Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

The People Business

May 9, 2014

Wednesday May 7th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I want to talk more about the whole “game” aspect of show business. It’s easy to come off as a crusty old bastard brimming with bitterness – and I’m sure some think I am. Maybe they’re right to a certain degree, but I want to go into the reasons why. It’s not just something I felt like doing.

Most entertainers that last even a little while I find to be of above average intelligence as a rule. This is often where their problems originate, as the public as a rule are a pretty sorry lot. I wish it were different, but it is what it is. Alexander Hamilton’s quote “The masses are asses” rings just as true in 2014 as it did in 1790 when he said it. The bar for greatness has been set painfully low.

Quite often the great artists are on a completely different plane than the public, and that causes great pain because there is no outlet for their artistic output. A lot larger audience wants to see an Adam Sandler movie than wants to see Woody Allen’s next release. Aiming low is a wise target.

This is not to say nobody smart or talented ever makes it, or only idiots do. That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am pointing out is that show business is a people business, and if one has no insight on one’s customers, it’s easy to come crashing down in a hurry. There are rules involved.

There are also dues to be paid like tolls on a highway. The next booth is going to charge you an individual amount for that particular stretch of road, not caring that the last dozen all took a piece of your bank roll. If you want to ride, you have to pay. Period. That’s how it is in showbiz also.

Where the difference lies is that most highways have very detailed maps and it’s easy to find a manageable route. If one doesn’t have a GPS device, there are usually maps of the area put up in rest areas for any and all to freely use to their advantage. Show business’s route is more hidden.

There aren’t any pubic maps posed, and more often than not others on the same highway either don’t know where they’re going or are deliberately on a path to self implosion. That can be part of the DNA makeup of a dented can, and it can cause that person to make unhealthy decisions.

I have made more than my share of unhealthy decisions along my turbulent life trail, but I also made a few solid ones. Probably the most solid has been that I have STAYED WITH IT. I could have put a bullet in my head or the heads of several others by now, but I haven’t. That’s my only advantage at the moment. I’ve been around the block plenty of times, and I have seen the game.

If I do manage to win in the end, I will end up being one of the exceptions people talk about. It isn’t easy for anyone, but my circumstances have been especially difficult. And who would care about that? Uh, NOBODY but me. Where someone comes from is unimportant. All that matters is where one ends up. And if I am going to end up a winner in life the game has got to be played.

A big part of the problem is that I no longer have the hunger to do it – at least at a comedy club level. Been there, done that, burned bridges and learned a lot. That doesn’t mean I can’t enter an entirely different league, and that’s what I intend to do. Corporate humor would qualify, and I’m going to handle myself a lot differently than I did in comedy clubs. I know the rules better now.

The Uranus project is another arena altogether, but there’s still a game involved. I know it now, and I didn’t when I started in comedy. I see things more clearly, and that’s the direct result of all those crippling mistakes. I may have hurt myself, but I’m not dead yet so there is still a chance.

Show business - like EVERY business - is a people business.

Show business – like EVERY business – is a people business. Too bad a lot of people are idiots.


Jason Collins

May 1, 2013

Monday April 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   As a comedian, making fun of anything and everything that passes in front of my nose is what I do for a living. Whenever I happen to notice anything unique or of interest pop up in the news or anywhere else, my thinking has been trained over a lifetime to search for the jokes immediately. 

   That’s how the comedy mind works, even in the most delicate of situations. No matter how sad or horrifying any tragedy may be, there are usually jokes about it within hours. This is especially true since the dawn of the internet, but even before that people with a warped side were still at it.

   I remember hearing Jeffrey Dahmer jokes in Milwaukee about three days after it happened, and couldn’t believe they could get out there so fast. Now it’s even faster than that. I love a good line even if it’s in the poorest of taste, but that’s how comedians are. We’re trained to look for humor in all situations, and that in turn dulls our sensitivity to certain topics the public may find taboo.

   All that being said, a major story all over the news today was an NBA basketball player named Jason Collins becoming the first active player in any major professional sport to come out of the closet and declare he was gay. I’m a big listener of sports talk radio, and it attracted a lot of calls.

   Again, as a comedian my first instinct is to go right for the jokes but this made me pull the plug on that part of my brain and think it through. First off, I can’t believe anyone still has issues with someone being gay. I know I don’t, and never did. Even though I am not gay myself and admit I don’t understand it, I don’t feel it’s my position to judge anyone else. I have my own problems.

   Where I sit, that’s how it should be with everyone. I might have a complaint if I find myself in prison and am approached for a midnight date from my 6’10” frisky cell mate named Snake, but there I go with the joke angle again. This is a subject that’s going to be top of mind for a while.

   I can’t believe it took this long for someone to be ‘the one’. I’m sure there are all kinds of jocks through the years who were gay and had to live a secret life, but it took Jason Collins to push the envelope and assume the role. I bet he didn’t know what he’s gotten himself into, and I’m sure it will come with both good and bad. Like Jackie Robinson, he will be seen in history as a pioneer.

   Personally, I don’t think it’s that big a deal but it was according to the callers on the radio. Let the guy live his life. I thought I was a big sports fan, but I’d never heard of the guy before today. He’s a marginal player at best, even though making it to the NBA at all is a major achievement.

   It won’t be his play that he’ll be remembered for now, and I already sense controversy brewing by the way callers reacted to the whole subject. Once again, it seemed like the religious goofballs who took the low road and started condemning him to hell. That put me even more in his corner.

   I don’t think a person can help how he or she is born. If you’re gay you’re gay, and it’s nothing new. It’s been around as long as humanity, so if there is a God He or She must have programmed it into the DNA makeup somewhere along the line. Who are any of us to point fingers at anyone?

   I’m not trying to be a do good liberal crusader or anything else but a human being. After trying to look at this issue from all angles intelligently, it occurs to me that anybody’s sexual preference is their own business and none of mine. Or yours. Period. On a happier note, more gay men leave more single women so why should heterosexual men complain? Stop whining and go find a date.

So what's the fuss??

So what’s the fuss?

The Wrong Planet

April 21, 2013

Friday April 19th, 2013 – Chicago, IL   

   I’m having serious doubts as to the logical order of the universe, and I have to admit it’s taking away any and all faith I had in a God. Whatever God is, it’s not what I was told as a kid and I am left with a giant hole in my psyche that’s filled with disappointment and unanswered questions.

   The ugly situation in Boston set me off, and it was on the radio all day as I drove around trying to get errands done. It was on constantly, and every station was making mention of it at least to a degree. Even the music stations were giving updates, so I gave in and followed the chase myself.

   I still can’t understand how the world can have such an insidious side, and the more I followed the story the more it disgusted me. Why useless wastes of DNA like this are allowed to make life miserable for so many is beyond my comprehension. And in the end, where is any fairness at all?

   The older brother (Idiot #1) is dead – and nobody is sorry – but now Idiot #2 is captured and he will be nursed back to health at the public expense to face a trial, and then housed and fed on our nickel for the rest of his natural days. I can’t wrap my tiny brain around any of this, and I’m tired of seeing stories like this happen over and over and over again. None of this makes sense to me.

   I’ve said it many times before and I still feel strongly, I am on the wrong planet. Somehow I’ve taken a cosmic detour to this stench ridden space pebble while the spaceship bound for my planet is missing a passenger. The more I see how things are handled here, the more I want to go home.

   This really bummed me out, but then again I couldn’t stop listening. How one idiot could elude thousands of alleged law enforcement professionals is absolutely fascinating. How could it take a whole day to find this puke? It did, and it made hundreds of thousands of people’s lives difficult.

   Something is wrong deep to the core, but nobody seems to want to discuss it. What could make anyone so heartless as to hurt and kill so many innocent people for no apparent reason? I always hear “that’s the world we live in now.” Now? No, I think it was always like this. That’s my issue.

   Look at Charles Manson and his pals. They went on their little spree in the ‘60s, and it wasn’t a new thing then either. Terror and atrocities have gone on since the beginning of time. Why won’t God protect innocent victims, or at least help us weed all the bad seeds out of our genetic stash?

   I am SO sick of hearing “it’s free will” and “we’ve just gotta have faith.”  My puckering poop shoot. Ask the people in Boston who just lost limbs about any of that. I’m sure they’re delighted to be included in the big heavenly plan. Charles Manson is still alive, but an 8 year old kid isn’t.

   Sorry, this just isn’t right to me. If there is a bigger plan somewhere, I’m not seeing it and it’s a painful experience wandering around a planet where things are getting worse and not better.  I’ve always tried to do the right thing, and I know millions of others do too – but it doesn’t seem to do any good. The bad in the world always seems to wipe out the good, and everyone is worse for it.

   They eventually captured Idiot #2, and even though everyone on the radio seemed to be feeling good about it, I had a hollow feeling inside as I knew this wouldn’t be the last time something as dramatic as this would capture everyone’s attention in the media. It won’t, and the next time this happens I’ll feel disgusted all over again. This is not the kind of place I would have chosen to be my home, and if there is some kind of a God somewhere I hope He or She gets this thing fixed.  

Catching Happiness

April 10, 2013

Monday April 8th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I had a stunning revelation today. It was another busy day of running around all over the place, but right in the middle of it all it hit me that I have achieved and attained the Holy Grail that very few ever come close to – happiness. I have life, liberty and happiness. It’s no longer the pursuit.

   Sure, there are still plenty of things I’d like to have and achieve before it’s all over, but for the most part I am doing exactly what I want to with my life and I’m loving it. How many of us ever even come close to that at any point in our lives? Not many that I’ve found, but I do think I have.

   In some ways I’m afraid to even think about it, as it’s so delicate a condition. It seems like it’s ingrained in our DNA hard drives to always want more, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s incentive to keep going and improving, and that’s what life is about right? But I’m content in my journey.

   Just because I’m here now doesn’t mean it’s permanent, or does it? I was looking back through the chapters of my life trying to decipher if and when I’ve ever been at this point before. I’ve had some fun stretches mixed in with a lot of torture and insanity, but I never appreciated them fully.

   One was in my early twenties as I was starting out in comedy in Milwaukee. I also had a job at a department store called ‘Boston Store’, which I always thought was a goofy name. Was there a ‘Milwaukee Store’ in Boston? I never checked, but my guess is no. I worked there during the day and at the comedy clubs at night. Between the two I had the best of everything but I didn’t see it.

   At the Boston Store I was a retail clerk called a ‘flyer’. That meant I worked every department in the store that had an opening on a particular day, and it was the only way to go. I met all kinds of red hot single women, and to this day I kick myself for not realizing the perfect pipeline I had.

   There were seven floors of hotties at the Boston Store, and anytime I wanted to take a lunch or break, my table was full of cuties to choose from. I had a date anytime I wanted, and I did enjoy it but not as much as I should have. My mind was on comedy then, and I wouldn’t be deterred.

   But I even blew that. Those were the magnificent boom years of the ‘80s, and nobody knew it wouldn’t last forever. It was a blast to hang out with the comedians of that time, and some of the names that were coming up then included future stars like Drew Carey, Robert Schimmel and an outstanding array of others who went on to much bigger things. Those were truly golden years.

   I realize that now, but not then. How stupid I was. I was always striving to get to the next level and wasn’t taking time to enjoy where I was – which was pretty spectacular at the time. I wasn’t enjoying the fun because I was lost in my own anger about childhood issues or whatever else the psyche of an artist uses to fuel progress. I was missing out on a fun era, and it was all my fault.

   There were also a couple of fun stretches in my radio days, but they didn’t last long before my eventual firings. Still, there were times when I had radio and comedy going at once and was in a great space. I had all the money I needed at those times, and life was really fun – for a while.

   Well, it’s really fun again only this time I know it while it’s happening. I love to do the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows, and that project looks to be very bright. I’m also teaching classes and doing a fun radio show and am surrounded by wonderful friends all over. I love where I live, and life just fits my personality now. It may change and I may fall out of this groove, but for now I’m happy.

Just One Pawn

September 15, 2012

Friday September 14th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL 

This here show business thing sure isn’t the glamorous carefree cakewalk people might think it is. I guess it might be for somebody somewhere, but not in my contact circle. Everyone I’ve been talking to lately is taking it in the shorts, with no signs of a turnaround any time soon. It’s ugly.

My haphazardly pieced together comedy booking schedule continues to blow up in my face by the day, and it’s a common thread throughout my peers. Today I received yet another happy note telling me a new one nighter in Lexington, KY closed after one show where only 4 people came.

This is disturbing news on several levels, but at the end of the day it’s one more night’s pay I’ll have t to find a way to live without. What makes it even worse is that I’m booked to work a show at the University of Kentucky in Lexington the very next night. It would have been a perfect fit.

I don’t think that’s ever happened even once in all my years of road dogging, and it would have been a nice little kiss from the cosmos. My reputation on the road – and well deserved – has been one of having the worst routing of anyone working. I wish it weren’t true, but it has been forever. I have notoriously driven hundreds of miles out of my way to pick up shows, and done it often.

I did it for years, thinking it would get me somewhere. I showed up wherever and whenever I’d get hired, and too many times to count I got there worn out from too long of a trip. But I did what I thought I had to do, and I don’t regret it. I busted my ass, and earned my chops like few others.

What good all those years of doing the hustle does me now, I can’t say. Nobody with power or clout who could help advance my career was ever at any of those shows, and all these years later I’m still struggling to survive by the month. Gas has doubled in that time and so has my age. I’ve spun my wheels literally and figuratively, and I don’t have a whole lot to show for it. I feel used.

That one nighter in Lexington would have paid for the hotel room I’m going to need on a night off that week, and also a chunk of the gas to get back and forth. I was thinking of renting a car to save the wear and tear on my own. It’s got high miles and could puke at any time. Why risk it?

Now I may have to since I lost this booking I thought I had. I’ve worked for that booker quite a few times over several years, and this is the first time anything like this has happened. It’s brutal, but I don’t blame the booker. It’s just how the times are right now. Difficult is how it is for us all.

Of higher concern is the other news I received today that the immediate contact person I dealt with at Carnival Cruise Lines is no longer employed in that position. I always got along with her very well, and we had been in touch of late to discuss going back out again this winter. I’m very sad to hear she’s not there anymore, as I thought well of her both personally and professionally.

I feel bad for her, but I feel bad for me too. I’m going to have to start all over again and there’s no guarantee the new person in charge will ever return an email much less book me. This is how the game works, and that’s what it is – a game. Life is a big chess match, and I’m just one pawn.

I don’t know why it has to be like this, but it obviously is. Something’s wrong somewhere, and it’s probably some form of trickledown effect from the top where’s it’s probably screwed up way beyond our feeble comprehension. We’re just the worker ants. The orders come from the queen.

But who really is ‘the queen’ anyway? Does anyone really know? No, I don’t mean Elton John and I don’t mean the President of the United States either. I don’t think that position is more than a high profile broadcast news anchor. The real source of power tells the President what to say to us worker ants, and he has no choice but to read what is put in front of him. That’s what he does.

I know I sound like I’m in the tin foil hat wacko patrol, but I really feel there’s a deeper reason for why things are the way they are. I thought that before I started hosting a paranormally themed radio talk show and the more I dig into topics like these the more disgusted with humanity I get.

It certainly does appear at least on the surface that humankind as a whole is absolutely rotten to the core, doesn’t it? It does to me anyway. Yes there are a number of good eggs, and I try as hard as I can on a daily basis to be one of them. But it seems like I’m in a painfully outnumbered band of gypsy renegades who are no match for the Death Star. Evil is everywhere, and it is in charge.

I’m not claiming to be perfect, but damn. They’re really making it rough out here. At least I try to think of and respect my fellow human being whenever I can. I make an honest attempt daily to follow the rules I was told we’re all supposed to use to play this game called life, but too few do.

I have a lot of valued friends and business peers that do, but they’re getting boned in the stinker dot as hard as or even harder than I am. What gives? Why does it keep occurring? I think it’s just plain wrong, but I have no recourse but to peck away on a keyboard and let my aggravation ooze.

I sure wish I could do much more, but I don’t see how. I can barely keep my own life operating week to week. What would I do with power? I’d like to think I’d do a lot of good, but who could guarantee that? I’ve always heard that absolute power corrupts absolutely. If that’s true, that’s an unbelievably disillusioning thought. It’s almost like we’re hard wired inside to screw the pooch.

So where does that come from? God? Here we go with that whole question again. Who or what is ultimately responsible for placing the human species as a whole on this planet has a deep inner flaw, and it has trickled down and pissed into the gene pool all of us share. Our DNA is polluted.

Maybe I’m taking this way too deep, and I hope I am. Maybe we’re just in a tough slump and it will all turn around as the pendulum of yin and yang swings back and forth as it has always done. Or has it? Has it always been this way and I’m just now tuning in, or are we all sliding down that giant cosmic commode faster than we’re able to save it as it appears? Is there hope for us idiots?

I don’t know if we’ll ever know, but I do sense a deep seeded feeling of something being really wrong and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon. My grandfather was a cynic to the bone. As a kid I couldn’t see his point of view, but now I think I see it clearer than he did.