Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Is Affirmation Day @ The Tattler, And We Now Salute The Remarkable Josh Strike!

We're all about affirmation and caring here at the good old SMT, and in that spirit we have decided to make a very special effort to note the remarkable achievement of one very special individual. His name is Josh Strike

After last Tuesday's City Council meeting, an event that included the widely celebrated denouement of the hopes and dreams of those wishing to continue consuming tobacco products on the sidewalks of our fashionable downtown dining areas, I posted something here entitled "Smoking Ordinance Passes Unanimously." A piece that has also been printed on the front cover of this week's edition of the Sierra Madre Weekly. Above the fold, I might add.

What has truly amazed us here is that this post has now attracted 156 comments! By far the largest total for anything we've ever put up on this site. And out of that lofty number a full 30 were contributed by Mr. Strike personally, with another 70 or so in direct response to his comments. Obviously we could never have achieved this remarkable new record without his selfless contributions. 

We extend our gratitude to Mr. Strike for his hard work and concern, and hope to continue hearing from him in the future. Obviously a blog requires passionate contributors to succeed, and Josh brings all that to the table, and then some.

We have come to refer to his observations as "Josh Thought," or "Strikes." Josh Thought being typified by a willingness to grapple with the big issues facing us, and in a most comprehensive way. Here he links the outdoor dining smoking restrictions just passed here in Sierra Madre to a possible decline and collapse of the United States of America.

"You know, I guess if I'd been thinking of it that way, I should have called Philip Morris. But I thought this was something citizens could compromise on amongst themselves. Awww ... what's the use. Your country's gonna crumble, fade and disappear in the next generation, if the world isn't wiped out anyway. This little blip, the hysteria at the end of the empire, we live in interesting times. If my grandfather were alive now to see this he'd have left this country, and will I to (sic). It's not just this smoking thing, it's your whole way of living and what you eat and what you watch and what you read or don't read and all the pointless junk you buy and all the debt your (sic) in to China and, ultimately, the limited way in which you think; and nothing I say is gonna really get that across because you just don't have a broad enough view of what the world is really like to comprehend it. Blind yourself, stay in the bubble, and when it all comes crashing down on you, don't say I didn't warn ya."

Now I was going to summarize Josh Strike's philosophy here, with his passion for the smoking cause and all of its ramifications being the most salient in his quiver of thought. But then I noticed a post by someone contributing under the rubric "Can You Help Us." Turns out this was written by a Sierra Madre resident named Johnny, with whom I have since exchanged e-mails. And what he had to say was, in my opinion, as gracious and compelling as anything I could ever hope to write on the topic. So we are reprinting it here in its entirety. 
Dear Sierra Madre Tattler,
I am new in my awareness of your blog. So far what I see I really like. It seems like a wonderful arena for some of us to express our thoughts, even our deepest feelings. What I have noticed, however, is that there is no advice column. I grew up receiving much enjoyment from reading the words of Dear Abby, Ann Landers, etc. I am curious as to whether you might consider bringing someone in to do just such a thing. If you would I have an important psychological issue that has developed in my young infant. Let me tell you about this issue as though this was your first submission to say, "Dear Eric?" Or maybe you could get that very pleasant young lady from that other news source in town, Alison to do it. Anyway, here is what I got:

Our son was born a couple of years back. We don't want to use his real name and risk the possibility of causing him harm later in life, so let's just from here on out refer to him as "Josh." Josh had something unfortunate that started shortly after his birth. The doctor told my wife and I that he is colicky. We had not previously been familiar with this condition, and perhaps you are not either. The malady cause paroxysmal pain in the abdomen or bowels. Of course, in the first year of his life we may never have known there was a problem due to the lack of language skills prior to their development. The only way we were able to tell that there was a problem was that he would never stop crying. 

As you can imagine, this was very difficult for my wife, myself and usually anyone else near us who had to listen to this consistent crying. We dealt with it as best that we could. However, at some point this made it difficult for us to even find friends for him to play with. The other stroller moms didn't want him around and none of the other children seemed to have any respect for him.

Fortunately at some point the condition improved, and as is usual he developed the ability to speak and was able to to tell us what was bothering him. Unfortunately, by this time our little Joshie had become conditioned to cry whenever he didn't get his way. This was even the case when a majority of the neighborhood children were happy with the way things were. His language skills did develop and in time Joshie was able to tell us of the many things that were troubling him. I won't burden you with all the details, but what follows is something we call:

A Short (and most likely very incomplete) List Of Things That Anger Baby Joshie -

1)  Lousy boot-licking totalitarians
2)  A weak country populated with stroller moms
3)  The idiotic Oprah Book Club
4)  Jim Cramer conversations
5)  Criminally spoiled, screaming kids
6)  Conversations struck up at the pub (that) revolve around someone's dog
7)  Sociopaths who think that with a little more rigid law enforcement, they'll somehow stop being miserable about everything.
8) People who lack critical reasoning skills
9) Failure of the education system
10) Human tendency toward thoughtless, high-handed persecution
11) An anonymous face in the crowd
12) The rule of the mob, the tyranny of the masses
13) Why we aren't more like Europe
14) The playroom at McDonald's
15) Large pharmaceutical company paychecks
16) Protectors of the population
17) Power of police to prevent people from doing something you dislike
18) Puritanical SOB(s)
19) Power in this country out of our (his) hands
20) Crying children
21) Moralizing
22) Members of the local Taliban
23) Anonymous posters
24) Being too addicted to a healthy lifestyle
25) Mayor Zimmerman

These are just some of our Joshie's gripes from a less than 12 hour period yesterday. Today with the beginning of a new day he just picks up where he left off and continues with an endless list of complaints and grievances. He was become almost UNBEARABLE!

So I guess the advice I am looking for ... my question is: Is there any way to stop our little baby Joshie from crying without completely caving in and giving him his way? It gets to the point where we wish someone would put a pillow over his mouth and hold it there until he stops breathing. Anything you can tell us would be helpful. Thank you, call us "Losing Our Minds In Sierra Madre"

Hopefully this is not the end of the dialog, and we will continue to use this exhilarating debate to grow both philosophically and as human beings.


  1. Brillant! Thanks for the Sunday morning "funnies"!

  2. Josh is truly the man of the moment. I'm not certain that
    it is possible to do justice to his fine work.

  3. Let's change his diapers, burp him, and turn on Sesame Street Maybe he will stop crying.

  4. Speaking of Sesame Street, did you know that they changed to Cookie Monster's name to Veggie Monster? The thinking being that by referring to cookies this educational show was actually promoting behavior that leads to obesity in children.

  5. "Losing Our Minds In Sierra Madre"March 29, 2009 at 11:24 AM

    Thank you again for providing us with this forum to share our views. I really enjoyed the opportunity to take such a divisive issue and add a bit of humor. I am sure that many of your readers, me included, were relieved to see the comments dwindle off after such an emotional and at times angry back and forth dialogue. Of course, emotional or not, issues should be explored and both sides need to be given the opportunity to vent and express their views. As you have said, this turned out to be a very amusing topic.

    Best to you & all of your readers, “a man who calls himself Johnny”

  6. Little ole Lady from the SM CanyonMarch 29, 2009 at 11:31 AM

    Don't laugh about the obesity in children. California leads the NATION in obesity in children. We have the highest rate of tooth decay and diabetes than any other state. And we are the lowest in Education in the Nation. ever watch Supersize Me? Our children do poorly in our oversize classrooms, but we keep turning a blind eye to the many factors which create a 49% grad rate in this state. Poor diet being ONE FACTOR!!

    Anyway: Josh is not the first Colicky baby. Most parents can tell you about their children, and it is HELL. It does pass, and other people's intolerance toward him is simply intolerance. He will be fine. Wait til he is in his pre-teen years. You will wish he is colicky again. You will need many boundaries to place. Hope you teach him manners, unlike the parents of many children who are rude after school on Baldwin Ave coffee and pizza stores. Good Luck!
    Just do not give into him and do not

  7. New Mountain Views "Observer" is now on the streets, and it is STILL called "Observer." Old Susan really puts the Contempt into Contempt of Court, doesn't she? The article on smoking restrictions is choice. Did you know it was all Joe Mosca's doing? And the article on the zoning violations of the Congregational Church is a complete smear job designed to discredit the City Council. Tattler fodder galore.

  8. Just read the "Ob-skewer" ...did make me laugh ..."council had already made up their minds before the two hours of public comment" ...ha! I bet 10 bucks Dean Lee is a smoker...maybe he just doesn't inhale.

  9. I hear Josh is being tapped to be the next columnist for the "Observer." Lambdin doesn't write often enough, and Rich Johnson's increasingly sparse offerings come nowhere near to the required word count.

    Neither of which will be a problem for the Strike Man!

  10. Somebody needs to introduce Rich Johnson to
    the Veggie Monster.

  11. Stroller Moms provided the council with volumns of official documents making their case against smoking at dining tables and for the decision to restrict it in Sierra Madre.
    The smoking advocates really had no case.
    They were defeated before they started.

  12. As one of the Annony bloggers attacked as a coward by Josh, I have to say "leave poor Josh alone and let him smoke his final SM Ciggies in peace."

  13. Here's the thing that makes absolutely no sense to me. If certain
    merchants and restaurants wanted a no vote on smoking restrictions,
    why didn't they speak out about it? Instead they left their entire
    case in the hands of an incredibly unsavory cast of characters. They
    couldn't have picked worse people to represent their interests.

  14. I have a feeling the owners wanted the smokers gone. If they wanted them there they would have said so. If the smokers start smoking in front of nearby stores those owners will be very vocal to extent the restrictions to include the front of their storefronts.

  15. Pasta - that makes sense. By allowing the smoker kids to do the heavy lifting, maybe these restauranteurs were just going though the motions. This way they could say to these particular customers that they were on their side in the great cause without actually lifting a finger to help them.

  16. Sierra Madre business ownerMarch 29, 2009 at 7:56 PM

    The funny thing is, there is a valid argument for the smokers' position - but the kids never found it and I'm not going to give it to them. If they had more education, they could have done much better.
    The mayor got slammed for "grading" the kids, but what he actually pointed out was that if the council chambers were a logic class, they would have gotten an "F". He's right about that.

  17. The argument that wasn't brought up much is that the businesses use the sidewalks at the pleasure of the citizens of this town - the fee they pay for the privilege is about $350. My question is WHY are we giving our sidewalks away to business owners when the tax base is so dismal vis a vis the business community. The sidewalks in front of some restaurants are a disgrace. Only place in town has everyone walking over manhole covers and it is a trip hazard. Corfu sprawls out in front of businesses other than their own. Walking through clouds of smoke was just too much.

  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  19. Also... if there's anything worse than a sore loser (and I guess that's what you're calling me...) then it's an ungracious winner. And that's what this is; that's what you are; and to tell you the truth, it's kind of embarrassing (but funny) to watch.

  20. Sir Eric, thanks for coining the term ‘Josh Thought.’ He’s hopelessly addled, and I worry about the fact that he’s already 28. When a person is that stubbornly committed to being misinformed, life can hand out some pretty harsh wake-up calls. At one point he mentioned he started writing at 13 - maybe he started weed, tobacco and alcohol then, too, because that would explain his juvenile moral outrage and the need to see himself as more special than other people. We might be trying to reason with a loaded 13 year old.

    The protesting smoker is actually the totalitarian. He forces others to breath what he exhales, and thinks his right supersedes others'.
    If there’s a Nazi around, it’s the smoker who thinks it’s ok to experiment with the health effects of second hand smoke on non-smokers.
    The arrogant moralizing belongs to the person who claims to live a richer life than anyone who opposes inhaling his habit – a textbook example of a superiority complex

  21. He's just a weak slave to big tobacco, can we move on now?

  22. I never messed with anyone else's heath.

    I have the right to mess with my own when you're not around. You don't have the right to turn the police on me for it.

    That was my point then, it's my point now, and you can dress it up all you want, or paint me any way you like; at the end of the day, you've committed the morally outrageous act of relieving me of my liberty by force. And you, as servants of your own police and as the kind of mentally defective children who need some enemy to constantly point yourselves at (without which there is no definition for what you are)'ll suffer the consequences for this act, not I.

  23. good night, Joshie...

  24. He sure does take himself seriously.

    But why is he talking about messing with my heath?

  25. It's a wonder to me how people so immature ever managed to graduate, find work, and ultimately can afford to pay their mortgages to this day. It's like junior high never ended for you guys.

    On the other hand, we've definitely dumbed down our standardized tests, college entry exams, and the requisite talents among middle management over the last thirty-odd years, so it comes as no surprise that the most indignant and stolid here are also the quickest to throw out the infantile one-liners. (Not to mention the hundred-liners).

    To the guy who slaved over this article: Thanks. Your time's been well spent. Good night, rabble!

  26. Yes Josh, of course. There are people having fun with you, you can't take it, and then you say ridiculous things that make you even more of a figure of fun. That is obvious and your point is well taken.

    But why are you talking about my heath?

  27. 'Cos. When I'm alone, working, smoking, I'm not having any impact on your health! If I was, you would ask me (as you should) to move away from ya. Instead, you want to call the police on me. Is that exceptionally cowardly? Or just par for the course for people who spend their time writing articles like this one?

  28. Okay Josh, this may come as a shock to you, but we didn't pass a smoking ban in Sierra Madre because we're out to get you personally.
    Consider it as our entire community asking you politely NOT TO SMOKE.
    It is simply not true that your cig habit has never harmed a non-smoker.
    I have to walk by it to get a cup of coffee or simply use the sidewalk. I'm not going to stop (thereby breathing in even more of the toxins your are spewing into the air to ask you to put it out.
    I'm the person behind you on the sidewalk breathing in your cig smoke as you walk. I'm the person across the street distressed enough by your smoke that I have said something about it.
    Sorry if my typos offend you, just as I am sure you are sorry about every smoker who doesn't give a fig who is around when he lights up.
    This law is in place because it was needed.
    Now, I'm sure everyone will pitch in to my new campaign "Pennies for Patches" to buy you nicotine patches to help you quit.
    I'm rather amused, after announcing on the blog that you were done with the lot of us that you continue to read Sir Eric.

  29. 8:38 eliminated because it violates our policy regarding derogatory discussion about peoples' kids.

  30. "Losing Our Minds In Sierra Madre"March 30, 2009 at 7:54 AM

    Just another example of art imitates life, and comedy imitates Josh. Please continue to give us more material through your "Josh Thought".

  31. Wow, Josh embarrassed yourself at city council, now you come back and want sympathy, when you don't get what you want you tell people "To get off your back" (cc quote) then on this blog you state "people don't know me".. really?
    Someday when you have kids, a spouse, a house and real responsibility...let's talk ...for now you are still in the "youth" stage of life...nothing we say or share will do anything to make you stop and smoke on my friend...preferably in a another city

  32. 9:53 - Josh was again totally inappropriate he said more than that referring to our speaker...wonder how Josh would have felt if I had a 12 year old friend tell him she's a "cancer survivor" ... Josh needs to listen more than he speaks.

  33. The tax on smokes goes up to $1.01 today. YESSSS!!!!

  34. Sierra Madre GirlMarch 30, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    That great speaker at the council that the Tattler praised as having a sense of humor, the man with an accent and incredible vigor - his speech was built on "They say, but they never say" and finished with non-smoking as "our natural way of being." He said that each pack of cigs cost the smoker $5, but cost us $7 in future health care costs. That gap is closing.

  35. As someone observing from another town, without any emotional connection to argument between Josh and the people of Sierra Madre, I must say I think i can understand his view. From what I gather, he sees the smoking ban as a civil liberties infringement issue that may set a precedent for more serious infringements by higher offices in the future. A ban on the streets may become a ban in one's home with something like health-care costs to others cited as a reason. Just a thought. Anyone?

  36. Umm, you can't see someone blowing around cancer causing chemicals as a civil liberties infringement as well? Running people over with trucks could be seen as the limiting the rights of certain drivers to express themselves through vehicular homicide. But is that a civil liberties issue?

    What is it about cigarette smoke kills people that armchair libertarians can't get?

  37. Anon from another town, check out the beautiful reasoning in this post from the lengthy thread a few articles back. Don't know who wrote it, but the person has a very good brain.

    Anonymous said...
    I'm sorry Joshstrike but that's just a tired ridiculous argument. Government has ALWAYS had a hand in regulating the individual.

    We formed a Democracy not a society of anarchists. Though I too get back up again when I get knocked down (all you Chumba Wumba fans will get that one.)
    Clohting: already regulated. Public decency laws prevent me walking naked down the street. But I can dance around naked at home - so far no cameras monitoring that.
    Dogs: already regulated. Gotta be licensed, gotta have their shots (which is why they've gotta be licensed).
    Cars: regulated for pollution.
    Language: well you can't yell fire in a crowded theater.
    Government regulates the time, place and manner where appropriate to safeguard public health.

    Does government go too far sometimes? You bet the Patriot Act is a good example.
    Is government's regulation of smoking going too far? I don't think so. It is a health risk, indoors and outdoors. I'm not debating the finer points of the studies -- it is a health risk. So banning it in public space is a good idea for public health.

    Think that's unprecedented? Take a look at the ban on spitting on sidewalks to curtail the spread of TB.
    In the nineteenth century, tuberculosis, also known as consumption, phthisis, and the 'White Plague' was the leading cause of mortality . . . After the turn of the century the death rate from tuberculosis steadily declined due to improved environmental conditions and the rise of preventive medicine. In the United States these health gains were made with better water and milk supplies (in 1910 purification/chlorination of water was introduced and in 1912 milk was pasteurized), the rapid growth of the sanatorium movement (the first of which began in 1885 at Saranac Lake) and laws against spitting in public (the first anti-spitting notices were put up in street cars in New York in 1891) . . . .

    In conclusion, regulating the time, place and manner of smoking to safeguard the public health is not the slippery slope to a police state. The slippery slope argument is a lazy rhetorical device masquerading as a logical argument.

    MARCH 25, 2009 2:48 PM

  38. If the smoker lives in an apartment/condo, and their smoke drifts into adjacent units (practically a given as SHS is incredibly hard to control), a number of cities are starting to do exactly that; not "ban" smoking, but restrict it in other areas where drifting tobacco smoke involuntary subjects non-smokers to smokers' inability to rein in the carcinogens they pollute the environment with. This is why cities like Calabasas and Glendale have passed restrictions on smoking in multi-unit housing (apartments and/or condos). Although to date each city has adopted different measures, one common denominator is a mandatory disclosure requirement (read: landlords must provide prospective tenants with information on which units, if any, are smoking permitted). This gives renters at least some assurance that they won't find . Although I don't suffer from asthma or another respiratory illness, i've experienced first-hand how much is sucks to find yourself suddenly living above a family of chain smokers with over 6 months of a 1 year lease left to honor. And there really isn't much you can do in that situation right now other than move. Smoke gets through everything (windows, hallways, air vents...etc).

    Other cities also require "grouping" of smoking/non-smoking units together (like in a hotel), so as to lessen the likelihood of SHS exposure. Some cities have also required that a certain percentage of new units be smoke-free.

    For those of us unable to afford a single family home of our own, this is an incredibly important safeguard, as SHS in housing is arguably a far greater health issue for those it impacts than outdoor dining.