Friday, October 26, 2012

Parents need to wake the hell up!

I own a driving school, its a 2nd career after 40 plus years in radio. The reason I started the school is kids can't drive worth a shit!

Here are the facts:

1. 50% of teens get in an accident within 18 months of licensing.

2. In California (and most other states, too) teens make up 15% of the population and are involved in 45% of the car accidents.

3. If 100 teens die in a year in the US, 73% of them die because of an auto accident. The other 27% die from all other causes. (cancer, drug overdoses, guns, birth defects, etc)

In California, a kid can get licensed after taking driver's ed, passing a 34 question multiple choice test and taking 6 hours of "professional" behind the wheel training lessons. They are supposed to spend a minimum of 50 hours driving with their Mom and Dad, then take a test at the DMV that lasts maybe 10 minutes and they are good to go. Most of the "professionals" teach the 6 required hours in 3 two hour blocks with no requirement for Freeway driving (most charge additional $$$ for that essential skill) or learning how to parallel park! I had to parallel park in ND when I took my driver's test at 14.
Most of may kids spend maybe 30 hours driving with their parents.

Funny anecdote, when I was setting up the office, I hired a temp for a week, she was a home for the summer Jr at UC Santa Barbara. One morning she came in the office and said she had spent 45 minutes looking for a parking spot in Hollywood before she found one that she could park in. She had a California driver's license for 5 years! Could I teach her how to parallel park? I did, it took an hour.

Take a look at what we do at DRIVE! Here's the link...give me some feedback and tell me if I'm on the right track in my late in life crusade!

I'm damn serious about this and I love working with the kids and parents...its been great fun.

Oh, here's a fun fact. Do you know what family car sold today would blow the doors off any and all 60's muscle cars? A plain jane V6 Camrey. It will trounce a GTO, 'Cuda, Mustang, Z-28, all of them, zero to 6o, in the quarter mile and zero to 100. What parent in the 60's would have handed their 16 year old son the keys to an Impala Super Sport with a 409 and 4 on the floor? Not a one and today little Jimmy gets in his Mom's Toyota that will do zero to 60 in less than 6 seconds.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How I walked away from being one of the 1%!

Chris Rock once said "There are rich people and there are wealthy people. Shaquille O'Neil is rich, the guy who writes his checks is wealthy!" That's something to think about, isn't it? If you think the rich are different from you and I, think about the wealthy and how really different they are.

When I was single in the 90's, I dated a woman from old line New York/New England money. She didn't throw money around, in truth she was pretty tight with her purse. She had gone to a private girl's prep school in Connecticut and graduated from Bennington. After we dated off and on for a month or so, I realized she wasn't in between jobs, she'd never had one, ever.

She owned a rehabbed brownstone (they are worth around 800 a sq foot) on Marlborough St in Boston's Back Bay, drove a new BMW 535, parked it in a garage that cost $850 a month plus valet service. She wore designer clothing, tasteful, but very expensive. We'd meet for dinner, go to movies, walk our dogs, go to the beach, go sailing all the things other couples in Boston did. I always paid.

For quite a long time I thought she was just a rich girl. Then we went to Greenwich to meet her parents. She grew up on an estate, the house looked like the club house at St. Andrews in Scotland. The patio was 50 by 75, they had a staff, there were 7 bedrooms, 2 kitchens, too many bathrooms to count. She had been an only child growing up in a house the size of a hotel. Her parents were very nice to me, in fact, on the 2nd day, after many single malt scotches, her father confided that he thought I could "handle his little Julie".

Her great grandfather was one of the founders of the New York Stock Exchange and his father had founded one of the major brokerage and trading houses in the world. Her Dad inherited the family fortune and business, Julie was the heir and she wasn't interested in carrying on. I was invited to spend a week on their private island (really) in Maine. I was told it was "rustic", it wasn't.

On Bastille Day, Julie and I went to a party at the French Consulate in Boston. We went on her invitation, not mine. She spoke perfect Parisian French. As luck would have it a friend of mine was at the party, we spent the most of the evening on the balcony drinking expensive French wine and talked about the Red Sox. Julie had a wonderful time or as she said, " J'ai passé un excellent moment et j'ai rencontré des gens merveilleux et mon compagnon vieille école de Paris était là, c'était si bon de la revoir!"

While we were dating, I was transfered to my company's corporate office in Florida. Julie flew down for a week. I showed her a little house I had picked out, 50's era, small with a swimming pool in the back yard. She said, why don't you let me look around and see what I can find. She didn't denigrate my choice, instead the next afternoon we drove to Palm Beach Gardens and looked at a 4,500 sq foot house in Ballin Isles. 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, 3 car garage, infinity pool and it was on the golf course. The house had marble floors, a kitchen with commercial grade appliances and a guest house. It was not only inside a gated community, it was in a gated community with 24 hour guards within a gated community. As Julie said, "double gated is good." The price was only 4.9 million. As we drove away, I turned to her and said, "Julie, sweetheart, a couple of things, it's too big and there isn't anyway I can afford it." She smiled and said, "I can. I'd bet they'll take 4.2 cash."

At that point in my life my daughters were in their early 20's and I had 2 baby granddaughters. Julie was in her late 30's, never been married, an only child and her parents had no grand kids on the horizon, no matter how hard and far they looked. We went to a party at my boss's house and Julie announced that she and I were getting engaged to our hostess, her daughter and a couple of other women. On the way to my temporary place that night. I brought up her 'secret" announcement, I was pissed. She laughed it off and began chattering about getting married and having 2 children as soon as possible. I told her I thought I loved her, but I wasn't ready to get married after less than a 5 month relationship and if I did get married, I didn't think I wanted more children since I was almost 50 years old and the thought of raising them and sending them to college when I was past retirement age was not on my radar. She turned to me and said, 'There's nothing to worry about, they'll have trust funds the day they are born and so will their kids and any and all kids after that. I told Daddy you are the man for me and he agrees. If you want to, you can quit your job and we can travel, get a big boat if you like. Daddy will take you into the business or help you buy something to do or you can stay home with me and make more babies, it really doesn't make any difference what we do." She continued, "What I'd like to do is have you quit your job, then we'll get married and we'll spend the summer and fall on the island. I'll get pregnant and we'll move into my brownstone until the baby comes."

My head was spinning, here I was trying to scrape up enough money to get into a tiny house and she was talking about mansions, babies and trust funds. I was really a long, long way from Grand Forks, North Dakota!

 After 2 months of heavy pressure from Julie, I broke up with her and she was pissed. She was used to getting or simply buying what she wanted.

For most of the next year, I stayed home, kept my head down and was fortunate to meet the Cakes just over a year later. Cakes didn't come with any trust funds attached, but I know I'm happier than I would have been as a kept man. I hope Julie is a s happy as I am.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Keep your Religion to Yourself, Dammit!

When I was a kid in the 50's (the mythical time, that didn't exist) if a person wore their religion on their sleeve or talked about it all the time, they were considered a nut case.

Once when I was in grade school, a friend's mom put a whacky religious tract in my jacket pocket. My mother found it and was really pissed, so pissed she called the kid's mom and reamed her. At the time my mom was a Sunday School teacher. The kid's mom was nuts. By the way, Mom stopped going to church in her 50's. She remained by all standards a good woman. My last good act for her was to stop the hired minister at the graveyard from playing Amy Grant tunes on a god damned boom box as she was lowered in the ground.

My grandmother was a church musician, she played at as many as three church services on Sunday mornings. When I stayed at the farm with she and grandpa, I'd get dragged along to the services with her. Grandpa would stay home and read the paper. I was exposed to the old Missouri Synod Lutheran theology which consisted of "you are all sinners, you're going to hell as sure as I'm standing at this pulpit and there is nothing that is going to save you from burning for eternity". I would sit and watch the farm families flinch and duck at the minister's words. When it was over, you always knew when it was over because the minister shouted "God is Love!" The farmers, their wives and children would slink out the door of the church and head home apparently filled with peace and wonderment. Not a smile in sight. On the way home or to another church, my gram would never say a word about the sermon, she'd just stare straight ahead and keep the Oldsmobile pointed down the road. I asked her one Sunday why the minister was so mean to the people all she said was, "I don't think he really spends much time reading the New Testament." and she continued to drive.

When I was in high school my girlfriend would go to church every Sunday and to Luther League every week. I know because I'd pick her up after LL and we'd go park. I can't recall ever having a conversation about religion with her or if she ever brought it up, she just went to church because that's what she was supposed to do. I told her mother I'd dropped out of confirmation class in the 7th grade and never went to church anymore, she didn't mind, nor did anyone in my family.

I got married too young to a nice catholic girl, we were married by a judge. A baby and just over a year past and she 'needed" to get our marriage sanctified by the church. The boss priest said we needed to go to marriage instructions, so we did. Our priest instructor was slightly older than we were and knew nothing about relationships, sex or marriage at all. He had a real problem keeping his eyes off my wife's legs during our sessions and she obviously made him very nervous. In retrospect his interest in my wife was a good thing because he probably kept his hands off the altar boys as his career progressed in the Holy Roman Church. Years later when the sex abuse scandal broke in the Boston Archdiocese. A priest who had a 25 year relationship with a woman and produced two daughters was considered one of the good guys. (Of course, Cardinal Law is still not in jail. the dirty bastid.)

At my Dad's funeral, once again with a hired gun minister, who didn't know the old man at all said during the ceremony, "And now our soloist will sing one of Robert's favorite hymns" as the organist intro'ed the Old Rugged Cross. My sisters and I broke out laughing. Duke Ellington's Take the A Train, anything by the Dorsey Brothers or Glen Miller would have been more appropriate for dear old Dad.

When I was a kid, nobody in their right mind took Oral Roberts seriously, much less the other men of god on the tee vee or radio. My friends and I would listen to Dr. Michelson's Hebrew Christian Hour on the radio and try to imitate his accent and make the spittle fly like he did when he got wound up towards the end of his daily 15 minute semi-anti-Semitic rants. His show was on a Top 40 station and a Roy Orbison tune would segue right into his show and he'd finish and some other early rock ditty would would start up after the 'Channel 7-90" jingle would play.

Today it seems to perfectly all right to shove religion up in other's faces, to condemn folks who don't have the same belief system as you do. For churches to back political candidates openly from the pulpit and over the air or in print, for Churches to provide funds for anti gay marriage legislation or to  promote the overturn of Roe v. Wade and even promote anti-contraception legislation.

Today we have the Republican Party backing candidates who attempt to define rape into hair splitting categories or saying things like if a woman gets pregnant from a rape it's god's will that she should carry that little "gift from god"....they are all hypocrites, all of them.Their God must really be a dick.

Remember what Barry Goldwater said about Jerry Falwell? I'll tell ya, Barry said "Falwell needs a swift kick in the ass." So does Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson,Tony Perkins, James Dobson, the entire hierarchy of the Catholic Church, all of the old white guys ensconced in the Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City, the Southern Baptists and all the rest who use the old and new testaments as a personal fucking menu.

George Carlin once said "the ten commandments are bullshit, you only need one, don't lie"

Think about it.