Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Obama Losing Ground

It was a matter of time, really, but Barack Obama's work getting the world to love the U.S. again has backlashed: his own citizens are starting to turn on him.

While many polls his supporters and those who support his ideas have remained around the same level as when the election took place, those undecided then have now joined the opponents' side - and nowhere is it as clear as when it comes to health care. Nate Silver analyses polls (and the idea of the reform and how it's not getting through) here. Food for thought, and a hell of a meal at that.

While it's true Conservatives are a lot more vocal than Liberals when voicing their discontent, a quick look at my Facebook page, my thousands of fans and friends and browsing groups in general shows a shift in public opinion, from Obama being revered 6 months ago to now being a ''socialist'', a Muslim (yeah, I know, those two never seem to go away), a threat to national security and - now - the Worst President Ever. How short a memory these people have is borderline ludicrous, of course, but the anger can certainly be felt.

And when asked to explain their views and feelings, many resort to ''politics is something I'd rather not discuss publicly with people''... then why the hell did you rant about your displeasure on your Facebook page and allow it to be seen by everyone?

Wisconsin musician Kevin Patrick had this to say about Jimmy Carter when someone mentionned at least he had reduced inflation:
reducing inflation?!? are you kidding, when he left office inflation was at 13%. The only president I can think of that is worse is Obama because he's heading down the same old tired socialist cradle to grave crap
Some online polls have Obama's appreciation rating at less than 30%; 71% are against his health plan, including some people who pay $1800 a year on insurance for two adults and two kids, who are convinced insurance companies will give their family everything they need because they pay a premium. Many don't want to end up ''like Canada, where people die waiting for life-saving surgeries''.
I, for one, am a little tired of those lies conveyed by the Fox News-types. It took me half an hour (that I deserved to wait anyhow because I got there early) to see a doctor last week. Life-threatning diseases are given appointments for operations on a case-to-case basis regarding need, and if you feel the wait is too long, you can always opt to get treated in England (for free) or ask the government to send you to the U.S. for it. You can also opt to pay a private clinic to do the work in less than 48 hours.

All in all, we have options. And the minimum care is always insured. How many people died waiting in line for an important surgery in the pasy 5 years? Five? How many people died in the U.S. from not having the funds to get help, or even just died in the parking lots of hospitals?

It's a silly debate to have, anyhow. A modern society should ensure its citizen's health, wealth and security. If Americans don't want to be a part of the 21st Century, it's their choice, but they should stop exporting their brand of Liberty Through War to those who don't want it, then, too, since most of the world has deemed ''universal health care'' a priority without actually being ''socialists''. Sometimes I wonder if those rednecks actually know what that word even means.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Doctor Next Door

There's a world-renowned (well, city-renowned, but if he keeps at it, I'm sure the world will follow) pill-pusher with a PHD (one of those that pass as a 'doctor', officially, but probably hasn't provided anyone with useful information in decades) that runs his operation a block away from my place, and I was in dire need of asthma medication for my upcoming weekend getaway up North, and I didn't feel like going to a hospital just for a prescription, so I went...

I'm used to hearing about ''people waiting for hours in line to get to see a doctor'', especially now that Barack Obama wants to provide his citizens with decent health care and opponents mention the ''Canadian plan as being such a failure'' in that field, so I decided to get there half an hour before it opens, just so I'm among the first thousand in line. Turns out I'm alone, and the door is locked. So far, it seems normal enough.

The clinic is situated on the second floor of an apartment building that stands above a pharmacy - a drug store. Its main door shares the floor with 4 others - at this point I'm guessing they're housing, not commerces. I guess right, because from one door comes the secretary to unlock the clinic and lead me in.

Looking at my MediCare card, she asks if I've ever been to the clinic before. ''Yes, a few times'', I answer.

- And the last time?
- I don't know, 3, maybe 4 years.
- More 3, or more, 4, because we don't store those files in the same place.
- I don't know, maybe 4.

She's looking nervous, as more people start entering the premises. ''Could it be 5 years?''

- Well, yeah, I guess it could be five years. All I know is the last time I came in was the last time I felt ill enough to warrant a visit to a doctor, but also healthy enough to be able to make the walk here. When my back broke down on me, for example, I couldn't even walk to the washroom, let alone come all the way here...

''Well'', she replies, ''when patients don't come for 5 years or more, we send their files out to storing and have to create new ones''. While I'm thinking this isn't the most efficient way to deal with things, I try to telepathically tell her that, really, writing my name, address and phone number on a piece of loose leaf paper isn't all that much more work than asking me if I still live at the same place - which she would have done anyway. The Twilight Zone had now officially been entered.

I'll spare you the extra small talk and skip right to the meeting with the doctor, 5 minutes later...

- So you're a new patient here? Your file is blank...
- No, actually, I was last here 5 years ago when you diagnosed me with asthma, which is sort of the reason why I'm here today, but your staff throw files away after that long because they don't like healthy people...
- Ah, yes, that policy to save paper room...
- Yes, instead of storing everything on hard drives and modern technology and saving both paper and storage room...
- So why are you here?
- Well, doctor, I'm going on a weekend retreat and didn't want to take any chances, I figured I should bring meds in case I have an attack.
- Wise, indeed. Why don't you sit here (leads me to a table). Breathe deeply.

There I am, sitting on the chair with the paper on it, thinking ''oh my God, I may have been wrong, this guy is about to do his job''... when he stops and says ''ok, so what meds do you want?''

Didn't even check my ears, didn't ask me to say ''ahhh'', didn't take my blood pressure, didn't hit my fucking knee with a tiny hammer, nothing.

I was so shocked that I sat back on his chair, wanting more. So I said the first thing that came to mind: ''uh, doc... there's something else... my, uh, erections... they're not as hard as they used to be...''

He looks at me like he knows I just want to have a blast all weekend long and asks ''do you drink a lot?, do you get nervous, or anxious''

- Well, I drink, yeah, as a musician, there's free beer whenever I play...
- How many per night?
- It's not every night per se, but maybe 12 to 15 beers a week?
- And do you get nervous?
- Only when I'm about to get it on and it isn't as long and hard as it used to be, doesn't reach my knee anymore or anything, although my balls do, now...
- Tell you what, you go have your relaxing weekend, try to have sex without drinking beforehand and come back next week and tell me all about it. If you still can't get as hard as before, we'll run tests and we'll see...''

At least he'll run tests. Probably cup my balls and ask me to breathe deeply or something, but it's a start, just not the start I'm looking forward to. I'll just forget about it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Joe Sakic, The Quiet Hero

The tributes to him have been numerous of late, for good reason: he was a tremendous hockey player, and also an honorable man. He could have continued for another year, one in which he was a shoe-in for captaincy at the Winter Olympics, played near his home town of Burnaby, BC, but, gentleman that he was, he decided that wasn't a good enough reason to stay.

In the late '80s, I was a fan of the Québec Nordiques. Barely a handful of us, in a 600-student school, didn't root for the hometown Montréal Canadiens - I guess we were rebels.

I remember my parents being nice enough to arrange small weekend trips to Québec City just so I could see my favourite team play. 1988-89 may have been the season where we went the most often, perhaps 5 times, for maybe a total of 6 games. The memories are vague, but I recall #88 (that's the number he first wore) being most impressive, even more so than Peter Stastny, another player I really liked.

Sakic had moves and a charisma in full hockey gear that he somehow gets to hide when in plain clothes. He's like Superman that way - he has to wear civilian clothing to appear normal when, in fact, he's leagues ahead of even other professionals. And he oozes leadership - a fact confirmed by his being the captaincy during only his third pro season.

As a teen, I'd always wear my #88 Sakic jersey whenever I'd play outside - whether the rink or the alleyways, or the street. People around the neighbourhood would actually call me Sakic, even when I wasn't wearing the shirt. My good friend Jean-Martin, on the other hand, was Yzerman - the only other player not named Gretzky that displayed a kind of masculine grace to go along with even personalities and an amazing set of skills - and another captain wearing #19 who stayed with the same franchise for his entire career.

Burnaby Joe had the best wrist shot in the game, one of the best backhand shots too - and he could pass like few others in his time (there was Gretzky, Oates, and then Sakic, with maybe Thornton and Koivu to finish the top 5 of the past 10-15 years). His adversaries did everything they could to get him off his game - some attempting to injure him, some succeeding, but he never retaliated. He'd score the game winner instead, as he was wont to do - he holds the all-time playoffs record for most game winners.

It's just a shame he had to wait until the team moved to Denver to win the Cup - and the Playoff MVP Award (Conn Smythe Trophy); I would have loved to go see him hoist that salad bowl at the Colisée.

It's weird; I'm 30 and have lived in an era where I've witnessed records that were considered timeless fall - the (juiced) home run record in baseball, most of Roy's and Gretzky's (and Sakic's) NHL records, the Michael Phelps phenomenon - and I've seen them all retire. Them and Mario Lemieux, Joe Montana, John Elway, Guy Lafleur, Mark Messier. I saw it happen and I saw it come to an end.

It makes one feel small.

Sad to see you go, Joe.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Arturo Gatti: Death Of A Charismatic Champion

I guess it's fitting that I'd be listening to Tom Petty songs at the moment, as they all pretty much seem to be about inevitability. Despite having been born in Italy and raised in Montréal (where he also settled after his boxing career), Arturo 'Thunder' Gatti's life was just like one of Petty's songs about All-American characters: the tough start of a rough childhood, hanging with the wrong crowd that still gave him his best shot at doing something with his life, his ascent of the higher stratospheres of the work he chose, the fall, the comeback, retirement, and death. And each step of the way, both good and bad things happening at once, usually from the same source.

Growing up, Gatti hung around the gym where Dave Hilton Sr. was training his three sons and quickly became the de-facto fourth wheel of the family. Just to have survived hanging around the Hiltons is almost a miracle in itself; tremendous fighters and sportsmen, all three brothers were boxing champions, yet all also had trouble living a violence-free life outside the ring, each spending as much time in prison as in the outside world.

Gatti got close enough that his sister even married Dave Hilton Jr., the most talented of the three, but also the most violent; while his brothers Matthew and Alex are usually caught holding up corner stores or fighting in bars or violating parole agreements, ''Davey'' was found guilty of assaulting his wife, and sexually assaulting his own daughters.

Gatti, apparently, was no angel himself in real life; there have been reports of domestic abuse, but never any convictions. But, compared to the Hiltons, he's as clean as you and I.

Professionally, he's also a ''movie of the week'' type of character. From 1992 to 1995, he won most of his fights, displaying some of the unique character traits that would eventually make him a beloved sports figure and, eventually, a legend. And as 1995 would come to a close, he would be crowned Champion for the first time.

1996 saw him defend his title successfully at Madison Square Garden, of all places, in a nationally televised fight that saw him hit the floor and start bleeding early on. Yet he sucked it up and won in 6 rounds in what was a finalist for Fight Of The Year, according to Ring Magazine - the first of three consecutive times one of his fights would make the list, a rare feat. It was also a come-from-behind victory that got people calling him 'Raging Bull', after the late Jake LaMotta.

1997 was more of the same, and it must have gotten boring to Gatti to keep winning despite bleeding his heart out at every fight, because he decided to relinquish his title and change weight categories. Sure, his fights were still crowned 'Fight Of The Year', but now he was on the losing end.

By 1999, he was on the rise again, the apex of which may have been the three matches against 'Irish' Micky Ward. They did split the first couple of matches, but the third one was epic. I'll let Wikipedia describe it for you:
On June 7, 2003, he and Ward had a rubber match. Gatti broke his twice-repaired right hand on an uppercut to the hip in the fourth, and he dropped his arm, wincing in pain. He fought nearly one-handed for several rounds afterward, using his right sparingly. In the sixth, Gatti dominated the round but got caught with an overhand right to the top of the head a second before the bell rang and went down. Gatti then recovered again and was never in trouble after that. The final scorecards read, 96–93 (twice), and 97–92, in favor of Gatti. The third fight between the two was again named "Fight Of The Year" by Ring Magazine.
And by 2004, he was Champion again. He never gave up, probably didn't know how to. But his reign wasn't all that long. He lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr., generally regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter of his generation and was never the same again. He then lost to no-name boxers before calling it quits.

You'd think, at 37, after spending most of his life getting hit by others but hitting back even harder, married to a girl 14 years younger with a young child, he'd be good to go, able to enjoy life. You'd wish it upon him.

But those who live by the sword die by the sword. He was found dead this morning, in Brazil, strangled, apparently by his wife. He was weeks away from attending his sister's wedding. Yep, Hilton's ex has found someone else worth spending the rest of her life with, but her marriage will always be linked with the unnecessary death of Arturo Gatti, and that's the one fight he won't be getting up from.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Chopping Their Own Fanbase

Despite having hot chicks model for them, the Iowa Chops of the AHL didn't make enough money at the gates - which led to their parent NHL team, the Anaheim Ducks, to terminate their agreement.

These things happen, they're always sad, but economics rule, don't they?

What sucks is the ownership of the Chops is looking to make it harder on season ticket holders to get their money back. Lucky for them, someone is looking out for their interests: Hockey Blog In Canada is on the case.

We need to pass the word until this situation gets resolved.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bad Landlords...

I've had my share of sketchy landlords. It comes with the territory when you don't want to own a place - you gamble about renting from a complete moron but always hope for a sweetheart. I've had both. I've also had a place crumble and fall apart - literally - from the month before we left it to being completely demolished the day after (this will inevitably be a later entry, the story is too good not to tell).

But this guy, Gary, from the Chicago area, just might take the cake.

Lucky for us, a ''coward queer'' by the name of Gabe blogged about it. Two weeks of weirdness and madness, drunkenness and arrests. I hope he gets his security deposit back.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Pope Calls For A New World Order

For years now, most governments have ignored what The Pope has been saying because it usually deals with issues in a regressive manner (AIDS, condoms). This time, however, Pope Benedict may have hit the nail on the head for certain conservative members of the G8 (Italy, Canada, the U.S., France).

While many conspiracy theorists have been warning of impending doom and gloom via a New World Order - a World Government of sorts - and guessing it would come from the U.S. side, it seems the Catholic leader has taken the lead on making this happen, blaming the current economic crisis in the process, and saying the economy should be regulated by a ''world political authority'' with the noble goal of helping the less fortunate and redistribute wealth more equally.

Yeah, right.

It was obvious this idea would start making the rounds in the media brought on by the political/religious right, and it was obvious they'd try to mask it as a leftist 'helping others' scam that will end up being a lie of sorts, either benefiting rich Americans or rich Europeans.

The 'amero' idea already started making the rounds, a 'unique dollar for all of North America' modeled on the euro, as has the Bush-supported idea of a 'super highway' linking Canada, the U.S. and Mexico - all viewed as the first steps in tools of integration to lead to a unique world currency and economy and, eventually, One World Government.

But how would a World Government not be a totalitarian regime? Americans, in all their democratic splendor, had George W. Bush in charge for 8 years. Worse still, Canadians have now twice elected as a minority leader Stephen Harper who acts like he was elected with a 90% majority eventhough he's riding the coattails of less than a quarter of the population's votes.

If we can't trust those who are in charge when they're in charge of mere countries, why should we trust them to be in charge of all the world's money and resources?

We're at an age when heads should roll, not take control.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bernie Ecclestone Is One Crazy Dude

Bernie Ecclestone, grand wizard of Formula One racing, has done it again.

Not anything pertaining to sports or sports management this time, not another decision to hold races in countries that people don't want to race in, nor another multi-million-dollar lawsuit.

No, none of that.

Just his mouth uttering words without having the benefit of a brain thinking them ahead of time behind it. Yep, the guy who once said women should dress in white "like all other domestic appliances" is back - with a vengeance. Towards Jews, specifically, it seems.

Apparently, according to Ecclestone, Adolf Hitler (he of the Nazi leadership and WWII fiasco that still gives Germany a bad reputation to this day) "got things done."

Now, what Brainiac Bernie wanted to put in perspective was that his own government, the British government, "hasn't done a lot of good for many countries - including this one." He just used a rather stupid analogy to get his point across.

And some Jews want him to quit managing his sports' interests to punish him for saying those comments. And I sort of agree. But not as 'punishment' per se.

Racial slurs, like comparing people to Hitler, are old, dated, and wrong. Plus, any time (and this happens way too often) people compare anyone to Hitler (i.e. usually viewed as the 'worst human ever'), it takes away from just how much of a complete fucking disgrace and waste of sperm Hitler has been.

And if someone is stupid enough to make analogies of the sort, there is no way he should be in charge of billions and billions of dollars - annually. And, keep in mind, he is half his sport's governing body; the other half, Max Mosley, was caught in a Nazi orgy with five prostitutes just a year ago... (and Mosley's father Oswald was a notorious fascist and Hitler supporter).

Gotta love them Brits!

P.S.: where the fuck is our world going where Nazi imagery is still being used, fear of just even the slightest sight of 'socialism' scares half of the USA and growing as little as five pot plants can net you jail time harsher than pedophiles and murderers in Canada?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jason Bajada And His Experience Opening For The Lemonheads

My favourite Montréal singer-songwriter of the moment, Jason Bajada, was opening for The Lemonheads in Laval last night.

Apparently, Evan Dando was in one of his moods - stoned and/or drunk out of his damn mind. Nice to see he hasn't changed since the '90s, except that he's no longer putting his penis inside Winona Ryder. Or maybe he is, who knows.

One thing is for sure, though: Bajada blogged about it, and it's a very interesting read, maybe his best post yet.

I guess I should also add that I think his recent album, Loveshit, is one of my 10 favourites thus far this year, just to make sure I plug whatever I can while I'm in a pimping mood.