Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Give Me a Break

ONCE around the news cycle:

I'm declaring a moratorium.

After witnessing the most protracted presidential primary in recent history, a race largely characterized by which candidate had the goofiest pastor, I'm suffering from political fatigue.

I'm tired of John McCain, the presumptive anti-Bush. I'm tired of Barack Obama, whose campaign seems to have a flat tire. Or two. I'm tired of Hillary Clinton's ego. And I'm really tired of Bill Clinton.

I will attempt for two weeks not to listen to any political news, read any bloggers, watch any talk shows, discuss any candidate while waiting for my head to clear.

To do this, however, I will need Hillary Clinton's cooperation. That seems like a stretch right now. Rather than concede, Hillary is showing all the grace and dignity of a 2-year-old who, being told it's bedtime, reacts by holding her breath and flailing her arms and legs in an attempt to postpone the inevitable.

In mid-snit, she has reportedly told Democratic Party officials that she is "absolutely ready" to discuss the vice presidency.

I'm sure those are just the kind of character traits Barack Obama is seeking in a running mate.

Let's face it, her offer seems disingenuous. The Clintons are drawn to power like flies to a ribroast.

While Hillary brings unity to the Democratic Party, vice presidential candidates seldom decide the outcome of an election. How many votes did Joe Lieberman, John
Edwards or even Dick Cheney contribute?

Wake me when the campaign focuses on the real issues.

Meanwhile, back at the airport, we learn from Bloomberg News that airline executives are thinking "out of the box" in an attempt to stop the bleeding caused by high fuel costs. One of their bright ideas: treat passengers like freight.

Imagine this scenario: You arrive at the counter ready to board your flight and you are confronted by two scales.

One is for your bags, the other is for you. The price of your ticket will depend upon the weight of both. This would be great news for jockeys, fashion models and small children. Not so good for offensive linemen, women pregnant with twins and beer lovers.

While the scale proposal is still in the development stage, airlines are aggressively looking for ways to cut costs.

US Airways is replacing meal carts with models that are 12 pounds lighter. They've also eliminated glassware in first class in favor of lighter plastic cups.

American Airlines is pulling in-seat phones and investing in lighter silverware for business class passengers. I read that the airline is even considering eliminating in-flight magazines to lighten the load.

American, whose former CEO Bob Crandall once bragged that he saved the airline $40,000 by removing olives from first class dinner salads, has formed "Fuel Smart Teams" charged with continually searching for ways to save energy.

I can only imagine where this will end. Subway straps instead of seats? Charging by the mile like a taxi?

Stay tuned. Airline travel isn't going to get any better.

I couldn't let the week pass without raising a toast to Bo Diddley, the legendary rock figure who died this week at the age of 79.

When I was a youth, one of my first jobs was delivering newspapers in north Glendale. It was what we charitably called a throwaway paper. That means it was tossed on your lawn or doorstep, whether you wanted it nor not.

My route was in an area called College Hills, which is just as daunting as it sounds. With two large bags packed with newspapers strapped to the handlebars of my bike, I tried to cover a territory that would have taxed Lance Armstrong.

After delivering the paper twice a week, I would then visit every house on the route and try to collect a subscription fee for a product my customers never asked for.

The pay: $1.25 a week.

When the boss handed me my five quarters, I took off on my bike to the record store downtown. There, I purchased a record for the first time in my life. It was "Bo Diddley" by Bo Diddley.

I don't remember where I had heard it, but I had to have it. Its "shave and a haircut, two bits" beat struck a chord somewhere deep in my soul.

I raced home and played it so many times that my parents threatened to exile me to a tent in the back yard.

But when I played the flip side, "I'm a Man," a song of astounding raw sexual energy disguised as four-bar blues, my mother raced into my room and told me never to play it again.

I knew I was onto something good.

Here's to you, Bo. Thanks for the beat.

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