Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Road Meat, Half Off



The great John Swartzwelder predicts my possible doom.

After a relaxing couple of days with my father and stepmother, the highlight of which was a wedding reception for my cousin Derek and his partner Kevin, who recently wed in Connecticut, I was driving back up to Michigan, listening to Bob and Ray, when BLAMMM.

It sounded like a shotgun blast. Wedged into the right lane by a red semi passing quickly to my left, I slowed and pulled off the road without skidding to a stop. I figured that my front left tire blew out, but it didn't feel flat, and I'd kept control of the car. Still, I had to check. Like an idiot, perhaps played by the younger Jerry Lewis, I got out of the car interstate side, quickly shut the door, and moved to the front fender.

The tire was intact, tight as a drum. As I turned to my left, another semi, this one hauling Wal-Mart crap, zoomed right by, missing me by maybe two feet, maybe less. It was very close. So close that the wind from the truck blew me back over the car's hood and on the ground. While there I saw that the other front tire was solid as well. I got up, went to the back, and those tires were also fine.

So what the fuck was that exploding sound?

Beats me. I drove to the next exit, gassed up, checked the engine, looked under the car, and everything was in perfect order. Perhaps one of the red semi's tires blew out, for later, about a mile down the road, shredded truck tire was strewn across the lanes. Or maybe some nut was shooting at cars from the embankment. Far fetched, I know, but this is Indiana we're talking about. Whatever the cause, my car ran smoothly, and it was an uneventful drive back to Ann Arbor.

I bring all this up because I wonder what would've happened had that Wal-Mart semi clipped me. Broken arm, shoulder, and sternum certainly. Shattered jaw and missing teeth most likely. And that's the optimistic version. In reality, had that truck, going at least 70 mph, caught any part of me, yours truly would have been splattered all over the highway, human road kill for the crows to feast on until EMS or the state police shoveled up my remains and placed them in plastic bags.

Imagine if I was shooting a video while this happened. The YouTube hits would be phenomenal, assuming the camera survived and someone had the foresight to upload the snuff footage. What an exit that would be!

I don't mean to joke about being hit by a semi, regardless of how happy that would make many people. Knowing my luck, Madonna would die about an hour later, diminishing whatever post mortem attention I'd receive. At least I'd have the crows. Friends to the end.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pain Is Thunder



An album I bought when I was 11.

Everyone's sharing their Michael Jackson memories, so in the spirit of emotional and cultural conformity, here's mine.

I loved the Jackson 5. Still do. Have all their hits. "ABC," "I Want You Back," and "Never Can Say Goodbye" remain among the great Motown tunes.

I liked some of MJ's solo stuff, "The Way You Make Me Feel" particularly. The first time you heard that song, you knew it was a hit. Fucker had the touch.

That's about it, really. I never got caught up in the Jacko maelstrom, though I appreciated how easy he made it for comedians, especially during the child molestation years. If a white comic created Jackson from scratch and sent him through the same motions, he or she would be tagged as racist. Guess that says something about American culture, though what exactly I'm not quite sure.

Friend Jon Schwarz has an idea, taken from the film "Three Kings." Makes a certain amount of sense to me.

Oh yeah. An old family friend owned a very successful antique shop in Indianapolis. One day, in walks Michael Jackson, entourage in tow. MJ strolls through the store, pointing to certain items while an assistant jots notes. He's extremely quiet, whispering what he wants to buy. After about 10-15 minutes, Jackson finishes shopping, dropping some forty grand in the process.

Ginny and her employee are shocked that this is happening. It seems unreal. Being older and conservative, they weren't Michael Jackson fans, but they knew who he was. If anyone else looked and acted like MJ, they would probably make fun of him. But this guy's the biggest celeb on the planet. So they ask for pictures and autographs, and later speak of Jackson in reverent tones.

Jackson was in town during the Ryan White AIDS period. Otherwise, his sudden appearance in Ginny's store would seem even more bizarre.

Brother Jim Buck was more into MJ than I. Go read him, and make a habit of it. Jim's new blog is fairly exploding.

AND: Pal Louis Proyect offers his fine thoughts.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Suburban Malaise





Selling The Struggle




As Iran continues to experience social upheaval, we in the States look on, concerned, frightened, angered, inspired -- at least for a good two-to-three minutes.

Face it: most Americans are just too "on the go" to stop and watch beautiful women be gunned down, heads crushed, bones shattered, democratic aspirations chained to cinder blocks and dumped in tyranny's dark waters. There's work to avoid, porn to masturbate to, plus the summer TV season is heating up.

So how does Iran grab a larger US demographic? Simple.

First, the Iranian opposition needs to be more violent. Marketing data consistently shows that American men between 18-40 are serious action fans, a demographic that is increasingly female as well. That's a solid, core audience. If Iranian protesters dropped their placards and picked up automatic weapons, their cause would resonate across the US.

Now, it's doubtful that armed Iranian protesters could actually overthrow the current government. And prolonged guerrilla warfare would cause significant, perhaps irreversible audience drop-off. So what's needed is a noble but doomed Iranian armed insurrection, something that can be dramatized in a Hollywood film, with Zac Efron in his first dramatic role as Kamal, an apolitical college student swept up by history and destiny, who leads a ragtag street army against a powerful but vulnerable foe. A Persian John Connor assisted by Nazy, a frustrated religious tutor who yearns to be a sexy, dancing bartender, played by Hayden Panettiere.

I'm not quite sure how this movie ends. Depends on the title. If it's called "Lightning In Tehran," then perhaps Kamal and Nazy embrace for a final stand while lightning tears through the sky. If it's called "The Persian Puzzle," Kamal and Nazy might realize that they'll never fully understand, much less overcome, Iran's rigid power structure, finding solace in love and bootleg DVDs. If it's called "Mr. Kipler's Marvelous Cabinet Of Dreams," then heads are gonna roll, because that's a stupid fucking title.

Okay. Scrap all that. Let's think bigger. How about Angelina Jolie as an Iranian double agent who, while wearing a veil and being subservient, learns the mullahs' plans for the demonstrators, then strips down to street fighting wear, taking on the religious police singlehandedly, bringing the pain while paving the road to democracy, where she's elected Iran's first woman president, but turns it down so she can motorcycle through the Middle East, seeking new causes to fight.

Call her, "The Emancipator."




Ka-ching.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

America Reacts


"Based on pre-election polls outside of Tehran, and given his support among the poor, I'd have to say that Ahmadinejad won a bitterly contested, but fair election. That's my take, anyway."

"Jon's wrong again. Clearly there was voter fraud and rigged ballots. To me, Mousavi is the real president of Iran, something I'll instill in my adorable children from this point on."

"Kate's reacting emotionally. Mousavi's a career politician who changes positions depending on need. He's no reformer. But Kate's blinded by the romance of reform."

"It's true I'm a romantic when it comes to reform, and I make no apologies for that. I have to think of the world my beautiful children will grow up in. But there were simply too many irregularities in the vote counting to make this a fair election."


"Kate's got a thing for Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. She'll bring him up at the oddest times, sometimes in her sleep. So it doesn't surprise me that she's backing the 'stolen election' meme coming out of that camp. What else would she say?"

"Jon forgot to mention his fascination with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. We argued about it leading up to the election. I think my darling children were upset with Jon's defense of the clerical hierarchy, but I told them that sometimes mommies and daddies disagree."

"Look, the bottom line is that Kate supports anything that'll bring down the current Iranian government. She hasn't seriously thought about what the regional consequences will be. But that's Kate. And don't get her started about Venezuela."

"I just have to stay strong and move forward. For my gorgeous children, and the children of Iran."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Revolting




Several readers have asked what is my "real" take on Iran. Being satirical about it is all very amusing, but surely I have deeper, more serious thoughts.

Who but jaded observers sniff at people struggling for political breathing space? States are violent, coercive entities, and I'm sympathetic to those who have the guts to directly confront their rulers, though as repressive tools and mechanisms are refined, rebellion from below seems less and less possible, primarily in larger countries. Anything can conceivably happen, of course, but I just don't see these Iranian dissidents making much of a lasting dent.

But that's my opinion, formed countless miles from the front lines. It has no bearing on what's occurring in Iran. Doesn't affect events one fucking inch. Yet there are numerous Western commentators and bloggers who believe that their opinions are important and vital, that shaking their fists in the direction of Tehran holds some serious meaning. When you see snarky Gawker blubbering about "revolution," you know that the spectacle enjoys mystical status. A feature of American narcissism that gains currency while everything else is devalued.

Wanna show solidarity with Iranian protesters? Take to American streets, clog the system at every opening, demand genuine political power through direct action.

What's that? You can't this week 'cause your plate is full? Understandable. We're all busy. Maybe in August. That's a slow month.

Defiance

Quake, ye tyrants
For time is short,
Your reign is dying fast.

Freedom's song
Cannot be stilled,
Its music deep and vast!



What's that, tyrants?
Your ears have bled
From the sound of freedom's voice?

That's too bad
You had your chance,
But now you have no choice!

Friday, June 19, 2009

All Gods Chillin'

Iran's Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "warned protesters of a crackdown" if they continue massive demonstrations demanding a new election.

Warned? What kind of theocratic bully state is this? Think ATF, SWAT or Delta units would put up with this shit? Ayatollah, please.

Khamenei added, "If the difference was 100,000 or 500,000 or 1 million, well, one may say fraud could have happened. But how can one rig 11 million votes?"

Clearly, Iran's ruling circles have a ways to go before refining their control. It also helps to have a population that is depoliticized, overfed, distracted, dazed and confused. Physically demanding political change is for people with no life. Instead of cutting off cell phones, Iranian statists should encourage the use of more personal toys. It might be risky in the short run, but over time their subjects will sink further into minutiae, staring at their reflections a la "Fahrenheit 451."

But I didn't crawl out of bed to give Iran's rulers population control tips. Today is Linky Friday, a guide to things other than what swirls inside my aching brain.

My close friend and old comedy partner Jim Buck has taken the big blog dive, offering up a four-part piece about Eddie Hatcher and the hidden history of Iran/contra. Jim was in the thick of all this back when it mattered, and it still haunts him -- as it should all of us, considering the grand crimes that went unpunished and were steadily erased from the national memory. Start at the bottom and read your way up. Jim knows his shit. He'll soon learn that tending a blog is never-ending, which is why the Good Lord invented YouTube.

I haven't kept up with the Letterman/Conan contest, so I don't know how it's affected each show's material, especially Conan's. But I found three bits from Conan's "Late Night" that I doubt he'd attempt at 11:35.

This is silly, conceptual stuff which slays me. Placing Abe Lincoln in weird situations has long been an easy, tired way to get laughs. But the lobster Jerry Lee Lewis and the Remorseful Fish Hook more than make up for that.



Here's a piece that should've sent Papal apologist William Donahue spitting into the lens, or maybe it did and I missed it. In any case, a funny segment, with Darth Jesus reminding all who's the boss.



This you may have already seen -- Techno Shatner. Speaks for itself. Repeatedly.



Still, as funny as Conan can be, he owes much of his comedy voice to David Letterman. I've discovered a veritable trove of old Letterman routines at YouTube, too many to post today, but these will set the proper mood.

First, "Kenny the Gardener," an attempt to re-brand Larry "Bud" Melman via hackneyed jokes and sound effects. Letterman's discomfort with the piece makes it that much funnier.



Then, "Dave's Record Collection." The cut from the "Cool Breeze" soundtrack is tasty. Found comedy at its finest.



Finally, Mel Cochita, "The Steve Martin of Peru." This is something that Conan himself would perform, before he had to woo Leno's audience. That's gotta be a rough, if lucrative, gig.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Understanding Iran

As political turmoil continues in Iran, many Americans lack the basic information needed to assess these tumultuous events. So here's a simple introductory lesson you can share with family and friends.


This is a mass political demonstration in Tehran. In the US, this would be a line for the latest iPhone.


Here, angry Iranians set fire to a car, showing their extreme displeasure with election results. In the US, this sometimes happens after a home team wins a big game, or loses one, depending where you are. East Lansing, Michigan, for instance.


Here, an Iranian riot cop beats an unarmed citizen. In the US, this would be the opening to a Spike TV reality show.


Here the Shah's son begs for a chance to rule Iran as did his father. A lot like George W. Bush, crossed with comedian Jackie Mason.


Here, an Iranian protester deals with being shot in the arm. In the US, this happens in countless backyards on drunken Saturday nights.


Here, a young Iranian spray paints "Down with the dictator" on a public building. In the US, this would read, "No fat chicks!"


Here, a suspected government agent is beaten by angry demonstrators. In the US, this happens when a New York Giants fan wanders into a Philadelphia Eagles tailgate party.


Here, an Iranian demonstrator wears a mask to hide his identity from government agents. In the US, this guy would be attending the Comic-Con comic book convention.


Here is a satellite photo of Iran. In the US, 67% would identify this as a Sara Lee coffee cake with vanilla frosting.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How It Works




THE JOKE:

"Well, Governor Palin's back in the news today. She spoke at a benefit for Shoot The Doves, which surprised no one, given that the group's initials are S-T-D."

THE RESPONSE:

"Pretty pathetic, good old Dennis Perrin, what a commentary there. Very sad to not recognize what shooting doves is all about. But it reminds us that some joke writers have a long way to go in understanding what the rest of America understands -- bird hunting has nothing to do with sexually transmitted diseases, nor do most American governors."

THE APOLOGY:

"Recently, I posted a cheap shot at Gov. Palin's sexuality. Am I guilty of poor taste? Maybe. Did I suggest that the governor actually has STDs? Fuck no. Would I make the same joke were Gov. Palin a man? Sure. Male politicians are usually far worse than their female counterparts. But since I believe in gender equality, I let Gov. Palin have it as well. And she can have it any time."

THE FOLLOW UP RESPONSE:

"Mr. Perrin's so-called 'apology' was typically insincere and quite vulgar, suggesting I might want to 'have' him. Middle-aged comedy writers may think it's okay to proposition happily married women who use their sexuality for political effect, but the rest of America doesn't. And again, this diverts attention from shooting doves, which is the important issue I was originally endorsing. What a sick, sad fool he is."

THE SECOND APOLOGY:

"The STD joke, really, in and of itself, can be defended, but I simply lack the interest and the energy. So, if it helps Gov. Palin for me to apologize, and will keep her from using Alaskan state resources to pry into my personal life, then I apologize for having posted that joke. It's not your fault that it was misunderstood. It's my fault for not writing something sharper. I'll try to do better in the future."

THE FINAL ACCEPTANCE:

"Of course Mr. Perrin's apology is accepted, especially on behalf of young women who are accused of having STDs while promoting dove hunting. Mr. Perrin certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction. And this is all thanks to our U.S. military women and men killing and interrogating Muslims in order to secure America's right to free speech -- in this case, may that right be used to promote creative timidity and self-censorship."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Break Your News




HOST: Welcome back. We've been discussing how Iran's voting fraud would never happen in a true democracy like ours -- or if it did, it would be a mistake, an error, some kind of oversight, the fault of a lower-level functionary, bitter about his or her place in life, looking to fix an election in a pathetic attempt to fix themselves.

GUEST: Right.

HOST: So, Carter, you see this fixed election as another step in Iran's ongoing quest to . . .

GUEST: Dominate the world.

HOST: The world?

GUEST: Yes.

HOST: I see. How exactly will this occur?

GUEST: It's already happening. It's all around us. LOOK -- RIGHT BEHIND YOU!

(Host jumps and screams)

GUEST: Ha ha. Gotcha!

HOST: Jeez! You really had me there!

GUEST: It's an old favorite.

HOST: And very funny!

GUEST: Yeah. But seriously, Iran is on the march.

HOST: Chilling. Now, how does Iran's reform movement recover from this rigged setback?

GUEST: Car bombs. And snipers. At least two dozen well-trained snipers.

HOST: So you feel that violent resistance is the next step?

GUEST: Oh yes. If the reformists can't get in through elections, they have no choice to but start killing people.

HOST: Isn't that a little extreme?

GUEST: How do you mean?

HOST: Well, unless the will of the Iranian people is behind them, any violent resistance is doomed to fail.

GUEST: What are you saying?

HOST: I'm saying that without mass support, armed insurrection has no chance.

GUEST: I'm not quite getting you . . .

HOST: You can't go around bombing and shooting people if there's no popular consensus for it.

GUEST: Sorry. There must be some kind of technical problem.

HOST: I can hear and see you fine.

GUEST: Anyway, car bombs, lots of snipers, pepper spray of course, nails sticking out of planks of wood . . .

HOST: Thanks for stopping by, Carter. Next -- how soon before North Korea poisons our frozen food? And later, a roundtable discussion about fire ants, the insect world's Al Qaeda.

GUEST: Gravel in a large sock -- ever get hit with that? Hurts like hell.

Friday, June 12, 2009

When The Missiles Launch

Let The Sunshine In



James von Brunn, the white supremacist who opened fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard, says his arrest was a "Zionist frame-up," adding that he couldn't have shot a rifle at the Holocaust Museum since the Holocaust Museum "is a hoax."


In addition to a lifetime of hating Jews and Black people, Von Brunn was also the original model for Woody Woodpecker, who, strangely enough, hated Swedes.


President Obama reacted to the shooting by looking upset --


Then burst into laughter, calling Von Brunn


"An amateur."


Sarah Palin also denounced the Museum shooting, saying that she hoped to visit there in the near future.


The first government-backed GM model was unveiled this week . . .


Causing mixed stockholder reaction.



Joe Biden remains committed to "touching the lives" of younger voters. Here the vice president shows the value of focus as he memorizes a phone number in one hearing.

******

While we're having fun, here are the first two installments of the Web series, "The Writers Room," a semi-fictional look at how late night comedy is conceived, or not, depending on deadline and inspiration. Friend Bruce Kirschbaum plays the head writer, drawing on his experience working for "Seinfeld," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "The Ben Stiller Show," and most impressively for me, "Fridays." If you like these clips, there's more at YouTube. What -- I gotta post everything for you people?



Thursday, June 11, 2009

Your Basic Filler

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Callus & Them




Two years ago, I tapped this out at Red State Son:

"Maoism holds no appeal for me, as it's another form of idol worship and enforced subservience, however 'radically' packaged. When you deify human beings, especially at the state level, it's only a matter of time before people start disappearing for not showing the proper deference to or enthusiasm for the great leader's program. It's an old recipe that is not confined to a single ideology. But I've always found Maoism, specifically the Khmer Rouge's version, stranger and in its bizarre way more brutal than most other forms of worship.

"Yet despite my distaste for this mindset, there is one element of Maoism that's always intrigued me, namely, forcing white-collar or elite types to perform grubby, grimy labor, just so they get a taste of what it's like at the bottom. Now, I wouldn't go so far as to make these people wear dunce caps and march them down a public street to be ridiculed and spat on. Nor would I force them to dig their own graves and then shoot them in the back of the head. I'm much gentler than were the Red Guards. And besides, what lesson are you teaching if the ultimate goal is elimination? Either transcendence and redemption are part of the program, or else we should just kill each other off and get it over with."

This was in reaction to Naomi Campbell being forced to clean toilets as penance for her violent diva ways. It came to mind again yesterday as I read about the two American journalists sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea. Not that I condone such state behavior, nor pretend to know the intimate details of this case. The general consensus is that Laura Ling and Euna Lee are being used as bargaining chips, and will not actually break rocks under towering portraits of Kim Jong-il. Who knows. The righteous hullaballoo about respecting press freedom and the lives of journalists is typically rich coming from US mouthpieces, however. But that's an old broken tune, endlessly blasted from the national loudspeakers. White noise for the faithful.

I think what really frightens and offends stateside journos is the idea that their media class be subjected to manual labor. Those who make a sweet living spewing patriotic bullshit know deep down just how fragile their status is. And I'm certain that more than a few understand, at a cognitive level, that what they do is largely harmful, hypocritical, and beneficial to a wealthy minority. In order to avoid guilt, their arrogance must be refreshed, and the North Korean situation is a golden opportunity to do just that.

Still, I'd like to see cable media celebs break some kind of sweat, and devised a work chart for them to follow.

Sean Hannity -- killing and cleaning free-range chickens for Amish farmers

Keith Olbermann -- draining Porta Johns at NASCAR events

Gretchen Carlson -- mowing lawns in South Central, L.A.

Wolf Blitzer -- repainting inner-city mosques

Chris Matthews -- biohazard waste disposal

Rachel Maddow -- hauling asphalt for rural contractors

Bill O'Reilly -- custodian for low-income women's health clinics


Not a complete list, but a start. Your assignment of chores may vary.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Raised By Caine




David Carradine couldn't kick for shit. His blocks and strikes were slow and predictable. Like Tom Laughlin's Billy Jack, Carradine required a double for more complicated techniques. Of those who made martial arts mainstream in the US, Carradine was perhaps the least proficient. And yet "Kung Fu" remains an American pop classic, establishing the fighting form's name in the national vocabulary.

For me, KF was heaven sent. Beaten up by bigger, sadistic classmates, I needed some kind of lifeline, anything to grab onto and shape to my advantage. Watching KF on Saturday nights fed my desire to learn to fight back (as did Bruce Lee's films). My first teacher, a stern Korean black belt who berated and pushed the class mercilessly, steadily built my confidence, knocking me back down whenever I thought I had certain moves mastered. I trained daily, and in a few months was stronger, faster, able to hold my own with larger opponents.

Through it all, "Kung Fu" served as inspiration.

Back then, martial arts were considered exotic and strange by many people, some of whom thought it was a "trick" or sleight of hand. This made it all the more appealing to me. And while I rarely had to use my skills in real life, watching Carradine's Caine kick redneck bigot ass on a weekly basis satisfied my vengeful appetite. A small circle of like-minded friends formed a karate club at school, mocked by jocks who watched us spar, until a couple of them bit the mat after taking a few of us on. We were more or less left alone after that.

So when I think of David Carradine, that's what first pops up. His image and my reality were intertwined, and whenever I caught him later in life, his serene, hippie-ish demeanor made me smile.

Of course, Carradine was more than just a Shaolin monk in the Old West. He worked with Scorsese, Bergman, Ashby, and Tarantino, the latter of whom was clearly as taken with KF as was I. Indeed, of all Tarantino's nostalgic hires, Carradine was doubtless his best catch, far more natural with Tarantino's dialogue than John Travolta, Pam Grier, or Robert Forster (Sonny Chiba may be the one exception). Carradine's speeches in "Kill Bill: Volume 2" would sound strained coming from Travolta; and as overwritten as those speeches are, Carradine caressed Tarantino's words with patience and humor. While everyone else performed cartoonishly (most especially Darryl Hannah), Carradine seemed to float through the film, giving it whatever balance it has.

David Carradine understood and accepted his KF persona, playing with and exploiting it to his advantage years after the show ended. The lurid circumstances surrounding his death will do nothing to alter this. Hell, had Carradine survived it, he'd find a way to milk it, his relaxed expression putting one at ease while acknowledging the absurdity. Sleep well, grasshopper.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Love Gravy

Attending to family business this weekend, but I'll be back Monday with thoughts about David Carradine. I appeared on KPFT in Houston last night, so if you have any desire to hear me mix it up with a Clinton/Obama fan, check this out (or go here). A fun time for all. One correction: Gaylord Nelson was a Democrat. Other than that, I take nothing back. Thanks again, Scooter!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Lawn People

More Fresh Air




I've been reading Obama's Cairo speech, and I must say, the president made some compelling points. I'm not completely finished with the transcript, but here's an early passage that caught my eye.

OBAMA:

We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world -- tension rooted in Western attempts to suppress or buy off Arab nationalism, using Islamic mercenaries as a violent counterweight until they were no longer needed.

The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of colonialism, exploitation and religious wars. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by capitalist expansion and global corporate rule led many Muslims, for some strange reason, to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

So long as our relationship is defined by existing power relationships, we will embolden those who sow struggle rather than surrender, and who promote resistance rather than the capitulation that can help rich people achieve even more leverage and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world -- what we call in America a "do over"; one based upon elite interests and phony respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, as our close relationships with oil kingdoms prove. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles –- principles of greed and private power; intolerance for the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that capitulation cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mass murder and theft, nor do I have any intention of answering all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we know not to be true, as the real policies are often shaped behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground -- well, on your end anyway. For us, nothing substantial will change, only some of the rhetoric.

As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." Then again, I'm a Christian, so the Holy Koran doesn't really apply to me. But you get the idea.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Prof. Cheap Laffs Explains

A good-natured response to those Conan O'Brien fans who emailed. Looks like I may have to buy a comb.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Appreciation




It's been a long, long time since I've asked for donations. That's because I hate rattling the can, and prefer to work directly for my dough. Then again, what I do here on a regular basis is work. So it would be nice to get something back for my labor, however quaint that might sound.

Look -- I don't make a living as a writer. Not even close. I take freelance editing jobs and have written ad copy for miracle fabrics and backyard sound systems, but these are sporadic at best. At the moment, these gigs are nonexistent. I make my living as an office cleaner. It's honest, humbling labor that keeps me somewhat in shape, but it's not what I should be doing, at least, that's what everyone tells me: "You're too talented for that!" Yeah? So fucking what. Welcome to the corporate world.

Long time readers already know this, but for those relatively new to this patch, let me lay it out -- there's no other blog like mine. There's no commercial or political sponsorship, no team of writers, no connection to any outside interest. It's just me, tapping away in my dusty, stained-carpet office. I give you analysis, commentary, satire, comedy, videos, rants, personal manias and whatever else I can scrape from inside my skull. I don't piggyback another writer's work, slapping a few redundant sentences on a cut-and-paste post. I give you what I got. For free. So now I'm asking for some love in return.

I can't tell you how many readers compare me to Matt Taibbi. I don't see much resemblance myself, but I'm looking at it from a more subjective angle. Still, I get mails asking, "Why aren't you writing for Rolling Stone like Taibbi?" If you are at all familiar with my work, the answer is obvious. But in case it isn't, let me quote from a recent Taibbi piece:

"I still like Obama, in a lot of ways. Having a president with less ability to inspire public confidence at a time like this, with our economy in such a death spiral, would be a disaster; God knows where we’d be right now with a McCain or a Mike Huckabee at the helm. But this guy has to show some stones somewhere along the line. He has to just forget the DC game and just take a clear stand on an issue like this sometime. He’s kind of running out of time to rescue his all-important first impression."

This is not a sentiment you'll ever see here. If you like the above style of writing, you know where to get it. Enjoy. If you want something more, something that won't appear in Rolling Stone, The Nation, at Salon, Slate, or any of the lib group sites, then please make it a little easier for me to compose. Hit the PayPal button at my blogroll and offer what you can. Or, if you hate using that device, write to me and we'll work out another arrangement.

Thanks in advance. Aloha.