Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I Have a Problem

My name is Patrick Garrigan. ....I have a problem. It took me some time to come to a place in my own consciousness that I could even say it out loud. The past six 'cycles' my Wednesday nights have been monopolized. Whenever Wednesdays approach, my palms get itchy and my throat dry. Nervous ticks have not been out of the range of possibilities when I think about embracing my sweet, sweet joy.

My name is Patrick, and I'm addicted to America's Next Top Model on the new CW11. I know! It hurts me just as much as it hurts you- probably more. However, unlike past addictions [see Snakes on a Plane], this is not simply a passing fancy. Yes, friends, I have followed this brain rot for six cycles and now a new one begins....

Some might ask, "Patrick how could you possibly get sucked into such trivial programming?" Well, as always, I'm glad you asked:


10. There is nothing like watching a woman balance "being true to her values (not getting naked) and going after her dream (not getting kicked off the show)."

9. The anticipation of tuning in to find out if the two freakishly RuPaul-looking brothers will show up to teach the girls to "twirl".

8. The non-stop cringing as the girls tell Tyra about every trivial event in their life that might allow them the opportunity to cry on national television.

7. Seriously contemplating the style, structure and presence of each model's walk. Seriously.

6. The hope of an 'ugly duckling turned swan' scenario keeps me coming back for more.

5. I love Twiggy. I want to keep her in my closet, open the door periodically, and make her say pithy British comments.

4. The ubiquitous crying that ensues when the girls get their hair cut. Its just hair, you dumbass, it'll grow back.

3. I like watching people in high heels fall down. It is maliciously delicious.

2. Judging each girl's crappy Covergirl commercial. I mean really...

1. Simply, models.

Yup... just sad. I'm going to get a peanut butter sandwich and a beer. I'll be fine. I'm fine. I don't have a problem. I'm..... fine......

Monday, September 18, 2006

And I Thank You

"My Father thanks you. My Mother thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you.”

When I was about 10 years old my dad sat me down because he said he had an important movie for me to watch. The film? Yankee Doodle Dandy. Some seventeen years later the experience still stands as one of my most formative engagements in American patriotism. The sense of national pride, faith in leadership, and optimism for the future struck me in such a visceral way. This pride in what our country was and hope for what we could become was and is entirely thrilling to me.

These values are so deeply rooted in me that I still get a charge out of hearing the pledge of allegiance or singing the national anthem. Over the years my patriotism has not changed and I doubt it ever will. To me it is one of those constants. However, somewhere between being 10 years old and today America has changed.

At some point, I think around my college years, patriotism and its symbols became a punch line. It became some sort of archaic idolatry that asks to be mocked for its dated values. The more I think about it and talk about it, the more I feel like an outsider. A square. Yet another example of how “you can take the boy out of Ohio….” and all that. What happened?

Could it be that I live in the epicenter of cynicism? Is it general apathy that the world is going to hell in a hand basket so fuck it? Have ethically corrupt leaders sapped our faith in the direction they lead?

Could be.

To the other extreme is it the politicians and religious leaders who falsely wrap themselves in patriotic rhetoric strictly to meet desired ends? Decking themselves with the proper trappings until ‘Mission Accomplished.’

Whether you are looking to the cynical left or the hypocritical right both of these factions do our country a remarkable disservice.

You may be thinking, “Patrick, why so heavy this week?” Well I’ll tell you. This weekend my brother (of whom I’m very proud) was home from the Air Force. As part of his visit we went to the Intrepid Museum, a docked aircraft carrier located on the west side. It’s an older, antiquated monster of a ship that’s been around since World War II. (...and I’ll tell you just from this visit it easily makes its way into my top 10 list of New York favorites.)

One of the installations was a magnificent multimedia exhibit entitled A Day of Darkness, A Day of Light. This 13 minute featurette chronicled the exploits of the USS Intrepid during its actions against the Japanese in WWII. At one point in the presentation, a principle character informs us that if we had been standing where we are today in April of 1944 would find ourselves surrounded by blazing fires and the dead bodies of 69 servicemen – the result of two kamikaze direct hits.

For some reason today I was open and ready to hear this message. Sixty-nine people died where I was standing. Sixty-nine people would never be granted the opportunity to bring their grandchildren to the museum to share their experience. The reason that these people will never have this chance is because they chose to serve their country in a truly remarkable, selfless act.

Do you love this country enough to die for it? It is an extremely weighty and complex question. However, it is important to stop and think about it because it is a choice that others HAVE made, in the sincere hopes that most wouldn’t have to answer the question. It is these "others" who have made sacrifices so that we could deliver on our country's potential.

Where do we go from here? What are the next steps? How do we go about rectifying what has become a cultural problem? It is not an easy task, but it is one that is entirely possible:

1. RESPECT – The first steps begin, as they often do, on a grassroots level. Holding onto the real values of America and those who fought on its battlefields. Remembering those who served in Amierica’s diplomatic, political, cultural, social, civil or combat struggles. Not only to embrace their service, but perpetuate their personification of real American values.

2. HUMILITY / RESPONSIBILITY – Using self-restraint and prudence when referring to “American values” and patriotism. Commentators, such as Sean Hannity, have abused the phrase “Good Americans” to the point that he has dulled its meaning. Lies, hyperbole, and irony are exceptionally punitive to true reflections of Americanism.

3. ACCOUNTABILITY – It is only when someone steps up and says, “this isn’t right,” do things really change. Through the populous holding the media, politicians, religious leaders, and other influencers accountable for their comments a real shift in the American psyche take place.

In the meantime, while there is so much that worries me about the current direction of the country, I am exceptionally hopeful. There are egregious missteps in the current handling of Iraq and the War on Terror, and yet I am optimistic about our future. We have a long-standing history of reinvention and I believe that the US is due for yet another. It is so important to remember where we came from; to remember the sacrifices and mistakes that brought us to the place we are today. On a more immediate basis, it is important that we cherish and remember those who currently serve our country. So in the words of George M. Cohan, “My Father thanks you. My Mother thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you.”

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was really influenced this week by a commentary by Keith Olbermann remembering 9/11. To me it was truly profound. I encourage you to check out the following clip.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I Want To Experience New Things

So after spending the past few years out of the country serving in the military my baby brother, Brian, is making his triumphant return to New York City. I thought to myself, I don't want to give my lil' brother just your average Empire State Building / Statue of Liberty experience. I thought I might try to create unique experiences that he can walk away with some real lasting memories of his visit. I took these intentions to the web and was excited to find some brochures that just might be what I'm looking for.

Brian has always been really outdoorsy. With this in mind, I really wanted to do something where he could get outside and enjoy the majesty of New York's finer things while still being physically engaged. I think I found the perfect fit:

"Do you love international culinary delights, but don't have a 5 star budget? Not a problem with DEPTH: Dumpster Diving Tours! New York City boasts some of the world's finest cuisine and Dirty Dave thinks you should be able to taste it all. Dirty Dave brings his experience as an inventory manager (scavenger) and sommelier (wino) to bring you the finest the city has to offer. These 3 hour tours will take you inside the dumpsters of NYC's finest establishments. Sick bag and latex gloves included in tour price. Book now tours might fill up."

Recently, Brian told me, "Patrick I've grown up and I want to experience new things." About a year ago, Brian and I got matching tattoos. That really got me thinking, maybe we should take it to the next level:

"Kim Soon draws from her exhaustive 4 months at the Palisades Mall's Piercing Pagoda to bring New York the latest in piercing technology. Kim describes her artistry poetically and yet succinctly, "If you have skin. I put hole in it." Kim takes the fact that she's "just practicin" and passes the savings on to you!"

With all these activities going on, it wasn't long before I realized this is going to start to cost a lot! How could I afford to do all these fun things? Was there some way that Brian and I could score some cash and in turn have another fun activity? I all but gave up on the idea when I stumbled on this ad in the Hell's Kitchen Chronicle:

"When it comes to black market kidneys our name says it all! It isn't just a kidney removal, it's an adventure! TOP DOLLAR PAID CASH!! Complimentary shuttles to St. Vincent's available upon request."

Yeah, I think it is pretty fair to say it is going to be a great visit. Something, you know, memorable.


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