Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's That Time Again

Friday, May 29, 2009

Where The Cobwebs Dance

Dug through some files last night and found a few old bits I wish to share. The Top Ten lists are from my Letterman submission in 1995. The jokes are from my time with Bill Maher, some of which were used, the rest flung back in my face with unbridled contempt. Comedy is a fun place.


10. Mr. Bubble Champagne
9. Extra Crispy Chardonnay
8. I Sing, You Sing, We All Sing For Riesling
7. Honey Roasted Pinot Noir
6. Beach Blanket Burgundy
5. Cabernet of Dr. Caligari
4. Waiting For Merlot
3. Assy Spewmanti
2. Toxic Fume Blanc
1. Pete Rosé


10. Mentholated lungs needed for life in 21st century
9. Asian countries ahead in tar accumulation: Wake up America!
8. "What's the matter kid -- you yellow or somethin'?"
7. Like gray hair, wheezing is a sign of distinction
6. Shouldn't deprive second-hand smokers their rights
5. Babe Ruth smoked and he's in baseball's Hall of Fame
4. Without us, the Surgeon General ain't dick
3. "Carbon monoxide never tasted so smooth"
2. Cigarettes better appetite suppressant than Slim Fast
1. "A camp fire for your mouth"


10. Armed park mascots herd tourists into amusement camps
9. Aladdin's Genie turns UN delegates into strange bird creatures
8. Minnie changes her name to "Ilsa, She-Mouse of Orlando"
7. Dumbo leads aerial assaults on helpless civilians
6. The Lion Führer
5. Mouse ear helmets distributed to Disney Youth
4. Goof Troop now Goof Gestapo
3. 101 German Shepherds
2. Michael Eisner and Michael Ovitz merge, become Michael Maus
1. Pinocchio kicks ass and takes names!


Adjusting to the American market, the makers of RU-486 have produced a new pill. It not only induces a first-trimester abortion, it relieves sinus congestion for up to 18 hours.

Lawyers for accused child killer Susan Smith say they will proceed with an insanity defense. But you have to wonder: Is a mother truly insane when she insists that her children wear seatbelts?

Mike Tyson was released from prison after serving a three-year sentence for rape. When asked for his plans, Tyson, who is now a devout Muslim, said he'll either fight Riddick Bowe, or kill Salman Rushdie.

Dan Quayle is in the hospital with a blood clot on his lung. An ardent pro-lifer, Quayle refuses to have the clot removed because he believes that life begins at coagulation.

The NRA, responding to the rise in abortion clinic shootings, maintains that guns don't kill people, people who think they're Jesus Christ kill people.

The push to privatize PBS continues. Republicans want to change the network's slogan from "You are the public in public television" to "Trespassers will be shot."

A new Vogue magazine poll shows that fashion models are getting smarter. Of 100 models surveyed, only 44 percent described the sun as "that shiny thing you get a tan from."

Anti-abortion leaders unveiled their new mascot, Freddy the Fetus, who tells pregnant women, "Give a hoot or I'll have to shoot."

R.J Reynolds has developed a new cigarette that guarantees not only smoking without smoke, but cancer without coughing.

Republicans are calling for a Congressional vote allowing voluntary school prayer. If the measure passes, the GOP will push for voluntary school snake handling.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Look It Up!

The other day, while stalling my son after he asked some history questions so I could secretly Google the answers and come off as a wise and knowing father, I discovered some interesting factoids about a number of US presidents. It was truly eye-opening, almost mystical. But don't try Googling these yourself. You won't find them. Whoever put them up has already taken them down in a clear, deliberate attempt to fuck with my head. Trust me, you don't want any of that.

Anyway, I gave these to my son for use in an extra credit report. His history teacher now wants to meet with me after school -- probably to thank me, or maybe to "chew over" a point or two. That's the joy of learning: it doesn't end with getting thrown out of high school.

Warren G. Harding told long, complicated jokes that veered off into odd directions. Reading them now doesn't help. After a few lines, you're left thinking, "Man, people back then had an arcane sense of humor. And no penicillin. If they got syphilis, that was it. Game over."

Richard Nixon personally liked Jews, but being insecure, he behaved otherwise so not to be rejected first. However, Nixon really did hate Asians. And Mexicans. He wasn't crazy about Africans, come to think of it.

Franklin Pierce was such an obscure president that he never heard of himself. When spotting his reflection in a White House mirror, Pierce screamed "Who the devil is that strange man!" to his aides, who lacked the courage to confront Pierce with the truth. Tell the president he's mistaken? You first, friend!

Bill Clinton was actually a woman. Okay, he really wasn't a woman. But what if he was? Can you wrap your incredulous mind around that possibility? It's tougher than it seems, isn't it?

Grover Cleveland often defecated outside, dancing around his waste while pounding his chest. Interestingly enough, this was viewed with less scrutiny than Cleveland's support for the gold standard. Perhaps that's why they call it The Reform Era.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was, in reality, a marathon runner and award-winning tap dancer. Did his wheelchair fool you? Take it easy. You weren't the only one.

George W. Bush has no hidden or unknown stories. That movie with Josh Brolin pretty much covers everything, though how anyone bought Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney is a mystery. Now, Mickey Rourke -- that's gutsy casting.

Barack Obama reportedly takes extremely hot baths. I know: not the juiciest private tidbit, but give the guy time. Considering the history of that office, something twisted is bound to emerge, and when it does, hoo boy! It'll make Abe Lincoln's flatulence smell like a gallon of fancy perfume.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Freedom Is Huge

Memorial Day is a fine day to cut one's lawn, and this year was no different. Clear blue sky, 78 degrees, slight breeze. Perfect.

As I pushed the mower across my yard, the invigorating scent of freshly-cut grass filling my nostrils, lush vistas of mountains, canyons, and sparkling lakes in which sun-dappled goddesses admired their beauty, and perhaps also their silk togas, exploding in my mind, I didn't hear the man yelling at me from the sidewalk, waving his arms, trying to get my attention.

Two goddesses were washing each other's backs when the man's voice finally broke through.


I cut the motor.


"Do you know what today is?"

"Yeah. It's Monday."

The guy adjusted his ball cap featuring an eagle carrying Old Glory in its beak, its talons clutching a rifle and a sword, its t-shirt showing another eagle dropping egg-shaped bombs.

"Wrong. It's Memorial Day!"

I smiled back. "I know. And it's a beautiful one, too, wouldn't you say?"

He grimaced. "Well, it was until I saw your disrespect."

My smile faded. "What are you talking about?"

The man walked up to me, his star spangled cape flapping behind him.

"Look at yourself. Not a stitch of patriotic clothing. And where's your flag?"

"My flag?"

"Yes! Your American flag! Where the hell is it?"

"I don't own a flag."

The stranger practically leapt out of his red, white and blue striped jumpsuit.

"YOU DON'T OWN A FLAG! Why not go piss on some veterans' graves while you're at it!"

"Look -- I'm just cutting my grass. Now, if you don't mind . . ."

He stepped closer, his baby blue boots featuring the Twin Towers in Heaven accumulating cut grass in the process.

"Oh, I do mind. See, if it wasn't for American servicemen, your precious lawn would be speaking Arabic and cutting you in pieces instead."

"That doesn't make any sense."

"Not to a traitor like yourself! If you had any decency, you'd be mowing your yard on your knees as a tribute to those who made lawnmowers free in the first place!"

The guy began dancing around, singing some song about eagles and lawnmowers. I pulled the .38 from my ankle holster and shot him twice in the thigh.

"Sweet Jesus!" he screamed, grabbing his bleeding thigh. "That's some damn fine shootin'! I guess I had you pegged all wrong!"

"I guess you did."

"Well, freedom's all about making mistakes. My apologies. You have a great Memorial Day!"

"You too."

The wounded patriot limped off, smiling. I thought about shooting him again, but decided against it. I could always shoot him another day.

I finished cutting my grass and got drunk. I watched college lacrosse on ESPN and laughed at how the Iroquois would school these pampered Ivy League swells. Then I passed out.

ONE MORE TIME: Here's my pal A. Whitney Brown expressing his patriotism. I posted this some time ago, but certain messages bear repeating. Plus, I don't have to shoot a video myself. So we all win.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Holiday Best Of

Too tired to write anything new today. But I realized that many of you have never read some of my old stuff. So here's a sampling of what once fouled my fading mind.

A loving spoof of the Harper's Index.

A little next-door paranoia.

Shemp Howard's random thoughts, circa 1949.

An old leaflet dropped by US planes in Afghanistan. You may want to use this, Mr. President.

A Page Six parody about leading bloggers. Of course, I don't feel the same way about Glenn Greenwald today. As for the rest . . .

A book that never dates.

My first HuffPost piece, written exclusively for Arianna's petting zoo.

Another early, exclusive HuffPost bit. When they still sorta liked me.

Devo on "Fridays".

The Three Stooges on drugs.

The toughest night club audience. Ever. From "The Patsy," 1964.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Let Mortal Tongues Awake

While some liberals are frustrated by President Obama's recent actions, many others remain solidly behind their beloved leader. Here Al Giordano looks at rendition from a progressive angle.

Nancy Pelosi remains under fire for her shifting explanations about supporting torture. The House Speaker met with advisers to discuss the issue before joining the president for a private lunch.

Dick Cheney took a break from media appearances this week to focus on domestic chores. First up: waterboarding his garden.

President Obama's expansion of the Afghan war has emboldened many American liberals. Popular blogger Matt Yglesias practices his war face to no one in particular.

Contrary to all known laws of physics, comedians Emo Phillips and Weird Al Yankovic still perform in public. Scientists remain baffled by this ongoing mystery.

True love always finds a way to heal divisions. Just ask Jake Klemons about his fiancé Rachel Stilz. "I never thought my family would accept Rachel being Jewish," confessed Klemons. "But I clearly misread them."

Vice President Biden has begun answering questions through cheap ventriloquism, using his forefinger and thumb as a puppet. Marvels a White House staffer, "He barely moves his lips now."

When not entertaining his staff, Biden helps the president find new targets to bomb.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blowin' Wind

"But let's remember that there was a reason for the assault in Afghanistan, that al-Qaeda and the Taliban brought this on themselves and those who had nothing to do with the WTC terror. Frankly, as time goes on, and more I read about those fuckers, I'm glad they were taken out and disrupted, and I hope that the US armed forces whips the living hell out of them . . . Al-Qaeda is a unique, and very dangerous problem, one that the US helped to bring to life. And now, if nothing else, the US must terminate that life."

This banshee scream came from yours truly, posted at LBO-Talk, March 14, 2002. Charming, yes? And this is one of the more polite outbursts. During this period, I openly relished the thought of Muslim strangers being shredded, brains flying in all directions, intestines spilling and baking on the hot sand. I was quite insane. Since then, I've only gotten worse.

Not that I still support imperial violence in Afghanistan. I don't. But so fucking what? That human meatgrinder is accelerating, with plenty of fresh blades in stock. I can dance in public wearing a crown of daisies, blowing bubbles and singing unconditional love songs, and some poor Afghan kid is still gonna get ripped in half, if not vaporized altogether. What's in my heart here, and what's raining from the sky over there, are two distinctly different things. "Look at me -- I'm against the war!" Yippie. How long until Happy Hour?

Which is why this supposed call to "media action" fills me with rancid contempt. I mean, what is the ultimate point of this? Are there people who actually think that Twittering tranquil thoughts will slow the slaughter one iota? Or is this simply another fundraising scheme? Because when you look at this objectively, UFPJ has no power, no leverage, no groundswell of mass support. So what do they expect to achieve, other than polishing their profile?

My, Mr. Perrin -- you are one gloomy fuck. Yeah, I suppose I am. Isn't doing something better than doing nothing? Sure. As the old adage goes, if you feel it's hopeless, then you guarantee it remains hopeless. So write a polite letter to an editor, that is, if you can find a local newspaper still in business. Blog, Twitter, Digg your message of peace, at least for a day, 'cause arms are for hugging, children are our future, and my other car is a Mercedes.

When it comes to approaching radio, UFPJ offers this amusing thought: "Talk radio is a powerful and free medium with millions of listeners tuned into national and local programs everyday. Producers from programs of all political bents want to hear from people in the community, with story pitches, interviews, and call-ins."

Really? Apart from college radio and a random Pacifica outlet, just where in the American talk radio universe is all this ideological diversity? If the sunny folks connected with UFPJ wanted to seriously use radio, they would flood regional and national sports talk shows with antiwar/anti-imperial messages. Fuck NPR or what's left of Air America. Jam the jock stations. You couldn't find a better staging ground to confront pro-war thinking. I don't know how many minds would be changed, but at least you'd be kicking up dirt, provoking some reaction. Because being nice and peaceful and lovey dovey ain't gonna swing it, not in this culture.

If you're looking to get past this imperial stage, you cannot avoid confronting the millions who support it, revel in it, profit from it, pray to it. And make no mistake -- despite what poll or "conservatism is dead!" post you read, countless Americans still feel they have a stake in these wars. It remains a vital part of our twisted national character.

Then there's the imperial state itself, crumbling at the edges, bleeding money, but massive, strong, violent, committed to control and continued dominance. Twittering in the face of that is like farting at a BGM-109 Tomahawk. You may feel personal relief, but it's meaningless and short-lived. Then again, who knows? Maybe one day, farts will stop the killing. We have nothing to lose but our gas.

UPDATE: I tried cross-posting this at HuffPost, and received this in return:

Dear Dennis Perrin,

We appreciate you taking the time to submit your most recent post. Unfortunately, we are going to pass on it for publication at this time, and will look forward to your next submission.

Huffington Post blog team

Those crazy kids!

Monday, May 18, 2009

More Yak

HuffPost's Christian Avard phoned the other day and asked me questions. Here are my replies, rambling though some of them are. But then, y'all are used to that by now, no?


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chewing Oxygen

Appeared on the Roseanne Barr-Johnny Argent show this afternoon, along with Ted Rall. I was asked to join at the last minute, but quickly got into the groove. The four of us go all over the place, which you can hear here, starting at the 75:50 mark. Man, I gotta take slow talking lessons.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Death Of The Nation

A sample of what used to be. From JFK's era.

Shovel some quicklime on The Nation. Katrina vanden Heuvel has turned what was once a great, eclectic American radical mag into the mushy, puffy, largely unreadable mess it is today. Yes, earlier Nation editors have overseen some down periods, publishing their share of shit. But KVH's reign has proven to be consistently soppy, pandering to centrist concepts of "progressivism" and "relevance," which now find a natural home in Obama's America.

Indeed, The Nation's slobbering over the new imperial manager is its main feature of late, resulting in embarrassing appeals to Obama's "conscience," as if Wall Street's point man gives a flying fuck what worried liberals think. Many of Obama's recent actions should give any serious person plenty of reasons for doubt, if not full ammunition for dissent. But not in today's Nation. Sure, there are the requisite "concerns" and kindred hand-wringing; as we've seen, that's how many liberals cope with shit flung in their faces. Yet KVH smiles through it all, either out of acceptance, denial, or simple political expediency.

In a recent summation of Obama's first 100 days, KVH recites the standard litany, by now a staple to anyone familiar with Obamaspeak. But amid the apologetics stands this revolting sentence:

"But there are two areas which I fear could endanger the Obama Presidency: military escalation in Afghanistan and the bank bailout."

Note where KVH's concern lies -- with the Obama Presidency. That the man is incinerating poor people in Afghanistan while allowing prisoners held without charge to rot in Bagram cages, and is paying back his wealthy benefactors with more state assistance while millions of Americans struggle to meet basic needs doesn't seem to seriously concern KVH. It's how all this might "endanger" Obama's rule that moves her to write. State apologetics served with a sexy, cynical smile.

With sentiments like these, it's no wonder KVH is invited to flap her bleached gums on cable chat fests. It used to be that Nation editors and writers were considered too crazy to appear on TV. When they did, they brought a perspective that upset the consensus. (Alexander Cockburn's 1986 appearance on a "Nightline" special about terrorism and the media lit the show on fire, stating that Abu Nidal was small potatoes compared to a major terrorist like Ronald Reagan, which made Ted Koppel and his elite guests sputter and fume. Those were the days.)

Even with something as cut and dried as Obama's reversal on releasing torture photos from Afghanistan and Iraq, The Nation pulled back, advocating healing over rage and rebellion. Melissa Harris-Lacewell, taking KVH's submissive cue, stated:

"Thus I find myself in an unsatisfying gray area with respect to the current torture photos. I generally support President Obama's decision not to aggressively pursue prosecution of the government officials or lawyers implicated by the torture memos. I derive that position from a belief that truth and reconciliation is the best model for the U.S. to follow on this issue. I believe that revealing information and understanding what happened is the most important task we should engage in with relation to torture. I don't want Cheney in jail, but I want him to have to tell the truth -live- on TV- repeatedly. Consistent with that commitment, I believe we should release the photos and simply cope with the political, moral, and national pain that may follow."

If, after reading this, you didn't coat your screen with projectile vomit, you may find a rewarding career in the exciting autopsy industry.

Personally, I would love to see Dick Cheney in jail. Bush, too. Adding Obama to the perp walk would make my day complete. But that's not going to happen, and clearly this doesn't bother The Nation.

As for the torture pix, Harris-Lacewell's convoluted reasoning deadens what should be unconditional anger. Then again, anyone who believes that imperial states can experience "moral pain" has already digested the national myth. And it's this type of mythology and open-eyed wishful thinking that typifies The Nation more and more these days. Where have you gone, Victor Navasky?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Killer Toons

Been sick the past two days. Still feel shitty, so I thought I'd share some interesting shorts.

Here are a series of Soviet anti-Nazi cartoons from 1941. Pretty self-explanatory. Note the Hollywood influence on the Russian animation. No surprise, given Stalin's love of American film.

I don't know what this is, apart from being a pro-Nazi cartoon (the anti-Jewish caricature a giveaway). Popeye, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck appear as American pilots ready to bomb France. One YouTube commenter suggests that this was made by French Nazi collaborators, aimed at those French who looked to the US for liberation. Who knows. Still, a strange little short.

A READER WRITES: "This cartoon was made in Vichy France sometime in 1942-43. It satirizes listening to Free French shortwave broadcasts from London, and it also takes jabs at US cartoon culture by having the B-17 bombers manned by Walt Disney and Max Fleischer cartoon characters. At the time the cartoon was made, the US Army Air Force was bombing U-boat pens in Occupied France and hitting industrial targets in Vichy and Western Germany, so the audience is not only supposed to loathe the vacilating French family listening to broadcast, but also the bombers and their crews."

Here's another cartoon featuring a warmongering Mickey Mouse. Made in Japan, 1936. Clearly, the Japanese were not pleased with US complaints about their imperialist expansion in Asia. So they took it out on Disney's rodent.

Monday, May 11, 2009

He Only Bombs Overseas

It was the hottest ticket in town, a black-tie dinner gathering of Washington's political and media elite, Hollywood players, pop stars, porn stars, corporate lawyers, prostitutes, mercenaries and hired assassins, mouthpieces, sycophants, and a few common citizens kept in a cage near the back.

But Dick Cheney couldn't make it.

The former vice president was busy, President Barack Obama joked, working on his memoir "tentatively titled, How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People, or Setting The Table For The Next President."

"I can't wait to read it," added Obama, "though I feel I already know the story."

As the star attraction of Saturday night's star-studded annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, Obama enjoyed poking fun at his critics and the Republican Party, while playfully reminding everyone who currently holds state power, at times punctuating a punch line with a long silent stare, or cackling with his head thrown back, his throat expanding in near-reptilian fashion.

Looking out on the crowd of 3,000, Obama declared: "Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me. How do I know?" The president winked and held up a briefing book. "Intelligence."

The president also spoofed his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who, Obama observed, always has a hard time on Mother's Day.

"She wanted Rahm to be an Israeli Prime Minister," Obama said. "She was deeply disappointed and has refused to speak to him for years. So Mother's Day is always hard on Rahm."

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele was "in the house tonight," Obama noted. "Or as he would say, 'In the servant's quarters.'"

"Michael for the last time, the Republican Party does not qualify for a bailout," Obama told Steele. "But I'll implement many of your policies anyway, giving them the O Touch." The president twirled his left index finger, making "Ssssssssssst" sounds as the audience fell over, spitting out their dessert coffee.

The president was the night's big draw, but not the only comedian.

Comic actress Wanda Sykes, the dinner's entertainer, said to Obama, “This is amazing. The First Black President – I know you’re mocha – but the First Motherfucking Black President! That’s unless you screw up. Then it’s going to be, 'Fuck that Oreo sell-out wannabe! Tap dancin' bug-eyed chicken-eatin' cocksucker!'"

"Mr. President," Sykes continued, "you've had your fair share of critics. Rush Limbaugh is one of your big critics. Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails. So he's saying, ‘I hope America fails.’ He's like, ‘I don’t care about people losing their homes, their jobs or our soldiers in Iraq.’ He just wants our country to fail."

"To me, that’s treason. Seriously. This ain't no joke, now. Rush is as bad as Osama bin Laden, and we wanna kill that camel fucker, right? So why you puttin' up with his shit, Mr. President? Huh? Fuck that Oxycontin-poppin' motherfucker! You need to waterboard his fat cracker ass, then throw him in prison and let him get raped! Or are you a pussy, Mr. President? Rush's bitch?"

There was moment of stunned silence, then a cascade of laughter and applause. To many, it was the line of the night.

Veteran comic Richard Belzer watched the proceedings with a gleam on his face. "This is one of the greatest moments of my life," Belzer gushed. "Real rock star elegance. Cool has returned to Washington." Belzer looked both ways, unzipped his pants, pulled out his penis, and stuck it in a punch bowl.

"Ring-a-ding-ding" said Belzer with a grin.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Best Medicine

"I believe my next hundred days will be so successful that I will be able to complete them in 72 days. And on my 73rd day, I will rest."

"And then he said on his 73rd day, he would rest. Isn't the American president funny, daughter? Blink twice if you are laughing."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Realist Responds

One of my comedy heroes, Paul Krassner, disagrees with me. I couldn't be happier. Honestly.

Paul doesn't mention it, but he gave me numerous insights about O'Donoghue and the Lampoon when I was writing "Mr. Mike," and published me in The Realist, a true highlight of my life. Paul not only was rejected by Dennis Miller, as he relates in this piece, but also by SNL, submitting sketches about abortion and Guatemalan guerrillas, if memory serves. Paul has long been my model for rejection -- the word "Krassnered" describing material that is too radical, dark, or indecent for American TV comedy. Or in Paul's case, too fucking funny.

Here's a brief look at Paul's career, via High Times. And do check out his web site, as well as The Realist archive.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dead Mules

My book tanked. Sold for shit. I didn't believe Verso when they said I have no royalties coming. How could this be? I angrily countered. Why, "Savage Mules" was in Amazon's Top Ten political party bestsellers for the better part of a month, and in the Top 20 for weeks after that. No other Verso title rubbed shoulders with Arianna, Coulter, and Greenwald. So hand over my fucking money or I'll get crazy legal on your ass.

Then a friend, who has extensive experience in and ties to the publishing world, did an independent sales review of "Mules" through Bookscan, and Verso wasn't lying: I sold roughly 1,400 copies total, covering the US, Canada, and England. I was further told that charting well at Amazon is no real measure of success. It apparently doesn't take much to rank there, though I don't fully understand how I could be so high on their chart while selling so poorly. Does that mean the better-known authors aren't selling well, either? Who knows. Who the fuck cares. The bottom fact is, "Savage Mules" was a failure. End of story.

This means that a large chunk of my reading audience didn't buy my book. Ah well. What you gonna do? And what does this mean for me from here on out? I'm still pondering that.

Clearly, attacking the Democratic war machine and its many progressive apologists and enablers is not a wise career move, not in Obama's America. All those liberals who told me they would review my book, or chat with me online about it, then disappeared when they read or heard about "Mules" certainly didn't help. Verso blames Obama worship for my sad performance, and that's true to a degree, even though Obama is barely mentioned in "Mules." The publishing industry's slow death is another key factor, as less and less people are buying books. Whatever the combination, not many people are interested in dissecting, much less rebelling against the new Dem order. A certain amount of handwringing, arched eyebrows, and frustrated sighs is tolerated, indeed expected, as it shows how "flexible" some liberals can be, so unlike the Zombie Right. But in the end, "our" president will enjoy deep liberal allegiance, especially when re-election time arrives.

Meanwhile, Obama's war crimes are piling up, alongside the blasted bodies of women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Torture, despite the pious chatter from above, continues, only under different management and away from cameras and microphones. Feel Good imperialism, mass murder with a happy face, is the flavor du jour. And other than a handful of miscreants and political losers (you know who you are), numerous people simply don't give a fuck.

I said well before Obama's coronation that his presidency would be the perfect cover for Business As Usual. How close did I call that? Does it even matter?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lose This Skin

Good thing none of you were anywhere near me yesterday afternoon. I was insane, blind with rage. Much of it had to do with royalties from "Savage Mules," though until I get a more accurate picture, I won't divulge many details. But if what Verso Books says is true, then I'm depressed as well. I can usually handle a fair amount of adversity -- getting your ass kicked on a regular basis growing up helps develop a thick hide -- but there are times when it's too much, or I'm in a weakened position. This is one of those times.

Okay. Enough sobbing. Just wanted to give you the background, so if I seem chippy or cheap, you'll know why.

I've received a lot of interesting emails about my Jon Stewart post. Some of you thought I was too rough on Stewart, that he's "only" a comedian, not a journalist or philosopher, which is true. My world doesn't hinge on what Stewart says or does, so I'm not that caught up in his act. I simply pointed out the limits of his satire, which stems from the limits of his professed political knowledge.

I thought his backpedaling on Truman's war crimes was pathetic, but not surprising, given where Stewart sits. If Stewart ever adopted the Chomsky approach to presidents and war crimes, I doubt he'd be around for long, especially if he really went after Obama. His liberal fans would turn on him faster than it took them to vote for Joe Lieberman, then hate Joe Lieberman. Stewart would be seen as the next Dennis Miller.

I got a taste of this yesterday when an reader asked what I thought of my comment thread at Huffington Post. "What comment thread?" I replied. I cross-posted my Stewart piece at Arianna's petting zoo, just to see how long it would last. Since Obama's ascent, most of the stuff I send HuffPost lasts an hour or two at the bottom of the page, then disappears. It remains in my archive, but most visitors aren't going that far to read my musings and rants. The same thing happened with my Stewart post. Ho hum. I shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

Then, out of the blue (and in the midst of my anger), I was sent this. Seems that someone at HuffPost took my piece from the Entertainment page and slapped it on the Media page. I had no idea this happened, but 59 other people did, commenting on my critique from a variety of angles. Scroll down and read them yourself. You'll see why I don't allow comments here -- not that there aren't some intelligent, sometimes flattering responses, but there's enough idiocy and projection to keep my No Comment policy in place.

Without explaining or justifying too much, my mention of my TDS submission was an attempt to be open about my feelings toward that show. I don't think I'm "cooler" than the current writers, but I am different and tried to demonstrate why. I don't envy Jon Stewart, nor do I want to write for him, not under existing conditions, anyway. Is it posing to say that my material would be considered "off" for TDS? I think that's exactly the case. How that reality makes me "jealous" or "sour" I've no clue. But those kind of epithets are easy to throw, especially anonymously.

And the Seth Meyers line at the end of my post was a joke. Again, I thought this was obvious. But clearly, my antennae are in need of waxing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Aim For The Head

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Final Airing

"No, no, no! Not her. I want That Girl!"

Pop images shattered my mind for keeps. Whatever literary, political, or aesthetic references I spit out, these "higher" notions are papered over images and sounds absorbed years before I read Chomsky or James Agee, heard of the Surrealists or the Beats. I suspect that in the end, when taking my final breaths (assuming I'm not killed instantly, experiencing "the total now" as Manson's Angels once put it), a commercial or cartoon from my childhood will float to the surface, blaze in my dying mind as if freshly filmed, then vanish into the dark alongside me.

What did pre-visual/audio age people see before they died? Their minds were probably less chaotic than ours, making their dying visions richer and more connected to how their lives were actually lived, than to scenarios authored by strangers. Then again, if they were on the business end of rape and pillaging, their final thoughts were doubtless choked with human cruelty, strangers occupying their minds after all. So televised images might not be such a bad way to exit.

I'll go weeks without tapping into deeply-held action, music, and comedy. Then the slightest suggestion will cause these images to explode, throwing me back in time, to a period's smell, touch, and taste. A mine field of commercial memories. These explosions are increasing, and I'm torn between embarrassment and acceptance, acknowledging that I'm a craggy fuck, less and less interested in the world around me, put off by its crude, cheap, derivative noise. Of course, that's nothing new. I bet that in 30 years, some aging person will look back fondly to "America's Next Top Model" and wonder where the intelligence went.

I can be as relativistic as any hedonist or pomo asswipe, but I'm convinced that this time around, creative expression truly is in bad shape, perhaps irredeemably so. Nothing feels new. Everything is a rerun or remake. This could be how it goes until the final cleansing fire, followed by rising oceans, massive hurricanes, and monthly tsunamis. Humans have had their say and are left to repeat themselves to extinction, or until syndication rights are revoked or bought by interests in Dubai.

What form of communication will our predecessors possess, once they've finished draining water from their tree nests? At least they won't be charged with piracy, unless Interpol's subaquatic division survives and enforces laws meant for humans. Imagine the fireworks at those hearings!

Many of my formative TV memories are sex-related, as I became conscious of my insatiable lust at an early age. As strange as it may seem, the "Mission: Impossible" theme titillated me, partly when Barbara Bain co-starred, but most especially when Lesley Warren came along. Lalo Schifrin's boss score heightened my tension, as did the show's liberal use of masks. You know how I feel about masks.

But for sheer masturbatory stimulation, few opening credits could compete with "The Avengers." Numerous erections were inspired by Diana Rigg, the hair in the face, the knowing grin sealing my fate time and again. Plus, another great musical score. When I'm coughing up blood and bile, my heart about to collapse, seeing Emma Peel practice her bad karate in that jumpsuit would make for a pleasant end. Along with my loved ones, of course.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Just Kidding! Ltd.

My take on "The Daily Show" is a tad personal, though this has faded through time. In late-1997/early-'98, I was swamped with "Mr. Mike," scheduled for release in July '98. I had spent the previous three years consumed by Michael O'Donoghue, the National Lampoon and SNL, and was pretty burned out, wrestling with publishing company bullshit, making sure that every change had been set, anticipating wrath and anger from who-knew-where, given the wild mix of egos and temperaments I'd dealt with. And so on.

Then an acquaintance at Comedy Central suggested that I submit a package to TDS. With a book about a comedy legend coming out, and having already written for Bill Maher, TDS would be the perfect next move. While it wasn't my favorite show, I did find a lot of it funny. One bit that stood out was a parody of the Zionist Occupation Government conspiracy, with the Star of David on the White House. That an American comedy show even knew what ZOG was amused me, so I began to write numerous fake news stories and remote pieces.

I was helped along by a guy who knew the show's producer, which gave me added edge. TDS was then hosted by Craig Kilborn, who was too smug for my taste, his Sports Center snark empty and obvious. But much of the writing behind Kilborn was first-rate, no surprise given that talents like A. Whitney Brown were involved. This inspired me to really bring it, which was a test since I was wearily emerging from book writing mode, a different set of muscles from tapping out bits. After a couple of weeks, I sent my finished submission around to a few friends, testing the waters.

The reactions were uniform: this was good stuff, perhaps a bit dark for TDS, but solid. The package then went to the show's producer, the early feedback upbeat. But that's typical. The promise of helping a franchise always elicits smiles and thumbs' up -- until the moment of truth, when the decision to allow this-or-that lunatic on staff is made. It seemed that my material was indeed too dark for TDS. That was the gist I was getting. But I also think that it was too political. Some of my references went beyond generalized definitions and specifically dealt with US criminality and all that goes with it. There were plenty of mainstream jokes as well, but not enough to lighten the dark shit. Whatever early rawness TDS possessed, the show was moving toward a more acceptable place in the culture. Around this time, Whitney Brown left TDS, further weakening its satirical punch.

When Kilborn left to engage Conan O'Brien in late night, Jon Stewart took over, ensuring that TDS would become the mainstream darling it remains today. Nothing against Stewart, who does a fine if sometimes frenzied job behind the desk. But before TDS, Stewart was not known as a satirist, certainly not in a Krassner/Crimmins/Whitney Brown way. Then again, had he been as cutting as those three, Stewart would never have been given the TDS gig in the first place. Stewart's popularity, especially among white liberals, ensures that he'll remain pretty much in the same spot -- so long as the ratings hold, and Comedy Central doesn't lose significant ad revenue.

At best, Jon Stewart serves as a corporate release valve, letting off permissible steam when the American machine overheats. This is pretty much what "satire" has been reduced to. The Realist, Terry Southern, and the original Lampoon have never been deader.

Also, most American comics are deeply apolitical; and those who riff on "current events" usually operate well within shared assumptions about politics, history, and US power. Which is why Stewart's recent comment about Harry Truman stood out.

Responding to Cliff "Torture can be good" May's point that if Bush is a war criminal, then Truman's nuking of Hiroshima must have been an even worse crime, given the comparable damage, and Stewart's outrage at Bush (which Stewart bases on the fantasy notion that the Bush gang undermined basic American "values," a popular liberal talking point that'll never die). Amazingly, Stewart agreed that yes, Truman was a war criminal, though Stewart would've preferred a demonstration explosion near Japan before moving to the human ash/melted flesh phase.

Domestic reactionaries went predictably nuts. They may be in the electoral minority for now, but they know red meat when when they smell it. And nothing sets them off like a "media elite liberal" like Stewart besmirching our nation's fine name and God-fearing reputation. While there have been serious debates about Truman's use of nuclear terror, countless Americans of varied views still think that Truman did the right thing, for reasons that run from the million-American-dead-through-land-invasion argument, to the simple, more pleasing position that the US can do whatever it wants, especially in war, and that the idea that America commits war crimes is insane if not treasonous.

Up to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and after, US planes firebombed numerous Japanese cities, unleashing mass murder on the civilian population, something that had the Tokyo trials after the war been at all impartial, would decidedly rank with imperial Japan's monstrous conduct in Asia. But war crimes trials are never impartial and serve to justify and excuse crimes committed by those powers conducting the trials. Stewart could've added the reason why there was an Asian war in the first place, hostilities that began well before Pearl Harbor. Hell, he could've mentioned Truman's war crimes in Korea, killing millions.

Instead, Stewart did what well-regarded mainstream entertainers do when expressing an unpopular opinion. He groveled for forgiveness.

"The other night we had on Cliff May. He was on, we were discussing torture, back and forth, very spirited discussion, very enjoyable. And I may have mentioned during the discussion we were having that Harry Truman was a war criminal. And right after saying it, I thought to myself that was dumb. And it was dumb. Stupid in fact. So I shouldn't have said that, and I did. So I say right now, no, I don't believe that to be the case. The atomic bomb, a very complicated decision in the context of a horrific war, and I walk that back because it was in my estimation a stupid thing to say. Which, by the way, as it was coming out of your mouth, you ever do that, where you're saying something, and as it's coming out you're like, 'What the f**k, nyah?' And it just sat in there for a couple of days, just sitting going, 'No, no, he wasn't, and you should really say that out loud on the show.' So I am, right now, and, man, ew. Sorry. And, Warren G. Harding was a [bleeped, unintelligible]."

When an American "satirist" apologizes for stating the truth, you can really appreciate "free expression" in a corporate-owned culture. Still, I enjoy Stewart, despite his pathetic ass-covering. Besides, he has to keep TDS anchor chair clean and warm for when Seth Meyers replaces him. It's all about continuity, baby.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Grit In The Lobes

Have I mentioned how much I hate politics? Fucking fucking loathe that shit. I'm not talking about grassroots attempts to reclaim what's left for us proles, doomed and compromised as those efforts generally are. I'm referring to the hourly kabuki bullshit crammed down our bleeding throats, photo ops and 6th Grade lectures about "civic" affairs, the wonderment of it, the sacred mystery.

It's bad enough when our owners and their stenographers do this; it's even worse when bloggers fart out the same stench, as if they're in "the know" or wise to the game. And man, am I sick of looking at Barack Obama. Whatever charm he possessed evaporated long ago, at least to my bloodshot eyes. Anybody who wants to be president is fucked in the head on some level. But then who the hell am I? Who elected my ass to anything?

Ahhh. Okay. My spiked coffee has finally kicked in, and I'm feeling a bit better now. A little less anxious (that'll come later with the afternoon delights). Still, I want to ask all of you: What keeps bringing you to this site? Seriously. Perhaps I'm going through one of my periodic fuck-it-all moods, where there are snakes on everything, and I see through the floor and into the flesh, my forays into public limited and behind shades and hat, walking as if I expect to get hit any second. Maybe that's my problem. But I'm genuinely curious what ya'll git outta thiz heah thang.

While you're pondering that heavy question, I'd like to share this SNL sketch from 1984. I hadn't seen this in a while, but I remember it well. Not because of the comedy heavyweight gathering of Martin Short, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Eddie Murphy (who was hosting that week). That was SNL's celebrity year, one of its best, so these guys were bringing it every show.

No, what I recall about this sketch was my surprise to see Larry David as an extra in the back, near the door. This was two years after "Fridays" ended, a show that at one point had bigger ratings than SNL, where David was a major player. (Note the brief "Fridays" reunion with Rich Hall, the waiter, who also worked on that show.) Writing for SNL that year was in many ways a demotion for David. Add to that his getting only one sketch on the air the entire season, and you see the unforgiving cruelty of comedy.

I hear that Larry David's doing better these days. Good for him.