Why Shouldn’t Police Officers Wear Body Cams? No, Seriously, Why Shouldn’t They?

I recently tutored high school students preparing for debates.

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The five-person teams, comprised of freshmen, are each assigned a “controversial” topic: gun control, marijuana legalization, teacher tenure, and, in the case of my group, police body cameras.

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The students do not get to pick whether they will represent the “pro” or “con” side of the issue – it is simply assigned to them, and their job is to do the best they can.

Mother’s Day: The Bullet Points

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“For Mother’s Day, you can just get me another gift card from ‘Black Angus.’”

“Okay. Done.”

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Thus began – and ended – the discussion my mom and I had regarding Mother’s Day festivities.

It’s how we roll.

We’re both actually very sentimental – we wax on about childhood Saturday nights spent eating grapes and watermelon together while watching sit-coms like “Three’s Company” and “The Love Boat,”…

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…and we both shake our heads in disbelief and dismay at where the time has gone (I certainly don’t know – blink and a decade or two slip by) – but we’re also both very pragmatic about some things, and our irrepressible love of pared down emotional efficiency shines through: she is, after all, 100% German, and I’m 50%.

So, in keeping with the Teutonic spirit of efficiency, here is a bullet point list of some of the things that make me love my mother so deeply and so dearly.

“No Brown M & M’s” and Other Ridiculous Band Riders

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Worried it was an urban legend, I never bothered to check whether Van Halen’s famous “no brown M & M’s” contract rider was real: I didn’t want to be disappointed in my hair metal divas if it wasn’t true. Turns out, I was worried for nothing. It IS absolutely true that in their dense touring contracts – well – see for yourself what appears in the section called “munchies:”

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So it’s true – but not for the reasons you might think (including general douchebaggery and an unwarranted aversion to earth tones).

But before we get to that weird bit of truth, here are a few more real-honest-to-god contractual demands made by superstars:

Feeling Stupid? Try “The Daily Commuter”

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_____ clip; staple alternative,5 letters.

Um….”paper?”

Yuletide visitor, 5 letters.

Let’s see: “Santa?”

Authentic, 4 letters, starts with an “R.”

Oh come on…I could do this crossword puzzle in my ________, 5 letters.

My local paper prints a crossword puzzle called “The Daily Commuter,” and thank God for it.

A Slice Of Pizza

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He wears a smart straw hat with a black silk band.  He is African American, perhaps in his mid-60’s.  He is trim, keeps his white beard cropped close and often wears a Hawaiian print shirt and sunglasses.  At first I thought he might be a musician.  And he might be – I’ve never asked him.

And I can always find him sitting on an upturned plastic milk crate outside one of my favorite pizza places.  He holds out a paper cup and says, “Spare some change?”

I mumble back “no,” shake my head and enter the restaurant to buy a slice.  And he always calls after me,

“Maybe on your way out.”

He’s persistent, but not pushy, and he asks with a smile.  And I never give him anything.

Are You A “Transgender Male” Or “Transgender Man?” 58 Categories And Counting…

When I was kid, there were four types of dinosaurs: the tyrannosaurus rex, the stegosaurus, the brontosaurus and the pterodactyl.  That was it.  That was all.  That’s what you got to choose from for your “favorite” dinosaur.  And, of course, every little boy went with the T-Rex (sorry, stegosaurus!).

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Nowadays there are hundreds of dinosaurs, from the styracosaurus to the archaeopteryx to the velociraptor and every big lizard in between.  I don’t know how you’d even begin to choose your favorites.

That’s how it feels with Facebook’s 58 gender options.

Should I Or Should I Not Visit My Neighbor, An Acquaintance, Who Was Moved Into A Convalescent Home About Six Months Ago, And Who I Visited Once, But That Was A While Ago?

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This was the question posed to me by my mom the other day on the phone.  Lately (and by “lately” I mean the last ten years or so), she has had many such questions for me.  “What gift should I get my niece who loves the movie ‘The Titanic?’” “I visited two dentists’ offices, and while one doctor comes more highly recommended, he wore sandals.  Is that normal?  Who would you pick?” or “We need to buy a car, and I don’t know whether we should go to a dealer or a private party.”

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These are questions my mom never would’ve asked me when I was a middle schooler, even a teen.

Chris Borland: A Gutsy Decision

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San Francisco 49er linebacker Chris Borland had a break out rookie year in 2014.  He was a sensation.  When veteran Patrick Willis injured his toe last October, Borland was called upon to fill Willis’ sizable shoes.  He did that, and more: he had the most tackles of any player on the team for the season.  Commentators said he was a natural, that he had a nose for knowing where the football would be, and the determination and grit to take down the person carrying it, even though he was modestly sized at 5’ – 11”, 248 pounds.  He made $1,037,436 his rookie season, with a $617,436 signing bonus.  If his rookie year was any indication of his potential, it’s safe to say his next contract could easily have been in the eight figures.  He’s only 24, he’s just getting started, and, on Monday, he announced his retirement from the sport he loves.

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Jury Duty

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The bailiff admonished us – again – to turn off all electronic devices.  “Not sleep mode, not airplane mode, but completely off, folks.”  About 100 of us had been called into the court room for an initial jury screening, where we all waited for the Honorable Judge Ming to enter.  No one chatted; we sat up straight. The room itself seemed modest compared to what I had seen on TV and in the movies, but still, upon entering it, we all felt the gravity of our civic obligation: twelve of us would eventually determine someone’s freedom.

Defendant Standing Before the Judge

The Great Sriracha Giveaway

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Remember that 80 million dollar idea you had, the one you forgot to trademark, the one that everyone and their great auntie are ripping off and making a fortune on?  And remember how you had to spend most of your waking hours tamping down wrathful urges which swung from the homicidal to the suicidal and back again, with hours of tearful recriminations and broken dishes and waterfalls of foul verbiage in between?

Me too.

But not so for David Tran, the Vietnamese refugee who invented the original Sriracha sauce….

Quadrophenia And The Exaggerated Melancholy Of Youth

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Recently I’ve been rearranging and down sizing a lot my stuff, which meant getting rid of at least two of the six crates of vinyl records I own.  These days, I rarely take the trouble to pull them out of the sleeve, put them on the turntable, and lower the needle, as CDs and iPhone playlists have taken their place, but I came across a copy of The Who’s “Quadrophenia” I bought in high school, and it hit me like a freight train.

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