Why Do I Hate The Bee Gees? It’s Walt Disney’s Fault!

This came up in Twitter last night: Why do I hate the Bee Gees? Simple, it’s all Walt Disney fault. During the disco craze of the 1970s, my parents gave me a portable cassette recorder for my birthday that was smaller than a shoebox. (The iconic Sony Walkman wouldn’t be a must have item until the early 1980s, and I never got one until the late 1990s.) I was still young enough to appreciate Walt Disney storybooks that had a sing along cassette tape, like Robin Hood and Pete’s Dragon. But there was one cassette that I had played over and over again because I had nothing better to listen to: Mickey Mouse Disco. That, plus watching every re-run of the Bee Gees in Sgt. Pepper’s Loney Hearts Club Band on cable TV, and getting The Beatles album, sour my taste in music for years to come.

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Not that I ever had much taste in music. Although I was born a Californian native, my parents came from Boise, Idaho, where hard work on the farm and smuggling on the road went hand in hand. My father and his brothers used to smuggle untaxed cigarettes from Oregon and sold out them of the trunk in Southern California in the 1950s, and a distant cousin is serving time in the Florida state pen for smuggling cocaine from Cuba in the 1990s. Since my father’s truck only had two radio stations—country and talk—I grew up on classic 1970s and early 1980s country music (i.e., Johnny Cash, John Denver, Willie Nelson, The Oakridge Boys, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and Hank Williams, Jr.). Needless to say, country wasn’t very popular when I was going to school with all the wannabe Duran Duran and George Boy running around. Bad enough that I was a normal student misclassified as mentally retarded by the school system, I was considered a freak among the retarded for liking country.

Unlike some of my friends, I have a modest music collection on my iPod. Over the last 20 years I grew to like the top hits from the 1980s music that I never got into when growing up, especially Cyndi Lauper and Joan Jett. I listened to Hootie & The Blowfish, Jane Monheit and U2 in the 1990s. These days I’m listening more to the early The Rolling Stones, especially the recently remastered Exile on Main St. album. The only disco song that I still listen to is “I Love The Nightlife” from the theatrical release of “Love At First Bite”, which is my favorite vampire movie of all time.

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But I don’t listen to today’s country because it sounds like crap, trying too hard to be half country and half rock. Beside, the only real country music radio station in the San Francisco Bay Area, Radio Keen, went off the air in 1992. When the current country radio several years ago decided to switch to Mexican music—their last English song was “Mexican Radio” by Wall of Voodoo—and switched back to country music three months later, I never bothered to listen to them again. The only thing I listened to while driving in the car (which used to belong to my father) is talk—KGO Newstalk 810AM—or the old Dolly Parton cassette tape still stuck inside the player.

A Taco Rage Shooting At Taco Bell

Last week there was a shooting at the McDonald’s down the street from my apartment complex that was probably gang related. The suspect was last seen running up the street towards Taco Bell. The victim had died yesterday and the police made no arrests yet. Also in the news yesterday was a shooting at a Taco Bell in San Antonio, TX, where the suspect ordered seven Beef Crunchy Burritos, got upset when they were no longer on sale for $0.99 each (regular price is $1.49 each), and shot at the manager with a BB gun. The SWAT team had to use tear gas to flush him out of a barricaded motel room.

This begs the obvious question: What has Taco Bell been putting into their meat filling lately?

Okay, that’s an unfair question. It’s only coincidental that the suspect in one shooting was seen heading towards a Taco Bell in San Jose and a suspect in another shooting shot up a Taco Bell in San Antonio. A cause-and-effect between eating food at Taco Bell and experiencing a “taco rage” to start shooting haven’t been firmly established.

Not yet, anyway.

What has been established is that eating at fast food restaurants is unhealthy. Even McDonald can take the most healthiest ingredient, oatmeal, and turn it into a loaded sugar bomb that cost times more. If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, you need to stop eating at fast food restaurants. I still run into friends who thinks it’s amazing that I stopped eating out and how they would just die if they didn’t. (If they don’t change their habits, they will die from either clogged arteries or a stray bullet.) It wasn’t an easy transition.

I ended up working for tech companies in Mountain View that made driving out to get fast food something I couldn’t do since I was still taking public transportation. I did eat at the cafeterias that had healthier food options and my weekly lunch budget limited the amount of food I could get. Google was the worst place to eat at since the cafeteria food and mini-kitchen snacks were always free, where the typical worker gains an average 25 pounds. (The mac-and-cheese on Fridays was still heavenly delicious.) I eventually gave up eating lunch to use my one hour break to write two-thirds of a 700-page first novel behind the steering wheel of my car.

After two years of being unemployed and three months of being underemployed, all I can afford is to eat at home is a regular diet of beans, eggs, rice and tuna. On the few occasions that I do eat out, I often find myself trying to order the smallest possible meal and still end up feeling sick. Once you give up eating processed foods, it’s really hard to go back to being sick all the time.

A Shooting Underneath The Golden Arches

I was driving out of my apartment complex when I turned right on to Fruitdale Avenue this afternoon when the radio announced that there was a shooting at McDonald’s on the corner of Fruitdale Avenue and Bascom Avenue. Not surprisingly, I was driving towards it as I was heading over to the freeway to go to HP campus in Cupertino for a job interview. Passing by a dozen police cars and forced to drive through hospital (which isn’t as bad being forced to drive through the airport), I started stressing out. Not because the shooting would break out again. The shooting that took place underneath the Golden Arches was several hours old by then, and the police were still documenting the crime scene. I was more concern about being late for the job interview. By the time I got to the HP campus, I was no longer nervous about the interview.

That is the second murder in the general area, and there were two rapes at San Jose City College, in the last six months. I have lived in this area for nearly six years. The worst reported crimes before these recent events was probably gang graffiti, teenagers pulling the fire alarms at my apartment complex, and several Christmas time house fires. Of course, most crimes in the neighborhood probably go unreported by victims for fear of retaliation or underreported by the news media looking for the big story to drive the headlines.

What prompted all these recent murders and rapes?

The two murders are probably gang-related. Someone walking up to someone else to shoot them dead on the street is a somewhat common gang initiation on the east side of San Jose. Anti-gang prevention efforts are probably pushing gang bangers out from that side of town. Every time I see gang bangers hanging out in the back parking lot and gang graffiti on the walls of my apartment complex, I’m quick to report these incidents to the leasing office. The leasing manager will yell at the gang bangers to leave and the graffiti is painted over by the maintenance staff.

The rapes were done by several men under the care of nearby medical clinics for mental illness and drug abuse who wandered on to campus. I don’t think rape will become a reoccurring event like it was at San Jose State University in the 1980s, where school officials later installed the emergency phones with blue lights. I still find the live blogging of the De Anza rape case to be disturbing, especially now that the plaintiff is on the stand.

A more ominous trend in the general neighborhood is people panhandling for change on the street corners and intersections. There used to be only one or two people who were doing it any given time. Lately, as the cratered economy muddles through for ordinary working-class Americans, I’m seeing more and more people panhandling for change. A husband-and-wife tag team at one intersection. A string of military veterans at every freeway entrance. A postal clerk chased away a pregnant woman who stood outside the post office with a sign pleading for help. What do these people do when they’re not panhandling? Are the looking for jobs or committing crimes?

I had the interview at the HP campus and came home the other way to avoid the crime scene at McDonald’s. I’m hoping to get the job there or at another HP location to do desktop support. After two years of unemployment, I’m  working part time as a PC disconnect/reconnect technician for a moving company. That won’t last for long. The interviews are coming at a steadier pace than it has in the last two years. That gives me hope that I won’t need to start my career as a professional bank robber. Although there is good money to be made in panhandling (about $45 to $90 per hour at the right intersection), I don’t like standing around and doing nothing.