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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Quick Hits Christmas Edition...sort of

  • A special lump of coal awaits - So earlier this week in the Chicago area one of those bell ringers for the Salvation Army left his post to go use the restroom inside the grocery store where he had been stationed. While he was away, some A-hole stole his red kettle. Now, granted, I can't stand those kettles. I hate the feeling of guilt that comes with not putting money into the kettle. I hate that I find myself sometimes ducking out of a different exit when I leave a store, so as to avoid the bell ringer and the kettle. But to be fair, what I hate about it is that my conscience nags at me. It's not that the bell ringer has done anything wrong. On the contrary, they're about the least aggressive charitable solicitors I've ever run across. So anyone with the cold stones to run off with the Salvation Army kettle deserves a fist full of karma. Hopefully she does her job with that thief, and soon. But I'm rambling again. My bigger problem with this situation was that a Chicagoland Salvation Army official told a TV reporter that while it was an accident, maybe the bell ringer could've handled things differently and taken better precautions to protect the kettle. I understand that is the "proper" managerial thing to say, but the truth is the bell ringer didn't need to adjust anything. The bell ringer didn't do anything wrong. The thief did. It should be a safe assumption that a Salvation Army kettle won't be tampered with if left unattended for a few minutes. That's like stealing a church collection plate. I don't think I'm naive, but even with my level of cynicism, I wouldn't even think someone could be so ballsy as to rob the Salvation Army.
  • Politics - I'm not endorsing parties or candidates - not that my endorsement would be worth anything - but if you watched the CNN/YouTube debate for Republican presidential hopefuls on Wednesday tell me who you thought won. In that particular debate I thought Mike Huckabee bested the rest of 'em. The whole down home southern, gee whiz thing seemed to work well for him. And in the last Democratic debate, I thought Joe Biden did himself justice. Just my humble opinion.
  • Miracles do happen - The college girls living in the duplex next to my house are moving out. Ten years ago I would have thought they were cute, sexy bad girls who party all the time, party all the time. Of course, 10 years ago I wasn't married and slightly overweight. Ten years ago I wouldn't have minded a thumpin' car stereo in the driveway next to mine. I wouldn't have minded their yappy little dog who sits outside and yelps for 20 minutes. And I wouldn't have minded their Eminem-look-alike boyfriends hanging out in the front driveway, holding onto their goodie bags, and saying "yo" to one another as though it was the law to utter that word in between each breath taken. Wait. On second thought, I would have minded all those things...just not as much. And these girls aren't that cute, anyway. A few needle tracks and elbow scabs, and I'd swear I saw them in a gentleman's club in Tijuana once. And their little dog is useless. Good riddance to all of 'em.
  • The Grinch needs a shrink - I have never listened closely to Christmas music. For the most part, it's 'cause I don't like Christmas music. I can't stand the reindeer and sleigh bells, and hos - I mean ho ho hos. Even when I was a kid I didn't get it or get into it, except for some of the old churchy Christmas songs. But Mrs. B loves the stuff, all of it. So lately when we're driving around after work, on the weekend, etc., she puts on the Christmas music radio station. I have tolerated it to the point that I catch myself humming along sometimes now. I'll even sing along when the song is an old-fashioned hymn. But the other day some really deep-voiced dude who sounded like Darth Vader came on and started singing "You're a mean one Mr. Grinch..." And I listened. I mean I listened to every word for the first time ever, and you know what? That song was disturbing. Termites in his teeth? Seriously, does this sound like stability to you? "You're a monster, Mr. Grinch. Your heart's an empty hole. Your brain is full of spiders, you've got garlic in your soul...." Down the line, I'm not sure if I'm gonna have my kid listening to songs about Mr. Grinch. He sounds depressed. And the song doesn't make me feel holly, jolly at all.
  • Hardy har har! - What do I keep telling you guys about Political Correctness being out of control? In Sydney, Australia, recently, Santas were banned from saying "ho ho ho!" because it might be offensive to women. I'm not playin'. I couldn't make that up if I wanted to. Instead, the Santas were told they should say "ha ha ha!" This one is so dumb, I'm not even sure what else to say about it, other than I don't think it's funny.
  • Annual tribute - OK, this last one has nothing to do with Christmas, but since there's just one day left in November, I have to slip in that we just passed the 33rd anniversary of the Player's Ball, the yearly pimp academy awards that once took place exclusively in Milwaukee, Wis., and Chicago, Ill. These days mini player's balls spring up all around the country, usually hosted by some corny nightclub, giving people an excuse to wear the flimsiest of holiday costumes. For the record, I do not endorse pimpin'. Cops I know say real pimps, hardcore pimps are violent headcases who often physically and psychologically abuse the women who "work" for them. They should all be in jail, I say. I mean, I believe that pimpin' ain't easy. But I still do not approve of it. Nevertheless, I share many Americans' fascination with pimps, in the same way we get fascinated with serial killers. I don't know what to tell you. Maybe it was sneaking behind my parents' back and watching Dolemite when I was waaaaay to young. Maybe that left a permanent mark on my imagination. Maybe it's the gator shoes, the fuzzy rearview mirror dice, and the rat-fur coats. Part of it is definitely the pimp stick. I am easily impressed by a gold-plated cane. It's like carrying a sword or something. And the names. How high an opinion must you have of yourself, before you can walk around with a straight face and introduce yourself as "Iceberg Slim," or "Mack'n Cheese," or "Mr. White Folks," or "Willie Dynomite?" A bit of trivia: I was sort of featured a couple of years ago in a pimpish documentary called From the Ghetto Streets to the Executive Suites, produced by Pimpin' Ken Ivy, star of the award-winning HBO documentary Pimps Up, Hos Down. It wasn't 'cause I have a diamond encrusted goblet or anything. And I don't have any gator shoes. I once had some snakeskin boots. But that was another lifetime. I had written a profile of Ken for another newspaper, pre-Miami Herald. Apparently he thought it was a fair portrayal. So I got a frantic call from a friend who was out on a date one night, and she blurted out that Pimpin' Ken was in a cocktail lounge talking about me. Not something you hear every day. He said he was relieved that more than one side of him was shown in the profile. So in his documentary he talked a few minutes about me and even held up a copy of of the newspaper. Funny. What can I say, other than pimp pimp hooray! Oh, if you're inclined to observe the passing of the Player's Ball, you should spend the rest of the day referring to yourself not as "I" or "me," but as "My bad self." Try it. It does wonders for your ego.
  • Finally, on a serious tip - Police in Florida have arrested two teenagers and a man in his 20s in connection with the murder earlier this week of Miami native and Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor. They're due a day in court. But if it's found that they really did it - that they shot this man as he stood helpless, no doubt in fear for his life and hoping they didn't harm his girlfriend or child - may they get 50,000 volt lumps of coal in their Christmas stockings.

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  • It's Bela Lugosi, not Darth Vader...much classier this way :)
    Thanks for the news, JB and may I recommend HO by The Dan Band for a little variety in your holiday listening (and as a tribute to the Santas in Australia).

    By Blogger WNG, at 4:36 PM  

  • Stole the Salvation Army kettle. That's just wrong.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 5:14 PM  

  • I disagree with you on the bell ringer, James. You don't blame the victim but you're putting way too much faith in the moral-intellectual capacity of the thief.

    There are many individuals out there who lack such qualities, given that their brains are fundamentally different in some way. Take a sociopath, for example, lacking the basic ability to feel empathy.

    I would consider that a disability. Some people are fundamentally less capable of making good decisions. I think you're holding the simpleton to your own, much higher, more evolved perspective. Not everyone is as smart, wise, or as fortunate as you in life.

    I mean, you probably unwittingly pass a few individuals every day who have IQs in the 60s or even 50s. And they blend in.

    By Blogger M@, at 7:56 PM  

  • WNG, I didn't know that was Bela Lugosi! Cool.

    Kevin, I feel ya. It's a shame.

    Sorry M@. We're gonna have to agree to disagree. I know that there are people with low IQs and low brain capacity. But you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know right from wrong. This numbnut, whover it was, stealing a Salvation Army kettle has nothing to do with how fortunate or not I've been in my life. My fortune, good or bad, has zip to do with the average Schmoe knowing right from wrong. You can't tell me that even a person w/a 50 IQ (and we don't know - this thief may have had a Ph.D and a 200 IQ) doesn't know that stealing is wrong. And anyone who has a remote clue of what the S.A. is about has to know that they're a charitable group, so stealing from them is especially wrong.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:02 PM  

  • Stealing from the Salvation army? Wow that IS pretty darn low but unfortunately is not allll that shocking to me. You see more and more stories of people breaking into churches and charitable organizations these days as well. Political correctness all in all is another example of a 'good idea taken wayyyyy tooo far' in my opinion. Who knows why this tends to happen but it does. Great to see you, sorry I havent been by in a while.


    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 8:53 AM  

  • I also never thought that anyone would sink low enough to steal from the Salvation Army unless they were so hungry they had no other choice. Somehow, the holiday season makes me so jaded that I doubt I'd believe that if you told me it was the case. Makes me worry about me as well.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 11:28 PM  

  • "I couldn't make that up if I wanted to. Instead, the Santas were told they should say "ha ha ha!""

    Around here, if some fat guy with a beard was saying "ha ha ha" to little kids, he'd probably get arrested...

    By Blogger BobG, at 4:29 PM  

  • Wow @ stealing the kettle from the Salvation Army. WTH is the theif going to do with it anyway?

    Karma is definitely waiting for the thief and those involved with the shooting of Sean Taylor.

    By Blogger Opinionated Diva, at 9:31 PM  

  • Wow... you covered everything in this post.

    Thrilled to hear an arrest was made in that shooting.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 10:25 PM  

  • As annoying as those bell-ringers are - the thief stole from the Poor. It doesn't get any lower than that.

    I love The Grinch - and have officially passed it to my children this year. The song is pretty creepy - but no worse than any fairy tale or nursery rhyme already out there.

    Dreaming What Ifs...

    By Anonymous Karmyn R, at 11:54 AM  

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