Archive for November, 2007

Happier or Just Plain Crappier?

November 12, 2007

I just read a book that claimed to make me Happier. Not that I’m unhappy. I had been depressed, and I got treated for it, and just like on TV, I was cured so I don’t have that problem anymore.

Unlike most books, this one is much worse than the TV version. I’d rather watch back to back Prozac and Wellbutrin commercials than read this prose. Why? Because drug commercials laugh and unfortunately this book did not. No funny in a book called Happier. I don’t get it.

I could have saved my time if I had first jumped to the back and looked at the picture of the author. In most cases, the picture of the author tells you nothing about how the book is. In fact, usually the author is so ugly they don’t have a picture. Or they have a picture of Steve Buscemi on the back. In this case, I think the photo matters just like the waistline of a diet book author does. In this case, the AUTHOR DIDN’T EVEN MAKE AN ATTEMPT TO SMILE. In most self help books they at least try, but here, he looks at the world with a grimace much like one on death row. Perfect guy to make my life a bit brighter.

Despite his mirthless visage, I decided to give his advice a try anyway. The first thing I read were the things to recommend this book. Here’s what I got: “The backbone of the most popular course at Harvard.” Well that’s uplifting…for him. For the rest of the slumps that teach at Harvard, that’s like saying, “your course sucks.” From the students point of view it reads, “in the rest of your courses, you are wasting your time.” Not the most uplifting message for the Harvard campus for either the teachers or the students.

The actual message is not much cheerier. First he tells us that winning does not make us happy. Really? He doesn’t mention how losing feels. I can clue him in: NOT VERY WELL. In fact, I’d rather get that fleeting joy from winning than the lifetime of pain and regret I get from losing.

His exercises were equally painful: “imagine you are over a hundred years old. Write to yourself.” Hmmm, let’s see. My back really hurts. I’m stuck in a wheelchair. I can’t get it up without a pill. Cocktails to me means prune juice. Fifty year old women, women born when I was fifty, look hot. OK, the exercise did cheer me up a little. Laughing at old people does give me a bit of a lift.

Finally he gives us these happiness revolutions, though they are not revolutions in the sense that we get to overthrow a corrupt government with fresh ideas. That would be fun. They are really revelations like the religious kind which means we have to close our eyes and wish real hard to believe them. They basically boil down to the fact that we can do stuff that makes us happy. That depresses me. I can make myself happier? I know that. I realize that’s the plan each time I go out to drink. I don’t need a Harvard Professor to tell me I can make myself happier.

What makes me really happy would for him to tell me that I am OK as a depressed person. That would make me happier. Comparing myself to Harvard students that are lucky enough to have parents to get me into Harvard and to pay the mortgage that is a modern Ivy League education, hell, I’d be happy all ready if I had all that. I wouldn’t need a book. I’d rather take a pill or some cocktails.


Casino II: Boredom? You Bet

November 7, 2007

In order to uphold its street cred first popularized in the movie, Rocky, Philadelphians with pitchforks in one hand and fuzzy dice in the other stormed the “Town Hall” meeting. The casino builders quickly  disarmed the opposition and charmed all but the most stalwart of their quibblers with a mixture of goodwill, a puppet show, a buffet from a quality restaurant, Red Lobster, and a ten hour writ of mandamus by an energetic lawyer. The lawyer could have spoken for about nine hours and fifty-five minutes shorter. Language buffs don’t have to be told that writ of mandamus is Latin for bore the shit out of your enemies.

The opposition had gone to the meeting looking for a fight. After five minutes into the first speech the opposition looked around listlessly their eyes dead to the world though their hearts still beat like caged gorillas.

All fools, prattling along with vain words, and half-backed syllogisms. In fact, as the good lawyer pointed out their lack of comprehending the casino’s magnificence is evidence that we need to build a casino. Today.

So inspired by the slogan on the podium “Don’t delay, build today,” I left the meeting that minute, snuck past security the chain link fence that surrounds the casino construction “pit”, and personally began digging the foundation of the casino. When I got out of jail, I watched the rest of the meeting here:

Here’s what I learned:

1. The casino is the second coming of Christ that will save Philadelphia of all burdens.

2. Will will pay $80 million dollars to politicians er, in taxes, this year. “This will only esculate.” (his words)

3. The community has all kind of agendas around this.

4. We need these casinos or Philadelphia will go out of business. They are spending the money from the casino before it was built. I’m spending my winnings from the casino.

5. Sugar Daddy Casa went from door to door and they were ONLY met with respect, but also with a lot of nonsense. The casino protestors have clay feet.

6. Eddie’s got a lot of carpenters out of work who are looking at a bad winter. Unlike any other job, carpenters do not make money if they do not work! Ask Joseph, Jesus’ father. During the time he was out of work, his family only had loaves and fishes to eat for years on end. But they drank wine every night.

7. Since the city hall passed a law based on gambling, they are obligated to giving us a place to gamble at. Besides, I have $63 million to invest in gambling. Do you have so much money? I didn’t think so. Why am I talking to you? Go away.

8. The casino’s are being held hostage by a small number of people. Action item: send in the delta force! Right now in West Philadelphia, they are hand crafting effigies of me out of chocolate cake. I’m white. Why are they using vanilla? I will consult the Supreme Court on this.

9. Summary of adjudication: “they can’t omit what we say UNLESS they keep at the boring parts.” Deamer provisions: if a certain amount of time goes by and you are still interested in this, we still get to do what we want and/or the supreme court will tell you what to do. So there. Na na na!

The best part of the meeting was the Q and A session where the witty lawyer used logic and long legal terms to expose the sad naivete of the insipid protesters.

Random Community Activist Who Is Not Associated With the Casino in Any Way: Every time, I called Sugar Daddy Casa, they came out.  Issues of veterans athletics group.  Issues of athletics clubs.  When I got drunk and almost got arrest for soliciting a prostitute, Sugar Daddy Casa was there to bail me out. Fishtown needs you.  Carpenters need you and yes, even lawyers need you. Of course the people who need you the most are neighborhood compulsive gamblers who are trying to support large families on limited incomes.

Casino Lawyer Dude: we will invite you to the table. Whatever you want, come to the table, and tell us what we want, and we’ll do it.

Person: Could you build the casino somewhere that’s not next to my house?

Casino Lawyer Dude: NO!

Before we looked at Fishtown, we looked at other sites. No where was the neighborhood more disorganized and less likely to put up a fight to the casinos. We looked at my neighborhood for example, they didn’t want it there. Heck, my wife was in charge of the Bryn Mawr anti-casino committee.

(Polite laughter.)

Casino Lawyer Dude: So of course, your neighborhood is the obvious choice. Do you have $63 million dollars? I didn’t think so, bitch.
Fact, who has the coolest, most benign sounding song? Sugar Daddy Casa.  Word. We are going to single handedly reduce taxes. We are going to develop the economy.  That guy who leers at you creepily at the bus stop? We put out hit him just for you.

Casino Lawyer Dude: we wrote 113 pages on this. We asked 4000 people if they liked it. Nobody said that they didn’t want it.

We are a democracy in this country and also, a country of laws. If you don’t like it, that’s a law. We follow it. If you want a law to be changed, just buy some lawmakers like we did.

Reporter: What if they passed a law that made casinos illegal?

Casino Lawyer Dude: They didn’t pass a freakin’ law. OK? Right. Am I right? Tell me that I’m right, bitch. And before they pass a law, they need to write it down.  Do you even know how to write? I didn’t think so.

Before they pass a law, they have this bill person that sits on the steps and sings about how he’s just a Bill on Capital Hill, and how they are going to have to pass it in rooms and have discussions even more boring than this. OK. You didn’t go to law school.  You probably can’t even follow this:

I’m just reading the law. And it says, we can do whatever we want to do. And I can’t see how anyone could pass any other law that would affect casinos at all. I think laws regulating casinos in general and Sugar Daddy Casa in particular are unconstitutional. In fact Millard Fillmore passed the “Sugar Daddy Casa Protection Act” in 1887. And what about you? I bet you came here on a bike, loser.

If we don’t get riparian rights, our casino won’t be what we thought it would be. Riparian rights let us hire riparian which are a kind of lizard alien, but that’s a question for another day.