Friday, January 02, 2009

Welcome 2009

Sometimes we lose sight of our goals. Sometimes they happen while were busy still complaining about where we want to be in life. They aren’t the most profound realizations a person could have but they work. New Years Eve has always been a mind fuck to me. Januarys resolutions become Februarys regrets. Drunks wander around slapping each other on the back congratulating each other for another year. It’s a milestone. A shared moment of contemplation and expectation we all share. This year I was sliding into it like I do with most of these holidays. I was vibrating contempt for my fellow man worrying about what I had not yet achieved in my life. I was walking to my gig for that night thinking of other years at other venues in other times. Some were better but far more were unquestionably worse. Then it struck me, I am headlining a New Years Eve show in San Francisco. I have worked a lot of new years eves in this town. That makes me relatively lucky as a comic. I’ve been a host at all the major venues, Punch Line, Cobb’s and even the Palace of Fine Arts. Last year I headlined a small venue in Davis, CA. It was a great gig. But the prize has always been to not just be on a show in the city, but to be its headliner. It had come true almost without me realizing it. It was a last minuet gig but everything about it was right. The money was good the people I would be working with even better and the venue a place I know well. I said it out loud in my head a few more times. I am the headliner for a New Years Eve show in San Francisco. That is cool. Anyway you want to look at it I accomplished something I had wanted for so long that when it happened it not only happened by sheer luck, but the thrill almost passed me by. It was only when I was about ten minuets away from the gig did I find myself smiling for the first time that day. It wasn’t a cocky feeling or a conceded feeling of thinking I was so great, it was just an acknowledgment that I need to get my head out of my ass and appreciate something I have said I have wanted for a very long time.

So it goes. I spent New Years Eve of 2008 at the San Francisco Comedy College on the fifth floor of their Clubhouse. We had two shows in front of good crowds. I was paid right afterwards, congratulated by happy audience members and made to feel important by all the people at the Comedy College. Not bad. Not bad at all. I didn’t have any resolutions when I went into the night but I left feeling like 2009 was set up great. It taught me that people care about me even when I think they don’t. It showed me how much I can get in the way of myself being happy. So my resolution is pretty simple. I am going to work harder at including the people who care about me in my life. I am going to find a way to remember that things inside my head are not generally the way things are.

My New Years Eve turned out pretty good.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good Riddance Bush. Or, a trip to my bank makes it all personal

The times we live in! Man, what a mess.
Pakistan and India are on the verge of a shooting war, Israel has launched the largest military assault on the Gaza Strip in 40 years and people want Obama to say something about it all even though he is not the President.
With three weeks left on the job where is Bush?
That’s right! With only three weeks left to go he is on yet another vacation. Don’t you want a government job like that?
While the world falls deeper into destruction, Bush is sleep walking to the finish line. Where is his staff during all this?
Making the Sunday morning talk show rounds where they give interviews proclaiming Bushes legacy will be remembered in part for his peace making.
The world burns but they would rather rewrite history than deal with anything like reality.
Maybe we should just let Bush know he is free to leave any time.
Any time.

Laura Bush, not amused by the shoe-throwing incident, has said publicly that it was an assault. Actually, the shoes never hit him so it is an attempted assault. More importantly though, I wonder what she calls what we did to Iraq? Those weren’t shoes we were dropping from planes Laura. Maybe she doesn’t understand.

I was standing in line at the bank yesterday. As if there isn’t enough anxiety about banks these days, the branch I go to has a giant plasma screen TV behind the tellers so you can watch in line. Great. They always have it on CNN. I’m worried about my account because of a mistake they made and now I get to watch another war and more children with blood on their faces as I wait to speak with a representative. Please pump all the fear and loathing you can into an otherwise normal trip to the bank, Wells Fargo!
I did something very San Francisco. I interrupted a conversation to let someone know I had been offended by a comment I overheard. That’s what I did, but I didn’t clear my throat next to a smoker or lecture someone with a pet to get their balls cut. It was a father and son who were speaking. The father said, “People want to make fun of Bush as a failure, they forget that there hasn’t been another 9/11 on his watch.”
I love this argument! It’s a fool’s refuge.
“Excuse me, I couldn’t help but hear your last comment. Your right, under Bush there was only one 9/11. An event he allowed to happen when he ignored several warnings from foreign intelligence services and of course the CIA briefing titled, Bin Laden determined to strike with in the U.S. To be fair though, he did get that briefing while on vacation at his ranch in Texas and who really wants to do anything when they’re on vacation? Right? I mean, thats where he was when Katrina hit New Orleans, too”
You can imagine how that went over.
I thought this guy was going to have a melt down! His eyes bulged, a vein appeared to throb at his temple and his son just looked at me in a way that suggested, I have to put up with this now for the rest of the day, ass hole!
His reply? Nothing. Just his eyes aimed at me with a cold resolve to come up with the right thing to say. Eventually, he came up with something. It took a few minuets but you could tell he thought he had me! But oh what a familiar Conservative talk show programed response it was!
“What did Bill Clinton do to keep us safe?”
“Well, I can tell you this much. The people who attempted to bring down the world trade center on his watch were all found, put on trial and the mastermind now sits in prison. Under Bush, the mastermind of 9/11 has never been found yet everyone seems to know where he is. When Clinton did send cruise missiles to kill Bin Laden at a suspected terrorist training facility, he was criticized for doing so. Everyone thought it was to distract us from the infamous blowjob scandal. Man I miss hearing about Blowjobs and cum stains as serious news. Now days its Torture, Spying and Billions of dollars lost along with human lives. The music might have been more depressing, but I miss the 90’s”
A few bank employees laughed, the security guard grew more uncomfortable and the son just shook his head before getting his dad out of there.

Look, its not productive to get bogged down in what one President did over another. It’s not productive to start any sentence with Democrats did this or Conservatives did that. But if you can’t look at the shape of the world right now and see that virtually the entire Neo-conservative platform has almost destroyed the economy with unchecked deregulation, left Iraq and Afghanistan more open to terrorist take over than before we showed up to free them and cost America its reputation all around the world as the Good Guys, then your simply not paying enough attention. This whole idea that Bush has been a success because we didn’t have another 9/11 on his watch is complete bullshit.
We had THE 9/11 on his watch!

In fact, the reason I was at the bank had to do with 9/11. To make sure you are not a front for terrorist operations like a charity distributing money to bomb makers, any large deposit has to be verified. They do this by sending the depositor a form. I was sent one because a few months ago I opened a modest CD with them. Did the whole thing on line. A month and a half later, this form shows up. A month and a half later. With lightening speed reaction times like that, how could a suspected enemy ever get money out of the bank in time? Now keep in mind, this is a legal form that will be reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security and was prepared by Wells Fargo.
There were two typos in the document.
I could overlook these typos. After all, don’t most of us make the simple mistake of spelling health club, hezth club?

In a fit of conspiracy overindulgence, a friend pointed out to me that changing a single letter like that gives the appearance that it is an Arabic word. Maybe not to you and me, but to a computer whose job it is to look at all this information coming in and flag items that appear foreign or suspicious, it might. Think of it as the digital equivalent of racial profiling.

Maybe. I am not willing to go all the way on that one yet. Course, people have ended up on the Governments secret no fly list for easier to explain reasons than that. Sen. Ted Kennedy was on the no fly list. So was a 5-year-old boy. Since the government won’t tell anyone just what the criteria for getting on the damn thing is and there is no official way to confront them if its wrong, maybe my friend has a point. Will see the next time I fly.

I do know that the other typo wasn’t a letter in a word. It was a number. According to Wells Fargo, who was going to pass this information on to an agency that has the police powers of the CIA and the FBI combined, I suddenly opened a CD for $100K!
That’s how they wrote it. $100K.
I wish!
I opened a CD for $10K. Now maybe its just a zero, but at a time when the American public has lost any respect for the banking industry, shouldn’t you be on your best behavior? I mean do you really want to shake any customers faith in you, Wells Fargo? Couldn’t I just simply close my account and walk across the street to another bank? The other thing to consider is that these forms are also sent to my old friend and Nemesis, the IRS. Like every comic I know, I have my issues with those guys. In the last few years I have finally been able to start paying off what I owed them from those years of driving around the country doing stand-up, drunk and ignorant to tax law. If the IRS got an official Government document stating that I had $100,000 in the bank and haven’t finished paying off my debt to them, what do you think would happen to that CD? They would take it in a heartbeat. That’s the law. In my head I could see a series of Kafka like mistakes resulting in my own personal disaster all because some teller at Wells Fargo was having delusions of grandeur while carrying ones.
No thanks.
To me, this brings the decadence, disease of greed, incompetence and ignorance of the last eight years down to a very personal level. Course, anyone with a mortgage payment due, a soldier returning from combat with no VA benefits, a scientist with a good idea or an Iraqi kid missing arms but free to wave an American flag as we drive by in fighting vehicles that aren't properly armoured, also has had the Bush legacy made very very personal for them.

Good riddance Bush; you might have believed in God but it felt like you worked for the Devil.
I do wonder what will happen to Darth Cheney when he leaves.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Of Guns and Shoes

Sometimes you hear a story and your not sure where to place the outrage. This story will challenge any sense of justice you have.
An argument ensued while others at the Riverview Movie Theatre watched "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
A man angry that a family was talking during a movie threw popcorn at the son and then shot the father in the arm, according to police in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The man was carrying a Kel-Tec .380-caliber handgun clipped inside his sweatpants, police said.
Alright. First of all no one is dead. Laugh and cheer away my friends! I know, its terrible and wrong. A guy was hurt after all and thats never good. But fucking A! How many times have you thought about doing this in the exact same situation?
Me too.
I can't go all the way and give this guy full blown hero status, but I might give him a pat on the back. Hell, I might contribute to his legal defense fund.
Then I saw a photo of the dude.
Oh man. A lot went wrong there! Course, we can deduce that from his lack of impulse control I suppose.
This guy is missing a few pegs on his aggression escalation scale. There should be at least a few more steps between throwing pop corn and gun. Shouldn't there? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the story also said he clipped the gun inside his sweatpants.

Are you kidding me? This guy gave up. When you wear sweatpants outside in public your just telling the world you know your a fat pig, but you don't care. I bet it had stains on it too. Mustard, grease, bits of cheese. Its a flag that says, I am going to eat what I want so I am going to be comfortable doing it. A man in sweat pants doesn't give a fuck. But here is the thing that cracks me up the most. He's going to a movie on Christmas day, usually the day when they release movies best described with terms like, warm hearted and moving. So he puts on his Christmas sweatpants because maybe hes going to hit a buffet before going to the Theater, but before he leaves the house he somehow goes through a thought process that ends with him bringing his gun. Your going to see a Brad Pitt movie on Christmas! The only reason to bring a gun is to shot yourself. Christ almighty!
I still blame the family for talking during the movie. If you see a guy who obviously loves to eat throw food away from his mouth, he is pissed! Really pissed. Maybe he isn't missing scales on his aggression meter. In his world throwing food at someone is a serious indicator of just how upset they really are. You should expect a gun coming into the situation next. Its like me throwing my Star Wars models at you. They mean a lot to me folks. If you ever anger me to the point where I am throwing those at you, run. The next thing coming out will be a gun my friends.
"Dude, that guy just hit me with a pot pie!"
"That huge guy in the sweat and food stained sweatpants with the worn out elastic ban?"
A few people on the Internet have made the comparison between this guy and the guy who threw his shoes at Bush. This really says something about us doesn't it? One guy risks his life to make an elegantly simple protest against lies about a war that never had to happen. Another guy shoots a dude for talking during a movie. They don't exactly add up on a scale do they? Defending the truth or, taking action with a gun against a guy who won't shut up? See my point? But thats us. Thats Americans. In our heads they both did something publicly we all wished we could do. That makes them equally eligible for folk hero status. Its a damn shame the situations weren't reversed. I mean, don't you wish the guy with the shoe had used a gun instead?