Political Nerd Season!

So I woke up early this morning to do something very, very exciting. Now, what would be so thrilling to make me wake up early on a Saturday morning in August?

I went to watch a person declare that he is running for Mayor of Toledo.

If you follow this blog, you know that I’m a lover of politics. And right now, due to the untimely passing of Mayor Collins, we are in what amounts to a bonus round for political nerds like myself. Add to this the wild Presidential Primary Season, and I’m in my glory!

Carty Finkbeiner was mayor of Toledo throughout the 90’s. Then he was term-limited in 2001. So then he ran again, and won, in 2005.  He declined to run for reelection in 2009, citing a family decision. Now, because of this unfortunate turn of events, Carty is back. He’s been making the rounds of summer festivals, gaining signatures to put him on the ballot, very clearly intending to run for office— but not making it official. I ran into Carty at the Polish Festival back in July:


While I am currently torn between Carty and one other candidate in the race, here is why I like and respect Mayor Finkbeiner: no one person is responsible for civic pride in the community. No one person is able to click their fingers and make a community better. No one person has a magic wand to brainwash the citizens into believing in a better tomorrow. Yet, one person is responsible for igniting passion. One person is responsible for being a City’s biggest cheerleader. One person is responsible for holding government— and the people— accountable. And that person is the Mayor.

I’ve never seen a political leader fulfill those duties the way Carty Finkbeiner has. When he occupied the 22nd floor of One Government Center, this City seemed to be full of civic pride. It was because our Mayor projected that. Just look at that photo above— Toledo through-and-through. Yes, Carty has had a few (or a lot) of gaffes in his time in the public spotlight. Citizen’s arrest. Deaf people at the airport. War with the Insane Clown Posse. Those are just a few that come to mind….

But, as it should be, the positives outweigh the negatives. Carty’s attitude is what this City needs. If another candidate can match the fearless pride that Carty Finkbeiner has in Toledo, Ohio, then they should step up to the plate and have a serious discussion on plans and policies. But the energy is what comes first… and so far, Carty has the advantage.

Thanks for reading! Please go pick up a copy of my book, The Trashy Hootenanny, today on Amazon!


Journey Under the Bridge

Earlier this month, I knocked two items off my Bucket List. I’ll share these adventures with you over the next couple of days.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a fascination with the Mackinac Bridge. Almost every summer, my family would make a trip north, to visit my mother’s friend from high school, Val. Val and her husband Roger live in Wakefield, Michigan… which is almost to Wisconsin. So “the bridge” was our halfway point.

I remember seeing advertisements for boat trips that took tourists underneath The Mighty Mac. Each summer, I would beg to go… but each summer, we were in too much of a rush to get there or get home. Or we ended up taking the ferry over to Mackinac Island.

This year, I knew I’d end up in Mackinaw City for the release of our book, Murdick’s Mackinaw Mystery, so I made plans to finally take my ride under the bridge. The boat was the Ugly Annie… and the trip was simply magnificent. Of course, this is coming from the guy that was always more impressed with the Hoover Dam than the Grand Canyon. I guess man-made mechanical marvels are more interesting to me than natural creations… more on that in another post.

For now, here are some pictures from my trip under the Mackinac Bridge:


One of the island ferries, with the Grand Hotel in the background.


Approaching the bridge, traveling West.


I couldn’t get enough of this view…


Yeah… after seeing this, I won’t be driving in the center lanes again.


One final pass under the bridge, traveling East.


On Caitlyn and Costumes…

I love Caitlyn Jenner. There. I said it.

Never have I ever been a fan of The Kardashians. I don’t keep up with them. I can’t stomach Kris.

But Caitlyn is a different story. I like her humor. I like the fact that she is choosing to help younger transgender people by telling her story in a responsible way. And I love the fact that, even in her 60’s, she had the courage to become who she truly is. I’ve learned so much and gained such respect for the transgender community from her reality show.

Those that spoke out when Caitlyn received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs were wrong. Are there other acts of courage that might be more courageous than stepping out as a transgender person? Of course. Is she still courageous for doing this? Is she still a hero? You ask that question to a transgender teen that has contemplated suicide.

Recently, another firestorm is brewing over a Halloween Company creating a Caitlyn Jenner costume. Here it is, if you haven’t seen it shared 50,000 times on your newsfeed:


Apparently, this costume is, “offensive” and, “transphobic.”

Now George Takei, of Star Trek and Facebook fame, has weighed in:


I am convinced, Mr. Takei. Name me a pop culture phenomenon that hasn’t been replicated come Halloween time. Do you know how many little Donald Trumps, complete with fish lips and combovers, are going to be running around this October? Is the controversy about the costume itself or the fact that a company is producing it? I’m sure there will be much better homemade Caitlyns at Halloween.

Can I see how someone could be offended by this? Sure, I can. I have a nuanced opinion about lots of things that could or should be offensive.

But it all comes down to who is wearing the costume…

Last month, a controversy erupted in Toledo, Ohio about this billboard:


People were genuinely offended by this, including me. Denny Schaffer is a bigot. He’s made homophobic remarks on his radio shows. He wraps himself up in the pages of the Bible. In fact, when I was 19 and applying for an unpaid internship at his radio station, he conducted the “interview” live on the air, while making fun of my hair and my voice, even going so far as to play an audio clip of Barbara Walters asking, “Do you wear women’s underwear?” (I got the last laugh and was hired by the station less than a year later— in a paid position.)

Denny wasn’t just having fun with this billboard, which has since been removed. Denny was being blatantly offensive. If he came trick-or-treating while wearing the Caitlyn Jenner costume, I would agree with anyone who found it to be “trans-phobic.”

On the other hand, I have a whole world of friends that could wear this costume and pull it off. Friends that are supportive and understanding and funny. Not judgy.

I like Caitlyn. I support Caitlyn. But I think even Caitlyn would have a little giggle at seeing grown men walk around dressed like her Vanity Fair cover.

Speaking of offensive Halloween costumes… do you really want to be offended? Really, really, really offended? You would have been last year, when I saw Ebola patients at Halloween parties. You would have been in 2001, when I saw postal workers wrapped in plastic, at the height of the Anthrax scare. And you will be right now, when I share with you these two photos that I found while researching this article:

IMG_7585 IMG_7586

Folks, this is offensive. Particularly the kids. Some parent thought this was acceptable.

Next time, before we get all up-in-arms about being offended, let’s take a deep breath and put things in perspective.

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