilty on some level) you are most likely largely unable to communicate on a total scale. You live on your text messaging screen, unwilling to focus on anything else for any extended period of time.

Exhibit A. Last night we went to dinner at D’Raymond’s. The four of us talked for two straight hours, catching up, telling stories, etc. The night before, we were at Friendly’s, sitting across from five teens-early 20's eating ice cream. There was not a speck of conversation. All five of them had cell phones flipped open, texting people who weren’t there, presumably. For me that was a scary thing to see. When we paid our bill that same night, the cashier was texting while on the clock, and we had to wait till she was finished. Wow, I thought, when did that start?

Even more than that is the knowledge that people are texting while engaging in activities that require 100% focus. The scariest of these situations, for any age, is driving while texting. As a driver that really terrifies me. I cannot imagine my life, or the life of a loved one, terminated or diminished because somebody was busy sending a text message, caused a major collision. Can you imagine your life ending that way?

Just get rid of text messaging. Eliminate the capability in cell phones, across the board. Why do we need it? For every PRO there are 20 CONS, with serious consequences. I am not suggesting getting rid of cell phones or handicapping any other email or technology advance, of course not. That would be like trying to stop a runaway freight with a wet napkin. But, in my opinion, text messaging has proven to be far too much of a distraction. It has marginalized communication, in younger and older people. And no number of laws prohibiting texting while driving is going to stop it. People will still do it, still crash/cause crashes, still die in accidents where texting played a part.

When people watch the news, and wonder about the recent slippage of the almighty America, I wonder if the introduction of this little technology (these kinds at least) are playing a part. Maybe. We're so engrossed in these phones. Even at McCartney people were on their phones all over the arena. I know everybody reading this has a text messaging story like the one I began with. "But, Brian, how would we text in our vote for American Idol on Wednesday nights?” That’s not a problem I considered here, but I’m sure there’s a solution.

Remember when you had a crush on a really cute/popular girl in school? Then a friend of a friend told you that she liked you, and the next move was making the dreaded first call. You’d pace by the phone, put it off, make excuses. Then finally you grabbed that receiver, sweaty handed, dialed her number, and it would ring, and her father ALWAYS answered with that gruff, irritated, “Hello.” It was up to you to say who you were, why you were calling, and then she got the phone from dad, and it was game on. Could you talk your way into a Friday night date at Secrets or Hoyt’s, or did you just strike out? What a great time. What a great test of character. Now all that’s out the window, replaced with a sent text message. Just like Jack says in A FEW GOOD MEN, “All you did was weaken a country today, Kaffee. That's all you did. ...”

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Brian Huba