Tax time.

Sometimes we must screw our courage to the sticking place. We must take advantage of a rainy day that promises to stay all day. We must dive into the pile of bills on the desk (and pay them) and then we must dive into the pile in the dusty shoebox on top of the bookcase and do the taxes (and pay them).

I use TurboTax, and I love it, but I often wonder if I’m making a terrible mistake, or leaving a grievous amount on the table, as they say. Love that metaphor of “the table,” which reminds me not of polished mahogany in a law-firm conference room, but the 3-by-6-foot plastic ones, with collapsible legs, an image I retained from an article I read years ago about what it’s like to sell to Walmart. No business lunches, not that there are many places to go in Bentonville, Ark., but a whole lot of windowless rooms with those tables in them. You go in, lay your goods down, and Walmart tells you what it will pay you for them. Then you outsource your labor to a sufficiently cheap third-world market to restore your profit margin, and drink your pain away at Applebee’s before flying back to wherever you came from.

Anyway, the table. All I want is to get my taxes off of it, and I’m 80 percent of the way there, with only a smallish sum to still be paid; thank you, higher-ed tax credits.

And in my world, these days, that’s what shapes up to be a fairly good weekend. Of course, it beats the alternative of going to Nancy Reagan’s funeral. Here’s one of the guests, Mr. T.:


Wearing his best outfit, as you can see.

Now. I know I am wading into treacherous waters here, that there are people out there who can make cogent and compelling cases for dressing down, as it were, but I’ve about had it up to here with them. The slobification of America may not be at a critical stage, but if this is the best you can do for the funeral of a former First Lady, you should consider staying home and sending a card. Mr. T. doesn’t stand astride a pile of money the way he once did, but surely he has one suit in his closet, and if he doesn’t, he’s famous enough to borrow one. Hell, he could rent one.

Last year we went out to dinner on our anniversary, to a nice place here in Detroit. It wasn’t nice-nice, but nice enough that I wore a dress and Alan a tie, and we fit in. I looked up halfway through the appetizer course to see two couples being seated at a nearby four-top. They were young, in their 20s, and the women looked spectacular, heels and hair and makeup and clothes, the sort of turnout that suggested at least an hour of prep work, on top of a lot of regular maintenance.

The men? Looked like boys. Sports jerseys, saggy jeans and sneakers, plus that ubiquitous young-male accessory, the baseball cap. Which they kept on throughout the meal. They sat down with women on one side of the table and men on the other, and if the girls had started holding hands and left together, I couldn’t have blamed them. They looked more like a couple than they did with their male partners.

I see this dynamic everywhere, and I don’t know where it comes from. Most of the sharp, Don Draper-level male dressers I know anymore are gay.

I’m not against casual dressing; I do it all the time. I’m for appropriate dressing, and again – the funeral of an important public figure, carried on national television in a beautiful setting, requires at the very least a business-level turnout, dark suit and tie for men and dark suit or dress for women, although some more vivid colors are fine if they have some connection to the guest of honor; Mrs. Reagan was known for her fondness for red, so sure, wear red if you like. I’ve heard of funerals where the deceased actually asked, in his or her advance directives, that guests dress a certain way, in Hawaiian shirts or Lilly Pulitzer or the colors of his or her favorite sports team. OK, fine – I’m not a hard-liner on this.

But surely you can do better than camo and a flag do-rag. Even if you are “colorful.” It’s not about you, dude.

Rant over. Speaking of baseball caps, here’s one I saw Saturday night:


Ha ha. I’m about reaching Peak Trump myself, especially after Friday night’s events in Chicago. But here’s another one, with a certain THANKS OBAMA theme to it. It’s about Trump’s bottomless need for affirmation:

Donald J. Trump arrived at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in April 2011, reveling in the moment as he mingled with the political luminaries who gathered at the Washington Hilton. He made his way to his seat beside his host, Lally Weymouth, the journalist and socialite daughter of Katharine Graham, longtime publisher of The Washington Post.

A short while later, the humiliation started.

The annual dinner features a lighthearted speech from the president; that year, President Obama chose Mr. Trump, then flirting with his own presidential bid, as a punch line.

He lampooned Mr. Trump’s gaudy taste in décor. He ridiculed his fixation on false rumors that the president had been born in Kenya. He belittled his reality show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

Mr. Trump at first offered a drawn smile, then a game wave of the hand. But as the president’s mocking of him continued and people at other tables craned their necks to gauge his reaction, Mr. Trump hunched forward with a frozen grimace.

After the dinner ended, Mr. Trump quickly left, appearing bruised. He was “incredibly gracious and engaged on the way in,” recalled Marcus Brauchli, then the executive editor of The Washington Post, but departed “with maximum efficiency.”

Kind of a meh story about a meh topic – how Ben Carson came to endorse Trump – contains this delicious detail that I can’t get out of my head:

On several occasions, Trump and his wife Melania hosted Carson and his wife Candy for dinner at (Mar-a-Lago).

Mercy. Imagine the sparkling conversation at that table.

A little less levity, then? Josh Marshall on the violence at Trump rallies, with a warning.

One thing the Flint disaster may lead to is the end of the “let’s run government like a business” stuff, because as we know all too well, it doesn’t always work out.

And that wraps it up for me. Tip your waitresses and enjoy your week.

Posted at 12:15 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

36 responses to “Tax time.”

  1. basset said on March 14, 2016 at 12:53 am

    Come on now, Mr. T’s outfit is all starched up and in a pattern that only a very small part of the US Army still uses. Probably means a lot to him.

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  2. Crazycatlady said on March 14, 2016 at 3:06 am

    What I don’t get is grown men who wear baseball caps backwards. Why? You are not a hip teen! And people who dress like bums for Jury Duty. It’s serious business.

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  3. Brandon said on March 14, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Come on now, Mr. T’s outfit is all starched up and in a pattern that only a very small part of the US Army still uses. Probably means a lot to him.

    What basset said. Although Mr. T’s Wikipedia article includes a photo of him in black tie at his 2014 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony, it’s not known if he had owned or just rented the tuxedo for the occasion.

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  4. alex said on March 14, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Remember, Mr. T is all about Mr. T. I’ll cut him some slack. His greatest claim to fame, even greater than his lackluster TV career, was this. Later his status as a celebrity was briefly revived with this.

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  5. Suzanne said on March 14, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I have noticed people in my neck of the wood more and more attending weddings in very casual attire, like slacks and a sweater for women & kakhis and golf shirt or nice tee shirt for men. We attended an afternoon summer wedding several years ago at which there were quite a few people in jean shorts, tee shirts, and flip flops. And it wasn’t a beach theme wedding or anything but just a normal church wedding.
    Thank goodness the scanky dress craze seems to have passed. There were a few years when I kind of dreaded attending church because there were so many strapless mini dresses or spaghetti strap tops with bra straps flailing about. I was never sure if I was at a meeting of women of the evening or morning religious services. I know, God doesn’t care but when I attend church, I seriously don’t want to see your underwear.

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  6. brian stouder said on March 14, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Basset at the end of the last thread:

    Good stuff, indeed!

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  7. brian stouder said on March 14, 2016 at 8:47 am

    By the way – Chloe (our 11 year old) and Pam and I caught Zootopia yesterday, and I have to say……that movie has a decidedly Trumpian world-view.

    I’ve not read anything about it yet, but there must be a queasy review or two, and I’ll agree with them, in advance

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  8. BethB from Indiana said on March 14, 2016 at 9:14 am

    I attended my aunt’s funeral a few years ago and was dismayed to see her grandson-in-law (is that a word?) sitting a few rows ahead in jeans and a logo tee shirt of some sort. The funeral was in a church, and I wasn’t used to seeing such casualness in a place of worship.

    Several years later, I attended church with my sister, and in the group that came forward to collect the offering there was a woman who had on a spaghetti-strapped dress. Maybe it had been commonplace there for some time, but it was the first time I’d seen it!

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  9. Deborah said on March 14, 2016 at 9:19 am

    My biggest beef with inappropriate dressing is grown men who dress like toddlers. I do not get that.

    Are we all enjoying daylight saving time? I know I am.

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  10. Icarus said on March 14, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Not to be a Mr T apologist by any means but I suspect celebrities — even hasbeens like him — feel a need to project a certain image or brand at all times. If he showed up in a suit we wouldn’t be talking about him right now would we?

    I hate DST and think we should get rid of it. I read a piece a while ago about consolidating some of the many time zones too. To be honest there are numerous things we cling to that we don’t need to do anymore. Election day doesn’t have to be the 2nd Tuesday of November for any practical reason. Move it to a weekend. Nor does Thanksgiving have to be so late in November and so close to Christmas. Move Halloween to the beginning of October or end of September.

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  11. Deborah said on March 14, 2016 at 9:42 am

    And speaking of holidays, today is Pi Day and it’s a big one: 3.1416. We’re probably making a key lime pie to celebrate.

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  12. brian stouder said on March 14, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Gotta love Pi Day! What’s the old saying? – Pie are round; cake are square?

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  13. Julie Robinson said on March 14, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Did Mr T serve in the military? Even if he did, there are spiffy military dress suits, which would have been much more appropriate. And I too decry men in shorts and polo shirts at formal weddings, where the bride is wearing a $5000 dress and has six bridesmaids, and the reception is at a swanky venue. When my MIL was buried, we had to bring several of hubby’s ties for the pallbearers, because three or four of them didn’t own one.

    And yet, and yet, and yet…yesterday morning at church I walked by a family where the sons were being derided for wearing jeans and nice hoodies to church. Stepdad was proclaiming himself as GQ (not really, he had on dress pants and shirt, but no tie or jacket) and saying they lacked respect. I tried to ease by without eye contact, but the woman pointed me out as someone dressed up nicely for church, so I felt I had the right to engage. I smiled at the young men and pointed out that unlike so many others, they were there. Stepdad said touché and I smiled again and went on my way. And said a silent prayer for their relationship.

    Both my kids are working at a poll station tomorrow in Orlando so I should have some interesting stories to share. Daughter is anticipating issues. Voters have to declare their party 29 days prior to the election to vote in the primary, and she is the help desk person that will deal with them, as well as anyone whose signature doesn’t match (happening more and more since people are signing in on tablets) and any other problems. She can give them a provisional ballot but the supervisors are strongly discouraging them, since they mean time and money to investigate, and her station is only being issued five. It’s gonna be a long day!

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  14. Joe K said on March 14, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Brian, Zootopia, Trumpian? Really? It’s a cartoon enjoy it for what it is, a well written funny movie, I saw it last week and laughed the whole way thru, especially the part with Tommy Chong, never once thought of politics thru the whole thing, highly recommended everyone go see it and enjoy.
    Love dst, extra hour at night love it, who needs it to be light at 4 in the morning? Only problem I can see is Al Gore probably thinks it contributes to global warming due to the sun being out later in the day.
    Chicago protesters? I think they have the right to protest OUT SIDE the venue as long as it doesn’t interfere with the people trying to get in but inside? No, at least in my way of thinking I figure that to be a private function payed for by a individual and therefore who ever it is should not have to worry about being shouted down, and that goes for both sides, Hill and Bern, shouldn’t have to worry about being interrupted, Trump shouldn’t either.
    Pilot Joe

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  15. brian stouder said on March 14, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Joe – Chloe loved it and Pam thought I was crazy, so there’s that!

    And on thinking about it again*, it was Hillary who got in trouble for referring to the sort of inner-city gang-bangers and so on as “super predators” – so that movie’s take was really more Clintonian than Trumpian….made me queasy in any case

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  16. basset said on March 14, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Julie@13, Dr. Wiki says he was an army enlisted man for awhile.

    and back when DST was first getting started there was some opposition in the Indiana legislature… some members thought the extra hour of light would burn the crops.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on March 14, 2016 at 11:18 am

    I recently attended the funeral of my friend’s wife, who largely drank herself to death at age 49. I wore a black suit and a white shirt and shined shoes and was one of four men wearing ties. Most were in jeans and sneakers. One guy –he is a very large fellow and maybe it was all he had that fit– was honest to god in sweat pants and sweat shirt. The women dressed more appropriately overall, but even some of the ladies were in jeans. There is no sense of propriety any more, I guess.

    When I teach, I always wear a suit, dress shirt and tie and shined shoes. Aside from setting a little distance between me and the students and adding a small note of formality to class, I think it sets a proper example, even if so many companies these days no longer have “dress codes.” Fifteen years of working at a business newspaper in Chicago where suits were the uniform of the day –you never knew when you might wind up in a CEO’s office on short notice– left me with a both a closet full of suits and a propensity to wear them.

    Re: baseball caps indoors. Anyone remember that scene in “The Sopranos” where Tony grows slowly more angry at an obnoxious yuppie in a ball cap at another table in Artie Buco’s restaurant and finally confronts the twerp? Sure, Tony was a murderous, thieving, philandering thug, but he knew how to dress.

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  18. Charlotte said on March 14, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Oh how well we remember the Great Chainsaw Massacre on Greenbay Road! Especially since it was Mr. T himself out there wielding the saw. An old family friend was the mayor at the time, and it was the last day of his tenure. When folks started streaming into his office in hysterics he famously said “It’s my last day. Let Tyler Cain deal with it tomorrow.” They’re all for private property rights until someone does something they don’t like (although coming into the Mr. T savannah after several miles of lovely oak tree tunnel is a little startling). Also, he got them all het up because the rumor was he was going to run a summer camp, for BLACK CHILDREN. Heavens.

    The dressing thing — I don’t go to church anymore, but around here “good” jeans (with a crease) and clean cowboy boots are considered appropriate. I don’t get the spaghetti strap/bra strap thing, but all my younger girls seem to feel that since the bras are so padded, they’re nearly outerwear(?). And I live with a guy who HATES formal clothes. As one might imagine, growing up in Lake Forest, there were many many dress codes, most of which I can still pull off when I go home. Athough the preppy instinct is fading after 30 years in the West.

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  19. Sherri said on March 14, 2016 at 11:52 am

    DST or no DST, I just hate the change twice a year. Pick one and stick with it.

    I saw Assassins last night, the Stephen Sondheim musical about successful and failed Presidential assassins, not normally a topic you’d associate with a musical, but imagine the second half of Into the Woods, only darker. It seemed quite apt for this election season.

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  20. Julie Robinson said on March 14, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Hubby still wears a suit everyday and I’ve noticed the options for buying them decreasing, much less real estate in the department stores. I coordinate the shirts and ties and spend an hour or more every week ironing those darn shirts, ‘cos I’m a cheapskate perfectionist. I’m also amazed that many of my friends don’t even own an iron.

    My sister’s in the hospital once again; it’s almost a monthly thing now. She went in with a massive infection, then diabetic ketoacidosis, and an ultrasound has just found gallstones. Trials of Job.

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  21. alex said on March 14, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Here goes Pence again:

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  22. Sue said on March 14, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Crazycatlady@2, you mean like this?

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  23. Sue said on March 14, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    I’ve learned to chill on wedding and funeral attire. I get what you’re saying, but with our 24/7 work world, you don’t get a ‘save the date’ card for a funeral, and I’m glad the days are gone where you can be judged on having not-good-enough ‘best’ clothes.
    Most people come for a wake/funeral around a work schedule these days, I’ve noticed. Just happy to see them. Although I did think it was funny one time noticing the miniskirted (black of course) spike heeled young lady getting ready to go to the gravesite service of her elderly relative, in January, in a snowstorm.
    As to weddings, about 10 years ago I attended a wedding in Carbondale, Illinois, almost as Southern Illinois as you can go without ending up in Kentucky. A northern Illinois boy (Chicago burbs) was marrying a southern Illinois girl, and there could have been a bit of culture shock. A large percentage of the locals wore overalls and caps, but everything was new, all of it, and they looked pretty nice. And we mingled nicely, even my niece’s boyfriend with the screw piercing sticking out of his lower lip didn’t seem to phase anyone. The only issue was the lady who turned around and looked at me – a long look and not very nice. I was wearing a long velvet dress and I felt like I should apologize to her and explain that I got it from Fashion Bug so it didn’t really count as snobwear. She was wearing fawn-colored leather pants and jacket, with fringe, and moccasins.

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  24. Jerri said on March 14, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Don’t forget that just before the dinner, President Obama had given the order to raid the Bin Laden compound. His remarks to Trump had even more of a sting by that Sunday night.

    From Inside Edition that day:
    President Obama said, “Obviously we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. In an episode of Celebrity Apprentice, you didn’t blame Little John, or Meat Loaf, you fired Gary Busey. These are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.”

    The article continued:
    As if things couldn’t get any worse for Trump this weekend, Celebrity Apprentice was interrupted last night for the President’s big announcement.

    My husband and I thought that Trump was finished that weekend.

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  25. JoeK said on March 14, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    If I would happen to go west before anyone else don’t worry what your wearing when you pay your respects, just stop out at the Dekalb county airport listen to some Allman Brothers, have a cold Budweiser and a ham sandwich I’ll be picking up the tab.
    Pilot Joe

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  26. brian stouder said on March 14, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Jerri – indeed.

    I would say that video will make a very fine 60 second commercial, in the highly unfortunate event that the Donald gets the nomination of the Grand Old Party

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  27. Heather said on March 14, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    About 15 years ago I was living in Italy and went to my roommate’s wedding to her boyfriend. It was just a civil ceremony but it took place in a building on the Campidoglio, a beautiful public square designed by Michelangelo. Anyway, the groom’s young cousins showed up in jeans and casual winter jackets. So much for Italians being such elegant dressers.

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  28. Fritinancy said on March 14, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    “The women looked spectacular, heels and hair and makeup and clothes, the sort of turnout that suggested at least an hour of prep work, on top of a lot of regular maintenance. The men? Looked like boys.” Let Rachel Bloom womansplain it:

    The trend in funeral attire around here (Oakland, California) is T-shirts with a photo of the (often teenage) deceased. It does make a statement, if not quite a fashion statement.

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  29. David C. said on March 14, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    If I could choose, I’d opt for DST year around. I don’t need sun in the morning and I sure don’t need it to be light in June at 4:30 in the morning like it would be without DST.

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  30. Mark P. said on March 14, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    I once went to the US Army base at Kwajalein Atoll. A fellow contractor from another company and I had some time off, so we wandered around the island looking at what there was to look at (not much). We ended up at the little bar (I say “the” because to my knowledge it is the only bar on the island) in late afternoon. I took off my baseball cap, but the other guy left his on. The bartender told us that normally if a man comes in and doesn’t remove his hat, he has to buy drinks for everyone in the bar. Seeing that we were strangers there, he let it slide. Just this once, you understand. I didn’t need the reminder that a gentleman (or any man, for that matter) removes his hat when he comes inside.

    But speaking of stupid dress codes, when I was a reporter many years ago, the newspaper required all the men to wear a tie. I did so, although it was always loose. One reporter wore a turtleneck sweater one day, and he had to have a tie on even though it was completely hidden by the sweater.

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  31. Deborah said on March 14, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    Because I travel so often between mountain and central time, I’m often changing my watch and adjusting to time zone changes, it doesn’t bother me to go from “regular” time to DST. The only thing that causes me a little grief in changes is the altitude, whenever I come back to Santa Fe it takes me a few days to not feel winded when I walk a few miles.

    Little Bird has been on cloud nine all day today because she went to an event last night at the Cocteau Theater here in Santa Fe, owned by George R.R. Martin and she met Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer. She had no idea they would be there, it was an animation festival, Amanda Palmer had a short animation in the program. It wasn’t well attended for some reason, maybe bad publicity because I hadn’t even heard of it and I love animation shorts.

    Also we’re getting the Santa Fe place ready for the onslaught of the Chicago furniture coming in a week or two. And we met with a fantastic guy today who is making all of the doors and windows for our place in Abiquiu. He was amazing to talk to, a Hispanic guy who graduated from Notre Dame where his father was a professor. The guy majored in philosophy and literature but when he graduated he got into woodworking and he’s a master. He took us to lunch and we could have listened to his stories about 60’s radicals in Chicago forever, he knew a lot of them.

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  32. Dexter said on March 14, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    I saw one game at old Chicago Stadium, in `1984, Michael Jordan’s rookie year…he had hair then. My brother was owner of a sign business and he had season tickets which he’d use for customer-lures but he took me that Saturday night to see our old favorite team, Boston Celtics. I remember Larry Bird had the flu and scored but nine points and the Bulls destroyed the Celtics. Also I have one big memory that I totally recall. Sitting courtside was Mister T. At halftime he sauntered around, waving to the legion of cheering fans, clearly relishing the attention. I don’t recall exactly what he had on his torso, but I do remember he had those Skidz or(now called) Zubaz pants on, and military boots with the colorful print baggy pants bloused. He was fit, he looked mean and trim in the waist but all muscle-ee up top, with huge arms. Mohawk, clean, impressive.
    Personally, I was shamed for wearing an army field jacket one time, but by a damn high school kid at the 1975 MLB playoffs between the Redlegs and Pirates…a baseball game. I was standing on the concourse watching batting practice and this snide punk started saying crap like, “you hitchhike down here?—how’d a bum like you ever get a ticket to our ballpark”. Somehow he thought fans of baseball should all wear monogrammed Polo shirts and have short hair, I guess. And I was clean but I had the longest hair ever of my life, and with the field jacket, the one I wore through a tour of the Vietnam war, well, that equated “bum” to that kid.
    The comments about the young men in “back-ards” ball caps reminded me of a trip I made to Detroit to visit a friend’s cousin for some serious suburban rock&roll clubbin’. The cousin had two male roommates, sharing a rented house in Livonia, and those dudes had beautiful girlfriends, real knockouts. I only ever saw the fellas in boots and jeans and tees before, but when they took their ladies out…well, I was impressed. Perfectly shined shoes, stylish pants and coats and ties. Wherever the foursome were headed, they certainly passed muster, I would guess.
    And who can forget Sarah Palin sharing NYC pizza with Trump. In New York, you grab your slice and fold it and eat quickly. Trump and Palin cut it with knife and fork. Sheesh.

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  33. Dexter said on March 14, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    I don’t remember when it started but until recently cable tv talking heads wore suits. Take a gander at msnbc’s “Morning Joe” sometime in his ridiculous cobra-hood sweater. Sports side, Dan Patrick and his Danettes dress like the crew of landscapers come to cut grass and lay down mulch.
    My brother-in-law who died in November was a Harley biker and had a biker’s funeral. Hundreds of bikers attended in colors…the sermon was given by a biker preacher in colors. I wore a solid black dress shirt, no tie, and khaki pants. Nobody had a tie on, except my niece’s little nine year old boy. The preliminary music was BLARING Kid Rock music,…not sure of the title, but lyrics included “You ain’t never met a motherfucker like me”. My wife is really a typical church lady and she was totally appalled. Yeah, it was in a church, too…a former department store converted to a “Life Changing Realities” church.

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  34. basset said on March 15, 2016 at 2:47 am

    And another example of the national dumbing down:

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  35. Kirk said on March 15, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Fixing to go vote here in Ohio, but am torn about which party to declare. I normally vote in Democratic primaries, but it’s tempting to do my bit against Trump. Big question is whether I can actually cast a vote for a guy like Kasich, although I’ve voted for dipshit Republicans in primaries before, just so I could vote against bigger dipshit Republicans (like James Rhodes).

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  36. Dexter said on March 15, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Kirk…crossed my mind to go anti-Trump, but just a passing fancy. Nope, Bernie had me at “…make taxes work for everyone and not just for the billionaires.”
    Even though I voted for HRC in 2008, recent slips about the great anti-AIDS crusader Nancy Reagan and her total forgetfulness about Bernie’s advocacy for HRC’s health care reform…why, she’s seemingly lost her mind .

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