Sunday, July 28, 2013

Burden Lake Road

Recently, I had the rare opportunity to travel down a ribbon of road in the small town of Averill Park called Burden Lake Road. This may be the most interesting road in America.

I have no idea where Burden Lake Road begins or ends. But I do know that Burden Lake Road has mansions with dirt driveways in front built next to dilapidated trailer-house parks. If one continues further down this mutt of a road, one will find a pizzeria, a country club, and Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Author William Kennedy’s house. But not before passing houses that surely possess a young girl named Mayella and an old chifforobe in the back bedroom in need of a good “busting up,” before another string of million-dollar palaces with eight-car garages outside. I’m very confused.

Yesterday, there was no shortage of front yards that boasted tall poles with American flags and huge carriers being loaded with colorful stock racing cars. I saw one house built to be identical (in size, shape, and color) to the garage next to it. Did you know that while driving on Burden Lake Road one can take a right (or a left) onto, um, Burden Lake Road? Is there two Burden Lake Roads you ask? Logical question. Nope, only one.

So why was I on Burden Lake Road? I was en route to a wedding reception. The outside facility was on a lake. How nice, I thought, and naturally assumed that since the hall was on Burden Lake Road, the lake was, well, Burden Lake. Nope, it wasn’t, I was told. For the lake you see while celebrating a wedding on Burden Lake Road was in fact NOT Burden Lake. Ah, Burden Lake Road.

Brian Huba

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The New Circle of Life

I can’t think of one woman in our circle, between the ages of 28-32, that hasn’t given birth without some complication. Literally. Not one. My cousin had a C-Section and two days later the stiches fell out. Another friend had twins prematurely then spent a month in the hospital as the second born had to fight to stay alive. Another friend had something go wrong and had to deliver early or she would’ve died. We have a friend who tried for three years to get pregnant, and another whose baby was born with a hip condition. These are educated, healthy women with bodies built to kill, in the prime of their lives. Even Kim Kardashian almost died giving birth.

I don’t get it. They eat right, go to the gym, work nice jobs, take all their pills. They live clean lives but can’t seem to get this baby-making thing right. Isn’t this 2013? What’s the deal?

My mom ate McDonald’s, smoked cigarettes, drank on weekends, pumped out kids like a champ. Same way with every one of her friends. The gym? My mother doesn’t know a treadmill from a trampoline. Nobody had problems getting pregnant back then. There were no pre-natal pills. They didn’t do baby yoga. They just got pregnant and had kids. But nowadays it’s a whole enterprise. The women are searching out pregnancy tips on the Internet, really “yuppie-ing” this process up, all to create super pregnancies, then crawling to the finish line ten months later—sometimes sooner—clinging to their life or the life of their newborn. Every woman we know: It’s been a nightmare. Am I wrong?

But it’s not just the pregnancy problems. Every day I hear about women in their 20s and 30s suffering from advanced cancer or having lumps under their arms mammogrammed. Full-blown metastatic at 29, 31, 33? When did this start? What’s responsible? Cell phones? The pharmacuticals for better sleep or less anxiety? The organic food? Grass-fed beef? Soy milk? Non-dairy ice cream? I don’t know. But I do know there was no non-dairy ice cream in my mother’s generation. They ate rocky road out of the carton. Couldn’t sleep? Have another Bud.

There’s a silent culprit that’s attacking these twenty-first-century women on a reproductive, hormonal level. I don’t know if it’s the pills with ten thousand side effects (you’ve seen the commercials) or the birth control or the organic milk. What the hell is organic milk? These white-collared women are in and out of doctor’s offices nonstop, trying to live the most-healthy lives they can, but maybe it’s too much.

The other day my wife came home with a bag of packing ice. I asked, “Why the ice?” She doesn’t trust the ice out of our refrigerator anymore. She wants cleaner ice. Honey! Baby! Where do you thinking packing ice at the gas station comes from? Some mythical fountain of filtered water? Just eat the damn fridge ice. Are we overthinking healthy?

Stem cells are being tested to cure the blind. A drug they think can beat cancer is getting ready for human testing. We can photograph earth from inside Saturn’s rings. But suddenly we can’t get a 31 yr old through pregnancy. I understand a woman’s body is far more complicated than a man’s, and thus more prone to problems. But growing up I didn’t know a single woman who suffered all these new-fangled conditions that women seem to have now. Are we just better educated about the seemingly thousands of afflictions?

Everything I’ve described isn’t happening to the women on welfare or the 400lber with Burger King bags on her coffee table. It’s happening to educated suburbanites. It’s happening to the Trader Joe’s crowd. Which leads me to believe it’s something in the high-priced foods or something you need health insurance to get: Birth control, pre-natal pills, etc. I think we need to recognize that the pharmaceutical trade is controlling modern American medicine. Who do you think provides Albany Med with their research money? A hospital is a business just like DeNooyer Chevy is, and the pharmacies are business partners. Those doctors are selling you a service when you walk in that office. If doc says take pill x would you argue?

The other day I took my lunch outside the Sloan Kettering Breast Cancer Building on 66th. Sitting behind me were two women in their fifties or sixties, talking about chemo rounds and hair loss and mastectomies. I thought to myself how sad it was to hear them talking about this potentially-deadly disease in their lives. But this does happen at certain age, I suppose. The circle of life can be cruel sometimes. But as I listened longer, I realized both women were actually healthy and cancer free. So why the grave talk? Well, they were at Sloan supporting their daughters' cancer fight.

The new circle of life.

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Brian Huba

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hilarious Upstate New York List

I found this hilarious list of the 49 things that Upstate New Yorkers love

Give it a read:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rioting Over Zimmerman? Really?

This weekend brought a not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman case. And with said verdict came the next chapter of this story: The rallies and angry rioting. Cory Monteith would die all over again if he knew about this. Too soon to make jokes against some kid who gave away a dream life for drugs? I digress.

Let me get this straight: You have the energy to break business windows and spray paint cop cars because some total stranger in Florida was found not guilty of killing some other total stranger? And you’re from Oakland? When it comes to the Pop-Culture Taxonomy, the Zimmerman Verdict is somewhere between Ike & Tina Turner’s Divorce and Ja-Rule’s incarceration. It doesn't seem like that now. But you won't remember George Zimmerman in ten years.

It’s because this is a race thing. Here we go again with that. Why does calling something a race thing give citizens a green light to start civil wars in city neighborhoods? Did Zimmerman target Martin because he was black? Of course he did. The neighborhood was under threat of serial break-ins, and the perpetrators were described as young, black males, so the story goes. Zimmerman shouldn’ve taken the law into his own hands. Zimmerman’s an idiot. Did he kill Martin because he was black? No. He killed Martin because the kid was beating the crap out of him.

Let me analogize this to my own life. Last night I had dinner with my wife at the Albany Pump Station. At the next table a group of young guys were boozing, getting ready to hit it hard on a Saturday night. They looked like a nice group. One of these guys was wearing a fedora. He looked a bit silly. (Trust me, I often looked more than a bit silly in my going-out days.) I caught myself eyeing him and his hat. He may've seen me. Maybe not. If I had decided to confront him physically about it, whatever happened next would be my fault. I have no idea who he was or what he was capable of. He could've been armed. He could've killed me. That's why you don't confront strangers unless you absolutely have to. Did Martin have to confront GZ? I don't know. Did he have to pummel him? Probably not. The NAACP is going to try and turn this kid into Emmett Till. Not even close.

Regardless of where your politics fall, destroying infrastructure because you’re outraged over this verdict is ridiculous. Zimmerman killed that kid. Correct. But they couldn’t prove it WASN'T self-defense. Live with it. And if you can’t live with it, and decided to spray paint PIG on a cop car because you're SO angry, you don't belong in society. “We’re all Trayvon Martins.” No, no you're not. Am I missing the significance of this case? Maybe.

Why is race an issue in this country? Maybe rioting in a city two-thousand miles away from a bad verdict is why. What are we gonna do next? Riot when TV watchers vote a minority contestant off AMERICA’S GOT TALENT. Maybe the problem with this country is everyone thinks they should be heard on everything. We all want a piece of this seemingly-obtainable fame, even if it’s fame for something bad. Listen to me. Take me seriously. I’m SO outraged over everything. The players in this case have nothing to do with you or your life.

If you must do your rallies, fine, go for it, but the verdict's in. Truthfully the DA down there was bullied into arresting Zimmerman, charging him, and finally dragging this unwinnable wreck of a case through trial. But public outcry came and came some more, so the fold job was official. As for the rioting--and the number of incidents was small, thank God--save that for its intended purpose: After your city wins a major sports championship. That’s when smart people do their window breaking and car flipping.

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Brian Huba

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Drive-Thru Etiquette

Is there such a thing as Drive-Thru etiquette? Should a person order sixty dollars’ worth of soft tacos at the window or does that require parking the car and walking inside? I know, I know, walking, it's the worst.

I ask this after stopping at the Dunkin Donuts in Plattsburgh yesterday. For the record I think DD is the biggest peddler of crap in this country, so don’t think I was ordering those awful flatbread things or dozens of doughnuts. Please don’t think that. My wife needed a coffee, that’s it. Anyway, there were three cars in front when we rounded to the menu. I guess when factoring the Plattsburgh angle, it was really like six cars in front. Aren't I so funny? Either way, twenty-two minutes seems like an extreme wait for a large with skim milk.

Why the wait? The people in front ordered bags and bags of this DD vomit, weeks’ worth of food and coffee and creamers from this little window. It was 11.45AM, so it wasn’t like the office gopher grabbing morning Joe. Is it laziness or stupidity or lack of etiquette that tells a person it’s OK to complete a $47 fast-food order without parking the car?

Maybe it’s not all the consumer’s fault. On Fourth of July we decided to see an 8pm showing of THIS IS THE END. On the way to the theatre we stopped for two veggie subs at Subway. We entered the restaurant at 7.20PM, there were two people ahead of us, we exited at 7.55PM, subs in hand. Why the thirty-five minute wait? The girl making the subs wasn’t exactly the quickest gun going, and her partner was too busy texting in the backroom. Speaking of time, THIS IS THE END is not a bad movie by any means. But it is a complete waste of time.

Back to yesterday. After waiting almost a half hour for a single coffee, we pulled to the DD window, and my wife told the girl with the headset that she would be paying for the order after ours. Why? Because if we had to wait twenty-two minutes, that meant the woman behind had to wait twenty-three, which, in my wife’s mind, was twenty-one minutes too long, so she deserved a freebie. Now that’s Drive-Thru etiquette.

Brian Huba

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Final Word on Gandolfini

Tonight my wife said to me, “Can you believe James Gandolfini’s dead?” I shook my head then proceeded to describe how it wasn’t a massive heart attack that killed JG. It was Tony Soprano himself.

The second THE SOPRANOS rolled, Tony suffocated Gandolfini’s life, consumed it, eviscerated it. Tony was too big to live on a TV screen. He was a wild fire that Gandolfini threw gas on. A Vegan who hits the gym four times a week can’t play Tony Soprano. It required a real-life monster. To play Tony, Gandlfini had to become Tony. He had to drink a lot, smoke a lot, eat a lot, divorce his wife, hang in bars, have sex with a lot of women. He had to be larger than life or he couldn’t grab even a corner of Tony’s spirit when the camera rolled. Don’t believe all those stories about how Gandolfini was Tony’s opposite off camera. You have to be a Beast. Jim Gandolfini from Jersey died in ’99, and from the ashes rose a world wrecker: Mob Boss Anthony Soprano. Nucky Thompson is “just” a part. Jax Teller is “just” a part. Tony Soprano is a way of life.

I think Gandolfini understood that Tony would kill him. The power of what that was; the all-consuming energy. He talked often in interviews about the physical and mental pain he’d put himself through to hit a Tony mark. Punching himself in the face, drinking ten cups of coffee in ten minutes, staying awake for days on end, maintaining a heavy body weight because Tony couldn’t be thin or healthy. Life is about trade-offs. Gandolfini was willing to trade his long-term existence to be Tony. He was willing to sacrifice Jim Gandolfini nice guy. When THE SOPRANOS wrapped in ’07, I’m sure Gandolfini tried turning Tony off, tried going back to nice guy Jim. Nope. You can turn Don Draper off. You can’t turn Tony off. The last time I saw Jim Gandolfini was on the set of THE MEXICAN, and that was just the ghost of him.

I can’t verbalize why Tony Soprano and THE SOPRANOS is so much more powerful than any other TV show in history. You either get it or you don’t. THE SOPRANOS was "just" television the same way Michael Jordan was just a ballplayer and The Beatles was just a bar band. There was an indescribable magic involved with what THE SOPRANOS was, and is. I think the writing on BOARDWALK EMPIRE is as good. I think the acting on BREAKING BAD is of equal class. But those are “just” TV shows, everybody knows that. THE SOPRANOS was real. It was in between the lines, the little things, the way Carmella screamed Tony’s name. Edie Falco says the love that Carmella and Tony felt was more powerful than any love she’s ever known in her own life. Even the woman who portrayed Carmella, the woman who saw the cameras and grip boys every day, understands the power of what that role was. It was real.

When Gandolfini won his second Emmy, he talked about enjoying the journey to success, because once the upper-echelon’s obtained, it can get “pretty weird.” He knew back then that Tony Soprano was slowly eating a hole through his identity, the same way the character destroyed everything he touched in the “fictional world” of THE SOPRANOS. Jim Gandolfini died in ’99. And two weeks ago, the body that carried Tony Soprano into the world, keeled over and died in a hotel room, in Italy, of course. Fitting not because that’s where Gandolfini’s people are from. Fitting because that’s where Tony’s people are from. Look at the picture above. You think that's Jim Gandolfini holding a cigar? If I had seen him on Broadway post-SOPRANOS, I would've just said: Why is Tony Soprano in this play?

They say we die when our mission on Earth is done. Tony had been delivered to the masses. Nice guy Jim’s work was done. And Gandolfini himself is to blame. He knew the agreement going in. How could you not? He knew that being Tony ended this way. He took the deal. Wouldn’t you?

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Brian Huba

Fourth of July