Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Coke, A Bunless Chicken Sandwich at KFC and The Return of Fizzies (Sort Of)

Pop a top and Celebrate the New Coke

It’s been a while since I rambled on about this, that and whatever – so I thought now is as good a time as any to unleash an end of the month edition of Frostbites – a collection of thoughts put together in that dot-dot-dot journalistic tradition of the late Bob Talbert and Larry King’s old USA Today columns.

Coca-Cola recently celebrated an anniversary – an anniversary that they are happy to forget – the day that they introduced “New Coke” to world. Yup, it was twenty-five years ago – on April 23, 1985 – that Coca-Cola took original Coke off the grocer’s shelves and replaced it with a newly reformulated Coke and people around the world instantly responded with a loud “WHAT THE ……!!!!”

In the 70s and 80s – Coca-Cola was getting their ass handed to them by Pepsi – who was aggressive in the marketing of their product. While Coke commercials were out there “teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony”…Pepsi was taking to the streets and putting their cola to the test in side-by-side taste tests against Coke and Pepsi was coming up the winner. I can remember seeing people line up to take the taste test that Pepsi had set up in one of the local stores that I use to shop at in Flint and seeing people choose their product over Coke right before their eyes was pretty darn convincing. Coke was taking some hard hits in Pepsi’s advertising and they had to respond and their response – New Coke!

Supposedly – this New Coke had been taste tested and all the research came back to Coke that this new Coke was the way to go. Outside of the normal store distribution – McDonald’s restaurants sell more Coca-Cola than anyone else. To make sure that New Coke tasted like New Coke – millions of dollars was spent just to send an army of technicians to McDonald’s restaurants throughout the world just to make sure that they had the correct syrup to carbonated water ratio for their fountain soft drink dispensers. Coca-Cola did everything they could to make sure that the introduction of New Coke would be a success – but little did they know that Coke drinkers around the world would reject it.

Eventually – Coke realized the errors of their way and began selling “Classic Coke” along side New Coke (which wasn’t selling at all and is no longer being bottled). This mistake in marketing cost Coca-Cola plenty and it has taken a long time for them to fully recover. So, now you know why Coca-Cola wasn't acknowledging this historic date and celebrating the anniversary of a marketing disaster.

Bite Into This -- The KFC Double Down

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have a fondness for good ole American fast food. I have sang the praises of Long John Silver’s Baja Fish Taco and I have given a glowing thumbs up at Wendy’s Bacon and Blue Burger and their ninety-nine cents Spicy Chicken Nuggets – what am I going to sample next? I am really tempted to visit one of the local KFC restaurants in the area and wrap my lips around their new “Double Down Chicken Sandwich” – the sandwich so huge that it doesn’t even have a bun.

Even though KFC is really pushing this new sandwich in their national commercials – nutritionists, dieticians and people who generally care about your health – are warning people to stay as far away from this sandwich as possible. This sandwich isn’t going to kill you – but it’s going to give it a kick start to some blocked arteries and elevated blood pressure in some who do sample it.

When you read how KFC describes the Double Down on their web page – you’re tempted to go out and try one. KFC tells you that “this one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel's Sauce.” It sounds like of interesting – even without a bun – but just one Double Down Chicken Sandwich contains 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and – and brace yourself -- 1,380 milligrams of sodium. And if you think that the grilled version is going to be a bit healthier for you – think again – because the grilled Double Down maybe be lower in calories and fat with just 460 calories and 23 grams of fat – but it has even more sodium than the fried version – coming in at 1,430 milligrams of good ole salt!

I’m sure that some of the burgers that I have been throwing down my throat are pretty high in calories, fat, etc….so, all of the doom and gloom that people are spreading about how bad this sandwich is for you doesn’t bother me. The thing that’s turning me off from wanting to try it is its price. – according to the Los Angeles Times – LA KFCs are charging $5.49 for the Double Down – the equivalent price of one of their six piece meals – at that price I could bring home a bag of those fish tacos from LJS. If I do decide to give this sandwich a try – I’ll let you know – so keep your eye on this blog.

And since we’re talking junk fast food – when is McDonalds going to bring back the McRib to us folks in Michigan? I know that the McRib is on the menu at McDonalds in some other states – but it’s yet to make its appearance in Michigan and it seems like the McRib is a yearly special sandwich anyway…so c’mon guys…bring back the McRib.

There is one fast-food item that I want to rave about – Onion Rings at Sonic. The only time that I get to visit a Sonic is when I take a trip over to Flint to do something and you don’t have to twist my arm much to get me to drive over to Sonic for these rings. First – they’re huge! These rings are made to dip in ketchup (or whatever sauce you choose) and don’t order the small size – order the biggest size that they have. Sonic uses cornmeal or something in their onion ring batter and just saying that they’re delicious would be short-changing Sonic – these onion rings are to die for. If Sonic’s burgers were as good as their onion rings – they would be one dangerous fast-food restaurant – but every burger that I have had from the place have been pretty lame.

In the every thing that’s old is new again department: If you were a kid in the 60s – odds are pretty good that you’ll remember Fizzies – a tablet that you put into a glass of water to make a delicious refreshing soft drink. Fizzies came in a lot of flavors – such as grape and orange – but the one that I remembered best was root beer. If my memory serves me correctly – a package of about six or eight tablets cost something like twenty-nine cents….well worth the price for all of the fun kids had with the tablets.

Four decades or so have pass and now Kool-Aid and General Foods bring back memories of Fizzies (although they don’t call them that) with a new product called Kool-Aid Fun Fizz. Just like Fizzies – these flavored-filled tablets dissolve in water to make a refreshing glass of….Kool-Aid…with out all of the mess and bother. I have been able to sample two of the flavors – fruit punch and grape – and they are pretty tasty – but aren’t cheap. A package of six Kool-Aid Fun Fizz is retail priced in the $1.99-$2.29 price range and each one of the tablets only makes an eight-ounce glass of Kool-Aid.

If Kool-Aid and General Foods are in a retro food mood – maybe they could buy the rights to and bring back PDQ chocolate milk mix and all of the other flavors of PDQ milk mix such as strawberry and egg nog.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Term Street and The Memories Of The First Place I Called Home

This is the place – 3502 N. Term Street, Flint, Michigan. This is the house that I lived in from the day that I was born until my parents got a divorce when I was seven or eight years old. It wasn’t a fancy house by any stretch of the imagination, but it was home and I still think about this place some fifty years later. Almost every time that I visit Flint, I find some excuse to just drive by the house and check it out from afar – and somewhere in the back of my mind – I hope one of my old neighbors are out in the yard so I can stop by and see if they remember me (but the odds are that my old neighbors have either moved or are dead – so that chance meeting is never going to happen).

It wasn’t that long ago that there was a “For Sale” sign in front of this house. My girlfriend told me that I should call the realtors and tell them I was interested in buying the place and could I get a tour. I was tempted to do it, but knew deep down inside that I couldn’t pull off the “phony interested buyer” ruse and, if I was honest with myself, I knew that seeing the inside of my old house couldn’t live up to the memories that I had of the place. What’s interesting about this house is how long that it has stayed the way that I remembered. It’s only within the last seven years or so that the new owners replaced the original front door on the house and they removed the black and white aluminum awnings on the front windows – other than that – the outside of this house looks the same as it did fifty years ago.

One of the nice things about this house on Term Street was that it had a great backyard with lots of space to run around and be a kid. I can’t tell you how many “blanket tents” were strung on my Mom’s clothes lines and how many pies and jellies were made by my Mom from the fruit on the apple, cherry and pear trees in the backyard.  My Dad also had one of those huge brick barbecues built at the furthest end of our backyard where he’d be the master chef doing the hamburgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob. I think the only time that my Dad ever cooked was on that barbecue – all of the other times – he’d leave the cooking to my Mom (who everyone in the family knows could do no wrong in the kitchen). 

Our neighbors to the south – The Goin family – had something like six or seven kids. I remember the father, Willie, as one gruff son-of-a-bitch – but he created something that attracted kids from all over the neighborhood and they loved him for it  – he built a merry-go-round in his backyard as a companion piece to their swing set. He planted an axle from a car in the ground and bolted two-by-four’s on the wheel hub assembly. Who knows how many miles that wheel hub assembly had on it before it was placed in the ground – but I’m sure all of the kids in the neighborhood must have put a few cross-country miles on it just spinning around. 

The Ebmeyer family lived one house south of the Goin family and if there ever was a family that resembled the Cleaver family from “Leave It To Beaver” – it would have been the Ebmeyers. Bruce and Marion Ebmeyer were definitely Ward and June Cleaver – but they had a daughter and a son – so there goes the resemblance to the Cleaver clan. Mike was the oldest son and he was the one boy that my sister had a crush on and his sister Bonnie, with her long blond hair that she would twirl with one finger, was my friend. One time Bonnie and I were playing on the front porch of our house on Term Street and she did something a lot of kids did – and got in trouble for it, too – she used her play scissors (that could actually cut things) and gave me a haircut. I can remember our Moms getting mad and having to take me to the barbershop to get a crew cut because of Bonnie’s "attempt " giving at giving her friend a haircut.  

The television set plays a big part in a lot of my memories of the house on Term Street. I can see that TV now – it was one of those stand-up light wood black and white television sets with the round dials. The only channels on the dial were 2 through 13 and nobody ever had an answer when you asked them, “Why isn’t there a channel 1?” I can remember sneaking out of my bedroom one night and taking a glance at the TV show that my parents were laughing at. The show that they were watching was comedian Ernie Kovacs' comedy half-hour show and I remember watching Kovacs draw a water faucet on a huge poster board placed on an easel. Once he was finished drawing the faucet – he grabbed a real glass with one hand and with the other hand turned the spigot on the drawing and water flowed out of the faucet and into the glass. I was amazed…my parents thought it was funny. 

I can remember Saturday nights on Term Street as being pretty special. My Mom would pop up a big bowl of popcorn and make some Kool-Aid to drink (sometimes there would be a cold M&S Red Pop) and we would gather around the television and watch “Gunsmoke” and “Have Gun Will Travel” (on Channel 6 out of Lansing) and then switch it to Channel 7 out of Detroit to watch a fifteen minute bowling show called “Make That Spare” that was followed by a forty-five minute boxing show called “The Fight Of The Week”. (The boxing program was sponsored by Gillette and I can still hum the theme song to that show today – it’s ingrained in my brain like the opening to “Wide World of Sports” is to another generation.) Probably one of the reasons why I remember these Saturday nights was because it was one of the few times I can remember my Mom, Dad, sister and me together as a family unit – looking back – there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of those moments. 

There was one summer day on Term Street that I can remember somewhat clearly and wondering why the people on the television set were laughing when events all around me got turned upside down. My Dad brought home a brand new metal burn barrel (with holes poked in all around the sides for the fire to breathe) to replace the old one that we had been burning our papers and garbage in. My sister and her friends saw this new burn barrel and decided that this would be the thing to play it. My sister got inside the barrel and her friends turned it on its side and started rolling her around the lawn in it and in doing so – the holes that had been punched into the barrel was ripping the skin off my sister’s back. Someone rushed into the house and told my Mom what was happening and confusion began as they tried to clean her up enough to take her to the hospital. All I can remember is hearing my sister cry and I couldn't understand why the people in the TV audience of “Truth or Consequences” were laughing while my sister was in such pain – didn’t they know she was hurt? 

When my parents filed for divorce – we had to move out of the house on Term Street, because the house payments were more than my Mom could handle. We had to say to that great backyard where we had all those great family picnics.  We had to say good-bye to the Goin family and all of the fun we had on their merry-go-round.  My sister had to say good-bye to Mike Ebmeyer and I had to say good-bye to Bonnie Ebmeyer.  The hardest part was having to say good-bye to the house that we called home.  As much as I would have loved to see the inside of the old house on Term Street once more – something told me that I shouldn't do it.  It's not easy to recapture a part of your past because reality can't live up to the memories that you have -- especially  the memories of a house that you  once called home.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I've Had It Up To Here....

Blame it on a around-the-clock cable news, cell phones that allow us to capture a moment and publicize it to world instantly via the internet and a general pop culture overload – we, as a people, tend to get burnt out on a lot of things quicker than we use to. 

I don’t know how you feel….but I have had it up to here with news that Larry King, CNN talk show host and certified geezer, is getting a divorce.  Let’s be realistic – Larry King getting a divorce for the seventh or eighth time really shouldn’t qualify under the category of   news.  Larry King staying married longer a double run of his night time TV show is news.  You see, Larry gets a divorce just like he buys suspenders.  When Larry’s favorite suspenders don’t hold up his pants anymore he just throws them away and gets himself a new pair -- when his marriage starts to tank, he gets a divorce.  

It wasn't news when Larry King was able to sweet talk a beautiful woman into marrying him, but when that beautiful woman and Larry conceived a child together  that was news – only because the thought anyone having sex with Larry is so repulsive.  (Close your eyes and imagine Larry doing ‘the wild thing’ with a woman that’s young enough to be his first son’s girlfriend – are you choking on your own vomit at that thought?). 

Anyone who marries Larry King knows that like day leads into night -- marriage leads into divorce and I’ve had it up to here with people trying to convince me his divorce is news.  It’s not…I don’t care and I’ve had it up to here.

Next subject:  Jesse James

Let’s state the obvious:  Jesse James is an asshole.  You don’t marry America’s sweetheart, Sandra Bullock, and then cheat on her with some cheesy ass dancer/former model from an adult nightclub who has huge “factory installed air-bag boobs” and Nazi swastikas tattoos on her body.  You just don’t do shit like that, Jesse.  On top of that – you could have done something to prevent all this news coming out about you and your crazed sexual libido long before one of the biggest nights of Sandra’s life happened  – the night she won her first Academy Award.  C’mon Jesse, where’s your class! 

It’s not the fact that Jesse James cheated on Sandra Bullock that pisses me off – it’s a miracle that news of it didn’t come out any sooner – because when you look at his choice of mistresses – discretion wasn’t something he was concerned about and  it’s obvious that he will do the ‘nasty’ with just about anything.  His marriage to Sandra Bullock gave him a free pass in to a world of respectability, but he's done kissed that ‘respectability pass’ good-bye because of  his love of “Nazi F---king” 

The person that I feel sorry for in this whole ordeal is Sandra Bullock.  What did Sandra do to have to be humiliated by such as low-life cretin as Jesse James?  Absolutely nothing.  Bullock has literally been in hiding since the news of Jesse’s cheating came out and you know that one day she’s going to have to face the cameras and speak about this ugly mess that her “loving husband” has put her in.  She shouldn’t have to do it, but there’s not a whole lot she can do to avoid it. 

Meanwhile – there’s Jesse James and the stories of him being in some sex rehab in Arizona.     From me to you , Jesse – the Dr. Drew’s of this world can’t save your ass on this one.  You remind me of Nixon’s henchmen during Watergate era who used God and being “born again” to cleanse them from all of their crimes.  It didn’t work then and it’s not working now.  I’ve had it up to here on this one, Jesse, don’t go blaming screw-up on an addition -- own up that you’re an asshole and fall off the planet, ok?

I’ve also had it up to here with John McCain’s gift to the world that just keeps on giving and giving and giving – I’m talking about none other than Sarah Palin.  It’s nice to see a failed Vice-Presidential candidate go back to her home state and resign from her elected job as governor half-way in her term go make twelve million dollars last year talking how our elected representatives in Washington need to be booted out of office.  Yet, her supporters will tell us that it isn’t fair to criticize Mrs. Palin for not completing her term as governor, but she sure does love criticizing those politicians who work out the terms that their constituents elected them to.  

I also find it funny that Sarah Palin is always blaming “the mainstream media” about this and that – but when is she going to put two and two together and realize that her employment by Fox News now makes her part of the mainstream media.  If Fox News is the most popular news network (that’s what they call themselves) and they have the ratings numbers to back them up that they are more popular than MSNBC or CNN (two organizations that I consider “mainstream media”) then her employment by Fox makes mainstream just by association. 

And dear Mrs Palin – you don’t want your family criticized or attacked by the media – then do us a favor – don’t parade them on stage wherever you go like they’re part of the show.  If you use them to portray family values you better expect to be called out on it when that family of yours doesn’t live up to what’s being sold.

I have literally had it up to here – when it comes to anything and everything that is Sarah Palin – the sad thing is – Sarah Palin isn’t going to head into the political sunset for a long time – we can just hope that “gotcha” wink and a nod will catch up with her and she can live out her golden years in Alaska eating Moose fritters or something like that.  It's a nice thought -- until then...we're just gonna have to grin and bear it.  

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Reality Check For Old Farts

I am a child of the 60’s and it wasn’t that long ago that we were the generation that told people not to trust anyone over thirty and then we became thirty ourselves. 

When our generation turned forty and we had to deal with things such as kids, mortgages and other real world responsibilities, we’d say things like “forty is the new thirty”, so we could tell ourselves that we weren’t getting old.  We knew it was some bullshit excuse, because behind closed doors we’d be rubbing Ben-Gay on our aching muscles, hiding the grey with Lady Clairol and the recreational drugs that we use to take had been replaced by prescribed medications for blood pressure, thyroid, diabetes and who knows what else. 

And now --- the children of the 60’s are in their fifties and there’s no use deny it anymore – we’re not getting old – we are old.  When you can sit in your easy chair at night and turn on any one of the news channels and see advertisements with 1-800 phone numbers selling music from Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin and Bob Seger – you know you’re getting old.  These were the kind of ads in the 60s that we use to make fun of that sold the music of the 40s and 50s – the artists that they’re promoting now has changed because the audience has changed.  It’s official – the children of the 60s are the new old farts.

If you can walk into a bar and order drinks while wearing jeans and a will i am t-shirt and not get carded…..then you’re officially an old fart.

If your idea of a “happy meal” is anything that you can eat without your dentures…..then you’re officially an old fart.

If the most mentally challenged show that you watch on television is Babe Winkleman’s fishing show…then you’re officially an old fart.

Any time you start out a sentence with the phrase, “You kids…..” ….then you’re officially an old fart.

When somebody asks you how you voted in the last election and you tell them that you’re hoping your doctor will prescribe Viagra for you….then you’re officially an old fart.

Any time you see a kid with fluorescent blue hair wearing a nose ring and say something like “what in the hell is he thinking looking like that” and you forget that when you were that kid’s age – you had hair down to the middle of your ass wore a “I’m with stooopid” t-shirt….then you’re officially an old fart.

If you get arrested and go to trial and a jury of your peers can only be found at the local nursing home….then you’re officially an old fart.

If you can remember when you had to lick a postage stamp…then you’re officially an old fart.  Better yet….if you can remember postage stamps….you’re officially an old fart.

If the first car that you ever owned was ever sung about in a recording by Jan and Dean or the Beach Boys…you’re officially an old fart.

If your idea of a “date movie” is picking up a copy of “Driving Miss Daisy” from Blockbuster…you’re officially an old fart.

If you call your wife “Mother” or your husband “Daddy”….you’re not only weird – you’re officially an old fart.

If your drink of choice is milk on the rocks…you’re officially an old fart.

When you tell someone that you can’t meet them for lunch,  because you have to watch “your stories” on television – you’re officially an old fart.

If you have to have someone cut up your oatmeal so you can eat it in the morning…you’re officially an old fart.

If you have to explain to someone that the piece of jewelry on your wrist is a ‘watch’ and it’s used to ‘tell time’….then you’re officially an old fart.

If you can remember your first kiss, but have a hard time remembering where you put your car keys….then you’re officially an old fart.

If that relaxing cocktail at the end of the day is mixed with Metamucil….you’re officially an old fart.

If you tell anyone that you read an interesting article in the large print edition of Reader’s Digest…you’re officially an old fart.

If you can remember when there were four living Beatles…you’re officially an old fart.

If you can remember who shot J.R. or better yet, who J.R. is….you’re officially an old fart.

If you can remember when the ignition for your car was located on the dash and not on the steering column….you’re officially an old fart.

If you can remember watching Neil Armstrong walking on the moon or Richard Nixon resigning the presidency on TV….you’re officially an old fart.

If “worrying about the draft” meant something other than having to shut the door to keep the cold out…you’re officially an old fart.

If you can remember people getting pissed off because Bob Dylan picked up an electric guitar…you’re officially an old fart.

If you have to explain to someone that you actually had to get up off your ass to change the channel on your television…you’re officially an old fart.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Just Say No To.....Verizon

Bundling.  Everyone’s doing it.  Phone companies.  Cable companies.  Even people who want to sell you large quantities of meat.  It’s suppose to save you money and make things a little easier for you – but over the last two and a half weeks, I have discovered the dark side to “bundling” and if someone wants you to “bundle”….remember these three simple words:


I was introduced to “bundling” about two and a half weeks ago – when I called my phone company (Verizon) to get them to extend their payment due date because I was having problems accessing their website to pay my bill online.  A very cheerful voice on the other end of the phone had been looking at the services that I got from them and like some drug dealer in rain coat trying to get me to drop a dime on today’s best buy – she explained to me how I could save money on my DirecTV bill if I would allow them to bundle my satellite TV service with them.  The deal that she was offering me sounded too good to pass up – so, I agreed to it.  I originally called them for one thing and I ended the call doing something completely different…I agreed to become a Verizon Bundled Customer and instead of paying two companies – I would pay one and the combined cost would be less than if I would pay for them separately.  .  My life wasn’t going to change that much – oh so I thought.

First – I get the warning that my first bundle bill probably won’t come until after two billing cycles and I should pay my bills as such until the bundling package kicks in.  Ok….that’s not a big deal.  My next Verizon bill comes and looking over the bill I see that I’m only being charged for my phone service – DirecTV has yet to kick in.  I go to DirecTV and look at my bill online and according to them – I don’t exist to them anymore – they handed everything over to Verizon and I would have to wait to be billed by Verizon for my DirecTV service.  Again, that’s cool – it just means that instead of being billed for one month of DirecTV service, I’ll be billed for two months when Verizon finally gets me “all bundled”. 

So, while I wait to be bundled…I thought…I’d pay my monthly Verizon bill on line.  I pay most of my bills online, because the United States Postal Service has yet to improve on the pony express model in this area.  It’s not usual to find our neighbor’s bills in our mailbox and the magazines we subscribe to never arrive on time and the odds are pretty good that some postal employee in the local branch here has gone through the pages during their lunch hour trying reading why Kirstie Alley is so god-damn fat and Jesse James is a jerk.  So, if we can’t get stuff mailed to us on time – imagine how long its going to be for the stuff that we mail out to get to somebody and that’s the reason I pay my bills online.

When I go to the Verizon website to sign in to pay my bill – I come face-to-face with the same problem that I had before they sold me on bundling – it will not let me sign in and access my account.  I exhaust everything online trying to get on to the website.  It would show my bill – but it wouldn’t let me pay.  I click on to their “online representative chat” and that person listens to my problem and says that they can’t help me…I would have to call in to their tech people on the phone. 

Have you had to call a phone company or public utility company lately?  If you don’t have to do it – please do not attempt to do it for recreational purposes – because you’re only going to end up frustrated and when you do get to talk to a real human voice on the other end of the phone – you might start venting things to them that they really shouldn’t hear.  It’s ok to tell them that you have been frustrated with the service that you have been getting from the company to get your problem resolved…but you know your comments about the company are going to get worse when the problem doesn’t get resolved with one or two calls.  In my case – it took maybe ten to twelve calls to Verizon and I can’t tell you how many wasted hours in front of the computer just trying to access my account and pay my bill.  My frustration almost got to the point of telling the rep on the phone that Verizon was pretty close to being hanging partials of poop on the scrotum of a diseased yak – but I held my ugly comments in.

After about the twelfth call to Verizon – I finally came in contact with someone who actually knew their job.  They explain to me that some of my problems have come about because of the changes made by the bundling that weren't resolved when they signed me up for the program.  To solve the problem they're going to transfer the information in my account to a whole new account.  We decided on a new sign-on ID to enter the website – because the old sign-on was now dead and it can’t be used – so we decided on something similar sounding to the old ID.  Then – they gave me this computer generated password to use and when I got on the site, I could change the password to something I would remember.  Sounds cool.  I thank this person and now it was time to find out if this attempt at resolving my problem was finally going to work.

I sign on the Verizon website with my new sign-on ID and I put in the computer generated password and lo and behold – I finally have access to my Verizon account and I can pay my bill.  And unlike previous attempts to get them to accept my payment (the reason that I called them before they sold me on bundling) – it finally accepts my payment.  When it went through – I could actually hear angels trumpeting overhead and you know they say – “every time that you hear an angel trumpeting, it means another Verizon employee gets their wings” or something like that. 

With my bill paid…I now have the task of changing my password.  I thought that I would put in my old password as my password – because I have a new sign-in ID and I thought that the old password would work – well it didn’t.  I’m back to getting frustrated again.  It won’t accept my password now – well, it’s time to get even – I’ll vent my Verizon frustrations with my new password and I typed in the first word that came to my mind.  It work.  So brace yourself -- my new Verizon password describes the “Verizon Experience” in just one word: “Assholes!” 

So….all I got to say is this.  If you don’t want to feel your blood pressure rising and you want to avoid feelings of frustration and anger at a company that doesn’t give a shit about you anyway – don’t let them bundle your services – because they’re going to find some way of screwing things up for you before you ever see the benefits of their grand plans…and it just ain’t worth it.  

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

This Is Not The Flint That I Remember

It’s sad to see what is happening in my old hometown of Flint, Michigan – a city that has taken more than its fair share of hits during this brutal recession.  When you combine the economic downturn with the massive industrial realignment that’s going on around the world – things aren’t getting any easier for my old hometown. 

When I was growing up in the city of Flint in the 60s and 70s – you couldn’t go anywhere without bumping into a General Motors plant pumping out the product and employing three shifts working around the clock seven days a week to do so.  The demand for the automobiles and the products that these factories produced was incredible and for a long time – it seem like there was no end in sight – but that was not the case.  This wild roller coaster ride would soon come to an end and a city bruised and battered by it all would have to pay the price. 

Today, most of the plants in Flint that had people working ‘round-the-clock shifts are gone.  These huge factories that once employed thousands of people have literally been leveled and all that remains are wire fences protecting huge slabs of concrete with weeds growing in between the cracks.  This is what happens when a automobile industry sucks the life blood out of a town and its people and abandons it with no guilt and no remorse.  This is Flint, Michigan today.

When GM was king and Flint was operating on all of its cylinders – you couldn’t find a better place to live.  GM’s tax dollars helped to fund a school system that was recognized around the country, and with support of organizations like the Mott Foundation, the children in Flint benefited from some of the most innovative arts and education programs anywhere. Now – Flint schools – like many schools in Michigan – are struggling to find the basic funds to survive.  Schools all around the city are closing, too, and not just because of dwindling enrollment, but the Board of Education doesn’t have enough money in their budget to keep them operating.  This is not the Flint that I remember.

At the end of last month – the city of Flint announced some drastic budget cuts with twenty-three firefighters pink slipped and two of the city’s five fire stations closed and how has the city responded?  Over fifty fires have been started in a little less than two weeks.  Some of these homes were abandoned – some weren’t – some of the homes that have gone up in flames in these last two weeks were occupied and people lost everything that they owned in these fires.  The fire fighters left after the budget cuts are being overworked and are having a tough time trying to extinguish all of the fires being started in the city.  Fire fighters from other communities around Flint have been called in to try and help put out the fires – but that may soon be coming to an end with these fire departments telling Flint that they are going to have to find a way to fight their own fires.  Yup, it’s gotten to the point where one city’s fire department is telling another city’s fire department – “You’re on your own now, we can’t help you!”

You would think that the state and national media would be shining a spotlight on the city of Flint right now, but it hasn’t.  Fifty fires in less than two weeks – and as I read the street names of where some of these fires have taken place I shutter – because friends and family members that I know and love still live in some of these neighborhoods. It hurts for me to say this, because I love my home town, but it’s gotten to the point where the city should consider changing the greeting on the welcoming signs you see when you visit the city.  Instead of the signs saying “Welcome”, maybe it should read “Enter at your own risk.”