Things will be better when you’re gone.

September 14, 2011

First, I’d like to thank my friend for allowing me to post this on his blog since it doesn’t necessarily relate to the overall theme of my personal blog.

These thoughts have been brewing for a while now.  I’ve shared my dark philosophy with my close friends but never quite as out loud or publicly as this platform will offer.  It’s pretty depressing, but I feel that the truth behind the message might change the way that people think about certain issues that aren’t yet socially acceptable for whatever reason.

Tonight I read a post in a Facebook group about a high school student that was expressing how disappointed he was with a conversation that his parents had with one another.  His parents’ conversation was about another set of parents that were extremely upset that their child announced that he was a homosexual and how they would be devastated if their one child did the same.  It inspired me to open my laptop and type this post.

Over the past few years, I have developed a firm stance on gay rights.  Not because I am gay myself, but because I am open-minded.  If that last statement was insulting to you then you should probably read on and probably be even more insulted.  I realize that people might not share the same views as me but they are still entitled to their own views and lifestyles.  That’s my definition of open-minded.  If you feel otherwise based on your religion, political affiliation, or because “that’s the way you were raised” then you aren’t open-minded.  You are basing how everyone else should live on the set of standards that you set for yourself.  Just stop and think about it for a second.  No really, stop right now before reading the next paragraph and just pause to think about the things that you believe and how they affect the happiness of others.  (Pause and count to 30)

I didn’t always feel as passionate as I do now about equality.  It was only a few years ago that the words “faggot” and “nigger” were part of my regular vocabulary.  It’s not something that I am proud of by any means.  Now, I actually am quite offended when I hear people use these words even in a playful sense.  It’s really not funny to me any more.  Who the hell am I (and you) to tell other people how to live their life if it’s not directly affecting the way I live mine?  I might not agree with it but I support that very right.

I thought about how things changed of the course of history and how embarrassing it is to think that the rights that some people have today were denied not long ago in our past.  From slavery to women’s right to vote, it’s embarrassing.  It’s embarrassing to think of how big of a deal it is that we now have a black president because we never thought in our recent past that we would ever see this as possible and acceptable.  It’s milestones like these that expose how narrow-minded we actually are as a society.

Over time, things get better but it’s never fast enough.  I credit the changes in socially acceptable issues to more open-mindedness from generation to generation.  Our ancestors socially accepted rights that denied others of those very same rights and we are still doing the same thing today with gay marriage.  It will again be embarrassing to look back 20 years from now when gay marriage is passed (hopefully much much sooner) and wonder why we waited so long to pass a law that allows people to be happy.  Gays aren’t looking for anything else but equality and we as a society are denying them of that.  That’s embarrassing.

As generations continue they become more accepting to the beliefs of others.  My generation is more accepting of homosexuality than my parents’ generation and definitely more accepting than their parents’ generation.  What is awesome about this trend is that my children will live in a world that is more accepting than the very one in which I live.  It’s very offensive and insulting to accept the concept that things will be better when you’re (I’m) gone and that’s a beautiful thing for our children, their children and so on.

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I support local business: Vol. 2

July 28, 2010

Unless you’re a member of the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) or one of the few thousand people who live in Northwestern Pennsylvania, you probably haven’t heard of Conneaut Lake Park.  Since my guess is probably not many people who stop in here are ACE members, I’ll give you a brief rundown.

Opened in 1892 as Exposition Park, the resort area began to expend wildly beginning with the remodeling of the Exposition Hotel into what would become what is now the Hotel Conneaut.  After its remodeling in 1902-03, the hotel boasted 150 guest rooms for the reasonable price of $1.00 per day and the park .  Guests stormed to the area to check out the new Figure Eight roller coaster.  Soon the area was bustling with tourism (there were at one point over 12 hotels in the surrounding lake area) and in order to give the park a more “amusement park” feel to it, it was renamed Conneaut Lake Park in 1920.

By the early 1940s, Conneaut Lake Park boasted several rides, such as the Tumble Bug and the ACE famous Blue Streak.  And then, like everything in Northwestern Pennsylvania that was at one point grossly popular, fire struck the park.  Specifically Hotel Conneaut.  Half of the 300 rooms were destroyed in a fire in 1943, and with it, the hopes and dreams of the region went up in smoke as well.

Since the fire of ’43, Conneaut Lake Park has had well documented legal and financial problems that have resulted in, at times, the closing of the park.  Its biggest claim-to-fame since the ’40s has been the fact that the park was so rundown, producers of the post-apocalyptic film ‘The Road’ selected Conneaut Lake Park as one of the crown jewels in a world devastated by disaster.

And here are your fifteen minutes of fame, Conneaut Lake Park. Enjoy them.

However, after going through all of that, there’s a real opportunity for the community to again embrace what was once a historic and beautiful area.  Through the Arts and Culture division of Pepsi’s “Refresh Everything” campaign, Conneaut Lake Park is up for a $50,000 grant to repair and reopen the Blue Streak rollercoaster.

Take a minute and cast your vote for the Blue Streak here.  You can link your vote directly to your facebook account, or submit an e-mail address if you haven’t joined the facebook community like the rest of the world.

Will $50,000 restore Conneaut Lake Park to its once glorious and successful state?  Absolutely not.

But it’s a step in the right direction.

Sources: 1, 2, 3


Vagabondage

July 7, 2010
‘…[they] were lounging upon the velvety lawn in front of the ranch foreman’s residence, and while the silvery stars were peacefully twinkling in the heavens overhead, they were repeating stories of their checkered lives, which only too often brought back memories of those long-ago days, before they too had joined the flotsam of that class of the “underworld”, who, too proud to degrade themselves to the level of outright vagrancy while yet there was a chance to exchange long and weary hours of the hardest kind of labor for the right to earn an honorable existence, were nevertheless, included by critical society in that large clan of homeless drifters – “The Tramps”.’ – Leon Ray Livingston, “The Trail of the Tramp”

My little brother Jon is quite the historian.  This could stem from his college major in secondary education social studies or because he’s a little nerd.  Either way, he’s pretty good about remembering dates, and events, dictators and other things of that nature.  I prefer memorizing the league leaders in OPS during each baseball season, but to each their own.

A while back, Jon wrote a piece about the storied history of our home town, Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, which you can check out here.  Cambridge Springs has a pretty interesting history.  Our town can boast about having a sitting President, William H. Taft, staying in it.  We have a bad-ass opening chess move that originated in our town, known as the Cambridge Springs Variation [Gambit].  Our town is also the halfway point between New York and Chicago via railroad, which used to be a big deal when dastardly villains were still tying maidens to the train tracks.

Enjoy the beautiful scenery of Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania.

And that is a perfect segway into today’s topic.  We all know what busy train tracks means: hobos.  Now, first off, I understand that everyone’s mental picture of a hobo is not the same.  A hobo, in the context of this writing piece, is simply a migrant worker.  Most people think of that kid in school who was too poor to afford a Halloween costume, so their parents dressed them up in a tattered old jacket and wrapped a handkerchief around their neck.  They still got to wear their shoes, which were appropriately enough full of holes.  Don’t cringe.  We all knew those kids in elementary school.  Hobos are nothing like this.

There is also a big difference between a homeless person who will give you a handjob for a cheeseburger and 3 cigarettes and a hobo.  Homeless people are disgusting.  A hobo is much more romantic, in the literary sense.  I suppose you could say that they would be the Jedi of homeless people.  Hobos are totally awesome.  Do you see the difference now?

Look at how baller being a hobo really is.

One of the more interesting pieces about the history of Cambridge Springs is Leon Ray Livingston, AKA – “A-No. 1”.  A quick Google search will teach you that this man is quite possibly the most famous hobo ever.  He invented and popularized hobo symbols, which are a series of symbols used to communicate to other hobos about important information and how they may be received in the community.  A self proclaimed wanderlust, Livingston embraced the drifter lifestyle and even paired up with Jack London for period of his travels.  While his hobo-ness began out of necessity, he quickly embraced the lifestyle and died, from all accounts, a wealthy man.

Try writing your next Christmas card with these.

Rumor also has it that A-No. 1 purchased a gravestone in Cambridge Springs because of how much he loved returning to our town.  Apparently it reads quite poignantly, “A-No. 1 – The Rambler At Rest as Last.” (I’m not 100% certain of the punctuation on the tombstone.  People on the internet cite it all kinds of different ways)

Because of Jon’s introduction to this incredibly interesting drifter, I hopped onto my amazon.com account and purchased ‘The Trail of the Tramp’, one of several autobiographical stories written by A-No. 1.  As previously mentioned, Cambridge Springs has an amazing wealth of history.  However, most of that history is kept alive through local community members and high school teachers.  Very rarely does one have an opportunity to learn through firsthand knowledge of life in that bustling metropolis in early 1900’s Northwestern Pennsylvania.

So I’ve dived in eagerly to ‘The Trail of the Tramp’ to see what life was like for Leon Ray Livingston.  A vagabond playboy of the highest caliber.  The hobo high roller.  He was like the Mick Jagger of hoboing.  After reading a few chapters, in all honesty, aside from watching all of his friends die from exposure or disease, it doesn’t seem like his way of life was all that bad.  Everyone he talked to had really cool nicknames, which seems like a definite plus to hoboing.  I personally have never had a really cool nickname, but it’s something I’ve always wanted.

Maybe it’s time for me to take to rails.

Take some time and check out Leon Ray Livingston at amazon.com.  Instead of going out on a Saturday night this weekend, spend that money on a book.  Nestle up and enjoy the weekend with everyone’s favorite hobo.