Category Archives: Life and times
Dear Friends and Loving Family,
As most of you know by now, this year the Slattern family left behind the stress, grime and outstanding bench warrants of New York City for a fresh start in sunny San Francisco! After all that fuss and nonsense about young master Slattern’s alleged “hacking” and our subsequent
flight to adventure in Kazakstan, the Slattern clan was feeling the need for some sun and fun, so when a position opened up in the San Francisco sorting facility of the good old USPS, Mr. Slattern jumped at the chance. Sure, it was a lateral, some might even say downward, move, but as you might expect, the taint of a mail fraud accusation — even a baseless, trumped up one — tends to linger, and so the family got behind “the old man” and packed up the truck and a-moved to Beverly. Well, actually Oakland, but you get the picture.
Upon arriving on the left coast, we soon settled into our charming little bungalow by the freeway (handy off and on!). Out here they call this kind of property a “project house,” and what a project it’s been. Luckily we left the spot welder and acetylene torches back in the NYPD impound room, safely beyond the reach of our family contractor, Uncle Fred. With just a hammer and a handsaw, he worked miracles shoring up the place. I’m pretty sure ours is the only bungalow in the East Bay with flying buttresses, but when the big quake hits, the Slatterns will be ready. “Bring on the tremblers!” says Uncle Fred. Of course there’s more than a little left to do, but with only two rooms, the list is quite manageable. Isn’t it lucky we thought to hitch that pop-up trailer to the minivan before we left? Between the
shack house, the trailer and the Caravan, every member of the family has a little corner to call his own.
With his domestic tasks complete, intrepid traveler Uncle Fred has begun to explore the city and seems to have found his niche at a little cafe over in the Castro where he spends most days nursing a cappuchino and watching the world go by, happily surrounded by like-minded free spirits. As an added bonus, his inner thigh psoriasis is responding beautifully to all that sunshine. And I’m absolutely thrilled to have finally found a use for all those orphaned socks in the laundry basket!
Grandma, too, has found her “peeps” in the wild west. Upon arrival, it was for her the work of minutes to master the bus schedule and make a beeline for Haight-Ashbury, where she’s pretty sure she spent a blissful couple of years back in the Sixties.
You’d think an octogenarian with a walker might have trouble with the transfers, but the old girl says she’s “found a new spark.” We think the spark is her friend, Mr. M-dot Six, whom she met over at the senior drop-in center. It’s so sweet. Every week they take the Cannibis-Rex senior bus to Big Sur together and spend the afternoon chasing trails and chair dancing to the sweet sounds of yesteryear — bootleg Dead, the Airplane, the Stones. Apparently, Mr. Six has the lyrics to Panama Red tattooed on his back, which makes bus sing-alongs a whooping good time.
Between work and his five-hour round-trip commute each day, Mr. Slattern is busy, too. He’s finding the workers-first spirit of San Francisco a welcome change from the grind of New York’s rigid rules and regulations, and of course the six-hour work day is quite a boon. Between the city-mandated karma breaks and his drive time, he’s made real progress with his Kazakh language tapes. As he says, “With this family, you never know when a trip to a Central Asian non-extradition state may be necessary, and next time I want to know how to order a goddamned whiskey and something other than goat.” He’s such a panic.
Young Master Slattern seems be settling in despite the upheaval and detentions of the last few years. A real trooper, our boy is following his court-ordered technology ban to the letter, which made it much easier to refute last week’s loose talk and allegations about connections to the DPRK. Now, instead of working on computers, he spends his off-time at the local gym practicing the martial arts, something called UFC. I’m not sure what it is, but he tells us it’s a very spiritual, energy-focused multi-disciplinary sport. We’re just glad he’s found a new
obsession hobby. As an added bonus, his baby-fat love handles and computer-screen slouch are both things of the past. We are told the concussive damage passes quickly and is seldom cumulative, so it’s all good.
As you may have heard, our daughter decided to stay in Kazakhstan as Mrs. Nikolai Nikolaiovich, at least until the twins arrive. Last time we spoke, the newlyweds were planning to join us just as soon as the confusion about Nik’s status could be resolved with Homeland Security. Apparently, owing to some business with camels and rocket fuel, his name landed on a watch list, but he is sure it’s all a misunderstanding. What else is new for this family?
As for yours truly, I soldier on. The freeway noise, at first a constant sensory assault not unlike living in a running clothes dryer, has become, for me anyway, more like the sound of waves breaking on the shore, a kind of white noise with diesel fumes. It lulls me to sleep at night, and in the morning the jake brakes and air horns gently rouse me from my Ambien-induced slumber. The doctors out here are lovely and generally agree that my alopecia is most likely stress-induced and temporary. They seem to feel the bald spots on my head will start to fill in on their own as soon as the Lithium kicks in. The good news is, no need for another bout of residential treatment — or ECT — for your favorite slattern!
Once again, we wish all our friends and family (even the ones who no longer speak to us, or accept our calls, or send money) a happy and healthy holiday season. For those of you still in touch, we can best be reached at General Delivery, Daly City Post Office. Or through the Red Cross/Crescent. Happy New Year, everybody!
Thought for the day:
It seems to me that the aging process presents only two viable options to the high-strung, outgoing creative type, namely, either to mellow or surrender to the temptation to go all Bette Davis in the later years. Having recently relocated from New York to San Francisco, I’m working on getting my cool on, but I must admit it’s a struggle.
So which will it be, folks, battle the madness or start coloring outside the lines with my lipstick as we roll on into crazy town?
I think you know. I think we all do.
Yup, that’s right, the Slattern family is just one of the millions of households whose personal data got lifted right from under the Target Corporation’s big old, bargain-hawking, crap-flogging nose this holiday season. I know this because I just spent three hair-combusting hours on the phone with every Target department from Fraud to Customer “Service” to Credit Card “Services,” right on down the line to Internet Orders and the guy who swabs out the executive washroom at the corporate treehouse up there in Minneapolis. His name is Frank and he’s very sorry about my problems.
Having failed to get any information whatsoever from the gratingly cheerful folks at Target, I hung up the phone — well actually I slammed the receiver repeatedly into the cradle in time to the torrent of filthy invective that was surging from my mouth like the Susquehanna after Three Mile Island — and called my credit card company. As a result of navigating approximately six dozen phone trees and speaking to ten guys named Ryan whose accents were suspiciously sub-continent, I came up with this:
Someone hacked into the Target database and stole some information about me. Or maybe they didn’t. It could be that they got my credit card information, name, mailing address, phone number or email address. But no one really knows if they did or not. And despite my very clear, very loud questions as to the nature of what they took or what said miscreants might do with it, I still have no idea what to even look for as an indicator that fraud may — or may not — have occurred in my name.
Well that is just swell. So now, owing to a foolish impulse purchase of a folding table to accommodate my holiday dinner guests, I have to undertake the process of canceling my credit cards, combing through the holiday purchases to see if I can ferret out anything that looks untoward (at this point it all does), changing all my internet and account passwords, and updating the credit card information on my recurring payments. I have no doubt that there will be at least one that falls through the cracks in the portable bar, which will probably result in my having to crash an EZ Pass toll gate, reinstate lapsed insurance coverage or go without my gym membership for a week or two. Guess which one doesn’t piss me off?
Now to make matters worse, this is the guy who is overseeing the rectification of the whole nasty mess:
His name is Greg Steinhafel, and he is the CEO of Target Corporation. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does he? Just in case you think I cherry picked this photo, I want you to know that it comes straight off the Target data breach and happy time website. Check it out for yourself.
So let’s break this down, shall we? My personal information, and that of millions of other people was mismanaged and left unsecured by the folks at Target, and now Gomer here is going to sort it all out and tighten everything back up? Go-o-o-lly, that’s great! Apparently this guy is competent to run a cash register, stock shelves or greet me as I enter one of their retail pleasure palaces, but CEO? I’m not buying it. Chief executives should wear TIES, Greg. FYI, they look like this:
Or better still, this:
Aw forget it, I’m going off the grid. I hear the Upper Peninsula is lovely this time of year.
Greetings Slattern friends and family members!
Surprise, surprise, 2013 was (yet another) thrill-packed year for your favorite all-American family, the Slatterns! Although anyone who tunes in to HLN will already be familiar with some of the more sensational chapters of our story (where would Nancy Grace be without US this year?!), there’s more than that silly extradition business to fill you in on.
First the good news — and couldn’t we all use a little more of that? Owing to this year’s “recreational use” decriminalization statute, Grandma’s case was dismissed back in April before it ever went to trial. To tell you the truth, I think the Legal Aid lawyer was a little disappointed at not being able to try out the innovative “oldfluenza” defense he came up with, especially since this was going to be his first real case, but he perked right back up when Mr. Slattern pointed out that with all the “zero tolerance” policies at the assisted living facility, sooner or later the old girl is bound to run afoul of the law again. Next time she ends up in a holding cell, Grandma has promised that Counselor Schenkman will be her first call.
And speaking of involuntary confinement, Uncle Fred is finally back in the bosom of his family after that little misunderstanding at The Mustang Ranch in Nevada. Last summer, thinking he was headed for the dude ranch vacation he’d always dreamed of, our favorite “cowpoke” was more than a little surprised to find himself in a cathouse instead of a horse barn. Still, it was the work of a minute for him to rally the old Slattern spirit and go with the flow. By checkout time they had to use a crowbar to get him out of there. Literally, they chased him out the front door with one. Unfortunately, there was some additional unpleasantness about the bill, which included a long list of expensive “extras” that weren’t part of his package, but in the end management agreed to garnish his Social Security for the next fifteen years in exchange for his prompt and permanent departure. Thanks for all those get well soon wishes! We’re pleased to report that the doctors did finally find an antibiotic that worked. They say that the lesions should heal up eventually, and when they do, Uncle Fred’ll be as good as new.
As our cable-news viewing friends will know by now, young Master Slattern has become a real computer wiz. Although we’ve been advised not to make statements about his case, I can say that the allegations of his CIA database hacking and downloading, however sensational, are nowhere near the truth, and we are one hundred percent certain he will be cleared and our return to the US approved any day now. Nonetheless, I’m happy to report that Khazakhstan really is lovely during the winter holidays, with all the snow and ice out on the steppes, and in the parking lots, and the hallways. And our hotel room.
After two weeks in country, we’ve already mastered a few essential phrases in Kazakh, and boy, do they come in handy. Roughly translated: I’m sorry, but we ‘re not in the market for a camel today; We may look like Uzbeks, but I assure you we are not; and of course, No, my daughter is NOT for sale. With the help of these and several other little cultural tricks, we find that daily life goes on much as it did in the good old US of A with meals to prepare, housework to do and extended visits to the various embassies, consulates and police precincts to negotiate our legal status.
Supplies are a bit scarce over here, but in the outdoor market, I find I can trade my Klonopin and Valium for almost anything, and Mr. S has even developed a taste for the national drink, fermented mare’s milk, which he claims goes well with Russian vodka (it’s cheaper than tonic water!). Most days he can be found comfortably settled on his pony-skin floor mats with gallon jugs of both by his side, listening to the Voice of America. He almost never cries anymore.
I’m finding the combination of a crushing load of stress plus the local goat-based diet has made it possible for me to lose that pesky twenty pounds, and owing to the lack of internet connectivity young Miss Slattern has traded her Facebook and BuzzFeed habits for daily instruction in kick-boxing at the local gimnasia. As an added bonus, she seems to be picking up some Russian from her trainer, Nikolai Nikolaiovich, who is also quite the fashion photographer and cossack-about-town!
And that, my friends, is all our news. We are looking forward to having the warrants lifted and returning home soon. In the meantime, all donations to the Slattern Family Legal Defense Fund are greatly appreciated. The good folks at WikiLeaks have assured us that, although donations are not tax deductible, they’re not remotely traceable either.
Merry Christmas, everybody!