Friday, October 31, 2014

We're Getting ROC-Rolled by Wegmans

This post will make little sense to people outside of Rochester, but it should be said. I'm starting to think that the voting for City Newspaper's Best of Rochester is rigged, or that, or the people of Rochester just have low self esteem. The reason I ask is because I have lived here for six years, and for six years, Wegmans has won Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner.

It is a grocery store.

Rochester is the epicenter of pivotal events that helped shape this country, from the American Revolution to the Underground Railroad to Women's Suffrage to the Industrial Revolution. The main cemetery likely has the most iconic historical figures in American History buried in it than anywhere else in Upstate NY. There is a Great Lake less than 10 miles north of us. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is world renown. Rochester's International Jazz Festival draws in people from all corners of the earth. The Hungerford has some of the best and innovative artists and artisans rotating through it. University of Rochester has the nation's first educational program focusing exclusively on Optics. Both Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Rochester are doing research on things and making innovations that cause not just ripples, but WAVES across the world of academia and science. That is just on Wednesday. Yet you expect me to believe that the readers of an independent newspaper, the residents who should have their fingers on the pulse of what makes Rochester great, think that the best they have to offer an expatriot from Baltimore is a grocery store?

Have you seen High Falls at dawn or dusk? Have you been on the roofs of any buildings on Water Street and been able to see BOTH the Brighton AND the City Independence Day fireworks simultaneously? Have you rode a bicycle up Arnold Park at the dawn of spring, right when all the trees are flowering and the wind is blowing the petals around the Zen Centre. I saw the best roots reggae show at Water Street Music Hall. It was a local(ish) band playing: Mosaic Foundation. Not once did I think, "Man these are all great! But you know what would be REALLY great? A place where I can buy a pound of chicken AND cheese!"

I have heard many defenses regarding my disappointment at Wegmans winning Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner.

"But it has so much food, and it's so fresh!"
It has lots of fresh food because it is a grocery store. It is probably the law that they sell fresh food. If it had lots of rotten food, then it would go out of business. 

"I have not seen anything like it! I moved away from Rochester, and I have been all over the country, and I must say I miss Wegmans."
I understand that moving from your home town will make you miss your local stores. That is just homesickness. I miss Superfresh in Baltimore. However, I don't yearn for it or take my out-of-town friends there claiming it it the best thing about Baltimore.

"There is a bulk food/sushi/sandwiich/pizza/prepared food bar in it. Where else do you see that?"
Yes. In Albertsons (CA), Meijer (MI), Whole Foods (Everywhere), Superfresh (MD), Giant (MD), Kroger (NC)...I could go on. That there are bulk bins and specialty food bars in a place whose business is selling food is not unique or amazing.

"Whenever I bring my friends from [INSERT COUNTRY HERE], they are amazed!"
Your [INSERT COUNTRY HERE] friends are likely either amazed at the grandeur of American extravagance and abundance. Western European countries may have a Tesco or something similar, but not on the scale of US stores. Our stores are more spread out, but they still sell food. In other parts of the world, there simply is not a venue where one can get all types of food in one place. they may have a specific meat market, fish market, produce market, but not all under one roof or run by one entity. They would be just as wowed at an American pharmacy, where one can get both carcinogenic high fructose sodas and cigarettes and the prescribed medicine that are used to treat the effects of those items.

If when I came to town on 2008, someone blindfolded me and said they were going to take me to the best place to take an out-of-towner in the city and they took me to a grocery store, I would likely take a swing at them, and then I would immediately pack my things and move far, far away. Wegmans is a very good place to get food. However, for all reasons stated, I am convinced that either the vote for this category and Best Place to Meet Singles are rigged, or the residents of Rochester have low self esteem, or they are astonishingly oblivious of amazing things are happening in this city.

If Wegmans wins Best Drag Show next Year, then I will KNOW that the contest is rigged.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dear White (and All Friends): Another Halloween Missive

Dear white (and black) friends,

Last year, I wrote a loving letter to my friends, imploring that they think hard about their choices of costumes on Halloween night to avoid any undue conflict, and for them to not have to repeat, “But I’m not racist! I know Tyrone!”

Though I hate to repeat myself, given the amount of new attention to unarmed brown teenagers dying and abusive NFL players getting defended for being abusive assholes and famous people passing away, I feel the need to reiterate some tips. Also, all the stores are running out of black shoe polish. If I see any on anyone’s face this year, no matter what version of Samuel L. Jackson I decide to be, I will immediately go medieval on your ass.

Poorest taste ever.
  • Ebola patient and/or hazmat clad doctor will never be cool. There is a xenophobic tinge to it that will never leave it, thanks to real and fake news. If Reagan paid as much attention to AIDS as EVERYONE did about Ebola, AIDS probably would be a footnote in history by now. If you really want to represent a disease that permeates throughout the States and kills thousands, go as a Texas flu victim.

  • Celebrities or flight victims who died this’s just too soon, and tasteless. No one should be running around as Zombie Robin Williams or the missing Nigerian girls or Oscar Pistorius’s girlfriend, expect no respect. THe only “zombie” dead celebrity that may work is Michael Jackson, but only if you’re dressed as zombie Thriller Michael Jackson.

Your brown paint had better include tree bark.
  • Speaking of Michael Jackson, white friends: if you want to be Michael Jackson this year, you better damn well be 1987-2009 Michael Jackson, or we’re going to have problems. The beauty of Mr. Jackson is that ANYONE can be him. He has been many shades throughout his life. It truly doesn't matter if you’re black or white! For any other persons of colour, ask yourself if you need to get some brown face paint for your costume. Ask yourself if going to the hoodest part of town in your costume would get you beaten down. If you answer yes to either of these, and you are not going to be Groot, then you should not have that costume. go back to the drawing board.

  • All friends: can we put the kibosh on the ethnic people costumes that are just derisive stereotypes this year? Just as I’m sick of seeing watermelon rinds, fake 40s and gold chains, I’m sure my other friends are tired of seeing buck teeth and chopsticks or sombreros and tequila bottles or painted faces and inaccurate feather headdresses. It's 2014. We're not in a 1930s (or 1910s or 1920s or 1940s or 1950s) Looney Tunes (or Disney) cartoon! Try making a costume that ISN'T insulting to an entire nation (or nations) of people.

    It's just a lil' racist.

  • Women, No matter what you wear, you’ll be shamed for it, so wear what you like. Halloween is officially Hetero Pride Day. The “sexy” costumes are funny. If you have a little imagination, perhaps a "sexy" Marie Curie, or "sexy" Ada Lovelace, or "sexy" Mae Jemison! You know what's NOT sexy, though? “Sexy" Hitler.

What the unholy hell.
  • When costuming your kids, if it’s going to be offensive on an adult, it’s probably going to be offensive on your children. There is already a report of a kid dressed like Ray Rice, complete with a brown doll with a black eye and brown face paint. If you dress your child like an abusive husband and advocate using brown face paint, then you do not deserve to have children. Lil' Chucky is not funny. Nor is Lil’ Osama bin Laden. Sexy costumes on kids aren’t sexy. They’re just gross.

I believe that covers everything. Now I must go figure out which Samuel L. Jackson I will be. It’s getting iffy; I’m getting down to the crackhead and drug dealer characters.



Monday, October 20, 2014

EbolAAAAHHHHHH!!! II: The Texaning

Since my last post about Ebola, one person has died from the dreadful disease. Another two have been diagnosed with it. Those two were medical workers who tried to save the man’s life who died. They are being treated. Oh yeah, and about 16, 348 people died of heart disease. So please, everyone keep enjoying your deep fried bacon-wrapped bacon phalluses on an edible sugar stick while kvetching every time the one dude in the office from Morocco sneezes because he has hay fever allergies. You definitely have your priorities straight.

Keep in mind that Morocco does NOT have any Ebola cases, but it is in Africa, and I generalise that anyone who thinks that a bacon garnished bacon dong is a good idea to eat probably does not differentiate the many countries in Africa. They just round up to Ebola.

Just to be clear: Heart disease: 16,348. Ebola: 1.

AIDS has killed more people in this country than ebola ever will, and no one gave a damn when it reached our shores. I guess it’s a matter of who is affected by the disease. All of a sudden, people are treating ebola like it’s an unarmed black teenager in Florida.

Many lawmakers have raised cain about closing our borders and warning of immigrants sneaking over from Mexico carrying the virus. Some have suggested we quarantine African immigrants in their specific communities and severely inhibiting their movements until ebola has run its course. Believe me, they’ll do it. Texas has a long history of making life hard for people who came from Africa. Others suggest a travel ban and visa delays on West African countries, blocking anyone from going into or leaving West Africa. Forget that there aren’t any direct flights to Western Africa from the US. One college rejected applicants from Nigeria, the first country to contain and eliminate the ebola threat, based on the fact that their country had ebola cases. Don’t worry, though the lie the administration used when this was brought to the public eye sounds COMPLETELY legit and not racist at all: “We don’t need any more Africans; We’re focusing on getting some Asians in our school”.

Now we have an “ebola czar” to see to the “crisis”. Well, I know what the new ebola czar needs to do in order to contain the health threat in the US: We actually DO need to close the Texas.

The initial response to the first ebola case was that it was the patient’s fault for not giving enough information, even though he stated in his initial forms that he was in Africa and he had a 103 fever.  Texas Governor Rick Perry rejected any federal assistance for Medicaid expansion, and the uninsured in Texas are costing the rest of the US $9.2 billion because of it. He was very proud of his decision, that kept 25% of the population without health insurance, upholding his state’s right to have horrible, horrible medical care. There was a measles outbreak last year. MEASLES. Who the hell gets measles anymore? The United Health Foundation gives them a rank of 36 out of the 50 states in terms of healthiest places to live. Nearly 1 in 3 Texans is obese, and with that stat, a myriad of life threatening peripheral illnesses follow. Of the 50 hospitals with the most ER visits, 5 Texas hospitals are in the top 10. Don’t expect to get quick service when admitted, either. Let’s talk about spontaneous lead poisoning for a minute: Texas is second only to California in gun deaths. You may think that this is a crime issue, but from a health perspective, those deaths mean that there are at times efforts to help a victim survive who may or may not have insurance, which means that someone else is footing the bill, which means a family that may already be struggling will fall further into debt and poverty. If you are a woman in Texas, your uterus is pretty much a ward of the state. Birth control and abortion laws are some of the most restrictive in the nation. Let’s face it: Texas is just bad for our health.

It is almost certain that we will still hear panic in Congress and talking heads screaming bloody murder about ebola, all while another few thousand people die of the flu and heart disease. It is hard not to see the irony in American media calling for citizens to coil in fear of yet another thing that descended from Africa that probably will not harm them. A poll reported that 40% of Americans think that ebola is a real danger. Ironically, the people who took that poll had to put down their beef tallow grease pie a la mode in order to fill out the survey form. The real danger is right under our nose, though. It’s Texas. You don’t want to mess with it, but it’s because it’s probably got something...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


There is a disease that is ravaging the US American population. It kills over 1,630 people per day. That is 600,000 US citizens per year! At the rate that it is increasing, a full quarter of the population could suffer from this. People will suffer this disease in silence, some not knowing that they have it. Others will deliberately and ignorantly perpetuate this illness, not caring who they infect, and laughing in the face of all prevention measures. Though not airborne, the ailment can be transferred through fluid exchange. Of course, I am talking about heart disease, so the people laughing in the face of prevention measures are Guy Fieri and Paula Deen, and the “fluid exchange” of which I speak the transfer of that ½ pint of ranch dressing in which you drowned your “healthy” salad from the plate to your mouth.

You would think that Ebola is about to take over the US, making city streets look like a scene from The Walking Dead, with people meandering around in tattered clothes, choking on their own blood, trying to infect the “pristine few” by way of swarming and licking them with their elongated Ebola tongues, the victims’ final words being, “This is all your fault, Obamaaaaa!”, before they rise to be one of the newly infected, ready to attack the next healthy victim. By the way, in the time it took me to write this hyperbolic scenario (5 minutes), about 343 people in the US died of heart disease. The number of people in the same country who died from Ebola in the same time: 0.

I understand the need for ratings, so I get that a disease that makes you lose all control of your bodily functions and bleed out of your ears and eyes and finally die a horrible painful death is a wet dream of a story. However, the coverage is getting a bit ridiculous. ALL major news outlets spent a good 25% of their time with stories about Ebola (by the way, 25% is the percentage of deaths per year that can be attributed to heart disease). Fox, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, and even NPR have near-splash pages infected with Ebola. Politicos are now using Ebola as an excuse to build a bigger fence on the US/Mexican border. A few are suggesting banning all countries of Western Africa from emigrating to the US...even though we never did that to British people during their Mad Cow scare or Asian people during the SARS nontroversy™. People said that the caregivers who got the Ebola virus should have been left in the countries in which they contracted it to die there. Granted, one of those people is Donald Trump show is a registered asshole, but still, that is a little bit much. Meanwhile, another 686 people died of heart disease. Ebola: 0.

Though the urgency to contain a dangerous disease is not lost on me, I have no doubt that it will be under control in the US within a few weeks. Nigeria has a little bit over half our population, and they did it. Not believing what the professionals say is not the way to do it. In the mean time, we still have not eased the rate of heart disease afflictions. Measures to try have been spurned by the same people who think that and Ebola epidemic is imminent, and the only survivors will be Rick Grimes and Will Smith. Whenever health officials suggest we cut our portion sizes, some yutz counters with, “That’s not ‘Merican! You must be a socialist!”, but he’d misspell “socialist’, because his fingers are slippery from consuming deep fried butter on a stick. Try to simply suggest changes to diet and exercise habits, the two primary ways to battle and prevent heart disease, and you’d think that you suggested we sacrifice 700 unbaptised puppies named Fuzzles McFuzzypants to a Volcano full of rusty razor blades and wood chippers. If you are a man, your masculinity is questioned when you decide against getting a Wendy’s Bacon BLT where the “lettuce” part is replaced with more bacon, with bacon bits in the bun. And lord forbid if you suggest that people exercise more! People will read the article, Pin it, and move on to cat videos. Recess for schools has been reduced. And lord forbid ANYONE touch our precious cigarettes! Any measures, that other countries have made, to make smoking less appealing has been met with as much illogical resistance as gun control measures after a mass shooting. ANd it is known that heart failure risks, as well as cardiovascular health in general improve the day you stop smoking. But by all means, let us set our hypochondraic telescope on the thing that will likely kill maybe one or two people (if even that), and  let us ignore the easy disease that we know how to remedy that if action were taken, would save over half a million lives each year. By the way, Heart disease: 686. Ebola: 0.

This may be the first time since 1808 that Americans have cared so much about something from Africa over something home grown. those of you who are really scared of getting Ebola, if you were not in any of the affected areas or in contact with anyone who was in the affected areas, then you are a fool. Unlike OJ, there is a real killer, and its weapon is in your hand. Put down that deep-fried bacon Oreo pizza, stop reading this rant, and go play outside for a bit. You don’t even need a hazmat suit!...yet…

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