Musings

The Loss of Our Dignity

September 20, 2017

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been rereading and revising essays, deciding which ones I wanted to include in the collection. As I mentioned last week, it’s now available on Amazon, for Kindle. It was interesting to go back over ten years of material, seeing what I thought about political, societal, and personal matters when I was in different living and working situations.

I don’t think my politics have changed much in the past decade. I’m still liberal on most issues, though I still have plenty of beefs with the Democratic party. I certainly tore into former President Obama here on the site over the years, though not nearly as much as I did the Republicans for various reasons. I haven’t spoken out about Donald Trump here on the site recently, for two reasons. The first is that a couple of years ago, I determined that I wasn’t going to be doing the weekly blogs anymore, for the simple fact that I wasn’t being paid for them. The effort no longer seemed worth it, and I felt like my creative energies were better spent being focused elsewhere. The other reason I haven’t bad-mouth Trump is that he’s too easy of a target. The man’s flaws are self-evident, and my pointing them out wouldn’t have made any difference. Today, however, I thought I’d break my silence. Why not? It’s not likely to make any difference in my personal life, nor is it going to get the Orange-in-Chief ushered out the door any faster, but it will allow me to blow off some steam.

Trump has been president now for about eight months. He’s weathered numerous mini-scandals while in office, but I thought some of the ones he faced before he was even elected would be enough to swamp his campaign, and it never happened. The whole “grab them by the pussy” business, a couple of decades ago, seems like it would have been enough to derail him, but it didn’t happen. Likewise, his handling of the woman’s death in Charlottesville recently, where she was run down by a white supremacist, seems like it might have been sufficient to get him impeached. It didn’t happen, nor have any of the allegations so far about his campaign colluding with Russia during the election. I suppose it’s still possible that a smoking gun could be discovered so dramatic that it can no longer be ignored, even by the G.O.P., but if you want my opinion, I think we’re probably stuck with this guy till at least 2020.

The argument has been made that Trump being elected was a market correction for eight years of an Obama presidency, and maybe that’s true. It has also been suggested that this correction is at least partially due to racial motives. Maybe the people who supported Trump did so because they believed in what this conman was saying. They believed he’d build a wall on the Mexican border, they believed he’d save jobs in the coal industry…but I sincerely believe that some of them voted for him because regardless of what he said or did, they would have voted for any white male, just because they felt it would be going back to the status quo. They surely weren’t going to vote for Hillary. Sexism is just as much alive as is racism, in this country.

My problems with Trump run deeper the more I learn about the man, and I knew plenty about him already. I never watched The Apprentice, but I’ve sure watched professional wrestling over the years, and I know all about Trump’s association with Vince McMahon and the W.W.E. I knew Trump to be a bloviating blowhard, a puffed-up caricature of what he envisioned a New York billionaire should be. He always made much of his success, but his track record in business stated otherwise. I recall going to Atlantic City and seeing his casino abandoned, a rotting eyesore jutting out from the shoreline, letters hanging off the façade. It looked like a set piece from The Walking Dead. I was just as surprised as all the pundits when his candidacy did as well as it did, but, like the rest of them, I never believed he could actually be elected. It was inconceivable…and then it happened.

The people who voted for Trump wanted someone who “wasn’t a politician,” and that’s what they got. They got a man who had no previous political experience at all, had never held an elected office at any level. They got a reality T.V. star, and they got a presidency unlike anything ever before seen. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, watching this guy, and we’re only eight months in. Yesterday, Trump addressed the United Nations for the first time. Maybe, with his ego, he expected it to be like one of his victory rallies in Bum-Fuck, Idaho, with people cheering his greatest hits, “Lock her up!” “Build the wall!” He started riffing on Kim Jong Un, calling him by the pet name he’d devised, “Rocket Man.” There was no laughter, and there was no applause. The delegates of dozens of countries had never seen anything like this guy in the flesh. I think most of them were shocked, appalled. They’d heard and seen how much of an ass the American president was, but it was something else to see it in person. Here was what America had become; this is what we elected.

That’s what I think bothers me the most about this guy. Yes, his policies are awful, just as much they are arbitrary. What would it actually accomplish to ban transsexual service members from the armed forces? What would it actually accomplish, building that wall on the Mexican border? How can these be anyone’s priorities? But, while all of that is cause for alarm, I think it hurts me the most when I see how much shame and embarrassment it brings to this nation that this guy represents us on the world stage. Say what you want about Obama, or Clinton, or even George Bush, either version. At least they were all politicians; they sounded somewhat presidential, although W’s mangling of the English language was a trial. He at least attempted to retain some measure of dignity; Trump doesn’t know the meaning of the word. He feuds with celebrities on Twitter, he mocks disabled people, he shouts down any dissention, determined to have the last word, like a petulant toddler. His supporters don’t care. This is what they wanted…it’s the Mean Girl presidency.

As I said, I believe we’re stuck with Trump till 2020. How much damage he’s going to do in the meantime is anybody’s guess. Perhaps he’ll actually antagonize North Korea to the point that they back up some of the rhetoric they’ve been spitting at us for decades. But one thing is undeniable: America is a laughingstock right now. There were times in the past when I found it hard to be an American, because I disagreed so vehemently with governmental policy. It’s never been anything like this before. This is an unprecedented time in American and world history, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. We’re living in the era where the president goes on unhinged Twitter sprees in the middle of the night, and continues denying climate change while Houston and parts of Florida are underwater. Perhaps this is what we deserved, as a nation; we deserved to learn some humility. One can only hope that the Democrats can come up with somebody in 2020 who can play by the rules of the new political gamesmanship of this modern era, which is to say, no rules at all. In the wild west of a Trump presidency, there is no over the top. There is no lowest common denominator. No matter how tasteless, no matter how repellent a thought or action, it could be coming our way at any moment. This guy is capable of anything. Hold onto your hats with one hand, America…and hold your nose with the other.

Publication News

Essay Collection Now Available on Amazon

September 14, 2017

Hello folks. After a hiatus, I’m back, and I hope you’re all enjoying the onset of the fall season. I’ve been hard at work on a number of projects, and hopefully I’ll have updates on some of them soon. For now, I wanted to announce that my new essay collection, Driving Fast in the Slow Lane, is available for Kindle on Amazon. It costs $4.99, and you can find it at the following link: https://www.amazon.com/Driving-Fast-Slow-Steven-Finkelstein-ebook/dp/B075LXGN5X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505425184&sr=8-1&keywords=steven+finkelstein

I’m tremendously proud of this collection, which features dozens of essays written over a ten-year period, some of them deeply personal. I hope you’ll check it out, but if you’re one of those folks that prefers a print version, one should be available soon. More to come, true believers. Peace and love to all.

Publication News

Memoir Now Available In Print

August 2, 2017

Hello my friends, I hope you’re all enjoying your summer. I just wanted to mention that my memoir, “You Never Know Who’s Crazy,” is now available in print-on-demand format, for the price of $9.99. You can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1548294640/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1501675657&sr=8-5&keywords=steven+finkelstein

It’s been fun for me to revise this manuscript that was written several years ago, and get it out there on the market. It provides some insight, I think, into where my mind was during the move to New York and my first year there…it’s a fun snapshot of who I was seven/eight years ago, and it also serves well as a cautionary tale for anyone who’s thinking about challenging the crucible of New York City with a shoestring budget. I hope you’ll all pick up this rare foray of mine into the realm of nonfiction. More soon, true believers.

Publication News

Memoir Now Available on Kindle

June 17, 2017

Hello all. I’m happy to announce that my memoir, You Never Know Who’s Crazy, is now available on Amazon, for Kindle, for the price of $4.99. Here is the link to it: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072KWRM3D/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1497739117&sr=8-4&keywords=steven+finkelstein

This is a nonfiction account of parts of 2009 and 2010. It was written several years ago, but it’s newly revised, and is now for sale for the first time anywhere. It covers stories from both my personal and professional life, detailing the move from Myrtle Beach to Brooklyn, the death of my step-grandfather, David Gresky, my marriage to my wife, Megan, and many more incidents and anecdotes. Although I believe fiction to be more my forte than nonfiction, I’m thrilled for this manuscript to have finally joined my other novels and collections on Kindle. If reading on phone, tablet, desktop, etc., isn’t your flavor, never fear…a print-on-demand version should also be available soon. I’ll post news on the site when that happens. Check out the memoir, and I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. More soon…

Musings

Rough Draft of New Novel Finished

May 9, 2017

It has been some time since I resolved to stop posting as regularly here on the blog, as I have been busy with a plethora of endeavors. However, I wanted to take a moment to update my readers as to when new material from me can be expected. I just finished the rough draft of the novel Diminishing Returns, which is the sequel to Transitional Period, the first novel I ever wrote. It again features the protagonist Anthony Rizzo, who, when we last saw him, in the years 2000-2001, was trying to graduate from college, and was grappling with an overly-stimulated id, and a group of nihilistic friends. I envisioned Transitional Period as somewhat of a cautionary tale, and the sequel follows in that same vein. It is set in the years 2016-2017, deals with some of the issues of the day, and is again written in first person-present tense. In this novel, Anthony is approaching middle age, living on the streets of New York, and has spent time in prison for a crime committed toward the end of the first novel. Like the last one, this novel is not for the faint of heart. It has yet to be determined by what method this latest opus will be published. Self-publishing on Amazon again seems the most likely. Frankly, this novel is of such repellent content that I don’t even know how I would pitch it to any literary agents.

It has been difficult for me to get back into the mindset of this protagonist. He is a thoroughly contemptible person, and I felt that his life and situation, taken up again fifteen years following the conclusion of the first story, should reflect that. Ultimately, the reason I felt compelled to go back to this character is because I felt that he had another story in him. I feel quite strongly now this may turn out to be the middle chapter of a trilogy. Whether that proves to be the case or not, only time will tell.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of my readers who have discovered my work via print-on-demand from Amazon, and also through Kindle and other platforms. I was reluctant earlier in my career to self-publish, but I’ve been very pleased with the outcome after having overcome that particular phobia. To my fellow authors, I advise you, if you haven’t been having the success for which you are looking through “traditional” avenues, think about self-publishing with Create Space. Gone are the days when you have to go begging to literary agents and publishing companies. You can do it yourself now; if you strongly enough about your work, let the world see it. The gatekeepers don’t get to tell you “no” anymore. I will be back shortly with more information on the new novel, and when and where it will be available. Till next time, happy reading, my Fellowship of the Page!

Publication News

New Novel Now Available For Kindle

January 16, 2017

I’m pleased to announce that my new fantasy novel, Rogue: Time Out of Mind, the first of the Rogue series, is now available for Kindle on Amazon. It sells for $4.99. You can find it at the following link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MY8PXG8

I’m also in the process of formatting the novel for print publication, and it should be available in paperback form in the next few weeks. I’m very excited to be getting this project out there to you, the readers. Please tell your friends, and check out my latest effort on Kindle now!

Musings

Best Of The New York Pics Part 5

January 11, 2017

Here’s the last round of my favorite New York photos.

In 2009, not long after arriving in New York, I spotted this display in the window of a comic book store off of Union Square. Both the young woman and the zombie feeding on her were real live models. The zombie would stop snacking periodically to snarl at the crowd.

 

 

 

 

Spring of 2013 saw the global phenomenon of Wrestlemania come to New York, or technically New Jersey, since Metlife Stadium is in the Meadowlands, about a twenty minute bus ride from the city. Since I’m a big wrestling fan, it was a no-brainer I’d be in attendance. Wrestlemania is the biggest wrestling show of the year, bar none, and there was a huge, incredibly elaborate set over and around the ring.

 

 

This subway ad depicts a woman being upset with her small breast size in the first picture, and happy in the second picture when she gets an enlargement. Someone took exception to the message, and added a sticker emphasizing their views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my all-time favorite pics, and the very definition of the word “irony.” This was an intensely gross-looking guy sitting passed out on a park bench in Madison Square Park, in the Flatiron District. If you can’t read it, his shirt says “Pussy Lover.”

 

 

 

That’s it, everybody. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. More soon.

Musings

Best Of The New York Pics Part 4

January 4, 2017

Here’s another installment of my favorite New York City pics.

2014 was the last year for number 2, Derek Jeter. I made sure to get to a game that season to see one of my all-time favorites in the flesh before he hung up the cleats. For a guy who was so committed to excellence, it’s just a shame that the Yanks weren’t too good that year. Though they finished with a winning record, they didn’t make the playoffs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I believe this picture is from 2011. Lady Gaga was just in the process of becoming an enormous mega-star, and the Monster’s Ball Tour was coming to New York. Apparently, someone who’d spotted this poster, in the area of Times Square, wasn’t a fan.

 

 

 

Although it can’t be said that Megan and myself took advantage of all the cultural opportunities New York had to offer every day of the week, we did occasionally make it to a show. We saw Phantom of the Opera, Book of Mormon, and The Lion King, among others. This was an enormous Lion King mask hung on the wall in the theater lobby, winter of 2012.

 

 

 

If people thought the candidates in the 2012 election were bad, they had no idea what they’d be in for in 2016! New York is a highly political city, and I enjoyed some of the commentary you’d see represented by posters, subway ads, and things of that nature.

 

 

 

I’ll be back with the final installment of my favorite New York pics next week.

Musings

Best Of The New York Pics Part 3

December 29, 2016

Here’s another installment of my favorite pics from my time in New York.

Halloween of 2012 saw me with long hair, and walking the streets as Zombie Steve. I got my traditional shaved head again not long after this. It’s much lower maintenance.

 

 

 

Dragon Gate Wrestling’s “Freedom Fight” event in 2011 saw me up on stage in the first row at B.B. King’s, in Times Square. The guy in green is ECW legend Sabu, a man who has punished his body for the pseudo-sport of professional wrestling over the years more than just about any other, and he’s got the scars to prove it, believe me. He was involved in a six-man tag, which ended with the canvas covering the ring spattered with blood.

 

In October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy flattened New York. Bay Ridge, my neighborhood, wasn’t as badly hit as some others, but it didn’t escape unscathed. Hundreds of millions of dollars were needed to repair damage to homes, businesses, and particularly the subway. The severity of this storm really made it necessary for governmental officials to rethink how they were going to deal with climate change going forward. The consensus seems to be that this sort of thing will no longer be a “once in a lifetime” event.

 

I went to many Yankee games during my time in New York, like this one in 2014. More times than not, this guy would be standing out in front of the gates, haranguing the crowd. Exactly what Jesus or repentance or religion has to do with baseball I couldn’t tell you, but I’m sure this man would be happy to let you know all about it.