Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Peace of mind" or piece of crap? STAY AWAY FROM ADT!

It seems as if ADT purchased most of the good competition in SoCal and that they are now as arrogant as a near-monopoly can get.

Yesterday, a backup battery for my ADT alarm system began sending out signals that it "needs to be replaced soon" to ADT. ADT took the signal from the battery as if it were an alarm and immediately sent officers to my door who promptly began to interrogate the suspect: my housekeeper of 13 years who is from Honduras and doesn't speak English. After treating her like a criminal and forcing her to prove her identity, they finally left, leaving my housekeeper traumatized.

When I got home hours later, I tried to call ADT, only to find that the alarm system had seized my landline and I couldn't make an outgoing call, not even to 911 in case of a REAL emergency! When I called ADT from my cell phone, they said "Oh yeah! We've been getting alarms from your house all day! You need to get that battery replaced!"

I told them that my landline was seized and that I couldn't make or receive calls and asked "is there a code I could enter to stop this process?" "No," I was told, "you need to find the junction box and open it to disconnect the telephone jack from the system." I asked, "Where is the junction box?" I was told, "Upstairs." "Upstairs?" I said. "My house is four stories. Upstairs is a big place!" She responded simply, "That's what it says here. Upstairs."

By now it was past midnight and I finally found the junction box which was on the second lowest floor in my house ("upstairs") and, long agnozing story short, when I opened the box, it was full of exposed wires and blinking lights and no apparent way to simply shut anything off. I said, "I am in way over my head here. What do I do now?" And the ADT woman said to me, "Do you have a screwdriver?"

I have had this system for eight years and have had countless false alarms, usually at inopportune moments when I am not at home. On windy days. On rainy days. For no particular or apparent reason. Once, I was in Juneau, Alaska in 2002 defending myself in a lawsuit and, during a break in my testimony, I got a breathless call from ADT telling me that there was an intruder in my home. Turned out there wasn't, but we didn't know that until I had to frantically call anyone I knew back in LA to go to my house and check on things there. I took their service plan hoping to eliminate maintenance issues. It didn't help.

Now, I have told ADT to bring the wire cutters when they come to my home next week for a service call. I want them out of my life for good.

Don't be fooled by this company's big ad budget and slick commercials promising "peace of mind." I have had nothing but problems with ADT. Does what I described sound like "peace of mind" to YOU?

These days when no one is listening to you, the best way to respond is with a blog that goes viral. Please spread this link to anyone you know who might think of installing a home security system. Maybe THIS will get their attention.

Any good security companies left in SoCal that ADT hasn't already bought up? Let me know here or at

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tiger Woods: A Cautionary Tale For All American Men

I, for one, have heard enough about the trials and tribulations of Tiger Woods. What, exactly, is so shocking or surprising about this story? Well something is, but it isn’t exactly what you and everyone else seem to think.

Tiger, whose net worth was estimated by Forbes in October 2009 to be about 500 million dollars, is a man who made his first television appearance some thirty years ago as a nascent golf pro at age 4 on The Mike Douglas Show. By all accounts, this is a person who, like the tennis-playing Williams sisters, has been singularly focused practically since birth on one goal: to be the absolute best player in his chosen sport.

Just a guess from observing his demeanor and hearing his very controlled interviews (not to mention his painfully unrevealing “apology” press conference): Tiger is someone who probably had very little time for a social life growing up. Guy friends, girlfriends, and all that goes with that were likely shoved aside for early mornings hitting ball after ball after ball with his dad. Did he develop like a normal American teenager? Did he make out in the backseat of his car with girls with whom he went to school? Did he go to his prom? Did he ever just hook up? I tend to doubt it.

Spare me the bromide I have heard over and over that all of this is so tragic because Tiger Woods did what he did despite having “so much to lose.” Why are we being so politically correct about this? In my view, Tiger Woods did what he did because he had “so much.” He did it for the same reason that the dog licked himself: because he could. I believe that Tiger did what I would expect any younger man who sacrificed so much in his life to earn $500 million and who is constantly on the road would do: he invited women to keep him company, in any number of ways. He finally allowed himself to enjoy the spoils of his wealth after so many years of having to be so focused and controlled.

The real shock of the Tiger Woods tragedy is not that he cheated on his hot wife and broke up his little family. The real shock is that a man with so much wealth and notoriety even got married at age 29 at all.

This is someone who should have been making up for lost time, enjoying his well-earned freedom to do whatever he wanted wherever he wanted. Instead of getting married and cranking out progeny, Tiger should have been bonding with his best male friends. He should have been traveling places just because he felt like it. As a famous and successful man, he should have been having sex, with any and every woman he desired, all around the world, while being careful not to dole out any of his very valuable DNA to any woman who could take from him what he has worked so hard to earn. And he shouldn’t have felt the need to hide while he did it. This is not sexist; it is common sense, and one thing I cannot understand is that few men have stepped up in an empathetic way and talked about what men really think and would do if only they could.

The real truth about marriage is something that men who look like beaten dogs whisper to each other at Hooters, at strip clubs, at sports bars, at bowling alleys, and even over the cubicle walls at offices across America: marriage is for men who cannot afford to live parallel lives with hot women in expensive hotel rooms. It is for men who need someone to share the rent or the mortgage payment. It is for farmers who need more farmhands when they become too old to till the soil. It is for men who grew up too lazy to clean their places, and so, as a result, are willing to take on a 180-pound mommy stand-in who will clean it. Marriage is not for buff, famous, educated men who have 500 million dollars and the freedom to do almost anything they want.

The risk that today’s successful man takes in family court by marrying or by impregnating a woman simply isn’t worth it. Ladies, close your eyes because here comes the hardest truth of all: most married men in America are living with the best woman they can afford.

As boys, although most American men dream of driving Testarossas or Porsches or Corvettes when we grow up, the reality is that most of us end up driving Toyota Camrys or Corollas: not very stylish or sexy, but cheap enough to maintain and able to last a lifetime (oh yeah, and they don’t STOP no matter how hard you try to make them). Most men who dreamed of driving sports cars as kids are now married to a Toyota. And most would trade in that Toyota the moment they struck oil or won at Powerball.

The Tiger Woods story is more about women and advertising. After all, why did Tiger get married anyway? In my view, Tiger Woods got married and had kids because he thought that it looked good to the rest of us. Such a perfect life and a perfect family would only enhance his marketability to advertisers and to the women to whom advertisers kowtow. Now, is anyone going to argue that Tiger Woods, a man who lived a double life trying to make up for what appears to be a largely lost childhood, truly loved Elin Nordegren? You’re kidding, right?

Prenup or no prenup, a man who has sacrificed so much to become so successful should enjoy as a single man everything that he has worked so hard to achieve. He should not be giving away half of his fortune to someone with whom he has spent just a few years. He should not have to be hiding in hotel rooms, on yachts, or anywhere else. After all, the prime reason that men become successful, as doctors, as architects, as actors or rock stars, and, presumably as golfers, is to be able to get more and more desirable women.

The tragedy is that Tiger felt the need to create a perfect-looking life in order to make himself attractive to fans and to advertisers. Such a shame. He’s the greatest golfer of all time and one of the premiere athletes of our lifetime. What more did he need to project than that?

Tiger Woods had no business getting married or having any children at all so early in his life. And, if you are a successful young man in America who has worked so hard to get where you are, neither do you.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

TOYOTA. Moving forward. At 120 MPH. With no chance of stopping. HELP!

Funny how Consumer Reports, the "expert" in the field of consumer advocacy, completely missed this problem in all of its "exhaustive" tests.

Forget about Toyota. How about looking at how many Americans were endangered when CR's so-called "experts" recommended these cars and we lemmings who believe in Consumer Reports did what they had "recommended"? One wonders if any of the dead or injured had taken CR's advice. What will CR do to improve its car tests? Why should we trust YOU anymore? Am I alone?

Toyota. Moving forward. At 120 MPH. With no chance of stopping. Recommended by Consumer Reports. HELP!

Friday, October 2, 2009

David Letterman’s Top 10 Reasons to Fish Off the Company Pier

Will we ever learn?

We know absolutely nothing about celebrities but what their publicists and handlers let us know or what they create out of thin air. And we stupidly believe most or all of what we are told.

I love hearing women talk about celebrities as if they somehow know them. “I don’t know what that Jennifer Garner is doing with Ben Affleck!” “Jay-Z and Beyoncé make a perfect couple, don’t you think?” “I don’t think that Ellen will tolerate what Paula put up with from Simon!”

Get real.

Celebrities are a mirage, figments of our imagination, who share DNA and, occasionally, a name with a real person, but rarely the same life stories. Kinda like “Jerry Seinfeld”, the fictional character who strongly resembled a comedian who had the same name; one who actually lived in a much nicer apartment building. With a locked door. And without a neighbor named “Cosmo Kramer”.

“Entertainment news” shows, gossip magazines, talk shows, and even traditional news networks and interview shows increasingly trade in fluff and fantasy created by the PR industry, regularly reporting puffy unverified trash in order to get access to any of the most popular celebrities. Beware of anyone claiming to have an “exclusive interview” with anyone because, in many cases, agreements are struck in advance with publicists, attorneys and the celebs themselves as to which questions will and will not be asked. An “exclusive interview” is usually a puffball interview done by an interviewer who agreed to ask far less challenging questions than other interviewers who also wanted the same interview. Philadelphia, hello.

Which brings us to the TV personality known as “David Letterman”.

Stupidly, most of us think we “know” him. And that is why so many of us are “shocked” to hear that he had sex with female staffers of his television show. I mean, after all, based on Letterman’s two most well-known relationships (with former Letterman show head writer Merrill Markoe and his now-wife, Regina Lasko), you have to admit that Letterman doesn’t exactly go looking on Craigslist or when he needs a taste.

So what exactly is so shocking about this?

Are we shocked that a man with the highest–rated late night television show who makes $32 million a year enjoys his position and fame by having sex with much younger women who work in his office? A man who has gone to great lengths to keep his private life private? A man who is married to someone whose name he rarely if ever mentions? To a relatively plain-looking woman whom he successfully avoided marrying for some 24 years?

We don’t know whether Letterman has had some sort of arrangement with his wife, Regina Lasko. We don’t know about whether Letterman was getting everything he needs at home. We don’t even know if Letterman and Lasko live at the same address! For all we know, perhaps Lasko knows exactly what Letterman has been up to.

If you know virtually nothing personal about this guy and he is not a public official, what, exactly, makes this a “bombshell”? After the scandals of self-righteous public officials such as Bill Clinton, a then-sitting president, Mark Sanford, a still-sitting (and occasionally reclining) state governor, Mark Foley, a then–sitting congressman, and Larry Craig, a then-sitting US senator (then sitting on a toilet, if I recall), why should this be concerning to any of us?

The real bombshell here is that the alleged perpetrator is a news producer with virtually no public persona. He is someone who has produced TV news stories you have seen and believed, and has won awards for it.

According to court documents, the alleged perpetrator, Robert “Joe” Halderman, is paying a buttload of alimony and child support to his ex-wife and, while extortion is horrific and perpetrators deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, one can understand why a desperate man might attempt to do a desperate thing. However, if segments on a television show called 48 Hours Investigation are being produced by someone who is alleged to be committing crimes as bad as or worse (or at least more salacious) than those of some of the people he is investigating, that should certainly concern the people who watch CBS News, and CBS has responded appropriately by suspending Halderman pending the outcome of his indictment.

On the other hand, should it really matter to the public if a fabulously wealthy comedian enjoys his fame and fortune by fishing off the company pier?

What, exactly, is so shocking about another wealthy man having sex with young women who work near him?

The only shocking thing to me about this story is that a famous and successful man who makes $32 million a year wants to be married...only to be forced to live some sort of double life for which he could be blackmailed.

Two things will not shock me:

We will not hear the names “Conan O’Brien” or “Jimmy Kimmel” for the next three months at least.

And, all this is gonna make a great movie.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Much Ado About Manny

I woke up to the news about Manny Ramirez and I could only laugh.

I laugh at the suckers who are such fervent baseball fans that they sit on hold for an hour waiting to give their opinions on sports radio shows.

I giggle at all you maroons who think that these guys could care less about your city…or what team they play for…as long as they get the biggest contracts they possibly can.

I laugh at the people who devour books and TV shows with names like The Last Good Season or When It Was a Game. (These should have been titled Back When Baseball Was Good…Because They Didn’t Let Minorities In or When We Were Naïve.)

There is nothing funnier than walking around New York City and seeing the yutzes walking around with hideous blue and orange teamwear of the New York Mets because they want you to know who they support no matter how horrific it makes them look.

I cackle at anyone who thinks the Chicago Cubs have a chance this year or any year when the ownerships of each era have figured out that the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field will be full whether they win or not. Does it really matter if they win? Wouldn’t Wrigley be fun to go to in any case?

The finger waggers attacking Manny now are beyond hypocritical. Babe Ruth had syphilis, drank like a fish, and he was swollen like a balloon. Mickey Mantle played regularly with hangovers. According to, in spring training in 1907, Ty Cobb, “considered a racist by many, fought a black groundskeeper over the condition of the Tigers' spring training field in Augusta, Ga., and ended up choking the man's wife when she intervened.” (Ah…when it was a game!) Today’s baseball fans worry about whether Alex Rodriguez is out with strippers or getting Kabbalah lessons late at night from Madonna. Hilarious!

You may find it hard to believe that I am a baseball fan. I’ve been watching it since I can remember and I still do. I go to the games. I follow the Dodgers. I am in love with Dodger Stadium, which is more popular than any player who ever played for the Dodgers because Chavez Ravine is simply the best place in the world to watch a game. I kneel at the altar of Vin Scully, the greatest broadcaster of all time. But I am not a fool.

I watch baseball because it is fun to watch, like a good concert. I sit out in the sun, pound a few beers, bat the beach ball around when things get slow, get a beer during the drum solos, er, I mean, the pitching changes. Baseball is, and has always been, a big, fat marketing extravaganza. Never mind that I love it and patronize it. It is a business first and foremost, and it always has been, including the days when the Dodgers played in that shithole everyone loves to rhapsodize about in Brooklyn. (Never mind the shithole in which the Red Sox still play.)

Baseball’s team owners are just like any other businessmen; they want to make as much money as possible. The players are just like us. They want to go to work for the company that pays them the most for producing the least. The only difference between us and them is this: we who wrinkle our noses at the boss when he calls us into the conference room to engage in “team-building exercises” down at the job want to believe that a baseball team is, indeed, a team. We want to believe that the employees of these companies have barbecues together and visit each other during the off-season and that the Red Sox players really, really hate the Yankees. When outfielder Johnny Damon played for the Red Sox, Boston fans thought he really, really hated the Yankees. Then, the Yankees offered him around $13 million a year to leave Boston. Now, Yankee fans want to believe that Damon really, really hates the Red Sox. Stop it boys…you’re killing me!

The real truth is that, beginning with Jim Bouton’s seminal book Ball Four in 1970, and continuing into the era of 24 hour cable news and sports channels, we now have unprecedented access to athletes’ lives and we don’t like it because we now know what the backslapping journalists of the Babe’s day were hiding from us: that athletes are only human just like us.

And who are we? For the most part, the only people who worry about performance enhancing substances are the older fans who believed the Field of Dreams myth that professional baseball was, at one time, some kind of pure pastoral experience that has somehow been ruined in recent years. You know the type: the old guys who still buy a pencil and a program at the game so they can “keep score.” (Apparently, no one told them about the behemoth HD scoreboards stadiums have nowadays.)

If we are younger, we are pot-smoking, energy drink-swilling caffeinated individuals for whom baseball is a day of entertainment in the sun with ten beers, a joint, and some sunscreen, but it’s not a religion. The idea of statistics that go back to the late 1800s is beyond quaint for the average young American; it’s not even on their radar screens. Do you think it matters to those under 50 whether Manny's home runs and RBIs while using a banned substance should "count"? You're kidding, right?

The Manny Ramirez story, in fact, the whole steroids in baseball story, is much ado about nothing. Who are we to criticize athletes for doing whatever they can to make $25 million? Most of us wouldn’t do exactly the same thing?

In hockey, you give someone a face wash and, if you get caught, you get two minutes for roughing, you bad boy. Then, you get back on the ice. Does anyone think that Eric Clapton shouldn’t be in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame because he may have shot heroin before playing Bell Bottom Blues? Does it make him any less good? Did you enjoy his work any less? You probably enjoyed it more.

If Manny Ramirez played chicken with the authorities of Major League Baseball, so be it. The suckers in Boston will say that they “knew it all along” but will flinch when we ask them if they’d like to give back their two championships with Manny because they may be tainted. In Los Angeles, here is the reality: whatever Manny took, he will say he is sorry, do his time, and then he will be welcomed back by Dodger fans with open arms on July 3rd. Vin Scully will be there. I will be there. Badly-dressed Met fans will still be badly-dressed Met fans no matter what drugs Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry took. And life will go on.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are You Black Enough?

NEW YORK (AP) - Black players accounted for 10.2 percent of major leaguers last year, the most since the 1995 season.

The sport had reached an all-time low of 8.2 percent in 2007, according to Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. The percentage of black pitchers rose to 5 percent from 3 percent and the percentage of black infielders went up to 9 percent from 7 percent.

"I feel encouraged. It's not a huge leap, but it's a step forward," said Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson. "I think we have to feel encouraged, not only feel encouraged but feel inspired by progress so that we can not only sustain what we have, but work harder to see that we get that number up in future reports."


Don’t get me wrong. Jackie Robinson is a hero of mine. And he’s a hero from Southern California to boot.

This was a man with big, brass balls who withstood the microscope of the public and fellow baseball players and blew the doors open for people of all colors to follow. He was, in my view, more than just a baseball player. His journey became the precursor for the civil rights movement of the 60s. The things he accomplished resonated so loudly, it is my view that he laid the groundwork for the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the National Voting Rights Act of 1965. I applaud the fact that baseball celebrates Jackie’s historic 1947 debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers and, as a Dodger fan, I feel it is one more good reason to feel superior to those who support two of the last teams in baseball to integrate, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

Every year on Jackie Robinson Day, Richard Lapchick releases a report on the integration of baseball. And every year, many people bemoan what they consider to be the “low percentage of blacks” in baseball. This, of course, is simply not true.

The number is reached by totally ignoring the growing number of black baseball players from Latin America who have joined the ranks of major leaguers. It is clear to look at players such as David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, Guillermo Mota and so many others and to see black faces. And yet these players are not counted as black when Lapchick’s statistics are compiled.

Why are there less African Americans by percentage in the game today than there were in the 70s? Is it because football has overtaken baseball in popularity since then? Is it because of the popularity surge of the NBA that began in the 80s, through the Michael Jordan era, and which continues today? Is it because baseball depends upon tradition and, if your Dad wasn’t around to take you to a game when you were a kid, you’re less likely to care about this slow-moving, pastoral sport? All of those reasons may be part of the answer. But there is one reason that is not: discrimination.

Baseball is more diverse than ever before, with players from Latin America, Asia, even Australia. There are only 750 positions available. Just as there is a smaller percentage of African Americans in the major leagues than there once had been, it is safe to say that there are fewer Caucasian Americans playing than ever before. And, mathematically speaking, that is as it should be. The more people come from Taiwan or South Korea or Venezuela into the major leagues, the less positions there are for Americans of all colors. The best players should play regardless of color or national origin.

Should we really care where the black players are coming from? Did anyone know or even care that the Chicago Cubs pitcher of the 60s and 70s, Ferguson Jenkins, was from Canada? Would he count as black? What about Andruw Jones? He is from Curaçao. Is he any less black than Gary Sheffield? What about Carlos Delgado? He sure looks black to me. Robinson Canó was named after Jackie Robinson by his father, José, a one-time major leaguer. Guess you’ll have to tell Mr. Canó that he and his son just aren’t black either.

Is the suggestion that baseball should be like the Affirmative Action program in which we have quotas for certain races and national origins? If there are any .330 hitters who aren’t getting a fair hearing from Major League Baseball because they are African American, please let me know who they are and I will shout it from the rooftops. I believe that the reason there are less African American ballplayers is because African Americans have moved on and found other sports to be interested in, not because of discrimination. Torii Hunter, Chone Figgins, Prince Fielder, CC Sabathia and so many other African Americans decided that baseball is what they’re good at and what they love. They chased their dreams and succeeded. I love that they are part of baseball’s fabric.

What is Richard Lapchick saying? That we should turn baseball into a civil service position in which we will reserve, say, 15 percent of the jobs for one particular group regardless of performance? You tell me.