Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dear Local Mall

Years ago, I lived in Seaford, DE.  Seaford's two claims to fame are that it was the birthplace of Major League Baseball Player Delino De Shields.  They claim that twice, since they think it is that important.  For obvious reasons, we would drive to the mall about 20 minutes away across the border in Maryland when we needed to buy anything that wasn't made out of corn or meth amphetamine. The mall, back then, was brand new, and had everything you could need.  There were two bookstores, two record stores, a great food court, and a huge arcade.  There was even a big stage at one end of the mall that should have been called "The Observatory", since a music stage at the mall is a great place to see falling stars. 

Right before high school, I moved further away from that mall, but I was still there almost every weekend, since I had friends that lived near it.  The Sam Goody had a great punk music section, and I had friends that worked at the Boscovs.  That was a great store to waste time in, because they, like any true department store, sold almost everything other than groceries.  It was also kind of kitschy retro, with a decor that looked like an early 1980's rec room.

Two weeks ago, I decided to go there to do some Christmas shopping.  It had probably been ten years since I had gone to that mall, and I thought maybe it would be a nice change of pace, and fun to see it again.  I was about as close to being right about that as I was when I said that reality TV would die out after 2007 or that I would never get tired of the song ""How Bizarre" by OMC.  By my count, at least five storefronts were boarded up or vacant.  Both bookstores and music stores were gone, the stage was taken away, and even the bridge that went over a water feature was taken out, and the water was removed.  I became more and more depressed the further I got into the mall.  Even Santa wasn't in "Santa's Village", which could have been renamed "Middle Aged Persian Man's Velour Sex Den" and not have needed to change anything.  By the time I reached Boscov's, at the far end of the mall, I had bought nothing, and wanted to weep for my lost childhood. 

Crossing the threshold of that store was the closest thing one could come to time travel.  The store was exactly identical to the way it looked when the mall opened in 1990.  It became apparent that back then, it didn't have a retro feel for the early 1980's.  The people who run Boscovs obviously believe that 1982 was the last good year ever.  If they could be blasting Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska and passing out leg warmers, they would be doing it.  Literally the only concession to progress I saw was that most of the clothing they were selling was modern, and they had taken out the section where they used to sell tapes and cd's, right in front of the washing machines and tv's.

This is something they were selling:

This was not being sold in the bedding section.  This was being sold near the chocolate counter and the candles.  There is no way this product has not been in some storeroom since 1992.  I read the box.  Nowhere did it explain why it is the most comfortable pillow, or how many times this man has killed, or if he will again.  I mean, really look at this guy.

My guess is that the pillow is so comfortable because this mustachioed creeper has dosed the pillow with chloroform, and you will gently glide into unconciousness when you lay your head down.  He will then use his tiny, misshappen left hand to stroke your hair while you sleep, singing you a lullabye in a beautiful falsetto.  Later, he will add a lock of your hair to the luscious soup strainer over his top lip so that you will always be together.

Thank you Boscov's for showing me that you can go home again.  It's just that home might be occupied by a guy who is still devastated that he lost the part of Al on Home Improvement. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No Update This Week

Tonight is not the night to be posting some farcical story about unpleasantries. I will resume blog posts next Sunday. My good friend and reader Jeff has said it well, so I will quote him.

"This is a horrible, horrible tragedy. And as contrived and awkward as these moments can be, even someone as cynical as I am can acknowledge how important and powerful this kind of memorial really is.

I hope everyone affected gets some comfort from this service, and that everyone who cares at all about humanity will work to ensure that positive changes come about in the wake of this tragedy."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Mauling of the Faithful

Open Letters to My Enemies is starting a new holiday.  December 12 is now known as the Mauling of the Faithful.  On this day, I will take the time during this holiday season to post slanderous and possibly unfounded facts about individual readers that have "Liked" the blog on Facebook.  That could be you!  Go "Like" it now, and celebrate with us tomorrow.

We now have the official song of The Mauling of the Faithful- an adaptation of Bruce Springsteen's "Wild Billy's Circus Story", done by reader Matt Lesley.  Lyrics are

The angry man climbs into his chair like a drunkard onto his stool
And the scribbler's writin' in a cold sweat, victim of his rage
Behind the desk, his hand tightens on his pen, like a madman's finger on the button
His wrath is on the shortwave

The red rage lies ahead like a great false dawn
Aging Hippie, Family in a Minivan, Lady sittin’ barefoot in her chair
Denver the Last Dinosaur
And the crazy eyed Giada De Laurentiis
His wrath has been born

And the pressure is a buildin’, pacing to-and-fro, pullin' out his hair
With a cannon blast, lightnin' flash, burnin' through the ink, Hell-bent
He's gonna vent his rage, oh, God save them all
And the words are a flyin', watch the enemies feel his pain
And the writer gets the crowds to read along

A ragged keyboard in his hand, he stomps angrily through the world
And the internet's haunted by his impotent howls
They echo like a great a banshee on the wind
A baggy shorts man in December, writer’s block, and a mockingbird
Fleein' to some small Nebraska town
Jesus, send some sweet women

And the Angry Man dances like a monkey on barbed wire
He romances his fury, with a fire in his belly
And how his marks flee in fear to the sounds of his computer like machine gun fire
The man’s a live wire

And the angry man lifts the pen, fist trembling with rage
And puts tip to paper, through the red, past the fury, in his dimly lit trailer
And the nub scratches and scratches and it ain't ever gonna stop
And the blogger bends over the keyboard and whispers to himself
"You all better run,
Because it’s time to maul the Faithful

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Local Utility Company

Things had gotten dire.  The compressed air for my soda stream had been spent, and I was left with no choice but to venture out and replace it.  This involves traversing perhaps the most wicked and painstaking three mile drive one can endure through a small town.  First, one must cross the infamous "bypass" that has almost as heavy traffic as the road it is supposed to be a helpful alternative to.  Next, you must sit at least four minutes at the Five Point Intersection of Despair.  After a short delay at the Stoplight-of-Constant-Construction-and-Snotty-Tennis-Players -Watching-You-From-The-Tennis Courts-Next-To-The-Road, you must make a left hand merge, LEFT I SAY, onto one of the busiest roads in America.  Finally, you must contend with the traffic of the lost souls and demons leaving Walmart in order to make it to the relative peace and seclusion of the Staples parking lot.  Here, and only here, may you exchange your officially licensed Soda Stream carbonator for a replacement. 

Things began badly from the outset.  As I boarded my trusty Jeep, my stomach knotted as I found my pockets vacant of my Ipod, the only source for tasty and uplifting tunes.  Having long abandoned terrestrial radio, the only preset on my car radio is the station for the Phillies games.  It is on every button.  The only CD I had was a scarred and battle worn mix made for a trip to Atlantic City years before, and I was damned if I would return to the house, climb the stairs, and retrieve my Ipod.  Time was of the essence.  I climbed into the car, inhaled deeply, and hit the scan button on the FM dial.  Apollo, god of travel, smiled upon me this day.  The third station held ominous silence for several moments, only to unleash the unmitigated fury and unabashed revelry of 80's supergroup Toto's Africa.  This journey would be prosperous.  I could not lose.

Together, Toto and I crushed the bypass beneath our heels.  We sailed unmolested through the Five Point Intersection of Despair, and we ignited the tennis courts at the S-o-C-C-a-S-T-P-W-Y-F-t-T- C-N-T-T-R in a blaze of purifying sound thanks to a blistering air key-tar solo.  Not even the dreaded left hand merge could phase us.  Toto and I were untouchable together.  As we crested the rise and entered the Staples parking lot, the final chorus entered a pitched fever, and as the final strains of the song echoed through the ears of the mortals enjoying their Quiznos subs, I exited my car, air canister held aloft, ready to kick ass, chew bugglegum, and make a small business transaction to allow me to make my own soda once again.

Unfortunately, like Icarus, I had flown too close to the sun.  As I swiped my credit card, mere seconds away from my goal, you murderous trolls at the Utilities company deigned to bring me back to earth.  I entered my debit code, returned my wallet to my pocket, and just as the machine was ready to print my receipt, the power was shut off to every business on the block.  Disbelieving, I asked if it had worked.  The man behind the counter told me no, and that I would need to leave with my old, nonworking carbonator.  Without power, there would be no transaction. It took me thirteen minutes to drive the three miles home, listening to the mournful wail of Billy Joel as he ate at an Italian restaurant.  I wasted a total of close to half an hour because you cannot keep the power on, one of your only jobs, aside from making sure no one poisons the town water supply.

You owe me my time back, as well as my pride, and a carbonator.  I will settle for the carbonator and the phone number of the lady behind the customer service counter at Staples.  You have 30 minutes.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dear Nebraska

I am a vain man, and I occasionally (constantly) check the stats on the blog.  Last night, I decided to have some fun and see the overall viewership geographic data.  Sounds boring, but it makes me happy on a bad day to know that some wonderful people (weirdos and perverts) that I have never met are reading what I write.  I pulled up the map, and this is what I see.

In case you are confused, the shades of green do not stand for how many people per capita Greg thinks are hot in each state, because Maine and New Jersey would be much darker.  It also does not stand for how many people per state send Greg nice messages and sexy pictures on the Open Letters Facebook page or email, because then the map would be white.  See, Nebraska, the green means that people in that state are reading my blog.  The darker the green, the more people read.  You are the only state that has never had even one single reader.

Your state motto is "Equality before the law", yet I feel that I have been rudely prejudiced against.I reported this injustice to the local authorities, but apparently this does not constitute a "hate crime" and I was "wasting everyone's time and patience."   My next course of action was to go to the internet and try to ascertain why you would hate me so much.  The few facts I was able to gather did not shed much light.  I found out that your largest ethnic group is German-Americans, which means share common lineage and both hate the Dutch.  Koolaid was invented in in your state, and I like Koolaid.  Well, not cherry Koolaid.  That tastes like broken promises and expired Pez.  You sired such legendary entertainers as Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, and Wade Boggs.  You also have 311, the guy that made the snuggie, and Larry the Cable Guy, but we will ignore that for now.  There seems to be no reason why not one of your 1,842,641 people have ever bothered to read my site.  So, this leads me to blind speculation and slander.

Illiteracy seems too easy.  I could attack the fact that one of your main tourist attractions is your Testicle Festival or that your state looks like a weird little kindergartener tried to draw the Slave-1 and failed miserably.  I could claim many things, but I won't for two reasons. First, you are so bland I had to look things up about you because I couldn't just come up with stuff to say about you. Second, you are where Children of the Corn is set, and that is punishment enough.

So, Nebraska Board of Tourism, I issue you a challenge.  If I see 200 views from Nebraska this month, I will publicly apologize to your state.  Also, if you send me a bus ticket and secure me lodging at your finest Clarion or Embassy Suites, I will do a public appearance, and we shall forge a new union of friendship and readership.

If I do not get the 200 readers, I will lead the Children of the Corn in an all out attack in your nightmares that will make what happened at Sesame Place when I was four look like the accident I still claim that it was.