Browse Category: Social Commentary



(Originally posted on the website Heron Flight)

Happy Fucking Fourth of July!

I tell you, I just don’t have the type of life for holidays. They just don’t fit. Every time a damn holiday comes around, I am not in any position to deal with it. This time I’m going down in absolute flames I tell you. That’s right. Fitting for a holiday that is damn chock-full of pyro-incendiary-oo-la-las. Watch me cascade in bursting colorful delights downward through the evening sky! Zip-bam-bang-poof! That’s not sulfur stinging your nostrils. That’s me! Burning out before your very eyes.

I mean, damn it! With the wilting heat and broken air conditioning system in my car, I’m a melted Yodel before I even walk into the office these days. Then it just gets hotter inside. The place is a perfect jungle anymore. The savages stalk one another. It’s not uncommon to get a machete in the back. If the betrayal doesn’t get you the quick sand of more-work-than-you-can-realistically-handle will surely sink you down into the “no raise for you next year!” pit from which there is no explanation that can avail to your escape. It’s become barbaric and hideous really. Every day is the “Lord of the Flies” and you’re the fat kid.

But I should forget about all that. It’s a holiday and I don’t have to go back to work yet. Big Corporation is patriotic enough to give us two days off for the Fourth of July. Not that that’s enough for a guy in my position to pull it all together and be ready for this holiday with burgers grilling and blankets all set for the evening fireworks. But they did at least give us two days off. I mean, we should all bow down and kiss their rich bastard asses. But who the hell are “they” anyway? The thousands of stockholders that Big Corporation is technically “owned” by? Wait! I’m one of those stockholders! And I don’t like the way things are going! I call a board meeting! Oh shit! I guess I can’t do that on a holiday! Fuck. Everybody’s out roasting their weenies. Fucking Yankee Doodle Dandies!

Don’t get the wrong impression. I love America. The theory of America is good at least. And I suppose that it is actually better to live here than some other places like, uh, Darfur, or Baghdad, or some other shit hole. But really, America in practice is a far cry from America in theory. Witness all the shit the Bush administration has gotten away with since 9/11. Hell, a warrant is practically a meaningless legal propriety anymore. “You know, I think you’re a terrorist. So, fuck your rights, and fuck the Constitution, and fuck your mother too while we’re at it! You’re an enemy combatant and you’re going to Gitmo, motherfucker!” Oh, come on! That shit doesn’t happen! Does it, Jose Padilla?

Maybe I should just shut my mouth and be a good American. Don’t question authority. This is all for our own good and our safety. Sure, come on in and search my underwear drawer! I’ll be running around in the backyard with sparklers celebrating the birth of this great experiment in freedom called America. No, no, I don’t mind if the New Jersey State Police lie to my learning disabled son and intimidate him into letting them search our home while I’m at work. No, really, I can understand how one of the State Troopers could allow his car to be broken into and his laptop and gun stolen. Really, happens to the best of us. I’ll just go set off some Roman Candles while you fuckers intrude on my privacy. Hey, what’s a traumatized boy compared to matters of state? Why don’t you guys install cameras to monitor what goes on in my house all the time? I’m sure Orwell wouldn’t be surprised. (Yeah, some of this paragraph is based on a true story. Email me and I’ll tell you all about it.)

Wait! Goddamn it! Don’t email me! I’ll tell you about it right now!

In September 2004, while I was at work, the New Jersey State Police came to my house while my learning disabled 20-year-old son was the only one at home. They descended on the place like starving vultures. Not just one or two cops but several car loads of cops suddenly appeared at my residence that afternoon. They presented my son with some shit-ass accusation of stealing a bicycle. Despite his insistence that he didn’t do such a thing, the State Police detectives insisted on coming into our home. They told him that he would be arrested and never see his girlfriend or son again if he didn’t let them in. They refused his request to call his dad before they came in. He has obvious communication deficiencies that are immediately noticeable when one talks to him. But these sharp detectives ignored that. No, they took advantage of that and abused their power in order to wiggle their way into my goddamn home! Can you imagine taking such advantage of a semi-retarded boy? Welcome to America! Have a hot dog! Light off some firecrackers! Set your damn hair on fire!

Where the hell did I start? Oh yeah, holidays don’t usually fit into my life very well. Nothing fits into the life of a single father very well really. Think about it. You have to function at 100 miles per hour 100 hours per day. No easy feat. It’s hard enough to maintain daily home life and field the occasional State Police intrusion let alone incorporate a national holiday. There just isn’t time for it. It just doesn’t fit. And it surely doesn’t mean too goddamn much, now does it? It’s not like there have been great shining incidents of democracy in my experience for which I want to use a day off in reverent worship of the U-S-A. Fuck no! I’m just happy I don’t have to sit in my goddamn cube working for Big Corp. I’d rather take my Yodel ass out into the heat and let it melt in psuedo-patriotism at the local parade while the National Guard tanks roll by and the mayor waves to phony applause and the Girl Scouts think they are trotting along in the wilting humidity because this country is great and everything is baseball and apple pie and we all live happily ever after. God bless America! God help us one and all.

I just can’t fit holidays into my life. They are awkward and unyielding. It’s hard enough to keep the normal day-in and day-out rhythm going. Then a holiday comes along and sets itself up right in the way. I have a hard enough time dealing with my kids’ birthdays for God’s sake. I can’t deal with holidays and their cookouts and get-togethers and driving here and there and everywhere. I always get stuck behind that one damn bastard who drives 10 miles per hour below the speed limit as he relishes the damn holiday and soaks in all the holidayness as he’s putzing along to Aunt Erma’s annual Independence Day shindig. I don’t have the patience or the patriotism for that. Just get out of my way, leave all the holiday nonsense alone and let’s have a normal day. Let’s just be normal and calm and pressure-free. You don’t pressure me. I won’t pressure you. Don’t worry about wearing the right colors and bringing the right food. Just relax.

Ah, who am I kidding? I gotta get going. The kids need red, white, and blue clothes. And the parade is at 1:00. And the shitty fair is waiting to gobble up my money so the kids can go on the rides. There is no resistance to it. The holiday always wins. I guess I better conform. Isn’t that what patriotism is in America these days? I’ll give in, sit through the parade. Hopefully my attitude will improve through the day.



(Originally posted on the website Heron Flight)

Once upon a time, in a lifetime faraway, my grandfather owned a diner. From the days of my earliest memories, Pop ran the diner. He rose at 4:30 every morning, without an alarm clock. He started the grills, warmed up the dishwasher, and welcomed the first customers at 6 AM. This was who he was. He made up for it with a daily nap in his downstairs office most afternoons.

I remember the office. It consisted of two small rooms and a smaller bath, or rather a “shower”. One room housed a desk with tumbling piles of receipts. The other, dimly lit, surrounded a double-sized foam mattress. Noxzema shaving cream and Close-Up toothpaste vied for predominance of the shower. It was only in dire cases that we dared tap on the office door to wake Pop in the middle of an afternoon.

My grandfather was a good man. He gave many people their first chance at a job. In addition to almost all of his grandchildren, Pop gave first jobs to many high school students in our town, one of whom was an old girlfriend of mine… story for another time. Beyond these many first starts, Pop was the helper of many a down and out fellow. From my farthest memories, Pop consistently hired men from a restaurant staffing agency out of Philadelphia. Most of these short-order cooks are now nameless faces, greasy-haired individuals apparently without house or family, soulless men of my childhood, smokers and drinkers all.

In addition to Freddie Schneider, flat-nosed out-of-towner who by miraculous length of days and despite steady streams of imbibed alcohol and cigarettes became a long-recognized pilgrim between the St. Cloud Hotel and the diner, there was five-foot-tall Tommy. Tommy was short but his heart stood tall. Tommy loved the bottled spirits. But he also loved our family. There were days when the bottle got the best of him. He would disappear for short seasons. Then I would come to the diner after school and Tommy would be back. Pop never condemned him. Tommy always returned loyalty and respect.

Tommy was the head evening cook during most of my high school days. I was the cashier and night “manager”, sixteen-year-old ruler of my female classmates who were fortunate enough to be hired by my grandfather… more stories for another time. When Tommy would vanish on one of his binges, I was the head cook, happy to exchange the handling of currency for the flipping of burgers.

Tommy had a woman. She was the widowed mother of one of the girls in my class. For easily deduced reasons, we mercilessly teased that girl with horrid renditions of “Hello Dolly”. She never saw the humor in it. Her mom was oblivious to her daughter’s hardships. Tommy loved her mom. Though I thought it was corny to see that short short-order cook nearly stand on his tippy-toes in order to put his arm around his girl, I now remember it as the act of a big man, and I realize that that’s as tall as a man gets. I still look up to Tommy in this respect.

As once-upon-a-time stories go, villains entered the plot, placid characters were disrupted and reality entered the scene. So it went with the story of Pop’s diner. One month after my high school graduation in June of 1981, Pop announced his retirement. The man was 81-years-old. He had served family and employees well. By the end of that summer, new owners had taken control of the diner, trampling freshly-painted stairs and unprepared hearts alike underfoot. I remember the non-English speaking chef plunging his nicotine-stained hands into bowls of macaroni salad. I remember the feelings of violation as Pop’s ways of procedure were carelessly neglected. I remember quitting my job at “my grandfather’s diner” and not being paid overtime by the new owner. I remember saying good-bye to Tommy.

As the world has a tendency to rotate and life has the impulse to move on, I worked at successive factories and then for the town road department after Pop laid the diner to rest. It was all new to me. I had only ever worked at our family business since I was 14. My early twenties was a time of blending into the background of our town’s economy. Once I was known as the grandson of the town’s best diner. Then I was just another blue-uniformed town road worker.

However, if the world has a tendency to rotate, it also has a tendency to come full circle. A moment of definition came one afternoon while I was standing outside the town garages. That day, under the hot summer sun, a small figure staggered across the parking lot through the heat waves. Stopping unexpectedly before me, there swayed Tommy. Most likely by the assistance of angels, the man was able to focus his eyes enough to recognize me. He stepped closer, managing to stop himself from tripping headlong into my chest. Gathering his intrinsic respect and sincerity, Tommy reached up and placed his hand on my shoulder. In that moment I was again Pop’s grandson. Tommy, setting the influence of alcohol aside, said, “Sammy, it’s me, Tommy. Remember me? It’s Tommy. Sammy, you’re grandfather was a good man. You are a good man, Sammy. I love you, Sammy.” Then the little man collapsed in my arms and I wish that I was still holding him these twenty years long. Tommy died suddenly from a brain tumor a few months later.

So, I ask myself, “Is this the way life goes?” Does a man live, despite his weaknesses of habit, to eventually make another man big by falling into his arms? Was the purpose of Tommy’s life to give stability to mine? Did he stagger into my arms to set my life in the right direction?

All I can say is, “Tommy, too early taken at the age of 50, I miss you. I love you too. My life was enlarged because of you. Thank you.”

Those Crazy Stickers

(Originally posted on the website Heron Flight)


“Oh, Dude! Is that YOU with all those crazy stickers??”

Well… actually it’s not me. It’s my car.

So, what stickers do we (my car and I) have?

Here’s the list:

  • Virginia is for Lovers
  • 5 Bouncing Souls stickers (how the sticker craziness originally began)
  • mot gilk?
  • D W drums
  • World Inferno Friendship Society
  • Toastmasters International
  • Free Tibet
  • Dino Velvet (my brother’s old band – as opposed to HIS NEW BAND)
  • New Hampshire Moose Crossing
  • Apple logo
  • Kill Your Television (need a reason to kill your TV? click HERE.)
  • Read Banned Books (they are better for your brain than TV.)
  • Underdog and Sweet Polly
  • The Pink Panther
  • Large Band-Aid on the dent on the bumper
  • Smiley face (because the Band-Aid made it all better)
  • a Harley Davidson sticker
  • This Car Climbed Mt. Washington (for real, yo!)
  • a faded Van’s sneakers sticker
  • American flag (upside down)
  • Canadian flag (upside down)
  • Long Beach Island (upside down)
  • New Hampshire (upside down)
  • Cape May (upside down) (not pictured. this photo was taken in Cape May before I bought the sticker.)
  • Earth (right side up)
  • and most importantly… 01.20.09… George W. Bush’s last day in office. Lord haste the day!
  • P.S. – Vote for Pedro


(Originally posted on the website Heron Flight)


There are those who are pushing to make English the official language of the United States. There are even some who want to force immigrants to learn and speak English in order to become citizens.

There are signs that it’s not going to work.


(Originally posted on the website Heron Flight)

I miss my dad.

Is that okay to say? Can I throw that right out there to you?

It’s been over a year since he died. But hell, I haven’t even begun to face it. I don’t want to face it. I don’t want to think about the fact that he is beyond reach, incommunicado, in the nether world or higher plane, beyond the reach of my longing for him.

Why does it have to be that way? Why is death such a complete separator? Oh, I know all the religious/theological reasons. I know the physical/biological reasons. Blah, blah, blah. Yadda, yadda, yadda. What I want to know is why does it have to be this way? Why do I, Sam Snyder, Jr., have to be separated from my dad? Why? Why does my experience of life with him have to abruptly come to an end? Why does it have to be over and final when I was not nearly ready for it to be over?

Do you know what it’s like to miss his voice on the phone saying, “Hey, Bub, how ya doin’?” or “Hey, Sammy, when ya gonna come see me?” Do you know how it feels to no longer get calls at 6 AM saying, “How about meeting me for breakfast over at Doug’s place? Let me buy you a coffee before you have to go to work.” Don’t you know that I would pay a million dollars and give every drop of blood in my veins to hear his voice on the phone saying, “I’m coming by with donuts for you and the kids before they have to go to school”? I mean, for God’s sake, I’m only 43-years-old. I potentially have a lot of years to go without those phone calls!

But do I really have a long time to go? Do any of us? Do any of us realize how short time really is? Do any of us really feel the brevity of our lives? Do any of us really embrace the fact that our time on this earth, in our relations, among our families and friends, is so, so laughably short? We put off. We procrastinate. We say we’ll tell our kids tomorrow that we love them, that we are proud of them, that we can’t bear the thought of ever being separated from them. But we die one day short of that tomorrow and never tell them, never hug them, never look them in the eyes and say, “If I could I would sacrifice every cell in my body, every pulse of my heart, every instant of desire in my eternal being to see you happy and to know that you will forever rise above death in this world and the next.”

Hug your kids TODAY! Go to them NOW! Take them by their collars and press your nose against theirs and say, “I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!” Yes, they will think you are crazy! Yes, they will complain that you are blocking their view of their video game. But goddamn it! (Forgive me, Lord.) They will remember you when they are 43 and they will cling to you! They will remember your old ruddy face and the passion in your eyes when they sit down in their sadness and miss you. You will have given them something substantial to hold onto.

So, do you know what I just did? No, of course you don’t. You are not mind readers! (Are you?) Thanks to the modern technology of the day in which we live our minuscule lives, I just picked up my cell phone and sent a text message to all five of my children at the same time. That’s right. I might be a father with grown children, but I know my technology and I am hip enough to use it! I just sent a message to my kids stating, “I just realized that I can send a text message to all 5 of my kids at the same time! So, I just want to say that I love u and…” Wait. Why should I tell you exactly what I said? Why not let you think of your own message to say to your kids? Yeah. Express it in your own words. Let your kids remember your own words, your voice, your heart.

So, what has all this been about? Well, I miss my dad. The circumstances of our lives pushed us apart more than they brought us together. I regret that I didn’t find a way to reverse that situation sooner. I regret that I didn’t have the strength enough to weep over his poor suffering forehead when the cancer was consuming his life (as I am weeping now). I regret that I didn’t take more of an interest in the things he was interested in. (I could have gone to more NASCAR races with him, or sat in his living room watching the Chicago Bears lose again, or met up with him for breakfast more times than I did.) And I bet all that I own that there is someone in your life that you feel the same way about. All I am really trying to say is, “Don’t make the same mistakes again. Tell the others that you value EXACTLY what you feel for them NOW, so you will have less regrets if they leave before you do.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

PS – I received two responses to my text message immediately. (Goes to show how attached to their cell phones kids are!)

Sarah – “Aww thankx daddy-o! And all 5 of us couldn’t have askd 4 a betr daddy I mean ur a freakin ROCKSTAR! I LOVE U DADDY!”

Joel – “Dad I love u to and have a good night ok?”

I know the other three are out there somewhere…