This is some attempted clever wordplay on Ms. White Liar’s "Turning Points", and was originally conceived as a way to introduce my softball-playing into this blog (a homerun away from the cycle, spectacular all-around defensive play, winner of the "Michael Alfred Potts Non-Gender Specific Wednesday Night 3 Pitch Softball Player of the Game Award of Excellence"...where’s the applause?), though I am well aware that nobody thinks of elbows afire or blazing, quickly-stiffening knees when they read "Burning Joints" as a headline...
To begin the metaphor, I could say that these next three things were the "burning joints" that held together my life from one incarnation to another, but that might turn out to be too mind-blowing, so I’ll instead refer to it as a "metaphive".
On we go…
1. The Solitude of My Dark, Dark Basement
What prompted it I don’t recall, but when I was sixteen...ish, I sat myself down in my parent’s dark, cocoon-like basement and asked myself all the questions I felt I needed to have answered. It seemed simple, giving out easy, glib responses to my own questions, firing off answers that I was expecting...but I wanted to trulyknow the answers, to be unafraid, in the comforting darkness of the basement, of any answer I would provide; it had to be unequivocal, so that I would be left with absolutely no doubt:
Am I gay?
Do I want to kill myself?
Do I want to kill someone else?
After giving each question its own respectful "day in the sun" as it were, the answers were, in order, no, no, and maybe.
At sixteen...ish, those answers were acceptable; I no longer have the temerity to assume that I would even becapable of killing someone if I even felt the need to do so, rest assured...but as a result of this exercise, though, no-one has been able to challenge my belief in what I was because I knew.
Funnily enough, a byproduct of this little self-analysis was a resistance to homophobia, which comes into play later on...
2. Bartending at the World’s End
I’ve tackled business-men jumping from a moving cab as they drunkenly dashed for their cars, drank on the roof during a power-outage, subdued a man bleeding from his wrist after watching him punch through a double-sided plate-glass window, made waitresses and customers cry, expelled brutes twice my size with nothing more than a pat on the shoulder and a few persuasive words, played with an alcoholic police-officer’s badge and telescoping baton, pulled my boss off a car of teenagers that he attacked like a gorilla off a vine, accidentally dropped half-eaten chicken-wings on a middle-aged lady’s head, knocked a full pint onto a guy’s lap after he made a waitress cry and made him pay for it, won vibrating nipple-clips during "Sex Toy Night" that hurt like a son of a bitch, cut off an ornery Hell’s Angels’ mechanic, watched as someone stumbled in from flipping his car on a freeway off-ramp and tried to hideout in the handicapped washroom, and intervened on countless bar-fights with nary a scratch to show for it.
I’ve been threatened by someone who was coming back "with a gun", had people attempt to "tip" me with cocaine, oil, pot, phone-numbers, and late-night return-visits, and I’ve dealt with coke-addicts drinking Red Bull-and-Jagermeister who were holding pool cues while disputing their bill...
Honestly, though? The only reason I left was because I was tired of having monosyllabic conversations with idiots; when you frequently have to use a synonym for "cretin" because nobody understands you, the result is the speedy advancement of your own stupidity.
3. The Freefall & Fallout of Big-City Film School
You’ve all seen that crazy guy yelling, late at night, in the middle of a busy metropolitan street?
That was me.
Here’s what happened:
I ran through an $8000 line of credit in three months, eating & drinking like a king; I lived in an "apartment", in the gayest part of town, that was so small that homeless people laughed when they came by to visit; I had a "girlfriend" who, instead of bringing much-needed food, would bring pot and complain if we weren’t watching Akira constantly...that is, until the line of credit ran out, at which point she figured that "things weren’t working out"; I would drink bourbon in lieu of eating, fooling myself into not being hungry, waking up unsure whether the 2:25 on my clock was AM or PM; I was up for days at a time on nothing more than coffee provided by classmates and the undying belief that I was a "starving artist".
There are plenty of juicy, good-time stories from this time in my life, but as a microcosm, the night that begat the above-mentioned yelling started with some booze; this led to sex with an acquaintance who began to cry, right in the middle of our drunken sex, about a boyfriend she had lost to tragedy not three months earlier, unbeknownst to me...which led to some pathetic drunken consoling on my part and the decision to walk her home and head to my accessible-at-all-hours Film School. I didn’t, at first, realize that it was ten-after-two, and that all the gay bars were just then letting out; I was accustomed to the hoots & hollers of Gay Town (and very empathetic to the wholesale-ridiculousness that most ladies have to put up with), but I was also, at that time, morbid, confused, and dizzyingly drunk; so, when a little yelping dipshit started calling me "princess" while blowing kisses at me, I told him to fuck off...at which point, I became trapped in a sweaty behemoth’s bear-hug, squeezing me and lifting me off the ground while the little yammering jackass spanked my ass.
I have never before, or since, completely lost my shit, but I managed to extricate myself from the brute’s clutches, and from that point on I was a raving banshee lunatic; in my mind, I threatened them with every conceivable horror I could fathom, but what it must have sounded like coming from my drunken, screaming mouth I don’t know. It worked, however, as I must have looked like some rabid, frothy-mouthed maniac...but as they backed away I watched a horrified man with a beard drive slowly by, staring at me with eyes that seemed to convey disbelief on every level, putting a face on what I saw as my own abysmal and, frankly, unnecessary bottom-dwelling.
I left the Big City after burning every possible bridge, doing so in spectacular fashion, and I ended up back at home; I lost a pound a day from shrinking my stomach, I lost my penchant for drinking, and, after holing up in my parent’s basement for a few months, I, unlikely as it sounds, lost any doubt as to my own self-worth.
This was all self-inflicted. If I can do this to myself, I thought, what is someone else going to do to me?
All of these above turning points, excuse me, burning joints, are directly responsible for the way I am RIGHT NOW; my astounding self-esteem, my boundless optimism, my bewildering over-usage of semi-colons...all are an aftereffect of the above stories.
So, please: don’t blame me for Egomania & Dipshittery; blame my various self-indulgences.
Icon-worship is the canker-sore on the inside of the flapping gums of humanity...and as much as I’d like to be the unfettered, gallant apotheosis of iconoclasm, who doesn’t have their childhood-heroes?
Me, age 8: Michael Jackson & Wayne Gretzsky...and I fucking HATE hockey;
Me, age 14: Eddie Vedder, Michael Jordan & Douglas Coupland;
Me, age 21: Bill Hicks, Allen Iverson & Hunter S. Thompson.
Stephen Colbert & James Brown.
(Someone asked me last week for the "secret" to my never-ending energy, and I replied with this random rhyme that has now become my credo:
"Sunny day, windows down, James Brown"
At this stage of our evolution, however, iconoclasm is more and more becoming our default setting. There aren’t many "aspiring" writers anymore who think of a huge talent-gap between themselves and "published" authors; garage-bands create a direct line to their fans through the internet, setting up a small-market empire that allows for complete control of both their music and their "image"; icons are going the way of common sense and critical thought: into the easily-forgotten void of extinction.
I’m at my smugliest when I sit back & imagine all the people who pander to their fan-base because they know that the fans are all they have - they just happened to catch some wave of celebrity during one of those years where aptitude didn’t matter as much as volume. I love sitting back, serenely drinking my coffee, imagining how truthful Rosie O’Donnell is with herself in regards to the page-view-count-to-talent ratio...
Is there anyone out there who can cobble-together a valid reason for this woman’s fame? The closest I can figure is that her celebrity comes from sporting a mouth that is waffle-iron-sized. Celebrity can’t just be the result of being loud and abrasive, or the View would have hired a team of sandpaper-coated howler-monkeys to occupy her empty seat, no harm, no foul...
People used to read Franz Kafka, or Aldous Huxley, and think,
"Yikes. That’s phenomenal. There’s no way I could write like that."
Now, they see Rosie O’Donnell writing on the internet like she’s penning Prince song-titles (It’s Nice 2 B Home), and think,
"SHE’S getting thousands upon thousands of readers a week? I can do THAT."
And, of course, they’re right. They might not be churning out A Brave New World, or The Metamorphosis, but the important thing is that they think they can...hell, I can play guitar about as well as I can tolerate a screaming child with a microphone, but when I see a Nickelback video, I just assume that I can write music better than that.
Icons are for 10-year-olds who want to scream and cry at a Britney Spears concert; even then, it won’t be long before some pre-teen heads to another heavily-choreographed, lip-synched dance-extravaganza and says to themselves,
A new species of hummingbird was discovered in Columbia, and they've called it a Gorgeted Puffleg, after the "little cotton balls above their legs". It looks awesome. It is fitting that this brand-new species of bird should emerge on the very day that the cholesterol-encrusted, spite-filled heart of Jerry Falwell stopped beating, lest the newly-deceased would-be despot denounce said new bird as "gay" because of its purple-plumage, as he did, memorably, with Tinky Winky the Teletubby.
(Did anyone mention, during the Teletubby episode, that the oft-televised Falwell could, in fact, be considered a "tele-tubby" in his own right? Or is that uncouth?) If there is, indeed, a singular god of some sort, and I am, unexpectedly, wrong, then I can understand his/her/their plan; why introduce a lovely new specimen of bird just to have some dimwitted, ill-minded zealot rip on it because he’s got a heart full of hate and a mind percolating with prejudice? "God":[excited] Let’s send down the purple hummingbird! "Jesus":Uh... [looking down at earth, seeing Falwell grinning arrogantly at his throng] ...maybe we wait a bit on that? "God":[looking over "Jesus’" shoulder; sucks in air through his teeth] Oooh...good call, son. [looks at watch] At least we won’t have to wait TOO much longer...
I was pacing around the parking lot of an East-Hammertown coffee-shop, as I am wont to do, when I happened upon a pair of almost electrically-coloured, shockingly blue-eyes; they were sitting in the head of a woman sitting on the curb and staring into me as though I was juggling lit sticks of dynamite, following my movements with an uncommon preciseness...and I checked on that, too, throwing in a couple of jab-steps and a few altogether quick, darting maneuvers to see if I could shake her, but no. So, she and I chatted as I finished my coffee. Once home, I realized what had been bothering me so much about Shelley the Republican, this fucking moronic site that is among a group that is beating me out for Most Obnoxious Blogger at the People Choosing People for Blog-Type Awardation Awards... (Quick digression: I was psyched about being nominated for "Obnoxious Blogger" until I saw the sub-human, piece-of-shit vileness that was ahead of me in the voting. For the record, I’m obnoxious; these assholes are abhorrent, humourless motherfuckers who should be forced to watch as their loved ones get slowly fed to a pack of emaciated lions.) ...Shelley the Republican is so ridiculous, I’m loath to even include a link to the site, and it’s not because of this: “...We’ve got to start fighting back if you don’t want your grandchildren to be spicks and you don’t want your daughter to marry someone called Mohammad.” “It doesn’t make sense that we could stop the slant-eyes but we can’t stop the beaners.” “...Chances are good that you think about sex just as much as a homo.” As I wrote in one of the comments, there is no way that this site is anything but satire, in that there is NO WAY, I continued, that you people are this dumb; I didn’t want to include a link because they’re like a 9-year-old who wants attention and just discovered the word "cunt". Satire only goes so far; used incorrectly, satire is saying "just kidding" after you’ve called a group of nuns "bible-whores" but didn’t realize that they could hear you...and calling a group of nuns "bible-whores" is much, MUCH funnier than anything they’re got going on over at STR (acronyms are SO space-aged and, like, futuristic). That, right there, is their real crime: they are not funny enough to use satire properly. I will give them their due for their pseudonyms, such as Tristan J. Shuddery, and some taglines (To prevent Sinburn, use Sonscreen; Let God open a new MySpace account in your heart), but, really, they’re just satirizing homophobic, racist creationists by being homophobic, racist creationists. Once I got talking to the woman with the blue-eyes in East-Hammertown, I noticed drool hanging from the corner of her mouth, in and around the same time that I discovered the vapid look in those electrified-eyes...it was pretty clear that my usual banter about the idiots I run into on a day-to-day basis was going to be lost on her, especially once she began to claw confusingly at the brown-paper bag beside her that looked to contain a scuba-gear mouth-piece and a handful of uprooted dandelions, and rather than continue, I stopped short and abruptly smiled. She smiled back. I went on my way with a wink and a nod. I could’ve continued, to resume my diatribe against idiots whilst speaking with, alas, someone who was mentally-deficient, but why? Shelley the Republican, for extra-credit and a gold star, I’m asking you: why?
Since my last post, I've had a virtual deluge of comments...two, in fact: one anonymously in the "comments" section, one to my inbox. Ladies & gentlemen, Newton Wilcox: RE - whining about losing to STR - it might be arraigned but it would have to be private and not published. On your honor as Canadian and a recent subject of Queen Elizabeth, I'd need you're word on this.
Yes, and my response:
That's hilarious. Even funnier is the idea that I was "whining" about "losing"...I, apparently, mistook "obnoxious" for "inhuman piece of trash", and, as such, I don't need to "win". Funnier than THAT, however, is your "hush, hush" idea for this to be, as you put it, "arraigned". How about this, champ: you learn how to use the proper "you're" (in this case, as "you're" is a contraction of "you are", you probably meant to say "your"), and I'll write you back an email that isn't so jam-packed with invective. You're welcome.
Well, Dudley, it's a deal - I'll go back to school and learn how to proofread and your free to take the standard issue RCMP stick out of you're ass (<----note comedic use of misspelling for effect). I'm a slow learner, though, so don't wait up.
In the meantime, look up the word "verisimilitude".
In closing, I'm very sorry that, as a Canadian child, you were taught that "Alan Thicke" and "funny" meant the same thing. They didn't then and they don't now.
Did you, perhaps, get the impression that I was hanging around, waiting in the vain hope that you would "catch up"? As for funny, what's absolutely hilarious is how many times you must have gone over this email, juuust to make sure you got your spelling right...especially the part where you have to tell me that said spelling is "comedic". Ha ho. Verisimilitude, eh? It's in one of my chapter-titles of the handbook I'm releasing...send me your address & I'll send you a copy, free of charge; you'll love it. How aboot "xenophobic"? Even better, I didn't even have to look it up! Aaaand, to finish this off, I'll take Alan Thicke over Kirk Cameron every day of the week...even Sundays, when Kirk, and you, are praying. If there's anything else you'd like me to correct for you, send it along it along with your address (for the free handbook!), and I'll see what I can do. Love & Kisses,
Picking on half-bright dipshits isn't nearly as fun as I thought it was going to be, so I'm just about done with this...however, I'd like to mention the irony of getting into a "flaming" war with someone who routinely writes about their fear of "homos".
To reiterate, though, my problem isn't with the content on Shelley the Republican; it's that it isn't FUNNY, and is, instead, fueling bigotry under the fallback of humour. The only thing Wilcox had to come back at me with was geography, and, as we all know, boy oh boy is that lame.
Ah, well...and here we are; it feels like the day after x-mas, and all I got was a lousy pair of socks.
By now, the realization of your own Excellence should have come fast and hard like a math-test made of granite shot from a bazooka mounted on a bullet-train...if not, then I'd take another quick peek at my own personal inventory if I were you. If you aren't Excellent, and you know this deep-down in your heart in the same way that you know your multiplication-tables, I can tell you that I appreciate your unflinching honesty. Fair is, indeed, fair. However, even the truly Excellent have those troublesome times where they're only going at about half-speed; though slightly unbelievable considering all we now know about the Excellent, this is an absolute fact, and something to be dealt with, despite the seemingly-dubious presupposition of the aforewritten point, like it was a poker-hand full of arsenic. Even at half-speed, your Excellence out-Excellences the UnExcellent, so buck up; you must persevere through whatever physical/emotional maladies you may be suffering because, of course, you're Excellent: how bad can it truly be? Well, sometimes it can be pretty bad...like, say, for instance, you spent your entire winter hibernating in front of your computer, creating a truly remarkable, nay, astonishing body of work, with a legerdemain of unprecedented acumen that immediately thrusts you into the non-specific, and completely fictional, cosmic ledger-column of The Greatest of All-Time; you then attempt to play beer-league, co-ed softball once the tolerable-weather comes rolling into town, ending up a broken husk of a man, with fragile hips and the gait of a 104-year-old grandmother of twelve... I hate to be the one to tell you this, but if your strut isn’t working properly, you’re going to notice. Oh, yes. Who does an Excellent person turn to in times of need, unspeakably embarrassing though it may be? You must turn to the Non-Somebody Else. Coffee, cigarettes, barbiturates, a long, hot soak in a bath of rock-salt...whatever your embattled body/bloodstream can handle; like aspirin for a headache, these things will not really heal you so much as allow you to accept your temporary unExcellence, letting you sliiiiiide past your troubles with a wink and a smile. Obviously, this unExcellence happens so infrequently to the truly Excellent that panic CAN set in - relax, have a smoke, and remember, above all else, that you are Excellent...things will just work out. Don’t change horses in mid-psychological-training.
Part 1: The Truce [I slide past the door of the quickly-closing elevator, inertia almost pushing me into the none-too-inviting personal-space of Dipshit Dad; you can actually hear him roll his eyes] Me:[audible sigh] Look, I'll make you a deal: if you make an attempt to knock-off the fucking swearing around, or at, your kids, I'll make an attempt not to belittle you in front of them. [beat] Fair? [Dipshit Dad, after much silence, looks in my general direction and shrugs; the elevator door opens and he leaves...but not without first stealing a glance of my face as I wink at him] Me:[giving him the thumbs-up, which is ignored] Deal! Part 2: The Chivalry [Dipshit Dad, like a gentleman, holds the elevator door open for both my girlfriend & I, despite his wife having earlier looked at her, in the girlfriend’s words, “like I was somehow responsible for you being a dickhead”] Part 3: The Un-Truce [Dipshit Dad is out in front of the building with some little guy with a moustache; they are, honestly, carrying a pew into a moving-truck] Me:Where are you going with my pew? [Dipshit Dad starts to respond but sees the mocking grin on my face; then he gets really angry - so angry, in fact, that he slams his end of the pew into the corner of the moving-truck, almost leveling his mustachioed-buddy with the ricochet, and storms over to where I'm standing] Me:
Heading off? Dipshit Dad:
Yeah, hopefully into a neighbourhood where assholes... [points finger at me] ...don’t knock on your door and tell you how to raise their kids. Me:Sooo...South Hammertown? [Dipshit Dad doesn’t find this funny, though it most certainly is, and looks at his buddy for support; buddy looks back with "toughness", and then tries to gingerly put down his end of the pew] Dipshit Dad:
Who the fuck do you think you are? Who the fuck are you to tell me anything about raising my kids, or what I wear when I walk them to school? [glaring pause] I don’t need some... [pause; thinks of a pronoun] ...asshole putting their nose in my business! Me:
[jubilant; ecstatic; other synonyms for “excited“] Please tell me that you’re leaving because of all of that. Dipshit Dad:
[knowing what I want to hear] No... Me:[sizing him up] Sure you are. [buddy has joined in on the fun, standing beside Dipshit Dad like he isn’t four-feet tall] Dipshit Dad:
Not so tough now, huh? Me:[confused] What? Dipshit Dad:You’re lucky we don’t kick your ass. Me:
[bored] Right. [silence] I’ve always felt lucky... Dipshit Dad:[talking to his buddy as though I’m not standing two-feet from them] Maybe we should kick his ass... Me: Maybe I should call child-services and get those little monsters you’re raising away from you and your vile wife and into a decent home. [pause; I look down to get my cell-phone from my pocket] Yeah, I should do that... [Dipshit Dad and his buddy are in the truck, starting it as I flip open my phone] Me:[yelling] Safe trip!