Archive for November 3, 2009

Dog Days

November 3, 2009 Leave a comment

I have a dog. Let me restate that. My girlfriend, Millie has a dog. I provide for it. Suki, a female Shiba Inu (the most popular canine in Japan) is a wonderful apartment dog. She looks like a fox and will never weigh more than about 17 pounds. She exercises herself by running these incredibly intricate circuits around my 2-bedroom Manhattan apartment. When not exhibiting these highly entertaining antics, she has a zen-like mellowness. She interacts with my three cats in a semi non-threatening manner; they have learned to tolerate her. She has her quirks. They say ownership of a Shiba is not for the feint of heart. They think they’re royalty. They are drama queens (as in you’ll think she’s dying because she incurred a minor injury). But a more loving, sweet little dog, you simply could not find.

But take her out on a walk and she becomes a wild banshee. No problems socializing. She loves and licks everything and everyone. Some passersby on the street find this cute. Others react like they are about to be eaten alive by a wild, albeit, petite demon.

We have investigated boarding/training. She disappears for two weeks and comes back an obedient trick performer. But it’s a little bit too pricey. And so I am about to undertake a mission: read all there is to know about training Shiba’s and hope to God it takes.

We’ll keep you posted.

Categories: Animal Life Tags: ,

Election Day

November 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Here we go- the first “referendum” on President Barack Obama. Virginia, New Jersey and New York are the focus. Looks like a rough night ahead for the White House though “Republican” victories, particularly in upstate New York’s 23rd congressional district, may not necessarily bode well for the GOP nationally.

This is the race where the moderate Republican candidate pulled out, endorsed the Democrat, and an independent conservative is leading in the polls. This is a very conservative district that barely went for Obama and never elects Dems. Really, never. Here are the percentages for the Democratic candidates going back 27 years, courtesy Jed Lewison of the DailyKos:

2008 – 35%
2006 – 37%
2004 – 29%
2002 – 0%
2000 – 23%
1998 – 21%
1996 – 25%
1994 – 18%
1992 – 21%
1990 – 38%
1988 – 25%
1986 – 0%
1984 – 29%
1982 – 28%

When Doug Hoffman wins tonight, Republicans will declare a great victory for the “tea party movement,” Sarah Palin and the various more right-wing elements of the party. Well, it is a friendly district for those folks but nationally it will mean- not a lot. You win national elections in this country by going for the great middle. You’ve got your 30% on either side of the political spectrum, but it’s the 40% in the middle that decide most election outcomes. The shrill voices on the right will not appeal to the great middle just like shrill voices on the left don’t either. This “victory” for conservative forces will have the effect of souring moderate Republicans on their own party.

Virginia is a lost cause tonight for the Dems. The Dem has no appeal and popular Virginia Governor Tim Kane has no coattails. Neither really, does the President, not in Virginia. He didn’t win it by much and really what we’re seeing here tonight is public disenchantment with the state of the economy. Recent positive GDP figures mean nothing when you’ve hit 10% national unemployment. People are hurting everywhere and it will be hell on any incumbant party. Plus, there’s the historical record. Virginia’s off-year Gubernatorial elections are always won by the party that’s NOT in the White House. It’s like clockwork.

Which brings us to Gov. Corzine and New Jersey. Deeply unpopular but in a very Democratic state. Looks like a GOP pick-up to me. Both because of the economy and Corzine’s media campaign. Living in the New York/New Jersey market, I’ve been subjected to a heavy dose of the Corzine ads which have been just awful. Basically, they’ve featured unflattering video and stills of Chris Christie making the following case against him- don’t vote for him, he’s fat.

Anyone who’s ever read any recent studies on obesity in this country can tell you this was not a smart move. What the hell was the Corzine media strategy team thinking? Let’s appeal to every thin, latte-drinking, white-wine sipping blue-blood in the state and really piss off people who like to eat Double Whoppers with cheese!

Those Bubba visits to McDonald’s during the Clinton years were a lot more politically astute than most people realize.

So, it’s a likely Republican sweep that will cast doubt on the President’s effectiveness just when he’s trying to push health care through. But that’s all short-term punditry talking. Anyone looking at tea leaves to get a clue about the 2010 or 2012 elections had better look at the remnants from another cup. All this tonight will mean basically two things; people are pissed about the economy and Republicans have a civil war on their hands and are likely to end up with a smaller tent.

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

On the Front Lines of White Collar Unemployment

November 3, 2009 2 comments

This will be the longest job-wanted ad you’ve ever read. Really, it’s not that I’m desperate. When you’re a laid-off executive at a major broadcasting company, they take decent care of you for the short-term. But I thought it might be instructive and perhaps morbidly entertaining to put a bit of a flashlight on how I came to be in this position and briefly chronicle what it’s like to be in it.

First of all, I have discovered I have lots of company. The broadcast industry is going through some serious convulsions. But you know what? That’s just my sad, little story. Every damn white collar industry in the country is going through stage 5 contractions (I don’t actually remember if contractions come in stages but it sounds convincing). The Digital Age has put a lot of us out of work.

Fortunately, I have the benefit of an excellent career transition service. The place in midtown Manhattan is crawling with them; a virtual bed-bug infestation of discarded executives. We attend meetings and network a lot with each other. We shake hands in our open collared, tie-less shirts, thinking in the back of our heads, “WTF? Am I really here?” We write snazzy new resumes and fashion “marketing plans” to “extend our brand.” I have become a product! Robert Garcia Incorporated, steamrolling his way into a vast, exciting, new and heretofore unimagined but tremendously wonderful new future.

It’s hilarious, of course, because we’ve all laid off people. It’s pretty much part of every executive’s job these days. I’ll bet a ranch (ok, don’t have one), many of us had the same Human Resources people with whom we laid people off a year ago, helping to gently lay US off on a late autumn afternoon. Whatever happened to laying people off on Fridays anyway? Did somebody run a focus group that found it feels better to be laid off on a Tuesday? Well, thank God it wasn’t a Wednesday.

Hell, I know a fellow; a dear, slightly demented and unnamed friend/executive. who actually keeps a list of the people he’s laid off or fired on his cell phone for easy reference during twisted cocktail conversations. It’s a badge of honor that occasionally puts you in the position of remembering that old Paul Simon song, “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.” Or that saying about being on top of the world until it rolls over and squashes you. Eventually, we’ll reach a point where we will all end up laying each other off at least once. Instead of refraining from burning bridges because you never know who will hire you, you remain civil at all times because someday they may give you a good exit package.

So here is Robert Garcia Incorporated, accomplished veteran of the mainstream and traditional media, browsing through jobs on the Media Bistro and SPJ websites. Oh my God, three-fourths of them are web design, web writing, social media, digital this, digital that. Ok, damn it, I’ll digitize. Truth be told, I stubbornly resisted learning anything about Twitter for the longest time before realizing what a powerful tool it could be for misinformation and exaggeration. Facebook has been comforting. It’s great to see the actual pictures of the people who are praying for you.

But back to the career transition service, the collection place for discarded executives. As we sit in our cubicles researching this or that company and pass each other in the halls, it’s vaguely reminiscent of a hospital ward. Everybody in there has got something; the unemployment virus. But truly, people are good. There are a lot of helping hands in that place working very hard to cure us of this awful disease.

It occurs to me, as the national unemployment rate hits 10%, that there will be many of us who will have bonded through this experience. Years from now we’ll form legions and hold conventions; the survivors of the Great Recession of ’09. “Damn, we were at the top of our game,” we’ll hear one octogenarian tell another, “ Then Caploohey!” Wise and grizzled laughter will follow. “Yeah, but, man, did you recover- ha! Genius! Virtual, web-based, interactive, social media-enhanced windshield wipers! You were a friggin’ genius!” Then we all get on our gliding scooters and go home to the small, little apartments we can now afford with our 50% reduced Social Security checks to sit on the couch and watch digital TV while we eat government cheese.

You see, one of my career goals has always been to be a writer. At the Great Recession of ’09 Survivor Convention, I want to be able to say I got cured of the jobless thing by writing about being jobless. There will be laughter and some old fart will bellow, “Genius. Fucking Genius!”