Thursday, April 24, 2014

Safety on the High Seas



Bottles floated along desperate seas
SOSs played the tune of sorrow

For the survivors
Waifs in the waves

Uplifted
Transported to parts unknown

Off to the hinterland
Hindering the lay of the land

They fell
Confused
But completely unharmed

Why would they be where they are?
But where are they, they wondered.
Why?
Where else but right now?
Confused, but completely unharmed.

Make the best of the opportunity
right now.

Feel the rhythm
Feel the groove
The jazz of the city.

One rose to the top
amidst the harbingers of fame
fortune and glory.

Kick rocks.
Shine box.
Shove a man in the trunk if he dares bring up the past.

We are living now!
For the now!
This is ours!

Quiet.

We miss the sea.
Floating.
It was nice there.
Deadly, but nice.
Peaceful.

The city is not peaceful, and not nice either.
Take me back to my biggest fear.

Sharks on the horizon.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Rhode Island Revolution



While perusing some of my old FSView & Florida Flambeau articles, I found this classic. My first editorial, written in May 2002.

Operation C.O.R.I.

My plan to conquer Rhode Island was born at a time of so many of my other great ideas- during a night of drunken debauchery. I figured there hadn’t been any good insurrections in America in a while, so why not?

Rhode Island was the perfect place to start my revolution, I explained to anyone who would dare listen. It is the smallest state in the union and can’t have that many people to defend it. In addition it is neither a road nor an island. The inhabitants have to call themselves “Islanders” and they don’t even live on an island. Only the all-powerful Man has the power to manipulate people like that. Down with the Man!

I quickly dubbed my plan Operation C.O.R.I. (Conquerors of Rhode Island). All that was needed was some troops. I couldn’t do this alone. My roommate was the first to decline his assistance, and the rest of my friends quickly followed. I would have to look elsewhere. Where was anyone’s sense of adventure?

Using my military background and knowledge of warfare, I knew there were several ways to go about Operation C.O.R.I. We- me and my soon-to-be-legion of followers- could try to invade Rhode Island by force ourselves or we could get the local populace to rise up against their oppressors like the United States did in Afghanistan. Since I didn’t (and still don’t) have the financial backing to buy weapons of mass destruction, psychological warfare would have to be the way to go.

More beer led to the idea that my band of rebels would need Viking helmets, since no invasion is complete without Viking helmets. I knew there was even a store in the Governor’s Square Mall that could supply us with these helmets, as well as swords, battle-axes, and armor. Everything a good invasion needed.

My crew would also need a Volkswagen bus. You can’t make an interstate trek without a VW bus. Before we depart we would need to paint revolutionary slogans on the side of the bus. I came up with two on the spot: “You’re not a road! You’re not an island! You’re not sheep! Stand Defiant!” and “Hey Providence! We are Anti-Dominance!” Finally, we needed plenty of flyers calling the people to action and signs for us to hold in protest in front of the Rhode Island capital building.

I concluded my riotous rhetoric by claiming that even if the operation was a failure, we couldn’t get in any trouble. After all, protesting the oppression of the Rhode Island people was perfectly within our First Amendment rights. It was up to the people to decide whether or not to rise up.

Even now, I don’t know what we would have done with Rhode Island if my plan were a success. I guess I would try my hand in national representation and become Supreme Ruler of the Land Formerly Known as Rhode Island. But how would I govern a million ex-Rhode Islanders? What if I had to defend against an insurrection? The whole thing seems like too much work. Maybe I just need to think less when I go out drinking.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Best of Times



It finally happened. Kinda.

Today I read a very creative and witty article by a writer for my former college newspaper, the FSView & Florida Flambeau. In his piece, The Great War: Logos, Uniforms, and Fear, FSView sports editor Perry Kostidakis comments and parodies the divide in Florida State fans, alumni, and students over the newly revealed Seminole logo.

The whole article is great and it's obvious Kostidakis had fun writing it. But one part stood out.

Midway through the article, Kostidakis references Dr. Seuss's Butter Battle Book.
 He screams, “Here’s the end of that terrible town! Full of ’Noles who like logos that frown!”

And, suddenly, at the very instant we heard a klupp-klupp of feet on the wall and a older man climbs up! The boys in HIS back room have made him one too! In his fist was another IgnitionTradition!

“I’ll blow you,” he yelled, “into pork and wee beans! I’ll tomahawk chop all of you small teens!”

“Grandpa!” I shouted. “Be careful! Oh, gee! Who’s going to drop it? Will you…? Or will he…?

“Be patient,” said Grandpa. “We’ll see. We will see…”

Genius.

After I read the article, I contacted Kostidakis on twitter to tell him I enjoyed his article and that I appreciated his reference of one of my favorite books. He was kind enough to reply.

Granted, "hero" was tongue-in-cheek, and only contained to the fact that I recognized his reference. I doubt Kostidakis has read any of my work, and I doubly doubt he has perused the FSView archives to find my ancient articles. I also can't say I have read much of his work either, so I can't tell whether this was a rare showing of creativity, or whether he thinks out of the box often. A quick Google search shows his YouTube page does show originality and his article about his mother is extremely powerful.

But it is his "hero" comment that reminded me of this - one of my final articles for the FSView. Originally written on 6/19/2003.

The Best of Times

One phrase I have heard time and time again is that my college years would be the best years of my life. Well, now that they are over, I guess it’s all downhill from here.

Soon my time at the FSView & Florida Flambeau will end. Currently, I have no idea what the future will bring. But seeing that the best years of my life are past, will it really matter? No matter where I go and no matter what I do, all I have to look forward to is 60 or so years of looking back at past glory. Looking back at a time when I was at the top of my game.

A time when I was a writer and then editor at the FSView & Florida Flambeau.

“He was the greatest,” many said. “Witty and creative. Truly a pleasure to read.”

Others, of course, disagreed, proving the old adage “you can’t please all the people all the time.” They called me “pathetic,” said I needed therapy and even labeled me extremely unethical. But their jeers were often drowned out by lengthy applause and accolades.

Barring a response from any of the employers I have so far contacted, I plan to be living in a cardboard box behind Wal-Mart by the middle of August. Hopefully I can find a box big enough to fit me, my college diploma and a few copies of Home and Garden Magazine (for the homemaker in us all).

Life will surely continue down the slippery slope towards obscurity in 2004. By mid-year, liquor store employees across the capital city will know me by name and bartenders will have “the usual” set in front of “Mike’s seat” moments before I walk in.

As the years move on, so too will I, wondering the empty roads, telling anyone who will listen about my days at Florida State. I will be a shell of my once proud and accomplished self. Hair down to my ankles, clothes made stiff by grime, I will drift across the nation. Washing dishes in Topeka so that I can travel to Seattle. Panhandling in New York to get to Los Angeles.

I might even make as far north as Alaska and live in the wilderness like Ted Kaczynski or Eric Rudolph.

But wherever I go, I know I will hear the whispers.

“Isn’t that Mike Lortz?” they will ask each other. “I heard he was once a great and powerful writer. A writer that could slay armies single handedly and have lightning bolts shoot out of his eyes. Yet he doesn’t look eight feet tall.”

Then, one day, many, many years from now, I will make my way to the town that made me so briefly famous – Tallahassee. There, a young FSView & Florida Flambeau writer will approach me and ask how he or she can make the jump from a good writer to a great one in order to win the coveted “Mike Lortz Writer of the Year Award.”

“Is it true you were hired by the legendary Chris Townsend and worked alongside the great Khuong Phan?” he or she will ask.

“Ah yes,” I will recall. “But don’t forget I spent most of my time under the watchful eye of Joe Friedman. Those were my glory days. My college years. The best years of my life.”

“Wow, Mr. Lortz, you truly are a legend. I want to be just like you.”