Monday, December 31, 2012

Good & Not So Good of 2012

It’s a few hours before that horrible TV experience known as ROCKIN' NEW YEAR’S EVE, so it must be time for my annual Good & Not So Good of the past year.

2012 “Good” of Pop Culture

Movie: Lincoln
TV Show: Boardwalk Empire
Reality Show: America’s Got Talent
Book: Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
Album: Overexposed by Maroon 5
Song: “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Episode of SNL: Martin Short & Paul McCartney (Dec 2012)
Sports Story of 2012: NY Giants once again beat Brady and the Patriots
Late Night Talk Show: Jimmy Fallon
Favorite Celebrity of 2012: Wilford Brimley (of course)
Break Out Star of 2012: Ted from the movie Ted
Best Thing of 2012: Barack Obama reelected

2012 “Not So Good” of Pop Culture

Movie: Rock of Ages
TV Show: Is Whitney still on?
Reality Show: Snooki & J-Woww
Book: In One Person by John Irving
Album: Unapologetic by Rihanna
Song: "Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift
SNL Episode: Daniel Craig & Muse (Oct 2012)
Annoying Story of 2012: Summer Olympics
Horrible Story of 2012 Two-Way Tie: Newtown Shootings/Super Storm Sandy
People Magazine Story of 2012: William & Kate Pregnant
Late Night Talk Show: Chelsea Lately
Most Overrated Star of 2012: Rihanna
Least Favorite Celebrity of 2012: Kim Kardashian
Biggest Disappointment: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
Worst Thing of 2012: Gangnam Style

My 2013 Wish: RIP, American Idol

There you have it. I hope you had a super 2012. Try not to fall of the 'Fiscal Cliff' in 2013!

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Brian Huba

Friday, December 28, 2012

Literally the sickest story I have ever read

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Brian Huba

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Give 'Em the Strippers

Did anyone read about the off-duty Schenectady Cops being investigated for having strippers at the Clam Shack on Broadway? A group of graveyard guys got together for a “glorified” Holiday Party and brought in some adult entertainment. Now the Chief of Police, Mark Chaires, has to pretend he cares about this, and when it’s done, the Dept. will probably have to suspend their “glorified” Parties, because that’s what the public will demand. I say if nothing illegal happened, who cares, give 'em the strippers.

Do you have any idea what the life of a Schenectady Beat Officer is probably like? The stress involved with taking a domestic-disturbance or gunshot call in Hamilton Hill? Many of these cops are just like me, early thirties, first house, starting a family, etc. Only difference is I don’t live with the reality that every time I punch the time clock I could come back with a toe tag. They're doing the most dangerous work in Upstate New York, functioning on tight salaries, trying to create a civilized life for themselves and family, but their whole day (or night) is wearing a uniform and huge hat inside slums where most see you as the enemy. You want to do it?

In a world where fire fighters are being baited to house calls for target practice, I think these cops should get strippers every Friday night, paid with tax dollars, which wasn't the case here, of course. Schenectady Cop? I’d probably be divorced, a drunk, every fingernail chewed to the quick. And these guys aren't small-town cop who gets off duty then gets drunk and drives down the road in reverse, because he can. We all know that guy. Nope. The Electric City is the real deal.

God bless 'em. And if legally-hired strippers is what it takes to compartmentalize some of the stress, so be it.

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Brian Huba

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bad Idea, Jethro

Anyone who thinks more guns are the answer to solving gun violence probably thinks Sarah Palin would be a good President too. To believe that arming teachers and clergymen and hospital employees will deter people who want to commit heinous crimes like we saw in Newtown last week is the same as suggesting the best way to fight drugs is just give everybody crack and coke to even it out. It’s ridiculous and such ridiculousness on issues is eating America from the inside out. Being from New York we are immune to most of this Ted Nugent thinking, but take a trip to Kansas or Kentucky and you’ll see why George Bush was elected President.

Enough already with the Second Amendment. I’m so tired of NRAers throwing that argument up as defense for arming the entire country. It means nothing. I don’t care about your right to have a wall of weapons in your house. That amendment was written by men whose heads would explode if they ever saw a two-story building. That antiquated amendment doesn’t mean every American gets to have an assault rifle capable of crushing an entire village. A small handgun is one thing, not weaponry that the Taliban would get giddy over.

What about hunting, Brian? Hunting is disgusting. I don’t need a lesson on where meat comes from, I get that. But for a regular civilian to go into the woods and blow an animal’s head off for game, that’s not my kind of game. But, Brian, without hunting the wild animal population would be overwhelming. Wrong again, Jethro, it wouldn’t. Wild animals statistically live short lives and die off from so many other things. Hunting doesn’t affect it either way. So please, can the Right-to-Bear-Arms-for-Hunting argument.

What’s next? Arming teachers to stop school shootings? Another gem, Jethro. You want a teacher in front of a classroom conducting a lesson with a handgun on his person? Really? You know for every teacher there are about 30 students of all different states of mind. 30 to 1. Yeah right, that doesn’t have front page of the NY POST written all over it. And if a shooter enters the school, said teacher can just retreat to his office and grab his assault rifle and shoot the intruder dead. So you want a Hollywood shootout in the hallways of our high schools? No, Brian, the teachers would be trained. Really? That 57-year-old computer teacher would be trained to identify and eliminate a target with one bullet? So he’d teach computer class AND be James Bond?

If you’re not in the Army, a Police Officer, or some profession of that nature, you should NOT have an assault rifle. The end. I don’t care about your Second-Amendment Rights and I don’t care about your Hunting Sundays. We had 21,000 gun deaths last year. Actually, I know a few guys who were shot dead while hunting. Enough is enough. This is just another issue that Barack Obama has to clean up after eight years of Bush. And if you tell me that same dumb line: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Again I say no, Jethro. There’s a reason the Military doesn’t invade foreign lands armed with Puppies or Goose-feather Pillows. Guns are killing machines.

What's my solution to problems right now? Build a time machine, go back to 2000, and put Gore in the White House? America is still the best country in the world, but even the best is going to flounder a while right off the worst leader in Modern History.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, December 16, 2012

George Bush & Social Media

What happened on Friday in Newtown is one of the worst moments in Modern American History. 9/11, Pearl Harbor, the Challenger & JFK. That bad. And now the talk will turn to blame. The gun guys will tell you guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Actor/Politicians will Tweet super-original things like it’s the media’s fault for glorifying killers. Others will finger the separation of God and schools. Some might say America is mishandling its mentally ill. I go George Bush and Social Media.

George Bush ruined this country. When he stole that election from Al Gore, the US of A tumbled immediately into terrorism, all-out war, violence, natural disasters, and surging surpluses gone. Paradise finished. We lost two towers, four commercial flights, and the City of New Orleans. I’d say 'God' was sending America a bright-neon sign. When historians look back, the election of Bush will be the beginning of the end in America. Why are 400,000 teachers about to be laid off? Bush! Why are we in a Fiscal Cliff? Bush! Why are the roads and bridges crumbling? Bush! Why are college degrees useless? Bush! He ruined this country.

When Obama mercifully took office in 2009, the country was in the worst shape it’s been since the 1930s. And before you blame Obama for not magically fixing the Great Recession remember it took the beloved FDR nine years to pull us out of the Great Depression. On this issue, what do you want Obama to do? Arm the teachers? Can anyone say Syria?

So here we are: 30 million hopelessly out of work, doing nothing but starting Facebook wars and posting statuses. Why? Bush! 30 million, that’s more people than most countries total. Social Media has allowed the worst thing possible for any prospering empire: It's given uninformed people a voice and place to mobilize. Remember when you had to be an accredited journalist to have a media presence?

We are endlessly on the brink of war around the world, the rich are obnoxiously rich, the Middle Class is a shrinking image, and our 20-somethings want to be singer/songwriters/artists. Nobody wants to be an electrician or plumber or elevator repairman. Electricians don't shoot up schools. Failed songwriters with orange hair do that. They all want to be Snooki and the Situation. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame, even if that fame comes on a suicide mission.

The American Dream is now a reality-TV, Down-to-the-Final-Eight ideology. It’s no longer a modest house with a job and family. Everyone is going to be famous now, it’s an American Right. Today's 20-somethings are going to be the first generation to fall short of their parents. You can thank George Bush who crippled this country's growth and Facebook for giving people a forum to 'fight back.'

What happens when that 21-year-old who wants to be a singer/songwriter/artist/actor realizes such a career is less likely than getting hit by lighting and winning the lottery? Is that when his desire to be talked about gives him the idea to shoot up a middle school or shopping mall? Plumbers don't shoot up shopping malls. Having people blog about you is better than a ranch house and raising kids on a carpenter’s salary. It's the Fast-Food Approach. It's the new America.

George Bush turned America into a country club for the top 2%, while destroying the Middle Class on a fake war and unregulated mortgage practices that put a bullet in the housing market. Combine that with a culture of delusional, over-parented 20-somethings. You can be anything you want to be, Little Johnny. Who cares about ethic or talent? You deserve it. When you’re young and unequipped to face rejection or challenge, there’s no limit to what you could do to yourself or others. This is what happens when the present can’t climb past the prior. My only fear is what’s next? What will some wannabe singer/songwriter with access to guns do to be talked about on MSNBC? What could ever be worse than executing 20 elementary kids? I'm afraid we might soon find out.

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Brian Huba

Monday, December 10, 2012

One Last Conversation

Yesterday was the Holiday Party on my father’s side. This tradition has been going for years, and it’s always interesting to see everyone. This year it was held at my cousin Jen’s house in Loudonville, and I remember when Jen was just a kid (she’s the same age as me), chasing gifts from her mother. Now she’s almost a mother herself and the emcee of the only family party we hold true to. Of course this party has been a bittersweet day since my father’s passing in 2009. It's always a mixed bag of emotions. Yesterday was no different.

The hardest part of losing any loved one is knowing you can never see them again, never have another conversation. During the festivities yesterday, I slipped off to a side room to take a breather, and found my father’s brother sitting alone in the semi-dark by the window. This brother is about the same age as my father, he looks like him, talks like him, moves like him, and his eyes are the same. He was my father’s best friend and best man at his wedding. They spent afternoons together for years. This man is the closest thing on earth to what my father was, and there he was, alone in the semi-dark.

Me and this uncle don’t usually talk. He’s had a hard time with things, losing some of the movement and ability in his right hand and arm from a life in construction. When I saw him there, my first instinct was to wave hello and move along, but for some reason I sat down in the next chair. We spoke for twenty minutes. Every so often he moved painfully in his seat, trying to adjust his arthritic and withered body. We spoke of all things.

A few minutes into the talk I realized I was using my father’s closest brother. In that semi-dark room, I was using my uncle to cheat the one rule of death, and have one last conversation with my father. Yes, for a few moments in time, my father was alive again, morphed up from his brother, if only in the eyes, and voice, and movements. I was able to speak with him. I cheated. And when it was done, I ended the conversation and went back to my wife, leaving my father’s brother alone in the semi-dark.

When my father was alive, we had an up-and-down relationship. It was, at times, a chaotic dynamic, often capable of sparking with intense love or anger. I guess that’s how life goes. The last time I ever saw my dad, we were over at the family house. I was with my wife (then my girlfriend) and dogs, and my mother, brother, and sister were there. The whole family together for dinner at his new dining-room table.

When the food finished, we talked like two grown men. Finally after all those years of chaos, we had reached a mutual peace. This would be the beginning of a great time in life. Later on, when he got tired, he said he was heading to bed. We shook hands and he said, “I’ll see you soon, Brian.” Then I watched him walk off and up the stairs, into the darkness, and I never saw him again, a lifetime of chaos ended so quietly and easily. It was nice to see him again yesterday, if only for a few moments in the semi-dark.

Brian Huba

Saturday, December 8, 2012


My greatest fear is dying senselessly. Every day I leave the house I wonder for a few beats if this is my day, because there’s no way you can know. I have thought much about the two local tragedies this week. First the young girl stabbed to death by her sister’s ex-boyfriend in Albany. She was 20. Who figures their life could ever end stabbed to death? I’ve also thought much about the Shen seniors who passed away last weekend. In the end Dennis Drue, who struck their SUV and has since been crucified, his “troubled past” posted all over the media, wasn’t even drunk, and the DA will have a heck of time proving he did anything wrong. How can he prove it? I think this ordeal ends with Drue walking. Dying senselessly. Horrible.

Did anyone see that Christopher Wallace's AKA Notorious BIG's autopsy was made public this week? Biggie was shot in LA in ’97 leaving a night club. It was a drive by and Biggie was in the shotgun seat of a Chevy Suburban. He was shot four times, including a bullet in the scrotum, and only the final shot was fatal. The rapper was rushed to Cedar-Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 24. Biggie’s killer has never been found. As I’m sure most remember, this was the unofficial finish to the East Coast vs. West Coast Rap Battle that waged in the late 90s, and was intensified with the shooting death of Tupac Shakur in ’96 in Vegas after the Mike Tyson Fight. Tupac’s killer has never been found either.

I think Biggie’s death is as sad and senseless as the murder of John Lennon. I don’t think Biggie or Puff Daddy or Bad Boy wanted anything to do with this silly East vs. West thing that Death Row and Tupac fueled for so many years. All Biggie ever talked about was making peace with Tupac and enjoying the huge success they both had. But Tupac was 150lbs of walking, talking trouble. He was involved with so many bad people, like Suge Knight and the Black Panthers. The night Tupac died, he was caught on security tape stomping some guy in a casino lobby. The night Biggie died, he didn’t have a drop of alcohol or drugs in his system, despite just leaving a night club. Biggie rapped about the life. Tupac tried being it. Biggie wanted nothing to do with this war.

Every time Tupac got shot, and he got shot a lot, moron rap fans and media people found a way to link it back to Biggie. And Biggie would tell anyone who would listen that he had nothing to do with it. Why would Biggie want Tupac dead? Why would he commit murder, even by accessory, with millions in the bank and living a dream life? But when Tupac was finally finished off at 25 in Vegas, Biggie knew that he was next, even though he was three thousand miles away when it happened. The truth: Tupac’s own people probably killed him to sell posthumous albums. But from the moment Tupac expired, Biggie knew his days were numbered, for this fake war was destined to end no other way. The last seven months of his life, despite releasing one of the best rap albums ever, was lived waiting to die by some idiot screaming “thug life” and putting a bullet in his back for no reason.

The greatest rapper who ever lived was shot dead in LA less than a year after Tupac was murdered. And just like that East vs. West was over. It’s one of the saddest, most senseless chapters in pop culture history, fueled by the mob mentality of total idiots. Biggie and Tupac were rap gods, once-in-a-lifetime talents, and we just wasted them away for nothing. It’s heart wrenching to think how Biggie lived the last few months of his life. Watch some interviews from that time. Biggie is in full-blown paranoia. He knows. And when he went out to LA to promote LIFE AFTER DEATH, he was being threatened in the malls and on the music channels. Many wonder why he didn’t just leave LA on the spot. Why would he? His senseless death was already written in the stars, whether it be LA, NYC, or Fargo.

’97 was my senior year in high school. We hit Lake George for Memorial Day Weekend after the Senior Dinner Dance. Notorious had just died. I remember a few friends from my school pulled up on the Strip in a red Mustang convertible at dusk. They parked outside the arcade across from Taco Bell, and cranked “Mo Money, Mo Problems,” and we all stood around the car, and that last verse, when Biggie raps, we were all singing along, “B-I-G-P-O-P-P-A . . . Tap my cell and the phone in the basement ... Step on stage, girls boo too much . . .” It was the only moment I remember from that weekend. Perhaps people would say it was best he went out on top. To compare, watching Eminem these last few years has been sad, I'll grant that, how he went from a revolutionary to making duets with that joke Rhianna. But at least he's alive. And Biggie's dead. Tragic. Senseless.

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Brian Huba

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No Moral, No Lesson, Just Awful

No moral, no lesson, just awful. Four teenagers driving home from a sporting event. Driving in the right-hand land, not texting or speeding. Two teenagers about to die the same way they lived: Doing the right thing. Then there’s a 22-year-old. By all accounts, a few drinks with friends (although we'll wait to see how few was a few), same way a million 22-year-olds did on Saturday night. Then he hit the Northway at 70-75MPH, weaving through traffic perhaps, but nothing we haven’t all done a thousand times. A mile north of the Twin Bridges, the ugly, awful twist of fate would occur at roughly 10:20PM, leaving two dead, two seriously injured, and innumerable lives annihilated.

I’m sure there are thousands of Plainsmen and/or Bison who would give Dennis Drue .47-cent justice if they could. I’m sure. There may be others who think the media’s role in this story sets a high standard when considering how future teenage deaths will be mourned. But whatever you think, anytime two 17-year-olds lose their lives before they even begin it, they deserve a moment in time, and the size of that moment is not the issue. Two huge school communities came together to mourn the loss of two of their comrades, and last night, the Shen Vigil, you saw a piece of what that process looks like. There's no right or wrong, no rationalizing what happened Saturday night. There’s no formula.

As I reflected on this story, I happened upon an ESPN article about a professional football player, named Jovan Belcher, who last weekend murdered his girlfriend, leaving said woman’s daughter orphaned, then drove his Bentley (that’s right, his Bentley) to the football stadium in Kansas City, and shot himself in the parking lot. Here was a man given the gift of life, somehow made it to the NFL, a dream come true times fifty, and does nothing with that except blow an innocent woman away, ruin a child’s life, and voluntarily end his.

I'm not emotionally invested in this man’s death or inspired by stories of his team playing hard to win one for him. I don’t want to see murals set up in his memory. Not when I read about the deaths of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, two young people who, by all accounts, were full of life and eager to maximize every earthly opportunity. My sadness is invested at home, with that. In this case, the student athletes are the role models, not the professional one.

One thing in life binds us all: We have no idea what the grand plan is, the big picture. We cannot predict fate or even say if it’s an actual thing. No human can. With that I think back to my own Saturday night, at D’Raymond’s with friends for dinner. At 10.10PM we left, heading towards home. At the last second, for some crazy reason, we decided to drive back to Clifton Park through Loudonville instead of the Northway. If we had taken the usual route, I-87, we would've been one mile north of the Twin Bridges at roughly 10.20PM. Maybe, if we didn’t decide to take that last-second left into Loudonville, it would’ve been us that got bumped by Dennis Drue. It’s a hollow take away, a powerless one.

For me, and my wife, and a million other Capital Region people, Saturday night was not our destiny, but it was for Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers. That’s all we know. And for Dennis Drue, his destiny was at the other end of this ugly, awful twist of fate, a "fate" he allowed to happen one could argue. His child (and one on the way) will now live with the burden of his mistake. I don’t know why any of this is true or what the big-picture reason behind it is. And I guess that’s what bothers me the most, for this is a story that has no moral, no lesson, it's just awful.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Three Things

Is Bigger Always Better?

One of our favorite lunch places, a popular sandwich shoppe in Halfmoon, has upgraded their facility, moving to a bigger, better building next store. Obviously the move came from the swell of popularity the place has deservedly gotten. The new building has flat-screen TVs, more dining-room tables, a nicer reception area for pickups, etc. Is bigger always better? There’s a nagging fear in me that when the big-screen TVs come out, somehow the product that made such an upgrade necessary suffers. Of course any small business would be pumped that things have taken off to the point that new digs are needed, but it kind of feels like the beginning of the end. Not an end to the actual business, if you build it they will come, but an end to the character that made the place one of our favorites. How many times have you looked back on one of your favorites and recognized that the Grand Opening of the new location was when said company jumped the shark? The TVs are nice and the dining room is huge, but the charm is gone, and so often that means the product goes with it.

The Best $54.00 I Ever Spent

One of our dogs had a small bump on her belly the last two weeks. Of course we thought the worst. We went on Pet MD, and they said it could be anything from a hang nail to terminal cancer. We have a vet up north (outside Plattsburgh) that we use, so plans to bring Lola up there for a biopsy were being planned. Finally we broke down and brought her to $$$$$$haker Vet in Latham. We went in expecting them to read us a doom’s-day report, where all kinds of test$$$$$ would be required, but it didn’t happen. They told us she was fine, a very common condition in female dogs of a certain age (six in her case), and that she was as healthy as a horse, and apparently eating like one too. I have to hand it to Shaker Vet. They were fantastic with her in every way, and they put our hearts at ease. Last night was a great night with that worry omitted. The Best $54.00 I ever spent.

Sign of the Times

Last night we went to dinner at D’Raymond’s with some friends. They told us that a package they ordered from a week before had been ripped apart on their doorstep when they got home from work. How scary. Turns out this is becoming a trend. People follow UPS trucks through neighborhoods and watch for Amazon boxes to be delivered. When the recipient doesn’t answer and the driver leaves the package on the property, people walk right up, tear through the packages for anything valuable. Wow. To me this is what happens when 10% of the population is out of work. Can’t we just pay 1% more taxes and keep everybody employed? But I guess a positive to this is that people might start buying local again instead of Internet ordering. I know over the Net is easier, but I don’t want to give anybody an enticement to come onto my property when I’m not home. It’s a sign of the times.

Brian Huba