Monday, May 16, 2011

Santana Throws A High Hard One at Georgia and Arizona

Crash Davis said, “Baseball is a simple game. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains.”

Well it wasn’t raining yesterday in Atlanta where the Braves played the Philadelphia Phillies in the Civil Rights Game but I’m guessing that there were a few who wish that it had been a rain-out. If it had, then the awards presentation wouldn’t have been held, guitar legend Carlos Santana wouldn’t have received a Civil Rights award and he wouldn’t have righteously unloaded on the states of Georgia and Alabama for their stances on immigration.

Santana was livid about a bill signed into law by Georgia’s Governor on Friday. The law will require all Georgia employers with more than 10 employees to use “E-Verify” by 2015, phasing it in based on number of employees starting in 2012. This bill and similar bills passed in Arizona were what Santana was talking about when he said that Georgia and Arizona “should be ashamed”.

He was pointed in his criticism saying:

“I represent the human race. The people of Arizona, the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

You know, there’s a big chunk of me that thinks that baseball and others who were part of honoring Santana were opening themselves up to this type of blunt speaking when they presented an award for Civil Rights advocacy to the Mexican born rock icon. I mean, go figure, he’s an outspoken advocate for immigrants both legal and illegal and he was presented a forum. I’m guessing he saw more than a little hypocrisy in the location of the event as well as the timing of the signing of the bill.

Here’s some of his other comments:

"It’s an anti-American law. It’s a cruel law, actually," Santana said. "If you all remember what it was like here with Martin Luther King and the dogs and the hoses, it’s the same thing, only it’s high tech. So let’s change it.”

“This is about fear, that people are going to steal my job,” Santana said of the law. “No we ain’t. You don’t clean toilets and clean sheets, stop shucking and jiving.”

“I would invite all Latin people to do nothing for about two weeks so you can see who really, really is running the economy,” Santana said. “Who cleans the sheets? Who cleans the toilets? Who babysits? I am here to give voice to the invisible. By god’s grace, I represent the invisible ones. It’s a shame that those in charge would pass a law like those in Arizona. The sound that comes to my heart and my fingers is that we are in this together, that we don’t leave anyone out.”

“This is the United States. This is the land of the free. If people want the immigration laws to keep passing, then everybody should get out and leave the American Indians here.”

And then they went out and played baseball. Will anything change because of this? So far it seems to be a somewhat obscure story getting play in Atlanta, perhaps a bit of play on ESPN and there was an article in this morning’s USA Today.

I guess my reaction to it is “good for Santana”. He’s calling it like it is. Santana has spent a career as a maestro of the guitar. Sounds to me like he’s just as passionate about people, especially immigrants. Seems to me that’s what he was being honored for at the Civil Rights Game.

And, maybe if Jose Feliciano were to play the National Anthem at a baseball game today, he could play it like this and not be so villified for it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Zombies, A Question of Ethics? Or Maybe Political Paranoia

I had a good time writing a post the other day on Zombie Awareness Month. There’s a political angle to it too with “Zombie aficionados” occasionally suggesting that the Zombie take-over may have already occurred in politics. I have to admit that it would certainly explain a lot of things here and around the world.

But this is about something else, though related.

I also wrote a blogpost a couple of weeks ago expressing outrage over a Southern California Republican party official, Marilyn Davenport, who e-mailed a decidedly unflattering and racist (at least by “liberal” consensus) photograph of Pres. Obama as simian to friends and Republican colleagues and claimed that it was innocent humor. You remember the photo, right? Here it is again:

So what’s the connection here? Well, my slightly demented brain suggested to me that zombies and politics might be related. (Wouldn’t that be a more than plausible explanation for the “Tea Baggers”?)

So I thought to myself, “Self, maybe there’s some faked zombie pictures out there of politicians. Wouldn’t it be funny to find a zombie photo of Sarah Palin?” (See, I talk to myself when I try to write).

And guess what, there are a bunch of zombie photos of Sarah Palin. And maybe it’s my liberal side coming out but I didn’t think that they were as “mean-spirited” or racially themed as the zombie photos of Barak Obama (are you surprised at all that there are zombie photos of Obama? Naw, I didn’t think you’d be surprised). And hell, there are even Osama Bin Laden zombie photos.

So I pulled one off Google Images and inserted it into my blogpost. It wasn’t the most ghoulish but it satisfied my inner smartass. Here’s the photo:

I thought it was really funny—especially located just after a Zombie Uncle Sam photo.

And then I got to thinking (contrary to what my wife or employer would say, yes indeed, I do think occasionally).

I thought, “wait a minute here Walt, you were outraged over a photo showing Obama as a simian. Isn’t this the same thing? Does it make a difference that you respect Obama and don’t respect Palin? Hmmmm?”

And I thought again, “who gives a rat’s behind, this is freedom of expression and humor or satire.” So I dropped the photo into my blogpost, giggling to myself as I did it. “I’m so clever; this is funny,” I thought to myself.

And then another thought crossed my mind which created a scenario compelling enough to convince me to eliminate the Sarah Palin zombie picture. I thought to myself, “Self, this person is a politician probably running for President. She’s a ‘whacko’. You could end up like this:”

This was because the last piece of “art” was a poster which said this:

“Self, Palin is enough of a whacko that this could easily be considered as a threat or a suggestion that someone shoot her in the head to destroy her brain. She’s a (shudder to think of it) ‘national political figure’. You could be detained, interrogated and arrested.” I got images of waterboarding and Guantanamo. I saw myself being questioned by Lenny and Green until I confessed—confessed to what I don’t know.

So, I pulled it out of the post. I found a “poster” of Obama, Biden, McCain and Palin as zombies. Hooray for me! Equal opportunity Zombies!

OK, so now I know. The “simian” photo of Obama was offensive. Arguably the zombie photo of Palin is offensive too (as are zombie photos of Obama). But, a zombie photo of Obama, Biden, McCain and Palin…now that’s funny. And it’s different from the others. That’s poking fun at politicians and the process not at the individual. I’m glad I found it.

Self-censorship is one thing. Censorship because you’re worried that the FBI or Secret Service might come and break down your door is something else. It’s a bit scary. And, even though I call Palin a whacko, there are enough super whacky-whackos out there that some idiot might have taken it literally. And that’s doubly scary.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hold On To Your Brains--It's Zombie Awareness Month

I don’t remember where I first came across this online but I remember that my reaction to it was (and this is a direct quote), “Hmmmmpf.” And I proceeded to check it out in a little more detail.

It seems like there’s a special month in the calendar for just about everything. Here’s the list just for May (source McGraw/Hill Professional). Oh, it's a long list so just listen to the music and scroll through:

• Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month, Natl
• Arthritis Month, Natl
• Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month
• Awareness of Medical Orphans Month
• Barbecue Month, Natl
• Better Hearing and Speech Month
• Bike Month, Natl
• Business Image Improvement Month, Intl
• Civility Month, Intl
• Creative Beginnings Month
• Ecodriving Month
• Egg Month, Natl
• Family Wellness Month
• Fibromyalgia Education and Awareness Month
• Freedom Shrine Month
• Get Caught Reading Month
• Gifts From the Garden Month
• Good Car-Keeping Month, Natl
• Haitian Heritage Month
• Hamburger Month, Natl
• Heal the Children Month
• Healthy Vision Month
• Hepatitis Awareness Month, Natl
• Huntington's Disease Awareness Month
• Internal Audit Awareness Month, Intl
• Jewish American Heritage Month
• Latino Books Month
• Meditation Month, Natl
• Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
• Mental Health Month, Natl
• Military Appreciation Month, Natl
• Motorcycle Safety Month
• Moving Month, Natl
• Older Americans Month
• Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month
• Personal History Month
• Photo Month, Natl
• Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Natl
• Preservation Month, Natl
• REACT Month
• Revise Your Work Schedule Month
• Salad Month, Natl
• Salsa Month, Natl
• Smile Month, Natl
• Strike Out Strokes Month
• Stroke Awareness Month, Natl
• Sweet Vidalia Onion Month, Natl
• Teen CEO Month
• Teen Self-Esteem Month
• Tennis Month
• Ultraviolet Awareness Month
• Victorious Woman Month, Intl
• Vinegar Month, Natl
• Women's Health Care Month
• Young Achievers/Leaders of Tomorrow Month

Now that’s a lot of stuff for just one month. And I noticed that there is a conspicuous absence—the “awareness month” I stumbled across.

Zombie Awareness Month
To quote Dave Barry, “I’m not making this up.”

Zombie Awareness Month is sponsored by the Zombie Research Society. They urge people to wear a gray ribbon “to signify the undead shadows that lurk behind our modern light of day.” Here’s a summary from their website (

Founded in 2007, the Zombie Research Society (ZRS) is dedicated to raising the level of zombie scholarship in the Arts and Sciences. ZRS Members represent diverse backgrounds, interests, and theories, but are unified in their support of the Society's three foundational principles:

• A zombie is a biologically definable, animated being occupying a human corpse.
• The zombie pandemic is coming. It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when.
• Enthusiastic debate about zombies is essential to the survival of the human race.

Additional research that I did turned up a number of helpful sites to combat the predicted scurge of Zombies. Here’s a hint from the UK:

Now, I’m assuming that this is all tongue in cheek. Or maybe I’m hoping it is. But geez when you start Googling zombies and zombie research and zombie appreciation you come up with a lot of stuff that can keep you reading and zooming around the internet for hours.

And there’s even a rationale for having Zombie Awareness Month in May. Most would assume that a month to raise awareness of zombies would be in October because of Halloween. But the Zombie Research Society has determined (somehow) that most Zombie movies are set in May so this is the month they selected.

You can find helpful hints on identifying Zombies:

And some of the information is motivational—you know, like those dumb-ass posters that bosses still like to hang up and then congratulate themselves on how enlightened they are (I have one in my office right behind my desk).

And interestingly, some of the information is political. I have seen articles which suggest that Zombies are some sort of global political and economic conspiracy and also suggestions that some Zombies are cleverly disguised and much more insidious in their quest to consume the human race. But, quite frankly, I discounted those “suggestions” as the unrealistic fantasies of someone who has just seen too many Zombie movies over the years. Until…well, look for yourself:

Anyway, Happy Zombie Awareness Month. Get out your gray ribbons and wear them daily. And just remember: