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:

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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!

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I’ve been had!

I’m a complete addict to three television shows: Survivor, The Amazing Race and Real Housewives of New York.

Yes, I’m completely embarrassed to admit that last one. The show just seems so… vapid, right? But I can’t help it! Ramona and the Countess and the fights and the drinking! It’s all just way too much for me and I cannot pull myself away. It really is like the proverbial train wreck.

Survivor is a little more defensible. This show has been on the air since 2000, if you can believe that! In recent years, the game has become somewhat predictable… but I still watch and throw things at the TV when my castaway inevitably loses.

But the best of the three, by far? The Amazing Race. I know it sounds hokey, but the show really makes the rest of the World seem a lot closer. And I’ve always said that if there were one reality show that I could choose to be cast on, this would be it. Because, even if you don’t win a million dollars, you got to see the World! If you’re not familiar with the show, teams of two race around the World, completing tasks assigned by the show. At the end of each leg, a team is eliminated.

If you notice, I referred in the previous paragraph to The Amazing Race as a “reality” show. Now, I’m not so sure…

Last week, the finale aired with three teams racing for a million dollars. Of these three were a couple, Josh and Brent, who were clearly the underdogs in the race– they’d not won any legs at all. Of course, as long as you don’t come in last, winning doesn’t matter until the final leg. Wouldn’t you know… they ended up winning the race. And a million bucks. Here they are:

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Throughout the course of the show, these two were simply referred to as “goat farmers” in bio graphics and online. Also, during interviews broadcast during episodes, they spoke of losing their jobs in New York City, being forced to move to their “farm,” the one commuting to a job in the city during the week, nearly losing the farm because of the economy, blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH!

You can see the picture I had conjured in my brain: these two guys, broke, living in a dilapidated old farm house, buying their clothes from Salvation Army, scraping goat poo and milking them just to make ends meet… it was all very sad, this mental image that the producers of The Amazing Race helped me create. The problem? It was false. Just take a look at the “farm” house:

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After watching them win the race and the mil, I saw on a “comments” section of a news site something about their goat milk soap and how wonderful it was. They called it “Beekman” soap. Ahhhh… I was wondering why they always wore those shirts on the show that said “Beekman!” This was it— they were just promoting their small handmade soap business! That’s what I thought ’til I gooogled it.

Small handmade soap business, my ass! These guys are running a goddamn empire!

Have a look:

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Some $42 cheese… yum! Now, I know cheese is expensive. But these are struggling goat farmers! Struggling, I tell ‘ya! They lost their NYC jobs, dammit! They’re herding goats, for christ sake!

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And not only are they peddling cheese and soap— take a look at the other categories! Holidays, home goods, “fine edibles” (what the hell?!).

If this isn’t enough, they also operate a brick-and-mortar storefront in downtown Sharon Springs, near the farm!

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From what I can tell, if there ever was a time that they were struggling or about to lose the farm, it was a few years back– like ’07 or ’08. They’ve had a pretty amazing comeback since then— a comeback that should have been noted on The Amazing Race. I mean, I was cheering for these guys! I was rooting for them to win it all! Because they were goat farmers! They were real people with real problems, like you and I!

Take a look below. Not only are they not just “goat farmers,” but they had their own 10-episode reality television show on Planet Green back in 2010. Then it got renewed for a second season. And then it got renewed for a third season, on the Cooking Channel.

Josh is a New York Times Bestselling Author and former famous drag queen. He has several books currently available… including a cookbook. Oh, and he also had a well-paying advertising gig in NYC.

And Brent? Brent is a doctor! That’s right— a real, live physician. He also used to be Vice President of Healthy Living for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Now, that’s quite a title that came with quite a payday, I am sure. Granted, he was laid off from this position in 2008. However, Martha Stewart and him are still good buddies— and Martha Stewart is a contact that even a million dollars in game show winnings can’t buy you.

Have a look at all they have going on:

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My point in all of this? Not jealousy. Well, maybe a little bit jealousy. I’d love to develop what I like to do into a full-time job. And these two seem like genuinely great guys with a passion for life– I’d love to meet them and learn a few things. But I really feel duped by The Amazing Race. There I sat, cheering for the goat farmers. Well, these goat farmers had a larger resume than goat farmers. And that information  should have been shared with the viewers. Had I known that Josh and Brent already had all of this opportunity laid out before them in their life (in the past, as well as the present…), I may have been cheering for the college sweethearts from Texas or maybe even the Chippendales. Not that my cheers would have made a difference in who won the race… but it would have made me feel better.

Do I sound like a crazy person? Yes. But if we’re going to call it “reality television,” let’s at least be real with the viewers!

I mean, these “goat farmers” have a whole damn staff of people working for them!  I mean, a publicist? A person to handle appearance requests? No other goat farmer I know needs these things…

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So, there’s my rant. If The Amazing Race wants to feature business owners/friends of Martha/doctor/author/ad exec/mansion-dwellers and pass them off to the country as “goat farmers,” that’s their choice. But I will put quite a bit of deliberation into watching the next season of this, one of my favorite shows. Be honest with your audience, producers.

But good luck to you, Brent and Josh! What a life! If you want to send some cheese, call me!

Nick

Oh, and I’m sure you’ll ask, “Nick, if you’re so upset, why did you link their store and website all over this rant?” Because I really go like these two and what they’re doing. And I wish them all the success there is. If someone wants to rant about me, great— just tell them where to buy my books! (Amazon or iBooks!)

 

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