Hunting is good for you and the environment


New York City was treated to a Hunter’s Supermoon to start the week. It was fitting and inspiring, as hunting season is getting under way.

The fall is time for harvest and as we celebrate harvesting crops we also celebrate harvesting the animals that have traditionally been hunted in these parts. In the Northeast that is deer and turkey. The Northeast as an abundance of deer and it can be a problem. Housing development has taken away land the deer need and put them in closer proximity to humans. Overpopulation of deer causes more traffic accidents and make it more likely that deer will die of starvation or disease.

At the same time hunting is attracting fewer participants. I’m happy that it’s still very popular but there was a time when people of every kind would hunt regularly. I’m proud to say that I have a very wide variety of friends, but among my friends I’m one of the few that goes hunting.

Living in New York City, there is no legal place to hunt within the five boroughs and very little in the immediate suburbs at all approved for hunting. And the densely populated areas of Westchester to the North and the Long Island counties of Nassau and Suffolk mostly only allow bow hunting. Bow hunting is great but it is much more difficult to hunt that way.

I’ve heard the arguments against hunting: that we can somehow coexist with an overpopulation of animals that raid our gardens and run in front of our cars or teach deer to use birth control. That hunting is somehow cowardly because it involves killing an animal. Unless you are a Level Five Vegan, your life is made possible by the deaths of animals. I would be a hypocrite if I ate meat but wasn’t willing to go hunting.

Taking an animal’s life shouldn’t be taken lightly and many experienced hunters have let deer escape their sights if taking them doesn’t feel right. I don’t take a shot unless I have a very clear kill shot. There may have been deer that I could have taken if I was willing to wound them first and then track them and kill them, but the idea of letting an animal die a slow painful death is not something I’m willing to chance. And I guarantee the deer I take from the woods and eat has a much more pleasant life and death than the average steer that winds up as hamburger or steak.

The hunter that doesn’t treat animals with respect is no real hunter at all. Hunting isn’t easy. It means standing in the cold for hours at a time for the chance to take a shot you might miss. Sadly there are plenty of mindless cream puffs who want to treat hunting like it’s a video game, but these are a small minority who lack the patience and discipline and will soon tire of having to hunt in the real world.

You can also donate venison to the hungry. It’s nutritious, free range, low-fat meat and food pantries will take it if you’ve got too much.

So start by taking a hunter safety course. You’ll enjoy spending time outside and having some fresh food to eat.


Fear no battle: face your enemies to love life


Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were forced to say nice things about each other at the end of their most recent televised debate. It was the highlight of the debate and the question each candidate did the best at answering in my opinion.

There are deep ideological and cultural rifts coursing through this country, though is probably most consensus on things than people realize. Still, our politics reflect that and why shouldn’t they? There’s not a lot of consensus on things and we’re going to have to fight it out in the area of our legislatures and other corridors of power.

I submit this idea: there is more damage done by people trying to avoid fights than by engaging in them. Honestly think about that. We’re all so afraid of conflict that we will upend our lives to avoid them rather than face them head-on. Why?

Years ago when I was in college, I was active in a debate society and one of the officers was impeached and put on trial. It was trivial stuff that college kids love to blow out of proportion, but an entire meeting that would normally have been dedicated to debating the issues of the day was spent putting someone on trial with counsel and a judge and the society membership acting as jury. Debating the fate of the officer lasted into the wee hours of the morning, and he was convicted of several offenses but then not removed from office. Discussing this a year or so later, a member of a rival debate society thought this was the worst thing ever and boasted that this would never happen among their member. I told him, in the most diplomatic terms possible, that he was full of shit.

A life devoid of conflict is not life at all. And life is about resolving conflict, not avoiding it. What appeared to outsiders as a fratricidal bloodletting was business as usual for our group. We thrived on debate and emerged from the impeachment ordeal stronger and better. Sure there were hurt feelings and bruised egos; when aren’t there. A real debate society will never turn down an opportunity to debate.

Our state of politics is the same. It’s not comforting that the U.S. has widely disliked candidates heading our major parties’ tickets. But let’s have it out politically and fight our fights. Of course it’s going to get negative and nasty. Our statesmen of old were every bit as negative and back-biting as our politicians of today. The difference is that they didn’t pose and shirk their responsibilities to engage and fight it. That’s how things move forward. You’re not going to win every fight; but a battered fighter is worth ten times an unscathed coward.

Our Congress can block things and refuse to allow Supreme Court candidates or other candidates for important positions to come to a vote. That’s the most wuss thing you can do. Do you not want a candidate to hold office? Vote against them. Take a stand and let the chips fall where they may.

When battle lines are drawn, advance upon them, don’t retreat. Great nations were never built by people who avoided fighting for what they wanted.

New Yankee Stadium still sucks, but fans make their own fun


The New York Yankees represent a great tradition that goes back more than 100 years. They are the pinnacle of baseball and represent a dynasty that is the envy of the professional sports world. The Yankees also perfected another long-standing tradition in professional sports: screwing over their own fans in a grab for cash so shameless it would embarrass Ayn Rand.

The company I work for had a group social outing to see the Yankees play the Boston Red Sox in what happened to be a somewhat historic game. Boston’s David Ortiz, known as “Big Papi” was playing his last game at Yankee Stadium, so there would be a special ceremony there to bid him farewell.

Our small office closed early on the appointed day and we took the subway to Yankee Stadium with many of my coworkers honoring the tradition of sipping beer concealed in coffee cups on the way up. Meeting up with our boss and his son outside the Yankee Tavern, we headed to the Stadium.

The Yankees won’t let you print tickets if you order them online from certain places, so the one coworker who had the tickets had to open them in an email on her phone. The rest of us stood there waiting while she tried to get reception on her smart phone and then we could all enter. Why can’t someone print out one of their own damn tickets like everywhere else in the civilized universe? I don’t know but someone in the Yankee organization figured that they’d make a few more cents per ticket making things miserable for their fans.

The real Yankee Stadium was torn down years ago. It was a historic place, though much of its historic innards were destroyed when the stadium underwent a poorly-done renovation in the 1970s. The new Yankee Stadium fails as a baseball stadium in just about every way possible. The entire field is not clearly visible from every seat.

This stadium was built to sell overpriced merchandise with watching baseball as an afterthought and it shows. This game was no exception. There were long lines for the expensive concessions. The one central concession stand that serves the bleachers was crowded and some fans waited on long lines only to learn that they would have to stand on a different long line at the same counter if they wanted French fries or chicken. A stand-alone hot dog stand had a grill full of foot-long hot dogs, but the woman running it told a long line of people that none of the hot dogs were ready yet.

Our group had left-field bleachers, which are not good seats. The right-field bleachers, in the old Yankee Stadium was a notoriously rough place with merciless fans. Life in the bleacher seats of Yankee Stadium, like life elsewhere in New York City today, is a soft-pedalled and safer version of what it was. It plays at being the old days but doesn’t pull it off.

However, the fans in the bleachers still insist on having their own fun and being the voice of irreverence that the game desperately needs. It brought enjoyment to the game that is dulled by the frustrating shit-show that is Yankee Stadium.

We got there early enough to see David Ortiz get some gifts. It was great to see Yankee great David Cone come out onto the field to congratulate Big Papi. Like many other Red Sox, Ortiz was fun to hate. He was a tremendous hitter though and was a nightmare for any opposing team. Like many other star players of this era, his abilities were supplemented by performance-enhancing drugs. Fans broke into chants of “Let’s go steroids!” and plenty of Boston fans were there to repeatedly chant “Let’s go playoffs!” referring to the Red Sox superior position in the divisional rankings that guaranteed them a playoff berth.

As the innings wore on and the beer continued to flow, the chants and backtalk between the Boston and New York fans got more colorful. One of the most popular concessions at Yankee Stadium today is the chicken bucket, a serving of eight chicken tenders with a large helping of French fries served in a plastic bucket. Into the fifth inning fans began chanting “Chicken Bucket!!” in the cadence of the traditional “Let’s go Yankees!” chant.

“CHICK-en BUCK-et!” —clap, clap, clapclapclap—

“CHICK-en BUCK-et!” —clap, clap, clapclapclap—

As the chant wore on, Red Sox and Yankee fans would take turns hoisting these buckets into the air for all to see and appealing to the crowd for applause. Though Boston fans were numerous, Yankee fans still had the upper hand and would win more applause with the proud display of this snack souvenir.

Some of the insane banter and shouting from the fans made it more entertaining than the game, and Yankee fans got bolder as the Bronx Bombers got the upper hand and took control of the game. What helped was that the star of the show that brought out so many Boston fans, David Ortiz, was taken out of the game after only a few at-bats with a poor showing. It was great to feel the energy when he walked off the field, as Boston fans surely must have felt cheated to see their hero play so little. These tickets weren’t cheap for them either.

I was also heartened that another time-honored tradition of baseball, sneaking into more expensive seats later in the game, lives on. This new Yankee Stadium was built to prevent that and has a much-talked about “moat” to separate the rich bandwagon fans from the rest of us hoi-polloi, but my boss is a baseball fanatic and knows how to beat the system. He managed to get along the first base line as the innings wore on, watching the action up close from a seat that would have cost him more than all of our bleacher seats combined.

Listening to the people around us restored my faith in Yankee fans and the game itself. No matter how badly the Yankee organization craps on its own supporters, they can’t kill the spirit that brings so many to the bleachers of their shitty stadium. Yankees Inc. may insist on being every bit the evil empire, but Yankee fans won’t let those bastards destroy the game entirely.

Taking work email notifications off of my phone


This past Sunday I checked an email icon on my phone and saw that a work client had emailed me and several of my coworkers at 10 p.m. on a weekend night. The hilarious irony of it is that the email is about email protocols. I was not inspired to read the email of course. It can be read the next business day like most email.

But this email did inspire me to turn off my work email notifications on my smart phone. I can still read work emails on my device, and I understand there are times I may have to, but if some emergency happens people can call me—everyone at work who has ever gotten an email from me has both my work phone number and cell phone number in my email signature. I’ll listen to the voicemail and decide if it’s worth my time.

So the weekend email about email has inspired me in a way I hadn’t thought it ever would. I may be racking up lots of work emails on my phone and I won’t know about them until I check that email specifically. I’m done looking at my phone so often that I’m missing things in the real world. Stop looking at work emails on your phone unless your computer is broken.

I work for a public relations agency. In most jobs, some of the people you deal with are good and some are toxic crap, and the PR game is no different. There is no shortage of self-important imbeciles who seem to make it a point to call you at 5:30 on a Friday evening or send you emails on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night.

Very rarely will there be something that comes up after hours that requires a response. I can think of only one time over the past two years, and it was not really an emergency and it was already handled by other people before I had a chance to respond. I think the reason some people make it a point to email and call at odd hours is to rattle you, to infect your thoughts and to give them attention they can’t earn legitimately. It’s trying to assert a control and project an urgency that is by its very premise sleazy and disrespectful.

With the advent of services that allow you to send emails at a future date and time, the after-hours and weekend emails are unnecessary if not outright offensive. If you’re sending work emails over the weekend, you’re not telling the world you work hard, you’re telling the world you’re an asshole.

My policy is that if a client’s CEO kills a hooker, then I’ll answer your calls after hours. Otherwise it can wait until the next business day. There are people I know with jobs that require nights and weekends. These are doctors and first-responders. When a fire breaks out or a plane crashes, no one sends an email or a group text about it. They use the damn phone.

Maybe this attitude will get me fired. But if I get fired for not working nights and weekends, I’ll be the better (if poorer) man for it. I refuse to be a zombie answering slavishly to a mobile device.

Post seasonal vacation terror keeps New York true


Summer vacations are best taken after Labor Day, when the summer season is considered over and people are back to the grind. Leaving New York City after Labor Day is a reward for sticking it out in the horrendous heat of this summer.

My family went to Long Beach Island, New Jersey, a tourist mecca that becomes much quieter after Labor Day. The weather was wonderful over the weekend and we enjoyed relaxing on the beach while our toddler girls were mesmerized with experimenting with water and sand. I had no idea such simple ingredients could keep children entertained for hours and have a new appreciation for the beach.

While we were enjoying the ocean air and seafood, we saw the news of the string of bombings that happened in New Jersey and New York City. Long gone are the days when news like that would have sent us running to turn on the TV news. We’ve become much more accustomed to these kinds of events. But before long the damage was assessed with no fatalities, the usual Internet debates sprung up before the dust settled, and within hours of the bombing in Chelsea the authorities had their suspect.

And has been noted before, New York does not scare easily and we overcame fears of bombs years ago. Maybe you can scare a smaller city like Boston or San Francisco with a homemade explosive, but that’s plainly piddling stuff for the Big Apple.

Some of the best comments to win the Internet noted that the bombing brought New Yorkers of all kinds together to acknowledge that 23rd and 6th is not Chelsea but the Flatiron neighborhood. No doubt plenty of real estate brokers will consider it Chelsea to jack up the rent, but you have to get to 7th Avenue to be considered Chelsea. Sorry terrorists.

That the device was planted in what was mistakenly thought to be Chelsea could be a sign that the bomber wanted to target gays, since Chelsea is known as a gay neighborhood. Then again, the suspect in custody put it close to PATH train stations in both Manhattan and Elizabeth, which could mean he was too lazy to walk far in Manhattan. Seeing as he’s spent most of his time in this country working at a fried chicken restaurant in New Jersey, I’m guessing the latter. You don’t have to be hard-working to be a jihadist, just a delusional lunatic.

What warms my heart about the incident the most was not that there were no fatalities or that the suspect was quickly apprehended—and hats off to our first responders for all of that of course. What makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside and have faith that the New York of my youth is not completely gone is that the second device left in Manhattan was discovered when people tried to steal the suitcase it was stored in. That lives were saved by old-fashioned larceny means that the grit and crime that characterized our streets for decades lives on and in some small way redeems us. It figures this clown came from New Jersey; real New Yorkers know an unattended bag is going to be stolen faster than any detonator.

But like our overcoming the horrors of the September 11 attacks, it fills Americans with pride that New Yorkers did not wallow in horror or self-pity at this incident. We simply kept performing the never-ending calculus of planning around delays and diversions that becomes second-nature. Don’t lead the newscast with a body count, New Yorkers say, tell us which subways are closed.

Islamic terrorists planted bombs thinking they can stop New Yorkers from drinking in bars. Better people have died trying.

New York City will be here forever


In March of 2001, I saw a procession of people marching behind a fire engine down a street in Greenwich Village. I followed to see what was happening. It was a 90th anniversary commemoration in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which remains one of the deadliest event of its kind in New York. Firefighters stood at attention near their fire engine as people read the names of the 146 young women who perished.

Less than six months later, the September 11 attacks became the deadliest day in New York City history (displacing not the Triangle Shirtwaist fire but the General Slocum disaster, which killed more than 1,000 people).

What lesson I take from the September 11 attacks is that New York City’s spirit can’t be defeated and that New York City will be here forever.

The crucible of city life creates a population that can’t be broken. While crime is lower, it doesn’t mean survival has gotten easier. People are too busy to be scared, and New York was back up and running in less than a week. We pause to honor the dead but realize it would be an insult to the memory of those lost for us not to continue our lives.

Terrorist work to create fear in a population, which makes it all the more pointless for them to attack New York, a city that overcame collective fear a long time ago.

What we keep from the attacks are the demonstrations of our valor and courage. Every year in September, people come from around the world to run or walk the Tunnel to Towers 5K, which traces the route of Firefighter Stephen Siller, who ran through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel on September 11th to get to the site of the attacks where he gave his life for our city. Firefighters from every corner of the globe will often run in full firefighting gear as Siller did. If you’ve never taken part in one of these, you owe it to yourself to do. You won’t regret it, I promise you.

One of New York’s greatest punk bands, The Bullys, lost a founding member, Firefighter John Heffernan, in the attacks. Every year they commemorate his life with an awesome punk rock show. The defiant sounds of blaring punk rock and The Bullys incessant musical “fuck you” to all manner of poseurs and pussies defines New York more than weeping and flowers, though those have their place too.

People I had worked with, immigration inspectors at J.F.K. airport, went to Manhattan on their own time to do what they could, people lined up for hours on end to donate blood. New Yorkers stood on the West Side Highway into the wee hours of the morning to thank first responders heading home from long shifts on the pile. These are the images and lessons I remember about New York City from those days.

New York City is older than America. It was a force on this continent before it was even New York. It will still be here two thousand years from now. Live in it to the fullest or leave.

The sorry state of labor this Labor Day


Labor Day is a day we honor American workers and recognize the great gains we’ve made from the days when children worked in factories. It’s generally devoid of the larger political meaning for most Americans. It’s the end of the summer season for us. May Day, the first day of May, is the celebration of labor for most of the world even though it has its origins here in the U.S.

And here in the U.S. the labor movement is barely breathing even though it’s needed more than ever. I’m not a member of a union though I’d gladly join one. I work in public relations now, having “gone over to the dark side” from journalism two years ago.

And the news business is suffering and still handing out layoffs left and right. I’ve seen journalists and writers training their Indian replacements before being laid off. There wasn’t a union around to do anything about that; a real labor union would have fought tooth and nail to stop that and at least made sure the executive who thought that up was given an attitude adjustment.

In the public relations agency business, you have a number of different bosses in the form of the clients the firm represents. Some of these clients are very bright and savvy businesspeople who are a pleasure to work with and some of them are ignorant succubae who think they should be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal every week. I’m the oldest person in the small office and the one with the most journalism experience.

Just this past week, I got an email from a client at 7:50 p.m. Friday night and another one Saturday night at around 8:30 p.m. This is needless head game crap from a high-maintenance client and I’m not going to be part of it. Bosses and customers are like dogs not because they are loyal and lovable but because they have to be trained and housebroken. A client or manager will shit all over everything and eat your lunch if you let them. So I am going to patiently wait until our long weekend is over before I respond to these weekend emails. Unless a client’s CEO kills a hooker, I’m not going to work weekends.

There’s a sick strain in our culture where people claim to work absurdly long hours, trying to look like they’re some kind of mad workaholic genius. It’s really stupid, phony and transparent to think that sending emails at bizarre times means you’re a harder worker or better at your job. You don’t look dedicated when you do that, you look dumb.

I am convinced that my boss once emailed me from the toilet in the men’s room of our office. It’s a small office and I got an email from him and he wasn’t at his desk and there was no one in the conference room. Perhaps I should have been insulted but I thought it was funny. I wanted to respond to him that I was convinced he was on the toilet when he sent this email, but that might have been counterproductive. On one hand I admired his ability to multitask at all costs and his ability to be doubly productive while ensconced on the company throne. I cannot help but smile at the thought of our leader addressing an important client matter while squeezing out a growler.

But on the other hand, having to work at your job while sitting on the toilet is a sad state of affairs. If ever there is a time that a person should be alone with their own thoughts and have a moment of quiet personal contemplation, it should be their bathroom time. No one would consider it proper to send work emails from their smart phone while sitting in church, and the toilet has become the de facto confessional and meditation center of the American worker today. I don’t ever want to have a job where I feel it’s necessary to send work emails while sitting on the toilet.

At any rate, I like my boss well enough but don’t want his job. If I ever decide to quit in a big way, I’ll walk out and head home, maintaining a Zen-like calm over everything as the chaos and bad blood swirls around me. The media business is a rough business and those that work in and around it know that the times are changing faster than we can keep up with it. If you have a job in media or public relations, you are closer to unemployment than you’d like to think.

I’m lucky this Labor Day because despite the sorry state of American labor I have a wife who would forgive me if I quit tomorrow and dug ditches for a living. As long as I have hands that will work and feet that will carry me to the next work site, I will keep a roof over my family’s head and food in their stomachs.

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