Dealing With Depression

Along with 21 million other Americans, I suffer from depression.

I’ve never told my family, mostly because I figured they’ve noticed. I have terrible mood swings that come completely out of nowhere. I’m not actually bipolar, since my mood doesn’t swing as wildly as others. However I do get severely depressed for no real reason during the day, out of the blue, and the worst part is that pretty much anything can trigger it: a smell, a conversation, or even a random thought popping up in my head. I remember one Christmas I broke down because someone mentioned my grandparents house, a huge part of my life that is currently for sale. I showed more emotion in that one moment than I did while dealing with the death of a close friend. I have no what emotion will come next, and sometimes it makes me feel like a psychotic. I go through fits where I feel perfectly normal – if you could call it that – to moments where I don’t even feel like standing anymore.

Like an even larger portion of the population, I also live in the past, which doesn’t help my depression since it causes me to remember parts of my past I’d rather forget. It doesn’t matter whether the memory is pleasant or painful, I still fall into a funk. Think about loves lost? Pout. Think about friends who are far away? Drink. Even when I’m surrounded by people I love, all it takes is just one small reminder to send me into another universe.  During all of this, I ask myself why I’m dwelling on these memories – what does it at that precise moment? I try to snap out of it if I concentrate really hard on everything I have NOW, but sometimes it still takes hours.

Thankfully I’m not suicidal, at least not anymore. There have been two instances where I seriously contemplated taking my own life, and both of those attempts never fully materialized, although one came dangerously close to coming to fruition.

However I catch myself doing things that are just as harmful: I live a life filled with self destructive behavior. I don’t know why I do it, and I’ve tried getting help to get me out of the spiral. I’ve seen two therapists, and neither have helped; one didn’t really seem to care, and the other therapist’s advice was “stop”, as if I was doing it on purpose. I don’t feel like I am, but  a part of me causes me to do these things subconsciously. I really feel like I deserve anything positive that happens to me.

We all have holes in our lives that are impossible to fill, yet we continue to search for that one item, that one big move that will complete everything and make everything better. Some try to fill it with religion. Some fill it with hedonistic pleasures. Others die comfortably with the void. The key is to recognize it, embrace it, and realize that no matter what we do a part of us will always feel empty. That what keeps us moving: searching for the next minute of happiness.

It’s just harder for some of us than it is for others.

I do love my life, and I realize I have a lot going for me and people who care for me. However when you’re alone in the silence with your thoughts, anything can set you off. I don’t ask for help, because it’s my problem, and I don’t want to burden anyone else. There have been times where I’ve just thought about saying goodbye to everyone and going off on my own. I’ve actually tried to figure out how much money it would take to just completely disappear and just start anew. Perhaps everyone would be better off. Selfishly I want to keep them all in my life, because I couldn’t picture living without them, and what kind of shallow existence it would be. Then I remember all the heartache and the pain I’ve caused throughout the years and it makes me wonder what exactly I bring to the relationship.

This is a very “emo” post – I’m completely aware of this – but I felt like I had to discuss it with everyone. Similar to my battles with alcohol and suicidal thoughts, I believe writing is cathartic. We’ve placed such a heavy stigma on mental illness that we choose to keep any discussion of it nearly elusively to whispers in private. I don’t want pity or help. As I said earlier, this is my problem, and I want to deal with it.

I don’t want to use my depression as a crutch or an excuse for every screw up, but I do want to hear more about others battles with the illness. I know I’m not the only one.

NBC New PilOH MY GOD!

Poor, poor NBC. It seems like forever ago that the network of “Seinfeld” and “ER”…actually had either “Seinfeld” or “ER”. It’s indie hit “Community” has been jerked around, canceled, brought back, moved to Friday’s and is now on life support (although I do give them credit since the ratings haven’t been great.) It’s biggest commercial success “The Office” has grown stale and is also near death. Right now the network is “Parks & Rec”, “30 Rock” and a bunch of singing competitions.

But don’t worry! While “The Cape” and “Harry’s Law” didn’t quite stick like we all hoped they would, NBC has some new crap for our consumption! My friend Roy got some of these trailers from YouTube, and of course they’re property owned by NBC Universal which I do not own and blah blah blah legal terms. So lets gets started with the new hits!

“1600 Penn”

Bill Pullman returns to the role that finally ended the Bill Paxton/Bill Pullman debate for at least six months as President of Earff The United States. However I don’t think he’s President Whitmore in this wacky comedy, seeing as in the film he only had a young daughter and a dead wife, but here he has three kids* and a smoking hot blond for a spouse. Perhaps President Whitmore remarried, got rid of Mae Whitman (who for some reason has to constantly remind people she isn’t a lesbian) and instead sired some fat Perez Hilton-looking loser, a brunette with dead eyes and a younger boy who I’m certain will either get into numerous sticky situations or with be a genius who will help his father improve trade relations with El Salvador or something. I would say drink every time there’s a reference to “Independence Day” in this show, but then you would die ten minutes into the first episode.

Prediction: One Season

*I said three kids because I’m certain the heavy set girl in the back will be the Jan Brady of the bunch, constantly complaining about how hard it is for her to get noticed and no one loves her and I just cut myself in her honor.

“Go On”

Matthew Perry returns to NBC for some of that “Friends” magic! Apparently Monica died a month ago (h/t to the YouTube guy for the reference) and that has left Chandler all sad and IT ALL STARTED WITH A WHISPPEERRRRRRRR. God I hate that song.

Anyway, I’ve watched this trailer twice and I can’t get over the fact that Perry is doing a voice that sounds EXACTLY like ESPN Professional Jackass Colin Cowherd. Is this based on his life story? For that point alone, I hope this never even makes it to air. However it has Matthew Perry, plus the kid from “Everybody Hates Chris”, so it’ll make it on air.

Prediction: Six episodes

“Next Caller”

Fuck, another show about radio? Radio isn’t that interesting people, at least not now. There have been thousands of layoffs, it’s all syndicated programs and it’s a dying industry. There are about five companies left (Clear Channel, Cumulus, Sirius, Entercom and Disney) and they too just syndicate programming. It’s not the hookers and blow industry it once was.

Also, I own a shirt Dane Cook owns. If my back wasn’t killing me, I would proceed to burn that shirt. I wonder what wacky antics will take place at the station? Will someone curse on air? Will there be an incident with a hip hop star? WILL THEY CHANGE FORMATS!? OH GOD WILL THEY CHANGE INTO AN ALL CHRISTIAN ROCK STATION!?!?! The possibilities are endless! Or, rather, boring as shit.

Prediction: Two Seasons, because of Dude Bros

“Save Me”

Anne Heche returns to being bat shit crazy in a show about a person who survived a car accident and now has the ability to talk with God. I wonder if Heche actually knew the cameras were rolling or if she’s just always like this.

Anyway, if you can watch this, more power to you. I’m not a fan.

Prediction: One episode, then Heche will once again be abducted by aliens

“Guys With Kids”

Oof. Double Oof. Someone at NBC approved this. Seriously, someone at NBC saw this trailer and instead of burying the film next to old ET video game cartridges and foes of the mob, decided “what the hell? We can’t fall to fifth” and planned to give it airtime. A poster on YouTube pretty much summed it up by saying “shouldn’t this be on TBS?”. Whether it’s the sassy black lady, the wife who “just wanted a nice night out” or the crazy ex-wife, this comedy made sure to hit all the sitcom clichés! It wouldn’t surprise me if they had a sassy gay friend wander in at one point. If you gave this show a chance after hearing that atrocious voice over at the beginning, you’re a better man than me.

Prediction: If there’s a God, it won’t make it on air. If not, it’ll go up against “Two & A Half Men” for Best Comedy.

“The New Normal”

We get it: the South is awful. Thanks, Elitist Jerkoffs In LA or NY! So tired of that line of reasoning, especially since Ohio and upstate New York have some of the most racist areas I’ve ever been to. I guess the world’s a different place when you’re looking through ironic non-prescription glasses.

“New Normal” is a new series from Ryan Murphy, the same guy who brought us “Glee”, and if that wasn’t bad enough he’s the same douche that throws a hissy fit every time someone bashes his show or refuses to appear as a special guest. Besides the fact that everyone involved in the show (outside of – of course – the racist mother) is a hipster (even the damn kid), the plot makes no sense. The mother wants to attend law school, so she devises a plan to…become a surrogate mother for a gay couple? In return, she’ll receive $35k and A LOT OF LIFE’S LESSONS. However I’m pretty sure you could just get a loan from the government to attend a community college, or just go back to the college you dropped out from, or just, like, not be a lawyer because you have no idea what it actually entails. Plus in case you didn’t get from the title and the theme of the trailer, the main character spells out the moral of the story that “loving families come in all forms” and bullshit bullshit bullshit. I don’t have a problem with gays adopting kids or getting married, however I do have an issue with lazy storytelling.

Prediction: Two seasons, because if you don’t watch it you’re obviously either homophobic or from the south, ya homophobe.

“Animal Practice”

This can’t be real, right? This is just an SNL Digital Short. No way this was seriously pitched. I refuse to believe someone got up at a meeting in front of all these execs smoking their cigars (like every big meeting) and then said “It’s like ‘Scrubs’, with animals!”, followed by a loud choir of hurumps and rabbles plus a cry for more cocaine. If this reaches the airwaves, I’ll be on the “Discerning Scumbag” blog, typing and watching religiously.

Prediction: Ruff-ly Thirteen Paw-Dropping Episodes! (DAMN IT, SHALIT!)

In Defense of Junior

When I was on First State Financial Sports Talk on Sunday with Mark Beurger, we talked a little about the Junior Seau situation. Seau recently took his own life, and the media – including us – were wondering what concussions, steroids, and pretty much anything, really, played a role in him deciding he wanted to commit suicide.

Now I’ve never played a down on professional football – shocking, I know. In fact in high school I quit football because I wanted to play baseball, plus I needed to see a tutor in whatever spare time I had. If I tried to throw a ball twenty yards my arm would probably fly out of socket, and I’m not even going to pretend I know how to properly tackle a guy. However I can somewhat understand where Seau is – was – coming from.

I have a special place in Kentucky that everyone knows about but isn’t often visited. It’s a spot off Interstate 64 in Frankfort: the Vietnam Memorial. There I’ve spent many of hours, watching deer, sitting, reading, thinking and pretty much passing the time. It’s a nice tranquil spot to gather one’s thoughts, and to take in all the beauty that Kentucky has to offer.

I came across that spot completely by accident, after one of the darkest periods of my life.

Most of you know me as “Mushmouth”: the guy who easily gets tongue-tied and occasionally slurs his words, but is genuinely a nice guy and is just doing what he loves. I’ve been “that guy” for almost three years, but for the 24 years preceding my stint at WLAP I was something practically completely different.

I first moved to Kentucky in 2006 from New York; Long Island to be exact. Even though I’ve grown to love Kentucky, I came down here against my will. You see in 2006 I was engaged to be married, and my fiancé wanted to work with horses. She figured “what place is better than the horse capital?” and before I knew it, I down here. Really, I was a young fool in love. I was ready to start a new life.

My first job down here was at Rent-A-Center in town, and believe me when I say those guys don’t get paid enough for the amount of crap they have to deal with on a daily basis. I hated it. I mean the type of hatred that drove me to drink for the first time in my life. However I was down here with someone I loved, and as long as she was with me, I’d put up with my lot in life.

About seven months in, things started to change. Tell me if you’ve heard this before: young couple makes a rash decision too early in a relationship, things get shaky, and then everything goes from bad to worse. Before I knew it she had a new “friend” and I was out. I had to find a new place – and fast – plus I still didn’t really know anyone down here. I didn’t have enough money or credit to get a place on my own, had no one to turn to in town and my nearest relative or friends was a thirteen hour drive away. I was alone in a town of over 250,000 and was royally screwed.

One day me and her had a terrible fight over the phone, concerning something as inconsequential as bookcases. Looking back on it, I can’t believe it went as far as it did. However some harsh words were exchanged – including a threat or six – and it pretty much sealed the deal: we were finished forever.

I’m not an overly emotional man, mind you. I’m like my father, where I listen to everyone else’s problems but rarely (at least seriously) talk about my own. However something happened that day that just made me think it was never going to get better so…what’s the point?

I decided to try and kill myself.

Being too scared to do what Seau did (also not having immediate access to a weapon), I made sure I got myself drunk before I attempted anything. About half through a bottle of Jack I figured out what I would do: I remembered there being a bridge on 64, however I wasn’t sure of its exact location or whether there was a guardrail or not leading up to it. I decided if there was a rail that impeded my car from either hitting the side or going over, I’d just calmly park my car and jump off of the bridge, and probably never be seen again.

As an insurance – seems kind of ironic to use that phrase here – I also took a knife along with me, just in case.

Two circumstances took place at the bridge that day which allowed me to write this piece today:

-          There was a guardrail there, and it looked strong enough where as my car would have just bounced off into traffic, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone else (meanwhile I had drank before I got into the car)

-          There was a stalled vehicle on the shoulder – plus heavy traffic – as my car headed west, so if I had pulled over I would have either been stopped by that person or someone would have witnessed me doing it.

After I passed the bridge I got off at the next exit, trying to plan my next move.

Should I turn back around and try it driving east?

Should I wait until it’s darker and there’s less traffic?

What can I do to make sure I don’t hurt or scar anyone emotionally that may be passing by, just living their life?

While I drifted on some road I’ve never been, I pulled off onto a side road near the capital. A little longer down that road, I turned once more into the Memorial parking lot.

As I sat there I KNEW I had friends and family that loved me. I KNEW that I would not only be letting them down if I went through with this, but I couldn’t bear the thought of my parents having to go through the process of grieving for their only child. Although I knew all of this, I thought I knew that this was the end. Nothing could make life any better.

I must have sat in that car for an hour, just staring a thousand yard stare towards nothing in particular, trying to figure out what to do. At last I decided to get out and walk.

The memorial itself is an understated structure; just a piece of metal protruding out of concrete to form a sundial. Yet it’s surroundings and it’s simple design work so elegantly together, especially at the right time of day when the sun is just about to disappear for the evening. The serenity of the memorial allowed me to gather my thoughts and conclude that everything that was happening wasn’t worth losing my life over. It allowed me opportunity to clear my head, gather my thoughts and decide what was best for me and for me only. Shortly after, I found a new place, made a lot of new friends, and eventually got a job doing what I love. I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve never had 50,000+ fans cheering my name. I’ve never played in a Super Bowl, let alone two of them. I’ve never known what it’s like to not be able to go into town, for fear of being mobbed by an adoring public.

And that’s the point.

Depression hits everyone. Even star athletes.

There’s no common element to depression. Depression doesn’t recognize social status, race, gender or age. It can fester for years inside a person; meanwhile the individual may not show any outward signs of there being anything wrong. Seau was loved by millions and had everything he could have asked for, however when it’s the end of the day and all you’re left with is your thoughts; those millions don’t know where Seau’s mind goes. All we can ask is why? Why would a still-young man with seemingly everything end it all so suddenly? We often forget celebrities are people too, and regardless whatever talent and abilities they possess, they too have thoughts, fears, dreams, and fits of rage or moments of joy. Just because we see someone on screen or in a 30 second interview doesn’t mean we see the TRUE them.

Two years ago one of my best friends Chris took his own life. He was only 24. Of course, no one saw it coming, but that didn’t stop us from asking why. We questioned if there was anything we could have done to stop it, or if there was something we did. I experienced then what I had hoped to avoid for my friends and family: pure grief and despair. If you saw Seau’s mom tearful plea for her son back, you know what a family goes through when a tragic event such as this takes place.

I took this time to not only write about my experience with depression, but to present a more articulate point on what I was attempting to say Sunday, without all my usual blathering but still littered with poor grammar. It used to make me sick when right after something happens that is this tragic, people will rush to judgment and for answers. I used to believe that it was the world we now live in, where everything answer has to be both instant and gratifying. However I know now that it’s just human nature, trying to explain things that either we can’t understand or won’t understand. We want an answer; we want to know why this happened and what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Perhaps it was related to concussions.

Or maybe, Junior Seau was just human.

Asking For Patience

The Trayvon Martin case is one that should be handled by the local authorities, with – if necessary – a fair trial in a neutral courtroom.

Unfortunately, that’s now impossible.

Here’s what we know: A month ago, 17-year old Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, was walking home from a local store after purchasing a pack of Skittles. He was confronted – after being tailed and stalked – by a 28-year old man name George Zimmerman, a half-white half-Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer.

There are 911 calls on record which has Zimmerman murmuring under his breath something similar to “fucking coons”, which his lawyer is arguing is Zimmerman saying “fucking goons”. On that same call, Zimmerman tells the dispatcher “He has something in his hands.”

There is a call from Martin to his girlfriend, where he tells the girl a man (Zimmerman) is staring at him and following him.

A shot went out. Zimmerman’s 9mm had gone off, and Trayvon Martin lost his life.

That’s it.

Everything else is subject. Some neighbors told police they saw Zimmerman and the boy scuffle and then heard a shot while Martin was on top of Zimmerman, punching the 28-year old. Others say they heard Martin scream “Help!”. Still others say they heard Zimmerman screaming for assistance.

We have people convinced they heard Martin say “What now?” and head towards Zimmerman, even though we KNOW Zimmerman was following Martin.

In the end, we truly know nothing.

The police handled this case as an act of self-defense and let Zimmerman go, since they were unable to prove otherwise. In an odd procedure (I never heard of something like this), Martin was drug tested posthumously, and yet Zimmerman wasn’t. He was just let go.

After that, a police chief resigned and mob justice became dangerously close to breaking out in Florida. Everyone’s an expert on a case where the only one left alive who knows what happened is George Zimmerman. It’s Casey Anthony all over again, minus the overbearing presence of Nancy Grace.

I’m not going to say I know what happened. I’m not going to guess Martin’s moves or Zimmerman’s motive. All I know is this:

We all need to calm down.

I’m not exactly the biggest cheerleader when it comes to our judicial system, but it’s the best we have. Mob justice rarely – if ever – works out for the better. Justice can not be delivered by torches and pitchforks. The New Black Panthers have essentially put a bounty on Zimmerman’s head, and for that they should be ashamed. However, they’ll never admit that if they go after Zimmerman (who has already been labeled a racist in spite of no evidence existing of such outside of this incident) they’re no better than him. It’s not about justice, it has turned into revenge.

I don’t know Martin. I don’t know Zimmerman. What I do know is that killing Zimmerman without due process is unjust, and immoral. I can’t believe I even have to type those words.

The media isn’t doing any favors, painting this as a clear-cut “black vs white” case. Every time you see Zimmerman, he’s in an orange jumpsuit (Zimmerman was previously arrested for battery of a police officer – he pushed a cop – and the charges were dropped) and every time you see Martin, they show him around middle school age wearing a football jersey. The point is to both say Martin was innocent (probable) and Zimmerman is a notorious thug. You don’t show someone in prison garbs to portray the person in a positive light. This isn’t fair to Zimmerman. Of course, it’s not popular to stand up for a man accused of killing a teen, so good luck trying to make the argument that Zimmerman deserves a fair shake.

Geraldo is a jackass whose point isn’t even worth repeating.

Again, I’m not suggesting Zimmerman is innocent and Martin attacked him (which is what Zimmerman and his lawyers are alleging), but I’m also not saying that Zimmerman chased down Martin because Trayvon was black and Zimmerman is white/Hispanic.

We don’t know that this is race related, but the press sure as hell wants you to think that. Zimmerman himself has said he grew up in a multicultural household, and he’s never had a problem with people of other races. His statements mean little, of course, because if you killed someone of a different race while essentially hunting them down, you’re going to be perceived as racist. It sure as hell looked that way.

However you dig deeper into Zimmerman’s story, and it actually looks like something much more.

Zimmerman has always pined to be a police officer. Not only had he led efforts to create the neighborhood watch, in his past he chased down shoplifters, tailed reckless drivers, reported to the police incidents ranging from open garage doors and pot holes – all while using police jargon. Yet he never applied to become a cop; instead he applied for the citizens police academy, taking a class that met once a week and totaled 14 hours. He would brag to friends about his knowledge of the law, techniques that real police use and what to do in certain situations. It has all the classic signs of someone who thought/thinks he’s bigger than he truly is, someone who thinks he’s capable – and required – to enforce the law. Trayvon Martin could be a white male, wearing a hoodie (screw you, Geraldo) in the wrong place at the wrong time, with Zimmerman and his 9mm trailing not too far behind.

I’m not standing up for George Zimmerman because I believe he is innocent. I’m standing up for George Zimmerman because someone has to. If we allow ourselves to be swept into this wave of mob justice, if we allow ourselves to decide – without a thorough investigation and trial – what is the truth while having a minimal amount of facts, then as a society we become just what we’re supposedly rebelling against: an unjust system.

Please have patience. Please don’t sully Trayvon Martin’s memory by involving him in something that no one should be a part of. It’s bad enough that he was slain before he had the chance to live his life, but it would be a true travesty if he became a symbol for when we all lost our ability for rationale thought.

No Lists Needed

Every year around this time we’re subjected to a “best/worst of…” list on practically every subject.

Person of the Year? Sure.

Best Dressed? Yea, fine.

Most Christmas-y towns in America? I’m sure that helped some mayor’s reelection campaign.

I don’t understand the fascination with lists. One, I don’t think anyone’s opinion is really all that special, especially to the point where they’re the de-facto voice on the matter. A person can be more knowledgeable in a certain field, but just because you have seen every episode of Saturday Night Live does not mean you should rank every fucking cast member since the show started.

Second, – and not to go full Andy Rooney on everyone – everyone and their grandfather has a list. A best grocery list-list. A Most Beautiful South Korean Actress list. Even a list on the most badass piano duels in history. I don’t know about you, but I think Murchand – Bach was hosed.

At this moment you’re probably looking to left to make sure Phil Mushnick isn’t writing this column while eating a lemon. However I assure you that it is still me, John G.

Why do we feel the need to validate our opinions? It can’t all be done just to jump-start conversation, right? No one is that lonely, even this guy. I feel the same way about Hall Of Fame arguments. Every year, a sport will release its list of new members, and every year we have some assclown on radio/tv or in print will jump out screaming, saying it’s a travesty that so-and-so wasn’t considered.

Why does it matter? Again, does a player getting recognized for their achievements validate our opinion of them? Does someone else ranking “Homer’s Enemy” as the best Simpsons episode make it so? It’s all subjective. I know people that will argue to the death that Joe Dimaggio was the best Yankee of all time, and others that will trump up Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, or Lou Gehrig, while completely ignoring other players. Even when the opinion is based on hard evidence, in this case baseball statistics, emotions will always get in the way.

What makes one person’s list more valuable than another? Does having a larger platform, such as Grantland, give more weight to a list so fucking pointless that it can’t even follow it’s own rules?

Yet every time this last week of December roles around, I see list after list on pointless topics or (I hope) some sort of ironic best list-list. Hopefully December 21st, 2012 will shoot down enough fire and brimstone to make Gawker’s much-heralded “Best Apocalyptic Display of All Time” list.

Working To Live

I’m not going to make it big in radio.

It was hard for me to come to that realization, but a few months ago I succumbed to reality. I don’t have the voice for it. I love the atmosphere, but I hate the politics of it (which is ironic because I love politics.) It’s much easier for me to put my thoughts on paper than to go on air and try to think up a talking point on the fly.

Radio, television and – sadly – the real world don’t have time for people to generate an extensive, well-thought out argument. We want soundbites, generalizations and for a person to be easily categorized. We wanna know what you believe, why you believe it, and all under 45 seconds. Be concise and don’t forget those talking points! It’s a lot easier for people to understand something if it’s put it in terms of black or white, good or bad. However the truth is that life is rarely that simple.

I got the nickname “Mushmouth” because that’s the name I told people to call me. It’s obviously not my name (it’s John, btw) but I felt it best encapsulated my on-air personality: bumbling, rambling, and funny but most of the time scrambling for just the right word. I don’t know what it is, but when my mic turns on I can’t even read Go Spot, Go! without tripping over my tongue. Maybe I should see a professional, but I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble.

Yet when I go on air, I feel alive. I’ve always wanted to do radio, and I pursued that dream with a zeal that I have yet to match in any other aspect of my life. Even though I knew it was a dying industry, I protected my position and my industry any chance I get. Sure, I joke about it all the time, but I treat it like family: It’s fine when I joke around about my family, but when some outsider starts making too-cute jabs at someone – or something – I love, I get upset and fire back.

This isn’t a “woe-is-me” post. I couldn’t be happier with the chance I’ve been given in my life.

I went for it. I’m informed on subjects I’d actually like to discuss, but unfortunately I don’t work on those subjects. I never got into college anything: basketball, football, volleyball, hell even academia itself never aroused curiosity to me. I learn what I want to learn, I absorb practically every facet of it I can, and then move on. If I don’t care for something, I can’t feign interest. Unfortunately I’m the same way with people; that’s probably why I was such a terrible waiter. I can’t fake being nice. I can’t even smile if I don’t like someone.

I’m lucky to have met some really interesting people in this business, to go along with the interesting people I’ve met in my everyday life. If there’s one thing this job has proven to me, it’s that people come in all shapes and sizes, with different likes and dislikes, and that no two people are the same. Cliche, I know.

I’m 26 years old. My life is nowhere near over. I don’t think I’m a failure, and I’m not. I try not to gauge my life by “external” standards: fame, prestige, adoration. If you chase those things, your life will most likely end in failure.

Recently I’ve been looking more inward, wondering what I can do to improve me, not Mushmouth. I’ve been teaching myself how to cook. I’ve cut down on drinking. I try to stay more in touch with friends and family. I’m trying the better person I know I can be. It’s tough, but it can be done. I know people who while they were in their 50s changed their whole outlook on life and have never been happier.

I have so many things I want to do in my life: get married, have a family, travel, watch the Jets win a Super Bowl (but I’ve resigned to the fact I may not see that one in my lifetime). I want to get old, and have my wife tell me I’ve led a good life. I want to be able to look back on what I have done, and have little regrets. I already have some regrets in my life, but I’m living with those and working every day to make up for them. I don’t consider my radio career a failure; if I hadn’t tried it at all, that would have been a true failure.

My point is…well I don’t really think I have a point.

There are people out there who know me as Mushmouth: the “quiet off air, bumbling on air” personality, as John: the “boisterous loud mouth who always has a sarcastic remark” friend, or as Gallagher: the “shy guy who is always reading and people watching.” I’m all of those things, not just another radio flame-out who decided he couldn’t hack it in the media.

I’ll continue to be John Gallagher, but I don’t think Mushmouth will have a place at the table much longer.

And that is perfectly fine with me.

Kentucky Gubernatorial Debate

Because I have no life and love torturing myself, I decided to do a point-by-point breakdown of the Kentucky Gubernatorial debate that took place Tuesday at EKU. Now these aren’t the candidates full responses but rather points a synopsis of their statements.

**OPENING REMARKS**

Governor Steve Beshear (D): Believes he runs a clear, responsible government. Been fiscally responsible. Education is a priority for his administration, and believes the economy is turning around.

Gatewood Galbraith (I): Starts off his statement by making a joke to Williams and the crowd alluding to Beshear never showing up for debates (since he has a huge lead). Believes the state is bankrupt: $38 billion in debt. We need a governor who doesn’t care which party or which individual gets credit.

Senator David Williams (R): Governor races should be about the future. Directs people to his website for plans to get rid of corporate income tax. “We don’t need a caretaker.”

Question: Describe how your plan to get our economy back on track ensures everyone pays their fair share

G: Talks about the “Commonwealth Incentive Program” – which refunds education and creates job programs. Need to “show employers” that “our children can be trained to take part in their industry or in their worker training programs.” Wants to give each student a $5,000 voucher for books and tuition for any school in Kentucky “to train them into employability (Is that a word?)“. Wants to change the tax codes to be based primarily on consumption taxes.

W: Kentucky has double-digit unemployment. We’re not just competing with southern states, but with “the states that we affectionately call ‘The Rush Belt’”. (I couldn’t tell if he said “affectionately” or “effectually”. Either way it was out of place.) Wants to change tax structure; like Gatewood wants it to be consumption tax-based. Believes we need a “Right To Work” law, TORT reform and unemployment benefits reform.

B: Nothing is more important than jobs. He passed legislation that revised all economic incentive programs – even got Williams to vote for it. We now have companies that are growing and expanding. We now have over 350 companies in the state. The economy hasn’t fully rebounded yet, but we’re getting there.

G: We lost 94,000 jobs in the last two years. He asks”Where were all these great idea while (Beshear and Williams) were accepting paychecks from the people of the state of Kentucky? Why are they just now saying they have the answer?”

W: “Can’t pay real bills with potential jobs.”
“Government doesn’t need to pick the winners and losers.”

B: Tells people to visit the Economic Development website to see the agreements between the state and the corporations moving to the state. Asks the other candidates to go talk to people in the “community” and ask folks how excited they are for the new jobs. “Go talk to Senator Williams’ father-in-law, Terry Stephens of Stephens Pipe & Steel, who sat down with the Economic Development people & now have 25 new jobs in Russell County. It works, folks.”

(I checked out Beshear’s facts: It’s all true.)

Question: How would you stop partisan politics in Kentucky and make sure things got done?

W: Governor hasn’t been engaged in economic development in the state, outside of “(trying to) pick the winners and losers. It will take weekly meetings between Republican & Democratic lawmakers to reach a consensus on issues.” Thinks if you get people on your side and “the legislation will follow.” Said Republicans and Democrats work together more frequently than the newspapers report.

B: When he ran in 2007, he didn’t care if an idea was a Republican or a Democratic one, just as long as it was a good idea. He balanced the budget nine times through bipartisan leadership. (Great response, however it’s a slight twist of the truth. A candidate will bring it up later.)

G: Calls out Beshear – Says he hasn’t seen the bipartisan leadership Beshear is claiming in Frankfort. Says if you have a good idea, bring it to him since he actually doesn’t care who gets credit. (That gets a reaction from the invitation-only crowd, which has been told to hold their applause.)

W: Governor says he’s bipartisan, but that’s not true. Gives the example of Beshear’s own budget proposal, in which “(Beshear’s) own party says (it) should have been thrown in the trash.”

B: Says the “proof is in the pudding.” Repeats that he balanced the budget nine times, and the only way that’s possible is if he brought both parties together. Says he doesn’t care about people’s party affiliation.

G: Talks about a Herald-Leader article on how the jobs in the economic plan haven’t materialized. Mentions something that happened back in 1993, when former Secretary of Economic Development Gene Strong said that by 2012 80% of Kentuckians would be making $8/hr. Asks “who’s gonna buy the houses and cars?” Says the jobs better materialize and not be $8/hr. (I can’t find this quote anywhere outside of Gatewood’s website, so take that with a grain of salt.)

Question: The recent announcement of GE & Ford bringing jobs shows promise but what if you don’t have the skills for that type of work? What do you plan to do to improve the employment picture in Kentucky’s largest city (Louisville)?”

B: With GE we have brought back jobs from Mexico & China. Ford is investing over $600 million and adding a third shift at the essembly plant in Louisville. Ford has been closing plants everywhere, but not in Kentucky! (I’m sure Ford is thrilled he said that.) GE is doing the same! (Ditto.)

G: Goes back to Commonwealth Incentive. We need to have our students employable. We need to lure emerging industries into the state. “We will pay them to train our workers to work in their industry.” (This puzzled me. We’re going to give the companies with not only tax breaks, but also give them money to train people?)

W: Must take broader look at unemployment in state. “You can’t create enough jobs by the individual plans that try to overcome the structural barriers that we have in our state.” Have to change the system. We can’t just give rewards to corporate chieftons. Small businesses are just as important as the big corporations. “Right now there is a two tier wage system…What we do is give big incentives to companies & low paying jobs to the individuals who work there to start working now…Wages will go up when there is competition for jobs and that will be done by changing Kentucky’s work environment.”

B: “It’s obvious the economic incentive program is working because it bothers (Galbraith & Williams) tremendously to talk about it.” He then talks about Williams’ father-in-law getting a package over $1 million to create 25 new jobs.

G: Brings up the Kentucky “Ark Park”, where most jobs that were added were only $8/hr. Says we can’t tax the people working there: They’re the working poor. Says that incentive money is now going to people generally out-of-state, the landlords.

W: We were supposed to have a nationwide search for an Economic Development Secretary, “but low and behold Governor Beshear found him fight there in his office!” (Great line.) We need to depoliticize the whole process, and says our whole tax system is backwards.

Question: Many environmentalists have called for a ban on Mountain Top removal. Where do you stand on the issue?

G: Is against it completely. Believes it is overly destructive. Not against coal though. Wonders why do you HAVE to be pro-coal OR pro-green? Is against the $150 million a year coal subsidy; should put that back into education and funding medicare. Also wants to look for alternative forms of energy like hemp. (Gatewood used to run on a pro-marijuana legalization ticket, but has toned it down this year to focus more on the economy.)

W: Says coal is important to all of Kentucky (not one candidate would argue otherwise and expect to get elected) and that we need it “to compete with others…” (what?) He continues: “…when you do manufacturing jobs and it’s really important to the poorest of the poor because they use a higher percentage of their electricity…of their electricity than those more fortunate.” (That was a word for word transcript. If someone can explain that to me I’d love to hear it.) Supports mountain top removal. Also supports use of coal “any way that’s feasible.” This is also the first time Williams references Obama, this time saying Obama tried to kill coal production and connects it to Beshear.

B: Coal is vital to Kentucky. It allows us to attract other industries because of low-cost energy. Also “helps the national security of our country.” (I get what he was saying, but that remark by itself sounds stupid.) The only way you can do surface mining is if you can show a better and higher use for the land after it is done to leave it flat, such as a hospital or an airport.

G: Hardly any mining rules are enforced anymore, as evident “by the deaths of the 29 miners in a mine that had more than 10,000 safety infractions.” Thinks every penny of severance tax that is generated by the minerals extracted from the county should go right back to that county.

W: Can’t enforce the rules if you can’t get the permits. (Cryptic remark) Has another Obama reference (to the lack of permits approved by the administration) and Beshear’s continued support of Obama’s reelection.

B: We fought the Obama administration and the EPA when we thought they were being “arbitrary and unreasonable.” Filed suit along with the Kentucky Coal Association against both. Doesn’t want to rely on countries “who don’t like us” for our energy.

Question: Kentucky Downs instituted instant racing, with Family Foundation standing in opposition to that. What is your position on expanded gaming in Kentucky and how do you justify that position?

W: Opposes it. If it is ever expanded, it should be done by a Constitutional Amendment. Governor said he would propose an amendment and get it through the General Assembly but he’s never been able to get it passed the House, which was overwhelmingly controlled by his own party. Thinks slot machines are the worst enemy of those at racetracks. Says Beshear doesn’t have a plan to help the racing industry, so he just wants to blame everyone else.

B: We are in danger of losing the horse industry here in Kentucky, and the 100,000 jobs associated with it, due to every state competing against us with expanded gambling, which is also supplementing their purses. The Senate won’t let the amendment come to a vote. They passed the bill in the House, sent it to the Senate where Williams wouldn’t let it come to a vote. Beshear then references David Williams gambling losses from out-of-state. Says he wants to keep people “like Senator Williams” in state.

G: The failure for expanded gaming points to poor leadership. Believes if it passes, it should be a state run enterprise, and not owned or operated by a private business, “like the injuns do!” (yes, he said “injuns”) Says we have to increase the purses. “There’s only one function to thoroughbreds: run around an oval. They’re too expensive to eat and they won’t pull a plow, so we need to do something about keeping it here.”

W: “If the Governor owned a horse, he would call it ‘Cheap Shot’. because that’s all he’s been doing tonight.” (Boo. Also, that’s not a cheap shot.) (At this point Williams starts to ramble, avoiding Beshear’s point)

B: “Williams should say he’s willing to step out of the way and let the Senate vote (on the issue.)”

G: Talks some more about Indian casinos. Proposes the state-owned casinos giving higher returns to gamblers than those in Vegas and Atlantic City. Wants to make it a “tourist Mecca.”

Question: Over the last decade, tuition at Kentucky’s public universities has more than doubled. UK Student Body President says it’s time to draw the line on tuition increases. Will you be the governor to make that happen?

B: No Kentuckian should be denied higher education due to costs. Urged the Post-Secondary Education Council to keep the costs down. While we have trimmed the budget, we have not cut student financial aid or KEES scholarships.

G: Yet again goes back to the Commonwealth Incentive (on freezing tuition.) Also goes back to the Gene Strong point. This time, he brings up the P.S. Secondary council wanting to double the numbers of Bachelors Degrees by 2020, “but are we going to give them the $8/hr jobs?” “Someone who fixes a transmission, someone who can fix an air conditioner is going to be far more valuable than someone who has a master’s in English Lit!”

W: In the 2008 budget proposal, Beshear proposed a cut to higher education funding, and he also played around with the KEES scholarship money. Beshear wanted to bond $800 million in KEES Scholarship money for current expenses. Believes the cost of higher education in Kentucky is still a good deal. Says we need to create a better economy with higher paying jobs in Kentucky first.

B: Says Williams told him to cut everything across the board, including education, when they were balancing the budget.

G: We’re $38 billion in debt. How is that a balanced budget? We’re borrowing against the future.

W: Beshear has never balanced a budget. We have an unbalanced budget right now! We’re $200 million short this year!

Question: What would you do to ensure Kentucky’s road and bridges are maintained in the future? (about Sherman Minton Bridge)

G: It’s going to take tax dollars. State is shoveling $2 billion to private corporations for “private service contracts” work. That’s all greed and corruption. We should take a million or more of that and put it somewhere else. Brings up the consumption tax once more.

W: Louisville’s bridges are a tremendous problem. Williams and former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson pushed for an Infrastructure Authority, but now under Beshear it had slowed down. This should be the #1 project in the state.

B: Governor Daniels (R – Indiana) and Beshear have worked together on the Sherman Minton bridge. The Louisville Bridge Project has gone farther in the last two years with me & Daniels working together than it’s gone in 40 years. We are now within a year of “putting a spade in the ground.”

G: “These people have been in office all this time. It is amazing how educated they have become to the problems of the state of Kentucky…but it never seems to come to the forefront until it’s election time.”

W: “If you believe that there will be a ‘spade in the ground’ on the Ohio River Bridge project in 10 months when there’s not a finance plan in place, there’s no approach or theory on forms they are going to use…If you’re in Louisville you ought to be mad as fire!” Says Beshear wants to wait until after the election to mention to the public that there will be tolls to build the bridge.

B: We brought in a transportation secretary to make sure everything is transparent and ethical. We rooted out problems and tax payers are now getting their money’s worth.

Question: During the last session of the general assembly, a bill to make psuedoephedrine a prescription drug did not pass. Do you feel pseudoephedrine needs to be a prescription drug, and if not, how would you fight the meth epidemic?

W: Supported that bill. Conceded that making pseudoephedrine more difficult to get wouldn’t do much for the meth problem. “We need to do something to help the very real problem of our first responders & innocents who innocently run across the meth labs.” References Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton getting injured during a meth lab bust. Says pharmaceutical companies “misrepresented the people of the Commonwealth” by saying “we” were going to take all cold medicines off the market. In fact, “very few people actually need pseudoephedrine”. He will work very hard to fight the meth problem.

B: Saw a study that showed “we’re losing more people to overdoses than to car wrecks,” and that is “unacceptable.” Him, Greg Stumbo and Jack Conway announced some measures to attack the prescription drug abuse problem, including the out-of-state pill mills.

G: Was originally against making it a prescription drug, but has seen up close the damage it’s caused families and is now for it. Says pill addiction has “crippled” the state. Wants to sue the pharmaceutical companies for almost $1 billion to fund drug treatment programs. Refers people to “Iboga”, a 24-hour treatment/cure (he went back and forth with the description) for opiate addiction.

W: Says Beshear didn’t take a position in his answer. “Typical Beshear answer.”
“Doesn’t take a position on anything.” Says we need bold leadership in Frankfort.

B: “We” have taken a lot of steps to fight drug abuse. Formed up an interstate task force with Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee. Also “finally forced Florida” to put in a monitoring program, to shut down the pipeline.

G: ‘We can take the money we’re using or arresting college students for using marijuana and arresting the sick and dying for trying to take marijuana as a medicine (…) and put it into going after the hard drug users.” Says it will help with the costs of health care.

**SPEED ROUND**

Question: Do you support a state-wide smoking ban?

B: Supports local communities deciding for themselves.

G: Opposes it.

W: Local approach seems to be working.

Question: What specifically have you done to engage women and minorities in your campaign?

G: “Take a look at my running mate!”

W: Mentions Yearlings Organization debate where Beshear was absent. It’s important to engage everyone.

B: There are minorities and women in top spots in the campaign and in our government.

Question: Cats, Cards, Hilltoppers or Colonels?

B: “I’m for all those Kentucky teams.” (laugh from audience)

G: “I’ll be darned if I’m gonna fracture my base. I’m for all of them too.”

W: “Merry Christmas, everyone.” (That’s his actual response)

Question: What kind of car do you drive?

G: Daughters 1996 Lexus “and I still owe her for it.”

W: Lincoln. I always drive Ford products.

B: “I drive a Ford Hybrid Escape, my wife drives a Toyota Four Runner.”

**CLOSING REMARKS**

G: There’s a deal between “Mr. Beshear and Mr. Abramson that if Mr. Beshear wins, after two years he’ll resign and Mr. Abramson will have that spot. (Never heard that before) If you want Mr. Abramson to be your governor, that’s your ticket.” David Williams can not win the race; the polls show it. “A vote for me is a vote for your conscience.”

B: Senator Williams would love to bring a Washington-esque atmosphere to Kentucky, where party politics are more important than the public. I have brought people together. We’ve had a tough time, but the state is turning a corner. “I can promise you this: I will not rest until every Kentuckian who needs a job, HAS a job.”

W: “Yesterday was Columbus Day. Steve Beshear reminds me of Columbus: He was mistaken about where he was going, he didn’t know where he was when he was there and when he got back he didn’t know where he’d been and he did it all on borrowed money.” (Crowd applause) Says Beshear has “no agenda”. Says Kentucky needs someone who is pro-life, and who will stand up to Obama.

Overall I think It was a tie between Gatewood and Beshear. Williams at times seems annoyed, especially when Beshear brought up Williams’ gambling. Gatewood was typical Gatewood: blunt, occasionally rambling but personable. Beshear did a good job focusing on his strengths and accomplishments while in office. Williams didn’t offer any specific plans of his own, unlike Beshear and Gatewood. I would have preferred it if Gatewood would have expounded upon his plans for the state instead of referencing his website. I’m sure it’s more detailed than what you could deliver at that moment, but the majority of people aren’t going to the website while you’re talking about it.

The next debate between the candidates is on Halloween, Monday October 31st.

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