Guys can be pussies. We can be bitches and douche bags, dicks, and even bitches, but ironically cannot be cunts. Girls can be cunts and bitches, though ironically are never dicks or pussies, douche bags, or anything to do with their own genitalia. Nobody is a breast, tit, or titty, in spite of its sexual association. Why not? I’d venture that titties are just too unanimously beloved to be associated with anything negative but pussy and cunt obviously immediately refute that. Cunt and dick respectively, get to exist as both society’s highest insults and desired commodities. Fascinating! If a girl is considered a bitch it has a nearly 180 degree significance to that of a guy with the same label, and nobody insults any girls by calling her dude, guy, man, or boy. Ghetto slang has desensitized bitch to a nearly neutral connotation and some chicks who would be best described as douche bags even take great pride in the label, though this is still in contrast to the same culture’s expansion of nigger, which can now refer to a group it previously did not, whereas bitch is still insensitively for only females in its allegedly non-insulting context. Guys seem to hold a monopoly on asshole, dickhead, and faggot, while their female counterparts get tightly boxed into only the two over-simplifications of bitch or cunt, possibly with an additionally insulting adjective thrown in front. No one is a box. Why? Why has faggot [sort of] expanded beyond its derision of only literally gay men to a way of emasculating any man [in a transparently homophobic irony], but dyke has not made the same leaps and bounds by affronting girls who fail to show their femininity? Why isn’t a masculine woman a dick? Isn’t that sexist? Isn’t it sexist to not call a woman a pussy when she is afraid to do something, or it just accepted that women are timid cowards expected to always act out of fear, yet ironically are permitted more masculine behavior than men are feminine? And with the increasing ubiquitousness of douche bag we have to be surprised that tampon hasn’t made any headway. Asswipe’s been on the scene for generations, and even ballbag had a decent cult following during its time, so it is not unremarkable that the rag hasn’t earned its place in society’s verbal assault. Dick and cunt surely share intentions at their respective genders, and dick and prick seem to be synonymous, though rarely is anyone a cock. More popular are cocksuckers, which ironically rarely comes from the same place or with the same intention as faggot. I don’t know about you, but when I hear cocksucker I feel the same as when I hear dick, which is not at all what I feel when I hear faggot. Bitch-ass nigga is a wonderful compound from hip hop, and my friend Eric and I had great fun back in the day in our attempts to popularize nigga-ass bitch with the definition your logic would anticipate; though clearly it did not catch on. This brings us back to the question of the double standard inside this world of beautifully awful obscenities. What is the etiology of the inconsistency? Is the narrow mind of the immature, alpha-male ego too unaccepting of androgyny in fellow men, or the modern feminist too rejecting of its own femininity, thus on the surface looking more open-minded of its genders’ androgyny, but for pathological reasons of over-compensation for an oppressed past? Is it ironic that an apparent pattern between the lines of the feminist movement is a rejection of femininity? Or is that just my dickhead chauvinistic mind conditioned by asshole men as to what femininity really is? Is it any coincidence that the Catholic Church scorns us for speaking these words just as it does for exploring and enjoying the same parts they’re referring to? Is it ironic then that in our desperate explosion from repression with obscenities, that we’ve accidentally reflected our religious conditionings by making every God-given sexual tool into an insult? You’re a dick. You’re a pussy. He’s an asshole. She’s a pussy. We are all these incredible sources of pleasure, release, and miraculous procreation. And we turn and say to the person we hate most the same thing we say to whom we love most: Fuck you, suck my dick! Wait, what?
April 11, 2014
Has there ever been a good interview with a rapper? Has an MC ever been able to relay the etiology of his creative process with enough vulnerability to enlighten any discerning mind? I recently watched Ice-T’s documentary, The Art of Rap; and by recently I mean I’m in the process of watching it on Netflix right now. Presently paused about two thirds of the way through with no promise of being completed, it is one of the most boring broken record of disappointingly “high school-ism” pontifications (from middle-aged men) I’ve ever seen. I’m trying to think back to what age and degree of unawareness I’d have to be at to appreciate, or at least not mentally vomit in my brain at such an awful exploration of one of the most dynamic cultures and artforms of my generation, if not all time. It would have to be 19, heavily down with drugs, at latest. This documentary sucks. It sucks balls and hits walls/on its face flat it falls/as it shatters my hope it might be dope/but nope/somebody throw it a rope/this film can’t even float/just the dumbest of the dumb/what a waste of my time/it got stale fast like gum/and now it’s done like this rhyme…
That was how Ice-T introduced each interviewee rap legend throughout the piece: A quick acapela verse delivered to camera, of course to display their unique voice and delivery of the art of rap. Not a bad idea in a vacuum, but the unfortunate and ironic result of how he executed was from both the microcosmic experience of watching the film and macrocosmic perspective of rap it wanted to offer, most of the rappers began to sound as similar as all hip hop songs do to the typical old, white untrained ear. Part of this was their own fault, but most of the blame definitely lies with the director. To use a rap lyric analogy [to documentary-making], it is always a good idea to alter pacing and structure of delivery [without warning] to keep your listener excited and highlight the rhythm of the song. To fail to do this is downright lazy, thoughtless, and symptomatic of most creative products in the modern world. It’s little kid mentality: I got a good idea for how I’m going to do x, y, z! Now I mindlessly run with it without any consideration of its potential flaws or how it might have to shift as the story progresses so as to avoid becoming at best, just boring. Every [good] rapper is unique, and obviously interviewees here were mostly legends, if not at least hugely successful MC’s who have surely spent many years honing and constructing a voice of their own. Sadly, with the exception of a few who may even have been aware enough of this potential pitfall to go consciously out of their way to counter it, the rappers sounded monotonously like what I know was the opposite of the director’s intention in making the film. Vulgar, angry thugs sort of talking with some vague melody about how tough they are, what they’re gonna do to you [for some reason], and how talented they are at what they’re doing right now. The redundant unoriginality of their intro’s was appropriately followed by cookie-cutter answers to questions as juvenile in their generic triteness as that of a ballplayer after a regular season game. Ice-T has pretty much the personality of an insecure 17-year old white kid mentally calculating in awkward attempts to be down with the older black guys. Regardless of whatever pop culture’s perception is of his street credibility or how accurate that perception might be, any existing actual “coolness” in that man is buried deeply beneath his obviously adolescent insecurities hidden by the copy-and-paste persona of “cool, tough, street-wise, urban black guy.” It fuckin’ sucks.
I think one of the first steps in maturity is recognizing when our socially conditioned ego is functioning as a primary catalyst for a behavior; and the second learning how to monitor and edit its expression. Next is recognizing the absence of mutual exclusivity in regards to all human traits. Ie. Being intelligent, self-aware, or even sensitive can, should, and quite often do coincide with being cool, tough, or masculine, and no one can resist the concurrent highlighting of this entire spectrum in the same vessel.
I can recall, even as a little kid listening to Run DMC, mentally noting how incorrigibly boastful and arrogant rap lyrics were in contrast to those on my Guns N Roses or Poison albums. Why? I thought. As I’d neither experienced or known anything in life at that time, still yet to reach my milestone first decade, I left it at a neutral observation and healthy curiosity. Now older and learned I realize that every rose has its thorn, and while many rappers might be brilliant musicians or writers, watching them do anything else in the world can be as mundane and disappointing as an interview with Derek Jeter. As an avid fan of hip hop, always thirsty for the most profound dissection of the craft by its artists, I’ve grown incredibly fed up with the frontin-ass cliches, faking communicative jacks so many of these geniuses still consistently employ in conversation to make themselves sound like morons. As an adult I’ve grown increasingly disappointed and impatient with the apparent inability of too many black men to be vulnerable. It subsequently robs them of the ability to communicate oh so many beautiful thoughts and feelings, and usually makes them sound much dumber than they really are. The educated, integrated, open-minded few of us recognize the etiology of this product for what it is, as opposed to actual Unintelligence, though it unfortunately perpetuates negative stereotypes in the perception of the [white] masses and robs fans like myself of an even deeper appreciation for them and their art.
I realize this is often an incidental byproduct of fatherless hood culture. Obviously unfair for someone like myself to judge the effects of the absence of a male figure at home coupled with the environmental pressure to never look weak or uncool. However, while it may not be to the same degree, all men in our society have had to deal with and transcend similar pressures, and at some point it is up to the individual to break the cycle of his environmental and/or childhood conditionings. Don’t get me wrong: White suburban drones show the same pattern in their limited, tunnel-vision perception of the definitions of smart, mature, successful, etc. But I am not addressing them here, as most of them have much less to offer me than a brilliant artist.
I’m sorry, but anyone who wrote Illmatic when he was 20 years old should absolutely captivate and enthrall me during any interview with him about hip hop to the point that the thought of how cool or tough he seems or looks never enters my mind. Even Eminem, known for his thoughtful lyrics and stand-out originality in the game (beyond skin color) just oozed some seemingly contrived persona of coolness, leaving him uncharacteristically frugal with words and elementary in his responses. I suppose this at least served to disprove any potentially racist perception of such an attitude being exclusive to a skin color, but it was nauseatingly juvenile and just fuckin’ boring. This immaturely terrified compulsion to always appear to the public as the one human dimension portrayed in the first music video you ever shot is as tired as it is transparent, as it is selfish and such a Goddamn shame.
April 6, 2014
Got my Masters degree in Chinese Medicine and studied a gang of martial arts and forms of Qi Gong and this is what I think: Everyone should get a massage once a week – sesame oil, the scalp, butt muscles, the whole 9 (is that a baseball reference?) Everyone should be having sex at least once a week… or twice, or bi-weekly depending on your age. Sex and the massage should be separate occurrences, however if the latter leads to the former once ample attention has first been given to physiological healing I think it’s okay, so long as the former happens at least once again on its own within the same week. Head! Once head stops there’s a problem in the relationship. Sure, maybe that “problem” is the exhaustion of caring for a new baby or kid, but if that isn’t the problem, you should choose for the first time in your life to not live as a completely repressed suburban American, mindlessly accepting the miserably low standards of the status quo, and examine what is the issue so you can get your genitals sucked, because… it rules, and its absence is the true definition of a quality of life crime.
You should have no more than one cup of coffee a day, followed by plenty of water to counteract the dryness of caffeine. "But I’ll be peeing all morning!" Oh, word? Temporary frequent urination > chronic autoimmune disease. Get drunk no more than once a week, but definitely get drunk on occasion… unless you’re recovering or really don’t need that, but I do. Didn’t do it for a long time and life sucked and I sucked. Shit improved dramatically when I went back to the bottle, part time.
You should have some water once an hour and vegetables once per meal. Americans don’t drink water. It’s unbelievable. They don’t believe in it, and I don’t believe them. Even some of the most health conscious people I’ve met say they “prefer tea” or anything else, but water’s “too plain.” What are you, 8? Too plain?! Tea is great, sure, but the body needs clear, plain, room temperature water all day, every day. And to clarify, no one’s saying become vegetarian. Just eat some vegetables with every meal, ya fuckin’ American. Not lettuce on your sandwich or the tomatoes in your pizza. Vegetables! Kale, mushrooms, spinach, chard, broccoli, etc. I don’t know how or why masculinity or intelligence got somehow equated with ignorantly shifting into the left lane towards disease or a miserably painful old age, but get over it. Kale is not gay. Kale does not have a penis, nor does it have sex with other kale or fight for its rights to marry in the kinds of backwards ass states heavily populated by alcoholics who think kale is gay and Biggie Smalls was a dumb nigger. Having no discipline does not make you tough. Being entirely uninformed does not make you smart. Ironically, you are what you think you are the opposite of: A follower. A spoke on the wheel of capitalist’s society takeover of our food, mindlessly consuming the shittiest quality products that could possibly pass as food towards maximizing the corporations’ profits and minimizing your well-being, just like they want you to do… pussy.
Chill with friends once a day, and if you can’t – I know you can’t if you have goals and dreams, hopes and bills – then chill with them once a week. Muy importante. Exercise once a day, vigorously only once a week (maybe 2-3x, depending). I think “no strain, no gain,” can be intelligent. “No pain, no gain” is as ignorant as the dietary no fat movement of the 80’s. Calm down. What are you, a triathlete? If you are a triathlete then retire. That’s probably as bad for the body as being a couch potato. Get off the American flag and learn some balance - figuratively and literally. Maybe yoga? And breathe deep. We don’t breathe in this country. We don’t breathe and we don’t sit properly, and we wonder why we spend our first 80 years dumb as a rock and our last 10 with some kind of neurological disorder. The brain needs oxygen.
"Good fat" is not "good." It’s imperative. Avocado, organic butter, olive oil or coconut oil, and bone marrow soup stock (google it). Everyday if not every meal. "Low fat foods" are about as good for you as Diet Coke.
Minimize sugar as much as possible. It’s hard, I know. You’re a heroin addict. We all are. That delicacy on the supermarket checkout line is not something you “just really like.” You don’t have some kind of congenitally insatiable “sweet tooth.” You’re depressed, temporarily and subjectively of course - not necessarily clinically, and you’re much better off with some daily chocolate than Prozac, but nevertheless… it’s quite apparent that the degree to which one indulges in vices is in direct correlation with their degree of sadness at the time. There’s no such thing as some evil, chemically dependent tooth that has people sprinting for the donut shop every morning. Cigarette addiction is not caused by “a dry lung.” Sex addiction is not caused by “a vaginal penis” or vice versa. You get it.
Dedicate one day a week to not working at all. Okay, I know you can’t do this either, so just dedicate a chunk of time. Dedicate one day a month to working only for others in exchange for nothing.
Say “I love you” once a day. Say it. Don’t text it.
Shower once a day, shit once a day, wash your hair once a week, and floss after every meal.
Don’t wear jeans that are tight enough to potentially be harmful to your sperm count or vaginal situation. As a matter of fact don’t wear jeans even one level looser than that. Keep it two sizes plus. You may risk losing some of the most pretentious, cookie-cutter members of your inner circle, but one door closes and another opens, right? And it’ll be much easier to get through that door without denim wrapped around your nuts or lips like a gymnasts tights.
Don’t ever let your t-shirt be darker than your button-up. I mean dude, I know you “don’t care about fashion,” but your brain still is making a choice while in the process of ensuring to not leave the house naked. At least make a decent choice.
Don’t ever judge someone by how they dress, unless their t-shirt is darker than their button-up.
Don’t ever not talk dirty during sex if you have something to say. If you’re too shy, get unshy. Break that unconscious Catholic conditioning.
Stretch and meditate every day. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to do both for 8 years, but from what I hear from people I respect it’s great. I look forward to one day not being such a failure at it.
Don’t ever call yourself a failure.
April 2, 2014
Remember that first time in adolescence you felt yourself as socially comfortable in a situation that a million times previously was uncomfortable? A particular person or type of person whom you wanted to impress or be sure to show some side of yourself to affected you that much less if at all. A dynamic that had always been awkward; or a relatively maliscious person whose energy or demeanor always felt overpowering in the past, but suddenly for whatever reason, did not… you were out of your calculating head – less concerned or self-monitoring – emotionally light and free to initiate, respond, or simply be however came organically in the moment. That is the experience of first starting to become comfortable on stage. We think we’ve arrived. We think we’ve reached the pinnacle: “Confidence,” then only to realize one, three, six or seven months later that we’ve grown yet again, even more comfortable. As in life off stage with all people, maturity continues subjectively along with self-confidence (or so we hope for most people). Fueled by experience, courageous choices, expanding by exploring, increased empathy via awareness, awareness of self, and discovery of the endless layers of every aspect of life, we are able to become infinitely more comfortable in our skin and hence on our stage.
I think for ten years I was naïve and stupid enough to believe every time I felt more comfortable on stage that I’d arrived. There was no more growing left to do. Sure, I could become a better comedian by expanding the quantity and quality of my material but I had obviously reached the peak of confidence on stage, now fully void of inhibitions. Only to learn one or three or six months later that I’d fucking grown yet again. A few years ago I finally conceded that I might never reach this psycho-emotional point of perfection I thought I’d been striving for, as it does not exist in this proverbial room with no ceiling. And thank God, right? What a gift! What if you could come home and sit down on your favorite couch in your favorite spot, enjoy comfort for a few moments only to realize that you could take your shoes off and feel even better. You take your shoes off and lay down on the couch, sinking into its yielding but nourishing confines only to find yourself twice as comfortable as you’d previously been. Then you realize it’s a bit warm in the room, and as it is your house and your couch you decide to take your shirt and socks off. The material feels perfectly fine against your skin, without any grating or roughness, itching or dust. It’s great. You’re in heaven. You’re now three times more comfortable than you’d been with all your clothes on and ten times more than when you’d started. Magically the couch then expands to twice its size, somehow maintaining the same integrity of shape and design, texture, and proportioned pillow arrangement. Your girl appears wearing nothing but a silk gown, comes over, and lays down next to you, her perfect head of hair nuzzled against your chest, wonderful breasts resting on your stomach, warm hand cupped under your balls. She smiles as you inhale and exhale together. Everything you’ve ever been stressed or worried about leaves your body. And six months later it gets twice as good. That’s why comedy’s so fucking dope.
March 26, 2014
What came first? The crowd work comic or the heckler? Chicken or the egg? Murderer or the gun?
That last one is obviously not a social cliché that I’m aware of, but I think it’s appropriate, primarily because of stand-up comedy’s logical affinity for violent metaphors. Also because it implies my distaste for the “sub-craft” (which is rather “sub” in my opinion). Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wish to obtusely paint a broad stroke, as broad strokes are always emotionally reactive and mentally lazy (though that is a broad stroke I’m painting them with). The metaphor is also quite logical in suggestion of such laziness, better qualifying them to be simple comments or tweets, as opposed to the full-bodied scripture I prefer in my prose.
I’ll never forget the feeling of being a young comic watching veterans successfully work the crowd. I thought it was amazing. I was so impressed. It felt the same as when I’d watch skate videos as a kid and some professional would bust some ridiculous flip trick onto a 10-stair handrail, slide down, and smoothly land to ride away better than I could a flat surfaced 3-inch ollie. How the fuck…? I’d hear my new jack comedian peers express interest in what we perceived to be some kind of graduation: “I wanna start practicing my crowd work,” and then watch their pathetically contrived attempts at duplicating something that really can only manifest well from a foundation of true comfort in the moment – not some pubescent creative agenda.
I tampered, myself. Maybe instead of attempting to snowball a seemless 30-second dialogue into a 10-minute rant that illicited uproarius laughter as the supposed masters were doing, we’d start slow, just aiming to complete the aforementioned 30 seconds with one laugh. “I did it!” the voice in our head would rejoice. “I spoke to that guy, with no idea of what he’d say back to me, and got a laugh in response!” It felt great, but ultimately I never felt like I was really honing or nourishing anything in these exchanges. What I observed fairly quickly, both from a third and first person perspective, is that many comics (especially new ones) lean on the crutch of shock or taboo to appear quick witted, feel empowered, and “unearn their laughs.” A socially permissable race joke, a sexual allusion that would get you slapped on the street, an uncomfortable inquiry into a couple’s romantic dynamic – new and poor comedians quickly and unconsciously adopt the laughter formula and employ the necessary ingredients most times they’re on stage. And the discerning mind eventually realizes that while it appears to be impressive and impromptu to the laypeople in the crowd, it is actually quite often as redundant as it is unoriginal.
I don’t believe crowd work is something you necessarily practice, but instead something that eventually happens organically as a result of confidence. “False confidence-true insecurity” shows itself in painfully simple X-rated punch lines that have been stapled parts of bad comedians’ mental arseanls for generations. True confidence can create those wonderfully unique exchanges between comic and crowd that albeit not part of the script, still do a good job of relating the performer’s voice. But we’ve all been talking to other people our entire lives, and if we chose comedy as a profession then being received as funny by people we speak to has probably been the regular experience for many of us. The only reason we’re not “good at crowd work” as soon as we start is because we’re so preoccupied with the terror of bombing bouncing around in our heads that we’re unable to be calmly present enough to employ the quick wit we’d been carrying around our entire lifetime that lead us to the fuckin’ stage in the first place. Once the terror (blanket) is removed, there we are, and finding the humor in simple dialogue isn’t very hard at all. The subsequent degree to which it then becomes a part of our act is then likely determined by how lazy we are about writing and/or just how little we have to say as a human being.
In my decade-plus of between 5-10,000 shows I’ve come to the unquestionable conclusion that it is almost always the less intelligent crowds that prefer crowd work comics. Logical, right? Crowd work creates the perfect storm of pander to low frequency thought. First of all, we are addressing something or someone set right in front of everyone’s eyes. No need to follow an idea or train of thought, people. No need to visually translate in your mind the picture I am painting with my words. It can be just like the cozy conditioning of the good ol’ TV as the words are completely consistent with what’s right in front of your stupid face. Secondly is the always present to some degree, element of taboo. It’s embarrassing or awkward or offensive of something. Someone’s been put on the spot by the comedian! It’s been fetishized more with every generation, thus perpetuating a snowball that now feeds off itself each time it happens. Anticipation is created. Everyone wants to witness the climax where the comedian “gets them,” just like school kids gathering around to watch the fight. People perk up and pay attention, much moreso than they do listening to you draw the analogy between modern politics and ancient romance. Comedians get laughs for saying things to people from the stage that wouldn’t sound funny or clever at all on the street. The illustration is obvious and the nature is taboo. A perfect formula for the idiot’s mind to digest.
It is also nearly always the less intelligent comedians that excel and employ crowd work most. You don’t see much crowd work featured in any of Louie’s specials, or Seinfeld’s, Chris Rock’s, Eddie’s, or Chappelle’s. Pryor did it a bit, but it mostly in the form of his charismatically signature, Fuck you or Shut the fuck up, in hopes of being permitted to transition back into what he really wanted to be talking about. The greats are all well-versed and quite capable of crowd work, but it is never what makes them great. Why? Because by its nature, crowd work is generic, and generic is the antithesis of creative. It possesses only so much potential for depth, as an exchange between two strangers. It’s the difference between small talk with a guy on the elevator and a philosophical debate on Friday night amongst best friends – which is not to say the two skills must be mutually exlusive, but does explain why most thought provoking comedians hate the job of hosting. The intelligent mind can only organically inquire about strangers’ race, jobs, hometown and romantic situations for so long before it has to voice something of greater substance, and segue into prepared material. I think the difference between a great crowd work comic and an actually great comic might be the difference between a guy that’s great at landing pussy from the bar and the guy every woman wishes she could marry.
Name a great “crowd work comic.”
March 17, 2014
I took my first hot yoga class today, and if only I could mash all the parts of my collective junk into a flat piece of human genitalia spanning over however many square inches or feet, yards or gallons – then divide it into the tiniest necessary equal parts to later be shoved down the throats of every pretentious Bikram teacher whose soles (and souls) have ever grazed a studio floor, mat, or teaching platform in this spiritual punch line of a country – then I could feel vindicated for the two hours of my life I just lost.
I think if ancient Indian yogis came back and saw what we silly, stupid, superficial Anglos were doing in these studios it would look to them sort of how it would to us if we went back to their time and introduced them to the automobile, only to later see four of them trying to push the huge mass of steel, engine running, gear in neutral, one of them carrying a boom box on his shoulder, getting yelled at by the others to change the station, then calling up the F.C.C. on the cell phone we gave him to ask if they would please change the station presently being played on his radio.
First off, why did I decide to try my first hot yoga class ever just three months into my arrival to L.A.? Coincidence? Actually yes, asshole, so stop trying to box me in or presume anything ever about my past, present, or future! I am not now “doing the California thing” or “getting all Cali” or “going back to Cali” or trying sauteed kaley for the first time… dick. I’ve been doing yoga off and on for five years, and made the conscious decision to never try Bikram for the same reason I’ve never felt the need to try investment banking or homosexuality – we just know what’s not for us. But I am financially broke. I have no money, no job, no prospects for anything on the horizon but anxiety of more debt, bankruptcy, personal failure, and existential crisis… so I’m job hunting to address Priority 1. I had a pleasant job interview a few days ago with the owner of a yoga studio, who asked as sort of a “follow up interview” that I come in for a free trial class and meet the rest of the staff so that they might assess my character and our compatibility within the brief dialogue exchange normally possible in a first meeting with people working at their job. Strange? Of course, but hey, it’s a Los Angeles yoga teacher, and I’m in no place to say no to any money offer that doesn’t involve homosexuality or investment banking. What I didn’t realize until I got to the studio was that it was hot yoga, and this would be the most I’ve ever sweated in a job interview in my entire life.
I felt like I did very little actual yoga in the 60 or 90, 300 or 1000 minutes we were in that God-forsaken room. I mean sure, we busted out some doggies, downward and up, fucked around with some Warrior 2, and flirted with an embarrassment of a Warrior 1, but most stances were terribly compromised by the salty Slip-and-Slide I was trying to dig my heels and outsoles into to maintain posture. At one point my mat became so slippery that I couldn’t jump back anymore lest risking the most embarrassing broken nose of all time: “Yo, what happened? You got in a fight?” “Nah, yoga, nigga.”
My eyes didn’t really roll with disgusted amusement until the teacher started with what were basically deep knee bends and crunches. Haha! Dude, what are we, fuckin’ workin’ out here?! I mean I know, obviously we’re working out, but are we “working out” or doing yoga? Are we squeezing an aerobics class into this allegedly spiritual exercise in a sauna? Is this not ironically the double bacon cheeseburger with onion rings and french fries mashed into the middle of workout routines?
There were moments I thought I was going to have a heart attack – moments I thought I’d pass out, but thankfully didn’t, because I’m a secure grown-up with no ego invested in how diligently I dance to the drums of the dumbest yoga class I’ve ever seen or been to; and so I took the appropriate breaks when necessary. I looked at the poor souls who pushed forward – faces red, as soaked as if they’d jumped into a pool (as was I), seemingly moments from death, and saw them as I saw Hitler’s Nazis or the victims of Jim Jones: Brutally mindless followers of some highly inadvisable activity.
What happened to Yoga? What happened to holding postures and deepening the breath and stretching, or even being able to stretch without feet sliding us into at best some mild humiliation - at worst a crippling injury? Bikram is unfortunately fascinating – sort of an “anti-yoga” – a wonderful oasis in which we can get away from our exhausting jobs to miserably overwork our bodies and drain out all those pesky, nourishing body fluids that always think they’re being so helpful by feeding our organs and tissues and tendons and shit. Haha!
I’m in good shape. I exercise, in moderation, like you’re supposed to… mostly martial arts related stuff. I have a Masters degree in Science and Traditional Oriental Medicine. I know my shit, so just bacdafucup…
Sweating is healthy, yes, just like is drinking water. Drinking four gallons of water in a day is not healthy, and neither is losing that much. In Chinese Medicine sweat is “the fluid of the heart channel.” Every organ has its “yin and yang,” and when we excessively sweat we burn out the heart’s “yin,” generating too much heat in the body (yes, that’s possible, America). http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6013/Hot-or-Not-Untangling-Fact-From-Fiction-in-Hot-Yoga.html
I think people who feel good after hot yoga are the same who feel good when they try juicing for a week or two: The former being such out of shape schlubs that of course any kind of exercise and movement is going to initially feel good, but eventually may hurt you more than help if done in excess. The latter often being such pizza and sandwich guzzling hicks that of course any kind of vegetable intake is going to initially feel good, but… you get it. I could see how Bikram in moderation, for certain people with “cold” physiological constitutions might be helpful, but since this is not at all discussed, nor how it is advertised by Bikram studios trying to run a successful American business, I can’t help but diagnose the whole thing as ignorant and irresponsible.
I approached the owner, jokingly after the class: “Did I get the job?” He was about as amused as I was sold on his form. He said something about the guy he’d wanted me to meet not being there as expected and some other guy being too busy to talk. I took it all as a big fat “no.” I skeptically wondered if his invite for the follow-up interview was really just an agenda-filled business move a la what D.A.R.E. teachers once warned us of how drug dealers would do to get us “hooked” [on weed]. I wondered if maybe my class performance did actually have anything to do with his decision, and should I have been less scared of risking death, or tried harder to find traction on that musky lubricant of a mat? I then realized that the experience and this blog are worth 1000 times what any job he could ever offer me, and that I’d probably gladly never see this “man” again.
PS. The chicks in the class were not fly. Sure red flag in a yoga class, my dude.
March 13, 2014
Be humble but confident, persistent but not annoying, motivated without bitterness. Get in where you fit in, but get out of your comfort zone. Know what level you’re at. Never limit yourself to being stuck at any level. Know what kind of comic you are. Don’t box yourself into being one particular kind of comic. Work smarter, not harder. Work your fuckin’ ass off! Don’t burn out – take breaks. “Real comics don’t take nights off.” Take care of yourself, or this business will kill you. You’re going home already? It’s only 2am! Get another drink with us (we might be guys who can vouch for you to club bookers or agents). Fine, one more drink.Rack your brain for unique, intelligent material. Then get out of your head. Don’t think so much. Have fun on stage. What? “Have fun.” My entire future and fate of whether I’ll be a famous millionaire or a failed artist with a shitty day job is dependant on the outcome of these next 5 minutes and your advice is “have fun?!” Fuck off. Seriously though, always have fun.
Don’t listen to anything anyone tells you. Just do you. Be sure to take constructive criticism well and heed intelligent advice. Sometimes a layperson will give you the wisest gem. Watch the veterans and how they work. Now be original. Don’t be like other comics. Know your audience, but don’t pander to the crowd. Pay attention to what’s going on around you, but never stop paying attention to the words coming out of your mouth. Don’t lose the emotional attachment to your material. Definitely lose the emotional attachment to success. Now, strive for success. Keep your eye on the prize. Enjoy the ride.
Tape your sets. Don’t tape all your sets - it’s too nerveracking. It distracts your focus from comic to comic/producer. Go slow on stage. Don’t rush. Don’t wait for laughter either. If something doesn’t work, keep it moving… but not too fast. Ignore the people who aren’t laughing. Ignore the people who are laughing. Don’t ignore people. Don’t allow yourself to be interrupted by inconsiderate table conversation going on in the back. Now control your room. Murder hecklers. Take it easy – don’t lose your cool. But murder any insecure, piece of shit, attention-seeking hecklers. Don’t ever censor yourself, but don’t use vulgarity as a crutch. Don’t ever censor yourself, but don’t whine about “art” when a booker asks you to work clean. This is a job. You’re an employee. Don’t ever censor yourself. Don’t neglect to nourish your ability to work clean. You’re a comedian. You do want to be on The Tonight Show, no matter what kind of comic you think you are (see “don’t box yourself in”).
Do the clubs. The clubs are where it’s at. Clubs are dead, man. It ain’t the 80’s anymore. Do the bar shows. That’s where you meet the people who can eventually get you in the clubs. Do the road. You gotta work the road. Well, the road is fine to make some scratch, but nobody every met anybody who made them into a somebody at some bar in Topeka, Kansas. Don’t lose your presence on the scene, lost out in the wildnerness pandering to Republicans who want to hear the kind of material that’ll get you quickly ignored by any respectable festival.
Don’t fuck fans, groupies, waitresses, etc. Have fun. Enjoy the ride. It’s a long one. Lonely abstinence is rarely an ingredient in the mindstate that attracts success, so fuck whoever you want. Just be respectful. Be a renegade, you’re a comic for Christ’s sake! Now respect club rules, always. Have boundaries: Don’t take any garbage spot for shit money at trash clubs with dickhead managers. Remember, sometimes you have to compromise. The rent has to get paid and new material has to be worked out. Take the job. Write all the time. But you can’t force art! Fuck you, force art. It’s great when you don’t have to, but sometimes you do. Work on new material, but don’t neglect to perfect old material. No need in completing two hypothetical two-hour specials before you’ve crafted five minutes that get approved by Late Night.
Focus on the craft and getting better at it. But focus on marketing yourself - your online presence, your networking at the clubs presence. Your headshot, your web site, its graphic design. Is it updated? Does it keep people engaged? Is your media updated? Now go get on stage – do it , do comedy! Are you producing your own projects? You really should produce your own shit. Write jokes. No wait, write scripts. Noooo, write a show. Shows are where it’s at. Shows with skits – do you write skits? You really should write a blog – maybe a blog that becomes a book! Do you have a podcast? How do you not have a podcast? Get on stage all the time.
Don’t go insane… but don’t be all plain and vanilla and “normal.” We’re not in finance here.
You want to succeed? Pray to God. Silly… comics don’t believe in God.
March 11, 2014
I recently caught myself in a waiting room, sitting amongst several other robotic pods of the 21st century, as mentally locked into my iphone as the rest of them, as oblivious to the existence of one another as would be four dogs in a room with four plates of steak spaced equidistant apart… until of course one dog finishes his plate, at which time his awareness of the other dogs would spike dramatically.
I thought of all those pictures and articles we see online about technology and phones and how they’re ruining society and human interaction. Four people out to dinner together at a table, all of them on their phone instead of talking to one another; And thought, Oh shit, am I one that? Have I become the mindless drone that myself and all my spiritually aware friends judge and criticize and define ourselves as separate from (ironically)?
No, of course I hadn’t. First of all I wasn’t at a restaurant with friends. I was in a waiting room with strangers, and at no point during the 1990’s or even before beepers in the 70’s and 80’s was it customary for a room full of strangers in any urban environment to strike up a brutally trite conversation that some suburbanites might regard as friendly fodder with other fellas, but that we better recognize as insubstantial, mundane bullshit, too mentally unrewarding to pursue.
Plus, I wasn’t “looking at my phone.” I mean, of course technically, I was looking at my phone, but I wasn’t texting or playing some mindless video game [hoping to fill as many moments as possible with distraction en route to the grave]. I was reading an article online. So was I just another asshole, obsessed with his “phone,” or a potentially misleading contemporary stereotype, who was actually immersed in what is largely considered more respectable activity?
We may always call them “phones,” like we call black people “black,” me “white,” and Puerto Ricans “Spanish,” but we know that what we now hold in our pocket are just computers that incidentally can also make phone calls. They’ve melded into one. Like everything else, except for humans, they’ve gotten smaller and smaller, and now fit in our teeny tiny hipster pockets.
We get mad at people for walking down the street not looking up from their “stupid phones,” not realizing that they’re just people looking at a map, or some “written down” information they need about their destination, same as they would have been 20 years ago. It doesn’t mean we’ve no right to get annoyed with their unaware lack of focus, the same we would with any tourist, frantic freak, or scatter-brained mishap; but just that it is wise to reserve judgement of the why of the situation.
I’m not suggesting that phones haven’t invaded many facets of life and/or certain peoples’ interpersonal exchanges and experiences to certain degrees. Yes, there are some people more obliviously walking down streets or unfortunately, driving while preoccupied with an external communication that has nothing to do with their immediate environment or the beauty all around them, occasionally robbing them of the potential fruition of a wonderful impromptu development; but I tend to believe since this behavior is obviously not unanimous that these are the same idiots who have always been distracted, searching for something to escape them from a reality in which they fail to see the depth, fascination, and intricacies of every moment.
We’re all guilty of this at times, but there is a definite line drawn between the part time transgressors and the bitch that rear ended you at the red light, bumped into you in the train station, or didn’t hear what her best friend said at the bar because she’s busy non-talking to some dude who’s just trying to hit it. I’d like to think the former are not as adversely affected by this incredible revolution, much like we all listened to those same heavy metal and gangster rap songs back in the day as those few homicidal or suicidal maniacs, but we just rocked out and had a good time to them, right?
I love facebook and texting, and having recently moved to a new city, originally with no money, car, job, or place to live, I doubt I would have lasted two weeks without my GPS and the world at my fingertips. I’ve observed texting to be a great way to conserve the energy it takes to deal with the often present, extraneous bullshit that comes with spoken dialogue. And we need as much energy as we can get in our now over-productive society. I may now technically speak to certain loved ones less often, but feel like I “speak” to other loved ones much more than I otherwise would. We are busy. Lord knows how insufferably busy we all are, and there just isn’t time to call everyone you care about every week or even every month. But with a 30 second text, a two line comment, or even a “like,” we get to connect, “say hi,” and remind one another that we’re always here, just a click away. It’s nice. I think much like online dating, this form of “less personal communication” is not a bad thing, but a logical response to the new climate of the world, just offering more avenues to supplement the connection that our schedules and lifestyles compromise. We can choose to view them as a remedy, rather than a symptom.
I have observed myself crossing the line at times, where continuing to text begins to demand more than a simple conversation would, and realized that is the divide between healthy and pathological response to our time. I do still regularly talk on the phone, as do the people I am speaking to, obviously. Maybe those who have omitted phone chat from their social repertoire were never phone people to begin with. Maybe prior to texting they only called out of necessity and societal expectation, and prior to phones they were the ones writing the least amount of letters or most at peace home alone. Maybe not. Maybe the option to text has just exposed and highlighted a discomfort and fear of deep connection that was already present in many people. An ex-best friend of mine who I’ll always love has a chemical dependancy problem, that in spite of his infinite charm and intelligence, has long since attenuated his ability to personally exchange and connect with others. He’s texted with me many times in recent years, but like our present archetype 14-year old girl, avoidingly lead me to his voicemail whenever I’ve tried calling. Did the phone do this?
I don’t agree that we’re going towards the movie, Her, any more than I agree that it was a very good flick. Sure, I’ve heard certain things about the deterioration of romance and the dating scene in certain parts of Japan, but since when do they define the forecast for social direction? One of the cool antidotes to keep in the mental arsenal for our fear of technology’s “takeover” is that we are still human beings. This is one of the many things I take great pride in doing stand up comedy. It will never be obsolete. No matter how high-flying, fast-paced, explosively colorful movies or shows become, or what kind of insanely computerized and “inventive” music drops, people will always want to come and hear that one guy on stage tell stories, provide insight, and expose himself in a way that no medium could ever duplicate.
There is unseen energy in the world (quantum physics proves it, cynics) and most of it comes off of us. I don’t believe we’ll ever accept its absence. I don’t believe we’ll ever be okay not hugging our friends, holding our lover, giving pounds, kissing people, fucking them, or sucking whatever it is you prefer to suck on. I don’t believe phones are ruining our lives, nor that phones are even phones anymore. 20 years ago it wouldn’t have set off red flags or alarms to see two people having coffee together, one looking at a map, the other at a newspaper. Might be helpful to keep in mind that those isolated captured moments posted online and portrayed in a particular context are the same situation now just differently dressed.
March 8, 2014
I disagree. Am I allowed to disagree with Bill Hicks? How close in levels of success, ability, or [former] bank balance must one be to his opposition to be heard or taken seriously? Is it possible I’ve taken this statement of law too literally and in so doing have misunderstood what the great one meant? In which case I should probably find me a smart woman to translate. But for argument’s sake I’d like to address the obtuse perspective, which I do believe since it came from a man, is to be taken at face value. In the practical realm I’m sure Bill would fire back with a storm of rationale that might humble and humiliate me, though from where he sits presently I’d surmise him to love and appreciate the contention and debate.
I think more than just a performance art, or in addition to being a performance art, stand up comedy is an art of communication. It is also one of many artforms of courage. It is “a courageous performance artform of communication” (copyright!). Surely from a broader perspective all arts are forms of courage, but ours is the only one where even in the microcosm of the act is courage superficially apparent in determining the quality of the ability of the performer. I digress. It is inarguably a communicative art.
Because of this I feel it is unfair to neglect or dismiss the importance of writing or even the subsequent recital of lines. Whether the sculpted delivery of Seinfeld or the beautifully stammering chaos of Louie, constant decisions are being made as to the best verbal and non-verbal communicative choices to best tickle the world’s (yes the world’s) mental funnybone while most effectively illustrating a story, conveying a thought, or arguing a perspective. Choices on stage and in life are good indicators of a person’s wisdom. I realize that obviously choices are being made whether with or without a script, but whereas the latter is a performance, and incredibly impressive no doubt, the former has an intellectual project functioning at the roots of a performance, then allowing it to stand up and branch out in all different ways depending on the message, as well as minds of its receivers. It is equally as gorgeous, and most often better in my opinion.
We can say we are unaffected by the response of the crowd, and in the pedestrian sense of the ego and/or laypersons’ definition of insecurity most veteran comics are mostly not. Though on another level we are always affected by the crowd with every breath, word, laugh, and beat of silence… were we not then we would not be sensitive, aware, or intuitive enough to become great comics in the first place. It would mean we do not know people – we do not speak Energy. But we do know people, and even the most cynical of us – conscious of it or not – speak Energy with wonderful fluency. It is the first prerequisite for the job.
I don’t believe that performance and preparation have to shine mutually exclusively at all. I think Louie proves so every time he grabs the mic. I am a big fan of Bill Hicks in spite of not being a huge Bill Hicks fan, but don’t really agree with the idea that a real comic should mostly have something of consequence to say to a room full of strangers in the impromptu moment of their arrival on stage. Such an approach in my opinion, neglects nearly half of the craft and frankly, is impractical. “The act” is the set and the set is our portfolio – our biography – our voice and message to the world. It is our calling card, our identification, and the verbal revelation of our insides to our listeners. It is the real you coming out in a contrived calculation of whose intention is to sound impromptu to most accurately portray your organic reality. Ha! It’s a beautiful paradox of consistency. It is as much what separates us from the herd as anything else. It’s what landed future stars of generations past on Carson, and stars of generations future on Conan. I think the opposite. I believe if you have something to say then say it, fine… then work on your act.
March 6, 2014
My brother never calls. He texts me some funnies and check-ins, once-in-a-while-crazies or jams – just the other day I randomly got: “Charles S. Dutton once killed a man in the 70’s.” Great! Hilarious… but he never calls. I realize the phone conversation has become somewhat of a lost art (more of a tragedy, in my opinion, than those captured isolated moments of everyone checking out their phone at the restaurant), but he and I are incredibly close and both over 30, so I still regard it as far from weird when I do call him and we actually speak to each other with our mouths and voices. But I am always the initiator.
Doesn’t he love me? Respect me? If I didn’t call him would our relationship fade? Is the one-sided weight of phone call initiations indicative of some deeper truth that he actually doesn’t like me very much, and is selfishly allowing me to “put all the effort” into this relationship? Should I say something? Should I teach him a lesson by not calling him anymore, or punish him by not responding to his texts? Should I mentally deliberate and obsess over it more? Definitely. Maybe I should devote twice as much time and mental energy each day in measuring out and comparing the efforts between myself, him, and all of the people in my life, then calculate whether I more often have the upper or lower hand in my dynamics, and if the latter then definitely consider therapy to address the issue. Maybe I should write it all down. Maybe I could write it all down and translate it into some kind of graph, then paste it into the body of my suicide note. After all, it is clear that there is someone that I love who does not love me as much as I love them, which makes me the loser and he the winner, me worthless and he the definer of that worth, and the infinite unforeseeable future entirely pointless, right?
My brother loves me more than anyone else in the world. How do I know? Because he’s told me so. How do I really know? Because I already fuckin’ knew, because I fuckin’ know these things because he’s my brother and we’re soulmates and that’s it, nigga. And no, we’re not soulmates because we’re brothers. There are many pairs and triangles, squares, and hexagons of brothers out there who are no soulmates, and soulmates who are not brothers, but we are. We’re soulmates because we’re soulmates and it helps that we’re brothers, or vice versa either way you prefer it. In any case, we’re lucky. In every case, I know that he loves me, whether he calls once a day, once a month, or never again for the rest of this wonderful incarnation of our connection.
Relationships are never equal, and they are always equal. They’re equal in that both parties are involved in some capacity and guaranteed to always get what they need out of them. They are never equal in that no two people are alike. No two people are having the exact same day, exact same moment, or passing through the same psycho-spiritual phase, and no two people function identically in relationships. Some prefer the phone, others don’t. Some like to text, and others prefer face-to-face contact. Some will compromise and meet you halfway at times. Some will compromise and meet you halfway some of the times, but other times those times will be the times that you’re busy or closed to communication, and then it seems as though they never ever want to talk to you, when really you’ve just been playing “energetic phone tag,” and/or literal phone tag (if tha’s a thing). Sometimes – or maybe 99.9% of the time, one party in any relationship needs the other party anywhere from .1-99.9% more than he/she needs them. So what? Unless it becomes one party needing the other 100% more, 100% of the time, then who gives a shit? Life is short, but life is long. There are a lot of years, days, and moments left for those percentages to shift. Stop keeping track, for there are too many immeasurable human factors at work to ever get an accurate or factual diagnosis.
Eight years ago I went uptown and bought an ounce of weed for two of the three most influential people in my life. One of them was a bad ass bitch that I was in love with – the other a bad ass nigga I was heterosexually in love with. The girlfriend was at my crib waiting. I started splitting it up on a digital scale I had at home (don’t ask). I measured and measured. She grew impatient. I didn’t understand why. I kept measuring. I was breaking up buds, comparing the two, getting the grams right, navigating familiar terrain. She grew more impatient. I told her to chill. I’d forgotten that nobody told that chick to chill. She lost her temper, grabbed her “half,” and cut my lab session short. Beef ensued. I was a pussy-whipped bitch at the time, but still a man in the sense that I couldn’t not defend logic. Unfortunately logic had no position in this ballgame. Logic was a catcher looking for somewhere to squat around the 50-yard line, and her reality a linebacker twice its size wielding heavy equipment and power that drove easily through my chest protector of reasonable argument (trust and loyalty issues). An temperamental woman who left our relationship mightily heartbroken (as did I), but undefeated in the micro-battles. I ran away from her our of my own house, spent the night at my friend’s crib – brought him his “half.” One year later, for separate reasons of course, I became estranged from both of these wonderful loved ones.
Don’t measure. It is nearly impossible for a real person going through the human condition to always feel the same way about you that you feel about them. That’s okay. Just do whatever it is your heart wants to do, regardless of some count being kept by your mind, and don’t take it so personal when they do the same. If you want to reach out to someone do it. Do it again and again and then again, whenever you want to do it - unless of course there is something pathologically stagnating about the dynamic where the lesson is to cut free and move on – and unless they are ignoring you and/or not responding, clearly sending a message to slow your roll and you’re beginning to qualify for “Stalker.” Other than that I recommend mindlessly allowing every dynamic be whatever it is. She doesn’t want to talk to you as much as you do her. Okay. Now what? I’d bet 90 of the last 100 phone conversations between my brother and I were initiated by me, and I would never think twice about calling him 90 more times before he does me once.
March 1, 2014
The symptoms of these maniacs show themselves everywhere. Dents and scratches, shattered bumpers, broken tail lights, glass all over the street – they drive out of their minds in this place. Just the other day my friends and I saw the archetype post-screech collision while eating lunch at a restaurant in Venice. Some BMW (of course) smashed into an SUV that had been turning back towards the BMW. Bang! Sorry SUV, no more bumper for you. Germany wins. Everyone in the restaurant ooh’d and ahh’d as if we were all enjoying the same Hollywood picture’s climax, but then went non-chalantly about our meals a la the earthquake scene in L.A. Story. Just another California crash.
I’ve never been tailgated like this before, nor have I ever been blinded by as many brights in my mirror (which is now uselessly angled down towards the passenger seat). Dickheads incessantly up my butt like those of drunk douche bags on their female counterparts at any given night club past 2am (well, past 12 in L.A.). It’s funny what the engine of the vehicle, gas pedal, and some terrible tunes does to these animals. It’s like they’re programmed robots, little kids, or Bernie’s corpse, as the music comes on and they turn the sudden 180 from laid back, well-mannered suburbanite to sexually frustrated New York cab driver, speeding, tailgating, shifting back into my lane before they’ve fully passed my car, inexplicably hellbent on getting to Whole Foods in a certain amount of time. Have they all agreed on some collective mission to disprove the perception that this is the most inconveniently designed city on the planet? “See, got there in 5 minutes!” Yeah, but you killed everyone on the way.
I don’t drive like a grandmother – maybe a Hispanic grandmother, which is to say I drive like an adult (ha, bad joke). I’ve leased a teeny tiny, adorable little Smart car, and admittedly am now probably fueled more by my half-Jewish neuroses behind the wheel than my Wu-Tang-loving angst that sent me into more than one tree as an adolescent. I’m careful. I don’t think I’m a bitch. I think I’m a level-headed grown-up, mostly 5-15mph over the speed limit in either the right or second to right lane. My choices of movement are perfect; though it seems once per trip at least one shit-for-brains Angelino would adamantly disagree. Ironically, as I blast Protect Ya Neck in my quaint little mobile, rocking a nice button-up my mom bought for me, en route to some audition, I am passed at 80mph and 80 centimeters by some douche bag [who in any other context would be on my dick like a recently single groupy], blasting Bruno Mars in his ‘98 pickup truck and looking back at me, shaking his head like I’m some pretentious white faggot from the country who has no idea what he’s doing at only 10mph over the limit. It’s like a room full of morons telling the comedian he sucks, when really it is their brains that suck at my life[force].
Sure, New Yorkers drive crazy too, and call me biased if you like, but it’s different back home. While many NYC drivers move with an insanely untempered sense of urgency, it is at least one that is consistent with all the pedestrian movement around them. There also seems to be more discernment to it in New York; like most drivers know when and how to rush or be aggressive, as opposed to spontaneously adopting some role in an Action/Adventure movie and shifting into a panic gear relegated only for humanity’s most dangerous form of travel.
Maybe it’s the built up angst from the other worldly rush hour traffic exploding into speed once actually given 100 open feet to move through. Maybe if these invisible creatures walked around a bit more they could blow off some of that energy that’s going into their gas pedals. Maybe not. Maybe they’re just like real human beings, and it’s simply more highlighted by the landscape being less metropolitan. In any case I can’t recall ever being so frequently sped by and cut off just 200 yards short of an obvious red light and stand still traffic up ahead. This is a daily occurrence. Are you crazy? Aren’t you that same person who was just sincerely smiling, offering manners not short of southern hospitality, gladly letting some pedestrian take 45 seconds to cross by your stop sign? The paradox is baffling.
When a pedestrian is spotted actually crossing the street at a light or stop sign, drivers stop and wait as if it were Jesus himself, holding a bald eagle in one hand and a crystal ball with all of the told future in the other. The patience is unbelievable – cartoonish even. All insanity of urgency goes out the window for the poor soul relegated to use of their legs, and once we’ve watched them safely and soundly arrive up on the curb like a Jewish mother watching her 5-year old son get on the bus for the first time we’re back on track for Lap 62. Bang!
Finally, DUI’s are like dishwashers here: Everyone’s got one. Of course they do. It’s a major city. People wanna go out – party – go nuts… but they designed this major city like a suburb, still keeping the cost of living as pricey as that of the former, so who can afford a cab? Plenty, sure, but most of us can’t. We’ve done it! We’ve created the perfect situational storm to entrap them into drunk driving.
In my first month here, while riding the bus I noticed a pretty girl whose eyes seemed to be giving me the green, or at least yellow light. Aside from the typical shy-guy mental battle of whether and how to talk to her I wondered what the hell she was doing on the bus. Of course I’d only been here a month, but had rode the antiquated orange hell on wheels enough times to get a grasp on the demo: homeless and psychos, that skinny-60 year old black dude who’s either super angry and serious or jovially charismatic, broke, young white people who are either struggling artists (yo!), failed artists (yo?), or just drug-induced artistic expressions of the divine there to shine the proverbial mirror on how not to live; and of course all Mexicans. This chick didn’t fit the bill.
Faking like I had any balls or game whatsoever, I approached shorty like, “What’s a girl like you doin’ in this…?” No I didn’t. But we spoke. She was sweet (like everyone). I didn’t get her number but I did get an answer to my curiosity: DUI. Still something so seemingly paradoxical about a fly chick in handcuffs – well… under arrest that is. But in spite of her pretty face and pleasant demeanor, she’d been an inebriated animal, just like the rest of them.
The main complaint I hear from out-of-towners, especially New Yorkers, is that “Angelinos” don’t use turn signals. When I first heard this I thought it weird, as in my 35 years living in New York, the latter half all in Manhattan, my observation was the same. Many drivers on “the grid,” myself often included, sacrifice the turn signal in exchange for efficient and shiftier moves. And while appearing dangerously radical to the untrained eye, is actually sometimes a much safer way of moving in such a climate. That’s the difference! It isn’t that Angelinos use turn signals any less than New Yorkers do – as a matter of fact I’d probably suggest the opposite, at least in respect to Manhattan, specifically. The abomination lies in the fact that Los Angeles’ landscape, outside of a few small, isolated ‘hoods, is that of a suburb – not a congested grid - and suburbanites everywhere else in the world use fucking turn signals. Couple this issue with the other of this “suburb” being as over-populated as NYC and equal disaster. Logically, we have as many accidents and “almosts” as Manhattan’s sidewalks have Excuse me’s, Sorry’s, Fuck you’s, and Stupid asshole’s. It’s nobody’s fault. We just need better birth control.
February 26, 2014
We’ve all noticed a particular suffering elder person and thought, “I pray I never become like that.” Well I sometimes observe the behaviors of certain thriving celebrity comics and have the same thought. The hate, the ego, narcissism, and occasionally apparent amnesia of how to converse without a stage, microphone, and room full of strangers. I don’t believe we’re all crazy or all angry as the exhausted cliche gets passed around by the drones and muggles - I’ve known too many wonderfuls and grounded angels to subscribe. Negative traits and emotions lurk inside all of us - not just comics, but all people. It seems the trouble in Tinseltown comes when we get stuck in a gear that feeds itself into a vicious cycle that nearly and/or eventually causes all other gears to fade into a likely happier past, leaving everyone in our present and future to the matter of fact misperception: “He’s just like that,” when really he just got stuck.
The other night, while watching one of the head writers for Conan O’Brian kill at the world famous Comedy Store, I became embarrassed for him as his terribly transparent insecurity dribbled out in the all too typical form of juvenile bravado, no doubt convincing only the most naïve of pedestrian players in the pantheon. It was poor and pathetic, really depressing, reinforcing the question in my mind as to whether there is any hope for humanity in regards to the ego.
He’d been crushing effortlessly, taking his time, breathing, slow dancing with the crowd for about 15 minutes - already longer than any of the other comics on the show spent on stage - but hey, he writes for Conan. He’s got the pass, plus the crowd loved him of course. Talk about comfortable and confident - It was like watching a pro athlete make it look easy, and per usual, it created the ambivalent experience for fellow comics in the room, of enjoying a master but coveting a master. The difference between him and them is percentages: While they might be at that frequency half, some, or most of the time, he is always there, maybe save some rare anomalies.
Somewhere in and around the second third of his set a punch line missed, or at least moreso than the rest of the bits had, and whether for the benefit of the crowd, fellow comics in back, or everyone in the room, the insecure little boy inside him (and to some degree in all of us) came uncontrollably raging out, but of course with the same smooth and calculated delivery we’d been hearing the entire time:
Okay, you guys didn’t like that one. Hmm, another crowd liked it the other night, so now I’m not sure. Gotta try again tomorrow for the tiebreak… Translation: “You guys got it wrong on that one. That’s your fault for not getting it.”
I’ve been there, though triggered by a far worse context. I understand telling the crowd they’re wrong in response to their lack of response basically just having told me I was wrong, especially with fellow comics in the room, potentially judging and ranking my ability. But my instances were always following great, proven material missing by a mile for a room of morons who hadn’t liked any of my jokes; not to mention the fact that my career is yet to come to fruition in the same way a head writer for Conan’s has. All this to say that my insecure inner little boy is just not damaged to the same degree. He continued on.
I’m just here to work out some new stuff, man. Translation: “I’m a great comic, and if I wanted to, at any time I could turn on the jets and have a perfect set, but I choose not to try my absolute hardest right now.”
I’ve often heard comics pontificate resentment for comics breaking one version of the fourth wall by providing transparency into their creative agenda. “You don’t tell the crowd you just tried a new joke,” I’ve heard. “It’s not professional. Don’t make excuses up there. Just do your jokes. If one doesn’t work, move on.” I disagree.
Firstly, two of the comics I’ve heard this from were both notorious for never trying new material, thus obviously pontificating with an agenda. Secondly it isn’t so black and white to be labeled as a wrong thing to do. I think there is a way to offer full disclosure tactfully in these instances, where it isn’t necessarily about the comic’s ego as much as it is being honest, acknowledging the elephant in the room (very much our job in comedy). It isn’t inorganic as the aforementioned hacks suggest in their perspective. Instead, it’s: Whoa, we all heard that one fall flat, and the fact that my experimentation just failed is my mind’s immediate thought, and so that’s what will follow out of my mouth. Honest. Understandable. Endearing, even. There can be a fine line between unprofessionally breaking the fourth wall for pathological reasons and poking a relevant hole in it that can potentially add to the crowd’s enjoyment. Though what Conan’s writer did next definitely transcended deep under the heading of the former.
Another bit missed, mind you during a set that was still 95% perfect from any onlooker’s perspective, and after once again acknowledging it as a new trial he chose to press pause on the entire show and completely divert from his set, so that everyone in the room would know how talented and confident he is (ironically).
You see, this here’s a workout room. You don’t come here to do your best stuff or kill or be a superstar and get carried out on peoples’ shoulder. Comedians come here to try their new shit, and work stuff out (then obviously realizing he was protecting his ego at the expense of the show producers’ reputation and potential business). And these rooms are great. Comedians need these rooms to work stuff out. This here’s a great room – a great show – and you should support it, but I’m just sayin’…
It’s one thing to acknowledge the elephant in the room for sake of full disclosure, and often incidentally, good comedy. It’s another thing to shine a light on the tiny cockroach in the corner that no one ever would have noticed were it not for your inability to temper your childhood issues while in a position of power not one other individual in the room is capable of experiencing in that moment. This guy was murdering everyone in the building when a mere punch to the shoulder caused him to break the fourth wall in a way that indirectly bit the hand that was nourishing said power. Unacceptable. And so embarrassing.
February 22, 2014
Why does a comedian kill? Good material, as many laypeople tend to think? Good crowd, as most comedians prefer to think? Charisma? Experience? Delivery? Is it the size of the penis or the sensitivity of the vagina that makes things good? An ex-girlfriend of mine is a disciple of the Shaolin Temple in New York, and we found it was both the size of the penis and the sensitivity of… ha - no, wait, I digress.
At times it used to bother me how often she’d echo the philosophical teachings of her Shifu. Express your beautiful life. Flatten your heart. Love everyone, even when they don’t love you back. One can understand how such negative garbage can be irritating. Why did it bother me? I don’t know. Maybe I was jealous of her deification of her teacher, though I don’t think so. I was fortunate, my parents loved me a lot. Maybe the negative story of the world I’d etched in the proverbial stone of my mind at the time didn’t like holes being poked in it by some flowery angel shining recycled lights of logical positivity. Maybe my ego had fallen victim to the typical trap of defining my worth or value by the thoughts and opinions of my partner, and while I liked the idea of dating a “disciple of the Shaolin Temple,” no one likes the idea of dating a Kool-Aid guzzling, Scientologist-type drone who lived by the words of her leader no matter what the cost of logic, without any discernment at all. Fortunately I came to realize this was not the case at all. She is awesome and special and we remain good friends.
Once in discussion of her struggle in training and my own in comedy, she of course had one of Shifu’s cliches handy and ready to go: Confidence is everything. Whether with women, in a fight, shooting a basketball, or on stage, it is everything. It allows us to express our truest self fully, and whenever that happens we shine, no matter what. I liked it. May I have some Kool-Aid?
Laypeople often pontificate about “delivery” in a way that makes it sound like a particular skill set of conscious choices throughout each bit. From one perspective, it’s true, there are technically choices happening. But a truly great comedian is so because he is wholly unobstructed on stage. He is uninhibited – which does not necessarily mean loud or wild and crazy, unless that’s who he is – but just that he is his truest self, entirely and with each breath and syllable, the same way we are hanging out with our best friends or laying in bed next to our soul mate at night. Delivery is never compromised in those dynamics, and is more a byproduct of comfort than some skill certain comics have and others do not. Sure we make choices as all performers do, but the most brilliant comics, in my opinion, have just finally intuitied and learned how to express choices that were already made for them on the day they were born. I think nearly everyone (at least all comics), when void of fear, possesses the potential for the perfect delivery.
Most of the Self-Aware know exactly when and around whom we feel free, and when and around whom we feel guarded or hesitant, in our heads, calculating, worried about what they think of us, then logically wielding an agenda to prove something, which depending on our acting skills may or may not come out as organic, and even at best can only earn us a B- approval when delivered without the free energy provided by confidence.
Confidence is not necessarily about not caring, but instead about unattachment – disidentification from results. Full knowledge that the outcome of any one situation or incident cannot define us or our place in the world, or any microcosm of it. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to explain where it comes from or how to hone it. Experience and repetition help in regards to any pursuit, but even after we’ve all had that there is a great disparity between the comic on stage who appears to be effortlessly obliterating the room and the one who’s energetically checking in from time to time to see if they still like him. It’s fascinating. I feel at any given time there may be only a subtle difference underlying the best comedian in the world and Cycloid B, struggling, mediocre Comic, though it ironically does not express itself subtly at all in the finished product. It’s like that spiritual lesson’s analogy on how to make a huge change in your life: If you turn the steering wheel of your car just one inch to either side, you will eventually end up in a destination many miles from where you were headed.
I’ve watched tapes of myself bombing with confidence for a shitty crowd and been proud, laughing at my set, knowing I was funny, that the crowd just sucked. I’ve also watched tapes of myself destroying without confidence, just riding the wave of my material and a great crowd, and been so embarrassed I had to turn it off. I was awful. Thank God for the frequently fantastic, forgiving crowds.
Most new comedians are terrified of bombing, understandably. Their intention when getting on stage is not to “work out” some new bit, play with a different energy, or really “grow” as a comic. They just want to not die. Don’t bomb. Don’t suck. Don’t fuck up, or it might mean you’re not good at this. Obviously creative expression suffers when forced to project from such a foundation, though as is the human condition, this stage is unavoidable. We realize of course in hindsight how unnecessarily silly were our fears, in realization of how insignificant those early sets are, in terms of the destination of our careers or reflection of our abilities. Someone must have told Joe Derosa this secret, because I’d never seen a new comedian so courageous and fearless of going down on stage for the sake of his own growth and creative agenda.
Whereas most of us were obviously reciting chapters at a time of a monologue at a level of delivery just above that of the old timers’ rim shot one-liners, Joe seemed to go on stage and simply rant and whine and complain about whatever happened to be on his mind, like a fearless veteran, patient and confident that he’d surely illicit laughter eventually so long as he kept going as his true self. Most of the time he was right, and successful. Sometimes he wasn’t, and he didn’t seem to have the convenient cushion of short, orchestrated bits that myself and most other newbies did to bail out and cowardly change directions with. He was hung out naked to dry, vulnerably personifying the perfect microcosm of what this craft is all about: Balls.
Thank God it paid off for him – always nice when justice is served. I watched Joe’s career take off pretty quickly from local nobody to touring internationally, and I don’t know if I was more jealous of his success or of what he was then able to do on stage that I had not yet intuited in myself. Joe was not afraid to die, and that was what why he killed so often.
February 19, 2014
I miss walking down the street listening to joints on my headphones, rapping (or sometimes singing) aloud not quite to the point of obnoxious or out of my mind, but enough that anyone walking by knows I’m not at all embarrassed to be rapping out loud… maybe occasionally lowering the volume on “niggas” when it comes up while walking past particular folk (shhh….). I miss my peeps.
I miss fifteen minute walks that feel like five ‘cuz they’re so fuckin’ fun.
I miss 15-minute sets at clubs and 12 minutes at bars. I miss 10 spots a week.
I miss really dope food for $8 always being within 8-minutes.
I miss knowing the best and fastest way to get everywhere by any means at any time of day, then quietly resenting every minute of every trip.
I miss my peeps.
I miss good bagels, bagels even sliced in half, or getting more than literally one layer of some mediocre insult to spread in the middle. I miss good pizza, good Chinese food that costs $7, good everything really. I miss accessability. I miss nearly everything I could ever need in the world being within a 15 minute journey from me, no matter where I am. I miss “getting a drink from the store”/”a snack from the store”/”something from the store,” and everyone knowing I’ll be right back, never without “something,” probably in addition to some new revelation about humanity ascertained as a result of some uniquely fascinating personal interaction or observation I just had for the first time in my life at 11:47pm on a Tuesday night (that’s why we know more).
I miss the Dominicans; the Puerto Ricans; the West Indians; the Indians. I miss everyone. I miss seeing people on the block, walking by them, watching them (mostly the female “them,” but all of them really), feeling their energy, judging them, defining myself as better than them, then remembering that we’re all connected, all one, all perfect exactly where we are, and that I too was probably once in the same… “Wait a minute, look at that guy… fuckin’ asshole.”
I miss my peeps.
I miss reading books on the train - getting more enlightened concurrent with deciding whether this homeless guy is talented and/or sober enough for my dollar. I miss getting on the train and thinking, “Fuck reading – I’m too tired/hyped to read right now. Suck it, book!” and leaving on my headphones for the inception of the most perfect soundtrack to define both this commute and my present state of mind going through it.
I miss synchronized traffic lights and not knowing anything about car insurance or down payments.
I miss jaywalking. Wtf? Like, seriously…
I miss cars just fuckin goin’ when you give them the half beat to do so. Why’s everbody so fuckin’ nice?! “You go.” “No please, you go.” “No, no, no, I couldn’t. Please do go right ahead.” AHHHHHHH! (I do actually like how nice everyone is).
But I miss my peeeeeeeeeps.
I miss the attitude, the crowds, the vibe, that palpable fucking human vibe I doubt any geographic location has or will ever duplicate – the irritability, pleasantries, anger, suspicion, anxiety, more pedestrian worry, jealousy, desperation, misery, and elation, all interacting with each other in the same 100 square feet. What kind of quantum result would such an emotional orgy in such a small space create? That one, that you feel right now if you’re there, and exposed and educated, sensitive, and intuitive.
I miss seeing cool people all the time. I know, I know, I’m sure there are pleeeenty of cool people in L.A. – let’s not re-hash the war – but whether they’re here or not, or I just need to get out more and stay longer of course, what I‘m saying is I miss seeing them incidentally at 10am in the middle of the week. There is a brilliance in “cool people” - whether they are cerebral, or left-brained intelligent, as our society judges to be “smart,” or academically anything at all – I believe there is something they (we) get and subsequently emanate, that the Uncool do not.
I miss Chinatown… like for real!
I miss seeing fly girls. Once again, I know they’re here. I believe they are present, hidden, in vehicles moving unopportunistically fast or mood-killingly slow en route to being hidden by dimmed lights, hearing dim-minded tunes behind walls I am presently unable to pass through, nor do I necessarily care to. Or walls which I would be able to pass through if I knew where they were and we’d met before and they got to know me and gave permission to cross said walls; in hopes of it leading to permission to pass her proverbial walls, putting pressure on my performance, then potentially leading to pain on her part, or for her parts, but most probably emotionally is what I am suggesting in this sudden stretch for satire. I look forward to running into these fly people some time soon. Though considering no one runs into anyone [without their cars] here, my optimism for the near future remains tempered.
I miss Harlem. That’s weird. I didn’t even live there, but that just came to me: I miss Harlem! I love Harlem. I miss regularly holding some door for some 57-year old, ghetto-as-fuck, overweight black mother of six and she giving the sweetest, most sincere: Thank you, baby, a human being could ever ask for.
I miss my PCOM peeps, my NY comedy peeps, my family, and Uptown peeps. I miss my downtown, midtown, Rockland, Jersey, and Brooklyn peeps. I even miss my Queens and Bronx peeps, but not my Staten Island peeps as I do not have those peeps… do I? I do not miss the noise or hustle, nor the undying competitive grind. I don’t miss the “change of seasons” one iota. Fuck snow in the concrete jungle and fuck single digits, ever. I’m tan in February, bitch. Eat it. But I miss the warmth from the gigantic amount of love that I left. I miss my peeps, and choose to make them my silent-cyber-uninformed Valentine. 1<3
February 15, 2014
Take New York, spread it out over twenty times as much land and give it one tenth the modes of public transportation. Also give it about ¾ as many people. Make all the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans Mexican, turn the yellow cabs into Beemers and Benzes pushed by only the most brutal of bro’s and bitches, and turn the douche bags on Citi bikes into dope ass motherfuckers on skateboards (seriously, they’re everywhere). Eliminate 99% of the delis and bodegas, and for the remaining 1% of the latter, transform them into barely glorified liquor stores that happen to sell snacks and drinks only as bottom shelf as that of the tiniest, most ghetto spots in the Bronx. Eliminate all the trash cans on street corners, but magically, eliminate all the trash from the sidewalks. Logically, eliminate 95% of the people walking down the streets. Make marijuana practically legal, but jaywalking a strictly enforced crime, to the point that when we commit it we look both ways like a teenager about to shoplift. Make half of the homeless people white. Make none of them Hispanic. Keep the black teenagers selling their rap cd’s on the street and candy in the subway. Finally, for the forecast it’s always June or September, and the people are as good mannered and pleasant as if you were down south or in the Midwest (minus the racism) – and you’ve got L.A.
So, why 40 “chilly” days? It’s sunny California, right? 70 and beautiful every day, right? Well, yes and no. It’s true, 9 out of 10 days are gorgeous to the point of surreal, but we are still in December, and the climate is well known to be wonkier than ever all over the world these days. Not to mention the fact that my arrival was on the heels of another humid New York summer, thus making my blood as thin as it ever is; as well as my 12th year as a struggling artist, 34th as a struggling human, and the completion of nearly five years of a medical grad school program not designed for the meek or weak. I also came out here with no money and no car, initially no place to live but my good friend’s couch, so yes, uncharacteristic to most transplant New Yorkers, I’ve spent many nights on “the block” (there really is no “block”) relatively bundled up with my hood pulled over head… cold and exhausted. Warrior shit, bro.
In the month preceding my departure I probably grew as sick of hearing how I would need a car as a person with a sudden injury and cast on their limb gets of being asked: “What happened?!” It got to the point where people seemed more intent on providing me with what quickly became this most mundane and obvious advice than they were on asking why I was going, what were my plans, or anything of any substance at all. I even spoke to my spiritual guide/quasi-life coach in the week before I left, expecting to receive words of wisdom regarding my mental frequency and the attitude I should intend on holding towards my pursuit out here, and all I got was a 20 minute monologue on how important it was to get a ride. Ha!
What’s more interesting, now in hindsight, were those few interesting souls who went against the grain, reassuring me that L.A. “can be done without a car.” “Everyone says ‘x, y, z,’ but you can do it.” Ever the optimist, and ever the broke ass nigga, I greatly appreciated this counter-opinion of the minority. I’ve never fallen into the majority in any other aspect of life or philosophical perspective, so naively began to think, “How bad could it be? I’m a fuckin’ native New Yorker – as savvy as they come – an incidental navigation expert, with walking shoes practically born onto my feet at Mt. Sinai.” Yeah, ummm… no.
The public transportation here is not “worse than New York’s.” It’s not terrible relative to other places. It’s just terrible. It’s unbelievable. It’s a piece of shit packed tightly into a crack pipe forced down the throat of any poor soul (and I mean “poor”) who either hasn’t quite gotten their shit together (yo!) or was careless enough to get hit with what seems to be out here, the remarkably ubiquitous DUI or DWI (seriously, any time you seem someone on the bus who doesn’t look like they belong there, it’s a DUI – drive carefully!).
You know how everyone knows “the bus sucks” in New York? How much of a pain in the ass it is when you have to travel from the upper west to upper east, or the deal breaker it is when you discover a social gathering involves such a transfer? Well, the buses here suck twice that much, run half as frequently, and still manage to assume the role of first choice that the subway does in New York. Why? Because this “city” of 800 square miles boasts only about six train lines that journey through equi-distant sects of the hexagon, and most often leave you in only some vague geographic area of your destination… and then you get on a bus.
I’m not someone who gets nauseus, ever. I’ve got the iron stomach. I can overeat, eat bad food, foreign food, probably undercooked meat, and I’m fine. That’s just my physiological constitution. I tend towards insomnia, skin issues, and gout disease, but I have the digestive system of a god. On the buses in L.A. I’ve gotten at least a little nauseus during every ride. I’m not sure if the drivers are just the worst in the world (in spite of being 1000 times more personally pleasant than the kindest MTA worker in New York), or whether they’re in cahoots with the auto industry, attempting to brutalize us all into finally getting cars, but it seems impossible for them to not stop short. Whether going 30mph or 5, traveling ten miles or ten feet, every hit of the brakes has jerked my grown up body at least 12 inches forward. One has to be especially aware not to fall, as the seats seem to be designed specifically for the anti-human body. Ha! In spite of New York’s transit system’s overpriced fares, filthy cars and platforms, and irritable assholes draped front to back on them, I’ll say that my spine loves the structure of the seats: An intelligent S-shaped curvature culminating in the perfect sized butt basket (perfect for Caucasians at least), admittedly with the hips left below the knees, but nevertheless comfortable, and friendly to those of us trying to avoid an elderly existence of herniated discs and “type 2 Scoliosis.” On these buses the seats are just about as opposite as is the lifestyle and landscape: A downward-sloped L-shape pointed to the floor that makes it impossible, at least for me, to ever be physically comfortable for more than 60 seconds. Public transportation “characters” make up a much bigger percentage of the riding population than do their New York counterparts, as the mode is relegated mostly for only the lowest socio-economic cross section of the city. On one of my first rides I sat immediately next to a bantering psycho who spent 20 minutes antagonizing a drunk, white douchey transplant, no doubt, until they almost came to blows (once there arrived another drunk, white douchey transplant who had his brethren’s back). I missed home like Tom Hanks in his first night in the hotel in Big – minus the tears, yo’. Anyone who claims that L.A. “can be done without a car” is either out of their fuckin’ mind or lived a very simple, “point A to point B,” lifestyle in a “convenient” (whatever that means out here) part of town.
At the risk of sounding like a typical New Yorker, this is no city! Ha! Of course I’ve said that in the past about places like Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, but to humble myself in hindsight and legitimize credibilty, I now fully recognize all of the aforementioned as “real cities” – inferior real cities, but “cities” nonetheless. Obviously I wouldn’t call L.A. a “suburb.” Of course it’s closer to being urban than not, but only barely. Like other cities “lesser” to New York, it’s mostly short buildings, super wide streets, and when you want some decent snacks or supplies it’s a short drive to CVS or 7-11. Ugh…
During my third week here I was spoiled by a friend who lent me his car while he visited back home. It was glorious. Wonderful. What a pleasant, easy-going, nourishing life! First week of December, cruising down the 405, 101, and whatever the fuck else, on a perfectly gorgeous day with the windows down and no A/C necessary. Sure, I hit the L.A. traffic a few times, but anyone who complains about that definitely never put in enough time in New York subway rush hours. Stagnantly sitting for a few minutes in the cozy comfort of your own car while listening to the tunes of your choice is a blowjob compared to standing practically in a yoga pose on the stalled F train, packed in like sardines with 80 miserable fucks [of every demographic], all with the same sense of entitlement and impatience, wrongly stereotyping you while your shoulders incidentally give shitty massages to one another. The traffic is a pleasure. This is just a tiny part of the reason why I still have as much of a formed opinion of L.A. as I did the day before I left N.Y.
I left a wonderful group of friends, my own crib, a sex life, accessibility to everything I need, and a respected status on the comedy circuit for none of the above. As a native New Yorker I’ve always taken exception to the judgements and analyses of transplants who have been there for 40 months, let alone 40 days. Our experience of anywhere is what we make of it, as a result of goals, priorities, lifestyle, and good or bad fortune. If you’re an idiot or an asshole your experience is gonna be the same in Bombay as it would be in Houston. Here’s hoping I’m neither…
I’ll say this. In addition to the weather, which gets as annoying to hear about as the necessity of a car, I love the people. I’m yet to make any real friends just yet, and yes, I’m aware of the Hollywood “fakeness” I’m sure to encounter. But in the meantime, every superficial interaction, whether with the store clerk, barista, stranger I need directions from, or shitty fuckin’ bus driver, has been an orgasm compared to each of its New York counterparts. It’s a non-stop orgy of “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” “have a great day,” and “sorry bro.” Very appreciated. Obviously New Yorkers are just human beings, and not inherently mean people, but there is an omnipresent irritability, impatience, and inconsideration apparently perpetuated by its lifestyle that I do not miss at all. All that said, it’s been 40 “daze,” and I know nothing about L.A.
December 21, 2013