Pants On the Ground

As I parent I could instantly relate to “General ” Larry Platt and his song Pants On the Ground. “Hey! What are those pants doing on the ground? Put them in the laundry basket.”

It’s so easy to laugh at Platt, but the truth is he’s only half joking. The civil rights activist and street performer says he’s had it with droopy drawers —and he isn’t the first to go wide with the pants down message.

Bill Cosby, in his controversial 2004 NAACP speech, said “People with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack. Isn’t that a sign of something or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up?”

During the 2008 campaign, President Obama told MTV, “Brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What’s wrong with that? Come on.”

Then weirdness and poignancy collided head-on Monday –Martin Luther King Jr. Day– when Platt took his act to The View. As you might expect, co-hosts Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck spent some time in deep conversation about the social ramifications of Platt’s message.

The Filthiest Spot On Your Body

No, not there. Get your mind out of the gutter. When it comes to germs and viruses, the crook of your arm is now the devil’s elbow of infectious disease.

Everybody has been taught that sneezing and coughing into your hands isn’t cool. Even little children:

So now your hands are squeeky clean but your arm is a fetstering pool microbes. My advice: don’t touch anyone’s arm. Ever.

You may be saying, “Rob, why the heck would I touch someone’s arm?”

That’s a good point, but it’s what makes this arm thing so insidious. You take someone by the sleeve to show them the way. They sit down and lay their disgusting arms on your chair. People lean on the kitchen table. Changes the whole meaning of “rubbing elbows” doesn’t it?

Look do what you want, but until I start seeing people smearing Purell up and down their arms this is worth thinking about. Meanwhile get out the Clorox Wipes. And if you work at the dry cleaner, start wearing gloves.

Ski Report

The Empire Center says New York could save money by privatizing its ski areas.

Not so fast, reformerators.

I enjoy being part owner of the state’s three ski resorts. I had the opportunity to spend some time at one of my properties last week, Gore Mountain, and as one of the principal holders of the complex I have a few suggestions that will make the experience better for everyone.

The first thing we must do is deal with the skiers from New Jersey.

Walk through the parking lot and two-thirds of the cars are from the so-called Garden State. This has the effect of making it feel like Jersey Shore except colder and with more clothing.

While it may not be possible to ban people from New Jersey, we should tie lift ticket prices to residency. Charge Jerseyites more and discount tickets to New Yorkers. This would have the dual effect of discouraging them from coming and offering an incentive for New York skiers to stay in New York. Simple economics.

Another good idea would be to eliminate cell phones. I listened to third party conversations on both the Northwoods Gondola and a chair lift last week. There’s nothing more horrendous than hearing someone yack on their cell phone —trapped on a ski lift it’s enough to turn you homicidal.

Also, if you have more than one lift ticket hanging from your jacket we should throw you out. I realize that back in 1987 it was cool to leave a dozen expired tickets hanging from that over-priced jacket you bought at some New Jersey store. Today it makes you look like a tool.

Finally, a word about snowboarders. Yes, it’s awesome to plop down on the middle of the trail during your shred and smoke a doobie or whatever you’re doing, but please do that on the side of the trail. Many of us are not very skilled and it would be a terrible shame if we skied over you one of these days.

Good Old-Fashioned Shoe Leather

Attention criminals! If it’s snowing you’d best stay indoors. Here’s just a small sample of the amazing number of people arrested because they left fresh tracks in the white stuff.

FRUTIA, CO – An 18-year-old Fruita man was arrested Wednesday for stealing items from cars after officers tracked the suspect’s footsteps, discarded car-registration documents and a trail of blood left in freshly fallen snow.

SPARKS, NV – A man is under arrest after allegedly stealing a car and hiding from police Saturday morning. Sparks Police say Duane Randall stole a car around 10:27 am Saturday and parked it at 1750 Franklin Way in Sparks. Police were able to follow fresh footprints in the snow that led them to a trailer storage yard where Randall was hiding.

ALTOONA, PA — Police in central Pennsylvania followed footprints in the snow to catch a man who allegedly tried to burglarize a convenience store by throwing a brick through a window. Altoona police say they followed the tracks early Wednesday to a home where 28-year-old Joshua Phillips, of Tennessee Ridge, Tenn., had been staying with relatives. Officers say Phillips claimed to be home asleep all night even though his sneakers were wet and he had two pair of wet pants with him.

DELTA TOWNSHIP, MI – Footprints in snow led Eaton County sheriff’s deputies to 25 laptop computers stolen from a school, then led them to the suspected thief. Kawin Grady, 22, of Lansing was being held Monday evening on a $5,000 bond in the Eaton County Jail following his arraignment on one count of receiving stolen property.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Early today, police followed footprints in the snow to capture two teenage suspects who allegedly broke into numerous vehicles on the city’s Southeast Side.Police noted that footprints showed the suspects approached dozens of cars near Morewood Drive SE, west of Kalamazoo Avenue, and stole coins, a GPS unit and a watch.

SPRINGVILLE, NY – Erie County sheriff’s deputies followed footprints in the snow early Wednesday and arrested a Springville man for burglary and car theft.

BALTIMORE, OH – Three people are behind bars after law-enforcement officials said they were caught burglarizing a home in Baltimore. Baltimore Police Chief Michael Tussey said officers were called out Tuesday to the 300 block of Elmwood Avenue on a possible burglary.”Upon arrival, it was determined no (homeowners) had been outside to disturb anything, and fresh footprints were in the snow,” Tussey said. “At that point, we followed the footprints approximately a quarter mile and they led us to the back of an apartment complex known as Barclay Manor.”

The Final Frontier

It was a week for celebrating space milestones: landing on the moon, walking on the moon, planting the flag on the moon. But to me the biggest of these was getting the hell off the moon.

Yes, putting men on the moon was an amazing technological achievement but think about this: before Apollo 11 no lunar module had actually been tested landing on or taking off from the moon’s surface. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin fired the rocket that would get them back to the Apollo 11 command module it was a first.

And if it hadn’t worked they’d still be sitting there.

This weighed heavily on my mind as a child. As a kid I was obsessed with space and I built a model of the Saturn V rocket. This thing was nearly three feet tall and could be disassembled into stages so you could recreate a full Apollo mission from lift-off to splashdown and everything in between. It was the most awesome toy I ever had.

When I was a slightly older and differently motivated youngster this model was systematically destroyed with firecrackers and lighter fluid  as I acted out a series of terrible space disasters. That’s what happens when hormones begin kicking in.

July 4, 2009

In the past if you travelled to Canada or Mexico or even  places like Bermuda you haven’t needed a passport. Until now. Due to new rules our family needed to get passports to avoid a hassle during our vacation this week in Ontario. But the funny thing is you don’t need a passport to get in to Canada, you need one to get out.

The Canadians are very casual about who comes into their country which these days is sort of quaint. Or could it just be that people don’t want to sneak into Canada the way they want to get into America?

Nobody will argue that the last twelve months have been a great time. People have struggled with real hardship and with fear and uncertainty. And if you watch cable news you’d think that Michael Jackson is more important than the US troops fighting in Afghanistan. Yes, we’ve got issues but today if for nothing else you should celebrate this: you still live in a country that people run to, not from. And that’s really saying something.

The Insidious Power of the Internet

Could it be that the world economic crisis has something to do with the internet?

Really, think about it.

The web has done immeasurable harm to productivity by offering something infinitely more interesting than work. The trouble is that people just aren’t paying attention to things anymore because there are too many online distractions.

Imagine if everyone who was supposed be keeping an eye on the subprime mortgages were instead managing their fantasy baseball teams, following eBay auctions, and goofing around on Facebook. Meanwhile the residential mortgage market was falling to pieces. Oops!

There was a time when you wouldn’t dream of sitting at your desk and reading the paper. That would have been seen as the the ultimate in F-you I’m Goofing Off At Work behavior. Today the internet is the new reading the paper at work —and it’s out of control.

And why wouldn’t it be out of control? Is your job really more interesting than things like Popeater’s list of Top Ten Twins? By the way Kim Deal and her sister Kelley of The Breeders are on there. At 48 they still rock  which is something I find very comforting. Here’s they are back in 1993:

One Flu Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

In Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later Britain is horrifically decimated by the outbreak of a virus —and it doesn’t merely kill people it transforms them into raging homicidal maniacs. Stephen King’s masterpiece, The Stand, also features the release of a superbug that brings civilization to its knees.

Swine flu may not be as scary as the viruses in fiction, but the outbreak is a potent reminder of how the invisible world around us is rife with danger —real and imagined. There was a quaint time when radiation was the most ominous specter we faced. The atomic age inspired works as diverse as On the Beach, Godzilla, and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Of course it was frightening —but somewhere along the line microbes became our most popular boogeymen. Killer bug stories run the gamut from Michael Crichton’s science minded thriller Andromeda Strain to the over-the-top 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead.

It’s still early to say if life will imitate art and the swine flu crisis will hop the fence and  become a pandemic. My advice is don’t panic —but just in case you may want to read this handy article about dealing with zombies.