Juice Dealer (a short two character scene)

A man is standing on a street corner, looking around. He is a dealer in all things power.
Dealer : Charge your phone! Charge your tablet! Charging…
A man passes by him and stops. He reaches into his pocket.
Man : Did you say you charge phones?
Dealer: I do! What can I charge for you?
Man : My phone is dying… I don’t mean to sound morbid of course. Could you charge it?
Dealer : that’s all I do! Let me see your phone.
Man : What are your rates?
Dealer : Why concern yourself with that now? Do you need your phone charged or not?
Man : I suppose you have a good point.
The man gives over his phone, which is attached to a battery. They stay quiet for about half a minute.
Dealer : Okay, you are all charged.
Man : That’s impossible! (He looks at his phone.) How did you do it?
Dealer : As I said, it’s what I do. That’ll be a hundred dollars.
Man : You must be kidding! That’s outrageous! Why didn’t you say it would be so expensive?!
Dealer : Cost is relative. A dollar is expensive if you’re living on the street and it’s all that’s standing between you and starvation. A hundred dollars, please.
Man : But I don’t have a hundred dollars!
Dealer : That’s rather unfortunate. I’m going to have to keep your phone. Well… there is an alternative.
Man : Which is what?
Dealer : Are you a believing man?
Man : I’m not sure I follow. What do you want, my soul for eternity?
Dealer : No. Seven years — and they will be unpleasant!
Man : Hey, whatever it takes — I just want my phone back.
The dealer takes out a tablet and jabs the man with a stylus. The man howls in pain.
The man walks away with his phone, holding his wrist.
Dealer, to himself : Works every time!
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The Line Criticism, and Celentano Talk

My whole family recently spent the bulk of a day waiting in a line for a thirty second meeting and photo opportunity with Senator Bernie Sanders. He authored a book titled Our Revolution : A Future to Believe In. You can see more details about the book here.

Whether or not you think Bernie Sanders has the right ideas — whether you think he’s a communist or have read some of his political accomplishments and realize that he is anything but — this is not the place to discuss it. This isn’t even about what Senator Sanders stands for, or believes — and is more about three people who were excited to see him, and one two and a half year old who tagged along because it’s basically illegal to leave someone of that age home alone. (Tongue firmly in cheek, of course.)

We stood there in line and took turns taking breaks. I took the kids to the Tommy Bahama store at one point because they wanted to pose with all of the mannequins and have their picture taken with them. My phone can attest to this. We went to Ben & Jerry’s at Rockefeller Center and Chaim brazenly walked in as though he owned the place and said to the person at the counter, “Two mangos!” The kids do love a good mango sorbet.

Food was had — not the best in the world health-wise but convenience wise, pizza went a long way.

At some point someone came by and asked me, for what was this line? I answered that it was an appearance by Senator Bernie Sanders and there was a photo opportunity, etc. She shook her head and said, How stupid! and walked off.

What exactly did she accomplish by doing this?

She expressed her opinion.

We continued waiting in line.

Negativity dispersed into the air and ultimately fizzled away, like a person passing gas after eating a bean filled burrito.

I see many a line for people waiting to buy something — often something that they will be able to purchase sans line a few days later. To me, this is ridiculous. What is the difference between the thing they buy after waiting in line and the thing they buy without waiting in line — having it so much sooner?

The opportunity to meet Senator Sanders, on the other hand — it was only on that day. Moreover, as a result of waiting in that line we had a number of interesting conversations that only would have taken place because we happened to be exactly where we were. My children got to meet and talk to people. At one point we were filmed for a Facebook news program broadcasting to an Italian audience — and the journalist asked me how I felt, being Jewish, about the possible appointment of Steve Bannon to president-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet.

The opportunity to speak, however briefly, to Senator Sanders was priceless to me. You don’t have to agree with anything he says but you can certainly appreciate that it meant something to me and to my wife and particularly my son, who has a funny way of pronouncing Bernie Sanders — the New York really comes out when he says it.

Let’s keep it positive — and if there is to be criticism, at least make actual fact based criticism and not just wholesale dismissal of another person with the label of “stupid!”

Side note — when the journalist from the Italian news program came back around to talk to us about how we could see the broadcast, I mentioned that my parents had long been fans of Adriano Celentano and I enjoyed his music as well.

“Celentano,” he asked, “Is he even still alive?”

I confirmed that he was.

“He must be in his late seventies.”

I said that I suspected that was the case and told him how I was telling someone else in the line that Celentano is basically like Italy’s Elvis, except that he is still alive and performing. He responded that Celentano fans are mostly older, in their fifties, sixties, etc.

If so, I guess I am an exception to the rule — but I always have been!

Ann Coulter, Calling for Return to Grandfather Clause, is Cabbage

Today I learned that one way you can really stick it to someone, really call them an unflattering term when speaking Romanian, is to call them cabbage. Today I would like to suggest that television personality Ann Coulter is, in fact, cabbage — varza, if you prefer the Romanian term.

Why? Because she tweeted THIS garbage —

This is basically a call for the return to the Grandfather clause, which was a superb way to suppress the black vote years ago. In many states, there were nearly impossible tests one had to pass in order to pass — but if a person passed the grandfather clause, they could vote. What was the grandfather clause? Essentially it stated that if your grandfather could vote, you could immediately vote without a problem.

So Coulter is saying that IF only people who have four American born grandparents could vote, Trump would win. By that restriction, my brother and I could not vote (all four of our grandparents were not born in the United States) and my parents certainly could not vote (as they and their grandparents were all born outside of the United States.)

Except here’s the thing — all of us CAN vote — and we aren’t all casting our vote for the same Presidential candidate, and that is okay. But what is the purpose of making statements like this?

If Doctor Brown really had a time travelling car, he could use it to prevent Donald Trump from wanting to run for president in the first place — but Back to the Future is a film, and there are no time traveling DeLoreans.

If the only people that could vote were people who had suffered any kind of discrimination, Hillary Clinton would win every state.

If the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Magic were real, the Minister of Magic would probably influence the election through sorcery, in some way.

If every time I sneezed, registered voters came out of my nose, this election would be over in minutes.

But reality is none of these scenarios — so why talk about what would happen if some hypothetical scenario were in place that has absolutely no connection with reality?

Basically what I am saying is that Ann Coulter is cabbage.

Learning Sharing from Malka

I have a two year old daughter named Malka and she loves snacks. She will often say, “Dupize?” which means surprise if you are looking at the two year old to adult English dictionary.

What she means by surprise is that she wants me to take a small Star Wars mailbox that we got at Target last Valentine’s Day and put something sweet in there for her. Most of the time she directly asks for snacks (dates, an apple, cheese stick, etc.) but when I offer her one, she always asks for a second one — and she says “Chaim?” meaning she wants to give one to Chaim as well. While it’s often the case that Chaim just isn’t interested in the thing she is offering, she almost always will ask — and sometimes she will ask for one of the thing for her mother as well.

In our own lives, we should think before indulging in a treat for ourselves, perhaps there is somebody else with whom I could share this? Would it be possible for me to help somebody as well as myself? If you see, for example, Time Out New York being handed out on the street and you know that one of your coworkers enjoys reading it, why not grab a second one for said coworker?

If you have a habit of making yourself a sandwich for lunch, why not make a second if you know there is a possibility that there could be someone on your commute asking for food money. While it is entirely possible that the person will turn you down (I have had this happen to me in the past as you may well remember) I think it’s still better to have it to offer than not to have it at all.

Let us reach out beyond ourselves — instead of indulging in boredom, how can we help someone in need? You may find that through the beauty of reaching outside of yourself, you will never reach boredom in the first place!

Twenty-Two years after a White Bronco captivated America

Another year has passed since the last anniversary of the white Bronco chase that interrupted my father and I trying to watch the Knicks play the Lakers.

Time seems shorter when you’re further away. Only about two years passed between the Rodney King verdict and OJ fleeing in that Bronco.

How many Rodney King verdicts have there been since then?

When will the injustice end?

Mourning the Loss of a Giant

There’s a fantastic Doctor Who storyline from when Tom Baker was The Doctor involving a trip to Paris and the entire history of the human race being threatened by an alien who is just trying to prevent his own species from going extinct… with a cameo from Monty Python’s John Cleese at one point, no less. At one point there is a bit of a glitch in time and it causes a sort of ripple, which is felt by both the Doctor and his companion, Romana. On screen it is shown by a sort of visual ripple effect, a shaking of the screen.

That shaking sensation is exactly how I felt when I saw the words on my phone this morning — David Bowie Dead at 69. I nearly dropped my phone. I remember the very first thought that I had when I read it. “That can’t be right, David Bowie can’t die!”

Of course I am well aware that the man that could have been Sir David Bowie (had he not declined knighthood) was a human of flesh and blood like me and that like me he had the possibility of dying at any point in time. But it seemed so sudden! How did it happen, I wondered. Why hadn’t we heard anything about this?

I started scrolling down through Facebook post after Facebook post, and nearly all of them were about David Bowie passing away — and this was at half past four in the morning when I was just preparing a glass of lemon juice and warm water, mind you — so I was barely awake. I kept on reading and reading and tried to come to terms with the fact that the man who had just put out a new album (that would be his last) and had celebrated a birthday was no longer with us on this earth.

I am heartened by the words of Dean Podestá, who wrote a moving Tweet about Bowie a day before his passing — remember this when someone tells you that nothing significant can be expressed via Twitter.

Every day we have is precious. Every cup of coffee we drink can be a mundane experience or something special, something to be treasured. Every opportunity to tell a story should be taken when possible. There may not be a next time. Kal ho naa ho, as the film says.

When memories and present reality clash

Our minds are amazing, especially when it comes to memories. There was a segment on the WBEZ radio program This American Life recounting the story of a married couple who liked to tell a story about seeing Jacqueline Onassis and what an exciting day it was, only it turns out that only one of them was actually there and the other one got incorporated into the story after hearing it so many times that it felt as if both were there.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I (with our son) were invited to spend a couple of days at the home of a college friend of mine with whom I am friends on Facebook. I had many fond memories of this friend, whom I had last seen a dozen or so years prior to the weekend. Leading up to the weekend I imagined how it would go.

The weekend happened, and I could not have been more wrong. Everything that I presumed would happen from the hug that I thought would happen at the door (it was short, awkward, and a bit like hugging a mannequin) to merely wanting to spend time with me (as I thought a person would want to do after not seeing me in over a decade) — it turned out that much of the relationship that I thought we had was entirely my own fabrication.

Even some of the fondest memories I had of him — he had no recollection of them.

I imagine this is a bit what it’s like when you are fond of an actor or writer and spend years patronizing them and then one day you meet them in person and they are for whatever reason (bad day, etc.) rude to you. You build them up in your mind but the reality completely contrasts with the memories you have stored and built up in your head. It’s a bit difficult to recover from that.

I suppose we’ll always have Paris… so to speak.