Wednesday, April 6, 2011


It’s the DMV’s fault that I’m sick. And the DEA’s. I can prove it.

My wallet was stolen in February. Some punk took my credit cards and went to Wendy’s. Wendy’s? My god, there’s something truly wrong with the universe. So I went in person to both credit unions where I have accounts. They cancelled my cards. I sat down with bank employees to fill out the theft reports, and they said, “Okay, give me your driver’s license.”
“I don’t have my driver’s license.”

“Sir, you can’t file the theft report without your driver’s license.”

“M’am, my WALLET was stolen. My driver’s license was IN MY WALLET.”

“Well then you’ll have to show us some other picture i.d. with your signature on it, like a valid U.S. passport.”

“Well, hold on. This is the USC Credit Union, is it not?


“And I have my USC employee i.d. card that USC issued to me.”

“We can’t accept that.”

“But we’re on the USC campus!”

“It doesn’t have your signature on it.”

I left in a huff.
At this point, I wasn’t worried about it. I walked over to the DMV, stood in line patiently, and ordered a new driver’s license. They didn’t ask me for i.d. They asked me some questions, pulled up my picture on their computer, stared at me, said, “Yep, that’s you,” and told me to keep an eye on my mail box. Annoyed, but not worried, I went home and discovered that my passport had expired in 2009. I found my infamous Army i.d.—that I never gave back—and joyfully noted that it has my signature on it and my social security number.
I went back to the USC Credit Union to take a stab it.
“Sir, this i.d. expired in 1988.”
“Uh…yeah, that’s true.”
So I left with my tail between my legs.
Here’s the problem with waiting for your driver’s license to arrive in the mail: The State came up with a new, tamper-resistant, forgery-proof driver’s license. It’s made in Indonesia by barefoot children who are chained by the ankle to this special machine that cranks them out, and apparently there has been some sort of quality control issue. My wife’s sister ordered a new driver’s license in November, and finally got it in March.


Okay, I’ll circumvent the system. Instead of waiting an amount of time equal to the gestation period of an African elephant for my driver’s license to arrive, I’ll go to the post office, and renew my passport. I went home to Claremont, grabbed my expired passport, and went to the post office.
Now, when I was a kid, this was how you renewed your passport: you went to the post office with your old passport, filled out some forms, and paid them some money. A few weeks later, both your old and your new passports would arrive, with the word CANCELLED rubber stamped across your face on the old passport. No problem. I stood in line at the post office.
“Next in line!”
“Hi! I’d like to renew my passport.”
“Okay, I’ll need your old passport, your drivers license, and photocopies of the front and back of your license.”

Are you shitting me?

If I was a blind Amish Marxist vegan ultraenvironmentalist who refuses to drive or ride anything that consumes fossil fuel, and I didn’t have a driver’s license, are you telling me that I can no longer get a US passport, like in the old days?

Somebody shoot me.

So I watched Jay Leno that night, and his guest was Russell Brand. I don’t have anything for or against him, he’s just there, like K-Mart. He talked about getting his driver’s license, and went on and on about how he now has this paper that authorizes him to drive an automobile—a skill that he has only recently acquired.
Good, now he can drive over to Eli Wallach’s house for some acting lessons.

Here’s something Russell and I have in common: in the U.S., despite the fact that I have been a U.S. citizen since I was 6 years old, if someone accused me of being a—or helping terrorists, the Federal Government can decide that I’m no longer a U.S. citizen, and take away the Constitutional rights that I had from 1974 to October 2001, when they passed the Patriot Act.

Now, in the past, if you were a naturalized citizen and committed heinous crimes, they could take away your citizenship, but now they can do it without a conviction. They got smart: first take away the due process that the Constitution gurantees, to ensure a conviction on flimsy--or no evidence.

Thank you, President Cheney.

So, Russell is a Cockney, and I’m a Honky. If you’re under 35, you don’t remember African Americans calling white people “Honky.” The word did not originally refer to all white people; it was a derogatory term in the late 1800s for Hungarian immigrants used on the East Coast by “real Americans” (read: people descended from the British Isles).

Other words you didn’t know were Hungarian:

Coach: from Kócs, a town in Hungary where they made a style of horse-drawn carriage that became popular across Europe.

Hodge-podge: from “Hogy vagy?” literally, “How are you?”. The same Anglo-Saxons kept hearing the Honkies ask each other, “Hogy vagy?” and it sounded like someone was saying “Hodge podge!”

Oh wait: Russell has a driver’s license, but I don’t. This is problematic because:

(1) I can’t get on an airplane

(2) I can’t drive a car.

Note to self: do not drive until the license arrives in the mail box. Oh, wait, this is California, where you cannot function without a car. Well, hopefully the cops won’t pull me over. Oh, wait: they gave me a Temporary Driver’s License at the DMV. It’s this big, official-looking white paper that you have to sign in front of them.

No, the bank wouldn’t accept that, either (no photo on it).

(3) I still can’t report my stolen funds,

(4) I can’t go to the doctor (they won’t let you pay with a credit card without seeing your license), and

(5) You can’t buy certain items in the store without a driver’s license.

Booze? Moonshine? Liquor? Alcohol? Unfortunately, the punk kid working the cash register at Trader Joe’s no longer asks me for i.d. when I stand in line with a bottle of Balvenie 12 year old single malt. He just looks at me, thinks to himself, “He’s an old guy,” and accepts my credit card.

But God help you if you get sick like I did last week. I came down with The Cold From Hell. My sinuses were so clogged up and hurt so bad that I thought my head was going explode. I was home alone, and couldn’t take the pain anymore, so I forced myself to get out of bed, get dressed, and drove to Target to buy some decongestant (Sudafed).

Did you know that because some trembling idiot out there bought a bunch of Sudafed, and used it to cook meth, you can’t just buy Sudafed any more?

Oh, no. It’s not that you merely have to ask them to give it to you from where they hide it behind the counter. Oh, no. You have to give them your driver’s license, and they record your purchase for some sort of DEA database.

That’s right: Big Brother is watching you.

If I get tired of writing this blog, and decide that I’d like to go have sex with a hooker, and do some drugs, all I would need to do is walk under the 10 Freeway, south on Indian Hill Blvd, over to that motel behind the Denny’s. All of my sensual needs could be met in some serious one-stop shopping.

Does the government really think it’s making The People safer when you don’t let a fat, unemployed, Hungarian x-ray tech with thinning hair, over-sized teeth, and bad sinuses buy some Sudafed when he’s clearly sick?

“Eckthuse me, I’d wike to buy thum decondessun.”

“I’ll need your driver’s license.”

“I donn hev a dwiverz wicense. Here’s my old army i.d.”

“This isn’t on the list of acceptable i.d.s”

“But it hev my thothial thickurity numba on it, and my thignashure!”

“Sire, this card expired in 1988”

“Okay, gib it back oo me!”

So I went home. In pain.

I called the wife—who miraculously (a) had her cell phone with her, and (b) actually answered it (she must have been bored). I told her about getting kicked out of Target for trying to buy Sudafed ohne reisspass, and she started laughing hysterically. Then she went and bought me some. An hour later, my sinus headache went from a 10 down to a 2. That was on Friday.

So of course, my driver’s license arrived in the mail the next day, on Saturday.

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