Good news for those of you not particularly interested in getting bludgeoned half to death by my angry, political rants

If you look back at what I’ve written here during 2016, you’ll see the list is short. In fact, prior to the election, I hadn’t been sufficiently moved to publish a new post since Prince died last spring, and rarely was my Twitter account seeing any action.

And then that big, orange, insecure, comb-over-wearing buffoon somehow managed to bamboozle enough people in Middle America into believing that a vile, shallow, obnoxious, sexist, racist, bloviating pig of a reality-TV star would be a good choice to lead the free world.

But wait; I lured you in with the promise of not subjecting you to rants like the one I just went on, so let me get to the point:

Since politics is what, as of late, has inspired me to write, and since many of you come here because you prefer to read the more innocuous, slice-of-life type things I sometimes publish (and my apologies for doing very little of that these days), I have decided to leverage the highly valuable Daddy Scratches brand to launch a shiny, new, politically-oriented blog. Behold:

And in conjunction with the launch of ScratchPolitics.com, I also have chosen to have mercy upon those of you who follow my Daddy Scratches Twitter account (which lately has comprised my proclamations that the End of Times is nigh upon us) by unveiling a new and separate Scratch Politics Twitter account. So far, I’ve tweeted one thing, retweeted another, and the only one following me? Is me … which — YES! — means now is your chance to get in on the ground floor of what is sure to become one of the funniest and most powerful voices on Twitter! (And by “funniest and most powerful,” I, of course, mean “obnoxious and profane.”)

So if, by some unlikely chance, you enjoy it when I perseverate on the horrible state of affairs in Washington, DC Trump Tower while also saying “fuck” a lot, by all means, head on over to Scratch Politics and say “Hey,” wouldja?

And if, on the far more likely chance, you prefer to avoid such nonsense, stay right here; I’ll eventually write something politics-free!

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Posted in Politics | 4 Responses

The post in which I take a deep breath and try to pull my shit together

The pool at Secrets Maroma Beach in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Pretending I’m in my Happy Place so that my head does not explode … (until I remember that this particular Happy Place might soon be on the other side of a giant wall).

Wow. Waaaaahhhhhow. The dude who wrote that previous post was pissed, huh? Daaaaaamn.

Look, what I wrote in that previous post is what spilled out of me in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s election, at a time when I was in, shall we say, a state of heightened emotions … but the main thrust of my words remains: Whether or not Donald Trump and/or the bulk of those people who voted for him intended for the forces of hate and intolerance to interpret his electoral victory as an endorsement of their own sick, twisted agendas, those forces — many of whom heretofore at least had the decency to keep their disgusting views on the down-low — now feel energized, emboldened and fully entitled to make life hell for anyone who does not look and think like them.

Since publishing that post yesterday, I’ve re-read it a number of times … and, earlier today, I was toying with the idea of taking it down … or at least toning it down. And in the middle of contemplating that approach, I had this unexpected exchange with a close friend from Massachusetts:

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So, um, yeah … I stand by what I wrote yesterday.

I understand why so many previously sane people made the insane decision to vote for Trump … and yet, despite understanding why, I do not understand how they could vote for Trump … for all of the reasons I laid out in my previously posted rant.

I know a lot of good and decent people voted for Trump … and I can only assume that those good and decent people simply failed to recognize just how catastrophic their decision would be for others, if not for themselves … and that is what I can not abide. I can not abide what I believe amounts to sheer selfishness. Voting for Donald Trump was, at best, a very selfish thing to do. And I abhor selfishness … especially when that selfishness hurts others.

***

Now that I’ve said my piece about that, I feel compelled to add something that I can’t seem to let go of just yet.

The DNC screwed the pooch this election cycle. Really. It was very clear during the primaries — and has since been proven — that the DNC leadership conspired to block Bernie Sanders and guarantee Hillary Clinton the party’s nomination.

I am 100% convinced that a HUUUUUUUUGE number of the millions of “anti-establishment” votes that went to Trump and third-party candidates on Tuesday would instead have gone to Bernie had he been the Democratic candidate … as would have the votes of the many, many Bernie supporters whom I believe chose to not cast a ballot for president on Tuesday (another example of selfishness that hurt others, by the way).

I implored anyone who would listen to me during primary season to please realize that, as qualified as Hillary is (because, despite what anyone may think of her, she’s infinitely more qualified to hold office than is Trump), she is a political liability by virtue of the fact that she is saddled with the baggage of two decades’-worth of the Right’s laser-focused, white-hot hate for the Clintons, and she is trapped in an ever-reverberating echo-chamber of negative opinion that the well-established anti-Clinton movement has cranked up to 11 for the past 20 years.

And if you were to ask the people closest to me, they would tell you that what just happened on Tuesday is exactly what I had told them for months I feared would happen.

The DNC’s decision to block Bernie Sanders’s path to the nomination so that they could instead coronate Hillary Clinton was not only a stunning act of hubris and a political miscalculation of epic proportions, but, more importantly, it was a heartbreaking waste of an opportunity to elect a president whose priorities truly would have been in the best interests of almost all Americans, and whose principles exemplify what it takes to create and sustain a caring and compassionate society. And I would have felt that way even if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency … but the extent to which I feel that way now that Trump won the presidency? Jesus Christ, I don’t even have the words.

So, yes, this is me sitting here saying “I told you so” … knowing full well that doing so is an exercise in futility … but I just needed to get it out of my system as I try to process what the fuck just happened and steel myself for the work that now must take place.

I keep reminding myself that there very well may never have been a President Obama if not for the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush. Whether or not it was worth the cost is debatable … and the cost we are about to pay for a Trump presidency seems unfathomable … but I believe that, whatever the final tally, the payoff will be another historic victory of our own next time around. (Can you say “President Warren”? Might as well start practicing. If nothing else, it feels a hell of a lot better than saying “President Trump.”)

These are dark times … and we almost surely are about to experience firsthand that whole “it’s going to get worse before it gets better” thing … but I believe it eventually will get better … as long as enough of us are willing to make it so. In the meantime, as I said yesterday: Let’s all look out for each other, m’kay? Yes, things suck right now … but we are not alone. In fact, we are the majority. Let’s not hesitate to act like it, and let’s not hesitate to wield that power when next we are presented wth the opportunity to do so.

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Posted in Politics | 5 Responses

Well, look on the bright side: At least we … um … you know … uhhh … there’s always … hmmm … OK, I’ve got nothin’. We’re fucked.

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You know that pivotal scene in “The Matrix” when a hairless Neo wakes up in a gel-filled pod and realizes that, up until that moment, he had absolutely no idea just how awful was the world around him, and just how misguided was he about the truth of his own existence? Yeah, that’s me, right now … minus the “hairless” part. (You’re welcome for that visual.)

I apologize in advance if none of the words I am about to type make a shred of sense, but I am deliriously sleep-deprived and deeply rattled by the recent discovery that I now exist in an alternate universe where an angry mob of millions just handed the nuclear codes to an abhorrent, vile, vulgar, uninformed, ill-tempered, bad-humored, intellectually challenged, racist, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, greedy, selfish, thin-skinned, petulant, pathetic little bully man-child because “Fuck you, you liberal-elites and all your reasonable, logical, tolerant, fact-based book-learnin’!”

We just witnessed a massive road-rage fit channeled into the ballot box. Progress and tolerance innocently sped in front of the Archie Bunkers of the electorate, and they responded by running us off the road, taking a crowbar out of their trunk and smashing our windshield … without any fucking concept of the price that they themselves (and the people they love) will now have to pay for their shortsighted, poorly thought-out temper tantrum.

Listen, I admit it: I completely, thoroughly, 100% underestimated Trump’s chances. In no way, shape or form did I think he stood a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the presidency … so much so that I sent to bed on election night my 11-year-old daughter (who struggles with anxiety and had taken to saying “I’m afraid” when considering the possibility of a President Trump) with a virtual GUARANTEE that he had absolutely NO CHANCE of winning.

I am the guy who not only never, ever, ever counts a chicken before it hatches, but who also forbids anyone in my presence from trying to convince me that the egg I’m holding — the one with the beak sticking out of it, making peeping sounds, and clocking in at [proper body temperature of poultry] degrees — is sure to bear a chicken … and yet I strode about the house Tuesday night in full confidence that the Blue Team would beat the Red Team. So, yes, I am shocked by the outcome.

But more than shocked, what I truly am is saddened by the outcome. Disheartened. And, at the risk of sounding way too fucking impressed with myself, I have realized that my sadness is not so much about Trump becoming the president, but about how his (non-majority, electoral-college-based) victory will be interpreted by the most unsavory of those who voted for him, and how that interpretation will result in very bad things for very many people for a very long time.

Let’s face facts: I am a 46-year-old white male who lives in an affluent Philadelphia suburb whose residents are 98% white and whose median income is roughly $130,000 per year. If I completely insulated myself from the news media for the next four years, my life, on a strictly personal, day-to-day basis, will not, in all probability, look significantly different under a President Trump. So why am I so deeply, profoundly upset about this election? Because the man who won it did so by playing to the worst parts of human nature. He did so by stoking the fires of sexism and racism and intolerance. He pitched a product based in no small part on fear and hatred. And, sadly, enough people bought it.

I feel confident in saying that more racists, more bigots, more sexists, more homophobes, more misogynists, more xenophobes and, in general, more profoundly misguided and stunningly ill-informed ignoramuses voted for Trump than for Clinton. And while many of those people’s own vile, hateful, backward-assed agendas aren’t necessarily anything that Donald Trump would truly champion or endorse (maybe … who knows?), those misguided, ill-informed, racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted ignoramuses will interpret his victory as the country’s stamp of approval on their vile, hateful, backward-assed agendas … and it will embolden those people to crank up the volume and openly spew their hateful, hurtful views through what they believe is a bullhorn of legitimacy.

Don’t believe me? Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.

See this despicable, mouth-breathing fuckhead with the pro-Hitler book on the shelf behind him?

fuckhead

He was on NPR today expressing his delight over Trump’s victory, proudly spewing his racist views, and claiming that Trump’s election should be seen as a clear mandate for the U.S. to purge itself of minorities and become a “white, Christian” country. You can click here to listen for yourself. It’s absolutely fucking heinous … and instead of seeing himself as a put-upon fringe lunatic to whom most people won’t listen, he now believes he and his racist views are a politically legitimized truth upon which America must now act.

There are Facebook posts popping up left and right demonstrating the uptick in blatant, unabashed racism:

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I also saw plenty of equally disturbing descriptions of incidents experienced by women who were subjected to sexual assaults in the name of Donald Trump … but, you know, I can only download and post so much of this shit before it starts to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry, so … enough already. (But, hey, if you need more, you can find a whole website full of similar such things here: WhyWeAreAfraid.com.)

Now, do I believe that everyone who voted for Trump is a sexist, racist, bigoted, homophobic, hate-mongering, intolerant rube? Absolutely not. In fact, in a disturbing admission of just how close to home this touches for me, here is my own father’s post-election Facebook status:

dad

My father is a retired, blue-collar, high-school educated, former union member, Vietnam-era Navy veteran, one generation removed from Syrian/Lebanese immigrants, who over and over again has been duped into voting against his own best interests. Do I think my father voted for Trump with evil intent? No, I do not. I think he is a decent (but horrifically misguided) person. I also think he, like many of those who cast votes for Donald Trump, is simply a frustrated, working-class American who (rightly) believes that the political system in this country is broken and that the politicians in Washington no longer represent him and other average Americans. But I also think that, regardless of his justified discontent, if he truly was concerned about his three granddaughters … and his daughter … and his three nieces … and his wife … and his daughter-in-law … he probably shouldn’t have voted for the “grab-her-by-the-pussy,” overturn-Roe-v.-Wade guy.

Cleaning house is one thing … but burning the house down while you and everyone else are still standing in it is a pretty fucking moronic way to solve the problem … and I believe that all of the decent, understandably frustrated Americans who decided to do so anyway are as equally to blame for the mess they’ve unleashed upon all of us (and themselves) as are the sick, hateful fucks who voted for Trump because they believe he shares their vomit-inducing values. (And why shouldn’t they think that? He gave them every reason to do so.)

Those truly despicable citizens who voted for Trump as a way to legitimize their hate are getting exactly what they wanted … for now. To them, I say, “Enjoy this brief taste of quasi-victory, you cowardly, disgusting little lowlifes … because, in actuality, this is nothing more than an enormous outing ceremony that allows us to identify exactly who and what we’re fighting against. So thank you for that.”

To those who helped the former group by casting a protest vote that I believe many of you will live to regret, I say, “Fuck you very much, you shortsighted douche nozzles.”

The good news is: Trump’s presidency will be an impotent thing, because he did not win the popular vote. We, the majority, are still a progressive, multicolored, multicultural, open-minded, kind, compassionate, inclusive, forward-thinking group that will right the ship during the midterm elections in 2018 and the presidential election in 2020. Until then, let’s all look out for each other.

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This one hurts

I’ve lost musical idols before … and when each of them died, I was sad. What I was not, however, was deeply surprised. They were guys who played with fire for years, and it eventually consumed them.

But Prince? Fucking Prince? Prince tells the fire what to do. Prince controls the elements. Prince is an element. You can look it up: there’s earth, wind, fire, water and Prince.

I was 14 when “Purple Rain” blew up. Thirty-two years later, it remains one of the greatest albums of all time … and if you came of age in the ’80s and possess even the smallest sliver of good musical taste, you wholeheartedly agree.

Purple Rain

For an awkward, insecure, pubescent, scrawny-little suburban white kid who always felt out of place and whose solace came from immersing himself in music, that album was life-changing. Pop, funk and rock mixed together and delivered by a mysterious, androgynous little black dude who could sing his ass off and absolutely shred the ever-loving hell out of an electric guitar? Yes, please. I’m all in.

And even though I was still a (pathetically) long way from finding out what the whole sex thing was about, I knew from the way Prince played and sang that it had to be all kinds of awesome. I wasn’t exactly sure what Nikki was up to in that hotel lobby, but you can bet your ass I couldn’t wait to find out.

Do you even remember how huge (and prolific) Prince was back then? Here, let me remind you:

prince

* * *

Prince was musical creativity personified, and a genre unto himself … and if scientists had announced that they’d discovered Prince wasn’t actually human, it would have been perfectly believable, because he was an otherworldly entity who seemed to defy the laws of time and aging.

Need proof? OK, here it is:


[UPDATE: Apparently, the douche nozzles at the NFL won’t let anyone embed the video, so you’ll have to go view it on YouTube. Please do so, because it should not to be missed.]

That is, without a doubt, the single most epic Super Bowl Halftime performance of all time. No lip-sync bullshit, just a straight-up, I-own-this-motherfucker display of unrivaled bad-assery and musical prowess … and he did it TWENTY-THREE YEARS after “Purple Rain.” The man’s biggest album of all time came out in 1984 … and, nearly a quarter-century later, he remained so vital and relevant that not only was he asked to headline the most widely viewed annual event on television, but he kicked the living shit out of it … in the middle of a rain storm … while displaying a level of swagger and self confidence that mere mortals can only dream of.

And, hey, by the way? I would be grossly remiss if I didn’t also point out what an unbelievably gifted guitar player he was. Though the instrument for which he’s known best is his voice, he was a six-string virtuoso of Hendrixian proportions.

Exhibit A:


[Prince’s epic solo starts at about 3 minutes and 30 seconds in, but the whole performance is worth watching.]

Prince’s death has rattled me more than that of any musician who has passed before him. His music is woven into the fabric of who I am, and the fact that he no longer exists feels wrong. He’s one of the cultural blocks upon which I built my foundation, and to have that block suddenly disappear has shaken me up … both because of the loss in and of itself, and because his death serves as an unwelcome reminder that the clock is ticking for all of us.

And I know we all die eventually. It’s part of the deal. But Prince? Dead at 57? That’s not the way it’s supposed to go down. Not at all.

Thanks for all the music and creativity you shared with us, Prince. I wish you hadn’t left so early.

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Posted in Inspiration, Music | 9 Responses

And then I went outside to shovel and never came back

All set with this, thanks. #snowpocalypse

A photo posted by Daddy Scratches (@daddyscratches) on

37 days till Sanibel Island … 37 days till Sanibel Island … 37 days till Sanibel Island … #snowpocalypse

A photo posted by Daddy Scratches (@daddyscratches) on

Nine hours after I took those photos, the epic blizzard — which, at the time that I snapped those shots, already had been raging for 16 hours — finally stopped.

Twenty-five hours of continuous, uninterrupted, “Holy shit, it’s really coming down out there!” snowfall.

Some people love snow. I am not one of those people (which I’m sure comes as a shock to those of you who already have read such classics as “Fuck you, snow” and “It’s the least wonderful time of the year”). Many who hear of my disdain for snow react with some variation of the following: “But Jon, you’re from Boston, aren’t you? You should be used to this!” And, yes, fucknuts, I am from Boston, and I am used to this … and neither of those things means I filled out a survey while in utero and checked off the box that said, “Hey, when this balloon bursts, I’d really love to pop out someplace where frozen water falls from the sky and the air is many dozens of degrees lower than my body temperature.” Two people from Massachusetts had sex 46 years ago and suddenly I’m supposed to embrace the concept of freezing my ass off and clearing a bazillion cubic tons of ice crystals out of my driveway with a really big spoon? I don’t think so.

Some people like to keep up with snow removal by repeatedly venturing outside in the midst of a raging blizzard so they can shovel incrementally throughout the day. I am not one of those people either. To me, that’s right up there with using the “snooze” button … and I would much rather set the alarm to go off at the time at which I actually need to get out of bed than have it startle me awake multiple times on the same morning. No thanks.

Unfortunately, I also am not one of those people who can sit back and relax while waiting for the storm to end … not when I know that the storm’s end will bring with it a herculean and loathsome task that I just want to attack and put behind me. And so, instead of going outside and shoveling incrementally throughout the day, or sitting back and relaxing while waiting for the storm to end, I basically spent all of Saturday prowling the house from window to window, engaging in a ferocious staring contest with Mother Nature. (I lost.) In the words of my ever-perceptive wife, I was “lit to pop.”

By nightfall, with the storm still in full swing, I had convinced myself that the shoveling would have to wait until morning. And I allowed myself to operate under that delusion until the snow finally let up around 8:30pm … at which point the pent-up, psychotic, “lit-to-pop”-soldier part of my brain yelled “Suit up, bitch! It’s ‘Go’ time!”

Let us travel back to 9 p.m. Saturday night, shall we? And since the front and back doors of the house are snowed shut, let us open the garage door to see what’s what.

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And then my soul died.

Why would a human being willingly choose to live in a place where this happens? (Sadly, I cannot answer that question to my own satisfaction … which explains the inner turmoil raging inside me every winter.)

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“Yes, I’m sure it looks ‘awesome’ to you, you pajama-wearing freeloader.”

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This is the face of a man who, at the moment this photo was taken, would gladly have set flame to a convent full of nuns bottle feeding a litter of fluffy, white, baby harp-seal orphans if doing so would have gained him access to a snowblower.

“What’s the latest you’ll stay out till?” asked my wife.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Midnight?” she suggested.

“Sure, midnight.”

What followed lives in my memory as a swirling blur of “The Howard Stern Show,” Skrillex, Sam Adams, water, sweat, and a total-body workout whose demands far exceeded my current level of fitness.

I shoveled. Like, forever. It would surprise me very little, in fact, to learn that the time I’ve spent writing this blog entry has been nothing more than an exhaustion-induced hallucination, and that I’m still shoveling right now.

By the time I finished clearing all of the two-car parking area (which extends from the garage to just past the rear of that van you see peeking out from beneath a snowdrift), it was 1:30 in the morning. So much for midnight … and so much for stopping.

“He’s not coming in until he finishes the whole thing,” my wife (I later learned) told my distressed mother (who was staying with us) just after midnight. “He’s in ‘Army’ mode now. He’s a like a robot.”

She was right. On Saturday night/Sunday morning, I tapped into that generally unneeded reserve of mental and physical strength whose existence I discovered while suffering through basic training many years ago. The point at which a normal human being feels like they’ve used up everything they’ve got? If you can push past that point, you’ll likely discover that there’s still a lot more left in the tank. Like, 70% more. Sure, accessing it requires slipping into an altered state that causes you (or, at least, causes me) to behave more like Heath Ledger’s Joker than a normal human being (which explains the maniacal cackling my neighbors probably heard in their dreams while I was performing “Snowpocalypse Now” in my driveway) … but once you know it’s there, it’s a valuable asset … and, ever-so-occasionally, I like proving to myself that I can still get there.

I didn’t know what time it was when I finally reached the part of the driveway into which the plows had directed waves of tightly compacted snow (because I had decided at 1:30 that I wasn’t going to look anymore); I just know it felt like I was shoveling rocks and half-dry cement. Whatever the case, it was about that same time that a dude driving a mid-sized snowplow got himself stuck in the end of a nearby driveway. (I later learned that this happened at around 3:30 a.m., at which time my mother told my wife that she’d not heard the sound of my shoveling for about 10 minutes. This led to my wife looking out windows until she finally spotted me at the end of the neighbor’s driveway, wedged between a snowbank and a plow blade … a disturbing sight, I’m sure, but it turns out I wasn’t trapped; I was just helping Plow Guy dislodge his truck. Because what I really needed after six-and-a-half hours of nonstop shoveling was a physical challenge.)

When we finally freed the truck, Plow Guy hopped out and pulled his billfold from his pocket.

“Dude, I don’t need money; I just need you to clear the end of my driveway.”

Given the the fact that there was nowhere within the confines of my driveway for him to push the snow, he did his best to shove some of it to the left and right sides … a boon to be sure, but it still took me about an hour to shovel away the rest of the cement—I mean snow.

With the end of the driveway finally cleared, I hopped in my car and started it up. The dashboard clock read 4:29. Yes, really.

By the time I finished cleaning off my car, my wife’s van, and shoveling away the snow where they’d been parked, it was 5 o’clock in the morning and I could barely keep my eyes open. I showered in a state of semi-consciousness, wolfed down a bowl of cereal and collapsed into bed with plans to sleep until June.

In spite of those plans, I woke around 11 a.m. … but still, I was determined to sit on my ass all damn day. Unfortunately, the snowplows that cleared the street while I slept had again filled in the end of my driveway, so my trusty shovel and I were reunited much sooner than I’d hoped we would be. Thankfully, Round 2 was a much lesser ordeal, and the Scratches Compound soon had a driveway that was envied by all who laid eyes upon it.

Street from driveway
Street
Driveway from street
Driveway
Yard

Sadly, the same could not be said of my front walk. Although I briefly flirted with the idea of shoveling it clean as well, I ultimately decided that front-door access was a luxury we could live without.

Blizzard 2016

“Front Walk” – a Daddy Scratches haiku
My dearest Front Walk
You can fuck right off till spring
I’m done with this shit

By Monday morning, I was back in my office, nursing a sore everything, and envying the kids’ snow day. So imagine my surprise when this happened:

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See, you guys? Being a complete psycho isn’t just fun; it’s GOOD PARENTING.

Joker Scratches

Father of the Year
(Why so serious?)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to these Gulf Coast real-estate listings …

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Posted in Life, Winter | Tagged | 22 Responses