Archive for February, 2013

See Ya Later, Alternator

February 28, 2013

Wednesday February 27th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   What good would being Mr. Lucky be without at least a weekly crisis to perpetuate my legend? Why would I want my life to operate smoothly when I can maintain a constant level of stress and high tension that keeps me wound tighter than Oprah’s underwear the day after Thanksgiving?

I’ve had my fill and then some of these funky tales of woe, but the cosmic dispatcher cares not and sends more whether I want them or not. It’s like a delivery of sand to the desert – I’ve got all I can use for the next 40,000 years, thank you. Put the boxes back on the truck and leave. Please.

As if I didn’t have enough to be concerned with fighting the weather conditions on my way to Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago tonight, I had the extra fun of having my alternator puke on my already overpriced ‘free’ car. I’ve had alternators puke before, but I can’t remember one doing it in such nasty weather conditions and that made for a high stress 50 mile trek through snowy hell.

Anyone who has experienced the death of an alternator knows the symptoms all too well. First, the ‘battery’ light comes on the dash board. That’s a light that usually comes on very briefly only when the car is started, and then goes right back off. When it pops on in traffic, there’s trouble.

I was fighting to get a left turn completed in an unplowed intersection without sliding into a big old pickup truck coming the other way when I noticed the light pop on and I knew I was screwed immediately. The alternator keeps the battery charged, and now I’d be draining it with having to keep all my accessories running like lights, wipers, heat and radio to keep me abreast of traffic.

The light came on as I was still about 45 miles away on a 50 mile trip, and now it became a big race to either find a rental car place that was open or make it as far into Chicago as I could so I’d at least be able to get a bus, train or cab to Old Town to make it to Zanies for my 8:30 show. I am the headliner this week, so I don’t go on until about 9:15, so that was my very latest arrival time.

And if all that still wasn’t enough to rock my world, I had a radio interview scheduled with my friend Evan Ginzburg in New York on his show called ‘Legends Radio’. Evan is a great guy and we share not only a love for professional wrestling, but also funk music. He likes George Clinton and Bootsy Collins like I do, and was also a producer of the ‘The Wrestler’ with Mickey Rourke.

Evan also manages Luscious Johnny Valiant, a wrestler who wants to become a comedian. He’s a guy I used to boo the hell out of when I was a kid, and it’s all surreal that we’ve managed to get connected all these years later. I’ve talked to Johnny and at some point hope to work with him on a comedy show. Evan is up for it too, and we’ve become friends in the last few years. I like him.

It was too late to cancel, so I did the interview to the best of my ability as I plowed through the snow helplessly watching my lights get dimmer the entire way. My wipers slowed down and my radio eventually faded until I finally stalled completely two blocks from Zanies. I had to hang up and push my car to a tow zone, and then pray it wouldn’t be towed as I did my show at Zanies – which actually went very well. The audience had no idea of my troubles, and that’s being a pro.


Weather Advisory

February 27, 2013

Tuesday February 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   It snowed today, and that got me to thinking about how much something as random as weather can have a very real impact on someone’s business. I guess I’ve always known it, but it really hit home today as I was cleaning off my car so I could get to the grocery store before it got too bad.

It’s inevitable that snow will happen in this part of the country. If anyone who lives here hasn’t figured it out by now, they deserve to turn into human popsicles. That being said, when the snow comes exactly is a matter of random chance. We know it starts right around early November and stays until March or April, but exactly how often and on what days is a matter of random chance.

I happen to have had the night off tonight, but if I was working somewhere local this weather’s impact could severely cramp my style. I would have had to leave several hours early, and there’d probably be a lot fewer buttocks in the seats than usual – even though Tuesdays are usually slow anyway. There aren’t many places that do shows on Tuesdays, so I dodged the bullet for tonight.

Tomorrow through Saturday however, I’m booked at Zanies in Chicago. That’s about 50 miles from where I live, so I’ll have to make sure I get a super early start and get there so I can secure a parking spot and get to the club by show time so I can get paid. It all revolves around the scratch.

Snow isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sure can be a downer in the comedy business. It tends to keep people from going out at night, at least a percentage of them. Even in a place that knows all about winter, it’s a fact of life. Tonight I caught a break, but tomorrow and all other dates are up for grabs. Maybe people will show up, and maybe they won’t. Filling any room is never easy.

Then there are the people that need the snow to survive. Plowing services and ski resorts come to mind. They’re happy whenever the snow shows up, even though most of the rest of us are not. If there’s a mild winter, we’re in heaven but they hate every minute of it. It’s never unanimous.

I’m not sure if a perfect business exists, but I know being a road comic isn’t it. Too many small things can turn into big things as far as having an audience show up, and when it goes south it’s a major disaster. Weather is never a small thing to think about, and both good and bad weather can keep customers away. Bad weather keeps them at home and good weather chases them outside.

Today I used the time indoors to finally get to the tax receipts I’ve been meaning to get to for a few weeks now. I’ve been all over the road and once again let them pile up, but I refuse to return to my habits of old. I’ve had too much pain in that department, and am going to find a way to get better if it’s the last thing I do. It’s getting close to filing time and I want to avoid the extension.

I also spent a few hours sorting out my projects into tangible piles that I intend to organize into a three ring binder so I can keep better track of everything I’ve got going. I probably should have done something like this years ago, but I was too busy working on everything else. Weather isn’t the only factor that makes a difference as to how things turn out. There are all kinds of things the self employed person discovers and has to deal with that aren’t thought of at the start. Surprise!

Gas Pains

February 26, 2013

Monday February25th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Enough with the crazy gas prices already. I’m about tapped out. Everybody is. Does somebody need to say uncle? UNCLE! Uncle Sam. Uncle Remus. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Aunt Jemima. Sister Christian. Ma Barker. Grandpa Munster. Cousin ‘Itt’. Whoever’s in charge, please help us.

Everyone in America is feeling the severe pinch of this, but especially those of us who slug out a living on the road. It’s killing us, plain and simple. Directly and indirectly, it’s putting us out of business with an ugly thud. We can’t afford to get back and forth to our gigs and still squeeze out a fair and livable profit and those who might want to come see us have less spare income as well.

We’re all sunk, and this latest gouge is really painful. I remember paying $2.89 a gallon for gas in Minnesota as recently as the middle of January of this year, but today it’s $4 in Chicago. I am always one to drive on fumes to search for the cheapest gas around but I’m just not finding any.

It used to be that living in the Chicago area I’d time my fill ups to save money by waiting until I was in Wisconsin or Indiana. Sometimes I’ve saved as much as .10 to .15 a gallon, and that will add up per tank full. Lately it doesn’t matter where I am, the prices have shot up beyond the sky.

How can this happen in just a little over a month? Did anyone get the memo? I sure didn’t, but even if I did what could I do to fight back? Not a dad gum thing. If I had even a slight hint of any useful mechanical knowledge I’d have developed a car that runs on rubber band power by now.

Instead, I’m trapped like everyone else having to use outdated technology because the forces in power have us by the short hair. So, am I becoming a conspiracy kook all of a sudden? Not at all. I’ve been one for years. This reinforces it. “They” decided they wanted to gouge us, so they did.

I’m not blaming the President, as I think it goes WAY higher than him. I don’t know the names or titles of those who actually make the calls – and I’m sure that’s exactly how they want it. It’s a racket, and the best interests of the public aren’t the least bit of concern for any of these bastards.

Yeah, yeah, I know I’m a cynic but that’s what I truly think. There are no shortages of gasoline and there never were. There’s enough gas to last us all for thousands of years, but we don’t even need it at this point. The technology exists that would allow us to run cars cheaper and cleaner.

But where’s the profit in that? Who cares if the public is satisfied? I think we’re just the worker bees who bring the sweat equity into the picture. The honey is controlled by the queen, but who’s on the throne calling the shots in all this? I have no idea, but that entity is tightening our screws.

America as we’ve come to know it is over. My grandparents used to warn me about this when I was a kid, and I laughed at them like they were total nut jobs. I’m sure there are people who read my ramblings that think the same of me. And they’re correct. I’ve never denied my nuttiness, but I think I’m dead on about this particular subject. What’s frustrating is that nobody I know has the power to do anything about it. This call is coming from up the food chain and we’re all suffering.

Oscars The Grouch

February 25, 2013

Sunday February 24th, 2013 – Kenosha, WI

   It’s Oscar night, and I couldn’t care less. Being in the entertainment business I probably should at least a little, but I can’t fake it. I don’t. I’m not a huge movie watcher, and those I do and enjoy are usually not part of the mix. Did ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ ever get nominated? I rest my case.

I’m not a big fan of any awards shows, even though they draw huge ratings or they wouldn’t be pillars of the broadcast calendar. I heard upwards of a billion people were watching this around a world that can’t agree on almost anything. Other than the Super Bowl, what U.S. event is as big?

I was invited to an Oscar party in Kenosha, WI at Mark Gumbinger’s house, but I couldn’t stay long because I needed to be on the air at WLIP hosting ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal radio show at 8pm. I didn’t want to be rude, so I stopped by to say hello before going on the air.

Mark is a film director himself, and has seen most of the nominated titles. I guess that makes it significantly more interesting, but I don’t have time to see that many movies much less the desire not to mention the money. I’ve got too many other things I really want to do that use up my time.

I also have a difficult time with comparing art. Who can say what the best film out of a laundry list of them truly is? It’s all opinion. I know it’s human nature to compare, but I never had a need to do that. It’s like comparing the best athletes from different eras. Who cares? They’re all great.

Look at all the hard work that went into every one of those projects – and all the other ones that weren’t nominated. Sure, some results were better than others but to single some out as being the best just doesn’t float my boat. And like in every other contest, it sets the table for hard feelings.

The politically correct answer for everyone to say is “It’s just great to be nominated” – and it is. But we’re all human and everybody wants to win. There are a lot more people that go home from any awards show disappointed than those that go home happy. I don’t like those kinds of odds.

That’s a good thing, because I’m not up for any major awards any time soon and that’s another source of disappointment. What’s worse, putting one’s heart and soul into a film project only to have it lose out to some artsy fartsy dung nugget or not having any projects worthy of rejection?

I’ve got all I can handle slinging my little batch of jokes to new people every week. I work just as hard as or harder than the majority of those in the film industry, but there are no awards shows for me nor are there any for single moms or working stiffs out there trying to keep the bills paid.

I will say I’m a huge fan of Seth MacFarlane. What an unbelievable talent that guy is. He sings and writes and does voices and is world class at all of it. I loved his opening monologue, but I’m sure he polarized a lot of people with it and that’s what he wanted. He can afford to do that and I respect him for it. I’ve been polarizing people my whole life, but I’m not Seth MacFarlane. He’s got the power and clout and can creatively do what he wants. Who wouldn’t want that? To have that kind of freedom and get paid millions is what it’s about. Starving artists are way overrated.

Pleasantly Pooped

February 24, 2013

Saturday February 23rd, 2013 – Kenosha, WI/Glenview, IL

   My life sounds a lot like a Dick and Jane book from first grade. Run, run, run. Go, go, go. Run and go. Go and run. See Dobie run. See Dobie go. He is busy. Busy, busy, busy. Look at Dobie’s tongue hang out as he runs himself ragged every day. Dobie is pooped. Pooped, pooped, pooped.

That’s just how it is right now, but I’m not complaining. Everything I’m doing is fun, and how many people can say that? Sure I’m still broke, but at least I’ve got some hope and that’s all any of us can ask for. There have been some very dark times in the past few years, but that’s because there didn’t appear to be any hope on the horizon. Now I’m feeling like I at least have a chance.

My friend Mark Gumbinger called to invite me to lunch today. He’s a film director who wants to film a pilot episode of ‘Mr. Lucky’ as a sitcom. I’m very flattered he’d think of me but I don’t think I’d have time for it just now. I’ve got more than I can handle on my daily calendar already.

If I did have time, he would be the director I’d choose. He’s very meticulous, and knows what he wants each scene to look like. He’d be my own personal Martin Scorcese, and I’d trust him to get the most out of what we had to work with. I had a small part in one of his projects ‘Dead Air’ and it was great fun, but I’m no actor and never claimed to be. Like Seinfeld, I’m a comic first.

They were able to build a solid cast around Jerry Seinfeld, and that’s exactly what would have to happen with me. I’m not opposed to the idea, but right now it’s not something I can spend any time working on. I’ve got too many other things to focus on, but it was still fun to discuss today.

Mark directed my one hour video that was recorded at WLIP studios last year, and it turned out quite well. He’s a total pro, and we work together smoothly. We put together a product we could both be proud of for a very low cost. If we had any kind of budget at all we would be dangerous.

I don’t take acting lightly however. That’s a craft just like comedy, and I haven’t paid any dues whatsoever. People make the mistake of thinking it’s easy to do both, when that couldn’t be any further from the truth. I respect the craft of acting, and wouldn’t head into it without a solid plan.

If I ever did get a sitcom opportunity, I’d find a quality mentor and take a class. At least having a basic skill set as a foundation would make things a lot easier for everyone involved. I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking on a big project just winging it like I have until now. That’s not smart. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. Like standup comedy it can look easy but totally isn’t.

Speaking of comedy, Bill Gorgo called and asked if I could fill in at the very last minute for his show at The Laughing Chameleon in Glenview, IL. There was supposed to be a feature slotted to do twenty minutes, but he bailed for unknown reasons. Any way I can help Bill, I surely would.

That’s a small room, but it was full tonight and I had a blast. I worked in new material and also switched around some old stuff. I helped a friend, but also used the time to be productive and get ready for The Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta in March. It’s all fun, but I could use a breather.

What Did I Expect?

February 24, 2013

Friday February 22nd 2013 – Sault Ste. Marie, MI/Fox Lake, IL

   Well, I asked for it. Anyone who dares to drive to Sault Ste. Marie, MI in February is tempting the fates. I have no idea how or why anything of or close to having human DNA would consider living that far north, but they do. Massive snow is part of their lives so they better get used to it.

I knew I had lucked out big time on the drive yesterday, as there was not one flake of snow on the roads the entire 500 mile trip. Today I paid for it and then some with white out conditions the whole way through the Upper Peninsula, but I didn’t complain as I knew what I was getting into.

I volunteered for this run, and this kind of hazard goes with the territory. It’s not like it’s a new thing, I’ve been a road warrior for decades. On the way up the ladder newbies get their bookings when and where they can and that often means doing Duluth in December and Austin in August.

I’m fine with all of it, as it’s part of paying one’s dues. All most of us ask for as comedians is a fair chance to eventually move up the ladder but too often it never comes. I can think of a booker who used to rule the Midwest for years who was notorious for making people drive though brutal conditions – often on extremely short notice – but never ever returning any favors down the road.

Countless aspiring comedians over those years risked life and limb taking treacherous trips like I took today hoping for a chance for advancement that never came. Then that wank wonders why most comedians view him as a slave driver and bad guy, but this is nothing like that. I feel great.

I’m a short timer on this list. I’ve paid dues upon dues upon interest on those dues. I’ve learned my craft and am rapidly improving my business skills too. I sense a payoff around the corner and it’s very exciting. I’m going to enjoy every minute and focus on all the good I can do for others.

I was able to save the day for two people I like and respect, and if driving through the snow for an afternoon will accomplish that I’d do it 1000 times out of 1000. Nobody died, and I’m back to civilization to continue working on fun stuff. Yes it cost me a day, but I’m so far behind as it is it doesn’t really matter. I am making lots of progress, and after further review this was still correct.

Joe San Felippo of Bonkerz Comedy Clubs has thrown me work over the years and I’m sure he will do it again. He helped me get the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show booked into the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino for April, so this was not an issue. There’s reciprocation involved.

The headliner for this run is a comedy magician from Las Vegas named Kyle Marlett. I picked him up in Milwaukee and we drove up and back. He’s only 21, but has appeared on ‘The Tonight Show’ and has his own show in Las Vegas. He’s very talented, but I don’t think he was ready for the brutal conditions of what being a road act is all about. He has dues to pay like everyone else.

I’m glad I agreed to do this, as now it’s over and I can move on. I did my good deed, and hope it might put a few coins in my karma bank so when I need a favor there will be someone who can step in on my behalf and save the day. There are no guarantees of that, but it sure would be nice.

Golden Rule Enforcement

February 24, 2013

Thursday February 21st, 2013 – Sault Ste. Marie, MI

   If I can ever help someone else out of a bind, I always make a sincere effort to do it. I know the feeling all too well of needing help myself, so I’m extra sensitive to pitching in when or however I can. It’s never a matter of getting anything back for myself – I just feel it’s the right thing to do.

I know it sounds corny and sappy, but I really mean it. The Golden Rule is a wonderful base on which to build a successful life and I am a big proponent of trying my best to live by it every day of my existence. Today I had a chance to help two people with one action, so I had to get it done.

Joe Nuccio is one of my comedy students who is taking it farther than most and is getting some actual bookings. He’s been a successful professional musician for years, but always wanted to try comedy and is doing quite well despite his short time in the business. He understands the game.

Joe was booked this week on a run of casino shows that started in Sault Ste. Marie, MI tonight and includes Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee on Saturday and the Island Casino in Harris, MI on Sunday. I’ve done that run many times myself, and am familiar with all the driving it entails.

Joe’s brother-in-law passed away unexpectedly earlier this week, and Joe found himself having to participate in the funeral which turned out to be today. He was extremely frazzled, and knew it wouldn’t be a popular decision to cancel on the booker the day before the gig – and it wouldn’t.

I happen to also know the booker, Joe San Felippo from Bonkerz Comedy Clubs. Joe now lives in Orlando, FL but is originally from Milwaukee and I’ve known him for twenty-five years. He’s very down to earth, and we’ve always gotten along very well. He has a human side and has never been unreasonable, unlike a lot of bookers who can really hold grudges. Joe is easy to work with.

I was in the unique position of knowing all sides of this situation, and I knew the consequences should Joe Nuccio back out would not be good. Joe San Felippo doesn’t know Joe Nuccio, so it’s not a matter of calling in a favor. If a professional entertainer books a gig, it’s his or her job to be there as agreed upon. Deaths in any family are unfortunate but inevitable, and work comes first.

Joe Nuccio knows that from being a professional musician, and he was in a real bind. I’ve been in similar situations myself and it’s never fun. I happened to be off this particular week and knew the only solution that would allow everyone to walk away happy would be for me to fill in on the run and make the brutal 500 mile drive to Sault Ste. Marie. I told both Joes I’d volunteer to do it.

I wasn’t thrilled about having to make that drive, but if that was the worst part of it the benefits far outweighed any inconvenience. The Kewadin Casino always treats comics well, and I would be doing the opening slot so that’s like a night off. I wasn’t doing anything, so why not help out?

Everyone involved was delighted I was willing to do this on short notice, and the drive turned out to be a breeze – especially for February. There was no bad weather, and I got there in plenty of time to get my complementary dinner. It felt good to be able to help two people in one pinch.

Here Comes The KING!

February 21, 2013

Wednesday February 20th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

   I truly believe 2013 is going to be my most memorable year ever – and in a good way. I feel an energy building and positive things are happening all over the place. This is exactly the way I’ve always pictured it, but for whatever reason it’s taken this long to finally happen. I am SO ready.

I’ve already had a great experience filming a TV spot for Comcast in Indianapolis this year and I think that will lead to other opportunities as the year unfolds. I knocked that spot out of the park and did different material than I did on my Craig Ferguson spot – which was four years ago now.

The Laughing Skull Festival will be a positive experience in Atlanta in March, as everyone that has done it has nothing but raves about the entire vibe of the event. Then in April it’s a chance to shine in my hometown of Milwaukee with a series of ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows. It’s all a dream come true, and exactly what I want to be doing. I’m finally starting to see a payoff for my efforts.

Today I got the best possible birthday gift I could imagine when Jon Greenberg called to invite me to be a part of a promotion on March 13th for the Milwaukee Admirals hockey team as they’ll be doing a “Tribute to Uranus Night”. Anyone who knows about Uranus knows March 13th is the date Sir William Herschel discovered the planet in 1781, and it’s the perfect day to pull this off.

I’m not exactly sure what the final outcome will be, but I get to make an appearance during the game as The King of Uranus and I couldn’t be more thrilled. What fun it will be to show up with full regal splendor and walk out on the ice in front of hockey fans. Some may boo, others will be stunned – but EVERYONE will laugh and that’s the whole idea. This legitimizes this gimmick.

I’m especially thrilled to be doing this for the Admirals, as they’ve always been marketers and promoters of the highest order. My friend Tom Green used to sing the national anthem at games in full Elvis regalia, and it was a fantastic promotion that fans came to know and enjoy. They’ve always been ahead of the curve with their promotional savvy, and this is the perfect gig for me.

I have known Jon Greenberg and Admirals VP of Business Development Mike Wojciechowski for years and couldn’t think higher of both of them personally or professionally. Woj is naturally funny and has always been a fan and supporter of mine and Greenie worked in the front office of the Milwaukee Brewers for years and would always leave tickets for me whenever I needed any.

These are exactly the kind of people I want to work with and be around, and I’m flattered they decided to let me be a part of this event. Nobody else on Earth could pull this off and if nothing else it will be one of the most memorable nights of my life. Who else could be King of Uranus or more importantly – who else would even WANT to be? I’m going into this without competition.

This could be a huge success or a total flop, but I’m totally betting on success. Greenie told me they’re always looking for promotional angles, and when they saw March 13th as the anniversary date everyone in the office laughed immediately. Of course they did. Like my slogan says – ‘It’s ALWAYS funny when it comes from Uranus!’ And it is. I can’t wait to breathe life into a King.


A Reboot In The Ass

February 20, 2013

Tuesday February 19th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’ve been hitting the road rather hard of late, and completely welcomed the thought of a day off to rest and recuperate. Too bad today wasn’t it. Who has time to relax? I’ve got laundry piling up yet again, and all the things I’ve been working so hard on seem to need my attention once more.

Who can stay caught up with everything in life? I can’t, and it’s totally frustrating. I’m making an honest effort to stay in the game, but it feels like I’m trying to juggle too many plates and they are all going to come crashing down. Then I’ll have another mess to clean and I don’t want that.

Life just gets away from me sometimes, and this is one of those times. I had my work space all organized and pretty looking just a few short weeks ago but now it looks like the picture of Haiti after their latest natural disaster. Everything is in piles and I have no idea where to start cleaning.

I was starting to be proud of myself for how organized I was with my tax records as well, but I feel myself sliding back into my old habits there and that’s a major red flag. I’ve got my receipts, but they’re not put away in one spot like I need them to be and that has to be taken care of NOW.

I refuse to go back into that habit, and I will spend tomorrow making it right. If nothing else, it will give me something to build on and move forward. I’ve had too much pain in the assets to let myself slide back into those soiled shorts. I need to get myself back on track and not let this slip.

Another thing I’ve been lax on is exercising. I was in a great groove there too, but I’ve had too many other things to attend to of late and that’s gotten off schedule also. It takes conscious effort to stay in that groove, and I’ve let myself get out of it and I feel it. Again, I refuse to accept this.

On the good side, I have no work this week and have time to devote to doing what I need to do to at least get partially caught up. On the bad side, I have no work this week and that means there is no income. I’m already running lean, and all the money I’ve made in my past few weeks out is accounted for and earmarked for paying someone else. I’m a hamster on a wheel and I’m tired.

This is a very crucial time in both this year and my life, and what I choose to do the next week is going to have significant impact on my immediate and long term futures. I intend to get myself back to doing what I should be doing, but then again I never intended to get out. It just happened.

Everybody wanders off track like this at some point, but as I get older I clearly see the extreme importance of having a master plan to return to whenever this happens. For so long I didn’t have any plan at all, and I’m paying for it now. At least I’m smart enough to know I’m doing it wrong and can catch it in time to get back where I need to be. If I don’t, I’ll go right back where I was.

I’ve made some truly remarkable steps forward in the past few years and I’m going to literally force myself to keep those things at the top of my mind in this next little while so I don’t let this effort slip away. It’s not easy to make good decisions over and over – especially when life tosses unexpected grenades. I’m not the only one battling these things, but it’s my job to right my ship.

Speed Demons

February 20, 2013

Monday February 18th, 2013 – Black River Falls, WI

   What is it with me and speeding tickets lately? It’s only been in the last few years, but I’ve had way more than I’ve had in the previous twenty plus years combined and I can’t figure it out. As I rapidly approach codgerhood, one would assume that would be one area of life that would ease.

In my twenties and thirties when I was really banging out the miles I don’t recall getting tickets at all. I may have had oodles of other problems to deal with in life then, but that was never one of them. In fact, if nothing else I had a reputation of talking my way out of any traffic consequences whenever I got pulled over, and it drove my friends crazy. I guess I wasn’t a threat to the police.

I’ve always been able to talk to cops without fear. Part of the reason for that is my grandfather used to make me ask policemen for directions when we’d go for walks when I was a kid. He had the foresight to pretend we were ‘lost’, and made me give the policeman our address and ask him to tell us how to get home. How brilliant was that? I hope every parent of young kids steals that.

I got snagged in a speed trap last spring that was a total sham, and I’m still feeling the sting of that one on my insurance. The speed limit went from 55 to 35 in about half a block, and I wasn’t the only one who fell for it. It was a money machine for the tiny town, and I guess it was just my turn. I tried fighting it, but in the end I ended up paying to just make it all go away. What a mess.

This latest one happened just last month as I was driving in a rental car to a gig in Eau Claire, WI. I was passing a semi to avoid getting stones kicked up from one of the 18 wheels and having to pay for a cracked windshield. It didn’t help my cause any that the rental car had Illinois plates.

I could tell by the way the trooper goose stepped out of his car that I was in for a ticket before he even got to my window. I felt his ominous vibe, and didn’t try to fight it or talk my way out of it. I tried to put it out of my mind and move on, and I did exactly that. I put it out of my mind so well in fact that I totally forgot about it. Today was my day in court and I needed to take action.

It was my own fault, and I blame nobody else. I’m sure I’m not the only idiot in the history of traffic violations in small towns that has faced this situation, so I sucked it up and decided to get in my car after The Mothership Connection radio show ended at midnight and drive to the town of Black River Falls, WI to face my consequences. Court was scheduled for 9am and I was there.

If I could get any part of the $250 fine lowered or any points shaved off, it would be worth this hassle. Two tickets in one year can’t be good for insurance purposes, even at my approaching old geezerly age. It’s not like I’m a habitual criminal, but for whatever reason I’m getting targeted of late. I guess it’s the law of averages, as I’ve driven about ten times more than most other drivers.

They had me fill out a form pleading not guilty, and I was told that the District Attorney would contact me within a few weeks via mail. I have no idea what to expect, but prudence tells me I’ll be forking out cash at that point. Hopefully my effort will pay off, but who knows? It would sure be nice to catch a break, but the cosmos seems to have other plans. I’ll cross my fingers and wait.