Thursday, April 30, 2009

Madea Comes To Trenton; The Swine Flu Does Not

I'm tired of the swine flu panic. My fatigue doesn't mean I think the swine flu is trivial, though; it's just a lot of people are overreacting. After all, while Trenton's mayor Douglas Palmer was debuting in Tyler Perry's The Marriage Counselor last week at Patriot's Theater, more Trentonians headed to the hospital as victims of violent crime than those suffering from swine flu. No one yet — knock wood — has swine flu in all of New Jersey even, despite the World Health Organization's declaration of pandemic.

Influenza, in all its incarnations, is a baddy, even though most of us catch, and recover successfully, from a strain of it every so often. While most of us heal after catching it, it is directly responsible for, in one form or another, upward of 20,000 deaths in the United States. When combined with pneumonia, which is common, the death toll in the US reaches 60,000+ a year, and is the 7th leading cause of death for Americans, which is pretty bad, considering if we practiced better hygiene, we wouldn't be in this situation.

So, here we are, living under this constant threat, and generally speaking, we go around licking shopping carts and feeling each other up with our dirty little hands all the damn time. That is, until last week, when the new-to-us swine flu strain made contact with humans. This strain, according to the WHO (the same WHO who cried Red Alert), causes — generally speaking — only mild symptoms, and infected people make full recoveries without requiring medical attention, or the use of antivirals, which every hospital has well-stocked, just in case. The swine flu is a bigger deal for farm animals, and even so, the mortality rate among swine is currently around 10% of all piggies with the bug.

It's the lack of perspective that irritates me the most about the current flu panic. We should be more diligent about our cleanliness, all the time. And if we're going to get up in arms about certain types of death we have some control over, maybe we should take a look at other high-ranking causes of death among Americans, like murder, which is the 15th most likely way an American will die. Statistics vary, depending on location, of course, and among certain populations, like urban gang members, homicide rates are much higher. It seems to be that not many people outside cities care about these deaths; and since the violence continues, it's debatable if even the dead's peers care for very long, either. I'm sure most reasonably intelligent people can agree, though, that these deaths are senseless, and in my opinion, are a direct result of bad politics and bad policy.

I've blabbered on enough about bad politics in Trenton, as well as bad policy. You can check my archives for the tag "The mayor is a selfish baby" if you'd like to see more. Also, my fellow local bloggers are doing a fine, fine job of keeping you abreast of the bullshit of Trenton. I'm just going to implore my fellow Trentonians to put an end to the bullshit by electing some new blood next year; I'm imploring the politically-minded to work with other politically-minded people to put forth the best slate possible — a slate that will not only beat the shit out of the likes of Doug's puppet and Council President Paul "The Idiot Prince" Pintella, who, for some reason, thinks he should be mayor, but one that will also inspire the people. One that will turn this place around.

I know I don't have to do this, but I'm also imploring Governor Jon Corzine to look waaaaaaay beyond Doug Palmer when picking someone to run as his lieutenant governor later this year. Since the position of lieutenant governor is a first for New Jersey, I urge the governor to not disgrace the office so soon, by even considering putting Palmer in it. Of course, Corzine knows this, right? President Obama also skipped Palmer when considering an appointment to the newly created of Office of Urban Affairs. We all know Palmer has been hoping to fill one of those new positions as means to get the hell out of Dodge, which is why am hoping the Governor takes the President's lead when it comes to Doug. If and when he is not chosen to run as someone's Lieutenant Gov, Doug may be stupid enough to run for mayor here again. And because Palmer has worked so hard to keep a load of people in Trenton just ignorant enough of what's really happening (to them, mostly), it is a concern of mine that this group — easily swayed by the promise of a Target gift card and Doug's charisma — might help to elect that bozo again.

That is why I'm hoping Doug liked his little cameo appearance last week in Tyler Perry's show, and even more, I'm hoping Perry liked Doug's performance. Our mayor IS a good actor, after all. So, I implore Madea to encourage Doug to pursue a career in acting, and I hope he'll do us all a favor, and offer Doug a role in his next film. Perhaps an honest acting gig, one without residency requirements, will rid us of Doug, once and for all.

Monday, April 20, 2009

s-birds and a lack of dénoument

It's been a busy few weeks here, though with my lack of sleep, I cannot recollect reliably what I've been doing. I'm looking forward to warmer weather, and perhaps a more predictable schedule for my boy in the next little while.

But with the warmer weather comes a whole new batch of problems, and frankly, I'm tired of keepin' it real in the hood, yo. We told ourselves when we moved here, we'd give it five years. And it's been five years. We don't have plans to leave, but it sucks to be so frustrated all the damn time. Especially in the spring, when my long-anticipated bulbs start to bloom, and the trees start to leaf out, and the birds sing in the morning, and it just feels good — or should feel good — to be alive. Spring in the hood hurts my freakin' head, you know? And I resent it.

We've had friends and loved ones tell us to move; we've had others to tell us to hang in there, because urban renewal is a big thing now, especially with New Jersey so paved over, and with super-expensive real estate (compared to other states). People will HAVE to come back to the cities, and they'll WANT to, we've been told. The shitbirds on the block will grow up and move away, and things will improve. That was the pep talk we got from a friend who also moved to a nearby run-down-but turning-around city, and we believed it enough to fight for our corner.

And, things HAVE improved. RIGHT HERE, right outside my windows. I'm glad for that, because there's not much worse than looking right out your door and seeing a pile of knuckleheads, so close. Even though my view is clearer than it was a few years ago, the problems still exist — we just pushed them back to their own porches. I AM an optimist...we did achieve something. It is success. Yet, the noise and illegal activities are a few doors down, instead of right under my nose. The only solace I find in the lack of changed behavior on the part of my neighbors, is that now they are adults, and when they get busted — and they will get busted — the charges will be more serious.

Our frustration was elevated recently because right across from the epicenter of shit on my block, another pack of knuckleheads moved in, thus increasing the radius of the shit-center. I admit, I did not go over to greet my new neighbors with a cake, to welcome them to the neighborhood, as we did with new neighbors, growing up. But I don't think it would have made a difference. Our new neighbors, apparently, feel more comfortable here than we do: they were so comfortable, in fact, that they had a huge party the weekend they moved in, that piled out into the street, and required a visit from the police to break it up. They feel so comfortable, that they had another party this weekend, and the police happened to drive by to go to a different address, and just seeing the one black-and-white was enough for a multitude of our new neighbor's guests to leave the party quickly. That's right: the cops simply drove by, and it was enough (hallelujah) this time, to break up the party.

I must be one hell of a nerd that I have NEVER, not once, hosted a party that required a visit from the police. I am going out on a limb here, but believe I can safely say that I never WILL have a party like that, not even here, in Trenton, where it is perhaps, considered posh, to have the police grace one's party. I can also safely say that if the police happened to ride up my street while I was entertaining guests, no one would sneak out my back door. Even if the cops happened to knock on my door and come into my house during hypothetical party, no one would leave. I am just guessing, but am fairly certain that I am not a total loser that I don't have any friends, but am just not cool enough to have friends with outstanding warrants.

It is so wrong, so unfair, so unjust. We've worked SO hard, to help this neighborhood, and it doesn't make sense that we should get saddled with another pile of human waste so close. It isn't a bad neighborhood, not really by any standards; anyone can have a couple of lousy neighbors. However, the urban variety lousy neighbor tends to be louder, and engages in more dangerous behavior. The lousy urban neighbor likes to put on a show for everyone to see. There might be some people who think this show is ghettofabulous; there are others — like me — who do not concur. I did not buy tickets for the show, and yet, I must watch. And it's a show that makes no sense; there is no plot, no character development, no dénoument. People are maimed, and die, in the show I'm watching, and instead of making drastic changes to avoid a similar fate, the rest of the cast continues, without much more than a hiccup — or, at the most, an oh-so-ghettochic RIP memorial t-shirt, or in the back window of a car — instead of talking to detectives, who might be able to help prevent the next senseless act.

Anyway, if these jerks think it's a good idea to display their lives so publicly, I'll continue to offer my opinions, and do whatever I can to not have to watch their idiocy anymore.