Little Deuce Coup

A shitty attempt to overthrow the government is still an attempt to overthrow the government.

And that’s what we had Wednesday. An armed, organized group assaulted and occupied the U.S. Capitol.

Frankly, we’re lucky they weren’t a little better organized. As it was, members of Congress were evacuated in time, the occupation was brief, and the loss of life was low.

But this is definitely a case where the quality of the thing matters less than the thing itself.

We dismiss it at our peril.

We dismiss those supporting it at our peril.

I don’t care whether you’re conservative, liberal, libertarian, moderate, progressive, radical, red, blue, green, gold, or mauve.

You don’t get to support this and call yourself an American patriot.

It’s frankly embarrassing to see people try to claim otherwise.

Patriots don’t support attempts to overthrow their own, lawfully elected government.

This is not a difficult concept. Basic fucking concept.

Hate the government? Sure.

Disapprove of it? Absolutely.

Speak out against it? Any time.

Overthrow it? Maybe. But not like this.

In a democracy, the people retain the means to overthrow the government.

We’re given that opportunity, regularly, via the ballot box.

Four years ago, my side lost.

Two years ago, we won a bit back.

This year, we won big.

Two years from now? It’s too early to say, except for this: everyone gets another chance.

Until then, sit your fucking ass down.

Oh, and prosecute anyone attempting, or instigating the attempt of, a coup.

This Damned Year

Ugh.

I mean, right?

This is no year for retrospectives; who really wants that crap recap?

But here we are. Most of us, anyway.

If you’re reading this, you made it. (That, or the afterlife is very strange.)

No awards, no medals, no pats on the back; just, “Off you go. Have a 2021.”

I don’t believe — and I doubt you do, either — that the simple rolling over of a numeral is going to make much difference to the quagmire of murk within which we find ourselves emerged.

2021 will be better, or the same, or worse, as it unfolds, and we will take it as it comes, same as 2020, same as 2019, same as every other year we’ve ever longed to see the back of, which, lately, has been most of them.

Hell, 2016 was so awful I personally started a see-you-off feature called Whisky Wind-down.

Turns out, I rather liked that feature, so I brought it back in 2017.

And I would have again, in 2018, were I not on a long hiatus.

When the hiatus finally ended, in late 2019, I made sure to revive the feature, at least partially.

2020, well, 2020 has been quite the year for drinking whisky, too. Just not so much for writing about it, I’m afraid. Frankly, I’ve been struggling to write much of anything.

I know, I know. You’ve heard that before. Story of my life. Write. Fall into funk. Hiatus. Return. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Forever, it seems.

This year, though. Jeez.

As I think I’ve said before, I don’t much buy into anthropomorphizing years.

While I do quite see the appeal of having something to yell at for <waves vaguely at everything> so many of life’s problems aren’t / can’t / won’t be defined neatly by tossing out the old calendar and putting up a new one.

We should be so lucky.

I guess that’s why I’ve never been much for New Year’s resolutions, and it’s why I don’t buy into New Year’s Day eating/acting superstitions, even if I do like an excuse to eat black-eyed peas and forego doing laundry.

But this period of time between Christmas Day and the end of the year has long been one in which I ponder and reflect and (often) fall into a funk, showing, I guess, that whatever I may think, on some level I am susceptible to the significance of a changing calendar after all.

Ugh.

I guess that’s why I find myself writing now, 11ish hours of 2020 left.

Part of me wants to feel a difference once those hours have expired, wants to successfully resolve something for next year, wants … something better than this, anyway.

The rest … the rest just feels like apologizing for again falling short of expectations, even if only my own.

Anyway, here we are at the end of 2020.

At the very least, I’m glad to still be around, and I hope you are, too.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I’m not going to start a retrospective on the tenth anniversary of this site — hold your applause — but as I was looking back at some early posts I found one that is timely to revisit.

Most everything I said in Hair and Back Again remains true.

In fact, I still have not had a salon haircut since.

And I sure as hell have never entered another barbershop.

I have cut my hair a few times, though. Literally. With my owns hands. Holding scissors, of course.

I’ve never gotten over my severe aversion to having another person hovering around my head with sharp or buzzing objects, so these days I handle that stuff myself.

Mind you, when I say handle, I am referring only to a roughly semi-annual trim.

I’ve been fortunate over the past few years to not feel — or be much better at ignoring — social pressure to keep my hair in any sort of “neat” way, so my default look has been long and unruly.

Now, alas, the day draws near when change must come.

I may be able to ignore mainstream hair norms, but I cannot ignore nature.

My hairline, always high, is creeping upward. My thickness, ever on the thin side, is diminishing.

I long ago decided I wouldn’t keep a sparse mane or, worse, be a guy with a ponytail in back and nothing up top. And while I yet have time before those coiffures could come to pass, I’d much rather get ahead of the game.

Cuts are coming. Maybe colors, too. Might as well have some fun with it while there’s fun to be had.

Ten Damn Years

Happy anniversary to lastgreypoet.com, which was founded on Oct. 1, 2010.

I didn’t start writing then, of course, but it was at that point that I started to really want to write for myself, after years of writing only for pay for others.

Sometimes, like when I had a newspaper column, that meant I got to write more or less what I wanted. Most days, though, I wrote what I was paid to.

Thus, this place. My place.

It started on Blogspot — remember Blogspot? — but I soon sprang for my own domain, using my longtime online moniker.

Of all things, my first post here was about baseball.

Since then I have been consistently inconsistent in my posting. Good days, bad days. Bad years …

Anyway, thanks for being here, even if it’s your first day.

Tip of the Hat/Spear/Your Pun Here

I woke up this morning thinking about tipping.

No apparent reason, just where my brain went upon waking.

Waking early, I might add. 6:10 a.m. finds me at the keyboard with energy, so a brief treatise on tipping is what you get today.

(My brain interrupts me here to point out that a treatise is technically a longer and more formal work than what I am attempting here, and I should probably use the term spiel instead. Okay, brain, okay. Can we get to it now?)

I strive to be a good tipper. 

I have a solid floor of 20%.

That’s the bare minimum I can scribble my name to without feeling guilt. 

It’s also a minimum predicated on a couple of assumptions.

Assumption the first: I tip on the whole bill, not the pre-tax amount. I do this because it is more generous, and the math is easier.

Assumption the second: I tip on alcohol. Considering my drinking tendencies, this raises the floor considerably.

Now, I’ve read tipping guides that advise you to not do those things, to which I say: Fuck off. I’m trying to be a decent human here.

So, we’ve set a floor. Is that enough?

Sometimes it isn’t. If I am, for example, eating alone at a Waffle House, the tab can be a single-digit number. In such cases, I have a $5 minimum.

Why $5?

As My Friend Who Likes To Punch People For Recreation once so eloquently put it, giving someone a dollar today is like your grandpa giving you a quarter when you were a kid. It’s pat-on-the-head money, not a living wage. I won’t leave the equivalent of a small pile of change on the table, and I don’t believe a diner server should get stiffed just because they didn’t get a steakhouse job instead. Start at $5 and go up from there as if that were 20%.

Having set the floor, it’s pretty easy to raise it. Decent work merits 25%, and I’ll go 30% for someone who makes me laugh.

Wait, wait, I hear.

(And I pause at the unintended pun, then realize there is no such thing as an unintended pun once you acknowledge it. So, leave it, or make a different choice, writer-person.)

Wait, wait, I hear.

What if their service was bad?

Read the room. Is the waitstaff busy as hell, working multiple tables? Is the kitchen backed up? Are there complicated orders (from your table or others)?

These are all reasons to raise your tip, not lower it.

What if they were rude?

How rude we talking? Southern rude? Did she bless your heart? Northern rude? Was the word fuck uttered as a casual adjective? Northwestern rude? Indifference?

Again, read the room. Put yourself in those shoes.

(Geez, you should have good shoes to wait tables.)

Try to think of a reason to hold steady or raise the tip, rather than look for ways to lower it.

Maybe it’s a first day/bad day/last day. Maybe their dog died. Maybe their lover is leaving. Maybe they don’t have a lover, and they are confused about love in general, filled with despair at the existential loneliness that is life, waiting tables to pay the rent on a place they don’t like but is (barely) affordable, living without parents who can afford to offer financial assistance that, even if such were possible, they would turn down on principle, and the power bill is due …

You get the point.

(I people-watch and sometimes daydream lives for the mental exercise. No, wait — that’s not the point. The point is …)

You never truly know. Err on the side of giving someone a living wage.

Which brings me to geography.

This spiel is focused on life in the States, as our (wealthy, developed) nation nonetheless has basically no laws in place to provide a living wage to members of the service class.

Tipping isn’t a nicety; it’s a necessity.

If you feel that shouldn’t be the case, fine. Vote and advocate accordingly. I’m with you. Meanwhile, tip well.

Which brings me to the assholes.

Low tip? Change on the table? Always looking for reason to lower the tip?

Assholes, all.

Then there are the very special assholes, the ones who don’t tip on principle.

Buddy, get some better principles. I get it, you saw Reservoir Dogs at an impressionable age, and Mr. Pink’s anti-tipping tirade really moved you.

a) You’re an asshole.

b) Everyone in that movie is an asshole.

c) Tarantino is an asshole.

d) Joe, while still an asshole, was correct: “Never mind what you normally would do. Just cough in your goddamned buck like everyone else.”

e) You’re an asshole.