Tag Archives: Last Week Tonight

I’m off to Cali-forn-ia for 10 days, whoo-hoo! John Oliver with a great segment on marijuana laws’ unfairness. And the Democrats better stay strong on Gorsuch filibuster

 

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

California Dreamin, on a sunny day…

Every once in a while a person should fly from one coast to another with an excitable 2.5 year old, don’t you think?

The Lewis trio is off to sunny, drought-ravaged, liberal-loving California today, for 10 hopefully glorious days. The impetus for the trip is that my wonderful mother turned 70 a few months ago and wanted the whole family to go away somewhere nice.

Costa Rica was the first choice, but with Zika still out there and no vaccine, she was understandably wary. So then she settled on San Diego, which no one could possibly disagree with.  Place is 72 degrees and sunny 300 days of the year, who could have a problem with that?

We’re flying to L.A. first, going to hang out with some friends, including this dude who fled his home state for sunnier pastures, angering me greatly (it also angers me when he posts photos from the beach in February, but I’ll forgive him eventually.)

We’re going to stay in a rental house for a week in Padres-ville, and I’m excite to show my little guy the wonders of Sea World (I know, I know, they mistreat the whales, I’ve heard all about “Blackfish.” But I hear it’s getting better), the awesomeness of the San Diego Zoo, and probably LegoLand, where we may never be able to escape because it looks awesome with water rides on Lego boats and my son’s mind will be blown.

Anyhow, should be a lot of fun; California is a great escape from all the GOP destruction of America right now, so I’m going to try not to pay attention to the news for a few days (Call me if there’s a new war, or an impeachment hearing.

All of this is to say, there probably won’t be the usual three-blogs-per-week next week. I’ll have something for Good News Friday this Friday, then probably post some thoughts on our S.D. adventure next Wednesday or Friday, and that’ll be it until Monday, April 17.

Play nice, children.

**Next up today, John Oliver’s fantastic HBO show has been back for a few weeks and honestly I’m feeling a little let down by it; he’s still hilarious, of course, and his zebra sketch was an all-time classic, but I’m a little bothered he’s doing Trump stories every week; we get those so many other places that I come to John Oliver for the less-covered stories.

Anyway, he absolutely nailed his main story this week, a subject very important to me: The ridiculous and cruel way that legal marijuana dispensaries and users are dealt with, and how absurd so many of these laws are (I still can’t get past that pot is considered a Schedule 1 narcotic, while heroin is given a lesser designation.)

Watch to the end, where we see just how impossible it is to stay within the law even if you live in a state that has passed pot legalization. Fantastic stuff, John.

**And finally today, just a few words on the national disgrace that is the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch expected to be approved this week: First, I cannot fathom Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, Colorado’s Michael Bennet, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin refusing to filibuster Gorsuch with their fellow Democrats; all four deserve all the scorn and ridicule from my party that they’re getting.

This idea that Democratic Senators are bringing the Senate to a “new and historic low” as gasbag Mitch McConnell says, is ludicrious. The Senate refused to vote on a legit, bipartisan-approved candidate last year in Merrick Garland, an unprecedented move in our history, but the Dems should just roll over and approve the right-wing Gorsuch, who will move the Court right?

I know some of my friends are queasy about McConnell blowing up the Senate rules and declaring that from now on, a Supreme Court justice needs only a simple majority to get on the bench.

But you know what? Call his damn bluff. Demographics and the “leadership” of Donald Trump have made the Democratic Party’s future election prospects look bright, and if McConnell wants to blow up the rules, let him. They’ll come back to bite him in the butt in the future.

Glad Chuck Schumer and most Dems (Heitkamp and Manchin are basically Republicans anyway) are finally showing some spine here. We’re in an awful mess in this country right now, but standing up for what’s right is never a bad idea.

 

The death of a neighborhood supermarket (ours). The announcer who fell asleep on the air. And John Oliver, brilliant again on prisoner re-integration

FoodEmporium.59th

They are the tentpoles of every neighborhood that makes it unique, that tell you exactly where you are in the world.

I don’t care what neighborhood you live in, you know what I’m talking about. The pizza place with the employees watching some European soccer game on TV while flipping your pies. The dry cleaners, with plastic bags billowing everywhere. The electronics store, with the eager young employees trying to sell you the latest gadget.

And of course, we all have a neighborhood supermarket. It’s a place we visit all the time, and we know its aisles like the back of our hand. We stroll through at least once a week, smile at the cashiers, thank the deli counter woman for giving you a free tasting slice of the new ham, and then go on our way.

The neighborhood supermarket is always there, dependable no matter what you need. It becomes part of the fabric of your life.

Until one day, you walk in and the shelves look half-empty, there’s hardly any milk or juice available, and you ask one of the regular workers whose face you see all the time what’s up.

“We’re closing,” he said. “Mid-November at the latest.”

This just happened in our neighborhood, and I can assure you my wife and I aren’t the only ones crushed.

The Food Emporium under the 59th Street bridge in New York City, hard by the corner of 1st Avenue, may not look like much to you, even though its location makes it visually stunning to glance at.
To us in the neighborhood, it was special. For one thing, it was so much bigger than most Manhattan markets (I just looked it up and it is 35,000 square feet!), with wide aisles and much bigger selection than any other market in the boro I’ve been to. (Also, the echo you hear in the store from the bridge is awesome)

For another, it’s where we knew everyone, and they knew us. My man Robert behind the hot prepared foods counter would always smile at my son in his stroller, and then toss an extra grilled chicken breast, free of charge, into my order.
There were the identical twin adult women working the register; one day they worked side by side and totally freaked my wife out. They were always smiling, always happy to answer questions.

I’ll even miss the monosyllabic guy at the sushi and fish counter, who always moved things around just a little bit so you’d be confused looking for the salmon.

These people help make up the daily bread of my life, and in a few days they’ll all be out of a job. Food Emporium’s parent, A&P, filed for bankruptcy, and is closing several of its NYC stores.

We’d heard rumors, but nothing was confirmed. Now it’s official and so sad; I walked in on Monday since everything was 50 percent off and found a practically empty place.

Robert behind the counter was gone, and the twins weren’t there, either.

The beat of the neighborhood goes on, but it’s a little sadder, emptier place now.

**Next up, I’ve written a lot about prisoner rehabilitation and re-integration issues on the blog, because it’s an issue I feel deeply about. How shabbily we treat those who come out of prison is a national disgrace, and John Oliver has been the best person on TV highlighting everything wrong with our criminal justice system.

This week he nailed it again with a great, moving story on how poorly those who are released from penitentiaries are re-integrated into society. It’s a 17-minute piece, but it’s fantastic, especially if you can hang in until the end, when we meet Bilal for a live in-studio interview. Just listen to this man, and tell me people can’t change.

Fabulous stuff.

**Finally today, we all know sports announcers have to sometimes call boring games, or call games at crazy hours of the night because the viewers back home in another time zone are watching.

So let’s just all have a chuckle and then forgive Chinese sportscaster Dong Lu, who while commentating on a Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain match last week, in the wee hours of the morning (China time), kinda sorta dozed off.

Listen for the snoring, it’s kinda hard to miss.

Poor guy. I could make A LOT of jokes here about falling asleep and the incredibly slow pace of soccer, but I won’t.

More Red Bull and coffee next time, Dong.