Rotten Bastards

It's a blog. It's a way of life. It's many things in between.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Spare Change

Perhaps I’m just too old and cynical to truly believe that real change is going to come. If I were still the angry young man and a na├»ve idealist, I would have campaigned for the cause and been caught up in the excitement of having something to believe in after so many years of wandering in the political desert. But now I’m the middle-aged guy who is still angry but knows that it doesn’t mean shit. Examples will be made of a very few of the most egregious offenders, but the majority of the business criminals will still sit in their fine feathered nests and wait for the time when they can once again run amok with a friend in the White House. Real change in this country is only going to be effected through drastic measures.

Whether through simple blind greed or intentional mismanagement, the overlords of the past decade have left the house in shambles and yet still claim that only they can fix it. It really seems that such ruination could only have been perpetrated with the express purpose of undermining the incoming administration. They knew that the election was lost even before the campaign began, so they just fiddled while the empire burned and said, “Don’t worry about the mess. Let the nigger clean it up.” Those who are accustomed to having servants will always think in such terms. The right wing is now decrying the onset of socialism in America and the downfall of freedom and liberty as we know it. Which freedoms? Do they mean the freedom of choice between Coke and Pepsi, Burger King and McDonald's, Walmart and Walmart? No need to worry. They will always have that freedom albeit with less money to spend. Those who cry the loudest about losing their rights seem to only care about the right to maintain a personal arsenal of weapons and to make Christianity a government institution. The conservatives are screaming about big government taking over our lives, but they never said a word when Bush expanded the government’s surveillance program far outside of the Constitutional box. It seems they only really fear big government when they are not in charge of it. Only when it involves expanding social programs does it become a problem for them. Funny that those who feel the most entitled to living the good life sneer and bemoan government entitlements for the needy. I for one fear big business far more than I fear big brother. The government is not ever going to get any smaller or less powerful, so let it least take care of the basic needs of its citizens. Expand the welfare programs and put every poor man on the dole. And legalize drugs so he can get high if he wants. Maybe then at least he won’t be breaking into my house and stealing my shit. It may be socialism, but, as an admitted leftist, I’m ready to sign up as an instructor for the reeducation camps. Let the banks fail, let the automotive industry die like the dinosaurs, and let all the fat cats take a swan dive from their Wall Street windows. Nationalize everything and we’ll divvy up the bill when it comes. Give me socialised [sic] medicine and government-funded education. Pry all the guns from the cold dead fingers of the owners just like it says on their bumper stickers and make the goddamn churches start paying their share of the taxes. Can we make a difference? Yes we can, comrade.

Friday, 27 February 2009

yes we can.

as human beings it seems that it is our natural instinct to blame others for our short comings. it is easier to blame someone else than to admit we fucked up. if people have a horrible life they blame it on their parents for not loving them enough (except in cases of incest where the opposite is obviously a problem). it is now my turn to tell a story that may have had a traumatic effect on me and turned me into the person i am today. i feel that in telling this story i will inspire others to do the same and we can unite. through this unification we will find ways to stop hunger, AIDS and snooty cunts who think you are interested in what they are saying when really all you want to do is to see if their bush is shaved or not. enough with the malarky, here's my story.

it was while i was in kindergarten that this event happened. it wasn't a girl saying i was ugly or getting the shit kicked out of me that effected me, it was the teacher.

i wore sweat pants like many boys did at the time. comfortable, durable, and easy to take off in case any girls in my class wanted to play doctor during recess. i had a problem with these pants though. whenever i would take a piss in a urinal i felt a need to pull the pants and my underwear down to my knees and to show off my bare ass while i pissed. while my parents may have found it funny, they didn't tell me to quit taunting the pedophiles with this behavior. a fellow student named jeff decided to though.

jeff smack or slap me on my bare ass while i was pissing. this obviously caused a commotion and i didn't appreciate his hijinks. in hindsight, it may have been better to pull up my pants when i started to scrap with him but i guess anger took over. anyway a slapping fight between the town of us started and my sweat pants and underwear were hanging around my knees. maybe in some undeveloped countries showing your dick while fighting is a ritual for showing your manliness but i ended up looking like a fucking idiot.

the slapping fight continued for a bit until the teacher came into the bathroom and broke up the fighting. remember that my pecker was still out when she came into the bathroom and split up the ruckus. the next part is where my memory fades but i remember her spanking both of us. now i don't remember if she spanked me while my pants were around my knees but for the sake of the story, she did.

jeff and i were both punished for our hijinx. we weren't allowed a snack during snack time. for some weird reason i remember that it was chili that day and i thought that if i sniffed alot, the smell of the chili was the same as eating it and so i wasn't missing out. i can't remember what i ate two days ago but can remember this incident from twenty years ago. i'm a fucking mess.

so that's my story. let the others come out and post similiar stories so humanity can grow.

I think we can

I like to think that the world has turned a page.

Or even opened an entirely new book.

I am hopeful.

But let's be honest.

Reality has a knack for crushing a man's dreams.

Human beings have achieved much in the last few thousand years.

Fire, the wheel, language, clothing, electricity, space exploration, genetics.

And because we've already done so much, I continue to hold out hope that we will do more. Much more.

Sure, it's easy to remain cynical. Especially when all we ever hear is bad news.

But bad things have always happened and will continue to happen.

Somehow we've managed to rise above and move beyond the horrors and the limitations of a corporeal existence.

I guess it's up to each of us to do the best we can.

Yes, we can help the poor.
Yes, we can eliminate hunger.
Yes, we can cure disease.
Yes, we can travel to the stars.
Yes, we can evolve.

Sure, having a black man in the white house may not amount to much in the end. But I'm hoping that it will at the very least be symbolic of something greater.

An era of rationality, love and hope.

I feel like the world is changing and for the first time I feel like it's changing in the right direction.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Success In Failure

[Inspired by Tomby's post.]

You know, I often describe myself as a failure. But then I look back, and I can't regret the life I chose. Everyone knows the creative arts are a tough business. As I like to put it; a one-way ticket to poverty, addiction, insanity and death. And that's if you "make it."

10 years in music, 10 years in comedy, while also writing everything from porn to award-winning speeches to fanzine reviews and comix, and my only real mark has been left on other musicians and comics, and a tiny handful of fans.

But I've met a LOT of cool and interesting people. At times, I've lived a life that would make Nero say, "That's a bit much." I've indulged in about every vice, and regret very few. I was a favorite niche performer at two separate fetish clubs' events.

I gamble regularly, including a monthly poker game at my house. I've always been a porn junkie, from the time I discovered my Grandpa's collection of Olympia/Grove Press books. (Which included everything from Burroughs and Nabokov to The Story of O and A Man And A Maid.)

And drugs? All of them. I even broke my "no more illegal drugs" rule -- which has kept me "clean," but drinking and smoking for over 15 years -- once, to shoot ecstasy right before it was made illegal. (Although I had done MDA before.) Me + cocaine = very, very bad. I'm lucky crack wasn't around at $10 a pop. However, when I was a heroin addict, I was arguably at my most productive, working a day job in a chemical plant and getting regular gigs as a musician nights. The problem with heroin is when you can't get it, or get really good stuff and OD. (I did once.) I preferred the pharmaceutical Dilaudid anyway, when I could get it. Quitting really does suck, but in a different way from cigarettes: Quitting dope makes you feel like you're going to die for a couple weeks, from a real physical need -- like not being able to take a shit for the rest of your life. Then it gets better. I quit smoking for a year once, and I wanted a cigarette every fucking moment of every fucking day.

I learned a lot from LSD, and was popular as a "guide." That's where my "nobody goes to the hospital, nobody goes to jail" rule originated. I could turn a bad trip around with some markers and a roll of paper. But eventually, I felt I'd gone from learning the interconnectedness of the universe to watching cartoons and giggling.

I wish everybody could have a safe, positive environment to try LSD in at least once.

I just read an article about how every drug should be legal "except crystal meth." That whole panic cracks me up -- we were doing crystal ("crank," the exact same drug) in the '80s like crazy. Get this: The Air Force still gives Dex to its pilots. But, like crack before it, the drug warriors need one absolute bugaboo to keep the charade going.

I have hepatitis C as a consequence of my drug use. (And, ironically, the refusal in the '80s to enact needle exchange programs -- instead informing us to clean our needles with bleach. Which killed the HIV virus, but not the then-unknown Hep C.)

Totally worth it. I'd just like everyone to be honest: People do drugs because drugs are fucking FUN. They have drawbacks, each and every one. But if people are made aware of the actual risks, (often the worst of which are prison and dealing with hardcore criminals, or the expense of a black market product) instead of bullshit propaganda (smoke weed and you'll shoot your brother), they could weigh them rationally.

I am not rich. I am not famous. But then sometimes I rethink my "failure:" I've appeared on 40 episodes of a television show which Bill Moyers called "the most interesting weekly half hour of social commentary and criticism on television."

I've been quoted in the New York Times, and had a clip of me shown on ABC news.

I've seen just about every punk band from the '70s and '80s live, and opened for several, and met many more. Would it be cooler if I'd had a hit song than it was opening for SWANS and Sonic Youth on their first show in Minneapolis? Having Paul Cook and Steve Jones party at my apartment? The feeling of just being there, to see a brand new movement in music, fashion and art develop -- and being part of it? Would I trade all that for commercial success?

In comedy, I was always proud of my writing, but I was a notoriously inconsistent performer. I could never tell why the same material that killed the night before, ate it the very next night. I stopped getting mean and pissed off when I was having a bad show, which helped, but I never, ever got confident.

What really killed me was that, in the span of two years, every club that booked me for more than three nights (from Des Moines, to Grand Forks, to Memphis, to Madison -- where Jim Taugher was the ONLY booker crazy enough to book me and Stanhope together) closed. At the same time, Tribble's hotel venues changed management and wanted "PG" comics.

Stanhope, in true form, said, "Maybe that should tell you something."

But I had the respect of guys like Stanhope. Lines and tags I gave them came out of some of my favorite comics' mouths. (Once you give a line away, you never take credit for it. I once had someone say they saw this great comic, and if I knew him. They then proceeded to tell me a joke I'd swapped to him.) Likewise, I had lines given to me by comics I worshiped.

I got to do time at the LA Improv, where the staff treated me, an absolute nobody, like a king. I got to do a show in New Auburn, MN, in a house where the living room had been converted into a bar after the VFW burned down. The whole town, about 80 of them, showed up starving for entertainment, and just poured out the love -- and the free drinks.

I used to do a bit about the new puritanism, and how we need to LIVE. That bit ended with, "When I go out, I want to go out with lungs that look like Swiss cheese, a liver the size of a basketball, a raging hard-on, a needle in my arm, and a goddamned SMILE on my face!" After one show, a guy came up to me and told me he'd come down to cheer up -- his girlfriend had dumped him, and he was actually feeling suicidal. But that bit had made him realize there was plenty of fun left to be had in one life.

How could I trade that moment for anything?

So I did fail in one sense: I forgot to sell out. Okay, I didn't really get the opportunity. I also used to say, "My artistic integrity ends right around the point payments on a Corvette begin."

But we only get one shot at this life, and many believe we only get this one.

I've had a lot of fun, and been awed at the respect I've been given by those much, much more talented and successful than I have been.

But most importantly, I've made people laugh. I've entertained people when they were at their lowest. I've even inspired people to try music, or comedy or writing themselves.

I can live with that. I can die with that.