What I feared might happen, happened

I’m sad.  One of my former reports from my old job texted me to let me know that they, and numerous other members of my old newsprint team from my old job were all being laid off.

This is something that I figured could eventually show up on the table, but seeing as how over the last six years I was there, I never saw, or heard of anywhere in the company that did any sort of laying off, I didn’t think that it would actually happen.

It’s funny, when I had planned on leaving the company, my ego and I had hoped that it would get a modicum of respect and acknowledgment.  I’m not saying I was ever the most important cog in the machine that was my team, but I did design the work process that kept us afloat throughout the transition into the Ford Pinto of software we were forced to use.  However, when I had announced my notice of resignation, we were already in the first week of a two-week notice from one of my production counterparts, and unbeknownst to me, my other production counterpart was a week away from announcing their two-week notice.

Suddenly, I was the Stephanie Tanner middle child of resignations, doomed to be unnoticed, and worse off, I begun feeling concerned that this power vacuum that was forming due to the departure of 3 out of 4 managers on the team was going to no longer put the team in a defensive mode until they could staff back up, but now put them at risk of being potentially liquidated, and the work outsourced.

Ever since the pandemic rose and my team specifically took some lumps throughout the last two years because the print medium isn’t as agile and adaptable as digital ones, there was concern throughout the team about the security of their jobs.  I had, honestly opined that I felt that everyone was safe, solely because of the ironic fact that we all had knowledge of the aforementioned Ford Pinto of graphic design software, so it’s not like any joe-schmoe could be hired off the street to do our jobs.  And for the last two years, in spite of how much of a pain in the ass it’s been, our team had navigated the bumpy waters of pandemic retail, and come out no worse for wear at the end of it.

But now, with the Great Resignation™ hitting our team specifically and creating such gaps in the team, I can’t say that I’m surprised to see that liquidation and outsourcing has begun.  The company as a whole clearly soured on the print medium, which was my impetus for starting to look for a new job, aside from the fact that I hated the fuck out of my boss, but none of it changed the fact that I still cared about my team and that all these talented designers all deserved better than they’ve been dealt.

I do feel a little bit of guilt that there is the possibility that my departure, along with the departure of the other managers made this happen, although I have no clue to whether or not this was always on the table in the first place regardless of if we were there or not.  But when the day is over, I still have to, and I did, put myself and my family above all else, and it turns out that I dodged an extremely close bullet.

It’s just that as an empathetic person, it kills me that people that I cared about are put in this unfortunate position.  The saving grace is that they still have nearly nine weeks notice, which gives them fairly sufficient time to begin looking for new jobs, and with the cards all out on the table, it’s not like anyone has to be discreet about it.  In fact, as long as they’re not insubordinate shitbags, all my old team that’s on the block doesn’t even really have to put up the front of being friendly or overly professional anymore, because the company is still going to rely on them to put out all the scheduled advertisements all the way up to Memorial Day.

And then they get a severance package, and fortunately the timing of it will still allow all of them to partake in the company’s semi-annual profit sharing bonuses which usually take place in March.

At this point, what I’m most curious about are the future statuses of other individuals on my old team, namely my old boss.  I don’t get the impression that they’re on the block like my old reports are, and I have this pessimistic suspicion that they probably didn’t fight very hard, nor are they remotely anything close to the type who would go down with the ship.  They have another channel under their umbrella, and I’ve long known that that one was their true passion, while my team was kind of the bastard they had to manage in order to have their role.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they in fact initiated this liquidation, because often said that their life would be peaches if they could get rid of newsprint, and could focus solely on catalog.  But these are things that I’ll never know, but the result of it all is still feeling terrible for a lot of talented designers who will soon be out of a job, and not help feeling a little bit guilty for helping push the boulder over the edge.  I don’t regret anything I’ve done in regards to seeking greener pastures before the shots were fired, but I’m still allowed to feel empathy for those I used to work with who were saddled by this unfortunate development.

For once, does Billy Corgan not suck?

When I went out to the mailbox with one of my kids, I figured it would be more of the same junk mail.  Bullshit about mortgage insurance, solicitations for donations, a random piece of mail offering me a ridiculous amount of money for my home regardless of the fact that I would never be able to parlay that into getting something else remotely close to where I’m living now, etc.

But today, there was an unexpected tube in the box.  I figured it was something mythical wife had ordered because she’s always ordering shit for the kids, but it turns out that it was addressed to me.  A return address from Florida from someone I didn’t know, because it was only signed by initials.  I thought it might’ve been a friend of mine from Virginia whom had similar initials, and I wondered, did they move to Florida?  What did I do to deserve such a considerate friend who sends me random mail even though we hardly speak?

Turns out that it wasn’t this specific friend I had in mind.  Instead, upon opening the tube, was a small 10 x 16 poster from the NWA show that I had missed out on due to the rise of omicron.  And it appeared to be autographed by, presumably all of the performers from the show.

Back in December, I had tickets to the NWA pay-per-view, Hard Times 2.  I had long wanted to go to another live wrestling event, and the card actually looked like it was going to be pretty good.  In fact, I was stoked because I learned that the NWA taped their shows from Atlanta, and I had made a point to try and go to a show, but then coronavirus happened, and those hopes were dashed.  But back to December, the doors were open once again to live NWA wrestling, and I had purchased tickets to Hard Times 2, anticipating a fun night of decent live wrestling. 

The night before the event, I got an email that stated that my tickets were cancelled and I was being issued a full refund.  I thought WTF, and DM’d and emailed the NWA’s twitter account and public email address, but not long afterward, a mass email was sent out.  It turns out that due to the rise of omicron, Hard Times 2 was putting a cap on the attendance, and me being past the cutoff point of tickets that were going to be honored, was instead getting a refund again.

I was quite disappointed.  I understood the circumstances, and frankly respected the venue for making the call, but I was sad that I was going to miss out on a live show, because I was really looking forward to it.

In the email, was also a message that stated responding with mailing addresses, so that the show could send all of us a small gift of appreciation and apology.  I didn’t think much of it, so I sent them my info and didn’t really anything of it.

It should also be mentioned that the NWA is owned now by Billy Corgan, the same Billy Corgan who was the front man for the Smashing Pumpkins.  Turns out he’s a big wrestling mark, and leapt on the opportunity to purchase the NWA when had deteriorated to basically the fifth most prominent organization in the industry.

Getting this signed poster is actually really cool as shit, and definitely softens the blow of not getting to go to the show.  There are lots of guys in the NWA that I do like, but if I had to pick the most notable talent that might have signed it, it would have to be Paola Blaze, whom I’m most familiar with as being THE Paola from 90 Day Fiancé, who somewhere on the road, parlayed her TLC fame into a professional wrestling career and now moonlights for the NWA.

Somewhere on this poster is Paola’s autograph.  And as a fan of professional wrestling and 90 Day Fiancé, that’s the crown jewel of this entire poster.  And I kind of have to credit Billy Corgan for keeping the lights on in the NWA to allow for this to happen, so is this where I actually have to admit that he doesn’t suck, for once?

Nah.  No way this was his idea.  The guy who runs the NWA’s gmail account (lol) seems to be the guy that’s shadow puppeting the promotion, probably.  That guy most definitely doesn’t suck.  But Billy Corgan still does.  Let’s not kid ourselves.

This could be a good mid-life crisis car, if I weren’t already there

Obviously I don’t have the time to stay on top of car news, much less any real news in the world, my city or even my own community, so I have no idea how long this has been in the works, or how much of not-new news this is.  But I recently saw some photos of the 2023 Nissan Fairlady Z, and I couldn’t help but be very impressed with its aesthetics and think it’s one of the more visually appealing cars I’ve seen in a very long time.

Frankly, I suppose I’m the one becoming out of touch and the world of design is leaving an old like me behind, but I haven’t been impressed with lots of cars of today.  They’re boxy, ugly and turning into space ships as far as I’m concerned, and I am disliking a lot more cars than liking them as they’re being released, supply chain be damned.

But the new Nissan Fairlady, now this is something that’s sleek and classic looking, with just enough touches of modern technology that creates an aesthetically pleasing package that is just enough throwback, but implementing a lot of popular elements of today.

From the front, and the side, it doesn’t look too far off of the current 370Z in terms of silhouette and lines.  Maybe looks a little thinner, which I’m good with because I think the current generation looks too fat, caving into the pathetic fat widening of the citizens of the world today.

But it’s the rear end that catches my attention and makes me take longer looks and show some interest in the vehicle beyond just the first aesthetic glance.  It has a very retro-looking hatch, and I love the taillight cluster that definitely harkens back to the 300ZX that was discontinued in the late 90s.

Yes, if I had to pick, I would probably definitely be an ass man, all about that butt.  And the new Fairlady definitely has one that stops and makes me the meme.

The funny thing is that as a whole, the entire car reminds me more of a classic Nissan 180SX in terms of shape and silhouette, but it has the taillight cluster of a 300ZX.  And given the fact that the front does not have retractable lights, it almost feels like a modern take of the Sil-Eighty that I always dreamed of getting/creating myself.

All this being said, one of the first things I said to myself was that this car could very well be a strong candidate for my inevitable mid-life crisis car.  But then I realized that I’m basically already 40 now, which is the stereotypical age in which men stereotypically start going into them, stereotypically getting a muscle car, and dressing like stereotypical douchebags.

And considering the ages of my children, and the inevitable need for a large dad-mobile, short of me becoming wealthier than I am currently and being able to afford an extra, fuck you car, or be willing to recklessly become car-poor, my mid-life crisis car might have to be pushed back a decade or so, to where this car will probably long be gone, and the used versions of them will be modded to oblivion and be basically worthless.

But I can still appreciate great car design, and fantasize about what ifs.  Maybe I’ll turn back the clock, LARP as Gordon (Liu), the guy in the market for a new car, and go test drive one, just to feel what it feels like and get it out of my system.

I love what Matt Cardona is doing post-WWE

I can’t say that I was ever a Zack Ryder fan.  The whole internet schtick, the fist pumps and self-aware but still over-the-top broeyness of his character, he was pretty much no better than Santino Marella, as far as caricatures of wrestlers they were.  I cringed when he had a US title run, and I winced even harder when he actually got a Wrestlemania Moment™ when he won the Intercontinental championship in a ladder match against way more worthy opponents.

When he was released by the company, I didn’t think anything of it, other than the fact that I figured he’d probably end up in AEW, because at the time everyone who was leaving the WWE whether it was a forced release or future endeavored, was usually bound for AEW at some point.

And as expected, he did show up in AEW, under his real name, Matt Cardona.  However, after a fairly uninspired program where he teamed up with Cody Rhodes, he was quietly gone.  Scuttlebutt said that he was only brought in for a temporary program, but for the most part was not #ALLELITE™

A few months later, Matt Cardona’s name came up again, as he apparently had a massively gruesome deathmatch in a fed that I’d just begun hearing about, GCW, since Vice’s Dark Side of the Ring had just done an episode on GCW godfather, Nick Gage.  And despite Gage’s cult-like popularity in the ultra-violent GCW, he had still done the job to Matt Cardona, and made him the GCW champion.

What was pretty astounding though, was how Cardona introduced himself to GCW, which was under a mask, and pretending to be Jon Moxley, which royally enraged the fans, and GCW fans are already maniacal enough in the first place, but Cardona manufactured a perfect heat bomb that got fans nuclear hot about his existence, and the number one rule of professional wrestling is to elicit a response at all, be it cheers or jeers.

But Cardona became the GCW champion, which I shrugged off, seeing as how GCW would probably rank as like the sixth or seventh noteworthy promotion in North America, so it really didn’t seem like much of a big deal.  However, I did take amusement of this new persona of his where he was apparently feeding off of the hate for Zack Ryder, fans like the ones of GCW were, and basically trolling the entire promotion by doing shit like declaring himself king of death matches, and switching their belt for an obnoxious John Cena-like spinner variant.

Eventually, he’d lose the GCW title to the actual Jon Moxley, who supposedly showed up to an event to watch it, but was somehow roped into performing and then going over as champion, which kind of disappointed me since I was beginning to curry favor with Matt Cardona.

But then he shows up in Impact weeks later, to get involved with a program with their champion, Moose, and the guy who used to be Big Cass in WWE.  Next thing you know, he’s in a world title program on Impact, even if he would eventually lose in a triple threat against Moose and Morrissey, but it was more of the same.  Fans someone have become conditioned to dislike Cardona, for what I’m guessing is because they all still see the obnoxious Zack Ryder character.

Somewhere along the way, Cardona also shows up at an NWA event, to jump their champion, Trevor Murdoch.  When I find out about this, I am salty, because this was actually an event that I had tickets to go to, since it was taped in Atlanta, but due to the rise of omicron, my tickets were cancelled and I didn’t get to go, but again, same story, unexpected appearance, jumps a world champion, gets nuclear heat from the crowd.

Now, I’m a big fan of what Matt Cardona is doing, and I don’t think there’s any wrestler out there that’s capitalizing on a career post-WWE than he is.  Sure, he touched AEW like most guys do, but when that didn’t work out, he didn’t quit and go get a job at Walmart like his old tag team partner did.  Instead he got extremely creative, and is low-key blazing an entertaining trail in lower promotions, but raising his stock all the same.  This is some Chris Jericho-like creativity in reinventing himself; he might not be making WWE money anymore, but he’s definitely in world title pictures in three different promotions, with nobody really being able to predict where else he’ll show up next.

Just a week ago, he was back in GCW, where he defeated Rhino; and because Rhino was the last ever ECW TV and World champion, Cardona declared himself the new ECW TV champion, and I have no fucking clue to where he procured the blet, but he still celebrated with it, all the same.

At this point, I’d lose my shit if Cardona shows up at a New Japan Pro Wrestling show, seeing as they’re currently touring North America right now.  Or maybe he’ll lay low and then show up at Ring of Honor in Dallas in April when they start their shit back up again.  Frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t show up at Final Battle in December.  Hell, maybe he should wander down to Mexico and appear at a AAA event, and mix it up with their Mega Campion.

Nobody is embodying the potential for fun and excitement in this current wrestling atmosphere like Matt Cardona is.  The industry isn’t just the WWE and AEW, and their insufferable tribalistic fans.  There are so many other options out there, and with the sheer volume of talent that was cut loose from the WWE primarily, the indy scene is ripe with potential for all sorts of creative, fun and new possibilities, and there’s nobody capitalizing on all this potential than Cardona is.

I never really cared much for Zack Ryder, but I absolutely love what Matt Cardona is doing these days.  He’s trolling fans in promotions left and right, but staying relevant and at the tops of cards everywhere he goes.  And I hope he keeps it going and finds some real success doing it, because I think what he’s doing is awesome.

The subtle arrogance of unfriending

To my knowledge, short of third-party plug-ins or software, it’s not easy to really know when the people you know on social media unfriends you.  Maybe if you don’t have a generally high number of online friends and a pretty good memory, one might be able to notice the lack of a name or three in their respective lists, but for the most part, it’s not something that’s pretty easy to do, at least in my estimation.

I like to think that I don’t have a tremendous number of online friends, but it still encroaches over 100 people.  That said, it’s still easy to not notice when some names might not be present anymore, which seems to really be the only tell of when you’ve been unfriended by others.

Recently, a friend of mine sent out a group invitation for their wedding.  I hold this person in very high regard, so I will most definitely be making the effort to go to the wedding, in spite of it being numerous states away and will require the logistical efforts that go along with parenting young children.

As we have a number of mutual friends, out of curiosity I clicked on the members tab to see if I could get some hints to the people I may be coming across at the eventual wedding.  As expected, I saw quite a number of familiar names and faces, and felt a modicum of excitement at the idea of finally getting to see some people after many years and pandemic-related reasons for being unable to connect for a while.

And then I noticed something: next to some of these names that I thought I was already friends with, were +Add Friend buttons.  Now unless I’m missing something here, that means to me that I had been unfriended by these particular people.

Obviously, if I’m expending the effort to brog about it, I am taking it probably more personally than I should be, but honestly?  It’s hard for someone like me not to, because in spite of distance, time, or general lack of maintenance, these are people that I still consider friendlies in life, and at the very least would enjoy knowing the feeling is mutual enough to warrant keeping as friends status on their fucking Facebook pages.

I know that I didn’t unfriend them, because I don’t ever unfriend people, save for some pretty extreme circumstances.  In fact, I remember the last time I unfriended someone, and I regret doing it because I felt that I was pressured to do it and didn’t really do it on my own accord, but the circumstances were pretty extreme.  But usually if my opinion on a Facebook friend sours, or I’m just tired of the shitposting I think they do, then I just perma-mute them, or snooze them for 30 days at a time and repeat it every month.

Just because I don’t always like the stuff they post doesn’t mean I don’t think of them as at least acquaintances, because everyone is different in person than their online behavior indicates.  Outright unfriending people, at least to me, there’s an air of, I no longer wish to care about you any further, and that is kind of a shitty sentiment to pass onto someone else.  Maybe I’m making a bigger deal about this than I should, but it’s definitely some food that my mind has been thinking on for a day.

There’s also something subtly arrogant about unfriendings.  Because I like to think I know the people who have unfriended me well enough to be able recollect instances in the past where they’ve made posts about their intentions or acts of doing unfriending sessions, and up until the cuts where I didn’t make it, I could be subconsciously pleased that I was thought enough of to remain alive on their lists.

Regardless, the act of unfriending either comes off arrogant and/or is examples of recency bias, because it makes me think the people doing them think highly enough of themselves and their number of internet friends to where surfing the news feed is such a chore that they need to cull down the numbers to better filter the shit they want to see, as opposed to the shit that comes from their supposed friends, regardless of if they really want to or not.  Or, I feel like I’m getting cut, and people they’ve never met, or people they hardly know, remain, because they need constant attention, and don’t need a silent lurker like me to occupy one of their precious 5,000 spots.

Anyway, that’s my word vomit on this particular topic.  The reality is that regardless of my apparent unceremonious cutting from these peoples’ internet lives, I still don’t wish them any ill will or hold any genuine animosity towards them.  This is the equivalent of silently busting their balls at their arrogance of thinking they’re so important that they can’t possibly have a pleeb like me associated with them.

The chances are high that I’ll run into some of these folks at the wedding, if the stars line up and most of the people in this group also make the trip.  We might very well sit at similar tables, share drinks, stories, reminisce and possibly be in pictures together.  It will in all likelihood be good times, but back on the internet we may as well remain strangers, as long as they’re too good to remain friends with me online.

No laughing matter

TL;DR: MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker dies by suicide after stepping in front of a MARTA train at the East Lake transit station

Honestly, I don’t even know what to write in regards to this.  But I’ve said so many things about MARTA over the years that I just feel like I can’t let this go by without some effort to write something about it.  It’s definitely not something that I can inject personal opinions into or try to spin this in a manner that makes MARTA look stupid or be something to laugh at. 

Suicide isn’t something to laugh at, because although it may end the suffering from those who feel they are, they’re opening up a world of it for those who have to pick up the pieces from their abrupt departure.  And as I’d be willing to wager, many of us who have no idea who Jeffrey Parker is aside from being the MARTA guy, this news probably caught a lot of people completely out of the blue.

Make no mistake, running MARTA definitely has to be one of the most thankless and seemingly fruitless jobs in the city.  It’s a joke to many, endlessly handcuffed by bureaucracy and red tape, and intertwined with all sorts of racism, which leads to this hopeless package of a private company where people take the jobs primarily because they’re jobs, and not because anyone believes in the good and betterment of the agency and expects there to be any substantial growth; the entire Metro Atlanta area has seen to it already to ensure that such doesn’t happen.

But Jeffrey Parker hasn’t really done a poor job of running MARTA; granted, in one of those ironic twists, the pandemic and peoples’ general inclination to avoid crowds and crowd-inducing things like public transit has probably helped a little bit to reduce negative numbers, but Parker’s name hasn’t popped up routinely with some embarrassing MARTA or Atlanta-ey meme associated with.  No news is good news when it comes to associating with MARTA, I’d theorize.

All the same, outside of those who actually knew the guy, nobody has any idea to the demons running around in his closet.  To the point where they actually succeeded at getting the body to believe that it was a good idea to throw himself in front of one of the train that he and his occupation oversaw.  It’s definitely something a little bit ironic, and a lot bit fucked up, and leads to little else than all bit sad.  No news is good news, but this news is fucking horrible.

In the past, I remarked that Jeffrey Parker had a lofty task to live up to the bar that predecessor Keith Parker had laid down for him.  But MARTA was running fairly comfortable since the transition, so all too soon, it will be time for yet another successor to step into shoes with dismal expectations, and hope to keep the ship steady and afloat, but for completely different reasons.

Looks cool, but will they perform?

It’s been a while since I really wrote anything about anything other than me being depressed, fatherhood, jobs, sports or wrestling, and if there’s ever a topic that gets me all amped up to write, MARTA would definitely be up there.

When I saw this article about how MARTA unveiled new trains, my knee-jerk reaction was to get my clowning shoes on, because just from the text description alone, I figured that there had to be ample opportunities to get back up on the horse and do some clowning.

Honestly though?  After actually taking the time to read the article and see the proposed designs and functionality of the new trains, I don’t really have that much room for clowning.  Although the face of the trains look like a cross between Daft Punk and like a Cerberus shock trooper from Mass Effect, they still look pretty cool, and I think the dynamic light function to indicate the route they’re on is a cool idea.

The interior of the trains have finally come into the modern era, with their being truly connected trains, and no longer there being physical doors leading to exterior access as beggars traversed from car to car.  There is still a lot of room for error when it comes to if people have specific needs for which car they need to get into because of strollers, bikes, or wheelchairs that will have to have some training applied, but at least it’s a start that the cars are actually going to have some variety and not feel like they’re the leftover train cars from the 1980’s DC Metro.

So as ready as I was to get ready to rip this concept apart, I actually don’t have much fuel to burn.  MARTA’s trains have desperately needed updating for nearly two decades, and it appears that it’s finally happening.  Sure, their stations need a lot of attention too, and the general perception of the service and brand seem irreparable, but finally upgrading the trains is a step in the right direction.

However in spite of the upgrades to the hardware, the real question is going to be if MARTA’s actual performance improves, with new trains?  The trains might be shiny and new, but the people running them, and the people riding them, and the stations they’re stopping in and out of aren’t going to be changing that much, and those are the variables that are going to come into play as far as trains remaining on time, hopefully dependable, and not too much the breeding ground for World Star videos.

If so, great.  If not, then still great for the brog, because it’ll be good fodder seeing photos and videos of these brand new fancy trains in the news, where petty crimes, stupidity and some very Atlanta-centric behavior gets the spotlight all the same.