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Out of the ashes I rise. I am preparing for a two week trip to Bali on Saturday to meet a pen pal from Melbourne. Son #2 (Eli) has taken electric sheep shears (rented from the Tool Shed at Home Depot) to my entire old man hairy body and created a large mound of …you don’t even want to know. Even the dog won’t get near it. Let’s just say there’s a sweet child with cancer somewhere that will soon be fit for a large Jew-fro made completely from authentic Baby Boomer back hair. That’s right. Baby got back (hair). Eww.
The beard is newly dyed (Just for Men, Light Brown). I was told to do this body prep ritual because the Balinese are unusually kind, soft-hearted, gentle and spiritual people. The very sight of an older White Man with copious back and shoulder hair scares them unnecessarily and reminds them of a nameless mythical creature said to haunt their dreams. Apparently the demon looks a lot like the weird looking bat thingy in “Jeepers Creepers” that kills obnoxious teenagers and uses their severed heads as spare parts for it’s totally hideous body. In my case the beast has the body of an aging social worker and the head of a Jew-bu Pirate/biker wannabe with hearing loss and tinnitus. Now if only I can find my dozen prescription medicines, my fungus creme and the Japanese product my SF friends gave me that when put in the toilet in an amount as minute as a single drop masks the odor of anything from human excrement to a rotting fully dismembered water buffalo….not that I’m planning on doing anything strange with a water buffalo in Bali. It’s just that my mother Claire Mazer always said there are two things human beings cannot and should not consider living without: extra paper towels and a fully functioning bathroom fan. I agree with her completely and try to live by her wise counsel. If you’ve read my recent “CaptCliff and Tinkerbell” blog then you have seen and heard me at my very lowest. Now it is time for me to rise to the occasion.
Thanks to CaptCliff’s psychological near-death experience (see previous blog) and proprietary “Dumpee, Divorce and Depression Diet (DDDD) I have once again lost 10 lbs and while not exactly “sleek” or svelte my nipples appear to be drooping somewhat less than usual. As a scientist and sex therapist I’m also aware that looking down on ones “manhood” (called “foreshortening” in the sex therapy business) like many other self-evaluations represents nothing more than an artifact of ones limited perspective . Hell, the same thing may be true about our view of the world and of ourselves at any given moment in time. Life is truly bigger than the sum of it’s parts. Hence, I don’t want to “foreshorten” myself at this important life stage. I am getting a little sick of myself but there’s not much I can do about that. Summary: Maybe there is still hope and time enough to do as Tom Robbins the author said , ie. “it’s never too late to change your childhood”
Regardless, I CaptCliff, faux Jewish Pirate, web blogger, peace-pipe maker, compulsive home remodeler, therapist (who sometimes can’t fix his own psychotherapeutic toilet)…aka Cliff Mazer, Ph.D., prepare now to “sally forth” to Denspasar Bali, a flight of over 22 hours from LA. It is an airplane marathon that I hope to survive by 1) not being seated next to a morbidly obese person with bad gas and 2) self-administering a variation of the Michael Jackson sleeping cure (minus the death, grisly tabloids photos and funeral). As the song goes in the movie (and show) Bye Bye Birdy……….”I’ve Got a Lot of Living To Do”. The video below tells you everything you need to know….
Bye Bye Birdie: https://youtu.be/rS38PiZ2-RA
Peace Out My Loyal Peeps. See you on the backside Balinese style.
Tom Robbins relevant quotes:
- When I think about being REALLY honest (truthful) with myself and with others I think of the Yiddish word Emess. Two sources for the word emess come to mind: 1) my mother who would always say “It’s the Emess”, when she either told the truth, lied or more likely didn’t know she was not being truthful/lying and instead completely made shit up (confabulation) out of thin air and 2) from the late great comedian Lenny Bruce who would tell the most outrageous and unbelievable stories, all while swearing up and down that they were absolutely true…and usually they WERE! Poor Lenny, toward the end of his unfortunate comedic life became a Lenny Bruce comedy routine himself and even worse, a sad not very funny one. During his criminal trial for obscenity, he jumped up out of his chair as an undercover cop was describing his comedy routine and tried to inject humorous Emessness into the proceeding by yelling “I object! He’s stealing my routine and not paying me for it.” Lenny became a quasi- scholar of the law as a result of all the unfair persecution against him and it’s often unjust application, and he worshipped (with tongue in cheek) its linguistic complexity even as it was destroying him. As he pored through legal statutes and page after page of its complicated legalese jargon, he remained in awe of its apparent “Majesty”.
The essence of EMESSNESS is often how there is immense ridiculousness and remarkable absurdity underneath the garb of seriousness and objectivity in our society. Its the “stuff” in life that makes you drop your head in disbelief and mutter to yourself, “I can’t fucking believe this…” It’s a concept liberally sprinkled throughout the very best Coen Brothers movies, especially ones like, “A Serious Man”.
Emmis or Emess simply means The Truth, the Real Truth. Here I’m not talking about revealed truth like some Kabbalist or Biblical Fundamentalist. Nor am I referring to even some kind of eternal truth, just the plain, easily verifiable but often bizarre truth about the real world and all the amazingly absurd situations we encounter. Of course that includes all the nutty contradictory people in it, including our family members and ourselves. Real honesty and outspoken truth telling is something often talked about and seemingly valued but rarely realized. Most often it’s not realized because the truth hurts and denial is an easier road to hoe for most people. To me Jesus probably should have really said, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they have done. They are in denial and they prefer it that way”.
Some people such as myself absolutely revel in ludicrousness and contradiction but in the end prefer the real emess. Translation: Life and the so called truth are often complex phenomena like a complex crossword puzzle but most people prefer to resolve complexity by reflexively going along with their own prejudices, their self-centered interests and biased perspectives (one side of a multi-sided coin) or even worse basing their beliefs solely on a simple but pronounced (rather than profound) feeling/emotion…… Feelings? Nothing more than feeling? Summary: Raw unfiltered emotion is not usually recommended as the very best way to do business, elect an American President or judge someones innocence or guilt……and yet we all do it practically every day of our lives and often without ever looking back in the rearview mirror to see if maybe we made a big “boo-boo”. There’s actually a ginormous shitpile of boo-boos out there….. some of course much worse than others.
I think most people would agree the world is pretty crazy right now.
Fasten your seatbelt. This is going to be a long rant about the crazy times we live in. I’m not talking about rampant mental illness. I’m referring to a more insidious cultural phenomena typified by mounting social ills within a deeply divided and polarized nation. It appears that we’re becoming a country characterized by random violence, mass shootings and an anxious self-medicating population with growing uncertainty about the future. Research suggests that more and more people are troubled and beginning to question the accuracy and veracity of the once proud American narrative that we were all taught in grade school. This storybook mythology about the United States dating back to the Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary War includes a basic belief that our nation is inherently good and a “beacon of light” for less developed countries and less fortunate people. As a role model in sovereignty, however, the United States may be losing its longstanding luster. Not only is the guiding light fairy tale image of America dimming but it’s being replaced progressively by a stark realization that “We the People” may have taken a wrong turn and gotten lost in the dark forest of our dubious “manifest destiny.”
Psychologically speaking, there is a lot of “free-floating anxiety” going on today as well as a queasy feeling of indistinct foreboding. More existential angst than overt apprehension this conflicted state of mind still falls short of what helping professionals call “profound dread” or “impending doom”. Maybe it’s more like a generalized type of “anticipatory anxiety”, a more nuanced but persistent feeling of uncertainty about what terrible thing is going to happen next. Like most things psychological in nature it’s unclear whether sufferers of this specialized strain of existential angst are even aware of this spreading culture borne virus. Regardless, large questions loom in the collective American psyche like, “What the hell is going on in America? Is the United States washed up as a superpower? Are we no longer a global leader and respected role model of freedom, plurality and democracy? These are just a few of the questions that plague many Americans about our national identity and geopolitical self-image. Such questions pertain not to any random individual seeking psychological help from a psychotherapist, psychologist or psychiatrist but to a conflicted and neurotic populace even as the majority of its citizens carry on with their daily routines, make holiday plans and regularly update their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media. But who will be the country’s shrink willing to tell us what’s wrong with the U.S. and what ails us as a social institution?
To some observers that which is wrong simply boils down to a growing deficit in our moral foundation, as if the nation’s “moral compass” has gone missing along with its Jiminy Cricket like conscience meant to remind us to be “good” and to know “right from wrong”. Others contend that societal norms related to acceptable social behavior (the stuff that guides rational decision-making and keeps us from behaving like cavemen) are either absent or in transition due to a rapidly changing world and melting pot culture. Other more conservative critics see this as the result of adding too many immigrants (both legal and illegal), different religions with clashing ideologies, and incompatible racial-ethnic groups to the Founding Father’s original Constitutional recipe. Regardless of the reasons, there is an overpowering sense that something is wrong in Camelot (our most positive fantasy and romantic view of America) and while political parties and TV pundits continue to point fingers and argue who’s to blame, signs of this “societal sickness” keep growing and showing. Put bluntly, if social issues and psychological problems were toxic fumes and the country was a coal mine (metaphorically speaking)… the canaries would be dead already.
As a Clinical Psychologist in practice for almost 40 years and as a cultural critic, it’s scary to have to admit that it’s gotten so bad in terms of stress-related conditions and overall maladaptive behavior that its difficult to say exactly who or what’s the MOST CRAZY. The fact that relatively few people in power or so called authority figures seem alarmed enough to do anything proactive may be what drives me the most insane.
As a practicing psychotherapist, I feel less like the guy with his finger in the leaking dam or “dike of the deranged” and more like Dr. Chicken Little the crazed Psychologist and helping professional handyman running around screaming “the sky is falling” in a futile effort to warn the authorities. In reality it feels more like I’m just shoring up an already crumbling hen house made of termite infested boards and toxic asbestos. On the subject of toxicity, it only takes cursory research and a few keystrokes to realize there are more books and magazine articles on toxic work environments, toxic marriages, toxic pollutants, and toxic politics than there are on the social and psychiatric illnesses resulting from living in a TOXIC CULTURE. In fact, I couldn’t find anything substantial or comprehensive on the topic in the professional literature when I googled “toxic American culture”. That seems kinda crazy to me too.
Certainly from media reports it sounds as if there are more “bad hombres” running loose and unhinged than all the existing flavors of Baskin Robbins and Ben and Jerrys ice cream combined. The phrase “another senseless act of violence” seems to show up in the news on a daily basis. Trying to keep up with all the viral videos of incomprehensible antisocial acts and totally bonkers behavior is becoming impossible even for a seasoned psychologist and information junkie such as myself.
Unfortunately I don’t have a single all-encompassing explanation for the explosion of irrationality, violence and off-the-wall behavior. It seems that no place (even schools) are safe from random encounters with lunatics or “bad seed” individuals. It’s even more crazy-making to hear neighbors or friends of the identified lunatic interviewed later saying, “He seemed so normal…he was pretty quiet and used to mow my lawn for free, etc.” This disparity includes the broad range of overtly disturbed and psychotic people as well as the plain old regular individuals who just snap and melt down like a lit candle in a pile of gas soaked rags. Certainly, the Internet, social media and 24-hour cable news haven’t been of much help in assisting people to remain calm, sane or civil in these highly stressful times. For all it’s Steve Jobs hype and “interconnected” gobbledygook, the information revolution actually may do more harm than good when it comes to providing support, safety and security (and especially the kind of tangible help that is shown to mitigate mental illness..see website at bottom). Ditto for the digital age failing to keep it’s Utopian pie-in-the-sky promise of transforming “gaming addicts” and sedentary consumers into “healthier and happier” human beings. In reality it’s more like a mash-up of the movies ‘Wall-e”, “Westworld” and “Halloween 3” online and outside our double bolted and triple locked front doors. Finally, as far as I can tell NOBODY (including myself) is getting the doctor recommended 7-8 hours of “deep restorative sleep” every night. That alone is probably a really bad sign. On the other hand, Melatonin and Ambien sleeping pill sales are skyrocketing.
Let’s put the topic in historical perspective. In the past, when most of the population worked on farms or in factories, people were too busy or too tired to develop floridly psychotic conspiracy theories or wacked-out delusions involving Jodie Foster, Vince Foster or Terminator wireless Foster Grants. Plus, if you brought that kind of crazy shit up at the dinner table your mother (Ma), father (Pa) or grandmother (Granny) would wack you in the head with a large wooden spoon or spatula… or worse. With more discretionary time on our texting thumbs and hands the high tech information age has made it possible for millions of Americans to consume mass quantities of caffeinated energy drinks and pre-diabetic sugar soaked honey buns from the gas station while watching 1000 different channels of shallow entertainment, reality TV shows, and informercials selling shiny objects like “fidget spinners”. Is it crazy to ask,”Who really wants or needs 285 hunting knives made in Hong Kong or knock-off samurai swords in 15 different colors?” Don’t tell me. I don’t really want to know….altho I suspect many of those people live in Florida or Ohio. Those who prefer to stay “well-informed” on current events can choose between highly polarized and politically prejudiced TV news programs (can you spell “cognitive dissonance”) occupied by bombastic pundits, life-sized talking barbie dolls and extremely desperate stand-up comics. Who’s bright idea was that? Science aficionados such as myself are unfortunately now relegated to pseudo-science documentaries about Mermaids, Bigfoot, and Ancient Aliens…or some bizarre combination thereof.
Some say the internet will save us. It’s unregulated and driven by consumer demand and free market principles. Not really. The online universe of “everything” may not be any better than the aforementioned boob tube. To be fair, access to the world wide web and the “internet of everything” (which also includes the dark web and more pornography per band width than number of creepy crawly insects per millimeter of mud) probably does have more to offer content-wise that is reasonably constructive. However, It also makes it possible for more people to connect with one another including those who were previously isolated, disenfranchised or just plain alienated from the so-called mainstream. Isn’t that a good thing? Not necessarily, because now really sicko twisted Homo Sapiens akin to the serial-killer Ed Gein (the prototype for Leatherface in the Chainsaw Massacre movies) who was much safer for society stuck on his dilapidated pig farm in Wisconsin is now able to reach out and find like-minded individuals, web forums, paramilitary parades, and “meet and greet” cannibal culture type social events. Finger foods anyone? Connectivity also allows these isolated and demented individuals to listen to wide ranging but completely wacko-psychotic podcasts with “shock jocks” acting like know-it-alls and scientific authorities on topics ranging from the 9/11 “hoax” to alien abduction and sightings of lizard men in Obama’s Oval Office. Crazy people often only need one other totally cray-cray bosom buddy to agree with their thinking or their radical/violent philosophy and rambling Unabomber manifesto to convince themselves of their own merit and veracity. In other words, we all need to learn how to lovingly tell certain friends and increasingly paranoid acquaintances, “Um, sorry but that’s fucking crazy”.
All I can conclude is that “epigenetic” changes in the human brain including active mutations in the neurological and cortical structure are now occurring as a result of living in a continuously stressful, topsy-turvy and crazy-making world. The social universe we live in today is one in which “up is down” and even worse, down seems to have no bottom. Good examples would be college students violently protesting AGAINST free speech on university campuses, “trigger warnings” being put on classical literature, and groups of otherwise sane individuals (including certain elected officials) believing it’s “understandable” or acceptable to body slam a news reporter and then later blame it on Obama…or on something in the water.
HOW CRAZY IS MADE: If for some crazy reason the goal was to manufacture more and more unhinged and dangerous people in society then first you bombard the entire population 24/7 with offensive and psychologically damaging videos and sound bites of stress-inducing emotionally disturbing news (both fake and real). This includes both traumatizing and empathy-habituating videos depicting random violence, the death and decapitation of innocent people and young children, recurrent episodes of road rage, suicide, etc. Then you add to it an overarching social climate of fear and anxiety, status-seeking narcissism, general mistrust of others (especially those who are different) and excessive conformity to insular xenophobic values and authoritarian leadership (rather than humanistic, compassionate, cooperative or consensual cultural ideals, values and imperatives). Finally you eschew education both for young people and adults that promote objectivity, critical thinking, interior growth (self-knowledge), self-awareness relating to social-emotional intelligence and introspection and fundamental skills for coping and psychological resilience. Wait, did I mention rampant drug and alcohol use and abuse? Did I remember to include the over-utilization of legal and illegal prescription medications that are often highly addicting, toxic, grossly under-supervised, mood-altering and rife with physical and psychiatric side effects? They are a big problem too….. a really big problem.
Over time, the inevitable result of all the above and probably at least a dozen other still unmentioned factors (including thousands of young often suicidal traumatized war veterans with PTSD returning to society without jobs, adequate mental health treatment or follow-up help) is a crackpot/crock pot recipe for societal disaster and social decay. At the very least all of these epigenetic brain changes and external stressors may be promoting a kind of rapidly reproducing meme or cultural virus in the form of maladaptive thinking and behavior, social mimicry (like competing to be the best school shooter) and psychiatric disorders that are neither quiet, reserved or primarily internalized (like say normal variety clinical depression usually is). Those with psychiatric and pharmacological expertise say that one of the worst thing a psychoactive medication (like an SSRI antidepressant) can do is “energize” or “give legs” to a severely depressed or suicidal person. What that means on a practical level is that a depressed person who may be considering suicide or violence is generally safer (to self and others) remaining depressed in bed or at home until he/she starts to feel better than they are “jacked up” on Paxil, Prozac or ANYTHING ELSE. In fact, if not properly supervised (quite often) it might TRIGGER a suicide attempt or murderous rage. Now insert “radical religious ideology” or “super crazy delusion” or “dangerous political belief” for Paxil or Prozac. Rather than suffer in silence, this newer type of hybrid wired, fired, emotionally disturbed/culturally conditioned individual who is now walking around with a REALLY BAD motherboard in his head wants his name in lights and trending on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Put another way, due to the basically antisocial and radicalized violence-prone nature of his affliction (either genetic, acquired, or both) he will desire to achieve (rather than a college education, job, family life, etc.) his own “detonation” (literally or figuratively) and have it be videotaped for posterity as well as live-streamed over the internet. Why is that so hard for people to understand?
Many people assume (at least at first) unusually violent acts and brutal crimes including mass murder to be principally associated with longstanding clinical psychosis, gang involvement , drug cartel criminality or extremist religious ideology, ie., just another treatment resistant schizophrenic dressed as a ninja, radicalized Islamic terrorist or intoxicated illegal alien, etc. . In reality, however, it often turns out to be someone quite unexpected who is either around 23 years old, minimally employed, a “drop-out dreamer”, gun collector, solitary gamer/internet addict who just broke up with his girlfriend. Alternatively it turns out to be a married mid-life white guy who rather than just have a simple extra-marital affair or buy a red sports car decides to pick up a shotgun (from his growing collection) and use it on someone. Even later it’s revealed that he was “kinda nice but a little weird”, kept to himself a lot, was socially unpopular, somewhat of a “nerd” or “kind of a loser” (by societal standards of success). We ( the helping professionals) pull out our diagnostic manuals and start to think maybe Aspergers Syndrome /autism spectrum disorder with unusually aggressive or depressive tendencies, conduct disorder, antisocial personality, undiagnosed or untreated schizophrenia or bipolar mania. However, REGARDLESS OF THE DIAGNOSIS the bigger problem is that off the radar and unbeknownst to most people these same individuals “primary interests” have increasingly become dangerous obsessions like learning how to make a nail bomb, collecting an impressive cache of automatic weapons and reading up on the current world record holder for mass murder (all at the expense of much needed therapy, meditation or yoga class, league bowling, craft beer collecting or any other far healthier social pursuit). More often than not these individuals have experienced rejection, humiliation, and a recent loss of their once important dream of personal success, personal belonging, and life fulfillment…yeah the American dream thing. The final outcome is someone inexplicably blowing up a packed music concert full of innocent teenaged fans, randomly shooting a completely helpless elderly man, a nightclub full of gay and straight people, beating a sleeping homeless person to death with a claw hammer, or for some god-forsaken reason murdering their entire family and then committing suicide …all while live-streaming it on Facebook. Now that’s what I call REALLY CRAZY and unfortunately I think WE ALL HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT. Before you take that the wrong way what I mean is we need to “wake up” and get better at helping ourselves and others around us including those people outside our personal “bubble” of comfort, experience and expertise. In my opinion, we also shouldn’t be relying so much on well-meaning professionals like myself or even “esteemed” psychiatrists with thick prescription pads, undisclosed Big Pharma connections, and touting another new atypical antipsychotic drug to fix our emotionally disturbed, psychiatrically struggling, and/or socially stunted population. The same is true about believing there is some super reliable professional cure for alcoholism and drug abuse at any age. Yes many to all of these off-kilter emotionally disturbed individuals need professional help and affordable treatment but they also need a kinder, healthier and more balanced CULTURE to live in. That would begin with all of us recognizing what is physically, socially and psychologically TOXIC to healthy human beings. For starters I”m pretty sure being deployed in combat at the age of 19 or 20 years old (especially if one is already psychologically vulnerable and who isn’t?) is generally toxic to good mental health. It’s impossible to be fully “prepared” or vaccinated for extraordinarily violent and traumatic experiences of that sort. Then these brave young men and women return to a country that busy arguing over everything, playing silly games on their “smart” phones, and watching shows on TV with names like “Survivor”, “Naked and Afraid”, and “Fear Factor”. Imagine what they (combat vets) think of that after having their legs blown off by an IED or having watched their best buddy bleed out in some dusty village in Afghanistan. That would certainly make me crazy.
In much the same way, the many thousands of victims of domestic violence, childhood sex abuse, social media bullying, drug addiction, drug overdoses, suicide attempts, suicide-by-cop, and even the much despised suicide bombers very often never had a chance to learn how to handle the uncomfortable truth that modern life is stressful, complex, unpredictable and that emotional pain, loss, trauma, tragedy and failure are inevitable. Helping others to learn how to deal and cope with current reality (rather than reality TV or Hollywood Kardashian distorted versions of reality) is the name of the much better “game” we should all be playing together.
Sadly, some of these troubled and highly disturbed people don’t get a second chance to come back like in the violent video games they play and never get to know that others in the real world can and should learn to be more loving, more compassionate, more present, less judgmental and overall better (humane) human beings. Rather than argue politics or point fingers we could learn to give hugs and train ourselves to listen with empathy and genuine compassion EVEN if we disagree on a number of major issues like politics or religion. I keep saying this but I’ll say it again. I’m 63 years old going on 64. I’m a Clinical Psychologist with a Ph.D………but I myself have a long way to go in improving on most to all of the things I just mentioned above. It’s an ego thing. I keep catching my mind making reflexive judgements and self-serving conclusions. In my fear, anxiety and anger I catch myself (usually after the fact) falling into the trap of blaming, inflaming, shaming, and defaming the so-called bad guys rather than reframing the basic underlying problem. Just like exercising more I know I should do it but tend to put it off or “forget”. Unfortunately, it’s often forgotten because I reflexively turned on the morning television news, immediately check my iPhone for messages or open my precious laptop (god forbid if it’s not already fully charged) to get on Facebook, to argue politics, or to attempt like a flaming narcissist or failed stand-up comedian to get more “likes” on social media.
Summary: Help me (and help one another) to get outside of our ego-centric selves, our electronic addictions and our ingrained “habits” (which includes how we choose to habitually think) that are progressively blunting our empathy, our authenticity, our compassion and our essential humanity. Not to pick on China but I don’t want to end up like the “modern” Chinese people in the viral videos who watch with indifference while children get run over multiple times and then continue on with their busy day (see video below). Help me to NOT forget what I am trying to say in this essay about our toxic American culture. I don’t want to be another numb or narcissistic “numbskull” (my father’s term) who has habituated to a “crazy culture” and lost the ability to see the healthy forest of our future from the troubled and multiply traumatized trees of today. Things gotta change and I promise you there’s no magic red or blue pill to fix this one.
How to Make America Great Again: Nuke North Korea Now!
by Cliff Mazer, Ph.D., aka CaptCliff
Disclaimer: I happen to be a Clinical Psychologist in Atlanta Georgia. That means it’s my job to understand people. I’m also a light in the loafers liberal who has difficulty grasping the mindset of the tweeting troubadour better known as Donald Trump. Unlike the majority of people I interact with I consistently found myself “at odds” with practically everything he espoused both as a presidential candidate and now as the “weird orange guy” who is our Commander-in-Chief. At the same time, I perceive our society as a whole to be increasingly polarized and divided. As a result, I really wanted to find a way to personally bridge this troubling political and psychological divide. I reasoned that just as marriage partners must learn to understand, overcome and appreciate their differences, members of opposing political parties and adherents of different sociopolitical viewpoints would be best-served to do the same. But how could this be accomplished? Many of us live and work in self-imposed geographic and/or demographic “bubbles”. More often than not we belong to social networks occupied by people relatively similar to ourselves. Homogeneity reinforces what psychologists call “group think”, the tendency of group members to adopt uniform beliefs over time, even if they are wholly irrational or dysfunctional. In addition, this separation or bifurcation of beliefs may be exacerbated by popular social media platforms like Facebook which give users the option of deleting or “unfriending” others with whom they disagree, dislike, etc.
I pondered long and hard how I might stifle my ego and socially programmed biases as an overeducated liberal-minded Jewish male of Baby Boomer age raised since birth to have reflexive empathy for the needy and less fortunate members of society. I strategized on the various ways I might access my “other side”, meaning my normally repressed Dr. Strangelove rabid Republican shadow self. A Vulcan mind meld was clearly not possible and getting the current POTUS or Sean Spicer to lay on my home-office therapy couch was out of the question due to security concerns (my own). As a result I was forced to come up with an admittedly controversial alternative solution to plumb the murky depths of Trump think. Always one to innovate and push the envelope of “participant-observer” research, I decided to artificially alter my own consciousness and temporarily “become” a Trump follower. After leaving a set of written instructions for my political alter-ego and briefly consulting with both of my token Trump supporter friends, I proceeded to hypnotize myself using guided imagery, mindful meditation, three very large rum and cokes and a handful of brain-numbing Benzodiazepines. In this way I temporarily assumed the identity of a Donald Trump acolyte and instructed my “Make America Great Again” Republican self to jot down his “top political priorities and core values” while in trance state, a controversial technique sometimes called automatic writing. Somewhat reminiscent of my recent pre-surgical colonoscopy appointment, I felt vaguely apprehensive, like Jeff Goldblum in the “The Fly” about to teleport himself (in his case accidentally) directly into the physical body and mental state of a creepy conscience-less hive-minded insect.
The written transcript below is verbatim what “TrumpCliff” wrote down using a standard #2 pencil and a reproduction feather quill pen I purchased on an 8th grade trip to Williamsburg Virginia. Don’t ask. I don’t know why he chose that implement. Strangely, during this automatic writing session and manic diatribe TrumCliff chain-smoked unfiltered Marlboro cigarettes (something I’ve never done in my life) and put them out in the palm of his own hand like G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate fame, rather than just use an ashtray or bottle top. Since undertaking this experiment (about a week ago) I’m already on my third tube of Neosporin for the still blistered burn mark on my (non-dominant) left hand and my house still smells of cheap Jamaican rum, unfiltered Marlboros and testosterone gel. I will leave the interpretation of the “raw data” to you, the reader. As a result of the experience, however, I will be busy resurrecting my 1960’s era fall-out shelter in my Pirate themed basement.
TrumpCliff Transcript: Let me answer your libtarded questions by first saying this: As an alt-right supporter and Donald Trump surrogate (SS…get it?), I am generally more of an isolationist and NOT a knee jerk warmonger. I dont take going to war lightly and this is especially true if it involves me personally risking my own life, possibly losing a limb or ending up a quadraplegic without the ability to use of my golf clubs or genitalia. I also don’t support ANY military action that might result in higher state or federal taxes, even tho I dont pay any. Anybody who does is likely a schmuck who is not only unaware of pro-business corporate loopholes but also clueless in regards to the Cayman Islands. That being said, as a nation we must face some urgent political realities and do the right (selfish) American thing.
Donald Trump’s White House is in serious disarray. Failure to repeal Obamacare or stop the flow of illegal aliens or radicalized Democrats from ultra liberal states like Hawaii and California are threatening to derail the Trump presidency. I believe we desperately need the following: 1) a BIG POLITICAL WIN for the Republican Party and 2) a HUGE DECOY-DISTRACTION from all the intelligence and congressional sub-committees investigating WH ties to Russia and everywhere else in the near galaxy. Still unconfirmed reports of a video showing President Trump making out with his own daughter Ivanka are also worrisome although who could really blame him? She is so HOT!
Let me get to the real point. The Syrian missile strike was good but not good enough. I believe we are on the brink of war with North Korea. Every single American (with the exception of Dennis Rodman) is at risk given North Korea’s rogue status, nuclear capability, and unstable dwarf-ish leader, Kim Jong Sick-in-the-Head-Un. The North Korean populace themselves are so hungry and brainwashed that they dont even consider trying to import produce from American agricultural sources and they continue to disregard our warnings about the ill-effects of eating gluten-free diets. Even tho they do keep their body-fat ratio down due to starvation and forced exercise (not a bad idea) they still dont grasp the Ayn Rand logic of taking personal responsibility for their own health by working out regularly ONLY in a Crossfit affiliated gym, going to AMA accredited western-trained doctors paid to prescribe Big Pharma meds (not an acupuncturist, herbalist, or Tai Chi master) and eating nutritious fast food like Domino’s Pizza (Trump’s officially branded power meal). I’m saying it’s not completely their fault but they are still Commie savages with the kind of bad breath that makes you literally turn your head and go, “omg, eww!” How does anyone expect us to negotiate with heads of state or rag-tag military leaders reeking of charcoal, halitosis and kimchi? That kimchi stuff, by the way, is just rank, and I dont care if it’s “anti-inflammatory”. Obviously their leader is not.
Bottomline: I dont always agree with Dick Cheney and the NeoCon cabal but they might have been right about a few things including Iraq. Once again President Trump was on point from the very get-go about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said so on Twitter at 4 AM, 5AM..and 6AM, etc. He said if we’re going to do it then don’t do it half-assed. Translation: We should have just gone in there like ballbusters and taken the oil and good looking women and then NUKED THE REST TO HELL. The women alone would have been worth a fair amount of cash with their high cheekbones, exotic eyes and submissive attitudes (visualize Melania but much shorter). Now of course they are getting all “westernized” but not necessarily in a good way, i.e., all uppity and refusing to engage in arranged marriages like all of the Trumps. In fact its starting to look like a Hilary Clinton convention in the Middle East and that’s not even mentioning Bengazi or the puppet leaders and proxy regimes we BRIBED and PUT IN PLACE after very briefly consulting with the CIA and NSA. Dammit, we taught these people how to use deoderant soap and toilet paper! Before we got there they were still squatting and wiping their butts with their non-dominant hand. That’s why Trump doesn’t like to shake hands for Christ’s sake! Can you blame him? You can’t negotiate deals with religious lunatics who would rather use their cellphones as IED explosive triggers than cutting edge technology capable of playing games and sorting through Tinder profiles while simultaneously sexting high-resolution photos of your penis to people you’ve never met. We invented that! What a pitiful waste.
Let’s face it, you cant make a “silk purse from a sow’s ear” and the kind of folks who live in North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and certain parts of Florida and Georgia just cant be educated or rehabilitated. It’s like in my all time favorite movie “Deliverance” with Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight. If you turn your back on indigenous people with poor dental hygiene and no basic knowledge of college football they will basically fuck you in the ass…which goes right back to the sow’s ear analogy (insert hog call here). If you need one last related “bullet point” to get what I’m saying then get this: many of these foreigners absolutely REFUSE TO EAT BACON. Enuf said?
I believe I’ve made my case. You want to know my main “priority” libtard?
We need to man up and make a damn decision. Obama only got Bin Laden because key Republicans told him to pull the trigger or else they’d release his phony birth certificate and a video of him, Michelle, and Hilary working out naked in the White House private gym. According to confidential Breitbart sources, they’ve never seen a P90x routine quite like that even tho group sex on a weight bench and yoga mat bearing the Presidential seal might just qualify as a form of “resistence training”. Anyway we need to act RIGHT NOW and launch a preemptive military strike on Little Kim/Psy Weirdo and his North Korean sheeple people. I suggest we use a combination military tactic of Team America’s World Police (see video on You Tube) and Norman Schwartzkopf’s “Hail Mary” armored blitzkrieg from Desert Storm…. minus the cultural respect and religious tolerance. Passover or Easter Sunday would have been as good a day as any for D-Day. I doubt the North Koreans even know what an Easter egg or box of Matzah looks like. I realize General Schwartzkopf passed away in 2012 and therefore can’t physically lead the charge Patton-style but his manly body could be exhumed and mounted on the hood of the lead Humvee like in Mad Max Thunderdome. If that turns out to be legally or physically impossible then let Arnold Swartzenegger take his place. He still looks good for an old man, his name is similar, and the North Korean Dwarf King knows “Ah-nold” all too well from all the times he jerked off watching his live-action movies. Plus, Arnold can redeem himself for publicly criticizing the POTUS, shtupping the help while still married, getting caught, and then ADMITTING IT like a ginormous cuck. Couldn’t he afford an expensive smiling-while-lying defense lawyer like Johnny Cochran or Jose Baez for God sakes? I said Jose Baez (Casey Anthony’s slime-ball attorney) not Joan Baez, libtard.
My fellow Americans, I’m talking about a “Win-Win” situation for America and for our Commander-in-Chief, except for the fact that Korean women are not quite as good-looking as Persian chicks, that’s just my personal opinion. Finally if the liberal wimps in the audience think nuclear weapons are too “drastic” and are afraid of a little gamma radiation or a nuclear winter or two in retaliation keep in mind we now have MOABs (Mother of All Bombs) and “tactical” nuclear weapons in our military arsenal. We can bomb the shit out of them or nuke ’em in surgically precise missile strikes that will wipe out their ICBMs and shitty rat-infested cities while still keeping select shrines and Chinese built skyscrapers intact for our commercial use as legal gambling casinos and sex tourism destinations . Genius or what? I say “Nuke ’em Now”!
Team America Movie Trailer: https://youtu.be/RPBX47zSktc
P.S. Once we get there, forget swiping North Korea’s so-called nukes. There’s a good chance they dont work anyway. Israeli hackers already made sure of that. We really only want their land, their mineral resources, their women and their tourist attractions. Another Disneyland just outside Pyongyang would be just perfect if we can teach them to not piss or shit on the monorail or Main Street. They can keep all their stinky ass Kimchi.
Cliff Mazer, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Humorist, and Satirical Blogger living in Atlanta, Georgia. He loves all things Pirate. Contact: 404-932-7193
As a Pirate crazy Clinical Psychologist with ADHD, it was fairly obvious to anybody who knew me that things were not going to go exactly as planned when I decided to completely renovate my 70’s era split-level home in Atlanta. What they didn’t know and what I didn’t imagine at the time was that I would soon be entering a supernatural realm that Rod Serling talked about at the beginning of every episode of one my favorite TV shows, The Twilight Zone. While he talked about a “journey into a dimension of mind.. limited only by ones imagination”, he failed to caution me that my home renovation would take me to a place far less wondrous and wholly inhabited by madmen, drunks, crack addicts, liars and thieves. Of course, like Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) in Apocalypse Now, I turned out to be the chief Mad Man and the signposts ahead pointed not towards the “sights and sounds” of the Twilight Zone but instead toward two predominant states of mind, “Temporary Insanity” and “Total Chaos”.
As a single dad with three young sons and without the benefit of intelligent feedback from a spouse, a life partner, a licensed architect or a sober construction professional of any kind, well-advised precepts of home improvement such as “curb appeal”, “cost/benefit analysis” and “careful planning” were tossed overboard in favor of more appealing ideas like man caves, poop decks and secret passageways. Architectural treatments that would entice Tom Hanks in the movie “Big” or anyone with more imagination than good sense gained immediate favor over lesser considerations such as how much money I had in the bank. How much money you might ask in retrospect? Well, let’s just say that recouping my total investment in time, man-hours and renovation dollars is less likely than the chance of Captain Ahab pulling into port dragging his elusive Great White Whale behind him on a thin retractable doggy leash. I now understand why Hemingway chose to call his classic work “Old Man and the Sea”, one of my favorite classic books in high school. That weather-beaten totally exhausted old man Santiago probably started out his chosen adventure as a buff young stud with soft hands, endless optimism and a full head of long curly hair. Speaking of dog leashes, I currently have three dogs (two mini-dauchunds and a rescue black lab) and they are the only living creatures who use the custom designed poop decks and use them on a regular basis…to poop on.
Pirates of old were often considered to be individuals who rejected conventional thinking, spurned traditional approaches and had an abiding love for adventure, personal freedom and complete independence. If true, then my house could be considered CaptCliff’s flagship of rebellious home remodeling and architectural anarchy. In “Apocalypse Now” terms I was Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) , the blood-stained totally whacked out military leader who had seen too much and witnessed things so horrific and debilitating to the human mind and spirit that all he could manage to utter was “the horror, the horror….”. In my case I witnessed the horror of a home renovation so out of control that it made the movie “Money Pit”, also starring Tom Hanks, seem like a nursery rhyme. Still one must endeavor, even in their total madness to find a silver lining. So here are a few to consider when doing a large remodel of ones primary residence:
Introduction: Over the course of my long (and still unfinished) home remodeling, several significant insights occurred to me and are worth mentioning (not counting the primary insight about being really stupid and crazy to do it):
1) Renovations of this size and scope are not just a collection of finite tasks or ordinary home improvement projects like replacing outdated lighting or changing out the bedroom shag carpeting for newer and more resilient hardwood floors. Instead they are closer to epic ordeals and life-death struggles worthy of their own Opera or at least a biopic type documentary narrated by Werner Herzog in his signature monotone voice. Like Tim Treadway, the manic protagonist in Herzog’s “Grizzly Man” a guy who was literally eaten and consumed by his ill-fated obsession and love affair with Alaskan grizzly bears, I too failed to receive the kind of special skill training, psychiatric care or psychoactive medications needed before venturing out to tackle such an overambitious (quasi-suicidal) remodeling project. Like Walter Mitty on crack cocaine, I was interested and excited to find out what it would be like as a “regular person” not trained in architecture, design or construction to immerse myself in a total home remodel and do it basically all by myself (not counting my trusty but often jailed and deported personal assistant Jhony. If that wasn’t nuts enough, as a result of watching too many episodes of “Pickers”, “Flip This House” and other completely scripted and staged DIY television shows, I developed the additional delusion that I could accomplish this daunting task by using mostly salvage materials, “sustainable” second-hand building stock and leftover items stacked up and slowly rotting in my unfinished basement. Yeah, I know. I should have been watching more episodes of “Intervention” and “Hoarders Buried Alive ” instead. On the positive side, I was able to further my counseling career by identifying and diagnosing myself as suffering from a completely new psychiatric disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Renovation Disorder (OCRD).
2) Death, destruction, entropy, and financial ruin lurk like a gathering of hungry zombies around every major home addition or sizable renovation project. That includes the tortured ghosts of some very well-known architects, designers and visionaries like Frank Lloyd Wright whose own residence burned down not once but twice from arson, unexplained electrical issues and really bad karma. As a result, throughout the demolition, construction and remodeling phases of my home I attempted to remain keenly aware of the need to stay psychologically grounded, highly focused and well-organized. Of course that never happened and yet deep down I knew there was a certain method to my creative madness. Unfortunately that method along with everything important I just mentioned became lost immediately and repeatedly along with my car keys, my drivers license, my social security card, my prescription glasses and my wallet under an enormous and perpetually growing pile of papers, unopened utility bills, hand-drawn renderings and certified mail. The purchase receipts from Home Depot or Lowes alone eventually grew to closely resemble the Devil’s Tower prominently shown in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.
3) When one takes forever to remodel their home, many popular design concepts and current trends come and go. Similarly, ones personal preferences change because, well, people naturally grow and change as they get older and mature…or at least “theoretically” mature in my case. Certain things one never ever considered viable before suddenly begin to cross their renovation “radar screen” or are not so randomly brought to our attention by deviously clever targeted Facebook ads, Instagram and Pinterest posts, etc. Through data mining, cookies and spyware these savvy advertisers use our personal information to “target” what they consider to be our preferences or greatest consumer needs. For example, am I the only one getting a spate of spam and tidal wave of pop-up commercials for Viagra, home catheters and adult-sized diapers? Sorry, I had to ask. Who knew that those electric chairs that take you up and down the stairs would start to look pretty good over time? Ditto with those walk-in bathtubs and thick stainless steel safety hand-rails. If anything, I came to view my original renovation design and preferred architectural style ie. “Contemporary Southwest”, as morphing into a more “international” or eclectic architectural stew. What started as single off white walls with open gallery-style niches for indigenous art and sculpture naturally transformed into something that incorporated various bits and pieces of different cultures, far-away places and exotic ports I had either been to or fantasized escaping to (since they lacked extradition agreements) in my slowly emerging crock pot/melting pot pirate residence.
4) While the design components, architecture and finished interiors I chose for my home are highly individual (particularly in terms of native art and aesthetics) they also represent a genuine expression of my admittedly eccentric personality. Furthermore, because of who I am and what I do for a living (a pirate psychologist/writer/humorist) my house attempts to communicate certain things to those brave souls who intentionally or accidentally cross my glass-tiled threshold and “come aboard” (symbolically speaking). This includes a number of key insights, core values, and principles I consider fundamental to “positive pirate living” living rooms, and quite possibly living in general. Such notions include relatively obvious concepts like seeking “inner peace”, tranquility (not counting all the shit in the basement), achieving “balance”, maintaining a sense of humor (with an appropriate amount of existential irony and sarcasm) and especially recognizing ones individuality, uniqueness and innate value in an unusually superficial, materialistic, “show-off” oriented society (think Kardashians, Trump, or literally any of the Wives of Wherever reality TV shows). Honestly I’ve already been there and done that and it really didn’t make me very happy. Well, ok, I was possibly temporarily happy until my AMEX card spontaneously combusted. At least my current home with all its many flaws makes me laugh quite often (mostly at myself) and reminds me of mankind’s perpetual folly in thinking that human beings have control over anything from unsavory subcontractors to unsafe supernovas. A very large home improvement project will most likely teach you these fundamental life lessons. Of course it’s also important to realize what a naive fool and total idiot you or I were and then forgive yourself for it. That’s not all that different from learning to look back on and forgive oneself for their lost time, reckless teenage years or even embarrassing mid-life crisis in which a grown man I know thought he could totally restore a broken down 1993 Jaguar XJ12 convertible in his garage even tho the classic car was in 378,298 pieces and he didn’t even have a garage door….because of his total home renovation. True story….and I am still missing a garage door.
Hopefully my home remodel does succeed to tell a very human story (my own) that is entertaining, artistic and possibly even psychoeducational. As a therapist I eventually learned that once you “plumb the depths” of most human beings they actually turn out to be relatively interesting characters with multi-faceted personalities. Without exception they all have their own story and personal adventure to tell with many applicable life lessons. Like Johnny Depp’s iconic Captain Jack Sparrow pirate character who’s rogue scoundrel persona is counterbalanced by a soft heart and rollicking sense of humor, most of us are a proprietary blend of positive, negative, and neutral human attributes. A complete or seamless integration of such disparate aspects of one’s total life and “whole” self is not always possible, nor is it necessarily desirable. Similarly, my house has many different parts, paths, levels and disparate leitmotifs but with a few common elements and themes woven throughout….especially if one looks and listens carefully and follows the many “keys” and clues scattered throughout.
My never-ending renovation and 15 year (and counting) home improvement project not only mirrors my many contradictions but also demonstrates my desire to improve myself, primarily from within. At 63 years old (and counting) my exterior or “curb appeal” has gone the way of my hippie-era long hair, bell-bottom jeans, and silver plated “ID bracelet” from 8th grade at Edgewood School in Highland Park, Illinois. In it’s place is a primarily “trial and error” lifetime that includes many memorable successes, multiple miserable failures, heartbreaking losses, regrets, redemption, romance and hopefully sustained resilience. Like my unfinished house and the groves of bamboo I planted in the untamed sloping backyard so many years ago, I have grown over the years and endured, often bruised and bent but still not broken.
Admittedly, life as a pirate parable or symbolic sea journey is not something often seen or expressed architecturally in a grown man’s leafy landlocked residence in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. That’s probably especially true when the homeowner happens to be a 60-something Jewish Psychologist who in real life gets seasick just standing on a fishing pier or riding in the backseat of a slow moving car. However, once authenticity and imagination are given the green light, ones self-expression and creativity is free to do as they please with their home or anything else for that matter. I chose to express myself and my inner pirate “CaptCliff” through a literal as well as metaphoric never-ending voyage of self-discovery through psuedo-nautical art, hand-crafted peace pipes, satirical sculptures, and through culturally diverse architectural spaces. If my very upfront and honest Jewish mother, Claire Mazer was still alive (God rest her soul) I could easily imagine her saying to me, “Wouldn’t a few pieces of Judaica and a nice painting or two from Safat or Jerusalem have sufficed?” Maybe it would have…but now that I think of it she did the same exact thing artistically speaking and let it all hang out both in Chicago and at her condo in Longboat Key Florida. She expressed herself fully in her living quarters and intimate spaces regardless of existing trends or current styles in vogue. Similarly, I fearlessly or foolishly forged ahead and created a pirate style palace where form and function coexist but are often superseded by personal meaning. Just like in my therapy practice, my home uses humor, metaphors, cultural symbols, and mental (cognitive) “anchors” to express both a colorful life narrative and a cautionary tale, depending on how one choose to look at it. I choose to see it as both sides of a valuable gold doubloon coin with my name on it.
Cliff Mazer, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist living in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He has three grown sons and three female dogs. His favorite Halloween costume growing up in Highland Park, Illinois was a hand-made pirate costume his mother made from scratch and a plastic sword. Contact: 404-932-7193 His blog can be found at https://captaincliff.wordpress.com
One of the downsides of being a semi-retired psychologist and part-time Pirate is that you can become lazy and/or complacent about “venturing forth” to try out new places to eat. Let’s just say the A (Adventure) in an aging suburban pirate’s life can get a bit stale. On the positive side, you can stay in your fuzzy robe and slippers all day long and decide to do the dishes tomorrow…or even the day after.
Loath that I am to leave my self-imposed suburban Atlanta bubble, imagine my surprise when I saw they were putting in a Gus’s World Famous Spicy Fried Chicken location not even a mile from my pirate ship/survival bunker/money pit/ haunted house in Sandy Springs. It replaces the dearly departed Clay’s Pub which was a time-warp recreation of a stereotypical “Wings and Suds” hangout from up north. The great news is that Clay’s has relocated and will soon occupy the Roswell Road strip mall location vacated by Jason’s Deli. To be honest, I grieved over Jason’s departure, not because Jason’s was so fabulous but because I swiped more free frozen yogurt and salad bar condiments from that eatery than probably anywhere else in metro Atlanta. Also, they never gave CaptCliff a hard time when they caught me foraging like a binge-eating squirrel on a mountain of bacon bits, sesame flatbread crackers, olives, brownie and blondie squares and assorted cut-up vegetables. But I digress…as usual. Anyway, also imagine my surprise when I pulled up to find out when Gus’s Fried Chicken was going to open only to see actual smiling patrons yucking it up inside while carrying around large plates of crispy fried chicken and fresh greens! Heck, last I saw there were still construction guys outside pulling wire and scratching their balls. They must have gone into warp drive to meet their contractual deadline and zoom through the final punch list with the owner. Maybe they were being paid in spicy fried chicken and sweet potato pie slices.
As a foodie and somewhat overweight person with little to no self-discipline, I immediately recognized that this was their “soft opening” and that it would be restricted to family, friends, and local folks with favorable connections. Without hesitation or a functioning super-ego I decided to channel Leo DiCaprio in the movie “Catch Me If You Can” and marched into the small but appealing restaurant storefront and asked for the manager. Among the at least twenty identically dressed employees and smiling servers (all adorned in GWFSFC t-shirts) the manager emerged only to apologize profusely and tell me the place wasn’t “officially” open until next week…as if that would deter me. By this time, however, I could already smell the chicken frying in it’s Tennessee (actually Memphis) style spicy batter and noticed a young couple getting down on what looked like really good mac ‘n cheese and fried okra. The next thing I know I found myself shamelessly morphing into Andrew Zimmern from the Food Channel and lying like a psychopath. I propped my $2 Dollar Store reading glasses at half mast (low on the nose) and told the manager I was a “travel and restaurant reviewer”. Oy, I know….you don’t have to tell me. Im going to culinary hell. With that I was personally introduced to the new franchise owner (I believe his name was John) and was ushered ceremoniously to a private table with these explicit instructions, “Get whatever you want. I want to know what you think”. Whoa. I guess hunger and gluttony are also the mother of invention as well as outright deception and trickery when necessary….
Ok, that was the amusing backstory for my minions that realize this is standard larcenous but not quite illegal practice for CaptCliff. Here’s the actual review: The fried chicken was very good. Initially I was afraid that Gus’s signature spicy take on Southern fried chicken (and everything else they make besides the desserts) would overwhelm my taste buds but instead found that it added a nice but not too mouth-numbing flavor. The meat was moist enough and the skin extra crispy with a good amount of bite. The greens, among all other things on the plate were excellent and quite fresh. I like that they were unadulterated with all other kinds of treyf and traditional southern additives like bacon fat, pig hoofs, squirrel and highway-to-table roadkill, etc.. I like to taste the actual fresh greens and Gus got it just right. Unlike some other online reviewers trolling other Gus’s locations, I did NOT find the coleslaw to be limp or watery and, in fact, it provided a nice if somewhat bland counterpoint to the cayenne pepper-infused main dish. The fried okra were similarly hot (temperature wise), fresh and while a tad commercial in their presentation and form (all the exact same size, color and battered texture) tasted quite good. The main take-away I got was that Gus’s goes for taste and consistency and attempts to establish a high franchise standard from the get-go (both in their limited menu and in the smiling service provided). There was a bit of a wait to get my order to the table but lying beggars and fake food critics can’t be choosers. Kudos to the attentive server as well who after the fourth time asking if I wanted a refill on my diet coke finally said, “I guess you want to savor that one…” After requesting a To Go box I snuck out the side door like a thief in the night, except that it was still only 4 PM and bright as day outside. Speaking of take-aways here’s my distilled reviewer take: Consider this place as a good and dependable place to get a moderately priced good-tasting meal of Memphis style fried chicken and sides all with a certain extra punch of peppery spicy goodness. I suppose I can’t really blame the free meal or Gus’s for the mild case of reflux I experienced later on. Perhaps that was just a bit of Jewish guilt……
Visited March 2017
4 of 5 bubbles
4 of 5 bubbles
4 of 5 bubbles
While Democrats and others of their ilk are doubling up on their Lexapro prescriptions and checking out Priceline for one way flights to Puerta Vallarta, I still want to understand how Trump people think. In other words I’m interested in finding out what is in the head of the average Trump supporter so that I may better comprehend his/her peculiar worldview. I know this is a complex riddle that goes beyond anything I might learn by going to Walmart and kidnapping, killing and harvesting the brain of an obese middle-aged white guy wearing a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap. Not only would that be illegal but many organic diseases and forms of advanced dementia don’t show up on standard autopsies or brain scans. It would take a much “deeper probe” to plumb the depths of this cognitive conundrum. So instead I shall proceed by looking at one major issue at a time.
Global Warming: I’m not an environmental lunatic. I don’t even recycle most of the time. I typically only do that when I eat at Whole Foods or when neighbors ask where I put my empty plastic bottles and styrofoam take-out containers. However, I do believe in science, especially when there is overwhelming scientific evidence at hand. Even tho there are plenty examples of shoddy scientific research on everything from penguin penises to Prozac, there is no doubt that global warming is an actual occurring phenomenon. There is also pretty good data and agreement among climatologists and biologists forecasting the effects global warming is having (and will continue to have) on our environment, the air we breath, and on human health and mortality. In saying that, I’m not even taking into consideration the emaciated polar bears, beach stranded porpoises, prairie dogs with attention deficit disorder or endangered arctic foxes that Greenpeace and other activist groups are so worried about. I may be an animal lover and lifelong student of ethology (animal behavior) but in any given “ultimate survival” scenario all the non-bipedal species will have to get in line behind me. I’m not frickin’ Noah. I guess the rub in the Global Warming argument comes in definitively determining what the direct effects of human associated pollution, deforestation, and environmental damage have in adding to or speeding up global warming.
What I don’t understand and really need to find out from a die-hard “Global warming is a damn hoax” type person is why does it matter whether our human contribution is minimal or catastrophic? Are Trumpettes saying global warming is NOT bad in the long run? Are they saying that it’s “natural” to go through historical cycles in which the polar ice sheets melt, desalinization occurs in the worlds major oceans and which will NOT significantly affect ocean temperatures, sea levels, commercial fishing and coral reef production? Do Trumps chumps think it’s NOT a big deal if weather patterns shift dramatically as a result and certain highly populated islands and coastal cities around the world suffer significant physical, environmental and economic loss as a result of beach and coastline erosion, tidal flooding and storm surges? What I’m saying is we have science saying it’s happening and getting worse. I don’t see how this is a political issue. What am I missing? Finally, are Trump voters missing pre-frontal lobes or lacking connectivity to parts of the brain necessary for critical thinking? I would be glad to check for anyone interested in participating in my study who is willing to sign a very comprehensive waiver/release form. Just last year I received a lovely set of serrated knives for Hannukah from my cousin Donna made of surgical steel so just bring yourself and your Trump hat. Naturally, I’ve also got a good bottle of Chianti and fava beans….
Unlike animals in the wild that prey upon weaker game like rattlesnakes, poisonous spiders and Great White Sharks, there is to my knowledge only one psychological syndrome or personality disorder among humans that includes the ability to hide ones basic predatory nature by initially presenting oneself as a friendly, socially adept, sexy adult or possibly abused and previously neglected compliant child. Only later does this insidious and beguiling individual inject her hypnogogic “venom” into her clueless rescuer-victims. Once accomplished, this human chameleon with scorpion tail will wait until its prey is sapped of it’s psychological and emotional energy, general vitality, masculine or feminine self-image and overall will to resist. Even the dreaded black widow spider cant do all that. When the black widow does devour her sex partner/hubby (which is not very often) it’s done out of sheer hunger and not because she actually enjoys the combined Olympic sport of sex and cannibalism.
The psychiatric condition I am referring to is called Borderline Personality Disorder with Sociopathic features. Fortunately, most borderline patients (usually female) do not suffer from this particularly treacherous character pathology. Fearful of abandonment and crippled by insecurity and self-loathing, the majority of individuals with BPD either “act-in” or “act-out”. Acting-in borderlines are prone to suicidal ideation, depression, cutting and self-mutilation. They more often see themselves as unnecessary burdens on their friends, life-partners and families. In contrast, acting out borderlines are more overtly emotionally labile and unstable with recurrent episodes of seemingly unprovoked anger, rage and occasional violence. Intimate relationships are very often volatile and difficult. Such extraordinary hyperreactivity is often associated with impulsiveness, reckless spending, eating disorders and substance abuse issues. Usually triggered by deep-seated fears of failure, sensitivity to rejection and especially abandonment by loved ones the borderline personality travels a rocky road in life until a diagnosis and treatment is received.
However, it is the extra addition of the sociopathic or antisocial dimension that makes for a “hybrid” borderline personality. They not only act out their emotional issues in intensely emotional, defensive, aggressive or passive-aggressive ways but also do not feel much guilt or remorse about it. While still emotionally unstable, they seem also able to turn certain feelings and behaviors on and off depending on what best serves their immediate needs and longterm purpose. The psychopathic borderline type is likely to conceal their basic insecurity, unstable identity and psychological deficits under a facade of self-confidence, physical or social attractiveness and superficial “charm”. They are also more likely to exaggerate their achievements, sexual conquests, diverse resume of professional employment, their creative and intellectual accomplishments, and wide array of acquired “skill sets”. At the same time these individuals downplay details about past relationships and the specific reasons for their having left a job, whether they were fired, quit or were sent packing for unethical, criminal, immoral or inappropriate behavior. Dont be surprised if the actual reason turns out to be inappropriate or excessive sexual behavior that was used to feed their near inexhaustible need for attention, adoration, validation or to set up an ingenious trap (human spider web) to obtain financial, physical or social support from vulnerable and gullible family members, friends, coworkers, and especially “able-bodied” men. Obtaining a clear, consistent and credible life history from such a person is unusually difficult. They are the worlds greatest liars.
This type of woman likes other women but usually only as temporary comrades-in-arms and opportunistic “wing buddies”, but fundamentally prefers the way that men “taste” if you know what I mean. They also wont care if a man is married, single, older, or in a serious relationship as they seem to enjoy the challenge of taking what is not theirs from someone else, even someone they may know quite well. In this respect they could be considered professional home-wreckers and wholesale privateers who consider “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too”. Like the honey badger, when it comes to insuring their own survival and feeding their bellies psychologically, financially, emotionally, sexually or professionally, they just “don’t care” and have little ability to empathize. Of course all syndromes and clinical diagnoses lie on a continuum of severity and care must be taken to consider the possibility of other co-existing disorders particularly bipolar, ADHD, substance abuse and impulse control disorders that have either an organic or genetic basis. Finally, if the clinical diagnosis becomes confusing keep in mind that repeated manipulation, deception, and deceit are more prominent in BPD with sociopathic features while mood instability, emotional vulnerability and recurrent bouts of self-hatred are more characteristic of BPD proper. Either way, men or women who choose to hook-up, live with or marry such an exciting and quite often attractive creature are forewarned of the wild adventure ahead. My suggestion is that one proceed cautiously at their own risk and remember to bring a sharp sword, body armor and really good bug spray. We’re talking Jurassic Park kind of fantasy/dream turned toxic nightmare here. Worse yet, once you are on the island with these highly intelligent, clever and carnivorous creatures there may be no getting off.
Shelob from Lord of the Rings: https://youtu.be/ZKeEZWbCRVE
With Apologies to Humpty Dumpty: The Myth of Fixing People
It takes an extra long time for a psychologist/social worker/psychotherapist or “savior” type person (code for codependent) to realize that you can’t really “fix” anybody. You can help them and you can be compassionate but whatever psychological, emotional or spiritual illness or drug/alcohol problem they suffer from….that change process has to start and finish with them. In fact, trying to fix them and using too much of ones energy, time, emotions, resources or money in an effort to “force” healthy thinking and behavior on somebody is a different kind of disease and one likely to end in rebellion, misery, frustration, exhaustion, and resentment.
Unless you are Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama, which I am not, such a savior scenario (quite often on a unconscious or subconscious level) typically results in not just utter failure but a very counterproductive rugby match of resentment in which both sides push and pull against one another while thinking they are just representing their own “truth” or higher power (true self). The obvious implication is that there also exists a “lower self” (psychological shadow) and while the nice or virtuous parts of ones personality attempt to communicate, broker peace, understanding and progress in a relationship, the shadow parts (like the smiling Japanese diplomats in Washington DC during the surprise Pearl Harbor attack) are often plotting rebellion and pandemonium. Just why this is so is open to debate but is at least partially explained by physics (Newton’s Third Law about action and reaction), human nature, ingrained defense mechanisms and individual reflexes like “don’t tell me what to do…even if it’s good for me”. People get used to what they are most familiar with even if it might seem obviously self-destructive or counter-productive to everyone else. Changing or “doing better” certainly has its rewards but can also feel very uncomfortable. The anxiety of uncertainty and the pressure to succeed and improve (among a lifetime of previous losses, disappointments, failures and poor decision making) can lead people to return to jail, return to drugs, and even return to pathological, abusive or toxic relationships. Finally, some psychiatric problems like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, complex PTSD, depression, and character pathology like Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorder are tumultuous and destabilizing by their very nature and can be extremely challenging to live with both for the sufferer and for their often frustrated or shell shocked loved ones.
Bottomline: There is an important difference between attempting to fix broken people and broken pottery. People who are psychologically vulnerable or struggle with mental disorders or addictions (just like the people who have a strong need to help “fix” them) have complex egos and personal expectations that can end up getting in the way. Broken pottery normally does not resist ones efforts to fix, be fixed or made whole. Perhaps even more important, broken pottery does not carry within it a strong and wholly legitimate human desire to be loved and accepted just as one is, cracks and all. Therein lies the rub….for some of us compulsive people fixers.