Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The Hole To China

Many of my projects as a five-year-old were inspired by Bugs Bunny cartoons. As a mechanically deficient boy that later blossomed into a mechanically deficient man, I never tried to build a rocket ship or massive catapult.  I did not have those skills.  I was persuasive though, and this served me well even as a child. I was able to assemble a team of child workers to attempt to dig a hole to China, as had been featured in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  As seen in these documentaries I was watching (it didn’t occur to us that these cartoons weren’t anchored in fact), it seemed easy enough to shovel right through the planet and pop up in China. There we would be greeted by a racially insensitive caricature that would say “Ah-so!” or something along those lines. Great merriment would follow. It was a solid way to spend an afternoon.

It quickly became evident that digging a pit through the core of the earth would be a bigger undertaking than was feasible for three young boys with two shovels. Our friend Christopher quit almost immediately. When the going got tough, Christopher got going.  Literally got going home... He was sort of a pussy.  Undeterred by the enormity of the task, Michael and I soldiered on. We soon had an enormous pit excavated. Looking back now, it was probably three feet deep. Not bad for two five-year olds with shovels, but a good distance away from shoveling magma or popping up in Shanghai.

Our progress stopped because the ground became too hard to break up. Our dreams to dig through had been stopped. Left with a giant hole in the ground and no end game, we brainstormed a plan. Spreading sticks and leaves over the hole, we became focused on tricking Christopher over the hole and watching him fall through the Tiger Trap.  It was cold blooded, yes, but undeniably fun.  We prepared the tiger trap and went to Christopher’s house with a brilliant cover story.  “Hey! Come over to the woods. There’s something cool to see.  We can’t tell you until you’re there what it is.”  (We had already become adept at the black arts as you can see.)

The problem happened when Christopher’s older brother got wind of the action going down.  I think his name was Peter.  Why all my childhood friends sounded like Winnie the Pooh characters, I can’t tell you. Anyway, Peter followed us to see this “cool” thing.  As he was older he took the lead and was so busy shooting his mouth off he didn’t see the tiger trap.  He promptly fell through and broke his leg.  There was a great deal of screaming.  We did the responsible thing all five-year olds did.  We ran home and pretended none of this had happened.

I don’t remember the fall out on this fiasco.  One would think that we would have faced fierce retribution for creating a tiger trap and luring a boy to break his limb, but I don’t remember that.  I remember Peter in his filthy cast all summer, but no real call out in front of a paternal tribunal.  They were different times.  No one wore helmets or seatbelts.

I had a dream last night where I was digging and digging a big hole to China.  I kept working and was making progress though the task seemed endless.  I was easily a hundred feet down digging furiously.  A small woman yelled down at me from above.  “You’ll never make it to China. Never!”  It only made me redouble my efforts.  My shoulders ached and I continued.  The woman stared down at me with contempt with crossed arms.  I kept digging.  I felt like I couldn’t stop now.  I had already gone so far.

I woke up before concluding my adventure. There is something on a map called an antipode, which is the polar opposite location to another point.  Through this I learned that the antipodal (?) point of Cleveland is in the ocean a great distance from Australia.  If I had wanted to end up in China I would need to start in Argentina over by the Uruguay border.  This is a good news/bad news scenario.  It’s good to know that I can now make my Great White shark dive by digging a hole straight through the planet.  It will save money on airfare.  China seems more out of reach than ever though.  Maybe I can dig another tiger trap.  That worked out.  Maybe I need to stick with what got me here.  Be forewarned…  If I ask you to come see something “cool” in the woods, take pause.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Guns and Teachers

My first “real” job was selling radio ads at a Top 40 radio station.  The station was totally lame.  We played “Ice Ice Baby” seemingly every 13 minutes which attracted our core audience of very young girls.  As a result, the only people that had genuine interest in running ads on the station were horrible nightclubs.  It was the only type of business we could help.  Every single one of these nightclubs ran the same basic ad.  (cue awful dance music)  “The hottest Thursday night in town is at our shitty club!  DJ Jack Off spins the hottest tracks!  Great drink specials!  Ladies drink free from 8-10p courtesy of Mr. Formal Limousine.”  They were all horrible clubs where people you didn’t want to meet went in their terrible party clothes to later rub sex organs with other people you’d never want to meet in their filthy apartments.  I was essentially the intermediary in putting these animals together.

One of my clients was a guy named Debo.  Debo was a Lebanese immigrant that moved to the United States and opened a dance club in what is referred to as a “transitional” neighborhood.  I would go to the club to get his cash every Monday for his upcoming weekly ad schedule.  A closed dance club is a sad place on a Monday afternoon.  It smells like stale beer, sweet mixers, and cheap cleaning products.  I would walk all the way to the back to Debo’s office to discuss our marketing strategy for the week.  These high powered meetings would be focused on such delicate matters such as devoting ad copy to note he now served mozzarella sticks.  It was comforting to know my marketing degree was being put to good use.

I remember once Debo asked me to go with him across the street to take cash to make a deposit at the bank.  “Sure.  No problem.”  He opened up his desk and took out a .38 and put it down with a thud.  “Here.  Take this.  We could run into trouble.”  Now I liked Debo.  He was an affable guy.  However, I would not say our relationship was strong enough for me to get into a gunfight with Middle Eastern gangsters in a dodgy Cleveland neighborhood on a Monday afternoon.  I decided to wait in the concrete bunker office with his grim cigarette smoking sister.  That was a fairly normal day at work for me at the time.  I thought it was exotic and sort of fun to peer into this underground culture. 

My girlfriend worked as an elementary school teacher.  She went into education as she had a natural affinity for children.  Kids sensed that she was trustworthy and kind.  We would get together after work and I would tell her these wild “nightclub guy” stories.  A client got arrested for dealing coke.  Strippers stole another guy’s car.  A nightclub promotor turned up dead in the river.  Then I would ask her what she did all day. 

“We made puppets.”

The idea that teachers are going to be outfitted with guns and engage in Ramboesque shootouts with assault rifle toting school shooters is absolutely insane.  It is bat shit crazy.  It is so devoid of common sense it would be laughable if it wasn’t being taken seriously.  The woman that became a teacher did so because she was gentle and nurturing.  It’s why she didn’t become a cop for instance.  Every fiber of her being would be focused on trying to stop a school shooter from hurting more children.  She would want to help the shooter and make him stop.  There is no way she could ever pull a trigger on a child.  It goes completely against her nature.  They were all like that.  Every single teacher I met at their social events was “nice”.  They didn’t go into teaching to fire weapons at kids. 

To have this suggestion come from our highest elected office via Twitter shows the utter incompetence of our president and his inability to grasp reality.  His lack of intellectual depth is astounding.  That isn’t even the outrageous part.  To see the NRA look at this latest school shooting as an opportunity to sell more guns on federal contracts to schools is reprehensible.  It provides a clear view of the ethical makeup of the people in the gun business and their appointed puppets in office.  

There is no bottom.      

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Franz Reichelt, Hero

Today I discovered some fabulous history, the story of Franz Reichelt.  Franz was an Austrian born French tailor.  He lived in Paris in the early 1900s and made his living primarily as a dressmaker for visiting Austrian tourists.  He somehow became consumed with the idea of making a parachute suit for airmen.  He began to stitch prototypes together.  Soon after he began to experiment by throwing dummies off his fifth floor apartment wearing his parachute suits and began to have some success.  His idea was that he could create something that would be used as a safety device for aviation pioneers so they could survive what must have been fairly consistent problems at altitude.

There was no real indication on why Franz was so fixated on this idea, but he couldn’t let it go.  On February 4th 1912 he arrived at the Eiffel Tower wearing one of his suits.  He had been telling French authorities that he wanted to continue with his experiments at the greater height of the tower’s first deck with more dummy drops.  However, when he showed up that day he announced that he was going to do the jump himself to prove to the world the success of his design.  His friends pleaded with him not to do it.  The French Authorities, being French, soon got all worked up not so much about Franz’s safety but about protocol and responsibility.  In the end, they decided to let him make his jump after failing to bargain with him to just try some dummies first to see if it worked.

What I can’t make clear from the story is if Franz was stubborn or a fool.  Did he know how risky this was or was he blissfully confident in his limited abilities?  He waved to the gathering crowd saying “see you soon!” cheerfully as he ascended in his suit.  He got to the top railing and stood there with a cop for about 45 seconds perched on the edge.  Watch the footage.  It seems like he must have been weighing things out in his mind comparing the loss of face in backing out versus the likelihood of failure.  Then, as captured on newsreel footage, he did it.  He jumped and fell to his death. 

I am not sure if Franz is some sort of hero or the biggest asshole of all time.  On the one hand, he got in completely over his head.  He must have known that it was, at best, a coin flip if it was going to work.  It was cold that day, a very breezy 32 degrees, just at freezing. It must have been hard to be balanced on that railing and chair with the awkward suit and his hard soled shoes while weighing the options.  Still, he found the courage to jump, and that’s something.

I think we have all been at points in our life where we had to decide to jump or not.  There is a split second where you take the biggest chance you ever took or look back and wonder what would have happened if you had done it.  Maybe Franz thought the split second he jumped “I blew it”.  Or maybe he smiled all the way down cheerfully, just as he had walked up those steps waving to the newspapermen and onlookers.  He would never wake up in the middle of the night wondering “what if I had?”.  There’s something sad and beautiful about the entire incident.

I hope if I ever find myself standing on that railing filled with misplaced confidence, I find the courage to jump.  As the French say, "il est difficile de voler en pyjama chat".  

Here's his jump:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBN3xfGrx_U 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Whiskey Daredevils New Guitar Player

The cat’s out of the bag.  Hector played his first show with the band last Saturday in Pittsburgh, and things went surprisingly well.  I had thought we would have a rocky transitional period, but he just stepped right in there.  We didn’t have any of those “what the hell is going on here” moments, which is nice.  If you think those are painful to watch from a crowd, just try being one of the people up on the stage.  It’s hard to hide behind a straight stand.  We didn’t want to make a big build up of his first gig beforehand as it’s difficult enough to step into a long running band without the additional social media chatter leading up to it.  We crossed the bridge though, so here’s the skinny.

The Whiskey Daredevils decided to make a change this year.  To consistently make good music, all members of a band need to be on the same page.  A band is unlike almost anything else in an adult life.  It’s a gang.  It’s like having three girlfriends simultaneously, which isn’t easy.  You have to be able to communicate with each other and work within a group setting.  There is a shared energy and enthusiasm for what you’re doing as well as a brotherhood in the best bands.  For example, I can say shit about Leo because he’s one of my brothers.  You’re not allowed to because you’re not one of us.  I will say this though.  If you made a crack about those mandels he wore to Pittsburgh that time we played with SCOTS, I would have let it slide.  Those shoes were an affront to God. 

Sorry.  I got sidetracked.

I remember seeing Son Volt on maybe their third record at the Odeon.  That was about 167 years ago.  They walked out on stage and played the material proficiently but seemed so disconnected from each other and the audience that it made the show unpleasant.  You could feel the energy getting sucked out of the room.  If the vibes are bad from the stage, there is no way the audience can have a good time.  It’s like paying to witness doomed marriage counseling.  I’ve never gone back to see Son Volt again.  Son Volt, if it was a one time thing and you were mad at each other because the drummer ate all the pre-gig sandwiches, I apologize.  I couldn’t shake the feeling of eternal sadness you conjured up so I never came back.

Let’s talk about what we are doing now.  We are all excited to play with Hex Mattos.  Hex is bringing in a lot of enthusiasm and a shared aesthetic.  We are all on the same page with what constitutes “our music” and it has been genuinely fun creating new material.  We have already worked up a full length record full of songs, and are working at teaching Hex all the “hits” from our back catalogue.  I had an extremely prolific period of ideas in 2017.  I spread songs across the previous Daredevils lineup, our new lineup and the Cowslingers.  We just shoved 9 new songs out there in Pittsburgh.  I even remembered most of the words.  I think you will like what you hear from us in 2018.  There was the Cowslingers full length that just came out, a Whiskey Daredevils record we did with Gary last summer, and I’m sure an upcoming record with our latest stuff when we can scare up some cash to go back into the studio. 

In the end, I think we made some very good music with Gary.  Seven records I think?  I am proud of the records we made.  I think you’ll all like the new one that will come out this year.  It’s a good one.  Gary was an absolute beast in the studio.  He's a heckuva guitar player.  The proof is right there on those releases.  However, we all needed to make a change.  It all gets back to this...  If you aren’t moving ahead, you’re falling behind.  

Onward ho!  Hope to see you soon...

Friday, February 16, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Here Comes The Gun Lobby

The bluster talk about sensible gun control has launched again.  It will be dead in the water by Monday, but today it still has some life.  That stiff Paul Ryan actually went out onto a podium yesterday and said it was “too soon” to talk about guns.  He should have been wearing an NRA hat while he did it just so those in the population that are completely asleep could have at least had a chance to make the connection.  Paul Ryan is the emptiest of all empty suits.  He is the guy that takes the last slice of pizza.  He is the one that raises his hand to remind the teacher to assign weekend homework as he thinks it will get him brownie points.  He’s a guy that thinks “French Vanilla” is too rich an ice cream flavor, so he sticks to “vanilla” thank you very much.  He will eat any shit sandwich put in front of him if he thinks he will benefit long term.  He is the guy you hated in elementary school, high school, and college that turned out just like you thought he would.  He is perhaps the last person you would ever want to go on a road trip with to any destination associated with fun.  He is, the worst.

Ryan and Rubio and the other paid for politicians that are strangling common sense will attempt to move the argument away from the obvious “these fucking guns are out of control” to “it’s a mental health issue”.  This suggests that it would be easier to monitor the mental state of everyone in the nation instead of just making sure no one has military style weapons at their disposal.  Let’s say we took Paul Ryan and put him in a room with Charles Manson and a AR-15.  Would Paul Ryan be concerned with A) getting Charles mental health counseling or B) getting that goddamn AR-15 out of the room?  The correct answer is C) checking with the NRA to make sure what they want him to do. 

It’s a lot like the cigarette companies in the 1970s and 80s.  When the obvious conclusion that smoking made you sick and killed you was made, opinion began to sway towards holding the companies responsible for knowingly killing their customers.  The cigarette companies had an effective strategy of sidetracking arguments into minutiae and delivering truckloads of money to Congress to stall any legislation that would hurt their bottom line.  The gun companies know they are going to lose this battle eventually.  At some point Congress will run the risk/benefit math and discover that they could lose their cushy office jobs by protecting the gun companies.  I don’t know when that point is as The American People forgot about a dude with a machine gun opening up on a Country Music Festival within a week.  What’s left after that?  Spraying gunfire at a toddler’s playground?  Murdering an entire stadium of people at an NBA game?  It’s tough to keep people’s attention.  They’d probably have to get LeBron.  “LeBron James Tragically Murdered in Mass Shooting at NBA Finals… 19,999 others also killed”

The gun people trot out their idiotic talking points.  “You need a good guy with a gun to take out a bad guy with a gun” (13,000+ annual gun murders in the country versus 11 documented cases of “good guy with a gun” doing anything EVER=complete fallacy).  “People can use a baseball bat to kill people, so getting rid of guns doesn’t solve the problem” (Um, yeah but a guy with a baseball bat can’t kill 17 people and injure 20 more in a few minutes like he can with a fucking machine gun)  “Drunk drivers kill more people with guns, but you wouldn’t outlaw cars” (Yes but cars aren’t specifically designed to kill people, so there’s that)

The Gun People are completely inflexible.  They are different than “people that own guns but have a sense of reason”.  The Gun People spend too much time watching Pravda TV, listening to Rush Limbaugh, and think Alex Jones has sensible things to say about the dreaded “Deep State”.  They will not, under any circumstances, agree to talk about a sensible solution to regular mass murders.  They have been told over and over again that to give an inch is to lose the war.  It’s a tough way to live in a society that is built on majority rule and consensus building, but there it is.  They will never enter into a discussion that is empathetic to the vast majority of us that aren’t living in the delusion that we are action heroes and do not want to be gunned down for no particular reason.  They don’t care and you can’t teach someone empathy. 

The only way to get this changed is to make the Congress members that refuse to do anything so uncomfortable in their inaction that they are forced to do the right thing.  That shitbag Paul Ryan will change his tune with even the first whiff of public opinion threatening his gig.  In Ohio, Rob Portman has received $3 million+ from the NRA.  He has what can be called a certain “moral ambiguity” as anyone can attest after he made that whiplash change on gay rights when his son came out as gay.  He can be counted on to do the right thing if it benefits him personally.  I hope enough of the population can maintain the effort necessary to either change these representative’s behavior or remove them from office.  These people have no conscience so the key is to focus on what makes them tick.  Self interest.

Keep your heads down.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Another Boring School Shooting

I will admit it.  This latest school shooting barely caught my interest.  I am completely desensitized to gun violence at this point.  Unless it is something spectacular, like when the Vegas shooter blew off more automatic rounds than the Normandy Invasion, I won't even glance at it.  As predicted, we did absolutely nothing as a nation for further prevention after any of these recent shootings.  When you get right down to it, we didn't even try.  The same thing will happen here.

Yesterday was intensive media coverage of the same video of kids being led out of a school with their hands up and the shooter being led to jail.  The key is to show the same video over and over while the announcer tries to pretend that the situation is still in flux.  It isn't.  There are 17 dead kids and some assault weapons being wrapped up by police in plastic evidence bags.  It's tough to make good TV out of something which is over.  The next couple of days will focus on the hand wringing and squeezing emotion out of parents willing to go on camera and cry.  News producers love a good crying mom.  It's terrific for the ratings.  Lawmakers will step up to microphones this afternoon to try and milk some PR out of the situation, and without any shred of a moral compass say things like "our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims".  That will show them to be compassionate which they hope you remember come November.  By Friday the discussion will go to the slim possibility of crafting a plan to prevent any dipshit in the country from outfitting themselves with weapons at retail stores better than most soldiers deployed for combat.  By late next week it will have all simmered down.  The Olympics will keep everyone distracted.  Then the gun companies can pay off Congress and get back to making money.  We have been doing it for years.  We all know the blueprint by now.

It seems to me that there are two options.  Option number one is to just admit we don't care.  Let's stop pretending that this is anything else but normal.  Parents should have the realistic expectation that a slight chance exists that their kid will get mowed down by automatic gunfire in science lab.  It's not a huge chance, but just a slim one.  We all need to stop pretending that this is an unexpected event.  It isn't.  In fact, you can almost set your watch to it.  This time next month there will be at least one more spectacular mass shooting.  The bottom line is that enough people think the slight risk of being blown away with a gun is less than the effort of having to do something about it.  Let's stop crying about a bunch of dead kids.  We don't really care.  Not enough to change anything.

Option number two is change.  One thing that has become evident to me over the years is that the same repeated actions will produce the same basic results.  If we don't make radical changes in our gun policy, the same thing will happen over and over again.  This has been proven as we have gone from Columbine to the Colorado Movie shooting to the Texas Church to yesterday.  Insert whichever of your favorite insane shootings if you don't like the ones I have chosen.  There are plenty to choose from.  It's the same thing over and over.  After these events the same people try to get the same lawmakers to do the same thing over and over.  They won't.  They get paid too much money to do what they are currently doing, protecting the gun companies.  I can sort of see it from their angle.  The choice they have made is that some stranger that kills a bunch of other strangers far away from them is exchanged for the life of a Washington DC Congressman.  It's an easy trade for them to make.  Doing the right thing is conceptual.  Doing the wrong thing gives you a fabulous lifestyle.

What if we made that choice more tangible for the people that can effect change?  Most of these Congress people have kids and grand kids.  You've seen them trotted out at the end of campaign ads with the family golden retriever as they smile in family unity.  How about if terrifying looking, though completely law abiding, teams of goons outfitted to the teeth with guns just started following their kids around?  Every time Billy the Congressman's son goes to soccer, seven Hell's Angels looking guys carrying AR-15s showed up and just hung around.  Senator So-and-so's grand kid goes to the movies and is completely surrounded by tatted up guys named "Spider" resting shotguns on their legs.  They never threaten the kids.  They just hang around with their legal weapons and permits in pocket.  That way Senator So-And-So can explain to his hysterical daughter why he voted down sensible gun measures and "Spider" can go see "Jumanji 2".  "Honey!  Stop crying!  Of course I love Kendall!  Well, you need to understand that this Spider fella has a right to carry that machine gun to Kendall's birthday party at Kalahari Water Park..."

Is this a bit extreme?  Sure.  However, what is happening now isn't working for anyone.  This idea could "open a dialogue" as they say.  I feel bad for these lawmakers.  It can't be easy for these Congress members to have to come up with a new spin on the "pray for the families in this time of mourning" speech.  Having to say the same things repeatedly has to be challenging.  Even the clean cut NRA spokesman that will slither out of the marsh today will have a challenge to spin this into "an unfortunate cost for our freedoms" or some such horseshit.  Yet, this is the path we have chosen.  Oh well...  It's not the right time to talk about gun policy change, or so I have heard.  Let's get back to the Olympics and look forward to the next school shooting together.  USA!  USA!  USA!      

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The Bob Hope Idea

A question I always find annoying is any variation of “Guess who I saw yesterday?”.  This question is clearly meant as a device to steer a conversation, but it wastes time.  Just tell me who you saw yesterday so I can react to it.  That’s where we are headed anyway.  Thus, whenever I am asked that question I always answer the same way.  “Guess who I ran into yesterday at the coffee shop?”  Bob Hope.  

There is inevitably a confused reaction to that answer.  I like it when I see the baffled “why did he think I ran into a dead comedian at Starbucks?” scenario run through their heads as their initial enthusiasm fades from their face.  I also like to make a cultural reference that is so completely outdated it might as well be Fatty Arbuckle or Mae West.  The last time I saw Bob Hope mentioned was when a boxed set of DVDs of his television specials whisked by me on a lonely cable channel a decade ago.  Most people know that Bob Hope was famous, but aren’t exactly sure why. 

Comedy is interesting in how it only reflects that exact time.  There are almost no comedies that transcend time.  Maybe an argument can be made for some Chaplin films or the Three Stooges (who I detest and never thought were funny).  Some George Carlin or Richard Pryor from the 70s holds up.  Regardless, it’s a very thin list.  It’s impossible to sit through a Lenny Bruce clip.  When is the last time someone told a JJ Walker joke?  Laugh-In is cringe worthy.  Watching old television comedy clips makes you wonder why the audience is cackling like hyenas.  How could they have thought this was so funny?

Case in point…  I dare you to make it through a Bob Hope USO Tour monologue.  Take a “modern” one like a Vietnam appearance.  Bob comes out with his golf outfit swinging his club and tells absolutely awful jokes.  The film then cuts to GIs laughing their asses off.  It must be fake.  There is no way that these 20 year olds that have been getting shot at in the jungle can be whooping it up to terrible Bob Hope jokes.  The answer must be that time changes us collectively in ways we can’t see day-to-day, but add up quietly to make irreversible differences.  Maybe the same young men that laughed it up that day would look at the clip as gray haired men today and think “Bob really sucks.  What was I laughing at?”.  Culture moves slowly like a cloud across the sky. 

Based on that idea of the past being a unique moment, I wonder if everyone in the 1940s spoke like the movie dialogue of the time.  It must have been cities filled with people speaking in fast clipped sentences.  The only difference would have been that instead of saying dramatic things like “Don’t fall for me.  Don’t do it kid.  You know I have to go.  I have to go fight the Japs.  You don’t need me.  I’m a flyboy.  I’m as good as dead.  As good as dead kid.  Find yourself another fella.”, they would have been talking like this,  “I’d like eggs.  Two eggs.  Two scrambled eggs.  And bacon.  Don’t forget bacon.  Toast on the side?  Sure kid.  Toast on the side would be swell.”.  Otherwise any time they would have watched films they would have whispered to each other “Why do they talk to each other like that?” as soon as the movie started.  I don't ever recall hearing about consistent murmering in movie theaters in 1946. 

So then I got an idea.  What if I were to memorize an entire Bob Hope monologue and then perform it, just like Bob, at a comedy club open mic night.  I’m talking going the distance with this thing.  A complete golf outfit.  Country club ball cap.  Swinging a golf club saying things like “This ship stays at sea a long time.  They only go to port when a chaplain asks to see a chaplain…  To give you an idea how long these guys have been at sea, they just made Phyllis Diller their pin up girl.”  Then swing the club and look for an approving laugh.  Not once would I ever provide any sense of context.  Under no circumstances would I let the audience in on the idea that I was replicating a Bob Hope routine from the late 1960s on an aircraft carrier.  “Hey that Ann Margaret…  Ain’t she somethin’?”  (Tiger purr noise)

I think it would become so uncomfortable it would become a test between who would crack first, me or the audience.  It would be especially great to do a routine from the 1960s where there is no chance in hell anyone would know the cultural references Bob, or I, was making.  I would let the silence just hang there in between the one liners that had fallen flat.  “I love the runway you have here…  Great golf country.  Even the runway has 18 holes.”  Golf swing.  Silence.  “How about that Jill St. John everybody?”

The idea is either Kaufmanesque in its brilliance or just awful.  Is Andy Kaufman still funny?  Is that even a viable reference?  How much do you think a golf outfit costs?                

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Pascale Petit

They used to show obscure foreign and independent films in a small classroom at the community college.  Tim had become the executive director of the group “Voices In Film” which was a hodge podge of art victims, outcasts, and iconoclasts that had found in each other a willing audience that would indulge their esoteric tastes in cinema.  When you got right down to it, it was a bunch of people that badgered their friends to pay to come see odd movies that they couldn’t afford to rent on their own.  Digital streams would not do.  They needed the actual prints.  This was cinema!  It was there that Tim first encountered the early 60s movies of Pascale Petit.

After their sparsely attended screening of the fairly terrible film “Une Fille Pour L’ete”, Tim found himself infatuated with the actress Pascale Petit.  He began to dress wearing odd little scarves and pedal about town on an antique bike.  Soon he was peppering his language with French.  He started to hand roll cigarettes.  His began to champion the actress in all meetings of “Voices In Film”, insisting on additional screenings of her work.  After those screenings failed to draw even meagerly enough to cover costs, Tim doubled down and firmly put forth a resolution for “an all Pascale Petit weekend” as a way for The Public to learn and appreciate her work.  This doomed idea led to Tim’s ouster as president of "Voices In Film" and led to the current leadership who, as you have no doubt noticed, have an affinity for the films of Akira Kurosawa.

Tim was ostracized after the coup.  He became even more gaunt, forlornly smoking his cigarettes and lingering over cups of coffee at outdoor café tables.  He lived his life in faded black and white film.  He started speaking like he was in one of the 1960s films of Pascale Petit.  Sometimes he even employed a trace of an accent.  “I love her you know…  You could never understand what it is to be in love like this.”  He swam in his despair, gloriously broken.  “How can I go on when I cannot be with her?  To know our destiny has been denied?”  He stubbed out his cigarette and looked off in the distance as if it had been called for in a script.

“Look Tim, I can see you have strong feelings for the woman.  I do.  But I would like to point out that you are in love with a movie character in France from 1962.  The real Pescale Petit would be an 80 year old woman in France, if she's still alive.”  He stared at me and shook his head slowly with a smile forming at the corners of his mouth.  “To question the way of love is a fool’s game my friend.  Time and space are nothing but illusion.”  He dug into his canvas mailbag and pulled out a pouch of tobacco.  His bony fingers worked methodically assembling the cigarette.  He dramatically lit the cigarette with a wooden match and stared off once again allowing the wind to blow his hair.  He was performing for himself at this point.

I placed two dollars under my saucer to keep it blowing away in the breeze.  “Well… Hang in there man.”  Tim was lost.  I felt sorry for him.  He had no idea how ridiculous he was behaving.  He was trapped in a prison his mind had constructed.  I left Tim to his beautiful gloom and walked across the square to the small specialty grocer.  There in the back I slid open the cooler and took two bottles of Sapporo beer to the cashier.  "Arigatu" I said as I shoved one in each pocket of my jacket.  The door let out an electronic "ding" as I left and made my way to the community college.  

 When I arrived, I hung up my jacket on a hook.  I went into the men's room and changed into a small white robe, tying it closed with a black sash.  I took two wooden sandals from my backpack and stepped into them.  I walked out and saw the other members of "Voices In Film" standing by a small grocery store sushi spread on a card table.  I made a deep bow and said "Kon'nichiwa".  It was Akira Kurosawa weekend at “Voices In Film”.  “The Seven Samurai” was screening tonight.  I had seen the film so many times I could recite dialogue.  I found a perfect seat in the center before the lights dimmed.  To not be seated would have been a great dishonor.  As a samurai myself, I could not allow that to happen.  The film began and I felt relaxed.  I felt at home.  The others could never understand.