Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fuck off 2009

I’m tired and I’m glad it’s all over. The year of ’09. The end of my gall bladder. With it goes the decade of debauchery and the end of my twenties. I’m no longer an innocent kid and these no longer are innocent times. In the last decade all fantasies have crashed and shattered liked teeth in a horrible nightmare. The internet bubble, the housing market, values, cuddling, the American Dream, religion, liberty, stature, banking, American automotives, and most anything that seemed too good to be true; suddenly wasn’t.

‘Sag ‘is the best word to describe what we’ve become. An ugly lump of something that is excessive and unsightly. The new millennium started off with a y2k fear that turned quickly into a television punch line. It was the birth of the Bush administration and the death of my mother. It was the last year space was free of man, meaning a human has been in space continuously ever since. A Nero type image pops into my head as I type this ignoring the damn TV puking out TMZ. My profession was set I was going to work in radio. I was a sponge working at Chicago’s US*99 training from the best. I loved it, and I knew I would do whatever it took to be the best. Life had a plan and it seemed simple.

2001 crashed our comfort level forever as we watched the twisted steel on all the networks paint an image of destruction that will forever be vivid and horrible to anybody over the age of seven forever. I was scared, but I was now a morning show host and I had a town to comfort. I blew it, as I was too young to know my role, and understand my responsibility. I faked sadness over the airwaves while fear fell from my brow and anger pumped through my heart. My mother got struck down by a train in September of ’00, and then my country got hit by a plane in September of ’01. Mother and country crashing before me in the most symbolic of ways --it was all quite frightening. But all of us were new to terrorism and there were no right answers. However in hindsight we see an endless supply of wrong ones. Oh well. Live and Let Learn!

2002 made sure no child was left behind and I hung on for the ride. I was falling into my own on the radio, even if it wasn’t focused or understood as a man or a character to my audience or myself. I had become good at faking it and the ratings started to reflect it. The country was fairly united for the first time in a long time and despite the obvious black eye everything felt safe. Like a beaten mother resting soundly in a warm bed at Grandma’s housed. I don’t remember hearing the buckling wood or sensing the changing tide. I was on a patriotic high mixed dangerously with cocaine I used to get from a navel recruiter who had a fondness for wife swapping and drinking. Things were fun and I started to really enjoy the world around me. I met the farmers and liked them and we seeded a new friendship as odd as a hybrid as it seems. The US of A invaded Afghanistan. Time to witness how bad ass our military really is I thought. I figured a short term mission like the first Gulf War; the only war I’d really witnessed in my short life, and my only reference point, was how it was going to roll. But things seldom turn out as planned. I remember getting a death threat from a listener just as the DC sniper was terrifying the east coast. I was still frightened and alone.

2003 the fear subdued. I had a nice apartment and great ratings. The sales staff wasn’t selling anything as the station was a hard story to pitch. But I felt good and was now in full control as the stations morning show host and program director. It was my vision, and it was working. It was older country with an outlaw poetic sprit somewhere between classic rock and who gives a fuck; a musical gypsy of sorts. I became cocky and firm in my standing with the station. I was new to power and certainly didn’t understand it being a poor kid with no prior control. I was a dick, and a big one from a well produced porn studio. A real asshole full speed on nose candy and confidence.

2004 a major milestone is set as Facebook is created. As silly as it seems there is no denying its impact and power, even if not fully yet understood. John Kerry flip flops like a Jimmy Buffett song as he fails to uproot the now over grown Bush flowering in Washington. How could somebody fuck up something so simple? People got pissed and all good feelings were lost. I had a new General Manger who didn’t like my direction with the radio station. The writing was on the wall everything was about to get sloppy. September hits hard and I get fired. I really start to hate September just the sound of that word makes me nauseous. Like many of my generation with hardly a lift off my professional career, my dreams, my identity…change. We are defined by how we make a living it’s just the description of the times. Unlike previous generations we don’t get to pick our jobs and them with the promise of hard work and dedication. Once we become comfortable they cut our hours, lay us off, or bring in a plethora of new faces preventing anybody from becoming overpriced.

2005 sent me back home to Chicago and my friends and family. Things had changed. My father was now alone and didn’t’ mind company. My friends also had a more playful attitude and the ‘who gives a shit’ disease is easy to catch and they offered a lot of warm blankets on those cold Chicago nights. It seemed to me as if the young people realized that the old people won’t let go of their jobs and toys. So all we can ever be is the middle, so fuck it, get a job waiting tables and just have fun. Live on the luxury that technology freely or cheaply affords us and just enjoy the struggle. I started taking classes at Second City a dream of mine. When one dream ends we wake up shower and start again. At night when the mind is right and the REM is high a new dream begins and the magic starts all over again. I worked at a Polish radio station pushing a button once an hour for a decent wage and a plethora of new Polish jokes including one about a dead pope. None of my contemporaries really cared when the pope died as priests and small boys scared us away years ago. The polish did care, one of the last few cultures still hanging on to a dying religion. If that’s not scary enough yea North Korea got a bomb, and the reason they gave was, ‘they don’t like us and our aggression.’

2006 felt like everything was getting back to normal whatever the hell normal was and is. Second City was nearing its completion and I was uncertain of my future yet never worried about it. I could become a great comedic mind, I could return to the radio, or I could try to find a new world and a new profession. It was all very exciting thinking back on it. I watched Saddam Hussein hang on youtube a very strange yet patriotic sight. I guess most patriotism is strange when you think of it from the eyes of humanity. It’s also when I discovered weird and strange free sex on craigslist. It was all becoming very interesting and gross and dangerous.

2007 was when the fun really started to end. Things felt like they were about to get rough and this time we all knew that it was real. I decided I needed to work in a trade other then radio in order to get health insurance, more hours, more money, and a new skill set just in case the shit would hit the fan just as we all knew it would. I started selling beds and enjoyed the work very much for the most part. It wasn’t radio but I didn’t expect it to be. I was on my last year training at Second City now in the Conservatory thinking I might have a shot at comedy and making money. If not I had my safety net firmly in place with job selling beds. I was fairly content and started smoking pot (I had quit everything when I returned to Chicago) to keep things interesting. When Foot and Mouth disease struck the UK terrified up tight white liberals flocked straight to Whole Foods and over priced groceries. Politically the rest of the world was as voltaic as our gas prices, but the United States was in a State of hold. We all were. Waiting for the fall perhaps, but we all knew CHANGE was on the horizon and we HOPED for the best. At the end of ’07 I started with the Comedy group I still perform with today.

2008 started as just another year. It was an election year and that’s what the story was. The comedy group was coming together and finding itself. The bedding job was slow and most of the time my co-workers and myself debated the elections. I wanted McCain but the world wanted Obama. The stores were very, very, very slow so we had a lot of time to talk. The markets crashed. The sales plummeted. People panicked. 2008 ended with Obama winning the office of President and me losing my job. Thankfully Obama had a soft spot for the laid off which I was now…E pluribus unum (our country’s motto: One of Many).

2009 a wild and wonderful and weird year. The unemployment started to roll in and I had nowhere to work except my own mind and my own madness. I had no responsibility and no shame as the only jobs available to me I was vastly over qualified for and they paid less then what the government was giving me in unemployment wages. So if I settled for less I would hurt myself and that’s un-American. So I went to the beach. I drank a lot. I watched a lot of news, smoked a lot of dope, read a lot of books, cried a lot of tears, and wondered a lot of thoughts. Nights when I was sane were the bad ones and the uninteresting ones the nights when I found insanity were full of color and perfection. Everything started coming into perspective just as I hit thirty. Then I almost died while losing my gall bladder yet survived to discover many of my tastes had changed, and life was more wonderful even as I began to value you it less. Then I figured it was time to get back to work so I became a grave yard salesman.

I still don’t feel right as I’m broken and confused a failure of a man floundering aimlessly --and to me the fucking scary part is I look around and I’m not alone. My friends, my neighbors, my enemies, and my family all stuck on the same sinking fucking ship. Is that all it is? Did we simply board the wrong vessel? What’s my big picture? What’s the worlds? Fuck if I know! Besides I’m too busy trying to figure out how to increase my sales numbers at work to even think about it. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s a horrible thing all I know is I’m happy this decade is behind us. I’m even going to watch tonight to make sure no floaters escaped the flush.

I have to say entering 2010 I don’t feel scared. Concerned and confused, yes. But fear is no longer driving it. I think we’ll be ok I just hope now is the time we the young stand up and fight for something. Something tangible, not hope, but something real. Our piece of the pie, and our responsibility to bake a new one once the current one is gone. I feel like we’ve kind of let it slide and shrugged our shoulders with an Avril Lavigne manufactured attitude for the last decade while our parents ran the show and if we don’t act now we’ll lose out to those computers whizzes behind us. I feel like we do now indeed have a sense of urgency and understanding that now is the time; and the work has to be done. Smoke breaks over boys, but fuck it we let them ban smoking anyway so who the hell really cares. Bring on those wild teen years I’m ready to rebel.

I don’t know where this is going to go I just know ten years from now I will look back at this gibberish and laugh at my youthful ignorance of it all.


P.S. FUCK OFF 2009 and take your shitty decade with you. Happy New Year Fellow Travelers.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Protection of the Moqui Ball,

I don’t know what I want to write because I don’t know what I need to write. I don’t know who I am, or where I am going, or what anything means anymore. I feel like a man on fire running around frantically looking for water and relief yet all I find is smiling faces. The flesh is starting to burn –stop, drop, and roll dummy. To late the damage is done and the smell of burning flash is in the air.

At thirty I’m one of the lost boys only the bite is gone and so is the fun. I have nothing to show for anything I’ve done except a selfish confusion looking back at me in the mirror from a man who won’t grow up. I missed the bus and I have nobody to blame but my own damn self. But for Christ’s sake it’s more helpful placing the blame on others, and after all he did die for our sins.

I was thirty minutes late for work today because I couldn’t find a special rock given to me by a special girl, who in the process gave me a special purpose. It all started a week ago when this girl gave me this rock as a Christmas present. My mind didn’t know how to respond when I saw the little round rock since I’ve never been given a rock for a present in the past, or really put much thought into rocks in general for that matter. So I smiled. She explained that Moqui Ball (aka the rock) have a protective quality to them and can absorb negative energy and turn it positive. I commented how nicely it felt in the hand, which it indeed does. She went on to tell me they can help center the soul and take a person home. I remembered how passionate she was about rocks, and if the rock was special to her it was special to me. Plus she added it looked like an acorn which given the fact she likes to be called Squirrel made perfect sense.

I did what most Americans do to just about everything they don’t fully understand. I googled it. The moqui ball/marble (Iron oxide concretion) is found in the Navaho sandstone and seems to be indigenous to the United States. They have been used by Shaman for thousands of years and have a great mythical history. In mythology and spirituality they are known as a tool to talk to the dead and indeed are known for their protective qualities. The Navaho believed their dead spirits would play games with the marbles and leave them behind to let the living know they are still around and having fun. From a geologists stand point it’s an extremely rare formation that is not fully understood. Given that knowledge I became more intrigued by the rock.

I carry a lot of things on my persons and in the winter time my inventory increases with the addition of a coat. Common items found on me are a tin of Altoids, a hard cover copy of the United States Constitution (for good luck), my phone (in case you call), my keys, my wallet, gloves, Ray-Bans (when I need to hide), about two dollars in random change, a lighter, a catholic cross (for redemption), a ring my mother gave me just before she met Jesus, a can of New York PD mace, a small note book (who knows when genius will strike), a click pencil (never leaks in your fucking pocket like a pen), and random slips of paper filled with my insanity. Given my need to travel heavy, and already chalked full of symbolism and fate the rock seemed like a perfect addition.

So the rock entered my pocket, and over the next few days I found it to be in my hand more and more. People would ask me about the rock and I would hand it to them and explain the story about the Indians and their dead playing marbles. Most people looked at me like I was crazy which was making me grow found of the little rock. But they all held it and listened as a rambled the story as best I could.

My grandmother is nearing the end of her life and that has been really weighing heavy on my mind. She has a great story of a woman who always worked. My grandfather was an electrician and my grandma worked in a factory. They raised my mother, although I know nothing of those years. What I do know is my grandfather started losing his mind due to a tumor (what they called it). My grandmother cared for him right up to the end as he died young in his sleep in his early fifties. After a few years of grieving she became a nanny and helped raise a young surgeon’s child. In that time she met a man by the name of Dominick who she loved. They had a great time together for many years going to Vegas, so much so they moved there. The only time I saw her in those ten years was when she returned here to help me bury my mother. They lived a good ten years in the desert before he died a few months ago. My grandmother grieved but seemed ok, as she had been there before. Last month she had a heart attack and the people who were supposed to care for her sold he apartment out from under her. She recovered and found herself in a nursing home. For the first time she needed somebody to take care of her and nobody was around to do it. I felt like a failure of a man. Here I am at thirty and I couldn’t even find a way to visit her let alone take care of her.

Her situation was unfair and unacceptable and she deserved better. She also knew she deserved better and I could hear it in her stoic voice. It might make you think of me as a lesser man to know I cried for my grandmother, but I would argue a lesser man wouldn’t cry at all. How could life punish such a beautiful creature, I questioned God.

It was Christmas Eve and I had the rock in my pocket protecting me. My cell phone rang and it was my grandmother. She was very happy and was inviting me to a Christmas Party. I told her Vegas was far too long of a drive. She told me she was in Oak Brook (a Chicago suburb). I pulled the car over. She explained further. The surgeon my Grandma used to nanny for flew her out to their mansion where she will now live until her pending dinner date with Jesus is scheduled. She will die in a warm bed surrounded by the people who love her while enjoying the things she enjoys before she passes. It was a real honest to God Christmas miracle. No matter if it was God’s little gift, the small brown rock, or fates right hand I'm very impressed and reborn with a stronger vigor to the betterment of humanity and an absolute belief in its beauty. Grandma's going to have a happy ending after all. A story book ending in a youtube era.

So the rock was with me then, and has remained with me since. What I’ve learned in that time is for a protective ball it needs a lot of protection of its own. It’s round and rolls with ease, and at times even falls out of my pocket. It’s rolled off my desk and a few times and I have had to crawl to find it. When the rock is alone it becomes very cold to the touch however when it’s in contact with humans or near people in general it becomes warm. I read somewhere about its powers during sleep so now it remains in my hand as I sleep comfortably. When I wake in the morning its hot as a cup of coffee no matter how cold the room is.

I don’t know if the rock is anything more than a rock or if it has special powers. I just don’t know so I carry it as a good luck charm and in this last week it’s become more than that. I was staring at it thinking of my grandmother, and how excited I am to see her. I was thinking how I couldn’t wait to tell her about the rock and have her hold it in her hand. That’s when it all became clear. By protecting the rock I can protect myself and together we both stand strong…like a rock. If the rock can’t give me power I can give it some, and protect it. So if it really has power it’s protecting me. If it has none I’m protecting it.

For the rest of my life the rock will remain with me and everybody I care about will touch it. My father, my grandmother, my friends, my co-works, and every person from here on out will hold the rock. Some will fade with time, some will fade with relationship, and some will outlast me, but all of them will have touched the rock good or bad. When they touch it, they will become a piece of my history. As I grow older its value will increase as the stories of those who’ve touched it will increase. The rock will become my history and my legacy. If I go on to produce a large family my grandchildren will sit and stare with wonder about grandpa’s rock. It will be the start of the family history and my legacy and my stories will be passed down within through the ages until they become our stories. If I die famous the rock will become valued and probably placed in a museum along with our story. If I die poor and alone so will the rock just to be thrown out and forgotten. So by valuing the rock I’m valuing myself. The rock has eternity while I’m on borrowed time so my only hope is to make the rock my life. Fossilize my existence breathing life into the lifeless.

I can see it now ten years from now me running madly into a department store ranting franticly about a lost rock. What will they think of me? Who cares? I told a co-worker this plan today and when I finished he asked to hold the rock. The value is already increasing. What a great and unexpected present, thanks Squirrel.

A special girl gave me a special rock and now in many ways I have found myself with a special purpose and a great ending to the dismal year of 2009.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Mama's Boy Wishes His Mother A Happy Birthday.

She was raped one night by a few men. Her childhood was lost way to young or more accurately never progressed as the tragedy killed any chance of adulthood. She found drugs and the freedoms of pleasures as she sought to bury her pains by creating an illegal smile. She was pretty, almost a model but not good enough. She met a young doctor with money and married him as that’s what girls like her do. She had it all figured out and her future was set.

The demons of the past haunted her, and her mind left her long before the security and comforts around her would follow. She became pregnant the doctors told her that she drank too much, was and is way too unstable to have a child. They recommended she needed to abort the baby. The doctors were right, but she refused. Maybe that’s all life is…a refusal to die.

She stopped drinking and fought the depression and nine months later I was born. Because of her persistent nature and stubborn attitude I was conceived teaching me at a young age the value of life. It took a strong stand by a strong woman to create me –creation is easy just ask God; it’s the follow through that matters and that’s when the work really begins. My mother was never a worker.

I grew up on the floors of AA meetings listening to fellow travelers tell their tales of woe over fresh coffee and stale air. I was in first or second grade, and I met Officer Friendly in my class that day. That night I met officer friendly at a meeting and they had to explain to me I couldn’t tell anybody about her attendance. I never told anybody. I listened day in, and day out, about the horrors of life and it’s destructive nature. One day at a time of course.

Dad was gone six years later and money was tight it was just my mother and I versus the world. She tried. She really did. When things became too tough and too routine she gave up. We had no money so she sold her body and her soul so that I could eat and have Nintendo games. There were years where things got better and even times they seemed like they were headed in the right direction. But the crash came fast, and it wasn’t pretty. No crash ever is.

I didn’t understand the madness -- how could you when it’s all you know. It was just me and my mother --what wasn’t normal was perfectly ordinary to me as the weird was my environment. Months without electricity, living in filth, strange men visiting my mom’s bedroom, Bob Dylan’s music, fights with God, and fights with each other was a typical American Family in my own distorted view of the world at large. I lived on an emotional rollercoaster for most of my childhood changing as quickly as the Chicago weather and often with a few key pieces of track missing.

My mother locked me up unjustly in a mental ward. Week after week went by and I became very mad. Mad at the world, mad at my mother, and mad at myself for reason I couldn’t even conjure up. Maybe I was supposed to be violent like the rest of the boys locked up with me? I wasn’t. Perhaps I should have been suicidal like everybody else. I wasn’t. I up until this point in my life was happy. I was confused and I lost my temper and they locked me in the padded room. For most of my life I thought I was the problem and my mother was my salvation but being a fifth grader locked up in a mental ward staring at plush red walls puts everything in perspective. I was misled and lied to, and I wanted to make it right. Shortly after I got out, things started to become clear as I had just come face to face with; real crazy, real bizarre, and the real broken toys nobody wanted to talk about. I was indeed one of them but I was misfiled and more of an observer then a participant. A month and a half of my child hood locked away on the fifth floor of that building.

Four years later after losing everything including a place to live I said good bye to my mother knowing the end was near; I was way too selfish trying to pass high school while trying to be a kid to do anything about it. The last few months were difficult. We first lived with a Viet Nam Vet who would have flash backs in the middle of the night drunk on vodka and smelling of piss too far gone to make the bathroom. I didn’t sleep for a few months as I locked the door to my room which consisted of an air mattress and a television set with a coat hanger for an antenna and a hard steal flashlight for protection. He would yell terrible things into the darkness fighting a war that was up until that point only real to me in a text book. Last I saw of him I got up to take my morning piss and that’s where I found him passed out in the bathroom lying in a pool of blood. He must have hit his head on the toilet as blood was everywhere along with a broken bottle of vodka. I freaked out because I thought somebody scalped him as his hair was hanging half off his head. Turned out it was a toupee and I was late for school.

I still remember the last time I saw my mother as my legal guardian. We had spent a few months living in cars but things were looking up as my mom did what she had to do to get us a little cash and rented a room in a sleazy hotel. It was one room, with a small side bathroom. We had two beds, a TV, our three cats, two dressers, a bible, and a TV guide. To me it was kind of cool living in a hotel and after a few weeks in a car during the winter it was top shelf. We’d been there for two months and my mother seldom left her bed. I left to hang out with friends and avoided a kiss from my mother who was now growing facial hair having given up on all grooming. It was a face of depression, loneliness, and desolation I can never forget, and never will.

My best friend’s father girlfriend took custody of me as the details of my mom’s disappearance were never clear. I lived with them and visited my mother occasionally at different nut houses throughout the Chicagoland area. White sterile walls, interesting characters, orderly’s, nurses, medicine time, strait jackets, rocking, tapping, patting, petting, crying, and laughing. I’ve seen it all and often was able to view it with a smile. A human monkey exhibit and my mother was the ring leader. She always had everybody working for her. One of the first movies I remember watching with her on the brand new VCR when things were better was ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest’. It was always her favorite.

I started to hate to visit her. I vaguely remember my mother telling me she volunteered herself to get electroshock therapy. I remember it was a big deal to her and she was scared. But I didn’t understand what it entailed, and unlike some of the fun crazy houses she had been living in this one was scary to me. I wanted to get out. I did. Next time I saw my mother she was a zombie and a shell of who she once was. She was no long the woman who fought for my life. She was now an empty vessel with no captain and no wind. I thought she was gone, and I was free of her, something I was starting to crave. The depression was out of her eyes but so was everything else.

I saw her less and less and soon I found myself in college starting my own life. My mother was doing better and despite frantic phone calls that would end in her hating me or loving me so much she couldn’t hang up, I kept my distance. She was living on her own with two other ‘roommates’ in shared outpatient assistant living program. My 21st birthday rolled around and my mother insisted I visit her. She hugged me in a way I simply can’t describe. No words regardless of how perfect could convey the feeling of that hug. It felt like it lasted forever and now in hindsight I wish it had. I pushed her away not know what she already knew. She gave me a ring of black onyx, a few hundred dollars (which was a lot for her), and Furby. I brought my friend along as a buffer and quickly rushed away.

I missed a call from her in the middle of the night a few days later. She left a message on my machine that she was going to go on a vacation for a few weeks in Wisconsin. It wasn’t uncommon for her to drift and vanish for a month or so. A few days later in the middle of the night my phone rang and it was the police they wanted to talk to me in person. I knew what happened. She was dead. I called the morgue to see if I needed to verify the body as the police told me I would. They told me she was in bits and pieces and there was nothing to identify. In many ways my mother was always in bits and pieces. She stood in front of the midnight train and SPLASH like a bug on a windshield it was over. She always had a style that I still admire. Happy Birthday ma I do really miss you.

The person who thought me life was worth fighting for, also taught me that if the life isn’t worth living if the situation is that bad it’s ok to check out early. Last year at this time I was extremely depressed and suicidal. But the year of ’09 was approaching fast, and 9 is my lucky number. In symbolism nine represents the end of a journey. I struggled through the remaining weeks ready to face ’09 with a smile but on January 1st I was laid off.

11 months of no responsibility is a dangerous thing for a man seeking out the meaning of his own life. For years I buried my problems in my work and just pressed on. Now with nothing to do at all the only thing I had left was my own madness to face. My grandfather was dead before 60 losing his mind in the process. My mother was dead by the time she was 50 losing her mind in the process. Now here I am facing family history while wondering what my purpose is. It’s a heavy task and a scary sentence I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

I sniff the toilet paper after I wipe my ass just to have something real and revolting to react to. Life has become insanely dull and uninteresting. I felt death on the toilet the other night after accidently taking too many pain pills and it was the worst thing I’ve ever felt and the most frightened I’ve ever been…and it’s all I’ve been craving since. I was depressed and alone at the end of ’08 and I find myself in the same situation at the end of ’09. It all changed, yet it all remained the same, just as it always does. Life goes on but why and for whom?

Given my failures and faults I know where I am in life. I’m a good talker but my limited education will always limit my abilities to climb up a professional ladder. My body and my sadness will keep me alone for a very long time and in many ways I understand it’s actually what I want, and the very solitude I’ve always sought out. I will only be what you think of me and nothing more. So whatever your thoughts of me are is actually what I am; today, tomorrow, and forever. So what does any of it really matter?

I still don’t know what the meaning of life is all about. It’s vain to even seek that answer but really it’s all I got left. I’ll keep faking that smile everybody knows, and hiding my sadness in an effort to make everybody else feel better. I’ve been doing it all my life since somewhere in the past I remember my mother telling me, “people will always like you if you make them smile.” It’s just lately I’ve lost my touch and she to dead to ask what will happen if you make them sad.

Oh well.

Bring on 2010. I hope I find whatever it is I’m looking for. The world seems out of touch just as I’m touching back down onto another runway on my life’s flighty journey. I hope I make my connecting flight.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tragically Beautiful

I left footprints in the snow building a path through the grave yard in the middle of a blizzard that was both inspiring and religious. I wonder if anybody followed, or even noticed. Probably not as most fellow travelers are too busy to notice art, and far too concerned about existence to even care about their ignorance to the art that surrounds them.

I love blizzards --they cause such magnificent havoc and beauty. For a few hours everybody respects nature while damning it loudly. The cold, the wind, the snow, the confusion, the clean up; then it’s all forgotten like it never happened. A fresh white coating of soft, fluffy, and cold snow simply blankets everything, creating the most spectacular and breathe taking example of purity. Like an abstract splash from an unknown deity reminding us that he has a sense of humor, and a playful cruelty.

People become so agitated from driving on the slick slippery roads that they wind up coming home tense, and with the need to unwind. Hot chocolate is made, massages are given, bubble baths are taken, and nobody wants to go back outside forcing shared meals and shared conversation forging shared lives. The blizzard is the perfect example of contradiction. Well, that and a hell of an arrow shot from the bow of Cupid creating a lot of summer babies.

Any Sunday night at around nine PM enter the bar known as Schubas on the corner of Southport and Belmont. Ignore the music coming from the back, skip past the fun atmosphere at the bar, and make an immediate right to enter that small back door. Walk up the stairs and try very hard not to make eye contact with anybody. Once at the top, you will find a small upstairs bar with a few tables. Have a drink, and a seat. Do NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH ANYBODY. NOBODY. You’ve been warned.

What you will witness will horrify you, torture you, and give you the most perfect glimpse into who we are as a culture. A live action insane asylum will play just remember the ammunition is live and the bar is fully stocked with liquid courage to calm the nerves of the strange faces surrounding you. They are going to need it, and so are you.

You have stumbled into the breeding grounds of stand up and you are witnessing the birth of many acts. Everybody in that room is a comedian and they have all signed up to perform for one another (very few customers venture up those stairs although everybody is invited). Usually about thirty comedians sign up. Most are traditional comedians, but you find a few story tellers, and even one or two full blow characters who may or may not be lost in the very imagine of themselves they created. It’s tragic and beautiful both at the same time like a comedic blizzard.

Most acts get about 4-6 minutes and most are brutally bad. Those tend to be the college kids who’ve been told their entire privileged lives that they are funny yet really are not. Every now and then you really see a gem with a bright future and it makes all the bad worth the wait. You witness all kinds as every six minutes a new dance dazzles the drinkers with their wit and words trying hard to make us laugh. Some are genius, some are filthy, some are offensive, and some are downright insane. True comedy is born from true pain and if you look past most of these smiling faces you’ll see the horror in the eyes of the comedians.

The night I was there; watching and criticizing and reporting in my little notebook hidden behind my chrome Ray-Bans hiding everything from everybody while gladly telling everybody everything I saw an Indian kid do a joke that used the “N” word. Afterword’s I watched as a few of the older comedians pulled him aside and instructed him on what was right and what wasn’t. One nerdy kid with a weird voice played a keyboard horribly, yet abstractly, it was pure genius to those who got it. The two ladies from the square community didn’t; and immediately everybody knew they were not comedians and they became the center point of the night. Like sharks on a fresh body the comedians swarmed. One veteran tried his damndest to make them as uncomfortable as possible by telling the most twisted and rape filled jokes. He was doing it for his enjoyment and the rest of the comedians and they appreciated it. Just watch the darkness in the eyes.

The younger guys try to find their voices while the older guys test out the new stuff. Most of it fails but everybody has to try something somewhere and this is their nest. It’s a trip everybody should take as jesters have always been the pulse of society. Why not take a peek at the weirdness this world has to offer. Do you really have anything better to do? What these weirdo’s put out as humor is the true journal of our entry into the big book of history. It’s free and it’s all tragically beautiful.


Friday, December 4, 2009

I changed the channel

“If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.”
--Thomas Jefferson

The news was on and I didn’t want any part of its sadness and imperfection. I had a long routine day filled with stress and structure and just wanted to relax and not give a shit anymore. I can’t be bothered with problems I can’t help, or have a say in, so why even torture myself watching through my fish tank view. Who was the fish and who was on the outside still wasn’t clear. It just doesn’t seem right.

With the ease of pushing a button I changed the channel, the mood, and the setting taking me to a much happier and comforting place. It was TMZ, a news show that gives you all the latest on your favorite celebrities and their happenings. I found myself laughing at the famous, and their quirks, all the while wishing I was one of them. Glimpses into my American Dream gives me a motive to keep working for them, no matter how far off they seem.

I quick flip back to the dark news and I local hospital is having heat problems. The world was cold and so was I so I was back on TMZ and the beautiful actresses being stalked by all our prying eyes. Again I relax high as the heavens floating in the vapid space above. I’m starting to realize it’s all to easy. Way to easy.

Nobody wants to rattle the system anymore because the system provides all the little gadgets we need to be subdued and pacified. The internet, drugs, tv, video games, phone, computers, and ease anybody could dream of. The world outside of our bubble is not pretty right now, and everything that is happing is out of our narrow understanding. The two party system, both have now become about the same; where both sides hate their own sides view, but accept it, because it’s better than those other guys. No third option so what are you going to do? With Iphones and music on demand nobody wants to shake the gates and rattle the guard dogs while climbing the barb wire and really having a little fun.

Now the rebels are the kind of people who name a dog ‘fuck’ just for shits and giggles. Piss off the neighbors but that’s about it. Offensive sure, but not proactive in any shape of the imagination. Complacency is a bitch, and I know her well. Where was my generations revolution? Was today the day I stopped caring? I've let down my generation.

I’ll figure it all out later first I have to break these chains and blow up my TV.