Tom Romita

Writer. Director. Frustrated Human.

Tom has been successfully (not) writing “unscripted” television shows for almost twenty years.  From the romantic comedy of “Blind Date” and “Matched in Manhattan,” to the family drama of “Wife Swap” and “Shalom in the Home,” to the workplace shenanigans of “Counting Cars” and “New York Ink,” Tom has crafted stories to the delight of millions of viewers over the years.  He’s reached a level of success that has allowed him to live in the city he loves, New York, and secure a wife and daughter so beautiful, people think he’s adopted.  But now, he’s doing it the right way. He’s writing stuff down. Right here. Please enjoy his website, and feel free to share, Tweet or contact Tom directly to say hi, exchange ideas, or introduce him to really rich people who might want to produce his movies.

NAME THAT HURRICANE

So I was surfing the ol’ interweb trying to figure out if Hurricane Earl is actually going to screw up my Labor Day weekend, or is just the product of a slow news week. Some reports made me want to run west until I reach Kansas, and others made me want to get on the phone and lock a sweet deal on a newly available Fire Island weekend rental. This kind of inaccuracy and inconsistency is not really surprising in a world where strippers and janitors are approved for multiple McMansion mortgages and the Kardashians are a cottage industry, but I digress…

In the course of my research something occurred to me. Hurricanes get no respect.

Earl1.jpg

People don’t run from them. They write cute little messages to them.

Earl2.jpg

It becomes a fun game to defy a hurricane. You wouldn’t see a tornado treated with such disrespect.

Frances.jpg

Why don’t hurricanes get taken seriously? This is a serious problem. If a monstrous tornado or tsunami was headed at New Orleans, I’ll bet people would have gotten out of the goddamn way. I have a theory-

It’s the names.

For some reason we name hurricanes. We don’t name tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Could this have some bearing on the lack of meteorological respect? You can’t write a cute sign to an approaching blizzard or nor’easter. “NO SNOW!” “RAIN IS A PAIN!” See it’s just no fun. And blow-dried reporters can’t say Pulitzer worthy lines like “Earl is ready to swirl toward the east coast this weekend…” Giving human names to dangerous storms invokes a feeling of lightheartedness, not fear of a windswept death.

And what about the names they pick? The official first five named hurricanes for 2010 are Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle and Earl. Earl? That’s not a deadly storm, it’s your weird uncle in Nebraska. “Danielle”? Come on that’s not an emergency, it’s a Disney character. “Colin” isn’t something to run from it’s the guy who played the cello in junior high. “Bonnie” is the gym teacher and “Alex” is her roommate.

If we want people to take hurricanes seriously and still insist on naming them, let’s come with some appropriate, effective names:

A- “The first tropical storm of the year has been upgraded to a hurricane- and the 2 mile wide “ASSHOLE” is barreling toward the east coast at 120 miles an hour.” I am tipping the fuck out the door and heading inland right quick.

B- “BITCHSLAP” is about to display a strong winded pimp hand to the Carolinas. Anyone who sticks around will be treated like a slim prisoner recently traded for a pack of gum.” See what I mean? That’s not cute. THAT’s a fucking emergency.

C- COCKSUCKER- “Cocksucker is coming.” I am NOT staying.

D- DEVILFUCKER- Again, Seacrest out, I have plans on higher ground.

If any one of hurricanes ELEPHANT COCK, FISTER, GARGANTUS, HEMORRHOID, INSANE CLOWN POSSE, JERKOFF, KOALA KILLER, LACERATOR, MOTHERFUCKER, NECROPHILIAC, OSAMA, PANDA RAPER, QUEER EYE FOR THE DEAD GUY, RAMSTEIN, SHITSTORM, TERRORIST TRAINING CAMP, URETHRA, VAGINITIS, WARTHOG, XXX GERMAN PORN, YO YO MIGHT WANT TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF MA WAY, OR ZOMBIE NUTS are reported to be headed my way, I am not going to be around when they arrive. Frances? Belle? Charlie? I’m inclined to whip out a spray paint can and stick it out.

HOLIDAY HELP

The other day, I hopped on a bus and found and occupied one of the few empty seats near the front. As I was sitting, minding my own business- playing with my phone as usual, I notice that this relatively normal looking woman sitting next to me is mumbling in my general direction. I tried to understand her sotto voce mutterings, and got instant déjà vu upon realizing that she had pulled a similar “I’m lonely so I’m going to force a conversation on you” stunt while we waited at the bus stop moments earlier. She said something about being handicapped and held up her shopping bags. I tried to figure out the physical jeopardy she was expressing, but for my life didn’t have a clue. I gave my best smile and “Hey swell, good luck with that…” response, and went back to my Cyber-Solitaire game.

A few stops later she gets up to exit, but not before saying to me, in full voice now, “Nice, you are a real prince, making old people walk to the back of the bus at the holidays- real prince you are.” I’m not fully versed in the ways of the insane, but I’m pretty sure I detected a hint of disingenuousness. I gave her the finger, and went back to my game.

But I couldn’t shake it. Was I that much of a prick? Did I do something wrong? Should I change my ways? Were my fellow busmates thinking privately- “Yeah you are a dick, dude.”? I looked around the bus. No one was standing. There were people of all ages randomly distributed all over it. What exactly was Ms. Kookoo wishing me to do? Get up when an old person gets on the bus? What if they want to get closer to the back door? What if they are with someone and there are two seats in the back? Am I obligated to scan the ages and acquaintances of every person who enters at every stop and gauge the distance to my seat and calculate if my getting up and moving would make their trip more or less pleasant? Do these rules apply only at holiday time or year round? I’m not copping out here, really. When an old or pregnant person does not have a seat, I get up, every time. And if some poor parapalegic homeless person slides on the ice and falls out of his wheelchair into a puddle face down into oncoming traffic and can’t lift his face out of the water, I’m going to lend a hand, pretty much every time. But I was not aware of the apparent new “If you are in a seat CLOSE to an old person who is heading to a different one, you must abandon yours” doctrine.

In any case, I used the opportunity to reflect on helping others, my responsibilities as a member of a civil society, and the true meaning of Christmas. I came up with a list of folks I encountered that morning that may have been in need of help, and I had not offered any:

The flailing, yelling man on Madison Ave. who I thought was having a schizophrenic episode, until I noticed his Bluetooth earpiece.

The non-English speaking Moldavian family on 72nd

The dirty looking kid with ripped jeans in the East Village who I thought was homeless, till his dad picked him up in a Bentley.

Falun Dafa, The Salvation Army, Jews For Jesus, Young Republicans, Old Democrats, the Israeli Defense League, the Palestinian Defense League, CHIDOFOAM- Chicks for Darfur Who Can’t Find it on a Map, BAHKNaT Born Again Hare Krishnas Named Ted, etc…

51 Street musicians

The shuffling no-legged guy on the 6 train

The blind guy with the cats on Columbus Ave.

The deaf guy with the dogs on 8th Ave

The guy with the MTA Jacket and no pants on the F train

The 85 year old lady helping her 138 year old friend cross Lexington Ave.

The 29 yr. old mom who knocked over said 138 yr. old with her stroller

The young man on Broome St. who was either blind, hungover, or digging his new shades

The guy in the tailored suit at 49th and Broadway who loses his wallet everyday and needs a $2.50 for a fare from everyone he sees, for the past three years

The really fat white wheezing guy hailing a cab

186 lost tourists

9 crackheads, and a middle aged couple on Crystal Meth, and a gentleman in a tutu who was presumably on both

The rich lady who got her heel stuck in her Yorkie

The bald 50 yr. old lady who may be on chemo, or is really hip

The disheveled cute college chick stumbling around Washington Square Park who just woke up and left some random dude’s apartment

The woman with the stroller at the top of the subway steps

The woman with the stroller at the bottom of same subway steps

The guy with the T-Rex arms in the elevator

The lady in the mink coat and downpour who forgot her umbrella

The skinny guy on 9th who looked a bit chilly

The really muscular guy having difficulty reaching up to pick his nose

The stock broker who couldn’t change a hundred for the meter

The delivery guy with the flat Vespa tire

The lady exiting the cab who was either pregnant or genetically unlucky

The big Mexican guy with the broken foot.

I’m not going to make the excuse that I also have a rough life and I was too tired to help. I don’t,  and I wasn’t. My point is, if we were all to stop and attempt to help everyone who we or someone else thinks we should try to help- no one would ever get anywhere. Life would consist of everyone looking around in a stagnant analytical paranoid state of “Should I help them?” Nothing would get done, and we would run out of cash before ever getting anywhere to actually purchase anything.

I concluded that while I probably play with my phone too much- I had done nothing wrong. The 90-something lady next to me concurred:

“That crazy bitch should get hit by a train,” she said, “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas to you too”, I said, as a huge smile came across my face and I helped her gather her bags and get off the bus.

And to all, a good night…

HAIKU

What kind of poeto-fascist society teaches its children not of the stock market, taxes, and basic economics but of the syllabic structure of a strange Asian form of poetry never seen outside the classroom?

TURNSTYLE TROUBLE

What fucking Rhodes Scholar designed NY City subway turnstiles? Throngs of latte chugging late-for-something maniacs entering and leaving the train platform through the same exact spinning dull metal lawnmower blade? At busy times you are forced to head fake, deke out, or create a diversion to outwit the person on the other side just to get through. If you are entering- you have to swipe your Metro card with deadly precision and speed or you will never beat the outgoing flow of humanity- unmired by the requisite card swipe. The non-differentiated portals lead to the inevitable “Straphanger Stand off”- with one person poised to swipe on one side with a flow of opposing traffic never giving them the opportunity to get in- like Boston drivers. This most always leads to one party calling the other a cocksucker, and someone moving to an easier to negotiate threshold. A slight mistiming with your counterpart on the opposing side and it’s a loss of fare, mid turnstile collision, or worse. The other day I bobbed when I should have weaved and almost lost a reproductive organ. I’m taking the bus.

WHY AMERICANS ARE FAT

If you want to read an excellent article on why Americans are fatter than others around the world, written by someone who’s actually studied the subject, click here .

I haven’t studied any of this- but I’m not buying it. Millions of Europeans with greatly varying diets and exercise habits weigh on average 16 lbs. less than Americans because of smaller portions, slower eating, and “informal exercise”? Uh… don’t think so. They keep thin by NOT watching their weight? Huh? Sounds like a convoluted attempt to explain a presently inexplicable phenomenon. Nope-I’m not sold. There’s something else going on here.

First of all anyone who’s been to Europe knows that while they don’t eat as much fast food, they certainly eat a lot. A lot of fatty, rich, sweet, cholesterol and calorie-laden food. And they smoke like fiends. And drink like fish. I was at a German wedding once where the cocktail hour treats consisted of beer and 8-10 varieties of liverwurst. Death on a chaffing dish by American standards. I, never one to shy away from a tasty life-shortening snack, even found myself limiting my intake of “Fleischwurst” (translation- “meat made from meat”- Bon Appetite)

What amazed me was the diminutive size of the flesh-chomping beer-swilling patrons at the party. My wife, a competitive swimmer, and I, at 6’ 190 lbs., looked like planets.

The conventional theories for this weight discrepancy do not make any attempt to explain the thousands of exceptions to the rules. If it’s all about fast food- how to explain the thousands of fat American families that eat at home a vast majority of the time? How to explain the thousands of Americans who follow all the rules of diet and exercise and remain fat? How to explain why some Americans and Europeans live on Big Macs and 36 oz. Cokes and remain thin? I know a young healthy vegetarian who eats like a bird and exercises regularly, yet can’t lose weight. Her friend eats whatever, whenever, doesn’t exercise, and could get lost behind a string bean.

Being fat in America seems a cruel and random phenomenon, which leads to depression, failed diets, non-used gym memberships, millions spent on snake-oil pills, and nutritionists and dieticians constantly spinning their wheels trying to make sense of the latest fad. Can you imagine the panic amongst the ‘Nutri-Nazis’ when men everywhere started shrinking dramatically after trading in their whole grains and pasta for steak, Scotch and creamed spinach?

There would seem to be another, as of yet undiscovered variable, a sort of “American Gene”, that just predisposes us to obesity. Could American obesity be a condition like cancer, that science has “sort of” found causation for, but not really? Could there be a variable that has not been discovered yet?

I’ve got an idea.

It’s founded in Darwinian evolution, global modernization, and the unique nature of America itself. America is the first (or at least most recent) nation in history to be completely made up of people from “somewhere else”. It is the first place where the land’s ancient dwellers were almost completely removed and replaced with individuals from other well- established nations. Modern travel technology made this possible, and America happened to be the right place at the right time in which this phenomenon could occur. So-what does this have to do with all the fatties around here?

Because of the unique heterogeneous ancestry of Americans, we are the first guinea pigs in what I consider the “Great Global Diet Experiment”. We are the first nation to not have its own diet, dictated by the natural resources of the land. Europeans settling in the New World were suddenly exposed to a diet completely different from that which their genetics had become accustomed to. Soon, food was being imported here from all over the world, and still is. When Italians decide what to have for dinner, it’s more than likely a version of food that has been eaten in Italy for thousands of years. Same goes for Germany, Japan, Zimbabwe, and Australia. In America, when we decide what’s for dinner, it sounds like a U.N. roll call. “Italian? Chinese? Japanese? Indian? Mexican?” If it ain’t a hamburger or hot dog- it came from somewhere else.

Is it possible that this is why Americans are fat? Is there something about the geographic origins of food that cause obesity in those who enjoy cuisine not from their ancestral homelands? Are Swedes thinner not because of fewer Big Macs, but because their diets consist almost exclusively of Swedish food? Are Indians thinner not because they walk to work, but because they almost always eat Indian food? Are Americans destined for obesity because our cuisine is inherently made up of foods from all nations?

Besides this geographic distinction, America is the only nation to exist almost exclusively in a time when fat people have access to modern living conveniences and medical care that allows them to live and prosper, whereas they would have perished a thousand years ago. (And you know what happens when fat people live to breeding age- fat babies.) Thousands of years ago, if, say a bunch of Italians started getting fat on those tasty noodles that rascal Marco Polo brought over from China, they died. Those who could tolerate the newly introduced al dente cuisine thrived. These survivors are the Romans, Venetians, and Bolognese of today. In contrast, when Americans cannot tolerate the foreign food, they live and fill the gyms, nutritionist’s and gastroenterologist’s offices of modern America.

Is there a way to test this theory? Sure- Italian- Americans stock up on the Ronzoni, German-Americans knock yourself out with knockwurst, and Mexican Americans- head “South of the Border” and order that Gordita! Would this experiment prove my theory? Maybe- but Americans enjoy eating a variety of food too much to ever test it.

So I say eat up. Go nuts. Enjoy. Eat your fat friggin’ head off. Live a good life instead of a long one. Be a big fat corpse, and get buried in a piano box. Die of a massive coronary at 55, with a smile on your face, and some Chinese chicken wing sauce on your tie. It's part of being an American.

X-COUNTRY

The sign at the gas station with the arrows indicating the mileage and directions to three nearby towns was not unusual upon initial inspection. The single and double digit population indicators were. Who the fuck would ever live there? How fucking small is the town we’re in now?! Who the fuck lives HERE?! Just as my buddy Eric and I were calculating the number of potential prom dates you’re looking at in a town like this, and the effects of inbreeding on human intelligence, he emerged. The answers to these mysteries and countless more presented itself- in a ripped faded “Korn” t-shirt. He spoke:

“Diesel?”

“No, it's regular”

“Oh- where ya’ll from?”

You know that feeling you get when the cop asks you how fast you think you were going? Or when a woman asks how old you think she is? Here we are, two big healthy smooth talking college educated city boys, heading from NY to LA, and Kornboy has us at a complete loss. What if he hates LA? Or NY? What if he rapes and kills everyone who passes through his beloved Sparrowfart, Illinois, ala “Deliverance”? How long would it take to find our bodies? How long till our families even realize we are missing? Do they have cops in this town? Is Kornboy one of them? He could be the mayor for all we know.

“LA. Well, New York, heading to LA”

“I hate big cities”

We’re deader than Lincoln.

“Too much crime”

Ok he knows what crime is and he seems to know it's bad, that’s a good sign.

“Oh, it's really not that bad”, I tell him and we proceed with small talk about big cities, driving cross country, music, etc.

“I’s gonna go to Ozzfest at the stadium last month but I figgered there’d be a riot.”

In the course of the conversation Kornboy had devolved from maniacal tourist killer to somewhat of a spineless lump of a man. As he ruminated endlessly about his theories on the Kurt Cobain suicide and Marilyn Manson’s latest masterpiece, the question burned inside us like a poison.

“What the fuck do people do around here?” I asked suddenly.

Oops. I guess it burned its way out.

He paused. The suspense was overwhelming. There had to be a reason this town existed. A reason beyond housing a gas station for those unfortunate enough to run dry at this point on the interstate. A reason why men chose this Godforsaken area of land as their home. A reason why they didn’t run as fast and far as they could upon realizing where they were. A reason why Kornboy was here, content without any of the amenities we rely on to experience and enjoy life every moment of everyday. Just as we are lured to the big cities to be a part of it all, with dreams of one day shouting from the tallest building “Here I am! Notice ME!!”, Kornboy is happy here. Happy to be born, pump gas, and die. The human mind must need more, mustn’t it? Surely Kornboy was about to reveal the secret that has kept the human condition viable here, and perhaps give us the most profound clue yet, as to the reason for man’s existence, for if men had found a reason to dwell in this cultural and technological void, it must be a biggie, one that was so foreign and mysterious yet vast and wonderful that it might even suggest the presence of God in this yokel-ridden wasteland! Tell us, oh Kornboy, tell us!

“We smoke a lot of pot.”

We paid for the gas and drove on.

WEATHER OR NOT

OPEN LETTER TO EVERYONE IN THE WEATHER REPORTING BUSINESS:

Dear Idiots,

I appreciate your hard work and dedication in protecting us from mother nature’s potential dangers, and your cool hair, and I know you have also withstood endless complaints about your predicting inaccuracies, so I only have one question. How did you not see a 2-mile wide monster of a storm packing 125 MPH winds and TWO tornadoes headed directly at the nation’s biggest city on September 16th 2010?

I’ve heard and read a number of excuses. Excuse Number 1- LACK OF WEATHER PREDICTION TECHNOLOGY

Galileo invented the first weather forecasting instrument, the thermometer, in 1593. Since then we have added barometers, hygrometers, radar, sonar, Doppler, NEXRAD 1, 2, 3, and 4, NWS, NOAA, Skew-T, NASA Drones, Radiosonde Weather Balloons, Infrared scanners, wind profilers, base reflectivity meters, Geostationary Satellites, Polar Orbiting Satellites, “Extreme Weather Centers”, camera phones, the Internet, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. to the weather predicting arsenal. I’d like to add one that I can personally attest works better than all of these.

A window.

A little after 5pm on Sept. 16th I was home where we have a nice view of the Hudson River and Jersey City beyond it. I looked out the window and saw a strangely defined black line of clouds forming over New Jersey, with distant sunlight glowing oddly beneath it. At 5:23 I texted my wife that she was missing quite a lightning show across the river. This was clearly some kind of unusual weather event unfolding before anyone in the tri-state area with functioning eyes. I turned on CNN- something about the economy. Fox News- something about the Tea Party. Hmm maybe I was experiencing some lingering effects of those bad shrooms we bought from that Carlisle, PA townie in ‘89. I went local, certainly someone at New York 1 had seen New Jersey being swallowed by the bowels of Satan, no? Umm nope- something about MTA rate hikes.

Moments later I watched Jersey City disappear behind darkness and I couldn’t tell what else. I saw people in the park below begin to run. Rain, then a strange “plinking” sound I hadn’t heard in many years- was that hail? I went back to the news. Hot Spanish football reporter on Fox, Sara Palin on CNN and NY1 was in commercial. When it returned, there was a bright red crawl issuing a tornado warning for Staten Island. I’m thinking this thing that just arrived in lower Manhattan must have hit Staten Island some time ago (and in hindsight was not a tornado). On behalf of all the bridge and tunnelers from the fair Isle of Staten I’d like to say “Thanks for the heads up, yo.”

As this storm, the likes of which I had not seen since Hugo hit Long Island in the mid 80’s, ripped across the city, I continued to flip around the news channels as their staffs were apparently awakened by it. They began running tape of the storm that had passed several minutes before. Tape submitted by viewers. When the f%&#did the “News” become “Watch as we play video of bad shit that happened to you that we didn’t tape or see coming.”

I proceeded to watch the local NBC news as they extended their local coverage into the national news hour. Umm Chuck and Sue, love ya to death, but I don’t need to see endless extended coverage of severe weather AFTER it has already ravaged the area. It's kinda fun to watch Park Slopers dig out of their brownstones, but what would be really awesome in this instance is a FORECAST. Something like “THERE IS A TORNADO ABOUT TO HIT NEW YORK CITY.”

It was further bewildering watching the army of reporters all excited to bring you their “expert” reports on the aftermath. (“As you can see here, this tree has fallen and crushed this car- amazing. Chuck- back to you.”) The only thing they should be doing is apologizing for missing the cause of the devastation entirely. No let’s not go to Janice Huff for her expertise cuz she couldn’t figure out how to look out the goddamned window and see the clouds of hell about to engulf New York City.

Excuse Number 2- THESE KIND OF FREAK STORMS ARE DIFFICULT TO PREDICT

From MIT’s website:
“The Federal Aviation Administration has installed Terminal Doppler Weather Radars at 45 airports. These radars are designed to watch approach and takeoff paths at the airports to detect MICROBURSTS (tornados)”

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If you don’t know the airport codes- EWR is Newark, New Jersey, where the storm passed first, LGA is Laguardia in Queens, and JFK is Kennedy, also in Queens near the Brooklyn border. So while I'll grant that these anomolies are tricky to foresee, we apparently have equipment designed to do just that, installed pretty much in the exact path of this storm. In three separate places. I bet you don’t have that kind of coverage in the great plains, yet sirens announce approaching tornados constantly there. In the Big Apple, nothing. If E has a screen crawl system that announces what Kim Kardashian's sister said about her butt that morning, the news orgs. should have one that announces incoming deadly storms.

Excuse Number 3: TORNADOS ARE VERY RARE IN THIS AREA SO NO ONE WAS ‘PREPARED’ TO DETECT IT AND WARN ANYONE.

Beyond the fact that our systems being capable only of predicting easily predictable atmospheric phenomena is a bit disconcerting, here’s what the National Weather Service says about NYC tornados:

“It is common for New York City to get a couple of tornado warnings a year, according Matt Scalora, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.”

So dear weather people, I don’t need to see your new pretty graphics packages of hurricanes that form in the Atlantic as they always have and don’t ever touch land. I don’t need to see your rookie reporters on a windy beach in Bermuda because you invested in a new webcam. Weather reporting is most importantly an educated prediction, not an after-the-fact fluff piece. It’s a forecast. Not an aftercast. When it comes to severe weather- AFTER is too late. It’s entertaining to see trees and garbage littering the streets of Richmond Hill, but not so much for the guy under said tree at the time because no one told him to get the hell indoors. You can’t continually show us scary pictures of the devastating effects of violent storms and then NOT report when they are about to crash directly into us. You can’t continually show us huge, scary looking CGI hurricanes forming in the Atlantic day after day and expect us to know when to actually go stock up on milk and Progresso products. I understand that fear equals ratings (SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, and now introducing... The Superbug!!) but weather prediction is about public safety, not capturing demographics with expendable income. Storms are not stories, they are not opportunities, they are nasty, ugly and dangerous. Can we please try to figure out how to protect the public from them?

MIT atmospheric scientist Edward Lorenz says this about forecasting the weather:

"To the often-heard question, 'Why can't we make better weather forecasts?' I have been tempted to reply, 'Well, why should we be able to make any forecasts at all?'

Ed, I agree. Outwitting nature is difficult. We should all remember, all the slick TV graphics and promos and sound effects don’t make it any easier. So when you watch the local news for your weather, remember this, and as an additional precaution, take a moment and peek out the window. It could save you a ton of trouble. And hell, it could get you a gig as a weatherman.

SIMON COWELL, SELF ESTEEM AND THE CULTURE OF “NICE”

I’m not sure who did it or when exactly it happened, but I’m gonna guess the concept of "self-esteem" was coined in the 60s by some social psychologist at one of our wonderful institutions of higher learning. The end result- “American Idol”.

Before the 60s “American Idol” would have not existed. In simpler times, someone who cared about you along the way made sure you succeeded in life by pursuing what you were good at and discouraged you from doing what you loved, but sucked at. In today's world of self-esteem manipulation and entitlement programs, people think they have the right to everything, including talent.

No one told the rejects on “American Idol” this. They flock to the audition in tight pants and a euphoric haze of artificially elevated self- worship, because no one in their lives thought it was important that they know the truth about themselves. Everyone was nice instead of honest. “Go ahead and sing Stanley, don’t you let anybody tell you you can’t! You can do whatever you want as long as you believe in yourself!” And why WOULDN'T Stanley believe in himself, when everyone is telling him how spectacular he is?

But Stanley’s tone deaf. And ugly. And dumb. Better be really ‘nice’ to him …

Enter REALITY- with a British accent and tight black t-shirt. Because of the self-esteem movement, 30 million people a week get to watch these kids learn that their life was a lie- on national television. You can see the horror and disbelief in their eyes. NONE accept Simon’s evaluation. ALL deny it and regard him as simply a mean, stupid asshole. Simon's sin? Telling the truth.

In contrast, Paula Abdul, after a stuttering moron finishes up, will say something like- “That was great, you should work on your pitch, and keep following your dreams,” driving that child one step closer to his career as a full-time fluffer in Van Nuys. She knows damn well the kid can’t sing his way out of a bag. Simon tells the person this and the kid will hopefully abandon his silly misguided quest, provided the Paula Abduls of the world have not completely brainwashed him. So- who’s the mean one? Simon who’s being honest- or the dozens of people who lied to the kid his whole life and lead him to this horrific point? No one wanted to see Stanley cry, so now all of America will.

“Nice” needs to change. It needs to include making people better, not just making them feel better. Be nice. Don’t lie. It will just cause pain later on when the overly esteemed confront their “Simon” in the form of a potential employer, professor, or romantic partner. Offer people reality, it always wins in the end. Nice is not the goal. Good is. And it's better to BE good than just feel good.

FAREWELL TIM

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Timothy Treadwell. A nice enough guy, Timothy had become something of a celebrity/ author/ cult hero, by documenting in books and photographs his intimate encounters with Alaskan Brown bears. Tim had appeared on Dateline NBC, Letterman and Rosie O’Donnell . I was working on an animal themed show and I thought he might make for a great story. Well after about 60 seconds with Tim I realized I was simply talking to bear food. Timothy’s claim to fame was that he had the innate ability to get really close to the bears and snap really close up pictures of them. There is a word for this innate gift. Stupidity. Through all of Tim’s nature loving tree-hugging bear whisperer Winnie the Poohspeak, I realize that the only reason Tim was at all famous and presently sitting in my office, was because the bears had not felt like eating him yet. Not because of love, an ancient connection with nature or anything else the morons who followed this “career” had attributed Tim’s “success” to, but simply that the bears were not particularly hungry when Tim was at paws length.

Anchorage Daily News(Published: October 8, 2003)

A California author and filmmaker who became famous for trekking to Alaska's remote Katmai coast to commune with brown bears has fallen victim to the teeth and claws of the wild animals he loved.
What led up to the latest Alaska bear attack, as well as exactly when it happened, is unknown. The bodies of Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, a physician's assistant from Boulder, Colo., were discovered Monday by the pilot of a Kodiak air taxi who arrived at their wilderness camp to take them back to civilization. A bear had buried the remains of both in what is known as a "food cache.''
The couple's tent was flattened as if a bear sat or stepped on it, but it had not been ripped open, even though food was inside. The condition of the tent led most knowledgeable observers to conclude the attack probably took place during the daylight hours when Treadwell and Huguenard were outside the tent, instead of at night when they would have been inside. Most of their food was found in bear-proof containers near the camp.

I never did put Tim on the show.

BAGGAGE

I was recently on a business trip to Las Vegas. I usually travel with large, heavy television equipment. (Can’t make TV without a camera and some lights, and they are heavy.) And it’s the same goddamn thing every goddamn time at baggage check.

Baggage person: “These are too heavy, there’s a 50 pound limit.”

Me: “I know”, I said over the screams of my herniated skycap, “That ones 64, that ones 68 and that ones 75. How much do I owe you?”

“And sir, you can only check two bags.”

“I know, I got three extra, how much?”

At this point there is an indescribably slow, non-urgent, reason-defying, completely pointless meeting between three “supervisors” discussing what to do about the “situation”. This strange Airline Union Worker ritual happens every time and I’ve learned that the best thing to do, is absolutely nothing. I let the ritual play itself out, not wanting to disrupt this primitive rite I am not privy to understand. After much huddling and pointing, they stare at me as if I should cry, yell, apologize, plead or sacrifice a goat to remedy the situation. I do nothing. Not even a facial reaction for them to react to. Any slight scowl, eye roll, or misinterpreted smile and its good-bye PG movie with a tiny scotch bottle, hello cavity search.

They act as if no one has EVER brought an overweight item on a plane. I have personally sat NEXT TO many an overweight item. I have personally checked dozens of them. There are piles of pink HEAVY tags behind the counter for God’s sake. Still, the bewildered stares. A future union leader is placing each package on the scale and announcing the weights.

“This one’s 68 pounds,” says the lackey. It is at this point a “supervisor” scolds him for placing an elongated hard case horizontally on the scale, so that a few inches of the case hang off the edges of the scale. “You have to put it upright son, or it will weigh less.” The lackey looks at her, then me, then her, then me, then her, then me. I shrug. He complies, and stands the case on its end and announces, “68 pounds,” to which Archemides mumbles, “Goddamn thing’s broken,” and kicks the scale.

After each subsequent weight announcement, the fantastic four continue to look at me as if I have just evacuated my bowels on the luggage scale. I stare back and say nothing. I’m paying $350 for a seat rank with bathroom fumes outfitted with a crotch jabbing table tray, no food and nasty service, what’s a few hundred more so I can do my job upon arrival?

After one final ten minute stare down, one moron taps some buttons, announces with a frightened half-smirk- “It’s going to be $200,” then apparently notices for the first time the credit card I placed on the counter under her nose when I arrived 20 minutes ago. She charges it up, I say thank you and head to the boarding area, where I pay some college kid ten bucks to carry on my illegal second carry-on.

Same thing every time, they tell you there is NO WAY you are getting on the plane and a short time later, you and your overweight bags are in the air. And all you have to do to make it happen, is nothing.

QUICK HITS

Never trust a white guy with open-toed shoes.

Never trust a fat guy with blow-dried hair

I recently got a Chia Pet as a gift. It came with a registration card. I guess any loser with enough spare time to grow grass on a brick also has time to register it.

Many people are so boring that their next meal is the most exciting thing in their lives. No wonder everyone’s fat.

I just heard a news story- studies have shown that luggage screeners lack the skills necessary to detect weapons and dangerous items in luggage.

If you download a “Shemales of the Ukraine” video and it blows up your computer, how do you explain that to tech support?

By the time I can get the plastic wrapper off a new CD, the goddamn band isn't popular anymore.

People have dreams in which they suddenly realize they are out in public naked. That happens to me too. Except, it happens to me when I’m awake.

 What’s with guys who wear undershirts under t-shirts?

The reason dolphins haven’t taken over the world is that they don’t have hands.

Why can't women use thermostats?

Why can't anyone get kids with cancer baseball caps that fit?

 For years we struggled with ‘child-proof’ tops on some over the counter medications. Now they have ‘easy open’ tops on the same medications. Huh!?

Stubborn smart people rule the world. Stubborn stupid people should be taken out back and shot.

Is the glue that holds the ends of toilet paper rolls together safe to put up your butt?

 If I buy one more item with a price sticker on it that doesn’t come off when I get it home I’m gonna kill somebody.

I "like" politics like an oncologist "likes" cancer.

Hitler has forever vanquished the Charlie Chaplin moustache as well as the first name Adolph.