Why Bother Leaving the Corridor?

September 5th, 2013

I’m not really a provincial person and I love to travel. I love new things, I love new people, and I will eat my way through every exotic beach if I absolutely must. That being said, I’m of a slightly different mind when it comes to things within my own country. The United States is a vast landmass, full of everything from metropolitan Massholes to mountain-dwelling Mormons. Some of it is enjoyable, like the Liberty Bell and New York Restaurant Week. Some of it, including the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City and the Baptists in Birmingham, is not.

For this reason, I’ve come to one simple conclusion: For total life fulfillment within the United States of America, it’s not really necessary to leave the Northeast Corridor — unless it’s to head south to Miami or west to California, Oregon, and Washington, where liberated and fact-driven sanity still rules the roost. This might seem classist or arrogant, and I concede that it probably is. In the interest of backing up my opinion, I’ll present some justifications that I feel really make my case.

Defining the Northeast Corridor: The Boundaries of American Sanity

First, let’s get one thing straight: The northeast corridor does not encompass the entire northeastern region of the country. there are crazy people in southern Delaware, religious fundamentalists in Western Pennsylvania, and right-wing Republicans in Upstate New York. The northeast corridor comprises only those cities along the Northeastern Corridor rail line, as well as the satellite cities and suburbs that lie in the wider metropolitan areas that are served by at least one rail stop. A good visual representation of this can be seen by checking out this image. Alternatively, those unfamiliar with the rail line can reference Wikipedia’s page on the synonymous Northeastern megalopolis to more fully understand the geography.

Within the bounds of megalopolitan corridor are the following characteristics, amenities, and cultural offerings that make this a self-sustaining, why-bother-leaving region when considering domestic American life and politics.

Gay Marriage

All but Pennsylvania and New Jersey recognize the full legality of gay marriage, gay adoption, and the necessity of anti-discrimination laws for LGBT individuals. Several states within these boundaries also have trans-equality laws and protections for gender identity that are beyond what can be found anywhere other than California.

Democrats

I wish we had more than one viable party in this country, but we don’t. The northeastern part of the country is governed by sane, liberal Democrats who understand the needs of their people. To that end, some of the states in this part of the country also offer universal health care coverage, individual care mandates, and other social welfare programs that bring us in line with Europe, Canada, and others.

Mass Transit

Go to Kansas and try getting around without a car. Hell, go to North Carolina and give it a shot in any city but Charlotte. Outside of the northeast, it’s virtually impossible to go to work, back home, and to dozens of other cities without getting into the car. Exceptions exist for places like southern California, Denver, Portland and Seattle but, by and large, this region of the country is the only one where cars are decidedly optional.

The Beach

We have it. Most other parts of the country don’t have it. I have no idea how people live their lives without being a short drive from the sand.

Major Employers

Hundreds of Fortune 500 companies have a headquarters in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, or Washington. Many companies have headquarters in all of these cities. Global corporations, major banks, and both venture capital firms and startups live within our bounds but could never make it in many other parts of the country.

Immigrants

Arizona is trying to build a fence, but in the northeast we built statues honoring our immigrants and have turned whole islands into monuments that celebrate diversity. For this reason, we also have another leg up on the competition…

Real Food

Sure, they might grow the ingredients for our meals in the flyover states, but only in the Northeast and on the West Coast can Americans (or visitors) find the best cuisine in the world. Real Italian food made by real Italian people, or Mexican cuisine made from scratch by people who could never live a good life in Arizona, Texas, or elsewhere.

It’s Just Better Here

The northeast is home to Ivy League universities, major employment centers, major beach vacation resorts and ski destinations, cultural attractions and monuments, excellent food and fine dining. What else do you need? Whatever it is, if you can’t find it here, you’ll have to do what the rest of us do: Get a passport and go global. Because you aren’t gonna find it in Utah.

We Heard About That On CNN

May 17th, 2013

I’m a liberal, and that means that I have to vote for Democrats every two years if I want my votes to count for anything. Of course, I’m more than happy to oblige if it means that things like climate protection, gay rights, immigration reform, and the separation of church and state are furthered or protected. Barack Obama was my choice for president in both of the two prior presidential elections, and I genuinely think that he has real potential to be a decent president. A great leader? No. Missed opportunity, that one. But decent, certainly.

Which is why it confuses me so very much when a new scandal, or any type of bad event, happens to affect the administration. When asked about it by reporters, their answer reliably is “Well, we just heard about that on the news like you did! So we’re still trying to learn about it and we can’t offer you any details.”

How exactly does the government learn about what it’s doing, while it’s doing it, by simply turning on CNN? This absolute lack of accountability, and the urge to simply defer any and all critical questioning, is very Bush-like. It isn’t what I cast my vote for. Why is it too painful to simply say, “We’re aware of the problem and we’re looking into it so that we can provide you with more information.” That sounds astute. That sounds smart. It certainly sounds plausible. You just found out the IRS was doing something shady when you flipped the channel to CNN, despite the issue at hand being investigated thoroughly, repeatedly, by that agency over the past few years? Right.

Barack Obama will go down in history as the greatest medicore president we’ve had in the last ten years. Because he continues to act half-Bush, and half-unaware that he’s the president at all, I don’t think we can really ask more than that. Yes, it’s better than the alternative, but the lack of transparency and straightforward accountability is the same old story, and it’s one I’m quite frankly sick of hearing.

Checkout and Check Out

March 30th, 2013

I know that the line at the supermarket is called the “checkout lane” but is it really necessary for customers to pay for their groceries in 2013 by using a paper check? I mean, really, could we get just a bit more archaic? Maybe you should show up to the supermarket with 14 buffalo skins and 3 oxen to pay for your weekly meal. Maybe that works with your perception of how high-tech this world is. A paper check? I resent these people. I resent them.

What I really want to know is why people would rather pay with a check than with their debit or credit card. Today’s bank accounts come with a debit card for free, as a standard feature. You can’t NOT get the debit card. That’s like going to Five Guys and asking them to hold the beef. Um, I don’t think so. Basically, everyone in the universe has a debit card that takes one swipe, the “process as credit” button, and 3 seconds to print a receipt. Done.

Because I have lots of time to think about pointless shit in line when the caveman in front of me pays with rabbit pelts (or when the lady in front of me pays with a paper check, same thing), I’ve created a list of plausible reasons why someone would pay with a check at the supermarket.

1. It is More Convenient

Back when I was your age, we had to pay for our groceries in rabbit skins and flint! FLINT, I tell you. Checks are a big improvement. You should just be lucky that they invented paper currency somewhere around 1984, before you were born!

2. The Funds Take Longer to Process

I am shopping for groceries with money that I do not have, and the long period of time it takes to process a check will allow me to deposit that money AFTER I buy my three boxes of Froot by the Foot. Except, oh yeah, checks now debit instantly against a customer’s account just like debit cards.

3. I Hate Technology

Debit cards are scary because, as even my grandchildren know, I swore off of all technological developments to happen in the Western world after 1978. I have a record player in my car.

4. I Want to Make the World Suffer

The most plausible argument. Gays are marrying, women are working outside the home even though they have young children, and no one goes to church anymore. People are always in a hurry, texting, and working overtime. I hate the world, and I will force you to slow down and think about it by writing this here archaic check. Did I mention that you’re just lucky I’m not paying in rabbit furs and frankincense?

Recent Things and Such and Etc.

February 15th, 2013

I have this whole thing going on lately where the prominence of my busy workdays, involved personal life, and general pursuit of happiness (like an American!) has left me roughly three minutes each day with which to craft a blog post. Everyone knows that these masterpieces I create involve at least seven minutes of work, and therefore I haven’t even bothered. The good news is that I am now bothering, largely because my guilt has kicked right on in. This post, long overdue, features some quick-hit commentary on recent developments that merited a full post, but won’t freaking get one. Deal with this fact.

Earth’s Next Top Pope: Season 2

Like all people from predominantly Christian countries around the world, I was stunned to see on morning television that the pope had decided to step down from his post and commit to a life of seclusion from the real world (again). That’s mostly because I forgot there was a pope, or that anyone in the media still went to church. Also, the last pope to step down did so when America’s population was still dancing in circles around campfires, so this was quite surprising.

My hope is that Earth’s Next Top Pope will be more gay-friendly and maybe he’ll even come to the conclusion that women are equal to men. Basically, it would be nice if the next pope boldly embraced the cutting-edge policies of 1843. A boy can dream! Or repent, lots, because this boy is probably going to hell after these two paragraphs.

Even Outer Space Hates Russia

Or maybe it doesn’t. Like most people who aren’t Russian, my first thought this morning was that outer space had finally HAD IT with Russia (and its USSR former self) proliferating of anti-US, anti-gay, anti-not-Russia propaganda like it’s been doing for at least two centuries. Then I realized that Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house. Then I read that the meteor exploded in eastern Russia. Now I think outer space actually overshot a bit.

I Had No Idea that Phones Could Run

I’m not really the world’s most avid mobile gamer, so forgive me: When did these “run” games start becoming awesome? I had heard of “Temple Run” before, but had never bothered to do any research into it. Lately, I have been addicted to Temple Run and Angry Gran Run. The first takes place on the set of Legends of the Hidden Temple, and the second involves an angry granny running through the streets of New York punching the crap out of joggers. SIGN ME UP. Side note: Any readers who have iOS and use GameCenter can find me at DBRGR86, and I invite you to friend me and compete with my achievements / points.

It’s Been Real

I’m done. This post is already well beyond the standard I had originally set for it. I’ll be back next time the world almost blows to hell, or when the Catholic Church elects the successor to its Hitler Youth Pope. Goodbye.

On Coming Out and Modern Times

January 14th, 2013

I have a couple friends who, okay, this might offend some people, but they can’t match an outfit. They can’t shop. They don’t even talk with a lisp or a limp wrist. I think they might be straight, but I don’t want to offend them by asking if they’re straight. I mean, it’s not a big deal anymore. There are straight people everywhere. But I’m not just going to ask. That would be rude.

But every day, I mean, am I the only one who sees how obvious it is? I have all of these guy friends and all their friends are guys, except one or two girls who they act really suspicious around. Should I assume? Should I invite my male friends — and these “girls” — to events at my apartment? Is that the polite thing to do if you don’t know?

They drink beer. I like beer, too, but that doesn’t mean they’re gay or I’m straight. Oh my god, my liking of beer doesn’t mean I’m straight does it? Because the vagina, it creeps me out a little bit and I’m not sure I could fit my square peg into that hole. Whoa, pardon the pun.

So I guess I’ll just wait until my straight friends come out of their mismatched, haven’t-shopped-since-I-got-my-driver’s-permit closets. Then it’ll be obvious. Those girls, they must be girlfriends. But they’re friends with multiple girls. Oh well, straight thing. Slutty. You know how they can be with girls and hookups and all that nonsense at the bars.

How Ridiculous is This?

The “Jodie Foster Incident” at last night’s Golden Globes has prompted me to think just a little. Why the hell did I have to come out, but none of my straight friends had to have a deep discussion about the meaning of love and confess their unending love of women to me? Why the double standard? What is “coming out” anyway? My black friends don’t walk into a room and announce their skin color (usually). My blonde friends don’t have deep, heartfelt conversations about the meaning of having a genetic defect determine their hair color.

Who the fuck cares? Honestly. Why do I have to tell? Why do you have to know? Why can’t kids everywhere just wake up tomrorow, go date someone, and it doesn’t matter what gender it is? If we’re going to talk seriously about LGBT rights and marriage equality, then we have to talk about coming out.

Who cares about Jodie Foster’s sexual orientation? Or mine? Other than the guy I’m dating and the woman she recently broke up with after quite some time, who does it affect? If the answer is anything other than “no one” then we can safely assume that’s due to selfishness, bias, or bigotry. Right?

Coming out is stupid. News flash: I find some members of the human race attractive, and I date them, and I love one of them, and that makes me really happy.

How controversial and unexpected.

On Chick-Fil-A

August 3rd, 2012

So, I’m going to say some things that will probably force me to get my Gay Card revoked by the World Gay Authority, but I long ago decided that I didn’t need to be a card-carrying member of “the community” to be happy, fulfilled, and in the company of my boyfriend (even if he did spend my birthday in a tropical locale without me). So, chicken sandwiches.

On my birthday, this past Wednesday, people across America went to Chick-Fil-A to show their “appreciation” of the restaurant. Why? Because this particular fast food grease pit is owned by religious zealots who force the place to be closed on Sundays, and use their profits to support anti-gay organizations. City mayors have thusly banned Chick-Fil-A from opening new restaurants in their cities because they feel the chain is discriminatory. For the record, it is. The “appreciation day” protest was meant to counter this.

The restaurant saw record sales of its diabetes-inducing crapfest food on my birthday. Thanks, religious crazies! Happy birthday to me! In response, the gay community has decided to do a few things. First, they countered the “appreciation day” on Wednesday by dressing up as cows and chickens while holding protest signs and rainbow flags. Then, today, they decided to stage a “kiss-in,” where gay couples go to the restaurant, make out in front of patrons and employees, and leave.

People have said, “you should go do a kiss-in!” Well, first of all, the guy I regularly kiss is 2,000 miles away right now, so that’s out. Secondly, wouldn’t do it anyway. What kind of goodwill does the gay community gain by dressing up in costumes and protesting at a fast food restaurant? What kind of respect do we earn by going to a public place and making out? Wouldn’t we harshly judge anyone — straight or gay — who did this on any other day of the year?

Gays are right to be outraged about this company’s support of anti-gay legislation. There’s no excuse for hateful, discriminatory actions such as those taken by the company’s CEO. But they’re wrong to dress in ridiculous costumes or kiss in public to “show them a thing or two.” The gay community needs to be worried about a much bigger picture: marriage and legal equality in all 50 states and in all of the countries around the world. Some countries still imprison or kill homosexuals, and our American gays are getting their sexy underwear in a knot over a chicken sandwich. Sad.

In a world where hateful religious zealots still perceive gays to be the Slutty Orientation, and in a world where they think gays like to be deliberately disrespectful about their bedroom preferences, this Chick-Fil-A protest proves them all right. They have enough of their own allegedly Biblical reasons to hate us. We don’t need to give them another reason by spoiling their adult onset diabetes today.
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