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Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo: greatest shampoo ever.

February 20, 2011

In case you didn’t know, I’m a greasy mo fo. I have a long history of putting crazy stuff in my hair, peaking during my huge mohawk phase when I would hang upside down with a blowdryer every morning to get the Elmer’s School Glue to solidify in my towering ‘hawk. The nice thing about the school glue was that it was water soluble so a few minutes under a hot shower would take that stuff right out. Great hold and easy clean-up.

These days I’m sporting the slick back. I dig it because I think it’s kind of more conservative and tidy than a purple devilock but still a little edgy and not the same as every other dude’s hair. I really dig on vintage stuff too and it’s kind of a throwback to another era. But anyway, in the immortal words of Motley Crue, “a hand fulla grease and my hair feels right.” My pomade of choice is the Royal Crown; it’s a lot lighter than something like Murray’s or Dax, which is fine if you’re not doing a pomp or something that requires body/hold and you have white guy hair. It’s just about right for the slickback and it doesn’t feel like I’m scalping myself when I comb it through.

The problem with this is that the Crown (and Dax, and Murray’s, etc., etc.) is that it’s oil-based, meaning soap and water doesn’t do much to take it out. I think the pomade thing comes from another era when people also didn’t wash their hair every day. I don’t get real excited about it because I know most days I’m just gonna wake up and throw another blob of grease in my hair anyway, but sometimes it’s good to get a nice deep cleaning, and it’s frustrating to wash your hair three times and still have it heavy and sticky.

Sound familiar?

If so, you gotta check out this shampoo. I’ve tried some other stuff, like Dax’s special shampoo, and it just didn’t really cut it. This Suave stuff cuts through a gigantic dose of the Royal Crown in one washing. I have yet to try it on the heavier stuff because I mostly keep that around for “touch ups” (like when one chunk of hair pops a couple Viagra and won’t behave like the rest of the slickness) but I have no doubt in my mind that this stuff would strip that junk out in two washings if not one.

The other good thing is that it’s cheap as fuck. I got the family size bottle and it was like $1.97 at CVS or something like that. Way cheaper than that frat boy Axe crap (aka Head & Shoulders in a silly black bottle).

I’m guessing that the downside of this is that it’s going to strip all the good oils out of your hair. On the other hand, I imagine if you’re putting heavy doses of olive or mineral oil based products in your hair on a near-daily basis it’s not going to be that big of a deal.

There are probably a lot of other similar products out there in the “clarifying shampoo” market but this stuff does the trick for a very doable price. If you put a lot of product in your ‘do and have trouble getting it all out when you want to, pick up a bottle.


The phrase “Right to Work” makes me want to jam a pencil into my eye.

February 17, 2011

The whole business going down in Wisconsin has got me thinking about this term, “Right to Work”. Is there any phrase more Orwellian than this one? Doublespeak at its finest.

In the interest of not building a straw man, I will do my best to explain what the term means and where it comes from. The term “right to work” refers to state laws which prohibit closed-shop unionism. A closed shop means that anyone who is employed at a workplace (or, more likely, a specific group of trades within an individual workplace) has to join the Union representing them upon completion of their probationary period.

The logic behind the closed shop is that if folks are allowed to be employed in a union workplace without joining the union, they are simultaneously freeloading off the unionized workers as well as undercutting their power. When the union negotiates a contract or uses its influence to get better wages, working conditions, benefits, etc. the non-union employees get these as well. If I’m not mistaken, the union is legally obligated to represent everyone in their organized area of the job. But the non-union employees in this job/trade, in a right-to-work state, are not required to pay dues, initiation fees, or go on strike if that should ever happen. So, the end result is that you could possibly have a large group of non-union employees reaping all the benefits that the union provides without having to pay a dime in dues. Freeloading, basically. Plus this group is a ready-to-go scab force in the event of a strike or lockout, and employers definitely exploit this.

The other side of the argument — the pro-“right-to-work” side — is that if an employee is forced to join an organization as a condition of employment, or pay dues & initiation fees to that organization against their will, and they have a moral/financial/whatever reason to not want to do this, this is interfering with their supposed right to work by putting unnecessary obstacles between them and employment. Again, no straw man here. I’m trying to present the logic; if there’s something I’m missing, let me know.

But, barring some pretty phenomenal oversight on my part, the above logic is tremendously wrong. Where do I even begin?

That the free-market crowd is dressing these laws up as though they would go to bat for your job opportunities on the grounds that employment is a basic right is what grates at my nerves. If this were true, I would have no problem with it. In fact, it sounds like communism! And I mean that in a good way. In my vision of “Bill of Rights Socialism” the right to employment would be amended to the US Constitution and the state would take measures necessary to realize this in practice. But that’s not at all what they’re doing here.

Where are the rights? What right is protected? Are these supposed “right-to-work” laws guaranteeing full employment for their state’s workforce? Do they do anything to ensure that there are plenty of jobs out there for everyone who wants them? They do not.  If you’re going to tell me I have a right to work in that state, there should be zero unemployment there, or else someone’s rights are being infringed upon. Right to work states tend to have higher unemployment and it doesn’t seem like the legislatures are in any hurry to do anything to protect their constituents’ rights.

OK, but perhaps it’s none of the state government’s business to do something to force the hand of private enterprise to hire people. You also have the right to bear arms, but the government isn’t going to start handing out guns. You have the right to free speech, but the government isn’t going to make you speak. And, of course, your right to speak freely and pack heat doesn’t apply on someone’s private property, so why should your “right to work” apply in someone’s private business? Forcing them to recognize that would be “big government”!

But, wait a second…isn’t it also “big government” for the state to make laws regulating contract negotiations between a labor organization and a private enterprise? The closed shop is not a state law; it’s a stipulation negotiated into the union contract between the employer and the employees. So-called “right to work” laws are interfering in private enterprise, and the right of workers to negotiate the conditions they work under. Isn’t that how the free market works (in the imaginary fantasy land of lassiez-faire teabaggers)? Workers and employers are supposed to negotiate the terms of their relationship without the government interfering?

So, in principle, “right to work” laws have a terribly misleading name. They don’t actually do anything to give you the right to work. It’s not like you are guaranteed a job. If anything it is unnecessary government intrusion into a private transaction, which the Ayn Rand fanboys claim to hate.

But what about in practice? Maybe it makes more sense in real life than in the land of high theory. However, if anything, I’d say they infringe upon your right to work in practice as well as theory. If you don’t have a contract, you have probably entered your employment relationship “at will”. This means they can boot your ass at any time for any reason (look in your employee handbook…oh, and in exchange you have the right to quit at any time. Thanks a lot, boss, for not enslaving me! What a deal!). To draw a parallel, suppose you were speaking out against the government on public property, and the cops show up and say you have to shut up or they’re taking you to jail. Isn’t that infringing upon your right to free speech? If the authorities in question have the power to negate your right at will, it’s not much of a right. So, likewise, isn’t terminating your employment at will a violation of your supposed “right to work”? By contrast, most union contracts stipulate that you have to have violated some sort of a company policy repeatedly, and that the employer provide documentation. Seems like you have more of a right to work there; they can still fire you but only if they have a good reason.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that in “right to work” states you actually have less of a right to work.

Obviously, your rights are not what this is about at all. This is about union busting. Fine. Call it what it is. I disagree with union-busting in all cases, 100%, because I believe in principle that if the employers can have lawyers and corporate boards to draw up legal contracts that you have to sign as a condition of employment, the workers should have someone to represent them and make the employer sign a contract as well. It’s only fair. Are there problems in unions? Does it not always operate as well in real life as it does on paper? Sure. But this is another problem that needs to be solved within organized labor itself, not by just throwing out labor organizations all together.

Yes, I strongly disagree with union-busting, but I understand that there are different people with different economic philosophies. I can accept this. What I can’t accept is that they are such tremendous pansies that they can’t just come out and say “we don’t think unions are good and we want to limit their abilities to coerce people into joining.” Just say what you mean and quit trying to be deceptive. I’m a full-on red commie with a portrait of Lenin on my wall and I don’t give a shit who knows it. I don’t have to think of some sugarcoated way to explain what I am and what I want in order to make it more palatable to people who don’t know better. I don’t try and trick people into following my agenda. But that’s because I have a spine and these conservative shysters, apparently, do not.

But what about the poor worker who really wants a job but doesn’t want to pay his dues or initiation fee? Go get a job at Wal-Mart. I’m told they’re “always hiring”. Oh, what’s that? You can’t make a decent living at Wal-Mart? Gee, I wonder why. If you want all the benefits of working in a union shop without having to join the union or pay your dues, I have a word for that: freeloading. It’s just like faking an injury to get unemployment or getting creative with your finances to cheat the welfare system. Funny how the conservatives are all against it when the shoe is on the other foot.

Getting lost in Seattle (kinda)

February 15, 2011
Epic Adventure!

A map of my awesome adventure.

My first few posts will probably have a lot to do with my recent trip to Seattle & Tacoma as that was the most interesting thing I’ve done all spring semester and I have quite a few different angles to approach it from. Rather than post it all in one big mega trip report I’ll just post it up in bite sized chunks as it pleases me to.

So, I had a bit of an adventure. The main reason I went out there, at least when I did, was to see Social Distortion. They’re one of my bands on my “bucket list”; that is, a favorite band which I have a fear that if I don’t see them soon I might miss the chance. Well, I got them crossed off my list thanks to my dear mother and father who purchased me a ticket for Christmas and pumped up my slush fund with some gas money to get out there from Butte (which takes about two tanks of gas each way).

The show was on Friday night at the Showbox SoDo. I was going by myself but I was hanging out with my pals Ronan and Jean most of the day. Prior to the show Ronan and I were loitering at the Krispy Kreme a couple blocks down the road and I noticed my phone was almost dead. The plan was for him to bus it back to his house and wait for me to call him, and he’d come pick me up in his car when the show was over. I wanted to save my batteries so I turned the phone off (assuming simply switching the power off would save the battery).

The show was AWESOME. Saw Chuck Ragan, Lucero, and of course, Social D. All three bands were great; the first two were a little mellow (and Social D. isn’t as hardcore as they used to be, either) but that’s alright with me. I’ve slowed down in my old age and if I go to a show where the opening acts are particularly brutal it’s like I don’t have any energy left for the main act. It suited me just fine that the first two bands were more foot-tapping/clappy than moshy. The music was still good even if it wasn’t “intense”. So when Mike Ness and the boys came on it was fairly rowdy (still not brutal; no bruises to show for it) but I had my endurance up so I hung right in the pit the whole time.

Anyway, great show, awesome times, but that’s another story. The real story is how when I got out I discovered my assumption about the phone battery was incorrect. So dead it wouldn’t even turn back on. This was particularly inconvenient because I am so reliant on technology that I don’t remember anyone’s phone number, nor do I think to write them down. So, I had no way to contact Ronan, I had no ride home, I was in a strange city at midnight, I didn’t particularly know how to get home even if I wanted to walk, I didn’t know if the buses were still running or which bus to even take. I was screwed.

Actually, I shouldn’t say I was screwed. I had plenty of cash so I figured there had to be a way to get home or at least get somewhere safe; absolute worse case scenario I could just pop into some random motel and hunker down for the night, although that was only an option of last resort (but it was good to know I could if I absolutely had to). But I’m not into blowing all my cash so it became an issue of spending money, or finding a cheap/free way home; some of the cheap/free options requiring an extended stay out on the streets and the possibility of getting totally lost, which would make it more likely for me to get my ass robbed and lose all my money anyway. For the time being, however, I felt pretty calm; even though I’m kind of a small-town guy who found himself Shanghaied in the big city, I think of myself as pretty street-wise and I figured that since it was Friday night I was probably fine as long as the bars were still hopping and non-shady people were still hanging around the sidewalks. I just wanted to get home before everyone else but the tweakers packed it in.

I strolled a couple blocks down the street to Safeco Field to discover what seemed to be the only payphone still in existence, and that it took Visa cards. Awesome. I called Linsday (who is in Alaska). My thought was that she could look on our phone bill and find Ronan’s number — which was the last one to call me — and send him a text telling him to come pick me up. The problem was that the last payphone in existence also happens to not work very well, and it was late, and between being unable to understand me and being tired as hell, she was feeling more like hanging up on my lousy ass than trying to decipher my complex plan to help me out. (Note: I later found out that she had contacted Ronan via Facebook, so she did good).

So I wandered around the streets trying to think or find a better payphone. At one point I came upon a tweaker flopping around on the sidewalk and figured I’d better turn around rather than go around/over him. So I passed the Showbox again and this time there was a cab waiting with no fare; I said ‘fuck it’ and hopped in.

I really had no idea what the address was at Ronan’s house, where I was staying, but I figured I could at least get close enough to find my way home. I told the cabbie to take me to downtown Ballard, to a bar called the Matador. I have never been to the Matador before and I really have no intention of going into it but it was just the first business in Ballard that came to mind. The cabby was an Indian guy, I mean like full-on turban-wearing Indian (as opposed to Native American) and he asked me if I wanted to listen to some Indian music. I said sure, I thought it was going to be like sitar music, but it turned out to be straight-up Indian hip hop. It wasn’t half bad, either. We jammed out until we got to the Matador and it turned out to only be a $20 ride (about half what I imagined) so it was alright.

At this point I was less than a mile (I predict) from Ronan’s house and there were still people hanging around at the bus stops, so I figured I could just hop the bus that stops right in front of his house. I had rode that bus earlier so I knew which one it was. So right as I’m crossing the street, there goes the bus. I started to run after it, but realized I didn’t have bus change, so I said screw it and let it go.

I followed the bus stops back to the house. It was about a half-hour walk. It went by fast because I was pretty hot at Lindsay for hanging up on me! I got back to Ronan’s place; his girlfriend Mary let me in, but apparently Ronan was out looking for me (I’d thought about hanging around to see if he would just come find me, and I thought he probably would, but what if he didn’t? The time spent waiting for him could have been very valuable). He came home and told me that Lindsay had indeed attempted to contact him, though he was already out looking for me. I was relieved that she had done something to try and get in touch with him, and that Ronan had come through for me as well, although both ended up being unnecessary.

So, all in all, it was an adventure, not a misadventure. I learned a little bit about the transportation resources available to a person who finds themselves lost in a strange city. I also learned to WRITE DOWN a few phone numbers and addresses and not just blindly rely on technology to do all the work for you when you are out and about by yourself. I didn’t get murdered, robbed, or violently butt-raped, and I came out of it with a fairly interesting story to tell, so I consider it a good experience overall. But take my advice! Keep some phone numbers and addresses in your pocket “just in case”. Don’t rely on your cell phone for numbers, addresses, maps, bus schedules, etc. because the have a tendency to die at the worst times.

This is my “Hello World” post.

February 14, 2011

An introduction of sorts. What is this blog all about? It’s just my personal blog. I’m going to post whatever I want. That doesn’t help much, but here’s some topics you might expect to see on here:

  • Music (Punk/Rock/Rockabilly/Americana/etc.)
  • Politics and communism
  • Putting grease in my hair
  • Smoking pipes and the tobacco I put in them
  • Science
  • Rants & raves
  • Random wacky stories
  • Random uninteresting stories
  • Cooking
  • Riding the bus
  • Traveling

So basically I’m just going to write about things that interest me. I have other blogs that are more specific and ‘serious’ but this is just my place to vent and post stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else. Some posts may be interesting to you, or useful, and some may not. I don’t expect anybody to read this blog religiously but if someone does, right on. I suppose many people might stumble across the occasional post that they find intriguing though.

Who am I? My name is Jesse and I live in Butte, Montana. If you read the bullet list above you should know a thing or two about me.

I’ll make a real post here soon!