Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

The Sweetest Music

July 5, 2014

Tuesday July 1st, 2014 – Rosemont, IL

The sweetest music any comedian can hear the week of the 4th of July is a phone ringing. This is traditionally the deadest week of the year along with Christmas week, and that’s just how it is. It was like that even during the peak years, but it’s really true now. It’s not easy to get a booking.

Cruise ships can be decent on Christmas week because Jewish people tend to fill the ships, but comedy clubs on land tend to be ghost towns. Most clubs do a local ‘best of’ show with acts that live in town and don’t cost much. It’s something a club plans for every year, and they squeak by.

4th of July week is similar, but Jewish people celebrate too – at least if they’re Americans. I’ve never seen a rush of communist sympathizers or terrorists in comedy clubs or cruise ships on the week of 4th of July. It’s slow for everyone, and there’s always the variable of what day it falls on.

Saturday is always the money night in any week, and when Christmas Eve, Christmas night or the 4th happen to fall on one that makes it even harder for a venue to turn a profit that week. I’ve seen a lot of places in recent years just bite the bullet and close for those weeks. I can see why.

Zanies Comedy Clubs in the Chicago area will be open this week, but will close on Friday the actual 4th. They’re piecing ‘best of’ local shows together, and Chicago is a big city with a lot of options. It’s a chance for comedians to get their feet wet working at a Zanies location, and that’s a big deal in Chicago. It’s a chance for the clubs to be able to stay open as well, so it’s win/win.

I couldn’t have been more delighted to receive a text from the manager of the Rosemont Zanies asking if I would mind hosting the shows tonight and Thursday. Would I mind? Are you kidding me? I would be willing to host the show, vacuum the showroom after and take out the garbage at the end of the night. Being able to bring in even $1 on 4th of July week is a victory in these times.

As if that wasn’t enough, I received an email shortly thereafter from Bert Haas asking if I’d be willing to close the shows at the St. Charles location in Pheasant Run Resort on Saturday. Again, I was barely able to conceal my joy as I pretended to look for my calendar to see if I was open.

This couldn’t have come at a better time, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I hate to be in such a pickle to need money this badly, but it’s a big barrel and I’m not alone. Every comic I know that hasn’t gotten a day job by now is also sniffing around for anything they can get. Times are tight.

I’m really going to have to be better prepared from now on, but at least for another year I’ll get through another 4th of July week and another summer. I’ve picked up a couple of straggler shows for July and August, and there could be a few more in the mix when I rattle some cages I haven’t rattled in a while but need to. This particular week was wide open, and now it’s not. I’m thrilled.

The show tonight was excellent. The Rosemont location is part of a beautiful new complex that has a lot of bars and restaurants, and there is a significant amount of walk up business. That’s the exact type of location the most successful comedy clubs in the country are. Hopefully this club is set up for a long successful run. There was a nice house tonight, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I’ll enjoy Thursday and Saturday too. Thank you Zanies, you saved me again. http://www.zanies.com.

Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL is one of the most beautiful comedy clubs in America. www.zanies.com

Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL is one of the most beautiful comedy clubs in America. See it for yourself! http://www.zanies.com

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Reboot Needed

May 12, 2014

Sunday May 11th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Happy Mother’s Day – and I mean it. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Christmas all should be celebrated to their fullest by everyone possible. I just happen to be an exception to a rule I had no part whatsoever in writing. We all get poker hands dealt in life, and it’s up to us how to play.

I happened to get the hand I did, and by now I’m really sick of playing it. I thought I was going to be playing high stakes poker when I sat down at life’s table, but at this point I’ve got a hand of Jokers, Uno cards and the old maid. I don’t even know what the hell game I’m playing anymore.

I wish I could just start over and have a chance to succeed somewhere. A reboot would help me shuffle those cards and hopefully get a hand I can potentially win in life. Right now, I’m circling the drain and nobody hears my cries for help. To me they’re plain as day, but nobody else hears.

All I’m asking for is a chance to work steadily and earn a respectable living at what I was made to do – entertain people. It wouldn’t take all that much to turn my life around in just a few weeks of steady work. Three months on a cruise ship would change my life, as would a tour of comedy clubs in bigger cities or something like a Bob and Tom tour. It’s not like I wouldn’t do the job.

I’m in my absolute prime right now, and every second I’m not using my talents they’re wasting away and soon will be gone. Just because a few people don’t like me personally, I seem to be off the radar of the entire world. The saying “When you’re hot you’re hot” works in both directions.

I have heard all kinds of stories of people getting one break and it turning their life around, but are any of them completely true? Stories often tend to get bent in translation, and a legend comes into play that might not be totally accurate. All I know is I could stand a break right about now.

Everything is piling up around me, and I feel like Adam West’s Batman character being caught in some trap where there looks to be no escape. He and Robin always managed to get themselves free and stay alive at the last second, but that’s the TV version. Real life works quite differently.

I don’t know what else to say other than I’ve tried everything I know how to try and I’m out of ideas as to what to do next. I’m having a hell of a time faking it, and at some point I’m just going to snap and that will be it. I’m trying my best to avoid that, but how? What is going to change?

Last night I opened the show for a very nice and funny lady named Caryn Bark. She is known in the Jewish community, and we performed at her synagogue of all places. That’s fine, and I’m unbelievably flattered that she would ask me to open for her. I only had to do about half an hour, and that’s not very difficult as a rule. That wasn’t the case tonight, and it was anything but easy.

Were they nice people? Absolutely. Was it my crowd? Absolutely not. They were older Jewish people that were there to see Caryn. Caryn does a lot of Jewish material in her show, and she was terrific. They loved her, and well they should have. They didn’t hate me, but I wasn’t their thing.

The fact that I’m even doing gigs like this so far into the game is a major red flag. I should be a draw by now, and have an audience of people coming to see me like they came to see Caryn. She is a very smart business person, and also funny. I don’t begrudge her in the least and I don’t want to sound ungrateful either. I’m the one that is in the line of fire here, and I don’t know how to fix the problem. If I did, I would have done it years ago. Something went wrong, and needs a reboot.

I just wish I knew what it was. There are so many things broken right now, I don’t know where to start or what to look to fix first. The pain about the situation with my mother is not ever going to go away. It may fade into the background for a while, but days like today it will come back to torture me for as long as I’ll be alive. The damage is done, and I don’t see how it can be repaired.

For the longest time I wasn’t sure if she was living or dead, but I did get confirmation from my brother Larry that she is indeed still alive and living about an hour north of Milwaukee. He’s the one that has always been in touch with her the most over the years, but he isn’t thrilled about it.

There are just some people alive that should flat out not breed. I’ve done a comedy bit about it for years, and it lays crowds out. Unfortunately, I happen to be the product of two prime parents that qualify for the list. Both of them should have been spayed, neutered, clipped, trimmed, fed salt peter, sterilized, fixed or whatever other term anyone wants to use. Why was I ever born?

There’s no way life needs to be this difficult. It’s like trying to run a car engine without oil. It’s going to seize up at some point, and that’s where I feel my life is right now. It’s miraculous that I made it this far, but after taking so bad of a pounding for so many years I’m just too banged up to continue under my own power. I need a hand from somewhere, but it’s not coming. I feel so lost.

And to think just a few months ago I was feeling on top of the world. My drive to Tucson and back for New Year’s Eve week was a total blast in many ways. That’s how life should be every week, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why it isn’t. I’ve come so close so many times, but then through no fault of my own I’m out of the groove again off my game. It gets SO frustrating.

A radio job somewhere would be fantastic. Again, it’s not like I haven’t paid my dues or would stink up the joint. I’ve got legit experience at some real radio stations, and my ability hasn’t ever been the issue. It’s always some outside factor I can’t control, and I can’t keep taking direct hits.

If I’m going to keep plugging, I’m going to have to have some stability. Period. If I can’t find a way to do that my life will be over a lot sooner than later. The stress of keeping it together week to week is really starting to take a hefty toll. I feel the life draining from me, and I can’t stop it.

It’s like I’m a plate spinner and all my plates are coming down at once. What the hell do I do to stop it without turning everything into a Three Stooges pie fight? I wish I knew. I’ve been trying as hard as I can to figure that out my whole life, but it’s been especially tough since getting fired from the radio job at The Loop in Chicago in 2004. It’s ten years ago now, but it still haunts me.

I put all my chips on the table for that gig, and it was looking like I would be set for life. There is no reason I shouldn’t be other than some clueless nimrod decided to fire us because “once in a while change for the sake of change is good.” Well, apparently that was one of those times in the confines of his marble sized brain and ten years later here I sit debating whether to off myself.

I really don’t see why I’m alive right now, and I can’t scream out any louder for help. One day I will just pick up a rope and a maid will find me swinging from some hotel room shower head and that’ll be it. I’ll get my picture in their local nose blower – and they’ll spell my name wrong.

Looking back over my life it seems like such a waste. I was given a scoop of talent, and when I tried to develop it I kept getting my legs clipped out from under me. When I asked for help there was nobody there, and there still isn’t today. I’m hurting. Thanks Mom! Happy Mother’s Day.

This pretty much sums up my position in life these days.

This pretty much sums up my current life situation.

The Merriest Christmas

December 27, 2013

Thursday December 26th, 2013 – Amarillo, TX/Flagstaff, AZ

This year is going to go down as one of my favorite Christmases ever – diarrhea and all. At the start of the year I made a goal of wanting this to be my best year ever, and it sure looks like I will get what I asked for. 2013 was also rough in many ways, but after today I know I got my wish.

I had about 100 funny Christmas cards laying around that I bought several years ago, but never sent out. I discovered them during my move last month, and decided to send them out to people I like and respect or that did me a solid this year. I also had bought a roll of stamps so it didn’t cost me anything other than the time to address the cards and add a personal note. I sent them all out.

I received all kinds of emails and phone calls from the people who got them, and it put me in a really super mood as I drove from Amarillo, TX to Flagstaff, AZ today. I tried to add something personal to each card, and it totally worked. I got the reaction I was looking for and then some.

I also texted a ton of people yesterday that I didn’t have addresses for, and that also got a very positive reaction. Just making that small personal contact worked wonders, and it helped to make my long drive a lot shorter. Hearing back from so many I like and respect made me feel special.

On a total lark, I sent my younger brother Bruce a Facebook message wishing him not only a Merry Christmas, but to hope that at some point my older sister Tammy and older brother Larry would be able to all get together and start communicating again. That would be good for us all.

Our family makes The Sopranos look like Ozzie and Harriet. We’ve taken dysfunction to new heights, and it’s the source of my pain for Christmas and all that it’s supposed to mean. We were never allowed to be kids, and our innocence was taken way before it should have been. It stinks.

I really didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to take another stab at trying to turn this horrific situation around. I’ve heard of siblings having ‘squabbles’, but this is a whole lot deeper than that. Tammy and I haven’t spoken in twenty years, and it’s at least ten years since Larry and I saw each other. Bruce and I were never close, and have been at odds since childhood.

The whole situation has been a big oozing sore for decades, and I’d have to think even Dr. Phil would scratch his bald head and wash his hands of it. There are a lot of hurt feelings and broken spirits, and we were never close to begin with so we’ve stayed apart. Actually, they stayed apart from me but that’s how it has always been. I was raised by my grandparents, and they were not.

This whole disgusting mess has lingered on into adulthood, and has been a huge source of pain for years and years. I’m not without blame, and never claimed to be. I had an enormous blowout with Tammy in 1993, and said some things I’m really sorry for. I’ve tried to apologize, but it has not worked. I feel horrible about it but that was the amputation of our communication and still is.

Well, to my delighted shock and surprise Bruce wrote back and said he would be willing to try and get all four of us together in a room somewhere for a chance to if not reconcile at least let the healing process begin. We’re all broken inside from our horrific childhood scenario, and only the four of us can relate because we all survived it. This will be something only we can appreciate.

Just the thought of hope that this long overdue meeting might actually happen put me in a place of sheer ecstasy. THIS is what is hurting and always has been, and there is finally some attention being paid to the source of all that pain. Comedy has been something to cover it up all this time.

All kinds of performers look to numb their true source of agony, but it’s never what truly ends it. Fame and fortune might help to cover it up, but deep down inside there’s still that smoldering little ember that can easily turn into a raging fire at a moment’s notice. That’s where it all starts.

That’s where it starts with me too, and getting the response from Bruce was like a healing salve for my psyche. He sent a long detailed letter and made some terrific points. He is very intelligent, and has had plenty of his own demons and hurdles to jump. He’s doing an outstanding job, and it would be beyond words to be able to finally develop an adult relationship with the three of them.

This is far deeper than comedy or marketing or anything else I can think of. I know I’m not the only one with a shaky family relationship, but ours has been unbelievably volatile. Being able to finally start to heal would be my greatest Christmas or any other wish. It’s seemed so impossible.

Nothing has been set up yet, but Bruce wrote back and said he talked to Tammy and she would be open to the idea of getting us all together in one place. Even knowing that the possibility of it is being talked about is making my deepest inner child do cartwheels and jump for joy. It’s what I’ve been hoping for forever, but haven’t had the opportunity. The time finally seems to be right.

I wrote to Bruce and told him how excited I was that this was even being talked about, and told him also that I was coming into this with a spirit of extreme humility. I don’t claim to be without reproach, and I’m sure I’m going to catch an ear full from everyone for the mistakes I’ve made.

I’m willing to accept that, and although it’s never pleasant to admit one is wrong it’s necessary to let the healing begin. Most of the idiots in our family were so dysfunctional they would never accept responsibility for their actions and that was a huge source of the problem. They were not ever wrong in their eyes – not even once – and blamed everyone else for every problem at hand.

Now they’re all dead, and they left their toxic residue behind for us to clean up. That’s what we will hopefully do, and it will take the rest of our lives to do it. It will be a process, but if we don’t start it somehow we’ll all go to our graves with giant gaping holes in our souls. This is crucial.

We’ll never have that ideal family bond I see so many have, but like a burn victim we’ll have a second chance at life. There will be ugly scars, but at least we’ll be alive to talk about it. We will appreciate life a lot more, and it will be a major source of joy for us all. I see nothing but good.

I can totally see myself getting out of the standup comedy game and not looking back. I’d still want to perform, but in a MUCH more meaningful way. Maybe I could be a counselor to broken families, or help others patch up their lives. I know we’re not the only family to experience this.

I’m giddy with excitement right now, and I will have a wonderful run of shows in Tucson. This may be the end of the comedy club chapter of my life, but I feel a much better one beginning. It’s what I’ve always wanted, and if it happens it will be the greatest Christmas gift I ever received.

This is how my inner child feels today. I don't ever remember it feeling that way before, but I know I love it.

This is how my inner child feels today. I don’t ever remember it feeling that way before, but I know I love it. What a rush!

Jingle Bowels

December 26, 2013

Wednesday December 25th, 2013 – Rolla, MO/Amarillo, TX

And what did I get for Christmas this year? Diarrhea! How does one gift wrap that? In my case it was in underwear, and it was the gift that kept on giving for most of the morning. I stopped for a Chinese buffet lunch in Normal, IL yesterday, and something I ate gave me the old rocket ass.

I could feel my stomach gurgling a little before I fell asleep, but this morning is when it kicked in and hit the jackpot. It was a bizarre morning all around actually. I was awakened by the sound of cops knocking on the door of someone down the hall. Apparently, an escaped felon was at the motel holing up and someone turned him in. There were four cops at his door with pistols drawn.

I’ve had some unusual Christmases in my day, but I must say I’ve never had this. They tried to get him to come out, but at first he wouldn’t. I was only a few doors down from the action, and it occurred to me that bullets could start flying at any moment. I was trying to think of where I’d be the safest, and I thought the bath tub would be best. Before I could go there, the guy surrendered.

I’d parked right in front of the motel office, and I was concerned about my rental car. It would be absolutely my luck that bullets would fly and I’d have to pay the deductible out of my pocket. It ended up ending peacefully, and no damage was done to anything other than the guy’s record.

I don’t know what he did, but by the look on the faces of the cops it was pretty serious. It took two pairs of officers in Rolla, MO to get it done, and I have to believe there aren’t many more on the entire force in a town that size. I bet none of them had expected that on a Christmas morning.

I wasn’t able to go back to sleep after all that excitement, so I packed up and began driving but had to stop every few exits to find a bathroom. Only Mr. Lucky would get a green apple splatters attack on the ONE day of the year when 99% of businesses are closed. It would be very funny if I didn’t have to live it. I don’t need any more jokes. I’ve got enough to last for multiple lifetimes.

Eventually the volcano stopped erupting, and I settled in and just tried to get some miles in the rear view mirror. I haven’t been to this part of the country in a while, and it brought back a lot of memories. When I first got bitten with wanderlust, I came this way several times in my travels.

Back then it was a thrill to set foot in places I’d never ever been before. It felt like an explorer discovering a new world. It was gritty adventure. Now it’s just more hours behind the wheel of a car, but at least it’s a much better car than I’ve had in the past. I used to take beaters on the road.

I’ve left several dead cars in several states through the years, and it’s a good thing I was young and full of piss and vinegar then. I don’t know where the vinegar went, but the piss is still here. I have to stop a lot more frequently because of it, and that’s another reason I’m not thrilled by this lifestyle anymore. It was new and fun in the day, but I can feel that I’ve matured a lot since then.

Now I’d like to have a different kind of adventure. I’d like to settle SOMEWHERE, and allow some roots to grow. Whatever I was running from or trying to catch all those years is not what is my priority now. I’ve been through the buffet line a few times, and I’m not hungry anymore. It’s time for dessert, and that would be a family and steady source of income. This is a farewell trip.

Diarrhea is HILARIOUS...when someone ELSE gets it.

Diarrhea is HILARIOUS…when someone ELSE gets it.

I would have been delighted to get this for Christmas this year. I'd have put it to good use today.

I would have been delighted to get this for Christmas this year. I’d have put it to good use today.

Christmas For One

December 25, 2013

Tuesday December 24th, 2013 – Chicago, IL/Rolla, MO

Here comes the tough stretch, and I’m gritting my teeth looking to just plow through it and get ready for 2014. It’s only two more days, but these are the hardest of all. These are supposed to be the best days of the year, but for me they’re the worst torture I can imagine. It’s gas on the fire.

What would stop the pain would be a family of my own to love and that would love me back. I have been searching for that my whole life, but the older I get the farther away it seems. I got off course early in my trip, and I’m wandering in the woods trying to find life’s highway but I can’t.

I’ve always felt like the outsider, and I still do. Other people’s lives just seem to work out, but I have to struggle like hell just to survive. I know other people struggle too, but it’s a different type of fight. I never felt like anyone was in my corner other than my grandfather but he died in 1981.

Some unconditional love would be SO sweet right now, but I have no idea where to go to get it or I would have years ago. I try to help people whenever I can, because I know in my heart I will not screw those people over. I make an effort to be nice to those who I don’t have to just because that’s what I’m looking for in my own life. It’s the Golden Rule theory, but where is the return?

I have a very delicate psyche when it comes to relationships. I have a hard time putting myself out there emotionally because it hurts so much to get my heart stomped on. There’s a woman I’m totally smitten with, and she took a big steamy bowel movement all over my life and I’m hurting even more than usual. My self esteem was shaky before, but this kicks it right down the sewer.

I’ve known her for many years, and we’ve gotten along really well. Things were going so well that I thought she may finally be ‘the one’. She said she wanted to travel, and I asked her to come to Tucson with me and she said yes. Then she went back with some guy she was with before and that was it. She stopped talking, texting and calling and it was like I never existed. I am history.

All I want is a solid woman to build a great relationship with that can give me a feeling of what I always thought life should be and what I see others around me have. There’s some vibe missing that I must not have been born with, or it’s so deeply buried it’s not getting out there to attract it.

I know a lot of women that I like, but they’re either married or with someone else or they don’t want anything to do with me. Casual dating is great, but I’d really like to find one that I can build something with before I’m either dead or too old to enjoy anything. I’m not looking for a partner to eat oatmeal with at the old folks’ home. I want someone to be able to share my life adventures.

That’s not an easy match in my case. It’s like trying to find a leprechaun riding a unicorn at the end of a rainbow. I’m such an eccentric wackadoo, I’m not the average run of the mill singles ad type. I’ve had a very unusual life, and taken a rare path most never try. That makes it even harder to find someone that will be willing to be with me through thick and thin. It’s time for the thick.

If I’m going to do anything at all, it’s going to be in the next little stretch. I’ve paid dues upon dues, and the slot machine of life is full and ready to hit a jackpot. It won’t mean a thing without someone special to share it with, but right now that doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to happen.

I don’t write about this subject very often, only because people take it upon themselves to have to play matchmaker and try to ‘fix me up’. What a nightmare. They find the most beat up old war horse that happens to be single and think because I’m the ‘nice guy’ I’ll make the perfect match.

It’s a funny premise for comedy, but SO not fun to live through in person. I have had countless encounters set up by ‘friends’ that have been disasters from the first ten seconds. I can’t believe I am so low on their list they’d think I’d be interested in dating a sea hag like that. It’s a big insult.

My cousin Brett has a similar problem. We talk about it all the time. The women he dates have traditionally been psychotic nut jobs because there’s some vibe we put off from growing up how we did that attracts that into our lives. We say we don’t want it, but subconsciously we attract it.

I don’t want to go through analysis for years, because I don’t have time or money for that. All I want is to meet a woman that trips my trigger and wants to be with me. There are women that are one of those, but that’s not enough. The magic lottery winner has to have both. So where is she?

Part of the reason it’s been so difficult is that I’ve been constantly traveling for thirty years. It’s hard enough to have a ‘normal’ relationship, but put a full road schedule between it and it’s over before it starts. That’s one of the reasons I got into radio. I wanted ‘stability’. Ha! There’s a joke.

In all the radio jobs I’ve had, I would meet a nice woman and start dating for a few months. It would be going fine, but then out of the blue I’d get fired and have to move and it would be over. It’s been a lifetime of this, and I didn’t bring a solid family background to begin with. That’s the reason I’m still single, and it’s getting really lonely. I do want to find someone, but it’s SO hard.

Most women want stability, and I totally get that. Unfortunately, I’ve been anything but that as long as I’ve been alive. I’m never going to be a 9 to 5 corporate slug, and I surely don’t have the skills to be a plumber or a mechanic or anything close to that kind of gig. I live the creative life.

It would be nice to find someone in that field, but that’s probably asking for trouble. We’d both have the same strengths and weaknesses, and that would be bad. This last woman I like was not a creative type at all. She has a stable job, owns a house and is the exact opposite of my whole life.

Maybe that’s why I liked her so much, but it just felt like we clicked. I guess she wasn’t feeling it like I was, so here I sit alone for another Christmas. I make all kinds of people laugh the whole year, then they go have fun with their families on Christmas and I am alone with all my thoughts.

This morning I sat in with my old radio partner Spike Manton as he filled in on WGN radio in Chicago. Actually it was WGN.fm, but it will still fun. Wouldn’t you know it, the topic that was brought up was relationships. It was an ice pick to the heart, but I opened up and talked about the torture of trying to be an entertainer and find a mate. The crew found it funny, but I was in pain.

Then I got in my rental Nissan SUV and headed west for Tucson. I’m going to have some time to clear my head and think about what to do next. I got to Bloomington, IL and saw the stores all closing and knew those people were going to be with their families. I gassed up and kept driving. I made it to Rolla, MO and got a cheap hotel room. This is not what I envision Christmas to be.

"Dear Santa..."

“Dear Santa…”

Here's another one on my list.

Here’s another one on my list.

Ho Ho Holy Guacamole! There has to be ONE woman on this planet that likes nice guys. RIght? Where is she?

Ho Ho Holy Guacamole! There has to be ONE woman on this planet that likes nice guys. RIght? Where is she?

A Driving Force

December 24, 2013

Monday December 23rd, 2013 – Island Lake, IL

I’m getting ready to drive to Tucson, AZ for shows at Laffs Comedy Café this weekend and on New Year’s Eve. At first I wasn’t thrilled about driving, but now I’m looking forward to it. It’s a chance to disappear on Christmas, and get back in touch with my thoughts. I love the quiet time.

Driving across America is something I think everyone should do at least once a decade. It’s an incredible mental enema, and every time I’ve done it before I’ve felt cleansed. The last time I did it I was coming back from Salt Lake City to Chicago in 2003, and it wasn’t a happy time for me.

I’d lost my radio job there, and had also bought a house and lost that too. I had a girlfriend who wanted me to convert to be a Mormon, and she ended up dumping me to go back with some goof she was with before. That always seems to happen to me with women, and adds even more pain.

She didn’t think enough of the guy she was with to stay with him, but then after going out with me she decides he’s not so bad after all. That’s a kick in the teeth, but that’s life. I guess I would like to be the goof she goes back to for once, but that doesn’t happen. Once I’m gone, that’s it.

All that’s over now, and I’m just trying to make it through life the best I can. I hope I’m at least a little smarter than I was then, but I know I’m definitely older. I do feel my wanderlust leave me as the years pass, but I’m looking forward to this particular trip. It’s happening at the right time.

This trip is going to symbolize my farewell to the road dog lifestyle I’ve lived for so long. That was all I wanted to do when I started as a comedian, but I’ve had my fill. Unfortunately I’ve seen all the places I’m going to be going on this trip, and that takes a lot of the thrill out of it. It’s not a bold new adventure like it used to be, so I’ll use the experience to think and explore new options.

I was supposed to take a woman I really like on this trip, but she went back to some goof she’d been with years ago as well, and now it’s just me. We were going to fly at first, but I decided I’d drive to disappear for Christmas. I’ll be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on the road, and for me that’s about the best place I could be. I won’t have to talk to anyone, and I’ll be fine.

What’s good about it is that I can have some free time to make plans for whatever future I have left. Nothing is guaranteed to anyone, but if I do have a while remaining I need a reinvention as I move forward. I may still have to travel, but I don’t want to drive all over like I’ve been doing all these years. If I travel as a humorous speaker, I’m going to fly or I’m not going. I’ve had enough.

At least for one time I get to be in a warm place in the winter. Tucson is a wonderful place, and I love both the city and the venue. Laffs is a fun club, and the staff is really nice. I have friends in town, and it will be a pleasant experience all around. If I’m going to go out, this is the way to go. I’ll relax and let my thoughts flow as I drive south and get out of the snow and into the sun belt.

I stopped at Enterprise Rent-A-Car to exchange the Ford Fiesta I drove yesterday up to Harris, MI and got a Nissan SUV instead. It will cost me more in gas, but it’s a lot more comfortable to have to sit in for a long trip so I did it. I’m not going to nickel and dime myself this time. I’ve got a lot of miles ahead of me, but I’m glad. It will let me make it through Christmas one more year.

Tucson, AZ is one of my favorite places to both visit and perform.

Tucson, AZ is one of my favorite places to both visit and perform.

I'll be headlining six shows at Laffs Comedy Caffe this weekend and New Year's Eve. www.laffstucson.com.

I’ll be headlining six shows at Laffs Comedy Caffe this weekend and New Year’s Eve. http://www.laffstucson.com.

The Longest Month

November 28, 2013

Tuesday November 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Here come the holidays, like it or not. I, for one, do not. What I like even less is that I have no way to avoid them every year, and every year it’s a challenge to tough it out until December 26th. It’s always one of my most favorite days of the year, but this next month getting to it will be hell.

It’s getting to be such old news I don’t even want to write about it anymore, but I can’t help it. I’ve had a lifetime to try and find ways to “just get over it” and “move on” like all those Dr. Phil wannabes have been telling me for years and years, but it hasn’t worked. Every year it’s torture.

The very nature of the holidays is to get together with family and create lasting memories that get passed down through generations. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are supposed to be an opportunity to bond and share and catch up with people that are supposed to be our confidants.

I realize nobody has a Brady Bunch family situation, but those of us who grew up dented cans have a whole other level of dysfunction only another dented can is able to comprehend. There’s a level of psychological pain there I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and it comes back year after year.

It has always flabbergasted me how hearing just a couple of short notes of a Christmas song on a commercial or seeing a poinsettia on a fast food bag can take me right back to that place in my head I’ve been trying to bury since I was a kid. All it takes is a tiny trigger, and I’m right there.

I realize it’s the favorite time of year for uncountable millions – at least in North America. It is supposed to be a positive experience, and for most people I’m sure it is. Sure, everyone has some wacky relatives and maybe there are one or two isolated incidents that stand out, but for the most part over one’s lifetime I would say the majority of Americans look forward to this time of year.

On paper, that’s exactly the way it should be. There should be a time of year when families can come together and recharge batteries. I’m all for it, and I have wished for a family that would do exactly that since my earliest memories. It never happened, and every year is the ugly reminder.

Those who don’t understand what I’m talking about are always trying to give advice, and that’s almost as bad as the situation itself. “Come to our house” they say. “We’ll make you forget about those bad memories.” On the contrary. In fact it makes it worse. I know they mean well, but they aren’t able to comprehend how deep the pain goes. Only a dented can would be able to feel that.

I wish everybody could have a strong family to depend on and that I didn’t have to write about this misery every year, but I know I’m not the only one so I do. It feels at least a little comforting to know I’m not totally alone, so I’m putting it out there hoping someone else might be soothed.

One of the most haunting memories I have as a teenager was my best friend Timbo and me going to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve because neither one of us had anywhere else to go. It was a bunch of Jewish people and us. They looked at us like we were lost puppies.

Unfortunately, we were. In theory, this should be the start of the best time of the year. In reality this is the longest month of them all. I’m going to suck it up and look forward to December 26th.

My favorite day of the year. It means the holidays are OVER.

My favorite day of the year. It means the holidays are OVER.

The Unfixable Hole

May 13, 2013

Sunday May 12th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

    Depending on the year, certain holidays hit me in different ways. Christmas can be a source of major pain one year, but not so bad the next two or three. Father’s Day has also drudged up some ugly memories I’d rather forget, but try as I might they still find their way to the top of my head.

    I wasn’t even thinking about Mother’s Day, but I happened to turn on my radio and listened to sports talk radio of all things and heard ball players giving shout outs to their moms and thanking them for all their support through the years. After a few minutes of that I was feeling mighty low.

   It drove the point home again and again that I got cheated out of one of the most basic elements of human life, and I’ve lost out on more than I realize. If my mother was dead I could put closure to the situation, but as far as I know she’s still alive somewhere and the whole situation rots ass.

   I have very few memories of my mother, and those I do have are far from pleasant. She left my father, two older siblings and me when I was five months old, and that’s when I went to live with my paternal grandparents who raised me until age 17. My mother stayed away and it really hurts.

   This is pain I can share with few others. A mother is supposed to be the one who’s there for the tough times – not be the source of them. I’ve tried to push this to the back of my mind since I can remember. Today it came back. There’s a dark empty corner of my soul I don’t know how to fill.

   I wanted to forget about it and ‘just move on’ and ‘get over it’ like so many have told me, even though not one of those self taught know it all back alley aspiring Dr. Phils of the world have felt anywhere close to a crushing blow like that themselves. They think they’ve got all the answers.

   Nobody I know has any of those answers, including me. How does someone deal with such an ugly situation? I wish I knew. My whole life I’ve tried to suck it up and do the best I could with what I have, but that hasn’t been effective. All these years later, I’m still a lost kid. I need a hug.

   If she were to come out of the woodwork again, I’m not sure I’d want to see her. I don’t think I would feel any better, and every other time I’ve seen her in my life it has been nothing but brutal to the psyche and a waste of my time. I’m not going to get what I want, and that’s the way it is.

   I’m writing about all this so openly because I hope I’m able to touch someone who reads it and has something maybe as painful in their life. I don’t know anyone to talk to that I think can relate to what I’m going through, and that makes it worse. Keeping it all quiet just adds to the isolation.

   This is an inner torture I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but I don’t know how to get rid of it. It’s drained me for a lifetime, and continues to be a source of agony. I drove around in a funk all day, and it didn’t help when I wanted to stop for lunch at three of my favorite restaurants and lines were out the door because it was Mother’s Day and people were enjoying their family meal.

   That added gas to the fire, and I was hurting so badly I thought of ways to end my life without leaving a mess for someone else to have to clean up. Why am I even here? No matter how much success I may ever achieve, there will always be this ugly void in my life. It’s the unfixable hole.

   I’ve been far down like this before on Christmases and Father’s Days and even Thanksgivings. I usually move on and keep slugging, but it always sucks a little more out of my soul. If you have loving parents and a family, be grateful. It can’t be bought, and without it life has little meaning.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Staying Humble

March 12, 2013

Saturday March 9th, 2013 – Menomonee, MI

   Every time I think I’ve almost figured out this whole ‘comedy thing’, a rough show comes out of the blue to jolt me right back into reality. No matter how long anyone is in this game, there are going to be glitches and unavoidable rough patches. The smart thing to do is shut up and let it go.

I had a brutal show tonight in Menomonee, MI which is right over the border of Wisconsin into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’ve had a lot of shows in the U.P. lately, and that’s always the smart thing to schedule in winter. As if comedy isn’t hard enough, let’s add horrific weather too!

Unfortunately, that’s just where the bookings happened to have been this time around. I’m sure I’ll get some nice work in the heart of Texas in July, and then I’ll be pining for snow drifts above the roof of my car as I slowly bake in my own juices when it’s 99 at night with 99% humidity.

Until then, I have to deal with Old Man Winter and all of his treachery. It was clear sailing for most of the drive north, but of course it started sleeting toward the end as I got nearer to the town and that always cranks up the old stress-o-meter farther than it needs to go on a drive that I don’t want to make in the first place. When peeing in Green Bay is a highlight, it isn’t a pleasure trip.

I had no idea what to expect for this particular show, as it was booked by an agent out of North Carolina that doesn’t normally book shows in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I get along fine with the booker, but he’s more known for his college bookings of which I’ve never been a player even when I was that age. Certain acts play better in certain venues, and colleges aren’t my forte.

I took the gig a couple of months ago, as I had nothing on the books to speak of. Since then it’s been a very good year so far, with a lot of last minute bookings coming my way. I didn’t know it when this came calling, so I took it as a safety measure to insure I wouldn’t have to sell plasma.

Halfway through my set I was figuring in my head how much I would have been able to get for the plasma. Maybe they would have taken a kidney and/or some sperm too in a package deal. My tolerance for rough gigs is getting lower as I get older but a professional sucks it up and shuts up.

The time to bitch in these situations isn’t at the gig itself, it’s at booking time. I accepted a gig in Menomonee, MI in March that was labeled ‘corporate’ that paid a lot less than any ‘corporate’ booking I’ve ever done or seen anyone else do. It was my own fault, and I could have turned the job down when it was offered. It was between starvation and this, so I choose this. It’s all on me.

The people themselves weren’t bad at all. This was a Christmas party for some auto workers in the U.A.W. and they were not mean or vicious. There were a lot of them that felt a need to speak incessantly through the entire show, and it made it rough to keep those listening fully engaged.

There was a bad sound system and poor lighting arrangement too. It wasn’t my place to whine about it to anyone, and I did my very best with what I had to work with. Nobody complained, but this wasn’t what I want to be doing this far into the game. Sometimes it’s better to just say no.

Not So Super

February 4, 2013

Sunday February 3rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   The Super Bowl without the Green Bay Packers in it is about as interesting to me as an electric guitar is to an Amish musician. I couldn’t care less who wins or loses, and if it were up to me I’d just as soon there be some kind of unplanned power outage or something to get everyone talking.

Oh wait – that’s exactly what happened. I wasn’t going to watch even one play of the game this year until I received an invite from Mark Gumbinger to attend a party at his house and I said yes. He’s got the ultimate man cave in his basement complete with a state of the art sound system and one of the biggest screen TVs of all time, so that was a no brainer. I was flattered to be invited.

We hung out and watched the game, even though none of us had any vested interest in it. None of us had any money bet, and we didn’t do squares or anything like that. Some people I know are not able to watch any sporting event without betting something, but that demon never found me.

One thing I couldn’t help noticing was the pageantry of it all. It’s a manufactured holiday and is now ingrained in the American culture like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Right or wrong, that’s how big it is and we all got to talking about that when the power went out during the game. We’d first thought there was a terrorist incident, and I’m sure we weren’t the only ones guessing that.

Maybe there’s a bigger story behind it, or maybe it was just some minimum wager that pushed a wrong button at the wrong time. Either way it ended up affecting an event hundreds of millions of people were watching and betting on all over the globe and it is now etched in sports history.

Years from now sports fans will bring up “The Power Outage” Super Bowl and it will be a part of the common knowledge between us just as “The Immaculate Reception” in Pittsburgh or “The Ice Bowl” in Green Bay now is. Participants in this game will be interviewed to share memories.

What overwhelming astronomical odds it was also that the coaches were brothers. What are the chances of that happening? It’s ridiculously rare for anybody to make it to the big leagues in any sport much less brothers, and then to have brothers meet as Super Bowl coaches is off the charts.

Life itself is about overcoming tremendous odds. ONE sperm cell makes it out of billions that try, and nobody remembers the others. Nobody remembers the losers of any Super Bowls either, except for that team’s players and fans. People in San Francisco are bumming today, but nobody else really cares. I had no emotion watching the game whatsoever, except not liking Ray Lewis.

I find that guy absolutely reprehensible, both of his belief that ‘God is on his side’ and also for the incident he was implicated in where a double murder happened in his presence. He makes me nauseous whenever he comes on TV, and it seems so wrong that he gets two Super Bowl rings.

But what does it mean what I think? Not a lot. I bet less than .0001 of China’s billions couldn’t care less about Ray Lewis much less pronounce his name correctly. Wars are still going on in too many places and millions are still starving. That should put things into perspective, but it doesn’t.