Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blood of Heroes Part II

George Carlin. What else can I say? The man had an amazingly long career, spanning decades. To tell you the truth, I had a hell of a time deciding what picture to post here-being that there are so many to choose from and several of them couldn't be more different. I eventually chose the one above because it seems to be from somewhere in the middle: not his button-down suit and tie days on the Steve Allen era Tonight's Show, and not from the more recent years when you could see him getting weaker month to month. This one seemed to be George at the prime of his life.
I was exposed to George Carlin at an early age. I caught one of his HBO specials when I was around 12 or 13 and have loved him ever since. He actually planted the first seeds in my head which led to my eventual break from organized religion (or maybe religion in general. I haven't quite gotten to that point yet). If I remember correctly, it was:

In the Bullshit Department, a businessman can't hold a candle to a clergyman. 'Cause I gotta tell you the truth, folks. When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims: religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man -- living in the sky -- who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!

My father had actually said pretty much this same thing to me earlier, but I wasn't read to hear it. In the interest of being fair. I slowly took in just about everything I could get by and about George Carlin, checking his books out of the library, watching his comedy specials, nothing over the top. I came to truely admire him and I still do. I don't mean to populate my list entirely with stand-up commedians (and I won't), but they seem to usually be the only ones saying what needs to be said, and nobody said it better than Carlin. I remember after he died, I read an article by Chris Rock where he commented on the fact that he (Rock) was always being compared to Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. And, while he admitted that he admired both of those guys, he personally felt that his style was much closer to George Carlin's, in the fact that Carlin never seemed to do ANY joke more than a few times (7 Dirty Words not withstanding). This, Rock said, was in stark contrast to the current trend in comedy which is to find a popular routine and run it INTO THE FUCKING GROUND. Git'r'done indeed.
Needless to say, I've always liked that analysis of Carlin's career, and I've always loved Carlin himself. As Neil Young famously said, it's better to burn out than fade away. Surprisingly George Carlin never did either.

Recomended Reading:

"We have to declare war on everything. We have the war on crime, the war on poverty, the war on litter, the war on cancer, the war on drugs. But did you ever notice, we got no war on homelessness? You know why? There's no money in that problem! No money to be made off of the homeless. If you could find a solution to homelessness where the corporate swine and the politicians could steal a couple of million dollars each, you'd see the streets of America begin to clear up pretty god-damned quick, I'll guarantee you that!"

"Once you leave the womb, conservatives don’t care about you until you reach military age. Then you’re just what they’re looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers."

When I was a kid, if a guy got killed in a western movie I always wondered who got his horse

And I leave you with my personal Mantra:

Don't confuse my point of view with cynicism. The real cynics are the ones who tell you that everything`s gonna be all right.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Blood of Heroes Part I

This is the first in a short series I'm going to do about some of my favorite modern philosophers (if you'll forgive the term). These are people, I guess, who in one way or another have changed my outlook and/or perspective in some signifigant way. Also, this list is in no particular order. So, here it goes:

The first entry is somebody that alot of people aren't too familiar with, and I think I can safely say that he will be the most ecclectic of my personal Jesi. It's BILL HICKS! And if you don't know him, youtube his ass right now-the man is a fuckin' prophet. He was a stand up comedian who was active from the early 80's until his death in 1994 from pancreatic cancer. Most people have seen or heard bits and pieces from his stand up routines and not known it was him, and several people (including a handful of other stand-up comedians) have accused Dennis Leary of ripping him off and thus stealing some of the fame that rightfully should have gone to Hicks. I can't say much on this except that they both have a similar style. Truthfully, though, it's a moot point. I personally believe that the reason Hicks never made it to the level of some other comedians of his day was the fact that:

A) His style, even by todays standards, was pretty harsh and abrassive (see below)

and B) He hit his stride in the era of Full House and George H.W. Bush "family values"

That being said, I truely love this guy. I was introduced to him at some point during my first year of college when a friend of mine played me a CD one night when, I assume, we were sitting around with nothing to do. I don't remember exactly. But I often find that whenever a seemingly original thought pops into my head, a quick Google search reveals that Bill already said it better. Here are some of those times:

I think it's interesting the two drugs that are legal, alcohol and cigarettes, two drugs that do absolutely nothing for you at all; and the drugs that might open your mind up to realize how badly you're being fucked every day of your life?...Those drugs are against the law. Heheh, coincidence?

Why is pot against the law? It wouldn't be because anyone can grow it, and therefore you can't make a profit off it, would it?

Go back to bed, America. Your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control again. Here. Here's American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up. Go back to bed, America. Here is American Gladiators. Here is 56 channels of horseshit! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on living in the land of freedom. Here you go, America! You are free to do what we tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!

I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. "I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs." "I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking." "Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!" "Shut up! Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control. Here's Love Connection. Watch this and get fat and stupid. By the way, keep drinking beer, you fucking morons."

If you want more, here it is:

They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you're high, you can do everything you normally do just as well — you just realize that it's not worth the fucking effort. There is a difference.

"I believe that the Bible is the literal word of God." And I say no, it's not, Dad. "Well I believe that it is." Well, you know, some people believe they're Napoleon. That's fine. Beliefs are neat. Cherish them, but don't share them like they're the truth.

I was watching Rush Limbaugh the other day. Doesn't Rush Limbaugh remind you of one of those gay guys that like to lie in a tub while other guys pee on him?

Pot is a better drug than alcohol. Fact!... I'll prove it to you. If you're at a ball game or a concert and someone's really violent and aggressive and obnoxious, are they drunk or are they smoking pot?

One last thing- the following is taken from the Wikipedia entry regarding Bill's death:

"In 1993, after being diagnosed with cancer, Hicks would often joke openly at performances exclaiming it would be his last. Hicks performed the actual final show of his career at Caroline's in New York on January 6, 1994. He moved back to his parents' house in Little Rock, Arkansas, shortly thereafter. He called his friends to say goodbye, before he stopped speaking on February 14, and re-read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.[17] He spent time with his parents, playing them the music he loved and showing them documentaries about his interests. He died of cancer in the presence of his parents at 11:20 p.m. on February 26, 1994."

Italics are mine. I must say, also, that even if that entire paragraph turns out to be untrue, I'm still going to believe it. That is a fucking Viking funeral right there.

Lastly, all of the above quotes are from Wiki Quote. There are tons more, as well as Youtube movies to beat the band if you liked what you read. Hope you enjoyed it. More clip shows to follow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Welcome to Thunderdome

A story broke a couple days ago on the local news scene, where-by an off duty City of Erie police officer was filmed (with a cellphone camera) in a local bar laughing and joking about, among other things, the scene of a recent homicide outside of a bar not far from where I live.

"His fuckin' leg was twitching like a fuckin' chicken," he says, referring to 31 year old murder victim Rondale Jennings as he lay dying on the sidewalk. A chorus of laughter accompanies his Rush Limbaugh-esque impression of the final spasms of a brain deprived of oxygen. Here's the link;

the part I'm referring to is right at the beginning, but feel free to watch the entire thing. He goes on to recount the hilarity that ensued when Jennings' mother arrived on the scene to ID her son's body after the coroner pronounced him dead:

"We lift the bag off his head, and she's like 'OH MY GOOODDDD!!!!!!!', and I was like 'Holy shit, that's your kid. What's up? " (3:15)

Deservedly, the cop is seriously in deep shit-he's been suspended with pay until Internal Affairs can decide if his conduct violated any rules (enough to get him fired) or he is just a bag of shit (which, unfortunately, does not warrant dismissal). Several groups around the city have demanded that he be fired, if for no other reason then he is a disgrace to the Erie Police Department, if not all police officers in general. There's alot more to the story that I won't get into, but here's the rundown:

-The chief of police tracked down the brother of the man who posted the video and threatened him and his brother with federal wiretapping charges (despite the EPD not being the FBI)

-The District Attorney saying the same thing-the FBI is not even involved, but even if they were it is not wiretapping since it was filmed in a public place-and telling the chief of police to suck a dick (yea Brad Foulk).

and it goes on....

A friend of the officer (Cousins is his name btw) who appears in the foreground of the video had this to say in his buddy's defense:

"He was hanging out and blowing off steam...It was just a night out with friends that someone blew out of context causing a lot of trouble for someone who puts their lives [sic] on the line for us every day."

And this, believe it or not, is probably the place where I take the most personal offense. All of the things contained in the video are pretty bad, but honestly, who expects any more from 90% of cops. I personally know a few, both current and former officers, and they all talk like this (albeit not nearly so insensitively). It's a coping mechanism for people who see some pretty awful shit from day to day. People sometimes forget that cops are constantly lied to, threatened, placed in harms way, pushed on by political figures, and subject to all types of blood, death, misery, suffering, greed, hate... And yet they still wonder why they're condescending, mistrustful balls of nervous energy. I get it, and I sympathize. It's an extraordinarily difficult job, and the burnout rate is high. The difference is that it is SUCH A GOOD JOB. Pay is good (Cousins pay, as a matter of public record is $53,256), benefits are good, pensions are great (and possibly the last surviving actual pensions left in the world), and alot of people truely respect you. Shouldn't that all be enough? And if not, if you truely have that dark of a world view, then get the fuck out. Step aside and let somebody else take over for a while. People are losing jobs and homes at the highest rate since the great depression, and we not only have to listen to your awful interpretations of tragic events, but then have to be subject to the tired, "I'm a hero because I put my life on the line" speech ad nausium. Not good enough.

And even if Cousins does manage to keep his job, he'll be a target for the rest of his tenure as a police officer. I don't wish harm upon him at all, and certainly don't condone violence against police, but...sorry Tex - you lose. "Anything you say can be used against you" isn't just something you mouth as you toss people headfirst into the back of a car before going of to get shitfaced with your cackling friends. It means something in this increasingly technological society, and as a 40 year old officer of the law he should be smart enough to know that.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Times like these

Oh damn...shit has been crazy. Everything has been all over the place, but I don't feel like getting into it right this minute-I'll be posting those things in depth within the next week (if anybody cares). I'm only glad that my job is keeping me grounded and busy as hell, otherwise I'd be losing it.

But, what I wanted to post this week was a website that I stumbled across. Or, more accurately, it's a blog. The guy who posts it has Tourette's (like me) and his posts are pretty spot on to how my day to day life goes, though I will admit that he has it a bit worse than I do. Take everything he says and dial it down a notch (just one) and you pretty much get me. He really saves me the trouble of saying all of the things he says. Also his entire blog is in comic book form. I wish I had thought of that. So enjoy.

P.S. Sorry, but you'll have to click a link to get to it. I dont' know how to embed this shit yet.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Three Short Films About Brian Carrol

-subtitled- humor me before I have to go.


I had the urge earlier today to look up an old friend of mine whom I haven't thought about in quite a while, but has always made me feel better: Mr. (Fred) Rogers. I'm serious.

I've reached an age now where I can honestly start giving "back in the day speeches", as in:

"When I was your age there was no instant gratification when it came to our entertainment. Television shows weren't on any sort of recorded medium (i.e. DVD's), so if you missed an episode, you missed it FOREVER, unless you were lucky enough to catch it in syndication, and even then it was almost impossible because your only point of reference was the half-assed TV guide that came with the Sunday paper, and you needed the damn enigma code machine to deceiver it."

Those who are amazed by that statement will really love this- even if you had cable (we eventually did) you still only had about 40 channels (which in truth, even today, is more than you really need). What I'm saying is television had a very passive role in my early life. I mean, I watched it, but didn't take much from it. Case in point, the only thing I legitimately remember watching, next to a few assorted G.I. Joe and Transformer's episodes, is PBS and a few shows on Nickelodeon. This was when Nickelodeon first aired and consisted of mostly of old British TV shows and a couple newer things thrown in*. I don't know what you would call it now. Tween bullshit. I can vividly remember watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, so something about it must have stuck with me-something that hardly any of those other shows had*.

Which is why I got to Googling the late Mr. Rogers today. Inside of my normally cynical self, there lurks an optimist. I am the old walking cliche of someone who hopes that everything will turn out alright, but knows better. Somehow, though, when I found this quote on some random website years ago it echoed with me-and this was a time when I was far more of an angry, jaded, sexist, and bitter person. It echos with me still:

I'm proud of you for the times you've said 'yes' when all it meant was extra work for you and seemingly helpful to only somebody else. I'm proud of you for the times you've said 'no' when all it seemed to mean was a loss of pleasure yet eventually supported the growth of somebody else and yourself. I'm proud of you for the times you came in second, or third, or fourth, but what you did was the best you had ever done. I'm proud of you for standing for something you believed in- something that wasn't particularly popular but something which assured the rights of someone less fortunate than you. I'm proud of you for anything you can think of that allows you to feel proud of yourself. --Fred Rogers


I, like several people I guess, used to be obsessed with my personal level of "realness". This related mostly to the degree to which I would or would not compromise myself for my strongly held ideals of the time. The sixties were alive and well inside my little slice of the universe, at least as far as I was concerned. I wasn't going to take any office job, or any other job for that matter, which cramped my endless style. I was going to keep doing what I had to do until my band made it out of Erie. Anyway, to make a long story slightly less long I added this quote to my manifesto of words to live by:

Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit. "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt." "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?" "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.-- by Margery Williams, from The Velveteen Rabbit --

I still love this quote but for totally different reasons I won't go into here. I just wanted to share it with you. The last sentence still makes me a bit misty. Also, as an interesting side note: While I was looking this up to put it in this blog entry I read that several people use this quote in their wedding vows. I can't imagine why. I'm not being sarcastic.


This last one will be short. It's the opening theme song from a show I can remember LOVING as a child. I actually remember watching it with my grandfather once when I stayed home sick from school, and how much we both enjoyed it. The show was called "The World of David the Gnome" and I'm including it because I think my subconscious loves this intro more than my conscious mind does. I don't know if it's the guy's voice, the fantastic (adj. form of fantasy) nature of the show, or just the nostalgia factor, but EVERY time that my life has gotten so seemingly out of control that the proverbial pot is about to boil over I'll have a dream where this song plays and it always brings me back.

Usually when I wake up I'm slightly teary-eyed. Don't say I never told you anything useful.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts on the Millenium

I was sitting in a cafeteria at Edinboro University when 9/11 happened. I was eating a bagel. I remember thinking, "I can't believe this is happening". I don't mean that in the sense that most everyone else does-I'm too cynical to be thinking some lame shit like: "How can this, the greatest country in the world, be the target of such a heinous attack. Surely some godless heathens are to blame." No, what happened was actually a long time coming. (*NOTE* This is not an anti-American statement in any way, so I don't want to get any letters, e-mails, phone calls, telegrams, smoke signals, singing valentines or memos about it.) What struck me that day was the finality of it - that the World Trade Center wasn't going to be there anymore, and that (as they were first estimating a death toll around 30,000 or something) this was going to affect EVERYONE, myself included, of a personal level in some way. Anyone would agree that this was the definitive beginning to the George W. Bush presidency and what would lay the ground work for almost everything that administration did over the next seven years.

Today, I sat in another cafeteria and watched the definitive end to that administration as Barrack HUSSEIN Obama was sworn in as the 44th President.

Audacity of Hope indeed.